Feb. 19, 2007
CHICAGO - Second-seeded Ohio State beat No. 3 UCLA 4-2 in Sunday's semifinals at the USTA/ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championships at the Midtown Tennis Club.
Ohio State will be making its first appearance in the Team Indoor final Sunday at noon against No. 1 Georgia. Tomorrow will mark the first time the top two seeds have played for the title since 1996 when No. 2 UCLA beat No. 1 Stanford.
"This is a huge win for Ohio State," Buckeye coach Ty Tucker said. "This team has worked as hard as any team in the country over the past year and they really deserve this. I know that being the number two seed we're supposed to reach the final, but we've never been this far before and you never know how a team will react when they get this far."
UCLA won the doubles point tonight, but Ohio State rebounded in singles. Justin Kronauge's come-from-behind win over Philipp Gruendler at No. 5 singles pushed Ohio State's lead to 3-2. From there Devin Mullings clinched the victory at No. 3, out-lasting Chris Surapol 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
Steven Moneke and Chris Klingemann also provided wins for the Ohio State. Ben Kohlloeffel provided UCLA's lone win in singles.
"We started out a little flat in doubles, but we knew we had a chance in singles," Tucker said. "Coming in we thought we might have a tough time pulling out number one and five singles against Kohlloeffel and Gruendler. So when Kronauge came back (to beat Gruendler) that gave our team a lot of energy knowing we weren't going to have to go through the pressure of being down 3-1 or 3-2. That was huge for us."
UCLA falls to 10-5 in Team Indoor semifinal matches. This was the Buckeyes first semifinal appearance. OSU is the third Big 10 school to reach this final, joining five-time finalist Illinois and Michigan, which made its lone appearance in 1975.
Defending Team Indoor champ Georgia beat Virginia 4-2 in today's other semifinal. Georgia leads the all-time series against OSU; the last meeting was in 2005.