Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008

Boys tennis: The student becomes the teacher

'07 Churchill grad Marcus opens tennis academy

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Naomi Brookner/ The Gazette
When it came time to find a summer job, former Churchill No. 2 singles player Andrew Marcus decided to start his own business giving tennis lessons.

Former Churchill boys No. 2 singles tennis player Andrew Marcus wasn't home from his freshman year of college very long before his parents started urging him to get a job.

A business major at the University of Connecticut, the two-time Maryland state boys doubles champion (2006, '07) wasn't prepared to sit in an office all day at an unpaid internship, though. So he took matters into his own hands.

Marcus, 19, started his own teaching business, DC Tennis Pros, in June. He and friend Jason Lieberman (Potomac) crafted a detailed Web site ripe with interactive media, pictures, videos and information, then advertised on

In just over two months, Marcus' client base has grown to 37 students, of all ages and from all over the Washington Metropolitan Area, some as far away as Gainesville, Va.

"I've taken hundreds of lessons," said Marcus. "I've been there. I thought it'd be nice to pass along the information I've learned. It's been fun to help out. I did not expect this much turnout. But it's been really cool."

Marcus finished the 2007-08 season with a 13-10 record at No. 4 singles and 15-9 at No. 3 doubles for UConn. A crafty player, Marcus is known for his strategic play and tennis I.Q. As a Division I college player formerly ranked the top 200 nationally in his U.S. Tennis Association age group, he has big-match experience.

Tennis is a growing sport in this area, which plays host to a number of prestigious academies. But not everyone wants to be part of that scene. Marcus has found himself a nice niche.

His students run the gamut, from beginner to advanced junior talent. And he knows how to change his approach accordingly.

"All coaches pretty much tell you the same thing, and Andrew kind of re-emphasizes that," said rising Georgetown Prep junior and three-year varsity player Brett Beattie. "But I like working with Andrew because we can do a lot of match play. He'll stop in between points and instruct me. … You can tell he really cares about his students getting better and not about the money. My game has really improved."

What really sets Marcus apart is what he charges: $35 an hour for private lessons and $50 for semi-private. He has access to private courts near his Potomac home, so doesn't have to tack on additional court costs.

Marcus said he averages at least three lessons per day, seven days a week. And he sets up matches for some of his students, as well.

He will head back to Connecticut at the end of the month, but that doesn't mean his business will fold. He has rising Churchill seniors and varsity players Eric Harris, Ben Kessler and Paven Sethi lined up to instruct his clients, while Marcus stays in charge of scheduling lessons from school.

Next summer, Marcus already has plans to join forces with former Montgomery County high school standouts Andrew Zutz (Notre Dame) and Roshan Potarazu (University of Maryland) to have a more intensive junior program.

If things go well through the winter season and next summer Marcus hopes to keep growing his fledgling business; he might take it up to Connecticut next year.

"Tennis is a great sport for people to learn," Marcus said. "It's very individual and takes a lot of internal drive. I'm going to try and keep expanding DC Tennis Pros. This is definitely a project I'll have in the back of my mind. But once I graduate I think it will be time to move on from the tennis world. Maybe sit in that office."