Ohio State wins 2014 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship
Buckeyes win first indoor title in fourth attempt
HOUSTON, TX (Feb. 17) - The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated USC 4-1 in Monday's final to capture their first title at the 2014 ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championship, hosted by Texas A&M University and held at The Downtown Club at the Met and the Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club.
It was fifth seed Ohio State's fourth trip to the title match and the Buckeyes would get a bit of revenge on third seed USC, who edged them 4-3 in the 2012 final.
Ohio State, 2014 ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Champions
Ohio State's second-ranked doubles team of Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka got the Buckeyes on the right path in the final, as they broke serve at 5-4 in their No. 1 doubles match with Ray Sarmiento and Yannick Hanfmann to take the set 6-4.
Kobelt and Metka were a perfect 4-0 in the first doubles spot at the tournament for Ohio State, and Metka said afterward, "We have really good chemistry and we both have really good serves so that helps us hold."
In third doubles, Ralf Steinbach and Chris Diaz came back from 0-2 down to win five straight games and hold on for a 6-4 win over Eric Johnson and Max De Vroome to clinch the doubles point for Ohio State.
Hunter Callahan went 4-0 for the Buckeyes this weekend
With the 1-0 lead in hand, Hunter Callahan from Ohio State kept the momentum going at sixth singles with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 47 Johnny Wang. The second singles match between No. 16 Yannick Hanfmann of USC and Chris Diaz was a back and forth match. The first set featured four breaks of serve as the Trojan kept pulling ahead, only to have Diaz strike back each time.
The set would go to a tiebreak, which Hanfmann captured 7-4 for the one-set lead. In the second set, the Trojan broke twice more for a 5-1 lead, but Diaz got one break back and held to close the score to 5-3. On his second try, Hanfmann served out the match to get his team on the board, trailing Ohio State 2-1.
Kobelt, ranked No. 23 in the ITA Division I Singles Rankings, had gone 2-1 in the tournament leading into his match with No. 7 Sarmiento at first singles. The Trojan previously took out Kobelt in the first round of last fall's USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, but this time it was Kobelt who would get the win.
In the first set, Sarmiento had three break points at 3-3, but couldn't convert. Kobelt immediately broke in the next game, and served out the set for a 6-3 lead. In the second set, the two battled and held serve for the first six games. At 2-3 down and serving, Kobelt got down 0-40, but his big serve helped him recover to hold for 3-3. A deflated Sarmiento was broken in the next game and the Buckeye held for a 5-3 lead. The Trojan held on to his serve, but it was too little too late and Kobelt served out the match to give the Buckeyes a 3-1 lead with his 6-3, 6-4 victory.
With USC up a set in two of the three remaining matches, the clock was running for the Trojans. Freshman Ralf Steinbach at fourth singles was a game away from the win when Kobelt's match ended. He had just broken USC freshman Connor Farren at 4-4 in the second set and was about to serve for the match, and the title for the Buckeyes.
With all eyes on his match, Steinbach held his serve under pressure to take the match 6-5 (7-4), 6-4 and clinch the win for Ohio State.
Ralf Steinbach was swarmed by teammates after clinching the win
Steinbach, who went 3-0 at the tournament with one unfinished match, was thrilled he was able to clinch it for the Buckeyes. "I'm proud of the team, it was a team effort. We did everything we could to win it. It was a lot of fun and we just fought for every game and every point. It's a great feeling. It's a lot of pressure too, but if you can finish it, it feels great when it's done and everyone is on top of you and you know you've helped the team."
Ohio State head coach Ty Tucker said finally getting a big win was a great feeling. "We've had a few losses, one outdoor final and three indoor finals, so to finally get the big trophy is a relief. [Ralf Steinbach] came back against Virginia and came back against Texas. He really did a fantastic job at third doubles and fourth singles for us."
After the final, senior Kobelt and junior Metka, who are both from Columbus, Ohio, said how much it meant for them to win the national indoor team title. Metka said, "It's a really big accomplishment, especially after losing a lot of guys last year."
Kobelt added,"I think it means a lot that we're both from Columbus, Ohio. We weren't the most talented kids coming into college tennis, but we put in the most work on the practice court. I know no one has put in more work than us over the summer. To be able to go hand in hand with him, hold down the No. 1 singles spot and for him to step up and win some big matches for us this week. It's really cool to see two Ohio guys do that. It means a lot to play for Ohio State and wear the scarlet and gray."
For complete coverage of the 2014 ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championship, including the final draw, recaps, links to photos and more, please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis or like the ITA on Facebook for updates and news from Houston. Use the hashtag #ITAIndoors for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term "ITAIndoors" to find others who are tweeting from across the nation about this year's championship, Feb. 14-17.
The ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championship is held annually each February. The men's event began in 1973 and will be held for the 40th time in 2014. The event features 16 participating teams: the 15 schools who won both of their matches during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend and the host site school. The tournament is held over four days, and begins on Friday with first round play, followed by quarterfinals on Saturday, semifinals on Sunday and the final on Monday.