Teenage hope­ful Marks makes the choices on and off the court to go pro

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN

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.

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