Michigan State Tennis' Ozan Baris makes program history, falls just short of title

Sparty cheer for Michigan State before kickoff of the Peach Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. on Dec. 30, 2021.
Sparty cheer for Michigan State before kickoff of the Peach Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. on Dec. 30, 2021. / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State Tennis star Ozan Baris accomplished something no Spartan has ever accomplished before. Baris is on a magical run in the NCAA tournament and is heading to the Final Four after a 2-0 (6-4, 6-1) victory over Ohio State’s 30th-ranked Jack Anthrop in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Baris, who is the Big Ten Player of the Year, has been the leader of the Michigan State Tennis team all season. He has been the highest ranked individual on the team all season and was even part of the MSU doubles team that was ranked No. 1 in the country earlier this season.

Baris entered the NCAA tournament as the No. 8 overall seed and has made quick work during his run to the Final Four. Of the four matches he has won in the NCAA tournament, he has won three of them in straight sets. And the one match that went to the third set Baris won 4-6, 6-0, 6-2. So even with the minor slip-up in that first set, he dominated his opponent in sets two and three.

There have been quite a few upsets in the NCAA tournament as Baris is the highest seed remaining in the tournament. So not only has Baris become the only Spartan to ever make it this far in the tournament, but he might be the favorite to win it all.

Baris will take on Alabama’s Filip Planinsek in the Final Four match. Planinsek is on a magical run himself as he is the No. 29 overall seed. Planinsek defeated No. 15 Cooper Williams from Harvard in three sets on Thursday in his quarterfinals matchup. Baris and Planinsek have not played each other this season, but one interesting note is that Baris was losing to Williams from Harvard in the second round of the team NCAA tournament before their match was cut short. So this should be a very exciting match between Baris and Planinsek.

While Baris is the higher seed by far in this match, none of that matters at this point. Just like in the basketball NCAA tournament, whoever makes it this far is playing extremely well, so the rankings don’t mean anything anymore.

Baris and Planinsek went back and forth on Friday afternoon for a spot in the national title game, going to a super tiebreaker after 5-7, 7-5, 6-6 sets. He fell in the final tiebreaker 7-6, just missing out on the singles title game.