Jan. 20, 2012
As senior tennis player, Natasha Marks enters her last season at Arizona, she takes some time to reflect on her tennis career.
Marks came to Arizona from Burleigh Sports College, one of six sports colleges in Nottingham, England. In her pre-college career she was the U18 Nationals finalist in singles and doubles and took part in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in 2007.
"I played in tournaments, domestic and abroad," Marks said. "They were festive and had a good atmosphere. When I was 16, I went to London to play for the National squad."
Tennis has been a big part of the Marks family for as long as she can remember. She credits her family as the reason she began playing and the reason she stuck with it all these years.
"I started playing tennis when I was about eight or nine," Marks said. "My sister started playing then too, she's two years older than me. My whole family played tennis and squash. My dad and my sister played tennis. I followed in my sister's footsteps."
Marks found the transition to America from England to be hard, especially coming to Arizona's culture and climate. Unlike England, Arizona is hot and dry and thus took some getting used to.
"I had a hard time at first," Marks said. "I had never experienced anything so hot. It's too hot for me. The first month I didn't drink enough water. It took me a while, almost three years, to get used to playing in the heat."
Although Arizona's heat was daunting to Marks, she still felt passionate about coming to Arizona. She opened up to the new situation and made the most of it.
"At the time I was sick," Marks said. "I wanted a new, fresh start. It was a great opportunity and experience. My older friends already went to America the previous year. I love the location, it's great. I'm getting my business degree and this university has a good business college. Also the coaches here are great."
Through her years playing at Arizona, Marks' has become one of the team's key players. Freshman year for Marks was a strong year, and a good start to her career. She played in the No. 2 and 3 positions finishing with a record of 20-11. She then proceeded to the Pac-10 Championships in Ojai and played in the NCAA Division 1 Singles and Doubles Championships. Her sophomore year, Marks played in the No. 1 position for the spring season, and had a 13-7 record during tournament play. In 2011, her record was 12-7 for singles in the regular playing season at No. 1, 2, and 3. Marks hopes her senior year will be as fruitful as her freshman year.
"I would love for the team to make it to the top-25 when I graduate," Marks said. "That is one of my main goals. Personally, I would love to go to Nationals. I went my freshman year and I want to go again this year."
As a senior, Marks is in charge of leading the team. A team that consists of zero juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen will look up to the older, more experienced athletes and Marks is ready to take on that responsibility.
"I'm going to be there for them and show leadership," Marks said. "I'll be a tough competitor and believe in the teams. I know we can do it. We need to have no fear. We just need to go out and do it."
The women's tennis season opens this Saturday, January 21 and it triggers the beginning of the end for Marks. It signals the end of collegiate tennis and Marks plans on giving it all she has.
"I'm so excited, I'm really looking forward to it," Marks said. "We have a good team. I hope we can get some good results. I just want to go out, have some fun and make the most of it. No regrets. I'm going to play my best."
Post-graduation, Marks is still unsure what lies ahead, but she has a few ideas.
"My plan is to go back to London and ultimately New York City, get a job and live there for a few years," Marks said. "That or attend graduate school out here. Those are my two options, as of now."
Marks hopes to finish this season playing her best, having fun, making memories and paving the way for the future of the program.