He’s done it many times before, and now it looks like he’s adding another to his tally.
Over a career that spans more than 30 years, David Geatz has amassed a shelf’s worth of accolades and with that, a reputation as one of the league’s most illustrious program builders.
His impact has been felt on tennis teams across the country, and at each stop in his coaching tenure, he has never failed to find success.
In the west, he brought New Mexico — his alma mater — to a top-20 national ranking, earning him NCAA Regional Coach of the Year honors, among other awards.
An 18-year tenure at the head of Minnesota brought the Golden Gophers five Big Ten titles along with a No. 10 national ranking, the highest in the program’s history.
For Geatz, coaching at Penn is not even his first escapade in the Ancient Eight — he spent two seasons at Cornell. The Big Red jumped from sixth to second in the Ivy League after one season with Geatz in charge only to go on to take the title in the year following his departure.
Now entering his fifth season at the helm of the Quakers, Geatz has brought the same expertise to a once struggling program. The team has seen improvement in each year that he has led, with the most recent season being an historic one for Penn.
The 14 wins the Red and Blue accrued last season were the most since 2006, a feat that contributed to the program’s highest ever national ranking at No. 39 leading into conference play last year.
For Geatz’s Penn experience though, the road has been unpredictably rough, the ride too long and the reward not yet enough.
“I thought we’d get there quicker,” Geatz said. “That’s what I was hoping.”
According to the Albert G. Molloy Head Coach of Men’s Tennis, last season’s narrative is best explained as the story of two distinct teams: a national tournament contender and a squad plagued by devastating injuries.
“I think we should’ve had the best team Penn ever had last year,” Geatz said. “But the last 20 percent of our year we had a few timely injuries and lost our No. 1 and No. 2 players.”
The new year, however, poses new opportunities, and after an unfortunate 2014-15 campaign marred by timely injuries, Geatz will be desperate for the chance to truly test his program and set out to achieve the goals he entered with.
This season marks the first in which Geatz personally recruited all the players on the roster, a fact that he claims will lead to “an interesting year.”
Geatz closely links a team’s success to the success of its recruiting efforts, and this season’s squad represents some of his best work.
“You have to have good players for sure,” Geatz said. “I think we have the deepest team I’ve had. We also have the most talented team that I’ve had.”
While there may not be a plethora of international talent, high quality American players are extremely well represented. According to Geatz, each of his recruits has been either a five-star or a blue chip player, the two highest classifications in junior tennis.
He gives partial credit to the school’s prestigious academic reputation and facilities for allowing him to recruit more and more talent each year while also reserving gratitude for his current players.
“People come here and say, I think the team is going to get better, and the guys on the team are good guys. They help sell the program,” Geatz said. “Hopefully we can keep going forward and keep on recruiting.”
As for what “going forward” entails, Geatz seems dissatisfied with cautious progress. His goals for this season are ambitious: to be strong contenders in the Ivy League and be the first team in Penn history to qualify for the NCAA championship tournament.
Should the Quakers avoid the derailing injuries that plagued the team last season, those goals could very well be a reality. But regardless, Geatz recognizes that his time at Penn has been nothing short of special and is hungry to create a lasting legacy for himself down at Penn Park.
“Things didn’t happen as fast as I wanted them to happen, but every year I’ve been here, I’ve got the opportunity to work with truly great kids,” Geatz said.
“I love the guys on our team. I think they’re a really special group of guys, and so win or lose, it’s truly been an amazing experience.”
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