DURHAM, N.C. – Duke men’s tennis associate head coach Jonathan Stokke is in his seventh season on the Blue Devil staff in 2017. Stokke, who joined the staff in July, 2010, was an assistant coach for his first five campaigns before becoming an associate head coach prior to the 2015-16 season.
This spring, Stokke has overseen a roster that features three freshman on a squad that is off to a 7-3 start. The Blue Devils are unbeaten at home at 7-0 and head to Virginia Tech on Saturday to open the ACC portion of the season. Recently Stokke spent time with GoDuke.com.
GoDuke.com: As we look to the beginning of ACC play, what are some of the biggest improvements you’ve seen with this team from January to now?
Jonathan Stokke: I think each guy is really learning his identity on the court. We have a young team and everyone has been doing a great job of figuring out his strengths and weaknesses on the singles court. Over the last few weeks I’ve seen each guy get more confident in his patterns of play. I’m excited to see where that leads over the next two months.
GoDuke.com: How does it help the team to play in a conference like the ACC, which has so many team ranked within the top 10 nationally?
JS: Playing in a top conference like the ACC is huge for our player development program. When you compete against the best every week, you can measure how you stack up on a national level and pinpoint the areas that you might need to improve as a team.
GoDuke.com: What have you seen from this year’s three freshmen, Spencer Furman, Robert Levine and Nick Stachowiak, that has been most encouraging to you so far?
JS: My favorite thing I’ve seen from our freshmen is their desire to learn and improve. All three guys are constantly asking questions about their own styles of play, stroke technique, trends in the pro game, etc. They take coaching extremely well and have open minds, which will serve them well over the next four years.
GoDuke.com: With Furman and Stachowiak getting off to such a solid start in doubles, what makes a strong doubles team and what have they done that works well together?
JS: Spencer and Nick have been great so far in doubles. They aren’t a traditional doubles team that relies on huge serves and net play, but they compete like animals and always play to their strengths as a team. They are amazing at supporting each other at all times. When you have a partner that believes in you and gives you the freedom to be yourself, chances are you will compete at your highest level.
GoDuke.com: What are some of the things you enjoy doing most away from tennis?
JS: Coaching is my passion. When I leave the tennis court I truly enjoy watching videos of our practices and matches. I’m always trying to figure out what might get each guy to the next level. If I do get away from coaching, I spend almost all my free time playing golf. I’m training for my debut on the PGA Champions Tour in 2034 so stay tuned!