DURHAM, N.C. - Duke junior Hanna Mar recently sat down with GoDuke.com to recap her summer and discuss everything from being a Cubs fan, to travelling the country, to predictions for the 2012-2013 tennis season. A product of Burr Ridge, Ill., Mar had an outstanding 2012 campaign. In addition to being an All-ACC selection, Mar posted a 30-15 overall singles record, including a 17-5 mark in dual matches and a 6-1 ledger in ACC play, as the Blue Devils reached to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
GoDuke.com: How was your summer?
Hanna Mar: It was great! I was home for about a month taking it pretty easy. I worked a little bit, taught a little tennis and then came here for summer school for six weeks. I took two classes, and was able to practice, and trained a little bit. Nothing too intense.
GoDuke.com: Being from Chicago, is it safe to assume you are a Chicago sports fan?
HM: Yes, definitely. I love the Chicago Cubs. We are hopeful in Chicago. Cubs fans are very hopeful. I am not a huge football fan, but I like the Bears.
GoDuke.com: Duke will be playing in Illinois this season ... what will it be like to play in front of your hometown crowd? HM: I am very excited about heading back to Illinois. Hopefully I will see who my friends are and find out if they come and see me. Northwestern is a bit far from my house, about an hour, but I think I'll have some friends and family come watch. I am the youngest child, and now that my parents don't have any kids at home, they enjoy coming to Durham and sometimes other places to watch.
GoDuke.com: What do you like to do when you are not playing tennis, studying, or going to class?
HM: I like to watch other sports. I actually like to watch any sport other than tennis specifically. I guess I just like to hang out. I like to eat. Rachel [Kahan] and I have a good relationship over food. We have a steady rotation of Chinese food, Mediterranean food, pizza, everything. This summer we lived together and we had a kitchen so we did some cooking for ourselves. It was fun. No one got sick, and no one burned down the house, so we think we were very, very successful.
GoDuke.com: Respond with the first thing that comes to your mind...What is your favorite...?
Goo Goo Dolls
Chicken Noodle Soup
Sport (other than Tennis)?
Seinfeld and Modern Family
GoDuke.com: When did you start playing tennis?
HM: I started playing when I was four. My brother at the time was eight and he was playing tennis a little bit. He was just starting up, and I was just sitting there watching him like "I want to play tennis, I want to play tennis!!!" and at first my mom said I couldn't because I was so young, but eventually she let me play. The story goes that for the first eight weeks, I didn't even touch the ball. I would swing and miss, swing and miss. So I got really fed up with that and said I need to hit the ball so I guess I got better from there.
GoDuke.com: What are the differences between high school and college tennis?
HM: Coming in to college, I think the hardest thing is the whole team concept. Maybe not the hardest, but the most different because people have a hard time adjusting to that. Prior to that, tennis is individual and there is a high concentration on singles so everyone is primarily thinks about themselves. When you come to college, and your individual performance is obviously still important, but there becomes a switch. Now it is: I want to do well because then the team does well and that is the more important thing. It takes a while to get used to that approach, but once you do, you realize that is so much more rewarding to be playing for a team rather than yourself. The team is a much bigger thing than myself, and you can accomplish more with them. Every match you win is great for yourself, your self-confidence, but it's really helping the team and your teammates. We are very close, so winning for the other people feels really good.
GoDuke.com: What is it like to play with this group?
HM: I've spent a year with almost everybody so we have had a lot of time to bond. We have spent a lot of time off the court with each other, and I think it makes a huge difference that we feel so close to each other. We have fun with it, we really enjoy each other.
HM: They create the environment, "win as a team, and lose as a team." So there is never any finger pointing or anything like that. When we take a loss, it's all of us collectively. They are part of the team. They try and we also accept that they are a part of the team. It's not just us eight. It is everybody else involved, so we are all responsible.
GoDuke.com: You travel to California, Oregon, New York, Hawaii, Nevada, Florida, Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland and Virginia this season ... how do you do it? How do you balance academics and athletics?
HM: I think that tennis and academics balance each other out because sometimes with your work you feel so overwhelmed and just want to get away, and I have tennis where I can go and run around and relax. Sometimes tennis gets on my nerves of course, so then I am like "at least I can study now."
GoDuke.com: You were All-ACC, ranked by the ITA all season, had a 30-15 overall record and made it to the semifinals of the NCAA. Now that you've had some time to reflect on last season, how do you feel about your performance?
HM: I feel like I did very well last year and I was very happy with my results. Hopefully this year I can use that to my advantage, confidence-wise. This year, coming in I can think back to how I was playing in NCAA's, and tell myself I can continue that. I know that I have not played a lot of matches this summer, but I think half of the battle is really mental and confidence.
GoDuke.com: What did you learn from last season's NCAA Tournament?
HM: After the season we all looked back and one of the striking things to us was if we think back to January or February we had a run, we made it to the final of National Indoors, and that is a big tournament with some of the best teams in the country. That was a great showing, but compare that to NCAA, I think we improved so much from National Indoors. We kept improving all season which was a huge positive for us. Looking ahead to this season, I think we can keep that going. Last year we were a really young team, but now we all have one more year of experience, and I think that is going to continue to help us grow.
GoDuke.com: Predictions for the upcoming season?
HM: I think that we all know that we did really well last year, but we know that we can get better, so we are going to work towards getting better. Everyone is really dedicated to that.
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