Local mother-daughter team No. 1 in country

Peggy Lucero and Linda Hixenbaugh live in different cities and rarely play tennis together.

Put them on the same tennis court, however, and the mother and daughter are the No. 1 Super Senior Division doubles players in the country as ranked by the United States Tennis Association.

"To receive it in our second year, it's phenomental," Lucero said.

The doubles team accomplished the ranking by placing in the top three in all three of its 2006 national tournament appearances. Rankings are based on how the teams fare on four court surfaces at different locations around the country.

"We did it. It's so exciting, because that was the goal," said Hixenbaugh, a longtime resident of South Lake Tahoe who teaches biology at Carson High School.

Hixenbaugh and Lucero began their national tournament experiment in 2005 by shooting for a national ball - an award that goes to each of the top three teams.

"It's amazing because we were sitting at a table when we received our first national ball and 10 women had been trying for a number of years and hadn't received one national ball," Lucero said.

"We've earned a national ball at every tournament and it's been very exceptional to go to first place this year."

The 71-year-old Lucero, who lives in Sacramento, is tickled with her new-found national tennis success in her 70s.

"I really felt national balls had passed me by," Lucero said. "I always played tennis and received everything in tennis that you could imagine, but we never dreamed it was going to get this big, of course. I just thought it was too late to get a national ball starting this late in life. It was really a shocker."

They won golden balls on a hard-court surface in Texas and indoors in Vancouver, Wash. They collected a bronze ball on a grass-court venue in Rhode Island. The latter tournament shifted indoors part way through because of wet conditions.

They skipped the fourth national event - a clay tournament in Florida.

Lucero plays tennis regularly at the Fair Oaks Racquet Club, which is 10 minutes from her Sacramento home. Hixenbaugh has become one of the more successful players in the Tahoe Tennis Classic in Zephyr Cove and is a veteran coach with the Carson High tennis team.

Although they have different zip codes, you'd never know it once they share the same side of a court. Their games complement one another.

"We kind of know what the other person is going to do on a shot and we can set up shots better that way," Lucero said.

Lucero said she provides the finesse game that blends in well with her daughter's power game.

"We know how to put those two games together and it throws people off with their timing," said Lucero, who has earned seven national balls in just two years.

Retaining their No. 1 ranking could be difficult since Hixenbaugh still hasn't fully recovered from an auto accident several years ago.

"It was a terrible accident, and I've been praying that she can be healed of that," Lucero said.


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