COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College men's tennis worked overtime for one of its most thrilling victories in recent memory on Monday afternoon, claiming a 5-4 triumph over Oneonta State after back-to-back three-set wins by senior Jordan Hodess and junior Peter Shields.
Hodess and Shields were closers and comeback kings in a 5-4 win for the second time this season, having also brought the Bears (12-5) back from a 4-3 deficit at Dickinson nine days ago. This time, they were but two of five singles matches that went the distance in a back-and-forth tug of war against a strong Red Dragons squad.
Thursday's barn-burner was dotted with three lead changes in singles play alone. Oneonta State (6-10) held a slim 2-1 lead after doubles play, with the Bears picking up their point courtesy of junior Max Oberholtzer and sophomore Paul Vecchip at number one. The home side's top pairing edged Michael Nelson and Joseph D'Orazio, 8-6, to post their 12th victory of the season, good for third in school history.
Oberholtzer became Ursinus' lone double winner with a 6-3, 6-3 defeat of Nelson at first singles, and senior Chanton Phan gave the Bears their first lead with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 triumph against Marco Ammirati at number three.
The Red Dragons pushed Ursinus to the brink with identical 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 scores at number two and number four, leaving the Bears' hopes in the hands of Hodess and Shields. Once again, they rose to the occasion.
Both rallied back from first-set losses. Hodess surged past Nicholas Fox 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 at number six to even the score at 4-all, making Shields' fifth singles match the one for all the marbles. Shields dropped the first set 6-4, then took the second by the same score against Zach Lasky. He was broken serving for the match at 5-3, but broke right back to clinch the Bears' fifth win in seven matches this month.
In addition to playing hero, Shields became the 11th player in program history to reach 25 career singles wins.
Ursinus improved to 7-1 at home this season, with only a date with No. 21 Johns Hopkins remaining on the schedule at Bailey Courts. The Bears' 12th victory matches last season's total for the second-highest in school history.
The men's tennis team now braces for a high-stakes match at Washington College on Wednesday. A victory over the Shoremen (3-2 CC) would all but clinch the Bears' first Centennial Conference playoff berth since 2013.