When he arrived in Madison last fall, freshman Peter Marrack took to the courts of the Nielsen Tennis Center with an already impressive r?sum?, having played in professional international tournaments and earning top junior rankings in Canada.
Born in Ontario, Marrack was aggressively recruited by UW head coach Greg Van Emburgh. Marrack came to Wisconsin with a chance to make an immediate impact with the Badgers. Although many players are redshirted as freshmen, Marrack’s skill and experience allowed him to contribute to the team immediately as the team’s only true freshman last fall.
?Peter?s the type of player and person that you want on your team and every coach is excited to have,? Van Emburgh said. ?[He] practices hard, competes hard, does whatever you want, loves to be out there, loves getting better. He?s just a work horse.?
Being a freshman in a new environment, combined with a new and heightened level of competition, can be extremely stressful. However, Marrack?s focus has allowed him to juggle the challenges of being a college freshman and varsity tennis player.
?[I have] conditioning in the morning, then I go to class, then [practice], then eat, shower, then off to do all my work, and not to mention every weekend [there are matches],? Marrack explained.
The Wisconsin men?s tennis team enters the spring season with a very talented roster and its highest ranking in years: 28th in the country. The addition of Canadian-born Marrack only adds to the Badgers’ powerful returning lineup.
Van Emburgh believes it is important to reach out and recruit international players like Marrack who possess the skill and willingness to learn if the Badgers are going to consistently be a top team in the nation.
?This is probably our best team in a very long time,? Van Emburgh said. ?We?re deep, and depth is a plus. And [Marrack's] one of those players that makes us real deep in singles and doubles.?
Before coming to the Badgers, Marrack was featured as one of the best junior tennis players in Canada, as he topped the Canadian National Rankings in both singles and doubles. He also played in professional events, such as Canada Futures, which gave him the chance to get used to the high-pressure situations he now faces in college.
?I?ve had a lot of match experience before, playing some professional tournaments,? Marrack said. ?I guess I was just used to the pressure in playing in a higher level and having just a lot of close matches too.?
As a freshman, Marrack still has had to get used to the style and skill NCAA players possess.
?In the college tournaments, there is never an easy match,? Marrack said. ?Everyone is there, ready to play, and you have to fight for every match no matter who the opponent is.?
Fighting for every point is something Marrack brings to the table for UW. In the Big Ten Indoor Championships last fall, Marrack was one of eight Badgers to compete in the tournament. With the stage set, the true freshman rose to the spotlight by advancing to the Round of 16.
?I played the first [match] and won in two tiebreakers,? Marrack said. ?And the next one, I won in three tiebreakers. I?ve played in so many long matches, and just so many tiebreakers, which I think will help me later on.?
Marrack?s determination on the court is complemented by a forehand he said has gotten increasingly better during his rookie season.
?[T]hat?s the thing I feel has improved the most since I?ve been here,? Marrack said of his forehand.
From beginning as a player who liked to hover by the net, Marrack’s game at Wisconsin has expanded and developed, which his teammates hope will pose a threat to his future opponents.
?He?s gotten a lot, lot better even through this first semester,? senior Nolan Polley said. ?He?s really talented, and if he continues to work on it, I don?t see why he can?t be No. 1 or No. 2 [in the lineup] in his junior or senior year.?
Marrack continues to be focused on taking his game to the next level every time he steps out on the court and is looking to secure his spot in the lineup, which allows for only six singles spots and six doubles pairs per match. The freshman said he is ready to do whatever is asked of him so he can look even farther down the road in hopes of advancing his play.
?That?s another one of the reasons I came [to UW],? Marrack said. ?Our coach really supports that. He?s developing us for college and beyond that as well.?