May 6, 2011
Marton Bots, or "Botsy" as teammates and coaches know him, is about to head into his first NCAA tournament setting. Bots had to watch at home last year, sitting out his first year at Washington only because he graduated late for his age group. A charismatic presence on and off the court, Bots could hardly wait to make an impact this season. The native of Budapest, Hungary has done just that, posting a 17-6 dual singles record that is the second-best winning percentage on the team. He talked to GoHuskies.com on Thursday about the improvements in his game, transitioning to life in a new country, and what he expects from himself in the future on the court and in the classroom.
GoHuskies.com: You weren't eligible to play before this year, do you mind talking about that?
Marton Bots: Well I lived in Spain for five years and I played some professional tournaments, which made me graduate late. I was a home schooled student and I had to take my exams later than my classmates, which is why I graduated later.
GH: How was the transition coming here?
MB: I like it, it was hard at first. The classes were really hard since I'd never had them in English before so it was tough. Tennis was okay, I'm a really good team guy so I became really good friends with the guys. The coaching here is better than in Europe. The only thing I'm not really happy with is the weather.
GH: How would you say your first season of eligibility has gone for you?
MB: Good, I've enjoyed it a lot. I played singles and doubles--I played doubles first with Brad Bator and now I play with Daniel Schmidt. It was fun, we won very important matches and I feel that I won a lot of very important singles matches, so I hope that the coaches are happy with me and my performance.
GH: How have the coaches motivated you and gotten you back into the game this season?
MB: Well, I was always fired up to start the season in January so I was basically practicing hard and focusing on my conditioning. I had matches with the guys during practice too. I really didn't need the motivation since I was so fired up.
GH: Did you face any challenges in the beginning of the year?
MB: Well, this college atmosphere was really new for me. You don't see this in Europe at all. In Europe, you go to tournaments and someone is cheering for you--like your friends or family--but if you're travelling to play the people don't cheer against you. Here in the U.S., like when we went to Michigan, people were shouting and screaming against me which made me a little nervous. That was also my first road trip, and that was really the only difference playing here. I think that the crowd is pretty loud here, especially in indoors, and I really like when the crowd is behind my back.
GH: Is your family here? If not, do you go back to visit often?
MB: No, they're still in Budapest. I didn't go back for Christmas because I was practicing here. I'm only going back for ten days after Spring quarter is over because I'm doing summer school here and practicing with coach. I think I'll be playing several individual Men's Open tournaments so I'll be getting prepared for that.
GH: So what is your major?
MB: I haven't decided on a major yet, but I'm trying to get into the business school which is why I'm taking some of the prerequisites over the summer. I only need to take two more before I can apply to the Business school, and so I plan to apply in the fall and we'll see if I get accepted. If I do, then I will start business school in January.
GH: Have you found it hard to balance school and tennis?
MB: Yes, I don't really have free time during the week. In high school and back in Budapest it was totally different. I had so much time to just hang around with my friends. Here it is different--you have to study. If you don't you won't do well. I think this is the same with all sports.
GH: What do you feel your role on the team is?
MB: I feel like I'm just a team guy and I keep everyone fired up.
GH: Do you prefer to play singles or doubles?
MB: When I came here I preferred to play singles because I didn't consider myself to be a very good doubles player but my teammate, Jeevan, and our coach have been teaching me new things about doubles and so I've become very interested in it. Especially since I have a really good doubles partner, Daniel. So now I don't care, I like both.
GH: So what have you been learning about doubles?
MB: Movements, service, accuracy, volleys (I've improved a lot), and my return game is totally different. The whole game in doubles is totally different than in singles.
GH: How did the Pac-10 Championships go for you?
MB: In doubles we played really well, in the finals we lost 9-8 unfortunately. I was a little angry with myself because I think if I could have played a little better we could have won the trophy. In singles, I played a guy from UCLA and I've known him for a couple of years. I knew his tennis, and I was a little nervous going onto the court. I didn't have confidence in my game so I didn't play very well, and he played well. So I can blame myself for that.
GH: Have you thought about next year at all and what you want to do differently?
MB: Well, I have to improve my game by coming to the net more. I need to make more volleys. I need to put that in my game style, but overall if I keep my conditioning up and I practice hard with Coach then I'll be fine next year.
GH: Do you have any expectations for where you hope to be in the lineup?
MB: Not really, wherever I am in the lineup I'm going to do fine.
GH: How do you prepare yourself for big matches?
MB: Well I like to get a really good night's sleep, that's one of my key points. I eat a good breakfast and then head down to the tennis center and warm up really well. Then I listen to music for about 10-15 minutes. Then I just go to the court and listen to what the coaches say about the opponents and just take care of business.
GH: What kind of music do you listen to?
MB: It's European house music basically.
GH: Do you have any motto or attitude you strive to keep when you're playing tennis?
MB: Usually to stay fired up for every single match. I'm really focused, but I like to check the scoreboards to see how my teammates are doing which is not a good thing. At the same time, I think that if I check their scoreboards and keep them fired up on the court then it's a good feeling for them as well.
GH: Is there anyone here that has had a heavy influence on you besides your coaches as far as tennis goes?
MB: Jeevan for sure. On practice and off court we talk a lot about practice and other stuff. He has shown me some moves that I have been trying to put in my game. I'm not 100% successful for that but I'm trying my best. I'm very thankful for him because I didn't know these things. For example, he's taught me the doubles positions and where to stand, and what to tell my partner if we're down. It's more mental than basically hits and strokes.
GH: What about the coaching style here do you like more than in Europe?
MB: They're more experienced here than the coaches in Europe. Our coach was ranked 22nd in the world so that speaks for itself. Chris Russell was head coach at Oregon so he is also very experienced with college tennis. It's just different and the technology here is much better here than in Europe. Thanks to the University we have a lot of money to put into the tennis program. With this coaching staff and the conditioning staff basically everything is done, all we have to do is go on the court and play.