April 25, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The eighth-seeded Michigan State men's tennis team battled top-seeded Ohio State in a close match in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals on Friday at the MSU Indoor Tennis Facility, but fell to the Buckeyes, 4-2. The Spartans finish their season with a 12-14 record.
The quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament were moved to the MSU Indoor Tennis Facility on Friday due to poor weather conditions in the Greater Lansing area.
Although Michigan State dropped the doubles point, the Spartans went step-for-step against the second-ranked Buckeyes (28-3) in singles. With only four courts available for singles play due to playing indoors, MSU and OSU split the first four matches at No. 1, No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5 singles.
Sophomore John Patrick Mullane evened the match at 1-1 with his 6-4, 6-2 win over Herkko Pollanen at No. 2 singles. Mullane also defeated Pollanen, who is ranked 97th nationally, earlier in the season.
In a matchup of first-team All-Big Ten performers, Peter Kobelt, ranked seventh nationally, edged Drew Lied, 7-6, 6-4 at No. 1 singles, putting the Buckeyes on top, 3-2.
Needing to win both at No. 3 and No. 6 singles to clinch the victory, the Spartans kept it close, as Aaron Pfister won a first-set tiebreaker over Ralf Steinbach at No. 3, 7-6.
But at No. 6 singles, the Buckeyes sealed their trip to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals as Kevin Metka topped Harry Jadun, 6-1, 6-2.
"It was a great match," said MSU head coach Gene Orlando. "The guys were super excited for the opportunity. You knew from the first part of the warm up that they were ready to seize the moment. You have to give a lot of credit to Ohio State, they're one of the top teams in the country. They took it to us in doubles, but the way the singles format was with the rain delay, we were able to make it very competitive.
"We knew it was all or nothing - we had to give everything we had. The season was on the line, and we were going to fight until the end. And that's exactly what the guys did."
Michigan State finished 11-2 on its home courts, with the only two losses coming against Ohio State.
The Spartans defeated Nebraska in the first round of the tournament on Thursday at the MSU Outdoor Courts, 4-0.
For complete coverage of the Big Ten Men's Tennis Tournament, visit the tournament central website at msuspartans.com. The tournament continues Saturday at the MSU Outdoor Courts with the semifinal matches at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Admission is free.