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Senior Matt Nardella is one of five captains who will be called upon to provide leadership for the Penn tennis squads this season.

Credit: Sam Holland

For Penn men’s tennis, being a captain is a tough but rewarding position, and it is ultimately an honor for those who get chosen for it.

Senior Matt Nardella and junior Josh Pompan were chosen to lead their team to success in this upcoming season, as the Quakers will face some high competition and competitive rivalries.

“It’s the little things,” Nardella said. “It’s about setting a good example and setting a tone at practice every day. When you work hard, everyone else who is younger feeds off of what you do.”

According to Nardella, being a captain is not all about being glorified, and it is not always about being a loud and powerful leader. Rather, it is the smaller things that you do for your teammates that will leave a lasting impact and an enduring legacy on the program long after both captains have graduated.

Pompan agreed with Nardella, but also highlighted some of the glories that come along with being named to this important role on the team.

“It is a great honor to get to represent Penn tennis in this way and what the program has to offer,” he said. “We have a lot of young players, so we came in right away showing them how its done because leading by example is important.”

Both Nardella and Pompan stress the importance of being an example for their young team as they approach this season, and they believe this leadership strategy will lead the Red and Blue to victory. On any team, the veterans set the tone, and the captains feel that it is essential to do their part in contributing to the positive culture of the men’s tennis program.

“It’s about treating all your teammates fairly at practice and treating them well. Our leadership pushes everyone, so again it’s about setting that good example,” Nardella continued.

Similar to Nardella, Pompan believes that showing others on the team how practice is run, how to compete in a match, and how to prepare is key to a successful and strongly bonded team.

“Being really enthusiastic is infectious,” Pompan said.

When the leaders of a team are confident and upbeat, this energy trickles down to every member of the squad. As such, both captains are setting team goals and doing everything they can to prepare their teammates for what lies ahead.

“The Ivy League is tough, so we need to take one match at a time,” Pompan said. “Last year we had a great group, but this year our goals are even higher.”

“We are looking to win the Ivy League, which is something that I haven’t done yet in my three years at Penn, so we are hoping to up the intensity and have bigger expectations for the team,” Nardella added.

The story is very similar on the women’s side. Despite not having captains this year, there are several more experienced players who will look to lead the team by example. First and foremost in that regard is senior Kana Daniel, who earned first-team All-Ivy honors in both doubles and singles last season. Heading into the spring season, Daniel and her partner, freshman Ashley Zhu, are ranked No. 20 in the nation by ITA.

Also assisting in upperclassmen leadership on the women’s team will be juniors Ria Vaidya and Lina Qostal. The pair form Penn’s No. 2 doubles team, as well as slotting in as Penn’s No. 2 and No. 3 singles players respectively.

As Nardella heads into his final season, he is setting a lot of personal goals for himself, but he hopes these will rub off on to his teammates as well.

“I want to go out on a better note than any other season,” he said. “I want to win a majority of my singles and doubles matches, while also just making everyone else better.”

Pompan added to Nardella’s belief about the importance of winning matches on a personal level, but also how great it feels to win as a team.

“Team wins are the best wins, so hopefully we will have a lot of wins now and in the Ivy League,” Pompan added.

These enthusiastic and passionate captains are working hard to push their team to its limits to have the most successful season to date. With this kind of leadership from the upperclassmen to the younger athletes on the squad, the Quakers will be able to handle any adversity that comes their way.