The Capital University men's tennis team continues its Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament run this Friday against cross-town rival Otterbein in the tournament semifinals at Lindner Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.
The Crusaders (13-5 overall) earned the No. 2 seed in the championship after posting a 7-2 mark in OAC play during the season. Capital defeated Heidelberg 5-0 on Tuesday to move on to the semifinals for the first time since the tournament moved to a dual match format.
Friday's match will be played at Lindner Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, the site of the annual Western & Southern Open, a tour stop for both the ATP and WTA and part of the U.S. Open Series.
"You dream about playing there as a kid because that's where the pros play," senior captain John Murray said. "Our goal as a team was to make it to the semifinals, and it's a great incentive to play there. We have a great opportunity."
The Crusaders squared off against the Cardinals (15-6) last Saturday, taking two of three doubles matches and three of six in singles to post a 5-4 triumph. Freshmen Gian Carlo DiMichelangelo (Westerville, Ohio), Jared Judson (Dublin, Ohio) and Spencer Walter (Hilliard, Ohio) each captured both singles and doubles wins.
DiMichelangelo and Judson paired up for an 8-6 victory at No. 3 doubles before each registering straight-set singles wins, DiMichelangelo at the No. 5 slot and Judson at the sixth position. Walter won in two sets at the No. 4 singles spot after teaming with classmate Luke Buchanan (Westerville, Ohio) for a 9-7 triumph at the top doubles slot.
"We're very competitive with Otterbein," Murray said. "I like our chances. We've beaten them before, so we hope to beat them again. It'll go down to the wire."
Entering play Friday, Walter leads the team with 14 singles victories, including a team-leading 7-1 mark in conference play. Judson is next with 13 wins, followed by Murray (Bolingbrook, Ill.) and DiMichelangelo, who have 12 apiece.
Buchanan, playing primarily at the No. 1 singles spot in his first year with the team, has nine wins. Sophomore Kenny Duncan (Poland, Ohio), the team's primary option at the second position, also has nine wins.
Duncan and Murray own the team's top doubles mark at 14-8, followed closely by DiMichelangelo and Judson (12-7) and Buchanan and Walter (12-11).
With a victory Friday, Capital would move on to the OAC Tournament final Saturday to face either top seed/regular season champion Ohio Northern or No. 4 seeded Mount Union. The winner of Saturday's match receives the OAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The Crusaders seek their first team NCAA appearance in program history. Capital won the OAC Tournament in 2001 when it was not a dual match format.
Murray, who is in line to graduate Saturday, said he doesn't necessarily want to be at the ceremony.
"I hope I'm not at commencement because it means we're playing," Murray said. "I've enjoyed being out here with the guys and having great team unity … it's about more than just playing tennis."