Junior Marc Spicijaric
Jan. 15, 2008
In the first edition of "On the Marc", junior Marc Spicijaric welcomes Illini fans to the 2008 season. Fresh off their Spring Training Trip in the Grand Canyon State, Marc also talks about the team's first tournament of the semester at the ASU Spring Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.
Hello all, it's been a while a long time since out last visit. The Fighting Illini men's tennis team is about to start up another season with high hopes, especially after our great finals run only a short while ago.
As is the custom, at the beginning of every season the team takes a trip where we are able to get in a lot of practice and great competition. This year, we made it out to Arizona where we played in an invitational at Arizona State against ASU, Rice and Texas. Going into this trip, I was extremely excited because I have not played tennis for the past four months due to an injury. I had been working pretty hard over break, but was very excited to get back into the routine of practice and competing.
We had a new addition to this trip with freshman Waylon Chin joining the team. It was his first time with the team outside of his recruiting trip, but he had no problem fitting in. Waylon is a fellow Floridian and will contribute to the teams success right away.
The trip started out with us arriving in Phoenix and having a workout session that night. The next morning, we climbed to the top of a mountain in freezing weather and rain pouring down during the whole climb up. It was tough, but the start to a great trip where all of us ended up in better shape than when we came in.
The first couple of days we were in Arizona, the weather was not very good. It rained almost the whole first two days, and it was very cold in the early morning and at night when the sun set. After the first two days, though, the weather started clearing up, which gave us great opportunities to have solid practices and workouts.
Last year, we started a trend for our winter trips by having everyone on the team shave their heads. We all buzzed our heads within the first couple of days, and one of the best shaves was definitely Waylon. Waylon loved his hair and has never had a buzzed head, so when Ryan took the clippers to his head, Waylon's face was priceless. The next best shave was Billy's, who we took a straight blade to so he was completely bald. Billy had a beard and sideburns at the time and ended up looking like the American Idol star Chris Daughtry. Billy, or should I say Chris, didn't like that we were making fun of him the whole trip, but ended up learning to like his new nickname. Another regular of the trip was watching the movie Superbad, which was quoted non-stop by everyone on the team. We actually got the coaches into the movie as well. I think that all of us left the trip thinking that it is the funniest movie ever made, and we all shared tons of laughs because of it.
On Thursday, we started our tennis competition by playing doubles against Arizona State, and we ended that day with good results and high hopes going into the rest of the competition. On Friday, we played Rice, where we went 4-4 in singles and doubles. Ryan didn't play because of an injury, and Waylon had to leave because he had to return back to Champaign for orientation. On Saturday, we played Arizona State and had similar results. The courts there were not surfaced in our favor because they were extremely slow and rough, so the balls wore out very quickly and the pace of the match slowed down a lot as the sets went on.
After we played ASU, the coaches had a real treat for us. They took us into the desert by the mountains where we all had to conquer fears of heights. We broke up into two groups of four, as one group went rock climbing and the other went rappelling. The difficulty scale of a mountain goes from a 5.0 to a 5.15, with the 5.15 being the hardest. Our rock face was a 5.06 or a 5.07, so about medium difficulty. After we all completed the climb, which was about 50-60 feet, we switched and went to rappelling down the side of a mountain. The rappelling was a lot of fun as well, and it was pretty scary for the first few steps when we walked off the cliff.
After our fun day of rock climbing and rappelling, we played Texas on the final day. The doubles went our way, but Texas got the better of us in singles. However, Chris (Billy) battled his way through a tough match and got the win for us in singles.
The goal for the weekend by our coaches was to have us be better at the end of the trip than we were at the beginning, and everyone on the team accomplished this goal. We are much more fit and focused now, and are anxious to start our season this Friday against Ball State at the Atkins Tennis Center at 6 pm.
Hope to see you out there!
Marc "Mr. Clutch" Spicijaric, GO ILLINI!