The men’s tennis roster has been thinned out from multiple injuries this season — a reminder that the more depth a team has, the better.
Fortunately for the Quakers, they’ll be adding to next year’s roster with the arrival of a particularly noteworthy recruit: Vimuktha “Vim” De Alwis.
De Alwis, who turns 18 this Wednesday, has literally played all over the world. He first picked up a racket when he was four in the small, landlocked country of Malawi in southeastern Africa.
However, he wouldn’t stay put. His family moved to Sri Lanka, where he has represented his new homeland in the junior and senior World Cup teams, playing as high as second singles on the senior team, despite being its youngest member.
Playing on the Davis Cup team is “something I dreamt of when I was very little,” De Alwis wrote in an email.
“As the Davis Cup event was played in Colombo, Sri Lanka, there was further glamour with press conferences,” he added. “Playing in front of my home crowd … was a very proud moment for me.”
De Alwis has been tested at many levels of the game. During the Davis Cup, he took on Danai Udomchoke, who has been ranked as high as No. 77 on the pro circuit.
Apart from the Davis Cup, De Alwis has also represented Sri Lanka at the Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010 and was only the second Sri Lankan to compete in the Australian Open when he traveled Down Under to play in the junior event this year.
The bottom line is that Penn is receiving a player who has climbed as high as No. 332 in the International Tennis Federation rankings for juniors.
De Alwis noted that he was naturally attracted by Penn’s top-notch facilities — a nod to the newly completed Hamlin Tennis Center — and by Penn’s academic reputation, but that alone would not have been enough, as he was recruited by five other Ivies.
“I felt that by coming under [coach David Geatz’s] wing … I could improve my game by quite a few levels,” he wrote.
The Red and the Blue are not only adding a talented member to their squad, but an ambitious athlete.
Personally, De Alwis expects to play as a starter next season, and “work [himself] up the ladder to become the No. 1 player [on] the team in subsequent years.”
But his goals don’t end there.
“My other personal goals are to become the best player in the Ivy League and also to go further and become one of the top players in the NCAA Division I overall,” he wrote.
His hopes for the team are equally ambitious.
“My team goals are for Penn to win the Ivy League title in all my [four] years and also for Penn to reach the top 20 schools in the [nation].”
That would be quite a turnaround — the Quakers haven’t won the Ivy League or even had a winning record since the 2006-07 season.
Although the Quakers are still in the hunt for both of those accomplishments this year, De Alwis may be the player to put them over the top.