Marianne Jodoin will be the first to tell you how lucky she is to be at Duke. But ask anyone else, and and they explain why Duke is lucky to have Marianne Jodoin.
Her story began in Varennes, Quebec, Jodoin’s hometown in Canada, where she grew up and attended high school before accepting an offer to play tennis at Fresno State in Fresno, Calif.
Jodoin is from a French family and considers herself a native speaker, and her connection to her roots is what drew her to the Fresno State tennis program under fellow Frenchman, head coach Simon Thibodeau, who is also from Quebec.
“My coach from back home knew [Thibodeau] so it was a really good way to transition,” Jodoin said.
So, in a last-minute decision, Jodoin was off to the Golden State to play the game she had been playing all her life.
“I decided to go to college really late so I didn’t have that many options,” she said. “And I didn’t feel like I had good enough results to go to a top-10 school.”
Despite all of that, Jodoin says she thoroughly enjoyed her time in California.
In her two years under Thibodeau, Jodoin was a two-time WAC Player of the Year award winner, while earning numerous other accolades. As a freshman, Jodoin played in the No. 1 spot in singles and doubles, and reached a No. 42 in the national singles rankings.
“She always wanted the team to get better,” Thibodeau said. “She cared a lot, and she would be the one that would scout other teams and look at results for the upcoming matches. She was like a star that just wanted to get better and cared very, very much about doing her best.”
Jodoin’s leadership on the team made her decision to transfer to Duke a crushing blow for Thibodeau and the Fresno State tennis program. Coming out of high school, Duke was not on Jodoin’s list of potential schools.
“I decided quite early that I wanted to transfer,” Jodoin said, “but I told [Thibodeau] really late because I didn’t want it to affect the team results.”
Thibodeau, who is now the head coach at UC Santa Barbara, said that although he was resistant to Jodoin leaving at first, he respected her decision and wanted to help out in any way possible, including by approaching Duke’s head coach Jamie Ashworth on Jodoin’s behalf at last year’s individual tournament.
Jodoin recognized that the dynamic would shift drastically if she were to transfer, but she had her heart set on an NCAA championship and a school that would challenge her both on and off the court.
“My coach told me that if I transfer, it’s not going to be the same and you’re not going to be playing No. 1,” Jodoin said. “But I was fine with that. [Duke tennis] was something that I wanted to be a part of.”
In just a few months, Jodoin has proven herself to be an exceptional addition to the Duke tennis program, not only as a player, but also as a teammate and friend.
In her first season with the Blue Devils, Jodoin boasts a 14-0 singles record heading into this weekend’s matches against No. 13 Michigan and No. 18 Notre Dame. She has also clinched the final point for three of the nine dual matches so far this year.
“She’s brought a lot of experience to the team,” Ashworth said. “She’s winning a lot of matches and gaining a lot of confidence, and she’s been a great team person.”
Jodoin admits that the Duke experience has been different, but she tries to remain positive and energetic in every aspect of her life. Doubles partner and long-time friend Annie Mulholland said that being around Jodoin’s consistently positive attitude reminds everyone just how lucky they are to be at Duke.
“She’s very clearly ecstatic to be here,” Mulholland said. “She’s so grateful for being able to be a part of this program, and I think she really appreciates everything that Duke tennis has to offer.”