April 17, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The No. 45 men's Spartan netters will conclude their regular season dual schedule this weekend, with a road match against the fifth-ranked Buckeyes of Ohio State on Friday, April 19 at 3 p.m. before hosting Penn State in the home finale on Sunday, April 21 at 12 p.m. After picking up three wins last weekend including two Big Ten victories, the Spartans sit at 12-11 overall and 5-4 in the conference, keeping their NCAA tournament hopes alive.
Freshman JP Mullane and junior Drew Lied have led the way for the Green and White in singles conference play, both posting impressive 7-2 marks and recording victories in their last five matches. The duo has been equally exciting in doubles play, recording victories in six of their last eight matches with the other two being left undecided.
Sophomore Gijs Linders leads the Green and White with 16 wins in dual matches, including a 6-3 mark in conference play. Junior Aaron Pfister also has a winning record in conference play at 5-4, and has posted 12 wins in the No. 1 slot.
Ohio State enters the weekend with a 26-2 overall record and a perfect 9-0 record in the conference. Their only two losses have come against No. 1 Virginia and No. 12 Texas A&M. A slew of Buckeyes in both singles and doubles play are ranked in the ITA polls. Junior Peter Kobelt leads the way in singles at No. 8, with fellow junior Blaz Rola close behind at No. 10. Senior Connor Smith and freshman Chris Diaz sit at No. 62 and 82, respectively.
All three Buckeye doubles teams rank among the top 50 tandems in the country, with Kobelt/Smith at No. 18, Blaz Rola and Kevin Metka at No. 38, and Devin McCarthy/Ille van Engelen at No. 45.
The Spartans will be attempting to break the longest active Division 1 home winning streak of any sport when they travel to Columbus. The Buckeyes have amassed 164 consecutive wins at home the past decade, with their last loss coming against Illinois on April 5, 2003.
SCOUTING THE NITTANY LIONS
Penn State begins this weekend's matches with an 8-14 overall mark and a 2-7 record in conference action. The Nittany Lions took down Wisconsin 4-2, and Iowa 4-3, but are coming off of losses in four of their last five matches.
Freshman Matt Barry has been a bright spot for the Nittany Lions, playing throughout the singles lineup and posting an 11-7 overall record. Fellow freshman Roman Trkulja has also played throughout the singles lineup and has posted eight victories.
Junior Russell Bader has recorded an impressive 6-2 mark in singles conference action, and has paired with senior Guanhua Chen at primarily the No. 1 doubles spot, recording an additional six wins.
LAST TIME OUT
The Spartans are coming off one of their most crucial weekend performances of the season, where they picked up three victories to push both their overall and conference record above .500. The Spartans opened the weekend with a 5-2 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes, and concluded it in Nebraska with a second conference win against the 60th ranked Cornhuskers and a 5-2 victory over the Mavericks of Nebraska-Omaha. MSU currently sits at No. 6 in the conference rankings.
Following the conclusion of the regular season, MSU will return to Columbus to compete in the Big Ten Championships Thursday, April 25-28 in hopes to bolster their resume for an NCAA tournament bid.