Lucia Pino closing in on Law record for wins

Lucia Pino is closing in on becoming the career wins leader at Law before going to Bryant University.

Lucia Pino is closing in on becoming the career wins leader at Law before going to Bryant University.

Law Athletics / Contributed photo

MILFORD - Lucia Pino posted a 24-4 record as a freshman member of Jonathan Law’s girls’ tennis team in 2019.

Law coach Chris Kulenych pulled her aside and pointed to Monica Pydpati, a senior captain and three-time State Open qualifier.

“I remember when Monica broke the record and finished with 58 career wins,” Kulenych said. “I said to Lucia ‘That should be your goal.’ She could have got to 90. COVID happened and she lost her sophomore season, but Lucia is still on track to be school best in three years. It is an awesome accomplishment.”

Pino said: “Monica was great. I really looked up to everyone on the team as a freshman. They pretty much set examples on how a team should run. I took their lead when my turn came (captain as a sophomore). This season with Sophie Maselli as a captain we work great together. She is there for everyone.”

Pino, a power player who adapts as each match progresses, is 14-2 on the season. She has a 56-7 career mark. Last year she led Law to a 15-1 regular season record, the SCC Division II regular season title, the SCC Division II tournament championship, and to the semifinals of the Class M state tournament for the first time in school history.

Pino advanced to the state semifinals a year ago. She made the round of 16 as a freshman. In 2021 she was one of 24 players selected for the State Open Individual Tournament (No. 6 seed).

“We’ve been fortunate over the last 10 years to have some really, strong No. 1 players,” Kulenych said. “I believe if you took the attributes for all those players and put them into one it would be Lucia. She doesn’t have a weakness to her game. Her work ethic, off-season training, the grind she puts in are all part of what makes her great. She has every shot in the bag.”

Kulenych added: “Lucia is good against all style of players. She can handle pace. She can generate pace itself. She has weapons, her serve, her forehand. She likes to come into the net. She is an all-style player which makes her tough to beat.”

Kulenych said what sets Pino apart is what’s not seen.

“Everyone knows of her performance on the court and accolades earned,” Kulenych said. “Lucia is working on her game before and after practice. Nights and weekends. The work she puts into the weight room, the classroom. She is always looking to get better. Her drive to be the best she can be is what sets her apart.”

Bryant University coaches were drawn to Pino because of those attributes.

“When I spoke with Bryant coach Barbara Cilli, we didn’t talk so much about Lucia’s tennis. She realized Lucia was an accomplished player,” Kulenych said of Cilli, voted the Northeast Conference’s coach of the year after leading the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament. “She was looking for a real leader. I told her that would make Lucia a perfect fit. She was our only sophomore captain. I can’t think of anyone better than Lucia when it comes to leadership on and off the court.”

Pino is looking forward to college.

“I’m super excited to go to Bryant. I always wanted to play in college and at Bryant I found the perfect balance with academics and athletics. I’ll major in biology,” said the two-time SCC Division II Player of the Year.

Fitting in is important to Pino, who encourages tennis neophytes to join her at Law.

“It’s a great experience here. Even if you’ve had zero tennis experience before. Just meeting the girls and becoming part of a team. The only way I can describe it is to say it’s great,” Pino said. “We focus on one match at a time and want to be as successful as a team that we can. We encourage each other toward the right outcome. You get to create a bond. It’s not only about tennis, and that makes the team what it needs to be.”

When she needs a break from the pressure of competition, Pino has found the perfect outlet.

“I really enjoy going fishing and being on our boat with my dad (Daniel),” Pino said. “My parents have been positive with my whole life. My mom (Kristin) and dad are always encouraging me every step. We hang out and relax. We go out and anchor when we can by Charles Island. We haven’t named the boat, but I’d like to.”

There is still time for the Pinos’ to choose a name for their small Whaler. In the meantime, Lucia will focus on etching her name in the Law record book. Twitter: @blox354