2002

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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(12/22/02)  Planning underway for Family Circle Cup
The Family Circle Cup is more than three months off, but the planning has already started.

A strong field of players is vital to the success of any professional tennis event, perhaps even more so on the star-rich WTA Tour. The presence of players such as already committed Serena Williams often influences ticket sales and attendance, both vital links to success.

And certainly weather conditions are important. Nothing puts a damper on an outdoor tennis tournament like a week of rain.

The list goes on and on, all the way to the ball crew. Yes, the ball crew is important, too. Although the ball crew may be far down the list in perceived importance, this group nevertheless is vital, especially to a widely televised tournament of the stature of the Tier I $1.3 million Family Circle Cup.

Ball crews generally go virtually unnoticed by the television cameras and home viewers, as well as observers in the stadium. This is when the crew meets its objective. The ball crew is a given, just as balls are taken for granted. The players and their performances form the true focal point of any match, although lines, line judges and chair umpires often get in the way. The ball crew should never draw attention away from the match. If the ball crew stands out, it may not be doing its job well. The ball crew is under a microscope once on the court. One wrong move can stand out to a crowd of 10,000 and a national television audience.

To do their jobs well, crew members must be well trained. Precise-performing crew members must be serious about their duties and practice diligently, just as if they were the focal point of the match. These young boys and girls (ages 10-18), as well as adults, make up a well-drilled team, with the precision of a true athletic team.

That's why Family Circle Cup officials are already thinking about the ball crew for the April 5-13 tournament. A ball crew informational meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 11 from 12:30-3 p.m. at Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island. A week later, training sessions will begin in earnest. They'll be held at the tennis complex every Saturday afternoon through March 29.

A final, mandatory training session will be held on Friday, April 4. The qualifying tournament starts the next day. More than 175 ball crew members will be needed for the period of April 5-10, then an all-star ball crew team will be picked to work the tournament's last three rounds.

-- Contact Susan Honowitz (843-686-4477) or Toni Young (843-766-3385) for more information or to receive an application. Applications also will be available on the Family Circle Cup (familycirclecup.com) website and at the Family Circle Tennis Center Pro Shop.

-- A variety of ticket packages and special holiday ticket promotions are available by contacting the tournament office (800-677-2293 or 843-856-7900).

LOCAL WOMEN COMPETE

Local women's players Diane Fishburne, Brenda Carter and Jeanette Weiland represented the Southern Tennis Association in the recent USTA intersectionals in Houston. Carter's team lived up to its top seeding in 55-and-over by capturing one of the three women's team titles won by the STA.

The STA's women's 35 and 75 teams won the other two titles as teams from 14 of the USTA's 17 sections competed. Fishburne's team was runner-up in 45s and Weiland's team finished fourth out of 10 teams in the 65s division.


(12/15/02)  Andersson's techniques have a European flavor
As the City of Charleston's official new head tennis pro, Fredrik Andersson offers a fresh approach to teaching techniques that differs from the standardized American way of a tennis hopper of perfect feeds. Andersson is European.

"My teaching style is a little different from the American style, and I'm trying to implement the two styles together," Andersson said as he talked about his duties now that he is under contract as the city's head pro. "In Europe they do less ball feeding and more live drilling. We work with live balls, because in a match you are not going to get the perfect ball. Feeding balls can produce a stereotype player."

A 35-year-old Swede, Andersson has served as the city's interim pro since September 2001, teaching at both Charleston Tennis Center and Maybank Tennis Center. He spent eight years as a club pro in Germany prior to that. He played at small college powerhouse Lander, then tried the pro satellite circuit for a while.

"This is a great opportunity and I'm looking forward to it. I want to do a lot with the junior program, but I also do a lot with adults. This is a great place for tennis. It's one of the better facilities, an outstanding public facility. But it's been asleep for a long time," he said of his home base, Charleston Tennis Center in West Ashley.

Andersson runs the city program after a long, dry spell at the facility since the departure of Arthur Anastopoulo as city pro in 1997 after 14 years in the position.

"What I am trying to do is to get more people involved in tennis. Charleston is a great place for tennis. We get a lot of people moving into the area. My job description is to build up the program at Farmfield," Andersson said. In that direction, he is in the process of hiring former Virginia Tech player Jay Bruner as an assistant teaching pro.

-- Andersson has announced the dates for Christmas camps at Farmfield for all levels of juniors on Dec. 23, 24, 27, 30 and 31, and Jan. 2 from 9 a.m. to noon. Regular spring clinics will start on Jan. 6 (for more information, call 724-7402).

BARTHS FARE WELL

Kiawah Island director of tennis Roy Barth and his son Jonathan advanced to the quarterfinals of the recent National Hard-Court Father-Son Championships in La Jolla, Calif. Seeded 9-12, the Barths upset seventh-seeded Scott Davis and his father Gordon in the round of 16, rallying from a 6-3, 5-1 deficit to win in three sets. Scott Davis is a former ATP Tour player, as is Roy Barth. Jonathan is a pro on his father's staff at Kiawah.

The Cheneys, Brian and son Andrew, won their third straight father-son title. Brian is the son of the legendary Dodo Cheney, a former Australian Open women's champion and winner of more USTA titles than any player ever. Andrew plays the satellite circuit.
A PRITCHARD YEAR

Talking about a great year, 9-year-old Peter Pritchard of Charleston has had an awesome one by most standards. The Charleston Day School fourth-grader finished 2002 with a 27-4 record and four boys' 10 titles in eight tournaments. He won both Belton and the S.C. Junior Clay Courts. Naturally, he's No. 1 in the state in the age division.

Since he doesn't turn 10 until Monday, Peter could play in the 10s again next year, but his mother, Bowe Pritchard, thinks he will play up in the 12s.

"He loves tennis," his mother said. "I'm not surprised he's done so well, because he's worked really hard. I'm happy for him."

Peter takes lessons from Rob Woods at the Creekside Tennis Academy in Mount Pleasant. Peter played in his first tournament when he was seven years old. His older brother, Edward, is a state-ranked player in 12-and-under.

-- Shelby Rogers of Mount Pleasant also had a big year in girls' 10, going 15-2, winning Belton and gaining the No. 1 state ranking.

CAPTAINS' DATE SET

The fall USTA Adult League seasons may have just ended, but the date for the Spring Adult League's captains' meeting already has been set for Jan. 7 at the Wando High School Cafeteria.

The last week of the fall season was pretty much wiped out by the recent inclement weather, prompting some teams to simply forfeit or cancel makeup matches. The fall season was a brief one that started a month late due to the Combo League and for all practical purposes ended a week before Thanksgiving.

JUNIOR LEAGUE FINISHES

The local junior tennis league wrapped up its season recently with playoffs at Snee Farm.

In the White Stripes division, MUSC2 came in first, coached by Marquel Gower, and Pine

Forest was runner-up. Jane Ellis served as Pine Forest's coach.

Lee Brockman's Country Club of Charleston team was the winner of the White Stars 1 division, with Trudy Holder's Pine Forest group second. In White Stars 2, the Ion Club coached by Joey Eskridge won first place, followed by Cindy Daniels' MUSC team.

Brickyard, coached by Eric Stultz, won the Red Stripes division, with Maybank Tennis Club, coached by Susan Brown, runner-up.

Peggy McElhiney served as the league commissioner.

LOCAL WOMEN COMPETE

Local women's players Diane Fishburne, Brenda Carter and Jeanette Weiland represented the Southern Tennis Association in the recent USTA inter-sectionals in Houston. Carter's team lived up to its top seeding in 55-and-over by capturing one of the three women's team titles won by the STA.

The STA's women's 35 and 75 teams won the other two titles as teams from 14 of the USTA's 17 sections competed. Fishburne's team was runner-up in 45s and Weiland's team finished fourth out of 10 teams in the 65s division.


(12/09/02)  Family Circle Cup roster far from set for '03
The foundation for a successful Family Circle Cup in 2003 has been laid. Serena Williams' return is something to build on.

The building blocks in question include whether Jennifer Capriati will return for a third straight year, and if Lindsay Davenport can stay healthy long enough to play at Daniel Island. Davenport has missed both previous events here due to injuries.

The Capriati question is a big one. Naturally, she came to the Family Circle Cup this year. She was the defending champion.

Of course, the Anna Kournikova question is always an important one. Hopefully, Anna will return, and will continue to improve her game the way she has since this year's first-round loss at Daniel Island to Conchita Martinez. Kournikova ended the year ranked 35th in the world, 33 spots higher than when she came to Charleston in April.

It's probably safe to say at this point that Martina Hingis is a long, long shot to play Daniel Island next year, and almost as long a shot whether she will even return to the WTA Tour after recurring injuries and a case of feeling dominated and intimidated by the big hitters.

But the player I would like most to make her first appearance here is Kim Clijsters. This 19-year-old Belgian player ended the year ranked fourth in the world after beating Serena Williams in the final of the season-ending tour championship. Clijsters is a talented, athletic hard-hitter, and one of the few players who can match up against the Williams sisters.

It also would be nice to have Justine Henin-Hardenne here. The newly wed 20-year-old from Belgium missed this year's tournament because of an injury.

Of course, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario shouldn't be back. She has retired, and will be missed after playing in 16 Family Circles, the most by any player.

PEIFFER, WILLIAMS WIN

Susie Peiffer and Zoe Williams wouldn't allow rain and inclement weather to stand in their way in the recent Southern Senior Clay Court Closed Championships at Kiawah Island. As a result, they were the only local players to bring home titles.

Peiffer, wife of Lowcountry Tennis Association president Bob Peiffer, came through in flying style in women's 50, taking the singles and doubles titles. Williams was the women's 70 singles champion.

LEAGUE RATINGS COMING

Bob Peiffer assures that the 2002 spring USTA Adult League individual ratings will be available soon on the S.C. Tennis Association's internet site at www.sctennis.com.

Of course, the rating system as the league has known is disappearing. For the next two years, the USTA leagues will use a Dynamic NTRP rating system. That means anyone who wants to play in the league can rate themselves rather than having to attend and pay for a verification clinic rating.

MAUCHER SPARKLES

Bishop England junior Scott Maucher took fifth place in boys' 18 at the recent USTA National Open Championships in Pensacola, Fla., to qualify for the USTA Super National Winter Championships in early January in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Maucher is one of the stars of the Junior Academy at the Family Circle Tennis Center where director of tennis Fritz Nau and his staff operate one of the top junior academies in the country. "We have been waiting for Scott's competitive maturity to catch up with his hitting skills," said Nau, acknowledging that Maucher's Pensacola performance may have ended the waiting period.

"With hard work Scott can become a top ranked junior, thus greatly increasing the number of colleges that will recruit him to play on their team," Nau added.


(12/04/02)  Family Circle Cup serving up the best

Top-ranked Williams enters tennis tournament

Serena Williams has some unfinished business to take care of in Charleston.

Williams, who lost in the quarterfinals of the Family Circle Cup last year, has officially entered the $1.3 million women's tennis tournament scheduled for April 5-13 at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island.

Williams, who lost to Patty Schnyder in the 2002 tournament, finished the season with a 56-5 record and the No. 1 world ranking. She won three Grand Slam titles and five other tournaments.

"Serena Williams is not only an exceptional athlete but her commitment to giving back to the community, especially to kids, is just as remarkable," said Family Circle Cup executive director Frankie Whelan. "She made such a positive impact in our community last year and we look forward to having her back. We know the fans can expect the very best from her on and off the court."

During last year's tournament, Serena made a $5,000 contribution to Charleston's inner-city Courting Kids program.

After losing to Schnyder's left-handed spins on the green clay at Daniel Island, Serena could have gone to Europe doubting her ability to win consistently on clay surfaces. Of course, she didn't. She not only demonstrated her ability on clay, but also showed the tennis world that she was the best player in the game. Serena lost to Justine Henin on clay in early May in the Berlin final, but bounced right back the next week to defeat Henin (now married and officially known as Justine Henin-Hardenne) on red clay in Rome.

The red clay of Paris' Roland Garros was next where Serena walked away with victory in the first of three straight Grand Slam tournament finals against her older sister, Venus. Serena beat Venus again at Wimbledon and became No. 1 in the world. Senena won the U.S. Open over Venus, then took two more tournament titles before taking off all of October.

Serena played in only 13 tournaments, yet amassed 6,080 points in the WTA rankings. She finally came down to earth in the tour's season-ending Home Depot Championships in Los Angles in November when she lost to Kim Clijsters in the final. That broke an 18-match winning streak for Serena and was her first loss since losing to Chanda Rubin in August in the quarters of another tournament in L.A. Serena ended this year setting a single-season record $3,935,668.

Venus Williams, who has never played in the Family Circle Cup, apparently won't participate in 2003 because of college commitments. Her father, Richard Williams, made that announcement during his visit to Charleston earlier this year.

The 2003 Family Circle Cup will move up a week on the WTA Tour calendar, ahead of the Amelia Island, Fla., tournament. After back-to-back two-week 96-player draw tournaments at Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami, Fla., the WTA Tour will hold a $140,000 clay-court event at Sarasota, Fla., the first week in April, then move to Daniel Island for the 56-draw Family Circle Cup.

Unseeded Iva Majoli defeated Schnyder in this year's final.

The Family Circle Cup is owned and operated by Family Circle Magazine and is one of the longest running women's pro tennis events in the United States. A variety of ticket packages and special holiday ticket promotions are available by calling the Family Circle Cup at (800) 677-2293 or (843) 856-7900. More information is available on the internet at www.familycirclecup.com.


(11/17/02)  At age 32, Agassi still dominant player
What Andre Agassi has been able to accomplish at age 32 is incredible. It's as if Agassi has discovered a fountain of youth.

He went into the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup with a shot at becoming the oldest player ever on the ATP Tour to end a year ranked No. 1 in the world. He wilted in his first two matches in Shanghai, allowing Lleyton Hewitt to finish in the top spot for a second straight year.

The question is whether Agassi's continued success at an advanced age for Grand Prix tennis is the result of his superior conditioning or merely the state of the men's game. Though to a certain extent his current success can be attributed to his physical conditioning, there may be more to this story.

If you analyzed the ATP Tour these days, you might form the conclusion that the tour isn't what it used to be. It can't be, not if a player as common as Hewitt is its best player for two consecutive years. The only others to accomplish this feat were such greats as Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg and Bjorn Borg.

Dominant players are hard to find in this current era of men's professionals. Sampras might be the only one, and he's fading fast.

Sampras is the only player in the world who can consistently dominate Agassi. That's because of his big game, his ability to not only serve big but loom big at the net.

Otherwise, the tour is loaded with baseliners, who might have big serves and huge ground strokes, but not complete games. That's why Agassi can go out and consistently beat everyone but Sampras. And there's no reason this should change right away if Agassi can maintain his conditioning and health.

That is, unless a few Patrick Rafters or Boris Beckers happen to show up on the tour in 2003. Of course, this isn't likely in an era when most of the best newcomers are honing their youthful skills on the clay courts of Spain and France.

No, men's tennis doesn't have the Williams sisters, Kim Clijsters, Lindsay Davenport or Jennifer Capriati. The women play an entertaining, unpredictable game. The men are boring, and headed for trouble unless the ATP Tour wakes up.

THANKSGIVING JUNIORS

Charleston has one of the longest-running junior tennis tournaments in the state in its Thanksgiving Junior Classic. The tournament will celebrate its 22nd year Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at Charleston Tennis Center.  The entry deadline is next Friday. Call 724-7401.


(11/14/02)  Anderson top seed in Southern Closed event
Former University of Georgia standout Smith Anderson, a local player who was a quarterfinalist in last weekend's Isle of Palms Invitational, is the top seed in men's 30 in the Southern Closed (Even Years) Senior Tennis Champion-ships that begin today at Kiawah Island.

The tournament has more than 190 men and women entered in age groups that range from 30-and-over to 80-and-over. Six men will battle it out for the men's 80-and-over singles title, while two women will participate in the 80s.

CPTL FINAL FRIDAY

It's championship time in the Charleston Professional Tennis League. The Tommy Condon's and Just Fresh teams won semifinal matches Friday at the Family Circle Tennis Center to advance to Friday's 6:30 p.m. league championship match at Mount Pleasant's I'On Club.

League founder Chris Henderson, a former Furman player, organized the league in late summer after coming to the area from Atlanta where he had participated in a similar professional league. Henderson was able to lure enough players into the first-year venture to form six nine-player teams.

Henderson heads up the Tommy Condon's team that also includes Toby Simpson, Clay Gates, Todd Abedon, Edward Fenno, Enoch Booth, John Santos, Chip Norris and Mike Tinkey.

The Just Fresh team is made up of captain Joey Eskridge, Rohan Wadehra, Craig Rice, Eric Martel, Brian Greenwood, Bo Crouch, Marquel Gower, Brandon Grimm and Dave Maness.

Tommy Condon's defeated the Anastopoulo Law Firm, 2-1, last week while Just Fresh posted a 2-1 victory over Money Man Pawn.

Matches are composed of three individual doubles matches.

Money Man Pawn and the Anastopoulo Law Firm will meet in Friday's second match for third place in the league.

WHIPPLE EVENT STARTS

The Mount Pleasant Junior Tennis Classic starts Friday at the Whipple Road tennis complex and runs through Sunday. The tournament features singles and doubles competition.


(11/12/02)  4th seed Barber takes IOP Invitational title
ISLE OF PALMS-Big Bill Barber made the game of tennis look easy Monday in the rain-delayed final of the Isle of Palms Invitational. No. 2-seeded T.J. Middleton hardly had a chance against the 6-8 gentle giant from UCLA.

Barber's well-placed service bombs, penetrating approach shots, net advances and precise service returns overwhelmed the usually acrobatic Middleton, 6-3, 6-4, before a crowd of about 200 at Wild Dunes Racquet Club.

Barber, the 32-year-old tennis director at the Country Club of Asheville (N.C.), couldn't have played much better. The $1,500 winner's check he received from sponsor Lucey Mortgage's Lorcan Lucey only made the victory sweeter.

"My serve definitely was working today, and I hit my ground strokes well. I was moving him enough to keep him from attacking," said Barber, the No. 4 seed who defeated No. 1 seed Bret Garnett before dismantling Middleton. "The key was keeping him off the net. He loves the net."

The real key might have been one loose shot by Middleton in the sixth game of the match. "I saw him stop, and I eased off of it and it floated on me," said Middleton, describing the open-court miss that came back to haunt him.

Middleton, a former Georgia All-American, was serving at 30-15, 2-3 and appeared to have the point won as he pulled Barber off the court to the backhand side and stood at the "T" preparing to stroke a soft forehand to the open court on Barber's forehand side.

Instead, Middleton's forehand floated a foot past the baseline, and suddenly it was 30-30 rather than 40-15. Middleton netted a backhand volley, then watched Barber deliver a forehand winner off a short ball. Barber had a 4-2 lead and never looked back.

From then on, Barber used his big serve to keep Middleton on the defensive, taking advantage of Middleton's short service returns to nail forehands and backhands to the corners. As a result, Middleton was unable to get to the net. Middleton's problems were compounded when his usually consistent serve became erratic, rendering his net approaches even less dangerous for the consistent returns of Barber.

"I wasn't able to get to the net," Middleton said. "He kept me pinned back. "My returns kept falling short and he was able to take advantage of me."

Middleton and Garnett, a team once ranked sixth in the world, did get a small measure of revenge in an exhibition doubles match as they defeated Barber and Wild Dunes tennis director T.J. Van Thullenar, 6-4, 6-2. Van Thullenar was a replacement for Johan Kriek, who had teamed with Barber to win two matches Saturday, but had to return to Naples, Fla., on Sunday after rain forced play to be postponed until Monday.


(11/10/02) Barber, Middleton reach IOP tennis final
ISLE OF PALMS-Bill Barber looks like he would be more at home on a different type of court, a hardwood one rather than clay. At 6-8, he has basketball height and attended a basketball school, UCLA.

But when Barber cranks up his big serve, he's all tennis. And on big points, he lives up to his size as he demonstrated Saturday morning in a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 upset of top-seeded Bret Garnett in the Isle of Tennis Invitational.

The 2-1/2-hour victory earned Barber, now an Asheville, N.C., club pro, a shot at second-seeded T.J. Middleton in today's 11 a.m. singles final at Wild Dunes Racquet Club. Middleton, who teamed with Garnett on the ATP Tour to earn a No. 6 ranking in the world in doubles, overcame third seed Will Bull of Myrtle Beach, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.

The tournament is free to the public, but the crowd of about 300 would have gotten its money's worth even if tickets had been at a premium. The two singles semifinals were filled by more than four hours of high-quality tennis, huge serves by all four semifinalists and brilliant volleying by Garnett and Middleton.

The show even included a spectacular back-to-the-court Andre Agassi-style between the legs winning passing shot by Middleton while running down a deep lob by Bull on the second point of the deciding game of the second set. Bull survived the love-30 deficit to win that game and the set, but fell behind 5-0 in the third set.

"I can't believe I made that shot, then lost the set," said Middleton, a former University of Georgia All-American who defeated Thomas Muster in 1995 when Muster was ranked No. 1 in the world.

"I think Will just lost his concentration a little bit in the third set. I didn't serve as well yesterday, but I knew I had to have a good day of serving today against Will because he puts so many balls into play."

Middleton hit a high percentage of well-placed big first serves and rushed the net at every opportunity to keep pressure on the 30-year-old Bull with brilliant volleys. Middleton ran and volleyed like a Grand Prix tour regular in his prime, rather than the 34-year-old Duluth, Ga., club pro he is.

Garnett, now a club pro in Hickory, N.C., was just as superb in volleying against Barber. But Garnett double-faulted two points from victory in the second set, then two games later watched Barber deliver a winning two-handed backhand passing shot on a service return to even the match.

In the third set, Barber moved to match point with a lunging cross-court forehand service return for a winner. Garnett then had the heart and courage to serve-and-volley on a second serve on clay, and paid the price when he couldn't come up with another spectacular backhand volley off a sizzling return by Barber.

"I returned well, but he hit unbelievable volleys," Barber said. "He volleys really well. I had to lob him because he was all over the net."

But it came down to just a few points. "He played the big points well," Garnett said. "And he hit a couple of really good topspin lobs."

The singles finalists also will test each other in today's doubles final. Middleton and Garnett won a pair of matches to advance to the final, while Barber teamed with former Grand Slam tournament winner Johan Kriek to hold off Tim Wilkison and Bull, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, in a high-quality semifinal.

SINGLES

Semifinals: Bill Barber (4), Asheville, N.C., def. Bret Garnett (1), Hickory, N.C., 3-6, 7-5, 6-4; T.J. Middleton (2), Diluth, Ga., def. Will Bull (3), Myrtle Beach, 7-5, 4-6 6-1.

Today's Final: 11 a.m., Barber vs. Middleton.

DOUBLES

Quarterfinals: Garnett-Middleton (1) def. Smith Anderson-Charley Rasheed, 6-2, 6-0; Kip Layman-Cris Robinson def. T.J. Van Thullenar-Sandon Barth, 6-7 (7-4), 7-5, 6-2; Tim Wilkison-Bull def. Clay Gates-Mike Baker, 6-2, 6-3; Johan Kriek-Barber def. Job De Bour-Eric Wammock, 6-2, 6-2.

Semifinals: Garnett-Middleton def. Layman-Robinson, 6-4, 6-4; Kriek-Barber def. Wilkison-Bull, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

Today's Final: 1 p.m.


(11/10/02)  Kriek, Wilkison put on good doubles show

ISLE OF PALMS-It was Johan Kriek against Tim Wilkison. And it wasn't the final of an ATP Tour event.

It was at Wild Dunes Racquet Club. A crowd of about 300 non-paying spectators cheered their every move. The mood was almost festive Saturday afternoon.

It isn't often that two former greats of professional tennis clash locally. This time, Kriek had huge Bill Barber (6 feet, 8 inches) guarding the net for him and Wilkison's partner was Will Bull, a name tennis fans along the coast have been hearing for nearly two decades.

The always colorful and fan-pleasing Kriek got the better of it this time as he and Barber treated the crowd to world-class doubles in a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Wilkison and Bull.

Showing the great hands and compact cannon-like serve that enabled him to reach a No. 7 ranking in the world, Kriek put on a show.

"It's been awhile since I played that hard," the 44-year-old South African said.

"It's kind of fun to go out and play against the younger guys (Bull is 30 and Wilkison is 42)."

It felt like the old days, when Kriek won back-to-back Australian Opens and made at least the quarters of each of the Grand Slam tournaments.

"There's always a little of the old days in me," he joked. "We're not too serious. We go with the flow if there's a place for fun."

Wilkison, now a club pro in Charlotte, was happy to be back where he made the semifinals of the 1988 U.S. Clay Courts.

"It was a very good crowd. The people enjoyed it," said Wilkison, who reached as high as No. 21 in the world and won more than $1 million on the ATP Tour.

He was impressed by Kriek's competitive play. "He has great shots and he is very talented," Wilkison said.

Fans will be able to see Kriek's skills again in today's 1 p.m. doubles final at Wild Dunes against a doubles team that once ranked No. 6 in the world, the team of Bret Garnett and T.J. Middleton. Tennis fans in the area have another rare opportunity today to see time standing still, and some of the best doubles in the world for free.

JUNIOR DEADLINE MONDAY

The entry deadline for next week's Mount Pleasant Junior Tennis Classic at the Whipple Road tennis complex has been extended until Monday.

The tournament will feature singles and doubles competition in all age groups, and will offer consolation singles matches in 10-and-under and 12-and-under. The entry fees are $20 for singles and $16 per player in doubles. For more information, call the Whipple Road complex at 856-2162.

BEHS WOMEN'S EVENT

A "strictly social" round-robin women's tennis tournament will be held on Dec. 7 at Family Circle Tennis Center by the Bishop England High School Triple B Club to provide athletic scholarships for two Bishop England graduates of 2003. For more information on the event, contact Claudia Budds at 884-6729.

SERVE FOR THE CURE

St. Andrew's Parks and Playground will hold a Serve For The Cure women's tennis tournament Nov. 22-24 to benefit breast cancer awareness and research. The entry deadline is Nov. 18. Contact the St. Andrew's tennis complex at 763-4360 for more information.


(11/09/02)  Semifinals set at Isle of Palms Invitational
ISLE OF PALMS-Local tennis fans are in for a true treat today. And it's all free.

Seldom does Charleston experience the luxury of seeing world-class tennis without a price tag. That's right, today's singles semifinals of the Isle of Palms Invitational feature four former touring pros, the tournament's first through fourth seeds, Bret Garnett, T.J. Middleton, Will Bull and Bill Barber, respectively, all of whom survived Friday's two rounds in straight sets.

Then there's doubles where two-time Australian Open singles winner Johan Kriek and $1 million winner Tim Wilkison are on the card.

The action starts at 9:30 a.m. at Wild Dunes Racquet Club.

Garnett, who teamed with Middleton to reach No. 6 in the world in doubles, held off Spartanburg pro Charley Rasheed, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), in the quarterfinals to gain a berth against Barber in today's 9:30 a.m. semifinals.

Barber, a 6-8 former UCLA standout, used his big serve to hold off Duluth, Ga., pro Kip Layman, 6-3, 6-4, in the afternoon quarterfinals. That came after the 32-year-old Barber had blitzed just-graduated Charleston Southern star Rohan Wadehra, 6-0, 6-1, in the first round.

Middleton, 34, eased to a pair of victories, the last over local senior Smith Anderson, 6-2, 6-2.

That earned Middleton a shot at last year's runner-up and this year's youngest semifinalist, the 30-year-old Bull, who was in top form while giving up a total of only five games in two matches. Bull downed former Clemson standout Cris Robinson of Richmond, Va., 6-0, 6-2, in the quarterfinals.

Middleton, now a pro in Diluth, Ga., played an aggressive game Friday, but against Bull he said, "I'll have to be patient. Will likes to play more from the baseline."

In the top half of the draw, Barber is looking forward to going against the serve-and-volley game of Garnett. Like Bull and Middleton, Barber and Garnett have never played each other.

In today's doubles, there will be two rounds, the first at 1 p.m. Garnett and Middleton form the top-seeded team, with Kriek and Barber seeded second and in opposite halves of the draw. The Kriek-Barber team could face Wilkison and Bull in today's 3 p.m. semifinals.

SINGLES

First Round Results

Bret Garnett (1), Hickory, N.C., def. Mike Baker, Charleston, 6-1, 6-4; Charley Rasheed, Spartanburg, def. Eric Wammock, Hilton Head Island, 6-3, 6-2; Kip Layman, Diluth, Ga., def. Sandon Barth, Charleston, 6-4, 6-4; Bill Barber (4), Asheville, N.C., def. Rohan Wadehra, Charleston, 6-0, 6-1; Will Bull (3), Myrtle Beach, def. Clay Gates, Charleston, 6-1, 6-2; Cris Robinson, Richmond, Va., def. T.J. Van Thullenar, Isle of Palms, 6-3, 6-2; Smith Anderson, Charleston, def. Job De Bour, Hilton Head Island, 6-2, 6-1; T.J. Middleton (2), Diluth, Ga., def. Shane Wells, Chapel Hill, N.C., 6-0, 6-4.

Quarterfinal Results
Garnett def. Rasheed, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5); Barber def. Layman, 6-3, 6-4; Bull def. Robinson, 6-0, 6-2; Middleton def. Anderson, 6-2, 6-2.

Today's Semifinals
9:30 a.m.: Garnett vs. Barber. 11 a.m.: Bull vs. Middleton.

DOUBLES

Today's Quarterfinals
1 p.m: Garnett-Middleton (1) vs. Anderson-Rasheed; Van Thullenar-Barth vs. Layman-Robinson; Wilkison-Bull vs. Gates-Baker; De Bour-Wammock vs. Kriek-Barber (2).

Semifinals: 3 p.m.


(11/08/02)  Garnett, Baker open IOP Invitational
ISLE OF PALMS-Top-seeded Bret Garnett of Hickory, N.C., will kick off the second annual Isle of Palms Tennis Invitational at 9 a.m. today against former College of Charleston player Mike Baker on the clay courts at Wild Dunes Racquet Club.

T.J. Middleton, Garnett's former ATP Tour doubles partner and the No. 2 seed here, will face Chapel Hill, N.C., club pro Shane Wells at 10:30 a.m.

Third-seeded Will Bull, last year's runner-up and a former Myrtle Beach junior star, will meet Clay Gates at 9 a.m. Bull is almost a legend in state junior circles. He was a member of the USTA National Junior Team and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation in boys' 18, owning victories over the likes of Andrei Medvedev, Greg Rusedski and Wayne Ferreria.

The fourth seed is former UCLA standout Bill Barber of Asheville, N.C. Barber draws a stiff first-round test at 10:30 a.m. in the person of 2002 Charleston Southern University standout Rohan Wadehra.

Cris Robinson, an Atlantic Coast Conference champion in singles and doubles in 1995 at Clemson, will take on Wild Dunes pro T.J. Van Thullenar at 10:30 a.m.

Van Thullenar was a last-minute replacement for local junior standout Ryan Young, who withdrew Thursday because of a hand injury he suffered in a recent tournament.

Robinson made the All-ACC team and was Clemson's most valuable player.

He has been ranked in the top five in Virginia in singles, doubles and mixed doubles and has won the National Amateur Clay-Court championship twice. He's now the director of tennis at a club in Richmond.

The singles quarterfinals are scheduled for this afternoon at 2:30.

The eight-team doubles draw that also includes former grand slam singles champion Johan Kriek and former ATP Tour $1 million winner Tim Wilkison will begin Saturday. The singles final is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday, followed by the doubles final. All rounds of the tournament are free to the public.

Other first-round singles matches this morning will pit Sea Pines Plantation pro Eric Wammock against Spartanburg pro Charley Rasheed at 9 o'clock, Kiawah Island pro Sandon Barth against Diluth, Ga., pro Kip Layman at 9 o'clock and local senior Smith Anderson against Sea Pines director of tennis Job De Bour at 10:30.


(11/07/02)  Isle of Palms Invitational begins Friday at Wild Dunes

A group of local pros, former collegians and junior Ryan Young are set to battle three former Grand Prix tour regulars and 2001 runner-up Will Bull in the second annual Isle of Palms Invitational men's tennis tournament that is scheduled to start Friday at Wild Dunes Racquet Club.

The event will be preceded today by a 3-4 p.m. MUSC Children's Hospital clinic and a 4-6 p.m. pro-am. The first two rounds of the 16-draw singles competition will be played Friday, starting at 9 a.m. Semifinal singles will begin Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

Two rounds of the eight-team draw doubles competition that will include former Grand Slam singles champion Johan Kriek and million-dollar tour winner Tim Wilkison will be played Saturday. The doubles quarterfinals are slated to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by the semifinals.

The singles final is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday, followed by the doubles final. All rounds of the tournament are free to the public.

Local players joining Young in singles will include former Clemson player Sandon Barth, former College of Charleston standout Mike Baker, 2002 Charleston Southern graduate Rohan Wadehra and senior standout Smith Anderson.

Former ATP Tour regulars Bret Garnett, T.J. Middleton and Bill Barber headline the draw as the Nos. 1, 2 and 4 seeds, respectively. Bull, a former Myrtle Beach junior standout who played at Clemson and on the pro circuits, is the third seed after losing to former University of South Carolina star Guillaume Legat in last year's final.

Another player who has to be considered among the favorites is Cris Robinson, who won Atlantic Coast Conference championships in singles and doubles in 1995 for Clemson.

Young lost to Garnett in the first round of last year's IOP Invitational, but the heavily recruited Schools of the Arts senior should be the darkhorse this year, simply because of his fitness from junior competition, training at Family Circle Tennis Center and heavy national junior schedule.

Spectators are encouraged to bring new or used tennis rackets and books to the tournament, which will be donated to the MUSC Children's Hospital to be given to children who are treated at the hospital.

The City of Isle of Palms is the title sponsor of the tournament. Other sponsors include The Mustard Seed Restaurants, McElveen Chevrolet-Hummer, Comcast Cablevision, Citadel Communications and The Post and Courier.

CPTL PLAYOFFS

The first round of the first-year all-doubles Charleston Pro Tennis League playoffs will be held Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

Only three points separate the first and last place teams heading into the playoffs. There is a three-way tie for second.

"We were very pleased with our fan support at each venue this season and expect a great turnout this Friday night at the Family Circle Tennis Center," said CPTL president Chris Henderson, a former Furman standout.

The Tommy Condon's team will oppose Anastopoulo Law in the opening match and Just Fresh will take on Money Man Pawn in the nightcap. The winning teams will advance to a Nov. 15 6:30 p.m. championship match at Mount Pleasant's I'On Club.


(11/06/02)  Bishop England slams Cheraw
HIGH SCHOOL PLAYOFFS

The Cheraw team bus showed up at Bishop England High School only 25 minutes before the scheduled start of Tuesday night's Class AA Lower State semifinal volleyball match. But it was the Bishops who showed up late for the match.

Cheraw jumped to leads of 3-0 and 4-1 in the first game of the match.

But the Bishops finally arrived and didn't allow a point the rest of the way, posting a 15-4, 15-0, 15-0 victory Tuesday night.

"We were kind of slow, kind of sluggish," said Bishop England coach Amelia Dawley, whose team improved to 19-2. "After they took the lead, I looked down the bench and said 'Come on.' We finally woke up. We weren't that ready; we were laid back. But by the end of the match, we were playing well. The whole team played pretty solid. It was a good game all the way around once we woke up."

The Bishops' advance to play Central, which defeated Hanahan. The Lower State championship will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at Bishop England.

Dawley called Amanda Reinert's play phenomenal. She had 10 aces and five kills while defensive specialist Katie Speights had seven kills and Courtney McVicker had six kills.

The Bishops have won two straight state titles and three of the last four.

TENNIS

Bishop England girls' tennis coach Patricia Owens admits it's been a strange season, thanks to Mother Nature.

"We didn't get to finish our (regular) season because of the rain. We didn't get to play (Monday) and I didn't think we'd play today," Owens said Tuesday after the Bishops blanked Academic Magnet 6-0 in a Class AA-A Lower State semifinal that was pushed back a day because of inclement weather.

The Bishops had to battle the Raptors and mosquitoes that Owens described as the size of golf balls in a match that was contested at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island.

While the weather has been strange, it's been a pretty normal season as far as the Bishops' record is concerned.

They beat the Raptors for the third time this season and upped their record to 14-3.

The only losses were against SCISA state champion Porter-Gaud (twice) and to Myrtle Beach, a perennial Class AAA power.

The Seahawks beat the Bishops in the championship of the prestigious Belton tournament. "Myrtle Beach is strong at the top and we're strong on the bottom. If you put the two together, no other team in the country could beat them."

The Bishops have been practically unbeatable the last few years in the Class AA-A tournament. They are scheduled to play in the Lower State championship today and are seeking their sixth consecutive state title and 13th since 1983.

The Bishops have held steady despite graduation losses and the loss of Erika Shortridge to an illness. "The young players have been able to step it up and come through for us in critical situations," Owens said.

Tuesday, No. 1 singles player Kalee Claussen led the way with a 6-1, 5-7, 7-3 victory over Academic Magnet's Dana Richards.

Bishop England 6, Academic Magnet 0

Singles: Claussen d. Richards 6-1, 5-7, 7-3; Ferrara d. Beck 6-1, 6-2; Ullal d. London 6-1, 6-3; Amrhein d. Britze 6-1, 6-1; Rogers d. Bethany 6-0, 6-0.

Doubles: Tillman/O'Quinn d. Rhodes/Pruitt 7-5, 6-1.


(11/03/02)  Kiawah, Sea Pines among top resorts

Some things never seem to change. Or so it seems. Since 1996 when Sea Pines Plantation lost the No. 1 spot among Tennis Magazine's "50 Greatest U.S. Tennis Resorts" to the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort of Longboat Key, Fla., Sea Pines has been playing catch-up ... and not gaining.

For the fourth consecutive time in the magazine's even-years rankings, Colony Beach and Tennis Resort is rated first and Sea Pines is listed second in the November edition of Tennis Magazine. What is it that makes this south Florida club "the standard for tennis resorts in this country" in the opinion of Tennis magazine?

The answer apparently is, "800 feet of white sand, 21 courts, unlimited court time, and a staff of pros who never stop coaching, prodding, and praising."

Sounds good to me.

Sea Pines does, too, with its 5,200 acres and "five miles of beach, miles of biking and jogging trails, three golf courses, horseback riding, and top-notch dining." Sea Pines also has added a 60-room luxury hotel, the Inn at Harbour Town.

Part of Colony Beach's charm may result from the fact that court time is included in the room rates. Also, Colony Beach's total emphasis is on tennis. It doesn't have to share the spotlight with golf. President Bush spent the night of 9/1-0/2001 in one of the resort's apartment-sized suites.

And what about Kiawah Island Resort? Kiawah was rated third in the magazine's 1994 and 1996 listings. But that spot has been owned by Ponte Vedra (Fla.) Inn and Club since 1998, while Kiawah has had to settle for one fifth (2000) and two sixths (1998 and 2002).

Wild Dunes Resort made the top 10 for the third straight time, this year in the 10th slot, to enable South Carolina to deadlock Florida with three top 10 resorts.

Not that fifth or sixth is bad, considering the number of excellent tennis resort destinations in this country, but Kiawah's goal is No. 1. "We are happy being in the top six, but we would love to go higher," said noted Kiawah Island tennis director Roy Barth, a former Grand Prix tour player and current vice chairman of the U.S. Davis Cup committee.

Maybe 2004 will be the year Kiawah makes a big jump forward. That's the year the resort is scheduled to open the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, a luxury five-star, 255-room beach-front hotel. The Sanctuary project will include a luxury spa, indoor pool and a fitness center.

Perhaps the hotel and the other amenities will make a difference. "Most of the other resorts have an upscale hotel and we haven't had one upgraded. We've had a smaller inn," Barth pointed out.

A $10 million upgrading of the 30-court tennis facility at the Boca Raton (Fla.) Resort and Club appears to Barth to be the main reason that resort has climbed from eighth in 2000 to fifth in this year's rankings.

While Sea Pines gained its worldwide reputation by serving as the host for the Family Circle Cup until 2001 and having former Wimbledon champion Stan Smith as pro, Colony Beach's advantage in the rankings may be because it is smaller and strictly a tennis beach resort.

Just gaining one of the top six spots five straight times is quite an accomplishment for Kiawah. "A lot of people do read that magazine," Barth said.

FCC TICKETS GO ON SALE

Tickets for the Family Circle Cup, which is set for April 5-13 at Family Circle Tennis Center, will go on sale Monday with a variety of ticket packages. Fans will be able to purchase individual tickets for the second and third tiers for night and day sessions of the million-dollar Women's Tennis Association event. Contact the Tennis Center at 800-677-2293 or 843-856-7900, or by going to www.familycirlcecup.com.

SOUTHERN DEADLINE

Monday is the deadline for entering the Nov. 13-17 Southern Senior Closed Clay Court (even years) Championships at Kiawah Island. The age divisions for men and women will be 30-and-over through 80-and-over in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Call Kiawah (843-768-2121, extension 1721).


(10/27/02)  Kriek adds luster to IOP Invitational field

A great deal just got better. Johan Kriek will play doubles in the Nov. 7-10 Isle of Palms Invitational tennis tournament at Wild Dunes Racquet Club. The chance to watch a former Grand Slam tournament champion play for free is doubly nice.

For those who may have forgotten, Kriek won Grand Slam singles titles at the Australian Open in 1981 and 1982. He also was a singles semifinalist at the French Open and U.S. Open (only a five-set loss to Bjorn Borg in 1980 prevented Kriek from making a U.S. Open final). He was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon twice. In all, he advanced to at least the quarterfinals 11 different times in Grand Slam singles tournaments.

He also is a friend of IOP Invitational organizer Richard Peyton, having played doubles on the Grand Prix tour with Bill Scanlon when Peyton served as Scanlon's coach. That explains why Kriek, 44, has committed to join the likes of former Grand Prix players Tim Wilkison, Bret Garnett, T.J. Middleton, David Caldwell and Bill Barber at Wild Dunes.

Former Atlantic Coast Conference champion Cris Robinson, former Myrtle Beach junior sensation Will Bull and current local junior standout Ryan Young also will play in the Wild Dunes event. Like Kriek, Wilkison will compete only in doubles.

Kriek, South Africa's only Grand Slam singles titlist, lives in Naples, Fla., these days where he is president of a sports marketing company. He'd love to be playing on a senior circuit, but he emphasized recently from Florida, "There is no organized senior tennis tour in the U.S. I think it's a travesty that people our age can't play anymore like golf.

"I think there are a lot of reasons (for not having a senior tour) ... inept ownership, the total disregard of where the dollars come from. We just don't have the kind of characters in tennis that we have in golf.

"If we had Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in tennis we would be doing very well, but we don't have those kind of characters in tennis."

Kriek was one of the top players on Jimmy Connors' Nuveen Tour in the 1990s. He played at Hilton Head Island and had a steady diet of senior events.

"I won a bunch of tournaments, singles and doubles, on the Nuveen tour," he said. "In 1997 and 1998 there were 20 or 21 tournaments overall. Then it dropped to 11, then to four. It rapidly dropped off."

Last season ended in March with a tournament in Naples, Fla. There hasn't been a tournament since, and the future of such tournaments appears bleak.

"I think there are some individual events in Europe, but no tour," Kriek said.

The 5-9, 170-pounder still stays fit, hoping beyond hope that another senior tour will spring up. He attended a meeting in New York during the U.S. Open to discuss such a possibility, but came away dismayed.

"I still play tennis a little, but not even a quarter as involved as I used to be. Once the senior tour went away, I started to look at some other options. I have my own marketing company that does corporate sports entertainment."

Kriek said he has played tennis all his life. Actually, he started at age 4. As a 20-year-old in 1978, he bounced onto the world scene with his big serve and great quickness to gain a 27th ranking in the world. He climbed to as high as No. 7 in 1984. The following year was his last in the top 20, although he made the French Open semifinals in 1986.

"By 25 or 26 (years old) most players peak. Very few seem to win major events after that. Up to 1986 were my best years," he said.

"If you're talented and have perseverance and hang in there, and you can maintain your level of composure, you will be successful over a period of years. I think that's what happened with me."

Kriek still beat a peaking Andre Agassi in 1989, but injuries started taking their toll as he underwent shoulder surgery that year. He still was ranked 52nd in the world at the end of the year.

The Isle of Palms tournament is open to the public free of charge, but spectators are encouraged to donate new or used books and tennis equipment to be given to patients treated at the Children's Hospital.

Additional tournament information is available on the internet at www.isleofpalmsinvitational.com.

SENIOR TEAM WINS

The 8.5 senior mixed doubles team from the Lowcountry Tennis Association won a Southern Sectional

Championship last weekend in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The team, led by captain Susie Peiffer, posted a 5-0 record in the nine-state competition, beating Georgia in the final.

Other team members were Jim Bumgartner, Marvin Jackson, Barbara Pinkerton, Carrie Randall, David Williamson, Bob Peiffer, Caroline Burns and Charlie Burns.


(10/20/02)  Senior pro tourneys now rare commodity

Tennis seems to keep rolling along in this sour economy, never missing a beat. Junior tournaments are plentiful, USTA Leagues and senior tournaments are thriving, and professional tennis keeps awarding huge prize money.

But that's on the surface. There is a segment that is hurting. Remember the days when Jimmy Connors' over-the-hill gang was holding tournaments all over the country, pulling in big prize money? That was only a couple of years ago.

But in 2002, things have changed.

"The (senior) tour itself has slowed down a lot. The only tournament this year in the U.S. was in Naples, Fla.," former Grand Prix $1 million money-earner Tim Wilkison said recently.

Wilkison, now 42 years old, is the director of tennis at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. He is preparing to pay another visit to the Wild Dunes Racquet Club.

The last visit, in 1989, Wilkison was on the Grand Prix tour and was playing in the U.S. Clay Courts. He was a semifinalist that year, taking home a good portion of the $100,000 he won that year playing tennis. This time, Wilkison will be playing doubles in the Nov. 7-10 Isle of Palms Invitational. The prize money will be tiny in comparison to Grand Prix events. The Isle of Palms Invitational is free to the public.

Wilkison, who grew up in Shelby, N.C., en route to a No. 1 U.S. ranking in boys' 16, participated in the Naples pro event as a replacement for Mats Wilander, who had been a replacement for Boris Becker. Wilkison lost both his singles matches in the round-robin event, but won the doubles title with Aaron Krickstein.

Last year, Wilkison played in four of the five tournaments the senior tour held in this country.

"I think part of it is the economy and part is 9/11, with the foreign guys' travel to senior tournaments. It's so expensive to get the top guys to come, and the sponsors have been harder to get the last two years," he said.

Wilkison was known affectionately as "Dr. Dirt" because of his gritty style of play.

"I played pretty hard, diving and all. Dr. Dirt came from Dr. J. He was smooth and I was the exact opposite. If on clay, I would be all dirty from diving after balls."

And guess what? The Wild Dunes event is on clay courts.

Wilkison turned pro at age 17 after a storybook junior career. He has no regrets about missing college or about a career that saw the 6-0 left-hander post wins over such notables as Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Stephan Edberg, Yannick Noah, Becker and Connors.

"It worked out for me, but it's a little risky if you don't make it. It's a guessing game. I could have gotten hurt or lost confidence, then it would have been a mistake," Wilkison said.

"I was able to play to my ability. I'm quite happy with what I did."

Wilkison won six Grand Prix singles titles and nine doubles titles. He was ranked as high as 23rd in the world. That was in 1986, the year he advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.

He now serves on the U.S. Tennis Association's board of directors. He lives in Charlotte with his family that includes top 30 in the South 14-and-under son MacLane. His other son is a soccer player, and he has a 3-year-old daughter. "I'm looking forward to Wild Dunes," Wilkison said, pointing out that another commitment conflicted with the tournament's singles schedule.

His 1989 semifinal loss in the U.S. Clay Courts was to friend Lawson Duncan of Asheville. Wilkison and Duncan trained together in Asheville after Wilkison moved there from Shelby.

YOUNG IN IOP FIELD

The IOP Invitational field will feature 16 players in singles, including local junior Ryan Young. The Schools of the Arts senior played in last year's tournament, losing to former Grand Prix player Bret Garnett.

Young is usually regarded as one of the top juniors to come out of the Charleston area in the last 30 years. A left-hander with superb top-spin strokes and a solid serve, Young was visiting the University of Alabama Friday on a recruiting trip. He also has visited Clemson and North Carolina State, and plans to visit Virginia.

Former University of South Carolina star Guillaume Legat won last year's event.

In addition to Young and Garnett, the singles draw will include T.J. Middleton, former North Carolina star David Caldwell, 2001 runner-up Will Bull, former Clemson player Cris Robinson and former UCLA star Bill Barber.

Garnett and Middleton teamed up to advance to the doubles quarterfinals of the 1993 Australian Open and the round of 16 in each of that year's other three Grand Slam tournaments. Robinson won both the singles and doubles titles in the ACC in 1995. Caldwell and Barber both played on the pro tour.

The tournament is open to the public free of charge, but spectators are encouraged to donate new or used books and tennis equipment to be given to children treated at the Children's Hospital.

Additional tournament information is available on the internet at www.isleofpalmsinvitational.com.

WILD DUNES PRO-AM

Fourteen pros from throughout the Southeast are at Wild Dunes this weekend participating in pro-pro and pro-am tournaments. The finals of both are scheduled for today at 11 a.m. Pros are paired in the pro-pro event, while amateurs from Wild Dunes are paired with pros in the pro-am.


(10/06/02)  IOP Invitational now annual event
The Isle of Palms Invitational is becoming an annual event at Wild Dunes Racquet Club. Tournament No. 2 is scheduled for Nov. 7-10. As last year, the tournament will be free to the public.

This year's field, according to event organizer Richard Peyton, will feature a 16-player field in singles and eight doubles teams. Last year's singles champion, former USC star Guillaume Legat, now plays on the pro tour.

But players such as Bret Garnett, T.J. Middleton, former UNC star David Caldwell and 2001 runner-up Will Bull will return. Garnett and Middleton are former Grand Prix players who teamed up to advance to the quarterfinals of the 1993 Australian Open as well as the round of 16 in each of that year's other three Grand Slam tournaments. Caldwell also played on the ATP Tour.

Some of the new entries include Cris Robinson, a former Clemson player from Richmond, Va., who won both the singles and doubles titles in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1995, and Asheville's Bill Barber, a former pro tour player who played at UCLA.

Local junior standout Ryan Young also is expected to play at Wild Dunes again this year.

Lucey Mortgage Corporation and the City of Isle of Palms will sponsor the event, which will benefit the MUSC Children's Hospital. A free tennis clinic will be held, and The Post and Courier, Comcast Cablevision and Citadel Communication radio stations will promote a health and education drive.

Spectators are encouraged to donate new or used books and tennis equipment to be given to children treated at the Children's Hospital.

More information is available at www.isleofpalmsinvitational.com.

CARTER INTERNATIONAL

Charleston senior standout Brenda Carter has just returned from Austria, where she represented the USTA in the 55-and-over Maureen Connolly Cup. Carter, the third-ranked women's 55 player in the nation, posted a 4-1 singles record for a U.S. team that finished seventh in a 16-team field. "It was such a phenomenal experience," she said about the competition on red clay in Vienna. "I was so proud to be there representing my country. It's hard to describe your feelings when you get to participate in something like this. I'll try, but I may never have a chance to represent my country again."

Hungary, led by world's top-ranked 55 player Maria Pinterova, beat Australia, 2-1, in the final. Team matches included two singles and one doubles.

The 55-and-over men also played in Vienna. The United States finished third in that competition.

After the Maureen Connolly Cup, Carter competed in the International Tennis Federation's world championship tournament in Velden, Austria. As the eighth seed in women's 55, Carter won her first two matches before losing to Pinterova in the quarterfinals. Carter also lost in the doubles quarterfinals.

LOCAL TEAM WINS 8.5

An 8.5 senior team from the Lowcountry Tennis Association won the state title in last weekend's Senior Mixed Doubles state tournament at Hilton Head. The team was led by captain Susie Peiffer and Marvin Jackson, who posted a 5-0 record in the competition.

Other team members were Jim Bumgartner, Caroline and Charlie Burns, Bob Peiffer, Barbara Pinkerton, Carrie Randall and David Williamson. The team now advances to the Sectional Championships in Chattanooga Oct. 18-20.

A 6.5 senior team from Seabrook Island (Rita Tyler, captain) and a 7.5 adult team from the Charleston Tennis Center (Wes Timmerman, captain) advanced to the semis, while an 8.5 adult team from the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department (Grady Query, captain) was runner-up.

SMITH EVENT SUCCESSFUL

Last weekend's Harold Smith Appreciation Tennis Tournament headquartered at the Jack Adams Tennis Center was a huge success. Participants came from several states to show their appreciation to Harold Smith for his contributions to tennis.

The first court at the Jack Adams complex, located at the corner of Congress and Hagood Streets downtown, was dedicated as the Harold Smith Center Court. Kenneth Funderburk served as tournament director of the event that was part of the MOJA festival.

KIAWAH JR. DEADLINE

The deadline for entering the Oct. 18-21 Kiawah Island Junior Clay Court Championship is Wednesday. The tournament is annually one of the biggest in the Southeast. For more information, contact Kiawah Island's West Beach Tennis Club (843-768-2121, ext. 4016).


(09/29/02)  Local junior tennis talent pool is growing
With football in the air, and The Citadel, Clemson, South Carolina and Charleston Southern all playing at home last weekend, not to mention Friday's high school schedule, you might think the last thing on anyone's mind would have been a junior tennis tournament. Wrong! The Snee Farm Junior Championships splurged with 329 total entrants in singles and doubles.

There is definitely a new wave of junior talent, thanks to several local programs and especially Family Circle Tennis Center's junior academy. FCTC tennis director Fritz Nau was at the Snee Farm event observing his protégés. It's the young ages, the 10-and-under and 12-and-under groups, that are making the greatest strides.

Junior tennis appears to be headed for a new plateau locally when these young stars mature into solid juniors. The rest of the state should take notice. Dreams are becoming reality. The Family Circle Cup is raising the bar for junior tennis in the area.

CPTL CREATES INTEREST

The new Charleston Pro Tennis League has attracted enough local attention to form six teams of nine players each. The league is made up of pros and other top players competing for purses.

Three team matches composed of three doubles matches each are scheduled for the next six Fridays at 6:30 p.m. This coming week's matches will be held at the Country Club of Charleston. The I'On Club (Oct. 11), Dunes West (Oct. 18) and Wild Dunes (Oct. 25) will serve as the hosts for the last three weeks of the regular season. The first round of the playoffs will be held on Nov. 1 at Snee Farm. The CPTL championships are set for Nov. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Family Circle Tennis Center.

MIXED DOUBLES GROWTH

Participation in the local Lowcountry Tennis Association mixed doubles league is on the rise. The LCTA was recognized by the Southern Tennis Association at a recent meeting in Atlanta for having the state's greatest percentage of growth and greatest actual growth from 2001 to 2002. The LCTA added 228 players (27 percent growth) this summer. Nine LCTA teams are at Hilton Head Island this weekend participating in the state mixed doubles championships.

AREA SENIORS FARE WELL

Charleston players brought home a number of singles and doubles titles from last weekend's State-Closed Senior Clay Court Championships at Litchfield Beach.

The local singles winners included William Benesch in men's 75, Susie Peiffer in women's 50 and Jane Fluet in women's 60. In doubles, Russ Bridgham won in men's 40, Danny Dye and Joe Harnage in men's 45, Bob Bambauer in men's 65, Susie Peiffer in women's 50, Charlie Burns in mixed 55 and Zoe Williams in mother/daughter.

FLEMING EVENT NEAR

The deadline for entering the Oct. 10-13 Alan Fleming Senior Clay Court Tournament at Seabrook Island is Friday. Regarded as one of the top senior events in the South, the annual event will offer competition in age groups from 45-and-over to 75-and-over for men's singles and doubles and to 65-and-over for women's singles and doubles. Mixed doubles will be contested in 40, 50, 60 and 70 age categories. For more information, contact the Seabrook Island tennis complex (843-768-7543).

The Southern Senior Closed (Even Years) Clay Courts will be held Nov. 13-17 at Kiawah Island.

JUNIOR TOURNAMENTS

Anderson's Cobb's Glen Country Club (864-226-7684) will serve as host for the State-Closed Junior Doubles Championships Oct. 4-6.

The Carolina OB-Gyn Junior Championships will be held Oct. 12-14 at Murrells Inlet's Wachesaw Plantation (843-651-3934).

Kiawah Island's annual Junior Clay Courts Championships are scheduled for Oct. 18-21 at the West Beach Tennis Club (843-768-2121, extension 4016).

The Topspin Junior Challenger Circuit Championships will be held Nov. 2-4 at the Topspin Racquet & Swim Club in Lexington (803-951-8851).

The Mount Pleasant Tennis Complex on Whipple Road (843-856-2162) will hold the Mt. P. Junior Tennis Classic Nov. 15-17.

The annual Charleston Thanksgiving Junior Classic is scheduled for Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at Charleston Tennis Center (843-724-7402).


(09/15/02)  Williams sisters reaffirm position as upper echelon of women's tennis
Venus and Serena Williams are in an even more dominant position in women's tennis than most fans realized before the U.S. Open. The U.S. Open semifinals made that statement.

Sure, Lindsay Davenport gave Serena a fit in the second set, and Amelie Mauresmo won the second set and made Venus work extra hard in the third set. Normally, you might read into this that the Williams sisters are vulnerable and aren't really in a league of their own. In this case, that assumption probably is wrong.

Yes, Venus and Serena will suffer more losses to the mere mortals of the WTA Tour. But the losses will come only when the sisters are experiencing off days. They aren't totally unbeatable, just almost.

Mauresmo and Davenport had excellent opportunities to win the semifinals, or at least the second set in Davenport's case. But they appeared helpless when Venus and Serena focused their games, clearly indicating that no one other than the sisters themselves is going to beat Venus or Serena when they are at the top of their games.

Just how far ahead does an opponent need to be to feel comfortable? Maybe, 5-0, 40-0 in a decisive set? Even then, an opponent might not feel secure until the umpire pronounces, "Game, set, match!"

But Mauresmo is a player to watch. She has a wonderfully complete game, probably the most complete in women's tennis after Serena. She has the ground strokes from both sides to set up a solid net game. She's a natural at the net or on the baseline. At 23 years old, Mauresmo is no Venus or Serena, but when the sisters are not playing she might become the best in the women's game.

NO SURPRISE

It wasn't a huge surprise that Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi met in the U.S. Open final. Even at their advanced ages, they probably still are the two best hard-court players in men's tennis.

Despite a spectacular U.S. Open for the men, mainly due to heroic efforts by Sampras and Agassi, and young Andy Roddick and James Blake, men's tennis may be headed for troubled times, not just in the United States, but overall. Spain and France alone, with their clay-court brigades of faceless generics, aren't enough to carry men's tennis.

The Russians, Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, seem to be erratic and fading, and Gustavo Kuerten is trying to make a comeback. Fortunately, Australia has young Lleyton Hewitt, a ball of fire on wheels, exciting to watch because of his quickness and heart, but rather arrogant and probably not a player the world will readily accept as a hero. And the United States has the entertaining, energized Roddick and the vastly improved Blake.

If Roddick were to take three months off the tour and work on a serve-and-volley game, he might become a legitimate threat at all four Grand Slams. Blake has a world of potential, but needs consistency and a more polished net game. Both have a great deal of heart. That's heartening.

Yet, men's tennis struggles in the shadows of the women's game. The New York Times' Mike Freeman writes, "No sport has done so poor a job of promoting itself or engineering new and interesting blood as men's tennis ..."

He's probably right. Even a player as great, graceful and gracious as Sampras hasn't been fully promoted by the ATP Tour.

This year's U.S. Open was one of the best ever, particularly the last three days. Sampras and Agassi played one of the more memorable U.S. Open finals, one that had the highest U.S. Open TV ratings since 1990 when Sampras defeated Agassi for his first U.S. Open and Grand Slam title.

Sampras looked like the Sampras of old in the first set and much of the second. He served superbly, tossing the ball with the sheer confidence that he could place his serve almost anywhere he wanted. His spin serve down the middle line was virtually indefensible.

What made Sampras' serve even more difficult to handle was his quick movement inside the service line and resulting masterful volleys. Only when Sampras tired in the third set and lagged behind the service line could Agassi get into the match.

LOCAL EVENTS

-- Tuesday is the deadline for entering next weekend's Snee Farm Junior Championships. The event will feature singles and doubles in all age groups. For more information, call 884-3252.

-- Next Saturday is the deadline for entering the Harold Smith Appreciation Tennis Tournament that is scheduled for Sept. 27-29 at Charleston Tennis Center, The Citadel's Bunch Courts and the Jack Adams Tennis Center. The tournament will have various age groups for adults and juniors. Contact Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402).


(09/08/02)  Capriati's competitive time slipping away

Winning one Grand Slam title any year would be a lifetime achievement for almost any professional tennis player. So, don't feel sorry for Jennifer Capriati.

She's had a great career. She's been ranked No. 1 in the world and has won more than $6 million.

She's also had a great year. She won the Australian Open and is ranked third in the world. She's advanced to at least the quarterfinals of every tournament she has played since mid-January. Three of her four losses to Serena Williams went three sets.

It's just those other losses that haunt Capriati's year, namely three this summer to Amelie Mauresmo, including the quarterfinals on grass at Wimbledon and two straight on hard courts, the last one Wednesday night in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

Mauresmo, usually not highly regarded in the past once her heavy ground strokes were taken off clay courts, has become Capriati's nemesis. Capriati must have bad dreams before she plays Mauresmo these days, much like Steffi Graf's worst nightmare was to find Amanda Coetzer in her half of the draw. Coetzer was a far lesser player, but she knew how to beat Graf. Mauresmo obviously has uncovered a secret flaw in Capriati's game.

The French woman is the main reason Capriati hasn't gotten another crack at Serena since the French Open and hasn't played Venus Williams all year. And Capriati is one of the select few players who can match the Williams sisters from the baseline.

Capriati did have a few other humiliating days this year other than against Mauresmo. She lost her first match of the year to Alexandra Stevenson at Sydney. She bounced back to win the Australian Open, but hasn't won a tournament since.

Perhaps, it was the stinging loss to Patty Schnyder's left-handed spin shots in the semifinals of the Family Circle Cup back in April that really spoiled Capriati's year and set the stage for disappointment. Until then, Capriati appeared to believe that she indeed was the best player in women's tennis as her ranking at the time reflected.

She hasn't been the same since. In addition to Serena and Mauresmo, Capriati has lost to Justine Henin, Jelena Dokic and Ai Sugiyama since the Family Circle Cup.

Capriati will turn 27 before another Family Circle Cup arrives. Monica Seles is only two years older. So, time is running out for Capriati, and not only are the Williams sisters in her way, Amelie Mauresmo is blocking the path to them.

SEABROOK SENIOR SET

Seabrook Island's annual Alan Fleming Senior Clay Court Tournament will be held Oct. 10-13. The tournament is regarded as one of the top senior events in the South and is expected to have more than 200 participants.

The deadline for entering the tournament is Oct. 4. The age groups run from 45-and-over to 75-and-over for men's singles and doubles and to 65-and-over for women's singles and doubles. Mixed doubles will be contested in 40, 50, 60 and 70 age categories.

For more information, contact the Seabrook Island tennis complex (768-7543).

LOCAL EVENTS

Rain washed out the eight-team girls' high school scrimmage that was scheduled for last Saturday at Family Circle Tennis Center. Bishop England was to serve as host, but a heavy fall schedule for local teams may prevent the rescheduling of the event. That's too bad, because any event featuring the girls' teams from Porter-Gaud, Bishop England and Myrtle Beach is a good one.

Dr. Walter Luszki is working on plans to hold the annual Corrine Jones Playground junior tennis tournament this fall at the playground in the Wagener Terrace section near The Citadel.

Today is the last day to enter the fourth of Snee Farm Country Club's five adult Grand Prix tournaments for the year. The men's and women's singles, doubles and mixed doubles event will start Tuesday evening. Snee Farm tennis director Dewey Caulder is expecting more than 300 entries. For information, contact Snee Farm (884-3252).

Monday is the deadline for entering next weekend's USTA-sanctioned Maybank Junior Challenger at James Island's Maybank Tennis Center. For more information, contact the Maybank facility (406-8814) or Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402).

The always popular Snee Farm Junior Championships will be played Sept. 20-22, with an entry deadline of Sept. 17. The USTA-sanctioned tournament will have singles and doubles for all age groups, as well as consolation matches. Contact the Snee Farm tennis shop for more information (884-3252).

Juniors can compete in the non-sanctioned Harold Smith Appreciation Tennis Tournament scheduled for Sept. 27-29 at Charleston Tennis Center, The Citadel's Bunch Courts and the Jack Adams Tennis Center. The tournament also will have various ages for adults in singles and doubles as well as rated divisions in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. The entry deadline is Sept. 21. For more information, contact Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402).


(09/01/02)  Bielik a newcomer to watch

Bea Bielik may not be quite ready yet to turn women's tennis upside down. After all, she has played only three matches as a professional.

But don't write this impressive 21-year-old off as just another newcomer to the WTA Tour. She appears to have everything it takes to make it big in pro tennis.

She has the height, strength and athletic ability to stand toe-to-toe with Venus and Serena Williams. Her serve is a real weapon, cruising up to nearly 120 mph. She has a big game, with a huge forehand. And yes, she hits a one-handed backhand.

Back in March as a Wake Forest junior, she was playing at the College of Charleston's downtown courts as the top-ranked singles and doubles player in collegiate tennis. Her potential was obvious.

Friday, she was battling eighth-seeded Justine Henin at 5-5 in the third round of the U.S. Open before losing 7-5, 6-1. That was exactly one week after the 6-foot native of Hungary, whose family now resides in the suburbs of New York City, decided to pass up her senior year at Wake Forest and turn pro.

Bielik won her first two matches as a pro, including a second-round upset of 27th-seeded Tamarine Tanasugarn.

Between March and now, Bielik won the NCAA singles title, yielding a record-low 21 games in the process. She finished the season with a 35-2 singles record.

Just when it appears women's tennis' immediate future will center around the Williams sisters, Bea Bielik is a player to watch.

COURTING KIDS START

Delores Jackson's award-winning Courting Kids youth tennis program is scheduled to start its fall seven-week run next Saturday at the Alan Fleming Tennis Complex on Johns Island and the Jack Adams Tennis Center next to The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium.

The Johns Island sessions will be from 10-11:30 a.m. and the downtown sessions will be from 1-2:30 p.m. There is a $10 registration fee.

Courting Kids is a City of Charleston program for all city residents from 5-17 years of age. The program has won numerous state, regional and national awards, and was presented $5,000 by Serena Williams last April during her visit to Charleston for the Family Circle Cup. For more information, contact Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402).

TEAM KICKOFF CLINIC

The annual Prince Kickoff Clinic for the fall Lowcountry Junior Team Tennis League will be held on Sept. 20 at 5 p.m. at the Pine Forest Country Club.

The clinic will be open to the public and will give participants a chance to hit with the newest Prince rackets, try out the Prince ball machine, time their serving speeds and win prizes. For more information, contact Pine Forest (851-9010).

Regular play for the junior league will start on Sept. 27. Matches will be held on Fridays at 4:30 p.m.

MAYBANK CHALLENGER

The entry deadline for the the Sept. 13-15 Maybank Challenger Junior Tournament is Sept. 9. The singles-only tournament for all aged juniors will be held at the Maybank Tennis Center on James Island (406-8814).


(08/25/02)  More muscular Hingis seeking return to the top

Martina Hingis has a slightly different look these days. Her arms, shoulders and neck ripple with muscles.

I don't remember seeing those muscles quite so accented before. I even used the newspaper's photo archiving system to compare photos of Hingis from past years with current photos.

Could it be that while Hingis was sidelined for three months, she used some of her ankle rehabilitation time to improve her upper-body strength? If so, the Swiss Miss is still women's tennis' smartest player.

At a time when power hitters such as Venus and Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati have charged into control of women's tennis, the games of some smallish players such as Hingis needed revitalization. No doubt, Hingis, her ankle and her game will be scrutinized the next two weeks in New York City.

Hingis shouldn't be a serious factor in the U.S. Open, considering her three-month layoff from the tour because of ankle surgery. This is even more obvious after her Thursday collapse and loss of the last 11 games in succession against Anastasia Myskina after being within one point of a 7-6, 5-1 lead.

The three-set loss actually might have been a blessing for Hingis in that it was the quarterfinals and only her second tournament of her comeback.

It gave her a few days off before Monday's start of the U.S. Open.

The U.S. Open, as all Grand Slams, is long and grueling, requiring seven victories to make a player's mark on tennis history. The good thing is that players usually get a day off between matches.

This improved upper-body strength, which Hingis may still be working on, isn't a quick fix, but it could play a major role in her tennis career over the next few years. If she maintains her phenomenal court savvy and quickness while adding more zip to her ground game and serves as well as increasing her overall strength, maybe she won't have to play second fiddle to the bigger girls. A return to the top of the game by Hingis would give women's tennis a shot in the arm, now that Capriati appears to be in a slow-decline mode, Davenport has had injury problems and Monica Seles is in the twilight of a great career.

Otherwise, Venus and Serena may own the game, as they have three of the last four Grand Slam finals.

CITY OFFERS PROGRAM

Charleston Tennis Center will start the first four-week session of its fall junior tennis program on Monday. Pro Fredrik Andersson will offer instructions for a variety of ages, from young novices to junior tournament standouts.

The 4-6 year-olds will get their introduction to the game in 3:45-4:30 p.m. sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while the beginner-intermediate 6-10 year-olds will gather from 4-5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and the beginner-intermediate 10-15 year-olds will drill from 5-6 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays. Tournament-level juniors of all ages will train from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

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

LOCAL EVENTS

The girls' high school season starts next Saturday with an eight-team scrimmage format at the Family Circle Tennis Center. Some of the state's better teams, host Bishop England, Porter-Gaud and Myrtle Beach, will participate, along with Ashley Hall, Academic Magnet, Wando, Summerville and West Ashley.

The event will have seven flights of singles, but no doubles. Each player will be guaranteed at least two eight-game pro-set matches, with no-ad scoring. No awards will be presented.

The event originated last year as a full-fledged high school tournament that Bishop England won. But the schedule was changed to a scrimmage format this year due to S.C. High School League rules that limit the number of tournaments teams can participate in to two per school year.

The first junior tournament of the fall season will be the Maybank Junior Challenger at James Island's Maybank Tennis Center on the weekend of Sept. 13-15. The following weekend, Sept. 20-22, Snee Farm will hold its annual junior championships.

Juniors also will be able to play in the non-sanctioned Harold Smith Appreciation Tennis Tournament scheduled for Sept. 27-29 at Charleston Tennis Center, The Citadel's Bunch Courts and the Jack Adams Tennis Center. This tournament will have boys' and girls' singles and doubles divisions in 12-and-under, 14s and 16s. The entry fees for juniors are $10 for singles and $20 per doubles team.

The tournament also will have various ages for adults in singles and doubles as well as rated divisions in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Entry fees will be $18 for singles and $30 for doubles and the deadline is Sept. 21. Contact Charleston Tennis Center.


(08/18/02)  Easy for juniors to get started
If you're a junior looking for a way to get started in tennis, the Lowcountry Junior Team Tennis League has a deal for you.  Fifteen dollars will get you started.

That's all it costs to participate in the three-month fall league. But you better hurry. The team roster turn-in deadline is Sept. 6.

Most local clubs and pros have information on the program, but you also can contact league commissioner Peggy McElhiney of Summerville (821-8903) or Country Club of Charleston tennis director Lee Brockman (795-0425) for information.

This year's JTT League won't be affiliated with the U.S. Tennis Association's USA 1-2-3 program, so the $15 is all that's needed (no USTA membership to worry about). The fee will cover the cost of T-shirts, refreshments, awards and other expenses.

Matches will be played on Fridays at 4:30 p.m. from Sept. 20 through Nov. 15, followed by a league playoff. Matches will include five singles and two doubles.

Four divisions will make up the league, beginning with the 6-8 year-olds in the novice Red Stars and capped off by the 12-16 year-olds challenger-level White Stripes. In between, there's the 8-10 year-olds Red Stripes and 8-12 year-olds White Stars, both of the novice variety.

NEW PRO LEAGUE

Charleston is getting a new pro league. No, Andre Agassi won't be involved.

This league is for local club tennis pros and other 4.5-level and above players. It's called the Charleston Pro Tennis League.

The league will begin Sept. 13. League founder Chris Henderson, a former Furman player for coach Paul Scarpa who played in a similar league in Atlanta, plans to have six teams with eight players each. The format calls for three doubles matches each Friday night. For more information, contact Henderson at 388-2530.

The league already has several sponsors. Also, each participant will pay an entry fee. The first 48 players who sign up will be placed on teams at a Sept. 9 draft party.

MUSC TEAM PARTICIPATES

The MUSC Blue Stripes tennis team just returned from the AAU Junior Olympics in Knoxville, Tenn., where the team finished 10th. Dana Richards led the team by winning three of her five matches. The doubles team of Louisa Sperr and Morgan Ivey also won three of their five matches. More than 10,000 athletes in various sports participated in the Junior Olympics.

John Gottshalk, Ben Lee and Brice Richards played singles.

FALL LEAGUE NEARING

The primary emphasis right now for the USTA Adult and Senior Leagues is the Combo League, which will start up in the next few weeks. According to Lowcountry Tennis Association president Bob Peiffer, "There is no single start date for either the Combo or the Fall League."

Peiffer is looking to avoid site and date conflicts between the Combo and the Fall League. "We will not start play on Tuesday nights for the Fall League until Tuesday night play for Combo is over and done with. But, this varies by flight (level), by gender and by night and day. And yes, there will be flights that do not start until the second week of October," he said.

Considering that information, this year's USTA Fall League could be a short one. If a team starts in the middle of October, that leaves only a half dozen matches or so before Thanksgiving. The one thing definite is the Sept. 7 deadline for submitting rosters for the Fall Adult and Fall Senior Leagues.

YOUNG FARES WELL

Charleston city men's champion Ryan Young won three matches to advance to the boys' 18 round of 32 in the recent USTA Super National Hard-Court Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich. Young is a senior at the Schools of the Arts in West Ashley.


(08/04/02)  Hantuchova loses match on penalty

The participants normally determine the winners of tennis matches. That wasn't the case Wednesday in the Acura Classic in Carlsbad, Calif. A chair umpire decided the final outcome of a match pitting Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama.

That's right. Chair umpire Denis Overberg decided the last point, and not on a line call.

With Hantuchova facing a match point, but standing at the baseline and preparing to toss for one of her big serves, Overberg ruled, "Game, set, match." It didn't matter that the two players already had played more than two hours in the heat. Hantuchova, a Russian teen-ager who played in this year's Family Circle Cup, simply had taken more than the maximum 20 seconds between points. She was declared a 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 loser.

The chair umpire had already helped Sugiyama stay in the match in the previous game, giving Sugiyama a game point when Hantuchova took too long getting ready to return service with the third-set tied at 5-5 and deuce. Hantuchova couldn't believe the first one, and no one believed the second point penalty, not even her opponent.

"It's tough when someone is taking a long time between points. But I think I didn't want to win that way. ... I don't think it was a good idea to do at the end of a match point," said Sugiyama, who earlier had needed a medical timeout to be treated for cramps in both calves.

Overberg is a veteran umpire who penalized Venus Williams a game-ending point when she lost hair beads during a quarterfinal loss to Lindsay Davenport in the 1999 Australian Open.

"I heard she was standing at the baseline getting ready to serve," said Davenport about the latest incident. "And if that's the case, that's uncalled for. That's when the umpire is trying to do too much."

Venus Williams agreed. "Oh my word. I've played a lot of players who seem to take 90 seconds on the court, and the umpire never called them," Venus said.

FANS PREFER ANNA

Anna Kournikova is the biggest draw in tennis, and this week's Acura Classic took advantage of that potential. The tournament scheduled her for the feature match on Tuesday night against Alexandra Stevenson.

Kournikova didn't disappoint anyone, except Stevenson. Not only did Kournikova play near-perfect tennis in a 6-0, 6-1 thrashing of Stevenson in 47 minutes, she packed the stadium at La Costa Resort and Spa. Organizers started the match 22 minutes late to allow the fans to find a seat in the sold-out 6,500-seat facility. A number of fans were turned away at the gate.

Kournikova still hasn't won a tour singles title, but she's getting closer now after a second straight week of making the quarterfinals or better. She is now ranked in the top 50 (47th) in the world for the first time this year, and will move higher when the next rankings are released Monday. She entered this weekend's semifinals with seven victories in her last eight matches, the only loss coming to Venus Williams.

FCC NAMES REYNOLDS

The Family Circle Cup and Family Circle Tennis Center have named Robin Reynolds as public relations and communications director. Reynolds has served the tournament as a public relations consultant since 1994.

TENNIS WON'T LOSE OWENS

Jimmy Owens doesn't intend to leave tennis entirely just because he's no longer a high school tennis coach. Before joining the Porter-Gaud athletic department five years ago, Owens served as a USTA-certified tennis official. He worked nine U.S. Opens, a Davis Cup final and the Fed Cup.

He enjoyed this immensely, but his duties at Porter-Gaud as athletic coordinator, girls' tennis coach and boys' assistant tennis coach, along with serving as coach of various junior varsity teams conflicted with the time he needed to work tennis events. He gave up officiating tennis events, but continued officiating college basketball games.

Now that his Porter-Gaud girls' team has won three straight state independent schools tennis championships and he has left Porter-Gaud, Owens will have time to return to tennis officiating.

OLD TENNIS BALLS?

Old tennis balls, anyone? If you've got some you don't need, you can drop them off at Charleston Tennis Center. City tennis coordinator Peggy Bohne said she has a waiting list of schoolteachers who have requested old tennis balls.

Old tennis balls are perfect for cutting in half and putting on the bottoms of desks to reduce noise in the classroom when children move their desks around.

EVENT HONORS SMITH

A tournament honoring Harold Smith will be held Sept. 27-29 at Charleston Tennis Center and The Citadel courts. The event originally was scheduled for the Jack Adams Tennis Center where Smith introduced many African-Americans to the game of tennis.

The tournament will have different age divisions for juniors and adults as well as rated divisions for adults.

The City of Charleston's Department of Recreation will sponsor the event, which will be held in conjunction with the MOJA Arts Festival.

Kenneth Funderburk is serving as tournament director of the Harold Smith Appreciation Tennis Tournament and can be reached at 556-3611 until 4 p.m. or 723-5425 at night.

BARTHS FARE WELL

Kiawah Island director of tennis Roy Barth and his son Jonathan reached the quarterfinals of the USTA's recent national father-son clay-court tournament in Cincinnati. The Barths lost to the eventual winners of the tournament, former South African touring pro Peter Van Langen and his son.

Jonathan Barth also works as a pro at Kiawah's West Beach Tennis Club.


(07/28/02)  Perkins takes charge in hard-court event

Mount Pleasant's Ashley Perkins went to Columbia last weekend for the State-Closed Junior Hard-Court Championships as an unseeded player in girls' 16.

A 13-year-old, she was playing up and didn't really know what to expect.

Perkins did realize, however, that she probably would have to face top-seeded Lisa Malison of Fort Mill in the second round. Of course, Perkins had to win her first-round match to even get to that point.

Perkins not only won her first match, she overwhelmed Malison, 6-1, 6-2, en route to five consecutive straight-set victories that ended with a 6-1, 6-1 romp past fourth-seeded Emily Wardlaw of Greenville in the final.

Mount Pleasant's Richard Pearce also fared well, living up to his No. 2 seeding in boys' 12 by finishing as runner-up to No. 1 seed Philip Hocker of Spartanburg.

Hocker won the final, 6-0, 6-0.

Will Bailey of Daniel Island was a semifinalist in boys' 16, losing to No. 1 seed Wyatt Boylston of Lexington, 6-3, 6-2. Bailey was seeded fifth.

Seven other juniors from the Charleston area, four girls and three boys, advanced to the quarterfinals. They were: Garrett Egan in boys' 16; Taylor Calcote in boys' 18; Alex Nista in boys' 12; Hagan Edgerton, Audrea Fernandez-Salvador and Morgan Ivey in girls' 12; and Jenny Wilson in girls' 18.

FAMILY CIRCLE UPDATE

It's been three months now since the Family Circle Cup's second outing on Daniel Island, and it's still about six months before player entries for the 2003 event will start being released.

The Family Circle Tennis Center didn't make a bid for last weekend's Fed Cup competition that the U.S. Tennis Association awarded to Springfield, Mo. Where?

I thought Charleston was a natural for a Fed Cup tie pitting the Americans against Israel.

But Family Circle officials said they were concentrating on lining up entertainment events for the fall.

Jeff Cataffa has left the Family Circle Cup as marketing director, marking the second major change in less than a year.

Lisa Thomas left the Family Circle Cup as general manager last November and was replaced by Frankie Whelan, who moved in as executive director.

The Family Circle has made one change that will please local fans who were torn this year between the tennis tournament on Daniel Island and Hilton Head Island's Heritage Golf Classic.

The Family Circle Cup has changed the dates of next year's tournament to April 5-13.

The switch removes a conflict with the Heritage Golf Classic, which is scheduled for April 14-20.

Fans will remember that this year's Family Circle Cup and the Heritage ended the same weekend.

OWENS VISITS WIMBLEDON

Renewing old acquaintances can have its advantages, as recently retired Porter-Gaud girls' tennis coach and athletic director Jimmy Owens discovered during his 30th wedding anniversary trip to Europe with his wife, Susan, earlier this summer.

Owens had met Wimbledon referee Alan Mills some years ago while Owens was officiating the U.S. Open in New York.

Mills had told Owens if he ever got to Wimbledon to look him up. Owens did just that, and he and Susan were rewarded with entry into the famed Wimbledon grounds.

They saw Justine Henin defeat Monica Seles on Centre Court.

During their three weeks in Europe, Owens also played the old St. Andrews golf course in Scotland, shooting an 87 that included a birdie on the 18th hole.

GENTLE RICHARD

The Richard Williams I observed and talked to during his recent visit to Charleston wasn't the person I have read so many negative comments about the last few years.

The father of Venus and Serena Williams couldn't have been more accommodating or gracious during our interviews or his presentation to about 200 campers at the City Gymnasium. Not only did he answer every question any of the kids asked, he stayed around and hugged children and adults, and had his picture taken with many of them.

MOUNT PLEASANT EVENT

Next Saturday is the deadline for entering the Aug. 9-11 Mount Pleasant Tennis Championships at the Kerr Tennis Center (856-2162) on Whipple Road. The tournament will offer even-years age group singles, doubles and mixed doubles for men and women as well as NTRP-rated singles, doubles and mixed doubles for men and women.


(07/21/02)  Bleak outlook for men's tennis in U.S.

America's men's tennis looks a lot like it did 15 years ago when Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe could see the end of their careers approaching.

Connors and McEnroe could still play well enough to hold down places among the world's top 10, but there was no one behind them, or so it appeared. Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang and Jim Courier were teen-agers who were recognized only by tennis insiders. Certainly, no one dreamed that this quartet would combine to win 25 Grand Slam singles titles.

Likewise, Agassi and Sampras can still play pretty well. One of them might even sneak up and win the U.S. Open. That would surprise no one. Why?

Because the rest of men's tennis, not excluding Americans, is in pretty sad shape. Lleyton Hewitt is easily the best of the newest crop of men's tennis players. Yet, there's nothing real special about this Australian, other than his heart and his legs. He certainly doesn't appear to be a player for the ages.

Things are particularly bleak for men's tennis in the United States. Of course, an Agassi or Sampras might be out there somewhere, the same way Venus and Serena Williams were just waiting their turns. But this time, it may take more than just a couple of years for another group of great men's players to arrive.

We all know about Andy Roddick, James Blake, Mardy Fish, Jan-Michael Gambill and Taylor Dent. They're the best young players we have. But it's unlikely that any of them, other than possibly Roddick, will challenge for the No. 1 spot in the world.

Roddick is the best of the group, and the only one that hasn't already turned 20. So, they aren't going to sneak up on anyone as Agassi, Sampras, Chang and Courier did.

This current group may become solid, journeymen type players. They also may not.

Roddick surged onto the scene last year, offering hope that he may be able to replace Sampras. But don't count on it. Roddick runs like a lineman, not a halfback, and he doesn't possess any real weapons, other than possibly his serve.

Dent may actually have the most potential of the group. Now 21 years old, he is extremely athletic and strong. He also has a huge serve. Finesse may be his weakness.

But Dent could be called Australian, since his dad is former Australian standout Phil Dent. When Dent won last week's Hall of Fame tournament, it marked the first time in the open era of the ATP tour that a father and his son both won singles titles.

Blake is 22 and Fish is 20. Both have a long way to go. And Gambill is already 25.

BREWER ON FOX

Charleston resident and Southern Tennis Association president Barbara Brewer will appear on the Fox Sports South television program "Inside Tennis with the Koz" next Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

THE SUPER DUPERS

If there's any 70-year-olds (by Dec. 31) who haven't been getting enough tennis, the Lowcountry Tennis Association has come up with another league. It's the Super Duper Senior League. The LCTA plans to offer 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0 for men and women this fall.

In establishing the new league, the LCTA changed the age requirements for the Super Senior League, previously for players 62 and over, to players 60 and older.

LCTA president Bob Peiffer says that the Super Duper Seniors will be eligible to play in four different leagues: the Super Senior League as well as the normal Senior and Adult Leagues, and the Super Dupers.


(07/14/02)  Have Venus, Serena raised the bar too high in women's tennis?
An all-Williams final was unique at last year's U.S. Open. If another one occurs this year, it will be expected.

In reality, that's the state of women's professional tennis this year. Venus and Serena Williams are in a class all to themselves. What once loomed as total excitement for tennis fans has lost some of its appeal

Why? It's not that the sisters aren't playing simply incredible tennis.

It's just that the crowd doesn't have a favorite.

Sports crowds need an underdog and a favorite to truly enjoy a sporting event. Take the South Carolina-Clemson football game, for instance. If you removed all of the avid fans from the stadium, the game would lose most of its significance.

That's what sports is all about for fans, rooting for a certain player or team.

In the case of Venus and Serena, most tennis fans see them as the same. Some fans don't get deeply involved in the all-Williams matches. They're more casual viewers. They don't mind jumping up to run to the kitchen for a snack smack in the middle of a game or point. That would be unheard of in a Steffi Graf-Martina Hingis matchup, or a match pitting either of the Williams sisters against Jennifer Capriati or Monica Seles.

Last Saturday when the Wimbledon women's final started, my family and I were in a hotel room in San Jose, Costa Rica, at 7 a.m. there rushing around packing for a tour of the city and the return trip home through airport security in a foreign country.

Luckily, the U.S. chain hotel we were staying in had cable TV, unlike much of our 15 days in Costa Rica when only an occasional surfing venture on the Internet kept me updated with what was happening at the All-England Club.

But as excited as I was when John McEnroe's voice boomed out of the hotel TV, I didn't hesitate to join the rest of the family when they left the room for breakfast. The first set was ending, and as I had predicted to my daughter, Serena was well on her way to another victory over Venus.

Venus and Serena have taken tennis to a level above the rest of the WTA Tour. They are big, strong athletes who play the game in a way most other women are incapable of playing. Their talent, strength and athletic abilities are unique to the women's game.

It doesn't help the tour that big-hitting Lindsay Davenport has been sidelined all year by a knee surgery, or that Hingis is out with an injury, or that Seles is approaching the twilight of her great career, or that Capriati is struggling with her confidence. Even if all were well with these players, Venus and Serena likely still would dominate them.

As Richard Williams said Friday during his visit to Charleston, Venus and Serena have raised the bar of women's tennis.

CAPTAINS MEETING

The Lowcountry Tennis Association will hold its joint annual meeting and captains meeting for the fall season Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Charleston County Main Library on Calhoun Street.

LCTA president Bob Peiffer stresses that it is important for all teams planning to play in any of the following Fall 2002 leagues to be represented at meeting on Monday: Combo Adults, Combo Seniors, Adult USA League Tennis, Senior USA League Tennis, Super Senior USA League Tennis and Super Duper Senior USA League Tennis.

The Super Duper Senior League is new. It's for players who will be at least 70 years old by Dec. 31.

MAYBANK TEAM ADVANCES

The 4.5 senior women's team from the Maybank Tennis Center will represent South Carolina as champions this coming week in Louisville, Ky., in the Southern Sectional Championships.


(07/13/02)  Williams shares secrets of family success
There are more important things in life than tennis. That's the message from Richard Williams, who has been working on a plan for more than two decades.

If you think John McEnroe is smart about tennis, Richard Williams is even smarter, not just about tennis, but about life as well.

Richard Williams is a soothsayer whose once absurd-sounding predictions have become as true as the lives and tennis success of Venus and Serena Williams.

Richard, of course, is their father.

He masterminded the plot even before Venus and Serena were born. The fact that his two daughters are the top two women's tennis players in the world and have opposed each other in the finals of three of the last four Grand Slam tournaments is just as much a tribute to this 60-year-old dad as it is to his daughters.

Richard Williams was in Charleston Thursday and Friday promoting his own career. He's the spokesman for a new sports drink, Smash, that is scheduled to hit the market around the time of the U.S. Open. He left at midday Friday for his South Florida home where he said he is scheduled to meet today with businessmen from Hong Kong about another possible business venture, this one solar panels.

"Other people have hobbies like golf, fishing . . . but mine is making money. I love to make money," Williams said as he climbed into his aqua blue Altima for the long drive to Palm Beach Gardens.

He had just delivered a motivational speech to about 200 kids from the City of Charleston's Jump To It summer camp at the City Gymnasium on Hagood Avenue. He based his 30-minute talk on the "faith of a mustard seed." He passed out tiny mustard seeds and told the youngsters: "If you have the faith of a mustard seed you can do anything in life."

Williams had the faith long ago, otherwise his daughters wouldn't be turning the WTA Tour into their own private playground. "I wrote a plan in 1978 on how to develop tennis champions," he said.

Two years later, Venus Williams was born in Lynwood, Calif. A year later, Serena Williams was born in Saginaw, Mich.

Richard Williams had his players. He just had to develop them.

By 1984, four-year-old Venus was in career training on the public courts of Compton, Calif. Tennis was to be her first career. A year later, Serena joined Venus in the training.

By 1991, Venus had been featured in the New York Times and was ranked No. 1 among Southern California's girls' 12 players; Serena was No. 1 in girls' 10. Their father pulled them off the junior circuit and enrolled them in Rick Macci's tennis academy in Delray Beach, Fla.

The rest is history. Venus is nearing the end of a $12 million contract with Reebok. Likewise, Serena is finishing off a $12 million contract with Puma. What happens next is anyone's guess. The sky is the limit. Richard Williams only laughs about the possibilities.

He is no one's fool.

"Everyone talks about how poor we were, but I made lots of money then (before Venus and Serena)," the tall, soft-spoken man said.

He owned Sampson Security Company in Compton. "We only had 18 accounts, but we were being paid around the clock, $18 an hour for one security guard. The money I was paying out was only $7 an hour. There was all of this money left over."

Wife Oracene had her own career. She was a nurse.

Richard started playing tennis when he was 38 years old. "I never did like (to play) tennis, but I didn't know anything else that I could put my girls in that would pay them $100,000 a week," he said.

He watched videos and books, then taught what he had learned to his two youngest of five daughters. He also taught them about life, and education.

Both Venus and Serena are attending a university in Miami, studying art. Venus plans to attend graduate school. Serena wants to become a veterinarian.

"With the types of careers they are pursuing, I don't think they'll be around (tennis) that long. I think in four or five years, if that long, they'll be out of it," he said. "Venus takes her education more seriously than tennis."

Because of that commitment, he doesn't think Venus will play in next year's Family Circle Cup.

"Serena will definitely be back, but I doubt very seriously if Venus will play. That's during her time in college. When her education is over, Venus will play in the Family Circle. She has about one and a half years before she finishes."

Both Venus and Serena are majoring in art because "I want them to be able to design their own clothes," Williams said.

Richard Williams has been planning the careers of his daughters for all of their lives. He predicted great things for them long ago, and when his words came true, he was almost scared.

"I told Venus that her toughest competition wouldn't come from Hingis and other players, but that it would come from Serena," he recalled his statements from Venus' early years that caused tennis experts such as Mary Carillo to question his sanity.

"Looking at Venus and Serena, they have raised the bar for women's tennis. If other players fail to raise their games, Venus and Serena will win all of the Grand Slams."

He predicts another Grand Slam title for one of his daughters at the U.S. Open. "The trophy at the U.S. Open definitely will go to a Williams," he said.

And just because Serena has won the French Open and Wimbledon this year and has surpassed Venus as the world's No. 1 player doesn't mean Serena will maintain the upper hand over her older sister.

"I wouldn't bet against Venus. No one on the tour can outrun Venus. If Venus can run that fast and hit that hard, it's impossible to count her out."


(06/16/02)  Local favorite Woorons takes job in Anderson
Charleston tennis is losing one of its favorite pros. Two-time city champion Sophie Woorons will take over a new job in Anderson on Monday.

Woorons has spent the last year working on JoAnn Lee's staff at the Medical University of South Carolina tennis complex. A solid group of local juniors accompanied Woorons to MUSC from Mount Pleasant's I'On Club where she had served as tennis director for two years.

"I'm really going to miss the kids here," Woorons said. "I've got some kids who followed me from I'On to MUSC. It's going to be very emotional."

A former WTA Tour player and Clemson All-American, Woorons owns a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.

The job Woorons has taken in Anderson is at the Cardinal Racquet Club where she served as head pro in 1998-99. This time, she will serve as director of tennis at Cardinal.

Cardinal Racquet Club is one of the state's top clubs. Its 355 members play on six hard courts and eight clay courts. The 12-and-under competition in the annual Belton championships usually is played at Cardinal.

"They wanted me to come back, and they offered me a very nice contract," Woorons said. "Tennis is pretty big there, especially with Belton there. It can be very busy there. The club also has a pro shop."

Friends can contact Woorons by email at swoorons@aol.com.

LOCALS LEAD WAY

Women from the Charleston area helped lead South Carolina to the overall women's championship at the recent Southern Senior Cup in Columbus, Ga. Diane Fishburne, Brenda Carter, Jeanette Weiland and Mary Tomkins posted a combined 17-1 record to lead the state team to an easy victory.

The competition features the top players in each age group from the nine states which constitute the Southern Section of the U.S. Tennis Association.

The combined men's and women's teams finished second. Charleston's Mark Hane and former Citadel coach Ben Varn won two of their three men's doubles matches.

JUNIOR CAMPS

Charleston Tennis Center's junior camps, under pro Fredrik Andersson, will be held weekly for players 5-18 years old from 9 a.m.-noon through Aug. 2. An extended camp also is held daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that includes swimming. Contact City Tennis Center (724-7402) for more information.

At Maybank Tennis Center on James Island, camps will run for two more weeks for 4-6 year olds from 8:30-9:30 a.m. and 6-10 year olds from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Camp for juniors over 10 years old is held from 4-6 p.m. Information is available by contacting the Maybank Tennis Center (406-8814).

Pine Forest Country Club has scheduled tennis camps for juniors July 22-24 and July 29-31. Ages 4-6 will hold camp from 9-10 a.m. and the camp hours for ages 6-8 will be 10-11:30 a.m. Applications are available by contacting Pine Forest (851-9010).

UPCOMING EVENTS

The City of Charleston tennis championships for men's and women's seniors and open divisions will be held June 24-28 at Charleston Tennis Center. The city junior tournament is scheduled for June 28-July 1. For more information, contact Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402).

The deadline for entering next weekend's third annual Dr. H.B. Wilkes Tennis Tournament at Summerville's Pine Forest Country Club is Tuesday. Dr. Wilkes is a longtime Summerville dentist who now suffers from Alzheimers. Entry forms are available at Pine Forest. Singles are $25 and doubles are $40 per team. For additional information, contact Pine Forest tennis director Heinz Maurer (851-9010).


(06/09/02)  Young breaks Belton mark
If records mean anything, Ryan Young is the finest tennis player to come along in South Carolina in nearly half a century.

Belton's Palmetto Championships is the tournament by which juniors in this state have been judged for 46 years. Juniors may skip other state tournaments, but not Belton.

About 500 juniors played in the latest version of South Carolina's Grand Slam event.

Young, of course, was one of them.

Young is a crafty left-hander who has mastered every type of spin. At 6-0, 170 pounds, he doesn't have to depend on finesse as much these days. He's a 17-year-old headed into his senior year at the School of the Arts.

He made the trip to Belton last weekend knowing he could set a Belton record for titles. He had five singles and six doubles titles, a total of one title less than the 12 Chuck Hodgin won from 1970-77.

Both of Ryan's parents, Jeff and Toni Young, had commitments in Charleston and were unable to accompany their son. Ryan wasn't to be denied his goal. He defeated William Timmons, 6-0, 6-3, in Friday's singles final, then teamed with Andrew Stubbs of Hilton Head Island to take the doubles in straight sets.

"I was nervous the entire singles match," said Ryan, remembering that Timmons had beaten him in the 14s several years ago at Belton.

"I'm pretty happy I won, but it hasn't yet hit me that I beat the record."

Now with a record 13 Belton titles, Young still has another year to add to the total.

ALZHEIMERS EVENT

The third annual Dr. H.B. Wilkes Tennis Tournament will be held June 21-23 at Summerville's Pine Forest Country Club. The tournament will be presented by the Summerville Rotary Club, Dr. Wilkes' "Circle of Friends", Coastal Carolina Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and Clear Channel Radio.

Dr. Wilkes is a longtime Summerville dentist who now suffers from Alzheimer’s.

The entry deadline is June 18 at 6 p.m. Entry forms are available at Pine Forest. Singles are $25 and doubles are $40 per team.

Entries may be mailed to the Alzheimer’s Association Coastal Carolina Chapter, Dr. H. B. Wilkes Tennis Tournament, P.O. Box 159, Summerville, S.C. 29484. For additional information, contact Pine Forest tennis director Heinz Maurer (851-9010).

SNEE ADULT SET

The 13th annual Snee Farm Adult and NTRP Championships are scheduled for next weekend. The entry deadline is Tuesday.

The tournament will have men's and women's singles and doubles for 30-90 age groups and mixed doubles for 30-60, along with the rated groups. For more information, contact Snee Farm (884-3252).

The USTA-sanctioned tournament carries a 1.5 ranking value rather than the normal 1.0.

TENNIS CAMPS

Charleston Tennis Center's junior camps, under pro Fredrik Andersson, will be operated weekly for 5-18 years old from 9 a.m.-noon through Aug. 2. An extended camp also is held daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that includes swimming. Contact City Tennis Center (724-7402) for more information. At Maybank Tennis Center on James Island, camps will run for three more weeks for 4-6 year olds from 8:30-9:30 a.m. and 6-10 year olds from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Camp for juniors over 10 years old is held from 4-6 p.m. Information is available by contacting the Maybank Tennis Center (406-8814).

Pine Forest Country Club has scheduled tennis camps for juniors July 22-24 and July 29-31. Ages 4-6 will hold camp from 9-10 a.m. and the camp hours for ages 6-8 will be 10-11:30 a.m. Toni Young will teach the Pine Forest camps, which have a limited number of openings. Applications are available by contacting Pine Forest (851-9010).

CITY DATES

The City of Charleston tennis tournaments begin June 24-28 with men's and women's seniors as well as men's and women's open championships. The city junior tournament is scheduled for June 28-July 1 at Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402).


(06/02/02)  500 juniors playing in tournament at Belton
All roads seem to lead to Belton this time of the year for the state's junior tennis players. It's the 46th annual event at Belton.

The big event, officially named the Palmetto Championships, actually started Friday with 10-and-under competition.

The 12-and-under age group begins play today.

While Belton is the town that is identified with the tournament, much of the event is held on courts in Anderson. The 10-and-under and 12-and-under tournaments are both held in Anderson, along with some age groups of the consolation Palmetto Challenger.

There actually is more activity going on this weekend than any other time. Along with the 10s and 12s, about 200 juniors are competing this weekend just to get into the 32-player main draws in 14-and-under, 16-and-under and boys' 18. Some doubles also will be played this weekend.

In all, just under 500 boys and girls are participating in singles in this year's Palmetto Championships, even though the tournament is being held a week earlier than in past years.

Belton holds a special place in the hearts of the state's junior tennis players.

The thing that makes Belton week so special is the town's private courts that are used for tournament play for players in the 14-and-over and older age groups. These juniors get to play on wonderfully well kept backyard courts, often shaded and next to swimming pools and lush lawns.

Charleston's Ryan Young has owned Belton for all of his junior tennis life, winning five singles titles and six doubles titles. The record for total titles is 12, set by Sumter's Chuck Hodgin between 1970 and 1977. Young, a School of the Arts rising senior who also will be eligible to return next year, has an excellent shot at breaking the record this year. He is the top seed in boys' 18, which he won last year, and he is playing doubles with boys' 16 top seed Andrew Stubbs of Hilton Head Island. Young and Stubbs are the No. 1 seeds in boys' 18 doubles.

WEILAND WINS 2 MORE

Charleston's Jeanette Weiland has picked up two more national doubles titles. After winning the women's 70 national clay-court title in Diamondhead, Miss., in April with Louise Owens of Evansville, Ind., Weiland has just returned from LaJolla, Calif., where she and Beverly Winans of Newport Beach, Calif., won the women's 70 national hard-court doubles title.

Weiland and Winans are ranked No. 1 in the nation in women's 70 doubles. Weiland plays out of Maybank Tennis Center and Family Circle Tennis Center.

CITY CAMPS START

Charleston Tennis Center is starting a heavy schedule of junior camps this coming week under pro Fredrik Andersson. Weekly camps will be operated for juniors 5-18 years old from 9 a.m. to noon from Monday through Aug. 2. An extended camp also will be held daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that will include swimming.

At Maybank Tennis Center on James Island, camps will run for four weeks for 4-6 years old from 8:30-9:30 a.m. and 6-10 year olds from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Camp for juniors over 10 years old will be held from 4-6 p.m.

OTHER EVENTS

Rosters for the USTA's Junior Team Tennis League are due Monday. The season will start June 17.

The schedule for the various City of Charleston tennis tournaments begins June 24-28 with the men's and women's seniors as well as the men's and women's open championships. The city junior tournament is scheduled for June 28-July 1 at City Tennis Center.


(05/26/02)  Capriati seeded No. 1, but she may not be French Open favorite
Who's going to win the French Open? That's right, the Grand Slam season starts Monday with the French Open.

Until a few weeks ago, I would have picked Jennifer Capriati to repeat as women's champion. But Capriati appears to have left some of her confidence on the court at Family Circle Cup Stadium in her humiliating semifinal loss to Patty Schnyder.

Capriati hasn't won a tournament since. She ran into the Billie Jean King controversy the next week in Fed Cup, skipped Hamburg the first week in May, then lost in back-to-back semifinals to Justine Henin in Berlin and Serena Williams in Rome. Yet, Capriati goes to Paris as the world's No. 1 player and top seed.

Venus or Serena Williams would appear to be the player to beat, especially since Serena beat Henin in last Sunday's final at Rome for her first clay-court title. But Henin and Kim Clijsters have once again come into their own heading to Paris. Henin defeated Serena in the Berlin final two weeks ago and beat Clijsters in the Rome semifinals. And Clijsters defeated Venus in the Hamburg final the first week in May.

To me, it looks like a first Grand Slam title for Clijsters or Henin, with my nod going to Henin. She's 3-1 in May on red clay against other top five players. Clijsters and Henin have climbed to fourth and fifth in the world, with Venus and Serena second and third.

Of course, Capriati, Venus and Serena already have won Grand Slam titles, and that fact could have an impact when the title is on the line in two weeks in Paris.

In the men's draw, if Andre Agassi doesn't add another French title, it's wide open. There's a very good chance the men's final will come down to two players whose names most Americans have trouble pronouncing. That's just the status of the ATP Tour these days.

CARTER CHAMP AGAIN

Charleston's Brenda Carter keeps winning national titles. Now, she has the women's 55 senior national indoor singles title to go with the national hard-court singles and doubles titles she won last September.

Carter took the indoor crown last weekend in the National Senior Indoor Championships in Homewood, Ill., by defeating third-seeded Judy Louie of Corona Del Mar, Calif., 6-3, 6-3. Carter was the top seed.

FISHBURNE DOUBLES

Diane Fishburne teamed with son, Matthew Hane, to win the Mother/Son National Hard-Court Championships in San Diego. Seeded second, they scored a 7-5, 6-2 victory over the California team of Brenda and J.R. Chidley.

Fishburne, the South's top-rated women's 40 player, will compete in the Southern Tennis Association's Senior Cup next weekend in Columbus, Ga., then head for Monte Carlo on June 10 to represent the United States' women's 45 team in the international Christine Marcellis Cup.

HANE IS MVP

Matthew Hane also had a big year at George Washington University, where as a sophomore he played No. 1 and was voted the best performer in the Atlantic 10 Conference. He had a 13-6 singles record and was the team's most valuable player. Hane, who is working this summer in JoAnn Lee's camp at the Medical University of South Carolina courts, is enjoying his time at George Washington, which is located in downtown Washington, D.C.

MUSC BELTON CAMP

With Belton's Palmetto Championships starting a week early this year, there isn't much time for tennis training between the end of the school year and next weekend's Belton start. This week is it.

Most junior camps were caught off guard by Belton's change. Even such noted camps as Chuck Kriese's Clemson camp didn't make the adjustment, and the first week of camp is June 3, the same week as the Palmetto Championships.

One of the few camps scheduled for this coming week is a three-day Pre-Belton Camp at the MUSC courts that takes into account the Memorial Day holiday. JoAnn Lee's camp will run from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at the MUSC tennis complex. Contact Lee at 792-3157.

Other area camps, including one at Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402), generally are scheduled to begin the week of June 3.

COURTING KIDS BEGIN

The award-winning Courting Kids program is gearing up for another summer. The program is June 3-July 8 at Jack Adams Tennis Center next to Johnson Hagood Stadium and June 8-July 13 at the Alan Fleming Tennis Center on John's Island.

The Jack Adams clinics will be held on Mondays from 5:30-7 p.m. for six weeks, while the John's Island sessions will be held on Saturdays from 10-11:30 a.m.

The cost for the six-week clinics is $10. Rackets are available for children who don't have one. But bring a water bottle. Participants can sign up at the Department of Recreation offices in Hampton Park or at Charleston Tennis Center on Farmfield Avenue in West Ashley. Information is available by contacting Charleston Tennis Center at 724-7402.

The Courting Kids program received a big boost last month when Serena Williams donated $5,000 while she was in town for the Family Circle Cup.

LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS

The USTA's USA League state championships will conclude next weekend in Mount Pleasant with the 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 tournaments. Snee Farm Country Club will serve as the host, with help from the Whipple Road complex and Creekside Tennis and Swim.

The summer mixed doubles leagues will start in mid-June.


(05/19/02)  Wright left lasting imprint on local tennis
Tennis had no truer friend than Randall Wright. He loved the game, and what it could mean to children.

His greatest claim to tennis fame was the huge accomplishment of coaching the First Baptist Church School girls' team to an independent schools state title in 1973. He liked to talk about that team and its No. 1 player, Jeannine McGrath who later starred at the College of Charleston. His daughter, Jada, also played on the team, making the success even sweeter.

But years later, Randall Wright continued to work with children in tennis, not to mention 17 years as a Boy Scouts Master and the establishment of the Lions Club's Quest program in 11 county schools. He coached elementary school teams and gave free lessons to any child willing to learn the game.

My first contact with this gentle giant of a man came in the early 1970s when I moved to Charleston from Orangeburg. I had never picked up a tennis racket.

Once in Charleston, I realized tennis would be a good game to learn. The closest tennis facility to my home on James Island was the West Ashley Racquet Club, now the city-operated Maybank Tennis Center. That's where I came in contact with Randall Wright. He operated the club with Burnett Maybank.

Mr. Wright, as most people called this prince of a man, introduced many people to the game. He was best at teaching total novices, his gentle approach just the right touch to lure newcomers into the game for a lifetime.

He and Maybank offered lessons relentlessly. They taught children and adults.

When Wright wasn't teaching, he played pick-up games with club members. He was a club-level player, mainly because of the weak knees that supported his tall, well-built body.

He later left Maybank Tennis Center, and became less involved with tennis. But he was always available to help children learn the game he loved. He never forgot any of the children who played on his teams.

He loved First Baptist Church where he was a member and First Baptist Church School where he and his wife, Doris, once funded a tennis scholarship.

Tennis lost a true friend last Monday when Randall Wright died at age 86 after an extended illness.

MAYBANK TEAMS WIN

Two vastly different, but same result stories evolved from last weekend's USA League state seniors championships in Myrtle Beach. Both involved women's teams from Maybank Tennis Center.

Maybank's 4.5 team won its fourth straight state championship.

But Maybank's 4.0 team wasn't expected to also bring home a state title, especially since Libba King's team was the local runner-up and had lost to local champion Daniel Island twice during the regular season.

The 4.0 women from Maybank weren't to be denied, however, as they won 11 of 12 individual matches, including a win over defending champion Myrtle Beach. The icing on the cake was a 3-0 victory over Daniel Island in the final.

Barbara Brewer, Jerry Carpenter, Nancy Conway, Carolyn Eiserhardt, Renie Forsberg, Dianne Harris, Jan Heinz, Kaye Keller, Linda Nettles, Terry Rickson, Linda Robinson and Anne Russell are King's teammates on the winning 4.0 Maybank team.

Maybank's 4.5 team defeated teams from Myrtle Beach, Greenville and Spartanburg. The team is captained by Susie Peiffer. Gwin Allen, Sarah Hyatt, Joan Kerrigone, Ann Munday, Barb Pinkerton, Carrie Randall, Jeanette Weiland and Kitsy Wise are other team members.

The two Maybank teams now advance to the Southern Sectionals in Louisville, Ky., July 19-23.

MIXED DOUBLES

Rosters for this summer's Lowcountry Tennis Association mixed doubles league must be submitted by Friday, but league coordinator Dale Tanner is looking for more teams, particularly at the 8.5 level for the adult league and 7.5 and 8.5 levels for seniors.

Teams can contact Tanner or LCTA president Bob Peiffer for more information.

HAGOOD SPARKLES

Former Porter-Gaud star Mary Neill Hagood had an exceptional freshman year at Furman. She helped Furman go undefeated in the Southern Conference by posting a 9-0 singles record. Hagood also won two No. 2 doubles and one No. 4 singles matches in the NCAA playoffs to finish the year with 19-5 singles and 19-4 doubles records.


(05/12/02)  Walterboro's Fishburne continues to wear out foes on the court
Diane Fishburne's tennis game seems to just keep getting better and better.

She's one of these players who can wear you out from the baseline. She's 44 now, and she's been doing it since college where she was an All-American and a national singles champion at the College of Charleston.

She runs three miles daily and does aerobics just to make sure she can outlast her opponent in the kind of heat we've been having this spring.

Fishburne has earned national titles, national age-group top rankings and been inducted into the S.C. Tennis Hall of Fame. Now, she's winning international titles. She was one of six U.S. players to win titles last week in the 22nd annual ITF Vets World Championships at Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Fishburne defeated top-seeded Patricia Medrado of Brazil, 6-3, 6-2, in the women's 45 final.

To give you an example of the caliber of competition in the event, former Grand Prix star Harold Solomon was runner-up in men's 45.

Fishburne grew up in West Palm Beach, Fla., as Diane Gilruth. She won her first national title in 1978 as a collegian. She later won three straight USTA women's 40 national indoor championships and has represented the USTA in ITF events in foreign countries, including the 1997 Young Cup in South Africa. She was inducted into the S.C. Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999.

She and her husband, Barnwell, have a Southern ranking in mixed doubles. Her son, Matthew Hane, plays college tennis for George Washington University, and the two have won national mother-son tournaments. To top it off, she has a tennis court in the backyard of her Walterboro home.

FISHBURNE THIRD

Not only is Fishburne the No. 1 women's 40 player in the South, she is ranked third in the just-released national women's 40 singles rankings for 2001.

All in all, 2001 was a banner year for local seniors in the national rankings. In addition to Fishburne, several local seniors received USTA national rankings, including Jeanette Weiland, who is rated No. 1 in women's 70 doubles. Susie Peiffer is ranked sixth in women's 50 singles; Brenda Carter third in women's 55 singles; Claire Richardson and Ben Varn third in mixed 60 doubles; and Varn ninth in men's 60 doubles and 15th in men's 60 singles.

MIXED DOUBLES NEXT

The Lowcountry Tennis Association's mixed doubles league is preparing for another season. The league's captain's meeting was held last week and rosters must be submitted by May 24. But there's plenty of room. Anyone who plans on having a team and was unable to attend the meeting can contact either LCTA president Bob Peiffer or mixed doubles coordinator Dale Tanner.

The mixed doubles season will put the local tennis leagues in the computer age. There will not be a roster turn-in meeting. All rosters will be submitted online, as well as match scores once the season starts.

That will make the league standings and other information available to all participants.

WILD DUNES SHINES

Wild Dunes not only took eighth place among the world's top 75 tennis resorts by Tennis Resorts Online, but the Isle of Palms resort also captured first place in the best children's programs category, and was third in both best instruction programs and events, and best game matching.

The complete listings can be found at www.tennisresortsonline.com.

LOCALS MAKE STATE

Eleven local teams are participating in the state USA League Senior Championships held this weekend in Myrtle Beach. The Adult Championships for 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 levels are scheduled for next weekend at Mount Pleasant's Snee Farm Country Club and Whipple Road courts, with eight local teams involved. Six local teams will compete in the Adult Championships for the 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 levels the first weekend in June in Mount Pleasant.

BELTON NEAR

Time is running out on signing up to play in this year's Palmetto Championships at Belton. Remember, the tournament starts a week earlier this time, May 31, and the entry deadline is less than two weeks away, May 23.


(05/05/02)  One writer's solution to the U.S. Fed Cup team discord
I've got the answer to the Fed Cup dilemma. Let me captain the U.S. team. I promise to get the players on the proper courts in time for their matches. That would be my biggest responsibility, along with telling the women how great they played after another win.

If Richard Williams says he wants to supervise a private practice with his two tennis daughters, that's OK with me as long as it doesn't conflict with a team practice or function. After all, Venus and Serena could be the entire team, and beat any other country in the world, especially on hard surface. There's no better doubles team in women's tennis, not even Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs.

Or if Stefano Capriati wants to do the same with his daughter Jennifer, that's OK, too.

Of course, this is all in light of what happened last weekend in Charlotte when King dismissed Jennifer Capriati from her team, and the Americans ended up losing to Austria. The Capriatis were the culprits, but the culprits in another situation just as easily could have been the Williams trio. In that case, if Billie Jean King had stuck to her guns, she might have had to forfeit the entire team match outright.

I know there has to be rules, some written in stone, and some not. Yes, it's too bad I wasn't the captain last weekend. If I had been, the U.S. team would still be on target to add another Fed Cup championship to its trophy case.

In reality, that's how important the captain of this team or the captain of the Davis Cup team really is. Not very important at all. A figurehead.

The one person the U.S. women could have done without last weekend was their captain. If King had not shown up at Charlotte, the Americans probably would have rolled over Austria at least 4-1, possibly 5-0 (Did Monica Seles lose her match because of the distractions?).

The most important thing a captain for one of these teams does is to put the players on the court, and let them play. The captain usually doesn't play a role in the outcome. This time, of course, King did. The sad part is that this wasn't just another loss. It was a season-ending one. It's wait until next year for the Americans, who must win a playoff tie against Israel in July just to get into the 2003 World Group.

Both Monica Seles and Lisa Raymond will turn 30 in 2003. For clay-court purposes, the U.S. women can't afford to discard Capriati.

King has been living off of the Battle of the Sexes for three decades. Women's tennis probably wouldn't be much different than it is today if King hadn't beaten up on an over-the-hill Bobby Riggs.

It just happened that a little girl named Chris Evert came along about that time. TV audiences adored her, and women's tennis loved her two-handed backhand.

Chrissie is gone, but women's tennis is flourishing with the Williams sisters, the revival of Capriati and the occasional appearances of Anna Kournikova, along with players such as Seles, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport and others.

S.C. RESORTS SCORE

Wild Dunes Resort and Kiawah Island Resort took seventh and eighth place, respectively, on this year's list of the world's top 75 tennis resorts by Tennis Resorts Online. But that's not even half of the story.

Hilton Head Island alone had three of the top 11 resorts as Palmetto Dunes took third, Sea Pines Resort ninth and Shipyard Plantation 11th.

The Broadmoor of Colorado Springs was selected as the world's top tennis resort. The complete listings can be found at www.tennisresortsonline.com.

LOCALS RANKED

Several local seniors have received USTA national rankings, including Jeanette Weiland, who is rated No. 1 in women's 70 doubles. Diane Fishburne is third in women's 40 singles; Susie Peiffer is sixth in women's 50 singles; Brenda Carter is third in women's 55 singles; Claire Richardson and Ben Varn are third in mixed 60 doubles; and Varn is ninth in men's 60 doubles and 15th in men's 60 singles.

OTHER NOTES

May has been proclaimed tennis month in South Carolina by Governor Jim Hodges.

Eleven local teams will be participating in the state USA League Senior Championships that will start May 11 in Myrtle Beach. The Adult Championships for 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 levels are scheduled for the weekend of May 18 at Mount Pleasant's Snee Farm Country Club and Whipple Road courts, with eight local teams involved. Six local teams will compete in the Adult Championships for the 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 levels the first weekend in June in Mt. Pleasant.

The captains meeting for the Lowcountry Tennis Association's mixed doubles league will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Charleston County Library on Calhoun Street.


(04/28/02)  Tennis fever is spreading in the community
It's already happening. Always a strong tennis town, Charles-ton is becoming a tennis Mecca. It's still a few years in the making, but sometime in this decade you can expect to see Charleston make the total transition to tennis. You can see it happening now in people who normally don't mention the word tennis. They're not only talking about the sport, they're checking out and buying tickets to the Family Circle Cup.

All of this breeds tennis fever.

Charleston has a number of minor league sports, but tennis is Charleston's connection to big-time sports. When fans attend the Family Circle Cup, they realize they are only a heartbeat away from the most spectacular moments in the game.

As tennis fever spreads, the Family Circle Cup will grow in stature to the Charleston community.

Tickets were available this year to any match you wanted to see. That might not always be the case. Year by year, watch the tickets disappear to the point that sometime within this decade some evening sessions and the Friday through Sunday sessions will be sellouts.

A higher voltage of electricity was in the air at this year's Family Circle Cup than a year ago when the event made its first appearance on Daniel Island. Locals felt more at home and demonstrated more excitement at being in a world-class setting.

Area pros are more excited than ever about tennis. The tennis fever that is putting tennis novices into seats at Family Circle Magazine Stadium is contributing to growing attendance in local tennis camps and clinics. The newcomers to the game want their children to sample it as well. Tennis is becoming the "in" thing to do in Charleston. Just watch it grow.

CALTA AWARDS

The Charleston Area Ladies' Tennis Association (CALTA) has announced the recipients of its first women's scholarship program. The awards are intended to recognize sportsmanship, leadership and dedication to the game of tennis.

Three scholarships of $500 each have been awarded. The awards went to Tessa Hart, a 14-year-old who takes instructions at Pine Forest Country Club in Summerville; Jennifer Kulp, a sophomore on the Bishop England tennis team; and Ellie O'Brien, a fifth-grader involved in the junior tennis program at the Country Club of Charleston.

CALTA's scholarship committee sent application packages to local school tennis coaches and club professionals in January. Nominations were received from both public and private tennis centers, and schools.

In addition, honorable mention gift certificates were awarded to Deanna Jessup, a third-grader at Charlestowne Academy, and to Quanteisha, Chentieh and Azurdee Ladson, three sisters who play tennis at St. Andrews Parks and Playground.

GRAND PRIX STARTS

Another of Snee Farm's popular adult Grand Prix tournaments will start Tuesday. The entry deadline is today. The event offers men's and women's singles and doubles and mixed doubles, with an emphasis on fun and the social aspects of tennis. Contact the Snee Farm tennis shop (884-3252) for more information.


(04/21/02)  Majoli may prove too much for Schnyder

This must be a WTA Tour record. No seeds will meet in this year's Family Circle Cup.

No, not just today's final. The entire tournament.

But Iva Majoli and Patty Schnyder have been there. Both are former top-10 players. So, they know how the game is played.

This will be a final in which anything can happen, much like what has happened the last six days at Family Circle Tennis Center. Who would have believed Majoli, despite her 1997 French Open title, could have put together five straight victories? Or would anyone have thought Schnyder was capable of beating Mary Pierce, Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati in succession?

Regardless of what happens in today's 1 p.m. duel, both Schnyder (ranked 30th) and Majoli (58th) will make a strong move up the world rankings.

Saturday's semifinals went by relatively quickly, It took a combined total of just two hours and 20 minutes for Schnyder's 6-4, 6-3 slaying of No. 1 (for one more day) Jennifer Capriati, and Majoli's 6-2, 6-4 conquest of Sandrine Testud. The final alone might take that long.

These two young women - Schnyder is 23 and Majoli 24 - have gotten better and better with every match. They should be ready for one more test.

Both players have weapons, but Majoli perhaps has more.

SCHNYDER'S TRICKY

Schnyder's left-handed serve is her main weapon. She'll lull an opponent and the crowd to sleep with high, looping topspins, then smash a 110-mph serve deep to the backhand corner the next point.

She's tricky, too. The minute you think you've got her beaten, she'll throw a wicked forehand down the line while her opponent is still waiting over on the backhand side to continue a cross-court rally.

The difference here is that Schnyder is left-handed. It was this fact that completely bewildered Capriati. She didn't know what to do.

She had been accustomed to backhand-to-backhand, cross-court rallies that she could dictate long enough to get into position for a forehand winner.

But backhand-to-forehand rallies usually go to the forehand. And they did for Schnyder, who patiently waited for the right time to step up and hit the forehand down the line rather than cross court to Capriati's backhand.

Then, there's this thing of Schnyder's wicked, high-kicking topspin ground strokes bouncing just inside or on the baseline, making her opponent hit off the back foot. No one would have believed she could have owned Capriati the way she did.

It's also the way a left-hander strikes the ball, the almost sideways look and long, sweeping forehand motion.

If Majoli can get over that and handle Schnyder's serve, she could have another good day.

MAJOLI'S PATIENCE

Majoli demonstrated amazing patience the last two days. She wore moon-balling Amanda Coetzer into submission with inside-out forehands to Coetzer's backhand. Of course, that won't work against Schnyder.

Perhaps, the real key for Majoli has been that she has played within herself, setting up rallies, realizing that the odds of hitting an outright winner on clay might be a bigger gamble than the rewards.

Majoli's long, sweeping forehand is a serious weapon because of its depth and pace. But her serve might be even more of a weapon.

If one thing doesn't work, Majoli has the weapons and experience to try something else. She believes she's top-10 material. And she is, having been ranked as high as fourth in the world.

Schnyder has been outstanding the last three days against some of the biggest hitters in the game. Those matches were all about chemistry, waiting for the other player to try to hit a home run.

Majoli presents a different type of challenge, one that I don't think Schnyder will master.


(04/21/02)  Some major changes for league play
The USTA's adult and senior leagues will be ending their regular seasons in another week, signaling some major changes in the way the USA League operates in future seasons.

First, the USTA is going electronic with its leagues. That starts with this summer's mixed doubles league.

All roster information and results will be input on the internet, making the team captains' jobs more important than ever. This should help in allowing participants to keep up with league standings. Another change that will be phased in is the discontinuation of verified ratings. That also should be a positive change. Players will participate at the level they think they best fit, but if their results are too good for that level of play they might be bumped up at any time.

The Lowcountry Tennis Association's mixed doubles league captains will learn more about the changes at a captain's meeting to begin the summer season at 7 p.m. on May 7 at the Charleston County Library on Calhoun Street.

LCTA HELPS
The fees LCTA members pay to participate in the USA League went for a good tennis cause last Sunday when the LCTA purchased Family Circle Cup qualifying tournament tickets and lunches for more than 50 participants in Delores Jackson's inner-city Courting Kids program.

The Family Circle Cup made the whole idea affordable, according to LCTA coordinator Bob Peiffer.

Afterwards, the children boarded vans and headed for their home playground, the Jack Adams Tennis Center, where Serena Williams visited them. Serena answered their questions and gave them some tips.

WIN4LIFE IMPACT
Former top 20 player Leslie Allen's Win4Life program also brought two groups of children to the Family Circle Cup. The kids came from Jackson's Courting Kids program and the St. Andrews Playgrounds program.

Allen created Win4Life, and then convinced Family Circle Magazine to fund it. The Win4Life program exposes inner-city children to new environments and aims to help youth through tennis develop life skills to become successful.

BELTON SET
Entry forms for Belton's Palmetto Championships arrived in the mail this past week. The entry deadline is May 23. The tournament is May 31-June 7.

This year's entry fee is $45. There's a $5 discount for players who have more than one family member participating.

A JUNIOR WEEKEND
Next weekend juniors have two choices locally, either a USTA-sanctioned Lowcountry Challenger at Summerville's Pine Forest Country Club or a non-sanctioned event at Mount Pleasant's Whipple Road Tennis Center.

The Pine Forest entry deadline is Monday. Contact Pine Forest (851-9010) for more information.

For information on the Whipple Road event, contact the Whipple Road complex (856-2162).


(04/20/02)  Schnyder spoils expected Capriati-Williams duel
You don't really think Patty Schnyder is going to put the finishing touches on the string of upsets in this year's Family Circle Cup, do you?

I don't. I had Jennifer Capriati pegged to go all the way to Monica Seles. Like everyone else, I had been waiting all week for the Serena Williams-Capriati duel. But did Schnyder ever throw a left-handed wrench into those plans.

The stomach virus that struck down Seles first put a damper on the weekend. Then Schnyder cast a huge cloud over the tournament, with a little help from Serena's shortage of clay-court patience and skills.

Capriati? She's strictly business once she punches the clock. She did take a brief break Friday after winning the first nine games against Anastasia Myskina. But at crunch time, she turned on the steam, just as she had the night before at 5-5 in the second set.

She just doesn't like overtime. What a worker?

Really, Capriati is one of the most amazing tennis players ever to come along. You know the story.

I can't forget the image of her from four or five years ago at Hilton Head Island. She was a young thing, 21 or 22, but looked 10 years older. Her tennis attire was as uncoordinated as her movement in those days.

Boy, have things changed for the new glamour girl of tennis? Sitting in the corner on the first row close enough to practically touch the players Thursday night, I was in awe of the tennis machine Capriati has become. A year ago, I thought her forward movement was suspect. Not anymore. Actually, it might be among her cartload of strengths these days.

Count her strengths? That's too difficult. Just try to pinpoint a weakness. Let me know when you find one.

On this surface, clay, where all of the things that make Capriati so special come into play, she may be approaching a league all of her own. Where Serena Williams may hit two or three great shots in succession before hitting one out, Capriati will wear you out. It doesn't matter which side.

But when the opening comes for that killer forehand down the line, you can usually mark it down. If she has just made an unforced error, the odds are even higher that Capriati's cannon will hit it mark.

And smarts? She gets A-plus, nearly up there with Martina Hingis.

Poor Patty Schnyder. She's pretty happy now with her conquest of Serena. Schnyder thrilled a bunch of people Friday as the overwhelming crowd favorite. She showed tremendous heart, taking full advantage of the fact that Serena let her stay around too long.

But the only hope Schnyder has against Capriati is her left-handed serve. Don't expect Capriati to go wild, not as long as she's on the clock. This one might be a really short workday.

MAJOLI'S LOADED

It's been a long time since Iva Majoli has played five matches in one week. She has her impressive arsenal of weapons fully honed this week. That's too bad for opponent No. 5, Sandrine Testud.

This one might not be pretty, and there may be some stretches when Majoli goes away briefly. But she still has memories of seeing Hingis fall to her in the 1997 French Open final. It's been an eternity of injuries and surgery to get back into position to reclaim some glory.

Hey, she still has plenty of time. She's only 24. We all know how far Capriati has come since that age.

Majoli has some flaws, but she can make things happen with her long, sweeping forehand to the corners and overpowering serve. She showed amazing patience Friday night in overcoming a flood of moon balls by Amanda Coetzer, demonstrating an excellent inside-out cross-court forehand to open up the court for winners.

Testud is a solid journeyman who has had a good year. But she lacks a real weapon. Unless Majoli goes away for an extended period of time, she should get a shot at Capriati in the final.


(04/19/02)  Luck-of-draw system not good for tourney
It's time for professional tennis to look at the way it conducts draws for tournaments. Why not follow the NCAA basketball tournament's lead? If that had been the case last Saturday, the Family Circle Cup probably would be looking at a Sunday final pitting Jennifer Capriati and Serena Williams. CBS would be thrilled.

Instead, Capriati and Williams are likely to meet Saturday, leaving a Sunday final of the winner of that match against Sandrine Testud or Amanda Coetzer or Iva Majoli or a qualifier. The ratings won't soar on that one. Neither can tournament officials expect to see Family Circle Magazine Stadium filled anywhere close to capacity.

That's all because Serena Williams' name was pulled out of the hat to join Capriati in the top half of the draw as the No. 3 seed. Therefore, No. 4 seed Jelena Dokic was placed in the bottom half with Monica Seles.

That was well and fine, until Thursday just before the truck explosion on the nearby Mark Clark overpass when a virus-weakened Seles fell to qualifier Stephanie Foretz. That result set off shock waves in a tournament already under attack by clay-court fever, better known as upsets.

In NCAA basketball, the No. 3 seed automatically goes to the bottom half of the draw and the top seed is bracketed with the No. 4 seed. In all fairness, that's the way tennis also should be. The current luck of the draw system for the third and fourth seeds doesn't appear to have much logic.

This tournament has had great luck in recent years with its final. Of course, last year's Capriati bout with Martina Hingis was a classic. The year before, it was Mary Pierce and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. And in 1999, Hingis battled and beat Anna Kournikova. Anyone wonder why the Family Circle Cup attendance record of 98,000 was set in 1999?

DOUBLES AT NIGHT?

Doubles have been a part of the Family Circle night schedule since the tournament went to night tennis. But is this good scheduling? Probably not.

The upper deck of the stadium generally is nearly empty for night matches, even when big names are playing. Williams only put a handful of people in the upper deck for her opening match. One singles, even with a Williams playing an early-round match, and one no-name doubles might not be enough to entice the general public into venturing out to the Family Circle Tennis Center.

Two singles matches at night might work better, since the nighttime crowd is populated by more tennis novices and corporate types than the daytime crowd of tennis purists who love to sit back and analyze the mechanics of doubles. Weeknight doubles usually aren't very exciting to watch.

An exception, of course, might be when the No. 1 doubles team in the world is on the schedule, such as Wednesday night when Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs demonstrated just why they are the best in the game. These two women are amazing in their teamwork and doubles skills.

CHEMISTRY KEY

There's something to be said for chemistry in a tennis match. Pit two players of the same type and the match can get downright time consuming or it can be over in a flash.

Paola Suarez and Amanda Coetzer fit one extreme of the chemistry theory Thursday. Both are clay-courters who will resort to almost any strategy to win a point, much less a set or a match.

Points can last almost as long as games for other players. Such matchups are intriguing, but not always entertaining. It took Coetzer two hours and 37 minutes to subdue Suarez. In the other extreme, a match pitting two hard hitters such as Williams and Hopkins might look good on paper. But when they start smashing the ball, it all depends on who is putting the ball into play.

TODAY'S LOOK

The quarterfinals are here, and there is no headline match, no battle of seeds.

Perhaps, the most interesting match to watch will be the 7 p.m. Majoli-Coetzer duel. Coetzer is never easy to beat on clay, and she has won this tournament before. On the other hand, Majoli has never quite lived up to her billing since winning the French Open over Hingis in 1997.

Williams is on easy street after Mary Pierce's upset by Patty Schnyder. Serena will come out pounding at 1 p.m. Schnyder will make her work a bit, but Serena is a world-class mover. Serena will have to be wild to make this one interesting.

The Testud-Foretz 10:30 a.m. opener will produce a semifinalist, but no one will be excited about that, except back home in France. Foretz caught Seles when she was down. Look for her luck to run out today against the veteran Testud.

Hopefully, Capriati isn't sick. But Anastasia Myskina might be by the time she sees the last of Capriati's penetrating ground strokes. Capriati is on cruise control, with the throttle set on Serena, but she can't afford to get too hasty. Myskina is a player.


(04/17/02)  Dangerous Majoli can make things happen
Watch out for Iva Majoli. She's in the round of 16 of the Family Circle Cup. That makes a dangerous player even more dangerous.

You can never count Majoli out, simply because of her shot-making ability. Martina Hingis overlooked her in the 1997 French Open final, and we all know the French is the missing piece in Hingis' Grand Slam puzzle.

On a given day, Majoli can make things happen. The winner of today's first stadium court match between Anna Smashnova and Jelena Dokic won't sleep well tonight, wondering about the mystery of Majoli. She won the French Open before she turned 20, then battled injuries and shoulder surgery, and almost fell out of sight.

Tall and strong at 5-9, she appears to be back. She taught 18-year-old Marie-Gaianeh Mikaelian a lesson Tuesday by attacking her weak serve and pounding the ball to the middle of the court to cut down on angles.

Besides, Majoli is in the bottom half of the draw, away from Jennifer Capriati, Serena Williams and Amelie Mauresmo. But don't count Monica Seles out, even though the less-than-agile Amy Frazier took her to three sets Tuesday. Seles got off to a bad start against Frazier, a player who knocked Mary Pierce out of the tournament last year. But Seles may be playing the best tennis she has played in several years. She has made the semifinals or better of every tournament she has played this year.

Seles is serving big, 105 mph at times against Frazier. She is hitting the ball as cleanly as ever. In fact, if she can make it through the weaker bottom half of the draw without taking a second nap, this could be Monica's year to take home the Family Circle Cup. After falling behind 5-0 in the first set, Seles was awesome, winning 16 of the next 20 games to claim a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory.

THE OLD-TIMERS

No Family Circle Cup in recent years has been complete without a run by Conchita Martinez or Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. They're at it again, both winning their opening matches Tuesday.

But these two Spaniards are not the same ones Family Circle Cup crowds remember. Martinez turned 30 Tuesday. Sanchez-Vicario was already there.

Each is a step slower now and lacks the motivation that took each of them to Grand Slam and Family Circle titles. Martinez should make it to a round-of-16 match against Seles, and Sanchez-Vicario must beat two lesser players to challenge Capriati in the quarterfinals.

ANNA'S GREAT

If she could only serve she would be awesome, a sure top 10 player. As for the rest of her game, Anna Kournikova can play with the best. But for a player so talented, there's always hope, especially if she wants to improve. Kournikova lost to Martinez, and then hit the practice court for hitting as well as some instructions from her coach.

SERENA'S NIGHT

Williams is good, but probably not quite as good she appeared Tuesday night. Jennifer Hopkins simply wasn't ready for the stadium court, playing half-heartedly at times. Of course, Williams' powerful strokes and serves are enough to break a player's heart. She also owned the tapes and completely kept Hopkins out of the points except on just a few occasions when rallies lasted more than two shots. Truthfully, it was great seeing Serena play, but Hopkins didn't make it worth a $32 ticket in the upper deck.

At 40 minutes, it was nearly a dollar-a-minute.

TODAY'S LOOK

Capriati shouldn't have any trouble in today's second stadium court match against Janette Husarova. Capriati is too strong off the ground with her deep, penetrating strokes and consistency these days. Throw in the confidence factor, and Capriati wins even on a bad day.

Williams may be tested a little more in the third match today in the stadium against Nathalie Dechy. But Serena doesn't seem to know that she has never won a clay-court tournament. Dechy will have to get into the points to make it interesting.

The 7 p.m. feature match should be interesting. But if Mary Pierce can keep her big shots on the court, 18-year-old Daniela Hantuchova may feel like Hopkins felt Tuesday night. Of course, there is one small difference. Hantuchova already has won a major tournament, the Indian Wells, Calif., Tier I event. She has been on center stage before.


(04/14/02)  Family Circle qualifying matches get underway
It rained heavy and often enough this past week at Amelia Island, Fla., to cause an overflow all the way to Daniel Island.

Saturday's first round of qualifying for the Family Circle Cup was so abbreviated that only half of the scheduled 16 matches were played. Many of the qualifying draw players were still participating in doubles at Amelia Island.

That didn't stop the 5,013 fans at Family Circle Tennis Center from having a great time. As a 40 x 47-foot poster of defending champion Jennifer Capriati dwarfed everything in sight except the stadium it hung from and the similar poster of eight-time champion Chris Evert on the other side of the stadium, Charleston tennis fans had to feel good, lucky to have such a world-class facility and tournament in their backyard.

When there was a lull in the qualifying schedule, the fans took a break on the grass infield's food court, milled around the newly named Family Circle Magazine Stadium, gawked at main draw players such as former French Open champion Iva Majoli practicing, visited the sponsor booths, shopped for tennis attire or participated in some of the other activities going on.

Of course, the Family Circle Cup was lucky that all of the rain that hit Amelia Island didn't find Daniel Island. Even at that, the parking lots had their muddy spots, some cars getting stuck in the general parking lot. The press parking and patron lots weren't much better.

The Tennis Center staff planned to work on the parking lots Saturday night.

NEW SKY BOXES

One of the problems with the sky boxes atop the stadium court last year was with the wind. Chairs and tables blew around the open boxes. As a result, they were hardly used.

But the boxes now have hard sides and tops, and are glassed in across the front for viewing the matches. Let the party begin.

A 'HIT-FEST'

The Family Circle Cup is having an impact elsewhere. Prince will hold a "Hit-Fest" at Snee Farm Country Club Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon and on Thursday from 2-4 p.m.

The event is open to the public, with participants allowed to try out Prince's newest tennis rackets.

Prizes and giveaways also will be available.

LEAGUE TENNIS

The Lowcountry Tennis Association's USA Leagues didn't schedule matches for this week so that everyone could enjoy the Family Circle Cup.

The LCTA has 198 teams this spring, 148 teams in the Adult League and 50 in the

Senior League. More than 1,900 players participate in the Adult League and 580 more play in the Senior League.

SNEE JUNIOR

The deadline for entering next weekend's Snee Farm Junior Championships is Tuesday at 8 p.m. The entry fee is $30 for singles and $36 for singles and doubles.

Contact the Snee Farm pro shop (884-3252) for additional information.

Pine Forest will hold a USTA-sanctioned Lowcountry Challenger junior tournament on April 26-28. Contact Pine Forest (851-9010) for more information.

A non-sanctioned junior tournament is scheduled for April 26-28 at the Whipple Road Tennis Center. Contact the Whipple Road complex (856-2162).


(04/13/02)  Swiss teen in FCC main draw
Pardon me, but the name is missing a letter.

There's an "h" at the end of Marie-Gaianeh Mikaelian's first name. The WTA Tour player guide lists the 18-year-old Swiss miss as Marie-Gaiane.

But the name really might catch on, if the next year is as good to Mikaelian as the past one. She started 2001 ranked No. 339 in the world among women's tennis players.

She ended the year ranked 78th and already this year has charged up to No. 65.

With that kind of improvement, you'd expect Mikaelian to be one of the first players to show up at Family Circle Cup qualifying starts today on Daniel Island at the Family Circle Tennis Center for the Family Circle Cup. And there she was Friday morning in a misting rain, practicing her serve on a hard court. The clay courts were too wet to be used. Mikaelian arrived Thursday because she originally was scheduled to participate in today's qualifying tournament, but late Friday she received news she had moved into next week's main draw of the $1.2 million tournament as the result of withdrawals. Just making the main draw is worth a payday of $3,125.

MAIN DRAW WILD CARDS

Three of the four wild cards into the Family Circle's main draw were awarded to No. 109 Jill Craybas, No. 58 Lilia Osterloh and 2000 Family Circle Cup champion Mary Pierce, who is currently ranked No. 250. Pierce was announced earlier as an entry.

THREE WITHDRAWALS

No. 72 Joannette Kruger of South Africa and No. 86 Mariana Diaz-Olivia of Argentina withdrew Friday along with 2001 semifinalist Marlene Weingartner of Germany. Weingartner strained her back at Amelia Island.

The withdrawals made room for No. 69 Anna Kournikova of Russia, No. 71 Bianka Lamade of Germany and Mikaelian in the main draw. Otherwise, Kournikova would have received the fourth wild-card berth.

DRAW WITH MARTINA

Former great Martina Navratilova will be the main attraction at today's 3 p.m. draw party at the Daniel Island tennis complex. Navratilova will play in the Family Circle's doubles draw.

The big question will be whether seventh-ranked and third-seeded Serena Williams is placed in the top half of the main draw with world's No. 1 and 2001 champ Jennifer Capriati or in the bottom half of the draw with the sixth-ranked and No. 2 seed Monica Seles.

TODAY'S QUALIFYING

Qualifying will begin at 10 a.m. today. Porter-Gaud junior Emily Applegate drew sixth-seeded Wynne Prakusya of Indonesia for an afternoon match.

The schedule for today:
CLUB COURT, 10 a.m.: (1) Alina Jidkova (Russia) vs. Antonella Serra-Zanetti (Italy); followed by (2) Virginie Razzano (France) vs. (WC) Abigail Spears (U.S.)

COURT 3, 10 a.m.: Mirjana Lucic (Croatia) vs. (16) Rika Fujiwara (Japan); followed by Julia Vakulenko (Ukraine) vs. (12) Mashona Washington (U.S.)

COURT 4, 10 a.m.: (WC) Jelena Jankovic (Yugoslavia) vs. (11) Stephanie Foretz (France); followed by Sylvia Plischke (Austria) vs. (13) Yoon Jeong Cho (Korea)


(04/12/02)  Family Circle tournament hopefuls focus on today's qualifying draw
Today is a key day in the life of this year's Family Circle Cup.

Today is when the draw for this weekend's qualifying tournament for next week's $1.2 million main event will be conducted. That might not sound very important, but the qualifying tournament not only determines the final eight spots in the 56-player main draw but it also settles the question of who is in the main draw and who isn't.

Take Jill Craybas, for instance. She's ranked 109th in the world, not high enough to earn a spot in the main draw of the Family Circle Cup, but still good enough to be awarded a wild card into this week's WTA Tour Tier II tournament at Amelia Island, Fla. Of course, it didn't hurt that Craybas was the 1996 national collegiate player of the year while at the University of Florida.

But in Charleston, Craybas isn't quite as well known. She is currently pegged for one of the 32 slots in the qualifying tournament.

Yet, she was still alive in Thursday's round of 16 of the $585,000 Bausch & Lomb Championships at Amelia Island.

She upset 12th-seeded Lisa Raymond in the first round, then defeated qualifier Samantha Reeves in the second round.

Up until a couple of days ago, Marissa Irvin, who is currently ranked 55th in the world, also was scheduled to play in the FCC's qualifying tournament.

But Irvin, a former Stanford standout who played here while a collegian in the Mount Pleasant Women's Challenger, received a lucky break at the expense of another player.

Young Daja Bedanova, 27th in the world, has withdrawn from the Family Circle Cup's 44-player direct entry list as the result of wrist tendonitis.

Thus, Irvin moved from qualifying to the main draw.

Others possibly could receive the same lucky break today. Marlene Weingartner, a semfinalist in last year's FCC, retired from a first-round match at Amelia Island Tuesday with a back strain.

And sixth-ranked Monica Seles pulled out of the Amelia Island tournament before it started because of a stress reaction in her right foot.

Both Weingartner and Seles are scheduled to play in next week's main draw on Daniel Island, along with the likes of Serena Williams and defending champion and world's top-ranked player Jennifer Capriati.

This weekend's qualifying tournament starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at Family Circle Tennis Center.

The wild cards for qualifying announced Thursday by the FCC include 153rd-ranked Ansley Cargill, 190th-ranked Mirjana Lucic of Croatia and 328-ranked Jelena Jankovic of Yugoslavia.

The other wild card is local junior Emily Applegate.

Cargill, from Atlanta, is one of the bright, young stars of the tour. Lucic played in last year's FCC qualifying.

Jankovic won her way through qualifying at Amelia Island, but lost in the first round of the main draw.

Local city champion Sophie Woorons, a former WTA Tour player, is hoping to get into the FCC's qualifying tournament by default.

If some of the other 28 players or four wild cards fail to enter the qualifying draw this afternoon, Woorons plans to be at Daniel Island to receive one of the possible open spots.

If it happens, that will occur at 4 p.m. today when the registrations are complete. Woorons registered with the WTA Tour for the qualifying tournament six weeks ago.

A former Clemson All-American who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, Woorons was ranked No. 429 in the world in singles while playing on the pro tour from 1990-1992.


(04/10/02) Sanchez-Vicario staple of Family Circle Cup
Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and the Family Circle Cup are old friends.

This will be the 16th straight year the two have celebrated April together.

Now 30 years old, Sanchez-Vicario may not move quite as well on the tennis court and she may not be quite as motivated, but this Spaniard can still play.

Sanchez-Vicario is ranked 14th in the world, one notch higher than a year ago.

Sanchez-Vicario fell victim to the luck of the draw last year at Daniel Island when she drew Elena Likhovtseva in her first match. Sanchez-Vicario didn't last past that match.

But on any given day on a clay surface such as at the Family Circle Tennis Center, she's a threat to beat anyone in the game. Hustle and determined play have been her forte since her early years on the WTA Tour.

She has won 29 singles titles since turning pro in 1985 at the ripe old age of 13.

By the time she was 17, she was winning her first of three French Open titles.

She also won the U.S. Open in 1994.

Her breakthrough year at the Family Circle Cup didn't come until 1996 when she defeated Barbara Paulus in the final.

Although one of the greats of the game in singles, Sanchez-Vicario has been even better in doubles where she has won 61 titles. She has six Grand Slam doubles titles and four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.


(04/10/02)  Applegate awarded slot in Family Circle qualifying

When tennis is involved, Emily Applegate has the ball in her court. She makes things happen.

But to earn a wild-card berth in this weekend's qualifying tournament for the $1.2 million Family Circle Cup, she had to have help. That's where the FCC's executive committee came into play this week by awarding the Porter-Gaud junior a berth in the qualifying draw.

Originally, Applegate had hoped to win her way into the qualifying tournament by winning the girls' 18 title in the Junior Family Circle Cup that was scheduled for last month. That chance was rained out.

Now on Saturday at Family Circle Tennis Center, she could be matched against a world-class pro ranked in the top 100 in the world. "That's a tall order," admits Family Circle Tennis Center pro Fritz Nau, who teaches Applegate in the center's junior academy.

But Nau doesn't count Applegate out. He is fully aware of the 5-3 right-hander's tenacity.

"I'm real excited," Applegate said. "I will be playing really good people and it will be a fun opportunity."

Of course, the 17-year-old is accustomed to playing good people, just not pros.

She was ranked ninth in the South last year, and plays a steady diet of sectional and national tournaments.

Back in January at the prestigious Copper Bowl in Tucson, Ariz., she advanced all the way to the semifinals of the back draw before losing to the No. 2-ranked junior in the nation.

"I'm playing well; but I have no idea about playing the pros. I saw them play last year (in the Family Circle Cup). Hopefully, I can give them a good match," she said.

"My ground strokes are getting more powerful and I'm working on my serve a lot."


(04/10/02)  Capriati-Hingis a dream finale for FCC

LOOKING BACK

A tennis tournament leads a charmed life when its championship match e-volves into a battle between the event's No. 1 and 2 seeds. That's the goal of every tournament director.

The 29th Family Circle Cup lived that charmed life last April in its inaugural year on Daniel Island. Actually, there were only a couple of bumps along the road last year for top seed and No. 1-ranked Martina Hingis and No. 2 seed Jennifer Capriati.

Otherwise, it was meant to be - a final between Hingis and Capriati. The new darling of the game, Capriati came to Charleston with the year's lone Grand Slam title already safely tucked away on her resume. She added the prestigious Family Circle Cup crown to her trophy case in a well-played, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4, victory.

The only bumps occurred earlier, and only Hingis' 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over former French Open champion Iva Majoli in the third round could be considered a real speed bump. But Hingis appeared to take first sets lightly throughout her five matches, as evidenced by her love showing against Capriati.

First, Germany qualifier Bianka Lamade took Hingis to a first-set tiebreaker before losing, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, in the second round. Hingis then dropped the first set to Majoli in the next round, followed by a tight first set in a 7-5, 6-2 win over red-hot third seed Amelie Mauresmo in the quarterfinals.

Mauresmo, who had lost to Hingis in the Australian Open final two years earlier, entered last year's quarterfinals with a 16-match winning streak and a 22-1 record for the year, losing only to Venus Williams. Because of her heavy topspin and success on clay, Mauresmo was considered the player to beat for the top prize.

After showing Mauresmo the exit, Hingis blitzed former two-time champion Conchita Martinez, 6-2, 6-2, in the semifinals.

Capriati pretty much sailed through the field until the second set of the final, winning nine straight sets and giving up only 24 games. A little tight in her first match after having lost a third-set tiebreaker to Venus Williams in the Ericsson Open final, Cap-riati fought off Rosanna De Los Rios, 6-4, 6-3, in the second round.

Next for Capriati was a 6-4, 6-2 third-round victory over 15th seed Henrietta Nagyova. Capriati's only serious test then came against Russia's Elena Likhovtseva in a 7-5, 6-4 quarterfinal win. Capriati made quick work of unseeded German Marlene Weingartner, 6-0, 6-2, in the semifinals.


(04/10/02)  Henin makes name for self last season
The tennis world had hardly heard of Justine Henin at the outset of the 2001 season. She was barely ranked inside the top 50.

But in the space of two tournaments last year, the Belgium teen-ager astonished the tennis world. She followed up a semifinal appearance in the French Open with a berth opposite Venus Williams in the Wimbledon final. Henin lost to Williams, but everyone suddenly knew about the 19-year-old with the sweeping one-handed backhand.

Henin will be one of the players to beat in the Family Circle Cup. She has lived in the top 10 since last summer.

At slightly less than 5-foot-6, Henin's biggest problem on the tour has been much the same one Martina Hingis has had since the Williams sisters and Jennifer Capriati took charge of the WTA Tour with their heavy artillery. Henin doesn't have the power of a Capriati or a Serena Williams, the two favorites in the chase for the FCC's top prize.

Henin relies heavily on consistency and quickness along with a strong backhand.

She started 2002 off by reaching the singles and doubles finals at Gold Coast, losing to Venus Williams in the singles final. She won her first career doubles title with Meghann Shaughnessy by upsetting top seeds Elena Lik-hovtseva and Ai Sugiyama in the semifinals and Asa Carlsson and Miriam Oremans in the final.

Henin moved up to No. 5 in the singles ranking, but lost to compatriot Kim Clijsters in the quarterfinals at Sydney. Henin avenged that loss by beating Clijsters at the Australian Open where she was a quarterfinalist.

Henin also made the quarterfinals in Paris and lost to Venus Williams in the Antwerp final. But things fell apart for Henin in March as she lost to Daniela Hantuchova in the fourth round at Indian Wells, then lost in three sets to Anna Smashnova in her Nasdaq-100 opener.


(04/10/02)  LOOK WHO'S COMING TO DANIEL ISLAND
The field of players for the first Family Circle Cup at Daniel Island last year was deep and strong until it was decimated by injuries and withdrawals.

When Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, Anna Kournikova and Elena Dementieva failed to make the trip to Charleston because of injuries, and Mary Pierce and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario suffered early upsets, the 2001 field was shallow and only moderate in strength.

But fortunately for the Family Circle Cup, Jennifer Capriati was on her way to a storybook year, and Martina Hingis was, well, Martina Hingis, then the No. 1 player in the world.

Capriati and Hingis made last year's Family Circle Cup one of the best in its then 29-year history.

They squared off in a nationally televised final that gave the $1.2 million tournament a firm foundation in the Charleston community.

This year, Capriati is still Capriati. Hingis is still Hingis, but she's elsewhere.

And then there's Serena Williams. All it takes to make any tournament a success is to have one of the Williams sisters, as long as a Williams can stick around all week.

If the tournament is fortunate enough for Capriati and Williams to be placed in different halves of the draw, and then both players could survive until the final, FCC II at Daniel Island certainly would be a smashing success.

But there's more to this year's field. There's depth - and Kournikova.

There's Seles. She hasn't missed a semifinal all year, so fans pretty much can count on Seles being around championship weekend. Seles is a very good backup in case Capriati or Williams run into problems on the clay courts at Daniel Island.

There's young Justine Henin. She is another good top player who is fully capable of winning it all, if the big guns falter.

Having Seles and Henin entered gives FCC II at Daniel Island a distinct edge over last year's tournament.

Jelena Dokic is now a star, a top 10 player who is fully capable of winning any tournament she enters.

And once again no one will overlook Amelie Mauresmo, simply because no one plays better clay-court tennis.

For old-times sake, there's former two-time champion Conchita Martinez again and former champions Pierce, Sanchez-Vicario and Amanda Coetzer. Martinez, San-chez-Vicario and Coetzer are regulars at the Family Circle Cup and can be counted on to make some noise because of their superior clay-court ability, but time is running out on this trio. They'll all be 30 years old during this year's tournament.

Pierce can still pack a wallop with her strokes, but her success may depend on her physical conditioning and health.

Dementieva is an added plus this year, but the 20-year-old Russian has been a disappointment since advancing to the semifinals of the 2000 U.S. Open.


(04/10/02)  Fan favorite Seles moving up rankings
Monica Seles is everyone's favorite, fans and players alike.

It wasn't always that way. There was a time when Seles threatened to rewrite the history books of women's tennis.

Still a teen-ager in 1993, she had won seven of her last eight Grand Slam tournaments, dominating the game and pushing the great German player Steffi Graf into the background.

No one knows how great Seles might have become if it had not been for that fateful day in 1993 in Hamburg, Germany. That's the day a fanatical Graf fan stabbed Seles in the back during a change-over in a quarterfinal match against Magdalena Maleeva.

Seles' life hasn't been the same since. She left the WTA Tour for more than two years after the incident. Since returning, she has won only one Grand Slam title, the Australian Open in 1996.

But no one overlooks the gritty two-handed hitting left-hander. Now 28 years old, opposing players respect her, and fans adore her.

Seles missed the Family Circle Cup in its initial year in Charleston because of an injury, but she is off to one of her best starts in recent years. She reached the semifinals or better of her first seven tournaments of the year and has moved up the rankings to No. 6 in the world.

With machine-gun style ground strokes, Seles should be a definite contender for her first Family Circle Cup title. She was runner-up to Martina Hingis in 1997 in her first appearance at the FCC.

She made her 2002 debut at the Australian Open and upset Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, Seles' first victory over Williams. Seles lost to Hingis in the semifinals.

Seles also lost to Hingis the following week in the Tokyo final. Seles then fell to Jelena Dokic in the Paris Indoors semifinals, before winning her first title of 2002 in Doha as the top seed. She reached the semifinals in Dubai before losing to eventual champion Amelie Mauresmo. She also was a semifinalist at Indian Wells, Calif., and the Nasdaq-100.

Her six losses for the year include three to Hingis, and one each to Capriati, Mauresmo and Dokic.


(04/07/02)  Where will Serena fall in draw?
A week from now, the draw will be done and most of the qualifying will be over.

Any withdrawals already will have been announced. The hope will then turn to good weather, big crowds and few upsets.

Family Circle Cup II at Daniel Island will be on go.

This year's Family Circle Cup should be a good one. Any tournament that has Jennifer Capriati, Monica Seles and Serena Williams in its draw rates A-plus.

The big question right now is whether Williams will be placed in the bottom or top half of the draw.

As the top two seeds based on their world rankings of first and sixth, Capriati and Seles will have their names placed at the top and bottom of the draw. Serena is ranked seventh and will be the No. 3 seed, but the luck of the draw will determine which half of the draw she is placed in.

All three are idle this week. Seles will play at Amelia Island, Fla., next week, but those results will not impact the FCC's seedings.

CAPRIATI TO REMAIN NO. 1

Capriati is now assured of being the No. 1 player in the world when she arrives in Charleston. She is more than 400 points ahead of Venus Williams in the rankings. Williams is idle this week, and can't pick up enough points in next week's Tier II event at Amelia Island to surpass the idle Capriati.

Thus, this will mark the second straight year that the top player in the world will play at Daniel Island. Martina Hingis entered last year's FCC ranked No. 1.

TWO CASUALTIES

The only new casualties for the Family Circle Cup are 19th-ranked Iroda Tulyaganova of Uzbekistan and 64th-ranked Chanda Rubin. Tulyaganova has withdrawn due to tendonitis of her left knee and Rubin is recovering from knee surgery.

However, Rubin has been named the winner of this year's Family Circle/Hormel Foods Player Who Makes A Difference Award.

CITY ON DISPLAY

The Family Circle Cup's impact on the area is becoming more and more obvious. The current issue of Tennis Magazine has a three-page feature on Charleston, complete with a flopped-page horse carriage scene in front of the Dock Street Theatre.

The story talks not only about Charleston's history, tourism and the Family Circle Cup, but also about Charleston's 3,000 USTA members, 17 public tennis facilities and top-10 tennis resorts Wild Dunes and Kiawah Island.

AVANTS IMPROVING

Gastonia, N.C., teen-ager Cory Ann Avants hasn't moved up in the world rankings quite as quickly as Russian star Daniela Hantuchova, but Avants continues to sparkle. Just recently, the 17-year-old was given a wild card into the Nasdaq-100 in Miami where she lost in the first round to Kveta Hrdlickova of the Czech Republic.

Avants has used her both-sides double-fisted strokes to move up to No. 333 in the world. She came within one victory last April of qualifying for the Family Circle Cup, but is not entered in next weekend's qualifying tournament.

Local tennis fans have been following the home-schooled youngster since 1996 when as an 11-year-old she won the girls' 14 title in the star-studded Kiawah Island junior tournament.

CAPTAIN RUSSELL

Belton's Jim Russell will captain a 40-and-under team that will represent the United States in the 20-country international Tony Trabert Cup April 22-27 in Naples, Fla.

As the non-playing captain, Russell selected the top three 40-and-under men in the nation: No. 1 Val Wilder of Euless, Texas, No. 2 Mike Federly of Palm Desert, Calif., and No. 3 Egan Adams of Palmetto, Fla. The same three players were on the team that lost to Germany in Austria last year.

Russell, one of the founders of Belton's Palmetto Championships, is a former Southern Tennis Association president and USTA board of directors member.

UPCOMING EVENTS

The Snee Farm Junior Championships will be held April 19-21. The entry deadline is April 16 at 8 p.m. The entry fees are $30 for one event and $36 for two events. Contact the Snee Farm pro shop (884-3252) for additional information.

Pine Forest will hold a USTA-sanctioned Lowcountry Challenger junior tournament on April 26-28. Contact Pine Forest (851-9010) for more information.

A non-sanctioned junior tournament is scheduled for April 26-28 at the Whipple Road Tennis Center. Contact the Whipple Road complex (856-2162).


(03/31/02)  WTA likely will move offices to major market

Florida's Saddlebrook Resort looked like the perfect place a year ago from which the WTA Tour could conduct all of its U.S. business. That was before Sept. 11.

The WTA Tour is suddenly remapping its strategy. Airline travel is more difficult and time consuming these days, and the Orlando area is only a shadow of the transportation hub of Atlanta or Los Angeles. The WTA has reached the conclusion that a direct flight is much more conducive to doing big business than a two-legger.

Hence, the WTA probably will move it corporate offices to either Atlanta or Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the WTA Tour has announced that it will remain in its offices in St. Petersburg until a decision is made. Before deciding last summer to consolidate its U.S. operations at Saddlebrook, the WTA Tour's corporate headquarters had been in Stamford, Conn., with another office in St. Petersburg.

This time, Daniel Island and the Family Circle Tennis Center aren't players in the game as they were last summer.

"It's very unlikely that we would consider Charleston (this time)," WTA Tour president and chief operating officer Josh Ripple said last week from Florida.

"Right now we are looking at markets like Atlanta and Los Angeles. Those are the major markets we have talked to. The airports are extremely important. In Charleston, you're somewhat locked into a second leg everywhere you go, where Atlanta goes almost everywhere.

"Saddlebrook was going to be corporate headquarters, but they will not be located there. From our standpoint, the tour is making its own directional decision to be a more marketing and sales company in addition to the other things we do. Given that directional shift, we believe it is more important to look at a more major market to relocate the corporate headquarters."

Instead, the WTA Tour has entered into a multi-year partnership with Saddlebrook Resort as the Official U.S. Resort of the WTA Tour. The deal runs through 2005.

LOCALS RANKED

Walterboro's Diane Fishburne earned the No. 1 ranking in the South for 2001 in women's 40 singles. Fishburne and her husband, Barnwell, also were ranked fifth in 40 mixed doubles.

Another local mixed doubles husband-wife combo to fare well was Bob and Susie Peiffer, who brought home the No. 1 ranking in mixed 45s, as well as Brenda and Harry Carter, who took third in mixed 55s.

Susie Peiffer also was ranked second in women's 50 singles, second with Brenda Carter in women's 45 doubles, second with Kitsy Wise in women's 50 doubles and fifth with Carter in women's 50 doubles.

Carter captured the top ranking in women's 55 singles, while Claire Richardson was fifth in women's 65 singles and Zoe Williams fourth in women's 70 singles.

Charleston area players dominated the mixed 70 division as Mary Tomkins took first, Williams and Kurt Wassen second, Nancy and Phil Carretta third, and Tom Kent fifth. Williams also was third in mixed 65s.

Russ Bridgham was ranked fifth in men's 40 doubles. Ray Easterbrook was third in men's 70 doubles, and Kent and Jerry Hanchrow were fourth.

Claire Richardson and Ben Varn were third in mixed 60s, while Varn was second in men's 60 singles and third in men's 60 doubles.

APPLEGATE NINTH

Charleston's Emily Applegate earned a No. 9 ranking in the South for 2001 in girls' 16 singles. Jason Basile was 20th in boys' 14 singles and Ashley Perkins was 25th in girls' 12 singles.

SPENCER HONORED

Long-time Charleston area USA League participant and official Bud Spencer has been honored by the Southern Tennis Association as the recipient of the Gerrie Rothwell Award for the volunteer who has demonstrated outstanding service and dedication to the USA League Tennis Program.

UPCOMING EVENTS

The Flowertown Festival Mixed Doubles Tournament for juniors, adults and seniors is scheduled for next weekend at Summerville's Azalea Park. The entry deadline is Wednesday. Contact Greg Hancock (851-3093) for information.

Summerville's Pine Forest Country Club will hold a USTA-sanctioned men's and women's tournament next weekend. For information, contact tennis director Heinz Maurer (851-9010).

The Snee Farm Junior Championships will be held April 19-21. Contact the Snee Farm pro shop (884-3252) for additional information.

Pine Forest will hold a USTA-sanctioned Lowcountry Challenger junior tournament on April 26-28. Contact Pine Forest (851-9010) for more information.

A non-sanctioned junior tournament is scheduled for April 26-28 at the Whipple Road Tennis Center. Contact the Whipple Road complex (856-2162).

MUSC will conduct a spring break camp for juniors from this Tuesday through Friday. Contact MUSC tennis director JoAnn Lee (792-3157).


(03/24/02)  Win4Life program gives children a new perspective
It has been the goal of Family Circle Magazine to make a difference to youth in the Charleston community. The innovative Win4Life program is a result of that goal.

Former top 20 touring pro Leslie Allen founded the Win4Life program, and Family Circle Magazine became the first title sponsor of a WTA Tour event to fund the pilot program. Allen and a committee of local tennis coaches selected 18 young people from the community to participate in the program.

Since the start of the program on Feb. 18, Allen has conducted life skills mentoring seminars and expert tennis training sessions for the youth. The group participated in another session Saturday at MUSC's Harper Student Center.

"The kids believe in themselves more, are setting their goals higher and working harder to achieve them. You can see their personal growth," Allen said.

Britney Mitchell, a 14-year-old from West Ashley High School, said Allen "is right up there with Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson." First Baptist Church School 13-year-old Priscilla Jamison said, "In all of life, if you used the four D's (dedication, determination, desire and discipline) you could succeed in anything - on and off the court."

Program participants will pay a special visit to the April 13-14 Family Circle Cup qualifying tournament. Four of the youth will return for the FCC's main draw that starts April 15 to get a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of the $1.2 million tournament.

"In just a short time the Win4Life program has truly given these children a whole new perspective on life. That is what this program is all about," Family Circle Tennis Center executive director Frankie Whelan said.

HANTUCHOVA SHINES
Daniela Hantuchova has her own local connection. Family Circle Tennis Center pro Fritz Nau followed the play of his Nick Bollettieri's Camp protege throughout the teenager's run to last weekend's major title at Indian Wells, Calif., in a victory over Martina Hingis. Hantuchova moved up to 17th in the WTA rankings.

Her big game favors hard courts such as at Indian Wells and the Nasdaq 100, but Family Circle Cup fans will be able to see just how well the 5-11 player adjusts to the slower clay-court game at Daniel Island.

INJURY REPORT
Direct entry player Nadia Petrova, ranked 40th in the world, has withdrawn from the Family Circle Cup because of a foot fracture. Petrova's withdrawal makes room for late entry Serena Williams to gain one of the 44 direct entry spots in the main draw without the tournament needing to use one of its four wild cards.

Also, Joannette Kruger, Chanda Rubin and 11th-ranked Sandrine Testud all withdrew from the Nasdaq 100 because of injuries.

The FCC will need to use one of its wild cards to make room for late entry Jelena Dokic, unless other withdrawals occur in the next three weeks. Anna Kournikova and former champion Mary Pierce, whose current rankings of 65th and 292nd, respectively, are not high enough for direct entry, will need to use two of the wild cards.

Of course, Kournikova and Pierce have been hampered by injuries for much of the past year. Kournikova withdrew from last year's Family Circle Cup because of a foot injury and Pierce was slowed by an injury in her third-round loss here last year.

I'ON GETS PRO
Mount Pleasant's I'On Club has landed former Van der Meer Tennis University head pro Joey Eskridge to serve as its new director of tennis. The I'On Club is one of the area's newest tennis and swim facilities.

UPCOMING EVENTS
The Flowertown Festival Mixed Doubles Tournament for juniors, adults and seniors is scheduled for April 5-7 at Summerville's Azalea Park. Contact Greg Hancock (851-3093) for information.

Summerville's Pine Forest Country Club will hold a USTA-sanctioned men's and women's tournament April 5-7. For information, contact tennis director Heinz Maurer (851-9010).

MUSC will conduct a spring break camp for juniors from April 2-5. Contact MUSC tennis director JoAnn Lee (792-3157).

The Snee Farm Junior Championships will be held April 19-21. Contact the Snee Farm pro shop (884-3252) for additional information.

Pine Forest will hold a USTA-sanctioned Lowcountry Challenger junior tournament on April 26-28. Contact Pine Forest (851-9010) for more information.

A non-sanctioned junior tournament is scheduled for April 26-28 at the Whipple Road Tennis Center. Contact the Whipple Road complex (856-2162).


(03/17/02)  Palmetto Championships' dates changed to June 1-7
Belton's Palmetto Championships have changed their dates from the second week in June to the first, June 1-7. The switch may affect the state's club pros as much as the players.

Pre-Belton week generally is the year's most active week for juniors to attend tennis camps. Many facilities and pros have offered such camps in past years.

Players in the past have used the first week in June to hone their skills in preparation for the state's premiere junior event. The absence of a week of preparation could mean a lesser level of play at Belton, or possibly even fewer players making the trip.

The top juniors, the few with national aspirations, will continue to play Belton. It is the qualifying event for Southern tournament participation.

Some lesser players might decide they haven't had sufficient time to prepare their games and possibly opt to play one of the summer's other two state tournaments to qualify for a state ranking.

Belton officials didn't make the change without a great deal of thought.

The key element in the change was the fact the Southern Closed Championships moved up one week, forcing Belton to adjust its dates.

"The Southern Closed moved up a week, and we have to finish a week before the Southern Closed," said Rex Maynard, the Palmetto Championships' top official.

The date changes for the two tournaments allow the results from the Southern Closed to be used to endorse players for the super national championships. "We weren't able to use the results from the Southern Closed for the super nationals before," said Maynard, pointing out that the deadline for providing information to the nationals remains June 24 but that the Southern Closed will now start June 16.

NO SATELLITE

Several of the players entered in this year's Family Circle Cup were familiar with Charleston even before the FCC moved to Daniel Island last year. Marissa Irvin, Jennifer Hopkins and Jana Nejedly played in Mount Pleasant's $25,000 Women's Challenger. But the area has lost another USTA professional satellite tournament, at least for this year. The Women's Challenger, held last June at Mount Pleasant's Whipple Road facility, has joined Creekside Tennis and Swim's Skatell's Pro Tennis Classic on the sidelines. Creekside dropped its men's satellite event last April.

"Maybe we'll have it every two or three years," Whipple Road director of tennis Jimmy Millar said.

"Raising money became very difficult, and we had to raise about $30,000 to run the Women's Challenger."

Both tournaments felt added competition for sponsorship money after the Family Circle's move here.

CARTER SECOND

Charleston's Brenda Carter was the singles 55-and-over runner-up and finished third in doubles earlier this month in the National Seniors Women's Clay Courts Championships in Houston. Carter teamed with Mary Wilson of Manalapan, Fla., in doubles.

Carter won the National Seniors Women's Hardcourt singles and doubles championships last September in Folsom, Calif.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Summerville will hold the first Flowertown Festival Mixed Doubles Tournament for juniors, adults and seniors April 5-7 at Azalea Park.

The entry fee is $10 per person and the entry deadline is April 3. The junior ages are 12-and-under through 18-and-under, while adult categories will include beginner, intermediate, advanced, adult/ junior and 55-and-over. If you don't have a partner, tournament officials will find one for you.

Greg Hancock (851-3093) is the tournament director.

Also on April 5-7, Summerville's Pine Forest Country Club will serve as host for a USTA-sanctioned men's and women's tournament.

The tournament has rated singles and doubles as well as age groups. For more information, call director of tennis Heinz Maurer, 851-9010.

Mount Pleasant has scheduled a non-sanctioned junior tournament for April 26-28 at the Whipple Road Tennis Center.

The singles-only tournament is for boys and girls, with divisions from 10-18. Consolation play will be available.

The entry fee is $20. The entry deadline is April 20. For more information, call 856-2162.

Pine Forest will hold the last of three USTA-sanctioned Lowcountry Challenger junior tournaments on April 26-28. The entry deadline is four days prior to the tournament.

The Snee Farm Junior Championships will be held April 19-21.

USPTA master professional Joe Dinoffer will conduct tennis clinics at the MUSC tennis complex all day on April 1.

The event is open to all juniors. MUSC also will conduct a spring break camp for juniors from April 2-5. Call MUSC tennis director JoAnn Lee, 792-3157.


(03/17/02)  Wake Forest's Bielik aims for singles, doubles titles
Bea Bielik has all the qualities to make it in professional tennis. She's tall, strong and athletic, with a huge forehand and serve.

And yet she's somewhat of a rarity. No, not that she hits a one-handed backhand in this age of the two-handed back.

Just that not only is she a superb singles player, she's also brilliant in doubles. The Wake Forest junior is the No. 1 collegiate tennis player in America in both singles and doubles, unbeaten in both in 2002.

Her goals are simple: win NCAA championships in singles and doubles as well as team this year, return to Wake Forest one more year, then play professional tennis. Wake Forest, with a loss to defending national champion Stanford the lone blemish on its record, is currently ranked sixth nationally.

"Obviously I have a shot at winning the (national) title," Bielik said Tuesday while waiting out a rain delay before Wake Forest's match against the College of Charleston.

"I think people will be gunning for me, but I'll just play my best and hopefully play my best tennis when it counts."

Wake Forest has played the best teams in college tennis, but Bielik doesn't mind going against teams such as the College of Charleston. "Sometimes it's difficult for me to make sure I don't lose my concentration. I just go out there and take care of business and get off the court," the 21-year-old 6-footer said.

Bielik played just well enough to win Tuesday against College of Charleston freshman Gabriela Moreira, 6-4, 6-1, as Wake Forest improved its dual match record to 12-1 with a 6-0 victory. Bielik's big serve bailed her out of what could have been a tough match. Once she got a service break in the sixth game, Bielik was on cruise control with her big serve.

After college, Bielik believes she owes it to herself to try professional tennis. She's confident she can make it. After all, she played against some of the current WTA Tour stars in international junior competition.

She has played Kim Clijsters, Anna Kournikova, Elena Dementieva and Daniela Hantuchova. Bielik evens hold a victory over Clijsters in doubles.

"I really do feel I can make it on the pro tour, if I can just stay healthy," the two-time All-American and Academic All-American said.

"I'm not planning to play for just a few years. I would like to go out there and win some big tournaments."

A native of Budapest, Bielik moved to this country when she was only four years old. She began playing tennis in the New York City suburb of Valley Stream, N.Y., a few years later. "I saw tennis on TV and decided I wanted to play," she said.


(03/10/02)  Serena's entry big boost for Family Circle Cup
Serena! Serena! Serena fever has hit the Family Circle Cup. Last week's announcement that Serena Williams had entered the Daniel Island tournament was a major breakthrough.

The fact that a Williams sister finally will play in the Family Circle Cup gives the $1.2 mllion event a new image and appeal locally. All of the other great women of tennis' open era have played in the Family Circle, other than Serena and her No. 1-ranked older sister, Venus.

Serena's late entry on March 1 into the tournament is a huge development, mainly because of the flag controversy that is still swirling around the state. With the breaking of the ice in the Family Circle Cup from April 13-21, future relationships between the Williams sisters and the tournament are virtually assured.

Watch for Venus to show up on Daniel Island next year as a player; she may come this year as a member of Serena's fan club. Remember, the sisters usually attempt to avoid playing in the same tournament, except a Grand Slam or a major such as the Nasdaq 100 in Miami.

Serena is currently ranked sixth in the world and riding high after beating both Martina Hingis and Jennifer Capriati while winning the Scottsdale, Ariz., tournament. Now that Venus has moved into the No. 1 slot, Serena probably has like ambitions. That may be one reason Serena decided to enter the Family Circle during her week in Scottsdale.

With five weeks remaining before the Family Circle Cup, 47 of the 48 possible slots in the tournament (excluding eight qualifiers) have been filled. That leaves only one of four wild-card berths available, barring a withdrawal from one of the 47 players. At this stage of the game, only injury withdrawals normally are allowed without a fine being levied by the WTA Tour.

In addition to Serena, nine more of the top 14 players in the world are entered in the FCC: Capriati, Monica Seles, Justine Henin, Jelena Dokic, Amelie Mauresmo, Sandrine Testud, Meghann Shaughnessy, Silvia Elia-Farina and Elena Dementieva. Also former champions Amanda Coetzer and Conchita Martinez are entered, along with other notables such as Lisa Raymond, Daniela Hantuchova, Patty Schnyder, Alexandra Stevenson, Marlene Weingartner, Amy Frazier, former French Open champion Iva Majoli and former Mount Pleasant women's challenger runner-up Jennifer Hopkins.

Marissa Irvin, another ex-Mount Pleasant challenger player, will be relegated to the April 13-14 qualifying tournament barring withdrawals from the main draw.

Anna Kournikova also is entered. Her world ranking (currently 67th) isn't high enough for one of the 44 direct entry berths into the main draw, but she will receive one of the four wild cards.

Tournament officials will hold the 48th spot (and last wild card) as long as possible, just in case fifth-ranked Lindsay Davenport recovers from her knee surgery and wants to play in the Family Circle Cup again.

NAU'S PROTEGE

Family Circle Tennis Center tennis director Fritz Nau is excited that one of his proteges from his Nick Bollettieri Camp days, Hantuchova, has entered the Family Circle Cup. "I'm really excited and I think everybody in Charleston is going to be excited about Daniela," Nau said about the 5-11 Slovakian teen-ager who won the Wimbledon and Australian Open in mixed doubles.

Nau is more concerned about injuries than anything else for the Family Circle field as the WTA Tour goes through its dreaded hard-court stretch of back-to-back Grand Slam-type draws in two-week tournaments at Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami before switching to clay.

Family Circle direct entries Nadia Petrova, Chanda Rubin and Nadia Petrova all withdrew from the Indian Wells event because of injuries, as did FCC qualifying entry Lina Krasnoroutskya.

COUGARS FACE NO. 1

The College of Charleston women's team faces sixth-ranked Wake Forest and top-ranked Bea Bielik Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at the tennis complex on Meeting Street. Bielik is top-ranked and unbeaten in both singles and doubles. Then on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., the College of Charleston will play the first college match at the Family Circle Tennis Center against No. 22-ranked South Carolina. Admission is free to both.

JUNIOR SCHEDULE

Monday is the deadline for entering next weekend's Lowcountry Charleston Tennis Center. For more information, contact Charleston Tennis Center at 724-7402. Summerville's Pine Forest Country Club will hold the last of the three Challenger tournaments on April 26-28.

The Snee Farm Junior Championships will be held April 19-21. the same weekend the Family Circle Cup ends.


(03/07/02)  Junior tennis tournament canceled
The inaugural Junior Family Circle Cup on paper had everything a national-class junior tennis tournament needed. But Mother Nature wasn't on its side.

It's now official, according to tournament director Rob Eppelsheimer. Last weekend's rained out junior tournament at the Family Circle Tennis Center has been canceled. Rain typically impacts events organized by Eppelsheimer - he's a human magnet for storm clouds and precipitation.

"We may try for the fall instead of the spring, but we have to talk to the S.C. Tennis Association about that," Eppelsheimer said Wednesday in making the announcement.

"But it will not be rescheduled at this time."

The lure of age-group champions receiving their awards during the semifinals of the $1.2 million Family Circle Cup, along with the girls' 18 champion earning a berth into the FCC's qualifying tournament, sparked enough interest to attract 263 players to the tournament, including four of the nation's top 20 girls' 18 players.

As for the wild card, Eppelsheimer said girls' 18 entrants can send him a cover letter and a resume to be considered by a committee, but a berth in the FCC qualifying tournament may not be awarded.


(03/06/02)  SERENA WILL PLAY IN FAMILY CIRCLE CUP
The $1.2 million Family Circle Cup received a major boost Tuesday when it was announced former U.S. Open champion Serena Williams has joined the field for the April 13-21 tournament at the Family Circle Tennis Center. Williams will make her first appearance in the Family Circle Cup, which this year is celebrating its 30th anniversary. She was scheduled to play two years ago at Hilton Head Island, but withdrew because of an injury.

Williams, who joins five other WTA Tour top 10 players, currently is ranked sixth after defeating defending Family Circle Cup champion Jennifer Capriati in Sunday's final at Scottsdale, Ariz., for her 12th career singles title.

Other top 10 players entered are No. 2 Capriati, No. 7 Justine Henin, No. 8 Jelena Dokic, No. 9 Monica Seles and No. 10 Amelie Mauresmo. Williams also upset Martina Hingis in the Scottsdale tournament, and now has visions of moving closer to her sister, top-ranked Venus Williams, in the world rankings. The Scottsdale tournament was Serena's first appearance on the tour since suffering a sprained right ankle and retiring in the Australian Open semifinals against Meghann Shaughnessy.

"Serena Williams is a remarkable tennis player and has accomplished so much in her young career so far," FCC executive director Frankie Whelan said.

"What is equally important, Serena serves as such a positive role model to young children who dream of success not only in sports but in their everyday lives. Since this is her first trip to the Family Circle Cup, we look forward to showing off the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island and the warmth and charm of Charleston."

Serena won three singles titles in a 2001 that was highlighted by her loss to Venus in the U.S. Open final. Serena won the 1999 U.S. Open.

Last year's U.S. Open marked the second time ever and the first time since 1884 that sisters met in a Grand Slam singles final. Serena ended last year by winning the Sanex Championships in Munich, Germany, becoming the first player to win that event in her debut.

A variety of ticket packages to the Family Circle Cup are now on sale. For information, call the tournament office at (800) 677-2293 or (843) 856-7900.

FAMILY CIRCLE CUP
When: April 13-21
Where: Family Circle Cup Center, Daniel Island
Tickets: (800) 677-2293 or (843) 856-7900


(03/01/02)  263 players entered in Junior FCC
he Junior Family Circle Cup has blossomed from being a dream of Family Circle Cup Tennis Center operations director Rob Eppelsheimer into being a top junior tournament. The Junior FCC has a field of 263 juniors, including four of the top 20 girls' 18 players in the nation.

The attraction for girls' 18 is that the winner of this weekend's junior tournament will receive a wild-card berth into the April 13-14 qualifying tournament for the $1.2 Family Circle Cup. That berth will be at stake in Monday's final at Family Circle Cup Tennis Center.

And there's a good chance that the finalists in girls' 18 will come from the top four seeds: No. 1 seed Tanner Cochran of Dublin, Ga. (No. 1 in the South and No. 4 in the nation); No. 2 Tory Zawacki from Hilton Head Island (No. 7 in nation); No. 3 Kristin Cargill of Atlanta (No. 17 in nation); and No. 4 Douglas Wink from Greensboro, N.C. (No. 19 in nation).

But it will not be a picnic for these high-ranking players to advance to Monday's final. There are 37 players entered in girls' 18, dictating that the top seeds will have to play four matches just to reach the final.

Girls' 16 has drawn 42 players.

The tournament will start at 8 a.m. Saturday with boys and girls ages 10-and-under through 18 representing five different sections of the U.S. Tennis Association.


(02/24/02)  Top players ensure success in Family Circle Cup tournament
Even if the Williams sisters and Martina Hingis don't play in this year's Family Circle Cup, the tournament's second venture on Daniel Island should be outstanding.

Jennifer Capriati, Monica Seles and Anna Kournikova alone are enough to ensure the tournament's success. Add the likes of No. 7 Justine Henin, No. 8 Jelena Dokic, No. 10 Amelie Mauresmo, No. 11 Sandrine Testud, No. 12 Meghann Shaughnessy, No. 13 Silvia Elia-Farina and No. 14 Elena Dementieva, and nine of the top 14 players in women's tennis are slated for the Family Circle Cup.

Kournikova, perhaps the biggest draw in the men's or women's game, is listed 83rd in the current world rankings.

FORFEIT TRIP

Local USA League players are so unhappy about trips to Walterboro being included in the local league schedules that one local team already has forfeited one match and plans to forfeit another one this coming week. The apparent consensus among local league players is that a long mid-week trip at night is too difficult for players who have day jobs or have young children.

Nancy Barnwell's 3.0 women's team from Charleston Tennis Center was scheduled to open the league season Feb. 13 at Walterboro. The Charleston team forfeited on the Tuesday before the Wednesday match.

Guess what? Barnwell's team is scheduled to play a different Walterboro team in Walterboro this coming Wednesday. She said she already has advised her league coordinator that the team will forfeit that match as well.

"I think they (USA League officials) forget that most people don't get off work until 5 p.m.," Barnwell said.

The 3.0 women's matches start at 6 p.m.

"We're not planning to go to Walterboro next week either. If any individuals want to go on their own and play, they can, but most of the team has decided not to play," she said.

According to Lowcountry Tennis Association coordinator Bob Peiffer, the S.C. Tennis Association placed Walterboro in the Charleston league and ruled that Walterboro had to be scheduled the same as any other team. In the past, Charleston teams were not scheduled to make as many trips to Walterboro.

LOCAL SENIORS WIN

A local Super Senior 4.5 women's team captained by Robi Poston won the Southern Championships last week in Columbus, Ga., defeating teams from Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina and Georgia in the competition. Super Seniors is for players 62-and-over.

WOORONS RUNNER-UP

Two-time city champion Sophie Woorons was runner-up in women's open Thursday in the PTR International Tennis Championships at the Ven der Meer Tennis University at Hilton Head Island. Woorons upset the No. 2 seed, Carolina Blouin, in the semifinals before falling to top-seeded Patricia Markova of Slovakia, 6-3, 6-0. Local men's player Smith Anderson made the quarterfinals of the PTR tournament in the 30-and-over division.

COURTING KIDS

Delores Jackson's Courting Kids Inner-City program will run March 9-April 20 at the Jack Adams Tennis Center. There is a $10 fee for the seven-Saturday (1-2:30 p.m.) program, and Jackson urges kids to sign up early to avoid being placed on a waiting list. For information, contact Charleston Tennis Center (724-7402).


(02/24/02)  Capriati selective in tourney appearances
ennifer Capriati is getting so comfortable at the No. 1 spot in the world that she is starting to limit her schedule. As a result, she will wake up Monday morning as the No. 2 women's tennis player in the world.

Venus Williams will move into the No. 1 position on Monday due to Capriati's decision not to defend the 141 points she earned this week a year ago by winning at Oklahoma City.

Williams is currently only 137 points behind Capriati, whose Oklahoma City points will fall off the WTA Tour's 52-week rotating computer rankings Monday. That assures Williams of becoming the first African-American No. 1 since Arthur Ashe in 1975, even without the additional points she earned this week with her semifinal results in the Dubai Open.

Capriati also will sit out the Masters Series event at Indian Wells, Calif., next month, but so will Williams along with her sister Serena. Then after the NASDAQ 100 in Miami (formerly Ericsson) in late March, Capriati will skip clay-court tournaments at Sarasota, Fla., and Amelia Island, Fla., before coming to Charleston to defend her title in the April 13-21 Family Circle Cup.

It's all about taking care of her mind and body.

"Scheduling-wise it's never been the best time for me," Capriati said recently about Indian Wells during a telephone conference call. "Really to stay in this game and play for a long time and be happy playing this game and feel good, I've got to do what I want to do.

"I can't just start compromising my time and my commitments and everything that I already had planned on, just concentrating on these ranking points. I figure that if I can play well enough in these other tournaments, that (points) will come anyway, and I will make up the points there.

"I'm not going to compromise my plans already, what I decided to do. The Ericsson (NASDAQ), that's more important for me because being in my hometown; it's a different tournament for me. Coming from Indian Wells, the time change, adjusting to the temperature and the climate, the way the balls fly and everything like that, it's just more difficult. I'd rather take that week to get back home in Florida and get used to the conditions from coming from Scottsdale."


(02/22/02) Family Circle adds Dokic
Jelena Dokic will celebrate her 19th birthday just before she arrives in Charleston for the April 13-21 Family Circle Cup. But the young Yugoslavian already is one of the bright stars of the WTA Tour.

She was a Wimbledon semifinalist at age 17, and she is currently ranked eighth in the world.

That's why Family Circle Cup officials are excited about Dokic's third trip to the $1.2 million Tier I tournament.

"Jelena is an exciting young player who has made great strides in her game over the last couple years and we look forward to seeing her back at the Family Circle Cup," FCC executive director Frankie Whelan said.

Dokic's commitment gives the tournament five of the world's top 10 players. Top-ranked and defending champion Jennifer Capriati, No. 6 Monica Seles, No. 7 Justine Henin and No. 10 Amelie Mauresmo were announced earlier as entrants in this year's tournament at the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island. That's in addition to the likes of Anna Kournikova and Meghann Shaughnessy.

"This year's Family Circle Cup will showcase some of the most talented players on the Sanex WTA Tour," Whelan said.

After skipping this year's Australian Open, Dokic defeated Seles in early February at the Paris Indoors. She lost to Venus Williams in the Paris final. Dokic is sidelined with a right hamstring strain, forcing her to withdraw from this week's tour stop in Memphis. She is scheduled to return to the tour in time for next week's tournament at Scottsdale, Ariz.

Last year was the best of Dokic's short pro career. She won her first singles title on the WTA Tour last year at Rome and her first doubles title in Linz, Austria. She also broke into the world's top 10 for the first time.

In her FCC debut in 2000 at Hilton Head Island, she upset seventh seed Amy Frazier in the third round and lost to eventual champion Mary Pierce in the quarterfinals. Dokic suffered a three-set loss to Iva Majoli in last year's first round at Daniel Island.

A variety of ticket packages for the 30th annual Family Circle Cup are now on sale by contacting the tournament at the Family Circle Tennis Center (800-677-2293 or 843-856-7900). More information is available from the Web site www.familycirclecup.com.


(02/17/02)  No quick fix for hard courts at Maybank Tennis Center
Improvements on the hard courts at the city's heavily used Maybank Tennis Center are in the planning stage, but there's no quick fix.

The City of Charleston leases the Maybank property with the option to buy. So, until the city purchases the property, players may see only limited improvement in the facility.

USA League teams and Maybank members may have to endure the poor surface conditions of most of the hard courts for the rest of the year, unless a higher priority is given to a resurfacing project.

According to deputy director of operations for city parks Matt Compton, the city has $150,000 budgeted for the first phase of improvements at the James Island facility. With a clubhouse renovation project nearing completion, Compton said about $20,000 of that total already has been spent.

"The city is still leasing the facility with an option to purchase. We would probably do that (buy the property) before sinking much more money into it," Compton said. "Burnet Maybank owns it and we have a multi-year lease on it."

Compton said the court surfaces were in poor condition when the city took over operations of Maybank Tennis Center three years ago.

Compton hopes to complete the first phase of the project this year.

Resurfacing the hard courts isn't currently in the first phase, but Compton said, "We hope we can add the resurfacing of the four courts to the first phase."

Even at that, any improvements won't be implemented until after the current USA League season. "We want to be as non-disruptive as possible," Compton said.

The eight hard courts are simply too heavily used to attempt any improvements before the season ends. The courts are among the most in-demand courts in the area, especially during the league seasons.

The first phase of the project includes taking down the lighting on the bank of six hard courts, leaving two separate hard courts as they are for now. The plan is to replace the tall light posts, which Compton said are in bad shape. "The courts are so close you can't put low lights," Compton said.

In a major change, the first phase (this year) calls for tearing up courts 5 and 6 and replacing them with clay courts, giving the facility six hard courts and five clay courts. "This would allow us to have league play on clay," Compton said.

The master plan, which is not budgeted, yet, calls for the current three clay courts to be moved and another clay court added. "Ultimately we would like to have six clay and six hard courts out there. We have room to add another clay court," he said.

One of the problems now is that the three clay courts were constructed up against the hard courts, which in times of rain causes clay substances to wash onto the hard courts. "We would relocate the clay courts about 20 feet away from the hard courts," he said.

The master plan also is for the remaining bank of four hard courts to be torn up and constructed in banks of two courts each.

ALDEA, BASILE NO. 1

Charleston area juniors landed only two No. 1 state rankings for 2001. Jason Basile took top honors in boys' 14 and Jewel Aldea earned the top ranking in girls' 18.

Local juniors with top 20 singles rankings in the state for 2001:

Boys' 18: Johnson Bissell, 10.

Boys' 16: Andrew Sires, 6; Scott Maucher, 7; Nat Estes, 8; Travis Collins, 14; Tom Jokl, 17; David Rubin, 20.

Boys' 14: Jason Basile, 1; Daniel Fernandez, 6; Robert Pearce, 16.

Boys' 12: Francis Johnson, 10.

Boys' 10: Gordon Gibson, 4; Elliott Sperr, 5; Andrew Hancox, 9; Robert Strange, 11; Peter Pritchard, 12; Alton Phillips, 15; Randall Heffron, 20.

Girls' 18: Jewel Aldea, 1; Charlotte Wilson, 7; Ann Pierce, 10; Danielle Beck, 11.

Girls' 16: Kalee Claussen, 5; Sandra Krings, 9; Katie Koval, 14; Stephanie Ruley, 15; Jessica McDonald, 20.

Girls' 14: Samantha Eppelsheimer, 7; Alice Knowlton, 10; Caroline Irvin, 14; Stefanie Mitchell, 15; Jordan Casey, 16; Dana Richards, 17.

Girls' 12: Ashley Perkins, 2; Sabra Rogers, 5; Emily Bolchoz, 7; Lara Hewett, 12.

Girls' 10: Sallie Johnson, 8; Caroline Thornton, 11; Kathryn Pearce, 16; Shelby Rogers, 18; Alex Martin, 19; Walker Marion, 20.

JUNIOR SCHEDULE

Wednesday is the deadline for entering next weekend's Sarah Lyles Junior Novice charity tournament at Dunes West. A $20 entry fee covers both singles and doubles, and a first-round consolation. Contact Dunes West (881-9542) for more information.

The second leg of the Lowcountry Junior Challenger circuit will be held March 15-17 at Charleston Tennis Center. Summerville's Pine Forest Country Club will hold the last of the three Challenger tournaments on April 26-28.

The Snee Farm Junior Championships are scheduled for April 19-21.


(02/10/02)  A vote for playing out decisive sets
Believe it or not, some USA League participants take preparation for the adult and senior tennis leagues seriously. They start working out, not just playing, in earnest a month or so before the start of a season.

There are usually less than a dozen matches in the season, so why not be fully prepared for them? The well-conditioned player considers a third set payoff time. That's when the conditioning program pays dividends.

I've always favored playing out the decisive set, maybe not all the way as the Grand Slams do but at least to 6-6 and then a tie-breaker. The fact that high schools use no-ad scoring, then substitute a tie-breaker for a third set is disappointing. I know, it's to save time for studying as well as to help tennis facilities free up courts quicker for members and paying customers.

At some point in the future the USTA's USA Leagues might resort to tie-breakers in place of third sets. Competition at the state, sectional and national levels already has adopted the tie-breaker scheme for third sets. It's called a "match tie-breaker," according to Lowcountry Tennis Association coordinator Bob Peiffer. At least, this tie-breaker has been extended from the normal first to seven points ahead by two points format to first to 10 points with a two-point lead.

But the local leagues haven't changed, not for the regular season or for the local playoffs. They'll still play third sets, followed by tie-breakers at 6-6.

Will this change in the future?

"Not if we have anything to say about it," Peiffer insisted.

ONE MORE CLINIC

The LCTA has announced that one last verification clinic will be held at Snee Farm Country Club on Tuesday evening. Players needing a rating before the start of the spring USA Leagues should contact Alice DeWalt at 723-8966 to set up an appointment.

According to Peiffer, 291 players were verified last weekend at Snee Farm. "This is an unprecedented number for this time of the year. Part of it was due to the rainout on Jan. 6, but it was still a much higher number than we normally have. Clearly, tennis is alive and well in Charleston," Peiffer said.

ANOTHER INCENTIVE

I left out one incentive in last week's column for juniors to enter the Junior Family Circle Cup. Not only will the winners of all divisions receive their awards during the April 20 semifinals of the $1.2 million Family Circle Cup, the winners also will receive two free tickets to the tournament for that day.

The Junior Family Circle Cup does have one small conflict. Its March 2-4 dates coincide with the Southern Conference basketball tournament at the North Charleston Coliseum.

The entry deadline for the Junior Family Circle Cup is Feb. 23. Entries will be accepted by mail or fax (843-856-7901).

OTHER BRIEFS

??The annual Valentine's Day mixed doubles social at Charleston Tennis Center is scheduled for today from 2-6 p.m. There is a limited number of spots available, so you'll need to call the center (724-7402) today to participate. The fee is $10 per player. Individuals or teams can enter.

? The Valentine's Day mixed doubles social that was scheduled for Maybank Tennis Center today has been cancelled due to the ongoing renovation of the facility's clubhouse.

? Charleston Tennis Center will be the site on Feb. 23 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. for a USTA development workshop. The workshop will be open to pros, USA Adult and Senior League team captains, elementary-middle school league coaches and high school coaches. The fee is $35 for the workshop and lunch. Contact the Tennis Center.

JUNIOR SCHEDULE

? The first Lowcountry Junior Challenger tournament will be held next weekend at Snee Farm Country Club. Entry is $25 for each of the circuit's three singles-only tournaments, with a deadline to enter four days prior to each event (Monday for Snee Farm). Contact the Snee Farm tennis shop (884-3252).

? The Sarah Lyles Junior Novice charity tournament is Feb. 22-24 at Dunes West. A $20 entry fee covers both singles and doubles, and a first-round consolation. Entry deadline is Feb. 20. Contact Dunes West (881-9542).

? The popular Snee Farm Junior Championships are once again scheduled for the same weekend as the finals of the Family Circle Cup, April 19-21. This first occurred last year when the Family Circle moved to Daniel Island from Hilton Head Island.

COLLEGE SHOWDOWN

It's early in the college season, but College of Charleston men's coach Phil Whitesell sees his team's Wednesday (1:30 p.m.) match at Charleston Southern as a "real battle." This match could be the highlight of the entire local collegiate season.


(02/03/02)  Top junior girls event will lead to Family Circle Cup spot

The dream is a long shot. Nevertheless, it is a possibility.

The area's top junior girls now have a defined path to competing in the $1.2 million Family Circle Cup. All they've got to do is win the girls' 18 division of the newly announced USTA-sanctioned Junior Family Circle Cup, then beat some of the best players in the world in the FCC's qualifying tournament.

That's right. The girls' 18 winner of the Junior Family Circle Cup, scheduled for March 2-4 at the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island, will be awarded a wild-card berth in the FCC's qualifying event. The qualifying tournament will be held the weekend of April 13 and 14 before the FCC's 56-player main draw starts on Monday, April 15.

The Tennis Centre is hoping to attract a national-level field for its inaugural event. The tournament will have all of the different age divisions for boys and girls, 10-and-under through 18-and-under. The 10-and-under matches will be played on hard courts, while all other ages will compete on clay.

In addition to the girls' 18 opportunity, the winners of the girls' 16 and boys' 16 and 18 divisions will come back for the Family Circle Cup as hitting partners for the professionals. Also, the winners of all the age divisions will pick up their awards during the Saturday semifinals of the FCC.

The entry fee for the singles-only event, with a first-round consolation, is $45. A Saturday night cookout is included in the entry fee. The entry deadline is Feb. 23.

DUNES WEST CHARITY

Dunes West pro Jack Miller has announced that his club will hold the Sarah Lyles Junior Novice charity tournament Feb. 22-24. The tournament will raise funds for 7-year-old Sarah Lyles Long of Mount Pleasant, who suffered a stroke after brain tumor surgery and is now restricted to a wheelchair.

The tournament is not sanctioned. The $20 entry fee covers both singles and doubles. Entry deadline is Feb. 20. Contact Dunes West (881-9542) for more information.

Miller also said Dunes West will hold a silent auction on April 12 during the April 12-14 Meals on Wheels doubles tournament to benefit Long as well as the Meals on Wheels program.

Miller is the new president of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) for South Carolina.

JUNIOR CHALLENGER

The annual Lowcountry Junior Challenger Circuit will start Feb. 15-17 at Snee Farm Country Club. The entry fee is $25 for each event of the singles-only three-tournament circuit, which offers consolation brackets for all divisions for boys and girls, 10-and-under through 18-and-under. The entry deadline is four days prior to the start of each event.

For more information about the opening tournament, contact the Snee Farm tennis shop (884-3252).

The second leg will be held March 15-17 at Charleston Tennis Center, followed by the final event of the circuit April 26-28 at Pine Forest Country Club in Summerville.

DOUBLES STAR

Young Daniela Hantuchova is making quite a name for herself in mixed doubles. Only 18 years old, she has played mixed doubles in two tournaments as a professional and won both. The tournaments just happened to be Wimbledon (with Leos Friedl) and the Australian Open (with Kevin Ullyett). Her mixed doubles on the WTA Tour is 10-0.

If you recall, the 5-11 Hantuchova, whose style is unsurprisingly serve-and-volley, also was in the women's doubles final at the Australian Open with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

No wonder Tennis Centre at Daniel Island tennis director Fritz Nau is raving about this young Slovakian, who is ranked No. 27 in the world in singles. Nau is hoping his protégé from Nick Bollettieri Camp days will enter the Family Circle Cup.

WORST COURTS?

The hard courts at James Island's Maybank Tennis Center win by a landslide. Although operated by the city and members pay the same fees as at Charleston Tennis Center, the courts have huge dead spots and cracks, and are in desperate need of resurfacing as the facility faces another USA League spring schedule.

The courts are among the most heavily used in the entire area. Their condition has declined while most of the city's other lesser-used courts have been resurfaced in recent years.

However, the city is making improvements at the facility by renovating the clubhouse and bathrooms as well as putting in a heating and cooling system.

CITY NOTES

Registration forms for this spring's Inner-City Courting Kids program at Jack Adams Tennis Center are being distributed to the schools. The program will start March 9.

The City of Charleston's pros are offering inexpensive ($5) junior match-play sessions on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Charleston Tennis Center and on Sundays at Lenevar Playground from 3-4:30 p.m. The sessions are limited to intermediate or advanced level juniors of all ages.

Farmfield has 3.0 and 3.5 night women's USA League teams that need additional players. Call the Tennis Center (724-7402) to find a team.


(01/27/02)  Family Circle Cup's influence being felt
Charleston's junior tennis landscape is changing. The Family Circle Cup is having an impact.

Many of the area's top juniors now look to the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island for guidance in preparing them for possible college tennis careers. The academy includes about 75 juniors, but its approach appears to be paying off especially well for top players such as Ryan Young and Emily Applegate.

Over the Christmas holidays, Young won the National Indoors 18-and-under singles title in Memphis, beating a player who is headed to Vanderbilt on tennis scholarship. A few weeks before that, Applegate was the girls' 18 singles runner-up and doubles champion in the USTA National Open Championships in Pensacola, Fla.

Young and Applegate are star students at the Tennis Centre's junior academy. Young puts in about 18 hours a week at the academy and Applegate fits 12-14 hours of academy training into her weekly schedule as a Porter-Gaud junior.

Tennis director Fritz Nau's goal is to make the academy competitive with highly regarded programs such as the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where Nau worked before coming to Daniel Island last March. In fact, Bollettieri has taught at the Daniel Island academy, and Nau plans to take a group of 12 local juniors to Bollettieri's camp for a week in February.

"We want to expose ourselves to international play and that (Bollettieri's) is the best place to go. They'll get to go on the court with Nick every day and play matches against players from all over the world," Nau said.

While at Bollettieri's, Nau worked with some of the current players on the professional men's and women's tours such as Anna Kournikova. One of Nau's proteges is Daniela Hantuchova, an 18-year-old Slovakian currently ranked 28th in the world who teamed with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to advance all the way to the Australian Open doubles final before losing to Kournikova and Martina Hingis.

The focus of Nau's staff of four full-time pros and four part-time pros isn't just on the older juniors such as Young and Applegate. He sees the best potential for the academy in the young players, who hopefully will develop into national-caliber juniors.
"We are building our academy around the young players 7-to-11 years old. We hope to be competitive at the national level in 3-to-5 years," Nau said.

And rankings aren't everything. "The older boys are working on serve-and-volley on the hard courts. We are not as interested in rankings as much as we are getting them ready for college."

Nau brings in top college coaches monthly to talk to the campers. Clemson men's coach Chuck Kriese and Duke women's coach Jody Hyden already have made appearances at the Family Circle Cup complex.

"We are training about a 100 different kids, all the way down to the pee wees 4-to-5 years old. We have pee wees, junior development and the academy as well as local adults. We're working with about 75 women a week. We don't have any boarders (such as at Bollettieri's). We're more interested in developing the local talent and local adults," Nau said.

The talent, of course, doesn't end with Young and Applegate. Another star student is eighth-grade home schooler Samantha Eppelsheimer. As the daughter of Tennis Centre director of tennis operations Rob Eppelsheimer and Tennis Centre teaching pro Kim Eppelsheimer, Samantha has strong tennis lines. She usually works more than 20 hours weekly on tennis.

Ashley Perkins is another home-schooled player who puts in long hours at the Tennis Centre. Some of the other stars of the program who attend the academy's two hours of daily training (including 30 minutes conditioning) are Jason Basile, Nat Estes and Taylor Calcote. All spend 12-15 hours weekly at the academy.

DOUBLE TALK

Hingis appears to be happy playing doubles with Kournikova again, especially after their success in the Australian Open. "Me and Anna, we don't have to be afraid of nobody out there. We just go out there and play our game," the sometimes brash-talking Hingis said during the team's title run.

LEAGUE UPDATE

The USTA's spring USA Leagues are almost here. The leagues' captains will meet Wednesday night to turn in team rosters to the Lowcountry Tennis Association. LCTA coordinator Bob Peiffer expects some of the leagues to start the first week in February.

This will be the last season in which verified ratings are required for players to participate locally. But if you want to play in the league this spring and don't have a current rating, you'll still need to contact Alice DeWalt (723-8966) to set up an appointment to attend next weekend's verification clinic at Snee Farm Country Club. An exception is those players who had their rating appointments rained out on Jan. 6; they will be rated next Sunday at the same times as their previous appointments.

TWO TEAMS?

One local reader e-mailed a question about the possibility of playing on two USA Adult League teams at different levels. Peiffer responded, "In South Carolina, a player cannot play on more than one adult team or more than one senior team. If they play on both an adult team and a senior team, they can play at the same level for both leagues or at two different levels as long as both levels are equal to or higher than their NTRP rating."

CITY NOTES

A USTA development workshop will be held at Charleston Tennis Center on Farmfield Avenue Feb. 23 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Taught by a USTA clinician from Hilton Head Island, the workshop will be open to pros, USA Adult and Senior League team captains, elementary-middle school league coaches and high school coaches. The fee is $35 for the workshop and lunch. For additional information, contact the Tennis Center (724-7402).

The coaches meeting for this spring's elementary and middle school tennis league will be held on Monday, Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. at Charleston Tennis Center. All public, private and parochial schools are eligible to participate in the league for grades 1-8. Contact the Tennis Center for more information.

The City of Charleston's pros will begin offering inexpensive ($5) junior sessions next Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Charleston Tennis Center and next Sunday at Lenevar Playground from 3-4:30 p.m. The sessions are limited to intermediate or advanced level juniors of all ages.


(01/20/02)  Kournikova fever already in evidence
Everyone's excited. Anna's coming!

She hasn't won a tournament since she was 14 years old. That doesn't matter. Anna Kournikova is the biggest hit in all of tennis. Even bigger than Venus Williams or Andre Agassi.

What other tennis player would rate a mention on the morning radio shows for entering the Family Circle Cup?

Just to see if anyone at home would notice, I left the Thursday sports section of the newspaper laying on the kitchen table, the photo of Anna in her red tennis dress the beacon for attention.

Sure enough, my 15-year-old daughter Nicole picked up the newspaper and read about Kournikova coming to Charleston for the April 13-21 Family Circle Cup. Later, my wife Carrol did the same, and made positive comments about Anna.

Of course, this may not be the average home in terms of tennis interest, since everyone in the family plays. One daughter plays high for Academic Magnet, another is on tennis scholarship at Converse College and both parents play in the USTA's USA Adult League.

Yes, Kournikova is the most famous tennis player never to have won a professional singles title. That goes back to 1995 when she turned pro as a 14-year-old and just a couple years later when her followers proclaimed that she would challenge Martina Hingis for supremacy of women's tennis.

That was before the land of the giant hitters took over the WTA Tour in the form of Lindsay Davenport, the Williams sisters and Jennifer Capriati. Kournikova is just an also-ran in the world singles rankings, currently 64th.

But in marquee value, she's No. 1.

TICKETS ON SALE

Tickets for this year's Family Circle Cup are selling 20-25 percent ahead of last year's pace, according to FCC marketing director Jeff Cataffa. Cataffa said the tournament received a significant increase in the volume of calls after Thursday's announcement that Kournikova had entered.

Tickets are available by contacting the Family Circle Cup at the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island (800-677-2293 or 843-856-7900).

CHARLESTON MISSES

The U.S. Tennis Association overlooked Charleston recently when it announced that 101 communities across the country will receive funding to support USA Tennis Programs. Instead, the USTA selected Hilton Head Island, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, and another Columbia area, Lexington.

The USA Tennis 1-2-3 Program is a series of six low-cost, introductory group lessons, while USA Team Tennis offers kids and adults the opportunity to play organized matches in a fun atmosphere. Some of the markets will hold free USA Tennis kickoff events in May during USA Tennis Month.

ONE MORE CHANCE

If anyone missed the verification clinics at Snee Farm earlier this month and needs to be rated for this spring's USA Adult or Senior League, there will be another local opportunity. That's Feb. 2 and 3, also at Snee Farm. You'll still need to get an appointment from Alice DeWalt (723-8966).

Anyone who was scheduled to be rated on Jan. 6 will now be rated on Feb. 3 at the same time as previously scheduled. The Jan. 6 session was rained out.

CALTA STARTS PLAY

The Charleston Area Ladies' Tennis Association has already started it spring play, but new members can still join CALTA through Feb. 4. Information on CALTA's 48 teams is available on the internet at www.caltatennis.net.

There will be a meeting of all CALTA captains and co-captains on March 18 at 9:30 a.m. at the County Library on Calhoun Street. Anyone interested in starting a new team for the 2002-2003 season can attend the meeting.


(01/17/02)  Kournikova commits to Family Circle Cup

One of the popular things to do at last year's Family Circle Cup at Daniel Island was to pose for pictures with a life-sized poster of Anna Kournikova. Fans at this year's event will be able to see Kournikova in person.

A stress fracture of her left foot caused Kournikova to pull out of the 2001 Family Circle Cup. Wednesday, she became the third player to enter the 30th FCC, scheduled for April 13-21 at The ANNA from Page 1C

Tennis Centre at Daniel Island. She joins defending champion and world's No. 1-ranked Jennifer Capriati and Monica Seles, a former top-ranked player.

In making the announcement Wednesday, Family Circle Cup executive director Frankie Whelan said, "For the past 29 years the Family Circle Cup has attracted the biggest stars in women's tennis and this year will be no different. Having top players like Jennifer, Monica and Anna enter our tournament is a great start to what will be one of the most exciting and successful sporting events in the Southeast."

Kournikova, a 20-year-old Russian, has become one of the world's most prominent figures in sports, entertainment and fashion. She is the best-known tennis player never to have won a WTA Tour tournament.

She came close in 1999 in her first Family Circle Cup appearance, losing to Martina Hingis in the final when the tournament was held at Hilton Head Island. Kournikova returned to the FCC in 2000, but suffered a third-round loss to Ruxandra Dragomir.

She played in only five WTA Tour events last year, but Kournikova already has played in three tournaments in 2002. She lost to Anna Smashnova in the semifinals in Auckland, New Zealand, and then pushed Serena Williams to three sets in the second round at Sydney, Australia, before suffering a first-round loss this week in the Australian Open.

Currently ranked 64th in the world, Kournikova appears to be fully recovered from the foot injury. Kournikova was ranked as high as eighth in the world in 2000, her highest ranking as a pro. Despite her solid play in singles and numerous doubles titles since turning pro in 1995, that first singles title continues to elude her.

Tickets to the Family Circle Cup are available by contacting The Tennis Centre at Daniel Island (800-677-2293 or 843-856-7900).


(01/13/02)  Injuries may limit Family Circle Cup field
Last year was the year of the injury no-show for the Family Circle Cup. Luckily, 2001 also was the year of Jennifer Capriati's amazing comeback story. That alone was enough to make the Family Circle Cup's inaugural event at its new home on Daniel Island a success.

Martina Hingis just happened to come along for the ride, making last year's final one of the Family Circle Cup's best matchups ever.

It really didn't matter that Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles didn't play because of injuries, or even that crowd favorite Anna Kournikova also had to pull out because of a foot injury. Or that injured defending champion Mary Pierce fell early. Or even that the Williams sisters decided to skip Charleston and the Confederate flag issue.

But it's a new year. And Capriati is returning, although a bit of her luster wore off the last half of the year as she failed to match the success she had the first half of the year when she not only won the Family Circle Cup but also the Australian Open and French Open.

Capriati was beaten just this past week by erratic Alexandra Stevenson in the second round of the Sydney International. Capriati aggravated a hip injury in the loss. Despite all of this, Capriati will return to the No. 1 spot in the world Monday, replacing the injured Davenport.

Of course, Davenport is sidelined indefinitely by a knee injury that might require surgery.

Let's just hope that Seles stays healthy this year, ditto for Kournikova. And that Kournikova follows Capriati and Seles in entering the Family Circle.

There doesn't appear to be a great deal of hope that the Williams sisters will play at Daniel Island. An appearance by either Venus or Serena would give the tournament a big boost.

Also, there is no word yet if Hingis will return. Since winning the 1997 Family Circle Cup, Hingis has played in the event in every other year: She skipped 1998, defeated Kournikova in the 1999 final, didn't play in 2000 and lost to Capriati in last year's title match. She made her first appearance in the Cup in 1996, losing a second-round match to eventual champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.

The usually durable Hingis is having a difficult time staying healthy these days. She was sidelined in October by torn ankle ligaments that required surgery and a three-month layoff. And Friday in a semifinal victory over Kim Clijsters in Sydney, Hingis suffered another ankle injury.

If that's not enough to convince you that injuries might once again play a role at the Family Circle Cup, Serena Williams pulled out of her semifinal match Friday in Sydney against Meghann Shaughnessy because of an ankle injury.

At this rate, and after two more demanding hard-court Tier I tournaments at Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami, the status of the WTA's elite might once again be in question by the start of this year's Family Circle Cup, which runs from April 13-21.


(01/06/02)  Schedule conflict follows Family Circle Cup
The Family Circle Cup left Hilton Head Island last year to avoid a conflict with the Worldcom Heritage Classic.

But guess what?

The conflict has followed the Family Circle Cup to Daniel Island.  Many local fans of the two events now have to make difficult decisions for the weekend of April 20-21.

Golf or tennis?

In Charleston, tennis should win out, simply because the Family Circle Cup is now Charleston's international
sporting event. It's "the thing" to do. It was last April, and the Family Circle love relationship with the Charleston area can be expected to grow stronger.

Yet, it's probably safe to say that one of the tournaments will suffer, if only in a minor way, because of the head-to-head scheduling. Of course, it's only a Thursday-Sunday direct conflict, since the Heritage starts on Thursday. But those are the four key days for the Family Circle as well.

And what about television and newspaper coverage?

Both events have been major headliners in the past because they always finished on different weekends. But something will have to give this April.

You can blame it all on the Masters Golf Tournament.

"The Masters is always the first full week in April (including the Sunday before the Masters)," Cary Corbitt,  Sea Pines Plantation's director of sports, said Friday from Hilton Head Island.

"We knew this year they'd be on top of each other. It will sporadically happen from time to time.  Unfortunately that's the way the calendar falls."

And that's why the Family Circle Cup decided to move to Daniel Island.

Corbitt doesn't anticipate the conflict to have a negative impact on the Heritage.

"Ticket sales are ahead of plan," he said.

FCC SEEKS VOLUNTEERS

The Family Circle Cup is still looking for volunteers for this year's tournament. Anyone interested in volunteering for the Daniel Island tournament can contact Mary Neves Richards at mrichards@gjusa.com or call the volunteer information line at 556-2092 to receive an information packet. Additional information is
available on the internet at www.familycirclecup.com.

ANNA COMES CLOSE
Poor Anna Kournikova. She's one of the best players in the world, but she just can't win a singles title on
the WTA Tour. 

She came close in New Zealand.  She advanced to the semifinals, needing only to defeat Anna Smashnova and either Tatiana Panova or Silvija Talaja to win the tournament.

These are not major names.

Smashnova is ranked 88th in the world and never has been highly regarded, but she was too consistent for Kournikova in the semifinals. Of course, Anna, who was among the top 10 at one time, currently is ranked 71st after missing most of last year, including the Family Circle Cup, with a foot injury.

APPLEGATE SHINES

Charleston's Emily Applegate finished 2001 with a big bang. She was runner-up in girls' 18 singles in the late-November USTA National Open Championships in Pensacola, Fla., upsetting the fourth and seventh seeds along the way before losing to fifth seed Audra Cohen of Florida. She also teamed with Helene Stephens of
Hilton Head Island to capture the doubles title.

CAPTAINS MEET MONDAY

The Lowcountry Tennis Association will hold its captain's meeting for the USTA's spring USA Leagues Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Wando High School. In addition to discussing the spring league season, significant changes for future USA League Tennis seasons will be discussed, according to LCTA coordinator Bob Peiffer.
Peiffer expects the local leagues to start up in early February.

CORRINE JONES PAINTED

The Corrine Jones Playground courts have a new look. The two city courts in the Wagner Terrace section of Downtown Charleston near Hampton Park recently were repainted.

Improvements also have been made at the Mary Utsey Playground on Orange Grove Road, the Hazel Parker Playground on East Bay Street and the Farmfield Avenue courts.  The city's Maybank Tennis Center on James Island is undergoing a renovation project on its office.  The project includes new bathrooms and a heating system.


(01/02/02)  Belton's Russell joins colleague Maynard in S.C. Hall
Junior tennis in South Carolina wouldn't be what it is today without the help of a pair of Belton businessmen and what they've done over the years at the Palmetto Championships.

Rex Maynard and Jim Russell still work the tournament every June, taking time off from their jobs to spend the entire week at the picturesque Belton Tennis Center. Over the years, the Palmetto Championships have become one of the top junior events in the country. It's for South Carolina players only, because it is a qualifying tournament for sectional and national tournaments, but it is "the" junior event in this state.

Russell was inducted into the S.C. Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991. Maynard joined Russell in the shrine Saturday night at Kiawah Island during the S.C. Tennis Association's annual Hall of Fame Banquet.

Maynard, who operates a Belton furniture company in his time away from supporting junior tennis, grew up in the small, but big tennis town. He played football and baseball for Wofford College.

Along with Russell's help, he has practically run the last 26 Palmetto Championships. Russell appointed Maynard to be the first chairman of the S.C. Tennis Patrons Foundation in 1982.

It's only appropriate that Rex Maynard has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. He helped establish the state's Tennis Hall of Fame, which was opened in 1983 at the Belton depot.

This year's other Hall of Fame inductee is former Rock Hill and Appalachian State great Keith Richardson.

LOCALS HONORED

Charleston's Ryan Young was named boys' player of the year at Saturday night's S.C. Tennis Hall of Fame Banquet, and Jewel Aldea was honored as the most improved girl player. Katie Coleman, now a Wofford freshman, won the Wilton McKinney Scholarship Award.

FCC SEEKS VOLUNTEERS

The Family Circle Cup is sending out applications in search of volunteers for the April 13-21 $1.2 million professional women's tournament at the Tennis Centre at Daniel Island.

More than 500 people served as volunteers last April for the inaugural Family Circle Cup played at Daniel Island.

"What sets the Family Circle Cup apart from the rest is the dedication and the support of our volunteers," commented Frankie Whelan, executive director of the Family Circle Cup. "For years, our volunteers have given of their time to be a part of the excitement of this event and we would not be able to accomplish what we do each year without their help."

Anyone interested in volunteering for the 2002 FCC can contact Mary Neves Richards at mrichards@gjusa.com or by calling the volunteer information line at 843-556-2092 to receive an information packet. Additional information is available on the internet. The address is www.familycirclecup.com.

GOFFI PRO WINNER

Former Clemson standout Josh Goffi of Charleston recently won the singles title in a $25,000 Masters tournament at Porto Torres, Italy, on the Italian Satellite Circuit. That came one week after Goffi won the doubles crown in Dorgali, Italy.

Goffi finished the circuit fourth in singles and tied for fifth in doubles with his partner, Cris James of Canada. Goffi was the only American competing on the circuit. At the recent USTA Professional Circuit event at Pepperdine University, Ramsey Smith of Hilton Head Island was a doubles finalist. Smith is the son of former Wimbledon champion Stan Smith.

USA YOUTH PARTY

A party will be held Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Charleston Tennis Center for the 29 teams that participated in the local USA Team Tennis for Youth league.

SWING & SWIM CAMP

Charleston Tennis Center is planning a holiday swing and swim camp for Dec. 19-20-21, Dec. 27-28, Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. Tennis instructions will be from 9 a.m.-noon each day, with a bag lunch to follow, then recreational swimming from 1-3 p.m. at Forest Park Pool. The cost is $30 per day. Contact the Charleston Tennis Center (843-724-7402).