Connor Johnston has the drive to succeed. He is now a 5th year season at the University Of Michigan captaining the team for the second year in a row. He led Michigan to a team ranking of 3 last school year before Covid-19 canceled the remainder of the season. Connor has had quite the career. He was ranked 87th NCAA Singles on February 18th, 2020 and has been as high as 10th in the country in doubles. Keep reading to find out his key to success and how tennis has shaped him!
You can check out his player bio here.
- How did you first get into tennis?
Connor: My 2 older sisters played and would always hit with my mom. When I was 4 years old I would hit with my mom while my sisters played beside us. I was tired of sitting on the bench and watching them play.
- You were named Mr. Tennis in the state of Michigan, how did you get that title?
Connor: I got the title of Mr. Tennis because I was the most accomplished player of the highschool season, I won the state title that year after losing it in the finals the previous 2 years. I was hype, and that meant more to me than the title.
- What made you choose the University of Michigan?
Connor: It has the perfect balance of academics and tennis. We are trying to be number 1 in the country and be the best. For academics, we are elite also. I am really close to my family and I wanted to be closer to home, so 30 minutes away from them is nice. They can come and support the team and I at our matches.
- You love playing doubles. What was it like only playing doubles your first 2 years of college?
Connor: I felt like that was my role. We were really good and had a lot of older guys on our team. I accepted the role and tried to win every doubles set. I only played for 30-45 minutes so I made sure I played my heart out. I am a better doubles player so it worked out.
- What is your most memorable moment of your college tennis career so far?
Connor: Easily, making the final 4 at ITA Indoors. We were up 3-1 that match to get to the finals. We beat times that we were not supposed to beat on paper. We played the Michigan way, together. When we play the Michigan way we can take out teams that are better than us on paper. We finished the 2019-2020 season ranked 3rd in the country when covid ended the season.
- During your senior year you found success in singles being ranked in singles for the first time, was this your time to prove you are a threat on the singles court?
Connor: To be honest, I just try to play the Michigan way. I believe if you are wearing the Michigan jersey and are playing, you cannot lose. I played singles my junior year so I was able to get some matches in before senior year, that helped too.
- What is the Michigan way?
Connor: Our philosophy takes an individual sport and makes it a team sport. We have 13 guys on our team so every match is 13 against 1 or in doubles 13 against 2. We play with a lot of energy, intensity, enthusiasm, unmatched by any other school. When you’re winning it overwhelms your team and when you’re losing it is easy to get out of that rut because your teammates are cheering you on. We are 1 whole unit and we are going to win together.
- What was going through your head when you found out your senior season was going to be canceled?
Connor: It was horrible, I had a million thoughts. I didn’t find out I was playing another year until a month after school closed. It was a terrible feeling and I felt like the season got stripped from me. I know that all seniors were going through this so I felt a little better. There was nothing we could do. If it was for the health of the country and world then we had to stop.
- Was it a tough decision to decide to play a 5th year? How did you make your decision?
Connor: It was an easy decision for me because I had 1 more semester on campus left to finish my major. Even if I didn’t, I wanted to come back and win a national championship. We had some unfinished business.
- You’re now in your 5th year at Michigan, hopefully the spring season can be played. How do you envision yourself finishing your college career?
Connor: Being number 1. That’s it. I can picture it.
- What are 3 words that you can use to define how tennis has shaped you?
Connor: Discipline, commitment, and loving
- Describe one moment where tennis made you stronger?
Connor: It is tough to think about one specific time. Every workout that we go through makes me stronger. Especially the tough 6 AM workouts on the track. Those ones are tough because they push you beyond your limits.
I am looking forward to seeing if Connor and his teammates can fulfill their goal of finishing the number 1 ranked team this year. That would be an amazing way to end a college career.
If you read the whole interview please comment either on Instagram, Facebook, or directly on the blog itself.
Stay tuned for the next post Monday November 9th.