As spring break quickly approaches, Penn men’s tennis is excited to depart frigid Philadelphia for New Mexico, a destination as physically hot as the Quakers’ recent play.
After a trio of 4-3 wins last weekend against Brigham Young, then-No. 73 Utah and then-No. 72 Boise State, the 39th-ranked Red and Blue (9-1) start up their action over break on Saturday with a home match against Radford. The matchup with the Highlanders (1-2) marks the Quakers’ only battle at home between Feb. 11 and March 21.
After wrapping up in Philadelphia, the squad will then head to Albuquerque to take on Georgia State (5-6) and No. 45 New Mexico, before stopping in Las Cruces, N.M. to compete against New Mexico State (2-5) and UT-Arlington (5-3).
While Penn preps to take on another challenging slate of opponents, the Red and Blue have every right to feel confident after last weekend’s sweep. Not only were the Quakers’ victories impressive in their own right, but the team’s current ranking is the highest national ranking in the program’s history.
Despite their success throughout 2015, Penn — only 10 matches into its spring schedule — knows that it cannot afford to become complacent.
“What our team has accomplished up to this point has been great, but we don’t want to rest on our laurels,” senior Jeremy Court said. “Everything we’ve done up to this point is building towards the Ivy League season, the most important part of the tennis season.”
In New Mexico, coach David Geatz finds himself in familiar territory. The fourth-year boss both played and coached for the Lobos in the 1980s.
And as the only ranked opponent on Penn’s trip, New Mexico (8-7) is expected to give the Red and Blue a run for its money.
“From (rankings) 15 to 50, there is a tremendous amount parity,” Geatz said. “Any one of those teams could beat the other on a given day.”
Even though five matches over the course of a week is a test of wills for any team, Geatz has set the bar high for the Quakers. When asked how he would define success over break, the expectation became abundantly clear.
“Win every match,” Geatz said.
Aside from the high number of matches, another challenge the Red and Blue will have to face on the trip is the absence of their No. 1 singles player, freshman Nicolas Podesta. With the rookie on the sideline, junior captain Vim De Alwis will be tasked with playing from the first singles spot.
“I think [Podesta] is almost worth two points,” Geatz said. “He wins all of his singles matches and nearly all of his doubles.”
If the Quakers are able to sustain the momentum they have built up thus far as they head into the remainder of their season, they could establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in a conference full of them.
“It’s been a banner century for Ivy League tennis,” Geatz said. “There are seven Ivy League teams that are ranked in the top-60 in the country, and the conference as a whole is playing better than I’ve ever seen it play before.”
Even though Penn has been on fire as of late, once next week’s Southwestern swing draws to a close, the forthcoming intra-conference competition will make for some very interesting matches down the road.Comments powered by Disqus
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