Despite entering the NCAA tournament as the three seed, the Ohio State men's tennis team was staring down an early exit at the hands of No. 14 Florida late Friday night at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
With the score tied 3-3 and Kevin Metka down 4-1 in the third set, the redshirt junior rallied for a 10-8 tiebreaker victory over Florida's Mike Alford to clinch a 4-3 win for the Buckeyes and extend the school's streak of reaching the NCAA quarterfinals to nine years.
“He [Metka] misses a first serve, he says ‘Go Bucks’, he makes an error, he says ‘Go Bucks’, he wins a point he says, ‘Go Bucks,” head coach Ty Tucker said. “The guy loves to play tennis. He puts his heart and soul into it and never gets down on himself and keeps fighting.”
Metka, a second team All-Big Ten selection this season, was pumped after the thrilling 6-3, 5-7, 5-6(8) win, which ended after midnight, saying, “It's the best match I've ever won.”
While Metka got the winner, Ohio State also needed ace Peter Kobelt – roommate of Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman – to deliver after falling in a 3-2 hole against the Gators. As he's done all season, Kobelt delivered, topping No. 51 Florent Diep 6-4, 7-6(3), setting up Metka for the heroics.
Ohio State will face No. 6 seed UCLA at 4 p.m. Sunday
1. #11 Peter Kobelt (OSU) def. #51 Florent Diep (UF), 6-4, 7-6(3)
2. #108 Gordon Watson (UF) def. #109 Herkko Pollanen (OSU), 7-5, 6-2
3. Maxx Lipman (UF) def. #101 Ralf Steinbach (OSU), 6-4, 7-6(5)
4. Diego Hidalgo (UF) def. Chris Diaz (OSU), 6-2, 6-2
5. Hunter Callahan (OSU) def. #98 Elliott Orkin (UF), 6-2, 7-5
6. Kevin Metka (OSU) def. Mike Alford (UF), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(8)
1. #24 Peter Kobelt/Ralf Steinbach (OSU) def. #20 Florent Diep/Gordon Watson (UF) – 8-3
2. Kevin Metka/Herkko Pollanen (OSU) def. Maxx Lipmann/Elliot Orkin (UF) – 8-4
3. Chris Diaz/Hunter Callahan (OSU) vs. Diego Hidalgo/Mike Alford UF – 7-6, unfinished