ALLENTOWN, Pa. – A convincing sweep of doubles play propelled the Ursinus College men's tennis team to a 7-2 Centennial Conference victory over Muhlenberg in a tense contest that was far tighter than the final score indicated.
Senior Max Oberholtzer, sophomore Connor DeFaber-Shumacher, and freshmen Mason Groff and Matt Fontanese were double winners for the Bears (8-4, 2-2), who won two-thirds of six razor-thin singles decisions. The first four singles courts – three of them Ursinus victories – all went to third-set super breakers, while numbers five and six were 8-5 and 8-6 pro sets, respectively.
Doubles play was not an indicator of the tug-of-war to come. None of the three courts was closer than 8-5, and the clean sweep gave the Bears the momentum they needed to even their conference record.
Back in action for the first time since spring break, senior Peter Shields rejoined Groff at second doubles, and the pair picked right back where it left off. The Bears' preferred second tandem rolled to an 8-2 win over Jason Grant and Noah Dunn, running their dual record to 7-0.
DeFaber-Schumacher and Fontanese cruised to an 8-3 result against Andrew Natko and Adam Kronick at third doubles before Oberholtzer and junior Paul Vecchio prevailed in an 8-5 decision opposite Mickey Schindler and Noah Sellinger at number one.
The win was the 61st of Vecchio's career and moved him into a tie with Dylan Marsh '14 for eighth in school history. Vecchio now owns 32 career doubles triumphs, tied with Henry Burke '17 for seventh all-time.
Then came a barrage of nip-and-tuck individual battles at the top of the lineup. After dropping the first set to Schindler, an honorable mention All-CC performer a year ago, Oberholtzer trailed 5-4 in the second set. Serving for the match, Schindler twice got to match point only for Oberholtzer to ward off elimination both times and pull even with a hard-fought break. The Bears' senior held his own serve and broke Schindler again to take the second set, 7-5, and force a decisive third set.
Locked at 6-apiece in the super tiebreaker, Oberholtzer rattled off the next three points and clinched a 10-7 decision on his second match point. The impressive victory marked another major milestone for Oberholtzer, who pulled into a tie with head coach Pete Smith for third on the all-time program charts with 75 career wins.
Groff shook off a second-set defeat to post a 6-2, 3-6, 10-7 triumph over Grant at number two singles, his first career CC singles win. DeFaber-Schumacher had just enough to get past Dagilis in a 6-7 (6), 6-3, 10-8 thriller at number four.
Vecchio was on the short end of a 6-4, 4-6, 10-7 marathon against Sellinger at third singles.
Fontanese picked up his second straight singles win, downing Eli Taylor-Kerman, 8-5, on the fifth court. Junior Jake Lachowicz battled Dunn before falling 8-6 at number six.
The men's tennis team will honor Oberholtzer and Peter Shields on Senior Day before taking on Dickinson in a critical CC contest on Saturday.