2019 Middle States Hall of Fame
Ann LoPrinzi: Local Tennis. National Scale.
Ann LoPrinzi: Local Tennis. National Scale.
For nearly 30 years, Ann LoPrinzi made her name by breaking new ground in the New Jersey area as a tennis reporter, player and volunteer.
How, exactly, do you put a career like LoPrinzi’s into words? The Mercer County, N.J. resident keeps it simple.
“I have some great memories and met some fabulous people who are now lifelong friends. It’s been a real joy,” she said. “I’m just proud that I was able to make a contribution.”
LoPrinzi made much more than a simple contribution. For the better part of three decades, she informed the local community about tennis news and happenings through a weekly tennis column and frequent reporting in the Trenton Times, a regional daily newspaper covering central New Jersey.
She often wrote about United States Tennis Association (USTA) Tournaments, USTA League Tennis teams and the many tennis happenings in New Jersey and Middle States as a whole.ADVERTISEMENT
As quickly as her column took off, it just as easily could have never begun. LoPrinzi noticed that the sports section was filled with results of most other sports, but nothing for tennis. When her daughter began having success as a junior player, she decided to pitch the idea of a tennis column to the Trenton Times. The Times saw the value, and LoPrinzi’s first column appeared in November of 1988.
Years of memorable tennis stories followed, and a large group of tennis supporters and fans were quick to take notice. LoPrinzi’s column became a must-read in New Jersey, and she started being recognized more and more while attending events. It was a major piece in a career she never imagined.
Perhaps as impressive as any other feat, LoPrinzi became successful in her craft without any formal training. She had no training as a writer but learned from trial and error, and always accepting the feedback of others.
“I was not a writer until I wrote this column,” she said.
Also unlikely was LoPrinzi’s time as a competitor. LoPrinzi only began playing tennis in her 30s, when a friend asked her to play at nearby Veteran’s Park. She didn’t have a racquet and had never given tennis much thought, but soon after, she saw Bobby Riggs play Billie Jean King.
That changed everything.
“My husband and I watched the match. We had no idea how to score it, and we didn’t know anything about tennis, but I was inspired to play,” she said. “I played with my friend a few times and I never stopped.”
Tennis took hold of LoPrinzi and wouldn’t let go. She played as often as she could, eventually competing in tournaments and leagues around New Jersey. LoPrinzi’s teams advanced to USTA National Championships five times.
She also holds a unique distinction of playing college tennis while in her 40s, when she competed for the Mercer County Community College team.
LoPrinzi’s knowledge of the game helped her become an even better reporter. Her insights helped immerse her in the tennis community, making connections in New Jersey and beyond. As her column progressed she began spending more and more time at Mercer County Park, a hub for tennis in the Middle States section. She mentions great memories as a frequent attendee at the Cryan Tournament — one of the largest USTA Tournaments on the east coast.
“I always thought ‘This is so much fun out here, in some ways I wish I wasn’t covering it so I could socialize more,” she said with a smile.
Some of LoPrinzi’s most memorable moments have come through the US Open, where she connected local and world-wide tennis news. She credits Bob Howland for suggesting that she apply for a media credential.
“I remember I said, ‘Oh no, I just want to write about local tennis.’ And Bob said, ‘Well you can connect it locally.’”
LoPrinzi did just that. She covered players like Nicole Arendt and the Uberoi sisters. She also wrote features on players like Karin Miller, and Princeton’s Michael Zhu. She also covered the qualifiers and dug for stories. She remembers spending a day with Bud Collins and covering the behind-the-scenes part of the Open.
“I got to meet a lot of cool people there,” she added. “It was a wonderful experience.”
In addition to her impactful work as a reporter and columnist, LoPrinzi has been a recognizable figure for her many other roles and as a general tennis advocate.
She served the USTA at the district, section, and national levels while also serving on the boards of the NJTL of Trenton and the US Tennis Writers Association. She ran tournaments, parties and leagues while volunteering to chair special events. She especially has fond memories of working with volunteers and building relationships with the people she met along the way.
LoPrinzi’s mark on the game goes far beyond the words she so often wrote. She has served as an inspiration for many to learn the game.
“People would say, ‘I got into tennis because of you,’” she said. “When you hear something like that, it’s very special.”
"It's a great game,” she said. “I find it amazing how many wonderful experiences one can have as an average player. My goal was always just to promote the opportunities and benefits that tennis offers.”