PHILADELPHIA – Penn opens its 2009 men’s tennis season on Saturday with neighboring Drexel in the Levy Tennis Pavilion at 1 p.m.
The Quakers, coming off a fall season that featured many solid wins over top competition, will look to capture another Ivy League title. They will prepare for the tough, seven-match league season with a difficult non-conference schedule that features trips to California and Florida to play some of the top schools in the country.
“The team is really excited to be playing our first dual match of the season,” head coach Nik DeVore said. “The fall was very successful, so expectations are high.”
Looking at this weekend, DeVore knows that his team, while excited to start the season, will not look past the Dragons.
“Drexel is a good team, one that we cannot underestimate,” he said. “There really is no pressure on them when they come play at our place, especially since we have won the last few matches with them. They are very dangerous and have good players up and down their roster.”
A glance at Penn’s roster will feature a mix of returning players and promising newcomers.
At the top is senior captain Jonathan Boym. A former Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Boym has healed from injuries that kept him out of the fall season and is ready to compete.
Junior Adam Schwartz is another veteran for DeVore. His fall season impressed the coach.
“Adam has really improved his game from last season to this,” DeVore said. “He beat a lot of players this fall that he may not have been able to last season. He has shown commitment and is being rewarded for it.”
Other returning players include Alex Vasin, Justen Roth, Jeffrey Karsh, Dmitry Bury and Zach Gorn.
Added to the squad for 2009 are three new players. Junior Hicham Laalej transferred from Stetson University and has stepped right into the lineup. He was ranked No. 105 in the preseason polls.
He is joined in the lineup by two freshmen, Phil Law and Jason Lin. Both players saw considerable time in the fall and are prepared to make an impact in their rookie campaigns.
“We still have competition at all spots in the lineup,” DeVore said. “We will probably do a great deal of experimenting early in the season, especially with the doubles combinations.”
DeVore and his team hope that the experimenting now results in excitement – and an Ivy title – in April.