The Penn men's tennis team certainly had its share of growing pains last fall. After spending the first half of the season without a coach and the second half adjusting to new doubles pairings and a new coach, everything has finally fallen into place. The newly resurrected Quakers are looking to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with this spring. The Quakers, currently 1-3 on the season, haven't started off their spring campaign with as many wins as they would have liked. But then again, the team has faced nationally ranked teams like Minnesota and Kansas. And despite their losing record, Penn has displayed marked improvement from one match to the next. "I think each match we've played so far this season has been a closer one," Penn senior co-captain Eric Sobotka said. "But the guys have to start realizing that we're that good. We shouldn't be surprised when we take out a team like that." Indeed, it seems that lack of potential is not the problem for the Quakers. Their lineup boasts first team All-Ivy selection Fanda Stejskal, as well as Ryan Harwood, whose strong season last year earned him honors as ITA Region I Rookie of the Year. And in tough matches so far this season, the Red and Blue have picked up victories from just about everybody up and down the lineup at one point or another. The question then, lies in whether the Red and Blue can translate their potential into results. While Penn is not about to discount the importance of any of its early season matches, there's no question as to where their its are set. "We're mainly looking forward to the Ivies," Penn senior co-captain Rob Pringle said. "We've never had a winning Ivy season since I've been here, and that's frustrating for me because I think that it's something we should definitely do." But a winning Ancient Eight record won't be easy with tough teams such as Columbia and Princeton waiting in the wings. "We're still not in the position to win the Ivies," Stejskal said. "But we've proven this weekend that we can play good teams, and Kansas is definitely better than the other Ivies." For first-year Penn coach Mark Riley, the success of his team lies in the squad's focus and motivation. "My philosophy is this: the Penn guys take care of their side of the net," Riley said. "They need to compete hard every match, and the rest will fall into place." The Quakers will have plenty of opportunities to fine-tune their games before facing their Ivy League competition. The Red and Blue next face a trio of lesser-known teams before heading to Florida over spring break to play three teams in one week. "We're going to take it one match at a time, to warm up for the Ivy season," Pringle said. "The key is to start off strong, and then it's wide open."Comments powered by Disqus
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