Ohio State’s road to the semifinals in NCAA men’s tennis tournament included stirring comebacks in the round of 16 against Oklahoma and in the quarterfinals against Texas Christian.
Against Virginia on Monday with an NCAA title berth on the line, the Buckeyes’ magic ran out.
OSU won the doubles point but lost four of the five completed singles matches to drop a 4-2 decision to Virginia in an NCAA semifinal in Athens, Georgia.
Mikael Torpegaard and Hekko Pollanen had given the third-seeded Buckeyes a 1-0 lead when they edged Carl Soderlund and Luca Corinteli 7-6 in the decisive third doubles match.
But the second-seeded Cavaliers jumped all over Ohio State to start the singles competition, cruising to three match wins in straight sets: Thai-Son Kwiatkowski over JJ Wolf 6-2, 6-2 at No. 2 singles; Collin Altamirano over Martin Joyce 6-0, 6-3 at No. 4; and J.C. Aragone over Hekko Pollanen 6-3, 6-3 at No. 5.
With no margin for error, the Buckeyes dug in to try to extend the match.
At No. 3 singles, OSU’s Hugo Di Feo dropped the first set in his match with Soderlund but fought back to force a third set. Torpegaard, meanwhile, went to a third-set tiebreaker with Alexander Ritschard.
And at No. 6 singles, Ohio State’s Kyle Seelig battled UVa’s Henrik Wiersholm, losing the first set 7-5 and breaking serve to tie the second set at 5-5.
But Wiersholm broke Seelig’s serve in the next game and had a match point at 6-5, 40-30 when play was halted for impending weather. At that same point, Torpegaard had three match points against Ritschard, up 6-3 in the tiebreaker.
After a delay of nearly four hours, the teams moved to the indoor courts at the University of Georgia.
Torpegaard needed only one strong serve to win his match against Ritschard, capturing the tiebreaker by a 7-3 score to pull the Buckeyes to 4-2.
Seelig's match also lasted one point indoors, and he netted a shot on a long rally with Wiersholm to fall 7-5, 7-5 and send the Cavaliers into the NCAA final against North Carolina or Georgia.
It was Ohio State’s second loss to Virginia this season in a major event. The Cavaliers also edged OSU 4-1 at the ITA National Indoor Championship in February.