FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – Mason Groff and Matt Fontanese accomplished a rare feat at the expense of a Centennial Conference rival to headline the Ursinus College men's tennis team's first day of competition at the ITA Southeast Regional at Mary Washington.
Groff and Fontanese took down one of Haverford's top pairings, Pranav Krishnan and Kevin Yan, to become just the second tandem in program history to gain the Round of 16 in the championship doubles draw. They reached the second round courtesy of a walkover, setting up a matchup against a pair of players who each earned All-Centennial Conference doubles honors a year ago. Thanks in large part to the effectiveness of their return game, the Bears' duo played its best match together and came away with an 8-5 victory.
Groff and Fontanese joined Max Oberholtzer and Paul Vecchio, who won two main-draw matches in 2016, as the only Ursinus players to advance as far as the Round of 16 at the regional tournament. They will take on Christopher Newport's Matthew Dubuque and Bently Goodwin, who upset the No. 2 seed from Mary Washington in the second round, on Saturday morning with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line.
Including the walkover, Groff's career doubles record now stands at 30-10; he is the 11th player in school history to reach 30 doubles victories and joins senior teammate Connor DeFaber-Schumacher in reaching the milestone this fall.
Fontanese was hardly done picking up big wins. The junior also moved into the semifinals of B4 singles, downing Bridgewater's Matthew Gordon 6-4, 6-1 before pulling out a marathon three-setter against Stevenson's Raymond McDermott. Fontanese's 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5) epic set up a match with Goucher's Brian Kane in Saturday's last four.
DeFaber-Schumacher and Noah Mandel lost their first-round match in the B1 doubles draw, falling 8-5 to Salisbury's Andrew Kilchenstein and William Niessner.
Groff gave big-serving Daniel Blonquist a battle in the first round of championship singles, taking the first set in a tiebreaker before Blonquist nabbed the next two, 6-2 and 6-1.