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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

The kid from Shreveport

Mark+Weaver
Photo by via 12thman.com
Mark Weaver

A kid from Shreveport, La., just hit a milestone at Texas A&M.
The kid’s father had coached him since age 5 — since the kid first picked up a racket and thwocked away at his first tennis ball and toddled to his first baseline; since the same kid made a name for himself on the court at Caddo Parish Magnet High School; since the kid’s father made a promise for the kid, both as a player and his son: “My son is gonna play No. 1 for [A&M] right away.”
That kid is still on the tennis court. Except today, he is A&M women’s tennis head coach Mark Weaver. The milestone is 100 wins, but that’s only part of the story.
In his time as a player at A&M, Weaver had an exceptional collegiate career under former head coach David Kent. His freshman year, Weaver earned the 1991 Southwest Rookie of the Year award and was the Southwest Conference No. 3 Doubles Champion. The next year, as his dad prophesied, he was Kent’s top guy.
“I have great memories here of Coach Kent and Texas A&M,” Weaver said. “He was a great leader, great role model and kind of a second dad to me here.”
Weaver was a four-year letterwinner and starter for A&M finishing with 107-52 record overall and a .805 winning percentage, the A&M all-time record. His playing days at A&M came to an end in 1995 when he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Yet, he knew he was not done with tennis, and tennis was not done with him. Weaver continued playing in the Futures and Challengers Tennis Circuits before returning to the Briarcrest Country Club in Bryan in 1999, where he began to privately train up-and-coming young tennis talent.
Weaver spent six years as a volunteer coach for the A&M women’s team, passing on his knowledge of the game. Now as head coach, his winning habits die hard. Recently, Weaver reached a milestone many coaches do not last long enough in the cutthroat SEC to reach – 100 career wins.
“In some ways it feels like a lot and in some ways it doesn’t,” Weaver said.
After a promising 13-4 start in March 2020, the season and the world came to a halt as COVID-19 wreaked havoc.
“Our schedule is so tough, especially with the SEC,” Weaver said. “We just have a brutal schedule where every match could go either way.”
Hopefully, he added, there’s no more pandemic effect.
“Hopefully we get 100 more even quicker this next time,” Weaver said.
Weaver doesn’t remember who the team played in his first game as head coach. What he does remember is the nerves.
“I think every competitor – whether you’re a coach or a student athlete – any athlete or warrior going out there to battle, you always have those feelings of nerves in your belly, and I think that’s a good thing,” Weaver said. “If you didn’t have a little bit of nerves, maybe you’re doing the wrong thing.
“To go from that first win with lots of nerves to 100 hundred wins and beating a very good team in Vanderbilt definitely feels a lot more secure now.”
Seniors Riley McQuaid and Tatiana Makarova have played all four years for Weaver, and witnessing their coach reach the centennial mark was special.
“It means a lot to help Mark get to 100 wins,” McQuaid said. “I remember our freshman year is when he got 50, so it feels like it absolutely flew by to get 100, but it means a lot to know we helped him every step of the way and be able to follow his steps.”
Makarova, a Moscow, Russia, native, came to A&M before she was 18. Adjusting to a new country, let alone the radically different town of College Station, was difficult, she said. Weaver, she recalls, helped ease her into her new life as an Aggie.
“My freshman year was really challenging for me because I was the youngest on the team, and I came here to college when I was 17, and it was a really tough transition,” Makarova said. “Mark was there for me throughout my entire freshman year. He was supporting me, but at the same time he was challenging me and showing me what do I mean to the team and what ‘team’ should mean to me.”
As McQuaid prepares to leave her racket and her tennis skirt behind upon graduation, she said she owes a lot of what she has learned on and off the court to Weaver.
“I think I have learned to stay calm in stressful situations,” McQuaid said. “He is really good at, when things aren’t going well on the court, to just control your emotions, take a step back, and analyze things instead of getting worked up and letting it kinda spiral.”
Tennis is not basketball; hoops and pick-up games are everywhere. For tennis, players drop anywhere between $80-$230 on a racket, $30-$60 per hour on lessons, and pay for admission to some sort of country club court. Some cities might have public tennis courts, but tennis and basketball accessibility are as different as night and day. Such was the case for Weaver in his youth.
“Both my parents have been so supportive of me,” Weaver said. “Financially, tennis was really tough and demanding on our family growing up. They really sacrificed a lot for me.”
Everyday, Jerry Weaver would take his son and coach him so well he caught the eye of the same school he represents today, recalled Mark Weaver. But sometimes the two did not see eye to eye. Whether it be as father and son or student and teacher, the struggles were plenty, Mark Weaver said, but the relationship was great. Mark Weaver said his parents still follow every match.
Son. Player. Coach. And since 2012, father to daughter Natalie Lynn. Mark Weaver has been on both sides of the court, not just in tennis but in life. There is nowhere else he said he would rather be.
“She’s the most important thing in the world for me,” said Weaver. “I feel like I’m in a good state where I am with everything.”
Weaver noted that in tennis “you’re either in or out.”
Coach Weaver is all in.

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