After failing to qualify for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Mens Indoor Championships for the first time in 20 years, the Buckeyes have returned looking as strong as ever.
In a season like no other, senior John McNally and sixth-year senior Kyle Seelig have been a big part of the Buckeyes turnaround. After several positive COVID-19 cases on the team, the game was suspended for about a month for many players, with little time to prepare before attempting to make it to the National Indoors.
We had a one-month break, and it was the first time in 20 years that Ohio State had failed to qualify for National Indoors, McNally said. To be honest, it’s kind of embarrassing, being an older man on the team, I took that to heart. I was very upset about what had happened.
Despite the tough stretch, Seelig said, he believes the Buckeyes changed things.
We were clearly disappointed not to make it to National Indoors, but I think we turned a bit of a corner. We beat No. 6 Illinois on the road and we beat them quite convincingly 4-1, Seelig said. I think we’ve definitely gotten better since then and we used that month really well to get together as a team and really refocus.
The two decorated seniors lead a younger team into battle.
McNally has won a number of accolades in his time at Ohio State, including ITA Singles All-American, ITA Doubles All-American, and three-time first-team All-Big Ten.
However, McNally said he looks past the individual awards.
I just want to put myself in the best position I can to win for Ohio State and do everything I have to do to help the team win at the end of the day, McNally said. Obviously, being an All-American again is the icing on the cake, but if it doesn’t and we win a national championship, I don’t care. That (championship) would be much more important to me at this point than getting individual awards.
McNally said he has seen his role grow this season and has focused on becoming a better leader.
Trying to be a better leader is great, and it’s something I really shouldn’t have to work on, McNally said. Tennis is an individual sport, so my whole life has revolved around me, but now there are some young guys who need a little help and a team that needs a little more help than in the past.
McNally said he is ready to fully embrace his role as a frontman alongside Seelig, a veteran leader in his sixth season at Ohio State.
Seelig has also been extremely successful during his time at Ohio State, winning such awards as two-time first-team All-Big Ten and being part of the All-Tournament team at the ITA Indoor Doubles 2019 and the NCAA 2018. Championship All-Tournament team.
With his experience and accolades, Seelig said he knows to keep leading his Buckeyes.
I feel like if I succeed the team will succeed, and at the end of the day I honestly think I’ll just go out and expect to win, that playing with confidence is my goal now, Seelig said.
The Buckeyes have high expectations, and that puts extra pressure on the team, especially the biggest players, McNally said.
It’s sort of a way that you’re under pressure, McNally said. If you view pressure as a privilege, knowing that if there is pressure, it means that you are doing something right, or that you are taking pressure and collapsing under the pressure. I think there are two ways you can look at that.
Ohio State is currently 9-2 playing arguably their best tennis of the season. After a heavy loss to Virginia, the Buckeyes rattled out eight consecutive wins and recently lost a close game against Michigan.
Ohio State also has eight sweeps in the season from 11 games.
As McNally and Seelig progress through their final seasons, the ultimate goal has remained unchanged in their time as Buckeyes.
Since I came here my freshman year, the goal has always been to win a national championship, McNally said. I know when I was recruited by Coach Tucker who was on the field. Being from Ohio and Ohio State and never winning an NCAA Outdoor Championship, my goal was always to try and we got off my freshman year.
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