Charleston tennis news compiled by Mike Saia.
Non-cited stories by James Beck, Post and Courier.

Winner: 2018 USTA South Carolina Media Excellence Award

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(11/18/01)  Sarasota tourney added to WTA clay-court season
The elite of women's professional tennis will have an added opportunity to hone their clay-court skills before the start of next April's Family Circle Cup. The WTA Tour has added a Tier IV green clay-court event at Sarasota, Fla., to its 2002 schedule. The $140,000 Sarasota tournament is scheduled for the week of April 1, immediately after the $2.86 million hard-court Ericsson Open in Miami. The $585,000 Bausch & Lomb Championships are scheduled for the following week at Amelia Island, Fla., giving the women two clay-court tournament opportunities before moving to Charleston April 13-21 for the Tier I $1.2 million Family Circle.

For the players, this is a big deal. Prior to 2000, the WTA opened the clay-court season with the Family Circle at Hilton Head Island directly on the heels of back-to-back Tier I hard-court tournaments.

The players didn't like that scheduling and got their wish. The last Family Circle at Hilton Head Island was pushed back three weeks, allowing the smaller Amelia Island tournament to jump in front of the prestigious FCC. That 2000 Family Circle butted heads its first weekend with the Heritage Golf Classic, and therefore led to the tennis tournament's move to Daniel Island.

Now, there's no conflict, and the players have two tournaments in which to make the transition to clay before coming to Charleston. Plus, the players now get to perform in a world-class stadium.

By the way, the top three players in the world right now are Americans, No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, No. 2 Jennifer Capriati and No. 3 Venus Williams. Maybe all three will pay a visit to Charleston next spring.


The Tennis Centre at Daniel Island has a deal for anyone who wants to play tennis at a world-class clay-court facility, one that has just been named the outstanding public tennis facility in the country.

By joining the Tennis Centre for 2002 before the end of this year, a new member will be able to play the rest of this year free, plus receive a couple of nice gifts (a Family Circle Cup warmup and sweatshirt). A family or couple membership gets two of each.

In its first year of operation, the Family Circle Cup complex has moved into the mainstream of local tennis. Currently, nine USTA teams represent the facility on Daniel Island. Tennis operations director Rob Eppelsheimer said the facility currently has between 320 and 340 members.


Matthew Strange, the junior tennis player who died last April as a result of a hunting accident, will have a tree planted in his honor today at 3 p.m. at Moultrie Playground.

"This is a celebration of Matthew Strange's life," said city tennis coordinator Peggy Bohne, whose staff at Charleston Tennis Center has coordinated the fund-raising for the project.

Local officials and family will attend the planting of the oak tree, including members of the City of Charleston's Elementary and Middle School Tennis League and the Harleston Village Neighborhood Association, both of which contributed to the fund. The public is invited.

Matthew, a Duke TIF program qualifier last school year as a seventh-grader at Buist Academy, lived in the Harleston Village area.


The deadline for entering the 21st annual Charleston Thanksgiving Junior Tennis Classic scheduled to begin Friday at Charleston Tennis Center has been extended to noon on Monday.

Entry fees are $30 for singles and $10 per person for doubles.

For more information, contact Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402).


Dunes West will hold an NTRP-rated adult doubles tournament Dec. 7-9. The deadline for entry is Dec. 5 and the entry fee, according to tennis director Jack Miller, is $10 per person plus a toy to go to charity.

Miller said the tournament will be limited to 16 teams per division. The divisions will be 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5 for men and women.

For more information, contact the Dunes West tennis center at 881-9542.

Dunes West held an S.C. U.S. Professional Tennis Association workshop last weekend, including a pro-am and a clinic that raised funds for the American Cancer Society.

(11/17/01)  Whelan replaces Thomas as Family Circle Cup director
Family Circle Magazine has named former Sports Illustrated and People Magazine event manager Frankie Whelan to the dual post of executive director of the Family Circle Cup and the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island.

Whelan replaces longtime Family Circle Cup tournament director Lisa Thomas, who also served as vice president of the Family Circle Cup and general manager of the Tennis Centre.

Thomas moved to Daniel Island earlier this year with the Family Circle Cup after serving as its tournament director since 1995 at Hilton Head Island.

"I am pleased to announce that, effective immediately, Frankie Whelan will be taking over management of the Family Circle Cup and the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island in an effort to move the tournament and facility to the next level," Family Circle Magazine senior vice president/publisher Peg Farrell stated Friday.

"Frankie comes to the Cup with nearly three decades of event management experience. During the course of her career, she developed many of the Sports Illustrated giant event packages, worked on the launch of Sports Illustrated for Kids, and used her talents to shape Time, Inc.'s Olympic presence which included involvement in eight games."

Whelan served the last eight years as director of events and special projects for People Magazine. "She was the guiding force behind a three-day charity event with Princess Diana in Chicago as well as People's 25th anniversary concert with Carole King," Farrell stated.

The Family Circle Cup will hold its 30th anniversary tournament April 13-21 at Daniel Island. The 2002 event will mark the second year the WTA Tour Tier I $1.2 million tournament has been played in the new 10,000-seat Family Circle Cup Stadium. Tickets for next year's tournament went on sale Thursday.

The Tennis Centre is a public facility, operated in a partnership between Family Circle Magazine and the City of Charleston. The facility was selected by the U.S. Tennis Association to receive its national Outstanding Facilities Award for 2001.

"Lisa Thomas, our former tournament director, will be pursuing other endeavors and we wish her much success in the future," Farrell stated.

Thomas, 38, joined Family Circle Magazine in 1991. She was promoted to tournament director four years later. She grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Penn State on a golf scholarship.

(11/11/01)  Fred McKay was a true gentleman of the game
Fred McKay was a person you couldn't forget. You didn't want to. That was obvious from the huge turnout last Wednesday for his funeral at Mount Pleasant's Christ Our King Church.

Frederick Stroman McKay made friends, not enemies. He probably didn't have an enemy in the world. He had a magnetic personality, always showing care, passion and understanding for others.

But Fred played the game of tennis with purpose, to have fun, make friends and win. He was tenacious, yet humble, and a true gentleman of the game. He might have been wearing a knee support, and he might not have had picture-perfect strokes, but he was fiercely competitive. I know that first hand from a loss a few years ago to Fred and his partner in the USTA League local playoffs.

He played for Snee Farm adult, senior, mixed doubles, Combo League and Super Senior teams. He often served as team captain.

What other team was there for Fred? He was one of Snee Farm's founders.

Fred taught his son Fred Jr. the game. Fred Jr. became a top junior, then played collegiately at Furman.

His wife, Helena, also was a tennis devotee, playing in about as many leagues as her husband. She would be there at most tennis functions with Fred. When Fred Jr. was coming along, both parents always were there. Fred was proudest when playing in father-son events with Fred Jr.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Helena sang the National Anthem at the opening of another of Fred's loves, the Coastal Carolina Fair of which he was a past president. It was rather ironic that Fred died last Sunday morning at the fair. He was 63.

"The fair and tennis. Those were his two real loves," said doubles partner Bud Spencer.

I had talked with Fred two days earlier at the Isle of Palms Invitational. He watched the College of Charleston's Sagi Zakin play, impressed, of course, by the great intensity, of this talented young player.

Fred was scheduled to be playing in the State Super Seniors tournament this weekend at Seabrook Island on a 3.5 team. "Fred's death is a big loss to everybody and the tennis community," Super Senior doubles partner Spencer said.


The Tennis Centre at Daniel Island is an impact player, not only in local tennis, but also nationally. There are few finer facilities.

The USTA has recognized that character in the home of the Family Circle Cup and has selected the Tennis Centre for its Outstanding Facilities Award.

"We applaud Family Circle and the City of Charleston's commitment to the sport and are pleased to recognize such excellence in construction and design," said David Schobel, the USTA's director of the Community Competitive Player Division.

"This award is a testament to the dedication and hard work that so many people have put into this facility since its vision became a reality," said Lisa Thomas, the general manager of the facility and the Family Circle Cup.

The criteria used to make the selection includes overall layout and adaptation to the site, excellence of court surface and lights, ease of maintenance, accommodations for players, spectators, media and officials, aesthetics, amenities, and programs supporting the USTA and growth of the game.

The Tennis Centre has made itself a tool for local tennis. The facility served as host for a preseason girls' high school jamboree and has held a USTA League doubles tournament.

One local high school team, Bishop England, called the Family Circle facility home.

Because of such an excellent facility and a world-class women's tournament, Charleston tennis is ready to explode.


Brenda Carter and Jeanette Weiland, recent winners of national titles, have been selected to participate on a team representing the Southern Tennis Association in intersectional competition in Naples, Fla., starting Monday.

The competition features the best players from each of the 17 sections in the USTA. Carter will participate in women's 55 and Weiland in women's 65.

Also, Susie Peiffer won women's 50 singles and doubles titles last weekend in a USTA National Level II tournament in Winter Park, Fla.


Next Saturday is the deadline for entering the 21st annual Charleston Thanksgiving Junior Tennis Classic scheduled for Nov. 23-25 at Charleston Tennis Center.

Entry fees are $30 for singles and $10 per person for doubles. For information, contact Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402).

(10/28/01)  Scanlon set to play doubles in the Isle of Palms Invitational
A good deal just got perfect.

The free-admission Isle of Palms Invitational that starts Friday at Wild Dunes now has a headliner.

Bill Scanlon, who owns four victories over John McEnroe and once ranked among the top 10 players in the world, will play doubles at Wild Dunes. It's a "perfect" deal for event organizer and former Scanlon traveling coach Richard Peyton.

You see, Scanlon played the only perfect set in professional tennis history on Feb. 22, 1983, during a 6-2, 6-0 victory over then 37th-ranked Marcos Hocevar at the WCT Gold Coast Cup in Delray Beach, Fla. His "golden set" is in the Guiness Book of World Records and the scorecard from that match is in the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

Now 44 years old and a successful financial advisor for UBS Paine-Webber in Los Angeles, Scanlon will never forget his flawless set. It's right up there with his victories over McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Mats Wilander, Ilie Nastase and Andre Agassi; his 1976 NCAA singles championship while playing for Trinity (Texas) University; and making the semifinals of the 1983 U.S. Open.

"That was pretty amazing," Scanlon recalled Thursday by telephone from Los Angeles when asked about the golden set. "I can tell you I was practicing with Rod Laver the morning of the match and I was hitting so poorly cause I was nervous as I could be.

"Some way I went out and concentrated and played the best I could play. I didn't know about it until after the match when the umpire came up to me and said, 'You need to look at this scorecard.' I didn't even know how to read a scorecard. I had never seen one. But I had not lost a single point the second set.

"They didn't know then that it had never been done before. They (tennis officials) determined that later, and then researched it again for the Guiness Book."

As for his success against McEnroe, Scanlon said, "I always played well against McEnroe for some reason. Our matches were always real long and hard fought. I managed to win my share and I got him a couple of times when I enjoyed it. I beat him at the U.S. Open once."

Jimmy Connors was a different obstacle. He practically owned Scanlon, never losing to him. It was Connors that stopped Scanlon in the 1983 U.S. Open semifinals.

"I don't like to be reminded of that," he said about his lack of success against Connors.

Scanlon never considered joining Connors' globe-trotting band of seniors. "I was 33 years old when I quit the tour and I had this dream of being in business and in the financial world. This was something I wanted to do and I started this in 1992," Scanlon said. "Most of the guys on that (Connors') tour were guys who made tennis their career. You have to really practice to stay in shape to play at that level. I have stayed in shape and am thin and strong, but my legs are not in the same shape as they were. I play a couple of times a week and still keep my game in shape."

The doubles field will be tough. Former ATP Tour players Brett Garnett and T.J. Middleton, who in 1993 teamed up to advance to at least the round of 16 in doubles in all four of the Grand Slam tournaments, will play together at Wild Dunes.

Scanlon, who now serves on the board of the Southern California Tennis Association, said he also has won doubles titles while playing with Garnett and Middleton, both former collegiate All-Americans. Middleton is from Scanlon's hometown, Dallas, where he participated in junior programs that Scanlon started.


Ryan Young, the state's top junior boys' player, will participate in the 16-player singles draw of the Isle of Palms Invitational. The School of the Arts junior has won five singles and six doubles titles at the Palmetto Championships, as well as last year's city men's title.

At Wild Dunes, Young will be competing against the likes of Garnett and Middleton, the University of South Carolina's top two players Seth Rose and Angelo Niculcsco, former North Carolina All-American and former ATP Tour player David Caldwell, former University of Georgia player Smith Anderson, former Myrtle Beach junior star Will Bull, former USC stars Guillaume Legat and Jerome Jourdon, and Seabrook Island pro Tate Gallager.

The schedule at Wild Dunes will begin on Thursday with a clinic at 3 p.m., followed by a pro-am at 4 p.m. First-round singles will begin on Friday at 9 a.m. The finals are slated to begin at 11 a.m. next Sunday.


City pros Fredrik Anderson, Andrew Haefner, Tiffany Schwartz, Toni Young and Kitsy Wise will conduct a free junior tennis clinic next Saturday from 1-2:30 p.m. at Charleston Tennis Center. The clinic will offer free lessons and match play for juniors from the beginner level to advanced. For information, contact City Tennis Center (724-7402).


Charleston's Susie Peiffer did well recently in her first national tournament, advancing all the way to the singles semifinals in the USTA National Women's 50 Clay Courts in Pensacola, Fla. She upset the No. 2 seed and she won the playoff for third place by defeating the top seed.


Maybe he'll be back next year, but Pete Sampras apparently has called it quits for this year. After losing to Max Mirnyi in straight sets in the Stuttgart Masters on Oct. 19, Sampras turned down a wild-card berth in the Basel, Switzerland, tournament and said he would not play in the Paris Open. By not playing Basel or Paris, Sampras cannot qualify for the season-ending Masters Cup in Sydney, Australia, his first absence in that event since 1990. The top seven players and Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic will make up the Masters Cup field. Sampras was eighth in the point standings after Stuttgart.


Mirnyi is no longer looked at as just the big fellow from Belarus. He actually can play the game, and quite well. At 24 years old, don't count him.

Mirnyi defeated four Grand Slam champions on his way to a loss to Tommy Haas in the Stuttgart final. Not only did he defeat Sampras, he also turned back Gustavo Kuerten, Goran Ivanisevic and Yevgeny Kafelnikov. If that wasn't enough, Mirnyi won the doubles title with Sandon Stolle.

(10/26/01)  Olsen leaving CSU tennis to lead Wolfpack women
Hans Olsen, who has led the Charleston Southern men's tennis program to four Big South Conference championships and three NCAA tournament bids, has accepted the position as women's tennis coach at North Carolina State effective Nov. 1.

Olsen completed his fifth season at CSU last spring, and leaves as the winningest coach in school history. In five seasons as men's coach, Olsen has amassed an 89-31 record, and was four times named Big South coach of the year. His men's team has not lost a match against a conference opponent since 1996, his first season as head coach.

Olson also inherited a struggling women's program and took it to the Big South tournament finals in three of the past four years. His record as women's coach is 44-61.

"I definitely leave Charleston Southern with great memories," said Olsen, a 1992 CSU graduate and a former No. 1 singles player at the school. "I have been associated with the tennis program and the university for 11 years, so this is definitely not an easy thing to do. This is the only athletic department I've ever known."

Olsen replaces Kay Louthian, who resigned in August to pursue other career opportunities. She complied a 23-41 record in three seasons with the Wolfpack.

(10/21/01)  Zakin may be best tennis player ever at College of Charleston
Angelo Anastopoulo signed Sagi Zakin to a College of Charleston tennis grant four years ago having never seen the young Israeli, except on video.

When Zakin arrived in Charleston from Israel to begin college, he was on crutches, causing Anas-topoulo to wonder if he had made a good decision. Four years later, Zakin is a senior. He's had three knee operations, but Anastopoulo thinks Zakin may be the best player ever to play for the Cougars.

Around all of those knee problems, he has been ranked as high as 60th nationally in NCAA men's tennis. And Thursday Zakin was knocking on wood over the condition of his knees at a luncheon at the Cougars' Patriots Point Field House held to honor local tennis legend Bob Dickson, and to announce that Zakin had been selected as the first recipient of the Bob & Charlotte Dickson Endowed Scholarship for Tennis. The spring tennis season is still several months off, but Zakin said his knees are in good shape.

That's good news not only for Zakin, but for Phil Whitesell who has taken over as head coach of the Cougars' men's tennis program. Anastopoulo, who previously coached both the men's and women's teams, will now serve as tennis director and head women's coach. Whitesell played at the University of Southern California and has been an assistant under Anastopoulo for the last two years.

Zakin carries a 3.9 grade point average as a computer information/economics major. Despite the knee problems in the fall of his freshman year, he went undefeated in the spring that year and was named the Southern Conference's rookie of the year. He's a two-time all-conference player.


Bob Dickson and his late wife Charlotte have been enthusiastic College of Charleston supporters and avid tennis players over the years. Bob, who still can be seen playing on downtown courts, was generally recognized as the city's best player and best mentor to players such as current Furman men's coach Paul Scarpa.

"Bob would hit with the first person that met him at the College of Charleston courts, and I tried to always be that first person," Scarpa said earlier this year while crediting Dickson with much of his early success in tennis.

Dickson won the city men's championship every year from 1942 through 1954, with the exception of two war years. He once played a local exhibition against the great Wimbledon champion Fred Perry.

Charlotte teamed with Bob to win the city mixed doubles title from 1945-1958. She was a 1937 College of Charleston graduate who played basketball and was on the swimming team. She coached the women's tennis team from 1967-69, compiling a 25-9 record. She was inducted into the College's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984.

At the luncheon, Bernie Puckhaber and Louis Koester were recognized for their fund-raising efforts in establishing the endowment. Puckhaber is a former College of Charleston men's basketball coach (1956-57) and now a local stockbroker. Koester is a former city tennis champion.

College of Charleston athletic director Jerry Baker announced at the Dickson luncheon that the school is now accepting architectural bids on the construction of a new nine-court tennis complex at Patriots Point. Baker said the Cougars' current home courts on Meeting Street would continue to be available for play.

The $6,000 Nov. 2-4 Isle of Palms Invitational at Wild Dunes has added three more players to its 16-player draw. Seth Rose and Angelo Niculcsco, the University of South Carolina's current Nos. 1 and 2 players, will join the field, along with former ATP Tour player David Caldwell.

Rose is currently ranked 49th in collegiate tennis. Niculcsco was ranked 48th in the world among juniors and was the No. 1 junior in Romania in 1998.

Caldwell, the USTA's No. 1 boys' 18 player in 1992, played at the University of North Carolina where he was a three-time All-American. His highest ATP ranking was 160th in the world as he qualified for the 1996 U.S. Open, and 1997 and 1999 Australian Opens.

Two-time city women's champion Sophie Woorons has just completed her work on a doctorate in Sports Pedagogy at the University of Georgia. "I am now Dr. Sophie Woorons," she confirms.

Woorons also is now teaching tennis at the Medical University of South Carolina complex, joining tennis director JoAnn Lee's staff.

Brenda Carter, who recently won the national women's 55 hard-court singles and doubles titles, won both women's 55 singles and 45 doubles last weekend in Birmingham, Ala., in the Southern odd-years championships. She teamed up with Susie Peiffer for the doubles success.

Snee Farm Country Club will hold its fifth Grand Prix of the year Nov. 6-11. The deadline for entering the event is at 5 p.m. on Nov. 5. Entry fees are $16 per person for doubles and $25 for singles.

(10/14/01)  Weiland excelling on national doubles scene
Quick hands and good anticipation are valuable, almost vital, tools for success at the net in doubles. If you don't think so, ask Jeanette Weiland why she has been able to win three national women's 70 doubles titles this year.

Other than having good partners, of course.

"I have quick hands and I anticipate well. The net is my game," the 69-year-old Charleston resident insists.

Weiland, always a top player in her age group, has hit it big this year, playing up in the 70s in the year she actually reaches that age. She teamed with Beverly Winans of Newport Beach, Calif., to win the national 70s clay courts in April at Gulfport, Miss., and the national 70s hard courts in August in Dayton Ohio. She also won the national 70s grass courts in July at Forest Hills, N.Y., with Louise Owen of Evansville, Ind.

No, Weiland doesn't have the added benefit at the net of having height on her side. She is only 5-4. So, she has to rely on quickness and anticipation.

"That's the only way I can play with the young people. They smash it at me and I get it back," she says, referring to her success in the USTA Adult League where she was a member of the Whipple Road 4.5 adult team that last year advanced to the national championships. Her doubles partner on the Whipple Road team was Brenda Carter, who just recently won the singles and doubles titles in the national women's 55 hard courts. Carter was bumped up to 5.0 and wasn't able to play on the team this year.

Weiland and Owen were the No. 3-ranked women's 65 doubles team in the nation last year.

Rated ninth in women's 65 singles nationally in 1999, Weiland also was part of a four-player women's 65 team that represented the USTA in an international cup competition in Australia in 1997. The team came in second in the world.

She has been captain of a 4.5 senior team at Maybank Tennis Center that has won five state championships.

Weiland didn't start tennis until her 40s. She played basketball and ran track in high school before attending hometown Wayne State. She and her golf-playing husband Peter Weiland reside on South Battery.

She keeps her game tuned up for the spring USTA Leagues by playing four times a week, mostly split between the hard and clay courts at Maybank Tennis Center. There's no local competition this fall at the 4.5 women's level in adult or senior play.

In mid-November, she will represent the Southern Section in USTA intersectional team competition in Naples, Fla.

Smith Anderson is another local player who is finding almost as much success on the national senior circuit as Weiland and Brenda Carter.

Just recently, Anderson was runner-up in doubles in the national men's 35 grass courts in Philadelphia. Anderson and his partner, Hilton Head Island teaching pro Scott Nichols, then advanced to the doubles semifinals of the national 35 clay courts in Savannah. Anderson also advanced to the quarterfinals in singles in each.

A former University of Georgia player who will be one of the 16 players in the singles field of the Nov. 1-4 $6,000 Isle of Palms Invitational at Wild Dunes Racquet Club, Anderson served as a teaching pro under Stan Smith at Hilton Head Island's Sea Pines Plantation from 1983-88. He now works in local real estate.

The annual Alan Fleming Senior Clay Court Tournament is usually one of the top senior tournaments in the South. The tournament that is finishing up this weekend at Seabrook Island is no different.

This year's event has branched out into a new charity. The tournament has raised $6,160 for Hospice of Charleston.

(10/07/01)  Carter shows national form at Hard-Court Nationals
It isn't often that a Charleston player is crowned as a national tennis champion. Brenda Carter gained that distinction twice last weekend.

Carter not only won the women's 55 singles title in the Senior Women's Hard-Court Nationals in Folsom, Calif., she came right back to win the 55-and-over doubles title.

"It was just a survival of the fittest," said the 55-year-old former Georgia Southern University associate athletic director who has resided in Charleston the last two years where her husband, Harry Carter, is the vice president for academic affairs at The Citadel. "I feel very fortunate."

Carter didn't play college tennis. "They didn't have college tennis back then. I didn't start competitive tennis until as an adult," the University of Georgia graduate said.

But she has played quite well on USTA League teams, so well that she got bumped up from 4.5 to 5.0 after playing on a Whipple Road team that went to the national USTA League Championships last year. She isn't playing league tennis this year, due to the absence of a 5.0 women's league locally.

This is her first year of playing in national individual tournaments. She finished fourth in March in the National Clay-Courts in Houston, losing to Suella Steel of LaJolla, Calif., in a playoff for third and fourth places. It didn't look good for the third-seeded Carter when she faced the top-seeded Steel in the semifinals of the Hard-Courts. But Carter won a close two-setter over Steel, then waltzed through the final. Carter teamed with Steel to take doubles honors.

Although league tennis isn't an option right now locally, Carter isn't ready to rest on her laurels. "I hope to be able to continue to play," she said.

She wins with a solid baseline game, featuring a strong backhand.

"I'm pretty much a baseliner," she said, admitting that her backhand is her strongest side. "I come in if I need to."

It's late, and the weather might turn cooler any week now, but the last of the USTA leagues will spring into action this coming week. The 3.5 adult men will start their fall season Wednesday night.

That leaves just seven weeks to play before Thanksgiving, about the time when the weather can change dramatically and people start thinking of the holiday season and less about league tennis.

Lowcountry Tennis Association president Bob Peiffer explains the situation this way: "Mixed doubles starts in June and ends in August, followed immediately by Combo Doubles, followed immediately by the regular fall league. It would have been possible to start Oct. 4, but not earlier than that because the Combo Doubles was using the courts on Wednesday evenings, and we don't have enough courts to handle both at the same time.

"In some cases, we don't even have enough courts to handle the regular teams. For example, we have three 4.0 teams playing at Maybank and only eight lighted courts. Growing popularity is good and bad."

The local USA Team Tennis for Youth League has expanded this year to 29 teams, including teams from Walterboro and Summerville. The league plays its matches on Fridays at 4 p.m. and is for ages 6-16 at four different skill levels.

Charleston's Inner-City Courting Kids program is full again this fall, but John's Island still has openings. The program will last two more Saturdays.

The Inner-City program at the Jack Adams Tennis Center has a capacity 72 kids. John's Island is up to 28 kids, but still has plenty of room. The John's Island session is held on Saturdays from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Alan Fleming Tennis Center.

The annual Seabrook Island Alan Fleming Senior Clay Court Tournament starts Thursday with competition in men's and women's singles and doubles and mixed doubles. Call 1-800-845-2475 or log onto www.discoverseabrook.com for additional information.

Thursday is the entry deadline for the Oct. 19-22 Kiawah Island Junior Clay Court Championship. Call 768-2121 for information.

(09/30/01)  Expect quality tennis at first-ever Isle of Palms Invitational
Expect quality tennis at first-ever Isle of Palms Invitational

The purse is small, but the tennis should be great. Plus, admission is free.

The stage has been set for the inaugural Isle of Palms Invitational at Wild Dunes Racquet Club Nov. 1-4. It's a pro tournament, with a purse of $6,000.

Event organizer Richard Peyton is hand selecting 16 players for singles and eight doubles teams. You probably haven't heard of most of the players, because they're not in the Andre Agassi-Pete Sampras class. But the likes of Brett Garnett and T.J. Middleton know what it's like to come close to making it big in professional tennis.

It's just that there are thousands of other players searching for the same pot of gold on the ATP Tour. They're all excellent players, some such as Garnett and Middleton with All-America credentials from their college days.

Garnett, who grew up in Columbia, was part of a No. 1-ranked collegiate doubles team in 1988 while at Southwestern Louisiana. Middleton played at the University of Georgia. Together as a professional doubles team, they made the Australian Open quarterfinals in 1993 and advanced to the round of 16 that year in each of the three other Grand Slam tournaments as well as won the Legg Mason Open tournament in Washington.

Just how close were they to making it really big? Between them, they hold victories over former world's No. 1 players Pete Sampras, Patrick Rafter, Thomas Muster and Yevgeny Kafelnikov; and Middleton teamed with Lori McNeil in 1994 to advance to the mixed doubles final at Wimbledon. That's pretty close.

Garnett is now 34 years old, Middleton 33. Both are retired from the life of touring pros and serve as club pros, Garnett in Hickory, N.C., and Middleton in Atlanta.

"It's pretty tough out there (on the ATP Tour)," Garnett said Thursday by telephone during a break in his lessons at the Lake Hickory Country Club. "I think I had pretty good success. I would have liked to have had more success, but I played all of the majors and I'm pretty happy with the way I did."

Garnett quit the pro tour in 1996. He spends his free time these days with his wife and two young children. "I'm happy living here and not having to travel. I enjoy coming to tournaments like Richard (Peyton) is having," Garnett said.

He used a big serve-and-volley game to carry him to such heights as the third round of the Australian Open twice in singles and to a 1993 victory over Rafter in the U.S. Open. But the clay surface at Wild Dunes shouldn't slow Garnett down a great deal. He is practicing on the clay courts at Lake Hickory.

"I still serve and volley. I'll be trying to do it on the clay courts down there. It'll be a challenge for me, but I'll be ready for Wild Dunes," he assured.

In addition to Garnett and Middleton, Peyton has lined up former Myrtle Beach junior legend Will Bull, former University of Georgia player Smith Anderson, former University of South Carolina stars Guillaume Legat and Jerome Jourdon, and Seabrook Island pro Tate Gallager.

Bull, with career wins over the likes of Andrei Medvedev, Greg Rusedski and Wayne Ferreira, and once ranked 10th in the world in juniors, was the 1988 boys' 16 USTA clay court champion; Anderson, now residing locally, was a finalist in this year's National Grass Court Championships; Legat was an All-American at USC last season; Jourdon was an academic All-American at USC, finishing in 2000; and Gallager was a top player in Virginia before moving to Charleston where he was a finalist in this year's City Adult Tournament.


While the Isle of Palms Invitational is free to the public, Peyton is encouraging spectators to bring new or used books and tennis equipment to the tournament to be given to children treated at the MUSC Children's Hospital. The Children's Hospital is the official beneficiary of the tournament.

Peyton is able to put the tournament on free because of sponsors, such as title sponsor the City of Isle of Palms and presenting sponsor Scott & Stringfellow investment firm. The Post and Courier also is a sponsor.

Peyton, a former University of South Carolina tennis player, resides in the Richmond, Va., area where he has helped hold a similar free event in Petersburg for the last 10 years. Peyton was a club pro in Hawaii and traveled on the ATP Tour while coaching former player Bill Scanlon.


The entry deadline for the Oct. 12-14 Charles Schwab Senior Tennis Tournament at Mount Pleasant's Whipple Road complex is next Saturday at 5 p.m.

Competition will be held in men's and women's singles and doubles in 50-80 even-year age categories as well as mixed doubles in 55-85 odd-year age groups. NTRP-rated flights for singles, doubles and mixed doubles also will be available.  Call 856-2162.

Monday is the deadline for entering next weekend's Charleston Adult Doubles Championship at the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island.

The tournament for men's and women's doubles teams only will be similar to mixed doubles and much like the new Combo League in that partners will add up their NTRP ratings. Contact Greg Brock at the Tennis Centre (856-7900, extension 2) for information.

The Tennis Centre at Daniel Island also will hold a complimentary senior round robin this Tuesday from 9-11 a.m. Players can call the Tennis Centre to sign up for the 36 spots in the tournament.

The annual Seabrook Island Alan Fleming Senior Clay Court Tournament is set for Oct. 11-14 with competition in men's and women's singles and doubles and mixed doubles. Call 1-800-845-2475 or log onto www.discoverseabrook.com for additional information.

Oct. 11 is the entry deadline for the Oct. 19-22 Kiawah Island Junior Clay Court Championship. Call 768-2121.

(09/21/01)  Zakin may be best tennis player ever at College of Charleston
Angelo Anastopoulo signed Sagi Zakin to a College of Charleston tennis grant four years ago having never seen the young Israeli, except on video. When Zakin arrived in Charleston from Israel to begin college, he was on crutches, causing Anastopoulo to wonder if he had made a good decision. Four years later, Zakin is a senior. He's had three knee operations, but Anastopoulo thinks Zakin may be the best player ever to play for the Cougars.

Around all of those knee problems, he has been ranked as high as 60th nationally in NCAA men's tennis. And Thursday Zakin was knocking on wood over the condition of his knees at a luncheon at the Cougars' Patriots Point Field House held to honor local tennis legend Bob Dickson, and to announce that Zakin had been selected as the first recipient of the Bob & Charlotte Dickson Endowed Scholarship for Tennis. The spring tennis season is still several months off, but Zakin said his knees are in good shape.

That's good news not only for Zakin, but for Phil Whitesell who has taken over as head coach of the Cougars' men's tennis program. Anastopoulo, who previously coached both the men's and women's teams, will now serve as tennis director and head women's coach. Whitesell played at the University of Southern California and has been an assistant under Anastopoulo for the last two years.

Zakin carries a 3.9 grade point average as a computer information/economics major. Despite the knee problems in the fall of his freshman year, he went undefeated in the spring that year and was named the Southern Conference's rookie of the year. He's a two-time all-conference player.


Bob Dickson and his late wife Charlotte have been enthusiastic College of Charleston supporters and avid tennis players over the years. Bob, who still can be seen playing on downtown courts, was generally recognized as the city's best player and best mentor to players such as current Furman men's coach Paul Scarpa.

"Bob would hit with the first person that met him at the College of Charleston courts, and I tried to always be that first person," Scarpa said earlier this year while crediting Dickson with much of his early success in tennis.

Dickson won the city men's championship every year from 1942 through 1954, with the exception of two war years. He once played a local exhibition against the great Wimbledon champion Fred Perry.

Charlotte teamed with Bob to win the city mixed doubles title from 1945-1958. She was a 1937 College of Charleston graduate who played basketball and was on the swimming team. She coached the women's tennis team from 1967-69, compiling a 25-9 record. She was inducted into the College's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984.

At the luncheon, Bernie Puckhaber and Louis Koester were recognized for their fund-raising efforts in establishing the endowment. Puckhaber is a former College of Charleston men's basketball coach (1956-57) and now a local stockbroker. Koester is a former city tennis champion.


College of Charleston athletic director Jerry Baker announced at the Dickson luncheon that the school is now accepting architectural bids on the construction of a new nine-court tennis complex at Patriots Point. Baker said the Cougars' current home courts on Meeting Street would continue to be available for play.


The $6,000 Nov. 2-4 Isle of Palms Invitational at Wild Dunes has added three more players to its 16-player draw. Seth Rose and Angelo Niculcsco, the University of South Carolina's current Nos. 1 and 2 players, will join the field, along with former ATP Tour player David Caldwell.

Rose is currently ranked 49th in collegiate tennis. Niculcsco was ranked 48th in the world among juniors and was the No. 1 junior in Romania in 1998.

Caldwell, the USTA's No. 1 boys' 18 player in 1992, played at the University of North Carolina where he was a three-time All-American. His highest ATP ranking was 160th in the world as he qualified for the 1996 U.S. Open, and 1997 and 1999 Australian Opens.


Two-time city women's champion Sophie Woorons has just completed her work on a doctorate in Sports Pedagogy at the University of Georgia. "I am now Dr. Sophie Woorons," she confirms.

Woorons also is now teaching tennis at the Medical University of South Carolina complex, joining tennis director JoAnn Lee's staff.


Brenda Carter, who recently won the national women's 55 hard-court singles and doubles titles, won both women's 55 singles and 45 doubles last weekend in Birmingham, Ala., in the Southern odd-years championships. She teamed up with Susie Peiffer for the doubles success.


Snee Farm Country Club will hold its fifth Grand Prix of the year Nov. 6-11. The deadline for entering the event is at 5 p.m. on Nov. 5. Entry fees are $16 per person for doubles and $25 for singles.

Tennis director Dewey Caulder hopes to attract 400 entries for the event. For more information, call 884-3252.

(09/09/01)  Sampras' fire missing vs. Hewitt
Oh, fire? Where have you gone? Pete Sampras searched everywhere for you Sunday afternoon, but there was no fire to be found in his 30-year-old body. The 13-time Grand Slam tournament titlist looked listless, slow and unmotivated in his 7-6, 6-1, 6-1 U.S. Open final loss to young Lleyton Hewitt.

Hewitt obviously had something to do with the way Sampras looked. The Australian roadrunner wore Sampras out with his superb shotmaking and all-court coverage.

But there is more to this story than just the way Hewitt played. Hewitt was Marat Safin of the 2000 final in disguise. Unfortunately, Sampras was the same Sampras that was humiliated by Safin a year earlier.

Actually in this case even more than in last year's final, Sampras humiliated himself. He was a far cry from the player who has won more Grand Slam titles than any other man. He missed shots weekend players often make look easy.

This loss will be even tougher for Sampras to take than last year's. He will have to search deep in his soul for the fire he lacked Sunday. He will have to decide if he really wants to win another major title. If he does, he will have to rededicate himself to the game, to the practice court and most of all to the training room.

Sampras tried to outfinesse Hewitt. That might have worked if Sampras could have overcome that tall down-the-line net with his usually trusty forehand, or if he hadn't mis-hit so many times on casual backhands.

Just as noteworthy was the absense of the service heat down the middle that has given Sampras so many winners in critical situations. Pete simply didn't go for that serve very often. Maybe it was because the fire that generates that heat wasn't there.

Hewitt nailed clean down-the-line and cross-court service return winners from both sides, just as Safin did last year against Sampras. But most of those winners didn't come against serves of the normal Sampras heat. And just like last year, Sampras often was a full step behind the service line and was caught flat-footed by Hewitt's low returns.

Yet, there is no overlooking Lleyton Hewitt's ability, quickness and court savvy. Like most Australian champions, he has a superb tennis head. He is the real thing, and this championship will only make Hewitt more difficult to beat.

(08/30/01)  RICO REED: Maybank Tennis Center's new pro has big plans
Fredrik Andersson first came to the United States to attend college and play tennis at Lander University. After spending the last eight years in Germany and the two years prior to that in his native Sweden, Andersson returned to South Carolina with tennis as his objective.

He recently was named the tennis pro at the Maybank Tennis Center in West Ashley.

"We've been looking for someone of his caliber for the past year and a half," said Charleston Tennis Center director Tom Kline. "We really think we have found the right person who will take this tennis program to the next level."

From 1992 to 2000, Andersson was head professional of the Durlach Tennis Club in Germany. It had more than 600 members. While the enrollment at Maybank will be considerably less, Andersson said he is focused on making Maybank one of the premier facilities for play and instruction in the area.

"When I took over the program in Durlach, it was already established and all I had to do was continue it," Andersson said. "Here we have to build the program a little and get more people out on the courts. I'm really excited about being able to build up a program, and I think Charleston is a great place for tennis."

A three-time All-American at Lander during his 1986-90 college career, Andersson came to the United States through a recruitment program with the Swedish Tennis Association. After graduating from Lander, Andersson returned to Sweden to serve his mandatory two-year term in the army. Although he had spent four years in the United States as a college student, it would take some luck for the doors to open for Andersson to return.

Millions of citizens apply for the opportunity, but he was fortunate enough to win one of the 30,000 green cards granted through a lottery system. Andersson already has started working, but he said it will be several more months before his wife is able to come to Charleston.

"We were always kidding about being able to come back to the States. We wanted to get out of Germany, but I guess sometimes these dreams come true if you are lucky," Andersson said. "I liked South Carolina and I wanted to get out of Germany, and Charleston was pretty high up on our list of places to go. We applied for the lottery but never thought we would win."

Kline said when it came down to the decision to hire Andersson, there was little question about his ability to handle the position. "We think he will be one of the premier tennis instructors in the Charleston area," Kline said. "We're hoping to get people who want to be taking tennis lessons in West Ashley, and we think he will be one of the most qualified pros to get people back into playing on the West Ashley side."

The Maybank Tennis Center is located off Folly Road on Houghton Drive in the Marlborough subdivision. The facility features three clay courts and eight hard courts.

(08/23/01)  CBS to show Jackson on Sunday tennis spot

Delores Jackson will be honored alongside Bill Cosby tonight in New York City.

She has been featured prominently in USTA Tennis Magazine. She has won Southern Tennis Association and USTA national awards. All of this in 2001. But Sunday's national television appearance will provide the crowning moment for the director of Charleston's Inner-City Courting Kids tennis program.

A team from CBS-TV came to Charleston last month to interview Jackson and film the last session of this summer's Courting Kids program at Jack Adams Tennis Center. Jackson will be featured Sunday on CBS during the noon-3 p.m.

Arthur Ashe Kids Day festivities.
Jackson then will be in the USTA president's box at Arthur Ashe Stadium Monday for the opening day of the U.S. Open.

"This is very rewarding. I never thought I would receive these type of awards," Jackson said before leaving for New York.

Tonight's Urban Sports Network Black Tennis Award for Community Service awards dinner will be at the Hudson Theatre at Times Square. Jackson's award will be for grass roots and community service. Bill Cosby, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and former ATP Tour player Rodney Harmon also will be honored at the dinner.

Jackson, a retired chemist from the Charleston Naval Shipyard, went to Atlanta and Dallas earlier this year to receive Southern and national chapter of the year awards from the National Junior Tennis League.

"We are thrilled that the Inner-City program has been so successful and that Delores has done such a wonderful job promoting the program," said Peggy Bohne, the city tennis coordinator who heads Charleston Tennis Center where Jackson spends most of her time.

Courting Kids got its start in 1991 after Jackson joined the City Tennis Center staff following the closure of her position at the Shipyard. A graduate of Burke High School and South Carolina State, Jackson had learned to play tennis in 1974 while living near Jack Adams Tennis Center.

"I love the game and I wanted to share it with the kids," Jackson said. "I wondered why we didn't have a program for the inner-city kids. The recreation director said if I raised the money I could have a program. I raised $3,000, but that wasn't enough. I went to Harris Teeter, and they said they had used all their money."

But the request was forwarded to the Paul Newman Foundation.

"About a week later they contacted Mayor Riley and he called me and said the Paul Newman Foundation was donating $12,000," Jackson said. "That's how the program started."

The next Courting Kids programs will run Sept. 8-Oct. 20 on Saturdays, from 1-2:30 p.m. at Jack Adams and 3:30-5 p.m. on John's Island.

It's no wonder Charleston went after the Family Circle Cup so hard. The tournament's economic impact probably jarred even non-tennis believers into becoming serious supporters. Making the results of the recently released economic impact study more impressive was the fact the $39.5 million impact was felt during the tournament's first year on Daniel Island at a time when economic conditions were weak.

The 1999 Family Circle Cup at Hilton Head Island attracted nearly 25 percent more fans than the 80,000 who attended this year's tournament, but that tournament's economic impact was about $11 million less. According to the survey by Dr. Thomas Regan of the Sport Administration Department at the University of South Carolina, females dominated this year's attendance by a 2-1 ratio. And 62.5 percent of the fans had a household income in excess of $80,000, with 77 percent having completed college or were working on postgraduate studies.

Gordon Gibson entered the recent State Clay-Court Championships at Greenville as the top seed in boys' 10, and lived up to that seeding by taking first place. Gibson was the only Charleston player to take top honors, although Alice Knowlton was runner-up in girls' 14. Other local players who fared well included: Elliot Sperr fifth in boys' 10, John Ellis fourth in boys' 14, Nat Estes third in boys' 16, Caroline Ritter sixth in girls' 10, Catherine Dodd fourth in girls' 12 and Caroline Ivin fifth in girls' 14.

Charleston's City Council has approved the replacement of the fences at Charleston Tennis Center. The old gray metal fences will be replaced by new black vinyl-trimmed fences, according to city tennis coordinator Peggy Bohne. The project, which is scheduled to start in late August, will include lowered fan-friendly fences (three feet high) in spectator viewing areas. The facility's picnic area also will be enclosed into the fenced complex.

Stan Smith, the former Wimbledon champion who directs tennis at Hilton Head Island's Sea Pines Resort, will be featured with his son Ramsey in today's 2:30 p.m. CBS-TV session of Topspin. Ramsey, who competed against local juniors just a few years ago, has completed an outstanding collegiate career at Duke.

(08/19/01)  CALTA looks for ways to make contribution to tennis community
CALTA has been around a number of years, most of them overshadowed by the USTA Leagues.

But don't underestimate this group of 600 women who make up the Charleston Area Ladies' Tennis Association. They're independent of the USTA, although many CALTA members also participate in the USTA's night leagues or Saturday morning senior leagues.

And because they're independent, the CALTA women want to make a difference locally. These 600 women, who pay annual dues of $15, keep all of their money locally. They've decided to direct a portion of their funds to needy young women in the area in the form of $1,500 for grants. They're looking for suggestions from the local tennis community on how best to award the grants.

"Suggestions from members of the local community - especially school athletic directors and local tennis pros - are very welcome," CALTA president Linda von Grotthuss said. CALTA can be reached by email at boardcaltatennis.net.

The money might be used for local lessons for juniors or even to send juniors to such highly regarded camps as Bollettieri's in Florida, von Grotthuss said.

CALTA will start its 2001-2002 season after Labor Day and run until next May. The league currently has 48 teams representing 18 tennis centers and clubs in the Charleston area. Matches are held on Tuesday mornings.

The league didn't realize it was in such good shape financially until last year when its then four divisions merged into one league. That's when CALTA decided to look for ways to give something back to local tennis.

CALTA now has five divisions, with 4.0 and 4.5 NTRP-caliber players participating in Division 1 and 2.5-3.0 players in Division 5. "We don't require or apply NTRP ratings," von Grotthuss said. "We promote social play and we are loosely structured. We can add members five weeks into the season."

For more information on CALTA, go to the league's internet site, www.caltatennis.net.

A group of women from the Lowcountry Tennis Association will travel to Atlanta this week to participate in the Southern Cities Championships. Mary Kennerty will serve as captain of the team. Each team match will consist of one pro-set doubles match each at the 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5 levels.

LCTA coordinator Bob Peiffer expects the new Combo League to start before the end of the month. Currently, there are 6-8 teams in the 6.5 adult men, 7.5 adult men and 6.5 adult women leagues, and a lesser number in the 7.5 adult women, 8.5 adult men and 8.5 adult women. Senior participation won't be as heavy, but Peiffer expects to have competition in 6.5 senior men and 6.5 senior women. Only one 7.5 senior men and one 8.5 senior women are expected, and those teams will go directly to the state tournament.

The roster turn-in for the regular fall USTA Adult League and Senior League seasons is still about three weeks away. Peiffer said play will begin the last week in September or in early October.

(08/12/01)  Skatell's vet lands on national TV

Where has Andrei Pavel been?

Back in 1993 when Pavel played in the Skatell's Pro Tennis Classic in Mount Pleasant, I thought it would be only a matter of time before the then 19-year-old Romanian would hit it big on the pro tennis circuit. He had all of the shots, the total package, especially that smooth backhand. He was a natural from any area of the court, baseline or net. This kid who had won the 1992 Junior French Open and had been the No. 2 junior in the world that year surely would strike it rich on the ATP Tour.

But Pavel appeared to be content just making good money playing club tennis in Germany. I kept waiting, and waiting. Pavel scored an occasional win here or there that was noteworthy. He upset Patrick Rafter and Andre Agassi at the Stuttgart (Germany) tournament last year en route to a No. 27 world ranking.

Then last Sunday, bang. There Pavel was on the network TV screen playing one of the giants of the game, Rafter, in a Masters Series event final in Montreal. And Pavel was winning. N

ow 27 years old, Pavel has notched the biggest win of his career. Winning the Montreal tournament was worth $400,000 to Pavel, not to mention what such a huge victory will mean financially to his future on the ATP Tour. If Pavel can defeat former two-time U.S. Open winner Rafter on a hard surface, Pavel is capable of big things in the upcoming U.S. Open. Or maybe he'll just fade away again.

Venus Williams won Wimbledon, then told the world she did it without serious practice habits. Does anyone believe that?

Jennifer Capriati doesn't.

"Who's to believe that's even true?" Capriati asked recently. "I'm sorry, but nobody can just go out and win titles like that. She could say whatever she wants, but - I'll just think about myself. And all the power to her. That's all I can say."

Venus' comments may be part of her father's strategy to scare her opponents into thinking Venus can beat everyone in women's tennis without really pushing herself.

In last Sunday's victory over Monica Seles in the San Diego final, Venus may have played her most consistent big match. Her ground strokes were near flawless, yet powerful. No one, not even Venus, gets into type of groove without some serious practice.

But Venus Williams obviously is in a different league from the rest of women's tennis in her unique combination of sheer athletic ability, quickness and strength. Martina Hingis moves better, but she doesn't have Venus' power; Lindsay Davenport can match Venus in strength, but not in athletic ability or quickness; and Capriati trails Williams slightly in all of the categories: quickness, power and athletic ability.

The Aug. 24-25 Bishop England Lady Bishops' Tennis Jam at the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island should be a boost for local girls' high school tennis. Eight of the top teams in the Lowcountry will participate in the event. In addition to Bishop England, the eight-team field includes Wando, Ashley Hall, First Baptist, Summerville, Academic Magnet, Waccamaw Academy and Beaufort High School. Defending Independent Schools state champion Porter-Gaud is the only absentee among the top local teams. The competition will be broken down into five singles flights and two doubles, with competition in each of those flights to earn team points.

(08/05/01)  Family Circle Cup hopes to add big-name concert
Tennis by day; music by night. The Family Circle Cup may have a winning combination.

It's almost certain that the Family Circle Cup will land a big name group for the Saturday night concert that will follow next year's semifinals at Family Circle Stadium. Don't forget, Family Circle Cup is an entity of Bertelsmann AG, one of the world's largest music and entertainment companies.

Even the players should enjoy the festivities, further making the Family Circle Cup a leader in women's tennis. Family Circle Cup director/vice president Lisa Thomas also said there has been some consideration of possibly holding a senior Champions Tour event on Daniel Island. The Champions Tour, with Jimmy Connors leading the way, held successful fall tournaments at Hilton Head Island's Sea Pines Resort in 1994 and 1995.

What is the Combo League?

According to Lowcountry Tennis Association coordinator Bob Peiffer, local tennis players still aren't sure what the Combo League is.

"I still run into people who think it is a form of a mixed doubles league, a man and a woman playing together on a doubles team. It definitely is not that. There is a Combo League for men and a separate Combo League for women," Peiffer said.

In Combo Doubles, team play involves three individual doubles matches where the combined ratings of each doubles partnership cannot exceed the level of the play. For instance, a doubles team made of a 4.0 man and a 4.5 man could not play at a level lower than 8.5. The roster turn-in for the Combo League is 5 p.m. Tuesday at the main library on Calhoun Street. Peiffer said 42 captains at the recent captain's meeting expected to have teams in the new league. Tuesday also is roster turn-in for the Super Seniors. Adult and senior teams will turn in their rosters in mid-September.

Peiffer reports that this was an off-year for Lowcountry Tennis Association teams competing in the recent USTA League's Southern Sectionals in Louisville, Ky. The five local teams that qualified for the sectionals produced only a combined 6-14 record. The 3.0 senior women's team from Charleston Tennis Center and the 4.5 senior women from Maybank Tennis Center each posted 2-2 records, but the 4.5 adult women from Maybank and the 3.0 adult men from Crowfield Plantation went 1-3, and the 4.0 adult women from Snee Farm were winless in four matches. The only team from South Carolina to win a title was the 2.5 adult men from Hilton Head Island.

"The competition was incredibly strong," Peiffer reported. "Most of the players are at the very top of their levels. I think that one of the things that often hurts our local teams is that so many players `play up' during the local league season. That is a problem throughout S.C., and our winning teams just are not used to facing the really tough competition that you get at the sectionals."

South Carolina residents appear to have the right skills for climbing the Southern Tennis Association's ladder to the presidency of the 115-year-old organization. Four of the WTA's last eight presidents have been from South Carolina. Charleston's Barbara Brewer is the latest of the group. Jack Mills of Columbia started the S.C. rise in the 1980s, and Belton's Jim Russell and Greenville's Lucy Garvin later became presidents of the nine-state organization. Also, current vice president Rex Maynard of Belton is in the line that leads to the presidency.

The sons of former Charleston pro Arthur Anastopoulo are taking up where their dad left off in junior tennis. Gus Anastopoulo recently won the boys' 10 and A.J. Anastopoulo the boys' 12 city championships in Macon, Ga., where their father is director of tennis. Arthur Anastopoulo won many city and state titles growing up in Charleston, while brothers Akim and Angelo (current College of Charleston coach) also took their share of titles.

(07/31/01)  STA president Brewer, tennis a perfect match

Barbara Brewer has a dynamic job with diverse responsibilities. She heads a nine-state organization that has 152,000 members.

Sound like a Fortune 500 job and lucrative stock options?

Not exactly. Her job is glamorous, but it rewards only with travel and self-fulfillment.

Brewer is the president of the Southern Tennis Association, only the third woman to hold this post in the 115-year history of the organization. She spends approximately 30 hours a week as a tennis volunteer, either carrying out the duties of her STA post or working with the parent U.S. Tennis Association where she serves on three national committees.

Her calendar includes upcoming trips to Minneapolis for a USTA strategic planning committee meeting, New York City for the U.S. Open and more meetings, and Winston-Salem for the U.S.-India Davis Cup tie.

Her husband, Tom Brewer, a retired physician, is nearly as busy in tennis. He travels over the Southern section to serve as a chair umpire for tennis events, just recently back from Little Rock, Ark., and the Southern Closed 18s. He's in Columbia this week working the national Junior Davis Cup competition at the University of South Carolina.

"Tom goes off and does that," she said. "I work more on the administrative end with volunteers."

One of her sons, Patrick Brown, is tennis pro at Kiawah Island. Patrick's recent marriage and the visit to the Brewers' downtown Charleston home of her other son, Matt Brown from Kansas City, and his family that includes three young grandchildren, over-shadowed tennis for a few days. But only for a few days.

Tennis obviously has been and is a central part of Barbara Brewer's life. Her family has worn the tag of both Southern and Arkansas tennis family of the year.

"Tennis has really meant a great deal to me," she said. "It's been a big part of my son's life and development. It's the common theme in how I met my husband. If it wasn't for his support and patience through all this, it would be an extremely tough job. He has done great."

In addition to all of her other tennis responsibilities, she plays on 4.0 USTA Adult and 50-and-over Senior League teams at Maybank Tennis Center on James Island. Her senior team won the state title last year and finished second in the Southern sectional. All of this is the result of a smart man, her grandfather, many years ago deciding to send a 12-year-old Kansas City girl off to a summer tennis camp in Minnesota.

"My grandfather suggested it was a good sport and I could probably play it forever," she said. "My grandfather never played tennis, but he thought it seemed like something that would be good for a young person to take up. I think he was ahead of his time."

Unlike her husband Tom who played tennis at Hendricks (Ark.) College, she didn't play tennis while growing up in Kansas City or while attending the University of Kansas. She took her turns at sports such as basketball, softball and field hockey, but not on organized teams. At Kansas, she majored in food science and nutrition and became a hospital dietitian. She later earned a master’s degree in health service administration from Webster University. It would only be a matter of time before tennis would re-enter her life.

"I started back as an adult in my late 20s in Oklahoma City. There was a neighborhood court, and a bunch of mothers took their kids (Patrick and Matt were about 2 and 5 then) to the park where a teen-aged girl baby sat for us while we played tennis," she said. S

he later started playing league tennis. When the family moved to Little Rock, she became more involved in tennis. She served as the director of a men's satellite tournament for two years. In 1993, she was elected president of the Arkansas Tennis Association.

"We ended up in Charleston when my husband retired and we visited Patrick (who played at Charleston Southern). We fell in love with the city," she said.

This past January in Atlanta, she was elected to a two-year term as president of the Southern Tennis Association. She did her work along the way to earn such a lofty position, previously holding positions such as national chair of the USTA Team Tennis committee and vice chair of the USTA's collegiate committee. In addition to her STA duties, she currently serves as a member of the USTA strategic planning committee, the USTA plan for growth committee and the USTA's advisory group on committees.

"It really is rewarding. We make some changes that are slow to come about sometimes, but you meet a lot of great people who share the same passion. It's just a passion I have for the game, and the interesting people I've met. I hope that through volunteering I can make a difference."

She is proud of what the USTA is doing in making a difference in communities, such as in Charleston with the award-winning Inner-City Courting Kids program. "

I think the USTA has taken some very progressive steps and increased funding at the local level," she said.

She believes the U.S. Open holds the key to tennis development in this country.

"A lot of the funding at the local level comes from the U.S. Open. If the Open goes down, our funding at the local level decreases. If American players go down it might hurt the U.S. Open."

(07/29/01)  Recreational tennis strong despite low tournament enrollment
Participation in sanctioned adult tournaments is resembling the stock market these days. It's way down.

But recreational tennis is in great shape. Adults are playing competitive tennis everywhere you look, except sanctioned tournaments. The USTA adult and senior leagues are the prime examples of the good health of recreational tennis. Then there's non-USTA events such as the Snee Farm Grand Prix.

Pro Dewey Caulder's Grand Prix is the hit of the local recreational tennis scene. The Grand Prix isn't new. Caulder has been holding these tournaments since 1989 when he took over at Mount Pleasant's Snee Farm Country Club. He puts on five Grand Prix tournaments each year.

How does he get 320 entries for one Grand Prix? He turns the event into a social affair. That's how many entries the July Grand Prix attracted, but the number has been as high as 350. Oh, there's plenty of competition. Thanks to the help of sponsors, there's also plenty of snack food for each of the Tuesday night through Sunday sessions, and a Friday night catered dinner and party.

"It's social but competitive," Caulder said. "They have a good time, but they want to do well, too."

Since the events are not sanctioned, a USTA rating isn't required. Players without ratings enter the ability level they feel comfortable competing in, whether in singles, doubles or mixed doubles. The cost ($25 for singles, $16 per doubles team) barely covers the cost of the every-night meals and other amenities. Yes, it appears that Caulder has found the secret to adult participation. Give them fun and food, and they'll show up. By the way, the next Snee Farm Grand Prix (telephone 884-3252) is scheduled for Sept. 11-16.

That's right. The Tennis Centre at Daniel Island is holding a USTA Team Tennis Challenge Sept. 7-9 to help men's and women's teams prepare for the fall USTA League schedule. The tournament will be limited to six teams in each division (3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5). Each division will be divided into two groups, and the group winners will square off for the championship. Each match will consist of three doubles. As an added incentive, members of the winning team from each division will receive one-day sky suite tickets to next year's Family Circle Cup.

The per team cost of $150 will include a dinner on Saturday, Sept. 8 from 7-9. Also during the challenge, team membership packages for the Tennis Centre will be available along with team workout packages with tennis director Fritz Nau. For more information, contact Greg Brock or Rob Eppelsheimer at the Tennis Centre (856-7900, extension 2).

Young Taylor Dent continues to blast big serves while impressing the ATP Tour. The 1998 Skatell's Pro Tennis Classic runner-up has the three fastest serves in tennis this year.

"I have a very bad habit of watching the speed gun. They should put a blindfold on me for that. On every serve I'm always checking it out to see what's going on," Dent said last week after blasting a 142 mph bullet in beating former French Open champion Carlos Moya in Los Angeles.

Dent's 144 mph serve against Lleyton Hewitt at Wimbledon was the fastest on the ATP Tour since Greg Rusedski's 149 mph bomb in 1998. Dent also hit one 142 mph at the Ericsson Open. Only Rusedski has served bigger than the 20-year-old Dent in the last decade.

Remember 1999 Skatell's champ Jimy Szymanski? The colorful and talented player almost single-handedly gave Venezuela a 3-0 victory over Uruguay in Davis Cup Group 2 last weekend by winning two matches, one singles and one doubles.

The 18th annual Corrine Jones tennis tournament will be held Friday beginning at 9 a.m. at the Corrine Jones Playground in Charleston. Trophies will be donated to the winner and the runner-up. Call 724-7406 for more information.

(07/15/01)  Williams, Ivanisevic were right winners for Wimbledon
Wimbledon worked out quite nicely.

Venus Williams and Goran Ivanisevic weren't my first choices, but they were the right choices for this Wimbledon. Jennifer Capriati has played wonderful tennis all year, but she's not Venus. She probably didn't mind losing to young Justine Henin nearly as much as she would have to Venus.

Barring a miracle, Venus would have beaten Capriati. Andre Agassi almost surely would have spoiled things for Ivanisevic. While another Wimbledon title for Agassi would have been great for U.S. tennis, Ivanisevic's success didn't hurt the sport. Patrick Rafter played into Goran's hands by going to the net at every opportunity. Agassi wouldn't have.

There are too many chances for error or luck in going to the net every point against a server of Ivanisevic's caliber who has suspect ground strokes. One service break by Ivanisevic is pretty much lethal for any set. Agassi would have spent most of his time on the baseline. He might never have been broken by Ivanisevic. Agassi also is a much better service returner than Rafter. Once a rally went past the service return Agassi would have been in control of Goran. Rafter kept going to the net, exposing his game to chance. Every now and then, Goran would nail a couple of good passing shots, and Rafter would make an error of his own.

Normally, I like Rafter's chances charging the net. But against a player as erratic off the ground as Ivanisevic, why take the chance of a lucky shot?

Ivanisevic must have been destined to win Wimbledon. He ran into serve-and-volleyers such as Andy Roddick, Greg Rusedski, Tim Henman and Rafter, never facing one of the hot Spanish or French baseliners that might have exploited his weakness. Goran did face Carlos Moya in the second round, but these days Moya is something of a has-been. Even Moya tested the net often, losing 21 of 39 points there.

Combo Doubles is coming to the USTA League later this summer, according to Lowcountry Tennis Association coordinator Bob Peiffer. A captains' meeting is Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the main branch of the Charleston County Library on Calhoun Street.

What is Combo Doubles?

It's similar to the summer Mixed Doubles league in which the combined rating of each doubles partnership cannot exceed the level of the team. Instead of the normal three doubles and two singles for Adult League matches, the Combo League will have three doubles only. The Combo League might benefit current Adult League or Senior League teams that have players with a mixture of ratings. For instance, a 4.5 team that has several 4.0 players might do well at 8.5, putting 4.0 and 4.5 players together for doubles. If there is sufficient interest, according to Peiffer, the LCTA will have play at the 5.5, 6.5, 7.5, 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 levels for Adults, and 6.5, 7.5, and 8.5 levels for Seniors. Peiffer requests that captains for prospective teams in both the regular team tennis play and the Combo Doubles attend the captain's meeting.

The USTA League is changing the format of its 2.5 level of play in an effort to attract more teams. Starting this fall, a 2.5 team match will consist of one singles match and two doubles matches, similar to the 5.0 format.

"There are a lot of 2.5 players around, but often not enough at one club to form a team under the traditional two singles/three doubles format," Peiffer said.

The Super Seniors also will drop the 4.0 level this year and add a 4.5 level. A 4.5 Super Senior team will be allowed to have only two 4.5 players on it, with the others 4.0 or below.

"This change is being made to accommodate the 4.5 Super Senior players who have not been able to compete as Super Seniors in the past while, at the same time, recognizing how difficult it would be to form teams made up entirely of 4.5 Super Senior players," Peiffer said.

(07/11/01)  Wilson, Bissell win tennis titles
Charlotte Wilson and Johnson Bissell captured singles titles in the City of Charleston Junior Championships held at the Charleston Tennis Center. Wilson won the girls 18 singles title, beating Danielle Beck, 6-1, 6-2, while Bissell took the boys 18 singles title, defeating Gordon Fletcher, 6-3, 6-3.

Girls 10 Singles: Sallie Johnson d. Caroline Thornton, 6-3, 6-4
Girls 12 Singles: Katie Anderson d. Alex Thornton, 6-4, 6-0
Girls 14 Singles: Caroline Irvin d. Alice Knowlton, 6-4, 6-3
Girls 16 Singles: Jessica McDonald d. Taylor Tillman, 6-0, 7-6 (4)
Girls 18 Singles: Charlotte Wilson d. Danielle Beck, 6-1, 6-2
Boys 10 Singles: Elliott Sperr d. Andrew Hancox, 6-4, 6-2
Boys 12 Singles: Alex Romanczuk d. Zachary Hancox, 6-1, 6-1
Boys 14 Singles: Haynes David d. Andrew Gibson, 6-0, 6-2
Boys 16 Singles: Tradd Robinson d. Eric Olivier, 6-0, 6-0
Boys 18 Singles: Johnson Bissell d. Gordon Fletcher, 6-3, 6-3
Girls 14 Doubles: Caroline Irvin-Alice Knowlton d. Tiffany Mehr-Vernita Ackerman, 6-3, 6-4
Girls 16 Doubles: Stefanie Mitchell-Jessica McDonald d. Taylor Tillman-Monica Ullal, 6-1, 6-3
Girls 18 Doubles: Danielle Beck-Nicole Beck d. Erin Brady-Bonnie Stuart, 6-2, 6-0
Boys 10 Doubles: Gordon Gibson-Randall Heffron d. Brian Gottshalk-Elliott Sperr, 6-3, 6-1
Boys 12 Doubles: Alex Nista-Zachary Hancox d. Pressley Altman-Alex Romanczuk, 6-3, 7-5
Boys 18 Doubles: Jeff Basile-Jason Basile d. Gordon Fletcher-Jeff Howard, 6-2, 6-2
14 Mixed Doubles: Caroline Irvin-Jason Basile d. Tiffany Mehr-Andrew Gibson, 6-0, 6-0

(07/09/01)  Champion Williams controls own destiny
Venus Williams stands even taller than 6-1 today. In a year which Jennifer Capriati seemed to own until just a few days ago, Williams once again stands above the field.

Sunday's Wimbledon women's final against Justine Henin may have been Venus' easiest three-set victory. Williams completely dominated Henin in the first and third sets of her 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 victory. One weak service game in the middle set provided the only drama of the match.

And, yes, Venus is so different from her little sister. Of course, Serena is still a teen-ager for two more months. But Venus' maturity is far greater than the 15 months that separate the two sisters in age. Venus was a picture of poise and dignity Sunday. She was quite charming in the post-match interviews. As John McEnroe said, this scene might become habit for Venus.

That is strictly up to Venus. Barring the unforeseen, she is in total control of her tennis destiny. No one in women's tennis can match Venus on a good day. Not only does she hit and serve as big as anyone in the game, her raw athleticism sets her apart from the others. If she put her total mind into the game, the Sanex WTA Tour might become the Venus Tour.

She has awesome potential.

What could Venus improve on? More consistency might be the top priority. She might take greater advantage of her huge serve, athletic ability and height by attacking the net more often, even serving and volleying.

Patrick Rafter is as tough a competitor as men's tennis has. He's one of the best volleyers the game has seen. But he probably shouldn't even be in today's men's final. Andre Agassi gave Rafter this shot in what might be Rafter's last chance at Wimbledon. He might need more of the same type of luck and good fortune to survive against Goran Ivanisevic.

On tennis ability alone, Rafter should be an overwhelming favorite. But this final might ride on Ivanisevic's racket. If Ivanisevic's serve is working and he consistently serves well throughout the match, Rafter will be in trouble. To have a chance, Rafter must return service well. Even then, Ivanisevic will be difficult to beat.

The only thing that might prevent Ivanisevic from beating Rafter or at least taking the match to the limit might be an erratic day of serving.

(07/08/01)  Heroes go down at Wimbledon
All of my heroes are gone.

Martina Hingis fell the first round, to be followed by Jennifer Capriati, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. But who knows? After today I might have another hero, maybe old Goran Ivanisevic or young Justine Henin.

Poor Pete Sampras. He loses again, and everyone writes him off again, just as they did after he lost to Marat Safin in last year's U.S. Open final. They may be right this time, unless Pete decides he's had enough of this nonsense and rededicates himself to the game in Agassi style.

Sampras will be 30 years old in a little over a month, but he's playing like he's 35. He looks slow and unmotivated, lazing in behind his serves and not closing in on the net. He has to make a superb volley to win a point from the service line. No wonder he netted so many easy backhand volleys against Roger Federer.

Pete actually lost more points at the net than he won, 54-47. That's incredible for a person of Sampras' serving and volleying ability. Sampras made Safin look unbeatable in the U.S. Open final, and repeated that performance at Wimbledon. Federer, like Safin, is extremely talented, but not as invincible as Sampras made him appear.

I usually don't agree with Martina Navratilova, but what she said last week makes sense:
"When I got older I always thought I played better than I did, but the results weren't there. I wonder if Pete's getting to that point in his life where he's trying just as hard, but it's not quite happening. I don't think he's moving that well.''

Pete definitely has to become re-motivated and rededicated. He has to start showing life on the court on the points before he serves at breakpoint. Those other points are just as important as the breakpoints.

The juniors being trained by the Family Circle staff at Daniel Island will get serious about conditioning this coming week. Head pro Fritz Nau and his staff will conduct comprehensive physical evaluations, much like the ones used at the famed Bollettieri’s Academy in Florida where Nau served as pro before coming to Daniel Island.

In addition to working with the junior tennis players already in the program, there also will be team specific evaluations for other athletes such as soccer. This will be done this week on a team rather than individual basis, but the Daniel Island staff plans to start offering such a program for all individuals and teams within the next year.

Some of the categories included in the fitness evaluation are: core stability, flexibility, postural assessment, burst speed, cardiovascular, quickness, agility, vertical leap, long jump, sprint speed and video speed, according to Family Circle Cup marketing manager Jeff Cataffa.

Connie Houser, a physical therapist from Barbourville, Ky., has been brought in to help with the program. She is the mother of Furman University tennis player Seth Houser, who has attended and worked at Bollettieri’s.

Five local teams are preparing for the July 21-24 USTA League Southern Sectional Championships to be held in Louisville July 21-24.

The 3.0 adult men from Crowfield Plantation, led by captain Steve Wilson, took second in the state and were invited to the sectionals, joining the 4.5 adult women and 4.5 senior women from Maybank Tennis Center, the 4.0 adult women from Snee Farm Country Club and the 3.0 senior women from Charleston Tennis Center.

(06/24/01)  Charleston reps pitching to bring WTA HQ to city
London is the place to be in early summer, if you're a tennis fan or even a celebrity or member of British royalty.

But Lisa Thomas and Ernest Andrade have more pressing business in London this week than the famed Wimbledon Championships. They're on a mission to bring the Sanex WTA Tour's headquarters to Charleston.

Thomas is representing the Family Circle Cup as vice president/tournament director and the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island as its general manager. Andrade is the city of Charleston's assistant director for the department of economic development.

They have been invited to attend the WTA Tour's board meetings Friday and Saturday in London to present a proposal that possibly could bring the league's headquarters to Daniel Island.

"We are excited about the opportunity to present the Charleston proposal for the Sanex WTA Tour relocation,'' Thomas stated Friday. "We are very lucky to live in a community where we were able to work with nine individual companies/agencies to offer the tour some valuable resources. "Collectively we have a very competitive package and we are hopeful that the tour will see the value of our resources.''

The presentation is in response to the WTA Tour's spring announcement that it plans to consolidate its U.S. offices that are currently located in Stamford, Conn., and St. Petersburg, Fla., into one headquarters.

Other sites known to be under consideration are St. Petersburg as well as the Saddlebrook Resort from the Tampa, Fla., area.

Josh Ripple, the WTA Tour's chief operating officer, has indicated that the board wants to make a decision on the new site of tour operations by next Saturday's meeting. Ripple has made several visits to Daniel Island, the new home of the Family Circle Cup women's tournament.

"I think the city proposal has a diverse number of partners,'' Andrade said Friday. "It is a combination of public and private partners coming together to put together what we believe is a strong incentive package for the WTA to consider moving its office to Charleston. "The prestige of bringing the WTA Tour to Charleston as well as the accompanying economic impact is important to the city of Charleston and the state of South Carolina.''

(06/24/01)  Dwindling participation in adult events extends to City Open
While USTA League tennis continues to blossom with every spring and fall, adult tournaments are floundering.

This past week's City Open tournament was typical of the adult tournament picture. Tournament director Peggy Bohne had to drum up players for several of the doubles categories just to have enough teams to hold competition in them. Meanwhile, women's champion Sophie Woorons and men's titlist Eric Martel are the epitome of excellent adult players. The few people who saw these two en route to their tournament titles witnessed some superb tennis.

Woorons was an All-American at Clemson and played the WTA Tour before becoming a local teaching pro. Since this was her second straight city women's title as well as the fact she has attracted a legion of junior followers, Woorons is well known locally.

But Martel, a runner-up to junior star Ryan Young in last year's men's final, is virtually unknown in the area. That's too bad, because he brings back memories of a couple decades ago when Bobby Joyner and Mac White pounded balls into submission at the then Stadium Courts by Johnson Hagood Stadium. In those days, several hundred fans would turn out for the city men's final. Martel had to go three sets to win his last three matches in this year's tournament, the last two matches coming back from a set down to win.

He's no kid anymore - 27-years old. A Charleston Southern University graduate, he works for a North Charleston company. He tries a little of everything to preserve his endurance. In Friday night's final against Seabrook Island pro Tate Gallagher, Martel's menu included Gatorade drink, Gatorade bars, bananas, water, pickle juice and even Pedialyte, the electrolyte solution for infants and children that prevents dehydration. I can see it now, the new fad: pickle juice. Martel pours the juice off dill pickles into a bottle to carry to his matches. That doesn't sound very sweet, but it apparently works for the new city champion.

The membership at the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island continues to grow. The facility recently held a grand opening for its members, about 85 strong now.

Also, the Centre holds a monthly wine-tasting event the third Wednesday of each month, the next one July 18.

The facility will host monthly exhibitions among its tennis pros on the third Monday of each month at 6 p.m., the next one July 16. Both of these events are open to the public.

Family Circle Cup marketing director Jeff Cataffa is excited about Jennifer Capriati's French Open success.

"Two years in a row we've had the French Open winner (Mary Pierce won both the Family Circle and French in 2000),'' he said. "We must be a good luck charm.''

The city's Courting Kids tennis program is full at the Inner-City's Jack Adams Tennis Center site, but Courting Kids of John's Island at the Alan Fleming Tennis Center has room for more participants. Delores Jackson runs both programs. She can be reached at Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402). The John's Island program will be held the next four Saturdays from 10-11:30 a.m., while the Inner-City Courting Kids program is held Monday afternoons.

Do you have a bag of old tennis balls that just don't have the bounce in them they once had?

If so, city tennis coordinator Peggy Bohne would be glad to take them off your hands for use with the Courting Kids programs. Even if Bohne decides the balls are unsuitable for the city's youth programs, she still has another use for them.

"No matter how bad the balls are, we can use them. Every year schools contact us looking for old tennis balls,'' she said. And what use could schools possibly have for old tennis balls? They cut the balls in half and attach them to the bottom of desks to reduce noise when the kids move their desks. There also are a number of other uses for tennis balls. Don't throw those balls away. Stop by Charleston Tennis Center on Farmfield Avenue and turn them in.

Bohne also is asking USTA members to bring their outdated copies (no older than three months) of Tennis Magazine to Charleston Tennis Center. She will give the magazines to Courting Kids participants.

Ryan Young, off to a spectacular start by winning the boys' 18 division at Belton, had planned to participate in the 18-and-under Southern Championships this coming week in Little Rock, Ark., but he's been sidelined by tennis elbow.

Last year's city men's champ, Young didn't participate in this year's City Open in order to prepare for the Southerns. He's still eligible in 16-and-under. He now hopes to be ready for the national 16-and-under tournaments held later this summer. Young was the area's only top seed in singles at Belton, as well as the only local player to win a singles title in a somewhat disappointing performance by Charleston juniors at the state's premier junior event.

Emily Applegate, also out with an injury, was runner-up in girls' 16, and Jason Basile was runner-up in boys' 14.

Don't forget, the City Junior Tournament's entry deadline is July 3. The tournament will be held July 5-8 at Charleston Tennis Center.

(06/23/01)  Martel takes City Open
Mismatched shoes and all, Eric Martel proved in Friday night's City Open men's singles final that he can play the game of tennis. For the second straight night at Charleston Tennis Center, the former Charleston Southern standout rallied from a set down, this time for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Seabrook Island pro Tate Gallagher in a high-quality two-hour match pitting two big hitters.

Martel, playing with his backup all-white Wilson shoe on his right foot and front-line blue-trimmed Wilson on his left, harnessed his big game after dropping the last four games of the first set. He allowed Gallagher, a former Greensboro (N.C) College player, to rally from a 3-1 deficit to tie the second set at 3-3 before reeling off three impressive games to even the match at a set each. Gallagher broke the 6-2, 205-pound Martel's big service with a finessed backhand passing shot in the opening game of the third set and then held service for a 2-0 lead.

But once again, the top-seeded Martel put his huge game on cruise control and marched through the next five games for a 5-2 advantage.

"It took me awhile to get going,'' said Martel, a 27-year-old Vermont native who lost in last year's final to junior star Ryan Young. "He has a good serve and it seemed like he was getting a couple aces in every game in the first set. "It helped me when I got my serve in. I was able to set up the points well. The last two nights I have felt real good. That used to be my game, but I've had shoulder problems the last two years.''

Martel, an environmental manager for a North Charleston company, had to go three sets for the last three of his four victories in the tournament. He came up with well-hit passing shots when necessary as Gallagher appeared to tone down the pace of his shots after winning the first set.

The softer balls allowed Martel to nail huge forehands cross-court. Gallagher, who upset second-seeded Brian Burke in the semifinals, has been the head pro at Seabrook Island for nine months. A Lynchburg, Va., native, he moved to the area after serving on the staff at the Country Club of Richmond.

"I never felt I had the momentum in the match,'' said the 6-0, 198-pound Gallagher, a 26-year-old. "He hit with lots of pace, but I felt I didn't have the energy to hit with him.''

(06/22/01)  Woorons breezes by Hantske in city final

Sophie Woorons was in a different league from the other women in this year's City Open Tennis Tournament.

The 27-year-old former Clemson All-American played like the WTA Tour pro she once was. Woorons didn't give up a game in two matches en route to her second straight city women's title, defeating Wofford College sophomore Erin Hantske, 6-0, 6-0, in Thursday night's rain-delayed final at Charleston Tennis Center.

Hantske, one of Woorons' students in this summer's tennis camp at Long Point Plantation in Mount Pleasant, played well, but she was no match for her mentor.

"I just felt overpowered,'' Hantske said. "I played her in the semis last year, and I think I played better this year, but it was the same score as last year.''

Woorons, a 5-5 French woman, demonstrated a mastery of the total game of tennis, from drop shots, to deep spins and lobs, to volleys, to sizzling ground strokes from both sides.

"Erin played well. She has improved,'' Woorons said. "But I was playing well.  "It's real different coming to a tournament instead of teaching. But I've been in training with the players in the afternoon at Long Point.''

This was only the second tournament Woorons has played since last year's City Open. A semifinalist in NCAA singles in 1996 while ranked eighth in singles and doubles nationally, Woorons has been working on her Ph.D. in sports instructions from the University of Georgia.

"I'm only two months away (from completing the Ph.D.),'' said Woorons, who played on a pro team in Paris in 1997 with current women's pro star Amelie Mauresmo. The city men's final is at 6 p.m. today, pitting top-seeded Eric Martel and Seabrook Island pro Tate Gallagher. Martel rallied to defeat Air Force Academy freshman Chris Dong, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, while Gallagher sailed by second-seeded Brian Burke, 6-4, 6-2, in late night matches Thursday as the entire schedule was pushed back by afternoon rain.

Men's Open Singles (Semifinals):
Eric Martel (1) def. Chris Dong 3-6, 6-1, 6-2; Tate Gallagher def. Brian Burke (2) 6-4, 6-2.
Men's 35 Singles (Semifinals):
Edward Fenno (1) def. Robert Anderson 6-1, 6-4; Brian Widenhouse def. Troy Green 6-4, 6-2.
Men's 45 Singles (Semifinals):
Charles Gilman def. Robert Jerdan 6-4, 6-0; Buddy Hazel def. Raymond Lloyd 6-3, 6-3.
Men's 55 Singles (Semifinals):
Jerry Simmons def. David Jennings 6-2, 6-4; Jeffrey Lang def. Ron Charron 6-1, 6-3.
Men's 45 Doubles (Semifinals):
Alfred Hyman-Kenneth Funderburk def. Layne Howard-Bob Jerdan 1-6, 7-5, 6-2; Raymond Lloyd-Ramon Rodriguez 6-1, 7-6.
Men's 55 Doubles (Semifinals):
Thom Taylor-Robert Babb def. Jerry Simmons-Jeffrey Lang 4-6, 6-1, 6-3; Marion Sanders-Clarence Richardson def. Fred McMahon-Denny Patrick 6-1, 6-2.
Men's 65 Doubles (Final):
Bob Johnston-Jack Weir def. Walter Poore-Jim Poore 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Women's Open Singles (Final):
Sophie Woorons def. Erin Hantske 6-0, 6-0.
Women's 35 Singles (Final):
Susie Peiffer def. Deborah Trusty 6-0, 6-1.
Women's Open Doubles(Final):
Katie Sexton-Sophie Woorons def. Tiffany Mehr-Vernita Ackerman 6-2, 6-1.
Women's 35 Doubles (Round Robin): Virginia Ravenel-Claudia Budds def Felicia Sperr-Gina Jamison 6-1, 6-2.

Open Mixed Doubles (Semifinals):
Sophie Woorons-Steve Brooks def. Tiffany Mehr-David Rubin 6-0, 6-1; Anita Buggins-Brian Burke def. Katie Sexton-Johnson Bissell 6-0, 6-0.

(06/03/01)  Tennis scoring big these days
Earlier this spring, Jan-Michael Gambill got an unexpected call while in Houston for the clay-court tournament there. The call was from former President George Bush, who wanted to hit a few balls with the tournament's top seed.

Of course, Jan-Michael didn't let the fact he was featured across town on 130 billboards go to his 23-year-old head. Gambill and Bush joined TV's Walker, Texas Ranger star Chuck Norris for some doubles.

And I thought all Walker knew was karate. I knew there must have been a reason Walker was my favorite TV show. Now, I know. He's a tennis player, too.

And did you know that the world's biggest annual sports purse belongs to an American tennis tournament?

Yes, the U.S. Open's $15.8 million purse is the largest in all of sports.

The Family Circle Cup created quite a stir in television circles itself. It seems England couldn't get enough of Charleston and its newfound tennis stardom. The Family Circle Cup was the second-most watched sporting event of the year in the United Kingdom by Eurosport. Motorcross was the only event that had more average viewers than the Family Circle. Eurosport's coverage of the final was viewed by 1.1 million European homes. Closer to home on CBS-TV, the Jennifer Capriati-Martina Hingis final's rating was 1.64, an 84 percent rise from last year's 0.9 on Fox Sports. And you wonder why the U.S. Open women's final is moving to Saturday night primetime on CBS (8 p.m. on Sept. 8).

Remember young Cory Ann Avants from the qualifying rounds of the Family Circle Cup?

This 16-year-old from Gastonia, N.C., was runner-up recently in the International Tournament Citta Di Santa Croce in Santa Croce, Italy, losing in the final to top-seeded Gisela Dulko of Argentina, 6-2, 6-3. Avants had upset Dulko the week before in Prato, Italy. These tournaments are just a notch below the junior Grand Slams.

The annual City Open men's and women's tournaments are scheduled for June 18-22 at Charleston Tennis Center. The City Seniors will be held at the same time. The entry deadline for both events is June 16.

The City Juniors will be held July 5-8, with a July 3 entry deadline.

The USTA Junior Team Tennis League starts Friday. Rosters are due Monday, according to coordinator Peggy Bohne. The rosters for the local USTA mixed doubles league already are due, and the season will start in a couple of weeks.

Porter-Gaud No. 1 was the overall winner of the city's 62-team Elementary and Middle School League. Buist Academy No. 1 finished second.

Delores Jackson's national award-winning Inner-City program starts June 11 at Jack Adams Tennis Center. Jackson was featured in the recent USTA magazine for her achievements with the program. The Inner-City program also will hold a session on John's Island at the new Alan Fleming Tennis Courts on Saturdays, starting June 16.

The biggest junior event of the year starts next weekend. Entries already have closed for Belton Week, the annual Palmetto Championships.

(05/27/01)  U.S. Open big boost to New York economy


What's America's most valued sporting event?

No, not the Super Bowl. How about tennis' U.S. Open?

That's right. The U.S. Open has a bigger economic impact on New York City than the New York Yankees and Mets combined. The 2000 U.S. Open generated just under $420 million in direct revenue for the tri-state area, more than any other annual sports or entertainment event in any U.S. city. Only the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, which generated $2.5 billion in three weeks, had a larger impact on a U.S. geographic area than the 2000 U.S. Open.

All of this makes the city of New York very happy with its arrangement with the U.S. Tennis Association and the U.S. National Tennis Center, which just happens to be the largest public tennis facility in the world.

"New York City has one of the best municipal stadium deals in the country with the USTA and the presence of the U.S. Open in the City," said New York City comptroller Alan Hevesi.

According to the study by the Sports Management Research Institute, the number of full-time equivalent jobs created by the 2000 U.S. Open was 11,437.

In all, 606,017 fans attended the U.S. Open, 47 percent of them from out of town. The USTA already is the mother of all sports governing bodies in the U.S., having celebrated its 120th birthday May 21.

Lowcountry Tennis Association teams fared well last weekend during the USTA's Senior League State Championships. Eleven local teams participated in the tournament held at Charleston Tennis Center, The Citadel and Moultrie Playground. The 4.5 women's team from Maybank Tennis Center won the state championship for a third straight year. The team is captained by Jeanette Weiland and includes Sarah Hyatt, Ann Munday, Susie Peiffer, Carol Pierce, Barb Pinkerton, Carrie Randall and Kitsy Wise.

Peiffer and Wise will be especially busy when the Maybank team competes in the Sectional Championships in Louisville, Ky. They also will be playing in the Adult League sectional for a 4.5 team from Maybank. Two local teams lost in the finals, Snee Farm's 3.0 men and Charleston Tennis Center's 3.0 women. The 3.0 women qualified for the Southern Sectionals as a result of South Carolina being allotted two teams in the 3.0 division.

A team of all-stars from South Carolina will compete next weekend in Columbus, Ga., against the best teams from the other eight states in the Southern Section. Some of the top local players who will make the trip to Georgia are Diane Fishburne of Walterboro and Alejandro Cortes of Mount Pleasant, and Brenda Carter, Susie Peiffer and Jeanette Weiland from Charleston.

St. Andrews Playgrounds' tennis pro Bryan Burke is holding an Early State Pre-Belton Junior Tournament next weekend at the St. Andrews courts. The entry deadline is 6 p.m. Tuesday. The entry fee for the singles-only tournament is $25. This fee includes consolation competition. For more information, contact Burke at 763-4360.

(05/13/01)  Who is No. 1 on ATP?
The men's tennis tour has huge purses. But why?

The professional women's tour passed it long ago in recognition. They say the men's game is in jeopardy, because no one is ready to replace Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. The rest of the men's tour is made up mostly of no-names, players you wouldn't recognize if they passed you on the street or sat down next to you in a restaurant.

Yet, the ATP Tour has 19 tournaments with purses of $1 million or more, excluding the four Grand Slams (the women's WTA Tour has 10). But, quick, does anyone know the name of any player other than Andre or Pete ranked in the world's top 10?

First, you've got to decide if you're using the Champions Race or the year-to-year Entry System. I don't think anyone other than the ATP staff knows which of these ranking systems is the official No. 1.

I don't. And there rests much of the problem of the ATP Tour. The tour itself doesn't appear to know where it's headed. The players can only add up the million-dollar purses, and go to the bank. They don't have to worry about being mugged, because no one knows them.

Former Porter-Gaud standout Matt Hane sparkled in his first year at George Washington University, posting a 12-5 record in the No. 1 singles position and being named rookie of the year for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Yes, it's Belton time again. The deadline for entering the June 8-15 Palmetto Championships is May 31. But right now perhaps more important is booking a hotel reservation. Hotels in Anderson look forward to Belton week every June, filling their rooms well in advance of the tournament. As usual, the tournament will be headquartered in Belton for ages 14-18, with the 10s and 12s scheduled for Anderson locations. If you don't have an entry form, you can contact the tournament at 864-338-9087 or contact Rex Maynard in Belton.

The best 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 USTA Adult League teams are competing in the state championships this weekend in Mount Pleasant at Snee Farm and the Whipple Road complex. The finals are today at Snee Farm. The USTA 50-and-over Senior League hits town next weekend for its state championships at Charleston Tennis Center, The Citadel and Moultrie Playground.

City women's champion Sophie Woorons has left Mount Pleasant's I'On Club and is holding clinics at the Long Point tennis complex in Mount Pleasant. Starting on May 29, she will offer pre-Belton training from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for four days. She also will conduct summer sessions from 10-3 daily in June.

(05/09/01)  WTA considers another event for Daniel Island

Ever since the Family Circle Cup's construction of a state-of-the-art tennis stadium on Daniel Island, questions have flourished about what the facility would be used for other than the premier women's tennis tournament itself.

The WTA Tour apparently has been thinking about that, too. Josh Ripple, the worldwide tennis organization's chief operating officer, suggested Monday while discussing the WTA Tour's consolidation of its U.S. operations possibly in Charleston, or Tampa or St. Petersburg, Fla., that the WTA Tour could bring another event to Daniel Island.

"We want to work with the people at Family Circle Cup. There may be a scenario where we have a smaller event there (Tier II or Tier III), or a Legends of the Game or concerts," Ripple said from his Stamford, Conn., office.

The WTA Tour has nine Tier I events worldwide such as the Family Circle with a minimum purse of $1,185,000. The tour also has four other levels of tournaments: 17 Tier II $565,000 events, 17 Tier III for $170,000, 10 Tier IV for $140,000 and eight Tier V $110,000 events.

Foremost in its consideration of Charleston is the Family Circle Cup. Ripple indicated that the tour might benefit from learning more about the type of creative planning that led Family Circle to venture out into stadium building. He said such ventures might play a role in the WTA Tour's future.

"Family Circle is one of the pioneers of the tour," Ripple said. "It is very important to us. They have been a leader. They have shown it this year with the building of the stadium."

Lisa Thomas, the Family Circle Cup's vice president and the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island's general manager, sees a possible joint venture with the WTA Tour as a win-win situation for her facility, Daniel Island and Charleston.

"We are excited about the WTA considering relocation to Charleston," Thomas said. "We are trying to help put together a great package and it would be a great partnership for all involved." Thomas made the comments late Monday night from New York, the home base of Gruner + Jahr USA, the parent company of the Family Circle Cup.

Monday was an important day for the Daniel Island tennis facility. In addition to the WTA Tour's announcement, the USTA selected an indoor facility in Winston-Salem, N.C., over Daniel Island to serve as host for the Sept. 21-23 U.S.-India Davis Cup tie.

"(I'm) sorry about this one, but we will definitely get one! They really wanted an indoor facility," she said about the Davis Cup selection. "(We) can change surfaces but the `indoor' thing is just not possible for us."

(05/08/01)  Tennis tour looking at Charleston; Daniel Island

Having already attracted the country's top women's professional tennis event, Charleston is now a candidate for headquarters of the tennis tour itself.

Charleston, which in April hosted the Family Circle Cup for the first time at The Tennis Centre at Daniel Island, is one of three areas under consideration for the Women's Tennis Association Tour's U.S. home office. The WTA Tour is looking to consolidate its U.S. offices, currently divided between St. Petersburg, Fla., and Stamford, Conn.

One option is a single headquarters in St. Petersburg. Another is to move to Tampa. A third possibility is to move to Charleston, near The Tennis Centre.

The country's premier women's tennis tournament attracted more than 80,000 fans to Daniel Island after nearly three decades on Hilton Head Island. The WTA Tour is interested in an alignment with the Family Circle Cup, WTA Tour chief operating officer Josh Ripple said Monday.

In his two visits to Charleston to negotiate a possible move here, Ripple said, he has met with local city and state officials, including Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., Daniel Island Company president and CEO Frank Brumley and The Tennis Centre at Daniel Island's general manager, Lisa Thomas.

"Charleston is sort of a logical market, based on our relationship with the Family Circle Cup," Ripple said from his Stamford office. He said a decision is scheduled to be made June 30 at a WTA Tour board meeting. The deadline for bids is around May 18.

"(Charleston) is in the process of putting together a competitive package of tax and business incentives that we feel will be attractive to the WTA Tour," said Ernest Andrade, Charleston's assistant director for economic development. "We are honored that the WTA Tour is considering the city of Charleston for a possible site for its consolidated home," he said. "It's a win-win situation for everyone involved. It would be a plus for them to locate across from the finest women's tennis facility in the world."

Charleston's proposal could include different models, Ripple said. "We could go into existing space brought to the table by a private source or develop a piece of property from scratch or a hybrid - (take) an existing space and develop it. "There may not be a building ready now, but there may be one on Daniel Island or in Charleston that may be. We would need a 12,000-square-foot building that would accommodate about 40 people. ... "We saw some property almost right across the street (from the stadium), and some other property near there. There is plenty of green space there to work with."

The WTA Tour also announced Monday that current CEO Bart McGuire would resign his post at year's end and would not make the move from Stamford to the WTA's new home.

"I have worked with Bart in identifying the market and finding official home prospects for the WTA Tour," Ripple said.

Ripple envisions that the new WTA complex would include sports science, medical and training facilities.

"Our overall goal is to get ourselves into an environment where a player or a tournament could come and work in an environment that is tennis. If players want to train on a court, they can train. At the same time, we want a facility to bring corporate America into, and to be able to entertain in."

(05/08/01)  Tennis Centre loses out on Davis Cup
Court surface was the primary consideration, but September's unpredictable weather along the East Coast also played a major role in the U.S. Tennis Association's decision to hold its Sept. 21-23 Davis Cup matches against India at an indoor basketball arena in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Wake Forest's Joel Coliseum, which will be configured to 6,400 seats for the event, won out in competition against the new Family Circle Cup stadium on Daniel Island and sites in Savannah, Delray Beach, Fla., and Raleigh. U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe preferred the controlled conditions of the indoor facility - from weather to the surface - over the other locations for his young team that is likely to be led by Andy Roddick and Jan-Michael Gambill.

The Tennis Centre at Daniel Island is a clay-court facility, although the USTA considered changing the surface of its stadium court to asphalt for the qualifying round tie with India. Delray Beach is a hard-court complex, but like Charleston fell into the unpredictable weather category for September.

"We're very excited about bringing Davis Cup back to North Carolina," said McEnroe, who made his Davis Cup debut as a player against the Bahamas in Charlotte in 1993.

(05/06/01)  Local clay could be dangerous for U.S.
The Davis Cup may or may not come this way in 2001. U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe might be having a difficult time deciding if he wants to risk putting big-serving teen-ager Andy Roddick and Jan-Michael Gambill on a clay surface against India. Clay, although not as much so on American green clay as European red, is an equalizer.

The United States already has lost to Switzerland in the 2001 Davis Cup competition and must win the Sept. 21-23 qualifying round tie against India to avoid falling back into zonal competition for 2002.

Roddick, an 18-year-old who regularly powers 135 mph serves, won the clay-court tournament in Atlanta last weekend and continued his hot play in a clay-court event in Houston this past week. However, Gambill, the top seed in Houston, lost in the first round.

All of that means McEnroe probably isn't willing to take a chance on putting his top two singles hopes, now that Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi apparently aren't in the fold, on clay. India's doubles team of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi won their first doubles title of the year last Sunday in Atlanta, and are generally regarded as the world's best doubles team.

Thus, the Americans probably will need to win three of four singles matches in the best-of-five tie. That might be a tall order on clay, even if India isn't a tennis powerhouse.

That's where the possible resurfacing of the Family Circle Cup stadium court comes into play. Another choice for the USTA might be to save the $25,000 cost of resurfacing and to hold the tie with India at Delray Beach, Fla., where an 8,200-seat hard-court stadium already exists. That's also near Roddick's Boca Raton home and also where Gambill won the Citrix title back in March.

Those are the likely choices when the USTA announces its host site decision, now scheduled for Monday after receiving an extension last week from the International Tennis Federation. But I had a dream recently about a Davis Cup or a Fed Cup tie.

Since it's apparent that the preferred surface of most American players, including women's stars Lindsay Davenport and the Williams sisters, is hard courts, my dream would be to construct a smaller stadium, say 4,000 seats, around the existing four hard courts at the Tennis Centre.

In most instances, a stadium of that size would be sufficient for Davis Cup or Fed Cup ties. That would be similar in size to the temporary court constructed by Kiawah Island for the 1998 Fed Cup tie against the Netherlands.

That might make Daniel Island a primary consideration for any U.S. Davis Cup or Fed Cup competition. The USTA simply could select which surface it wanted its troops to play on. Against Australia or England, clay might be the best choice.

That's not all of the dream. Since Charleston is such a sophisticated city, we could go one step further and turn the tennis competition into one big gala weekend.

With international tennis being held on the smaller, outside stadium in the afternoon, which would leave the main stadium available for a concert on Saturday evening.

Why not? Family Circle's parent company is Gruner & Jahr, which is part of worldwide music and entertainment giant Bertelsmann AG.

What a weekend that would be! A true international event.

Kiawah Island Resort is ranked seventh on the world's top 100 tennis resorts list by Roger Cox of Tennis Resorts Online. Kiawah moved up from eighth place in last year's rankings, which included only U.S. resorts.

Cox, who formerly rated tennis resorts for Tennis Magazine, decided to go worldwide this year with his rankings.

Hilton Head Island's Palmetto Dunes in fourth place is the only other state resort ranked in the world's top 10.

Wild Dunes fell from fifth place a year ago to 16th and Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort dropped from 10th to 46th. Sea Pines Resort, the former site of the Family Circle Cup, is 11th after holding down second on last year's U.S. list.

No other S.C. resorts are ranked in the top 20.

The captain's meeting for the Lowcountry Tennis Association's Mixed Doubles League is scheduled for May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Dorchester Road Library.

(04/29/01)  State's best players have less willingness to qualify for ranking

There once was a time when young adult tennis players' primary goal was to acquire lofty state rankings. The state tournament was a big deal in a different era.

What has happened?

No, tennis hasn't lost its appeal to young adults. They simply don't want to take a week off work to play in out-of-town tournaments, then foot the bill for lodging and meals.

But that is only half the reason. While tournaments are no longer the thing to do, the USTA League is the fad of the moment. Young adults flock to the USTA League, its competitive nature and its camaraderie. Advancing to state and regional competition as a team is the common goal. That's also the case with seniors. They love the USTA League, whether playing in the adult or senior league, or both.

The difference with seniors, especially men, is they also flock to state and regional age-group tournaments. They not only have time to participate in out-of-town events, they do it so often and in such numbers that it's a social happening for them. They've found camaraderie.

The 2000 state adult rankings that were published last week in the South Carolina Tennis Yearbook doesn't have a women's open singles ranking and only two men are ranked in men's open singles. The reason for the lack of players ranked is because of their failure to participate in the required number of tournaments.

In fact, the only area women to gain state singles rankings are in 50-and-over where Susan Peiffer is No. 1 and Priscilla Croft is tied for second. Peiffer also is one of only two local women ranked in doubles, teaming with Kitsy Wise for the top spot in 50-and-over. Local men qualified for state rankings more often.

In men's 25 singles, Edward Fenno is second and Rich Shy is fourth. David Jett is fifth in men's 35 singles. Jerry Simmons is ninth in men's 55 singles, while Charles Burns is first in 60-and-over singles. Stuart Miller is tied for sixth in 65-and-over singles, and Stephen Berque is eighth. Ray Easterbrook, Jerry Hanchrow and Tom Kent are rated 3-5, respectively, in 70-and-over singles. John Baird is fifth in 75-and-over singles. In doubles, the only top-ranked local players are Easterbrook in 70-and-over and Baird in 75-and-over.

While the Skatell's Pro Classic at Creekside Tennis and Swim fell victim to the Family Circle Cup this year, the USTA's $25,000 Women's Challenger of Mount Pleasant is scheduled to return to the Whipple Road complex June 11-17.

The Charleston reception to the Women's Challenger should be much warmer this year, considering that several of its former participants now play in the big leagues of the Family Circle Cup. Marissa Irvin, Jennifer Hopkins and Jana Nejedly all won their first-round matches in the Family Cup. Irvin and Hopkins both played on stadium court, losing to Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce, and in the process showed vast promise.

Irvin is the brightest prospect, although she has dropped out of the top 100. Hopkins vaulted up to 61st in the current rankings. The Skatell's Classic, hopefully, will return next year at a different time on the USTA schedule.

This year's event was scheduled opposite the Family Circle, thus its cancellation.

The Tennis Centre at Daniel Island already has started junior programs for all levels. The current segment will run through May 25. The levels and times for group lessons are: elite, 4-6 p.m. five days a week; junior elite, 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; junior development, Monday and Wednesday, 6-7 p.m.; and tiny tots, Monday and Wednesday 2-3 p.m.

A pre-Belton program will start on May 29 and run through June 8 from 8-11 a.m. (Belton is scheduled for June 8-15). A summer program also will start on June 4 from 8-11 a.m. For more information, contact the Tennis Centre at 856-7900. The Centre's six-person tennis staff is led by operations manager Rob Eppelsheimer and director of tennis Fritz Nau. Mike Baker is the head tennis professional.

(04/24/01)  Davis Cup could mean change for Tennis Centre

just because the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island is clay surface doesn't rule out the possibility of the U.S. Tennis Association bringing its Sept. 21-23 Davis Cup tie with India to Daniel Island.

Clay is one option that USTA Davis Cup and Fed Cup director Jeff Ryan and U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe are considering. There's another real possibility: Turning the clay stadium court at the new Family Circle Cup facility into a hard court.

"You'd just put the asphalt on top of it (clay). You'd come in as if you were paving a road and then take it back out," Ryan said Monday from USTA headquarters in New York.

The 10,000-plus seat Daniel Island facility is in the running with four other sites for the U.S.-India matchup. The list has been whittled down from about 10 just a couple of week ago. Savannah, Ga., Raleigh, N.C., Winston-Salem, N.C., and Delray Beach, Fla., are the other sites still under consideration. The International Tennis Federation deadline for a decision on the venue is May 2, unless an extension is requested and granted.

"That's what is going on now, just those five," Ryan said. Ryan visited the Family Circle Cup last Wednesday at an invitation from Lisa Thomas, vice president of the Family Circle Cup and general manager of the Tennis Centre.

"It's a beautiful facility. Obviously they put a lot of time and effort into it," Ryan said. "It will make a great venue to host that sort of thing (Davis Cup or Fed Cup) obviously. We're looking at it for the next tie."

Ryan said Thomas was receptive to the possibility of installing a hard court in the stadium. "It would be expensive," he said. "To convert a court you are looking at at least $25,000."

The good news is that as the promoter, the USTA would foot the bill for the conversion. "It's do-able. We went to Stanford in 1999 for the Fed Cup final and changed the alignment of the (hard) court 45 degrees," Ryan said.

"It also was done in 1993 in Charlotte in a relegation round (at the Olde Providence Racquet Club against the Bahamas). They came in and put asphalt over clay. It can be done."

The reason for the conversion talk is that America's Davis Cup team for the matchup with India could be led by 18-year-old Andy Roddick, 20-year-old (today) Taylor Dent, young Mardy Fish and Jan-Michael Gambill. None are noted for their clay-court expertise. McEnroe has until 10 days before the tie to announce his team.

Of the other venue possibilities, Delray Beach has the only natural hard surface in a tennis stadium complex. The ATP Tour's Citrix Tennis Championships were held at the 8,200-seat Delray Beach facility March 5-11.

"We are talking to Savannah for indoors and outdoors," Ryan said. "Winston-Salem is an indoor venue at the Wake Forest basketball arena. Raleigh is clay courts at the Raleigh Racquet Club. "We go out and solicit sites. It's not like they have to put up anything, but there is the hotel component and the availability component. Most people think it only takes three days for a Davis Cup tie, but there's a 12-day period we would take over the facility."

The Charleston area is familiar with such competition. Ryan was the USTA's director for the Fed Cup that was held at Kiawah Island in April 1998 when Monica Seles led the Americans past the Netherlands. Kiawah Island tennis director Roy Barth is co-chairman of the U.S. Davis Cup committee.

(04/23/01)  Power ball: Capriati's groundstrokes punish Hingis

This was a Family Circle Cup title decided by power and Jennifer Capriati had more of it than Martina Hingis on Sunday. It was Capriati's deep, penetrating groundstrokes that made Hingis go for more than she needed in a love first set.

And, ultimately, it was the first set in Capriati's 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 victory that prevented Hingis from winning a third Family Circle title. For much of the match, Capriati drove her smaller opponent off the court with brilliant consistency off the ground, going side to side and wider each time in typical Andre Agassi style.

Hingis was forced to go for too much or too little. Her returns often sprayed off the court or fell too short, losing the point outright or allowing Capriati to take control of the point by dashing in to punish short balls. More evidence of Capriati's power came through in her service games. Hingis made excellent returns most of the time, but it was those others that contributed so much to Capriati's victory and Hingis' demise. Capriati's big serves often set her up for easy winners or forced Hingis into errant returns. Hingis got back into the match by changing the pace of her groundstrokes. This strategy worked as Capriati grew impatient and took a cue from Hingis by going for too much.

Finally on the verge of what might have been a crushing defeat for Capriati after what happened to her against Venus Williams in the Ericsson Open final, Capriati pulled a Pete Sampras stunt out of her bag on the changeover for the last game.

She decided to go for it, catching Hingis by surprise with three straight winners from inside the service line. The key to this match, other than Capriati's relentless groundstroke attack and last-game brilliance, might have been Capriati's deceptive quickness. She not only got to most of Hingis' drop shots, but came out ahead on many of them.

Hingis won't fall apart as a result of this loss. She's still as smart as ever. She just made the mistake of trying to outhit Capriati at times, especially in the first set. She learned from that mistake, but could not recover from it against a player who may be destined to challenge her for the No. 1 ranking.

Hingis will go on as the world's top-ranked player, never missing a beat. Paris and the French Open are right around the corner, and no one will count her out of that one.

As for Capriati, this was her biggest win on American soil. She proved all week that she is the real thing. Her ground strokes probably are the best and most consistent in women's tennis. Now with rising confidence, Capriati will be a factor to deal with in the next three Grand Slams, all on different surfaces.

Is anyone sure she wasn't working on her game all of those years away from the tour?

(04/22/01)  Final analysis: Short balls could go a long way toward determining champ

Pity the short balls.

Martina Hingis and Jennifer Capriati love them.

These two players are about as good as they come at attacking short balls. They punish them. But they're facing each other in today's Family Circle Cup singles championship, and neither is known for hitting short balls the way their semifinal opponents did. But in the final analysis, the short balls may still determine today's winner. Both players are so offensive-minded that their shots often force opponents into hitting shallow.

These two players have contrasting styles that produce the same results - success. Hingis is the counter-puncher, Capriati the knockout artist. Hingis has been the best player in the game for a total of 186 weeks. She does it with true determination and smarts the likes of which women's tennis has seldom seen. Her hands, feet and head are almost always on the same wavelength. Seldom is she caught out of position to hit a shot. She's a master of misdirection.

This is what the slower Capriati must guard against. Hingis hits the ball to the open court as well as any player. She lulls opponents into a false sense of security with baseline rallies, then nails a clean winner at the slightest opening. She has spunk and confidence, bringing with her the "I can'' mentality every time she steps on the court. She never outhits an opponent, just outplays them.

Capriati is definitely back. She only needs to take a few lessons from Andre Agassi on conditioning to possibly become the dominant player in the game, even better than the Williams sisters. Capriati will play the game the only way she knows how, drilling forehands and backhands to the utmost corners of the court. That's what she will have to do, drive Hingis off the court the way Steffi Graf did, keeping Hingis on the defensive. If Capriati can do that, she could repeat her Australian Open final victory over Hingis. If she doesn't, Hingis will move her around the court like a yo-yo. Remember, the surface is clay, taking just enough sting out of Capriati's shots to give Hingis a chance to work her magic.

The key will be whether Capriati's deep, penetrating balls handcuff Hingis the way they have everyone else this week. If they do, Capriati will get the short balls; if they don't, Hingis will get them. Thus, the winner may very well be decided by who gets the most short balls.

(04/22/01) Anastopoulos, Herbert families keep tennis light glowing locally
Remember the names Mary Herbert and Lester Herbert from years past?

And even Walter Herbert?

Mary and Lester were outstanding junior players in the 1970s and 80s. Both played college tennis. And dad Walter, of course, ran Herbert Tennis Center on James Island.

Well, they'll all still active in tennis. Walter, now in his 70s, continues to operate the tennis center on Sea Aire Drive that includes six tennis courts and three paddle-ball courts. He usually plays three times a week. Mary, now Mary Low, helps run the facility in her off hours away from her duties as a guidance counselor at Clark Academy. Mary was serving as a volunteer last weekend at the Family Circle Cup, getting help from 11-year-old daughter Lauren who, by the way, is a state-ranked tennis player herself. Mary also coaches the James Island High School boys' tennis team. The Trojans, led by sophomore Travis Collins, are headed for the Class AAAA state tournament for a second straight year. Collins has impressed Low, especially recently with an upset of Wando's Johnson Bissell.

Lester Herbert keeps his tennis ties. He's the head pro at the Greenville Country Club, the site of the State-Closed Junior Clay Court Championships. If you remember, Lester won a couple of high school state titles himself.

On the subject of tennis families, the Anastopoulos haven't lost their passion for the game.

Two of the three brothers depend on the game for their livelihoods. Arthur Anastopoulos is the tennis director in Macon, Ga., after serving many years as Charleston's head pro. Youngest brother Angelo, of course, coaches the College of Charleston's tennis teams, and is a busy person this weekend at the Southern Conference tennis championships being played at The Citadel and Charleston Tennis Center. Middle brother Akim is a local attorney and loves tennis to the extent that he acquired a courtside box for the Family Circle Cup.

All three of the brothers attended college on tennis scholarships, as did their sister, Patti. It was good to see all of the brothers together last Saturday at the Family Circle Cup.

But later in the weekend, it became a sad time for the brothers when their 82-year-old father, Angelo, passed away. The father was one of the key reasons for the tennis success of the family, even though he didn't play the game himself. He was always on the sidelines, offering encouragement and promoting his children.

It's families such as the Anastopoulos and Herberts that kept the tennis light glowing locally until the community gained a spot on the international tennis map with the magnificent Tennis Centre at Daniel Island and the Family Circle Cup.

Randy Chamberlain made a real impact on local tennis back in the late 1980s when Wild Dunes Racquet Club served as the host for the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships. Not only was he the Wild Dunes tennis director, but he also was active in USTA schools programs. These days, Chamberlain is regional tennis director of a group of 12 facilities and 117 indoor and outdoor courts in the Minneapolis area. If you're wondering where I ran into Chamberlain, it was at the Family Circle complex preview night a few days before the start of the tournament.

City men's champion Ryan Young, just a 16-and-under player, turned in a solid effort in the prestigious Easter Bowl Junior Championships held in Palm Springs, Calif., over the last week. Young, ranked 16th in the South in 16-and-under singles, won three of five matches in singles and advanced to the quarterfinals in doubles.

(04/20/01)  Likhovtseva quietly making some noise

Elena Likhovtseva is the typical European clay-court player.

Most American tennis fans, other than those who have seen the slender Russian perform in the Family Circle Cup, probably have never heard of her. She doesn't make a lot of noise, never climbing higher than 15th in the world rankings. But Family Circle veterans know this 25-year-old from Moscow is a player.

Ask Monica Seles, a round of 16 victim in 1999. Or Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, this year's second-round victim. Or the latest, ninth seed Paola Suarez, who was practically blown away in the late Thursday afternoon wind to the tune of 6-0, 7-5.

Likhovtseva moves around the court lightly, stroking balls almost without effort. Few points come easy against her. She's patient, with few flaws or weaknesses. Her game is so balanced that she has a difficult time pinpointing her strength. That's her strength - no weakness. She has some weapons, solid ground strokes, strong serve, excellent mobility, good court awareness. She's a smart, savvy player. She has to be, to out-fox Sanchez-Vicario.

Likhovtseva is now in the quarterfinals, her best tournament of the year. For the first time this year, she has won three matches in one tournament, yet she still has a losing record (8-9) for 2001 and is ranked 39th in the world.

"I didn't start the year great, and I had so many bad matches this year,'' she said. "I had five or six tournaments where I lost first round in a row. "It's really tough to get out of it because you don't have many matches. You forget how to win, how to play in the situations. I think the match that got me over was the (first-round) match when I won 7-6 in the third set against the qualifier (Marion Maruska).''

Is she finally ready to cast away her no-name clay-court image? Can she win the tournament?

"I won't go that far. I don't know. "You always have to think about it one match at a time.''

(04/19/01)  Keep a close eye on Irvin
She's the All-American girl - blonde, braided ponytails and all.

Keep an eye on Marissa Irvin. She brings back memories of the queen of the Family Circle Cup, Chris Evert.

This 20-year-old Californian showed a Stadium Court crowd just how good she is capable of being Wednesday. Irvin had seventh-seeded Amelie Mauresmo on the ropes, ready to pull off the biggest upset of her one-year pro career. She was thoroughly outplaying the red-hot Mauresmo.

Then a bell went off in her head, turning near-flawless ground strokes into miss-hits and once-perfect serves and aces into double faults. Against a lesser player, Irvin might have gotten away with her lapse in concentration, but not against a big-time clay-court player like Mauresmo.

In what seemed like only minutes from Irvin holding a 2-1, 15-0 lead in the third set, Mauresmo walked off with her 15th straight victory, this one 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

"I didn't play a good service game,'' Irvin said.

She double-faulted twice in the game and miss-hit an easy forehand put-away at the net. But those are the kind of things that separate Irvin from the player she is capable of becoming.

The reason Irvin resembles eight-time Family Circle winner Evert is because she has no real weakness from the baseline. Irvin, at 5-7, 130 pounds, is actually a little stronger and more versatile than Evert. Irvin's ground strokes are machine-gun like and more powerful, especially the solid two-handed backhand. Her serve also is in a faster zone, up to 105 mph against Mauresmo.

So what's the difference? Evert was lighter and quicker on her feet, possessing the extra instinct that transforms the Everts and Navratilovas into greats of the game.

But Irvin certainly looks like a big-timer. She was runner-up in the last two NCAA championships and has been ranked as high as 66th in the world. Wrist and ankle injuries last fall helped send her world ranking to the current 124th position. She has come quite a ways since facing fellow second-round loser Jennifer Hopkins in the semifinals of the Mount Pleasant USTA Challenger two years ago.

"My serve has improved. My fitness has improved. My ground strokes have improved. My backhand has improved.'' She lost, but it wasn't a bad performance for a player who was playing in only her second clay-court tournament since the Junior French Open three years ago.'' She also played last week at Amelia Island, Fla., qualifying but losing in the first round.

They're all gone ... players who played in past Mount Pleasant pro tournaments, that is. Irvin made it tight, but Hopkins went down meekly to defending champion Mary Pierce, 6-2, 6-2, on Stadium Court. Jana Nejedly, a quarterfinalist in last year's Family Circle, was beaten, 6-1, 6-3, by 15th seed Henrieta Nagyova.

Dennis Van der Meer, of the Dennis Van der Meer Academy fame on Hilton Head Island, always had a box at Sea Pines Racquet Club, a true patriot of the Family Circle. But he loves the new home of the tournament.

"It looked so unready a month ago when I came here,'' Van der Meer said. "But I was so impressed when I came yesterday. They must have worked night and day to make this tournament so good. Lisa Thomas (tournament director) has done a great job. "They can get all kinds of other events here, Davis Cups and Fed Cups. This is semi-clay as far as European tournaments are concerned. This is a fast clay court.''

Davis Cup officials from the U.S. Tennis Association visited The Tennis Centre at Daniel Island Wednesday and met with Family Circle officials about the possibility of holding the Americans' Sept. 21-23 Davis Cup tie with India at the brand-new 10,000-seat stadium. A decision on the venue isn't expected to be made until early May.

(04/18/01)  Frazier stays busy; Thursday's a big day
Amy Frazier comes to town early, and she's put right to work. No one, other than maybe Family Circle Cup officials and a couple of qualifiers, has been busier than Frazier since Saturday.

First, they put the agreeable 28-year-old from Rochester Hills, Mich., on the draw team. She teamed with Iva Majoli to draw the players for the main draw.

Then, they put her on the court Monday. She won with little trouble, giving up five games to qualifier Jill Craybas. They scheduled her again Tuesday. This time, Frazier breezed past Andrea Glass of Germany, 6-2, 6-2.

If that wasn't enough, she played a doubles match in the frozen Tuesday nightcap.

Tournament officials were almost as demanding of 14th-seeded Gala Leon Garcia of Spain. Only, she didn't help with the draw.

Leon Garcia followed up a first-round victory on Monday with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Adriana Serra-Zanetti of Italy Tuesday in the second round. Leon Garcia then played doubles, but lost.

What does all of this mean? Frazier and Leon Garcia are the only players who have posted two main-draw singles victories in this year's Family Circle Cup. Now, it's on to the real tournament: the round of 16.


Yes, that's Thursday.

The round of 16 is when the action really starts in most tournaments. These first two rounds are seeing some good matches, but there's been only one upset so far. And few people were surprised by that, former French Open champion Majoli's opening-day victory over young Jelena Dokic, the 13th seed.

But anything can happen Thursday. By then, the only players left will be top 10 players or clay-court strokers, and maybe some of both if former champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario survives tonight's battle with Elena Likhovtseva.

Likhovtseva, a 25-year-old Russian ranked 39th in the world, is quite a clay-court player. She put Monica Seles away in the round of 16 at Hilton Head Island in 1999. Seles returned the favor in last year's round of 16, but had to go to a third-set tiebreaker.


If you like to watch players you've seen play locally before, today should be a good day. Former Mount Pleasant USTA Challenger Tournament veterans Jennifer Hopkins, Marissa Irvin and Jana Nejedly have advanced to the second round.

Former two-time NCAA runner-up Irvin, 20, goes against Amelie Mauresmo, the hottest player on the WTA Tour, in the 10 a.m. opener on Stadium Court. Mauresmo may be the player to beat, with her heavy strokes, slice backhand, drop shots and power.

But Irvin is an up-and-coming player, with powerful strokes and the kind of consistency from both sides that could give anyone trouble, especially on clay.

Hopkins draws defending champion Mary Pierce. This should be a battle of hard hitters. Hopkins, 20, of Leawood, Kan., probably moves a little better than Pierce.

If Hopkins can keep her home runs on the court, it could be interesting.

(04/16/01)  Hingis hovering at top
Martina Hingis isn't one of the WTA Tour's largest or most physical players. She's just one of its most durable performers.

While Monica Seles, Anna Kournikova, Mary Pierce and Conchita Martinez have been sidelined by injuries most of March and part of April, Hingis has been as busy as ever.

The 5-7, 130-pound Hingis resembles a cat on a tennis court. She's light in her ballet-like moves, and her strokes are among the most flexible on the tour. Her natural instincts often casually put her in positions that other players can't reach even with all-out movement. Put all of those things together, and you have one of the smoothest, smartest players to play the women's game. It just happens that she's playing in an era of large, physical players such as the Williams sisters, Lindsay Davenport, Seles and Pierce.

It's just happened in recent years - Hingis hasn't won a Grand Slam in more than two years - that if Hingis guns down one of the giants, there's usually another one waiting in the wings. Not that Hingis has suffered, except recently in the Grand Slams where she won all five of her major victories before her 19th birthday. She's the No. 1 player in the world, and has held the top spot more weeks than any current player - 185 compared to 178 for Seles. Hingis has played in 25 straight Grand Slam tournaments, never missing a Grand Slam since her first appearance in 1995 as a 14-year-old. She hasn't failed to play both singles and doubles in a WTA Tour Championships since she first qualified in 1996.

Now she's in another Family Circle Cup, after losing in the quarterfinals last week at Amelia Island, Fla., on the heels of the hard-court Tier I Ericsson Open and Tennis Master Series event at Indian Wells, Calif.

She's won the Family Circle twice, in 1997 and 1999. She has a first-round bye in the $1.2 million tournament that begins today. How does Hingis stay so fit, always ready to tackle the giants?

"Basically it was always my mom protecting me from injuries because she's a great coach," Hingis said last week during a conference call from Amelia Island. "She knew basically what was best for me. So I think the way I practice and the way I do things on and off the court are very important. It wasn't like I'm not as strong and big as the girls and maybe not as muscular, so I have nothing to get hurt. "But no, I think it's just the way I practice and the way I am. You know, see the game and the way I play. I think it's a lot of technique, too. "My game is more controlled, more smooth," Hingis has said.

"I try to make it as simple as possible, take as few steps as possible to get there. It looks too easy to many people. But maybe that's why I am winning - because I don't take one step too many."

The one Grand Slam title missing from Hingis' resume, of course, is the red clay-court French Open. Amelia Island and the Family Circle are both held on American green clay, but Hingis considers the two tournaments an important part of getting ready for the French Open.

"This is like a little test for me to play here, and since I played in Key Biscayne (the Ericsson) and now here in Amelia and in Charleston, I will just try to play well," the Swiss star said. "It's still not the red clay. It's still not the red stuff as Americans call it, but I'll go over to Europe, and it's good for my confidence. "I grew up playing on clay, so that shouldn't be the problem. I know I haven't won a Grand Slam on clay at the French Open, but I'll try to do the best and give myself a chance. "One time I was three points away (the 1999 final in which she lost to Steffi Graf), so I don't think that's like a problem, but I think because it's very physical to play on clay. The rallies are longer and just everything is more tiring to be on the court. So I was trying now in the last days and also during the tournaments to work on my strength and my physical abilities and just try to work hard and just play well on clay. You have to definitely have a lot of patience to play on clay."

Hingis apparently has read the press clippings on the Family Circle field that includes six of the top 12 players in the world.

"The tournament has always had a good field," she said. "It's a very exciting draw, and I'm looking forward to playing there and definitely because I have had success there in the past. You always like to go back to someplace you have done well before. "And also I'm looking forward to the new stadium in Charleston. I heard a lot of great things about it, so it's definitely going to be a great event. I think it's always nice to have a new stadium."

Women's tennis has never been better. Four different current players have been ranked No. 1 in the world - Hingis, Davenport, Seles and Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario. Winning a tournament as prestigious as the Family Circle is difficult, even for a Martina Hingis or a Monica Seles.

"It's very competitive. You know, you have the Williams sisters. You have Lindsay, you have Anna, you have Monica and Mary, and it's just very colorful right now at the moment. And basically when you see the draws on the tournaments, it's everyone playing. You can't basically pick a favorite in the beginning of the tournament. It might just turn out totally opposite. I think that's why it captures everyone's attention. "It's just gotten so much better. It grows faster and faster. It becomes more show business also, and there's more on TV, more in the newspaper, and I think it's great. The girls work harder and they look better. So I think for me and for the rest of us, it's great to be playing out there and seeing the appreciation of the crowd."

Hingis hasn't been unbeatable this year, but she thinks she has had a good year.

"I think I had a great beginning, playing at the Hopman Cup in Australia and then in Sydney and Melbourne. They were good tournaments. And kind of finishing off that trip in Tokyo by reaching the final," she said. "I was very pleased with that, and playing in the Middle East for the first time it was a great experience. I won both events there in Doha and Dubai. I was treated like a princess at those tournaments because they never had seen women's tennis there before and it was great."

Hingis has added another item to her long list of accomplishments. She has been named winner of this year's Family Circle/Hormel Foods Player Who Makes A Difference Award. The award, created by Family Circle Magazine and Hormel Foods, honors a woman professional tennis player who makes the most outstanding contributions of both time and energy to worthy causes.

(04/15/01) Gastonia teen Avants one win away from main draw
Cory Ann Avants is back in Charleston.

She's a pro now, all of 16 years old. She's playing for money, her dream since she first hit a tennis ball over the net at nine months old, delighting her two tennis pro parents. She's really growing up. Even the braces are scheduled to come off in about a week.

It's kind of unique to look out on the tennis court of a $1.2 million tournament and see a person who played in the same tournament, even same age group, as your daughter. Many Charleston tennis parents can make that claim, because Avants played in the 1996 Kiawah Island Junior Clay Court Championships as well as the Charleston Tennis Center's Thanksgiving Tournament.

Of course, she was only 11, but won the girls' 14 title.

This two-handed hitting Monica Seles style player is one win away from qualifying for the main draw of the Family Circle Cup. She breezed to a 6-0, 6-4 upset of 16th-seeded Jane Chi Saturday in qualifying.

Avants turned pro at the beginning of this month, so she gets to keep the $1,575 she won by advancing to the round of 16 of qualifying. That's unlike the $10,000 professional satellite tournament she won last year in Raleigh when she was still classified as an amateur. If Avants beats eighth-seeded Marion Maruska of Austria in today's second match on the grandstand court, she will be guaranteed a payday of $3,050.

That sounds swell to Hank and Sharon Avants, who have been footing the bill all of these years for Cory Ann's extensive travels, the kind that took her to the No. 1 ranking in the South in 18-and-under in 1999 as a 14-year-old and No. 2 in the nation in girls' 18 at age 15.

Along for the ride Saturday was Michael Wright, a senior vice president with the International Management Group. Avants already has signed on with the powerful player management and marketing group.

Back home in Gastonia, N.C., Cory Ann is home-schooled by her mother for 6-8 hours a day (she just finished her sophomore year with a 98.6 average). She then hits her backyard, the eight-court tennis complex known as the Racquet Club of the Carolinas, for lessons from mom and dad, maybe even from grandmother Shirley, also a teaching pro. Cory Ann gets plenty of competition because the tennis complex also is an academy and attracts players from all over the South for boarding and training.

She said she hasn't missed the social life of school. And mom said boys are plentiful.

"I don't miss what my friends go through," Cory Ann said. "The kids are not into the same things I'm into."

The big thing right now, other than today's match and hopefully the main draw, is getting back home to Gastonia to get the braces off the day after the Family Circle ends. Eighteen months have seemed like an eternity.

"My orthodontist guaranteed me I'd start winning when I get my braces off," she said.

Of course, getting her driver's license was huge.

"I got my license a few days after my 16th birthday (Jan. 22)," she beamed.

On April 24, the day after the braces come off, Cory Ann and her mother will leave for Europe and three International Tennis Federation tournaments.

"Tennis is a huge part of my life," Cory Ann said. "I wouldn't know what to do without it. I'd be lost. I'm just happy to be playing."

She has goals.

"Short term I want to be in the top 50 in the world this year, long term the top 10 or top five. But I definitely want to be No. 1. "My goal is to be No. 1, then retire a few years and come back and play left-handed."

That might sound unreal, but remember this teen-ager can hit or serve from either the left or right side, although she's a natural right-hander.

"My forehand definitely used to be my weapon, but because everyone picked on my backhand it's now caught up to my forehand. I think I'm pretty solid off both sides," Avants said.

She must be. In becoming the youngest player to win a WTA title in 2000, Avants beat the No. 1 players from both Duke and the University of Georgia.

(04/08/01)  Long wait almost over for Charleston's Family Circle Cup
The Family Circle Cup arrived on Daniel Island Thursday night. The sod was laid. The outside courts were fenced and named after former champions. The lights were shining on the $10 million new home of one of women's tennis' premiere events.

Someone asked the question, "Is this better than at Hilton Head Island (the former site of the Family Circle Cup)?"

The answer is simple: Many times better.

The immenseness of what the Family Circle Cup will mean to Charleston didn't come into full focus until I was driving home from a gala evening of touring the facility along with several thousand other tennis and non-tennis fans, and listening to Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. proclaim that Charleston would become one of the world's hotbeds for junior tennis.

Then I saw the lighted complex by night from above on the Mark Clark Expressway. The sight made me feel as if I were somewhere else. The big time had hit Charleston. As Mayor Riley said, the complex was expensive, but look at it now. It's truly worthy of Charleston.

You'll have to tour the facility during the April 14-22 Family Circle Cup to gain a full appreciation of its class. I predict now that tennis will become more than just a sport for tennis fans in Charleston. It will become part of the mainstream of Charleston social life, for tennis and non-tennis fans alike.

The Family Circle Cup will become the agent of change.

And change?

The Family Circle Cup complex has changed dramatically over the last few weeks. A few cosmetic items here and there, such as grass, fences, brick walks and iron gates, really made a difference.

You may have read here last week that participation in the local USTA League had slipped a little since last year. That's not true.

Lowcountry Tennis Association president Bob Peiffer has reworked his numbers and the local leagues actually have grown by 2.7 percent. According to Peiffer, the Adult League has 1,849 participants and the Senior League has 530 for a total of 2,379 (up from last year's total of 2,315).

"For the last six or seven years, we have averaged almost a double-digit growth rate," Peiffer said. "Thus, a rate under 3 percent is disappointing. It will be interesting to see if the Daniel Island facility encourages more growth next year and gets us back to a double-digit rate. "I would have to say, however, that the real impetus to growth would be more courts with no or minimal court fees. As it is now, tennis is still a relatively expensive game for the people who don't play a lot for their teams. We need more courts where people can play without making such a dent in the pocketbook if we are going to appeal to a broader spectrum of people."

Along those lines, some of the best courts in the area are the free public courts at Moultrie Playground and Jack Adams Tennis Center. Both are six-court facilities in downtown Charleston, and both have been renovated, resurfaced or rebuilt recently.

The entry deadline for the April 20-22 Snee Farm Junior Tennis Championships is 8 p.m. on April 17. The entry fees are $28 for one event or $36 for singles and doubles. Tournament information is available by contacting Snee Farm (884-3252).

Everyone wants Anna Kournikova on their team. The WTA, the Family Circle . . . you name it. Even World Team Tennis. The St. Louis Aces selected Kournikova as the first pick Wednesday in the World Team Tennis draft for the season that runs July 9-29.

(04/01/01)  USTA's five-year plan to increase participation on target
Even as the economy fizzles, tennis sizzles. And nowhere is tennis hotter than in Charleston, which is gearing up for the debut of the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island in just a few weeks.

Need proof that tennis is growing in popularity?

Consider this: There's talk that a group of West Coast investors may launch a 24-hour all-tennis cable channel next year.

Teen-aged superstar Anna Kournikova is arguably the world's most recognized athlete. She attracted more internet searches on Lycos in a one-year period of 1999-2000 than Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan combined.

Another example of this excitement is the USTA's Tennis Plan for Growth. The five-year initiative to increase tennis participation in the United States is expected to reach its goal of 800,000 new players in just four years. Last year alone, 308,320 new players were attracted to the game for a total of 775,000 in three years.

Tickets are still available for all sessions of the April 14-22 Family Circle Cup. Tournament tickets are on sale by contacting the new Family Circle Cup offices at 416 King Street in downtown Charleston. More information on tickets can be obtained by calling 1-800-677-2293 or (843) 534-2400.

Team Southern won its fourth straight title at the 2001 USTA National Intersectional Team Doubles Championships last weekend at Wild Dunes Racquet Club. The Southern group, headed by several local players, defeated Florida by 57 points. Local players participating included Roy Barth, Benny Varn, Tom Kent of Seabrook Island, Diane Fishburne of Walterboro and Jeanette Weiland.

Fishburne teamed with Bob Allsbrook of Spartanburg to take first place in mixed 40. Barth and Charlie Owens of Wilmington, N.C., tied for first in men's 50. Varn and Shirley Taylor of Garden City placed second in mixed 60, while Weiland and Kay Wakley of Greensboro, N.C., took second in women's 70.

The USTA adult and senior leagues are thriving locally with 2,271 players (slightly down from last year) participating this spring. These players and others will have a new opportunity for participation in late summer as the Lowcountry Tennis Association starts a Combo League.

The league will kick off in mid-August and last for about six weeks, according to LCTA president Bob Peiffer.

"We will do it for adult men, adult women, senior men and senior women," Peiffer said. "The Combo format is for three doubles matches only (no singles), and each doubles team cannot have a combined NTRP rating higher than the level at which you are playing. I expect we will offer levels at 6.5, 7.5, 8.5, and 9.5."
A captains' meeting will be held in early July. Local Combo League winners will advance to the state championships, which will be held at Snee Farm Country Club.

With the addition of the Combo League, local tennis players can play league tennis virtually year-around, starting out with the USTA League in the spring, the mixed doubles league in early summer, the Combo League in late summer, and the fall USTA League. If that's not enough, some seniors play in both the senior and adult leagues.

(03/25/01)  Scarpa makes huge impact on college tennis program
Paul Scarpa is one of the legends of South Carolina tennis. He's just as fired up about the game as he was more than a thousand Furman University matches ago. He didn't invent the college game, just its dual match scoring system.

Last month, his Furman men's team completed the ACC Cycle when it scored a road victory over the University of North Carolina. The Tar Heels were ranked 26th in the nation at the time and had been the only Atlantic Coast Conference team Furman hadn't beaten during Scarpa's 35 years as its coach. There could have been a wild celebration after a victory of such magnitude. But Scarpa's men had too much class to gloat about the upset in front of their victims.

"They ran down the steps to celebrate with Lee (Nickell, Furman's No. 1 player whose success in the third set of the final match of the day broke a 3-3 deadlock)," Scarpa told The Greenville News. "They were jubilant. Everybody wanted to jump out of the complex. "But then the players said, `Take it easy,' and we waited until we got outside in the van."

Of course, Scarpa is a Charleston boy. He played for old Charleston High School in the Benny Varn, Beansey Frampton, Billy Silcox era. He hit with Bob Dickson on the College of Charleston's then two clay courts to groove his game for college, first one year at the College of Charleston and the last three years at Florida State where he was the No. 1 player.

He gives Dickson, a local tennis legend who still hits almost daily on the city's downtown courts, much of the credit for his early tennis success.

"Bob would hit with the first person that met him at the College of Charleston courts, and I tried to always be that first person," Scarpa said Friday from his Furman office.

It's at Furman where this 5-9, 61-year-old ball of tennis fire named Scarpa has made his mark on the game. His proudest moment came in 1993 when the NCAA started using the Scarpa Scoring System for all dual match and championship play.

Under this scoring system, the three doubles matches are played first, using eight-game pro sets. The team that wins two or more doubles matches is awarded the one doubles point for the team match that also includes six singles matches.

Doubles have become a focal point, not just for the players and coaches but also for the fans. There's nothing in tennis more exciting than a good doubles match, but even on the pro tour doubles attract small crowds. That's because doubles usually are just an afterthought once the singles schedule ends.

Scarpa's scoring system changed that at the collegiate level.

"After doubles, half the crowd leaves," Scarpa said Friday.

Scarpa has posted nearly 700 college victories and ranks fourth among the nation's active tennis coaches in victories. His teams have posted 32 straight winning seasons. He was inducted into the S.C. Tennis Hall of Fame in 1986.

The busiest weekend of the local tennis year will come during the championship weekend of the April 14-22 Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.

Just a few miles away, the Snee Farm Country Club will be holding its 11th annual Snee Farm Junior Tournament. Downtown, The Citadel will serve as the host that weekend for the annual Southern Conference men's and women's tournaments.

Three weeks! That's right. The Family Circle Cup is right around the corner. With a world-class field that includes eight of the top 10 players in the world, this should be an unmatched week of tennis thrills for local fans. As of Friday, tickets remained available for all sessions. Tournament tickets are on sale by contacting the new Family Circle Cup offices at 416 King Street in downtown Charleston. For more information, call (800) 677-2293 or (843) 534-2400.

(03/18/01)  Adamses important to local tennis growth

I hadn't been exposed to tennis growing up in the small town of Bamberg. I could only wonder about the rules of the game. Apparently only two people in town knew them. The football coach, Dick Weldon who had attended Presbyterian College where they obviously knew a little about tennis, and another man were the only people I had seen on the town's lone tennis court.

Tennis remained a foreign sport to me until the 1970s when I moved to Charleston. My wife and I decided to try out the game. We went to the only public courts we knew, the old Stadium Courts (now Jack Adams Tennis Center) that backed up to Johnson Hagood Stadium.

The first visit was a short one. It didn't take long before we had hit all three of our balls over the fence into the stadium. We learned quickly that tennis wasn't quite as inexpensive as we thought. As I look back, what a giant break that was: that tennis was available on the city's public courts. It is from that first exposure to the game that a love for tennis developed.

My wife thinks I live for tennis, but that's not true. I could do without tennis . . . at least, for a few weeks. I've played doubles with Billie Jean King, Virginia Wade and Chris Evert, and taken instructions from Roscoe Tanner, all of whom have either won or been in a Wimbledon final. And now there are tennis courts in almost every direction.

One of the world's premiere tournaments is even headed our way. The Family Circle Cup will finally put Charleston on the world's tennis map. And who is most responsible for all of this? Probably Jack and Pat Adams, both of whom died last year in an automobile accident.

Newcomers to the local game might not be familiar with Jack, the former city recreation director who pushed tennis construction in the city, or his wife Pat who gave free tennis lessons at the Stadium Courts.
As current city tennis coordinator Peggy Bohne said recently, "The Adamses had more influence on tennis in Charleston than anyone. They pushed tennis before it was popular. They got courts built and all of us benefitted from it."

One of those early players from the Stadium Courts, Benny Varn, is promoting Jack and Pat Adams for admission into the S.C. Tennis Hall of Fame. Varn, a former city champ and Citadel graduate who now splits his time between Inman and Charleston, made a commitment last year after Jack's and Pat's deaths to nominate them for the shrine. Varn knew Jack Adams well, having ran track for him at Charleston High School. Jack had been an All-America football player for Presbyterian College and had coached former South Carolina football great and athletic director King Dixon at Laurens High School.

"He (Jack) was a player's coach - teaching technique and never raising his voice," Varn stated in an email. "He led and motivated by example. He was a great role model for young people. After coaching he became recreation director for the city of Charleston. He and Pat were instrumental in getting many of Charleston's best players into tennis - (former South Carolina All-American) Arthur Anastopoulo among them.

"It's appropriate that the stadium courts are named after Jack - he, through his position of recreation director, did much to help the `playground' kids get started and pursue tennis. Pat would take juniors to tournaments - raising money for those who couldn't afford it and many times at her own expense. "Pat was from Canada and was quite the tennis player. She was the Canadian champion and played tennis at PC (Presbyterian College). Pat and Jack are the parents of five girls, three of whom were outstanding tennis players and went to college on tennis scholarships."

The Family Circle Cup countdown is now under four weeks. This past week's rain didn't help matters as the crew rushes to prepare the site. As of Thursday, tickets remained available for all sessions, even the semifinals and finals.

(03/11/01)  With a month to go, Tennis Centre still under construction

The Tennis Centre at Daniel Island is a city of construction.

Progress on the new home of the Family Circle Cup is rapid, changing from day to day as hundreds of workers strive to pull all of the pieces together over the next 33 days by working during practically every daylight hour.

Thirty-three days from today is when the inaugural Daniel Island Family Circle starts its April 14-22 run.

Right now, there is a great deal of work to be done, especially on the grounds and outside courts. The stadium is well on its way to completion. This will be a beauty of a stadium, a state-of-the-art model for all the world to copy. There won't be a bad seat in the house. The lower-stadium permanent theater-type seats are in and ready to be used. The stadium's clay court is ready for play.

Tennis director Fritz Nau, newly arrived from Bollietieri's, was hitting on the stadium court with local junior standout Samantha Eppelsheimer Wednesday while members of the media and Women's Tennis Association commissioner Bart McGuire got their first up-close looks at the site.

Samantha, the state's second-ranked 12-year-old last year, has an inside track on the instructions of Nau. Her father, former Wild Dunes tennis director Rob Eppelsheimer, is the tennis operations manager for the Tennis Centre. The grounds and outside courts are busy areas. Some of the grounds work, sodding and landscaping probably won't come together until the last minute.

Family Circle tournament director Lisa Thomas hasn't given up on hope that one or both of the Williams sisters will show up for the event. Venus and Serena aren't on the tournament's entry list, but they could enter at almost any time because the Family Circle has several wild cards available. If either wanted to play, the Family Circle certainly would give them the opportunity.

Tournament tickets are on sale by contacting the new Family Circle Cup offices at 416 King Street in downtown Charleston. More information on tickets can be obtained by calling 1-800-677-2293 or (843) 534-2400.

Family Circle volunteer coordinator Neves Richards says she is still in need of additional volunteers to work the tournament, especially for ushers and the fan zone/sponsor booth area. More volunteers than helped with last year's event at Hilton Head Island already are committed, but Richards says the new stadium will require additional ushers. To volunteer, contact Richards at (843) 556-2092 or by email at mrichardsgjusa.com.

Snee Farm Country Club usually holds the area's top spring tournament for juniors. But the 11th annual Snee Farm tournament falls on the same weekend the Family Circle concludes. Snee Farm tennis director Dewey Caulder said moving the tournament to another date could create other conflicts with the state's junior tournament schedule as well as area and Snee Farm Country Club activities.

He plans to leave the dates the same and try to work around the Family Circle, giving as much flexibility as possible in scheduling matches. The conflict is an unfortunate one for local tennis fans and junior players, many of whom will be watching the Family Circle or serving in volunteer capacities with the Family Circle. The conflict is sure to hurt Snee Farm participation, and in many instances remove one of the few championship-level local tournament opportunities for juniors. Caulder plans to evaluate the results of this year's tournament and then decide on a date for future years.

(03/04/01)  Benefits of Family Circle Cup already starting to appear
Hilton Head Island has gained recognition over the years as a hot bed for junior tennis. It helps to have pros such as Stan Smith and Dennis Van der Meer in the community. And then there was the Family Circle Cup, always providing the incentive juniors needed to strive for world-class level.

Smith and Van der Meer continue as big names not just on Hilton Head Island, but all across tennis. Their efforts, and others', will keep tennis there at a high level. But the Family Circle Cup has moved.

The Charleston area and its juniors are now ready to reap the benefits of seeing the best players in the women's game come to Daniel Island every year. The Family Circle will make its Daniel Island debut April 14-22 with a field that includes eight of the top 10 players in the world. The benefits of having the Family Circle Cup in our backyard already are starting to appear.

Noted pro Fritz Nau from the famed Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy arrived Thursday as the tennis director of the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island. Nau will work with tennis operations manager Rob Eppelsheimer in an effort to make the Daniel Island facility something special for tennis players, young and old.

Nau has been a professional tennis coach for more than 25 years and has worked with the likes of Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Monica Seles. Eppelsheimer recently spent a week at Bollettieri's Florida complex, observing the operations of the camp. His daughter, state No. 2-ranked girls' 12 player Samantha Eppelsheimer, took part in the camp, received private lessons from Bollettieri himself and hit with players ranked nationally.

"They said Samantha was ahead of girls her age in strokes, but she was behind in conditioning," Eppelsheimer said.

That's what Eppelsheimer and Nau plan to implement at Daniel Island, a tennis program that includes training and preparing the elite junior for national competition.

"We want to aggressively go after the local market. We plan on getting involved in elite programs," said Eppelsheimer, a former tennis director at Wild Dunes. "Now, Charleston will have a piece (Nau) of what they're doing at Bollettieri's. "They have five sports, tennis, baseball, soccer, ice hockey and golf, at Bollettieri's. They have year-around schools for all of those sports. While we were there, they had college football players there getting ready for professional football."

L'Oreal once again will be the presenting sponsor for the Family Circle Cup. As usual, fans will be able to stop by the L'Oreal sponsor booth and be treated to free samples and consultations on things from hair color choices to sun care. Tournament tickets are on sale by contacting the new Family Circle Cup offices at 416 King Street in downtown Charleston. More information on tickets can be obtained by calling 1-800-677-2293 or (843) 534-2400.

Monday is the deadline for entering the second leg of the Lowcountry Challenge circuit that will be held next weekend at Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402). The entry fee is $25.

Boys' high school tennis already has started in the area. The teams are playing at different locations, including the newly opened Jack Adams Tennis Center in downtown Charleston. Burke uses Jack Adams for its home matches. The Charleston Tennis Center's Elementary and Middle School League will start March 12. City tennis coordinator Peggy Bohne has another long list of teams in the program. Charleston Day School is the leader with eight teams in the league.

(02/25/01)  Work nearly complete on Jack Adams Center

The courts at Jack Adams Tennis Center are finally ready. Or, they will be Tuesday. That's the word from city tennis coordinator Peggy Bohne.

The courts need until Tuesday for the surface to be fully cured. Other finishing touches also will be applied to the complex.

All of this is good news to inner-city tennis players, who have had to find other places to play for the last six months, while the six-court Jack Adams facility has been under renovation. The facility that backs up to Johnson Hagood Stadium will have an all-new look. New surface. New nets. New lights. Newly painted fences.

The opening is just in time for the spring's Courting Kids Program, which is scheduled to begin March 10.

Delores Jackson, from Bohne's Charleston Tennis Center staff, coordinates the award-winning Courting Kids program. Jackson recently attended USTA meetings in Dallas to accept the National Junior Tennis League's chapter of the year award for the Courting Kids program. Jackson also was the recipient of an Eve Kraft Community Service Award in Dallas. Only six such awards were presented nationally by the USTA.

The Charleston Tennis Center's annual Elementary and Middle School League is in its organizational stages. Rosters are due Friday. The league had 52 teams last spring.

The Williams sisters still haven't entered the Family Circle Cup, according to the WTA Tour. Leading up to the April 14-22 Family Circle at Daniel Island, Venus and Serena Williams are scheduled to play at Indian Wells, Calif., beginning March 5 and the Ericsson Open two weeks later in Florida. Serena also will play in this week's tournament at Scottsdale, Ariz. Even without the Williams girls, the Family Circle is loaded. Venus and Serena, ranked third and ninth, are the only top 10 players not entered in the Family Circle. Ticket information is available by contacting the Family Circle ticket office at 416 King Street (1-800-677-2293 or 534-2400).

The second leg of the Lowcountry Challenge circuit will be held March 9-11 at Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402). The deadline to enter the event is four days prior to its start. The entry fee is $25. The first leg of the circuit was held last weekend at Snee Farm Country Club.

Greg Hancox is getting ready to start another session of the Flowertown Tennis Academy at Summerville's Quail Arbor courts. Hancock has been running the academy for five years. Beginner clinics and various other clinics for juniors and adults will start next Saturday. For more information, contact Hancox at 851-3093.

(02/18/01)  Hagood picks Paladin program
Mary Neill Hagood has been one of the staples of local junior tennis for nearly half of her 18 years. S

he's won Belton titles. She's won city women's titles. She's been state Independent Schools player of the year. She's led Porter-Gaud to state titles two of the last three years. She still has a few more months of junior tennis left, but she's already thinking about college.

Hagood will join the Furman University tennis program next fall. During a reception last Tuesday at Porter-Gaud in Hagood's honor, she said she selected Furman over the likes of Dartmouth, Virginia Tech and Washington and Lee. She really liked Washington and Lee, but felt the competition would be stronger at NCAA Division I Furman.

Under coach Debbie Southern, Furman has been a power in women's tennis, winning three straight Southern Conference titles. Her teams have won nine conference titles in her 17 years at Furman and she has an .894 Southern Conference winning percentage.

Hagood has had a love affair with tennis since she started playing the game at age seven. Bill Sharpe Sr. was her first instructor and proudly attended Tuesday's reception. The Citadel coach Steve Brooks, her current instructor, also attended, along with many of her Porter-Gaud friends and Porter-Gaud tennis coach Jim Owens, who organized the reception.

Family Circle Cup officials say tickets to the April 14-22 women's event at Daniel Island are selling quickly, especially for the later rounds. Tickets are available by contacting the Family Circle Cup at 416 King St. (534-2400 or 1-800-677-2293).

Family Circle marketing manager Jeff Cataffa also said the stadium and facilities are nearing completion.

"The stadium court will be turned over to us early next week," he said.

Cataffa also noted that the Family Circle is looking for more volunteers for positions such as ushers, transportation and FanZone/sponsor row. Interested people can request an application by looking at the volunteer section of the website (www.familycirclecup.com) and reviewing the department descriptions, emailing mrichardsgjusa.com or calling the volunteer information line at (843) 556-2092.

The Lowcountry Tennis Association will sponsor a verification clinic Monday at 7 p.m. at Snee Farm Country Club. This will be the last chance for local USTA League hopefuls to gain eligibility to participate in this spring's league. Appointments to the clinic are necessary and can be made by contacting LCTA coordinator Bob Peiffer at 763-5376.

(02/12/01)  Family Circle ball crew hard at work
There's a group of kids and adults practicing every Saturday for the Family Circle Cup. And I'm not talking about the players on the WTA Tour.

These are local people. They practice at Charleston Tennis Center for two and one-half hours every Saturday afternoon. They're the ball crew for the April 14-22 inaugural tournament at Daniel Island.

They were at it again Saturday. Family Circle Cup ball crew coordinator Susan Honowitz of Hilton Head Island ran the youngsters and adults, about 85 of them, through brisk drills that echoed the intensity of a military boot camp. Honowitz is the drill sergeant. When she speaks, the trainees listen. When she slams a ball into the net, someone chases the little yellow ball. When she hit a wild ball to the baseline, there's another scamper for the ball.

She gives each trainee a package of written instructions that contains the dos and don'ts, such as:

"When leaving the court, you are not allowed to ask the players for their autographs, pictures, etc. If this situation occurs, you will be dismissed.''

The group will be training at Charleston Tennis Center every Saturday from 12:30 to 3 p.m. through April 7.

That's a big commitment, especially for the kids, but knowing they could be just a few feet away from the likes of Anna Kournikova, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati, Mary Pierce and Lindsay Davenport makes the commitment worthwhile.

There's no word yet on whether Venus and Serena Williams will make their first appearances in the Family Circle. There should be soon, especially if they have committed. The fans deserve to know as far in advance as possible who will be playing in the tournament. Ticket information is available by contacting the Family Circle at the tournament's new offices at 416 King Street (534-2400 or 1-800-677-2293).

The first leg of the Lowcountry Junior Challenger Circuit will be held next weekend at Snee Farm Country Club in Mount Pleasant (884-3252). The entry deadline is today. One of the good things about the Challenger Circuit is that each junior is guaranteed at least three matches in each of the singles-only events. The entry fee is $25 for each tournament. The other Challenger Circuit events will be held at Charleston Tennis Center (March 9-11) and Summerville's Pine Forest Country Club (April 27-30).

The tentative rankings announced last week in this column are now official. There were no changes among the junior players from Charleston ranked in the top 20 in the state.

(02/05/01)  Local juniors top singles rankings
Emily Applegate and Ryan Young have been winning state titles for what seems like a decade. Actually, it's only about half that long. But these two are still stealing the show in local junior tennis.

They are the only local juniors to earn tentative No. 1 state singles rankings for 2000. The official state rankings will be released later by the S.C. Tennis Association. Applegate and Young both "played up" last year in the 16-and-under category. They could just as easily have been ranked No. 1 in 14-and-under. Young turned 16 in October and Applegate will be 16 this month. Thus, both are eligible to participate in 16-and-under for two more years.

Applegate posted a 22-3 record last year and Young went 19-4.

The largest number of local players to gain tentative top 20 rankings is in the girls' 12 category where 10 players have that honor, led by Samantha Eppelsheimer in the No. 2 slot. The next best showing is in boys' 14 where six locals are listed in the top 20. In girls' 10, Lara Hewett is ranked second, followed by Heyward Brockinton fifth. Following Eppelsheimer in girls' 12 are Alice Knowlton (5), Molly O'Quinn (6), Vernita Ackerman (8), Caroline Irvin (10), Jordan Casey (11), Sabra Rogers (13), Ashley Perkins (14), Emily Bolchoz (17) and Lara Hewett (19). In girls' 14, Kalee Claussen is fourth and Natalie Ferrara is 13th. Behind Applegate in girls' 16 are Sandy Krings (7), Alida Barnwell (9), Jewel Aldea (13) and Erika Shortridge (20). Charlotte Wilson is third in girls' 18, followed by Erin Hantske (8), Jessica Bair (15) and Danielle Beck (18). Boys' 10 has five locals ranked in the top 20, headed by fourth-ranked Richard Pearce and followed by Tom Ellington (6), Brice Richards (8), Zachary Hancox (12) and Gordon Gibson (19). In boys' 12, the locals ranked in the top 20 are Robert Pearce (7), Francis Johnson (11) and John Howell (12). Scott Maucher heads up the deep boys' 14 in third, followed by Jason Basile (4), Nat Estes (7), Tom Jokl (11), David Rubin (14) and Edward Darling (16). Young is joined in boys' 16 by Taylor Calcote (10), Andrew Sires (15) and Graeme Bagg (17). Christopher Dong is fourth in boys' 18, while John Barnwell is eighth and Jeff Basile 10th.

Barth goes Swiss
Kiawah Island tennis director Roy Barth left Saturday for Switzerland where he will represent the USTA as co-chairman of its Davis Cup committee next weekend when the Americans take on the Swiss.

(01/21/01)  Family Circle field, venue taking shape
The stadium is starting to look like a stadium. Tickets are selling. And the player field is starting to take shape. Even the weather is trying to cooperate, at times.

It's tennis time, and the Family Circle Cup is less than three months away. With Anna Kournikova, Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport already entered, the field is certain to be a strong one. Most of the other big names probably already have committed to the Family Circle, but tournament officials like to release the names one at a time to build up excitement.

Here's hoping that one of the Williams sisters will commit. If that happens, the inaugural Daniel Island affair will be assured of a successful week.

Look for night matches at Daniel Island to be hot items, much like the sold-out Andre Agassi exhibitions at Dunes West a few years ago. The night atmosphere here probably will be vastly different from recent years at Hilton Head Island.

At Hilton Head Island, night matches were virtually overlooked by the fans, except when the schedule included Monica Seles or Kournikova. That may have been because Hilton Head Island is more of a resort location than Charleston.

Nights at Hilton Head Island are for dining out, then back to the condo. The visitors to the island watched tennis all day long, then took the night off. Hilton Head Island was a little too distant from the metropolitan areas of Charleston and even Savannah to travel there at night just for one singles match that might be over in less than an hour.

In Charleston, the fans will consist of two groups: the daytimers made up of vacationers, tennis wives and juniors, and others who have time for tennis under the sun; and the night-timers who work by day and play by night.

Here, a great deal of attention probably will be placed on the night schedule. You probably can expect to see Kournikova on the night schedule early in the week, as well as Hingis.

Tickets still remain, even for the championship weekend. Family Circle marketing director Jeff Cataffa expects to complete a sellout for the semifinals and final by mid-February. For more ticket information, you can contact the Family Circle at 800-677-2293 or 843-534-2400. The tournament web site is www.familycirclecup.com.

The clay court for the stadium court is complete, and Cataffa said the stadium is "90 percent complete. The seats themselves are not in, but they will be in by the beginning of next month. That's one of the last things we need to do as far as the permanent structure. The lights should be up in a few weeks, and the roof is on the clubhouse."

The recent cold weather did not have a major effect on construction, Cataffa said. The layouts for the 12 clay courts other than the stadium court are finished, including the fencing. The clay has not been laid yet, however.

Electricity has been hooked up to the entire site. The only thing that won't be completed for the tournament will be the facility's four hard courts. Cataffa said they will be finalized after the tournament, but that area will be used for the food court and media center. The stadium court will have 10,188 permanent seats, with the first and second tiers having approximately 4,300 boxed seats and the aluminum bench top tier seating approximately 5,800.

(01/14/01)  Cup still needs volunteers

Anyone want a free front-row ticket to the Family Circle Cup? Make that court level! You might even get to hand Anna Kournikova a towel!

Hold on, fellas, not so fast to grab the phone.

The free pass requires practice and work . . . as a member of the Family Circle's ball crew.

That's right. The Family Circle needs 150 volunteers for its ball crew staff. The ages are 10-18, and adults, according to a Family Circle press release. Ball crew members are needed from the start of the tournament on Saturday, April 14, through the quarterfinals on Thursday. An all-star team will be selected from the original group to work the semifinals and finals. But there's practice, every Saturday from 12:30-3 p.m. from Jan. 27 through April 7, as well as a final training session on site at Daniel Island on April 13.

All right, run to the phone?

No, just show up next Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Charleston Tennis Center at 19 Farmfield Avenue. Just in case you want to get a head start, you can contact Susan Honowitz (686-4477) or Toni Young (766-3385). Applications also will be available at area racquet clubs.

Tickets are now on sale at Family Circle headquarters at 416 King Street in downtown Charleston or by calling 1-800-677-2293 or 534-2400. The Family Circle internet site is www.familycirclecup.com.

Seeing doubles
Passengers on a recent Quantas Airways flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia, must have thought they had double vision, or at least tennis celebrity vision. Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras were seated in the same cabin, along with Andre's girlfriend, former superstar Steffi Graf.

They were all headed Down Under for the array of tournaments leading up to the Australian Open that starts Monday. Mrs. Pete Sampras, actress Bridgette Wilson, wasn't on board. The new Mrs. Pete is profiled in the January issue of Vogue.

This first Grand Slam tournament of the year should give tennis fans a preview of what to expect this year: Whether the Williams sisters remain dominant in women's tennis or Martina Hingis or Lindsay Davenport crash the party; or if Agassi and Sampras have what it takes to regain supremacy in men's tennis; or if Marat Safin and gang are really ready to take over the game.

Tennis on InfoLine Tennis fans can get up-to-date pro tennis results from The Post and Courier's InfoLine audiotex service. After dialing 937-6000, enter the 3080 tennis code, then press 1 for women's tennis and 2 for men's tennis.

(01/07/01)  Ready for some local tennis?

Are you ready for some tennis?

I certainly am! After all of these weeks of weather as miserable as the presidential tiebreaker and yo-yo (mostly yo-yo) stock market, I can't wait for the USTA's spring leagues to start. But before the season can start, there has to be some planning and scheduling done. The start of this process will be Wednesday's captains' meeting at the main branch of the Charleston County Library on Calhoun Street. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Any team that is planning to compete in the local USA Adult or Senior leagues this spring should send a representative to the meeting. The quicker all of the planning gets down, the quicker the league can get down to the business of starting the season.

According to Lowcountry Tennis Association coordinator Bob Peiffer, that means an early February start for the local spring leagues. Maybe the weather will cooperate, too.

If you're just starting out in league competition, you will need a USTA rating. That can be accomplished by attending a USTA verification clinic. The next one is scheduled for Feb. 3-4 at Snee Farm in Mount Pleasant. To reserve a spot in the clinic, contact Alice DeWalt (723-8966). A verification clinic is finishing up today at Snee Farm. DeWalt said 103 players participated Saturday, and a similar number was expected today.

Family Circle host coming to Daniel Island will be quite a switch for some of the participants in the April 14-22 Family Circle Cup. The top name players in past years at Hilton Head Island usually have lodged within the confines of Sea Pines Resort. Some were even able to ride a bike from their villa to the tennis center. At Daniel Island, there won't be a resort setting on the premises, but the players still will be housed in a resort location. Wild Dunes has been designated as the official player hotel for the Family Circle Cup.