LANCASTER, Pa. – The Ursinus College men's tennis team was picked seventh in the Centennial Conference preseason poll, released Tuesday morning by the league office.
Ten-time defending champion Johns Hopkins sat atop the projections with 81 points and nine first-place votes, while Swarthmore earned the other first-place ballot and was second with 73 points. Haverford was third with 60 points, followed by Franklin & Marshall (58), Washington College (44), Dickinson (43), Ursinus (39), Gettysburg (24), Muhlenberg (18), and McDaniel (10).
With the return of four of their top six from a squad that earned its first-ever regional ranking last season, the Bears hope to contend for a CC playoff berth in 2017. Junior co-captain Max Oberholtzer headlines the lineup following a standout campaign in which he 17-4 and 7-2 in conference matches at number one singles, falling one win short of matching the school record for singles wins in a season and garnering first team all-conference recognition.
Oberholtzer also forms half of Ursinus' top doubles tandem alongside sophomore Paul Vecchio, who was 13-4 at fourth and fifth singles a year ago. A second team all-conference pairing, Oberholtzer and Vecchio were 10-9 together last season, and a 6-3 CC mark and two victories at the ITA Southeast Regional Championships in the fall suggest the pair could be in line for another strong year.
With Oberholtzer and Vecchio holding down the top two spots in the singles ladder, senior co-captain Chanton Phan moves into the third spot after a 9-7 record at number four in 2016. Classmate and fellow co-captain Henry Burke, coming off shoulder surgery last year, will play number four, and junior Peter Shields, who compiled a 10-7 record last season, remains at number five. Phan and Shields also collected a wealth of doubles experience, going 6-8 as the Bears' third duo; they will move up to second doubles this year.
Freshmen Connor DeFaber-Schumacher and Devin Paulison will provide back-of-the-lineup depth along with senior co-captain Jordan Hodess. DeFaber-Schumacher and Burke will play together at third doubles.
The Bears started 7-0 on the way to a 12-7 overall record last season, their best mark since 2013. Ursinus finished 4-5 in conference play, including a historic victory over Washington College that served as the program's first over a regionally ranked opponent. Head coach Pete Smith and company open the spring season on March 6 against Piedmont, the first of five matches on their trip to Florida.