Buckeyes face rare away game against USC

The Ohio State men’s tennis team will be on both familiar but oddly unfamiliar ground on Saturday when they take on Southern California in an NCAA super regional.

The fourth-seeded Buckeyes have reached that round of 16 every year since 2003, excluding the COVID-cancelled 2020 tournament.

But when Ohio State takes to the outside courts at the Ty Tucker Tennis Center against the 13th-seeded Trojans, it will only be for the second time this year.

The last weeks second-round match against Columbia It’s the only time this spring that weather hasn’t forced the Buckeyes (26-3) to play on their indoor courts. Since playing at Texas and Texas A&M in mid-March, the Buckeyes’ only other away game has been in the Big Ten tournament against Michigan State in Madison, Wisconsin.

“Yeah, that’s really weird,” said junior Cannon Kingsley. “We had some unlucky weather.”

Rare outdoor game brings different environment as Buckeyes take on Southern California

In that sense, USC might have an advantage. Trojans are used to playing outside.

“It’s a totally different game,” Kingsley said. “Inside, it’s such a controlled environment, and it’s also noisier with the crowds. Outside, it’s a little harder to create that kind of environment where you can’t hear yourself think.

Coach Ty Tucker said there was no reason to worry about the scarcity of away games.

Ohio State coach Ty Tucker is looking for his first NCAA championship.

“What are you going to do, sit down and complain about it?” said Tucker. “All you can do is try to beat the guy who’s 90 feet away from you.”

College tennis crowds are hardly genteel, and Kingsley and Tucker hope a packed crowd will give the Buckeyes a boost, even if playing away might keep it from being deafening.

The winner of Saturday’s game will travel to the final site of the NCAA Championships starting Thursday in Champaign, Illinois. A Buckeye win would set up a quarterfinal game against Michigan if the No. 5 Wolverines beat Texas.

Ohio State has faced Michigan three times this season, dropping a non-conference game in Ann Arbor, winning in Columbus and then losing in the Big Ten tournament final.

Getting to Champaign will not be easy. USC has won 21 national titles and qualified for this round in the last 15 tournaments. The Pac-12 champion Trojans (20-5) have won 12 straight games.

After:Ohio State Buckeyes defeat Columbia 4-0 in second round of NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament

Kingley’s No. 1 singles match against Stefan Dostanic will be a marquee match.

“We’re going to see two of the top three Americans playing college tennis go head-to-head on Court 1 in Cannon Kingsley and Dostanic,” Tucker said.

Dostanic is undefeated in 17 doubles matches and is ranked seventh nationally. Kingsley is No. 9 and 17-4 in doubles matches.

“I think I can beat anybody at home, Kingsley said. “But it will be tough, that’s for sure.

Ohio State and USC had several memorable NCAA games. The Trojans beat OSU in the 2009 final and quarter-final the following year. Ohio State beat USC in the quarterfinals in 2013.

After:Ohio State men’s and women’s tennis teams fall to Michigan in Big Ten tournament final

“There’s obviously a lot of respect we have for USC,” Tucker said. “You’re not saying you have to win, but we have to win. We put so much effort into it and we have to find our way to Champaign.

Ohio State won everything under Tucker except an NCAA championship. It’s a realistic goal this year. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 earlier this season. They have extensive training bolstered by transfers Matej Vocel and Jake Van Emburgh.

“We have a good mix of experienced guys and young guys with a lot of potential, a lot of fire,” Kingsley said. “You never know what’s going to happen in the tournament. The teams are good.

“But I feel like we have the ability to beat every team in the country, 100 per cent, without a doubt.”

Bill Rabinowitz covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @brdispatch.

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