Garrett johns is a 21-year-old tennis player from Atlanta, GA. He is currently in his 4th year at Duke and has the 5th year of eligibility if he chooses to use it. He is ranked #4 on the ITA Singles Ranking list and is the team captain this year. He received the MVP award for Duke Men’s tennis in 2022 and won his first ITF 15k Title this summer as well. He is currently ranked #664 on the ATP Tour.
- Can you describe your childhood? How was tennis introduced to you? When did you start taking it seriously?
I grew up in Atlanta GA and started playing at 5 or 6 years old at my neighborhood tennis courts. My brother was 10 at the time and I always watched him during his lessons and hit with him as well. We have had the same coach since.
- What was it like growing up in one of the biggest tennis cities in the country?
I would say Atlanta is one of the top 3 in the country as far as players go. I got to hit with a lot of top players from a young age and be in a competitive environment. A lot of the players at the academy I trained at went on to play college tennis.
- What did your training schedule look like throughout your junior career?
I went to a private school in Atlanta. When I was around 12-15 years old I still played other sports like Lacrosse and Cross Country. I only trained for 2 hours a day until 15 years old. At 15, I went all out and would train before and after school with a lifting session as well.
- Can you talk about the training in college and what kind of adjustments you had to make?
The fall during my freshman year was a big adjustment. The coaches were a lot more mellow, when you practice on a bigger team you have to find motivation from within and push yourself a little more. It was a big mental and physical adjustment as well. Once you get to college you have to get a lot stronger. I have also worked with a mental coach to help me stay focused and give up fewer easy points.
- What led you to commit to Duke?
I committed in November of my junior year of high school. I looked at a few SEC schools. Duke has a great academic program and they were a top 10 tennis team. That really motivated me to be better and be around an awesome environment.
- What was your biggest challenge freshman year?
The training was a big piece, but academics and scheduling were a big deal too. Adjusting to a different coaching style can be difficult as well.
- How have you continued to improve throughout college?
Physically becoming a lot stronger through weight lifting and bike training. Being able to get back into the points and be aggressive.
- Have you had to overcome any injuries throughout college? How did you deal with it?
I had a lot of problems with tendonitis in my elbow and forearm last year during my junior year. I had to play a few matches when I was not feeling my best. The trainers have helped me keep it loose by doing shoulder mobility and band work. I have done a lot better on the injury prevention side of things in the past few months. This helps me maximize my play on the court.
- What was your favorite on-court memory in college so far? How did the fans contribute?
Beating UNC last year 4-1 at home. I won the clinching match on a deuce point. That was the first time we beat UNC in 7 years.
- What has been your favorite off-court memory so far?
It is a lot of fun going to basketball games and going to team dinners as well. We are super close as a team, I live with a few guys on the team.
- Can you explain the difference between the fall and spring semesters in terms of practice/competition?
The fall semester is perfect for working on specific things you want to improve on for the spring. We play the same or even fewer matches but more rest time between each match. The spring is a lot more strenuous and more team-oriented. Whereas, in the fall there are a lot more individual tournaments.
- Do you think moving post-season comp to the fall is a good move?
I think there are pros and cons to both. I think it is good in the fact that you are not playing a tough NCAA tournament in the Spring where injuries are super prevalent being the end of the year. The Fall could be good because the tournaments are a great lead into an NCAA tournament. However, college players who play ITFS or challengers in the fall would miss out on one or the other.
- What does it mean to be a team captain?
Having the title of captain with Andrew Zhang means a lot knowing that the guys trust what you are going to say.
- Do you have any personal goals for the rest of this school year?
To be All-American this year in college. On the pro side, I would love to keep building my ranking to be able to get into challengers. There is a good chance I come back next spring to use my 5th year of eligibility but we will see how this summer and fall go.
- Can you describe your emotions when you won the tournament in Memphis?
I was super excited and happy to win it. Leading up to this tournament I had gotten to 6 quarterfinals and never got past them. I was a little down on myself. After I won my second round of this tournament I was telling my teammate that I was hoping to win this match and just make the semifinals. He opened my eyes and told me to win the tournament and to always shoot for that. It was a huge boost in confidence for me.
- What is one piece of recruiting advice for a tennis player hoping to get a college scholarship?
Know your priorities and understand what you want to get out of college. Do you want to focus on academics or go to a school where you can travel and play pro tournaments? The last thing you want to happen is to go to college and regret your choice.