Underclassman Lauren Marker serving up leadership on tennis team
Arizona sophomore Lauren Marker returns a serve during Arizona women's tennis' doubles match against ASU at LaNelle Robson Tennis Center last season. Marker has taken a leadership role this year after four seniors graduated at the end of last year.
Being the only ranked player on a team brings an increased level of competition from opponents, especially when you play in the nation’s toughest conference — the Pac-12 Conference. Arizona women’s tennis sophomore Lauren Marker, however, has risen to the challenge and is ready to step up after the loss of four seniors.
“It is too early to determine a real leader yet, but I have been impressed with Lauren Marker’s intensity and dedication,” UA women’s tennis head coach Vicky Maes said. “She is only a sophomore, but she has significant goals for this year and holds herself to a high standard.”
Although many will continue to comment about how Marker is just a sophomore, she doesn’t play like it. The 5-foot-4 sophomore from Rancho Mirage, Calif., chose Arizona tennis due to the prestigious coaching staff and has never looked back. Last season in her freshman year, she posted a 16-6 record and defeated the No. 14 player in the country, Zsofi Susanyi from California. She also had a 14-5 doubles record and has improved from there.
“I think that I’ve evolved both physically and mentally since coming to Arizona a year ago,” Marker said. “Coach Maes has been there with me every step of the way helping me improve in anyway that she can. I’ve learned a lot from her and she has really helped me evolve my game and mature as a player on and off the court.”
Maes and Marker have connected on and off the court, even if it’s just their second season together.
“She is a clear example of someone who has been able to blossom in college because of her commitment to training and her openness to change,” Maes said. “Everyone respects that. I hope her attitude will rub off on our newcomers as well.”
Currently, Marker is ranked No. 58 in the country by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Already this season, Marker has recorded another upset victory over a ranked player, this time against TCU’s No. 31 Stefanie Tan in the ITA Southwest Regional. She also recently made it to the Round of 16 in both singles and doubles at the ITA Southwest Regionals.
Arizona lost four seniors after last season, and the team is still trying to come together with a new team mentality. With the additions of freshmen Devin Chypyha and Hanna Sohn and junior transfer Briar Preston, Marker and the rest of the returnees are doing their best to show them the ropes.
“It’s never easy losing so many seniors, especially because they were our leaders, but we are adapting well,” Marker said. “Our three new girls, Devin, Hanna and Briar, fit in perfectly and they are great additions to the team.”
For many underclassmen, stepping into the role of a leader as a sophomore on a Division I team can be quite intimidating, but not for Marker. She has embraced her leadership role.
“I was so used to looking up to our four seniors last year as our leaders and my role models, so taking on a different role this year has been an exciting transition for me,” Marker said. “I hope that I can help my new teammates in any way possible like they did for me last year.”
Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.