Colorado native Sam Lizzul first ventured to San Marino 20 years ago to pursue his passion: tennis.
“I originally came to the area for tennis scholarships,” said Lizzul. “I played a lot of tournaments in the area and was the assistant pro at the San Marino Tennis Center while I was in college.”
Now the Head Pro at the San Marino Tennis Center, Lizzul has watched the facility expand dramatically over the years. The center will add lights to three of its courts in October.
“When I first started, we had one pro and one assistant pro,” said the South Pasadena resident. “We now have five pros here and a sanctioned tennis tournament with the United States Tennis Association.”
Formerly ranked in the top 20 Southern California tennis players, Lizzul stresses that the San Marino Tennis Center is not a private tennis club.
“One common misconception is that we are private facility,” said Lizzul. “We are a public facility and are open to all players. There is just a $5 guest fee on weekdays and $7 fee on weekends.”
The tennis aficionado notes that the sport has an overwhelming presence in the small city of San Marino.
“San Marino is the Gonzaga of tennis,” said Lizzul. “It’s a small community but tennis is such a force.”
Lizzul, who has a USPTA Pro 1 rating, the highest of three United States Professional Tennis Association levels, still can’t decide if he prefers playing more than coaching the “sport of a lifetime.”
“People always tell me, ‘You get to play tennis all day long,” said Lizzul. “I don’t play, I teach tennis all day long. I love coaching as much as I love playing.”
Two people that Lizzul particularly enjoys coaching are his two children.
“Both my children are Rusty Miller Tennis Academy tournament winners,” said Lizzul. “My son won the San Marino Junior Tennis Tournament. They have definitely proven themselves as tennis players.”
Lizzul took time off the tennis court to take on the San Marino six.
What do you like most about San Marino?
The closeness of the community. There is great community involvement here. I like to do a lot of volunteer work in the community, including doing tennis assessments at . I also donate lessons and tennis clinics to different community organizations and schools.
What is your favorite restaurant in San Marino?
What is your favorite place in San Marino to take a stroll or go for a run?
Shenandoah Hill – it’s just off of Shenandoah Road, north of San Marino, east of Sierra Madre Avenue and west of Oak Grove Avenue. It’s an area that has a great mix of hills, streets, beautiful houses and excellent views.
What is a little known fact about you?
I am learning to play the guitar.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
What do you do when you’re not playing or coaching tennis?
My constant attention is my two kids.