David Geatz may be the new coach of the men’s tennis team, but just two years ago, he was coaching Cornell to a win over the Quakers. Old rivalries aside, the Red and the Blue are glad to have him now. He led two schools — Ohio State and Minnesota — to top-10 national finishes and coached one player at Minnesota to the No. 1 position nationally in singles. He commanded Cornell to its then-best Ivy finish in program history. The Daily Pennsylvanian recently sat down with Geatz for a Q&A session.
Daily Pennsylvanian: What did you like about Penn when you first were considering the job?
David Geatz: I liked the way that the campus is kind of integrated with the city, and I thought the campus was beautiful, and I thought that the tennis facilities show that the athletic department has a commitment toward the Penn tennis program — otherwise they don’t spend seven and a half million dollars [on a new facility]. That place is really impressive. Any recruit you bring over there, anybody that sees that, is going to think it’s kind of special.
DP: What is your approach to recruiting, given that this will be your first season as coach here?
DG: Well, we have a recruiting class coming in; they ranked us as the [No. 17] recruiting class in the country, but that was only based upon two players. I think if they took the other guy — we have an international kid that’s coming that’s on his country’s Davis Cup team — so if you count him, I think we have one of the top eight recruiting classes in the country. So our first recruiting class is pretty good.
DP: You had a lot of success at Cornell. What was your strategy there, and what do you look to do when you take on a new program?
DG: All you really have to do to win in tennis is … get good players and good people, and it’s easy … I think if practice can be fun and guys look forward to it as a part of their day, as a break in their studies, and I think you recruit well and work hard … that’s really a pretty simple formula.
DP: You were on the road last week. What did you see that you liked and what did you see that you think needs work going into the rest of the season?
DG: I told the guys on the team, ‘Every team at the start of the year, you kind of develop a reputation as your team’ … I say we should have the reputation that’s competing hard and fighting and being gritty and never giving up … That’s what I liked about our performance. Everybody really tried, and just competed hard. They would’ve made the alumni proud with the effort they put out.
DP: Over a whole season, what else do you need in addition to “being gritty”?
DG: The most important aspect when you have a team, it comes down to talent. Period. Talent wins, and you can have great team chemistry, and you can have great practices, and you can have great everything, but if you don’t have the talent level that’s similar to your opponents, you won’t win anyway. So, the most important thing is, number one: to have the talent here on campus. And number two: then just create a good environment — like I say, practice is fun, everybody’s working all together.
DP: You’ve been in the Ivy League before. Do you think the current team has the talent to compete within the Ivy League or outside the Ivy League?
DG: I was here a couple of years ago; I don’t think our talent level’s the same … I remember my first year at Cornell … that [was] a talented team. I don’t think we have that same level of talent, but we have some good players.