EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

July 8, 2013

Double Number Ones

Andover's Fu duo both ranked No. 1 in New England

It’s like having the best of two worlds for Ryan and Connor Fu of Andover.

While most star athletes cite great coaching or tremendous parental support for their success in sports, the Fu brothers benefit from having them both wrapped into one.

Ryan, 13, is the No. 1-ranked 14-and-under tennis player in New England and 12-year-old Connor is No. 1 in 12-and-under. Both are also ranked in the top 60 players nationally and they’re climbing fast.

And both are coached by their talented mother, Lisa Albano-Fu, a teaching pro at Cedardale who has — to say the least — an impressive resume.

A native of Peabody, Albano was a high school All-American at Pingree who went to the University of California at Berkeley where she enjoyed an outstanding career.

At Berkeley, Albano was a four-time All-American and, in 1991, was the NCAA singles runner-up. She was named Cal’s Woman Tennis Player of the Decade and after graduation played on the professional tour for two years.

Now, Albano’s sons are enjoying a comparable rise in tennis and she is certainly one of the reasons why.

Although Ryan didn’t start playing competitively until he was 8, both he and Connor began playing when they were about 4 years old.

It was only natural since they often had to accompany their mother when she gave lessons, whether in California, Danvers or — for the last seven years — at Cedardale.

After several years of being around the courts, and once the brothers showed a love of the sport, their mother began giving them lessons. She has been their one and only coach.

It is, says Ryan, a big advantage.

“With our mom coaching us, we get to practice more and I like not having to depend on other people,” he said. “It’s better having her as our coach. She can be tougher on me and (yet) I can tell her things easier.”

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