- June 17, 2020
The Duke University tennis program has added another ace from Lakewood Ranch.
Ava Krug committed to Duke for women's tennis on Oct. 3. Krug, an academic junior, will join the Blue Devils in 2024.
Colleges cannot contact recruits directly until the summer of their junior academic year. When it became time for Krug's recruiting season earlier this year, colleges reached out to her at midnight to earn her attention. As of Oct. 7, Krug is the No. 10 player in the national Class of 2024 according to the Tennis Recruiting Network, which also calls Krug a five-star blue chip player.
After taking official visits to Duke, Texas, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, Krug's commitment to Duke ended months of stress. She said she feels comfortable becoming a Blue Devil in every aspect, which includes tennis but extends to the classroom.
"The program that (Head Coach) Jamie Ashworth has created there is amazing," Krug said. "Everyone strives to be better. It is a great atmosphere. Everyone thrives athletically and academically. I'm excited to be a part of it."
At Duke, Krug — the granddaughter of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame broadcaster and Lakewood Ranch resident Dick Vitale — will be reunited with her brothers, Jake and Connor Krug, who play for the Blue Devils men's tennis team. Ava Krug said her brothers have relayed how positive their experience in the program has been, which helped with her decision, but was not the difference-maker. Krug said she's making this decision for herself. She said Duke is the place that gives her the best chance to advance her career.
Becoming a college athlete is something Krug has always wanted, in part because she grew up in a family of such athletes, even outside of her brothers. Her mother, Sherri Vitale Krug, played tennis at Notre Dame, as did her aunt Terri Vitale. Her father, Thomas Krug, was a quarterback for the Fighting Irish and started the 1996 Orange Bowl against Florida State. Her cousins, the children of Terri Vitale and Chris Sforzo, are athletes, too. Sydney Sforzo plays tennis at Notre Dame while Ryan Sforzo plays lacrosse for the Irish.
The biggest thing Krug learned from her family, she said, is how to be goal-oriented.
"It keeps you motivated," Krug said. "There are a lot of ups and downs in tennis. Having goals in sight is something that can get you through the hard times. My family and my coaches make for a great support system. Knowing that people have your back is a big deal."
Krug has earned her lofty status despite playing the 18th most difficult schedule in the country according to the Tennis Recruiting Network. That includes many events outside of the United States, like the 2022 Roland Garros (French Open) Juniors in May, as well as premier American events like the U.S. Open Juniors in New York in September. Krug said playing such an intense schedule allows her improve her skills as well has gain perspective on how players from different countries approach the game.
Playing an international schedule has forced Krug to deal with off-the-court adversity quicker than she would have otherwise. Being in a foreign place, eating unfamiliar food, playing on uncommon court surfaces, and dealing with jet lag has forced her to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
"You have to be prepared for anything," Krug said.
Krug practices with her personal coach, Mauricio Hadad, from 7-10 a.m. each day. Krug then works on her fitness for an hour before returning home to eat and rest. From 3-4 p.m. she'll get in another practice, then it is time for schoolwork. Krug attends online classes through Laurel Springs School.
Then comes dinner and relaxation. Krug said her on-court practices vary from day to day, with Hadad giving her the freedom to assess what she needs to improve. During Oct. 3's morning practice, she focused on her forehand the whole time, getting the tiniest details of her shot right.
It is the work Krug does on those details that will determine where she goes from here. Krug said her focus now is preparing herself for college tennis, and once she arrives in Durham, her focus will be on being the best Blue Devils player she can be.
"I definitely want to play pro tennis," Krug said. "It is something I have aspired to do. My coaches believe I can get there, so we'll see."