Varsity Alumni Report: Lauren Lucido, St. Paul's School for Girls, tennis

Senior has set Bucknell record for wins, is considering pro career

  • Bucknell senior tennis player Lauren Lucido (St. Paul's School for Girls)
Bucknell senior tennis player Lauren Lucido (St. Paul's… (Bucknell photo )
April 21, 2011|By Sandra McKee, The Baltimore Sun

Bucknell senior Lauren Lucido has been playing tennis since she went to the courts with her parents as a 5-year-old. Since then, her dreams have come full circle.

"When I first started playing, I wanted to go pro," said Lucido, a St. Paul's School for Girls graduate. "Then, when I was 13 or 14, I realized I wanted to play in college at a Division I school. A lot of pros don't go to school. They're home-schooled and on the court most of the time. I had seen a bunch of kids in my [USTA] Mid-Atlantic Section burn out or get injured, and when that happened, they had nothing to fall back on. I didn't want that to happen to me."

So Lucido, 21, went to Bucknell, where she plays No. 1 singles for the tennis team and will graduate with a degree in sociology, with a concentration in culture, media and leisure studies. She laughs at that leisure studies part.

"My dad didn't get that either," she said. "Basically, I decided I wanted to go into sports broadcasting, and Bucknell doesn't have that. This is the closest way I could get to it. It covers the industry, sports-related management and media broadcasting."

Besides the degree, she will emerge with the distinction of being Bucknell's all-time record holder, among both men and women, for combined wins (singles and doubles) with a 166-71 record and with her original dream of becoming a pro tennis player back in consideration.

Lucido's parents, Bob and Tracy, who offered their daughter the opportunity to live and train in Florida year-round when she was younger, say they are not surprised by their daughter's continued interest in professional tennis.

"Lauren chose a more balanced life and has had wonderful experiences playing a collegiate sport on a college campus, juggling all of the facets of a college student," Tracy Lucido said. "It has been a perfect fit for Lauren."

Said Bob Lucido: "She didn't want to forfeit going to college. But she's a competitor, and I think she's gotten more confident in her game over these last several years. Her coach told me that most people see their game peak in high school, but Lauren has definitely gotten better in college. It doesn't surprise me that she's thinking about pro tennis."

For Lauren Lucido, it's a choice between following her childhood dream or coming up with a new one.

"I haven't figured out what I want to do," Lucido said. "Pro tennis would mean a whole other level of training, but the more I think about it, it would be awesome to try and it seems to be making more and more sense to do something with tennis. I've played the game competitively more than half my life."

On Friday, Lucido will lead Bucknell into the Patriot League tournament at the Naval Academy. She said she has mixed emotions about it.

"The thought that this could be my last tournament makes me sad," she said. "I'm very competitive, and I know I'll have to find something to fill that void. Right now, all doors are open. I'm looking for opportunities and inspiration to find my path."

Lucido said she watched Beatrice Capra's run to the third round of the U.S. Open last year with interest. Lucido is two years older than the Ellicott City native, who decided recently to scale back her pro aspirations to attend Duke this fall. Growing up, the two shared coaches, practiced together and played some junior matches.

"I have a court in my backyard [in Woodstock in Howard County] and she'd come over to play," Lucido said. "When she was at the U.S. Open, it was strange to watch her and then look at a picture I have of us as teens. I think it's awesome for her."

Claude Grady, who coached Lucido in juniors and continues to work with her, is based at the Aspen Hill Club in Silver Spring and is encouraging Lucido to seriously consider the pro sport.

"I think she has a unique ability to hit the ball cleanly, and she has a lot of natural power," Grady said. "Because she has those two things already, going to the next level will not be so difficult. She has the shots and the power that most players have to learn."

What she'll have to work on, he said, is her quickness and movement.

"With the right amount of time and training, she could reach new heights in her tennis game," Grady said. "I'd tell her, if she has the time, she's young and it's time to do it."

Lucido's accomplishments at Bucknell

•Holds career record for combined victories (singles and doubles) with 166, set April 2 at Colgate)

•Holds singles winning percentage record, .800

•Holds longest winning streak in doubles with partner Tania Varela, 18 straight matches

•Team captain junior and senior years

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