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College Spotlight: Beatrice Capra, Duke University

January 23, 2012 11:41 AM
Duke freshman Beatrice Capra
Capra is currently ranked seventh in the ITA women's rankings.
Capra (third from left) with the winning U.S. Master’U BNP Paribas team.
Beatrice Capra, a freshman from Ellicott City, Md., reached the third round of the 2010 US Open after upsetting then-world No. 20 Aravane Rezai in the second round. She was the top-ranked freshman in the ITA Preseason Division I rankings and is currently ranked No. 7 in the ITA Women's National Singles Rankings. During the fall season, Capra compiled a 6-2 singles record, won the singles consolation championship at the ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships and represented the United States on the winning team at the sixth annual Master’U BNP Paribas, an international collegiate team competition held Dec. 8-11, 2011, in Rouen, France. Capra recently took time to talk with USTA.com about why she chose Duke, the biggest differences between pro and college tennis, how she spends her free time and much more.

USTA.com: You recently represented the U.S. in Rouen, France, for the Master’U BNP Paribas event, where Team USA took home the title. Talk a little bit about that experience and playing alongside players who are your rivals during the season.

Beatrice Capra:
I am so thankful to the USTA for inviting me to be a part of this amazing experience. Before the trip, I was not familiar with most of the other people who were on the team. I had known Lauren Embree for awhile, but that was it. From the first moment we all stepped on the plane, we were with each other non-stop. We started our mornings at 8 a.m. and did not get through our matches till the late afternoon. Coach Patton and Coach Guilbeau spent as much time off the court in building bonds and relationships within the team as on the court. We instantly all became so close. The inspiration and positive energy that both the coaches and the team displayed throughout the trip was tremendous. I had never been surrounded by such greatness. I think the strong relationships we were able to build definitely helped us win the title. It’s amazing that we all come from different schools but we are able to support each other like that. Winning the title for the U.S. with that group of people was one of the best moments in my life, and it is an experience I will never forget. I would never consider these people my rivals but opponents who push me to become a better player.

USTA.com: You were one of the top recruits in the class of 2010 and took a year off to play pro events as an amateur before entering school in 2011. Tell us a little about your recruiting experience, your decision to go to school, and why you chose Duke.

Beatrice Capra:
For me, college was always in my future. I first became interested in Duke when I played a $25K event in Raleigh, N.C., when I was 15. It was raining one day, and the head coach, Jamie Ashworth, was kind enough to let us use his indoor courts. I loved it as soon as I stepped on campus. I admired the atmosphere, and the campus was beautiful. As I improved throughout my junior career, the impulse to turn pro became more desirable. The glamour life that WTA events offer is irresistible... of course, you would want to be a part of that. The decision to play college or turn pro is one of the hardest decisions you can make in your life. This decision became especially hard when I made it to the third round of the US Open. The obvious choice for most players would be to take the $55,000 and turn pro. But although I did very well, it was very random. I still was not physically developed or mature, and I had a lot to improve on in my game. I want to turn pro when I know I can do that on a consistent basis. I also wanted to secure a college education. I know I won’t be playing tennis for the rest of my life, so just having that option is always important.

Just because I decided to go to college does not mean I have given up my dreams of becoming a professional tennis player. I hope to physically mature and gain more match experience so I am absolutely ready when I decide to go out on the pro tour. Especially now in women’s tennis, a lot of players are doing well at an older age. There is no rush for me or anyone, for that matter, to be thrown onto the tour. Right after the US Open, I took my official visit to Duke, and, shortly after, I committed. I was also interested in the University of Florida and UVA, but in the end I decided Duke was the best place for me. I loved the team and the coaches, and I believe they have all the resources to help me achieve all my goals. I am so happy with the decision I’ve made. The team and the coaches could not have been more supportive, and they have helped me so much.

USTA.com: You played quite a few pro events as an amateur the last couple years. How did that prepare you for college tennis? What are the biggest differences between pro tennis and college tennis?

Beatrice Capra:
The pro tour definitely helped provide me with tons of competitive matches in different environments, which prepared me for any situation college tennis throws at me. It has helped me become more disciplined and independent because I’ve had to make decisions for myself from a very young age. Although pro tennis has helped me in many ways , it is very different from college tennis. College tennis forces you to become more physical by demanding more than one match a day. You could have two doubles matches and two singles matches in one day! That was one adjustment I had to get used to. Also, when you are playing on the pro tour, you are competing for yourself and ultimately doing everything that is best for you. By only competing for yourself, a lot of the girls isolate themselves from one another. Even if you do become friends with some of the girls, at the end of the day they are always your competitors. That is the biggest change I have had to make transitioning into college. It is no longer what’s best for me but what’s best for the team. You also have the support of your team – people who honestly want you to do well, which is so comforting knowing that these people genuinely want the best for you.

USTA.com: What are your goals for yourself and your team this season?

Beatrice Capra:
My goals for myself this season are to improve on my game and be the best teammate I can be. After the US Open, I put so much pressure on myself to win matches. I was so wrapped up in proving to everyone that I actually belonged on the pro tour that I could not even play tennis. I went from tournament to tournament focused on all the wrong things and just praying for a breakthrough. In doing this, I had the worst year of my life, and I didn’t improve on anything. College has helped me so much because it has helped me recognize that there is a whole other world out there other than tennis. My coaches have been so supportive and have helped me set specific goals on what I want to improve on in my game. If I just focus on those goals and if I improve on those things, I know I will be OK. We have such an amazing team this year. I seriously love all the girls on my team, and they are all so positive. Everyone contributes, and we are all so supportive of each other. My goals for the team would be to just bring the same positive energy to every match and to keep working hard. I know if we do that, we’ll do great. I hope I can support the team as much as they have supported me.

USTA.com: What’s the best thing about Duke and being a Blue Devil?

Beatrice Capra:
The best thing about Duke and being a Blue Devil for me is being a part of the Duke community. You are surrounded by determined people who have goals and whose expectations are just as high as your own. To me, I am blessed to be at Duke and a part of such an elite class of people. Everyone pushes and inspires me to be the best person I can be.

USTA.com: What is your favorite class so far? Have you decided on a major or academic area of interest?

Beatrice Capra:
My favorite class so far would probably be my Evolution Anthropology class. It’s kind of like the TV shows "Bones" or "CSI." You get to do case studies while learning all the bones of the bodies. It was very interesting, and my professor was awesome. I have not decided on a major yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.

USTA.com: Obviously with classes and tennis, the fall probably flew by with little "free" time. What do you like to do in your spare time when you do have it?

Beatrice Capra:
The fall went by so fast! I can’t believe I’m halfway done with my freshman year! I am always with someone from my team throughout the day. My mornings usually start at 8, and we all finish in the library at about 11 at night. When I’m not with someone from my team, I have withdrawal, so during my free time, I am most likely with a teammate, hanging out or going shopping. I’m disappointed to say I have not been to a basketball game yet, but I’ll have to do that for sure.

USTA.com: What advice do you have for junior tennis players who want to play in college and who are starting the recruiting process?

Beatrice Capra:
I guess I would have to say to take your time in making your choice. Lucky for me, it took one visit, and I knew which school I wanted to go to, but my coach encouraged me to go on all my official visits so I knew for sure that Duke was where I wanted to be. I would suggest making a list of pros and cons about each school, and decide what you want from them. If that school meets your expectations, then I think that would be a good choice for you. College tennis is a great accomplishment in someone’s life. You get to meet amazing people and learn new things. Make sure you go somewhere where you can benefit from all the school has to offer you. I hope you can find a place that will help you, like Duke has done for me.


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