Francesca Di Lorenzo is a 21-year-old American tennis player who joined the professional circuit in 2017. She made her Grand Slam debut at the 2018 U.S. Open.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Francesca Di Lorenzo Defeated a Far More Experienced Player to Advance to the Second Round in Her Debut at the U.S. Open
Francesca Di Lorenzo made a splash in her debut performance at the U.S. Open. She entered the tournament ranked #193 in the world. After advancing through the qualifying rounds, Di Lorenzo was slated against fellow American Christina McHale in the first round. 26-year-old McHale was ranked 97th in the world by the Women’s Tennis Association.
Di Lorenzo dominated in the first set, dominating 6-1. The second set proved much more of a challenge. McHale was just one point away from securing a win and forcing a third set. But Di Lorenzo showed heart and battled her way back, winning the set 7-6 to ensure her spot in the second round.
Di Lorenzo spoke with USOpen.org after the win.
“It’s been incredible and so exciting. To even get past my first round of qualifying was so tough. So I’ve been taking it one match at a time and trying to go on from there. If you told me a week ago and a half ago when I arrived that I would be in the first week of a Slam, I would have been shocked. It just shows to never limit yourself and always believe that if you have a chance, you can do it.”
2. Di Lorenzo Was a Champion at the Ohio State University, With the Top Winning Percentage in School History
To say Francesca Di Lorenzo was a college star would be an understatement. She was a champion at the Ohio State University, earning a record of 74-7 in her two seasons. That was the best singles winning percentage (.914) in the school’s history. She played doubles as a Buckeye as well, with a winning record of 55-7.
Di Lorenzo helped lead her team to two Big Ten regular season and tournament championships, in 2016 and 2017. She and partner Miho Kowase won the NCAA Women’s Doubles Championship in 2017, the first NCAA title in the program’s history. Di Lorenzo was also awarded All-American honors, and named the Big Ten Player of the Year both seasons.
According to Ohio State’s website, Di Lorenzo also earned several academic accolades:
• CoSIDA Academic All-American
• Big Ten Distinguished Scholar
• ITA All-Academic Team selection
• Academic All-Big Ten honoree
• Two-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete
3. The College Champ Decided to Give up Her Two Remaining Years of Collegiate Eligibility in Order to Turn Pro
By the end of the 2017 season, Di Lorenzo was ranked as the #1 NCAA singles player. She took the fall 207 semester off in order to train in Orlando, Florida. Then in December of 2017, she made the decision to leave Ohio State for good and turned pro. She left two years of collegiate eligibility on the table. Di Lorenzo wrote a letter to the university, which reads in part:
“Four years ago I committed to The Ohio State University in hopes of furthering my education and tennis career. Now, in my junior year of college, I can undoubtedly say I made the best decision of my life. Having grown up in Ohio and being surrounded by Buckeyes, I think I always knew I would end up wearing the Scarlet and Gray…
My decision to leave school and pursue my dream of being a professional tennis player has been the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. I could not figure out why it was so challenging to simply turn pro and commit to something I have been dreaming about since I was 10. After taking the fall off and thinking about this grueling decision nonstop every day, I was finally able to understand why it was so difficult for me.
Ohio State has given me everything I could have possibly imagined. The coaches, team, trainers, support staff and friendships I have made here are what have made my experience so exceptional. Each person has helped me evolve into a better student and athlete and I hope to carry that into the professional tennis world. I am so grateful for everything this university has offered me and so bear with me as I try to thank a few of the many people that have impacted me these last couple years.”
4. Di Lorenzo Won a State Doubles Championship in High School With her Older Sister, and Began Competing in National Tournaments During her Senior Year
Francesca Di Lorenzo teamed up with older sister Cristina to win a state championship in high school. The pair won the Division I doubles title in 2012, representing New Albany High School. Cristina graduated in 2013 and went on to play at Xavier University.
According to ThisWeek Community News, Di Lorenzo missed the majority of the season her junior year after suffering a stress fracture in her right foot. She made the decision not to compete with her high school team during her senior year, instead choosing to participate in national tournaments because the ultimate goal was always to turn professional.
But her hometown roots remain important to the 21-year-old pro. Di Lorenzo told USOpen.org after her first round victory that she heard someone in the crowd yell out “Do it for New Albany!” She told the website, “Just to hear that and know that they are from [my hometown] is amazing. The atmosphere has been the best.”
5. Di Lorenzo’s Parents Immigrated From Italy and She Was Raised in New Albany, a Suburb of Columbus, Ohio
Francesca Di Lorenzo was born in Pittsburgh on July 22, 1997. Her family moved to central Ohio after her father, who is a pediatric gastroenterologist, accepted a job offer when Francesca was 7 years old. The family settled in New Albany, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. Francesca has three siblings.
Di Lorenzo’s parents immigrated from Salerno, Italy when they were about 25 years old. Her entire extended family still lives there. She shared in an interview in 2016 that her parents chose to leave Italy in order to pursue better job opportunities in the United States. Di Lorenzo said they visited Italy on a yearly basis during her childhood and she speaks fluent Italian.