SPORTSMarcus Kramer succeeds on the court and in the classroom
by Greg McGinnis
There are many who feel that athletes cannot keep pace with other students in the classroom. Wrong. The men's tennis team at Virginia Tech has proved that student-athletes can be successful on the court and in the classroom. Marcus Kramer is a fine example of that dual success.
While the Hokies were compiling a 17-2 record on the tennis courts last season, they were also maintaining a 3.3 team GPA in the classroom. Of the 11 Hokies on the roster last season, nine earned Academic All-Metro Conference honors. Marcus Kramer was among the nine, and he and teammate Ognjen Pavlovic were named Academic All-Americans and Volvo Tennis/Scholar Athletes.
A senior from Jacksonville, Fla., Kramer did not really know about Virginia Tech until his senior year of high school. "I was basically unaware of the program at Virginia Tech until I met head coach Larsen Bowker at a tournament in Ypsilanti, Mich.," says Kramer. "I was very impressed with Coach Bowker, and I guess he was impressed with me because he asked if I would like to play at Virginia Tech. I had several options available to me, but I was able to make a final decision when I found out about Virginia Tech's pre-veterinary medicine program. With a great academic program and a coach I liked, I could not turn down the opportunity to play at Virginia Tech."
No one is more pleased than head coach Bowker that Kramer chose Virginia Tech. Three years ago, Bowker was trying to get some of the top teams in the ACC to play dual matches with his fledgling recruits. His team was young, but had promise, and needed the exposure against better teams. Bowker was turned down by several coaches. Many replied that the only way they would play Virginia Tech was if several Hokies could get ranked in the region. Only then would top teams have something to gain by playing Tech.
Bowker decided to commit his team to a more rigorous schedule, hoping to pull some upsets and to get some players ranked. In 1991, it began to pay off. Kramer got to the finals of a tournament at Clemson by beating the top players from Duke and Clemson. Kramer lost in the finals to the current No. 2 player in the country, but in a sense he won. Kramer was ranked seventh in the region and 51st in the nation at the end of 1991.
"Kramer put us on the map, and other teams found the roads to Blacksburg," says Bowker. This spring Texas A&M will come to Blacksburg, and the Hokies have been invited to the prestigious Marriott Classic in Irvine, Calif.
The 1992 fall season was the best since Bowker arrived in Blacksburg in 1974. The team was complimented by coaches from such tennis powers as UNC, Arkansas, Duke, Clemson, Minnesota, and Georgia Tech.
"It was a great lift to the players' confidence, not so much in their skills, but in their ability to win some big matches," says Bowker. Leading the way for the Hokies was Kramer, who finished the fall campaign with a team best 11-4 singles record.
Kramer was ranked 38th in the nation in the pre-season Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings. He finished the fall ranked 30th in the country, an impressive feat considering there are close to 3,000 Division I players.
While at Virginia Tech, Kramer has recorded an impressive 72-33 singles record. His accomplishments in the classroom are equally impressive. Kramer maintained a 3.5 GPA last semester. He is majoring in animal science and hopes to attend veterinary school after graduation.
A tremendous leader on and off the court, Kramer anticipates making his last semester here his best. The Hokies will need a strong performance from Kramer this spring as they face the toughest schedule in Virginia Tech history. When you have quality players like Marcus Kramer, it is not hard to find tough competition.
Greg McGinnis is a graduate student in sports management.
Virginia Tech Magazine Volume 15, Number 3 Spring 1993