PHILADELPHIA - In an article published this week by the website TennisRecruiting.net, the Penn men's tennis team has been awarded a national ranking of No. 13 for its incoming Class of 2017. This four-person group is now the second straight Top 20 recruiting class that Head Coach David Geatz has achieved in his two years at the helm.
Though traditional powers such as Virginia and UCLA occupy the top spots in the poll, Penn is the highest-ranked Ivy League team this year, making the list with three five-star recruits and one four-star athlete. Other Ivy teams in the poll include Columbia (No. 15), Princeton (No. 21) and Cornell (No. 23). Below are brief looks at these future members of the Red and Blue:
Matthew Nardella (Manlius, N.Y./Christian Brothers Academy)
Ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the state of New York and No. 29 nationally, Matthew Nardella has qualified for the state tournament in each of his first three high school seasons, finishing third in the state as a sophomore. Within the past six months, Nardella has shot up the charts with his strong showings in +L1 and USTA tournaments. Playing in 10 juniors tournaments since the middle of last summer, he has two titles, three runner-up finishes, a third-place effort and two consolation championships to his credit.
Marshall Sharp (Memphis, Tenn./Memphis University School)
A big right-hander with two Tennessee Division 2-AA state titles under his belt, Sharp will look to add to his hardware in the upcoming season. On the juniors circuit, he has won the USTA National Open for 14's in the summer of 2009, the Peachstate National Open for 16's in the summer of 2010, a National Regional for 18's in the fall of 2011 and tied for first after a rain-out at a National Open for 18's that same year.
Thomas Spratt (Charleston, S.C./Porter-Gaud)
Yet another righty who will add some serious size to the Penn roster, Thomas Spratt is a 6-6 product of Porter-Gaud School, a South Carolina powerhouse program. Spratt and his Cyclone teammates have won state titles in 2009 (when Spratt was an eighth-grader) and again this past spring in his junior campaign. It was after this past year's title that the
Charleston Post and Courier named Spratt its Lowcountry Player of the Year. Spratt has also shown a knack for doubles play, teaming with partner Matt Mendez for a number of deep tournament runs in recent years, and pairing with soon-to-be-teammate Sharp for a third-place finish at the Spring Southern Closed Championships in May of 2012.
Stu Little (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington)
The final new addition to the Penn roster is someone who has grown very much accustomed to the pressures of tournament play. As part of state title teams in both his freshman and junior years, Stu Little was named Team MVP at Upper Arlington in each campaign. As a freshman and sophomore, Little teamed with an older member of the Upper Arlington squad to claim Ohio Division I doubles titles. Upon the graduation of his doubles partner, Little focused on singles play last season and reached the state quarterfinals.
This year's Penn squad is inching closer to its spring debut, making the trek to Penn State for a matchup with the Nittany Lions on Feb. 2. The Quakers will open the home portion of their schedule the next day, taking on Buffalo from the Levy Tennis Pavilion at 1 p.m. on Feb. 3.