Capra Chooses Duke for Transition to Professional Career
by Colette Lewis
, 25 February 2011
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Reaching the third round of the US Open is rarely considered a problem for a teenager with a WTA ranking in the 300s. But Beatrice Capra's success last year in New York presented her with an obvious opportunity to reconsider her commitment to attending college.
After winning the USTA's wild card tournament
to gain entry into the US Open main draw, the 18-year-old from Ellicott City, Md. posted a solid straight-set win
over WTA Top 100 player Karolina Sprem of Croatia in the first round. But her next victory
, a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 decision over No. 18 seed Aravane Rezai of France, was completely unexpected, and it instantly put Capra and her amateur status in the spotlight.
A 6-0, 6-0 loss to Maria Sharapova on Arthur Ashe Stadium in the next round ended her run before it reached Melanie Oudin-like dimensions, and shortly thereafter, Capra took an official visit to Duke University. In November, she signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Blue Devils in the fall of 2011, where she aims to polish her game while preparing for a career in pro tennis.
"It was a tough decision," admits Capra, who is called Trice by her friends and family. "My parents really helped me stay focused on what I needed to do. I need to go to college, at least for a year, so I'm sure that I can have that education, and can come back. I want to go pro when I know that I can do what I did at the Open on a consistent level, and I'm earning enough money to make a living."
Capra's mother Laurie, a two-time All-American at the University of South Florida, recalls the pressure to change her daughter's plans after the win over Rezai.
"People were just thinking we were nuts. It's not easy when you go up into the lunchroom at the US Open and they're saying, 'You're not turning pro? You're not taking that money? Are you crazy?' You start to feel like maybe everybody knows something more than you know, because everybody is thinking you should go pro, that there's no other way. I still have people, very well-known coaches, saying it's a different mindset to be on the pro tour, and if she doesn't go now she's going to lose that."
But Laurie and her husband Giovanni looked at everything an educational institution like Duke could offer their daughter over the course of her adult life and decided to stay the course.
"I think you can never regret having an education," says Laurie Capra. "It's one thing to have passion, and you love the game and that's what you want to do. But the reality is, can you make a living at it? After the endorsements run out, can you go out there, week to week, and support yourself?"
Capra experienced one of the impediments to that consistent success shortly after the US Open, when she suffered an off-court injury while competing in a Pro Circuit event in Kansas City.
"I was walking across the street from lunch and I fell off the curb," Capra says. "I sliced my ankle on some glass and had to get stitches on my ankle, and then I sprained the whole bottom of my foot. I didn't start playing tennis again until the beginning of December."
Capra was invited to play in the USTA's tournament for the 2011 Australian Open wild card held later that month, where she lost in the semifinals to CoCo Vandeweghe. She has struggled in her first few events of 2011, and losing early in the pros means fewer opportunities to test improvements made in practice. Capra believes the time spent in college, where she is guaranteed competitive matches while working on her game, will help her in the long run.