April 30, 2014
By Jason Pearson, MSU Athletic Communications student assistant
Winning is just what Marina Bohrer does.
Of all the hundreds of players who have played under the program named Michigan State Women's Tennis, Bohrer's name will be the one of the ones always coming up first. Of all the hundreds of players who have played women's tennis at MSU, Bohrer is the one who has won the most, as she owns the school record for most all-time singles wins. Bohrer winning while wearing the Green and White has started to become the norm around MSU's tennis courts during her four years in East Lansing.
Bohrer's name is not likely to be forgotten around the women's tennis program, and in fact, having a name that was familiar to head coach Simone Jardim played a role in Bohrer choosing Michigan State as the place where she chose to continue her tennis career.
Hailing from the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, Bohrer began playing the game by the age of eight. Although, her father was a frequent player of the game and she had been around tennis since she was a toddler.
With her twin brother, Rodrigo, doing it right along with her, Bohrer gave tennis a try and by the age of 11 she was playing competitively.
"He would support me to do whatever I liked so if I liked tennis, he would encourage me to continue it but it was nothing like coaching wise," Bohrer said of her dad's involvement with her tennis. "He liked to watch me and my brother play. My brother and I started playing together and we would always practice together."
The person who taught her the game was Ademar Arrugueti, who was also the same person who taught and coached Jardim at a young age. That's just the beginning of the links between Bohrer and Jardim.
In collegiate tennis, recruiting services are available to international players looking to come to the United States to play college tennis. Bohrer's recruitment process was somewhat unique, in that she wasn't the standard four-year high school player who was looking to come to America to continue tennis. After graduating high school a year early at the age of 16, Bohrer had actually played with the idea of possibly turning professional in tennis but ultimately decided against it.
"When I was done with high school, I decided to play tennis for a full year, just to see - not really pro tennis - but to see if I would like to continue to play tennis," Bohrer said. "I didn't feel like professional tennis was for me, so I figured I would start looking for a college to have an opportunity to get a scholarship through tennis. It's very risky to choose to be a professional tennis player especially if it doesn't happen, because you put so much effort into something and then you wouldn't study and I wouldn't have anything to do after that."
With the help of the recruiting service, Bohrer's college tennis selections were narrowed to MSU, Texas Tech and Florida International.
"I figured it would be a good experience because I really love playing tennis," she said of pursuing college tennis. "But I also wanted to have an education and eventually do something else with my life if tennis didn't work out."
Felipe Fonseca from Daquiprafora was in charge of Brazil's service and again, Jardim had known him for many years. Jardim talked to her people in Brazil, including the mutual coach of herself and Bohrer, and eventually became interested enough that while in Brazil visiting her family she took the opportunity to also go watch and meet Marina.
Jardim watched Bohrer play while she was down visiting her family and offered her a scholarship. Bohrer eventually accepted the offer. Jardim and Bohrer's family have never met in person before but Bohrer's family had known about Jardim and her family because of living in the same area. The connection between the families as well as Jardim being Brazilian certainly helped in Bohrer selecting MSU.
With Bohrer committed to East Lansing, she began to make a cultural and linguistic transition as she started her freshman year in the fall of 2010. Bohrer notes she had some but did not have a lot of practice with English prior to her arrival.
"I did study a little English before I came to be able to pass the SAT exam," she said. "But it was on paper, so when I was on the plane coming and people started talking to me in English, I would respond to people in Portuguese expecting people to understand. I didn't really realize it until I was in the plane, how big of an adjustment you have to make. The moment I came here, listening to English all the time helped me pick it up."
Being around English constantly, taking English courses on campus, and having the full support of her teammates helped Bohrer pick up the language. Bohrer also roomed with Olga Chernova, another freshman on the team at the time and now a graduating senior, who came to MSU by way of Russia.
"MSU really helps internationals," she said. "The thing that helped me the most was the English classes, the ESL courses, the professors are great. They really know how to deal with internationals, how to encourage us to speak, to read more, and to improve our English. A lot of writing classes helped me. And my teammates support was incredible."
Jardim herself made the same transition as she played collegiate tennis at Fresno State in the early 2000s after coming from Brazil,
"It's a hard transition culturally, people dress, eat and interact differently," she said. "The English part of it is probably the toughest of all. That's where I feel I was able to help her out some just translating certain things or even coaching her on court."
Jardim has certainly provided not only to be a coach for Bohrer but has also been a sort of extended family member to Bohrer as well because her immediate family is far away. Sharing a mutual cultural background, Jardim was able to assist in trying to smooth out the adjustment process and Jardim was also a trusted source for Bohrer to look to.
"Since I've been here, she's done everything for me," Bohrer said of Jardim. "Being hard on me when I need it and motivating me to improve every single day. Being in the MSU program, that's where I learned what hard work is and how to be disciplined and what it means to be a on a team so I think she's the person I look to. She's the person that I want to be, eventually if I become a coach, I want to be like her."
Bohrer's adjustment to Michigan State ended extremely noteworthy, as she not only experienced success on the tennis court but she also settled in on a major - supply chain management - and found herself adjusting to other parts of college, such as time management, as opposed to worrying about any language barriers.
"I was used to playing tennis and studying at the same time because of high school but it wasn't the same level," she said. "The level we play here is very high, very competitive. Practices are intense, studying too. I think the biggest challenge was just deciding what I wanted to do because I came here thinking I wanted to do kinesiology and then I eventually changed to psychology and I kind of found myself in the business college. Just growing up is a big challenge and I feel MSU helped me figure it out."
During her first two years on campus, Bohrer proved to be a key contributor to the team as she posted a 34-22 (.607) record, splitting time between the second and third singles courts. She was also named an ITA Scholar Athlete during her freshman year in 2011 and was an Academic All-Big Ten honoree during her sophomore year in 2012.
In fact, playing on the third singles court would show to be the lowest in the lineup she would play during her career, as she spent her upperclassmen years as the top Spartan, playing on the No. 1 court.
It would be her senior year which would end up being the most memorable for Bohrer, as she has a list of achievements accumulated during 2013-14.
In addition to being named co-captain along with fellow senior Katarina Lingl, in September 2013, she was selected to compete in the pre-qualifying bracket of the ITA Women's All-American Championships in California. Bohrer was the first Spartan under Jardim to receive an invitation to the nationally prestigious event.
In April 2014, she earned the first weekly award of her career as she was named the Big Ten Women's Tennis Athlete of the Week on April 8, 2014. She was the second Spartan to win the award under Jardim and the first since Elena Ivanova in 2009.
She backed up her weekly award from the Big Ten by becoming a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten First Team on April 24, 2014. Bohrer surpassed her preseason goal of reaching six individual conference wins and posted a 7-4 Big Ten record. She was the second Spartan under Jardim to be named All-Big Ten, with the other being Amy Barton who received second team honors in 2011. She was also the fourth Spartan ever to be named first team and the first since Christine Bader did so in 2008.
She also reached a career-high in singles and doubles national rankings. She appeared in back-to-back singles polls in April 2014, and reached No. 112 as her highest. She also appeared in three consecutive doubles polls in April 2014, coming in at No. 57 as her highest.
In addition to her conference recognition and awards, Bohrer's wins back in early March of 2014 will be what continue to have her name etched in the record books. Heading into the team's spring break matches on March 5 and 7, Bohrer was tied for first with Bader and Jessica Baron atop the program's list for most career singles wins with 64. With her 6-0, 6-2 win on March 5 over Ashely Ta of Niagara, Bohrer was able to establish herself as the new No. 1 on the career singles list. For her four-year career, she posts a 73-43 (.629) singles record.
"I'm honored that I was able to do that and I'm very happy about it," Bohrer said about setting the record. "That was never my goal coming in, I always just tried to help the team. Every year I just tried to improve my record and contribute to the team as much as I could. It didn't matter which position I was playing, I just wanted to win."
Winning is just what Bohrer does. It's her will to win which has separated her not only on the court, but has also contributed to her terrific successes in the classroom as well. Her competitiveness shows through in many aspects in her life.
"I wouldn't say I have the best groundstrokes," Bohrer said. "I just try to do whatever I can to win. If I have to slice, if I have to moonball, I just try to adjust to my opponent. That's how I find a way to win. I really like to win, I'm very competitive in anything I do. Especially in my classes, if I have a teammate in my class, like I had Olga (Chernova) in one of my classes, and I was really motivated to have better grades. I just want to win."
Jardim is quick to note Bohrer's "winning mentality" for helping her reach as far as she's reached so far.
"She has set a standard for sure," Jardim said. "The direction the program is going, she has set the bar high and I think she has left her legacy. She's played a high level of tennis and a high level of competitiveness and that's the best thing a program can ask for."
Bohrer graduates in May 2014 and will move on to the next phase of her life - possibly coaching tennis as a graduate assistant - but her name will forever be etched in the Spartan record books and her competitiveness and will to win will forever be remembered around the tennis courts in East Lansing.