Feb. 2, 2012
Freshman Jeff Hawke is one of four Husky rookies to see the court early in the 2012 season. A Southern California native, Hawke had great success in doubles as a junior player, and he has carried that knack for doubles over into his first year in college. Hawke and sophomore Max Manthou have gelled as a tandem and posted a 7-2 record together, including a 4-1 mark in dual play that matches UW's overall record. Hawke, who hopes to pursue an engineering major, talks about making the recent road trip to Duke, what brought him to Washington, and how to build doubles chemistry.
GoHuskies.com: What are your thoughts on the season so far? Are you surprised that you're starting so soon in doubles?
Jeff Hawke: "Well, it's kind of surprising. It was a goal of mine to get in the lineup. I wasn't so sure it was going to happen. I'm glad we're playing number two. I've learned a lot from the coaches so far and they've helped me get a lot better."
GH: What are specifically some of the things you've been working on since you got here?
JH: "A lot of positioning and where I should be on the court--shot selection, like where I should hit the ball at certain times. (The coaches) have helped me a lot."
GH: Talk about you and Max--how much of it is chemistry on the court? How do you work on it?
JH: "Chemistry is a big thing with Max and my game and our energy level. We don't make crazy shots like some guys but we always know where the other one is at. We make a really good doubles team. We play as one team and not as two different players, which helps a lot in our favor."
GH: Last week was your first road trip experience for dual matches--what was that like?
JH: "It was awesome being with the team. We had nine of us players travel which was really fun. The intensity of the matches felt like a new level with playing higher ranked teams. It was a pretty cool atmosphere to be a part of."
GH: Louisville--how big of a confidence booster was that?
JH: "Well, that was huge. Max and I didn't really have that big of a test until then. Coming down to our match--emotions were running. I think it was a big confidence boost to pull out such a close match and such a big situation. That was definitely a big boost for both of us."
GH: You want to win every match of course but did you learn anything from defeat against Duke that you hadn't learned yet?
JH: "Well, since we were 4-0, it was definitely a disappointment. But I think it will definitely help once we start playing the Pac-12 teams, who are extremely strong. We'll have an advantage because we know what we did wrong and what we can do to move forward and to beat those teams."
GH: You had a lot of success in doubles as a junior player--what makes for a good doubles player?
JH: "I would say knowing where to be and knowing where your partner is at all times. That's a really big key. Return of serve is pretty important, that's what my strength is. I've worked on that a lot here and gotten that a lot better because the ball travels so much faster in college tennis than it did in high school. I had to work on that a lot and it's definitely improved my game."
GH: How much did you compete with your high school team?
JH: "I did play on the high school team. I played only singles because you had to choose between one or the other. But it wasn't as serious as the USTA, which is on your own--that was more important and so that's what I focused on more."
GH: Was it tough to know whether to go play at an academy and devote your whole life to the game--or to stay more balanced?
JH: "I wasn't going to academies--that wasn't a question for me. I didn't take tennis super serious in high school compared to now. I wasn't playing three or four hours a day until I got to college. I wasn't putting my heart and soul into tennis, and now I am which has boosted me up a lot and helped me to improve a lot."
GH: Max played high school all four years too. Does that create a sense of pride a little bit, knowing that guys that played for their high school teams can still play at a high level in college?
JH: "Yeah, you could look at it like that. He was super successful in high school. He won state championship four years in a row--it was awesome. It just shows that you don't have to put your heart and soul into it in high school to be really good and still improve in college."
GH: When did you start playing tennis?
JH: "I started playing tournaments when I was about eight. But I probably first picked up a racquet when I was around five years old."
GH: Did your family play tennis?
JH: "My sisters always played; my mom played. It's always been around the family. No one took it really serious, like playing in college or anything."
GH: Through the recruiting process what first made you look at Washington?
JH: "My private coach in high school always threw out the idea of Washington. I was never really interested in going out of state, but late in the recruiting process, around March, is when I decided I wanted to check out Washington. I came here and fell in love--the facilities were like nothing I'd ever seen compared to other colleges. Just a new level of athletics, and they definitely seemed to take pride in that here."
GH: How much thought went into your decision to come to Washington?
JH: "It was a lot of thought just because it was far away from home. But when I really came here and saw all the facilities; the tennis facility, training room, gym; the whole deal was definitely better than other schools."
GH: You're planning to major in mechanical engineering--how has the first quarter been?
JH: "First quarter wasn't too bad. I didn't have as hard of classes just because it was the first quarter and I wanted to transition. This quarter now has been really hard since I'm taking harder classes and our season has started so we're traveling. A lot of things going on at once. Pretty much right now it is all tennis and school to stay on top of it."
GH: Are you living in the dorms?
JH: "I live in McMahon with a golfer, who is a freshman too."
GH: You don't have a lot of free time right now, but if you did, how would you spend it?
JH: "I went to Europe for 24 days this summer. Definitely did a lot of cool sightseeing while I was there. I wake board in my free time at home."
GH: Looks like practice is coming up, thanks for stopping to talk!