Part of what makes college athletics so dynamic and fun is its constant turnover of student-athletes.
After four years, or in some sports even fewer, a team’s best players will move on. There are no long-term contracts and no guarantees. A school’s success in both the immediate future and over the course of several years depends entirely on how well coaches recruit.
In the case of the Penn men’s tennis, the current crop of freshmen has been fundamental to the Red and Blue’s strong season. As the year comes to a close, it's difficult not to be excited about next season’s recruiting class, one that already appears poised to be one of the nation’s best.
Every January, a panel of over 20 of the country’s best coaches, national tournament directors, media members and other experts review the early commitments and release a list of the top-25 recruiting classes for the following year. This year, Penn ranked 14th, a huge step up after not even making the list for the previous season.
The 2015-16 recruiting class was originally headlined by three five-star recruits, the second-highest rank a recruit can attain, only behind blue chip.
Kyle Mautner, from Greenwich, Conn., verbally committed to Penn early in 2015. Mautner was ranked as high as No. 31 in the nation and has been featured as one of the 100 best recruits from his class.
John Karlawish, out of Raleigh, N.C., will also look to make a big impact for the Quakers next year. Ranked No. 61 in the country, Karlawish made the same list of the top 100 recruits for this year’s graduating class.
The third high school senior and five-star recruit who was a major factor in Penn’s winter recruiting ranking is Jack Turchetta. Although originally listed as committed to the Quakers, the Pound Ridge, N.Y., native changed his mind and verbally committed to Columbia.
This is certainly a blow to Penn’s overall level of talent, but Turchetta’s decision to join the Lions stings a bit more for the Red and Blue because he chose a rival team within the Ivy League. Not only will Penn miss out on the opportunity to have him on the roster, but they will have to face him every year when they take on one of the top teams in the Ancient Eight.
Columbia, along with other Ivy League programs, also appears to have a strong class arriving at school next year.
In fact, Columbia has the highest ranked winter recruiting class among all of the Ivy League schools, coming in at No. 12. The Lions’ class of 2019 includes blue chip Victor Pham of Saratoga, Calif., and two highly touted international recruits, William Matheson of New Zealand and Robin Nguy from Hong Kong. The Lions topped the conference in 2014, are undefeated in Ancient Eight play in 2015 and look to get even meaner in 2016.
Yale — and its No. 17 class — and Cornell —with its 26th-ranked class — are improving as well. All in all, four of the top 25 winter recruiting classes hail from the Ivy League, signaling the growth and strength of tennis in the conference.
At the end of the day, these recruiting lists only carry so much meaning. And although it is nice to have a highly rated recruiting class, Penn’s current group of freshmen shows that rankings don’t always predict the ultimate success of a group of athletes. But the group — including Nicolas Podesta, Josh Pompan, Nicholai Westergaard and Gabriel Rapoport — have definitely become a major force for the Quakers this season.
Despite some minor disappointment with the loss of Turchetta, with the current assemblage of freshman and the incoming class of 2019, Penn’s future looks increasingly bright. And if top-level recruits continue to choose Penn, the Quakers could become one of the best teams in the Ivy League even as the status of Ancient Eight tennis keeps rising.Comments powered by Disqus
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