Men’s Tennis: Trotter’s and Lutschaunig’s final doubles match earns them NCAA doubles title

James Trotter and Andrew Lutschaunig became the second pairing in Ohio State history to win the NCAA Doubles National Championship. Credit: Ohio State Athletics

Five years, 37 doubles matches and one national championship later, James Trotter and Andrew Lutschaunig’s partnership on the tennis court has come to a victorious end. 

The 2023 NCAA Doubles National Champions, Trotter and Lutschaunig, both joined the Buckeyes tennis program under head coach Ty Tucker in 2018. Since then, the doubles duo has gone 28-9 and is now only the second pairing to win the title in Ohio State history. The first was in 2012 from Chase Buchanan and Blaž Rola. 

“Being two guys coming in at the same time, I think our relationship grew,” Trotter said. “We came in as members of the tennis team, and our goal is to have Ohio State at the top, so, I mean, it’s like both of us fighting for each other.” 

This spring, Trotter and Lutschaunig went 18-8, though they fell to Virginia 6-2 in doubles in the final round of the NCAA Championship May 21. The No. 3 Buckeyes couldn’t come up with the win against the No. 5 Hokies and finished their season as runners-up in a 4-0 loss. 

Just six days later, though, Trotter and Lutschaunig had another shot to come up with a championship for Ohio State  — their last opportunity as a pair.

“The message to them was go and have fun,” Tucker said. “What a great story, two guys that came in together, two guys that weren’t supposed to be in the finals of the NCAA tournament with a chance to win it. Have fun, but hold serve.” 

The doubles championship began May 24, and the first win for the duo was against Baylor. Trotter and Lutschaunig went on to defeat doubles pairs from Florida, Illinois and Pepperdine before facing familiar foes: Texas’s Cleeve Harper and Eliot Spizzirri. 

Trotter and Lutschaunig already faced Harper and Spizzirri twice this season — both ended in Buckeye victories. The first was Feb. 5, 6-3, and the second was a 6-4 win at the ITA Indoor Team National Championship Feb. 18.

“We knew how to play them,” Lutschaunig said. “They beat a lot of top teams. Both of the wins were indoors and one of them was at home, so it’s a completely different game outdoors and at a neutral site.” 

It came down to two sets, both resulting in 6-4 Ohio State victories and a title-winning ace for Trotter, making for his final play as a Buckeye. 

“I don’t think many people can say the last match that they played was for the national championship — and they won it,” Trotter said. “I’m able to say that my last shot I ever hit for college was an ace to win the national championship — that obviously feels nice.” 

With the additional COVID-19 year, Trotter played five years in the Ohio State tennis program, but will now play professional tennis for his home country, Japan. 

“He’s nothing but a good — a great — student-athlete who represented the program very well,” Tucker said. “We’re going to miss him, but now he has an unbelievable opportunity to play some professional tennis for Japan.” 

With another year of eligibility left for Lutschaunig after he redshirted his freshman season, he will return to the tennis court in the spring, rather than the fall, due to a rotator cuff and labrum shoulder injury. 

Lutschaunig, who had surgery just a couple of days following their doubles victory, will be recovering all off-season and fall with hopes of returning to the court for his final season in the spring of 2024. 

“For that semester [fall 2023], I’ll need to make sure that I’m present, still, with them [freshman], talking to them,” Lutschaunig said. 

Trotter will be the first Ohio State tennis player to play professionally since J.J. Tracy in 2019 and Lutschaunig will be one of two seniors next season, respectively, depending on additional COVID-19 year options. 

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