2011

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

Winner: 2018 USTA South Carolina Media Excellence Award

Archive:
2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1973


(12/25/11)  Mega-complex a sensible option
After my recent column outlining the growth of mega-court complexes in the Midlands and Pee Dee area, the general response was that West Ashley needs more tennis complexes, but maybe not a giant facility such as the 30-court complex that opened this year in Florence.

My reasoning for recommending a major expansion at Charleston Tennis Center to add at least five new courts for a total of 20 or more courts is that members of the Farmfield Avenue facility have been spoiled by the professional management of the complex.

Captaining league tennis teams at an unmanaged or partly managed complex wouldn't be much fun after fielding teams at Farmfield.   Knowing when and where you are practicing and playing is vital to league tennis teams. The Farmfield staff handles that end of the equation as well as possible, considering the heavy demand for courts.

So, with that in mind, and we agree that we prefer to play at a first-class managed facility, a larger complex might be the most feasible choice financially, of course depending on the land availability at the Farmfield site. The Charleston Tennis Center staff probably could manage a 20-court or larger facility as easily as a 15-court layout. Whereas, trying to emulate Farmfield at another site would require an entire new staff.

Wild Dunes seminar

Wild Dunes tennis director Charly Rasheed will team up with sports psychology guru Dr. Jay Granat for a full-day seminar on Jan. 28 at the Isle of Palms' Wild Dunes Resort.  The 9 a.m.-4 p.m. seminar will include three hours in a classroom setting and three hours of instructions on the courts, along with lunch. It aims to make participants aware of the mind-body interaction while playing tennis.

A former state pro of the year, Rasheed is an accomplished player and tennis teacher. He has certifications in both adult and junior development by the Professional Tennis Registry. Granat, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist and the founder of StayInThe-Zone.com as well as the author of several books. He has appeared on many major media outlets, including Good Morning America, ESPN and CBS, and has been featured in Tennis Magazine and Sports Illustrated.  Registration is $89 by calling (201) 647-9191 or emailing info@stayinthezone.com.

Local notes

The clubhouse portion of the St. Andrew's Parks and Playground's tennis complex has a classy new look. The once roofed, but open-ended breezeway entrance to the tennis courts now sports new glass walls on both sides with glass doors.

--Touring pros Ryan Young and Shelby Rogers will team up to hold a free tennis clinic for juniors next Friday from 1-3 p.m. at Maybank Tennis Center at 1880 Houghton Dr. on James Island. Participants will have their names put in a hat for an opportunity to play doubles with Young and Rogers. Contact pro Toni Young (406-8814).

--Maybank Tennis Center will hold its annual parent/child/mixed doubles tournament on New Year's Day from 2:30-4:30 p.m. The parent/child and mixed doubles competition will be divided into separate divisions. Contact pro Toni Young (406-8814).

--The deadline to form a team for league tennis' official spring season is Jan. 9.

With the start of a new tennis year just days away, City of Charleston tennis manager Peggy Bohne has announced three dates for coaches meetings at Charleston Tennis Center for the Tri-County Elementary/Middle School Tennis League: Jan. 9 at 5 p.m., Jan. 20 at 4 p.m. and Jan. 22 at 3 p.m.

--Former LCTA president Bob Peiffer was presented with the president's award at the recent USTA South Carolina meeting at Wild Dunes and was elected to the organization's board of directors. Maggie LaCoste was the recipient of the Lucy Garvin volunteer of the year award and also was elected to the board of directors.


(12/23/11)  Narni Summerall's turn to shine
Ashley Hall’s Narni Summerall posted a 15-1 record at No. 1 singles and led the Panthers to the SCISA Class AAA state semifinals.

The Ashley Hall tennis legacy lives on, even after the graduations from the all-girls school of the last three Lowcountry players of the year. Narni Summerall follows in the footsteps of 2008/2009 winner Jamie Harrell and 2010 recipient Patricia Kirkland quite smoothly.

"It feels great. Jamie and Patricia have been good role models. It's great to follow in their legacy," Summerall said of being selected as The Post and Courier's All-Lowcountry girls tennis player of the year.

She is joined on the first team by fellow repeaters Porter-Gaud senior Mi'Kola Cooper, Porter-Gaud junior Annie Hay and Colleton Prep senior Sarah McDonald. The team is rounded out by Wando junior Catherine Martin and Wando freshman Melanie Allen.

Kristin Fleming, who led Bishop England to the High School League's Class AA state title, and Brian Burke of SCISA Class AAA state champion Porter-Gaud share the Lowcountry coach of the year award.

Just a junior, Summerall will have the opportunity next season to keep the Ashley Hall string going.

The Panthers failed in their quest for a fourth straight SCISA Class AAA state championship as Porter-Gaud defeated Ashley Hall in the state semifinals. Porter-Gaud had lost to the Panthers in the past two state finals. But Summerall, the top-ranked 18-and-under player in the state, had a sensational season.

After playing behind both Harrell and Kirkland as a freshman, and Kirkland as a sophomore, Summerall made the move up the ladder to No. 1 quite impressively. She posted a 15-1 record in singles, losing only a three-set match to Porter-Gaud's Cooper in the regular season. Summerall won all three of her other singles matches against Cooper this season.

"They were really close matches (against Cooper). It came down to a tiebreaker here or there in two or three of the matches," said Summerall, who has suffered only one loss in each of her first three seasons for the Panthers.

She believes much of her success this year is a result of her 2-3 hours of daily training at Creekside Tennis and Swim with former College of Charleston players Or Dekel and Omer Abramovich.

"I am working on a lot of tactical things like shot selection and things like that," she said. "I am stepping in more and taking balls as soon as possible."

Primarily a baseliner in previous seasons, Summerall has blossomed into a complete player capable of hitting big, and winning points quickly while maintaining her consistency.

"Getting to a lot of balls is my strength," said the 5-9 player, who is ranked 23rd in the South. "It's almost a luxury to be able to do both ... get to balls and have more power. I'm more in control of rallies now."

Unlike many high school players, Summerall has concentrated on tennis. And it's paid dividends as she considers a future in tennis after high school.

"A lot of people try three or four sports, and they don't reach their potential in one sport," she said. "I used to play volleyball in the sixth and seventh grades, but I quit them because of tennis."

She likes tennis because "you alone can determine if you win or you lose. It's a really fun game."


(12/11/11)  Other cities working to match Charleston
hen the Family Circle Cup arrived on Daniel Island for its 2001 edition, a new world of tennis facilities and enthusiasm followed the elite professional women's tournament to the Charleston area. As the enthusiasm for the game spread, local tennis complexes got better and better while trying to keep up with Family Circle Tennis Center and the Players Club.

All of this led to Charleston being named America's Best Tennis Town in 2010, recognition the area richly deserved.

Not surprisingly, other cities across the state now want a piece of the action, to cash in on some of the new energy and excitement that was created by the Family Circle Cup's move from Hilton Head Island to Charleston.

In recent years, the middle section of the state has become something of a mecca for big-time tennis facilities. I don't mean world-class facilities such as Family Circle Tennis Center, Kiawah Island, Sea Pines Plantation and the other nationally ranked resorts along the coast. No, just excellent huge tennis layouts, the likes of which South Carolina hadn't been accustomed to seeing.

If you haven't checked out the relatively new tennis facilities in Florence, Sumter and Lexington, and now Cayce, they probably rank with the best in the country in being able to offer the public a true competitive tennis option, not just on a community or playground court but at facilities that have the resources to hold just about any size tennis event below the Grand Prix level.

You might not think of Florence as a tennis hotbed, but this Pee Dee town that once was in the hub of tobacco country manifested the vision to construct a 30-court tennis complex that opened this past July, complete with a large, modern double-decked tennis center.

Lexington has now responded for the second time in a decade, this time with the excellent Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center just a couple of months ago. The sprawling Cayce layout has 23 regulation hard courts and seven of the kiddie-sized Quick Start courts, not to mention a two-story, 11,000-square foot clubhouse with fitness and conference rooms.

Although Charleston might not want to admit that a Columbia facility is convenient to the Lowcountry, the Cayce tennis center doesn't seem like it's much farther away than a couple of trips to Legend Oaks, because of its proximity to the conjunction of I-26 and I-77.

Of course, the 21-court Lexington County Tennis Complex has been a big part of league tennis, the high school playoffs and International Tennis Federation events since it opened in 2001.

To be truthful, these two superb Lexington County facilities would be an excellent choice to serve as the host for the state's annual Southern junior qualifying event, the Palmetto Tennis Championships, which are currently held in the far northwest corner of the state in Belton and Anderson. Since many tennis parents may be having a hard time trying to keep their juniors in the competitive circle, it might be time for the state tennis association to consider helping to reduce traveling expenses for juniors by relocating the most prestigious statewide junior event to a more central location.

In the meanwhile, the USTA has awarded the 2012 and 2013 Junior Team Tennis National Championships to the two Lexington County facilities.

While the Charleston area is loaded with excellent facilities, especially in Mount Pleasant, Daniel Island, the Isle of Palms, Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island, West Ashley is lagging behind. Charleston Tennis Center has been one of the top public facilities in the country for several decades and is probably as well-run as any tennis complex in the country.

But the sad news -- or the exciting news if you're considering the bustling participatory side of tennis -- is Charleston Tennis Center is somewhat outdated as just a medium-sized complex when compared to the newer facilities in Florence, Sumter, Lexington and Cayce.

Charleston Tennis Center has reached something of a saturation point. League tennis has pushed the West Ashley complex to the limit, to the point that it is in dire need of expansion to 20-24 courts from its current 15-court layout. Such a move would only ensure the continued growth of league tennis in the West Ashley area as it competes with the ever-growing Mount Pleasant tennis presence.

Three VIP winners

The Family Circle Cup has announced three winners of its VIP Experience. Stella Eyres of Ontario, Canada, won on Nov. 25, and Stephen Napoli of Hilton Head Island and Laura Ervin of Sanford, Fla., were winners the last two weeks. Weekly winners will be announced on Fridays through the end of December, and the Grand Prix VIP Experience winner will be announced on Jan. 2.

Region 8-AAAA team

Ashley Ridge placed Ali Herrera and Alicia Bonvillain on the All-Region 8-AAAA girls tennis team. Fort Dorchester landed Maya Snype and Kim Bui, while Summerville put Caroline Green and Maria Edwards on the team.

The all-region team is rounded out by Chelsea Bellomy, Charlotte Bellomy and Shaye McAuliffe of Beaufort; and Colleton County's Kyla Floyd and Megan Mitchell.


(11/27/11)  Family Circle offers early ticket purchase
Just when tennis appears to be settling down for the holiday season, the drums of Daniel Island's Family Circle Cup are beating. Tickets for the 2012 WTA Tour event are already on sale.

And this year, the Cup is offering an incentive to purchase tickets early. Patrons purchasing tickets prior to Jan. 2 will be entered in the tournament's "VIP for a day" sweepstakes.

The Grand Prize VIP Experience includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility as well as lunch in the player dining area, a VIP gift bag that includes an autographed T-shirt, an upgrade for two to box seats, pre-match coin-toss, a photo opportunity with players prior to a stadium match, valet parking and Terrace Club access. And don't forget about entering the stadium through the player tunnel. The winner will be announced Jan. 2.

"Our VIP for a day contest is the most exciting opportunity we've ever offered to our fans, providing unprecedented access to players and areas that are traditionally off limits to spectators," ticket coordinator Margaret Shaw said.

Weekly winners will be announced every Friday through the end of December. Weekly prizes will include a pre-match coin-toss on stadium court during the Cup and a photo opportunity with the players.

Tickets are available at familycirclecup.com, Ticketmaster charge-by-phone (800-745-3000) and at Ticketmaster.com. They are also available at any local Publix location offering Ticketmaster services, as well as in person at the event's box office located on the second floor of the Family Circle Tennis Center Clubhouse, and from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at (800) 677-2293 or (843) 856-7900.

How close was that?

The USTA's league tennis tiebreaker system is unique. It encourages teams to beat opponents as badly as possible. Entire seasons can depend on one game that doesn't even figure in a team's wins and losses.

The tiebreaker format normally breaks regular season and playoff won-lost deadlocks through the criteria of individual wins, individual losses, sets lost and games lost. It doesn't occur often, but what happens when all of those tiebreakers are exhausted? State league officials said they had never seen it happen before last weekend at Wild Dunes in the men's 4.0 state singles league championships. When it was all over, a Lowcountry Tennis Association team captained by Neal Webb was tied with an up-state team in all of the round-robin categories, including 70 games lost each.

After huddling up to decide which team would advance to the state final, tournament officials came to the conclusion that head-to-head meetings should break the deadlock. Naturally, that made Webb's St. Andrew's team happy since it had defeated the up-state team in round-robin play. However, St. Andrew's lost in the state final.

While the head-to-head meeting was the correct conclusion, most captains would agree that such meetings should be the first -- not the last -- tiebreaker criteria after team wins and losses.

Notes

--James Island's Pammy Pry has been named Region 7-AAAA girls tennis coach of the year. The all-region team is made up of Wando's Catherine Martin, Melanie Allen and Alex Klein; James Island's Rhealyn Dinkins and Maelee Dinkins; Stratford's Lauran Hudson and Kaitlyn Holley; and West Ashley's Alex Gilliard and Alaina Gilliard.

--New league tennis NTRP ratings are scheduled to be released on Monday.

--Registration for league tennis' official spring championship season will begin Dec. 5.

--Liza Arruda, the Bishop England sophomore who led the Bishops to the Class AA state girls title, was a semifinalist in the recent AA-A state singles tournament, which was won by Waccamaw junior Tolley Rice.

--The Pine Forest Ladies Tennis Association donated $18,000 to the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Racquets for Recovery Fund in proceeds from the seventh annual Racquets for Recovery breast cancer tournament held at Pine Forest Country Club earlier this month. The association has contributed a total of $142,000 for local breast cancer patients since 2005.

--Former Oregon captain Arron Spencer is a new assistant coach for the reigning Southern Conference champion College of Charleston men's and women's teams. A 2007 graduate, he was ranked as high as ninth nationally in ITA doubles and played on Oregon's 2004 NCAA tournament team.

--Former C of C head coach and current assistant Billy Silcox recently was presented with the College's Alumni Award of Honor.


(11/13/11)  Young Bishop England girls team appears set for future
The state title drought for local High School League tennis teams may be over for awhile, thanks to the budding success of a young Bishop England team.

Even if Mauldin now appears to have Wando’s number in Class AAAA — at least for now — the Bishops may already have the players in their program to keep coach Kristin Fleming’s team a serious title contender for several more seasons.

The Bishops’ top three players are sophomores: Liza Arruda, Caroline Yodice and Hannah Simpson. Only Charlie Gaffney is a senior among the team’s top five in singles. The key for the Bishops wasn’t their 7-0 state final victory over Emerald. The critical part of their march to the Class AA state championship was their closer-than 5-2 semifinal win over old nemesis Waccamaw. You might say “it wasn’t over until it was over” — or until they clinched the match at No. 1 doubles in upstaging Waccamaw’s strategy and sweeping doubles with some smart coaching by Fleming.

Waccamaw had beaten BE in five of their last seven playoff meetings prior to this year’s Lower State final. Aware that BE had been victimized by Waccamaw’s strategy several times in the past in boys and girls playoff meetings, Fleming was ready. She opted to play both doubles matches after the completion of singles to keep Waccamaw coach Joan Cribb guessing. “It was something that I had heard Waccamaw would do ... I held out doubles when we exchanged lineups,” Fleming said.

As soon as Fleming saw Waccamaw’s singles lineup without its regular Nos. 3 and 5 players, Fleming knew Waccamaw was up to something again.

Waccamaw’s lineup strategy signalled that Cribb had little confidence in winning at Nos. 3-5 singles against the Bishops’ Simpson, Kelli McManus and Gaffney. The strategy double-backfired on Waccamaw when Fleming split starting singles players Arruda and Simpson as well as regular No. 2 doubles specialists Emma Schaafsma and Hunter St. Laurent.

A return to the top can’t be ruled out for Wando next season, even after losing three of its top seven players. The potential of junior Catherine Martin and freshman Melanie Allen is too good to disregard Wando’s chances at snapping a two-year finals losing streak to Mauldin.

Cup tickets go on sale

Tickets for the 2012 Family Circle Cup go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m., available 24 hours a day at familycirclecup.com, ticketmaster charge-by-phone (800-745-3000) and at Ticketmaster.com. They also will be available at any local Publix location offering Ticketmaster services, as well as in person at the event’s box office located on the second floor of the Family Circle Tennis Center Clubhouse on Daniel Island, and by phone from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at (800) 677-2293 or (843) 856-7900.

Local notes

Diane Fishburne Barker was selected for the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame. The winner of four world singles titles and nearly 30 national singles titles, she is a former world’s No. 1 in women’s 35-50 age groups. She is ranked 19th in the world in women’s 50.

Brenda Carter has had a terrific fall season. Ranked 11th in the world in super seniors women’s 65 singles, she is fresh from a two-week trip to Turkey where she served as captain and played singles for the USTA’s Kitty Godfree Cup team. She also won the 65-and-over doubles crown in the ITF World Individual Championships playing with No. 2-ranked Heidi Orth of Germany. She has just been named the USTA Southern’s Slew Hester female player of the year.

Steve Zalinski of Daniel Island won the Southern’s Marilyn Sherman Spirit Award.

Family Circle Tennis Center’s fourth annual Holiday Tennis Classic will be held Dec. 2-4. The event, the only Adult Level 3 USTA-sanctioned event in the state in December, will have competition in 2.5-9.0 levels in men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. Registration is available on TennisLink (tournament number 704126711) through Nov. 27.

Wonza Welch’s super senior 3.5 men’s team from Crowfield captured a state title last weekend at Wild Dunes. The Southern Sectional is early next month on Hilton Head Island.

Red-hot local junior Connor Clements is ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 23 in the South in 18-and-under boys.

The Kusmider family has been named the state’s tennis family of the year. Pam Kusmider has been an integral part of the Charleston Schools Initiative while Ted Kusmider works with the inner-city Courting Kids program. The couple’s twin sons, Jake and Luke, are ranked Nos. 6 and 7, respectively, in the state in their junior division, while Ava Kusmider is rated 40th in girls 12.

Veteran Wild Dunes pro Charley Rasheed has been named the state’s adult male player of the year, while Deanna Vroman is the state’s adult female player of the year. They played pivotal roles in helping South Carolina win both the men’s and women’s titles and the overall title in the Southern Senior Cup. Vroman also was a key member of a 5.0 adult league state championship team.

As evidence of the popularity of league tennis, Charleston Tennis Center has 29 adult and senior teams registered this fall.


(11/06/11)  Wando girls fall in final
Another state tennis championship was there for the taking by the Wando girls on a cold and windy Saturday morning.

But it didn't happen as Mauldin (19-0) prevailed for the second straight year against the Warriors (18-3) in the Class AAAA state final, 4-2, at the new 23-court Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center.

With senior Alex Stein holding a 6-2, 5-1 lead in No. 3 singles, the chances of Wando starting a new winning streak in state titles looked promising before Stein's game collapsed in a 2-6, 7-6, 10-3 loss to Mauldin freshman Sydney Patton. That ended the Warriors' hopes and left Wando's No. 1 doubles team of Catherine Martin and Melanie Allen on the sidelines.

Freshman Anne Stuart Pride had kept the Warriors' hopes alive with a 6-4, 1-6, 10-5 victory at No. 5 singles over Mauldin senior Katelyn Hegarty. When Wando's No. 2 doubles team of Legare Passailaigue and Courtney Lopresti fell and was followed by the loss at No. 3 singles, the Warriors' dream of reliving the glory days of six straight state titles that ended last year was shattered.

Allen, a talented sophomore playing in her third state final, posted a convincing 6-4, 6-1 win at No. 2, after the big-hitting Martin had no answer for the court savvy and consistency of talented Mauldin junior Ansley Speaks, who gave up only two games in her fifth state final appearance.

Nevertheless, it was an outstanding season for first-year coach Tyler Davis and Wando as the Warriors advanced to their eighth consecutive state final, and fifth in a row against Mauldin.

"We came out very strong at Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 singles and No. 2 doubles," Davis said. "We let it slip away. I knew we would have to win at Nos. 2 and 3 and find a win at Nos. 4 or 5 or No. 2 doubles to beat them."

The plan almost worked.

"I don't think that early in the season our girls believed they could make a match out of it, but they did. I am very proud of the way we played," Davis said.

MAULDIN 4, WANDO 2

Singles: Ansley Speaks (M) def. Catherine Martin, 6-1, 6-1; Melanie Allen (W) def. Haley Elliott, 6-4, 6-1; Sydney Patton (M) def. Alex Stein, 2-6, 7-6, 10-3; Lexi Stewart (M) def. Caroline Hairfield, 6-4, 6-0; Anne Stuart Pride (W) def. Katelyn Hegarty, 6-4, 1-6, 10-5.

Doubles: Hayley Behal/Alex Patton (M) def. Legare Passailaigue/Courtney Lopresti, 6-4, 6-1.


(11/06/11)  Bishop England girls win title in tennis
Kristin Fleming's state tennis title count hit five here Saturday afternoon as the third-year coach and former star player relived the glories of Bishop England's past success in a 7-0 victory over outmanned Emerald (14-5) that gave the Bishops (20-5) their third Class AA state girls championship in five years.

"This feels really great. I love coaching. It's nice to coach at the school you played for … a great experience," said Fleming, a 1993 Bishop England graduate. "Our teams won four (titles) when I was playing, and to come back and coach the girls to a state championship feels really good."

Emerald, playing in its fifth straight final, tried to make a match out of it, but the only singles matchup that was competitive was at No. 2, where strong-hitting sophomore Caroline Yodice held off the Vikings' Elizabeth Mulkey, 6-1, 7-6.

"All of our players are so good," Yodice said. "It's an amazing feeling … we worked so hard to get to this point."

Emerald won a total of only 12 games at the other four singles positions. Talented sophomore Liza Arruda clinched the title with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 1 singles. The two teams played the doubles matches after singles, with the Bishops taking both.

This title probably was decided two days earlier when the Bishops posted a close win over Waccamaw, which has won five of the last nine Class AA state titles, while Bishop England has taken the other four. The young Bishops knew they had passed the big test when they defeated Waccamaw.

Arruda also played in the decisive doubles match against Waccamaw.

"We knew we had to get past Waccamaw to win the state. It feels great to win my first state title, and I've got two more years," Arruda said.

Yodice agreed: "Beating Waccamaw was huge for us."

BISHOP ENGLAND 7, EMERALD 0
Liza Arruda (BE) def. Maggie Elliott, 6-2, 6-3; Caroline Yodice (BE) def. Elizabeth Mulkey, 6-1, 7-6; Hannah Simpson (BE) def. Sarah Bates, 6-0, 6-1; Kelli McManus (BE) def.

Herin Warner, 6-0, 6-1; Charlie Gaffney (BE) def. Lauren Hobbs, 6-2, 6-3.

Doubles: Arruda/Simpson (BE) def. Elliott/Mulkey, 8-6; Emma Schaafsma/Hunter St. Laurent (BE) def. Erica Bradberry/Michelle Rambo, 8-0.


(11/04/11)  Wando, Bishop England 1 win away from crowns
Wando and Bishop England both moved to within a victory of starting new state championship winning streaks in girls tennis Thursday as they captured Lower State crowns.

Wando (18-2) posted a 5-1 win over host Lexington in the Class AAAA playoffs, while Bishop England (19-5) took the advantage in singles before sweeping the doubles for a 5-2 victory in Mount Pleasant over two-time defending Class AA state champion Waccamaw.

The Warriors and Bishops next play for state championships Saturday morning at Columbia's Cayce Tennis Center. Wando will play in its eighth straight final and sixth consecutive final against defending Class AAAA champion Mauldin, which ended the Warriors' streak of six straight state titles a year ago.

Bishop England, which won state titles in 2007 and 2008, will return to the state final after a two-year absence.

"This was the best match we've played this season," said first-year Wando coach Tyler Davis. "If we play like we played today, we have a legitimate shot against Mauldin."

With junior Catherine Martin and freshman Melanie Allen scoring one-sided wins in the top two positions, the Warriors moved into position to advance when senior Alex Klein posted a three-set win at No. 3 singles.

Wando's No. 2 doubles team of senior Courtney Lopresti and junior Legare Passailague outlasted Lexington's No. 2 doubles team of Mary Weston Lawrence and Sarah Katherine Eckstrom, 6-3, 3-6, 11-9, to clinch the Lower state title. Freshman Annie Stuart Pride then finished off a close win at No. 5 singles to complete the 5-1 win.

"To win No. 2 doubles and No. 5 singles in tight matches was a big confidence builder for us going into the final. It was just the way I would like to win. You learn from these type matches," Davis said.

"Hopefully we can get another streak going."

Mauldin advanced to Saturday's final with a 4-2 win over Dutch Fork in the Upper State final.

The Class AA Lower State final was a classic between two teams that have been dominant over the years, Waccamaw having won five of the last seven titles.

Bishop England coach Kristin Fleming split her top players in doubles and played both doubles matches after the Bishops had taken a 3-2 edge in singles. Sophomore Hannah Simpson, junior Kelli McManus and senior Charlie Gaffney took the last three singles spots for the Bishops, dropping a total of only 10 games.

BE No. 1 player Liza Arruda played with Emma Schaafsma to defeat Waccamaw's top two players, Tolley Rice and Sarah Elliott, by rallying from a set down to win No. 1 doubles to clinch the victory.

Simpson, who played No. 3 singles for the Bishops, then teamed with regular No. 2 doubles player Hunter St. Laurent to give the Bishops the doubles sweep.

WANDO 5, LEXINGTON 1

Singles: Catherine Martin (W) def. Katie Thompson, 6-3, 6-2; Melanie Allen (W) def. Laura Howard, 6-1, 6-3; Alex Stein (W) def. Kelly Gajewski, 6-4, 0-6, 10-3; Amy Lance (L) def. Caroline Hairfield, 6-4, 6-2; Anne Stuart Pride (W) def. Erin Lavisley, 6-4, 7-6 (5).

Doubles: Courtney Lopresti/Legare Passailaigue (W) def. Mary Weston Lawrence/Sarah Katherine Eckstrom, 6-3, 3-6, 11-9.

BISHOP ENGLAND 5, WACCAMAW 2

Singles: Tolley Rice (W) def. Liza Arruba, 6-1, 6-0; Sarah Elliott (W) def. Caroline Yodice, 6-3, 7-5; Hannah Simpson (BE) def. Lindsay Costin, 6-2, 6-2; Kelli McManus (BE) def. Caroline Chapman, 6-0, 6-2; Charlie Gaffney (BE) def. Natalie DeCenzo, 6-0, 6-4.

Doubles: Arruda/Emma Schaafsma (BE) def. Rice/Elliott, 1-6, 6-4, 10-7; Simpson/Hunter St. Laurent (BE) def. Casey Altman/Sarah Moran, 6-3, 6-3.


(11/03/11)  Wando No. 2 player lends title experience
Melanie Allen is a veteran of two Class AAAA state championship matches. That type of experience is priceless at this time of the year.

She has improved each season for the Wando girls -- from No. 5 to No. 3 to her current role as the Warriors' No. 2 player.

But the best news about this 5-5 ball of energy and power is that she is only a freshman. Coach Tyler Davis knows that if she's not already on par with the best players in the area, she almost certainly will lead the pack before she leaves Wando.

Allen is unbeaten this season at No. 2 singles, including a 6-3, 6-1 win over 2010 All-Lowcountry performer Annie Hay of Porter-Gaud. But things could get tough now that the Warriors (17-2) are gunning for their eighth straight appearance in the state final. She lost in last year's state final when Mauldin ended the Warriors' string of six consecutive state titles.

There is a good chance Mauldin will be in waiting again in the title match if Wando survives today's Lower State final at Lexington. Mauldin will play host to Dutch Fork in today's Upper State final.

"I'm disappointed we didn't win last year, but as a team we fought hard," she said about a 5-1 loss to Mauldin in the 2010 state final after having defeated Mauldin a year earlier when Allen helped out with a victory at No. 5.

But Allen is ready this time. In fact, she has doubled her training time at Family Circle Tennis Center to four hours a day. "I get out (of school) at 2 p.m., and I stay at Family Circle until 6:30. I love it," the energetic 14-year-old said.

She is ranked in the top 10 in the state in both 14-and-under and 16-and-under. "I think the reason I have improved so much is that I've doubled my practice time, and I'm playing in more bigger tournaments against better people," she said.

Allen can lull opponents to sleep with her heavy top-spin groundstrokes. But don't give her an angle. She'll hit it with those same short top-spin shots. And if you give her an opening down the line, she'll level out the top-spin and blast a sizzling winner.

She can do it all on the tennis court. "I started tennis when I was 5 years old," said Allen, who moved here from Florida two years ago for her father's job.

She was playing tournaments by age 9.

"I like the competitive part of tennis, and I like the people who play it. I've met so many people through tennis."

--Bishop England (18-5) plays defending state champion and rival Waccamaw in the Class AA Lower State final today at 4:30 p.m. at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant.

--Charleston Math and Science was eliminated from the Class A playoffs in a 4-1 loss at East Clarendon on Tuesday.

TODAY'S PLAYOFF MATCHUPS

Class AAAA
Dutch Fork at Mauldin
Wando at Lexington

Class AA
Waccamaw at Bishop England

Class A
St. Joseph at Christ Church
Governor's School at East Clarendon


(10/30/11)  Wando may be poised to begin new streak
Wando may be ready to return to its perch atop Class AAAA girls tennis after faltering in last year’s state final.

But defending state champion Mauldin likely will be back as Wando attempts to start a new streak under a new coach, Tyler Davis.

The Warriors’ top two of junior Catherine Martin and freshman Melanie Allen may be too strong for West Florence in Tuesday’s 4 p.m. state quarterfinals at Wando. A victory would send the Warriors to Lexington or Beaufort for Thursday’s semifinals.

Davis feels good about the possible matchups as a result of the Warriors’ 4-2 regular season win over Beaufort and the fact that Davis has coached most of the Mauldin players. “While I was living in Spartanburg and coaching at Presbyterian College, I coached everyone in Mauldin’s top six,” he said.

Mauldin snapped Wando’s streak of six straight state titles in last year’s final in Becky Williamson’s last match as the Warriors’ coach.

Under Davis, Wando’s only losses in 18 matches this season have been to SCISA state champion Porter-Gaud and SCISA power Ashley Hall.

After a challenging span at the crucial No. 2 doubles position, the Warriors have settled on junior Legare Passailaigue and senior Courtney Lopresti. Wando also has seniors at Nos. 3 and 4 in Alex Klein and Caroline Hairfield.

Bishops aim high Waccamaw has returned as Bishop England’s main nemesis by defeating the Bishops each of the last two years in the Class AA Lower State playoffs. Coach Kristin Fleming is hoping for better luck on Thursday if the teams meet again in the lower state final, this time on hard courts at LTP Tennis.

Bishop England (17-5) first faces Pelion in the state quarterfinals Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at LTP Tennis, while Waccamaw will be favored to defeat Aynor. Waccamaw has three of its top four back from last year’s state champions. With sophomore Liza Arruda and freshman Samantha Shuster leading the way, the Bishops’ only head-to-head setbacks have been a pair of 4-3 losses to Wando. “We have good depth 1-5 and at No. 2 doubles,” said coach Kristin Fleming.

Prep notes

-- Former All-Lowcountry star Addison King is back at Palmetto Christian after playing last spring for Wando.

-- Academic Magnet didn’t qualify for this fall’s Class AA state playoffs as the result of having to forfeit three matches due to an ineligible player.

-- Charleston Math and Science will play host to East Clarendon on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Class A state playoffs.

Six combo champs

Six local teams won state titles in last weekend’s league tennis state combo tournament at Family Circle Tennis Center. Neal Webb’s 7.5 adult men from St. Andrew’s led the way, while captain Su Mac-

Adam’s Legend Oaks 7.5 women, Pamela Ponte’s 6.5 Farmfield women and Karen Burton’s Daniel Island 5.5 women also took adult titles. Michael Viljac’s 8.5 senior men and Susan Peiffer’s 8.5 super senior women also won titles.

The local runners-up included Chuck Lee’s Whipple Road 8.5 adult men, Ann Harrah’s LTP Tennis 9.5 adult women, Genessa Donohue’s Maybank 7.5 adult women and Judi Fillinger’s Family Circle Tennis Center 7.5 super senior women.

Local notes

Monday is the entry deadline for the Nov. 9-13 Southern Senior Closed Clay Court Championships at Kiawah Island.

-- Summerville’s Thanksgiving Adult Doubles Grand Prix is Nov. 18-20 at the new Doty Park complex. Competition will be in NTRP men’s and women’s doubles and in mixed doubles. Register at summerville.sc.us. Contact Nancy Sumersett (270-1017 or nsumersett@gmail.com).

-- Today is the deadline for entering the seventh annual Racquets for Recovery “Taking a Hard Swing at Breast Cancer” Tennis Tournament scheduled for next weekend at Pine Forest Country Club. Contact Shirley Hunter (racquets2011@gmail.com, shhunter@bellsouth.net or call 224-4668).

-- Snee Farm’s Grand Prix Doubles Tournament is scheduled for Nov. 18-20. The entry deadline is Nov. 16. Sign up at sneefarmtennis.com.

-- Seabrook Island’s Alan Fleming Senior Open Clay Court State Championship has been selected as the state’s adult tournament of the year. The tournament has come through again in a big way by raising more than $40,000 for the Hospice of Charleston Foundation. The tournament presented a check to Hospice for $37,500 during an awards dinner at the tournament.


(10/30/11)  Porter-Gaud Girls Tennis Wins State Title Over Hilton Head Prep
Three-time defending state tennis champion Ashley Hall wasn't around to torment the Cyclones this time, and Hilton Head Prep wasn't up to the task of defeating the Cyclones three straight times this season.

The Cyclones (12-3) won the SCISA Class AAA title Saturday with a 5-2 win over Hilton Head Prep (11-3) as senior Mi'Kola Cooper capped her career with a comeback singles victory and a dominant doubles win with junior partner Annie Hay.

Porter-Gaud also got singles wins from Hay, eighth-grader Lexi Steichen and seventh-grader Ann Martin Skelly.

Coach Brian Burke said all week that no one had beaten his team on hard courts when the Cyclones had a full lineup. Cooper and her teammates were definitely "on" this time against a Hilton Head Prep team that had beaten the Cyclones, 5-1, a few weeks ago on clay when Cooper, Hay and Steichen all lost to the young Dolphins, who start four eighth-graders in singles.

"This means everything to me. I'm happy I finally got a state championship," Cooper said.

But this one didn't come easily, and it was Cooper's never-say-die attitude that allowed the Cyclones to take a 4-2 lead into doubles where she teamed with Hay for an impressive 6-0, 6-3 win over freshman Allie Burak and eighth-grader Cameron Kriscunas to clinch the championship.

When Burak and Kriscunas threatened to make things interesting by closing to 4-3 down in the second set while the Dolphins were ahead in the other two doubles matches, Cooper took things personal. She broke out of deuce with a deep, athletic overhead for a break point and then put her team ahead 5-3 with a blistering backhand down the line. One game later, the Porter-Gaud girls were celebrating.

Despite jumping off to a 3-0 lead against Burak in No. 1 singles, Cooper dropped the first set in a tiebreaker and had to win the last five points in a third set match tiebreaker to end the nearly three-hour match as a winner, 6-7 (7-5), 6-2, 10-5.

Earlier, Hay scored a 6-0, 4-1, retire win over Kriscunas at No. 2 singles, Steichen posted a 7-5, 6-1 victory over senior Maggie Colket at No. 5, and left-handed 12-year-old Skelly closed out her first season without dropping a set by cruising past Katie Rankin, 6-0, 6-1, at No. 6 singles. Up 4-2, the Cyclones only needed one win in doubles.

Singles: Mi'Kola Cooper (PG) d. Allie Burak, 6-7, 6-2, 10-5; Annie Hay (PG) d. Cameron Kriscunas, 6-0, 4-1, retired; Shannon O'Brien (HHP) d. Grace Robards, 6-2, 3-6, 10-6; Ellie Czura (HHP) d. Carissa Steichen, 6-0, 6-2; Lexi Steichen (PG) d. Maggi Colket, 7-5, 6-1; Ann Martin Skelly (PG) d. Katie Rankin, 6-0, 6-1.

Doubles: Cooper/Hay (PG) d. Burak/Kriscunas, 6-0, 6-3.


(10/26/11)  Palmetto Christian makes it lucky No. 7 in girls tennis
Palmetto Christian Academy (10-4) responded to the challenge of having its long state championship winning streak in girls tennis threatened Tuesday afternoon at Family Circle Tennis Center by winning two of the three doubles for a 5-4 victory over Lowcountry Prep for the Eagles' seventh straight SCISA Class A state title.

'We were pushed, and our girls went out and were up to the challenge,' PCA coach Dewey Caulder said after the long match on clay.

The match must have seemed even longer for lone senior Chandler Caulder and junior Hayley Hester, who had spent Monday night in Columbia helping the Eagles' volleyball team win a state championship.

Caulder is the only player who has played on all seven state tennis championship teams. With the volleyball crown, the coach's daughter now has eight state titles.

Making the achievement even more special for Caulder was that she teamed with Hayley Hall at No. 3 to win the decisive doubles match to put the Eagles up 5-3 and clinch another championship. She already had won at No. 3 singles.

'We talked to the girls after singles and told them they had to win two of the three doubles to keep our string alive,' Dewey Caulder said. 'In singles, we had gone from ahead 3-0 to being tied 3-3 going into doubles.'

Freshman Ashton Harris, Chandler Caulder and sixth-grader Lauren Quinn swept through the Nos. 2-4 singles matches without losing a set, but then freshman Corey Caulder dropped a close match at No. 1 to Lowcountry Prep's Sydney Derrick, 6-4, 6-3, while Hayley Hester and Katie Quinn dropped long three-setters for the Eagles at Nos. 5 and 6 singles to deadlock the match going into doubles.

PCA 5, LOWCOUNTRY PREP 4

Singles:

Sydney Derrick (LP) def. Corey Caulder, 6-4, 6-3; Ashton Harris (PCA) def. Stellings Lee, 6-0, 6-1; Chandler Caulder (PCA) def. Claudia Trotter, 6-1, 6-1; Lauren Quinn (PCA) def. Marguerite McCleary, 6-1, 6-3; Emerson Pate (LP) def. Hayley Hester, 2-6, 6-2, 10-8; Emory McCleary (LP) def. Katie Quinn, 6-4, 3-6, 10-6.

Doubles:

Derrick/Elizabeth Zeiser (LP) def. Harris/L. Quinn, 5-7, 6-3, 10-5; Corey Caulder/Hester (PCA) def. Trotter/M. McCleary, 6-0, 6-0; Hayley Hall/Chandler Caulder (PCA) def. Pate/E. McCleary, 6-1, 6-2.


(10/23/11)  Cooper sparks Porter-Gaud to SCISA state tennis crown
Porter-Gaud's girls finally have their state championship trophy.

Porter-Gaud tops Dolphins after losing to them twice this year

Three-time defending state champion Ashley Hall wasn't around to torment the Cyclones this time, and Hilton Head Prep wasn't up to the task of defeating the Cyclones three straight times this season.

The Cyclones (12-3) won the SCISAA Class 3-A tennis title Saturday at the Palmetto Tennis Center with a 5-4 win over Region 3 champion Hilton Head Prep (11-3) as senior Mi'Kola Cooper went out with flying colors in a brilliant comeback in singles and a dominant doubles win with junior partner Annie Hay.

Porter-Gaud also got individual victories from Hay, eighth-grader Lexi Steichen and seventh-grader Ann Martin Skelly in the battle of region rivals.

Coach Brian Burke had said all week that no one had beaten his team on hardcourts when the Cyclones had a full lineup. Hilton Head Prep had beaten the Cyclones 5-1 a few weeks ago on clay when Cooper, Hay and Steichen all lost to the young Dolphins, who start four eighth-graders in singles.

"This means everything to me ... I'm happy I finally got a state championship," Cooper said.

But this one didn't come easily, and it was Cooper's never-say-die attitude that allowed the Cyclones to take a 4-2 lead into doubles, where she teamed with Hay for an impressive 6-0, 6-3 win over Prep freshman Allie Burak and hard-hitting eighth-grader Cameron Kriscunas to clinch the championship.

When Burak and Kriscunas made things interesting by closing to within 4-3 in the second set -- while the Dolphins were ahead in the other two doubles matches -- Cooper took things personal. She broke out of deuce with a deep, athletic overhead for a break point and then went ahead 5-3 with a blistering backhand down the line. One game later, the Porter-Gaud girls were celebrating.

Despite jumping off to a 3-0 lead against Burak in No. 1 singles, Cooper dropped the first set in a tiebreaker and had to win the last five points in a third-set tiebreaker to end the nearly three-hour match, 6-7 (7-5), 6-2, 10-5.

"Once I won the second set, I felt like I had a little edge," Cooper said.

Cooper had trouble finding her rhythm as the consistent Burak appeared to decide early that she would let the big-hitting Cooper beat herself. The strategy worked in the first set, especially in the tiebreaker, as Cooper fell behind 5-1 on the "sun side" that she appeared to struggle on in the first set against Burak's lobs and moon balls.

After Cooper ran through the second set, she got off to a 5-3 lead in the third-set tiebreaker before making two loose errors, but then hit two strong backhand winners. Burak followed with three straight errors to give Cooper the win.

Hay already had scored a victory over Kriscunas at No. 2 singles when the Prep eighth-grader chose to retire in the second set with a foot injury. Steichen had posted a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Hilton Head Prep's lone senior, Maggi Colket, at No. 5 singles, while left-handed 12-year-old Skelly had closed out her first season without dropping a set in a 6-0, 6-1 win over the Dolphins' Katie Rankin at No. 6 singles.

Prep's Shannon O'Brien defeated Grace Robards in a third-set tiebreaker at No. 3 singles, and Ellie Czura stormed past Carissa Steichen, 6-0, 6-2, at No. 4 for the Dolphins' only singles wins.

Up 4-2, the Cyclones only needed one win in doubles. They were trailing in the other two doubles matches when Cooper and Hay clinched the title.

"The main key was we were prepared this time. We changed our routine this year," Burke said in reference to the previous two state championship defeats to Ashley Hall. "We got out here early today and yesterday (before a win over Ashley Hall in the semifinals). We got here at 8 a.m. today (match time was 10 a.m.) and practiced, and we were loose for the match.

"We had prepared specifically in practices this season for Ashley Hall and Hilton Head Prep."

PORTER-GAUD 5, HILTON HEAD PREP 4
Singles: No. 1 Mi'Kola Cooper (PG) def. Allie Burak, 6-7, 6-2, 10-5; No. 2 Annie Hay (PG) def. Cameron Kriscunas, 6-0, 4-1, retired; No. 3 Shannon O'Brien (HHP) def. Grace Robards, 6-2, 3-6, 10-6; No. 4 Ellie Czura (HHP) def. Carissa Steichen, 6-0, 6-2; No. 5 Lexi Steichen (PG) def. Maggi Colket, 7-5, 6-1; No. 6 Ann Martin Skelly (PG) def. Katie Rankin, 6-0, 6-1.

Doubles: No. 1 Cooper/Hay (PG) def. Burak/Kriscunas, 6-0, 6-3; No. 2 Czura/Colket (HHP) def. C. Steichen/Skelly 7-6 (7-4), 5-3, retired; No. 3 O'Brien/ Jaclyn de Boer (HHP) def. Robards/L. Steichen 6-2, 5-2, retired.


(10/22/11)  Porter-Gaud posts win over champs
Porter-Gaud's bottom three of the Steichen sisters and seventh-grader Ann Martin Skelly pulled the rug out from under Ashley Hall's hopes for a fourth straight SCISA Class AAA girls tennis state championship Friday afternoon at Sumter as the Cyclones prevailed, 6-3, in the semifinals.

After turning back the Panthers (14-8) for the first time in the two teams' three consecutive meetings in the state semifinals or finals, coach Bryan Burke's Porter-Gaud team (11-3) will oppose Region III champion Hilton Head Prep in today's 10 a.m. championship match at the Palmetto Tennis Center. Hilton Head Prep, which posted a 5-0 win over Hammond in the semifinals on Friday, handed the Cyclones a pair of losses in the Region III regular season.

"We're looking forward to playing Hilton Head Prep again," Burke said. "We are starting to peak, and I told the girls that we haven't been beaten this season on hard courts with a full lineup."

After No. 2 junior Annie Hay joined Nos. 4 and 5 Carissa and Lexi Steichen, and No. 6 Skelly as singles winners, Porter-Gaud held a 4-0 lead en route to a 4-2 edge in singles, and got the lone doubles victory it needed to advance at No. 3 where freshman Grace Robards and eighth-grader Lexi Steichen beat Morgan Schweers and Sally Chamberlain, 2-6, 6-1, 10-6.

"We started jumping up and down and hugging and everyone ran on the court," Lexi Steichen said.

But the big moment for the Cyclones in singles came when her sister, senior Carissa Steichen, upended Ashley Hall junior Rossi Anastopoulo, 6-3, 2-6, 10-7, at No. 4 after two regular season losses to Anastopoulo.

"This was really a good day for us," Carissa Steichen said, referring to the team's win and her success against Anastopoulo as well as her younger sister's singles win and match-clinching victory in doubles. "It meant a lot . . . being a senior. I hit a lot of forehands and moved her (Anastopoulo) around," Carissa Steichen said.

In the showdown at No. 1 singles, Ashley Hall junior Narni Summerall prevailed, 5-7, 6-3, 10-3, against Porter-Gaud senior Mi'Kola Cooper for a 2-1 advantage in SCISA singles and 3-1 overall singles edge this season.

"Obviously, we're all disappointed," Summerall said. "But Porter played really well. Being down 4-2 in singles put us at a disadvantage."

At one point in singles, Porter-Gaud held a team match point with Robards against Margaret Legerton, who came back to win, 4-6, 6-3, 12-10, at No. 3.

Skelly, a 12-year-old left-hander who grew up mostly in Russia and London, maintained her record of not having lost a set in singles this season with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Chamberlain.

PORTER-GAUD 6, ASHLEY HALL 3

Singles: Narni Summerall (AH) def. Mi'Kola Cooper, 5-7, 6-3, 10-3; Annie Hay (PG) def. Courtney Geiss, 6-3, 6-3; Margaret Legerton (AH) def. Grace Robards, 4-6, 6-3, 12-10; Carissa Steichen (PG) def. Rossi Anastopoulo, 6-3, 2-6, 10-7; Lexi Steichen (PG) def. Morgan Schweers, 6-2, 6-2; Ann Martin Skelly (PG) def. Sally Chamberlain, 6-2, 6-2.

Doubles: Cooper/Hay (PG) def. Summerall/Geiss, 6-1, 6-1; Anastopoulo/Legerton (AH) def. C. Steichen/Skelly, 6-4, 6-3; Robards/L. Steichen (PG) def. Schweers/Chamberlain, 2-6, 6-1, 10-6.

Holly Hill Academy wins

In the Class AA semifinals at Sumter on Friday, Holly Hill Academy (17-2) posted a 5-1 win over The King's Academy of Florence, to earn a berth in today's 10 a.m. state final against Spartanburg Day. Spartanburg Day scored a 5-0 victory over Carolina Academy.

HOLLY HILL ACADEMY 5, THE KING'S 1

Singles: Morgan Cantley (HHA) d. Rachel Sillman 7-5, 5-7, (10-5); Tressa Hutto (HHA) d. Ashton Sankuer 6-1, 6-1; Hunter Paramore (HHA) d. Lauren Sankuer 5-7, 7-5, 10-2; Shannon Edmonds (HHA) d. Raven Hutson 6-7, 6-4, 10-8; Ashton McLean (HHA) d. Rachel Coates 6-2, 6-3; Kristi O'Connell (HHA) d. Avery Beling 6-0, 6-0.

Records: HHA 17-2.

Next: HHA vs. Spartanburg Day at 10 a.m. today for the state title.


(10/21/11)  Summerall, Ashley Hall eye SCISA state tennis title
Narni Summerall has stood out as a tennis player almost from the time she picked up her first racket. But in the last year, she has taken her game to a new level.

The Ashley Hall junior is ranked as the No. 1 girls 18 player in the state. And along the way, she has climbed to the top of the tennis ladder at Ashley Hall.

Ashley Hall coach Mary Gastley has been a big fan of Summerall's commitment to the game, which just might help the Panthers win a SCISA Class AAA state championship this weekend. First up for three-time defending state champion Ashley Hall (14-7), however, is a 2 p.m. battle today against two-time state runner-up Porter-Gaud (10-3) in the state semifinals at Sumter's Palmetto Tennis Center.

"Narni has really improved," Gastley said. "Her match toughness is where she has improved most. She is hitting with more power. Her placement, pace and consistency are a lot stronger."

Summerall played second fiddle to Patricia Kirkland a year ago, but this time it's Summerall's team as she seeks her third state title.

"I've been working extremely hard. I've been year-round tennis for awhile," said Summerall, who started tennis when she was 5 and became a tournament player at 10. She trains under Or Dekel at Creekside Tennis and Swim.

Other than commitment, what has elevated Summerall's game to its new level, one where she is ranked 26th in the South?

"I've changed my forehand to become more aggressive," the 5-9 player said after the Panthers' 6-0 win over Heathwood Hall in Wednesday's state quarterfinals. "I'm also more aggressive on my serve."

Summerall's newfound power opens up a entire new approach to the game to go with her excellent mobility and court coverage.

As far as her future in tennis after this weekend's championships, Summerall sees college from afar. After all, she has another entire year of tennis before she is likely to make a college decision.

"I have no idea about college," she said. "I haven't ruled out Division III, but I'm aiming for Division I."

Summerall realizes that her singles and doubles matches could decide the Panthers' match against archrival Porter- Gaud, which owns a pair of 5-4 regular-season wins over Ashley Hall. "There's just a little pressure," she admitted.

Summerall and Porter-Gaud senior Mi'Kola Cooper split a pair of regular-season matches after Summerall defeated Cooper in the Bishop England preseason tournament. Cooper came back from a 7-6, 5-0 deficit to win the first regular-season confrontation of All-Lowcountry stars. All three meetings this season have gone to three sets, although Summerall posted a 6-2, 6-2 win over Cooper back in the spring on clay at the Lexington junior tournament.

"I feel good about playing Mi'Kola, but I have to be focused. She's been playing really well our last two matches," Summerall said about her highly athletic opponent. "She didn't give up at Porter-Gaud when I was up 5-0. She's a tough competitor.

"Mi'Kola has become way more calculated in her shot selection. When we played at the Bishop England tournament, Mi'Kola started like always, going for shots and making more errors, but then she started taking less risk and hit more top-spin. That caught me off-guard."


(10/16/11)  Hilton Head Prep SCISA title favorite
In a surprise, Hilton Head Prep is the top team in SCISA's Class AAA girls tennis entering this coming week's state playoffs.

But don't overlook three-time defending state champion Ashley Hall or two-time state runner-up Porter-Gaud, even though the two local teams won only one of four combined matches against Hilton Head Prep in the regular season. The Dolphins' only loss came against Ashley Hall, which dropped two 5-4 decisions to Porter-Gaud and one match to Hilton Head Prep.

Porter-Gaud has had a great season other than one nightmarish Tuesday two weeks ago, when coach Bryan Burke split up his team to play matches against both Hilton Head Prep and weak-sister Hilton Head Christian. The Cyclones lost both road matches as they played what might be considered their "B" team against the Eagles.

In addition to that clay-court loss to Hilton Head Prep, Porter-Gaud also lost to Hilton Head Prep at home on hard courts when star No. 1 Mi'Kola Cooper didn't play.

Burke feels good about his team's chances in the playoffs for two reasons: "We haven't lost on hard courts all season with a full lineup ... last week was the first time we've ever beaten Ashley Hall in doubles." The 2-1 doubles decision came in Wednesday's 5-4 victory over Ashley Hall.

Ashley Hall junior No. 1 Narni Summerall, however, reversed her earlier loss to Cooper with a 10-8 third-set win and holds a 2-1 edge over Cooper for the season. Showdown No. 4 should come Friday in Sumter in the semifinals.

Hilton Head Prep's young team has crashed the usual Porter-Gaud and Ashley Hall state playoff party, turning this year's playoffs into a three-team race. One thing is for certain: The local rivals won't meet in a third straight state final. With three region losses each, Porter-Gaud and Ashley Hall appear headed for a playoff meeting Friday at 2 p.m.

Upper bracket top seed Porter-Gaud will open its bid at home on Wednesday against Pinewood Prep if Pinewood wins its home playoff match on Monday against Robert E. Lee or Florence Christian. No. 2 upper seed Ashley Hall opens at home in Wednesday's quarterfinals against Monday's Heathwood Hall- Orangeburg Prep winner.

Hilton Head Prep, whose lone senior plays No. 5 and is loaded with young talent, is the lower bracket top seed.

Holly Hill's year?

Holly Hill Academy coach Miriam Bessent is excited about the coming week and the prospects of winning a first SCISA Class AA state championship after a regular season that saw her team lose only to Class AAA Wilson Hall. "I have four seniors this year, so if we are going to win our first state championship, this is the year," the 10th-year Holly Hill coach said.

Holly Hill scored a pair of one-sided wins over two-time defending state champion Colleton Prep in the regular season, a big swing from the 2010 state title match when Sarah McDonald and Colleton Prep cruised by Holly Hill, 5-1. Holly Hill is led by seniors Morgan Cantley and Tressa Hutto at the top two positions, with Hutto going unbeaten at No. 2.

While Holly Hill is the top seed in the AA lower bracket and has a first-round bye, Colleton Prep hosts Charleston Collegiate in the playoffs on Monday.

CPTL finale at Farmfield

Regular season champion Atlantic Shield and O'Brion's will clash in next Friday's 6:30 p.m. Charleston Pro Tennis League championship match at Charleston Tennis Center.

In Friday's regular season wrap-up at Wild Dunes during the Lowcountry Tennis Association's annual party, Atlantic Shield defeated LCTA, while O'Brion's turned back HSI to nail down second place in the league. HSI finished third and LCTA took fourth place in the four-team league.

Notes

South Carolina's "A" team defeated the College of Charleston's "A" team in the final of the six-team Tennis on Campus college tournament at Charleston Tennis Center.

--Jared Pratt won his second straight boys 12 Bullfrog singles title in Cary, N.C., beating the top seed in the final.

--Connor Clements took third in boys 18 at the Bullfrog event in Raleigh.


(10/02/11)  Top girls showdown looming
Patricia Kirkland's graduation to Washington and Lee doesn't mean there are no obstacles left for Porter-Gaud senior Mi'Kola Cooper in SCISA tennis.

Junior Narni Summerall has stepped up to No. 1 in Kirkland's absence for three-time defending SCISA Class AAA state champion Ashley Hall.

Last Tuesday's showdown between Cooper and Summerall at the Porter-Gaud courts was one of the best matches I can recall in girls high school tennis. These two standouts have turned up the volume this season.

Cooper is a big-hitting exceptional athlete whose battles with Kirkland captured the spotlight last season, while Summerall was overshadowed by Kirkland's Lowcountry player of the year performances.

Summerall is no longer hidden. The always consistent, highly mobile and quick 5-8 performer has added power to her game and is ready for the spotlight. She defeated Cooper in the Bishop England Invitational, and it appeared for awhile that she had Cooper's number in their first regular-season meeting.

But down 7-6, 5-1, Cooper made an amazing recovery to win six straight games and then survived a match tiebreaker to gain revenge against Summerall. Cooper also prevailed against Summerall in doubles a day later as Porter-Gaud won the darkness-interrupted team match, 5-4.

Cooper had been ahead, 5-2, in the first set before Summerall rallied to take the set and then charged into a commanding lead in the second set.

Of course, this isn't the end of the rivalry. Ashley Hall and Porter-Gaud are scheduled to meet again on Oct. 12 at Charleston Tennis Center, and likely will collide in the SCISA Class AAA state title match. Ashley Hall and Porter-Gaud have met in the last two state finals.

Porter-Gaud, Ashley Hall and Hilton Head Prep all have one Region III-AAA loss each, with Ashley Hall having defeated Hilton Head Prep and the Hilton Head team owning a win over a Cooper-less Porter-Gaud, which will visit Hilton Head for a rematch on Tuesday. Cooper should be in the lineup this time.

The region race likely will be decided on Oct. 11 and 12 when Hilton Head Prep visits Ashley Hall the day before the next Cooper-Summerall showdown.

League Tennis mission?

What is the mission of USTA league tennis? To get more participation? Or more defaults or retirements?

Last weekend's local 6.5, 7.5 and 8.5 adult combo playoff matches in Mount Pleasant were scheduled so tightly that some players had to choose between retirements from matches already in progress or defaults from matches at a different level?

Although that's what happened last weekend at Snee Farm, it apparently happens often at the state tournament.

League tennis encourages participation at multiple levels of play during the regular season. The sound of the cash register -- or credit card data being entered online -- is music to league tennis during the regular season.

But at playoff time, league tennis takes another approach. Players lucky or good enough to play on more than one team that makes the playoffs suddenly become expendable to league tennis officials.

Rain played havoc with last weekend's scheduling, putting extra pressure on coordinators. But the original 90 minutes allowed for most matches already had put additonal pressure on players who played on two different teams.

Players shouldn't be put in a position where they have to decide if they are going to walk off the court in the middle of a match in order to avoid default at another level of participation. This is done at the state tournament, but that doesn't make it acceptable. The Lowcountry Tennis Association should be savvy enough to know that.

This type of treatment of its participants doesn't appear to be in the best interest of league tennis. Maybe league tennis has outgrown itself.

Notes

-- Brenda Carter is back from California where she won the national women's 65 championships in both singles and doubles. Carter, the top-ranked U.S. women's 65 player, is getting ready for a trip to Antalya, Turkey, to compete in the Super-Seniors World Team Championships Oct. 10-15.

-- Diane Fishburne and Matt Hane have completed the Grand Slam of the mother-son nationals for 2011 by taking top honors in the national competition on hard courts in Santa Belle Island, Fla., and will be honored for the feat at next year's U.S. Open. They already had won the mother-son competition on clay courts and indoors.

-- Tour Tennis held its grand opening on Saturday for its new tennis shop at 598 Belle Station Blvd. The store that is operated by Chuck Lee is unique in that it offers stringing while you wait, allowing customers to set an appointment and have a racket strung within 30 minutes. Tour Tennis also has announced a tennis ladder tournament for Oct. 27-30 that is open to the public. Contact Lee (330-1128).

-- In the recent state senior closed tournament, John Mitchell and Bob Adams took the men's 65 doubles crown, while Richard Weathers won the men's 70 singles title and Frank Mead was the 75s champion.

-- Ashley Hall's Narni Summerall took third place in the recent girls 18 Bullfrog tournament in Memphis.

-- In Friday night's Charleston Pro Tennis League's matches at LTP Tennis, Atlantic Shield defeated O'Brion's, 45-36, and HSI rolled over LCTA, 47-27, as the two winners will enter next Friday night's program at Family Circle Tennis Center tied for first place with 127 points each. O'Brion's is third with 120 points, followed by LCTA with 104 points.

-- The Lowcountry Tennis Association's annual party will be held on Oct. 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Wild Dunes as the highlight of the CPTL'S last regular-season program. The CPTL championship match will be held the following Friday night at Charleston Tennis Center.


(09/18/11)  Alan Fleming event focuses on Hospice

It's almost time for the annual trek to Seabrook Island for seniors from all over the South.

The 28th annual Alan Fleming Senior Open Clay Court State Championship Tournament is Oct. 5-9. Online registration runs through Sept. 29 at tennislink.usta.com (tournament number 704137611).

While it's a fun-filled week at Seabrook that attracts seniors from all corners of tennis, the tournament is heavily focused on its charitable connection with the Hospice of Charleston Foundation. The tournament is named after the late Seabrook resident Alan Fleming, once a highly ranked senior. His son, Peter Fleming, teamed with John McEnroe as one of the top doubles teams in the open era of pro tennis.

"The Fleming," as the tournament is affectionately known, attracts more than 250 players starting at the 35-and-over category. It has raised more than $221,500 for Hospice over the last decade, including $38,000 last year. The contributions have helped Hospice expand its reach by building an in-patient Hospice Center in Mount Pleasant where a room is dedicated to the Seabrook Tennis Community.

Don't forget Wando

Retired coach Becky Williamson left too much talent at Wando for the Warriors to be counted out of the High School League's Class AAAA picture. The remnants of a program that produced six straight state championship teams prior to losing to Mauldin in last year's state final wasn't a bad inheritance for new coach Tyler Davis.

Junior Catherine Martin, freshman Melanie Allen and senior Alex Klein, all three All-Lowcountry second-teamers in 2010, are leading the way for Wando. Senior Caroline Hairfield rounds out the nucleus of veteran players for Wando. "Everybody else is young and new," Davis said. One reason the Warriors' experience ends after the top four positions is that hard-hitting freshman Samantha Shuster has switched colors to Bishop England's green where she has a chance to be one of the top young players in the area.

The Warriors were off to a strong start before suffering a 5-2 loss to SCISA power Porter-Gaud last Tuesday. Both teams were participating in this weekend's Bishop England Invitational.

Davis is a former coach at Limestone and Presbyterian, who won more than 100 matches in his first four college seasons. He also is the tennis director for the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department.

Wando's streaks have been broken, but there's still quite a bit of interest in girls tennis up U.S. Highway 17-North. "We had 39 players try out. We kept 14 on the varsity and 10 on the junior varsity," Davis said, pointing out that the Warriors have cut players for the first time in a number of years. Williamson had a no-cut policy during her years as coach.

Notes

--The first big showdown in local SCISA play is Sept. 27, when Ashley Hall plays at Porter-Gaud. The teams have squared off in the last two SCISA Class AAA state title matches.

--Veteran USTA volunteer and official Bud Spencer of Mount Pleasant was selected to be inducted into the S.C. Tennis Hall of Fame in Belton, which which is run by the S.C. Tennis Patrons Foundation. Spencer serves currently on the USTA/SC board of directors and is executive vice president of USTA/Southern. Spencer is the chairman of the USTA's highly successful league tennis program.

--The Charleston Pro Tennis League moves to Pine Forest Country Club for its program next Friday at 6:30 p.m. This will be the popular four-team league's third of six regular-season match nights before holding its championship on Oct. 21 at Charleston Tennis Center. The lineup at Pine Forest will pit captain Bobby Lake's first-place O'Brion's Pub & Grille (84 points) against third-place HSI (80 points) and No. 2 Atlantic Shield (82 points) against fourth-place LCTA (77). In Friday night's matches at the I'On Club, O'Brion's beat LCTA (39-37) and Atlantic Shield downed HSI (44-37).

--Charleston's Brenda Carter is excited and practicing hard for another trip to Antalya, Turkey, to compete in the Super-Seniors World Team Championships Oct. 10-15. Carter, the top women's 65 player in the country and a former No. 1 in the world in her senior age category, will serve as the U.S. team captain in Turkey.

--Registration is under way for Charleston Tennis Center's Junior Team Tennis League, set to start play on Sept. 30. Contact city tennis manager Peggy Bohne (766-7401).

--Local junior Jared Pratt just won the BullFrog USTA Southern Section Designated event in Little Rock, Ark., in boys 12 singles and doubles. Connor Clements finished in the top eight in singles and fourth in doubles in the boys 18 BullFrog Southern Designated in Memphis.

--The word is that although touring pro Shelby Rogers has seen her world ranking drop to No. 575 after playing in last year's U.S. Open and in this spring's Family Circle Cup, she is retooling her game at the USTA training center at Boca Raton, Fla., and the USTA reportedly is expecting big things from the Daniel Island junior who will turn 19 next month.


(09/04/11)  Porter-Gaud gearing up for big year
Will this be the season the Porter-Gaud girls claim the spotlight in SCISA tennis?

Ashley Hall has owned that recognition the last three years behind the sparkling play of Jamie Harrell and Patricia Kirkland, who have combined to win the last three Lowcountry player of the year awards. But Kirkland has taken her game to the college ranks, just as Harrell moved into college tennis last year.

That leaves an opening for Porter-Gaud senior standout Mi'Kola Cooper to possibly take her team to the top of SCISA Class AAA after the Cyclones' back-to-back losses to Ashley Hall in state championship matches.

Coach Brian Burke's Porter-Gaud outfit also has All-Lowcountry junior Annie Hay as well as senior Carissa Steichen. After that, much will depend on how quickly freshmen Grace Robards and Lexie Steichen, and seventh-grader Ann Martin Skelly adjust to the competition of playing in SCISA's top tennis region.

The cupboard isn't exactly bare for coach Mary Gastley's Ashley Hall outfit. Kirkland is now in her first year at Washington & Lee, but All-Lowcountry junior Narni Summerall should be among the area's elite players. As usual, the Panthers are deep. Sophomore year-around tennis player Courtney Geiss has made the biggest move for Ashley Hall, jumping up three spots in the lineup to No. 2 ahead of older and more experienced part-time tennis players Margaret Legerton and Rossi Anastopoulo.

Legerton, a senior, splits her time with soccer, while junior Anastopoulo plays both basketball and soccer.

"It's hard to replace a Patricia Kirkland," said Gastley as she begins her 25th season at the prestigious downtown all-girls school. "The lineup is not the same without her . . . a tremendous loss. But I feel we should be pretty solid all the way down the lineup."

The first big showdown in local SCISA will come Sept. 27 when Ashley Hall visits the Porter-Gaud courts.

But perhaps, the winner of these early struggles won't count nearly as much as their last confrontation. Porter-Gaud was unbeaten in SCISA heading into last year's state title match.

Pinewood Prep, with Bryant McKee in his second season, should be a good test for the two Charleston powerhouses, and Gastley stresses that Hilton Head Prep may be ready to make a move with "a good young team."

CPTL opens
The popular Charleston Pro Tennis League kicks off its ninth season next Friday with a 6:30 p.m. program at Family Circle Tennis Center. With a four-team league this year, the CPTL will showcase a pair of three doubles/one singles team matches the next seven Friday nights. The rest of the schedule is Sept. 16 at I'On Club, Sept. 23 at Pine Forest Country Club, Sept. 30 at LTP Tennis, Oct. 7 at Family Circle Tennis Center, Oct. 14 at Wild Dunes and Oct. 21 the CPTL championships at Charleston Tennis Center.

Notes
--Charleston's Brenda Carter, the No. 1 singles and doubles player in the world in women's 65, will represent the USTA at the 34th ITF Super-Seniors World Team Championships Oct. 10-15 in Antalya, Turkey.
--Registration is open for Charleston Tennis Center's Junior Team Tennis League, which begins play Sept. 30. Contact Peggy Bohne at 766-7401.
--Former Clemson standout Ryan Young is back training after shoulder surgery and expects to begin competition on the pro satellite circuits by October, according to Family Circle pro Bryan Minton.
--The deadline for forming teams for the LCTA fall league tennis season is Sept. 16.


(08/21/11)  Four teams in CPTL for its ninth season
Tennis in general appears to be recession-proof. More people than ever are participating in league tennis. Junior tennis is blossoming.

High school programs such as Ashley Hall, Porter-Gaud and others have strong participation and have never been better. And the pros appear to be doing just fine, as demonstrated locally by the Family Circle Cup and the recent World TeamTennis Finals.

But finding a sponsor these days isn't as easy as in the past. The slimmed-down version of the Charleston Pro Tennis League is an example.

The popular nine-year-old league is cutting back to four teams this fall from six teams in the past. "The same amount of players (50), just less teams," league founder Chris Henderson said.

Of course, the CPTL has been to Henderson what the WTT has been to Billie Jean King.  Henderson, not only is the founder along with a couple of others who have since dropped off of the CPTL scene, he is the primary reason the league has flourished and become a key part of the local tennis scene in the fall.

Fans have grown accustomed to the exciting Friday night tennis programs at local clubs. A CPTL program is similar to an outdoor party.

With two young children, Henderson tried to limit his involvement in the running of the league last year to mostly playing on Friday nights. But with fellow founders Stuart Small and Dave Maness already out of the picture, the league needed Henderson's guidance. The CPTL was his creation and he didn't want to risk the possibility of the league falling by the wayside.

The former Furman standout, who brought the unique pro league concept to Charleston with him from Atlanta, is running this year's league with Ellerbe Dargan. The player draft party is Monday night at O'Briens Pub in I'On. Jimmy Hunter's H.S.I. Electrical of Summerville and Atlantic Shield Insurance joined O'Briens and the Lowcountry Tennis Association as sponsors.

To accommodate the large player field with two less teams this year, the CPTL's format will change from two doubles and one singles to three doubles and one singles. "We are changing the format to the WTT format, counting total games won," Henderson said.

The season opens Sept. 9 at Family Circle Tennis Center with a 6:30 p.m. program, with the featured match at 7 p.m. This fall's programs will be shorter since there will be only two team matches each Friday, both matches going on at the same time. Teams will play each other twice for a total of six regular season Friday programs, leading up to the Oct. 21 championship match at Dunes West. The schedule has programs at Pine Forest Country Club, Wild Dunes, LTP Tennis, I'On and Dunes West, with two at Family Circle.

WTT impact
World TeamTennis' impact on local tennis is spreading. Charleston Tennis Center has just announced that it will organize a USTA Junior Team Tennis league this fall, using the WTT's exciting and fast-paced format.

The league will have 10-and-under beginner (Quick Start), 12-and-under intermediate, 14-and-under advanced and 18-and-under advanced divisions. Coaches will register teams on the USTA Tennis Link site, similarly to league tennis captains. Players will be given the team numbers in order to register online.

Each team will have a minimum of three girls and three boys. Registration has started at tennislink.usta.com. For more information, call city tennis manager Peggy Bohne (766-7401) at Charleston Tennis Center. League winners advance to next year's state Junior Team Tennis championships.

Bohne expects the league to start slowly and grow steadily over the years, much like the 30-year-old Tri-County Elementary and Middle School League. "We started out with seven teams and we had 117 teams this year," Bohne said about the school league.

Match play starts Sept. 30 and last for six weeks at the area's public and private tennis centers.

Local notes
The LCTA's league tennis fall registration period will begin on Monday. Teams will need to have the minimum number of players for all positions in a match (eight for most adult leagues and six for seniors) registered by Sept. 16 to join the league.
The Charleston Rated Adult Open entry deadline is Monday. The Open will be held next Friday through Sundays at Charleston Tennis Center (766-7401). Players can register at sctennis.com (tournament number 704134711).
The Lowcountry Junior Team Association is looking for board members. Contact LJTA vice-president Brian Burke (345-3714).
Timo Siebert, a former College of Charleston standout and local pro, has taken his teaching pro talents to the Boston area.
Eighteen-year-old Daniel Island touring pro Shelby Rogers, struggling with injuries and opponents since the Family Circle Cup, recently lost in the first round of qualifying at a $50,000 ITF event in the Bronx, N.Y., and has fallen to No. 542 in the world.
Local juniors Thomas Spratt and Matthew Mendez competed in the recent boys 16 nationals in Kalamazoo, Mich., Spratt falling in the main draw's third round and Mendez the first round.
Austin Heinz advanced to the boys 16 singles quarterfinals and doubles final in the recent N.C. Open Clay Court Championships in Charlotte.
Flex League registrations are available until Saturday at www.ustaflex.com, according to Charleston Flex League coordinator Vickie Nash (nashvm@yahoo.com).
A 4.5 women's team captained by Amy Templeton and a 5.0 women's team captained by Amy White were runners-up in the recent Southern Sectional Championships in Mobile, Ala.


(08/12/11)  Baker named Citadel’s new coach of tennis
Kemper Baker was named the new head coach of the Citadel’s tennis program.

Kemper, who spent the last nine years coaching tennis at Samford, led the Bulldogs to the 2011 Southern Conference Championship and an NCAA tournament appearance. The Bulldogs went 19-7 overall and 6-4 in SoCon action in 2011 and ranked No. 6 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s final regional listings.

“We are excited to bring Kemper on board to head our men’s tennis program,” said Citadel athletic director Larry Leckonby. “He has seen an incredible amount of success at Samford over the last nine years and he brings a wealth of experience and talent that we know our cadet-student-athletes will benefit from tremendously.”

In 2007 and 2008, Baker brought in two top 25 mid-major recruiting classes, according to TennisRecruiting.net.

Baker is a native of Richmond, Va., and is a 1997 graduate of the University of Mississippi.


(08/07/11)  WTT Finals conclude with magic moment
Charleston tennis has experienced more than its share of magic moments, particularly lately.

There was the moment at the 2010 U.S. Open when Charleston was named America's Best Tennis Town.

And there was the championship moment of World TeamTennis.

It was more than cool. The moment was sheer magic.

Celebrating on a five-colored plywood court was unique in today's world of guarded tennis moments on the Grand Prix circuits where only limited communication between the average fan and the stars of the event is allowed. Even most media inter-action comes in a usually somewhat staid post-event press conference.

WTT events have a life all of their own. They have their own identity, and WTT commissioner/CEO Ilana Kloss and founder Billie Jean King wouldn't have it any other way.

The recent WTT Finals were no different. Anyone who was at Family Circle Stadium a little after 1 a.m. the Monday morning the WTT Finals ended probably sensed the magic.

It felt like a high school football moment of jubilation following a big victory. After overcoming three rain interruptions thanks to the help of an army of helpers using towels and air blowers to outlast the rain, and more than four hours of delays, it was an event that anyone who participated in or watched likely won't forget.

Billie Jean reveled in the moments before and after presenting the King Trophy to the history-making and unbeaten Washington Kastles. Perhaps Leander Paes, a magician with his doubles wizardry, said it best as he walked up while I was talking with Billie Jean. "I'm the apprentice. Billie Jean is the magician," the likeable star of Calcutta said.

Florence with a wow!
While the City of Charleston Tennis Center on Farmfield Avenue is in near desperate need of expansion to support its bustling league tennis operations, Florence opened a new 30-court municipal tennis complex last month. That's 24 hard courts and six clay courts for the impressive $6 million Florence complex.

Sitting on 25 acres of land that was donated by Florence physician Edward Floyd, the Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center showcases a multi-level clubhouse/activity center with outdoor decking, a lounge area, student study area with computers, restrooms, locker rooms, meeting and office space, and a pro shop. The courts also have dividers, making them super tennis friendly.

Court update
The City of Charleston has completed its resurfacing of two courts at the downtown Moultrie Playground. Work is now underway on the last two courts at the Jack City Tennis Center. One court also will be resurfaced at the Westchester Playground on James Island, according to city tennis manager Peggy Bohne.

Renovation of Maybank Tennis Center is tentatively scheduled to start on Nov. 7, according to Bohne.

The defending Class AAA SCISA state champion Ashley Hall girls have started practice at Charleston Tennis Center, while the James Island girls will practice at Maybank.

The Alan Fleming Tennis Complex on Johns Island is the practice site for the Charleston Collegiate girls, while Charleston Math & Science will practice at the Jack Adams facility adjacent to Johnson Hagood Stadium.
Notes

--Wednesday is the deadline for entering next weekend's 10-and-under tournament at Snee Farm Country Club. Registration is available atsctennis.com using the tournament number (704199911). Call director Richard Shy (345-8338).
--The St. Andrew's Back-To-School Challenger is scheduled for Aug. 19-21 at St. Andrew's Parks and Playground. Director Phil Burke has set Aug. 15 as the entry deadline. Registration is available online (No. 704113611). For information, contact Burke (763-4360).
--Charleston Tennis Center will hold the Charleston Rated Adult Open on Aug. 26-28. Players can register at ctennis.com (tournament number 704134711). The entry deadline is Aug. 21. Contact the Tennis Center (766-7401).
--Local 11-year-olds Brant Fenno and Jared Pratt tied for fifth place in the boys 12 division of the recent Southern Open in Dothan, Ala. Pratt also was a finalist in doubles.
--Local traveling pro Shelby Rogers, based out of Family Circle Tennis Center, has been training this summer at the USTA's training center in Boca Raton, Fla.


(07/25/11)  Up in the air WTT's Charleston future uncertain

World TeamTennis officials, players and coaches would love to return to Charleston for their championship playoffs. But the event's future on Daniel Island will likely depend on how well the financial numbers crunch. The WTT Championships were held at the Family Circle Tennis Center for the first time this weekend, with rain and lightning delaying Sunday night's final between Washington and St. Louis.

A total of 3,200 fans attended the first two nights of the three-day event. WTT founder and tennis legend Billie Jean King said she'd like for Charleston to be the long-term home for the WTT Finals, if it works for the city, the Family Circle Cup and the 36-year old league.

"I think it's a great beginning," King said. "I hope people will embrace what we are trying to do

with World TeamTennis ... The venue could not be more perfect, the city could not be more perfect. Bob Moran and the Family Circle, all the people here make such a big difference."

Moran, general manager of the Family Circle Tennis Center, said discussions on the event's future will begin soon.

"I'm a huge fan of the event," said Moran, who traveled to New York, Washington and Philadelphia over the last three years to research the WTT. "But I also know it's a learning process for people. We'd love to have more people here, but I do know that everybody who has come has had a great time.

"We will evaluate the event itself, sit down with Billie Jean and the WTT people. I know they would love to stay here, and I want to talk with people in the community to, and see if they have a good vibe with it."'

Charleston went over big with the WTT players and coaches.

"It's a fabulous venue," said Washington's Leander Paes, the male MVP of the WTT this season. "It's my first time here, and the stadium here has some attitude to it. It reminds me of the tournament in Miami, close to the water with the wind channeling through. And acoustics here are really amazing; you can hear the ball off the racket really well."

St. Louis coach Rick Leach suggested that a WTT franchise could do well in Charleston. The league currently has nine teams.

"The fans are really knowledgeable here in Charleston," he said. "I think it would be a great venue for a TeamTennis team here in the future. You can feel the energy in the crowd here, and it'd be really neat if we could add another franchise to the league."

Moran said a Charleston franchise is also a possibility.

"We were looking at this event because we were interested in a franchise," Moran said. "But it will all come down to the financials."


(07/25/11)  A serious time at hand for WTT
After three days of sun and fun -- and some rain -- the serious time of the World TeamTennis/Charleston relationship has arrived.

Will Billie Jean King's brainchild make Daniel Island its home for the league finals? Or is something else in the future of the Charleston/WTT relationship?

WTT CEO/commissioner Ilana Kloss believes something positive will happen. "I have no doubt there will be an ongoing relationship between the WTT and Family Circle," she said Sunday. "That could be as a host for the (WTT) finals or of a team or a special event ... We could have a world cup with teams from Asia and Europe or other events ... It's great to have a new market."

Everyone involved appeared to leave Family Circle Stadium on Sunday thinking positively, including Family Circle general manager Bob Moran, Meredith Corporation vice president Nancy Weber and even USTA chairman/president Jonathan Vegosen. After all, Meredith is the parent of the Family Circle Cup and the USTA owns a 25 percent stake in World TeamTennis.

Who will make the final decision? "I think it will be a mutual decision (between Family Circle and the WTT)," Weber said.

"The (team) owners are excited," Kloss said. But Kloss basically has the final say on the WTT side of things. Moran has it on the Family Circle side, and he saw many positive signs over the weekend, although he expected a little higher ticket sales.

As Vegosen said, "A business decision has to be made ... This venue is spectacular."

Kloss wasn't disappointed by the nearly 5,000 attendance for the three days. "It takes awhile," she said.

Billie Jean's vision

Five thousand fans may be a small total for a three-day Grand Prix-level tennis event, but a person with the obvious vision of Billie Jean King can see much bigger pictures, ones as colorful as the court that graces WTT venues. Of course, it was King who led the women's sports movement to what it is today. Her goal when she co-founded World TeamTennis was to make women and men equals on the court.

Rennae Stubbs' points count the same as Leander Paes'. By the same token, the points earned by a scrub player count as much as Serena Williams'.

Billie Jean pictures Charleston as a destination site for the league finals where fans from across the league can make their plans to spend at least one July weekend. She points to the traveling party of the Washington Kastles as an example. The red-clad Washington group of 30-40 supporters came to Charleston to be part of the party, bearing their own banners, "Refuse to Lose" or "Let's Go Kastles."

Of course, the Kastles knew last weekend they would be here, while Boston and Sacramento didn't find out until Thursday night on the West Coast.

The WTT Finals Weekend that just ended at Family Circle Tennis Center became a reality in late March. The next announcement on the relationship is expected to be made by October or November, according to Kloss.

This year's attendance is a tribute to the tennis fans of Charleston and supports the area's title as America's Best Tennis Town. Charleston isn't just another tennis town.

Although this year's crowd numbers may not appear to be significant, expect them to multiply with time if a major WTT event or a franchise happens to land here. After all, Charleston is all about tennis to more than 4,000 men and women who participate in league tennis. The game is a 52-week-a-year passion to these men and women.

A few changes
In reality, the WTT needs to redefine its format just a bit to ensure that every team participating in the final four weekend has one marquee player. The league championship match was fortunate to have doubles greats Paes, Stubbs and Liezel Huber involved, although none are listed as marquee players who would attract larger crowds.

Also, in a host city such as Charleston that doesn't have a WTT franchise, there is a real need for the league to have at least a one-day break between the regular season and the Finals Weekend.


(07/24/11)  WTT event one big party
What's different about World TeamTennis? In one word, it's fun. More fun for the participants, more fun for the fans.

A WTT event is like one big party. The winners hug and celebrate when a match ends.

Players from both teams then sit at tables on the court and sign autographs while jiving back and forth with the long line of fans.

It's worlds away from the Family Circle Cup, although both events are played at the same site. The key word at the WTT Finals is smiles, not the fierce competition-only of a big league tournament such as the Family Circle Cup. Not that there isn't competitiveness in the July heat versus the April breezes on Daniel Island; there is. Just in a different form. WTT even has a halftime where they do crazy things such as hold a dance contest on the five-colors plywood.

Casual visitors might feel like they are at one of the piers for a Friday night dance mixer.

And then the tennis wars, or in this case fun, continues. The action is notoriously fast, so fast at times that the coaches challenge calls and almost instantly the replay pops up on the big scoreboard atop the stadium.

Some fun things
--If you're attending today's WTT final and happen to catch one of doubles star Leander Paes' amazing smashes, keep the ball as a souvenir.

--If you're in the market for a condo on James Island, singles ace Bobby Reynolds of the Kastles offered, "If anyone wants to buy, I'm looking to sell." Reynolds still owns the condo where he resided for the four years his wife, Josie, attended MUSC's dental school, graduating last year and now practicing in Marietta, Ga. He and Josie were married at the I'On Club. "She's a better athlete than me," Reynolds said about his wife who was an All-SEC track star while both attended Vanderbilt.

Kastles favorites
Looking at today's 5 p.m. WTT final, the Kastles haven't lost all season, and they shouldn't lose to St. Louis, which outlasted Sacramento, 20-19, Saturday. The Kastles should be stronger in everything but women's singles where 42nd-ranked Tamira Paszek played her first WTT match Saturday. Paszek's strong backhand and groundstrokes should be too much for Rodionova.

But Paszek's inexperience in doubles could be costly against Rennae Stubbs and Rodionova today as it was against Sacramento when Stubbs suffered her first women's doubles loss of the season. Paes/Stubbs, Paes/Reynolds and Stubbs/Rodionova give the Kastles an edge in doubles. Reynolds' match toughness should pull him through against St. Louis' Roman Borvanov in men's singles.


(07/23/11)  Paes is a true doubles magician
If you missed him Friday night, you'll have to wait until Sunday to see the great Leander Paes play doubles. It's worth the wait.

Paes is truly a doubles magician. In the World TeamTennis format, the Calcutta, India, product is the most exciting thing on the five-colored plywood.

He's everywhere, and probably the main reason the Washington Kastles ran through the regular season 14-0. No wonder he's the men's MVP for the league.

Of course, he had plenty of help from Venus and Serena Williams in the regular season. But neither made the trip to Charleston for the WTT Finals Weekend, and Paes was the main reason the Kastles scored such an easy 23-15 win over the Boston Lobsters in the Eastern Conference title match.

Paes gave up a total of only three points in four service games, two games each in mixed doubles and men's doubles. The 15-5 lead after three sets practically assured the Kastles of being in

Sunday's WTT final against the winner of today's St. Louis-Sacramento Western Conference championship match.

At 5-10, Paes has lightning in his right arm. But just as quickly, he can turn his rubber arm into a weapon that can deliver feathery touch shots.

Just as amazing is the fact that eight years ago he was more worried about living than playing tennis. That's when he was diagnosed with a parasite on his brain. After a year of treatment and losing the 100 pounds he gained from the treatment, he was back winning Grand Slam doubles titles again. He now has a total of 12 Grand Slam titles.

At 38 years old and a perfect specimen of an athlete, he is better than ever. "It's amazing what can happen when you play with a little heart," he said after Friday's match.

That's obvious from watching Leander Paes play.

Fans love it
The fans at Family Circle Stadium appeared to love it all, cheering enthusiastically even with the sun baking them in early evening. Family Circle officials said about 2,000 tickets had been sold for the night, but an announced crowd of 1,526 showed up.

No one was disappointed, considering the heat and the absence of an everyday name among the participants. Not to mention no home team.

The little-known players put on quite a show for WTT co-founder Billie Jean King as America's Best Tennis Town lived up to its name.

Keep an eye on Liezel
Looking ahead to today's 5 p.m. match, St. Louis has made a last-minute substitution by adding 42nd-ranked Tamira Paszek of Austria as its women's singles player to go with doubles ace Liezel Huber. Mark Knowles and American star Vania King will be the key players for

Sacramento.
Huber, like the Kastles' Rennae Stubbs, is one of the top women's doubles players of the decade with four Grand Slam women's doubles titles and one mixed doubles crown. The South African/now U.S. citizen also was the WTT women's MVP.

Afghanistan tennis
Tennis in Afghanistan? And you be a part of it.

Fans attending the WTT Finals are bringing supplies to Family Circle Tennis Center this weekend for an 80-soldier Army Military Police company from Fort Stewart, Ga., which was recently deployed to Afghanistan. As a partner in this initiative, the USTA will send portable tennis equipment (nets, throw down lines, rackets and balls) to the deployed company.

Sunscreen, hand sanitizer, athletic socks, disposable razors, lip balm, sport magazines, baby wipes, travel size toiletries (shaving cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, foot powder, shampoo), trail mix (no chocolate), hard candy, powder drink mix packets, inspirational books, DVDs, CDs and flip flops are some of the items fans can deposit into collection bins at the stadium.


(07/21/11)  WTT Race going down to the wire
World TeamTennis' race for berths in the WTT Finals Weekend at Family Circle Tennis Center is assured of going to the wire. The excitement will come to a head tonight in the league's final regular season matches.

Sacramento, Kansas City and St. Louis all will go into tonight hoping to win their matches, and practically jump on airplanes Friday morning for Charleston. Only two of the three Western Conference teams will make the trip, although all three went into Wednesday night's matches tied. Kansas City (8-5) defeated St. Louis (7-6) by a 20-17 score Wednesday night and moved within another win over St. Louis tonight of a berth in the WTT Finals Weekend.

Martina Hingis would headline the New York Sportimes should the team qualify for the WTT Finals Weekend.
Sacramento (7-5) played a late match at home against Boston.  'We have had highly competitive, close matches all season, so it's no surprise it's coming down to the last moment to finalize the field for this weekend in Charleston,' WTT CEO/commissioner Ilana Kloss said Wednesday afternoon.

'These are some of the top pros in the world, and the team format adds a different level of intensity. They are all fighting for their teams to get to Charleston and bring the (Billie Jean) King Trophy back to their city, so it will be a very exciting finish.' In the Eastern Conference, where the powerful Washington Kastles (13-0) clinched first place last weekend, the New York Sportimes (7-7) suffered a second straight loss to the Kastles on
Wednesday, 23-15, and needed a loss by Boston (5-7) on Wednesday night or at Newport Beach tonight to take the second-place berth out of the East.

The Sportimes missed a golden opportunity on Tuesday night to qualify for the Finals Weekend by dropping a 21-20 decision to the Kastles. Washington's big guns in Charleston will be doubles greats Leander Paes and Rennae Stubbs, and singles ace Bobby Reynolds, who has local ties.

The WTT Finals Weekend will get started Friday at 7 p.m., with the Kastles taking on New York or Boston for the Eastern championship. The two Western survivors will square off Saturday evening in Family Circle Stadium.

If New York qualifies for Charleston, singles star Jesse Witten and Travis Parrott will be the men, with Martina Hingis headlining the women. If Boston takes the second spot out of the East, the Jan-Michael Gambill/Mashona Washington-led team would take a late-night flight from the Los Angeles area after tonight's match and arrive in Charleston on the day of the Eastern final.

Defending champion Kansas City's Charleston travel team would include Ricardo Mello, Madison Brengle and Jarmila Gajdosova (formerly Jarmila Groth, currently ranked 28th in world); Sacramento's travelers would include Vania King and Mark Knowles; and St. Louis' finals team would include doubles great Liezel Huber.


(07/19/11)  Unbeaten Kastles head to Charleston
The powerhouse Washington Kastles have clinched first place in the Eastern Conference in World TeamTennis' regular season to qualify for a berth in Friday's 7 p.m. Eastern Conference championship match in the WTT Finals Weekend at Family Circle Tennis Center.

The Kastles, who entered this week's schedule with a 10-0 record, were the first team to clinch a berth in the four-team showdown that will hold its Western Conference final on Saturday at 5 p.m. and the WTT Final on Sunday at 4:45 p.m.

Leander Paes and Rennae Stubbs, owners of a combined 16 Grand Slam doubles titles, will headline the Washington team that comes to Charleston. Singles ace Bobby Reynolds is scheduled to join the Kastles in Charleston where he resided while his wife attended MUSC.

Arina Rodionova of Russia is the Kastles' regular women's singles player.

WTT officials confirmed Monday that Venus and Serena Williams are not scheduled to play at Family Circle Tennis Center this weekend. Venus Williams isn't scheduled to meet the required minimum of playing in three regular season matches to qualify for the championships.
Serena is scheduled to meet the minimum requirement, but has a conflict with her entry in the WTA Tour's Bank of the West Classic that starts next Monday at Stanford, Calif.

The other three teams in the Finals Weekend may not be determined until late Thursday night when the regular season ends. The Western Conference race and the battle for second place in the East between the New York Sportimes and Boston Lobsters are so close that the league's tiebreaker points system could decide which teams come to Charleston.

Paes, a 38-year-old from Calcutta, India, is usually recognized as one of the game's greatest-ever doubles players, having won a total of 12 Grand Slam doubles titles. He was in this year's men's doubles final at the Australian Open and won last year's mixed doubles crown at Wimbledon. Stubbs is a 40-year-old Australian who has won four Grand Slam doubles titles. The former world's No. 1 doubles player teamed with Lisa Raymond in 2010 to capture a WTA Tour doubles title.


(07/13/11)  Charleston last stop for WTT: Former Citadel assistant Evans hopes to be at WTT Finals
Charleston is suddenly a hotbed for World TeamTennis.

The area even has its own WTT player.
Brendan Evans, who worked at Kiawah Island and was a volunteer assistant coach at The Citadel the last two seasons, is the top male singles player for the Philadelphia Freedoms. Evans, whose mother Eileen Evans lives in Charleston, hopes he'll be in town later this month when the World TeamTennis Finals Weekend is played July 22-24 at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

Brendan Evans
Two teams from each of the WTT's two divisions will advance to Charleston.
It will be an uphill battle for Evans and his teammates after the Freedoms opened their 14-match WTT season with six straight losses.

The Freedoms, in the midst of a streak of 11 matches in 13 days, play the New York Sportimes led by John McEnroe and Martina Hingis today at 7 p.m. The match will be televised live on the Tennis Channel and the Charleston Tennis Center will hold a free WTT Wine & Watch Party from 6-10 p.m.

"Billie Jean (King) owns our team," Evans said last week from Philadelphia. "She wants the league to be fast. We get a 90-second break every four games ... it's constantly going."

Evans has one singles victory in a Grand Slam tournament to his credit and has been ranked as high as No. 117 in the world.

He's a 6-2, 25-year-old who turned pro in 2004 and has played mostly the challenger and satellite circuits. Prior to joining the Freedoms, he hadn't played a competitive match in nine months due to a back injury.

He is a native of Pontiac, Mich., and trained at Florida's Saddlebrook Resort. He held No. 1 USTA rankings in boys 14, 16 and 18, and in 2004 was the No. 2 junior in the world. He owns three junior Grand Slam doubles titles (Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open), while playing the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. He even defeated Juan Martin del Potro on the challenger circuit. Evans' only Grand Slam tournament main draw win came last year at Wimbledon after advancing through qualifying.

Evans, whose career has been hampered by injuries, plans to give up competitive tennis and attend the University of Virginia in the fall.

"I don't think I could hold up on the tour," he said.

Evans was pleasantly surprised by his early WTT play when he won his first two singles matches and two of his first three doubles matches with partner Nathan Healey. Evans displayed his huge serve and overhead shot on the Tennis Channel last Wednesday night in a victory over Washington singles ace Bobby Reynolds and also in his doubles win with Healey over Reynolds and Grand Slam doubles legend Leander Paes.

"I was really pumped up. I knew I would have to serve well to compete with those guys (Reynolds and Paes). I served a lot better than I had been serving," said Evans, who uncorked the second-fastest serve (to Andy Roddick) at Wimbledon in 2004. "My serve is the biggest part of my game."

World TeamTennis Finals Weekend
WHEN: July 22 (7 p.m.); July 23 (5 p.m.); July 24 (4:45 p.m.)
WHERE: Family Circle Tennis Center
TICKETS: Available at (800) 677-2293 or online at familycirclecup.com/wtt.


(07/10/11)  Don't take all advice offered by McEnroe
John McEnroe's observations as a TV analyst are usually worth remembering. But I'm surprised that the shrewd left-hander actually advocated hitting straight at an opponent's upper body or head during a Wimbledon telecast.

The incident occurred during top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki's loss to Dominika Cibulkova when a defensive volley by Wozniacki from the middle of the net sat up high on a bounce around the "T." Cibulkova pounced in for the kill and appeared to use every bit of her 5-3, 121 pounds to smash the ball directly at the near-helpless Wozniacki's upper chest/neck area.

Wozniacki was able to get part of her racket in front of her upper body to deflect the ball and prevent it from hitting her squarely. Cibulkova then had the audacity to raise her hand as if the incident was an accident.

"You don't see enough of that," McEnroe said. "That's a good play. Too often the short ball … they don't go right at someone … now make them back off the next time."

Going to either side or the feet of opponents to force them to make a difficult volley is one thing, but going straight at their head from just a few feet away on a sitting-duck ball?

Just because a tennis ball is rubber, hollow and will bounce doesn't mean it can't deal a lethal blow. Some local people know of tennis ball incidents that have left a player permanently partially blinded or even proved fatal.

Considering the size and power of some of today's players as well as the new racket technology, the practice of using opposing players' heads for close-range target practice is a serious accident waiting to happen.

Pros usually have the hand-eye coordination and quickness to avoid possible serious injuries, but whatever happens in pro tennis generally works its way down to league tennis, where such athletic ability isn't always in abundance.

By the way, the fan favorite McEnroe and his New York Sportimes jumped off to a 3-1 start and could be at Family Circle Stadium July 22-24 for the World TeamTennis Finals Weekend.

Local WTT connections
World TeamTennis is a small world. When Philadelphia's Brendan Evans and Washington's Bobby Reynolds squared off Wednesday night in Philadelphia in singles and doubles, Charleston connections ran through the televised WTT matchups. Evans has been a volunteer assistant coach at The Citadel the last two seasons and his mother is a local nurse.

But Reynolds?
The former Vanderbilt star has even more connections to the area. Reynolds owned a condo in Charleston while his wife, former Vanderbilt track star Josie Hahn, attended MUSC's dental school. The couple was married in Charleston. Reynolds' younger brother, Michael Reynolds, played tennis for the College of Charleston and attended MUSC on his way to becoming a doctor.

Bobby Reynolds may be back in Charleston in two weeks for the WTT Finals since the Washington Kastles won their first four matches.

Farmfield WTT party
The WTT will be in the air Wednesday night when Charleston Tennis Center holds a WTT Wine & Watch Party from 6-10 p.m.  The event is open to the public. Complimentary wine and light snacks will be available.
The highlight of the evening will be the Tennis Channel's 7 p.m. telecast of Evans and the Philadelphia Freedoms' home match against McEnroe and the Sportimes.

Notes
--More than 100 players have joined Tour Tennis' initial tennis ladder. Although play has started, registration will continue through mid- September. The format offers a way for local tennis players to meet and play matches with other similarly skilled players at mutually convenient times and sites. The ladder will include men's, women's and seniors divisions. Contact Chuck Lee (330-1128 or online at www.tourtennis.com) or Tour
Tennis (388-5618).
--South Carolina won the Southern Senior Cup competition recently in Huntsville, Ala. More than 300 players competed in the men's and women's 35-75 ages competition. The Charleston area was represented by nine players: Charley Rasheed, Andy Steingold, Jeanette Weiland, Brenda Carter, Maureen O'Berg, Cindy Babb, Charlotte Hartsock, Amy White and Deanna Vroman.
--Tony Wespy's 4.0 adult men from Collins Park were state runners-up, while Mark Mogul's 4.5 men from the I'On Club were finalists in this spring's 4.0-5.0 league tennis adult state tournament held in Aiken. Amy Templeton's 4.5 women from LTP Tennis and Amy White's local 5.0 women were announced earlier as state champions.
--Charleston Tennis Center is offering a free round-robin for juniors on Friday evenings from 6-7:30 p.m.
--Online registration for next weekend's Charleston Tennis Center Junior Hard-Court
Championships will close today at www.sctennis.com using the tournament ID number
(704136911).
--League tennis' 8.0 mixed playoffs will be staged at Pine Forest Country Club next weekend. The 6.0 and 7.0 mixed playoffs will be held Aug. 4-7 at the St. Andrew's complex.


(06/26/11)  WTT Finals the only show in town
League tennis has joined the World TeamTennis party by vacating the July 22-24 weekend with its local mixed doubles playoffs. That's great news because if you're a tennis player or fan, there is only one tennis scene for that weekend -- the WTT Finals at Family Circle Tennis Center.

Maybe there's room for a merger between league tennis and the WTT format. How about a local independent WTT league that uses the fast-paced format of the professional league?

I haven't seen many more exciting times in Charleston tennis than last weekend's WTT Launch Party. It wasn't the Family Circle Cup or Davis Cup, but the atmosphere was equally electric for the approximately 1,000 people introduced to the WTT format at the Family Circle complex.

I think most of the fans who attended the Launch Party will agree that the WTT format may be tennis' fastest and most contagious in excitement. Where has World TeamTennis been all of these years? Even America's Best Tennis Town didn't know what it was missing.

I'On champions
Bobby Cremins apparently didn't leave his coaching talents on the basketball court. He just replaced his ex-College of Charleston ace Andrew Goudelock with I'On Club tennis pro Matt Hane, and the former George Washington University standout took care of the rest for the Cremins team.

Opponents simply couldn't handle Hane's big left-handed serves as I'On won three team matches, including a close one against ex-Auburn/current Tulane star Caroline Thornton and the Family Circle team in the WTT Launch party final.

With the format blending men's singles, women's doubles, women's singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles into a single match that awarded one point for each game won, it was a fast-paced evening. Coaches were allowed to go on the court to talk to players or to make lineup changes after any point as a standing-room-only crowd appeared to follow every detail.

Spending the night pretending to coach the Charleston Tennis Center team that included the likes of Cindy Babb and Kiawah pros Toby Simpson and Brandon Blankenbaker, I experienced first-hand the excitement of the WTT match format. It would be great to see a local WTT league formed with weekly matches involving club teams.

Legend Oaks took the spirit award with its large group of purple-clad fans. That means Billie Jean King will make the trip up Highway 61 to visit Legend Oaks during the WTT Finals Weekend.

The five other local clubs fielding teams for the WTT Launch Party were Dunes West, Mount Pleasant Recreation, Daniel Island Club, Pine Forest and the Country Club of Charleston.

The Court
Everyone wants to know about "The Court" used for last weekend's WTT Launch Party. The multi-colored court reportedly is the only portable one of its kind right now in the United States. It arrived here after being used in March for the Nike Clash of Champions event at the University of Oregon's arena. The court is valued at $85,000, according to Family Circle director Bob Eppelsheimer.

Made in Germany, the Rebound Ace court is composed of 340 one-quarter inch thick tongue-and-grooved birch plywood boards, spring locked and hinged together. The boards were placed on foam padding atop a plastic cover over the clay on the Althea Gibson Club Court.

Elliget, Halbauer win
The area produced two doubles champions in the recent Southern Closed Junior Championships. Drew Halbauer not only was a singles semifinalist in the boys 16 tournament at Rome, Ga., he teamed with Christian Harris of Hilton Head Island to take the doubles title.

Pinewood Prep freshman Adam Elliget lost to top-seeded Tommy Paul of Greenville, N.C., in the Southern boys 14 round of 32 in Macon, Ga., but then teamed with Paul to capture the doubles crown.

Local notes
--League tennis' 6.0 adult mixed doubles local tournament has been rescheduled for Aug. 4, 6-7 at St. Andrew's Parks and Playground, while the 7.0 playoffs are reset for the same site on Aug. 5-7. The 8.0 mixed playoffs will be staged at Pine Forest Country Club July 15-16.
--The deadline for team registrations for combo doubles leagues is today.
--Charleston Tennis Center will hold its Junior Hard-Court Championships July 15-17.
Registration is available online at www.sctennis.com using the tournament ID number
(704136911). The entry deadline is July 10.
--The State Closed Junior Hard-Court Championships are scheduled for July 8-13 at the Lexington County Tennis Complex. Online registration is available (tournament number 704100111) through next Saturday.
--The Junior Team Tennis State Championships will be held July 15-17 at Sumter's Palmetto Tennis Center.


(06/18/11)  Bishops' Walker Heffron joins brother with tennis honor
The bar was set high for Bishop England senior Walker Heffron. A year ago, his older brother Randall was recognized as the top high school tennis player in the Lowcountry.

Matching his brother's achievement was made even tougher when Walker Heffron began the tennis season with a sore shoulder from playing basketball.

So when he lost his first match to Palmetto Christian's Austin Heinz this spring, the quest could have ended. But Heffron doesn't give up easily. Not only has he matched his brother's success, he's even surpassed it on a few fronts.

If winning the Class A/AA state singles championship didn't set Heffron apart, earning All-America recognition should have. And now he has been named The Post and Courier's Lowcountry boys tennis player of the year, marking the first time that brothers have won the award in consecutive years.

Like his older brother, Heffron will continue his tennis and education at Wofford.

Sound like a dream? It's close. The brothers' deceased father, former Citadel basketball and tennis star Randy Heffron, would have been proud.

"I was really happy for Randall when he won it (the player of the year award)," Walker Heffron said. "I hoped I would. I grew up in Charleston, and to be Lowcountry player of the year is great. It's really cool.

"Everything kind of came together for me. It's a nice way to go out."

Heffron is especially happy that his award came the same year first-year Bishop England head coach Allen Moore was named coach of the year and teammate Steven Weaver made the All-Lowcountry team.

The rest of the All-Lowcountry team consists of underclassmen. Pinewood Prep placed two players on the team, eighth-grader Adam Elliget and sophomore Joel Roberts, both first-time team members. Porter-Gaud sophomore Thomas Spratt joins Heffron as a repeater. Palmetto Christian freshman Austin Heinz landed the other spot on the All-Lowcountry team.

Not only did Heffron star in both basketball and tennis, he also captained both teams while showing great leadership qualities. "It was Walker's team," Moore emphasized.

Although he will only play tennis at Wofford for at least now, the 6-4 all-region guard said, "I thought about basketball . … I'm rooming with a basketball player. I think I'm good at basketball, but I think my potential is better in tennis. I can get more out of tennis and school."

Heffron plans to major in science and probably go pre-med. His father was a dentist.

He is a four-time All- Lowcountry player. Prior to defeating defending champion Mike Moran in the finals of the High School League's recent Class A/AA singles tournament, Heffron led the Bishops to an unbeaten regular season. Waccamaw beat Bishop England in the Class AA state quarterfinals.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

FIRST TEAM
Walker Heffron, senior, Bishop England
Steven Weaver, junior, Bishop England
Thomas Spratt, sophomore, Porter-Gaud
Austin Heinz, freshman, Palmetto Christian
Joel Roberts, sophomore, Pinewood Prep
Adam Elliget, eighth grade, Pinewood Prep
Player of the year: Walker Heffron
Coach of the year: Allen Moore, Bishop England

SECOND TEAM
Addison King, junior, Wando
Matt Poletti, senior, Porter-Gaud
Johnny Steichen, senior Porter-Gaud
Charlie Baker, senior, Porter-Gaud
Hunter Mitchell, junior, Porter-Gaud
Rivers Colyer, senior, Bishop England

HONORABLE MENTION
Pinewood Prep: J.T. Elliget, Will Wert, Jacob Cumbie, Davis Craig, Carter Sebo.
Bishop England: Joseph Kennedy, Orlin Sergev, Max Wurthmann, Stephen Griffith.
Porter-Gaud: J.B. Robards, Payne Hoy, Seth Pinosky, Wil Daniel.
Academic Magnet: Nick Butler, Alex Scott, Anthony Edwards.
Wando: Robert McManus, Colby Tubbs.
Palmetto Christian: Billy Perkins. West Ashley: Junior Duarte. Summerville: Adam Seith. Fort Dorchester: Connor Clayton. Hanahan: Joey Shelver. James Island: Baines Lathbury. Cane Bay: Austin Philpott. Ashley Ridge: Luke Westbury. Berkeley: Micah Dye. Stratford: Brandon Chanco.


(06/15/11)  WEST OF…:  ST. ANDREW'S TENNIS HITS THE WALL: Tennis Town grant purchase makes practice fun again
The folks at St. Andrew's Parks & Playground (SAPP) couldn't wait to get us over to their Playground Road tennis facility to show off their new toy. The device, called XerPro, is best described as a "hitting wall." Three dual-function interactive panels with a total of 21 interactive vibration-activated, LED-lit, leans at an 80-degree angle against the fence on one of the tennis courts. The panel lights up and plays tones and music when the player strikes it at certain points. The angle helps bounce the balls up and back to you.

Philip Burke, assistant director of tennis at St. Andrew's Parks & Playground, showed us how it works. You can use it solo, or head-to-head. The idea is to build hand-eye coordination and accuracy. It can be used for various sports-tennis, racquetball, basketball-but will predominately be used at SAPP for tennis use.

"You can train hitting on any wall. Here we have a wall that is fun. It's interactive," Burke says. "It's hitting a wall with simulations, lights, and sounds. We incorporate this into our practices, and use it in our classes."

The wall was purchased using funds from SAPP's portion of a $100,000 prize given to Charleston in 2010 when the city was voted the "Best Tennis Town in America." The prize was given by the U.S. Tennis Association, and meant to be used for tennis programming or facility enhancements. The winners were determined by the general public in a month-long online vote during the summer. The check was given to the City of Charleston, which distributed the funds to various tennis facilities throughout the county, based on population. The idea is to create enhancements to draw in more players, especially young tennis players.

"Our tennis pros, Brian Burke and Phil Burke, are always looking for ways to bring more people into tennis and to attract young players," says Mark Spinn, SAPP's marketing manager. This hitting wall is something that should help accomplish those goals."

The XerPro website had many people singing the praises of the device, including former Wimbledon champ Billie Jean King. "XerPro absolutely correlates perfectly with what you are trying to do in match play and that's very important for high performance training," King says. "Players are getting cardiovascular fitness, sports training, and they're having fun at the same time."

The XerPro is available for individual use daily from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (reservations recommended) and can be rented for exclusive play. Burke expects the wall to get plenty of use over the coming years. He estimated the SAPP tennis facility sees several thousand players per year, including SAPP members, leagues, and summer camps.


(06/12/11)  Family Circle holds WTT launch party
World TeamTennis? What is it?

The other day when I switched to the Tennis Channel, there it was. World TeamTennis of 1978, the New York Apple Sports and the Los Angeles Strings, Billie Jean King and Ilie Nastase. Of course, the court was multi-colored.

More than 30 years later, WTT is still going strong as it heads for another summer of fun, capped by the World TeamTennis Finals Weekend on July 22-24 at Family Circle Tennis Center.

But how many people, even serious tennis players, know what WTT really is? Or its format?

I'm no expert, but by this time next week I should know a great deal more about World TeamTennis. That's thanks to next Saturday night's free WTT Lowcountry Launch Party at Family Circle Tennis Center. Teams from nine local clubs (Dunes West, Mount Pleasant Recreation, I'on, Family Circle Tennis Center, Daniel Island Club, Country Club of Charleston, City of Charleston, Pine Forest Country Club and Legend Oaks) will represent the nine WTT franchises from 6-10 p.m. on the Althea Gibson Club Court's multi-colored plywood surface in a similation of the league. Each club team will be coached by a local celebrity.

Family Circle is putting on a big push to promote the party and attract at least 1,000 spectators to become familiar with the WTT format before Billie Jean King's main event arrives in late July. Tickets to the WTT Finals are available at ticketmaster.com (800-745-3000).

Farmfield WTT party

As the area becomes excited about the WTT Finals, local clubs are falling into place in their own promotions -- or parties. Charleston Tennis Center has announced plans for a World TeamTennis Wine & Watch Party on Wednesday, July 13 from 7-10 p.m.

The highlight of the evening will be the viewing of a Tennis Channel-televised WTT match. Family Circle Tennis Center will provide complimentary red and white wine, light snacks and WTT giveaway items at the Farmfield event. A concierge will be available to assist with the WTT Finals tickets and event information.

Reward or punishment?

League tennis postseason tournament organizers have a tough task in overcoming all of the conflicts. But sometimes you wonder if league organizers make a special effort to avoid making it more difficult or conflicting for the participants who advance to the league tennis local and state playoffs. Reward the participants or punish them?

Take this year's local mixed doubles playoffs for instance. The 6.0 and 7.0 local playoffs are currently scheduled for the same weekend as the WTT Finals at Family Circle Tennis Center. And this is what happens in America's Best Tennis Town?

This is nothing new for Charleston or any city. Last year's state mixed doubles tournament was held here during the championship weekend of the U.S. Open.

I know tennis players can only try to immitate Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, yet every serious tennis player in the country probably wants to watch the late rounds of America's premier tennis event. Recordings are great, but if you already know the score, it's history.

Last year wasn't a one-shot deal. This year's state mixed doubles tournament will be held in Florence on Sept. 10-12, again the last weekend of the U.S. Open. If you're not traveling or playing, you're wiped out from the midday heat.

With that in mind, why do league tennis local, state and sectional playoff matches have to be played from noon to 3 p.m. in the summer? And don't forget junior tennis tournaments such as Belton.

Tennis has been very fortunate in avoiding a rash of heat-related incidents, perhaps because of the usually superbly conditioned athletes competing.

Locals win state

Local women's 4.5 and 5.0 adult league tennis teams captured state titles recently in Aiken. The 4.5 team out of LTP Tennis, captained by Amy Templeton, defeated Greenville in the state final.

The Amy White-captained 5.0 women representing the entire Charleston area didn't play in a local league, but went directly to the state tournament, where they won round-robin competition against Hilton Head Island and Lexington to earn their berth in the Southern Sectional Championships.

Ann Harrah played on both championship teams. The 5.0 team included former world's No. 1 women's 50 player Diane Fishburne as well as former College of Charleston All-American/current Ashley Hall girls coach Mary Gastley.

Also, a 4.0 senior women's team from the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department won a state championship at Hilton Head Island. The team was captained by Jane Fluet and included former Wando girls coach Becky Williamson.

Local notes

--Former Players Club owner and current sporting goods shop operator Chuck Lee is starting a local tennis ladder to allow local tennis players to meet and play matches with other similarly skilled players at mutually convenient times and locations. The ladder, which will begin registration on Wednesday and start play on June 27, will include men's, women's, seniors and youth singles divisions. For information, contact Chuck Lee at Tour Tennis (388-5618).

--The City of Charleston's popular Tri-county Elementary and Middle School Tennis League wrapped up another successful season recently with its annual championships. A Porter-Gaud team coached by Alisa Tolliver won the tournament No. 1 title, while the other winners were: (tournament No. 2) Mason Prep 1; (No. 3) Ashley Hall Purple; (No. 4) C.E. Williams Middle; (No. 5) Charleston Day School team 1; (No. 6) Daniel Island White; (No. 7) Sullivan's Island Blue; (No. 8) Pinewood Prep; and (No. 9) Belle Hall Elementary team 3.


(05/29/11)  Bishop England's Heffron named All-American
Walker Heffron started his final tennis season at Bishop England with a sore shoulder from the basketball wars and not enough tennis repetitions since last fall while serving as a basketball team captain and earning all-region honors over the winter.

But in a matter of a week, the 6-4 performer has won the biggest individual event in High School League Class AA/A tennis, received recognition as a high school tennis All-American and graduated with honors.

The All-America honor caught Heffron by complete surprise. Only three players from South Carolina were named to the 41-member National High School Tennis All-American team. The other two were Kyle Koch, who has won three straight Class AAA/AAAA state singles titles and led Chapin to back-to-back Class AAA state team titles, and Waccamaw junior standout Harrison Richmond.

Of course, Heffron knows all about Richmond after Waccamaw handed the Bishops their only loss of the season in the Class AA state quarterfinals. By defeating Waccamaw's Mike Moran in the state singles final, Heffron bounced back from a No. 1 singles loss to Richmond and doubles setback to Richmond/Moran in the team matchup.

Heffron was named all-state along with junior teammate Steven Weaver, who was a consolation finalist in the SCHSL state singles tournament.

--Dorman was a surprise state champion in Class AAAA, upending highly regarded defending champion Spring Valley in the semifinals and Lexington in the final.

Thornton transfers

Local standout Caroline Thornton is taking her big game to the Big Easy. The 5-5, 20-year-old is transferring from Auburn to Tulane, where she will be eligible as a junior next season.

"It was time to make a change," Thornton said Friday while drilling with pro Chip Hand and Palmetto Christian standout Austin Heinz at Family Circle Tennis Center. "I hope to play No. 1 or 2 at Tulane (the same as at Auburn)."

Thornton's big decision came last weekend when she visited both Penn State and Tulane. "That was a tough decision," she said. Florida State was Thornton's third choice after Auburn granted her a release.

She hopes to play pro doubles with longtime friend Shelby Rogers on the pro circuit after college. Thornton and Rogers were two of the original cast from former local pro Fritz Nau's elite academy. Ryan Young, another member of that group, also is back training at Family Circle Tennis Center.

Rogers update

The latest satellite circuit venture for 18-year-old Shelby Rogers ended Thursday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., with a tough 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 loss to 15-year-old qualifier Taylor Townsend of Stockbridge, Ga., in the second round of a $50,000 challenger. Ranked No. 444 in the world (down from a career high of No. 325 in February), Rogers scored a three-set first-round upset of fourth-seeded and 2010 Mount Pleasant Women's Pro Classic winner Petra Rampre of Slovakia.

Local notes

--Two local women's teams won state adult league championships last weekend in Greenville. A 3.5 team from the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department captained by Tamara Hale, and a 2.5 team from the Daniel Island Club captained by Kacie Highsmith brought home state titles. The 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 adult league men's and women's state championships are being held this weekend in Aiken.

--Combo league registrations begin June 6. June 26 is the deadline to register three eligible partnerships for a team.

--The 8.0 mixed doubles local playoffs will be held July 15-16 at Pine Forest Country Club. The 7.0 playoffs will be contested at the St. Andrew's Parks and Playground courts from July 22-24, while 6.0 will be played at St. Andrew's on July 21 and July 23-24.

--Toby Simpson has joined Roy Barth's staff at Kiawah Island after 10 years as The Citadel's head coach. "The No. 1 tennis resort in the world (Kiawah) seemed like a good move for me," Simpson said.

--Former All-Lowcountry player Addison King will return to Palmetto Christian next school year as a senior after attending Wando as a junior. King played No. 1 for first-round Class AAAA state playoff loser Wando, but was not invited to participate in last weekend's Class AAA/AAAA state singles tournament. Junior Duarte of West Ashley was the only local player in the singles draw.


(05/15/11)  Court issues facing Best Tennis Town in America
The Best Tennis Town in America has tennis issues?

Impossible.

Charleston has the players and great facilities. It just needs larger facilities, especially in West Ashley.

Charleston Tennis Center might be one of America's best-managed municipal complexes. But somewhere along the line, future needs were dismissed, and it has remained a 15-court facility.

Tennis is much about the leagues at this point. Everyone seems to want scheduled competition and organized practices. Of course, there still are many players who just want to pay their court fees and play their Wednesday night doubles match at the same time every week. And rightfully so at a managed public facility. But the leagues have put a squeeze on these once-a-week type players.

It's league tennis, along with the addition of a world-level Family Circle Cup tournament and facility, that have made Charleston the best tennis town.

Many years ago, it became obvious that there would become a need for more courts at Charleston Tennis Center. Once the Family Circle Cup arrived at the turn of the century, the need became critical.

Small public court complexes are spread around West Ashley in several neighborhoods, but perhaps some of the additions should have been incorporated into Charleston Tennis Center. The Famfield Avenue complex already had the staff to manage a much larger facility. And to the league tennis player, there is nothing like playing at a well managed facility such as Farmfield. It's not too late, if land becomes available, for expanding to at least a 20-court complex at Charleston Tennis Center.

It's good to see the $500,000 makeover of Maybank Tennis Center in the planning stages. The popular James Island complex plans to add two more clay courts for a total of five clay courts to go with eight renovated hard courts. A net gain of only two courts at Maybank likely will have only a small impact on the cramped situation at the two busy city of Charleston-operated facilities (Maybank and Farmfield) west of the peninsula.

Even if the tight court situation for league tennis matches could be alleviated some on certain nights by better scheduling by the Lowcountry Tennis Association, Farmfield, Maybank and St. Andrew's will continue to feel great pressure by the ever-increasing number of league tennis players.

Mount Pleasant's excellent Whipple Road complex also feels the pressure for more courts, even though it added three clay courts a couple years ago to accompany its 12 hard courts. Unlike West Ashley, the court pressure in Mount Pleasant is relieved somewhat by numerous private clubs that house league tennis teams, such as LTP Tennis, I'On Club, Creekside, Brickyard, Park West and Dunes West.

Heffron picks Wofford

Walker Heffron's senior year of tennis may have ended the same way his previous three at Bishop England -- losing to Waccamaw. But that's not all he has in common with his older brother, Randall. Walker is following his sibling to Wofford.

Walker Heffron signed a letter of commitment to play tennis for the Division I Terriers. A Region 6-AA all-conference basketball player, Heffron is a three-time All-Lowcountry tennis team member and a two-time all-state tennis player. He served as captain of both the basketball and tennis teams.

Heffron was 66-4 in singles and doubles during his Bishop England career. He received an "Old Main" academic scholarship at Wofford.

Notes

--All senior leagues state championships are being held this weekend at Hilton Head Island. The 2.5, 3.0, 3.5 adult league state championships will be next weekend in Greenville, while the 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 adult leagues state tournament will be in Aiken May 28-30.

--The High School League's state singles tournament will be next Friday and Saturday at Lexington County Tennis Complex in what will be the last chance in 2011 for this crop of players to add to their high school credentials. Bishop England's Walker Heffron and Steven Weaver, and Academic Magnet's Nick Butler are among the players who will participate in Class AA. Heffron won the consolation bracket a year ago.

--Christ Church captured its second straight Class AA state title Saturday in Sumter by defeating Waccamaw. Spring Valley won the Class AAAA crown over Lexington, while Chapin defeated Camden in the AAA final.

--Wando senior Clair Larkin signed a tennis grant with Anderson University. Larkin was All-Region 7-AAAA, All-Lowcountry and all-state for the Warriors. She followed up a 17-0 singles record at No. 2 as a junior with a 13-7 mark at No. 1 as a senior, with three losses against Lowcountry player of the year Patricia Kirkland of Ashley Hall. Former I'On Club tennis director Joey Eskridge is the Anderson coach.

--Former Bishop England and Palmetto Christian standout John Karle played No. 4 and 6 singles for Coastal Carolina this spring as a junior.


(05/12/11)  Bishops fall again to Warriors
WACCAMAW 4, BISHOP ENGLAND 3

Veteran Waccamaw coach James Brown doesn't miss a loophole in the rules when the Warriors meet Bishop England in the state tennis playoffs each year, and the latest meeting between the two teams that was spread over two days at Wachesaw Plantation in Murrells Inlet was no different. The result was the same as the last eight years in the playoffs: Waccamaw winning, this time, 4-3, by completing a sweep of the two doubles positions when play was resumed Wednesday following Tuesday's rain interruption.

Waccamaw (11-3) plays Region 6-AA runner-up Academic Magnet (11-3) in today's Lower State Class AA tennis final.

This time, Waccamaw outfoxed the Bishops (12-1) by taking No. 3 singles player Robert Jones and putting him in the No. 2 doubles slot alongside previously unused No. 10 (or 12) player Matt Fisher. The strategy caught BE coach Allen Moore and assistant Frank Dinardo by surprise after the Bishops had taken a 3-2 match lead by winning the Nos. 3-5 singles positions with the loss of just two games.

The Jones/Fisher pair won the first set on Tuesday over the previously unbeaten BE team of seniors Max Wurthmann and Stephen Griffith, then finished them off when play continued on Wednesday. In the No. 1 doubles match, Waccamaw standout junior Harrison Richmond and senior Mike Moran reaffirmed their dominance over BE senior Walker Heffron and junior Steven Weaver by following up their straight-set singles sweeps at the top two positions. Both Waccamaw doubles teams scored 6-2, 6-2 decisions.

"They added a player (Fisher) who hadn't played all year and who was released by the doctor to play a day (May 4) before the playoffs started. They said he was an injured basketball player," said first-year BE head coach Moore, who spent 26 years in high school coaching in Michigan before moving south.

"It was like them playing their 1, 2, 3, 4 players in doubles against us."

Moore has sent his protest of the match to Bishop England athletic director Paul Runey, but no formal appeal has been placed with the S.C. High School League. A year ago, Brown played an ineligible player in victories over Bishop England and Christ Church to win what appeared to be the Warriors' fourth straight state title. However, the High School League declared Christ Church the state champion and forced Waccamaw to vacate the title.

"Last year, they (Waccamaw) brought in a kid from North Carolina who hadn't played all year," Moore said. "New year ... same story. This is a coach's loss. I hope the appeal works out ... they took advantage of a loophole in the rules."

"They have no basis for an appeal," Waccamaw coach James Brown said of Wednesday's protest. "(Fischer) didn't have to play in a match before this. He was injured all (tennis season). … We went by the rules given to us."

Singles: Harrison Richmond (W) def. Walker Heffron, 6-2, 6-4; Mike Moran (W) def. Steven Weaver, 6-3, 6-3; Rivers Colyer (BE) def. Jaz Greene, 6-0, 6-0; Mike Saia (BE) def. James Beck, 7-5, 6-3; Joseph Kennedy (BE) def. Mitchell Saum, 6-0, 6-1; Orlin Sergev (BE) def. Woody Tudor, 6-0, 6-1.

Doubles: Richmond/Moran (W) def. Heffron/Weaver, 6-2, 6-2; Robert Jones/Matt Fisher (W) def. Max Wurthmann/Stephen Griffith, 6-2, 6-2.


(05/11/11)  Academic Magnet rolls

Region 6-AA runner-up Academic Magnet (11-3) took care of visiting Marion without dropping a set, 6-0, to earn its berth in the Lower State title match on Thursday. The match is scheduled to be played at either Bishop England or Waccamaw, both conference champions.

Junior Nick Butler led the way for the Raptors with a 6-0, 6-0 blitzing of Matt Williams in the top singles position. The only Academic Magnet player to yield more than three games was junior Joseph West as he scored a 7-6 (2), 6-0 win.

"It's going to be tough no matter who we play Thursday," Academic Magnet coach Sharon Williams said

ACADEMIC MAGNET 6, MARION 0

Singles: Nick Butler (AM) def. Matt Williams, 6-0, 6-0; Alex Scott (AM) def. Tyler Williams, 6-1, 6-2; Anthony Edwards (AM) def. Anvnay Pulukuri, 6-1, 6-0; Hunter Legerton (AM) def. Austin Quevubin, 6-2, 6-1; Joseph West (AM) def. Willi Huang, 7-6 (2), 6-0.

Doubles: Blake Steen/Willi Want (AM) def. Gabriel Thomas/Lesley Edwards, 8-2.

BE match suspended

Bishop England's agony of losing to the same team eight straight years in the state tennis playoffs was extended at least another day by a rain storm Tuesday evening at Murrells Inlet with the Bishops (12-0) holding a 3-2 lead after singles over Waccamaw (10-3) in the Class AA state quarterfinals.

The winner, which is expected to be determined today, is scheduled to face Academic Magnet in Thursday's Lower State final.

Waccamaw collected victories at the Nos. 1 and 2 singles positions from junior Harrison Richmond, 6-2, 6-4, over BE senior Walker Heffron, and from Mike Moran, 6-3, 6-3, over BE junior Steven Weaver.

Bishop seniors Rivers Colyer, Joseph Kennedy and Orlin Sergev took the Nos. 3-5 singles slots with the loss of a total of two games to give the Region 6-AA champion Bishops a 3-2 edge.

With the Nos. 1 and 2 doubles matches just starting, the match was halted by rain.

However, Waccamaw coach James Brown dropped his No. 3 player out of the singles lineup and inserted him into No. 2 doubles in attempting to gain an advantage over BE seniors Max Wurthmann and Stephen Griffith. Heffron and Weaver are aligned against Richmond and Moran in No. 1 doubles. The doubles matches are expected to be completed today.


(05/10/11)  Bishops face nemesis in Class AA playoffs
Bishop England and Waccamaw haven't seen anything of each other for a year now. But the bitter rivalry resumes today at 4:30 p.m. on Wachesaw Plantation's clay courts in Murrells Inlet as the Bishops (12-0) take on Waccamaw (10-3) in the High School League's Class AA boys tennis state quarterfinals.

The Bishops, whose last eight seasons ended with losses against Waccamaw, didn't schedule a regular season match against the Warriors this season.

"There was no upside to playing them in the regular season," said head coach Allen Moore, in his first year as the Bishops' head coach after serving as an assistant for three years.

There has been only a war of words since last May when Waccamaw used an ineligible player to help defeat the Bishops, 5-1, in the state semifinals. A day later, Waccamaw defeated Christ Church for what appeared to be a fourth straight state championship before the team was forced to vacate the title by the High School League's executive committee for playing an ineligible player.

"Just because a group of people made a decision, that doesn't mean it's right," Waccamaw coach James Brown was quoted recently by the Myrtle Beach Sun News. "They made a mistake. We didn't make a mistake. The High School League made a mistake ... I didn't accept that ruling."

The Region 6-AA champion Bishops crushed 5-AA runner-up Barnwell, 7-0, in the first round of the playoffs. Waccamaw had a first-round bye.

"This is a match we knew we had to prepare for," said Bishop England senior Walker Heffron, who plays at No. 1 singles. "We feel like we have one of our best chances to beat them."

Playing in the No. 2 singles spot for Bishop England is junior Steven Weaver. "They (Waccamaw) come out of the block real strong in the top two spots, then they take those same two to No. 1 doubles," Moore said. "But we're steady from top to bottom with six of our top seven players seniors. Everybody's ready to play for us."

Rivers Colyer, Joseph Kennedy and Orlin Sergev play the last three singles spots for the Bishops, while fellow seniors Max Wurthmann and Stephen Griffith will combine for the critical No. 2 doubles match.

Bishop England's hopes were buoyed by the fact Woodberry Forest (Va.), a team the Bishops defeated 5-2, owns a victory over Waccamaw this season at Murrells Inlet. Porter-Gaud also defeated the Warriors on clay, 5-2.

Academic Magnet plays Marion

Region 6-AA runner-up Academic Magnet (10-3), the only local school other than Bishop England still alive in the SCHSL playoffs, will host Marion today in the Class AA state quarterfinals. The winner of that match will advance to Thursday's Lower State final against either Bishop England or Waccamaw.

Junior Nick Butler is the No. 1 player for the Raptors, who are coached by Sharon Williams. Juniors Alex Scott (No. 2), Anthony Edwards (3) and Joseph West (5) make up the rest of the lineup along with freshman No. 4 Hunter Legerton.

Academic Magnet posted a 5-1 win over Williston-Elko in the first round, while Marion upended 7-AA champion Manning, 6-1.

"It's been Waccamaw or BE for six or eight years in this round, so we definitely feel good about our chances (against Marion)," Williams said.


(05/04/11)  Palmetto Christian's boys title streak ends
Everyone knew it had to end one day. Palmetto Christian couldn't continue endlessly adding to its string of 11 consecutive SCISA Class A boys and girls state tennis titles.

That day came Tuesday at the Houndslake Country Club in Aiken as Aiken Prep completely dominated the Eagles, 8-1, to close out a perfect season. The PCA boys were seeking their sixth straight state title to match the sixth consecutive one that the girls team won in the fall.

"This breaks our string, but we knew it had to end sooner or later," Palmetto Christian coach Dewey Caulder said. "We just have to start a new one."

The Eagles program has the youth to start a new streak. Their starting cast was even younger than Aiken Prep's, with two sixth-graders, two eighth-graders, a freshman and a junior.

Palmetto Christian's lone victory came at No. 1 singles where freshman Austin Heinz cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win over Wofford-bound Aiken Prep senior George Handy. Otherwise, the Eagles amassed a total of only eight games in the other five singles matches against a group of mostly young Knights, including a sixth-grader, a seventh-grader and a freshman.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," veteran Aiken Prep coach Lynn Carter said. "But it was our turn to win the state. They had beaten us four or five times in the final."

Carter couldn't have been too surprised about her 9-0 team. The Knights defeated the Eagles by the same score during the regular season on Daniel Island.

"They're good ... tournament players. They were a little more talented," Caulder said about Aiken Prep. "Our kids knew it would be tougher this time. But now our kids know what it's like on the other side."

AIKEN PREP 8, PALMETTO CHRISTIAN 1
Singles: Austin Heinz (PC) def. George Handy, 6-1, 6-2; Jesse Morton (AP) def. Billy Perkins, 6-2, 6-1; Preston Tiffany (AP) def. Aaron Thornton, 6-0, 6-0; Alex Sklizovic (AP) def. Trey Goolsby, 6-0, 6-0; Nikki Fischbach (AP) def. Brian Privett, 6-1, 6-2; Christian Thorndike (AP) def. Chase Shimakonis, 6-2, 6-0.

Doubles: Handy/Morton (A) def. Heinz/Perkins, 8-2; Tiffany/Sklizovic (A) def. Thornton/Goolsby, 8-3; Carlton Norwood/Zack Harrington (A) def. Privett/Jake Adams, 8-3.


(05/01/11)  Bishops gearing up to battle rival Waccamaw
As sure as spring turns hot, the coastal tennis wars are back, or almost back in the case of Bishop England and Waccamaw.

Porter-Gaud and Hilton Head Prep are set for a third straight SCISA championship showdown.

And Bishop England and Waccamaw are one sure-win away from what has turned into a bitter rivalry. Waccamaw's win over the Bishops in the High School League's boys Class AA state semifinals in 2010 with the aid of an ineligible player was enough to set this rivalry on fire.

No one on the Bishop England team can remember the last time the Bishops didn't end their season with a loss to Waccamaw. In fact, it was exactly nine years ago today that the Bishops last defeated Waccamaw in the state playoffs. That was the 2002 state semifinals in which the Bishops edged Waccamaw, 4-3, and advanced to the state final where they lost to Christ Church.

Eight straight season-ending losses to one team is pretty tough to take. It's no wonder the Bishops have been preparing practically all season for what looms as a May 10 state quarterfinal against Waccamaw on Litchfield Beach's clay courts. Only opponents from weak tennis regions in next Thursday's opening round of the playoffs stand in the two teams' way.

As first-year BE coach Allen Moore said, "We could see that clay was in our future." Thus, the Bishops have drilled all season on the clay courts at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant while running through all opponents in a 10-0 regular season.

You can sense that the Bishops aren't in love with Waccamaw, especially after what happened in last season's state semifinal meeting in Sumter.

The Bishops knew Waccamaw was playing an ineligible player at No. 4, and they protested to the SCHSL officials on site in Sumter, but to no avail. They say they were told to play the match and then appeal. A lot of good that did when the state final was to be played the next day.

They played the match, and the score recorded that Friday evening was 5-1 in favor of Waccamaw (the SCHSL web site now lists the score as 4-3), although two of the five singles matches the Bishops lost went to third-set match tiebreakers. And, of course, the ineligible player won his match, 6-0, 6-0.

You get the picture: Take No. 4 out of the Waccamaw lineup, move No. 5 up to No. 4 and insert a non-starter into the No. 5 singles spot, and suddenly it's a 3-3 match score going into a No. 1 doubles match (BE already had won No. 2 doubles) that wasn't played.

The Bishops went home after that match, and Waccamaw advanced to play Christ Church for the championship the next day. Waccamaw and its ineligible player prevailed again, 4-2, for what Waccamaw thought was its fourth straight state title. Luckily for Christ Church, there were no more matches to be played, and the Greenville school's complaint to the High School League over the ineligible player pertained to the last match of the season.

On June 17, the SCHSL's executive committee ruled the player ineligible. Waccamaw was forced to forfeit seven matches, including the state championship win over Christ Church and was fined $1,200. Christ Church was awarded the state title.

Bishop England got a raw deal. But that's water over the dam. Or is it?

High school update

The Porter-Gaud vs. Hilton Head Prep SCISA Class AAA boys final is scheduled for Monday at 4 p.m. at Hammond School's courts in Columbia.

--Palmetto Christian will attempt to win its sixth straight SCISA Class A title Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Aiken Prep. The Eagles are led by Austin Heinz, but already have lost to Aiken once this season.

--The 32-team, two-week long SCHSL Class AAAA playoffs begin Tuesday. Wando will be at home to the Region 4 third seed and Ashley Ridge will entertain Aiken, while Fort Dorchester travels to South Aiken. Either James Island or Stratford will be at home against Conway, and the other school will travel to Carolina Forest.

--Wando No. 1 Addison King has been invited to join a group of approximately 2,250 rising seniors worldwide attending this summer's six-day Naval Academy Summer Seminar program, which is for high achievers who are considering applying for admission to the Naval Academy.

--Academic Magnet is in another quarter of the draw from Bishop England and Waccamaw, and with any kind of luck could win matches Thursday and the following Tuesday to earn a berth in the May 12 Lower State Class AA final against probably a BE-Waccamaw survivor.

--Bishop England senior No. 1 Walker Heffron expects to make a decision between Wofford (where his brother Randall is a freshman tennis player) and Furman in the next few days. Furman is offering an athletic scholarship, while Wofford is short on athletic scholarships and is offering academic money only.

--Spartanburg Christian won the SCISA Class AA state title in a three-team round-robin against Beaufort Academy and Trinity Collegiate.

Cougars still magical

The College of Charleston women's team still has its magic working after surviving a couple of set points to defeat Furman, 4-3, in last weekend's Southern Conference tournament final. Coach Angelo Anastopoulo's team will learn Tuesday who and where it will be playing in the NCAA playoffs after completing a second straight sweep of the SoCon regular season and third consecutive tournament championship.

"We don't have a clue who we'll play," said Anastopoulo, looking ahead to Tuesday's 5 p.m. NCAA selection party at the King Street Kickin' Chicken.

Anastopoulo is anxious to see if the Cougs will be awarded a third seeding in their four-team regional. The reason? "No fourth seed has ever defeated a No. 1 seed in men's or women's tennis," he said. "We're borderline to be a third seed, and our chances go way up if we play a second seed."

Currently ranked 74th nationally, the Cougars are ranked above at least 12 projected playoff teams, according to Anastopoulo.

Two years ago, when Kinsey Casey took No. 6 singles against Florida in the opening round of the NCAA playoffs, it was the only time in at least the last two seasons that a No. 4 seed has won even one singles position against a No. 1 seed.

Seniors Emma Hayman and Casey were the stars for the Cougars in this SoCon tournament, both going unbeaten in singles, and Hayman picking up the MVP award after Casey took it a year earlier. "Kinsey is undefeated in (SoCon) tournament play the last three years," Anastopoulo pointed out.

Former Ashley Hall star Jamie Harrell came up big for the Cougars in doubles in the tournament, teaming with singles No. 1 Christin Newman to win all three of their No. 3 doubles matches, including a win over a Furman pair that hadn't lost in SoCon play all season.


(05/03/11)  Cyclone Tennis is State Runner Up
History repeated itself Monday afternoon for Porter-Gaud's boys tennis team. Only this time the site changed from Beaufort to Columbia.

The Cyclones once again dug too big a hole in singles from which to escape, allowing Hilton Head Prep (8-2) to win its second straight SCISA Class AAA state championship and third in four years with a 5-3 victory at the Hammond School courts.

"Everyone played hard, but they just played the big points better," Porter-Gaud coach Tom Higgins said, sizing up the loss.

The keys in singles were at the Nos. 3 and 4 positions where Porter-Gaud junior Hunter Mitchell suffered a second straight three-set loss to Cotton, 6-2, 3-6, 10-8, while O'Brien bounced back from a regular season loss to P-G senior Johnny Steichen to score a 6-4, 7-5 victory when all of the marbles were on the line.

"That was the big upset, Steichen losing to O'Brien. Johnny had beaten him earlier, but Johnny's serve left him at the end and that was the difference," Higgins said.

For Mitchell, it was the second straight 10-8 match tiebreaker loss to Cotton, a senior from New Orleans. "He shanked a backhand off the frame down the line for 9-8," said Mitchell, playing in his fourth straight state final, the first two with Hilton Head Prep. "The last point was a close call that went against me after a long rally."

Sophomore No. 1 Thomas Spratt matched the total number of games of his first two matches against Schafer before falling, 6-3, 6-2, to the SCISA Open singles champion. Woodson, a sophomore who is rated as one of the top prospects in the country, defeated P-G senior Matt Poletti by the same score.

Hilton Head's top four players all train at the Smith-Stearns Tennis Academy. Schafer arrived this school year from Frederick, Md., while O'Brien came from Cleveland. "They've got a feeder system going with Stan Smith's Academy," Higgins said.

Baker and freshman Seth Pinosky got the only singles wins for the Cyclones to finish unbeaten for the season at Nos. 5 and 6.

HILTON HEAD PREP 5,

PORTER-GAUD 3

Singles: Andrew Schafer (HHP) def. Thomas Spratt, 6-3, 6-2; Jared Woodson (HHP) def. Matt Poletti, 6-3, 6-2; Aaron Cotton (HHP) def. Hunter Mitchell, 6-2, 3-6, 10-8; J.D. O'Brien (HHP) def. Johnny Steichen, 6-4, 7-5; Charlie Baker (PG) def. Franklyn Bakala, 6-0, 6-1; Seth Pinosky (PG) def. Ahmed Kohli, 6-0, 6-1.

Doubles: Woodson/O'Brien (HHP) def. Baker/Daniel, 6-4, 6-3; Poletti/Payne Hoy (PG) def. Bakala/Kohli, 6-0, 6-1.


(04/29/11)  Porter-Gaud's lineup runs the gamut
How old is that No. 6? What grade is he in?" Or, "Is your No. 1 a basketball player?"

These are the type of questions veteran Porter-Gaud tennis coach Tom Higgins gets when he turns in his match lineup to new opponents. But regular Porter-Gaud opponents would rather see 5-2 freshman Seth Pinosky in the pee-wee league and 6-6 sophomore Thomas Spratt holding a basketball than a tennis racket.

These two Porter-Gaud players are fierce competitors who carry much of the Cyclones' hopes for a second SCISA Class AAA tennis title in three years. Both played on the 2009 state championship team, and they now wait with the rest of the Cyclones (13-1) to see whether they will play defending state champion Hilton Head Prep or Pinewood Prep in the state final, probably on Monday.

Pinosky doesn't mind all of the questions about his size. He is unbeaten at No. 6 singles.

Spratt loves it when opponents throw up a defensive lob because they can't get it past his long reach at the net. He is an intimidator in doubles, especially when he's playing No. 1 doubles with 6-1 junior Hunter Mitchell.

As an indication of Spratt's doubles efficiency, he teamed with Hammond's Ben Horst to win the boys 16 doubles crown at Belton. Horst beat Spratt in three sets on Wednesday in the Cyclones' 7-2 state semifinal win over Hammond, but the Spratt/Mitchell team got revenge in doubles against Horst.

When Pinosky stands next to Spratt, you wonder how this little guy beats up on everyone he faces. "Height isn't a factor in tennis. That's one reason I like it," he said.

The Porter-Gaud roster is deep and talented. Former Porter-Gaud player Chuck Baker, now a local attorney, says about son Charlie Baker, a senior who is in his sixth year on the tennis team and is unbeaten at No. 5 singles as well as an all-state football player: "Charlie once played No. 3 . . . now he's worked his way up to No. 5." Both Baker and Wil Daniel are experts at the doubles game as indicated by their clinching victory at No. 2 doubles against Hammond.

The Cyclones are right at home in doubles. That's what scares most opponents. When doubles specialists Payne Hoy and Daniel take to the court for the Cyclones, the match likely will be on the line in the state final.

And Mitchell, who has bounced between Porter-Gaud and Hilton Head and even played on a state championship team for Hilton Head Prep, is right in the middle of things in doubles with Spratt.

Mitchell expects the Cyclones' opponent in the state final to be his old team, Hilton Head Prep. After growing up attending Porter-Gaud, he moved to Hilton Head Island to attend the Smith-Stearns Tennis Academy and was there in the eighth grade when the Dolphins upended Pinewood in the final.

The last two years, he has been on the losing end, with Hilton Head as a freshman against the Cyclones and with Porter-Gaud as a sophomore. Thus, this will be his fourth straight state final.

If the final comes down to a third straight state title match against Hilton Head, Mitchell expects to be "the 50-50 player," the one who could determine this year's state championship.

Pinewood Prep postponed

The SCISA Class AAA state semifinal between Pinewood Prep (12-3) and Hilton Head Prep (6-2) was postponed on Thursday due to potential severe weather and rescheduled for today at Hilton Head Island.

The winner will advance to the state final against Porter-Gaud.


(04/24/11)  Cyclones chasing state title

Porter-Gaud coach Tom Higgins is sure about one thing: The Cyclones won't play on a clay court the rest of this tennis season.

That much was assured Tuesday when Porter-Gaud completed a sweep of Pinewood Prep's boys. The 7-2 victory wrapped up the Region III-AAA title for the Cyclones (12-1, 5-1) and assured them of the top seeding in this week's state playoffs.

But Hilton Head Prep's clay courts loom as a hazard for other possible playoff opponents. The clay courts were the site of Porter-Gaud's only loss this season.

As the No. 2 seed, defending state champ Hilton Head Prep (6-2, 4-2) will get the home-court edge against all possible foes other than Porter-Gaud.

Porter-Gaud has a first-round bye on Monday, and hosts the winner of Monday's No. 4 Wilson Hall/No. 5 Hammond School match in Wednesday's state semifinals.

Third-seeded Pinewood Prep (11-3, 3-3) has moved its first-round match against No. 6 Heathwood Hall to Tuesday at the Panthers' home courts in Summerville. A win there would send the Panthers to Hilton Head Prep on Wednesday, barring an upset of the Dolphins by No. 7 Ben Lippen on Monday.

A third straight title showdown between Porter-Gaud and Hilton Head Prep is expected.

The site of that match would be determined by SCISA. Last year's title meeting between the two teams, when Porter-Gaud also was the top seed, was played at neutral-site Beaufort, while top-seeded Porter-Gaud won the 2009 final at home.

This time, Porter-Gaud and Hilton Head Prep split two regular-season matches, Porter-Gaud winning 5-4 at home and losing 6-3 at Hilton Head, but the Cyclones have been unable to dent Hilton Head's top three positions (Andrew Schafer, Jared Woodson and Aaron Cotton) with No. 1 Thomas Spratt, No. 2 Matt Poletti and No. 3 Hunter Mitchell.

"I'd rather go to Sumter than play again at Beaufort," Higgins said. Sumter had been tentatively selected as the site for the state final before the total domination by Region III teams took place.

To illustrate the domination even more, Pinewood scored one-sided wins over Wilson Hall and Hammond School, the next two seeds after the Region III teams, and one of which will square off against Porter-Gaud in the state semifinals.

But Pinewood Prep will be without senior doubles ace J.T. Elliget in the playoffs, according to coach Bryant McKee. Elliget, who did not play against Porter-Gaud last week, scored victories in singles and doubles in the Panthers' 6-3 regular-season victory over Hilton Head Prep in Summerville.

The Panthers have strong pairings at the top of the lineup in No. 1 Adam Elliget and No. 2 Joel Roberts, but now may lack enough depth to test a talented Hilton Head Prep lineup.

McKee is disappointed about having to play Hilton Head Prep on clay, if both teams survive Monday's first round. "I've raised the question of not playing on clay, but I haven't received an answer (from SCISA)," McKee said, pointing out that Hilton Head is the only team that plays on clay.

Other SCISA playoffs

The Class AA state title will be decided Thursday in Sumter in a three-team round-robin between Spartanburg Christian, Beaufort Academy and Trinity Collegiate.

In Class A, Palmetto Christian is going after its sixth straight state title. The Eagles travel to Pawley's Island on Tuesday to take on Lowcountry Prep, with the winner advancing to a Friday state final at Aiken Prep.


(04/21/11)  Newman sisters have Cougs eyeing 3-peat

Christin Newman and Caroline Newman are 14-9 and 17-6, respectively, in singles for the College of Charleston women’s tennis team this season. They are 12-1 together in doubles.

From being pals with record-setting pro tour standout John Isner to the College of Charleston, the Newman girls are all about tennis, competition and academics.

Sisters Christin and Caroline Newman form a key part of the College of Charleston women's tennis team, playing the Nos. 1 and 3 singles positions on the Cougars' Southern Conference regular season championship team, which is also gunning for a third straight conference tournament title. It's just a transition from hitting balls with Isner back home in Greensboro, N.C., while growing up in a family of four girls -- all future college athletes.

Academics? Veteran Charleston coach Angelo

Anastopoulo doesn't worry about schoolwork in the case of Christin and Caroline, as they take a few days off for the SoCon tournament in Chattanooga.

"They both carry 4.0 GPAs in the Honors College. I never have to question if they are attending classes on a regular basis. … I know they are," Anastopoulo said.

Their older sister, Catherine, played No. 1 in tennis for Vanderbilt, graduating last year. And younger sister Claire is a high school soccer star who plans to play soccer for the Cougars. All four girls played high school soccer.

"Soccer helped me not to get burned out (on tennis)," said Christin, who was all-state in soccer three years. "And it was huge in helping me with my footwork."

Athletics have always been a family thing for the Newman clan. Catherine, Caroline and Christin all played together on the same high school tennis and soccer teams one season. Caroline went 80-0 in high school singles, while she and Christin each played on teams that posted 79-0 records and won four straight state titles.

They all attended Page High School where Isner also attended. Their high school coach was the same as Isner's, Tom Herb.

"We know Isner really well," Christin said. "He lives in our neighborhood, and we don't even think of him as a famous pro."

Christin is a 5-5 sophomore who played last season at No. 2 singles for Virginia Tech before transfering to the College of Charleston. "I was going to Vandy, but I decided I was following Catherine around too much," she said.

"I enjoyed Virginia Tech and the competitiveness of the ACC, but the coach wasn't the right fit for me."

Of course, Anastopoulo can't believe his good fortune.

"I thought I was lucky to have one Newman (Caroline) commit three years ago, but now, to have two Newmans playing for our team definitely makes me the luckiest coach in America," Anastopoulo said.

A pre-med major in psychology, Caroline is a left-hander who started playing tennis at age 5 as a right-hander. When the right-handed game failed to mature, her coach suggested switching hands with the racket and hitting one-handed forehands from each side. She still uses that style.

As for the SoCon tournament, she said: "We're favored to win. If we play to our potential, we definitely can win the title."

The Cougars (18-7) went unbeaten in 10 SoCon matches and are ranked 71st nationally. After having a bye Wednesday, their quarterfinal match in the SoCon tournament is today against Appalachian State, a 4-3 first-round winner over Wofford.

Cougar men's tennis

The College of Charleston men (15-5, 9-1), who tied for the SoCon regular season crown with Elon but are seeded second in the tournament, received a bye in the first round and faceDavidson today in the quarterfinals in Chattanooga.


(04/17/11)  Kirkland gets best of both worlds with her college decision

Patricia Kirkland does things her way. There are no shortcuts.

It's been that way the last four years for the Ashley Hall senior, barely missing a state championship as a freshman, then leading her team to three straight SCISA state tennis titles.

The All-Lowcountry player of the year sent an email on Tuesday, saying "I have made my decision."

On Friday, she announced, "I'm going to Washington and Lee."

Kirkland's choice of colleges had been up in the air since the fall. She debated between tennis and academics, but she didn't want to give up tennis. In the end, both tennis and academics won. She expects to major in math, with a pre-med track.

"Washington and Lee is a really accommodating place for a student-athlete," she said.

"Tennis was a crucial factor in my decision. It came down to tennis and how they run (the programs) in Divisions I and III. I needed a place where academics are important. The coach (at W&L) might let you out of practice early if you have a test the next day or if you have a lab after practice. A lot of days they have practice at two different times."

Washington and Lee is an NCAA Division III university located in Lexington, Va. Its women's tennis team is currently ranked No. 9 in Division III where there are no athletic scholarships. Former Porter-Gaud standout Emily Applegate won the Division III national singles championship in 2006 while playing for W&L.

Kirkland said she is receiving an academic scholarship. She chose W&L over Division I Wofford.

"I felt comfortable with the coaches from the first visit. I could see myself there for the next four years," said the 5-3 17-year-old, who plays with the power of a much larger player but with the smarts and savvy of a veteran coach. "I think Division III is better suited for me and my personality."

Blevins signs
Meghan Blevins, who had announced her decision earlier, signed a national letter of intent this past week to play tennis for Oklahoma State, enabling the Cowgirls from Stillwater to capture the No. 4 rating nationally in 2011 recruiting by tennisrecruiting.net. Blevins, who helped Wando win a state title as a freshman before switching to online schooling, was listed as the 20th-best player in this year's class.

Blevins recently advanced to the quarterfinals of the USTA spring nationals in singles and took third in doubles with fellow Oklahoma State signee Mary Jeremiah.

"She will make an immediate impact on our program with her aggressive play and competitive nature," Oklahoma State coach Chris Young said. "Meghan has been well-coached and will be someone our fans will enjoy watching over the next few years."

Cooper, Elligets win

Porter-Gaud junior Mi'Kola Cooper fulfilled one of her ambitions last Wednesday in Sumter by winning the SCISA Open girls singles championship with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Kate Christensen of Hilton Head Prep. Cooper's toughest win came in the semifinals where she defeated fellow All-Lowcountry performer Sarah McDonald of Colleton Prep in a third-set match tiebreaker.

Pinewood Prep's Elliget brothers, senior J.T. and eighth-grader Adam, captured a second straight SCISA Open boys doubles crown, scoring a 6-2, 6-4 win over the Wilson Hall team of Michael Brown and Logan Weiland in the final.

It was an all-Pinewood Prep battle in mixed doubles with Mollie Polk and Davis Craig taking a 7-5, 6-4 win over Sarah Edwards and Jacob Cumbie.

Porter-Gaud's Thomas Spratt and Pinewood Prep's Joel Roberts lost in the boys singles semifinals to Aaron Cotton and eventual champion Andrew Schafer, both of Hilton Head Prep.

3-way tie possible
Talk about all of the eggs being in one basket. That's SCISA Class AAA's Region III, which arguably has the top three boys teams in SCISA tennis in current leader Porter-Gaud, defending state champion Hilton Head Prep and Pinewood Prep.

The state playoffs are a week away, but Region III is the decisive place to be. It all comes down to a Tuesday meeting in Summerville between coach Tom Higgins' Porter-Gaud outfit and Bryant McKee's Pinewood Prep team.

"If we win, we'll be the No. 1 seed (in the playoffs). If we lose, it'll be a three-way tie," said Higgins, sizing up the situation.

"I don't have any idea what will happen if there's a three-way tie."

Porter-Gaud has lost only to Hilton Head Prep, while Pinewood Prep and Hilton Head Prep split their two matches and both have lost once to the Cyclones.

The three teams have been the only participants in the last five state finals. Porter-Gaud and Hilton Head Prep have won two titles each and Pinewood Prep one in those five years.

All three teams should receive first-round byes in next week's state playoffs, and the three should avoid any head-to-head meetings before the state semifinals. An important incentive is that the higher seed serves as host at least in the early rounds. SCISA had planned to hold the state final in Sumter, but that appears to be up in the air due to the obvious domination of the three Lowcountry teams.

Battle goes on
Another "Battle of James Island" is shaping up for May 7 at the Country Club of Charleston and the Maybank and Charleston tennis centers. Men's and women's, and mixed doubles will be held at all three sites from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., followed by a covered dish social at the Country Club. Contact Country Club tennis director Lee Brockman (ccctennis@comcast.net).


(04/11/11)  Stripped... the True Beauty of Tennis
Paul Zoeller
Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, this blog is born again!

What better way to start it off than following the beautiful sport of tennis doused in bright colors, pageantry and atmosphere. Every year we flock to watch the bright young stars of tennis compete in the Family Circle Cup. Beautiful young women almost dance across the court in brightly-colored outfits. How envious we are of their youth, beauty and talent. Fans fill the stadium to cheer on the athletes, soak up some rays and enjoy their favorite libations. The court is swept, the balls are collected, referees call for silence and the games begin.

Do you know what I love about tennis -- none of that! I like the raw power of a serve. The loud grunts every time the ball is hit. The flexing of the muscles during a backhand swing. The fierce glances they fire at each other across the net. The roller coaster of emotions the players display throughout the match. Above all, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Tennis is a graceful game filled with pretty colors and beautiful people but strip away all of that and you may find the true beauty of the game.

Do you know what I love about tennis -- none of that! I like the raw power of a serve. The loud grunts every time the ball is hit. The flexing of the muscles during a backhand swing. The fierce glances they fire at each other across the net. The roller coaster of emotions the players display throughout the match. Above all, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Tennis is a graceful game filled with pretty colors and beautiful people but strip away all of that and you may find the true beauty of the game.


(04/11/11)  Caroline could be unbeatable

Caroline Wozniacki.
No Grand Slam titles, but a Family Circle Cup crown puts the Dane Queen in elite company.

And she's not just a backboard. She has developed the ability to hit winners from anywhere on the court. As runner-up Elena Vesnina pointed out, Wozniacki pressures her opponents to go for shots. They can't just push the ball back and leave it sitting up for her.

Wozniacki never gives up on a point. That, along with her consistency and newfound power, sets her apart from the rest of the WTA Tour. She's a true No. 1 who almost certainly will get better. She has so much upside it's almost unthinkable how good this blonde beauty could become, not that she isn't already a great player.

Her serve, solid by tour standards, has the potential to become a giant weapon. Yes, she can develop a big game. As long as she doesn't sacrifice too much of her consistency, she might be practically unbeatable.

And there's no worry about her movement now since she has her legs so wrapped up that nothing can go wrong. Or, as she corrected herself Saturday, "Or nothing should happen."

As a result, she is everywhere. Her opponents seem to worry so much about where she's going to be that they have trouble keeping the ball in play. That was Vesnina. She couldn't keep the ball in play long enough or often enough to earn the points needed to win more than five games.

Six-two. Six-three. The final of this Family Circle Cup was closer than that, but Vesnina never really threatened to make a match of it . . . or to force Wozniacki to make some serious decisions about her mid-Sunday  afternoon flight to Washington to connect to a flight to Europe for a Monday exhibition match on the French Riviera.

The "Ma and Pa" operation called Wozniacki sails on to even bigger things than the Family Circle Cup. A Grand Slam title could be in her immediate future.

Wozniacki is where she is because of her work ethic, and that of her parents. There she was out on the practice court early in the week, her dad feeding her balls, and her mother collecting the balls. She only won $111,000 this week. And now she's off to the French Riviera.

The highlight reel
--Family Circle Cup clown John McEnroe. He was one funny guy in Saturday night's "Game, Set, Rock."
--Murphy Jensen's "moon serve" from the upper deck in Friday night's "Challenge Murphy" contest prior to the Sania Mirza-Vesnina late-night doubles quarterfinal. It went in. First try.
--Doubles champions Mirza and Vesnina in any of their doubles matches. They're an awesome team with their tremendous groundstrokes.
--The singles re-emergence of Mirza, the girl hometown star Shelby Rogers defeated last August in Vancouver.
--Chrissie and Martina in "Game, Set, Rock." Evert and Navratilova can still play, a big improvement over Monica Seles' performance a year ago.
--Wozniacki's amazing play on the first points both Saturday and Sunday. She came to play.


(4/10/11)  Club Court is the place to be early in week at Family Circle Cup
The box seats in Family Circle Stadium are nice.

An even nicer place from which to watch a match at Family Circle Tennis Center is the roped off member area on the stadium-side of the Althea Gibson Club Court. That's prime real estate.

Actually, the views from the bleachers on both sides of the member section are great, too.

Some of the most memorable matches I've seen at the Family Circle Cup have been played on the Club Court. It's almost as when a good pairing is placed on this outside court, it automatically becomes a super matchup.

You could spend the first four days of the main draw simply staked out at Club Court and feel you saw the best of any Family Circle Cup. Of course, you miss most of the stars, such as Caroline Wozniacki and Samantha Stosur.

I haven't seen a better match than last Sunday's Alexandra Stevenson-Coco Vandeweghe qualifying match. Or Tuesday's Sania Mirza-Vania King second-round match. Past tournaments are full of memories of other exciting matches on the Club Court. That's where many local fans first recognized the excellence of Elena Dementieva's groundstrokes.

The intimacy of the court is special. The setting provides a unique matchup of nature and tennis.

Fans are just a few feet from the players on one end and the sides, and the open end is just a short distance from the marsh. In Thursday's loss to semifinalist Peng Shuai, former champion Nadia Petrova fought off a swarm of bees with her towel.

The Club Court's capacity is approximately 2,500. A large number of the seats are located on the sun-baked side late in the afternoon when most of these marathons seem to end.

Five hundred or so additional seats on the good side would turn this site into a true second stadium court that would maintain its intimacy, yet make the layout more suitable for continued great match-ups that attract so many true tennis fans.

No miracles from Vesnina

Caroline Wozniacki finally played well Saturday.

Poor Elena Vesnina. She has to be tired after a full week of singles and doubles. I don't think she has a chance in today's final if Wozniacki plays anything like she did in dismantling former champion Jelena Jankovic, 6-4, 6-4, in the semifinals. And that prediction isn't influenced by Vesnina's doubles success.

But if Wozniacki plays the way she did earlier in the week, Vesnina wouldn't make a bad champion. The 24-year-old Russian is a talented player who is ready to break through. She hits great groundstrokes and has a solid serve.

Wozniacki has all of that, plus the heart of a lion that enables her to get to balls that Vesnina never would dream of reaching. Wozniacki simply doesn't like to lose.

I expect Vesnina to commit errors before she has a chance to win points. Wozniacki will make her work.

Against Jankovic, Wozniacki turned up the pressure at 4-4. That pressure likely will come a game or two earlier today. How's 6-3, 6-2, Wozniacki, sound?

Observations

--What player is best at turning a negative situation into a positive one? You say, Wozniacki. Yes, in singles. But what about doubles? Try out Bethanie Mattek-Sands. This odd-sock girl appears to be the best at getting her racket on the ball in the most hopeless situation, and not just keeping the point alive but actually taking charge of the point and putting the other team on the defensive.

Mattek-Sands can be running away from the net heading to the sideline in full stride, and some way make a stab near the surface that enables her to get her racket in front of the ball enough to hit a lob on a point everyone thought was over. Not one of the those fancy Roger Federer between-the-legs shots that he obviously practices, but just sheer reaction to a desperate situation. You can see Mattek-Sands today for the second time in three years in the doubles final.

--One of the best matches played in Family Circle Stadium came late Friday night. The match ended about 12:15 a.m. Saturday morning when Vesnina, who had just advanced to the singles semifinals in the previous match, and Mirza, who had lost her singles quarterfinal in the afternoon, pulled out a 3-6, 6-2, 10-8 win over Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova, the same pair that eliminated the Shelby Rogers/Patty Schnyder team.

The crowd of about 150 was exhausted by the riveting play, but realized that the best way to win a big point is to slam the ball as hard as possible directly at the net person. That's the way they play doubles now on the tour, but I'm not sure who picked up the tactic first: league tennis or the pros.


(04/06/11)  GOOSE CREEK GAZETTE: Tennis camps offered
Spring tennis clinics begin April 18 at Doty Park in Summerville. The clinics are for all levels of players.
Summerville’s junior tennis camps will be held throughout the summer as well.
Call Nancy Sumersett at 270-1017, or Summerville Parks and Recreation at 851-5211 for more information.



(04/04/11)  For Watson, tennis is elementary

Heather Watson knew tennis was her game from the beginning. "She paid for her own lessons," her mother, Michelle, said Sunday after the British 18-year-old had played her way into the main draw of the Family Circle Cup.

"She was doing too many things ... dancing, swimming, Brownies. I told her she had to give up something, so she saved the money her grandmother sent her and used it to pay for tennis lessons."

That was back in Guernsey, England, when Watson was 7. She has been training the last six years out of the famed Bollettieri Academy as well as the National Tennis Center in London. Ranked 123rd in the world, Watson is now a prime prospect to help lead the British out of their tennis doldrums.

Scoring a 6-1, 7-6 victory over Lenka Wienerova, of Slovakia, in the second round of qualifying on Sunday to advance into the Family Circle Cup might have been a good omen for Watson. She has advanced through qualifying three previous times this year, and each time she reached the quarterfinals of the main draw ($220,000 events in Auckland and Memphis, Tenn., and a $100,000 tournament in Nassau, Fla.).

"Hopefully, I can go further this time," said the enthusiastic Watson while eating lunch in the clubhouse, surrounded by family and friends. "It's important that my family (mother and retired father) travels with me."

Watson, whose first-round match today against American Christina McHale will be the second match on the Althea Gibson Club Court, was pleased with her play on clay.

"The more I play on clay, the better I get. My game automatically changes, getting more spin and height on my shots."

Racket help

Alexandra Stevenson credits her new Donnay racket with her rise in the rankings this year. "They made it just for me ... nobody else is using it," she said about the white and hot pink grommets Xencore racket from Donnay USA that she started using in December.

Stevenson was quite happy to defeat what she calls a "USTA girl"

(Coco Vandeweghe) on Sunday. "I really like beating USTA girls, because the USTA doesn't help me at all," the 30-year-old former Wimbledon semifinalist said.

She was also surprised to see USTA coach Tom Gullikson go out on the court to talk with Vandeweghe in a match against another American player.

"I've been around the block," Stevenson said. "So nobody scares me."

Company coming

Help might be on the way for Venus and Serena Williams. Just turned 18 years old, Sloane Stephens looks like a real comer, with strong, deep groundstrokes and excellent quickness and consistency. She's also an African American.

Stephens earned a berth in the main draw with an impressive 6-3, 6-1 win over Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and will take on Shuai Peng of China today in the fourth match on the Club Court.

Falconi uses her height

Former Georgia Tech All-American Irina Falconi thinks she's a "unique player" because she uses her 5-4 height to her advantage. She gets down better for low balls.

Falconi turned pro last year after posting 70 wins in two seasons at

Georgia Tech, where she was ACC player of the year and tournament MVP.

"I felt like I was ready to go to the next level," she said Sunday.

Now, after winning a pair of qualifying matches, she's in the main draw of the Family Circle Cup in today's third match on court No. 4.

Falconi and her family moved to the United States from Ecuador when she was 3-years-old.

Other notes

--The 32-player qualifying tournament started out with 15 U.S.

players, but Stephens, Stevenson and Falconi were the only U.S. players to qualify for the main draw.

--Former Grand Slam doubles champion Murphy Jensen is back as the on-court master of ceremonies for the Family Circle Cup.

--Sunday's crowd of 5,382 was the largest for a qualifying round since 2003. The two-day qualifying attendance of 10,482 was more than a 100 above last year's figures.

--Don't forget, hometown product Shelby Rogers takes on

Jill Craybas in today's second match in Family Circle Stadium. There's talk that Rogers' doubles match with partner Patty Schnyder against the team of Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia and Anastasia Rodionova of Australia might be played in the stadium on Tuesday night.


(04/04/11)  Family Circle Cup: Stevenson refuses to quit on career
Chasing the pot of gold at the end of the tennis rainbow at 30 years old?

Why doesn’t Alexandra Stevenson just give it up?

All a tennis fan had to do to learn the answer to that question was to stop by the Althea Gibson Club Court on Sunday at the Family Circle Cup.

Stevenson doesn’t play tennis quite as well as her dad (Julius Irving) played basketball, but she is quite a tennis player.

The 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist cast anyone who stopped by to see her play into a time warp as she battled qualifying top seed Coco Vandeweghe, another player with NBA family connections (uncle Kiki Vandeweghe), in a riveting two-hour and 41-minute thriller that had all kinds of twists and turns. Few fans left before it was over, and Stevenson had earned her eighth berth in a Family Circle Cup main draw with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory before a crowd of approximately 2,500.

This was a match that easily was the quality of a main draw early-rounder.

Ranked 90th in the world, Vandeweghe would have been a direct entry, had she entered the Family Circle Cup on time. But as she left the clubhouse late Sunday afternoon, carrying her tennis shoes while hobbling away on an injured right ankle, she was just another of the eight qualifying tournament losers who barely missed out on a berth in the big event that starts today at 10 a.m.

Actually, it might have been as good as any match that will be seen during the seven main-draw days of the $721,000 Family Circle Cup. Stevenson goes on to another late-afternoon match today against fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the fourth match in Family Circle Stadium.

Stevenson realizes people wonder why she keeps playing.

“I lost my career at 23 … but people don’t give up. People don’t understand that my career got stopped because of an injury,” the 6-1, 156-pound San Diego product said. “My goal is the top 100 (this year), then the top 10.”

Once ranked as high as 18th, she is No. 263 in the world and owns an 11-7 singles record for 2011. You might say she’s on a roll, also having beaten Vandeweghe earlier this year while en route to the quarterfinals of a $100,000 tournament in Midland, Mich.

Using slice and power with an old-school one-handed backhand, serving with sheer power and pinpoint accuracy, and hitting huge forehands, Stevenson overpowered Vandeweghe in the first set and took a 1-0 lead in the second set. That’s when Vandeweghe called for the trainer for her hurt foot. After a long break in the action, Stevenson lost the next four games and the momentum swung to her opponent. Both players leveled out their play in the third set as Vandeweghe saved three match points before surrendering to Stevenson’s forehand passing shot in the long 10th game.

Second-seeded Sania Mirza of India, another former top 30 player on a mission after missing nearly six months of 2010 with a wrist injury, had no trouble making the main draw with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Olga Savchuk of Ukraine. Fourth-seeded Heather Watson of England and No. 6 American Irina Falconi also scored straight-set wins as the winners of Sunday’s eight qualifying matches all earned berths in the main draw.


(04/03/11)  Clay and Cotton will impact SCISA picture
Things can change quickly in any sport, including high school tennis.

Two weeks ago, it appeared that Porter-Gaud was the early favorite in SCISA Class AAA. That was before defending boys state champion Hilton Head Prep put everything into place.

Here's the puzzle pieces to solve: Pinewood Prep beat Hilton Head Prep, 6-3; Porter-Gaud defeated Pinewood Prep, 5-4; and Hilton Head Prep downed Porter-Gaud, 6-3, by yielding a total of 14 games in the first four singles positions.

The answers to the puzzle: Hilton Head's clay and Cotton (as in New Orleans senior Aaron Cotton).

Hilton Head Prep newcomer Andrew Schafer from Frederick, Md., gave up just two games to previously unbeaten Porter-Gaud sophomore Thomas Spratt at No. 1, and veterans Jared Woodson and Cotton, along with Cleveland newcomer J.D. O'Brien, also won for Hilton Head Prep along with posting three-set wins in doubles to account for all six team points.

When Porter-Gaud and Hilton Head Prep meet again Tuesday, the location will be Porter-Gaud's hard courts. In reality, clay shouldn't make that much difference for the Cyclones since they already have beaten High School League power Waccamaw on clay.

The real question is whether Hilton Head Prep will be without Cotton, who didn't make the trip to Pinewood Prep a few weeks ago as well as missed trips to both local teams last season.

The upcoming meeting between Porter-Gaud and Hilton Head Prep might decide the top seeding in one bracket of the SCISA state playoffs that start in three weeks, although the Cyclones have a road date with Pinewood Prep on April 19. Of course, both local teams and Hilton Head Prep are virtual locks to make the playoffs.

Hilton Head Prep, with its direct line to Smith Stearns Tennis Academy where its stars train, may just be too good for the Cyclones, as they were last year. Hilton Head Prep has been in the last four state finals, winning two of them.

"It's real important to get the top seeding," Porter-Gaud coach Tom Higgins said. Although now that the state semifinals and final are scheduled to be played in Sumter, there doesn't appear to be any danger of Porter-Gaud having to face Hilton Head Prep on clay in the state playoffs as was the case just a few seasons ago.

High School update

--Pinewood Prep coach Bryant McKee thinks his team has as good a chance as any to win the SCISA AAA state crown. "It would be nice to get a No. 1 (upper or lower bracket) seed, but honestly it doesn't make any difference," he said. The Panthers, who have lost only to Porter-Gaud, will take on Columbia power Hammond on Tuesday in Summerville. "We're expecting Hammond to be good," McKee said. Veteran eighth-grader Adam Elliget is having a solid year at No. 1 for the Panthers, while sophomore No. 2 Joel Roberts has lost only a three-setter to Hilton Head Prep's Jared Woodson.

--Freshman Austin Heinz is rolling along unbeaten for SCISA Class A power Palmetto Christian. Heinz already has defeated Bishop England senior standout Walker Heffron and is looking forward to helping the Eagles win their fifth straight state title.

--Wando newcomer Addison King is steadily improving his game after taking time off from tennis and transferring from Palmetto Christian to Wando for his junior year. King suffered early losses to Porter-Gaud's Spratt and West Ashley's Junior Duarte, but is training under Bryan Minton at Family Circle Tennis Center and figures to help make the Warriors a state threat in the High School League's Class AAAA division.

--Unbeaten Bishop England is deep and talented, and appears capable of finally knocking off Waccamaw once the High School League's Class AA state playoffs heat up the first week in May.

College update

The College of Charleston women went into this weekend on a hot streak that included eight victories in their last 10 matches. The only losses were to South Carolina and Clemson. Coach Angelo Anastopoulo's team hosts Chattanooga today at Patriots Point at 11 a.m. The Cougars face a showdown with perennial Southern Conference power Furman here next Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The SoCon women's tournament is only a couple weeks away, April 20-23 at Chattanooga.

The College of Charleston men will host The Citadel Wednesday at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs are struggling, having defeated only lightweights Case Western Reserve, Johnson C. Smith and Lenoir-Rhyne. The SoCon men's tournament will be held April 22-24.

The Charleston Southern women are shooting for a strong finish heading into the Big South Conference tournament, April 21-23 at Rock Hill.

Local notes

Teddy Tennis will be on display at the Family Circle Cup in the form of demonstrations at 3 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. Teddy Tennis is a program for 3- to 5-year-olds that is offered at the I'On Club that combines music, pictures, bears and tennis skills. Patricia Jensen, the mother of Grand Slam doubles titlists Luke and Murphy Jensen, is the U.S. head of the international program. Go to teddytennis.com to see I'On listed among other programs around the world. "I am very excited about this program. It complements Quick Start (10-and-under tennis) with the correct net heights, racket size and balls," I'On tennis director JoAnn Lee said.

The deadline for forming mixed doubles teams for both adult and senior 2.5 (adult mixed only), 5.0 (senior mixed only), 6.0, 7.0, 8.0 and 9.0 is April 12.

Kiawah Island has scheduled the Prinella Haygood Memorial Tennis Championships for May 12-15. Registration for the charity tournament in honor of a Kiawah Resort employee who died of breast cancer is available at USTA.com using the tournament ID number (70002011). The event will offer doubles and mixed doubles for NTRP levels.


(04/03/11)  Sharapova out of Family Circle Cup
Everything seems to be falling Shelby Rogers' way these days, possibly even in the case of her Family Circle Cup singles draw and doubles partner. The Family Circle Cup wasn't so lucky Saturday.

The tournament took a major hit when Maria Sharapova rescinded her wild-card entry into the Family Circle Cup and will not appear in the $721,000 WTA Tour stop on Daniel Island.
For more coverage

Family Circle Cup

The former world's No. 1 suffered a 6-1, 6-4 loss to Victoria Azarenka in Saturday's final of Miami's Sony Ericsson Open.

'Maria is a superstar talent, and her presence in our player field will be missed by the tournament and the fans alike,' Family Circle Cup general manager Bob Moran said.

'We knew there was a chance she would withdraw depending on her performance in Miami when she accepted our wild card in January, and we congratulate Maria on her success at that event.'

'Despite the loss of one high profile competitor, our draw still boasts four of the top 10 players in the world as well as four Family Circle Cup champions and a host of other marquee players.'

Rogers, the Daniel Island 18-year-old who is playing in her first Family Circle Cup main draw, had the luck of a possible favorable first-round matchup opposite 36-year-old American Jill Craybas in the top half of the singles draw. The winner could face Rogers' doubles partner, Family Circle Cup favorite Patty Schnyder, in the second round.

Schnyder, twice a Family Circle finalist and now the 13th seed, is playing her 15th consecutive Family Circle Cup, and along with Craybas are the only players, who counting this year's event, have played in all 11 tournaments on Daniel Island.

Both Rogers and Schnyder participated in the open-to-the-public draw at the Daniel Island Grille on Saturday afternoon, which was supervised by WTA Tour official Pam Whytcross. Rogers and Schnyder have a doubles history in that they teamed up for an exhibition victory before a large crowd in Family Circle Stadium on Friday night of last year's tournament.

Of course, Rogers is pleased to be playing with the veteran Swiss lefty in the main event this time.

'We played well together last year,' Rogers said.

Craybas, 5-3, is 3-7 in 2011 while beating only one top-100 player. Once ranked as high as 39th in the world, Craybas is currently No. 112.

'I'm just excited to be playing,' Rogers said. 'I now know who I play. It'll be nice to know when I'm playing.

'But I feel good about playing Jill. I know her game. But I think any match at this level will be tough. I've got to make a game plan.'

Bryan Minton, Rogers' coach, said, 'I think it's a good draw. She has an opportunity ... she has a good chance.'

Last year's national junior champion and U.S. Open main draw participant, Rogers was given a wild card into the Family Circle main draw. Rogers comes into the tournament after losing earlier in the week to Madison Brengle in the first round of a $25,000 challenger in Pelham, Ala. Rogers won twice in Pelham qualifying to advance into that main draw.

Outside of Rogers' little section of the draw, top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark is the top seed, followed by defending champion Samantha Stosur of Australia. The draw's four top 10 players are Nos. 3 and 4 seeds Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and Marion Bartoli of France along with Wozniacki and Stosur. The four former champions are Jankovic, No. 7 seed Nadia Petrova of Russia, Sabine Lisicki of Germany and Stosur.

The top eight seeds will receive first-round byes. Main draw competition will begin Monday.

Wozniacki's first stern test could come in the quarterfinals against No. 6 seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, while the big-serving Stosur is in the same quarter of the draw as

No. 5 seed Shahar Peer of Israel.

Rogers is in the quarter of the draw with Jankovic and No. 8 seed Alisa Kleybanova of Russia.

One of the most interesting quarterfinals could thrust the power of 2006 champion Petrova against the two-handed consistency of Bartoli. The powerful Lisicki, a wild card who is currently ranked No. 217 in the world, could be Bartoli's first foe.


(04/03/11)  Mirza another step closer to main draw

Sania Mirza is relieved to be one victory away from participating in her second Family Circle Cup main draw.

But after sitting out nearly six months in 2010 with an injured right wrist that required surgery, the 24-year-old former top 30 player is thrilled to be this close to a major step in her comeback. Yet, she knows that today is another challenge.

Mirza, the only woman from India to win a Grand Slam title (2009 Australian Open mixed doubles), sailed through the first set of Saturday's opening-round qualifying match against Johanna Konta, only to see the Australian find her game in time to force a third set.

"I've been playing better every match, but I have to take it one match at a time," the second-seeded Mirza said in the clubhouse after prevailing, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. "I'm just happy to be playing well and injury free.  I had to step up my game in the third set. She (Konta) was serving well, and she was a clay-court player. I hadn't played on clay in two years."

Mirza, who lost to Venus Williams in the second round of the 2009 Family Circle Cup, has played a long list of qualifying tournaments and smaller events to lift her ranking to 99th in the world after ending 2010 ranked 166th. On one of those smaller stages, Mirza lost to Daniel Island's Shelby Rogers last year in Vancouver.
Mirza's goal is to get back in the top 30, where she held the 27th spot in 2007. "That's the plan," she said. "But it's more important to stay healthy. If that happens, everything else will fall into place. To be back in the top 100 and healthy is a bonus for me. I couldn't even hold a fork in my hand last year."
A win in today's second round of qualifying would send Mirza into the main draw of the $721,000 tournament, along with the winners of the seven other qualifying matches scheduled for today. Mirza's opponent today will be No. 9 seed Olga Savchuk of the Ukraine.

Qualifying top seed Coco Vandeweghe, ranked 90th in the world, scored a 7-6, 6-4 win over Natalie Grandin of South Africa and will go against 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist Alexandra Stevenson today.

Stephanie Foretz Gacon of France, a 2002 quarterfinalist here, moved one step closer to another berth in the Family Circle Cup with a 6-2, 6-1 win over 17-year-old American Lauren Davis. Now 29 years old, Gacon scored victories over former two-time champion Conchita Martinez and Grand Slam great Monica Seles after advancing through qualifying nine years ago. She will oppose sixth-seeded American Irina Falconi today.

Young British standout Heather Watson turned back 15-year-old Smash Junior Cup champion Josie Kuhlman of Ponte Vedra, Fla., 7-5, 6-1, in a windy match on the Althea Gibson Club Court.


(04/02/11)  Main draw the ultimate prize for Family Circle Cup contender Lauren Davis

Don't overlook Lauren Davis because of her petiteness.

She's all heart, the consummate competitor.

At 5-2, 120 pounds, Davis plays a torrid game, one much bigger than her size.

The 17-year-old fireball from Cleveland won two 16-under national titles, the Orange Bowl and has been ranked No. 1 in the nation in both 16-under and 18-under.

At the end of last year, she won the U.S. qualifying tournament for a wild card into the Australian Open's main draw while in the midst of a streak that included 36 victories in 37 matches.

Now, she's at Family Circle Tennis Center with aspirations of winning two matches in qualifying today and Sunday to earn a berth into the main draw of the $721,000 Family Circle Cup that starts Monday.

Davis has a tough opener at 10 a.m. today against veteran Stephanie Foretz Gacon of France, who advanced through qualifying in 2002 and upset former two-time champion Conchita Martinez and the great Monica Seles on her way to the quarterfinals of the Family Circle Cup.

"I wish I was a little taller, but I have to play with what I was given," Davis said this week after arriving at Family Circle Tennis Center. "My serve can't be as big, but I think I make up for it with speed. My movement is one of my strengths."

Davis thrives on clay surfaces with her sizzling machine-gun like groundstrokes and never-say-die approach to rallies. She admires Rafael Nadal because "he fights no matter what."

She's no stranger to Charleston clay. She was runner-up in last summer's $10,000 Mount Pleasant Women's Pro Tennis Classic at the old Player's Club.

"I have been playing a lot since last summer ... the transition between juniors and the pros," she said. "It's tough trying to keep your head up."

Davis is fresh from playing in the main draw of the super tournament at Indian Wells, Calif., where she lost in the first round, then went to Miami, but fell one victory shy of making it into the main draw of the Sony Ericsson Open.
Before posting a qualifying tournament victory in Miami, Davis was 0-3 as a pro. She turned pro in January in Australia, three months after reaching her 17th birthday. The move was worth a check of nearly $20,000 for playing in the year's first Grand Slam event, even though defending Family Circle Cup champion Samantha Stosur rolled past her, 6-1, 6-1, in the first round Down Under.

"This (the Family Circle qualifying tournament) is a good opportunity for me to do well.

I'm going in with no pressure. I'll play my game and see what happens. I feel good about where I'm at with my game," said Davis, who describes herself as "an aggressive baseliner."

A high school junior in online schooling, the daughter of a cardiologist travels the world with the aid of a scholarship from a Cleveland group. Often, her grandparents from Cleveland travel with her. A coach from Florida's Chris Evert Academy is accompanying Davis for this tournament.

Coco Vandeweghe and Sania Mirza are the top two seeds in qualifying and will play the fourth matches today. Vandeweghe is ranked 90th, but failed to enter the tournament in time to go straight into the main draw. Irina Falconi, Sloane Stephens, Madison Brengle, Beatrice Capra and Abigail Spears also are among the 15 Americans in the 32-draw event.

Qualifying matches will be staged on four courts, headlined by the Althea Gibson Club Court. No matches are scheduled for Family Circle Stadium until Monday's opening round of the main draw.
 
A second round of qualifying will be played Sunday, starting at 10 a.m., with the eight winners from that round receiving spots in the Family Circle Cup.


(03/28/11)  World TeamTennis finals to be played in Charleston

World TeamTennis' three-day Finals Weekend will be held at Family Circle Magazine Stadium July 22-24.

"Charleston has such a rich tennis history and it’s a market that we have wanted to bring World TeamTennis to for a long time," WTT commissioner Ilana Kloss said Monday in making the announcement that the league Billie Jean King co-founded 35 seasons ago would bring its final four teams to Daniel Island to decide its 2011 champion.

"The Family Circle Tennis Center will be a tremendous showcase for our championship matches. It’s also a great destination for WTT fans from all over the U.S. to come enjoy world-class team tennis."

The WTT is composed of some of the best men and women in the game today as well as former greats such as Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova. Current marquee players from the ATP and WTA Tours who participate in the WTT include Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, John Isner, Sam Querrey, Melanie Oudin, Mardy Fish and the Bryan brothers. Singles, doubles and mixed doubles make up a match.

This will be only the second time in WTT history that the finals have been played outside of a franchise market. The league is composed of the Newport Beach Breakers, Philadelphia Freedoms, Sacramento Capitals, St. Louis Aces, Washington Kastles, Boston Lobsters, Springfield (Mo.) Lasers, New York Sportimes and defending champion Kansas City Explorers.

The WTT's Eastern Conference Championship will be decided at Family Circle Tennis Center on Friday, July 22 at 7 p.m., with the Western Conference Championship scheduled for 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 23. The Sunday WTT final will be televised live by the Tennis Channel at 5 p.m.


(03/20/11)  Wild card a chance of career for Rogers
Last year's U.S. Open offered Shelby Rogers a unique opportunity on a huge stage. Only a first-round three-set loss to tour veteran Shuai Peng spoiled the setup created by a wild-card berth in the Grand Slam tournament.

At 18 years old, Rogers is still a teenager, but life is ready to turn serious. She's a pro ranked No. 328 in the world.

Rogers will get her next big opportunity in a little more than two weeks in the main draw of the Family Circle Cup, thanks to a wild card from the WTA Tour Premier level tournament.

This is the chance of a career for a young player.
One win in the Family Circle will probably move Rogers up nearly 50 places in the world rankings. Of course, that's no easy task against the world's best players. And life won't get any easier after that in the hungry world of professional tennis.

If she happens to land a prime-time spot in Family Circle Magazine Stadium, it will be the real thing this time, not the fun atmosphere of last year's Friday night doubles exhibition.

But that's what Rogers is hoping for, show time under the lights.

The Daniel Island girl is determined to make it on the pro tour. She has just returned from a training trip to Las Vegas where she spent time with the likes of Darren Cahill, Andy Murray's mother, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi-fitness guru Gil Reyes.
She's back at Family Circle Tennis Center trying to put some of the techniques she learned into action before heading out next week for Pelham, Ala., to compete in the qualifying tournament for a $25,000 challenger.

"Then I'll come home for a few days to get ready for the Family Circle Cup," she said.

"Tennis is my life. I'm getting tougher, trying to get to the next level."

Rogers didn't hesitate when Family Circle officials offered her a spot in the tournament's main draw. "Naturally, I accepted it," she said.

And with the invitation and its acceptance comes a milestone for Charleston tennis. The fulfillment of the dream of Charleston producing its own Family Circle Cup participant symbolizes the impact the tournament has had on local tennis in the last decade.

The ups and downs
Everyone who turns pro in sports doesn't achieve success. Injuries and missed chances are more common than glory.

The ups and downs of former Smash Junior Cup winners Mallory Cecil of Spartanburg and Alison Riske are studies in contrast.

Two years ago, Cecil was on her way to a sensational freshman year when the sky appeared to be the limit as she won Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and NCAA MVP honors while leading Duke to a national championship. She dropped out of Duke after her freshman year and concentrated on professional tennis.

Cecil received a wild card into the Family Circle Cup's main draw in 2009, partly because an injured shoulder prevented her from using the Smash Cup's wild card for the 2008 Family Circle's qualifying event. But Cecil's pro career may have been a short one. She is back at Duke as a first-year student assistant coach.

Riske's pro career appears to be on a steady climb higher since winning the 2009 Smash Cup. She, too, was awarded a wild card into the Family Circle Cup's main draw the next year. Riske turned down a scholarship to Vanderbilt, but has climbed more than 200 spots in the rankings in the last two years. She is now challenging for the top 100 at No. 114 while holding the 10th spot among U.S. women on the WTA Tour.

Fishburne and son
Diane Fishburne took a little time off after returning from earthquake-hit New Zealand, where she helped the U.S. women's 50 team win another Maria Bueno Cup ITP world team championship. The 53-year-old former College of Charleston All-American was in Chicago last weekend teaming with the other half of the USTA's top-ranked mother/son team, Matt Hane, to win another national mother/son tournament.

Fishburne and Hane plan to play in all three national mother/son tournaments this year in defense of their No. 1 ranking.

Hane has been named the new head tennis pro at the I'On Club, serving on tennis director JoAnn Lee's staff.
Fishburne, who has dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 in the world in women's 50, was unable to defend her world individual title due to the cancellation of the singles tournament in Christchurch, New Zealand. "There's talk of having the individuals in October at a different site," the four-time world champion said.

Notes
--Porter-Gaud won its fifth match of the week Saturday morning with an 8-1 win over Cape Fear Academy of Wilmington, N.C., as sophomore No. 1 Thomas Spratt remained unbeaten. The 7-0 Cyclones, who appear to be the early favorite to win a SCISA Class AAA state boys title, play at defending state champion Hilton Head Prep on Tuesday and at High School League Class AA power Waccamaw on Wednesday. Playing without senior No. 1 Aaron Cotton, Hilton Head Prep suffered a 6-3 loss to Pinewood Prep last week.
--Two local league tennis teams brought back titles from the recent Southern Section Combo Doubles Championships in Mobile, Ala. A team out of LTP Tennis captained by Ann Harrah captured the women's 9.5 title, while a Snee Farm Country Club team captained by Penny Kiggans took the senior women's 6.5 crown. Stan Flowers' men's 5.5 team from Charleston Tennis Center brought back a runner-up trophy.
--The College of Charleston women's team (7-5), winner of seven of its last nine, will continue its eight-match home stand today at 1 p.m. at Patriots Point complex against South Carolina.
Charleston will also host Clemson on Monday at 1 p.m., then face Cornell on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. before wrapping up the home stand on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. by beginning defense of its Southern Conference title against Elon.
--The College of Charleston men (7-4) will travel to Greenville on Thursday to take on perennial SoCon favorite Furman, then return home for a SoCon matchup with Wofford next Saturday at 11 a.m.
--The Citadel is in Birmingham, Ala., today to take on Samford in an attempt to improve the Bulldogs' 1-13 record. The Bulldogs will return home for a 2 p.m. match on Wednesday against Chicago, then entertain Georgia Southern on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
--Teams from Myrtle Beach's Dunes Club, Columbia's Lexington County Tennis Complex, Greenville's Thornblade Club, Sumter's Palmetto Tennis Center, Charlotte, Savannah and Jacksonville, Fla., are scheduled to join the local Family Circle Tennis Center club team in mixed doubles competition during the Family Circle Cup.


(03/17/11)  Charleston's Rogers set to play in Family Circle Cup
Shelby Rogers, an 18-year-old Daniel Island resident, is the first player from Charleston to be granted a wild-card spot in the main draw of the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament.

Tournament officials announced Wednesday that Rogers, who was a member of the ball crew for the 2001 Family Circle Cup, will play in this year's event scheduled April 2-10 at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

"I've had a great year and I'm playing the best tennis of my life right now, so I'm very excited to compete against the top players in the world right here in my back yard," said Rogers. "When I was a Family Circle Cup ball girl back in 2001, I never dreamed that I'd have a chance to compete on the same stage as my childhood heroes. I've been coming to this tournament most of my life as a spectator, and with the help of all my local fans, I hope to break through at this historic event, like so many other young players have in the past."

Rogers was granted a wild card into the 2010 Family Circle Cup qualifying tournament as winner of that year's Girls 18 division in the Smash Jr. Cup. She lost a close three-set match to fellow American Christina McHale in front of 2,500 fans, a capacity crowd, and the largest ever to fill Althea Gibson Club Court during the Cup. She also participated in an exhibition doubles match during the Cup that year, partnering with Patty Schnyder to win a night match on Family Circle stadium court.

"I feel like I have a home-court advantage at the Family Circle Tennis Center, where I train every day," said Rogers, who is currently ranked 328th in the world.

Among the players in this year's field are No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Samantha Stosur, Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, Melanie Oudin and Sabine Lisicki.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 856-7900 or go to familycirclecup.com.


(03/11/11)  Bishop England senior Walker Heffron is a star on 2 courts

It doesn't seem fair. A serious tennis player with college aspirations literally can't afford to play high school basketball.

That's Walker Heffron's dilemma; except, the Bishop England senior is already coming off the basketball season. High school tennis is in full focus, with the Bishops' regular season already under way.

It's an important time in Heffron's young life. Decisions abound. College is next.

Reality has hit home. Two sports have been fun in high school. Although he wouldn't want to take back all of those fond memories from the basketball court where he served as the team's captain, just as he is captain of the tennis team, Heffron now realizes that it may not have been in his best interest to play both basketball and tennis.

"I hurt myself playing two sports," admitted the 6-4 all-region guard who recently closed out his basketball career with a 23-point, 13-rebound effort against Wade Hampton in the Class AA state playoffs.

"My tennis ranking has dropped. And I didn't play AAU basketball before last summer. The summer is when all of the college coaches see the high school basketball players."

Yet, Heffron was named one of the top AAU players in the state.

Summer also is a critical time for junior tennis players. It's a time when most of the important tennis tournaments are held, and college coaches are everywhere since the coaches normally are busy with their own programs during the school year.

The time away from junior tennis last summer also cost Heffron in the state rankings where he finished 2010 ranked 11th in the state in boys' 18 tennis after being ranked in the top 10 throughout his junior career. He was ranked 170th at the end of 2010 in the Southerns, 154 spots removed from his best Southern ranking.

With the drop in the state and Southern tennis rankings go a bunch of dollars in scholarship money.

"I'm not trying for a scholarship in basketball. I really want to play college tennis. That's always been my goal," Heffron said.

His deceased father, Randy Heffron, was an all-star in tennis and basketball at The Citadel, where he is in the school's athletic hall of fame.

Heffron's older brother, Randall, is a freshman on tennis scholarship at Wofford. Randall Heffron was last year's Post and Courier Lowcountry boys tennis player of the year while playing for the Bishops.

"I would love to play with my brother," Walker said. "But that has positive and negative sides. Maybe we would play doubles together. That would be great ... but part of me wants to do my own thing."

It's also a matter of finances.

"Furman? I hope they have scholarship money (for tennis). Wofford? I hope for scholarship money. There's no tennis scholarship money for me at USC. I would have to walk on," said Heffron, a three-time All-Lowcountry player and two-time all-stater in tennis.

"I've talked to coach Ray (Wofford's Rod Ray) and Scarpa (Furman coach Paul Scarpa). I would love to play for either one of them."

Playing for Scarpa would have special meaning for Heffron since Scarpa recruited his dad for Florida State before Scarpa switched to Furman and became college tennis' winningest coach.

"I love high school tennis. It's a team sport. You play by yourself, but yet you play for your team and school. Tennis is one of a kind, and I love it."

Heffron hopes to go out as a winner in tennis after ending each of his first three years at Bishop England in losses to perennial power Waccamaw in the state playoffs.

"Waccamaw is still strong," he said. "But hopefully we can get a fire under us and beat them this time. I think we have a great team ... with a solid group of six seniors and one junior in our top seven."

Heffron is the top player, followed by junior Steven Weaver. They make up a strong No. 1 doubles team.

Solid veterans Rivers Colyer and Joseph Kennedy are other top players.

Allen Moore is in his first year as head coach of the Bishops. The veteran coach served as an assistant last season to Skip ReVille.


(03/06/11)  Diane Fishburne returns from New Zealand
Diane Fishburne is relieved to be back home after a nearly two-week tennis trip to earthquake-riddled New Zealand.

With buildings crumbling an hour away in Christchurch, Fishburne and her 50-and-over teammates beat the world in Ashburton, New Zealand, to defend their Maria Esther Bueno Cup ITF world team championship.

The U.S. team only saw glimpses of Christchurch when the Americans flew into the city the week before the devastation of one of New Zealand's biggest earthquakes ever and flew out of Christchurch the week after it was hit by the deadly 6.3 earthquake on Feb. 22.

Meanwhile, Fishburne and her teammates were 80 kilometers away in Ashburton.

But there was anxiety in the American camp, feeling the quake and its aftershocks that continued even after the team left New Zealand. "We were scared. It was eerie. There were aftershocks all week . . . there was a lot of rain for several days. We were rained out the Tuesday of the earthquake," she said.

In a surreal atmosphere, Fishburne and her teammates awaited word on the fate of other American teams that were participating in the world championships in Christchurch when the earthquake hit. "It took a day or so to find out that all of the U.S. players were OK," she said.

"A lot of teams left without finishing the competition."

But the Americans stayed. Fishburne and her teammates won four team matches, scoring a 2-1 win over Australia in last weekend's Bueno Cup final. After a straight-set loss by Fishburne to Ros Balodis in a showdown of former world champions allowed Australia to force a decisive doubles match, Susan Wright and former Grand Slam doubles champion JoAnne Russell defeated the Australian team of Balodis and Kerrie Douglas in straight sets to give the Americans their second straight Bueno Cup championship.

Fishburne, who went 3-1 in the team competition, didn't get a chance to defend her individual women's 50 world title. The individual event was cancelled a day after the earthquake.

Four No. 1 locals

Four area juniors finished 2010 with No. 1 state rankings as Carter James Sebo was tops in boys 10, Matthew Mendez took first in boys 16, Ashby Bland was No. 1 in girls 12 and University of Texas-bound Alex Martin claimed the top girls prize in 18-and-under.

Other top 10 rankings:

The most successful division for local players earning spots in the top 10 was 16-and-under boys where Mendez led a group of four locals, with Bishop England standout Steven Weaver rated third, Porter-Gaud sophomore Thomas Spratt taking fifth and Drew Halbauer following in sixth.

Girls 16, girls 18 and boys 14 were the next best groups for locals with three each in the top 10.

All-Lowcountry players Sarah McDonald of Colleton Prep and Narni Summerall of Ashley Hall claimed the sixth and eighth rankings, respectively, in girls 16, and Meagan Evans was ninth.

Kristina Mathis followed Martin in girls 18 with a third ranking, while Lowcountry player of the year Patricia Kirkland was fourth.

In boys 14, Adam Elliget was second, Alex Santiago was third and Hufelder Duarte was eighth.

Sebo was the area's only top 10 representative in boys 10, while Jared Pratt was solo in boys 12 with an eighth ranking, and in boys 18 Connor Clements was eighth.

Lauren Quinn was ranked seventh in girls 10. Accompanying Bland in the girls 12 top 10 was seventh-ranked Samantha Schuster. Wando standout Melanie Allen was rated third in girls 14.

A hot Koncilla

College of Charleston senior No. 1 and 2010 Southern Conference player of the year Lucas Koncilla of Austria is off to a 4-1 start for the Cougars, who are in Los Angeles this weekend to take on Loyola Marymount today and Gonzaga on Monday. Koncilla's only loss came at Clemson.

Coach Jay Bruner's C of C men are 3-2 after suffering a 4-3 loss to Georgia State last weekend in Atlanta. They will return home to Patriots Point for matches Friday at 2 p.m. against N.C. State and Saturday at 10 a.m. against Appalachian State.

--Coach Angelo Anastopoulo's C of C women's team will begin an eight-match home streak next Sunday with matches against Jacksonville State (11 a.m.) and Charleston Southern (4 p.m.).

Teddy tennis at I'On

I'On Club tennis director JoAnn Lee is excited about a new tennis program for 3-5 year olds called "Teddy Tennis." Lee already has been to New York to get certified for the program that currently has nine sites in the United States. Teddy Tennis will debut Saturday at I'On with free sessions from 1-1:45 p.m. for 3-4 year olds and 2-2:45 p.m. for 4-5 year olds.

Go to www.teddytennis.com for more information.

FCTC teams decided

Family Circle Tennis Center held a club doubles championship last weekend to determine the local mixed doubles participants in the first-year eight-city Family Circle doubles championships, which will be played during the April 2-10 Family Circle Cup.

The local winners were: mother/son Zal and Cahdil Maharaj of Dunes West in 9.0; Maggie McCann of St. Andrew's and Mike Palmer of Mount Pleasant in 8.0; Abby Waltz of Mount Pleasant Rec and Greg Yancey of Family Circle in 7.0; and father/daughter Dana Kelly of Park West and John Demo of Dunes West in 6.0.

Local notes

--Mixed doubles team registrations will begin today for both adult and senior 2.5 (adult mixed only), 5.0 (senior mixed only), 6.0, 7.0, 8.0 and 9.0. Registrations will run through April 12.

--The entry deadline for next weekend's St. Andrew's Lucky Shot NTRP-rated adult singles and doubles tournament is Wednesday at 11:59 a.m. Registration is available online at www.usta.com/tennislink, using the tournament ID number (704119611). Contact tournament director Philip Burke (fillup@standrewsparks.com).

--The Tri-County Elementary and Middle School League will begin play Monday. Approximately 120 teams are scheduled to participate.


(02/22/11)  Kuhlman surprise winner
Josie Kuhlman entered the 10th annual Smash Junior Cup as something of an afterthought.

She ended up having a walk in the park at Family Circle Tennis Center.

Unseeded and unknown, the 15-year-old from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., yielded a total of 15 games in six matches on her way to securing the Smash Cup's wild-card berth in the Family Circle Cup's qualifying tournament in April.

Kuhlman made fifth seed Leyla Erkan of Hilton Head Island her sixth victim in Monday's girls 18 final with a 6-1, 6-3 victory.

"Actually, I just found out about the tournament last weekend," Kuhlman said.

She thought the Smash entry deadline had passed, but her coach, former ATP Tour standout Brian Gottfried, encouraged her to give it a shot. As it turned out, the rest of the field might as well have skipped the event.
Kuhlman was that dominant over a three-day period of two matches a day.

From great court coverage, to excellent racket control on touch shots such as half volleys and drop shots, to a strong backhand and consistency, Kuhlman is quite a prospect for the future.

"I just played every point . . . and came out on top," she said.

When Kuhlman gave up only two games to top-seeded Caroline Price in the round of 16, heads started turning. And the heads never turned back, all the way through her 6-1, 6-1 semifinal win over fourth seed Taylor Davidson of Statesville, N.C., in Monday morning's semifinals and then the final.

Erkan, bound for Florida State, eliminated UCLA-bound No. 2 seed Kaitlin Ray of Little Rock, Ark., 6-4, 6-3, in the other semifinal. After winning the third game against Kuhlman to close to 2-1, Erkan dropped the next seven games to fall behind 3-0 in the second set. By then, she was ready to try something different, pounding big forehands when Kuhlman gave her balls to hit. Only then did Erkan win three of the last six games.

"She could hit any shot," Erkan said. "The last few games I was just trying to make something happen."

Kuhlman mixed in a variety of shots, but as she said, "The backhand has been my bread-and-butter. I love my backhand . . . I'm trying to love my forehand, too."

The Family Circle Cup qualifying tournament will be Kuhlman's first pro event. She was scheduled to receive a wild card into the qualifying tournament for last year's WTA tournament at Ponte Vedra Beach, but an injury sidelined her.


(02/23/11)  Outgoing USTA president Garvin still a major force
If tennis has been good to Lucy Garvin, she has been even better to the sport.

Make no mistake; Garvin is grateful for all of the opportunities that have come her way because of this game.

She has spent more than three decades working to grow the game of tennis throughout South Carolina first, the Southern Section and the entire U.S. Tennis Association . . . and world.

She has moved out of the USTA limelight somewhat in the past month, but only slightly. The Grand Volunteer from Greer hasn't disappeared from the tennis landscape, although her two-year term as president of the USTA expired with 2010.

"It was a very busy time as president, and an honor and privilege to be president, CEO and chairman of the board of the USTA," Garvin said last weekend while taking part in a USTA leadership conference at Kiawah Island.

She is still a major force in international tennis as well as the USTA, where she now serves on the board as past president and heads the major capital expenditures committee. That committee has some input into if and when the USTA will approve a covered stadium for the U.S. Open. That's almost a given now that two of the other three Grand Slams have covered stadiums.

When it rains in London or Melbourne, play might be stopped for a short time, but the cameras keep rolling, and no one has to get wet. Of course, that's quite the contrary at the U.S. Open.

But an event that generates what Garvin calls "75-80 percent of all USTA revenue" is sure to get a roof one of these days.

Garvin is in her last year as vice president of the International Tennis Federation. She will run for another two-year stint on the board when the ITF holds its annual meeting in Bangkok this fall.

She is excited about the direction the USTA is headed with its 10-and-under, Quick Start.

"We will have more children on the court in the next five years than ever before," she said.

While the U.S. Open is the big bread-winner, league tennis is the people-winner.

"There are more than 350,000 players playing league tennis," Garvin said. And the figure continues to grow.

One of her favorite perks as the USTA boss was visiting countries all over the world when the United States participated in Davis Cup and Fed Cup competition.

Garvin is a member of the tennis halls of fame for both South Carolina and the Southern Section. She has served as president of the Southern Section. Noted as possibly tennis' most dedicated volunteer, the Lucy Garvin Volunteer of the Year Award was named in her honor by the S.C. Tennis Association.

Local notes
--Local facilities will be staying open late again during this spring's adult tennis season.
During Wednesday's captain's meeting, league captains voted to play full third sets instead of switching to a 10-point match tiebreaker. However, senior leagues will use the match tiebreaker, which also is used in all postseason playoffs.
--Daniel Island 18-year-old Shelby Rogers was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the recent
$25,000 challenger in Plantation, Fla. Rogers lost to unseeded No. 272-ranked Lenka
Wienerova of Slovakia, 6-2, 4-6, 6-0, after having defeated fifth-seeded, No. 233 Julia
Mayr of Italy in the second round.
--Summerville's Robbye Poole suffered a first-round loss in a $10,000 men's satellite tournament last week in Tamarac, Fla.
--Next Sunday is the deadline for entering the Championships at Legend Oaks Plantation, which will be held Feb. 3-6 for all adult NTRP levels.
--The registration period for league local mixed doubles season for adult and senior teams will be March 6 through April 12.
--The April 2-10 Family Circle Cup is accepting applications for adult and junior ball crew members. Ball crew training sessions will begin next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Applications are available at familycirclecup.com or by contacting Dan Tumbleston (367-0279 or familycirclecup.ballcrew@gmail.com).


(02/21/11)  Dreams remain for semifinalists
Meghan Blevins' dream of following in the steps of Daniel Island's Shelby Rogers as Smash Junior Cup girls 18 champion came to an end in Sunday afternoon's quarterfinals at Family Circle Tennis Center in a 6-4, 6-1 loss to Hilton Head Island tennis academy product Leyla Erkan.

But for Erkan and three others girls, the excitement will continue this morning at 8 when they compete in the semifinals, hoping to keep alive their hopes for the wild-card berth in the Family Circle Cup's qualifying tournament that will go to the champion.

A local junior eventually headed for Oklahoma State on a tennis scholarship, Blevins had to feel pretty good about her chances of succeeding Rogers when she smashed service winners on the first two points of her quarterfinal match. The petite former Wando High School star grabbed a quick 2-0 lead with some superb shot-making and twice owned ad-in in the third game before disaster struck on the green clay of the Althea Gibson Club Court.

Blevins' serve and game disintegrated in a five-game stretch that allowed Erkan to take complete charge of play with her consistent groundstrokes and heady play. Blevins, seeded third, briefly regained control of her shots to rally from a 5-2 deficit to close to 5-4 before committing three unforced errors as Erkan served out the first set in a 40-15 game.

"She (Erkan) is a good player, with a good backhand. She was hitting deep and solid," said the 5-3 Blevins, who had lost to Erkan in an earlier meeting on hard courts. "My serve . . . I'm working on it. "I'm disappointed in myself, but she played well. I had been playing well, and moving well, but not today."

The victory by Erkan set up a semifinal showdown between Erkan and fellow Hilton Head Island Smith Stearns Academy senior Kaitlin Ray, a Little Rock, Ark., player who is headed for UCLA. Erkan has signed with Florida State.

Ray, the tournament's second seed and highest seed left after the loss of No. 1 Caroline Price on Sunday, used her court quickness, consistency and tennis savvy to easily defeat No. 5 Katie Fosnacht of Blythewood, 6-3, 6-0.

In the top half of the draw, unseeded Josie Kuhlman of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and the victor over Price in the round of 16, will face No. 4 Taylor Davidson of Statesville, N.C., in this morning's other semifinal.

The winners will square off in a noon final.
Kuhlman, who hasn't dropped a set and yielded only two games to Price, handed No. 5 Kendal Woodward of Stockbridge, Ga., a 6-3, 6-2 loss in the quarterfinals. Davidson posted a 6-2, 6-4 win over Kaitlyn McCarthy of Cary, N.C., to earn her spot in the semifinals.


(02/20/11)  Best Town' label could stay a while
How long will Charleston be known as the best tennis town in the United States? Always, you say.

That may be true, but it's uncertain how long Charleston will own the USTA's official title of America's Best Tennis Town.

"At this point, no decision has been made on (whether to hold the Best Tennis Town contest in) 2012," Chris Widmaier, the USTA's managing director of corporate communications, said Thursday from New York.

Thus, as it now stands, Charleston has at least one bonus year to hold the title after gaining the recognition at the 2010 U.S. Open. The USTA has announced that the Best Tennis Town competition will not be held in 2011.

"It (BTT contest) may be back in 2012 ... two years of it have been very good," Widmaier said, referring to Midland, Mich., winning the initial Best Tennis Town title in 2009 followed by Charleston the second year.

Thursday's news from the USTA contradicts a local tennis website's report that Charleston "will hold the title for the next three years."

The USTA is currently changing gears, breaking away from the focus of last year's Best Tennis Town contest and concentrating on its new Quick Start 10-and-under program, which is the biggest initiative in American youth tennis in decades. "We will take a break from Best Tennis Town in 2011 and those efforts will go to 10-and-under tennis. That's not to say it (BTT) won't be back in 2012," Widmaier said.

He said the USTA is building, resurfacing or redesigning 3,000 tennis courts around the country to fit the court dimensions (36 feet for 8-and-under and 60 feet for 10-and-under) of Quick Start tennis.

Cremins Challenge
Most of veteran College of Charleston basketball coach Bobby Cremins' attention is on the hardwood, but the fifth annual Cremins Tennis Challenge is already in the works. The event that's geared toward raising funds for C of C athletic scholarships is scheduled for May 13- 14 at Family Circle Tennis Center.

The Friday session will open with round-robin play in the afternoon, then continue with a cocktail party that evening. On Saturday, the schedule calls for breakfast, more round-robin play and lunch.  Team, individual and court sponsorships are available. Contact the C of C Cougar Club (953-8255 or eiflerak@cofc.edu).

Local notes
--St. Andrew's sixth annual Lucky Shot Tournament is March 11-13 at the St. Andrew's Parks and Playground complex on Playground Road. The entry deadline for the adult tournament is March 9 at 11:59 a.m. The event will have NTRP-rated divisions in singles and doubles for men and women. Register at usta.com/tennislink, using the tournament ID number (704119611). Contact tournament director Philip Burke (fillup@standrewsparks.com).
--The USTA Flex League is back. Registration is open until next Sunday. The season begins March 6 and runs through April 30. The Flex League is unique in that players can choose their home court and can play matches on any tennis court. Contact Vickie Nash (761-6097 or nashvm@yahoo.com).
--Mixed doubles registration for both adult and senior 2.5 (adult mixed only), 5.0 (senior mixed only), 6.0, 7.0, 8.0 and 9.0 will begin March 6 and run through April 12.
--Super senior mixed doubles registration continues until Friday. Players reaching at least their 60th birthday in 2011 are eligible to play super seniors. There will be leagues for 6.0, 7.0, and 8.0. Matches will be played on Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
--The Tri-County Elementary and Middle School League will begin play March 7 with approximately 120 teams.
--Boys high school tennis begins in less than two weeks. On March 1, Porter-Gaud opens at home against Wando and Bishop England goes to Pinewood Prep in match-ups of possibly the top SCISA and High School League teams in the area.


(02/06/11)  Watch out for Wando boys in tennis this year
Wando's girls have thrived while setting records for winning tennis matches the last six years, but the boy’s team hasn't been a serious threat for a Class AAAA state title in recent years. That may change this spring.

Two-time All-Lowcountry player Addison King is now a Wando Warrior. The former Palmetto Christian Academy standout tried out for the boys team Wednesday and hopes to make it through Monday's next round of cuts.

Now a junior and 6-4, King led Palmetto Christian to two SCISA Class A state titles and was named the 2009 SCISA player of the year. Among returning players are lone senior Robert Mc-Manus, the Warriors' 2010 No. 1 player, and 2009 starter Toby Tubbs, who is back after sitting out last season.

Tennis goes small
Quick Start tennis is another way of saying 10-and-under tennis in USTA terms.
The days of 10-and-under competition have changed. Smaller courts and smaller rackets have taken over. There is a great deal of excitement among USTA officials in that they believe the new format will attract young kids to the court -- when the weather becomes a little tennis friendlier.

As a result of the USTA's new position on 10-and-under tennis, fresh new tournaments are springing up. Quick Start tennis is virtually certain to make an impact on the number of young players taking up the game.

Locally, Family Circle Tennis Center director Dewey Caulder has announced a series of eight Quick Start tournaments, beginning Feb. 26 at the I'On Club and running through a Sept. 17 masters event at the Family Circle complex, whose Lucy Garvin Quick Start courts are the Charleston area's only permanent Quick Start courts.

Other tournaments: March 26, Dunes West; April 2, Live To Play; May 14, Daniel Island; June 11, Mount Pleasant Tennis Center at Whipple Road; July 16, Family Circle Tennis Center; and Aug. 13, Snee Farm.

A $2,500 grant from Charleston's Best Tennis Town award has been set aside to support the Mount Pleasant Quick Start series.

Smash is back
The 10th annual Smash Junior Cup will be held Feb. 19-21 at Family Circle Tennis Center, with the tournament highlight seeing the girls 18 champion once again earn a wild card into the qualifying tournament for the WTA Tour's Family Circle Cup.

A year ago Shelby Rogers became the first local player to win the girls 18 title in this prestigious Level 3 Southern tournament. Rogers later earned a wild card into the U.S. Open's main draw.
 
The tournament is open to girls and boys ages 8-18, featuring six age divisions: boys and girls singles in 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18. The 8-and-under age division is a newly added age group, and will be played on Family Circle Tennis Center's Lucy Garvin Quick Start courts.

League tennis update
--An important change in calling lines is now in effect for league tennis: "If you call your opponent's ball out and then realize it was in and correct the call, you lose the point even if you returned the ball in play. The only exception is if there is a let serve that you call out. In that case, whether it was the first or the second serve, the point begins again and the server gets two serves."
--The spring season appears to be primed for record participation. Newcomers to league tennis or newcomers to the area can still register for a team by contacting the club nearest their residence. Bill Cranford also is serving as a LCTA coordinator. He can be reached at 607-0828 or bcranford@comcast.net.
--Mixed doubles registration for both adult and senior 2.5 (adult mixed only), 5.0 (senior mixed only), 6.0, 7.0, 8.0 and 9.0 will begin March 6 and run through April 12.
--Super senior mixed doubles registration continues until Feb. 25. Players reaching at least their 60th birthday in 2011 are eligible to play. There will be leagues for 6.0, 7.0, and 8.0. Matches will be played on Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

Notes
--Monday is the deadline for entering next weekend's HSI Junior Winter Championship at The Citadel. Contact Kiawah Island pro Jonathan Barth (barth_jonathan@yahoo.com or 568-1468).
--The City of Charleston's Courting Kids inner-city youth program for ages 5-17 is accepting registrations. The spring sessions are on Saturdays from March 5-April 16 at the Alan Fleming Tennis Center on Johns Island at 10 a.m. and at the Jack Adams Tennis Center downtown at 1 p.m. Each site is limited to 72 participants. The cost for the spring session is $10 for city residents and $25 for non-residents. Contact Jackson at 766-7401.
--The Tri-County Elementary and Middle School Tennis League is expected to have a record number of participants when it begins March 7. Team rosters are due next Friday. Last year's league had 111 teams.


(01/16/11)  GENE SAPAKOFF:  A champion on and off the court
Diane Fishburne, 52, is the top-ranked women's 50 tennis player in the world.

Experts at MIT, major medical schools and elite think tanks have to be scratching their collective brains.
The long division doesn't compute. The anti-aging results are ahead of the infomercials.

Charleston's Diane Fishburne isn't just one of the best tennis
players in the whole wide world, the 5-2, 113-pound mix of athletic power and wisdom is a reality show deserving of a good time slot.

Here today, various other spots on the globe sometime soon.

The latest: Fishburne, 53 and the current International Tennis Federation world singles champion in the women's 50's category, has been one of four players selected by the U.S. Tennis Federation to defend America's 2010 title in Bueno Cup competition. The event is Feb. 21-26 in New Zealand.  The long trip is the residue of years of aerobics classes, running, lunges, bike riding  and, mostly, tennis triumphs over women (and men) much younger.

"An accumulation of all that keeps me going," said Fishburne, a former College of Charleston tennis All-American who is a teaching pro at the Country Club of Charleston. "I've had my share of injuries and I've had to make some tweaks but I love it. It doesn't seem like anything that difficult. It's just part of my schedule and it's what I do."

But decades of world age-group singles domination is just part of Fishburne's well-rounded game.  She also more than excels at mixed doubles with her son, Matt Hane, and is digging her sneakers into charity work.  No. 1 mother-son Cool and confident even in world-class singles competition in another country, Fishburne is a nervous wreck when playing doubles with her 28-year-old son.

Never mind that Hane played No. 1 singles at George Washington University and works as a teaching pro on Kiawah Island.  "It's a lot of pressure for me," Fishburne said. "I don't want to let him down. It's a totally different ballgame. He's very good and they don't want a thing to do with him, so they hit a lot of balls at me."

Hane thinks the whole thing is "hilarious."
"I've been to so many singles tournaments she has played at and at pretty much every tournament she's the No. 1 seed, the clear favorite and everyone knows who she is. People are scared of her, basically," he said. "Then we get out there for these mother-son things where, with one or two exceptions, she is light years ahead of the other moms.

"But, yeah, she really does freak out about it. I'm laid back. Because I know I can hang with the other guy and that my mom will be way better than his mom."

Not surprisingly, Matt and Diane finished 2010 as the No. 1-ranked mother-son team in the country.
They plan to try for a sweep of the three major national mother-son tournaments in
2011 with trips set for Chicago, San Diego and Sanibel, Fla.

Special friends
"It's so exciting traveling with him," Fishburne said. "We get to hang out as adults and not as a kid who has to get to bed on time. It's so much fun. We laugh and he says things like, 'Mom, don't worry.' It's like the roles have been reversed."

Hane also is impressed with mom's charity work. Fishburne says she has "become attached" to the tennis players associated with Special Olympics programs in Charleston, Walterboro and other parts of South Carolina.

"I really like knowing that I know these people," Fishburne said. "The neat thing is the relationships I have built with them. There are a lot of different personalities. Some like to be hugged a lot, some you don't really touch. But you definitely form relationships."

She also participates in Rally for the Cure and breast cancer fundraisers, volunteers with inner-city tennis programs and helps with Family Circle Cup wheelchair tennis events.

"She's really gotten into it these last four or five years," Hane said. "She devotes a ton of time. It's become a big part of her life and she loves it. She's thrown herself into it about as much as I've ever seen anyone do it."
No international rankings in that category, just a lot of smiles spread around the state thanks to a woman known for winning all over the world.


(01/09/11)  LCTA: A third set or a tiebreaker?
The big question for this spring's local league tennis regular season is: third set or match tiebreaker?

The issue will be decided by a vote of the Lowcountry Tennis Association's captains on Jan. 19 at the main county library at 68 Calhoun St. 

Although postseason playoff matches have used the match tiebreaker format for several years, this vote appears to be the biggest threat yet to playing out a third set during the regular season. The switch to a match tiebreaker appears to be being pushed by facility and club officials who are feeling the court availability pressure that is the result of a growing player participation in local league tennis.

Personally, I favor a full third set in the regular season. The match tiebreaker may be a good alternative in the postseason where a player might play five or six matches in three days in the daytime heat of late spring. Most of the teams in the playoffs usually are fairly close in talent, whereas during the regular season, parity usually is lacking, leaving the possibility of weaker teams able to more easily score upsets.

The major issue on the agenda for the membership meeting is a vote of LCTA members to update the organization's bylaws and to reform the LCTA as a non-profit corporation. The membership meeting is open to the more than 3,000 local league participants, otherwise known as LCTA members. If the new bylaws are ratified, the current board of directors would be dissolved and a new slate of 11 directors would be elected by the LCTA membership after receiving a list of 11 nominations from the nominating committee.
Any LCTA member can nominate a person for the board by contacting committee chairperson Nancy Pitcairn (nancy@lctatennis.org) by the nominating committee's Monday deadline. So, you had better hurry, or be prepared to nominate from the floor on Jan. 19. Meanwhile, Monday also is the deadline for the forming of league teams for the official spring season. Adult teams must have a minimum number of eight players while senior teams need six players in order to join the spring leagues. The season is expected to start in
two or three weeks.

Billie Jean at Kiawah
The legendary Billie Jean King will visit Kiawah Island next weekend to take part in a USTA leadership meeting as new USTA president Jonathan Vegosen takes over from the departed Lucy Garvin of Greenville. The USTA's new board and new committee chairmen will be included among about 180 officials participating in the meeting that will start Thursday at The Sanctuary Hotel at the resort.

The committee chairmen include Kiawah tennis director Roy Barth, who has been reappointed as chairman of the Davis Cup committee, as well as league tennis chairman Bud Spencer of Mount Pleasant.

C of C women The College of Charleston women will begin practice on Monday looking for a third straight trip to the NCAA tournament. The men and women will hold their annual alumni match on Jan. 22 at 9:30 a.m. at the Cougars' Patriots Point complex.  The women will begin the season Jan. 29 in Gainesville, Fla., against second-ranked Florida in the ITA National Indoor Regional. 

Virginia Tech transfer Christin Newman, the sophomore sister of junior Caroline Newman, is expected to replace the graduated Holly Dowse of Australia in the No. 1 singles slot. Dowse teamed up with Emma Hayman in last season's NCAA doubles tournament. The newcomers include Florida freshman Kelly Kambourelis and former Ashley Hall star and Lowcountry player of the year Jamie Harrell, who isn't expected to be available for competition until early Febuary due to a shoulder injury.

Coach Angelo Anastopoulo is happy about his team's classwork as well. Four players on the team's 10-player roster earned 4.0 GPAs for the first semester. The C of C men will open their season Jan. 30 at home against Gardner-Webb.

Young update
Former Clemson standout Ryan Young spent the holidays at home, but he's currently training with former Clemson coach Chuck Kriese at a club in College Park, Md. Ryan plans to head to Central America soon to begin play Jan. 22 in a $10,000 challenger in Guatemala, followed by tournaments in El Salvador and Panama.
The 26-year-old left-hander spent five weeks in the fall in Chile and Peru, finishing as runner-up in a $10,000 event in Peru.

Thornton moving up
A summer filled with hard work on the court has paid off handsomely for 19-year-old Caroline Thornton. The former Players Club product has moved into the No. 1 singles position for Auburn as a sophomore. After training extensively at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona before signing with Auburn, Thornton played No. 1 doubles and Nos. 3 or 4 singles last spring as a freshman.  Thornton then decided to spend last summer training at Auburn, apparently impressing the coaching staff when it came time to name a player to replace the graduated Fani Chifchieva of Bulgaria at the top singles position. Thornton won a fall tournament at Brown University.

Local notes
--Shelby Rogers has been in South Florida for a week training at the USTA training center
at Boca Raton. The 18-year-old Daniel Island standout will begin play probably Tuesday in
the main draw of a $25,000 challenger at Plantation, Fla.
--The Championships at Legend Oaks Plantation will be held for all adult NTRP levels Feb. 3-6. The entry deadline is Jan. 30
--The Tri-County Elementary and Middle School League will hold coach's meetings Monday at 5 p.m., Friday at 4 p.m. and Jan. 23 at 3 p.m. Meetings will be held at Charleston Tennis Center (766-7401). Teams participating in the March 7-May 13 league are required to be represented at one of the meetings.
-- The LCTA has set the registration period for league tennis' mixed doubles season for adult and senior teams for March 6 through April 12.
-- The April 2-10 Family Circle Cup is accepting applications for adult and junior ball crew members. An informational meeting will be held at 12:30 p.m. next Saturday at Family Circle Tennis Center. Ball crew training sessions will begin the following Saturday at 2:30p.m. Applications are available at familycirclecup.com or by contacting Dan Tumbleston (367-0279 or familycirclecup.ballcrew@gmail.com).