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Women’s Tennis: Francesca Di Lorenzo misses Ohio State, but couldn’t pass up pro opportunity

OSU sophomore Francesca Di Lorenzo holding the ITA national indoor championship trophy. Credit: Courtesy of OSU Athletics

Tennis player Francesca Di Lorenzo left Ohio State as an NCAA doubles champion, a three-time Intercollegiate Tennis Association champion, the 2017 Ohio State Female Athlete of the Year, a two-time singles All-American and a doubles All-American.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her athletic achievements, and she still has two years of NCAA eligibility to spare.

However, Di Lorenzo announced in November she would continue her tennis career on the professional circuit, ending her time as a Buckeye after two seasons.

Di Lorenzo said her decision to leave came down to timing. Following her sophomore season, she was offered a spot to train at the United States Tennis Association’s National Campus in Orlando, a chance she felt she could not pass up.

“The support USTA was a big deal. If I waited another year, I wouldn’t know if that same opportunity would be there,” Di Lorenzo said. “I did accomplish a lot of the goals I wanted to accomplish when I was [at Ohio State] … a lot of team goals were accomplished … all that together made the decision a little bit easier.”

Stephen Amritraj serves as the USTA national collegiate coach and surveys qualified candidates for the national team. It was his decision to invite Di Lorenzo to the National Campus and give her the opportunity to further her training.

“We built [the USTA National Campus] for the purpose of training top prospects,” Amritraj said. “We want the best American players to come down and train with us. If they decide to move down here full time, that’s their decision.”

Playing professional tennis has been Di Lorenzo’s dream since she was a teenager, but the steps she needed to take to get there involved the most difficult decisions of her life. She went back and forth with the decision during the summer, making lists of positive and negative consequences if she were to go train full time.

The biggest negative for the star tennis player was leaving Ohio State.

“It was a big deal for me,” Di Lorenzo said. “The reason it was so difficult was that the coaches and team have been incredible and I’ve loved everything about Ohio State.”

Though born in Pittsburgh, Di Lorenzo grew up in Columbus and frequently watched Ohio State tennis matches when the team played on campus. She loved the atmosphere surrounding the team and was hooked after her official visit.

Di Lorenzo became one of the greatest tennis players in the history of the women’s tennis program in just two years, with her former coach at Ohio State calling her the most successful player in program history.

She started off her Buckeye career strong, setting the program record of 37 singles wins and becoming the first freshman in program history to be seeded in the NCAA tournament. In her two years with Ohio State, she brought home the team’s first NCAA doubles championship and USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships title — and successfully defended it her sophomore season.

Looking back on her collegiate career, Di Lorenzo believes playing for Ohio State gave her the tools to be successful on the professional circuit.

“Ohio State was incredible. I wouldn’t be where I am without their help…physically and mentally, both on and off the court,” Di Lorenzo said. “Having that step before going pro is essential for a lot of people, especially for me. Everything has helped me and having that support was the best thing I could’ve had.”

Now that she’s playing against the best of the best, Di Lorenzo hopes to progress in the international ranks and qualify for a Grand Slam tournament. She needs to place 220 or better; she was ranked at 258 and 326 for singles and doubles, respectively.

She said it’s too soon to tell if she’s made the right choice, but said ask her again in a year. For now, she’s content with playing the sport she loves.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss my friends and the team and the coaches, but I do like the life here,” Di Lorenzo said. “I love what I’m doing, so I can’t complain that much.”

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