Ohio State came up two rounds short in its quest to win its first NCAA championship in men’s tennis.
Despite defeating Kentucky 4-0 during the regular season, the fourth-seeded Buckeyes were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament with a 4-1 loss to the eighth-seeded Wildcats in Saturday’s semifinals in Champaign, Illinois.
Ohio State started the match strong, taking the doubles point as the duos of Cannon Kingsley and JJ Tracy (6-1) and Matej Vocel and Robert Cash (6-3) cruised to victory in their doubles matches to give the Buckeyes an early 1-0 advantage.
The Buckeyes were unable to sustain that momentum in singles. After each team won the first set in three of six singles matches, Kentucky won the second set on all six courts to take a 3-1 lead. Kentucky’s Gabriel Diallo (6-3, 6-2 vs. Vocel), Millen Hurrion (6-1, 6-2 vs. Tracy) and Francois Musitelli (6-4, 7-6 vs. Jake Van Emburgh) all won their matches in straight sets.
Kentucky’s Liam Draxl earned a three-set victory over Cannon Kingsley (2-6, 6-3, 6-2) to clinch the match for the Wildcats.
It’s the fourth time since 2009 that the Buckeyes have lost in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. While Ohio State has made it to the semifinals six times in the last 14 years, they’ve only advanced to the finals twice and have not yet been able to win their first NCAA title, though they’ve won two ITA Indoor Nationals titles.
Ohio State concludes the team portion of the season with a 28-4 record. The Buckeyes also lost in the semifinals of this year’s ITA Indoor Nationals to TCU, who lost to Kentucky in the NCAA quarterfinals. Their other two losses came against Michigan, though they got the last laugh over their rivals with an NCAA quarterfinals win over the Wolverines.
Several Buckeyes will remain in Champaign to compete for individual titles in the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments, which begin Monday. Kingsley, Tracy, James Trotter and Vocel will all compete in the singles tournament while the teams of Vocel and Cash and Trotter and Justin Boulais are in the bracket for the national doubles tournament.