Freshman Benedetta Luccone serves up hope for women’s tennis

Newcomer Benedetta Luccone from Roccagorga, Italy, has been competing for the women’s tennis team at Lewis since last season. When she first came to Lewis, the cultural shock was huge for her. The American culture was not a familiarity to her.

Luccone is from Roccagorga, Italy, which is a city about 40 minutes away from Rome and near the capital.

“It was beautiful because I liked the opportunity to spend time at home with my family and also the food was good, so I grew up well,” said Luccone. “Memories of my family [were my favorite] because now that I’m here, I can understand the difference between our family near me and I don’t have any other family near me that can help me if I have a problem,” said Luccone.

Her family is made up of her parents, younger brother and her grandmother.

 “My grandmother is like a fundamental part of my life because my parents are always busy with work and I spend my life with my grandmother because they are so busy and we stay there all the time,” said Luccone.

It was a major culture shock for her to come here from Italy because everything seemed different to her.

“Yeah, I think I was shocked throughout because everything is different for me, like everything,” said Luccone. “The food, streets, languages, human behavior, I will say.”

At times, she does feel homesick because she really misses her grandmother back in Italy.

“Yes, especially my grandmother,” said Luccone. “We do call each other everyday, but it’s not the same.”

Besides tennis, Luccone enjoys watching soccer, also known as football to the rest of the world, because of its popularity in Europe.

“I play tennis and I like to enjoy watching it, but I also like soccer because generally, it’s a very popular sport,” said Luccone.

As a child, she swam for a short time, but her love for tennis was much stronger. 

“I used to swim a couple of times, but to be honest, I spent all my life playing tennis since I was four years old,” said Luccone.

A typical day for her at Lewis starts with her waking up in the morning at 5:45 a.m. because she has morning practice at 7 a.m. 

“Then I finish at 9 and some days, it’s less than 9:30 a.m., so I go straight to class,” said Luccone. 

 In the evening, when she has nothing to do, she either stretches at the gym or goes on a walk with her friends. Luccone enjoys being a part of the women’s tennis team because unlike other sports, tennis is unique due to it being both a team and individual sport. 

“I like being on the women’s tennis team because it’s different in that you’re not working like a team, but you play by yourself,” said Luccone. “You’re also part of the team, which is very nice.”

Thinking back to her performance at the matches last season, she thinks that she has improved for this season because of her training schedule.

“I improved a lot because I’m training everyday so that I can see improvement,” said Luccone. “Also my tennis teammates and my coach said that I’ve improved a lot since I came here.”

Her performance in tennis has improved since first coming to Lewis because back in Italy, she only practiced three days a week. Here, she’s been practicing everyday. With that, her proudest  achievement so far is playing the doubles matches last season.

“Here, I learned more and during the training, it’s more intense,” said Luccone. “I have the opportunity to do tournaments every weekend so this way, I can keep going every day.”

Reflecting back on the matches from last season, her worst moment was when she first came to Lewis, her English speaking skills weren’t good, so when trying to communicate with her coach, she couldn’t understand him that well. She knew the language of tennis, English was another challenge. 

“But now that I have improved my initial notes, I can understand what he said to me because initially I diffused with languages to understand people,” said Luccone.

When it comes to playing tennis, she would say that her strength is serving and her weakness would be playing the ball higher, instead of spinning it.

“I’m pretty good at serving and I have to improve playing the ball more high instead of spinning it. This is also what my coach wants to work on for me,” said Luccone.

Out of the many universities with a women’s tennis team, she chose to come to Lewis because the coach recruited her through her agency back in Italy.

“I chose Lewis because the coach called my agency because he was interested in me because she saw my videos on YouTube,” said Luccone. “And he recruited me so this is the reason why and also here at Lewis, there are a lot of opportunities, it’s a private school and there’s a lot of courses for my major.”

She feels that it’s a tough balance between taking classes and going to tennis practice everyday because she feels fatigued after training hard in the morning.

“Sometimes it’s hard though because when I train in the morning, I feel tired the rest of the day,” said Luccone. “It’s hard to be focused, but I’m here to do that, even if sometimes it’s hard.”

After graduating from Lewis, she would like to work in the government back in Italy because she’s studying political science. Playing tennis professionally is a goal of hers as well, but she says “work is hard, but if you work, nothing is impossible.”

Photo Credit: Steve Woltmann

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