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Highlighted by the of trip sixth-seeded Grace Messina (Caracas, Venezuela) to the quarterfinals of the A Draw, the Merrimack College men’s and women’s tennis programs competed at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) East Regional Championships over the weekend hosted by the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Pa.

Messina entered the A Draw as the sixth seed and received a bye into the second round. There she took on Paulina Velasquez of NYIT, winning by set scores of 6-1 and 6-1. She also triumphed in the third round against Lara Scholtze of Chestnut Hill, 6-4 and 6-4, to make it to the quarterfinals where she battled Alessia Rossetti of NYIT. Messina’s run ended there, as Rossetti beat the third-year player, 6-4 and 6-3.

On the doubles side of the Women’s A Draw, Messina and partner Chealsey Giatrelis (Centerville, Mass.) won their first match before bowing out in the second round. Giatrelis also competed in the singles A Draw, winning her first match in straight sets, 6-1 and 6-1. In the second round the Warriors captain battled a familiar foe in Victoria Barbetta of Stonehill. The duo split the first two sets, with Giatrelis winning the second frame, before playing a tiebreak that went through 30 points. Barbetta prevailed, 16-14, to advance to the third round.

Freshman Lauren Persson (Barnstable, Mass.) headlined the group of Warriors competing in the B Draw. The rookie won three singles matches for a berth in the quarterfinals as her run ended there against Nicole Downey of Stonehill. In the doubles draw, Persson and freshman Mana Seifaei (North York, Ontario) won three matches to move into the semifinals of the draw, including taking down teammates Danielle Dunn (Middleton, Mass.) and Mackenzie Blair (Thomaston, Conn.) in the quarterfinals. Seifaei, Dunn, Blair and freshman Celine Mende (Shrewsbury, Mass.) all competed in the singles bracket as well.

The best performance for the men came in the B Draw in the doubles bracket, as sophomore Frank Vega (Lima, Peru) and freshman Tyler Clontz (Naples, Fla.) won all five of their matches to emerge as champions of the regional. The duo won four of the five matches by at least four points and secured a 8-5 victory in the final over Tom Buckley and Thomas Bellio of Stonehill. Clontz and Thomas O’Brien (Lancaster, Pa.) also competed in singles for the Warriors.

Junior Nick Majewski (Brewster, Mass.) performed the best in B Singles, winning four matches, including a quarterfinal match over teammate Tayyab Sheikh (Longmeadow, Mass.), to advance to the semifinals. Last season, Majewski went to the finals of the regional draw.

Junior Steven Francis (Perth, Australia) entered the A Draw as the 10th seed of 12 seeded players. Francis won his second-round match after a bye in the opening round before falling to Tomas Lieb of NYIT in a contest between seeded competitors in three sets, 1-6, 6-0 and 1-0 (10-5). Senior captain Miguel Belfort (Caracas, Venezuela) and sophomore Mikhail Belov (Krasnoarmeyskoy, Russia) were the lone other Warriors to compete in A Singles. Belfort won his first match before falling in the second round while Belov dropped his opening-round contest.

The women’s team continues its championship season on Wednesday afternoon against Saint Anselm. The men compete this weekend at the UCONN Invitational beginning on Friday at 9 a.m.

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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