DURHAM, N.C. – Before the Duke men’s tennis team heads to Palo Alto, Calif., this week for NCAA Team Championship action, GoDuke.com caught up with volunteer assistant coach Diego Garavito to learn more about his thoughts on the trip, this year's squad and whether he could top associate head coach Jonathan Stokke in a round of golf.
GoDuke.com: With two years of coaching at Duke, what is one thing you’ve learned here that you’ll always remember?
DG: I’m very thankful for being here. These two years have been such an incredible learning and growing experience for me in every aspect. Coming from a very small school (Bethune-Cookman), I have been able to learn how a big program works and improve my coaching skills from Ramsey Smith, Jonathan Stokke, and Jay Lapidus’ experience. If I had to pick specifics, I would say I’ve learned the most about doubles, how to keep and use stats and do an efficient scouting. Those I will definitely remember and carry with me forever.
GoDuke.com: This will be your first NCAA Team Championship trip with the Blue Devils. What are you most looking forward to about the trip to Palo Alto?
DG: It was unfortunate I had to miss last year’s NCAAs, but I’m ready and excited to live this experience with the team. This tournament is what we’ve been working for during the year. I’m really looking forward to competing at the highest level. NCAAs is where teams come together to make history. I’m excited to be a part of it.
GoDuke.com: What is one area in which you think this year’s team has improved from January to now?
DG: I would definitely say we have really improved our doubles. Stokke’s knowledge has given us a better understanding. I have seen a great improvement among the guys.
GoDuke.com: You’ve spent a lot of time with Duke’s court three doubles teams this year, a position where the Blue Devils have been very successful. What makes a good doubles team?
DG: Our number three doubles with Jason Lapidus and Ryan Dickerson are very coachable and great listeners, plus they bring a lot of energy to the court, maintaining a high intensity through the match.
GoDuke.com: How did Duke’s qualifying for the ITA Team Indoor Championship help this team prepare for the NCAA Team Championship?
DG: I think it was a great experience for all the players and they were able to see how hard the competition is in those tournaments. Hopefully that brings up their motivation for NCAAs.
GoDuke.com: What are your hobbies outside of tennis?
DG: I really enjoy playing golf, watching sports documentaries and listening to music.
GoDuke.com: Have you ever defeated Stokke in a round of golf?
DG: Definitely not! The closest I’ve ever been was at a putting contest we had at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. I’m going to need a lot more hours of practice before I could beat him.
Convinced I work with the best Associate Head Coach in college tennis. Stokke takes his first 1/2 day off of the semester & wins a CGA ⛳️ tournament at WaDuke! #grinder #toogood #🐐 @JonathanStokke @DukeMTEN pic.twitter.com/n0WXfi99jQ— Ramsey Smith (@ramseysmith) March 5, 2018