This weekend represents the last time that senior captain Matt Nardella will have the opportunity to compete at home for the Red and Blue.

Credit: Zach Sheldon

With just three matches left in the season, Penn men’s tennis is in the home stretch. Currently three matches behind first place, the Quakers (14-9, 1-3 Ivy) do not have a chance of winning the Ivy League, but their two opponents this weekend — Dartmouth and Harvard — are still in contention. As the Red and Blue try to play spoiler for the Big Green (10-13, 2-3) and the Crimson (16-9, 4-1), here are three key questions to look out for in Penn’s final home matches of the season

1. Will Kyle Mautner and Nicolas Podesta be in the lineup?

Unfortunately for the Quakers, the status of sophomore Kyle Mautner and junior Nicolas Podesta remain in question heading into the weekend.

While Mautner was impressive last Sunday in a three-set victory over Brown in the No. 1 singles spot, an injury forced him to retire early in his other top singles match against Yale.

Podesta, on the other hand, was not even able to suit up for last weekend’s matches due to illness. It is not entirely clear what kind of illness Podesta is suffering from, but before rejoining the team earlier this year, a serious case of mononucleosis kept him sidelined for several months.

It is challenging anytime a player is not able to compete, but Mautner’s and Podesta’s positions near the top of the lineup make their absences especially difficiult.

“Those are two of the better guys in the league, and we need both those guys in the lineup,” coach David Geatz said.

2. How will Penn respond to being out of Ivy contention?

It will also be interesting to see how the Quakers approach their matches this weekend. With any hopes of a league crown or playing in a postseason gone, it might be easy for some of the players to lose their edge.

Still, the matches will have plenty of meaning for their opponents, as both Dartmouth and Harvard are still fighting for a chance to win the conference. The chance to spoil a rival’s season might be enough motivation, but even if not, Geatz still believes these matches have lot of importance.

“When I was in the Big 10, the whole emphasis was on winning the tournament, winning the conference championship, making it to the NCAAs,” Geatz said. “But at Penn, it’s like every Ivy League match is like a little NCAA Tournament first round tournament match.”

3. What will we see from the seniors in their last home matches for the Red and Blue?

Although the Quakers will have one final road match against Princeton next week, this weekend will be Penn’s last home matches of the season. While many of the younger players may just be looking ahead to next season, this weekend will carry a different meaning for the four seniors on Penn’s roster.

As most of Penn’s seniors fall towards the middle and the bottom of the lineup, it will be especially interesting to see how they respond if Mautner and Podesta are not able to suit up. Will the seniors rise up to the occasion or will the pressure of the moment just be too much?

For senior Matt Nardella, whatever the situation is, he will just approach it as he does every other match.

“[I plan] just to go out and do what I normally do and everything will take care of itself,” Nardella said.

Geatz’s message to the seniors is pretty simple, too:

“Finish strong.”

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