Teenage hopeful Marks makes the choices on and off the court to go pro
IF Aaron Marks wants to be a professional sportsman one day, all he has to do is keep working hard and never stop believing.
As things stand, the 15-yearold Fresnaye resident is on the right track with his tennis. He has racked up eight junior singles and five doubles titles to date.
This week, he got the chance to punch above his weight in a professional Futures tournament in Stellenbosch and while he never made it through the qualifying rounds, the chance to play against a 23-year-old American gave insight as to what life would be like in the paid ranks.
Marks’ game has come on in leaps over, so much so that he’s climbed a couple of hundred places on the latest junior Under-18 world rankings to a career high 1212.
The natural all-rounder – he excelled at cricket, soccer and swimming before having to give those sports up to concentrate on tennis – knows all too well that success in life can only be achieved by passion and commitment to the cause.
“Love it to be that way, for me there’s no other way,” he said. “Got Mom and Dad at my sides, that’s part of the battle won. Now for me to do my bit to make my goal a reality.”
Joining the Anthony Harris Tennis Academy in Bantry Bay proved to be a step in the right direction for Marks. In fact, invaluable. Harris, a former pro player, will have imparted the facts of life as a professional on the teenager.
“When Aaron began training with Anthony his true passion and talent came through. That was when he made the tough choice to drop the other three sports he was playing and concentrate on tennis,” Marks’ mother Terri said.
“Being an individual sport, it is vital to receive the correct training, and correct technique, and receive the right development.
“Aaron started playing local tournaments at the age of 11, and within a year began to climb the national rankings . In the past two years he has turned his focus to the World International Tennis Federation (ITF) U18 Tour.
“It meant that he could now travel with older players in the Academy at the age of 13, and he played his first ITF in Zimbabwe, where he won a qualifying match.
“He understood that these experiences were to learn and grow from, to see what talent is out there, and to know what would be required of him should he wish to pursue tennis seriously.”
Marks practices five hours a day, and that excludes an hour at the gym and a fitness session on the court. He then has a tutor until 8pm every night.
“It is important for me to balance sport and schoolwork,” Marks said. “Goes hand in hand in my book; have to have something to fall back on if things don’t go my way.
“I’ve had to make sacrifices socially… no big deal in that aspect of my life. I’ve got my folks and my friends and that’s all I need.
“You make choices in life… and I’m sticking to my ones. I know for sure that anything less than total commitment and dedication will equal failure in my book, and that’s not the route I’ve mapped out for myself.”
With his serve getting quicker the stronger he gets, coupled with his solid forehand and defensively strong backhand, Marks – who lists ice-cool former World No 1 Roger Federer as his role model – is a name to look out for.
Maybe a top 10 player, like Kevin Anderson became last month.