Communication, Competitiveness, and Accountability — that's the mantra Rich Bonfiglio preaches.
Penn men’s tennis has a new head coach, with Bonfiglio stepping into the role of Albert G. Molloy Head Men's Tennis Coach after David DiLucia stepped down after just five months in the role. DiLucia was promoted to lead the team after assuming the role of assistant coach for five years, but Bonfiglio is new to Penn's program and is motivated to hit the ground running.
“I’m very honored to be the Penn men’s head tennis coach," Bonfiglio said. "Penn has a rich history on both the men and women’s sides of the Ivy league. Especially after last year, coming off of a historic season, finishing second and having Ivy League Player of the Year, there is a lot of momentum and excitement and I am excited to take the team further.”
Even though Bonfiglio is new to Penn, he has experience in the Ivy League, serving as an assistant coach at Columbia from 2019 until 2021. He also spent time as an assistant coach at USC, the University of San Diego, and Trinity. Before his coaching career, Bonfiglio was a student-athlete at Middlebury for two seasons before transferring to Trinity.
He hopes to draw from his past experiences to create the most productive environment for his team.
“One thing from my time at USC was that it all felt like a family," Bonfiglio said. "Creating that family-type atmosphere is very important and I want to make sure the team continues to do their best on court, in the classroom and in the community — there's no need to sacrifice on either end.”
He further stresses the importance of a familial environment and of building team spirit, particularly in tennis, which can be a lonely sport at times.
“Tennis … is a very individualistic sport and it’s really special to be able to build a community in college," he said. "We have a lot of international students on the team as well, and bringing in that team aspect makes it a happy experience and almost a second home for them.”
This past summer, Bonfiglio was selected as a United States Tennis Association National Collegiate Coach and worked with elite college players from around the country, training them. When reflecting on the experience, he highlights their dedication and discipline, saying “the best players are putting in their all, not just on match days but also on a random Tuesday during practice. They have a discipline that carries into all aspects of their life.”
When asked about his aspirations for the years to come, he first focused on consistency. Last season, the Quakers finished second in Ivy League standings last season and earned its first ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. Penn was eliminated from both singles and doubles in the first round, but this only serves as encouragement for Bonfiglio to take the program to new heights.
“My hope is to be a consistent challenger for Ivy League champion and to regularly compete in the NCAA tournament," he said. "They did it last year, and I hope that we can maintain that run for the years to come."
While the Quakers have been slow out the gate this season, with a 1-2 record so far, they will next play on Feb. 3 at the Hecht Tennis Center — where Bonfiglio looks to turn his hopes into reality.