Calm cool and collected: Jannis Koeke

Jannis Koeke about to hit ball during a match at Blackburn park on March 12.  Photo by Dayne Francis | The Signal
Jannis Koeke about to hit ball during a match at Blackburn park on March 12.
Photo by Dayne Francis | The Signal

Jannis Koeke is one of the best singles tennis players in the conference, having been named to All-Sun Belt Singles First Team the past two seasons. Koeke is a force to be reckoned with on the court, but off the court he is as calm as the end of a summer storm.

Koeke was born and raised overseas in Limburg, Germany. He only comes to the states for Georgia State, and during the summer he resides back at his small town home in Limburg. Making a change to go to school overseas is a big move, but Koeke doesn’t regret it.

“I wanted to go to college and play tennis here I knew that,” Koeke said. “I wanted to go to a good business school and the city of Atlanta very nice. We are downtown and there’s a lot of stuff to do. Our college system (in Germany) is very different than here because we don’t have any sports.”

Even though Koeke doesn’t regret coming to Georgia State to play tennis, he still gets a little homesick from time to time.

“I go home during the summers, and the rest of the year I’m here in Georgia,” Koeke said. “I miss the food back home, the food is not the greatest here.”

When he’s not on the court dominating, Koeke is relaxing either watching sports or doing his school work. He’s not a party type of guy, rather a calm and focused individual.

“I’m kind of calm and always focused,” Koeke said. “I keep doing my work and practice. I like to watch sports in general, go to NBA or NFL games or just hang out with friends.”

In Germany, two of the most popular sports are soccer and tennis. Koeke ended up playing both for majority of his childhood, but he had more a passion for tennis.

“I’ve been playing tennis forever, since I was five or six years old,” Koeke said. “I got into tennis watching my older brother play and then when I was old enough I started playing and I kept doing great and winning is fun. I played both soccer and tennis until I was 14. I was just more successful in tennis so at some point I had to decide to do one of them.”

Not only is Koeke great at tennis, but off the court he is a genius. He has a grade point average above a 4.0 and has made the President’s List at Georgia State each semester since enrolling into the school. In addition he was named the 2015 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Scholar Athlete. Head Coach Brett Ross acknowledges Koeke’s talents both on and off the court.

“Jannis just keeps getting better every year,” Coach Ross said. “I think it’s a testament to how he shows up in practice every day and he’s just really solid on and off the court. He has a 4.2 grade point average as well. He’s the type of person that shows up every day in whatever he does.

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Koeke leading the way

The Panthers are 7-3 on the season this year and leading the way is their number 1 singles player Koeke. This has been the best start to a season for the Panthers since Koek joined the team and he knows this is the best team he’s been a part of.

“I think we’re doing very good this season,” Koeke said. “It’s a good start for us and we’ve had some good wins. We’ve had some close matches where I could clinch one and Sebastian Acuna could clinch one and it’s been great. Our team is lot deeper than my freshman year, even if guys are injured or are out we have other guys that can step in.”

Like just about every athlete in the world, Koeke has goals that he thinks he and his team can accomplish this season.

“My goal is just to win the conference and go into the NCAA’s and compete.”

There was a lot of skepticism going around Georgia State about the addition of Koeke, a player coming all the way from overseas just to play tennis. Some didn’t know what to expect, but the moment Koeke first got onto the court he was instantly turning heads.

Koeke ended his freshman year with the best singles play record on the team going 17-11 despite his team only going 11-14 on the season as a group. In doubles play, Koeke and his partner Eric Baum went 11-10 on the season and second best on the team. Koeke was also named to the 2014 All-Sun Belt Singles First Team.

In his sophomore year, Koeke finished the season 16-17, but was the only singles player on the team to go against four nationally ranked players. Against those nationally ranked players, he was 2-2 which is not too bad considering he was only a sophomore at the time. He was again named to the 2015 All-Sun Belt Singles First Team, and he was named the Sun Belt Player of the Week three times that season.

Koeke is now entering his junior season and has gone 6-4 in singles play this season, as the team has had its best start in years. Coach Ross believes the sky’s the limit for this team.

“It’s been a good start to the year, we’ve had a couple big wins against ranked teams,” Coach Ross said. “We’re in the rankings for the first time in a couple years and it’s one of the highest rankings we’ve had in a couple years as well. I think we’re doing well we got some momentum, but now it’s always fun to get into the conference play since it’s the highlight of the year.”

The Panthers moved up eight spots this season to be ranked No. 59 in the ITA rankings and are on a three game winning streak. Their last loss was against No. 15 ranked Oklahoma State. The Panthers defeated UL Lafayette in their first conference game of the season.