In the Locker Room: Ben Turchin and Charlie Marks

This week, the Review sat down with senior Ben Turchin and junior Charlie Marks, doubles partners on the men’s tennis team, to discuss the changing tennis environment at Oberlin, facial hair and the slow clap.

Phoebe Hammer, Sports Editor

Why did you guys decide to play tennis at Oberlin?

Charlie Marks: I’ve played tennis since I was eight. I’ve always done it, so I figured I would keep doing it. The old head coach, Adam, was very aggressive about getting me here — enough that my parents made me apply here.

Ben Turchin: When I was looking at colleges, I was interested in tennis. I hadn’t heard about Oberlin before Adam. I went out to visit my brother at Ohio State, so we stopped by here. I loved it, so I decided to go [early decision].

How are you guys feeling about this season so far?

BT: I’m feeling good. We started off very strong. The opponents we were playing weren’t the strongest, but now we’re getting to the point of Conference and [playing] more ranked teams. But still, I think it’s the best season I’ve ever had.

CM: Even though we haven’t played the highest-ranked teams, we are learning to win better. We’ve been shut out by Denison four years in a row, and this season we didn’t get shut out. It’s great to see how the team has improved.

As upperclassmen, how do you think the tennis team has changed since your first year?

BT: It’s changed a lot. The year before I was a freshman, the team had zero wins, and we’ve had a losing record every year so far. But now it’s different. I think the biggest thing is depth. This year we have the strongest, most consistent team.

CM: Yeah, in the past we were so small that if someone got hurt, we would have to forfeit a court.

BT: We also have a new coach, so of course that has changed things a lot. As two of the only upperclassmen, it’s a strange role to be in.

Do you guys feel like the parents of the team?

CM: Yes! BT: Definitely, sometimes.

CM: Our attitudes are also a little different [than the underclassmen]. We were on a losing team for a while, so we’ve learned to just love playing tennis. But don’t get me wrong, we like winning a lot, too.

BT: But with us being accustomed to our old coach, it’s strange. I like it, but it used to be a certain way.

CM: Yeah, it’s almost more new for us than it is for the freshmen.

Do you have any team rituals or traditions?

CM: Finding Cal.

BT: Should we talk about that?

CM: No.

BT: We started doing a slow clap, which we don’t really like. We’re not a basketball team.

CM: But Denison was going to do it too during our match, [until] we started doing it, and they stopped. So we definitely won some points for that.

You both have some interesting facial hair. Can you explain that a little bit?

BT: We decided at the beginning of the season to not shave our beards until we lost. We ended up losing the weekend before spring break so we decided to shave, except for our mustaches. We said, ‘OK, we will have these mustaches until we win again.’ Then we won our first spring break match.

CM: Which Ben was really happy about because he did not want the mustache. I kind of like it, as you can see. I’ve just trimmed it up a bit.

Do you have any good stories about being doubles partners? Any fights?

BT: Well, once I accidentally smacked Charlie in the face with my racquet during practice. We were up 7–6, and if I had won that serve, we would have won; but I got broken, so we lost. I was angry, so I went to smack the ball away. At the same [time], Charlie was coming to give me a high-five, and I hit the ball and followed through really hard, right into his eyebrow.

CM: My eyebrow is almost all the way back now. But there was a lot of blood. But it’s on video, which is kind of cool.

You must know each other pretty well by now. If you could describe each other in one word, what would it be and why?

BT: Committed. That might not be the perfect word, but I was thinking in terms of tennis and academically — just very hard working. The things he does… he puts a lot of effort into everything.

CM: I’ll go with dancer. That’s for everything he does. There isn’t really more of an explanation.