A native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania who now resides in Bradenton, Florida, Zink was a dominant player over two decades, winning her first national title in 2001 and her last in 2012. Zink compiled a stellar tournament record, winning three Women’s National titles and two Mixed National titles. She partnered with Hall of Famer Cindy Prendergast for her three Women’s Open National Championships, and with her husband, George Zink, for her two Mixed Open National titles and four Husband-Wife National Championships. In addition, she was a five-time finalist in the Women’s Nationals.
A four-time singles and two-time doubles All-American tennis player at William and Mary College, Zink had a big forehand drive and all-around court instincts that translated perfectly to platform tennis. Not only was she a terrific player and competitor, but as her longtime partner, Cindy Prendergast, stated, “Lauren is not just a great player but an incredibly good person. Her ability to compete and focus during tournaments is as unmatched as her sportsmanship.”
INDUCTION Speech (from Cindy Prendergast):
I have the honor of introducing you to my dear friend and paddle partner for the past 14 years, Lauren Nickolaus Zink.
Many of you do not know Lauren. She is fairly low key and a bit shy. She is from Lancaster Pennsylvania, about an hour and a half west of here. This is not big paddle country. There were no paddle leagues to play in and she was never really able to play a full schedule on the women’s paddle tour.
So how did she have so much success so much in the paddle world?
It starts with her terrific talent for racket sports. Lauren was a six time tennis All American at William and Mary (4 times in singles and twice in doubles). In the 90’s Lauren received the USTA Sportsmanship Award, the Gladys H. Helman Award and the National Senior Player of the Year. She also became a member of the Hall of Fame at William and Mary and also for Lancaster Tennis. Lauren was not only a superb player but also a truly gracious competitor. Her college coach, Brian Kalbas called her “the most fair player I have ever coached”. She brought this same quality to paddle.
Lauren was introduced to paddle by her husband, George, who was an outstanding nationally ranked paddle player. He taught her the game from the ground up and deserves a great deal of credit. Early on, George told me, “you should play with my soon to be wife, Lauren”. My response, “is she any good”. What was I thinking? I can’t thank George enough for the introduction. Obviously he was no dummy. The rest is history.
The amazing thing about Lauren is that she started competing in paddle and instantly shot to the top of the game. This has almost never been done.
From 2001 to 2012, Lauren was a major force on the ladies tour. During this stretch:
- She won three Women’s Open National Championships in 2008, 2011 and 2012 (all with lucky me).
- She won two Mixed Open National Championships (with husband George Zink) in 2004 and 2006.
- In addition, she was the runner up in the Women’s Open Nationals five times in 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010.
- And finally, she and George won four Husband Wife National Championships in 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2006.
She is still known for her lethal forehand which inspired the great Mary Doten to begin wearing her trademark “safety glasses”. Her backhand isn’t bad either. She is relentless off both sides from the baseline, able to hit with power and consistency. There were no safe spots to hit when you played Lauren.
Her volleys are pure and her movement at net was menacing. She was one of the first to use “the roller overhead” as they call them today.
Lauren’s ability to focus on “game day” is comparable to what Jared Palmer can do, I’m told. She would step away from major competition and appear at an event and be dominant and win! Since she did not live in a paddle community, the opportunity to practice was not there, nor was there time with raising her three kids. But come Nationals time she would step it up !!! She looked forward to Nationals as a way to test her competitive skills and over the years, her results have been fantastic.
Lauren is very SUPER-stitious and there is a still a pair of black pants floating around that have been washed over and over again…and maybe sometimes not. If we are on a roll, she will likely want us to eat at the same restaurant as the night before, enjoy the same bottle of wine, and make sure everyone is seated in the right position!
On game day, she starts the day by always face timing with her kids, while I hide in the background.
SHE HATES to lose but if there is a loss, she never lays blame, never comments on her opponents, she will likely just call her kids to check-in, and she will say to me, LOVE YOU PARTNER!
Today Lauren lives in Bradenton, Florida with George and her three wonderful kids…Tyler, Lindsay, and Kate. This is her focus now and it shows. Tyler is world ranked in tennis at the age of 16, Lindsay at the age of 12 is nationally ranked, and Kate…well she may have the most talent but we may never know because in her words, “she is the social one”.
I’m so grateful to Lauren. Zink loyalty is like none other. Paddle has made us best friends. To know Lauren is to love her, congratulations Lauren, so deserved!
“And now, she is the recipient of the APTA’s highest honor, the Platform Tennis Hall of Fame award, to Lauren Nickolas Zink”.