Eritrean-Swede Jonatan Berhane is the Head Women’s tennis coach at the University of Alabama.

Eritrean-Swede Jonatan Berhane has been named head coach of the Alabama women’s tennis team. As many of you know while the Crimson Tide are known for their American football program and recently at the NCAA march madness with their basketball program, their women’s tennis program is also one of the top rated in the nation. Director of Athletics Greg Byrne announced last week that Jonatan who served as an assistant under legendary Crimson Tide head coach Jenny Mainz will take over as head coach. Mainz who recently announced her retirement after 26 seasons has lead Alabama as a top notch tennis program. Prior to joining the Crimson Tide, Jonathan was head coach of the women’s team at Western Kentucky from 2014-18. Jonatan who grew up in Sweden among the Eritrean community was a standout tennis player. He was also a student of Newcastle United’s great Alexander Isak’s dad who taught tigrinia classes in the Stockholm community. Jonatan’s father who passed away during COVID-19 was an active member of our community and his loss was a huge one for the Eritrean people.

Assistant Coach Jonathan Berhane Watches his players play at The University of Alabama Tennis Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Jonatan who came to America on a tennis scholarship to attended Virginia Intermont College in Bristol, Va., helped his team to a top-five NAIA ranking, he then transferred to Lewis & Clark University in Idaho. Jonatan achieved a No. 10 Swedish ranking and was a finalist for the Swedish Championship Doubles when he got recruited to play in the USA. For his great achievements In August of 2009, he was honored with the Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship. The award recognizes one outstanding male and female player from each level of competition for exhibiting outstanding sportsmanship and leadership, as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements. Berhane was honored during a special ceremony in New York during the U.S. Open. He then went on to earn his MBA and master’s degree in sport management at ETSU where he was coaching as a graduate assistant and got some much needed experience. After one season as an assistant coach for the 2014 Horizon League champion Youngstown State University in Ohio where he joined the YSU program in January 2014. Before arriving at YSU, he helped ETSU won the regular-season championship in 2013, beating two ranked opponents, and many of the student-athletes he helped recruit powered ETSU to the 2014 conference tournament title. Before the offer at Alabama as an assistant coach, Jonatan earned Conference USA Coach of the Year after three short years with the team, capping off the historic 2017 season in which he led the Lady Toppers to an overall record of 13-6. With 13 victories the squad tied for the sixth-most wins in school history. 

At Alabama as an assistant coach in his five seasons with the program, Alabama qualified for three NCAA tournaments (there was not an NCAA tournament in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic), which included helping the program make its first appearance in four years at the 2019 NCAA Championships. The Tide has had three players advance to the NCAA singles championships, including two on the current squad. He also helped Alabama record its best start to season since 2018 with nine straight wins in 2022 and has captured a total of 69 wins since joining the program for the 2018-19 season. Furthermore, Jonatan is a family man married with a family. would like to wish him the best as he continues to lead the University of Alabama’s tennis program. We hope to engage him in the building of a strong Tennis program for Eritrea and Eritrean tennis players in the diaspora.


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