Mikael Torpegaard’s senior tennis season hasn’t been without bumps. The Ohio State senior has dealt with injuries and a few losses.

He considers that a good thing. It will prepare him for what he hopes is a successful pro tennis career and should steel him for a run at the NCAA singles title.

Torpegaard has had a sterling college career after arriving from Denmark. Two years ago, he reached the NCAA finals.

Now, after Torpegaard led the Buckeyes to a runner-up finish in the NCAA team tournament in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he is competing in singles and, with Martin Joyce, in doubles. In singles, the recent graduate is the No. 6 seed and rallied for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Arizona State’s Michael Geerts in the first round on Wednesday.

Ohio State sophomore JJ Wolf lost 6-4, 6-4 to Florida’s Alfredo Perez in the first round Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Ohio State senior Anna Sanford lost in the first round of the women’s singles, 6-0, 7-6 to Texas’ Anna Turati.

Torpegaard was the top seed last year before losing to eventual champion Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Virginia in the third round.

“Last year, I was burned out after a long season that I just wasn’t there mentally,” Torpegaard said. “This year I know for a fact the chance isn’t going to come again, so I’m going to do my absolute best.”

If he does, he’s confident he can win it all.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I’ve beaten everyone out here. Of course, I’ve lost to a couple of these guys, too, but I feel if I play to my highest level, there’s nobody I can’t beat. That’s a nice feeling to go into the tournament with, but honestly that’s how I feel about it.”

Torpegaard has played through tendinitis in a knee and plantar fasciitis in a foot, and he also has battled occasional illness.

“It’s definitely not been my best season at Ohio State,” he said. “There’s ups and downs in tennis. My sophomore and junior years, I took very big steps. As I now get closer to the point I want to be at, the steps keep getting smaller.”

He also has been making adjustments to his game. As much as he wants to succeed at the college level, Torpegaard is keeping the long view and has expanded his game, even if it results in growing pains along the way.

“It’s not about me having a perfect season personally,” he said. “It’s doing a lot of things to improve for my pro career.”

Ohio State coach Ty Tucker said the 6-foot-4 Torpegaard has become more aggressive this year in his all-around game rather than just relying on his powerful serve and groundstrokes.

“He’s able to end at the net a little better, able to attack the second serve a little more, making sure he’s not just sitting back there and hoping somebody misses,” he said. “We’ve seen him be willing to come to the net in tricky situations when maybe that’s not his best game. But coming to the net, you’re putting pressure on people.”

Tucker believes Torpegaard has the game to succeed in the rugged world of the pros.

“He’s got a great serve, a great return,” Tucker said. “He’s a power player.

“He’s the real deal. He’s the kind of guy who will definitely be able to make a living playing professional tennis.”

Already, Torpegaard’s career ranks among the best in recent Ohio State history, Tucker said.

Now, Torpegaard wants to finish the right way.

“I really feel that mentally I’m in the right place right now,” he said.

 

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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