Tigers star found lifelong passion
URBANA – Whether she becomes a collegiate athlete, Katarina Marjanovic will continue playing tennis.
"I will probably play it for the rest of my life," the Urbana High School senior said. "It's one of the few life-long sports that one can enjoy at any stage in life."
She had plenty of enjoyable moments throughout her prep career, winning 79 matches at No. 1 singles the past three years and three times being chosen as the Area girls' tennis Player of the Year.
Marjanovic has an addition for her resume. She headlines The News-Gazette's All-Decade girls' tennis team as the Player of the Decade.
"I'm surprised," she said, "because I knew some of the girl players before me and they were really talented as well."
Though she was the one chalking up the victories – and qualifying for state three consecutive falls – Marjanovic doesn't believe the recognition is totally hers.
"I feel like I've really worked hard my whole life, but I shouldn't get all the credit," she said. "Without my coaches and parents, nothing I have done in my tennis career would be possible."
As a youth, Marjanovic had interest in a variety of activities.
"I was always interested in other sports but never felt that was where my strength lies," she said. "By the time I got to high school I was playing tennis competitively all year-round, so I had no time for extra sports. And I didn't want to risk getting hurt.
"I like the challenges of tennis, the constant change of pace, and how you're really the only one that decides the outcome of the game, no one else. It's you versus the other person and only one of you will win."
Her interest in tennis came naturally.
"My family has played a big role in my life, especially in my sports," Marjanovic said. "I was always competitive and my parents always loved tennis, so I picked it up and look where I am now."
Where she will be in the future is still to be determined. She's finished sending out applications for college and has provided several coaches with video in hopes that something might work out with tennis.
She won't be devastated if nothing works out with her best sport.
"Playing a sport has helped me to be physically and emotionally stronger, which has helped me a lot in life," she said, "but there's more to me than just sports."
As for her major in college, Marjanovic said she's leaning toward architecture, but "if that doesn't work out, I'm thinking of journalism/communications or some sort of design."
In retrospect, Marjanovic wouldn't do much differently if she could go back to being a freshman but have the knowledge she has now.
"There's almost nothing I would want to change because I feel like the whole point of being a freshman is the excitement of not knowing what comes next but learning as you go through the process," she said. "I've always tried to work hard no matter what, and I even felt that way my freshman year.
"Through playing tennis, I've gotten to meet so many great people and travel to many places I would not have otherwise. I've had a lot of great experiences because of tennis and some not so great, but they've all shaped me into who I am today."
Area girls’ tennis All-decade team
NAME SCHOOL YR. GRAD COMMENT
Kari Darding Danville 2001 Part of doubles teams that won 54 matches her final two seasons.
Jill Haas Rossville-Alvin 2004 Sectional finalist three times in singles despite not playing until the postseason.
Lindsay Hallett Champaign Central 2007 Two-time sectional champion in singles.
Julie LeCleir Danville 2003 Three-time sectional finalist in singles with 84 career singles wins.
Katarina Marjanovic Urbana 2010 Three-time sectional champion in singles.
Maria Mears Centennial 2011 Part of doubles teams that were 32-15, two-time state qualifiers the last two seasons.
Mary Parkhill Champaign Central 2002 On sectional championship doubles teams two consecutive years.
Natalie Tabb Champaign Central 2004 Three-time sectional champion in singles.
Kenisha Webb Urbana 2007 Sectional finalist in singles twice before transferring after sophomore season.
Claire Wright Danville 2006 Sectional finalist in doubles three years and in singles one year.
NEAR MISS: Maddie Baillon, St. Thomas More, 2013.