Q&A with Shenandoah’s Dalton Stoaks

The senior is 9-2 in singles this year. On Monday, he won his team’s first Hawkeye Ten tennis title in 10 years.

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Q: How would you describe your reaction to winning the conference title?

A: It was just, like, the greatest feeling ever. All that hard work paying off was just amazing.

Q: Were you aware of how long it had been since Shenandoah won a conference title? What does that mean to you?

A: No, I had no clue. It means a lot. I’m really glad I could get it for my coach (Tom French).

Q: What has been the key to your success this year?

A: Just playing my game and doing what I need to do to win; not playing my opponents’ game.

Q: You’ve only lost twice so far (10-4 to Glenwood’s Alex Chekal and 11-9 to St. Albert’s Reed Miller). What did you take from those losses?

A: Just not playing my opponents’ game, really, and just always keeping my head up no matter if I’m winning or losing. Keep my head up and don’t get down on myself.

Q: Were you disappointed that you didn’t get a chance to face Chekal (who was upset in the first round) again?

A: Kind of. I was really hoping I could prove something there, but you just play who you get to play.

Q: You have a reputation for being calm and even-keeled on the court, no matter what’s going on in the match. Where do you think that comes from?

A: Just my coach and my dad always trying to tell me to keep calm and not get mad when something bad happens. Just keeping my head, always.

Q: Between your freshman and sophomore season you jumped from the No. 9 singles player to No. 2, how were you able to improve that much in a year?

A: In the summer, I came down and played tennis everyday with my dad. We played every single day.

Q: How would you describe the role tennis has played in your life?

A: It’s huge. It means everything to me, basically. It’s what I’ve focused on now for four years of high school.

Q: What’s something about being a tennis player that the average person might not know?

A: How easy it is to get frustrated when you’re playing. When your shots aren’t going in, and you’re not having your greatest day, it’s very easy to get frustrated, and to just want to stop and give up that day. But that’s not going to help at all, so you just have to keep pushing and keep trying.

Q: Are you a professional tennis fan? Who’s your favorite player and why?

A: Yes. I would have to say Roger Federer, because watching his backhand is just a thing of beauty.

Q: The district tournament is Thursday. How do you think postseason tennis is different from the regular season?

A: It’s a lot more nerve-racking because once you lose, you’re done. So every match matters.

Q: Do you have college plans yet, and are you thinking about playing at the next level?

A: I do not. I really want to.

Q: What were your goals coming into this year?

A: I was hoping to win the conference tournament, and I was hoping to make it to state and do something there.

Q: How would you evaluate your season so far?

A: I think it’s gone a lot better than I expected it to. Coming in, I didn’t think I was going to win the Hawkeye Ten, didn’t think I was going to have a good record like that for too long, so it’s been nice.

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