Buckeyes Down Hogs 4-0 in NCAA Tennis Tourname
BY ANDRES FOCIL
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Arkansas showed some early signs of an upset, but the No. 22 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes rallied to win the doubles point and then posted three singles wins to take a 4-0 win over the No. 36 Razorbacks in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament at the Hillary J. Boone Tennis Center on Saturday morning.
After earning the doubles point, Ohio State tallied wins at the No. 5, 2 and 4 positions to clinch the match. Per NCAA rules, the remaining matches were suspended once the team winner was determined.
“We came out and played with some intensity in doubles, but had trouble closing it out,” Arkansas head coach Robert Cox said. “Our doubles play has been inconsistent all season, but it was a bright spot today. You have to give Ohio State credit for coming back to get the doubles point and for getting three wins in singles. We had some guys out there battling in those other three singles matches, but we ran out of time and chances for a comeback.”
With the win Ohio State (21-6) advanced Sunday’s second round where they will face the region’s top seed and host Kentucky. The Wildcats topped Hampton 4-0 on Saturday afternoon.
The Razorbacks finished their season with an overall record of 11-15.
Arkansas figured to have an uphill battle in doubles, but the Razorbacks came out ready to play. Seniors Aleksey Bubis and Eduardo Pacheco won their final collegiate doubles match by posting an 8-6 win over OSU’s Scott Green and Ross Wilson in No. 1 doubles.
Freshmen Adrian Zguns and Matt Roberts played nip and tuck with the Buckeyes’ Vince Ng and Jeremy Wurtzman before falling 8-5 in No. 2 doubles play.
The doubles point came down to the No. 3 position. Arkansas’ Nathan Price and Rohan Gajjar marched out to a 4-1 lead in the eight-game pro-set, but the OSU tandem of Phil Metz and Brenton Contini charged back winning six-straight games. The Hogs closed it to 7-6 before the Buckeyes clinched the first point of the match with an 8-6 victory.
Ohio State carried the momentum into singles where the Buckeyes won the first set in five of the six matches. Wurtzman, ranked 33rd nationally, tallied the first singles win of the day for the Buckeyes when he downed Price 6-3, 6-1 at No. 2 singles. Contini also recorded a straight set (6-0, 6-3) against the Hogs’ Gajjar in No. 5 singles play. The Buckeyes clinched the match when Metz closed out Pacheco 6-3, 6-2 at No. 4.
In No. 1 singles action, Bubis was tied at one set a piece with the nation’s No. 38 ranked singles player (Ng) when play was suspended. Zguns dropped the first set to Mertens in a tiebreaker at No. 3 while Roberts was two games away from denting the scoreboard for the Hogs at No. 6.
Despite falling short of a third-straight regional final, Arkansas garnered more than its fair share of highlights in the 2002-03 season. The Hogs kicked off the campaign by capturing the 2002 ITA Region V Championship last fall.
The Hogs then jumped out to a 10-4 start including wins over No. 25 Vanderbilt and No. 11 Alabama. The Razorbacks’ schedule didn’t get any easier down the stretch. In fact, 19 of the Razorbacks’ last 20 opponents were nationally ranked including seven foes that registered in the top 15.
In spite of the brutal slate, Arkansas earned its third straight NCAA bid and its seventh trip in the last 10 years. The Razorbacks have now made 15 NCAA tournament appearances in their history.
In addition, Cox became only the second coach to win 200 matches at Arkansas. He has 209 wins and is only 10 victories shy of passing Tom Pucci (218) for the most wins by a coach in school history.
“I’m proud of the way this team stayed together and kept fighting,” Cox said. “These guys fought through injuries and some adversity, but never quit giving a full effort on the court. We will miss Aleksey and Eduardo. They had great careers at Arkansas and they will be hard to replace. But I feel like we have a good nucleus coming back and good things are ahead for Razorback tennis.”
NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament – First Round
Ohio State 4, Arkansas 0
Hillary J. Boone Tennis Center
May 10, 2003
1. Aleksey Bubis (UA) vs. Vince Ng (OSU) 1-6, 6-3 susp.
2. Jeremy Wurtzman (OSU) def. Nathan Price (UA) 6-3, 6-1
3. Dennis Mertens (OSU) vs. Adrian Zguns (UA) 7-6(4) susp.
4. Phil Metz (OSU) def. Eduardo Pacheco (UA) 6-3, 6-2
5. Brenton Contini (OSU) def. Rohan Gajjar (UA) 6-0, 6-3
6. Matt Roberts (UA) vs. Ross Wilson (OSU) 6-0, 2-6, 4-2 susp.
1. Bubis / Pacheco (UA) def. Scott Green / Wilson (OSU) 8-6
2. Ng / Wurtzman (OSU) def. Zguns / Roberts (UA) 8-5
3. Metz / Contini (OSU) def. Gajjar / Price (UA) 8-6
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