Ohio State men's tennis team upends Wake Forest, rolls into NCAA round of 16

From staff reports
The Ohio State University athletic department logo, 2017. [provided by OSU]

Ohio State qualified for the round of 16 in the NCAA men’s tennis tournament for the 17th time in program history with a 4-1 victory over host Wake Forest on Saturday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The Buckeyes (22-3) seized control early by winning the doubles point, then got straight-set victories from, in order, JJ Tracy, James Trotter and Kyle Seelig to advance to play Arizona State or Texas Christian on May 17 in Orlando, Florida.

“It felt special to come back down here and get this win,” said Seelig, a sixth-year senior who is OSU’s most experienced player.

Ohio State started fast, winning the doubles point as Cannon Kingsley and Tracy broke serve on court three to go up 5-4, then came back from 0-40 to hold and win the match by 6-4. Moments later, John McNally and Robert Cash sealed the first point with a hold on love, capped by an ace from McNally, to win 6-3 on court two.

“We came out with a lot of energy today, the best we’ve had all year,” Seelig said.

The momentum the Buckeyes built in doubles carried over to singles as OSU took five of the six first sets.

Tracy gave Ohio State a 2-0 lead when he beat Wake Forest’s Sid Banthia 6-3, 6-3 on court six. Trotter then claimed his 15th consecutive victory, beating Taha Baadi 6-3, 6-4 on court three to give the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead.

Tenth-seeded Wake Forest (29-7) got on the board when Henri Squire edged McNally 6-4, 7-5 on court one, but the Deacons’ excitement didn’t last long. Seelig squashed any hopes of a comeback by breaking Melios Efstathiou late in the second set for a 7-5, 7-5 win on court five and the Buckeyes were officially headed to Orlando.

“We knew they were going to battle back but it was good to close it out before they got anything going,” Seelig said.

The Buckeyes will be joined in Orlando by the OSU women, who survived some tense moments in a 4-3 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday in the second round. Ohio State (22-3) has won 15 consecutive matches heading into a third-round meeting with No. 2 seed Texas at 1 p.m. May 16.

“We have put a lot of work in this season and for us to get to the round of 16 – it’s a happy locker room for sure,” OSU women’s coach Melissa Schaub said.