2014

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

Winner: 2018 USTA South Carolina Media Excellence Award

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(12/20/14)  Rogers training in Los Angeles with new coach
Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers has at least temporarily switched bases from Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy to Los Angeles. She has a new coach set to travel with her Dec. 31 to New Zealand and then to Australia to start the new year.

MWTennis is heavily focused on its junior academy where junior development coach Bryan Minton now "spends 100 percent of his time," according to MWTennis CEO Jeff Wilson. Minton was Rogers' longtime coach who traveled with her much of the last six months.

Rogers has been in Los Angeles the last few weeks training with a new coach, Californian Marc Lukero, a former Boston University player. Rogers confirmed Saturday afternoon from Los Angeles that Lukero has worked with seventh-ranked Eugenie Bouchard as well as No. 43 Alison Riske.

"He (Lucero) has been to a bunch of tournaments, so I knew him," Rogers said.

About the shift to Los Angeles where she trains at the Carson Tennis Center, she said, "I am training here before going to Australia. I wouldn't say I am totally committed (to Los Angeles).

"They (Minton and MW Tennis) have helped me a lot. They were great to me, but I just needed someone to travel with me next year. I love Charleston."

Now the 73rd-ranked player in the world, Rogers will open the new year with a direct entry into the $250,000 tournament that starts Jan. 5 in Auckland, New Zealand. She will play the qualifying event for the Premier level tournament in Sydney the following week before playing in her first Australian Open main draw, completing a Grand Slam for main draws.

Rogers is hoping for a better showing Down Under this time. She has posted a 2-4 record in qualifying events for Auckland and the Australian Open the last two seasons.

The 22-year-old Rogers earned $226,718 in prize money in 2014 while posting a 26-24 record on the WTA Tour.

"Since Shelby came with us in June she's made $195,000 and her ranking has gone from 138 to 73 in that time," Wilson pointed out.

Rogers will not have a lot of points to defend early in the new year due to her lack of success Down Under. By late spring, however, the pressure of defending points could heat up. "She has a lot of points to defend. It will be a different mindset for her. She just needs to stay healthy and committed," Wilson said.

From first impression, it would appear that Rogers took home a good chunk of money in 2014, but Wilson said that "you're looking at close to $100,000 in expenses to travel all year on the tour," even though the WTA Tour provides lodging for players. In addition to that, there are coaching fees that usually include all expenses, salary and a percentage of prize money.

MWTA update

Even without Rogers, the academy named after Minton and Wilson is ahead of schedule as MWTennis wraps up its first six months of operation.

"It has been a pretty good five months," Wilson said. "We weren't trying to get as many (tour players) as we got."

For instance, one-time American tennis sweetheart Melanie Oudin, formerly No. 31 in the world, trains on Daniel Island these days under a two-year agreement with MWTennis. Jessica Pegula, the tennis-playing daughter of Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula, is still training there, and No. 283-ranked/2012 junior U.S. Open champion Samantha Crawford came aboard last month. West Virginia product Emily Harman is another touring pro at the academy.
Local notes

Two women's 65 teams from Farmfield's Charleston Tennis Center won Southern Sectional championships earlier this month in Dothan, Ala. Captain Faye Rigsbee's state runner-up 3.0 women brought home a Southern championship by defeating S.C. champion Salem in the Southern 3.0 final. Captain Elisabeth Pickelsimer's team captured a 3.5 Southern crown by defeating Knoxville, Tenn.

The Pine Forest Ladies Tennis Association took another "Hard Swing at Breast Cancer" last month by raising $32,500 for the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center's Racquets for Recovery Fund. Since 2005, the Racquets for Recovery Tournament has contributed $212,500 in support of local breast cancer patients.


(12/15/14)  Porter-Gaud's Ann Martin Skelly repeats as Lowcountry girls tennis player of year
Ann Martin Skelly is at her best in mid-October when it really counts in SCISA tennis, especially when the site is Sumter's Palmetto Tennis Center and the event is state championship weekend.

The Porter-Gaud sophomore already has participated in four of those weekends. Her 9-1 singles and doubles record has helped the Cyclones win two SCISA Class AAA state titles while finishing as runner-up the other two years.

This year Skelly post a 3-0 record in Sumter as she led the Cyclones past Ashley Hall in the state final with two wins in singles and one in doubles. She also went unbeaten against area competition this fall en route to earning a second straight Post and Courier selection as Lowcountry girls tennis player of the year.

Charlotte Hartsock, Skelly's coach at Porter-Gaud, swept the area's other major award by being selected as coach of the year. In her second year as head coach, Hartsock directed the Cyclones to a recovery from two regular-season losses to Ashley Hall to post a victory over their arch rival when everything was on the line in Sumter.

Joining three-time all-Lowcountry Skelly on the all-Lowcountry team from Porter-Gaud is repeater Grace Robards. Freshman Lauren Quinn of Wando also is a repeater.

Wando freshman Lily Conant, and Bishop England sophomores Jenna Vroman and Camryn Deames round out the all-Lowcountry team. Quinn made the team in 2013 while playing for Bishop England.

"It is a pleasure to coach such a well-rounded player. Ann Martin has an all-court game that will serve her well in high school and college," Hartsock said about her left-handed ace.

Skelly obviously likes playing in Sumter in October.

"I guess I have played some of my best tennis there," she said. "The only time I've ever lost at Sumter was (last year) to Mariana Gould (of Hilton Head Prep). I won a national tournament there two years ago.

"I'm not really sure why I play so well there. In high school, it's the ones that really matter. It's at the end of the season, and you give it your all."

Skelly also has experienced great success against local opposition, going all the way back to when she was a seventh-grader playing No. 6 for the Cyclones.

"It's hard to focus when I'm playing local girls, and I have to play my best," she said.

Her toughest local opponent?

"Jenna Vroman gave me the most trouble," Skelly said about the hard-hitting Bishop England player. "I played doubles with her in Augusta (juniors) and we won the doubles tournament."

Skelly said her most improvement in the last year has been on her serve and footwork.

"The serve has become probably my best shot," she said.

After training with College of Charleston coach Angelo Anastopoulo for several years, Skelly has switched to LTP Tennis where she works with pro Jerry Albrike.

With two state titles already, Skelly looks for more success in the future.

"We are losing Grace (Robards), but we might get Lexi (Steichen) back next year," Skelly said, referring to Steichen who was an all-Lowcountry performer in 2013 but decided to sit out this fall to concentrate on her studies.

ALL-LOWCOUNTRY TENNIS
FIRST TEAM
Ann Martin Skelly, Porter-Gaud, sophomore
Grace Robards, Porter-Gaud, senior
Jenna Vroman, Bishop England, sophomore
Camryn Deames, Bishop England, sophomore
Lauren Quinn, Wando, freshman
Lily Conant, Wando, freshman
Player of the Year: Ann Martin Skelly
Coach of the Year: Charlotte Hartsock, Porter-Gaud

SECOND TEAM
Ana-Lei Kalawe, Ashley Hall, eighth grade
Michaela Cuoco, Ashley Hall, eighth grade
Linsey Yarbrough, Ashley Hall, sophomore
Corey Caulder, Palmetto Christian, senior
Morgan Mitchell, Wando, freshman
Kat Lyman, Wando, eighth grade
Rebecca Kahn, Porter-Gaud, freshman

HONORABLE MENTION
Pinewood Prep: Haley Foster, Hannah Rodgers, Maigread Lennon, Ellie Rodgers. Academic Magnet: Mary-Geer Kirkland, Margaret Jones, Katie Hulsey. Ashley Hall: Gyles Laney, McCrae Nistad, Tiffany Dye. Berkeley: Elliott Huxford, Macy Burges, Camren Tedder. Bishop England: Gabrielle Dacuba, Drue Ransom, Adelia Phillips.

Porter-Gaud: MacKenzie Davis, Elizabeth Snyder, Reese Evans. Ashley Ridge: Bella Lawrence, Savanna Lawrence. Colleton County: Megan Mitchell, Alica Roberson. Fort Dorchester: Monet Mitchel, Temperance Sanders. Goose Creek: Chanel Richardson, Destiny McFadden. Holly Hill Academy: Christi O'Connell, Madison Breland. James Island: Rhealyn Dinkins, Caitlin Daly. Stratford: Chrisia Class, Reagan Cady. Summerville: Sullivan Long, Paige Reynolds. Wando: Penelope Hayes, Morgan Hildebrant. West Ashley: Abbi Hulsey, Katie Lowe. Cane Bay: Katie Maharrey. Charleston Collegiate: Marisa Field-Williams. Charleston Math & Science: Sam Stafford. Colleton Prep: Meredith Ware. Hanahan: Carla Vaca. Palmetto Christian: Elizabeth Goolsby.


(12/06/14)  League tennis computer goes on a 'bounce-up' spree
League tennis' computer appeared to have its problems again last Monday when it delivered the 2014 year-in NTRP ratings.

By my calculations, 100 Lowcountry Tennis Association 18-plus men that had 3.0, 3.5 or 4.0 year-end 2013 ratings were "bounced up" one level. And 152 women from those levels received the same type of news. The totals included a few self-rated players who were disqualified during the spring season

If those "just" look like numbers, consider that approximately 20 percent of all 3.0-rated and 3.5-rated 18-plus men were bounced up to the next level.

League tennis will have a new look in 2015. These year-end changes appear to be the most massive since 2009 when almost 30 percent of all levels and genders were bounced up.

The computer appeared to malfunction once again in 2014 on many of the year-end ratings. I know of at least one male of the 65-70 age group playing 18-plus that was bounced from 3.5 to 4.0, while some players far superior in talent and results remained at 3.5.

It's not just the self-rating process that is a disaster, the entire computer ratings appear to be out of touch in many instances.
Reader's response

I received several responses from my last column on league tennis' computer needing a tuneup, each questioning the validity of the NTRP rating.

Just consider the plight of Hutchie Cummin of Seabrook Island: "Thank you for attacking the broken NTRP Rating System. You are doing all of us a great service by bringing this up to the USTA in your article.

"I was a 3.5 and played in lots of leagues for years and then suddenly I turned 70 years old and I'm bumped up to a 4.0. I guess I could play in any 4.0 league but who would let me play because at my age I can't compete with the much younger 4.0 women, and I would certainly lose. If you are competing in a league, you only want a gal who will win and hopefully help your team to go to the next level such as a state playoff.

"So what has USTA done to me when I have supported both USTA and league play for over 40 years? They have taken away my league playing ability and USTA keeps preaching that tennis is a lifelong sport. Ha!

"I haven't played in any springtime tennis leagues for four years, but yet when I appeal my rating and ask to be moved down to a 3.5, I'm denied right away. So where is the fairness?

"Thanks again for bringing up this horrible rating mess that USTA has created and maybe something will be done."

Hutchie Cummin's latest rating remains a self rating of 4.0.
Why early start?

Once the Jan. 5 registration deadline for forming a team in league tennis' spring season passes, the season is expected to start the following week. For 18-plus 3.5 men, that looks like the same date as college football's championship game - Monday, Jan. 12. And you can't blame this one on the computer.

What's the rush? Feb. 1 is plenty early enough.

But something has to give in league tennis. Too many leagues. Too many seasons. And too little time between seasons.

By the late-summer end of this year's combo season, many teams appeared to be just going through the motion. In fact, the 8.5 men's 18-plus season was virtually a washout. Defaults came often, and teams played and posted results and had their results void by league officials.


(12/01/14)  Cyber Monday: Family Circle Cup Tickets 50% Off    
Code: CyberMonday


(11/26/14)  OPINION: John G. Davis
John G. Davis came to Charleston in the last decade of the last century.

A very modest man, he rarely admitted to being the grandson of Dwight Davis of Davis Cup fame. Neither did he brag about hitting a home run in Braves Field in Boston or being scouted by the Cleveland Indians.

He was captain of his baseball team at both Saint Mark's School and Harvard College. He was a catcher, and a very good one.

He was also an excellent golfer and a more than acceptable tennis player.

And he was a very generous philanthropist and talented graphic artist who designed annual reports for the Fresh Air Fund in New York and the New York Farmers Society, as well as various other for-profit and not-for-profit entities.

In Charleston, John Davis helped launch the Miracle League for disabled children and provided a running commentary of every youngster's performance in baseball (with exaggerated descriptions of the action on a loudspeaker). He was the recipient of the Mal Haven Award.

He helped a church with the design of its bulletin. He helped with the performing arts, the planting of trees, and the launch of Darkness to Light. And that only scratches the surface.

His only son, Ian, his daughter-in-law, Karen, and three granddaughters will miss him, as will this longtime friend and boarding school roommate. So will his many friends and admirers around the country.

John Winthrop
Adger's Wharf, Charleston


(11/24/14)  CITY OF NORTH CHARLESTON: North Charleston tennis team wins state championship
The Collins Park Ladies 2.5 singles team captured the Lowcountry Tennis Association Championship and the South Carolina Tennis Association Singles State Championship.  This team began playing tennis within the last few years.  With these championships, their dedication and hard work on the court has paid off.  Congratulations on your success!

The hard-working ladies from the Collins Park Ladies 2.5 singles team pictured from left to right are Priscilla Summerford (co-captain), Shirley Godfrey-Jackson (captain), Tonya Spivey, and Deidre Stiles.


(11/22/14)  League tennis' computer needs a tune-up
League tennis is a fabulous program, the very heart and soul of American tennis.

Pros, collegians, high school players and juniors deservedly receive most of the recognition, but the sum of all of these groups is far less than the participatory numbers of the everyday and weekend tennis players that make up the USTA's gigantic league tennis program.

League tennis' year-end NTRP ratings are expected to be released within the next couple of weeks. As a result, it's an exciting time for league tennis as players watch their ratings.

But as usual for self-rated players who didn't play in the league's official 2014 spring championship season or at least mixed doubles, there will be no new news.

Even some league tennis veterans obviously don't understand the rating process. Many think the fall practice season or combo doubles affect the ratings.

Of course, neither figure in the process.

I wonder if even league tennis' so-called computer comprehends what's going on. After what happened to some players last spring, there should be serious doubts about league tennis' rating system.

At least one player who played as a 3.5 in 2013 was bumped up to 4.5 during the 2014 spring season. The "bump-up" came as a result of league tennis' so-called "three-strike disqualification rule." Two of the strikes occurred in a doubles loss to 4.0/4.0 opponents (while playing with a 4.0 partner), and in a doubles win against a 3.5/3.5 pairing (while playing with another 4.0 partner).

Another disqualified self-rated player's so-called "third strike" came in a win over a 4.0 opponent who won only three games in each of his next two matches. The second disqualified player also lost one of the four singles matches he played before being disqualified from the 4.0 league.

Both disqualified players played on a team I captained. The team's record was reversed from 7-1 to 1-7.

Neither player played college tennis or had a tennis history that raised a red flag. Both had chances to originally self-rate at the 3.5 level. Both are now rated 4.5, but are still 4.0 caliber players.

The computer was in charge in both cases - of course, with a little help from programmers.

Isn't it time to direct some of the revenue that players pour into the league into developing a fairer rating system?

I, and others, have long advocated a return by league tennis to its former days of pro-rating new players (as in analyses by club pros) before allowing league participation. Such ratings could be the same as a computer-type rating, eliminating self ratings and the in-season disqualifications that can steal an entire championship season from worthy teams and players.
Local notes

All-Lowcountry star Adam Elliget of Summerville has signed a tennis grant-in-aid with The Citadel.

Bob Peiffer's 65-plus 3.5 men's team recently captured a traditional league tennis state title at Hilton Head Island.

In singles league state competition, five LCTA 18-plus teams won titles: 2.5 women (captained by Shirley Godfrey-Jackson), 3.5 women (Michelle Nemeth), 4.0 men (William Workman), 4.5 women (Andrea Hines) and 4.5 men (Cadill Maharaj). A 40-plus women's 3.5 team captained by Marie Ferrigno also won a state singles title.


(11/14/14)  Family Circle Cup champion Andrea Petkovic to return in 2015
Andrea Petkovic, the 2014 Family Circle Cup champion and World No. 13 women's tennis player, will return to Charleston to defend her title in April.

Petkovic has made two previous appearances in Charleston, where she holds an 8-1 record. She defeated Jana Cepelova last year in the Family Circle cup final. It was her third WTA title and first since 2011.

"I am very excited to return to Charleston to play the Family Circle Cup for the third time," said Petkovic. "South Carolina holds a special place in my heart. My father played tennis at University of South Carolina and it's now the place where I won my first Premier tournament title. I'm already looking forward to April."

The dates for the 2015 event on Daniel Island are April 4-12.


(11/09/14)  Shelby Rogers a rising star on and off the court
Shelby Rogers didn't win the Rising Stars competition, but the Charleston pro left Singapore with a new dose of star power. Rogers' presence was all over the WTA Tour's website throughout the week of the Rising Stars and Tour Championships.

All of this for a player ranked in the 70s. Rogers appeared to easily stand out off the court above the other Rising Stars. The WTA website gave Rogers celebrity treatment. Her smiling face was on center stage.

"I think the WTA is very excited about Shelby because of her big game and her great media presence," longtime Rogers coach Bryan Minton said.

The treatment by the WTA is obviously the result of Rogers' impressive media presentations, articulation and dealings with the media as well as an outstanding 2014 on the court.

What's next for the 72nd-ranked 22-year-old from Family Circle Tennis Center? First, she will participate next Saturday in Louisville's Pro Tennis Invitational. Louisville is Minton's hometown.

Minton also has learned that Rogers is a nominee for the WTA Tour's "most impressive newcomer" award. Because of her leap of approximately 50 spots in the world rankings in 2014, Rogers will be featured in the widely circulated combined WTA Tour/ATP Tour media guide.

Rogers expects to leave in late December for the next step in her career, a 2015 season that will begin "Down Under" as a direct entry into the Australian Open after probably a couple smaller events.

In the Louisville exhibition, Rogers will be paired up with former University of Kentucky stars Eric Quigley and Jesse Witten, along with Irina Falconi.

The event will be held at the Louisville Boat Club and will feature a benefit dinner in the evening.
A near sweep

High school tennis belonged almost entirely to the lower state this season. Only Dutch Fork's 4-3 survival against Wando in SCHSL Class AAAA on Saturday prevented Lower State teams from sweeping all six of this year's SCISA and SCHSL girls state titles.

After having all six state finalists in last month's SCISA playoffs hailing from the lower state, including Class AAA champion Porter-Gaud, Bishop England came through on Saturday in SCHSL Class AA along with Myrtle Beach in Class AAA to give the Lower State its fourth and fifth girls state titles for 2014. Holly Hill Academy and Hilton Head Prep won the other two SCISA titles.

Of course, it was a great fall for Charleston with Porter-Gaud and Bishop England bringing home state titles, and Wando and Ashley Hall (SCISA Class AAA) having state runner-up seasons. All four teams are young and should be even stronger in 2015.
Local notes

Nov. 23 is the deadline for entering the Nov. 28-30 Charleston Thanksgiving Junior Classic at Farmfield Avenue's Charleston Tennis Center. The USTA-sanctioned event will have doubles and singles in boys and girls 10-18. Registration is available at www.sctennis.com (tournament No. 700045914). Contact the Farmfield tennis center (766-7401).

Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy will hold its own Rising Stars tournament next Saturday for entry level players with limited tournament experience. The one-day, level 5 USTA-sanctioned junior tournament will hold competition in boys and girls 10-16 as well as a coed division for 8-and-under. Registration is available online, using tournament number (700132414).


(11/09/14)  Shelby Rogers a rising star on and off the court
Shelby Rogers didn't win the Rising Stars competition, but the Charleston pro left Singapore with a new dose of star power. Rogers' presence was all over the WTA Tour's website throughout the week of the Rising Stars and Tour Championships.

All of this for a player ranked in the 70s. Rogers appeared to easily stand out off the court above the other Rising Stars. The WTA website gave Rogers celebrity treatment. Her smiling face was on center stage.

"I think the WTA is very excited about Shelby because of her big game and her great media presence," longtime Rogers coach Bryan Minton said.

The treatment by the WTA is obviously the result of Rogers' impressive media presentations, articulation and dealings with the media as well as an outstanding 2014 on the court.

What's next for the 72nd-ranked 22-year-old from Family Circle Tennis Center? First, she will participate next Saturday in Louisville's Pro Tennis Invitational. Louisville is Minton's hometown.

Minton also has learned that Rogers is a nominee for the WTA Tour's "most impressive newcomer" award. Because of her leap of approximately 50 spots in the world rankings in 2014, Rogers will be featured in the widely circulated combined WTA Tour/ATP Tour media guide.

Rogers expects to leave in late December for the next step in her career, a 2015 season that will begin "Down Under" as a direct entry into the Australian Open after probably a couple smaller events.

In the Louisville exhibition, Rogers will be paired up with former University of Kentucky stars Eric Quigley and Jesse Witten, along with Irina Falconi.

The event will be held at the Louisville Boat Club and will feature a benefit dinner in the evening.
A near sweep

High school tennis belonged almost entirely to the lower state this season. Only Dutch Fork's 4-3 survival against Wando in SCHSL Class AAAA on Saturday prevented Lower State teams from sweeping all six of this year's SCISA and SCHSL girls state titles.

After having all six state finalists in last month's SCISA playoffs hailing from the lower state, including Class AAA champion Porter-Gaud, Bishop England came through on Saturday in SCHSL Class AA along with Myrtle Beach in Class AAA to give the Lower State its fourth and fifth girls state titles for 2014. Holly Hill Academy and Hilton Head Prep won the other two SCISA titles.

Of course, it was a great fall for Charleston with Porter-Gaud and Bishop England bringing home state titles, and Wando and Ashley Hall (SCISA Class AAA) having state runner-up seasons. All four teams are young and should be even stronger in 2015.
Local notes

Nov. 23 is the deadline for entering the Nov. 28-30 Charleston Thanksgiving Junior Classic at Farmfield Avenue's Charleston Tennis Center. The USTA-sanctioned event will have doubles and singles in boys and girls 10-18. Registration is available at www.sctennis.com (tournament No. 700045914). Contact the Farmfield tennis center (766-7401).

Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy will hold its own Rising Stars tournament next Saturday for entry level players with limited tournament experience. The one-day, level 5 USTA-sanctioned junior tournament will hold competition in boys and girls 10-16 as well as a coed division for 8-and-under. Registration is available online, using tournament number (700132414).


(11/08/14)  Bishop England wins its fourth straight Class AA tennis title
Cayce - Sophomores Jenna Vroman and Camryn Deames combined to virtually carry Bishop England to its fourth straight SCHSL Class AA girls tennis state championship on Saturday at Cayce Tennis Center, but it was smallish junior Gabrielle Dacuba whose court tenacity earned her a 10-8 win in a match tiebreaker that allowed the Bishops (14-5) to celebrate once again with a 4-3 win over Christ Church (15-2).

After Vroman and Deames had scored one-sided victories at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, it came down to Dacuba having to rally from a set down and then an 8-8 deadlocked match tiebreaker to score a 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 win over Christ Church's Lauren Allen at No. 3 singles to give the Bishops a 3-2 edge going into doubles.

The power-hitting Vroman and steady Deames then teamed up at No. 1 doubles for a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Christ Church's Mary Hunter Hyche and Paula Pieper at No. 1 doubles that gave the Bishops the championship.

Vroman and Deames yielded just two games each in wins at Nos. 1 and 2 singles.

"The top three really came through for us," said BE coach Kristin Fleming Arnold.

"Christ Church was a very strong team," added Arnold about the 2013 Class A champions who were runners-up to the Bishops in Class AA two years ago.

With the Bishops' Mary K. Lewis and eighth-grader Adelia Phillips dropping Nos. 4 and 5 singles, it placed all of the pressure on Dacuba to salvage a victory at No. 3. Dacuba responded to the challenge with consistency and intelligent play.

Dacuba wouldn't relent in the long rallies in the two points that followed the 8-8 tiebreaker deadlock. Allen committed forehand errors to end both points, putting the Bishops in position to win their third title with Dacuba on board.

"Gabrielle was the key. We really needed her to win," said Vroman, a first-year member of the team who is known as "The Rocket" for her blazing forehand.

Deames agreed with her doubles partner. "It was really important that Gabrielle pulled out her match," Deames said.

"We (Deames and Vroman) were pretty confident in the first (love) set, but the nerves got to us a little in the second set. We stayed steady and pulled it out, 6-3," said the 5-3 Deames.

"It feels really good to keep winning, but we'll have to work hard to continue winning."

BISHOP ENGLAND 4, CHRIST CHURCH 3
SINGLES: Jenna Vroman (BE) def. Mary Hunter Hyche, 6-0, 6-2; Camryn Deames (BE) def. Nila Veerabagu, 6-1, 6-1; Gabrielle Dacuba (BE) def. Lauren Allen, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8; Day Nuckolls (CC) def. Mary K. Lewis, 6-1, 6-1; Anna Thompson (CC) def. Adelia Phillips, 7-5, 7-6 (5).  DOUBLES: Vroman/Deames (BE) def. Hyche/Paula Pieper, 6-0, 6-3; Allen/Jenna Taylor (CC) def. Drue Ranson/Riley Graham, 6-2, 6-0.


(11/06/14)  Bishop England's Jenna Vroman hopes to follow in footsteps of local tennis pro
Jenna Vroman got into tennis early. Her mom wouldn't have it any other way.

But volleyball got in the way. Vroman finally has found her way back into tennis, a sport her mother Deanna played in college and still competes in at a high level in local league tennis.

Jenna Vroman is a sophomore and the No. 1 player for Bishop England heading into Saturday's 10 a.m. Class AA state championship match at Cayce Tennis Center against Christ Church.

Maybe it's not too late for Vroman to accomplish her goal of becoming another Shelby Rogers, the touring pro from Charleston ranked among the world's top 75 women players.

"I hope to be like Shelby, but I don't know if I will be that good," said Vroman.

Like Rogers, Vroman trains at MWTennis Academy at Family Circle Tennis Center. Bryan Minton is the primary coach for both players. And, like Rogers, Vroman has a hammer for a forehand.

"Jenna is an aggressive baseliner with a big serve and a big forehand. My nickname for her is 'The Rocket' because she can blast a forehand through the court," Minton said. "Jenna is also very composed on the court and is a smart player. I am excited that she wants to follow in Shelby's footsteps."

Bishop England coach Kristin Fleming likes the way Vroman opens up the court with her big forehand. "Jenna could be a very good player. She has the desire," Fleming said.

Vroman gave up volleyball after spending her freshman season on the bench while the Bishops added to their stack of state tennis and volleyball titles.

"I sat on the bench for a few years. I wanted to try something I could be good at," Vroman said.

"I have been playing tennis since like 10, but I just started playing competitively at the beginning of this year when I started playing tournaments. I knew I really liked tennis and just wanted to start playing.

"My mom encouraged me to start playing tennis, and I really liked it when I played it. But I didn't play the way I do now that I play every day," she said.

Fleming couldn't be happier about Vroman's late switch to tennis, especially in the aftermath of the Bishops' loss of freshman star Lauren Quinn to Wando, which also will be playing in a state final on Saturday morning in Cayce against Dutch Fork in the Class AAAA title match.

A latecomer at No. 1 since she was unable to try out for the team in preseason due to a fractured foot, Vroman played a few matches at Nos. 2 or 3 before moving into the Bishops' top position. She suffered only three losses in her first season of high school tennis,

Jenna might not be the only Vroman playing for the Bishops the next couple of seasons.

"My middle sister trains with the same people I train with at MWTennis. She's in the eighth grade this year at the Daniel Island School," she said.

Vroman has aspirations of playing college tennis just like her mother, who played at Maryland. And she plans to follow her parents' career path - both are physicians.

"I am hoping to become a doctor."


(11/06/14)  DAVID SHELTON: Lowcountry teams chase volleyball, tennis, cross country state championships
State championships in volleyball, girls tennis and cross country will be on the line Saturday and the Lowcountry will be heavily involved in the action.

Three of the four championship matches in volleyball include area teams; two of the three state finals in tennis feature Lowcountry squads; and area cross country teams and individual runners will figure into the championship mix.

Tennis
Wando will battle Dutch Fork in the AAAA tennis finals. A veteran Dutch Fork (26-1) squad is making a third consecutive appearance in the finals while Wando (18-1) brings a lineup consisting of freshmen and eighth-graders.

"It has been a wonderful season," says Wando coach Leigha Jakious. "We are a very young team but these girls really compete. We're excited to have this opportunity."

Bishop England (14-5) and Christ Church (15-1) will meet for the AA/A championship. Last year the two classifications were separated and Christ Church won the class A title while Bishop England won the AA crown. The teams met in the 2012 AA/A finals with Bishop England winning, 4-3.

"We know they are very competitive and play great tennis," said Bishop England coach Kristin Fleming-Arnold. "We've had a good season so far. We played some great competition during the regular season in hopes that it would prepare us for the state finals."


(11/04/14)  Wando girls roll into state tennis championship
Wando's young team came through big time on Monday in the Class AAAA Lower State girls tennis final as the Warriors (20-2) dominated previously unbeaten Lexington (19-1) with a 5-1 victory that propels Wando into Saturday's state final on the same Cayce Tennis Center courts in the Columbia area.

A Lexington team that had won all but three of its 114 individual matches this season couldn't match up with the Warriors' strength at the bottom of the lineup, where eighth-graders Kat Lyman and Penelope Hayes paved the way for Wando at Nos. 4 and 5 singles, along with the No. 2 doubles team of sophomore Morgan Hildebrandt and senior Brooke Gaskins. Freshmen Lily Conant and Morgan Mitchell got the other two wins for the Warriors in tight matches at Nos. 2 and 3. The hard-hitting Conant sailed through a second-set tiebreaker without dropping a point for one of the wins, and Mitchell outlasted Lexington senior Carley Neuberger in a third-set match tiebreaker, 10-7.

Lexington junior Katie Thompson turned back Wando freshman Lauren Quinn, 7-5, 6-2, at No. 1 singles.

"This is one of the strongest group of tennis players I've ever known," third-year Wando coach Leigha Jakious said. "They just fight and power through their matches. They change their games when they need to, and they really think about their matches."

In Saturday's 10 a.m. Class AAAA state championship match, Wando will face Dutch Fork, a 5-1 winner over Spartanburg in the Upper State final.

WANDO 5, LEXINGTON 1
Singles: Katie Thompson (L) def. Lauren Quinn, 7-5, 6-2; Lily Conant (W) def. Amy Lance, 6-3, 7-6 (0); Morgan Mitchell (W) def. Carley Neuberger, 5-7, 7-5, 10-7; Kat Lyman (W) def. Madisyn Currie, 6-4, 6-4; Penelope Hayes (W) def. Macy Cope, 7-5, 6-0.  Doubles: Morgan Hildebrandt/Brooke Gaskins (W) def. Katie Meyers/Madison Edwards, 6-4, 6-1.


(11/04/14)  Bishop England bounces Waccamaw in Lower State girls tennis final

Bishop England (14-5) stormed into its fourth consecutive Class AA girls tennis state final on Monday with a 5-1 win over longtime rival Waccamaw at Snee Farm Country Club.

The Bishops now will face 2013 Class A state champion Christ Church of Greenville, which scored a 5-2 win over 2013 Class AA state runner-up Mid-Carolina, in Saturday's 10 a.m. state final at the Columbia area's Cayce Tennis Center.

Christ Our King eighth-grader Adelia Phillips wrapped up the Lower State title for the Bishops with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Waccamaw senior Caitlyn Krask at No. 5 singles.

"It feels great (winning the Lower State title)," exclaimed Phillips, whose only coach has been her grandfather, local tennis coaching legend Billy Silcox.

"I did feel pressure near the end . . . with everyone else finished and standing around watching."

The observers included, in addition to her grandfather, the Bishops' Nos. 2, 3 and 4 players (sophomore Camryn Deames, junior Gabrielle Dacuba and sophomore Drue Ranson) who posted the other three victories - all in straight sets - needed to send Bishop England to another state final. The most games any Waccamaw player from Nos. 2-5 could muster against this group was six games.

"I knew it would be a tough match," BE coach Kristin Fleming said, even though the Bishops had defeated Waccamaw 6-0 in the regular season on the same clay courts. "We did a good job closing out at 2, 3, 4 and 5. But I knew 2 and 3 would be tough. I expected to win 4 and 5."

The only tight match came at No. 1 singles, where BE sophomore Jenna Vroman fell to Waccamaw eighth-grader Ali Despain, 6-4, 6-3, after the team match had been decided.

BISHOP ENGLAND 5, WACCAMAW 1
Singles: Ali Despain (W) def. Jenna Vroman, 6-4, 6-3; Camryn Deames (BE) def. Sydney Derrick, 6-3, 6-3; Gabrielle Dacuda (BE) def. Maddy Middleton, 6-4, 6-2; Drue Ranson (BE) def. Delacey Rowland, 6-1, 6-1; Adelia Phillips (BE) def. Caitlyn Krask, 6-4, 6-2.  Doubles: Riley Graham/Mary Lewis (BE) def. Alana Maser/Sassy Talson, 8-6.


(11/03/14)  Bishop England to battle Waccamaw for Lower State girls tennis title
Three-time defending Class AA girls tennis state champion Bishop England (13-5) will take on old rival Waccamaw on Monday at 4:30 p.m. at Snee Farm Country Club in the Lower State final. The Bishops are the top seed in the Lower State.

Mid-Carolina, the 2013 AA state runner-up, will meet 2013 Class A state champion Christ Church in the Class AA Upper State final.

In Class AAAA, Wando (19-2) will travel to the Columbia area to oppose Lower State top seed Lexington at 4:30 p.m. at the Cayce Tennis & Fitness Center in the Lower State final. Dutch Fork and Spartanburg will square off in the Upper State final.


(10/29/14)  Wando, Bishop England girls advance in tennis
Wando (19-2) breezed into the Class AAAA Lower State girls tennis final on Wednesday with a 6-0 win over Irmo.

Wando's three freshmen at the top of the lineup - Lauren Quinn, Lily Conant and Morgan Mitchell - pulled out close second sets against Irmo, while Nos. 4 and 5 eighth-graders Kat Lyman and Penelope Hayes scored easy wins as the Warriors didn't drop a set.

"The girls played well against Irmo," Wando coach Leigha Jakious said. "The strength all the way down the ladder really helps us as a team. They are just so pumped to head out to the fourth round on Monday."

Jakious knows things will get much tougher in Monday's state semifinals at either Lexington or West Florence. Lower State top seed Lexington scored a pair of 6-0 wins over Irmo in Region 5-AAAA regular-season play.

"We know it'll be a tough team (on Monday), but I think we've proven to ourselves this season that we are a tough team too. I know these girls want state this year and they have a chance to grab it."

WANDO 6, IRMO 0

SINGLES: Lauren Quinn (W) def. Keely Lassiter, 6-2, 6-4; Lily Conant (W) def. Abby Cooper, 6-4, 7-5; Morgan Mitchell (W) def. Holly Reynolds, 6-2, 6-4; Kat Lyman (W) def. Caroline Lockman, 6-2, 6-2; Penelope Hayes (W) def. Kendra Hoffman, 6-0, 6-0.

DOUBLES: Morgan Hildebrandt/Brooke Gaskins (W) def. Bailey Bennett/Lauren Davis, 6-0, 6-3.
BE beats Academic Magnet

Three-time defending Class AA state champion Bishop England (13-5) pulled out a second-set tiebreaker and a match tiebreaker in singles to hold off Region 6-AA rival Academic Magnet, 5-1, Wednesday in the Lower State semifinals at Snee Farm Country Club.

The Bishops will face either Waccamaw or Aynor in Monday's Lower State final at Snee Farm.

Sophomore No. 1 Jenna Vroman scored a 6-1, 6-3 win for the Bishops over Academic Magnet's Mary-Geer Kirkland, but Bishop England No. 2 Camryn Deames had to pull out a 14-12 match tiebreaker, while the Raptors' Margaret Jones upended the Bishops' Gabrielle Dacuba at No. 3.

"It was a good tight match ... great preparation for Monday's Lower State final," Bishop England coach Kristin Fleming said. "Magnet played very well tonight. Jenna and Drue (Ranson) played well and closed it out early. We are ready for Lower State but need to be more focused and less timid."

BISHOP ENGLAND 5, ACADEMIC MAGNET 1

SINGLES: Jenna Vroman (BE) def. Mary Kirkland, 6-1, 6-3; Camryn Deames (BE) def. Katie Hulsey, 4-6, 7-5, 14-12; Margaret Jones (AM) def. Gabrielle Dacuba, 7-5, 7-6; Drue Ranson (BE) def. Cameron Waters, 6-1, 6-2; Ansley Blom (BE) def. Lauren Dickman, 6-4, 7-6.  DOUBLES: Riley Graham/Adelia Phillips (BE) def. Ally Bush/Elle Johnson, 6-2, 6-0.


(10/28/14)  Wando, Bishop England aim for high school league tennis titles

Wando (12-18) is the lone Lowcountry team still alive in SCHSL’s Class AAAA girls tennis playoffs. The Warriors will face a strong Irmo team on Wednesday at the Wando courts in the Lower State semifinals.

Irmo was runner-up to Lexington in Region 5 AAAA, and therefor is a No. 2 seed, while Wando is a No. 1 seed.

Coach Leigha Jakious’ Wando team rolled past Socastee, 5-1, in Monday’s second round. Irmo edged Bluffton, 4-3. Lexington blanked James Island, 6-0, and West Florence shut out Ashely Ridge, 6-0, in matches that eliminated the area’s other remaining AAAA playoff teams.

In Class AA, three-time defending state champion/Lower State top seed Bishop England (13-4) will play host to fellow Region 6-AA rival Academic Magnet in Wednesday’s Lower State semifinal at Snee Farm Country Club as the Bishops eye another possible confrontation with Rival Waccamaw in next Monday’s Lower State final.

Bishop England routed Barnwell, 6-0, on Monday, and Academic Magnet shut out Green Sea-Floyds.

Berkeley, the area’s last Class AAA representative, was ousted from the playoffs, 5-1, by Aiken on Monday.


(10/27/14)  PREP ZONE: Girls Tennis
CLASS AAAA PLAYOFFS - SECOND ROUND

WANDO 5, SOCASTEE 1
Singles: Gresko (S) d. Quinn 6-1, 6-1. Conant d. Cox 6-2, 3-6 (10-6). Mitchell d. Duvall 6-0, 6-0. Lyman d. Renfrow 6-2, 6-1. Hayes d. Voss 6-1, 6-1.  Doubles: Hildebrandt/Gaskins d. Beam/Case 6-1, 6-0.

Next: Wando hosts Bluffton or Irmo Wednesday.

CLASS AAAA PLAYOFFS - SECOND ROUND

AIKEN 5, BERKELEY 1
Singles: Leguizamon d. Huxford 6-2, 5-7 (6). Fredericka Tucker d. Macy Burges 6-1, 6-1. Felicia Tucker d. Tedder 6-1, 6-2. Gregory d. Misty Burges 6-0, 6-3. Croft d. Ponce 6-3, 6-1.  Doubles: Futrell/McCutchen (B) d. Frei/Davis 4-6, 6-3 (5).

CLASS AAAA PLAYOFFS - FIRST ROUND

BERKELEY 4, HARTSVILLE 2
Singles: Huxford d. Wilhelm 6-2, 6-1. Macy Burges d. Barrow 6-0, 6-3. Tedder d. DuBose 6-3, 7-5. Robinson (H) d. Misty Burges 5-7, 7-6 (3). Ponce d. Payne 6-1, 6-4.  Doubles: Cottingham/Hudson (H) d. Morrell/Futrell 6-1, 6-1.

CLASS AA PLAYOFFS

BISHOP ENGLAND 6, BARNWELL 0
Singles: Vroman d. Scruggs 6-1, 6-0. Deames d. Famrag 6-0, 6-0. Ranson d. Stone 6-0, 6-0. Lewis d. Peay 6-0, 6-0. Phillips d. Vorn 6-0, 6-3.  Doubles: White/Johnson d. Reed/McCoy 6-4, 6-4.


(10/26/14)  Wando's Quinn eyes another state title
What's new? Lauren Quinn has her eye on another successful postseason finish.

The smallish, hard-hitting Wando ace is working on a string of three straight state championships. She's only a freshman.

Quinn's goal is to win state titles with three different teams. She already has played on one state championship team at Palmetto Christian (2011) and two at Bishop England (2012-13). All three times, the 5-31/4 player who hits two-handed from both sides came through with wins in the state final.

Quinn hasn't lost in singles this season, and three matches ago she was elevated to Wando's No. 1 position. Just in time for the SCHSL Class AAAA playoffs.

"Lauren beat Lily (Conant) in a challenge match about three weeks ago to move up to the No. 1 spot," said third-year Wando coach Leigha Jakious.

The Warriors (17-2) posted a 6-0 win over Westwood in Wednesday's first round and will play a second-round match against Socastee on Monday afternoon at the Wando courts.

"It's tough competition (in the playoffs), but I think we have the team to pull it (state title) off . and in consecutive years since the oldest player in our starting five is a freshman," Quinn said.

Of course, the 2013 All-Lowcountry performer would think that way since she already owns three state titles, and her new team starts three freshmen (Nos. 1, 2 and 3 Quinn, Conant and Morgan Mitchell) and two eighth-graders (Nos. 4 and 5 Kat Lyman and Penelope Hayes).

And, as Jakious said, "Lyman was a strong No. 1 last season." All four of the other singles starters are newcomers.

There is even more depth. Sophomore Morgan Hildebrandt had been the No. 5 singles player until Hayes beat her out for the starting singles slot.

This may sound a lot like 2004-09 when coach Becky Williamson directed Wando to six straight Class AAAA state titles.

"We are a really deep team. The top five are all really close (in competitive ability)," Quinn said.

The Warriors have lost only to SCISA Class AAA state champion Porter-Gaud, when Quinn didn't play, and to SCHSL Class AAA power Hilton Head High in the Bishop England Invitational.

"My dad showed me how to hit two-handed (from both sides) when I was 4-years old," Quinn said. "It gives me more power in my forehand."

Any disadvantages with pounding balls with two hands from both sides? "I don't know of any drawbacks," Quinn said.

Jakious sees the competitiveness within the team as a real plus in preparing the Warriors for the playoffs. "The girls on the team have been working hard throughout this season and we've had some great matches to prepare us for state," she said.

"I think as long as each player gives her all in every match coming up in the playoffs, we could bring our young Wando team to the finals. Our chance truly comes from the fact that every single player on our ladder is a strong and dedicated player. These players never give up and that could be what takes us all the way this season."
Playoff pairings

Lower State top seed Bishop England will begin its quest for a fourth straight Class AA state title on Monday at Snee Farm Country Club against Barnwell. Academic Magnet will travel to Green Sea-Floyds for another Class AA encounter.

In Class AAA, Berkeley will travel to Aiken on Monday.

Other Class AAAA match-ups on Monday will send James Island to Lower State top seed Lexington and Ashley Ridge to a No. 1-seeded West Florence. James Island defeated Summerville in the first round, while Ashley Ridge eliminated West Ashley.

The Class AA, AAA and AAAA state finals are scheduled to be played on Nov. 8 at the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center.
Region 8-AAAA team

Summerville coach David Long was named Region 8-AAAA coach of the year, while Bella Lawrence of Ashley Ridge picked up the player of the year honor. The all-region team includes: Ashley Ridge's Bella Lawrence and Savanna Lawrence; Summerville's Sullivan Long and Paige Reynolds; Colleton County's Megan Mitchell and Alicia Roberson; Fort Dorchester's Monet Mitchel and Temperance Sanders; and Bluffton's Justin Wilson, Cooper Baxter and Anna Rathke.


(10/26/14)  Brenda Carter to be inducted into Southern Tennis Hall of Fame
It's been a big October for Brenda Carter.

She spent last week in Turkey, leading the U.S. women's 65 team to a super-seniors world championship and the Kitty Godfree Cup.

And what does she get for a return home present? Election to the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame.

Carter will be inducted into the hall of fame at the nine-state USTA Southern's annual meeting in January.

Carter won the 2007 international singles championship in her age group and was the No. 1 player in the world in women's 60. She also has won world titles in doubles and mixed doubles.

Carter has been the No. 1 player in the nation eight times in her age group and has won 43 USTA gold balls in all, including 24 national singles titles.

The 68-year-old Charleston resident won national 65s singles championships on four different surfaces in 2013. She ended the year ranked No. 1 in the nation in both singles and doubles.

In the International Tennis Federation's world team championships that ended last weekend, Carter not only went 5-0 in singles to account for half of the wins needed for the U.S. team to bring home the Kitty Godfree Cup, she served as the team's captain. She also has served as captain for USTA World Cup teams in the women's 55 Maureen Connelly Cup and women's 60 Alice Marble Cup.

Carter served as National Senior Women's Tennis Association president from 2009-11. She was appointed to the USTA National's adult/senior competition committee.

Carter was a math professor and associate athletic director at Georgia Southern University before retiring and moving to Charleston with her husband, Harry, in 1999. She was inducted into the Georgia Southern Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.

"Brenda Carter is the perfect poster child that proves you can take time off from tennis to raise your family, establish your career, come back to tennis later in life, and still have a hall of fame career in the sport you love," proclaimed Charleston resident and USTA Southern adult competition committee chairman Cindy Babb in her comments for the hall of fame induction booklet.

"She has been the best ambassador possible for senior tennis."
Southern champions

Planter's Pointe's 40-plus 7.0 mixed doubles team returned home from Mobile, Ala., earlier this month with a Southern Sectional senior championship. Allison Pickhardt served as captain of the Planter's Pointe team that scored a 3-0 win over Lake Charles, La., in the final.

Team members included Mark Pickhardt, Marie Ferrigno, Michael Millican, Jane Fitzsimmons, Jeff Fitzsimmons, Rebecca Zetrouer, Bryan Zetrouer, Guillermo Fenoglio, Lisa Jenness, Drew Johnstone and Brian Mahoney along with Allison Pickhardt.

The team will advance to the nationals Nov. 21-23 in Surprise, Ariz.
Local notes

Lisa Gnann and Todd Hall, both of Daniel Island, captured a Gold Ball National Mixed Doubles 50-plus championship in the recent Alan Fleming Seniors Open Clay Court State Championship at Seabrook Island. The local singles winners were Porter-Gaud girls coach Charlotte Hartsock in women's 45, Sally Smith in women's 55 and Charles Burns in men's 70.

A 6.5 men's team from Mount Pleasant Rec captained by Eric Ramsey gave the LCTA an 18-plus title in last weekend's combo doubles state championships at Hilton Head Island. Alison Shor's 55-plus 6.5 women from Snee Farm and Joette Creager's 55-plus 7.5 women from Mount Pleasant Rec captured senior state combo titles.

Emma Navarro won the girls 14 singles title at the recent national level 2 USTA junior tournament in Delray Beach, Fla. Navarro plays out of LTP Tennis.

Katie LaFrance won the girls 16 doubles title and Yekaterina Alferova took the girls 14 doubles crown at the national tournament in Norcross, Ga.

City of Charleston tennis manager Peggy Bohne is looking for volunteers to assist state USTA officials with the state singles championships scheduled for Nov. 15-17 at Farmfield Avenue's Charleston Tennis Center and Maybank Tennis Center. Contact Bohne (766-7401).


(10/19/14) Charleston's Rogers falls in Rising Stars Invitational

Shelby Rogers gave it all she had in the WTA Tour's Rising Stars Invitational. And the 22-year-old touring tennis professional from Charleston almost pulled it off Sunday in Singapore.

The final match of the four-player round robin came down to Rogers having two opportunities to win one point that would have vaulted her into a three-way tie for first place.

But Puerto Rico's Monica Puig responded by escaping double match point while winning the last four points of the match to deal Rogers a 6-3, 6-7 (4), 11-9 defeat as Puig wrapped up first place in the round robin and a spot in Tuesday's Tennis Channel-televised final. The final will be staged alongside the star-studded WTA Finals.

"Shelby hit the ball harder than I have ever seen her (hit). She played some great tennis," longtime Rogers coach Bryan Minton said. "Monica hit some great shots on those match points."

Puig finished with a 3-0 record, while Saisai Zheng of China captured the second spot in Tuesday's final with a 2-1 record. Rogers, who dropped third-set match tiebreakers to both finalists, closed out the competition with a 1-2 record. Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan, the highest-ranked player in the competition at No. 34, finished with a 0-3 record, including a comeback three-set win by Zheng on Sunday.

"It was another really tough match," Puig said. "To be able to pull out a match after being down match point is really amazing."

After jumping out to a 5-1 lead while winning a second-set tiebreaker that evened the match, Rogers could see the finish line when she gained a double match point at 9-7 that put her in position to serve for the match. But with a spot in the final already wrapped up, Puig wouldn't be denied.

Puig double-faulted three times in the match tiebreaker, but Rogers was unable to convert any of her four second-serve points in the decisive tiebreaker.

Rogers took the setback in stride. "We're here to entertain, so hopefully the fans enjoyed it, and I did too," Rogers said. "It's been so much fun being around the top stars. They really treated us unbelievably."


(10/18/14)  At a Glance: STAFF & WIRE REPORTS: Singapore - Rogers rebounds at Rising Stars
Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers bounced back from an opening-round loss in the WTA Tour’s Rising Stars Invitational in Singapore with an impressive 6-1, 6-3 victory on Saturday over world’s 34th-ranked Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

The 58-minute no-ad scoring victory left the 71-st ranked Rogers in the running in the four-player round-robin going into a Sunday match against Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig, who is 2-0 in the competition.

“When Shelby is playing like that, she can beat anyone,” longtime Rogers coach Bryan Minton said. “Shelby played a great match and Diyas had a slow start. Shelby really played well from start to finish. Her serve was on, and she made very few errors.”

The no-ad scoring may have given Rogers problems in a three-set loss to China’s Zheng Saisai in the first round, but Saturday was a different story. After Diyas rallied from a 3-1deficit to deadlock the second set at 3-3, Rogers swept the last three games to notch her initial Rising Stars victory.


(10/18/14)  Porter-Gaud tops Ashley Hall for SCISA Class AAA girls tennis championship
Whether it's called Porter-Gaud's version of "The Big Reversal" or senior Grace Robards' "State Championship Sandwich," the Cyclones are SCISA's Class AAA girls tennis state champions.

Coach Charlotte Hartsock's Porter-Gaud team (9-5) reversed its two regular-season losses to Ashley Hall (18-7) with down-to-the-wire doubles magic in a 5-4 championship victory over top seed Ashley Hall on Saturday at Sumter's Palmetto Tennis Center.

Getting a 3-3 split in singles, the bracket's third-seeded Cyclones were ready for doubles this time after what Hartsock called "practicing doubles all week."

"It was good to know our hard work paid off," said Porter-Gaud sophomore ace Ann Martin Skelly who, like Robards, posted wins in singles and doubles to account for four of the Cyclones' five wins.

With freshman Elizabeth Snyder giving the Cyclones the split in singles by winning at No. 5, Porter-Gaud had all of the right combinations. And the Cyclones needed them to overcome veteran coach Mary Gastley's Ashley Hall team in doubles.

Robards and freshman Rebecca Kahn ended a long day by rallying from a set down to win the decisive match, 3-6, 7-5, 10-5, over Ashley Hall junior Gyles Laney and senior Tiffany Dye at No. 2 doubles. That came after the Cyclones' Skelly had teamed with sixth-grader MacKenzie Davis for a 6-2, 1-6, 10-4 win over Ashley Hall eighth-graders Michaela Cuoco and Ana-Lei Kalawe at No. 1 doubles to tie the match score at 4 and keep the Cyclones' hopes alive.

The result was just the opposite of the two teams' first regular-season match when Porter-Gaud lost after holding a 4-3 lead with two doubles matches still on the court. It also was a reversal of the last time the two teams had met in a state final, 2010 when Ashley Hall avenged two regular season losses to Porter-Gaud to win a third consecutive state title.

"I call it a 'State Championship Sandwich' - the two winners (2014 and 2011) the bread, and the two runners-up (2012 and 2013) the meat and cheese," was the way Robards summed up the last four seasons of her high school career.

"We just focused on every point and took it one step at a time," Robards said about the decisive win in doubles, playing with a new partner. "I think we nailed the (doubles) combination today."

Robards, who played No. 3 as a freshman in the 2011 final, won her No. 2 singles match against Kalawe, 6-2, 6-1, on Saturday.

"I usually play (doubles) with Grace, but we felt we had better chemistry this way," said 2013 Lowcountry player of the year Skelly, who posted a 6-0, 6-0 win Cuoco. "I am so excited to win a state title playing No. 1 singles (Skelly played No. 6 as a seventh-grader on the 2011 championship team)."

For second-year Porter-Gaud coach Hartsock, her first state title came as a result of shuffling and heavy focus on doubles. "The chemistry for Ann Martin and MacKenzie was very good, and Grace and Rebecca also had good chemistry. We pulled it together today," she said.

"Our girls really earned this today. I am so proud of them. Everyone was so focused on a state championship," Hartsock said. "This was closer than the first one (Ashley Hall's earlier 5-4 win) . both doubles coming down to the last few points."

PORTER-GAUD 5, ASHLEY HALL 4
SINGLES: Ann Martin Skelly (P-G) def. Michaela Cuoco, 6-0, 6-0; Grace Robards (P-G) def. Ana-Lei Kalawe, 6-2, 6-1; Linsey Yarborough (AH) def. Rebecca Kahn, 6-4, 6-4; Gyles Laney (AH) def. McKenzie Davis, 6-0, 6-0; Elizabeth Snyder (P-G) def. McCrae Nistad, 6-4, 6-3; Tiffany Dye (AH) def. Reese Evans, 6-1, 6-1.

DOUBLES: Skelly/Davis (P-G) def. Cuoco/Kalawe, 6-2, 1-6, 10-4; Robards/Kahn (P-G) def. Laney/Dye, 3-6, 7-5, 10-5; Yarbrough/Nistad (AH) def. Snyder/Evans, 6-1, 6-3.


(10/18/14)  At a Glance: STAFF & WIRE REPORTS: Singapore – Shelby Rogers
Shelby Rogers started fast, but finished badly on Friday night in her first match in the WTA Tour’s Rising Stars Invitational in Singapore, suffering a 1-6, 6-2, 10-6 loss to Zheng Saisai of China.

Rogers won 12 straight points late in the first set against Zheng when everything seemed to go Rogers’ way, but the no-ad scoring also worked against Rogers the rest of the match. The touring pro from Charleston dropped all four of her service games in the second set, then was unable to recover from a 7-1 deficit in a third set tie-break.

“Saisai played much better in the second set and things were definitely going her way,” longtime Rogers coach Bryan Minton said. She (Zheng) won the no-ad points (in the second set), where Shelby won them in the first set. Shelby needed to stay more aggressive in the second to keep momentum in the match.”

Rogers was scheduled to face world’s 34-ranked Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in Saturday’s second round of round-robin play.


(10/18/14)  Ashley Hall, Porter-Gaud to clash in state tennis championship
SCISA's Class AAA girls tennis state championship trophy is headed back to Charleston sometime on Saturday.
   
That much is in the books. But which perennial powerhouse will the champion be? Ashley Hall or Porter-Gaud?

The two Charleston teams last met in a state final in 2010 when coach Mary Gastley's Ashley Hall team prevailed after two regular season losses to the Cyclones. This time, Porter-Gaud will be trying to gain revenge for the two losses the Panthers pinned on the Cyclones earlier this season.

Friday's semifinals at Sumter's Palmetto Tennis Center were total mismatches. Lower bracket top seed Ashley Hall (18-6) crushed No. 2 seed Thomas Sumter, 6-0; while upper bracket third seed Porter-Gaud (8-5) dominated bracket top seed Wilson Hall, 5-1, to advance to the Cyclones' sixth consecutive final.

The final is set for 10 a.m. Saturday in Sumter.

Friday's results were just about what was expected from the coaches. "I wasn't surprised (by the one-sided scores)," second-year Porter-Gaud coach Charlotte Hartsock said. "But I didn't know what to expect since they (Wilson Hall) had beaten Cardinal Newman, which had beaten us."

While Porter-Gaud dropped one position (No. 5 where freshman Elizabeth Snyder suffered a 10-7 loss in a third-set tiebreaker) to Wilson Hall, the Panthers from the other Hall (Ashley) lost no more than four games at any one position and a total of only 16 games to Thomas Sumter.

"Tomorrow will be a little different story with the competition and the rivalry," said Gastley, who is in her 29th year as the Panthers' coach and whose team notched three straight state titles from 2008-10.

Even junior Gyles Laney, who at No. 3 had suffered the only loss in Ashley Hall's 8-1 regular season romp past Thomas Sumter, got sweet revenge this time by shutting out her opponent at No. 4. Ashley Hall Nos. 1-3 Michaela Cuoco, Ana-Lei Kawale and Linsey Yarbrough all posted 6-1, 6-2 victories.

While sophomore ace Ann Martin Skelly and senior Grace Robards, both of whom notched 6-0, 6-0 wins on Friday, helped Porter-Gaud win its last state title in 2011, Ashley Hall doesn't have a player who has played in a state championship match.

Both Gastley and Hartsock realize that the results of their teams' two regular-season confrontations won't mean much in the final. Ashley Hall won the most recent meeting, 8-1, when Skelly wasn't available, and also took the first meeting, 5-4, after trailing 4-3 and losing the first set of both doubles matches left on the court when darkness forced a venue switch to the St. Andrew's courts.

ASHLEY HALL 6, THOMAS SUMTER 0
Singles: Michaela Cuoco (AH) def. Becca Jenkins, 6-1, 6-2; Ana-Lei Kawale (AH) def. Hannah Jenkins, 6-1, 6-2; Linsey Yarbrough (AH) def. Sydney Townsend, 6-1, 6-2; Gyles Laney (AH) def. Kelsie Decker, 6-0, 6-0; McCrae Nistad (AH) def. Morgan Houde, 6-2, 6-2; Tiffany Dye (AH) def. Kayla Chappell, 6-3, 6-0.

PORTER-GAUD 5, WILSON HALL 1
Singles: Ann Martin Skelly (P-G) def. Zan Beasley, 6-0, 6-0; Grace Robards (P-G) def. MacKenzie Lecher, 6-0, 6-0; Rebecca Kahn (P-G) def. Anna Louise Segars, 6-1, 6-1; McKenzie Davis (P-G) def. Sallie Spencer, 6-2, 6-0; Mary Margaret Munn (WH) def. Elizabeth Snyder, 6-4, 6-7, 10-7; Reese Evans (P-G) def. Serena Clifton, 6-1, 6-3.


(10/16/14)  For Ashley Hall tennis, future is now in SCISA state tournament
Building for the future? What about SCISA's state championship weekend that starts Friday afternoon in Sumter?

The future is coming early for coach Mary Gastley and her young Ashley Hall team. The Panthers have to be considered the favorites in SCISA's version of the "Final Four" in Class AAA girls tennis.

Ashley Hall has gone 9-0 against the other seven teams that made the playoffs, including an 8-1 win over a Thomas Sumter team that stands between the Panthers and a berth in Saturday's state championship match.

Lower bracket top seed Ashley Hall, which hasn't been in a state final since 2010 when Gastley's team notched its third consecutive state title, faces second seed Thomas Sumter at 2 p.m. Friday in Sumter in the state semifinals.

Much of the Panthers' success this season can be credited to their two eighth-grade leaders, Nos. 1 and 2 Michaela Cuoco and Ana-Lei Kalawe.

While Cuoco is a newcomer, Kalawe is in her third year on the team. Kalawe also played No. 2 for the Panthers a year ago.

"I like it (high school tennis) ... it's really fun. I like the competitiveness. It gives me a really good feeling," Kalawe said. "I am excited (about the playoffs). I am looking forward to the competition. I think we have a really good chance this year to win the state."

A talented and athletic player with strong groundstrokes, Kalawe has the potential to become one of the top players in the state. Her only losses during the regular season were to Porter-Gaud's Grace Robards and Bishop England's Gabrielle Dacuba.

Gastley is impressed with the potential of her top two players.

"Ana-Lei has steadily improved each year and this year has played very well at the No. 2 spot," Gastley said. "She works hard on all aspects of the game and has become a very aggressive powerful force."

Kalawe already has had one huge tennis moment this year. In late summer, she won the 14-and-under division of the national Arthur Ashe Essay contest and a trip to New York for Arthur Ashe's Kids Day at the U.S. Open.

Cuoco relies on her top-spin groundstrokes and mobility, along with her competitiveness.

"Michaela has been a nice addition to our team. She is a talented young player that shows a lot of potential," Gastley said. "Her continued commitment as a year-round player helps her play at a higher level."

Ashley Hall sailed into the semifinals with a 6-0 victory over Heathwood Hall in Monday's first round, while Thomas Sumter pulled out a 5-4 win over Cardinal Newman.

P-G plays Wilson Hall
Porter-Gaud eyes a sixth straight appearance in the SCISA Class AAA state final, but the upper bracket third seed Cyclones first face the challenge of taking on bracket top seed Wilson Hall of Sumter in Friday's semifinals at 2 p.m. in Sumter.

Coach Charlotte Hartsock's Cyclones posted a 5-1 win over Hammond School in the first round, while Wilson Hall cruised to a 9-0 win over Pinewood Prep.

The winners of Friday's semifinals will square off Saturday at 10 a.m. for the state championship.


(10/17/14)  PREP ZONE: Girls Tennis
STRATFORD 5, GOOSE CREEK 2
Singles: Ch. Class d. Richardson 6-1, 6-1. McFadden (GC) d. Cady 7-5, 5-7, 11-9. Ce. Class d. Deas 6-0, 6-0. Mitchum d. Julius 6-3, 6-4. Carr d. Waring 6-3, 6-3.  Doubles: Class/Class d. Richardson/McFadden 8-1. Little/Crosby (GC) d. Johnson/Darby 6-3, 3-6, 13-11. Records: Stratford 4-8 (4-6). Next: Stratford at Bluffton.

WEST ASHLEY 5, CANE BAY 0
Singles: Hulsey d. Maharrey 6-0, 6-0. Lowe d. Conkey 6-0, 6-1. Clayton d. Kelly 6-0, 6-0. Taylor d. Kay 6-0, 6-1. Weeks d. Winslow 6-1, 6-1.  Records: West Ashley 10-4 (6-4). Next: Cane Bay season over. West Ashley in state tournament.


(10/14/14)  PREP ZONE: Girls Tennis
ASHLEY HALL 6, HEATHWOOD HALL 0
Singles: Cuoco d. Savoca 6-3, 6-2. Kalawe d. Savoca 6-4, 7-5. Yarbrough d. Stormer 6-3, 7-5. Laney d. Storm 6-0, 6-0. Nistad d. Rhea 6-0, 6-0. Dye d. Beasley 6-0, 6-0.  Next: Ashley Hall advances to SCISA state semifinals on Friday.

PORTER-GAUD 5, HAMMOND 1
Singles: Skelly d. Herring 6-2, 6-1. Robards d. MacGillivray 6-4, 1-6 (7). Kahn d. Jenkins 6-2, 6-4. Davis d. Culbreath 6-0, 6-3. Snyder d. Masella 5-7, 7-6 (5). Gardham (H) d. Evans 3-6, 6-4 (5). 

JAMES ISLAND 5, WEST ASHLEY 1
Singles: Dinkins d. Halsey 6-3, 6-2. Daly d. Lowe 6-1, 6-0. Glaze d. Cording 6-4, 6-2. Trojanowska d. Linker 6-2, 6-3. Skipper d. Clayton 6-1, 6-3.  Doubles: Weeks/Taylor (WA) d. Loring/Whaley 1-6, 2-3 (retired).

Records: James Island 13-2 (7-1). West Ashley 8-4 (4-4). Next: James Island hosts Stratford today. West Ashley at Goose Creek today.

BERKELEY 7, FORT DORCHESTER 0
Singles: Huxford d. Mitchell 6-1, 6-0. Burges d. Sanders 6-1, 6-1. Tedder d. Rodgers 7-6, 6-1. Ponce d. Zhang 6-3, 6-7 (5). E. Futrell d. Wallace 6-2, 6-2.  Doubles: L. Futrell/McCutcheon d. Mitchell/Rodgers 8-4. Santmyer/Greenwood d. Fleming/Kilcullen 6-4, 2-6 (8).

Records: Berkeley 7-9. Next: Berkeley at Hanahan today.


(10/13/14)  Panthers, Cyclones poised for state tennis title showdown
The seedings may indicate otherwise, but Ashley Hall and Porter-Gaud are expected by most observers to reach next Saturday's SCISA Class AAA girls tennis state championship match.

The coaches, Ashley Hall's Mary Gastley and Porter-Gaud's Charlotte Hartsock, aren't taking anything for granted. They realize the regular season proved very little.

"This time of year (playoff time) is crunch time," said Gastley, whose team won three consecutive state titles from 2008-10. "We are looking forward to being in the playoffs and the team is fired up."

Porter-Gaud has suffered three losses to teams in the AAA playoffs (Cardinal Newman and twice to Ashley Hall). Two of the losses came when 2013 Lowcountry player of the year Ann Martin Skelly wasn't available or retired with an injury, and the other loss came when the Cyclones owned a 4-3 lead over Ashley Hall and had won the first set of both doubles matches left on the court, eventually won by Ashley Hall in third-set tiebreakers after the match was switched to the St. Andrew's courts due to darkness.

Gastley doesn't think her team's 8-1 win over Porter-Gaud on Thursday is an indication of how closely matched the two teams are. "Ann Martin (Skelly) was out of town so she didn't play. Makes a huge difference if your No. 1 doesn't play," the veteran Ashley Hall coach said.

Meanwhile, Ashley Hall is 8-0 against teams in the AAA playoffs, with victories over five of the other seven teams involved. The Panthers have defeated all three of the other teams in the lower bracket where Ashley Hall is the top seed.

Ashley Hall owns a pair of victories over lower fourth seed Heathwood Hall, the Panthers' opponent in Monday's first round at Farmfield Avenue's Charleston Tennis Center. The winner of that match will advance to Friday's 2 p.m. semifinals in Sumter against either No. 2 Thomas Sumter or No. 3 Cardinal Newman.

Gastley has been rebuilding the Panthers the last three seasons without reaching a state championship match, and everything seems to be clicking for the Panthers this season with the switch to Class AA by two-time Class AAA state champion Hilton Head Prep. Ashley Hall has five singles starters back from last year, and Gastley credits her team's success to the "returning players adding experience and depth to the lineup."

The Panthers are still a young team, with only one senior starter (No. 6 Tiffany Dye), two juniors, one sophomore and two eighth-graders (Nos. 1 and 2 Michaela Cuoco and Ana-Lei Kalawe Edwards).

The big surprise is in the upper bracket where Porter-Gaud, which has played in the last five state finals, is the third seed in the bracket and must travel to Columbia on Monday to take on No. 2 seed Hammond School in the opening round. Florence's Wilson Hall is the top seed in the upper bracket and plays host to No. 4 Pinewood Prep on Monday.

Porter-Gaud's seeding can be traced back to the Cyclones' 5-4 loss to Cardinal Newman in late September when Skelly retired from her singles match and did not play doubles. Standout Cardinal Newman junior Brittney Desmond, who had switched briefly to A.C. Flora, rejoined the Cardinal Newman team and played against Skelly as Desmond's return helped turn Cardinal Newman's season around with four wins in its last five matches.

Porter-Gaud's other four losses in regular season matches were to Ashley Hall and powerhouse Hilton Head Prep.

In Class A, the state semifinals will be held Tuesday with Colleton Prep visiting Beaufort Academy, while Holly Hill Academy will have a home match against the winner of a Monday match pitting St. John's and Charleston Collegiate.


(10/11/14)  Bishop England's Fleming enjoys big week
Good things often happen in multiples. Check out Kristin Fleming's week.

The newly married tennis coach watched her Bishop England girls team post a 6-0 win over arch-rival Waccamaw on Wednesday at Snee Farm. She celebrated her birthday on Thursday with her husband and her parents.

Defeating Waccamaw was a big deal. It assured the Bishops of having the home-court advantage the next time the two old rivals meet. Barring a gigantic upset, the next meeting will come in the Class AA Lower state final in early November when the Bishops and Fleming will be chasing a fourth straight state championship.

Wednesday's win was especially impressive in that BE sophomores Jenna Vroman and Camryn Deemes scored victories at Nos. 1 and 2 over Waccamaw's talented Ali DeSpain and hard-hitting Sydney Derrick. A year ago, All-Lowcountry BE seniors Liza Arruda and Caroline Yodice fell to DeSpain and Derrick in the Lower State title match, although the Bishops still managed to advance.

If the Bishops advance to the state title match again, they'll likely have to face perennial Class A champion Christ Church, which will compete in the Class AA playoffs this year.
No small feat

Securing a berth in the WTA's Oct. 17-21 Rising Stars Invitational in Singapore was no small accomplishment for Shelby Rogers. Or Rest of the World teammate Monica Puig of Puerto Rico.

They came out ahead in the worldwide voting against six world's top 60 players - Ukraine's Elina Svitolina (No. 31) and Switzerland's Belinda Bencic (No. 35), and highly regarded Americans Madison Keys (No. 32), CoCo Vandeweghe (No. 38), Christina McHale (No. 52) and Lauren Davis (No. 57) - as well as Grace Min and Serbian Jovana Jaksic. Rogers' last two losses actually were to Svitolina and Bencic.

Rogers is ranked No. 71 and Puig No. 63. They will oppose the Asia-Pacific group's Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan (No. 37) and and Zheng Saisai of China (112).

The young Americans are shining these days. Rogers is the 10th-ranked of 14 Americans currently residing among the world's top 100 players.
Pine Forest event

Pine Forest Country Club's Ladies Tennis Association has raised $180,000 the last nine years in support of the American Cancer Society ($105,000) and more recently the local MUSC Hollings Cancer Comprehensive Breast Care Center ($75,000).

As the PFLTA prepares for its 10th annual Racquets for Recovery "Taking a Hard Swing at Breast Cancer," which is scheduled for Nov. 7-9, the goal is to raise $20,000 to increase its grand total to $200,000.

Registration for the 10th annual Racquets for Recovery men's and women's mixed doubles tournament is available online at tennislink.usta.com, using tournament number 700034514. The registration deadline is Nov. 2.

Contact PFLTA president and event coordinator Shirley Hunter (200-3815 or racquetsforrecovery@gmail.com), 500 Hawthorne Ave., Summerville, S.C. 29483.

Notes

A big night is planned next Friday at James Island's Maybank Tennis Center as the popular Charleston Pro Tennis League closes out its regular season with a 6:30 p.m. program. After a year off following the departure of co-founder Chris Henderson, the CPTL has bounced back under former College of Charleston tennis coach Phil Whitesell. The CPTL finals are scheduled for Oct. 24 at the Park West Tennis Center in Mount Pleasant.

USTA South Carolina has announced that Josh Tutterow, who has coached tennis for adaptive athletes through the City of Charleston Therapeutic Recreation Department since 2008, will receive the Adaptive Tennis Volunteer of the Year Award on Dec. 6 as part of the state organization's annual meeting on the Isle of Palms. Tutterow is scheduled to be an assistant tennis coach for Team USA at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Cindy Babb was named USTA S.C.'s female adult player of the year and also will be honored at the state banquet. "I am most thankful to have been able to compete in age group tournaments for almost 50 years against players who define themselves by the content of their character and not the results of their tennis games," said the 63-year-old Babb, who has competed in three USTA national championships this year.


(10/10/14)  From directing Family Circle Cup to starting a successful event company, Lisa Thomas is at the top of her game
Over the past two decades, Lisa Thomas has become known in the Lowcountry as a sort of guru of event planning.

From a major tennis tournament to the most lavish weddings in Charleston, Thomas has seemingly done it all.

She arrived in Charleston in 2000 as the director of the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament when it relocated from Hilton Head Island to its new home on Daniel Island. The tournament went looking for a new city after facing scheduling conflicts in Hilton Head, and the city of Charleston lured the tournament with the promise of a brand-new tennis complex on Daniel Island.

The partnership struck between the city and the Family Circle magazine was the first of its kind in the tennis world, and it's been a lucrative one. The Family Circle Cup is now broadcast in 143 countries on major sports networks and touts a $30 million economic impact on Charleston.

Lisa Thomas is the leader of a fleet of event-oriented businesses on Pitt Street in Mount Pleasant that has helped revitalize the iconic retail strip.
Enlarge Lisa Thomas is the leader of a fleet of event-oriented businesses on Pitt Street in Mount Pleasant that has helped revitalize the iconic retail strip. Brad Nettles/staff
Thomas left her post at the tournament after its first successful year on Daniel Island and turned her attention back to her original calling: event planning.

Today, she runs the large event planning company OOH! Events and the retail boutique Out of Hand. But instead of anchoring her operation on one of Charleston's prominent business districts, she took a leap and set up shop in a quaint business strip in the historic Old Village neighborhood in Mount Pleasant.

Thomas spoke with The Post and Courier this week about how that location, and the Lowcountry in general, has helped shape her successful career so far.

Q. What was it like to be at the helm of the Family Circle Cup during its transition from Hilton Head Island to its new home on Daniel Island?

A. It was an adventure, that's for sure. It was a full-time job there, and so to pick it up, move five people, have to hire everyone, design, build, budget - the whole nine yards. It would have been one thing had I stopped to think about it, but thankfully I didn't. It was just one thing at a time and what I call the perfect moment in time when all the stars aligned.

Lisa Thomas is the leader of a fleet of event-oriented businesses on Pitt Street in Mount Pleasant that has helped revitalize the iconic retail strip.
Enlarge Lisa Thomas is the leader of a fleet of event-oriented businesses on Pitt Street in Mount Pleasant that has helped revitalize the iconic retail strip. Brad Nettles/staff
Truthfully, I've never had such a group of people that worked together so well for a single cause. From the volunteers, people who painted or laid sod, the staff, the city, the construction workers, it was amazing. I have, in hindsight, only fond memories of being able to be a part of that.

Q. As someone who managed the tournament in both cities, how do you think the move to Charleston shaped its future?

A. When we were able to move to Charleston and be a partner of the venue, I think it was just rounding out a great event.

When I started, Family Circle was merely a sponsor. So over time, we got the rights to the tournament, control of the TV rights, the print material, merchandise, concessions, everything. At that time, it was really rare that a tournament of any sport had all of those assets.

It helped in a lot of ways in that (Charleston) was a bigger city. It had great infrastructure, so we were then able to have true partners with the city and everybody that we worked with here.

Q. You left the Family Circle Cup in 2001. So how did you get involved with retail and event planning?

A. I was an event planner, that's basically what I did for The New York Times before Family Circle.

I used to run about 40 advertiser events across the country and I'd travel around for that. Events has always been my background.

The retail - I always felt like that was fun and creative and I always did that on the side. When I moved here, I had a store in Beaufort, and I just had to move that up after the tournament moved because I couldn't really do both traveling back and forth. That's how I got to retail.

I opened Out of Hand in 2002 right after the first year (of the tournament in Charleston).

Lisa Thomas back in the day with her daughter, Emma, and furry friend.
Enlarge Lisa Thomas back in the day with her daughter, Emma, and furry friend. provided
Q. Why did you decide to anchor your new businesses, Out of Hand and OOH! Events, on Pitt Street in Mount Pleasant's Old Village?

A. I lived in the Old Village, so as I was walking to and from my house all the time. I loved that little merchandise district even though it had empty stores and restaurants that came and went. I just felt like the bones were so charming, that it was the perfect place to breathe some new life into the area.

Q. Has that area changed at all since you first set up your two shops on Pitt Street?

A. Absolutely. Buildings have been renovated, now every space is occupied, we have two restaurants there, we have two hair salons, holistic medicine. So I feel like we've got a great lifeline of businesses that have come together to create a really great area.

Each year we've been expanding and growing on the street, which has just helped to inspire others to take their properties or businesses and invest in them, and renovate ... preserve, and take care of what is a really special area.

Q. We know Charleston is now a top tourism market that draws in a lot of wedding business. As the owner of one of the largest event planning companies in Charleston, can you give us an idea of how much the local wedding business has grown in the past decade?

A. I would say my business has doubled truly in about six years. Part of it is because the market is growing, but hopefully, it's because we're really trying to be better. Every year we try to add services, or people, or inventory to try to provide value to our customers. So that helps what is already a good situation in Charleston being a great backdrop for any sort of event.

Q. What are you most proud of about the career you have built in the Lowcountry over the past 20 years?

A. The first part of my career, I was a student of "getting it done" and learning to make places beautiful and functional. Now, I have to learn ... to make them feel authentic, and to cultivate good energy within the spaces. I am now a student of human nature: reading, watching, listening and not afraid to try new things all the time, in an effort to enhance everyone's experience.

It makes me happy to overhear people complimenting an event or their experience on Pitt Street as I stroll home with my two dogs. I love to share with others, and I'm proud to build upon historic places and to be a caretaker of this special place for a moment in time.

Lowcountry native Shelby Rogers received over 16% of almost 700,000 votes worldwide to earn a spot in the inaugural WTA Rising Stars Invitational in Singapore later this month.

Voters were asked to choose 2 players from the Asia-South Pacific territory and 2 more from the rest of the world. Rogers' percentage was 2nd among the rest of the world behind Monica Puig who had over 20% of the vote. Zeng Saisai and Zarina Diyas earned the spots for the Asia-South Pacific region.

The 21-year-old Rogers is in the middle of the best year of her career having worked her way up to 70th in the world. Earlier in the summer she reached her first career WTA final in Bad Gastein and also reached the semifinals in Quebec.

"It's such a great opportunity" Rogers told Live 5 Sports on Wednesday. "not only for my game, but also exposure as a player. Singapore seems like an incredible place! I'd like to thank each and every individual for taking the time to vote for me and make this trip possible. The support is very humbling."


(10/08/14)  Shelby Rogers voted into WTA's Rising Stars competition in Singapore
Shelby Rogers has received her birthday present a few days early.

The Charleston touring tennis professional, who will turn 22 next Monday, is bound for Singapore - courtesy of voting by her fans in the WTA Tour's Rising Stars competition.

Rogers and Puerto Rico's Monica Puig will represent the Rest of the World in the Rising Stars Invitational on Oct. 17-21 at the WTA Finals in Singapore. Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan and China's Zheng Saisai will represent the Asia-Pacific group.
 

"The support I received all month was really incredible," Rogers said Wednesday afternoon after returning home from the Japan Open in the wee hours of the morning. "It was awesome ... every angle was covered. People from all over voted for me. It was really special all that happened.

"I'll be around all of the top players in the world. This will be a really good experience, and the exposure will be good for me."

Rogers will leave for Singapore early next week with longtime coach Bryan Minton, who also was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Singapore.

"I feel so honored to go to the WTA Finals with Shelby," Minton said. "As far as coaching, it's the top of the iceberg."

A total of 692,182 votes were registered from 346,091 fans representing 140 different countries.

"We're excited to showcase the next generation of talent. We wanted to hear from our fans, and the response was terrific. It shows our players continue to have a strong connection with fans around the world," WTA chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster said of Wednesday's announcement.

Rogers' 2014 success story includes: achieving a career-high ranking of No. 70 (currently 71); reaching her first career singles final at Bad Gastein, Austria, by advancing through qualifying and defeating two top 20 opponents (No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro and No. 14 Sara Errani); reaching the semifinals in Quebec, Canada; and making the third round of Montreal's Rogers Cup, defeating hometown hero and then-world No. 8 Eugenie Bouchard in the second round.

Rogers is assured of a top 100 finish for the year and probably direct entry into January's Australian Open. She already has earned direct entry into the French Open and U.S. Open in 2014.


(10/02/14)  WEST OF…: West Of Athlete of the Week:  Abbi Hulsey — Girls' Tennis
West Ashley High School freshman tennis player Abbi Hulsey has won all four of her matches so far this season and has helped the Wildcats to a 4-0 start. “Abbi has been a great addition to the Girls Tennis team. She brings a lot of experience and competitiveness both on and off of the court,” said WAHS girls tennis coach Jaima Kennedy. “Since Abbi is a Freshman, we hope to have four great years with her on our team. All in all, she is a good student and a great person – very well-rounded.”

Last Year Hulsey trained at Family Circle and has become an essential part of the WAHS girls tennis team since she joined as a freshman. She’s very involved outside of tennis as well. Hulsey enjoys horseback riding and has years of experience playing the guitar.

“I have enjoyed playing on the West Ashley High’s Girls Tennis team this year. I really like tennis and am glad that I can play with such a great group of people,” says Hulsey.


(09/27/14)  PREP ZONE: Girls tennis
DUTCH FORK 6, SUMMERVILLE 0
Singles: Joch d. Long 6-0, 6-0. Calais d. 6-0, 6-0. Sloop d. McLane 6-1, 6-4. Owen d. Naval 6-0, 6-0. Campanelle d. Pagan 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: A. Gardner/C. Gardner d. Zoeller/Hancock 6-1, 6-2. Records: Dutch Fork 9-0 (5-0). Summerville 4-5 (2-0). Next: Summerville plays Bishop England on Saturday.


(09/27/14)  Shelby Rogers loses in Beijing; Rising Stars voting deadline nears
Shelby Rogers has been on an almost continuous climb in the world rankings since the start of summer while scoring victories over six top 40 players.

But the Charleston pro, who will turn 22 years old in a couple of weeks, has missed a couple of golden opportunities in her last two events to make another serious move up in the rankings.

The latest came Saturday in Beijing in the second round of China Open qualifying when Rogers served up 18 doublefaults in a long (2 hours, 39 minutes) 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-1 loss to 17-year-old rising Swiss star Belinda Bencic.

After winning a tight first set, Rogers appeared to be in charge of the match with a 6-5 lead in the second set. But Bencic, the world's 33rd-ranked player and Family Circle Cup semifinalist, held service at 40-15 to send the set into a tiebreaker that she cruised through.

A victory would have propelled Rogers into the main draw where a first-round appearance is worth more than $14,000.

Now ranked 77th after dropping back from her career-high No. 70 following the Quebec wins, Rogers likely will fall a couple of places on Monday when she loses the points from a year ago in Las Vegas. The good news is that Rogers has no other points left from 2013 to defend since her year ended in Las Vegas with an injury.

That means the United States' 10th-ranked player is virtually certain of finishing the year ranked among the top 100 players in the world, probably top 80.
Shelby vote ends Friday

Time will run out at midnight on Friday for fans to vote for Rogers in the inaugural Rising Stars competition, which will send the two top vote-getters each from the Rest of the World and Asia-Pacific groups to Singapore during the Oct. 17-26 WTA Finals to compete in an exhibition. Rogers is currently third in the Rest of the World voting.

There is no limit on the number of times a fan can vote at wtafinals.com/rising-star-poll.
Legend Oaks wins

Legend Oaks 9.0 mixed doubles team, captained by tennis director Andy Steingold, captured the area's only 18-plus state title earlier this month at the Florence Tennis Center. Deanna Vroman's 10.0 LCTA team and captain Charles Claus' 8.0 team from I'On were state runners-up in the 18-plus category.

Three senior teams from the LCTA brought home state titles: captain Allison Pickhardt's 7.0 40-plus team from Planters Pointe; captain Roland Quellette 6.0 55-plus team from Del Webb at Cane Bay; and captain Joette Creager's 8.0 55-plus team from Mount Pleasant Rec.

Dee McCorkle's 7.0 55-plus team from St. Andrew's and captain Jane Bonvillain's 6.0 40-plus team from Legend Oaks was second at Florence.
Notes

SCISA's Class AAA picture changed drastically on Thursday when Porter-Gaud suffered a 5-4 loss to a Cardinal Newman team that had suffered five one-sided SCISA losses, including 9-0 to Ashley Hall.

The recent sixth annual Legend Oaks Gives Back Charity Weekend raised $44,044 for Meals on Wheels of Summerville and The Palmetto House.

Charleston's Brenda Carter was named the playing captain of the USTA's 65-plus Kitty Godfree Cup team that will compete in the 34th ITF Super Seniors World Team Championships Oct. 13-18 in Antalya, Turkey.

The 31st annual Alan Fleming Senior Tournament begins Wednesday at Seabrook Island. The tournament features a USTA Category I Gold Ball national championship for mixed doubles in the 40s, 50s and 60s age groups.


(09/19/14)  PREP ZONE: Girls Tennis
WANDO 6, STRATFORD 0
Singles: Conant d. Ch. Class 6-1, 6-0. Quinn d. Cady 6-0, 6-0. Mitchell d. Ce. Class 6-0, 6-1. Lyman d. Carr 6-0, 6-0. Hildebrandt d. Mitchum 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: Hayes/Gaskins d. Johnson/Soldner 6-0, 6-0.

Next: Wando plays Bishop England Monday.

BERKELEY 7 ORANGEBURG-WILKINSON 0
Singles: Huxford (B) d. A. Smalls 6-0, 6-0; Tedder d. Singh 6-0, 6-0; Burges d. Priester 6-1, 6-0; Futrell d. Farmer 6-0, 6-0; Ashabraner d. T. Smalls 6-0, 6-0.   Doubles: Morrell/Gianelli (B) d. A. Smalls/Singh 6-1, 6-2; Futrell/Bell d. Weldon/Glover 6-1, 6-1.

Record: Berkeley 5-5. Next: Berkeley at Summerville on Friday.


(09/13/14)  Door swings open for another Porter-Gaud title
The road to a SCISA Class AAA state tennis championship just got much easier for Porter-Gaud's girls, thanks to the switch to Class AA by two-time Class AAA state titlist Hilton Head Prep.

"They are strong again, but not in our region for SCISA," second-year Porter-Gaud coach Charlotte Hartsock said, confirming the Cyclones' season-opening 8-1 loss to Hilton Head Prep, which also dealt the Cyclones losses in the last two state finals.

Even with second-team All-Lowcountry Lexi Steichen focusing on academics instead of tennis, the Cyclones would appear to be heavy favorites to win their first state title since 2011. Lowcountry player of the year Ann Martin Skelly is back for her sophomore year and All-Lowcountry Grace Robards should be even stronger as a senior.

"We are strong again this year, but very young," Hartsock said, sizing up her team.

The Cyclones have added sixth-grader McKenzie Davis, who according to Hartsock, "trains at FCC (Family Circle Tennis Center) and is a very promising player. Rebecca Kahn, Elizabeth Snyder and Reese Evans make up the rest of the lineup."

Ashley Hall and Pinewood Prep should be Porter-Gaud's top rivals in Region 3-AAA. The Cyclones already own an 8-1 win over Pinewood Prep, as well as victories over Wando and Academic Magnet for a 3-1 record.
Local notes

After a year off, the Charleston Pro Tennis League returned to the area tennis scene last weekend at the Seabrook Island Racquet Club. The CPTL will hold its third program next Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Pine Forest Country Club. The rest of the eight-program schedule is: Sept. 26, at the I'On Club; Oct. 3, TBA; Oct. 10, at Family Circle Tennis Center; Oct. 17, at Maybank Tennis Center; and Oct. 24, at Park West Tennis Center (finals)

Monday is the entry deadline for the 31st annual Alan Fleming Senior Tournament on Oct. 1-5 at Seabrook Island, which will feature a USTA Category I Gold Ball national championship for mixed doubles in the 40s, 50s and 60s age groups. "We are very excited as this year our mixed doubles 40, 50 and 60 events have been designated as Category 1 national championship Gold ball events and we expect a very high level of competition," Seabrook tennis director Mike Kiser said.

As a result of the tennis portion of the Hugs for Harper Tournament being rained out last weekend, the round-robin tennis event has been rescheduled for Sept. 26 from 6:30-9 p.m. at Farmfield Avenue's Charleston Tennis Center. Dinner and beverages will be served. Door prizes, along with T-shirts and gift bags for the players are included. Contact the Farmfield complex (766-7401).

The MOJA Arts Festival Junior Round Robin will be held at Farmfield on Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Contact the tennis center (766-7401).

The fall session of the Courting Kids Program started last Saturday. The sessions are held on Saturdays at the Alan Fleming Tennis Complex on John's Island from 10-11:30 a.m., and at the Farmfield Avenue complex from 1-2:30 p.m. Contact the Farmfield tennis center.

The paving for the new six courts at the downtown Jack Adams Tennis Center is expected to start next week. The projected completion date is early November.


(09/10/14)  Court Tennis: DI tennis professional is top ranked Court Tennis amateur
While there are many tennis players and enthusiasts on Daniel Island, I am guessing that very few have either seen or know much about the game of Real Tennis, often referred to in the United States as Court Tennis. I had the pleasure of interviewing my good friend Ben Cook, head tennis professional at the Daniel Island Club, about this fun game. He is currently ranked in the top 5 amateur ranking in the US.

Ben is from Kershaw, SC and took up lawn tennis (what you are used to playing) at the age of nine. He was a top ranked junior player, was recruited by many schools, and chose to play all four varsity years for the Carolina Gamecocks. Now in his early forties, I see him beating up on many local area pros and amateurs on occasion, but he spends most of his day helping many others improve their games.

Ben discovered Court Tennis in 2006, and after just a short while (and a few lumps), he was hooked. He loves it so much that he and his good friend Camden have been known to hop in the car for a quick two hour ride, play for a few hours, and then return home.

Real Tennis or Court Tennis only has 10 courts in the United States, and one of them is in Aiken, SC. Some of the others are in Newport RI, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. There are 43 courts in the world, half of which are in Great Britain, with the remaining courts in Australia and France.

The game was very popular with Henry the Fifth, but it was Henry the Eighth who made the biggest impact as he had several courts in his palace. The game was also very popular with French nobility in the 17th century, but declined somewhat as other racquet sports such as racket ball and squash were invented. The first US court was built in Boston in 1876, and in New York in 1890.

The rules and scoring are similar to lawn tennis with some variances that can get a bit confusing, but a match typically still is best of three sets with 6 games winning a set but without needing to win by two. As you can see from the accompanying photographs, the balls look like tennis balls but are much harder and all the racquets are made of wood and are usually only about 27 inches long.

A Real Tennis court is usually in a very sizeable building as it is much longer than a tennis court as well as containing high walls and a ceiling that can accommodate all but the highest lobs

It is enclosed by walls on all four sides, three of which have sloping roofs called penthouses beneath which have an area for fans to view the game.

It is worth checking this sport out on the internet to learn more about the special rules of the game and special markings the courts have. I spoke with Ben for about an hour trying to learn all the rules and twists, and he explained that it took many sets and coaching sessions to get up to speed.

Ben shared that tennis is similar to checkers, whereas court tennis is more like a chess match. At the big tournaments, these guys compete all weekend for ranking points, many of them hoping to get selected to a year end tourney where only the top ranked amateurs are invited.

There are also professional ranks, and one of Ben’s good friends Camden Revere who frequents the area is currently ranked No. 2 in the world. 

That the world championships are only played every other year. The defending champion only has to play one match and No. 2 through No. 5 in the world compete for the right to face him.

A gentleman named Rob Fay has been the World Champion since 1994, which is incredible to think about as he is now in his forties. Camden gave Mr. Fay a heck of a match at the last world finals, but lost by a total of five sets to three, which was played over two days.

There is so much more history and nuances of the game that one could learn, but if you have an interest in learning more, there is a court just a few hours away in Aiken where lessons can be had and matches can be watched. You can certainly contact Ben Cook over at the Daniel Island Club for even more details, or at the very least some great tennis lessons, clinics, and some good fun.


(09/10/14)  PREP ZONE: Girls tennis
COLLETON PREP 5, CHARLESTON COLLEGIATE 4
Singles: Field-Williams(CC) d. Ware(CP) 7-6(5), 4-6, (22-20). Pye(CP) d. Tovar(CC) 6-1, 7-5. Tyler(CP) d. LaBoard(CC) 6-4, 6-1. Knight(CC) d. Burns(CP) 6-1, 6-0. Eakin(CC) d. Bailey(CP) 6-2, 6-2. Nettles(CP) d. Hunter(CC) 6-4, 6-2.  Doubles: Ware/Pye(CP) d. Field-Williams(CC) 8-2. Laboard/Knight(CC) d. Tyler/Burns(CP) 8-6. Bailey/Nettles(CP) d. Eakin/Hunter(CC) 5-4(ret).

Berkeley 4, Summerville 3
Singles: Huxford (B) d. Long (S) 6-2, 6-2; Reynolds (S) d. Tedder (B) 1-6, 6-2 (10-7). McLean (S) d. Macy Burges 6-4, 1-6 (10-8). Ponce (B) d. Naval (S) 6-1, 6-0. Laura Futrell (B) d. Pagan (S) 6-4, 1-6 (10-8).  Doubles: Huxford/Tedder (B) d. Long/Reynolds 6-2, 6-3. Hancock/Zoeller (S) d. Gianelli/Ashabraner (B) 6-4, 0-6 (11-9).

Next: Berkeley 3-2. Berkeley hosts Ashley Ridge tomorrow. Summerville 2-4. Summerville at Colleton County Thursday.


(09/09/14)  American Rogers reaches quarters in Quebec
Quebec City, QC - Fourth seed Shelby Rogers of the United States was a marathon second-round winner at the Coupe Banque Nationale women's tennis event.

The 21-year-old South Carolina native Rogers overcame and outlasted qualifier fellow American Asia Muhammad in three tiebreaks, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5), in just under three hours on the indoor surface at PEPS.

Another second-round match in Quebec saw German Tatjana Maria fight back to ground American Madison Brengle 4-6, 6-4, 6-0. Maria will face another American, Rogers, in Friday's quarterfinals.

The opening round concluded when Czech Andrea Hlavackova pasted Pole Paula Kania 6-3, 6-0 on Wednesday.

The 2014 champion here will earn $43,000.


(09/10/14)  Sporting Life:  The fourth-seeded American raced to a 6-1 6-3 win in an hour and five minutes.
Shelby Rogers made short work of Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova in the first round of the Coupe Banque Nationale in Quebec on Monday.


(09/06/14)  Charleston's Shelby Rogers part of voting for inaugural Rising Stars tennis exhibition
Charleston tennis fans obviously did their part in 2010 when it came time to select America's Best Tennis Town. And now it's time to step up to the plate again.

The WTA Tour opened fan voting online last week in the competition for the inaugural Rising Stars exhibition during the 2014 WTA Finals Oct. 17-21 in Singapore.

Guess who is listed among the 10 Rest of the World Rising Stars? Fast-rising Shelby Rogers. Yes, Charleston's own touring tennis professional, who has zoomed all the way up to a projected Monday top 80 world ranking.

Voting is currently underway at www.wtafinals.com/rising-star-poll.

There is no limit on the number of times a person can vote before the voting closes on Oct. 3 at 11:59 p.m.

The top two vote-getters each from the Rest of the World and the Asia-Pacific groups will earn trips to Singapore to square off in singles against each other, followed by the Oct. 21 final on the Singapore Indoor Stadium Centre Court between the two players with the best round-robin results.

Rogers' bio on the WTA Web-site reads, "Shelby Rogers, 22 (she turns 22 on Oct. 13), USA, Burst into prominence in Bad Gastein in July, going all the way to her first WTA final as a qualifier - then made headlines around the world with her first top 10 win over Eugenie Bouchard in Montreal."

The other nine Rest of the World players are: Belinda Bencic, 17, Switzerland; Lauren Davis, 21, USA; Jovana Jaksic, 21, Serbia; Madison Keys, 19, USA; Christina McHale, 21, USA; Grace Min, 20, USA; Monica Puig, 21, Puerto Rico; Elina Svitolina, 20, Ukraine; and CoCo Vandeweghe, 22, USA.

The 10 nominated players for the Rest of the World group were selected using the following criteria: Age 23 or under at the start of the WTA Finals; ranked within the top 50 on the first Monday of the U.S. Open or reached a Grand Slam, Premier or International semifinal.


(09/05/14)  PREP ZONE: Girls Tennis
BEAUFORT 5, SUMMERVILLE 1
Singles: Daniel d. Long 6-2, 6-3. Reynolds (S) d. Smith 5-7, 7-5, 10-6. Morrissey d. McLane 6-3, 6-4. McMullen d. Naval 6-2, 6-4. Holloway d. Pagan 6-3, 6-3.   Doubles: Morrissey/Aulabaugh d. Hancock/Zoeller 7-5, 6-1. 

Records: Summerville 2-3. Beaufort 4-3. Next: Summerville at Berkeley Tuesday. Beaufort plays Whale Branch Tuesday.


JAMES ISLAND 6, FORT DORCHESTER 0
Singles: Dinkins d. Mitchell 6-0, 6-1. Daly d. Sanders 6-0, 6-3. Glaze d. Rodgers 6-1, 6-3. Trojanowska d. Zhang 4-6, 7-5, 12-10. Skipper d. Wallace 6-2, 6-3.   Doubles: Loring/Canfield d. Alberts/Benson 6-1, 6-0. 

Records: James Island 4-0. Next: James Island hosts Goose Creek September 16th.

WEST ASHLEY 7, CHARLESTON M&S 0
Singles: Hulsey d. Stafford 6-1, 6-0. Lowe d. Runey 6-0, 6-1. Cording d. Brazelton 6-0, 6-2. Linker d. Espy 6-0, 6-1. Clayton d. Easley 6-0, 6-0.   Doubles: Hulsey/Lowe d. Stafford/Brazelton 8-1. Weeks/Taylor d. Coleman/Thurmon 6-0, 6-0.

Next: Charleston M&S plays Ashley Hall Tuesday. West Ashley at Fort Dorchester Tuesday.
 

(09/04/14)  STAFF REPORT: Football, tennis standouts named to Wofford hall
Former Wofford College football players Dane Romero and Andy Strickland, plus all-Southern Conference tennis player Andrew Stubbs, were picked for the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.
 

(09/04/14)  GET OUT: DAVID QUICK: Get Out theme of the weekend: Family, fitness and fun
Free tennis
As part of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, the U.S. Tennis Association and the tennis industry are hosting more than a thousand USTA Free Tennis Play Days across the country in celebration of Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play.

USTA Free Tennis Play Days allow families to share their love for tennis together while having fun and being active. The event, which is open to the public, invites the whole family of all skill levels to try tennis at local events and facilities across the country.

Several will be held in Charleston in the coming month, including one 5:30- 8 p.m. Friday at St. Andrews Parks and Playground, 1097 Playground Road, and another 1-4 p.m. Sunday at Creekside Tennis & Swim Club, 790 Creekside Drive in Mount Pleasant

Later this month, events will be 1-3 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Maybank Tennis Center, 1880 Houghton Drive, and 9 a.m.-noon at the Charleston Tennis Center, 19 Farmfield Ave.

www.youthtennis.com


(09/03/14) PREP ZONE: Girls Tennis
FORT DORCHESTER 6, STRATFORD 1
Singles: Sanders d. Cady 6-3, 6-1. Ch. Class (S) d. Rodgers 7-5, 7-5. Zhang d. Ce. Class 6-2, 4-6, 11-9. Wallace d. Carr 6-0, 1-6, 10-8. Alberts d. Mitchum 3-6, 6-4, 10-4.  Doubles: Sanders/Rodgers d. Cady/Class 6-1, 4-6, 10-4. Benson/Fleming d. Johnson/Soldner 7-6, 6-0.

Records: Stratford 0-1. Next: Stratford at Fort Dorchester Wednesday.

SUMMERVILLE 5, HANAHAN 1
Singles: Long d. Wright 6-2, 6-0. P. Reynolds d. Chandler 6-0, 6-0. McLane d. Vaca 6-1, 6-0. Sinkevipch (H) d. Naval 6-3, 3-6, 10-7. Pagan d. Moeller 6-2, 6-0.  Doubles: Mobley/Zoeller d. Songer/Elliott 6-0, 6-1.

Records: Summerville 2-2. Next: Summerville hosts Beaufort Thursday.


(08/31/14)  Does Shelby Rogers have a future in the broadcast booth
The jury is still out on Shelby Rogers as a touring professional tennis player. She could be in the top 50 by year's end, or she could be struggling in the 100s.

Rogers has the potential to make another move in the world rankings before this year ends. Although Rogers missed a golden opportunity for an upset of 12th-ranked Flavia Pennetta in the second round of the U.S. Open, Rogers almost certainly will learn from the erratic and loose groundstrokes that sneaked into her game in clutch moments of that match. Those mistakes, most of them when she appeared to be a little off balance or out of synch with her footwork, decided the match.

Rogers appears to be capable of playing with and defeating almost anyone in the women's game. She can strike in lightning-like fashion with her powerful groundstrokes and serve. It's just a matter of improving on her consistency and improving her footwork on short balls.

At some point, Rogers might start looking at the future. Not right now, of course. She's just 21 years old.

I remember Chris Evert and Lindsay Davenport and others as players. They were great. But they weren't exceptional in the interview room, just tennis players.

Shelby Rogers probably never will catch up with their court performances or even their success in the broadcast booth. But Rogers is a natural in interviews, although she fought back tears in the Family Circle Cup interview room a couple of years ago after a disheartening defeat.

Since then, Rogers has demonstrated enormous potential in interviews. I've been in on literally thousands of interviews over the years that included some of the top men and women in most of the major sports, but the last 18 months or so I've also listened to dozens of interview clips from Rogers. Quite simply, Rogers may be one of the best or most articulate interviewees I've heard.

Having grown up attending a private school in downtown Charleston (First Baptist Church School) before leaving for online schooling in high school to concentrate more on tennis, Rogers has developed communication skills that are exceptional. Not only is she articulate, she's bright and clever in her interviews from around the world.

The only trouble is most of the interviews were brief one-on-one episodes that produced clips to be e-mailed to her hometown media. The real press room is still waiting for her arrival.

But if Rogers can continue her charge up the rankings from her currently projected top 80 spot, regular visits to the press room might not be far away. When that happens and Rogers' communication skills are exposed to the world, Chrissie and Lindsay might have a new challenger.
Notes

Charleston's Ellie Halbauer fell to No. 8-seeded Maia Lumsden of Great Britain, 6-3, 6-4, in the first round of the U.S. Open's junior qualifying tournament on Friday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Halbauer has been training with the USTA in Boca Raton, Fla., for the past six months.

After a year off, the Charleston Pro Tennis League will make its return to the area tennis scene next Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Seabrook Island Racquet Club. The event is free.

The 31st annual Alan Fleming Senior Tournament on Oct. 1-5 at Seabrook Island will feature a USTA Category I Gold Ball National Championship for mixed doubles in the 40s, 50s and 60s age groups.

The USTA and the tennis industry will sponsor four USTA Free Tennis Play Events in Charleston as part of Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play in September during National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The events will be held Sept. 5 at St. Andrew's from 5:30-8 p.m., Sept. 7 at Creekside Tennis and Swim from 1-4 p.m., Sept. 21 at Maybank Tennis Center from 1-3 p.m. and Sept. 27 at Charleston Tennis Center from 9 a.m.-noon.

The Hugs for Harper Tennis Tournament will kick off next Friday at 6 p.m. with a dinner and auction at Founder's Hall at Charles Towne Landing before taking to the courts at Farmfield Avenue's Charleston Tennis Center the next day for round-robin tournament play. Contact Amanda Mahaffey (843-792-3321 or mahaffea@musc.edu), Jamie Drolet (843-607-0857) or city tennis manager Peggy Bohne (843-766-7401).


(08/29/14)  AP:  Shelby Rogers falls to 12-th ranked Pennetta

Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers donated the crucial ninth game of a deadlocked match with four straight unforced errors in Italian Flavia Pennetta’s 6-4, 6-3 victory in the second round.
 
A 21-year-old ranked 86th in the world, Rogers actually outplayed Pennetta, 32, in the first eight games of the televised match, yielding only three points in her first four service games.
 
Rogers now leaves New York with a check for more than $60,000 for her singles play, and nearly $70,000 in all.  She suffered first round losses in women’s doubles and mixed doubles.


(08/26/14)  ESPNW: Next American Star In Women's Tennis? Take Your Pick

NEW YORK -- When you are in Austria on a work visit, there is nothing like spending the off hours with a kindred spirit. That's what Shelby Rogers did with fellow American tennis player Irina Falconi earlier this summer when they were playing a tournament in Bad Gastein.

Falconi was writing a blog, and the 21-year-old Rogers tagged along as they visited local sites and tasted as much food as they could manage. Rogers reached the final there, and on Tuesday won her first-round match at the US Open.

So how does she think American women's tennis is doing?

"It's awesome," Rogers said after winning the first match of her career in the US Open main draw, 6-1, 6-4 over Ukrainian qualifier Maryna Zanevska. It caps a successful summer for Rogers, who comes into the tournament ranked 86th in the world.

American Shelby Rogers won her first career US Open match, 6-1, 6-4 over Ukrainian qualifier Maryna Zanevska.

While men's tennis may be struggling to find the heir apparent to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi or even Andy Roddick, on the women's side, there are a number of candidates who will be competing long after Venus and Serena Williams hang up their tennis shoes. (But no need to rush.)

"There's a lot of us," said unseeded Christina McHale, who beat Chanelle Scheepers 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5). "I think we're pushing each other the last couple of years."

There were 17 American women in the main draw of the US Open and, extracting the wild cards, 11 of those women reached because they earned their way in. That's almost double the number of American men, at six. For the winners, such as Rogers, there's no place like home.

"Being an American here is something you can't express in words," Rogers said. "The support from the fans, just the pride you get, getting a victory at the US Open as an American, everybody's happy and it's really incredible."

A few had difficult first-round matches and lost, such as 45th-ranked Alison Riske, who lost 6-3, 6-0 to No. 8 Ana Ivanovic. Lauren Davis (49) drew No. 24 and former Open champion Samantha Stosur, and went down 6-1, 6-4.

But 12 women made it through the first round, including 15-year-old phenom CiCi Bellis, who shocked No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova. Madison Keys, Nicole Gibbs, Vania King, Varvara Lepchenko and CoCo Vandeweghe also won on Tuesday.

"All of us girls get along really well," Rogers said. "We have a lot of fun at tournaments and have that kind of friendship among us battling it out there, it adds to us pushing each other because we genuinely get excited when the other ones are doing well. There's not that jealousy."

But Rogers still wants to win, and likes how it has felt.

"I've had some really good wins and experiences," Rogers said. "It's a different side of the tour than I've seen before, a career-high ranking, I've never really been in this position. It's incredible. I'm trying to take it all in and enjoy every moment."


(08/26/14)  PREP ZONE: Girls Tennis
HILTON HEAD PREP 8, PORTER-GAUD 1.
Singles: Skelly (PG) d. Wheeler 5-3, ret.; Zimmerman (HHP) d. Robards 6-1, 6-1; Kitchen (HHP) d. Kahn; Meighan (HHP) d. Snyder 6-0, 6-0; Krinney (HHP) d. Davis 6-1, 6-1; Rankin d. Evans 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: Wheeler/Zimmerman (HHP) d. Skelly/Robards 8-4; Krinney/Rankin (HHP) d. Kahn/Davis 8-3; Meighan/Leonard (HHP) d. Dowd/Snyder (8-0).

JAMES ISLAND 5, SUMMERVILLE 1.
Singles: Dinkins (JI) d. Reynolds 6-2, 6-3; Daly (JI) d. Long 6-0, 7-5; Glaze (JI) d. Navel 6-0, 6-1; Trojanowska (JI) d. McClane 6-1, 6-1; Loring (JI) d. Hancock 6-2, 6-3.  Doubles: Mobley/Zoeller (S) d. Skipper/Smiley 2-6, 6-2, 10-8.

Records: James Island 1-0, Summerville 0-1. Next: James Island at Palmetto Christian Wednesday at Family Circle Stadium.

ASHLEY RIDGE 4, BERKELEY 2
Singles: B. Lawrence (AR) d. Huxford 7-5, 6-3; S. Lawrence (AR) d. Burger 6-2, 6-3; Tedder (B) d. Illsley 6-1, 6-7, 1-0; Brim (AR) d. Futrell 6-2, 6-0; Blatner (AR) d. Ponce 6-7, 6-2, 1-0.  Doubles: Gianilli/Ashabraner (B) d. Morris/O'Sullivan 6-1, 6-4.

Records: Ashley Ridge 1-0.


(08/26/14)  Shelby Rogers wins opening match at U.S. Open
Shelby Rogers is achieving goals left and right. The 21-year-old Charleston touring tennis pro's latest achievement came on Tuesday when she notched her initial victory in the U.S. Open.

Rogers performed the feat in style, posting a solid 6-4, 6-3 first-round victory over previously red-hot Ukrainian Maryna Zanevska out on court No. 7 in front of Rogers' family at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. Zanevska, also a 21-year-old, entered the match on a 13-match winning streak that included back-to-back $25,000 ITF championships and then three wins to advance through U.S. Open qualifying at Flushing Meadows.

"It was a good first round for me, working my way into the tournament. Everyone's a little nervous ... first round," Rogers said.

"She (Zanevska) had had a few good matches in qualies, and she was definitely feeling good on court. I knew it was going to be a battle out there."

Rogers has been on a tear most of the summer since leaving USTA training to return to Family Circle Tennis Center under former coach Bryan Minton. Rogers made the final of a $250,000 event in Austria by upsetting two top 20 players, then surprised eighth-ranked Eugenie Bouchard in Montreal earlier this month.

Currently at a career-high 86th in the world, Rogers could climb into the top 80 with Tuesday's victory.

The latest success came in Rogers' third U.S. Open appearance at the expense of a player ranked 130th in the world. This was a sweet one for Rogers, who also was on a two-match losing streak since upsetting Bouchard.

Rogers displayed some gritty play to make this one appear to be easy, taking 4-1 and 5-3 leads in the first set, then outlasting her opponent through five deuces to come up with a service break on her second set point.

In the second set, Rogers led 4-2, but was serving at 30-30 when she unleashed two of her four aces to go up 5-2. Rogers closed the door on Zanevska on her first opportunity in the eighth game with a 40-30 service hold.

Rogers now faces No. 11 seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy, who scored a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 win over Julia Goerges of Germany. "She (Pennetta) has had a great year ... she's a very experienced player," Rogers said. "She's definitely going to know what she's doing. She's played here many times."


(08/21/14)  Shelby Rogers will face qualifier in first round of U.S. Open
Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers could benefit from the luck of the draw for next week's U.S. Open tennis championships. During Thursday's U.S. Open draw ceremony, Rogers drew a qualifier for her first-round opponent.
 
Rogers, who plans to leave for New York on Friday, is playing in her third U.S. Open, but the first time as a direct main draw entry as a result of her world ranking, which is currently 86th. Her only victory in a Grand Slam tournament came at the 2013 French Open.
 
A first-round win in the main draw early next week would send Rogers into the second round against the winner of the match between 11th seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy and Julia Goerges of Germany. Rogers' first opponent will be determined in the qualifying tournament, which is currently being played in New York.


(08/18/14)  Snee Farm 10 and Under participants
Grayson Bonner (from left), Eva Blandford, 6, Alexis Blount, 7, Melissa Strickland, 7, and  Courtney Crenshaw, 7, participated in a round robin competition in the Snee Farm 10 and Under Tournament.

Alexis Blount, 7, of West Ashley, was a U.S. Tennis Association Sportsmanship Award winner at the Snee Farm 10 and Under.

Jocelyn Cram-Smith, 7, of Charleston was a U.S. Tennis Association Sportsmanship Award winner at the Snee Farm 10 and Under.


(08/17/14)  Hugs for Harper set for Farmfield
With more centrally located venues, the Hugs for Harper Tennis Tournament is preparing for growing support and entries as it honors the memory of pediatric cancer victim Harper Drolet.

The event that raised more than $100,000 at Kiawah Island in its first two years is less than a month away. It will kick off on Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. with a dinner and auction at Founder's Hall at Charles Towne Landing before taking to the courts at Farmfield Avenue's Charleston Tennis Center the next day for round-robin tournament play.

Proceeds from the Hugs for Harper events benefit the MUSC Children's Hospital Pediatric Cancer Research Center.

"The Hugs for Harper Charity was established to honor the life of our daughter ... Harper battled pediatric soft tissue cancer for two years. She lost her battle at the age of 11 in September 2011," Jamie Drolet said.

Contact Amanda Mahaffey (843-792-3321 or mahaffea@musc.edu), Jamie Drolet (843-607-0857) or city tennis manager Peggy Bohne (843-766-7401).
Rogers U.S. No. 11

What's next for Shelby Rogers after cracking the world's top 100? How about maybe the American top 10.

After a sparkling July/August on Austrian red clay and Canadian/American hard courts boosted Rogers into the top 100 for the first time, the 21-year-old touring pro is currently this country's 11th-ranked women's tennis player. At No. 86, Rogers is one of a whopping 12 U.S. players ranked in the WTA Tour's top 100. The U.S. group includes 18 percent (or nine players) of the world's top 50 women.

Rogers' next outing will be the U.S. Open's main draw. She has decided not to try to qualify at the New Haven, Conn., WTA Tour stop, but to wait for the Aug. 25 start of America's Grand Slam event.

Rogers' 6-1, 6-4 loss to Zarina Diyas in the opening round of qualifying in Cincinnati marked the first time since early June when she snapped a nine-match losing streak that she has suffered back-to-back losses. She has posted a 16-7 record during the current streak.
Fenno 17th in doubles

Brant Fenno is ready to start high school at Porter-Gaud. But what a summer the freshman left-hander has had on the tennis court.

From starting out with another Belton singles title in June, the two-time All-Lowcountry star finished with even a bigger bang. Not only did he earn a third-place bronze ball in doubles (along with partner Arnav Dhingra of Maryland) in the boys 14 national hard courts in San Antonio, Fenno was selected as the tournament's sportsmanship award recipient.

Fenno also was a singles quarterfinalist in the West consolation draw in San Antonio after finishing as a semifinalist in the Northwest draw of consolations in the national clay courts earlier this summer.

The superb summer landed Fenno at No. 64 in the latest national 14s singles rankings, and a 17th ranking in doubles.

The Fanno/Dhingra team reached at least the round of 16 in each of the last three super-nationals.
Notes

Sunday is the deadline for entering next weekend's Charleston Rated Adult Championship at Charleston Tennis Center. Competition will be held in men's and women's singles and doubles as well as mixed doubles. Registration is available online at sctennis.com (tournament No. 700045614). Contact the Farmfield Avenue tennis center (843-766-7401).

Entries will close on Sunday for next weekend's Kiawah Island Summer Junior Championship. The tournament will have divisions for boys and girls singles and doubles from 12-and-under through 18s as well as boys and girls 10-and-under singles and doubles. Registration online is at sctennis.com (tournament No. 700033014).

Lowcountry boys tennis player of the year Austin Heinz of Palmetto Christian was the recipient of the Jim Russell Scholarship Award from the S.C. Tennis Patrons Foundation. The scholarship was for $2,000 to Samford University where Heinz will attend this fall on a tennis grant-in-aid.

League tennis registration for 18-plus, 40-plus and 55-plus leagues for the fall will open registration next Friday and run through Sept. 13.


(08/05/14)  PALMETTO STATE RACKET: Reliving Shelby Rogers’ July with The Post and Courier’s James Beck
by Jonathon Braden

Shelby Rogers was struggling.

Prior to last month, Rogers, who grew up in Mount Pleasant and Daniel Island, was 10-16 this year. Her ranking had slipped to No. 147 in the world, down from No. 109, her place during the Family Circle Cup in April.

Yet on July 5, the headline of James Beck’s column in the Charleston Post and Courier read, “Is Rogers ready for a breakthrough?”

Turns out she was.

The week after Beck’s column ran, Rogers beat three top-40 players and reached her first final. (Her excited Tweet below.)

Last week at the Citi Open in Washington, DC, Rogers knocked off third-seeded Alizé Cornet.

So what did Beck know that we didn’t?

Beck, the paper’s tennis columnist, recently took time to answer questions about his prediction, what it’s been like following Rogers’ career, and what she needs to do to continue winning.

USTA SC: You wrote in early July that Shelby might be ready for a breakthrough. What did you know what we didn’t?

Beck: I really didn’t know anything anyone else who follows Shelby’s every match didn’t know. I just thought it was time for Shelby to make a move after the success of Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe. Shelby had the experience and the maturity. She just needed to turn around a few more of those 4-6 sets.

USTA SC: What made you think of writing about that in the column?

Beck: It dawned on me as I was thinking what to write that weekend in my column that Shelby could take advantage of the boost in confidence that Madison’s and CoCo’s wins must have given her. I believe Shelby has as much potential as either of those players. She just needed to see that players of her own level could win WTA Tour tournaments.

USTA SC: What’s it been like to follow her career as a tennis fan and as a tennis writer?

Beck: It has been exciting following Shelby’s career. The fact that one of our local girls has the ability to play at such a high level against the world’s best players is definitely exciting. For a local player to perform in the main draw of the Family Circle Cup was a major achievement for a girl who used to follow her older sister Sabra around the tennis courts. Sabra played a year or two on the same high school team as my daughters, Danielle and Nicole, at First Baptist Church School. Sabra later switched to Bishop England and Nicole’s Academic Magnet teams played against Bishop England. Sabra’s and Shelby’s mother Starley was always at the practices and matches.

USTA SC: What’s the key to Shelby continuing her success?

Beck: Shelby demonstrated in Austria some of the things she has to do to advance into the top 100. She must play the big points better, or as one of her new coaches, Jeff Wilson, said, turn a 4-6 set into a 6-4 set.

USTA SC: Give us another prediction: Shelby Rogers will ________ this fall.

Beck: I expect Shelby to reach at least the top 75 by the end of the year, maybe even the top 50. She just needs to play the 4-4 games a little better.

A big thanks to James for taking time to share his insights about South Carolina’s favorite pro. Thanks again, and go, Shelby!


(08/05/14)  Shelby Rogers upsets world's No. 8 Bouchard in Montreal
Shelby Rogers arrived in Montreal last weekend to compete in qualifying for the WTA Tour's Premier 5 Rogers Cup tournament with two noteworthy wins over top 20 players. The 21-year-old touring tennis professional from Charleston now has a top 10 win, and she's projected to take a spot among the world's top 90 women's players when the next rankings come out.

That's compliments of Rogers' shocking, but dominant 6-0, 2-6, 6-0 televised victory over world's No. 8 Eugenie Bouchard of Canada Monday night in the second round of the $2.44 million Montreal event.

Not only did the currently 113th-ranked Rogers come up with the biggest win of her four-year pro career, she accomplished the feat with what must have seemed like all of Canada rooting for her 20-year-old opponent.

"This is my first experience in an atmosphere like this," Rogers said after blasting three straight service winners to wrap up her second love set of the match.

"You know the whole stadium was kind of cheering for the other person. It was awesome for her. I really respect them staying with her the whole time. It is incredible to see the amount of support she has."

Rogers totally dominated the love first set as Bouchard's game appeared to be filled with jitters. Bouchard connected on only 37 percent of her first serves in the opening set.

But then the fifth-seeded Bouchard found her game in the second set as Rogers failed to win the big points that could have made the set close.

"I was trying to stay in my little zone. I knew she was going to raise the level of her game. She has so many weapons. She was going to come out swinging in the second set," Rogers said.

But the third set belonged to Rogers. She duplicated her first-set formula of breaking Bouchard's service in the first game and used her powerful serve to finish the job in one hour and 34 minutes. The win was Rogers' 11th in her last 13 matches.

"I just reset in the third, stuck to my game, and played one point at a time," Rogers said.

Perhaps, it was the fact Rogers knew from the start she could defeat Bouchard. In the only other meeting between the two players, Rogers also won a three-setter (2011 in a small hard-court tournament in Troy, Ala.).

The latest victory assured Rogers of a $26,090 payday in Montreal.

Rogers now advances to the round of 16 where her opponent could be Caroline Wozniacki.


(08/04/14)  Rogers could move into world's top 100 following first-round win at Rogers Cup
Charleston touring tennis pro Shelby Rogers may have earned herself a place for the first time among the world's top 100 players on Monday with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) upset of world's No. 56 Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia in the first round of the WTA Tour's Premier 5 Rogers Cup tournament in Montreal.

A 21-year-old qualifier ranked 113th in the world until the rankings come out again next Monday, Rogers posted her third straight victory and won for the 10th time in her last 12 matches. She next plays rising Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard, the fifth seed and world's No. 8 player.

Rogers didn't face a break point in the first set and came up with the only service break she needed to take a set lead in the decisive 10th game. She dropped service in the ninth game of the second set, but broke right back for 5-5, then failed to capitalize on her first match point as Tomljanovic forced a tiebreaker.

Ending the 1 hour, 49-minute match on her second match point, while serving the 12th point of the tiebreaker, Rogers had the better of it serving most of the way. She hit 60 percent of her first serves to just 43 percent for her 5-11, 21-year-old opponent. Rogers also had eight aces, while Tomljanovic served up eight double faults.


(08/04/14)  Rogers advances to main draw in Montreal
Charleston’s 21-year-old Shelby Rogers advanced through qualifying into the main draw of the $2.44 million Rogers Cup WTA Tour tennis tournament in Montreal on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over 19-year-old wild-card Carol Zhan of Canada.

Rogers, ranked No. 121 in the world, now has won 13 of her last 17 matches, including five wins against top 50 players. Zhao is ranked No. 481.

Play in the 64-player main draw of the Rogers Cup is scheduled to begin on Monday..

Fisher House
The Fisher House Charleston Classic Tennis Tournament has been rescheduled for Aug. 15-18 at the College of Charleston complex at Patriots Point. Competition will be in mixed doubles and combo doubles. The event was rescheduled from a week earlier to avoid scheduling conflicts.

Registration is available on-line at www.charlestonclassic.org. Contact Joshua Strimple at (843-635-3943).

Tennis 101 classes
USTA South Carolina will sponsor Tennis 101 adult introductory classes at Creekside Tennis and Swim from Aug. 11-Sept. 8 at 6-7:30 p.m. Tennis 101 consists of five introductory tennis classes for novice level players. For Creekside information, contact tennis director JoAnn Lee (843-810-5478 or joannleetennis@yahoo.com).

Tennis 101 classes are being held on Saturdays from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Summerville’s Doty Park. Contact pro Nancy Sumersett (843-270-1017 or nsumersett@gmail.com).


(08/03/14)  Courting Kids' Kalawe wins national award
Ashley Hall eighth-grader Ana-Lei Kalawe has renewed Charleston’s inner-city Courting Kids tennis program’s long-running tradition of outstanding results in the annual Arthur Ashe Essay Contest. The City of Charleston program that Delores Jackson founded more than two decades ago now has is second national Arthur Ashe Essay winner.

“She’s very excited… ecstatic,” was the way Ana-Lei’s mother, Nalani, described her daughter’s reaction to winning the 14-and-under division of the national Arthur Ashe contest and upcoming trip to New York for Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the U.S. Open.

“This is my second year of writing (the essay), so I thought I should enter again,” Ana-Lei said on Friday. “I thought I could put all my heart and everything into it… and I won… I was really surprised.”

The focal point of the essay: “I was trying to focus on how tennis benefited me and how the asset of tennis could help better me as a person.”

Not only is the 13-year-old a three-year participant in Courting Kids, Kalawe was Ashley Hall’s No. 2 varsity player last fall as a seventh grader. She’s eager to resume her high school career when Ashley Hall begins practice on Monday.

“Ana-Lei remembers what it was like when she started out (in tennis) three years ago) and she wants to give back,” her mother said, referring to the complexity of getting started and learning tennis.

“I don’t know why I started (playing tennis),” said Ana-Lei, who trains with Country Club of Charleston pro Toby Simpson. “I saw someone playing tennis. I tried it and fell in love with it.”

Ana-Lei and her mother are scheduled to stay in New York for three days (starting Aug. 22) at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Kalawe follows in the footsteps of Wendrah McCoy, who won the national award in 2003. Jackson’s program has produced eight Arthur Ashe essay winners, including this year’s Ashtyn McFadden in 12-and-under.

McFadden, who attends the Advanced Studies magnet school in West Ashley, was awarded an all-expenses paid trip to Winston-Salem, N.C., from Aug. 16-18 during the U.S. Open Series event there.
 
Rogers pulls upset

Charleston’s Shelby Rogers pulled off another upset on Saturday in the first round of qualifying for the WTA Tour’s Premier 5 Rogers Cup in Montreal by cruising past qualifying top seed, 41st ranked Shuai Peng of China, 6-1, 6-3. Rogers needs only one more qualifying win to advance to the 64-player main draw of the $2.44 million tournament.

The win marked the fifth victory in the 21-year-old Rogers’ last six matches against Top 50 ranked players. The only other time Rogers an Peng had met was in the first round of the 2010 U.S. Open when the two-handed hitting Peng pulled out a three-set victory over a then 17-year-old Rogers.

Notes

The Lowcountry Tennis Association’s annual party will be held Oct. 10 at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

Fall league tennis registration for 65-plus is already open and will continue through Aug. 10. The 18-plus, 40-plus and 55-plus leagues for fall will hold registration from Aug. 22-Sept. 13.

Charleston’s Brant Fenno has climbed to 78th in the latest USTA boys 14 national rankings. Fenno, who is now competing in the national hard courts in San Antonio, Texas, also recently was a semifinalist in the Northwest Draw of consolations in the national clay courts.


(07/31/14)  Rogers falls to Erakovic at Citi Open
Marina Erakovic of New Zealand wasted little time in posting a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers on Wednesday in the round of 16 of the $250,00 Citi Open in Washington, D.C.

Playing on the grandstand court, the 121st-ranked Rogers couldn’t gain any traction in the 64-minutye match as Erakovic all six break points she faced.  Entering the match having won seven of her eight last matches, Rogers had chances to break service in two of Erakovic’s first three service games.

But Erakovic, a 26-year-old who started the year ranked in the World’s top 50 and is currently ranked 82nd, came up with service breaks in the second game of each set while jumping out to 3-0 leads each time.  She closed out the sets with service breaks.


(07/31/14)  Sky Sports: Citi Open: Marina Erakovic eases past qualifier Shelby Rogers in Washington
Marina Erakovic safely made it through to the third round of the Citi Open in Washington with a comfortable victory over Shelby Rogers.

The New Zealander needed just over an hour to register a 6-2 6-2 win against the American qualifier.

A brilliant comeback from world No 40 Kurumi Nara helped her book a place in the next round.

Nara had lost the opening set to Zarina Diyas but she regrouped and was closing in on victory when her opponent from Kazakhstan was forced to retire injured with the score 3-6 6-2 4-0.

Kristina Mladenovic recorded a 6-3 6-4 victory to see off American qualifier Taylor Townsend in an hour and half to progress, while Bojana Jovanovski ousted eighth seed Sorana Cirstea 4-6 7-5 6-3.


(07/30/14)  The Changeover: Shelby Rogers Talks About Positive Thinking, Moving Home, and Good Times in Bad Gastein
One of my favorite things about covering smaller tournaments is getting one-on-one time with players that I don’t know very well. Last year at the Citi Open I got to talk with Heather Watson and Alexandra Mueller, and this year I had my eyes on Shelby Rogers, the 21-year-old American who seemingly came from nowhere to make the Bad Gastein final earlier this month. (She came through Qualies and then took out Carla Suarez Navarro, Camila Giorgi, and Sara Errani. That’s pretty serious.)

Shelby, now ranked No. 121, had a fantastic first-round win 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 over Alize Cornet, but unfortunately I talked to her after her much-less-impressive 6-2, 6-2 loss to Marina Erakovic. Still, she was nice enough to give me 10 minutes of her time anyway, which says a lot.

Overall I found her down-to-earth, well spoken, and extremely genuine during our talk, and I hope to be seeing more of her on the WTA Tour this summer.

Here’s what I learned from my quick chat with the rising star:

1. She wants to stay calm and positive.
Shelby said that the key to her recent success was her mental improvement.

I’m working on my mindset. It is what it is, if you lose points it’s okay. It still is a game and you have to enjoy it. That’s what I want to do, so I’ve been doing that and I want to keep it up. Take it one match at a time.

After her tough loss to Erakovic, she certainly practiced what she preached. I was trying to feel out her attitude at the beginning of the interview and asked her how she was feeling after the match. “Good,” she said with a smile.

I mean, she played well. I didn’t play so well today, but she played a clean match and didn’t give me much.

2. Her run at Bad Gastein was full of new experiences.
It was incredible, my first quarterfinal, semifinal…it was a week of many firsts for me. It just gave me a lot of confidence and belief in myself, just to build off of. I know I can play with the top girls in the world. It was a really special experience and a really incredible place as well, so hopefully plenty more to come.

3. She loves altitude, red clay, dressing up in lederhosen, and basically everything about Austria.
I’ve always liked playing in altitude. I like red clay as well, so, that’s two things in my favor there. I was just happy, relaxed, and when I have a good time off the court I play well. So [Bad Gastein] was just a really cool place—getting dressed up [in the traditional garb], the mountains, beautiful waterfalls everywhere. It was hard to be unhappy there.

4. However, she almost didn’t even go to Bad Gastein this year!
I arrived the night before my match actually, I didn’t even practice before my first round, I was in qualies there. I was actually debating whether to go or not, I was kind-of not going to go for a week there, but decided to go and adapt, and I had a good run.

(That’s an understatement. Good choice, Shelby!)

5. Seriously, you guys. She’s a clay-court girl.
My best results have been in red clay. I grew up on the green clay [in Charleston], it just brings a different aspect to the game. There’s a little more versatility, the ball bouncers a little higher, the kick serves work well. It’s just fun, you know. There are longer points, and a little more strategy is involved.

6. She didn’t go to college and she doesn’t regret it.
Never regretted it. I just felt that I could always go back to school, I couldn’t always play on tour. Right now I’m enjoying the tour.

7. She’s not with the USTA anymore.
I just moved back home, but I’m still in touch with [the USTA]. They’re supportive in other ways, they’re so positive all the time. I’m back home now in Charleston working with Bryan Minton. He was my first coach when I was seven, before I moved to Boca.

The USTA helped me so much over the past four years. This is just kind-of the next step, you know. We have such a great relationship, and it’s just something that’s really positive for me, being back home with my family and friends. It’s a great atmosphere, and I really love Charleston as well.

***

Shelby (I love that name!) is off to Montreal now, where she’ll play in qualies. Her big goal this year is to break into the Top 100, and to just keep doing what she’s doing–she doesn’t want to get a big head just because she’s won a few matches.

After talking with her for a short while, it’s certainly hard to see that happening.


(07/28/14)  WTATennis.com: Rogers Conquers Cornet At Citi Open
Shelby Rogers and fellow young American Taylor Townsend were among Washington DC's first round winners on Monday.

Shelby Rogers' terrific July continued with an upset of third-seeded Alizé Cornet in the first round of the Citi Open on Monday.

The 21-year-old Rogers rallied from a 5-2 first set deficit and shook off a second set loss en route to a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 victory.

At her last event in Bad Gastein, Rogers went from qualifying all the way to her first WTA final, recording two Top 20 wins along the way.

"I had a really good tournament in Austria, so coming off that, I wanted to keep the momentum going," Rogers said. "So it's nice to start off on the right foot here. I'm excited I could play well and get the win."

Though her defeat of World No.21 Cornet falls just short of another Top 20 win, Rogers was very proud of it nonetheless.

"I've had so much success the past few weeks," Rogers said. "I feel like it keeps getting better and better. It has been exciting. This is definitely one of my top five wins for sure. I hope there are many more to come.

"I'm really happy and am enjoying myself. If you're happy off the court, you're going to play well on the court. I've really been working on the mental aspect of the game, staying a little more focused and calm throughout the match, not getting too upset about things and letting them go."

Rogers wasn't the only young American to pull off a surprise victory, as 18-year-old qualifier Taylor Townsend saved 11 of 12 break points on her serve in beating Julia Goerges, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

"I tried to fight for every point, get my first serves in and make her play," Townsend said. "She was playing really well, but I just continued to fight. That's all that matters to me and I'm just going to try to build on that.

"It feels really good but I'm not satisfied. I want to go farther and I know that I can, so this is just a small step in the right direction."

It wasn't all good news for young Americans, though, as Kurumi Nara was a 7-5, 6-3 winner over No.7 seed and fellow WTA Rising Star Madison Keys.

"I'm happy to get this win today because she's a very tough player and hits very hard," Nara said. "I had to be consistent."

Two seeds did advance, as sixth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova was a 6-3, 6-2 victor over Polona Hercog, and eighth-seeded Sorana Cirstea edged Kiki Bertens, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.


(07/28/14)  Shelby Rogers pulls upset in Citi Open
Is Shelby Rogers starting a new tear? This one on hard courts?

It certainly appeared that way Monday night in Washington, D.C., as the 21-year-old touring tennis professional from Charleston upset world's No. 21 Alize Cornet of France, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, in the first round of the $250,000 Citi Open.

The victory, following on the heels of a runner-up finish in Austria, marked Rogers' 11th win in her last 14 matches. A wild card in the Washington event, Rogers is currently ranked 121st in the world, falling back the last two weeks from her career-high No. 104 as a result of her dropping the WTA Tour points from last year's title at Lexington, Ky.

After Rogers won the last five games of the first set to overcome the third-seeded Cornet's 5-2 lead, then lost control of the second set when she failed to hold service with a 3-2 lead, Rogers came charging back for a love service break to start the third set. She never trailed again.

Rogers increased the lead to 3-1 with a pair of strong service games, and served for the match with a 5-2 lead. She failed to close it out the first time, but came right back with a love service game to finish the job in two hours and six minutes.

The victory was Rogers' third win in her last four tries against top 21-ranked players.

She next faces the winner of Tuesday's match pitting unseeded players Kristyna Pliskova and Marina Erakovic.


(07/28/14)  STAFF REPORT: Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships

Sportsmanship winner
Kylie Rigsby, 14, of Raleigh, N.C., won the USTA Sportsmanship Award at the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships at the Charleston Tennis Center

Boys 18 singles champion
Scotty Cameron, 16, of Isle of Palms won the Boys 18 singles title in the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships at Charleston Tennis Center

Girls 16 singles champion
Ava Kusmide of Charleston won the Girls 16 singles title in the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships at Charleston Tennis Center.

Girls 16 consolation singles winners
Mary Kirkland, 16, of Mount Pleasant (left) was a finalist and Madison Conwell, 14, of West Columbia was the winner of the Girls 16 consolation singles title in the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships at Charleston Tennis Center.

Boys 14 doubles winners
Brendan Healey, 14, of James Island (from left) and Kerim Hyatt, 14, of Daniel Island won the Boys 14 doubles title while Jack Johnson, 14, of Isle of Palms and Mark Jones, 13, of Daniel Island placed second in the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships at Charleston Tennis Center.

Girls 14 singles consolation winner
Grace Krusling, 12, of Irmo (left) was the winner of the Girls 14 consolation singles division in the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships at Charleston Tennis Center.

Boys 12 singles winners
Connor Krings, 11, of New Albany, Ohio (left) was the champion and Cooper Williams, 9, of New York was the second-place finisher in Boys 12 in the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships at the Charleston Tennis Center.

Boys 12 consolation singles winners
Sam Blount, 11, of West Ashley (left) was a finalist and Otto Sewell, 9, of Mount Pleasant won the Boys 12 consolation singles division in the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships at Charleston Tennis Center.

Girls 12 singles winners
Courtney Rittel, 11, of Daniel Island (left) placed second and Carson Biller, 12, of Mount Pleasant won the Girls 12 singles title in the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Tennis Championships at the Charleston Tennis Center.

Girls 12 consolation singles winners
Madison Clayton, left, of West Ashley (left) finished second and Karson Powers, 11, of Mount Pleasant won the Girls 12 consolation division in the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships at the Charleston Tennis Center.

Girls 12 doubles winners
Madison Clayton of West Ashley (from left) and Katie Lowe, 12, of West Ashley finished second while Carson Biller, 12, of Mount Pleasant and Kelsey Sinclaire, 11, of Mount Pleasant won the Girls 12 doubles title in the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships at Charleston Tennis Center.

Boys 10 singles winners
Edward Naval, 9, of Summerville (left) finished second and Sutton Severance, 6, of Daniel Island was the Boys 10 singles champion in the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships at the Charleston Tennis Center.

Boys 10 consolation singles winners
Sebastian Good, 7, of Mount Pleasant (left) was the winner and Fritz Rittel, 7, of Daniel Island was the second-place finalist in the Boys 10 consolation division of the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championships at the Charleston Tennis Center.


(07/24/14)  Shelby Rogers returns to Family Circle Tennis Center to train with Bryan Minton
Shelby Rogers is back where she started her tennis journey. The fast-rising 21-year-old touring pro has returned home to Daniel Island and Family Circle Tennis Center.

It's been an eventful last few weeks for Rogers. From defeating two top 20 players, advancing to her first WTA Tour final, climbing to her highest career ranking, earning her first direct-entry into the U.S. Open, and now to making a switch in her training base.

She leaves for Washington, D.C., on Friday to compete in the main draw of next week's $250,000 Citi Open. She will be under the watchful eye of former longtime coach Bryan Minton, who is her coach once again. Minton and Jeff Wilson head up the MWTennis Academy that now operates the player training operations at Family Circle Tennis Center.

"I am excited to come home to be with my family and friends here in Charleston ... and to train and travel with my longtime coach Bryan Minton and all of the coaches at MWTennis here at Family Circle," Rogers said Thursday.

"This is the perfect move to take the next step in my career."

Rogers has trained the last three years at the USTA training center at Boca Raton, Fla., with former Georgia Tech player Roger Anderson serving as her last USTA coach. Minton served as Rogers' coach from 2001-2011, starting out at Family Circle.

Rogers made her big move two weeks ago by winning six straight matches at the $250,000 event in Bad Gastein, Austria. She reached the final and climbed to No. 104 in the world. She is currently ranked 107th.

"One of the things for a player in Shelby's category, she has to learn how to win with her average game," said MWTennis CEO Wilson. "For a player such as Shelby to go to 50 in the world, there are some things that need to happen.

"She needs to play the game based on her identity. She is going to learn how to win with her average game, and how to turn a 4-6 (set) to a 6-4," added Wilson, a former assistant coach at Georgia Tech and Duke who has served as full-time coach on the WTA Tour for the likes of Chanelle Scheepers (currently No. 71 in the world), Irina Falconi and Lauren Davis (currently No. 43).

For Rogers to work with Minton again is a natural. "They're on the same wavelength," Wilson said.

Maria Sharapova's former coach Michael Joyce, who now serves as head of MWTennis' pro division, also will help with Rogers' training. "She will get the same information on a daily basis whether it's Bryan, Michael or me," Wilson said.

In addition to Rogers, MWTennis' pro division players include former world's No. 123 Jessie Pegula, the 20-year-old daughter of Buffalo Sabres owner Terrence Pegula. Jessie Pegula is in rehabilitation from knee surgery.


(07/19/14)  I'On boys 12 doubles tennis winners
Haagen Williams and Cameron Davies, both of Mount Pleasant, took first place in boys 12 and under doubles in the Ion Junior Challenger Tennis Tournament while Matthew Baty of Isle of Palms and Sam Blount of West Ashley placed second.


(07/18/14)  Shelby Rogers isn't really a clay-courter
Many of the biggest moments in Shelby Rogers' tennis career have come on clay courts. First WTA Tour quarterfinal, semifinal and final. And initial Grand Slam tournament victory.

Shelby loves clay. She grew up on the green variety known as Hard-Tru at Family Circle Tennis Center and the old Players Club.

But she isn't just a clay-courter. In fact, she isn't a clay-courter at all.

Rogers has a hard-court game. With the U.S. Open coming up in a little over a month, who knows what might happen.

There is no reason to believe Shelby couldn't win two or three rounds on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows - or more. It just depends on her draw, staying away from the big guns in the early rounds. But the 21-year-old pro has proven that she can handle a certain type of top 20 players while climbing to a career-high No. 104 world ranking.

Perhaps, there is no more of a pure clay-courter in the women's game than Sara Errani. Carla Suarez Navarro isn't too far behind.

Of course, Rogers scored straight-set victories over No. 14 Errani and No. 16 Navarro in her run to the final of the recent $250,000 red-clay event in Bad Gastein, Austria.

Rogers can't explain her success on clay courts.

"I play the same game (on hard courts and clay courts). I can't really change that much," she said Friday while taking a few days off back home on Daniel Island.

The breakout in Austria was just timing. It was time for Shelby to make a move.

She is a gambler who can knock the cover off the ball. She goes for the lines. Her serve matches the rest of her game. Everything starts out and depends on her serve.

When Rogers is "on," and her serve is working, she is extremely dangerous. Obviously, she was on in Austria.

So, if Rogers is "on" at the U.S. Open, she could do some damage with the seeds. A round of 16 appearance might not be out of the question. She has the game to pull it off.

First, Rogers will be off to Washington, D.C., late next week to compete in the main draw of the $250,000 Citi Open as the summer hard-court season heats up. Rogers decided not to defend her title next week in the $50,000 tournament in Lexington, Ky., when she gained entry into the Washington main draw.

She plans to attempt to qualify for the Rogers Cup's big 56-player draw in Montreal in early August and possibly Cincinnati the following week. Both tournaments are in the $2.5 million purse range.

CPTL returning

The popular Charleston Pro Tennis League will return for an eight-week season of Friday night programs on Sept. 5 after taking a year off when co-founder Chris Henderson relocated to Florida last year.

Former College of Charleston coach Phil Whitesell is the CPTL's new commissioner. Whitesell lists I'On, Dunes West, Maybank Tennis Center, Seabrook Island, Park West and Family Circle Tennis Center among the host sites.

Local notes

The Fisher House Charleston Classic Tennis Tournament is scheduled for Aug. 8-10 at the College of Charleston complex at Patriot's Point. Competition will be in mixed doubles and combo doubles. Registration is available online at www.Charlestonclassic.org. The tournament will benefit Fisher House Charleston.

The demolition of the Jack Adams Tennis Center's six courts is underway in preparing to rebuild the complex, according to city tennis manager Peggy Bohne.

The Lowcountry Youth Tennis Association and Trident Academy were among the 46 community tennis and education organizations receiving grants from USTA Serves, which is the charitable foundation of the USTA. USTA Serves awarded a total of $429,000 in grants nationwide.

The new MWTennis Academy at Family Circle Tennis Center is concentrating on branding for its participants along with the team concept for its coaches. "We're establishing a culture at MWTennis. We want the program to be known for its quality and culture," CEO Jeff Wilson said. "MWTennis players will be easy to identify at tournaments. They will be wearing our shirts and caps (with the wolf mascot logo)."

Maybank Tennis Center's cabana project for its clay courts is moving along. Ike Smith of the fund-raising committee reported that the fund-raising drive has been successful. The structures have been ordered and installation on court Nos. 9, 10, 11 and 12 will start soon. Donations are still being accepted at Maybank Tennis Center or online at www.charleston-sc.gov to fund a similar cabana for court 13.


(07/17/14)  Shelby Rogers earns entry into U.S. Open's main draw
Charleston’s Shelby Rogers is one of 11 Americans who have earned direct entry in the main draw of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships that are scheduled for Aug. 25 through Sept. 8 in New York, the USTA announced Wednesday.

Serena Williams, the two-time defending champion and world’s No. 1 player, headlined the field as well as the American contingent – the largest of any country. The direct entry list includes 104 players.

Rogers, who has played in two previous U.S. Opens through wild cards, earned her berth by using a runner-up finish on Sunday in the $250,000 WTA Tour event in Bad Gastein, Austria, to climb 43 places in the world rankings to No. 104.

Rogers success couldn’t have been more timely. Monday’s edition of the WTA rankings was used to determine the U.S. Open main draw entry list.


(07/16/14)  MWTennis takes over instruction, coaching at Family Circle Tennis Center
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

It’s a quote that has been tagged to a few different people, not surprisingly all of them from the athletics domain. But you ask any coach worth his or her salt if hard work trumps talent, and the answer will likely smack of those nine words.

Jeff Wilson’s did. He has coached some of tennis’ top ranked players, including Lauren Davis, Johanna Larsson, Chanelle Scheepers, and Irina Falconi. And he knows these talents work hard, because much of that work was under his watch.

Wilson first picked up a racquet when he was 12, an age that was relatively late - but somehow not too late – for a young player who aspired to be an ace. After making a mark on the courts in high school, he would go on to play at San Jose State University. But in short order he discovered his true calling in the sport was as a coach, not a competitor. Wilson joined the women’s tennis coaching team first at Duke University, then later at Georgia Tech. Since that time, he has spent over 30 years on the professional tour, traveling nationally and abroad. The last five of those years have been with the WTA, a commitment that has had Wilson “on an airplane every week for the last five years.”

As if that weren’t enough, over the last ten years he and wife Kim, a WTA-certified fitness and nutrition expert, have run an instructional tennis program out of a renovated horse farm in Alpharetta, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. The tennis training duo were thriving professionally, doing what they love, all the while demonstrating to their three children, Reilly (13), Susie-Jane (11), and Liam (3) a passion-driven work ethic. There were moments they were running on fumes, to be sure, but it was a purposeful means to further the future of the sport they adored.

And then Wilson’s health issued a warning. He was forced to undergo surgery for skin cancer on his head twice in a relatively short span of time, a circumstance that first only temporarily sidelined the coach, but then made him rethink his long-term trajectory. “It rocked me,” he recalls, “and I decided to get off tour and off court.” Around this same time, Wilson had connected in south Florida with fellow coach Bryan Minton, who was there coaching Shelby Rogers. The two found that they had like-minded, but complementary, styles of training, and began laying a foundation for a partnership. “Bryan is one of the best coaches I’ve ever seen in the world,” Wilson asserts.

With the pairing in place, it was only a matter of finding the right venue. Wilson was familiar with Family Circle Tennis Center, having spent two summers in an “immersion” program at the Daniel Island facility. So when the opportunity for Wilson and Minton to bring their new MWTennis Academy to Daniel Island, the team of two “jumped at it.”

MWTennis took over the instruction and training at the Family Circle Tennis Center on July 1. Wilson is CEO of the program, and Minton is COO and Director of Coaching. Kim Wilson has been brought on as Director of Wellness, and will offer her expertise in fitness and nutrition to both members and non-members, from baseline assessments to scheduled conditioning and nutrition classes.

One rather conspicuous change from prior Family Circle programs is the addition of a pro tennis division, to be headed by Michael Joyce, former coach for Maria Sharapova and current coach for Jessica Pegula. As Director of Professional Tennis, Joyce will continue to act as a traveling tour coach, but will be based here with a near 50/50 split of his Charleston and tour time. Wilson hints that another pro coach may be brought on in the near future as that arm of the program grows.

But for all its remarkable professional credentials, MWTennis Academy is for every age and level of play. “The team philosophy will be a constant whether it is for adults playing USTA team tennis or juniors traveling to play tournaments,” relates Rob Eppelsheimer, Facility Director at Family Circle Tennis Center. “Our goal is to let everyone know, whether here at Family Circle or playing at other facilities, that MWTennis Academy is the place to be for tennis programming.”

That philosophy is rooted in three basic principles: effort, focus and, yes, hard work. And Wilson acknowledges that these are not values always readily at-hand in our country, particularly in junior players, but he is poised for the challenge. “Our culture has a ‘now’ attitude, one of entitlement,” states Wilson, “and when I go around the world I wonder, ‘how do the other countries do it?’ We want our kids to stand out from other kids, so we’ve got to work harder than anybody else.”

Just how will the MWTennis approach overcome mental challenges – toughness, dedication, fortitude – with its youth members? Wilson believes much of that starts at home, especially the pieces like self-confidence and respect. But then the Academy hones in on that which makes a young player special on the court. “Is it physical tennis skill, is it cognitive talent?” Wilson asks. “We find it, then dial in and accentuate that to make it a weapon. And then we work within that to make sure you use it as you should.”

It is clear that, inside the MWTennis program, there is still room for the occasional or recreational player. “One of the gaps has been the player that just wants to play a couple times a week,” relates Wilson, “the high schooler who wants to play on JV or the adult who wants to play socially.” His team is intending to fill that void with evening clinics to be offered for that type of player, with the same great coaches and fine-tuned process.

Under the new outfit, juniors programs will be split into four groups: 10 and Under, Development, High Performance, and Elite. Eppelsheimer says that the programming for adults will be enhanced dramatically with the switch to MWTennis Academy: “We will be offering team clinics for all of the teams that play out of Family Circle Tennis Center (130 each year). We will be offering nighttime and weekend drop-in clinics as well as beginner instructional clinics for those adults who want to learn the game of a lifetime.”

Minton and Wilson’s Academy is also taking over the tennis center’s summer camps, and Eppelsheimer reports that the mid-season transition has been super-smooth. After taking a week off for the Independence Day holiday, 40 juniors showed up for the July 7 camp, the inaugural session for the new program at the tennis center. With the same summer staffers in place as before the switch, the process was a fairly seamless one, for which the whole team is grateful. “The staff has done a tremendous job for us!” praises Eppelsheimer. Just over four more weeks of summer camp remain for 2014.

Coach Wilson is confident that his academy is an ideal fit with the values of Family Circle. “We’re all about team, positivity, working together to achieve on a big scale and to make American tennis better,” he maintains. “What we have in terms of teaching staff, you’d be hard pressed to go anywhere and find coaches of the same caliber.” As for what sets MWTennis apart from other programs, Wilson prefers to not consider too heavily: “I don’t have a lot of interest in what other programs do. I know what we do is a healthy, professional-based, systematic approach for development.”

He says that to attain a pro level, there’s no time to waste. MWTennis is keeping its promising young players under a watchful eye, and giving each custom coaching. At the same time, the program is pushing into the adult market and coaching the dedicated league-ers and weekend warriors with the same formula applied to their pros and juniors.

Says Wilson, “We want to be an extension of the Family Circle Cup and pro tour, but at the same time focus on the local, day-to-day people. We want large quality, large accountability.”

And how will MWTennis and its posse of players get there? Say it with me: hard work.

The fall instructional semester begins August 18. For more information, visit familycircletenniscenter.com or mwtennisacademy.com.


(07/14/14)  Charleston's Rogers climbs to career-high No. 104 in WTA Tour rankings

Charleston touring tennis professional Shelby Rogers obviously made the right decision by opting out of an attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open through the USTA's U.S. Open wild-card segment of three tournaments.

Instead, Rogers traveled from France to Austria and qualified for direct entry into the U.S. Open's main draw with a runner-up finish on Sunday in the $250,000 Bad Gastein red-clay tournament. The success advanced Rogers' world ranking 43 spots to a career-high No. 104 in the newest WTA Tour rankings.

The new ranking is enough to send Rogers to New York without having to worry about qualifying or wild-card events, according to Family Circle Cup general manager Bob Moran. Monday was the cutoff day for rankings to determine the direct entry list of 104 players for the U.S. Open.

Rogers returned to her South Florida home base on Monday, and is scheduled to arrive in Charleston on Tuesday night to train at Family Circle's MWTennis Academy, according to Family Circle pro/former Rogers coach Bryan Minton.

The 21-year-old Rogers still plans to play in the $50,000 wild-card event that starts July 21 in Lexington, Ky. She won that tournament a year ago to qualify for the 2013 U.S. Open. She skipped last week's wild-card tournament at Sacramento, Calif., and this week's event at Carson, Calif., making her ineligible for the segment's wild-card competition.

Prior to Bad Gastein, Rogers had never defeated a player ranked higher than No. 90 in the world. But in Austria, she defeated four top-100 players in succession, including No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro and No. 14 Sara Errani before running into reigning Family Circle Cup champion Andrea Petkovic in the final. Petkovic climbed from No. 20 to No. 18 with her Bad Gastein title.


(07/13/14)  Rogers falls to Petkovic in Bad Gastein championship match
Breaking into the winner's circle on the WTA Tour doesn't come easily.

Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers will vouch for that after suffering a 6-3, 6-3 loss to 20th-ranked Andrea Petkovic of Germany on Sunday in the final of the $250,000 red-clay tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria.

Everything seemed to fall Rogers' way in her first six matches at Bad Gastein as she upset four top 100 players - including three top 40 and two top 20 players - en route to her first WTA Tour final. The fourth-year touring pro had never been past the second round in a WTA Tour event.

But reigning Family Circle Cup champion Petkovic, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, wore the glass slipper this time, taking her second Bad Gastein title and the more than $47,000 payday.

Rogers settled for the second prize of approximately $23,500. Not bad for a player who arrived in Austria ranked 147th in the world and just hoping to advance through qualifying. She ended up defeating Nos. 2 and 3 seeds Sara Errani and Carla Suarez Navarro (ranked 14th and 16th) in straight sets.

Even with the loss, Rogers' world ranking is projected to climb past her career-best No. 109 ranking to a spot near the top 100.

"Surprisingly, I wasn't nervous for the final. I thought I would be, but I thought I was OK today," Rogers said.

The final was decided in a six-game stretch after the two players had exchanged service breaks and appeared headed for a close match deadlocked at 3 in the first set. Petkovic yielded only two points on her next three service games, taking advantage of erratic serving and groundstrokes by Rogers to break the Daniel Island product three straight times.

From 3-3 to 6-3, 3-0, that was pretty much the match in a nutshell. Petkovic could see the finish line.

Petkovic, a 26-year-old former world's No. 9, suffered a pair of service breaks before claiming her second WTA Tour title of the year and fourth overall with a service break of Rogers at love to end the 73-minute final.

"She (Petkovic) played well," Rogers said about the 2014 French Open semifinalist. "I am feeling the matches. I played a lot. My body is feeling it. But she played incredible. She's always a tough competitor."

Although Rogers left Bad Gastein otherwise feeling great, she was uncertain if she had locked up a berth in the main draw of the U.S. Open. She skipped the first two events in the USTA's U.S. Open wild card series to play in Austria, eliminating herself from that competition.

"Hopefully, I'll be in the (U.S. Open) main draw. It will be close, but we'll see where the cut is," Rogers said Sunday.

She confirmed again Sunday that she plans to play only the last wild-card event, starting July 21 in Lexington, Ky., where she won last year to earn a wild card into the 2014 U.S. Open.

"I'm going back to the States. Going home now so I'll be excited about that," she said. "I am so happy with my whole week. It was incredible."


(07/12/14)  WTATennis.com: Rogers Stuns Errani To Make First Final
Shelby Rogers upset No.2 seed Sara Errani, 7-6(12), 6-3, at the NÜRNBERGER Gastein Ladies on Saturday to reach the first WTA final of her career.

BAD GASTEIN,
Austria - Five years ago, following a successful junior career, Shelby Rogers passed up several tempting college scholarships in favor of trying her luck on tour.

She took some time to find her feet in the senior ranks, bobbing around in the lower depths of the Top 400 for her first few years. However, recently she has started to make some real progress, and on Sunday she will contest her first WTA final, at the NÜRNBERGER Gastein Ladies.

Rogers booked her place in the final with a 7-6(12), 6-3 win over No.2 seed Sara Errani. Having squandered an early lead, Rogers dug deep to take the first set on a tie-break, saving four set points before converting her fifth opportunity.

In the second set, the American recovered from an early break to win six of the final seven games, closing out the match at the first time of asking with a backhand winner.

Rogers, who had never previously been beyond the second round of a WTA event and won two qualifying matches just to reach the main draw, will face 2009 champion and No.4 seed Andrea Petkovic in the final.

Petkovic recovered from a slow start to defeat Grace Min, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, in a rain-interrupted encounter. A nightmare start saw Petkovic quickly fall 5-1 behind as she struggled with both the conditions and an increasingly confident opponent.

While she was unable to rescue the first set, Petkovic took the second in impressive fashion before breaking in the seventh game of the decider to book her place in the final.

Having struggled initially with the switch from grass to clay, Petkovic has improved with each passing round and goes into the final in confident mood.

"I'm playing well and getting better with every match," she said. "I'm really happy how everything turned out after my late arrival from Wimbledon."

The German is similarly optimistic about another final taking place on Sunday.

"Initially, I was worried they would have to play against the Netherlands. They would have been very defensive, and that could have been tough," she added when asked about the outcome of the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. "But Argentina? It's going to be 3-1 for Germany. Or 4-1, even!"


(07/12/14)  Charleston's Rogers advances to tournament final
What's next for Shelby Rogers?

As if three straight wins over top-40 players - two of them in the top 20 - aren't enough, Charleston's 21-year-old touring tennis professional now faces the challenge of taking on reigning Family Circle Cup champion Andrea Petkovic of Germany in Sunday's 7:30 a.m. (Charleston time) final of the WTA Tour's $250,000 red-clay tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria.

Just a qualifier, Rogers kept her amazing streak of six straight victories going in Saturday's rainy semifinals with a 7-6 (12), 6-3 win over 14th-ranked Sara Errani of Italy, the 2012 French Open runner-up.

"How about that? A Charleston final in Austria!" Family Circle general manager Bob Moran emailed as soon as the 1 hour, 46-minute match ended.

In Europe, Rogers was telling the news media: "I have to enjoy the moment . it's my first final. Another very accomplished player (20th-ranked Petkovic). I feel like the bar just keeps getting higher and higher. And she won here (Bad Gastein, 2009) before. She's a great player."

Petkovic ended the hopes of an all-American final with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 rain-interrupted win over 20-year-old American Grace Min in Saturday's other semifinal.

As for the Family Circle Tennis Center prodigy (Rogers initially started training under former coach Bryan Minton at the Family Circle complex) taking on a Family Circle Cup prodigy, Rogers said, "It's a dream come true to be playing in a final. I have been working so hard for it, and I'm finally here."

What does all of this mean, the difference between winning and losing on Sunday? Either Rogers or Petkovic will walk away with a check for more than $47,000 from the tournament. The loser will receive about half that amount.

Even more important for the 147th-ranked Rogers is the projection of advancing into the 80s level of the world rankings with a victory over Petkovic. Saturday's win over Errani is projected to lift Rogers above her career-high ranking of No. 109 to a spot close to the top 100.

Rogers had thoughts about not even making the trip to Austria from France. She had been scheduled to play in a $50,000 U.S. Open wild-card tournament in Sacramento, Calif., last week.

"There was a moment I wasn't going to play this tournament," Rogers said. "I was going back and forth. I am very happy I made the choice to come here. It's been an unbelievable week for me."

Saturday's Rogers-Errani semifinal match is scheduled to be shown on the Tennis Channel on Sunday at 10 a.m., followed at noon Sunday by the delayed telecast of the final.

Rogers confirmed that she still plans to play the July 21 final U.S. Open wild-card event at Lexington, Ky., where she won last summer to win a wild card into the 2013 U.S. Open. The possibility now exists that Rogers' success in Europe already has earned her a spot in the main draw of the U.S. Open.

Just as against 40th-ranked Camila Giorgi in the quarterfinals, Rogers reaped the benefits of a double fault by her opponent at break point in the first game of Saturday's match.

"It was nice to get the early break," Rogers said by email. "It took a few of the nerves away and allowed me to be aggresive and relaxed."

Rogers finished the match in similar fashion to a day earlier when she held service at love for 6-5 and then broke Giorgi at love to advance to the semifinals. This time, Rogers broke Errani for a 5-4 lead, then closed out the gritty clay-court specialist with a love service hold.

The real story of the semifinal match was the first-set tiebreaker in which Rogers fought off four set points. Rogers took the set on the 26th point of the tiebreaker on her third set point. After putting less than 50 percent of her first serves into play in her first six service games, Rogers put 10 of her 13 first serves into play in the tiebreaker.

Rogers was broken in her first service game of the second set, but bounced back for a break in the third game. After misfiring on 11 of her first 16 first serves in the second set, she put all but one of her last 12 first serves into play.

"I didn't think about that or realize," Rogers said. "I was just playing aggressive the whole time. My serve has been helping me out all week under pressure and in big points. I played to win and knew that I had to go after my shots as well as my serves to beat her (Errani)."

As for taking on Petkovic, Rogers said, "She's won a title here before . so she is very comfortable in this arena. I know she is going to bring her 'A' game. I want to continue what I've been doing all week and hopefully get one more win."


(07/11/14)  Shelby Rogers reaches semifinals at WTA event in Austria
Shelby Rogers is on quite a roll in Europe.

The 21-year-old touring tennis pro from Charleston has won her last five matches, including three straight over world's top 100 opponents. In the process, Rogers has achieved the dream of advancing to her first WTA Tour semifinal.

Rogers took advantage of the serving woes of 40th-ranked Camila Giorgi of Italy to break service in the first game of the match on a doublefault, and Rogers never trailed again in scoring a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Giorgi on Friday in the quarterfinals of the WTA Tour's $250,000 red-clay tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria.

The victory came one day after Rogers, a mere qualifier ranked No. 147 in the world, upended 16th-ranked Carla Suarez Navarro. Of course, the road gets even tougher for Rogers in Saturday's second semifinal (approximately 10 a.m. Charleston time) where she will oppose 14th-ranked second seed Sara Errani of Italy.

"I am going to enjoy the moment . . . it's my first time in the semifinals and the first time playing that higher-ranked player (Errani)," Rogers said.

Errani, a gritty 5-4 1/2 clay-courter, posted a 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa in the quarterfinals. Current Family Circle Cup champion Andrea Petkovic of Germany (No. 4 seed) and 20-year-old American Grace Min also advanced, and will meet in Saturday's first semifinal.

"We (Rogers and Min) are actually good friends. It's a pretty exciting tournament for both us (in semifinals first time). Thankfully, we're on opposite ends of the draw, so hopefully we can have an all-American final," Rogers said.

After Giorgi, the seventh seed, donated three doublefaults in the opening game, Rogers sailed to a 4-0 lead.

Rogers was broken only in the fifth game of the second set after she had charged to a 3-1 lead. But the big-hitting Daniel Island product bounced back to hold service at love in the 11th game, then ended the 92-minute match with a service break at love -- with the aid of another Giorgi doublefault.

Giorgi often made things easier for Rogers by serving up 11 doublefaults. Rogers, who now has won nine of her last 11 matches, had five doublefaults, but saved five of the six break points she faced.

"She (Giorgi) is a big hitter. She can hit a lot of winners," Rogers said. "It's just making one more ball . . . one more ball."


(07/10/14)  Charleston's Shelby Rogers reaches quarterfinals in WTA event in Austria
Shelby Rogers has been on the verge of a major moment in her young professional tennis career.

Charleston's 21-year-old touring pro now has one.

Rogers delivered 11 aces in overwhelming world's 16th-ranked Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, 6-4, 6-0, on Thursday in the round of 16 of the WTA Tour's $250,000 red-clay tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria.

This could be a major breakthrough for Rogers, a fourth-year pro ranked No. 147. She has won four straight matches, including two in the Bad Gastein qualifying tournament, and eight of her last 10 matches.

Rogers needed only 90 minutes to polish off the third-seeded Navarro on Thursday in the initial meeting between the two players. In the process, Rogers saved 10 of 11 break points and won 70 percent of her first serve points.

For Rogers, who upended 94th-ranked Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic in a three-set opening round match on Tuesday, the victory over Navarro was her first over a top 20 player.

“I feel I played very well and am excited to be in my first WTA quarterfinal,” Rogers said. “It has been an incredible experience being in Austria, and I am taking away a lot of very positive things from this trip.”

Rogers now advances into Friday's quarterfinals against 40th-ranked, seventh seed Camila Giorgi of Italy. This will be Rogers' first appearance in a WTA Tour quarterfinal.

The 22-year-old Giorgi scored a 6-0, 6-2 win over wild-card Lisa-Marie Moser of Austria in the round of 16.

Rogers and Giorgi's only previous meeting came in 2011 at Rock Hill where Giorgi posted a 6-3, 6-4 win on hard surface.


(07/08/14)  Shelby Rogers wins WTA match at Bad Gastein
Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers rallied to defeat 94th-ranked Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, 6-7 (8), 7-5, 6-4, on Tuesday in the first round of the main draw of the WTA Tour's $250,000 red-clay tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria.

Rogers, who fought her way through qualifying and is ranked 147th in the world, has won seven of her last 10 matches. She needed two hours and 31 minutes to defeat Pliskova, a 6-0 left-hander.

Rogers' second-round opponent in the 32-player main draw will be third-seeded, 16th-ranked Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.


(07/05/14)  Is Rogers ready for a breakthrough?
Shelby Rogers may be closer to the major headlines of women's professional tennis than the casual observer might realize.

It could happen quickly, almost any week. That reality became very clear a few weeks ago when on the same weekend Madison Keys and CoCo Vanderwege won WTA Tour tournaments.

Rogers has been there, so close to moving up the WTA ladder to a position where qualifying tournaments aren't the most important things on her immediate schedule. It wasn't long ago that Keys and Vanderwege were looking for the big breaks that came their way when Keys won the $710,000 Eastbourne Aegon event and Vandewege came through qualifying to win a $250,000 tournament in the Netherlands.

Keys is now ranked 30th in the world and Vandewege has climbed to 51st. Even Alison Riske is in the top 50 at No. 44.

These are all players that not very long ago might have been mentioned in the same breath with Rogers on the topic of promising young American players.

Rogers, ranked 169th after reaching a career-high No. 109 in March, is still looking for her breakthrough. But at 21 years old and four years into her career as a touring pro, the Daniel Island product may be ready to make her move. It's almost bound to happen sooner or later. She has served her apprenticeship years, learning the tricks of the trade, and gaining maturity and confidence.

Rogers has won four of her last six matches, going back to Wimbledon qualifying where she won her first two matches. She followed that up by winning two more matches in a $100,000 ITF event in Contrexeville, France. And now she is starting a qualifying event as the No. 3 seed on Sunday for the $250,000 red-clay tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria.

After Austria, she will return and train for a couple of weeks at Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy.

Rogers will then attempt to earn a wild card into a second straight U.S. Open by competing in the USTA's U.S. Open wild card series at Sacramento and Carson, Calif., and Lexington, Ky.

MWtennis Academy
MWTennis Academy replaced the Instinctive Tennis Academy at Family Circle Tennis Center on July 1, and CEO Jeff Wilson and COO Bryan Minton are excited after a week on the job. "A lot of things are not changing . . . just additions," former Atlanta area pro Wilson said Saturday.

Former Maria Sharapova coach Michael Joyce also has moved to Charleston and will serve as the director of MWTennis' pro division.

Wilson and Minton are concentrating on a team concept from a coaching standpoint where everyone teaches the same methods. "We're establishing a culture at MWTennis. We want the program to be known for its quality and culture," Wilson said.

Branding is an important part of the change. "MWTennis players will be easy to identify at tournaments. They will be wearing our shirts and caps," Wilson said.

The MWTennis logo will feature its mascot, a wolf.

Maybank Update
Maybank Tennis Center's cabana project for its clay courts is moving along. Ike Smith of the fund-raising committee reported that the fund-raising drive has been successful.

"We are pleased to report that we have sufficient monies in hand to put shade on courts 9/10 and installation design is in hand. We should have protection from the hot sun before too much summertime passes by," Smith said.

Donations are still being accepted at Maybank Tennis Center or online at www.charleston-sc.gov to fund a similar cabana for court 13.
Local notes

-- The Lowcountry Youth Tennis Association and Trident Academy were among the 46 community tennis and education organizations receiving grants from USTA Serves, which is the charitable foundation of the USTA. USTA Serves awarded a total of $429,000 in grants nationwide.

-- Charleston Tennis Center will hold the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championship on July 18-20. Registration is available online at www.sctennis.com (tournament ID 700044814).

-- Downtown tennis players should have a brand-new six-court complex available before the end of the year. The old Stadium Courts, now named the Jack Adams Tennis Center, were the city's original public courts, located adjacent to The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium. The cement courts are scheduled to be completely replaced with asphalt ones. New fencing also is planned. Several of the courts will still back up to the football stadium as has been the tradition for many decades.


(06/28/14) ISLAND PACKET: Former HHI resident Alison Riske to face Sharapova on Sat at Wimbledon
Alison Riske, who formerly trained at Hilton Head Island's Van Der Meer Academy, has reached the third round of Wimbledon for the second year in a row.

Ranked 44th in the world, Riske has a chance for some good TV exposure on Saturday. ESPN's TV coverage begins at 8 a.m.

The 23-year-old Pennsylvania native faces fifth-seeded, fifth-ranked and 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova in the second match on Centre Court. Second-seeded Rafael Nadal takes on Mikhail Kukushkin in the first match on Centre Court.

Riske reached the third round with wins over Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (4-6, 7-5, 6-1) and Italian Camila Giorgi (7-5, 6-2).

Riske and her partner Madison Keys lost their doubles match Friday, falling 6-2, 6-2 to Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova.


(06/20/14)  UBITennis.com  JAMES BECK Wimbledon seeding gives Nadal a new purpose
(Link)
TENNIS WIMBLEDON – What’s up with the Wimbledon seeding group? Djokovic hasn’t won a Slam title since the 2013 Australian Open. Yet, Djokovic is the top seed at Wimbledon. But that might not be all bad for the Nadal camp. All Nadal usually needs is a purpose. By James Beck

Who has won three of the last five Grand Slam tournaments? And played in four of the last five Slam finals?

And who has won Wimbledon twice?

Not Novak Djokovic!

What’s up with the Wimbledon seeding group? Djokovic hasn’t won a Slam title since the 2013 Australian Open.

Yet, Djokovic is the top seed at Wimbledon.

But that might not be all bad for the Nadal camp. All Nadal usually needs is a purpose.

All Nadal Needs Is A Purpose

Nadal couldn’t win anything meaningful in the States, they contended a few years ago. Nadal won the U.S. Open in 2010 when he needed it to complete a career Grand Slam.

He was ready to complete an almost unheard of second career Grand Slam until his back got in the way in this year’s Australian Open final.

The Spanish left-hander even won Wimbledon that first time in 2008 when almost everyone — except a few such as yours truly — claimed Nadal couldn’t win except on red clay, and nothing important other than in Paris. And certainly not in London.

Rafa Tightened His Shoestrings In Beijing

Then there was all the talk about Olympic gold later that summer for all the others. Roger Federer needed it to complete his resume since at that time he didn’t own a French Open crown.

All Rafa did was tighten his shoestrings for the 2008 Beijing Olympics to bring home the gold. So much for the theory that he couldn’t win another big one on a hard surface.

Even last year at the U.S. Open, Nadal was once again written off. Still just a clay-courter.

No Chance To Win In New York Again?

Nadal certainly couldn’t last long enough in New York to tame Djokovic, most experts contended last summer.

The Spanish wonder ran roughshod over Djokovic at Flushing Meadows last September, then overwhelmed the Serbian in Paris the next time the two met with anything important on the line.

Until now, Nadal probably didn’t have a purpose for winning Wimbledon a third time, other than it would feel good and put him one step closer to reaching Federer’s Grand Slam total.

Nadal Has His Purpose For This Wimbledon

Still just a clay-courter, they think?

Well, Nadal might just show up at Wimbledon with another notch to punch on his gun belt. Forget about chasing Federer. Nadal just has to demonstrate once again to the world that this game of tennis has never seen a more versatile, more complete and more talented player. He has his purpose.


(06/19/14)  Shelby Rogers falls in Wimbledon qualifying
Charleston's Shelby Rogers fought to the end of Wimbledon qualifying on Thursday in London, but suffered a service break in the eighth game of the second set and fell to Poland's Paula Kania, 7-6 (12), 4-6, 6-3, in a grass-court battle of two 21-year-olds, both ranked in the 170s in the world.

The defeat for Rogers came after two victories in the qualifying tournament, and allowed Kania to advance into next week's main draw at Wimbledon where a first-round payoff of more than $46,000 is assured.

Rogers served for the first set twice in a tiebreaker, first at 6-5 after jumping off to a 5-3 lead in the tiebreaker. Kania finally prevailed on her sixth set point and 26th point of the tiebreaker.

Rogers quickly fell behind 4-1 in the second set, but the Daniel Island product came storming back to win five straight games to force a decisive third set.

In the third set, after a pair of long Rogers service games in which the American saved seven break points, Rogers was unable to fight off the first break point of the eighth game. Kania served out the match at 40-15.


(06/11/14)  Palmetto Christian Academy's Austin Heinz named Lowcountry tennis player of year
Tennis wasn't high on the list of priorities for Nancy and Gary Heinz when they moved into their new home on Daniel Island with their 5-year-old son, Austin, only a few months before the first Family Circle Cup arrived on the island.

The family attended the final of that initial Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island, and young Austin was quite inquisitive about the game being played by Martina Hingis and Jennifer Capriati that April Sunday in 2001.

It didn't take the family long to discover a passion for tennis as Austin started taking lessons at the I'On Club and quickly learned all about the new game.

Austin Heinz has never wavered in his commitment to the game. And Palmetto Christian Academy has been one of the primary beneficiaries of that commitment since he joined the school's tennis team as a sixth grader.

Four state championships and a tennis scholarship to Samford University later, Heinz is The Post and Courier's Lowcountry boys tennis player of the year for 2014. Heinz has been ranked as high as No. 1 in South Carolina and the South, and 27th nationally.

Heinz is joined on the All-Lowcountry team by former Pinewood Prep two-time All-Lowcountry Adam Elliget now of Summerville High School, and repeat selections Lukas Zalesky of Bishop England, and Seth Pinosky and Brant Fenno of Porter-Gaud. Wando seventh-grader Jacob Jahn is the lone first-timer on the team. Heinz, Zalesky and Pinosky are seniors, while Elliget is a junior and Fenno is an eighth-grader.

The coach of the year is Ronnie DuPre, who guided West Ashley to a 13-3 record and a runner-up finish in Region 7-AAAA. The Wildcats won only two matches in 2013.

In a time when many top junior tennis players are committed only to improving their skills while ignoring high school tennis, Heinz remained committed to the small private school in Mount Pleasant.

"I just stuck with Palmetto Christian and it paid off. It was a comfortable place for me," Heinz said. "Where I lived I could have gone to Wando. There are a lot of good things about PCA. For one thing, we were winning a bunch of state championships at the high school level, and the travel to state championships and playing that high level of tennis was one of the good things when I was younger."

Playing for longtime PCA coach and Family Circle pro Dewey Caulder was special for Heinz.

"Coach Caulder was a lot more than just a coach," Heinz said. "He taught me important lessons outside of tennis when I was younger."

Caulder had high praise for Heinz and what he has meant to the PCA tennis program.

"Austin never missed a match . . . he always wanted to play, no matter the level of the competition," Caulder said.

When the Family Circle Tennis Center opened and Fritz Nau moved in with his academy, Heinz switched to the world-class facility that is only about a mile from his home and where his mother currently serves as the membership director. His father is an ordained minister.

As Heinz looks forward to the next step in his tennis and academic life at Samford, he said, "For me as of right now, I want to immediately play in the top six ... I want to start in singles.

"I am going to get to come back to Charleston and play against some of the local teams, too."


(06/08/14)  MYRTLE BEACH SUN NEWS: Dayton takes his game, St. James tennis to new heights
As good as his serve or return game is, Jeffrey Dayton admits keeping himself motivated may be his best trait.
 
The St. James sophomore for the most part cruised through another regular season. All told, he has won 30 straight Region VII-AAA matches, a span that stretches back to March 13, 2012.
 
“When you’re winning, it’s easy to let up,” said Dayton, the two-time Toast of the Coast Boys Tennis Player of the Year. “You have to play the same way and keep up the intensity level.”
 
That may be easier said than done.
 
Outside of the ultra-competitive Class AAAA/AAA singles tournament – where Dayton has still won at least two matches in three of the last four seasons – he has made relatively quick work of most of his high school opponents.
 
This season alone, he won approximately half of his matches 6-0, 6-0. Out of the 154 total games he charted, he won 144 of them.
 
He was a lock for the Region VII-AAA Player of the Year honors again. And he earned a spot on the Class AAA All-State squad for the second consecutive season.
 
Dayton played more than six outside tournaments on weekends over the course of the high school season. But outside of missing two of the Sharks’ matches due to an injury, he keeps coming back.
 
That’s not always the norm for players of Dayton’s ability, in tennis or other sports.
 
“I’ve lost players due to club teams,” St. James coach Lee Cannon said. “I know it can happen at any moment. … I know it’s a special moment of time you’ll have him. I just know how much he enjoys it. He’s doing the same thing I am: He’s enjoying it.”
 
The winning has certainly helped him and his team.
 
The Sharks took advantage of an expanded playoff field by qualifying for the Class AAA team postseason for the first time in school history before losing 5-1 to Hilton Head.
 
That one win belonged to Dayton.
 
Despite the high number of wins, Cannon said his star player has plenty to prove. Further success in the individual tournament is ultimately the goal.
 
“He is not finished,” Cannon said. “As big of a success as you can be regionally, when you go to a state tournament, it’s another level. There’s room to improve.”


(06/07/14)  Fenno 'studies' way to another Belton title

Belton's Palmetto Championships once was the "must" event to play for every junior tournament player in the state. That's no longer the case. There's not even a "Belton Week" now, just a Belton weekend.

The long trip to the northwest corner of the state for the state's lone Southern qualifying event never did really seem practical. And now that Belton has moved in on "exam time" for many schools, especially private schools such as Porter-Gaud, there is no longer a real push to travel to Belton.

But Belton remains a top junior event, although it probably now plays second fiddle to the Family Circle Cup's Dunlop Junior.

Players still count Belton titles, especially if you're the only Charleston area junior to win a singles title. That's Brant Fenno, who spent most of Memorial Day weekend studying for his exams in an Anderson hotel room. The soon-to-be Porter-Gaud freshman managed to squeeze in five tennis matches that weekend, including a 6-4, 6-3 win over fellow Charleston player Coy Simon in Belton's boys 14 singles final.

Fenno now has three Belton singles crowns, including a 10-and-under in 2010 and a 12s in 2012. So, why not 14s in 2014?

He didn't play Belton last year due to the conflict with exams, and missed doubles this time (he won the 10s doubles four years ago) because of the exams.

No one else from the Charleston area managed to win a singles crown, although the area produced two other singles runners-up - Palmetto Christian's Luke Prendergast in boys 12 and 2013 Lowcountry girls player of the year Ann Martin Skelly of Porter-Gaud in 16-and-under.
Young faces update

Typical of the "Belton Fallout" was Jacob Jahn traveling with his father to Virginia Beach, Va., on Memorial Day weekend to compete as the top seed and finish as a quarterfinalist in a national boys 14 tournament, while his sister, Ali Jahn, played in Belton's 12-and-under draw.

As a 5-0, 100-pound seventh-grader at Mount Pleasant's Cario Middle School this school year while also starring for the Wando High School team, Jahn was a semifinalist in the SCHSL's Class AAAA-AA state singles tournament. He also is ranked third in the South. Ali Jahn was a sixth-grader at Cario Middle, but has concentrated more on volleyball even though she is ranked in the top 70 in the South in girls 12 tennis.

With young stars such as Fenno, Jacob Jahn, Prendergast and Skelly expected to be playing several more seasons, the future of local high school tennis appears to be bright.
Local notes

Shelby Rogers snapped her eight-match losing streak on Saturday while playing in the qualifying tournament for the $710,000 Aegon Classic grass-court event in Birmingham, England. Rogers posted a 6-4, 6-4 win over 255th-ranked Tara Moore of England to advance to Sunday's second round. Another win will send the 12th-seeded Rogers into the main draw.

Mount Pleasant Rec's 3.5 men, captained by Sam Derrick, and the Darcy Mason-captained 3.0 women from St. Andrew's were the only 18-plus teams to bring home state league tennis championships this spring. Four local teams finished as state runners-up: Christiane Jones' 3.5 women from Family Circle Tennis Center, Dave Williams' 4.5 men from Family Circle Tennis Center, Alice Kryder's 4.5 women from LTP Tennis and Amy White's 5.0 women.

Charleston Tennis Center's national championship women's 55-plus 7.0 team, captained by Elisabeth Pickelsimer and Beth Renken, will be honored prior to the Charleston Riverdogs' June 21 game.

Local junior Jonathan Edwards, who is bound for the University of Connecticut on a tennis grant, won the Malloy Evans Memorial Sportsmanship Award at Belton.

Daniel Island School, coached by David Deames, repeated as the overall winning team in this spring's Tri-County Elementary and Middle School League that was made up of 133 teams and more than 1,100 players. Harborview Elementary and Jennie Moore Elementary each had eight teams in the league, and Stiles Point Elementary had 70 children participating in the league.

League tennis' combo doubles season has opened registrations. Teams have through June 27 to form teams with a minimum number of three eligible pairings needed to fill all positions for a match.


(05/27/14)  STAFF REPORT: CofC's men's tennis team claims second-highest final ranking in program history
The College of Charleston men's tennis team claimed its second-highest final ITA ranking in program history on Tuesday, officially finishing the 2014 season as the No. 74-ranked team in the country.

"We had a young team with great leadership that showed up to compete every match," said College of Charleston men's head tennis coach Jay Bruner. "This is a good step for us to be recognized on the national scene in this way, and we know the work it takes to improve on this benchmark for future seasons. We are headed in the right direction as a program, and the team will continue to improve on this achievement over the next few years."

In their inaugural Colonial Athletic Association campaign, the Cougars were strong throughout. After taking three of their first six matches against some of the nation's elite talent, the Cougars rattled off 13 wins over their next 15 matches, climbing as high as No. 65 in the ITA rankings heading in to the conference tournament.

Getting their first taste of CAA Championship competition, the Cougars downed Delaware and William and Mary in the opening rounds to reach the championship match, where they eventually fell to the top-seeded Seahawks of UNC Wilmington.


(05/27/14)  Shelby Rogers loses first-round match at French Open
Shelby Rogers fought the odds hard, but the fifth game of each set did her in Tuesday in the first round of the French Open in Paris.

Russian left-hander Ekaterina Makarova broke Rogers' service in both of those games and maintained the upper hand each time to score a 6-2, 6-3 victory over the 21-year-old tennis pro from Daniel Island.

The veteran Makarova, ranked 23rd in the world, had her hands full with Rogers' big strokes and serves in splitting the first four games of each set. But eventually, the red clay of Roland Garros was far more friendlier to Makarova's big, but more consistent, groundstrokes.

This was an especially tough loss for Rogers from a rankings standpoint in that she was defending 100 WTA Tour points she had earned a year earlier while claiming her initial Grand Slam tournament win. Entering this French Open as a Grand Slam direct entry for the first time, Rogers is currently ranked 138th in the world after holding a career-high 109th ranking just two months ago.

In a nutshell, the fifth game of the first set turned the tide in Makarova's favor as she broke service in a deuce game, then held service easily in the next game for a 4-2 lead.

In the second set, Rogers fought back. After rallying from 15-40 to hold service in the three-deuce first game, she exchanged service breaks in the third and fourth games to even the set at 2-2 before once again yielding a service break in the fifth game.

In suffering an eighth straight loss, Rogers failed to produce an ace as the 25-year-old Makarova had 11 break points, and hit more winners and less unforced errors than Rogers.

Rogers now plans to remain in Europe to play the grass-court season and attempt to qualify for Wimbledon. She leaves Paris with $32,800 in earnings from the French Open.


(05/25/14)  Rogers earns direct entry into French Open
It hasn't been a great year for Shelby Rogers so far in terms of wins and losses. She has suffered seven straight defeats. All of that could change in a heartbeat.

The 21-year-old Daniel Island pro has achieved a milestone in her young career. She has earned her first direct entry into a Grand Slam tournament.

Currently ranked 130th in the world, 21 spots off her career-best from two months ago, Rogers has drawn Russia's hard-hitting Ekaterina Makarova in the first round of the French Open that starts Sunday.

The match isn't on Sunday's schedule and should be played either Monday or Tuesday.

Rogers notched her first Grand Slam tournament win a year ago in Paris after earning a wild card into the Roland Garros main draw.

She already has earned $32,800 for making the French Open main draw. A win over the 23rd-ranked Makarova would increase her payday to $57,500.

But Rogers hasn't tasted victory since a March 5 first-round win over Petra Cetkovska at Indian Wells. She lost in first-round qualifying at Strasbourg, France, last weekend.

Heinz picks Samford

Palmetto Christian Academy senior Austin Heinz will be honored with a celebration at Family Circle Tennis Center on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. after deciding to play college tennis for Southern Conference member Samford University of Birmingham, Ala. Heinz led Palmetto Christian to four SCISA Class A state tennis titles and two runner-up finishes, including this year in Class AA-A.

A two-time All-Lowcountry selection prior to spending the 2013 season on scholarship at Nick Bollettieri's Academy in Florida, Heinz has been ranked as high as 27th in the nation.

Zalesky runner-up

Lukas Zalesky ended his Bishop England tennis career in style with a runner-up finish last Tuesday in the SCHSL Class AA-A state singles tournament.

He dropped a third-set match tiebreaker against defending champion Paul Hendrix of state champion Waccamaw.

Noah Stiepel, the Bishops' No. 2 tennis player who qualified as a semifinalist in the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program, also completed his career successfully by capturing the Class AA-A third-place match.

After defeating Bishop England in the Lower State final, Waccamaw upended defending champion Christ Church, 5-2, in the Class AA-A state final last weekend. Spartanburg crushed 2013 champion South Aiken, 6-0, in the Class AAAA state final, while Hilton Head High won the Class AAA crown.

In SCISA, Hilton Head Prep defeated Hilton Head Christian in the AAA state final.

Local notes

Daniel Island's Connor Clements has been named honorable mention NAIA All-America. Clements helped Georgia Gwinnett win the NAIA national men's championship last weekend in Mobile, Ala., by winning No. 5 singles and No. 3 doubles in the championship match.

A 4.5 men's 40-plus team captained by Chuck Lee won a state title last weekend in Aiken, while Alice Kryder's 4.5 women also brought home a 40-plus state championship.


(05/21/14)  OBLIQUE MAGAZINE: Lilla Folsom: Brenda Carter – The Building of a Winner
How does a girl growing up in a sleepy southern town make it to the world sport’s stage without any formal instruction?  It’s purely a love of the game.

Brenda Carter grew up in the small town of Statesboro, Georgia. There were no organized sports to fill the lazy summer days of her youth. Her childhood was packed with sandlot ball games, playing on her older brother’s team. Baseball, basketball or football, the self-confessed tomboy loved every minute of it. Brenda thinks it was those long days playing ball on the sandlot that developed her finely tuned hand-eye coordination.

When Brenda was 10 or 11, a friend invited her to play tennis. She started by learning to keep score and found that she loved the game. She played on the town’s two asphalt courts for fun with her Keds and $6.95 racket, nothing organized or serious.

“I picked it from the sporting goods wall in the pharmacy. I still have that same racket with the electrical tape grip. The courts would get so hot, I was always having to replace my Keds, they would melt,” she said.

In high school she played both tennis and basketball.

“Our coach really didn’t know much about tennis. She would drive us to matches but that was about it,” said Carter.

Title IX programs did not exist yet when Carter moved onto college in the 1960s. Without the opportunity to play on an organized women’s team, tennis once again became a hobby.

After graduation, Carter married her husband Harry, and the couple moved to a new home near Balboa Park in San Diego. There, she and Harry saw real tennis for the first time. The area was a hotbed of professional and high-level junior events, and it was a real eye-opener for them. Every chance they had, the couple was at the court watching, learning and playing.

“It was a great beginning. We’d get pounded by all these good players and we’d band together and work on our games to get better and better,” she said. “It was out in California that I got my first formal instruction. I took a clinic, five lessons with a pro.”

She credits her husband’s love of the game and his encouragement with getting her to where she is today in the sport. No matter where they lived, the young couple would fit in a quick game whenever they could.  Brenda continued competition play throughout her career and raising children. Tennis was a healthy activity the family could share. Carter competed in tournaments throughout the south. Carter likes to compete at the highest levels in her age group and she does it well. She even grabbed a number-one southern ranking in the early 1980s.

Retiring and moving to Charleston gave Carter an opportunity for a second career and commit professionally to tennis. Now when she says she has to spend time at the office, her friends know to look for her on the court in one of her new business suits.


(5/20/14) SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Elliget finishes season with only two losses
Adam Elliget capped a terrific season with a third-place finish Tuesday at the AAAA-AAA State Singles Tournament.
 
The Summerville junior went 4-1 at the tournament and defeated Wando’s Jacob Jahn 6-2, 6-1 in his final match to claim third place. Elliget’s only loss of the tournament was to Dorman’s Wood Benton, who claimed his second consecutive state singles championship with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Spartanburg’s Spencer Brown in the finals.
 
“Adam played some great tennis over the two days and in my opinion proved he should have been the No. 2 seed,” Summerville coach David Long said. “Wood was the better player today, I just wish it would have been for the state championship rather than a semi-final. Wood showed everyone why he is going to USC with his conservative and unflappable style of play. I left the Cayce Tennis Center with the utmost respect for him.”
 
Elliget entered the tournament at the Cayce Tennis Center as the No. 5 seed. In the first round, he defeated Emerald’s Kittanon Nanakhon 6-1, 6-0. He then defeated Spring Valley’s Blake McGuirt 7-6(5), 6-0.
 
Elliget defeated Jeffery Dayton of St. James 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals to advance and face Benton, his friend since age 8 and current USTA doubles partner. Benton brought his A Game and defeated Elliget 6-0, 6-3. Long said Elliget got off to a slow start and Benton’s flawless and smart play neutralized Elliget’s big serve, heavy groundstrokes, and net game.
 
Elliget had extra motivation for the third-place match because it was Jahn who handed him his only loss of the regular season. Including the team playoffs, Elliget had an 18-1 record.
 
One of the wins was over Jahn, but the Wando eighth-grader avenged the loss just before the playoffs. “Jacob Jahn showed me a lot this season,” Long said. “Adam ran him off the court at Wando but after that match the kid got up at 5 a.m. every day to prepare for the rematch and the hard work paid off when he upset Adam. Jacob played great at Cayce and beat some very accomplished players en route to a fourth-place finish among our state’s best players.”
 
For Elliget, the third-place finish at the singles tournament is one of many highlights from his junior season.
 
Elliget’s 22 successful outings this year include quality wins over the top players from East Chapel Hill (NC), Raleigh Millbrook (NC), Wilmington Laney (NC), Beaufort, Bishop England, Bluffton, Porter-Gaud, Ashley Ridge, Fort Dorchester, Wando, Lugoff-Elgin, West Florence and South Aiken. With the junior’s help, Summerville advanced to the quarter-finals of the team playoffs.
 
“The addition of Adam was good for our returning players and for him,” Long said. “He lead our team on a deep playoff run and he matured during the year as a leader and as a player. I look forward to having him back next year as we try to continue to build a consistent tennis program here at Summerville.”


(05/20/14)  PREP ZONE: Summerville's Adam Elliget finishes third in AAAA tennis championships
COLUMBIA -- Summerville High School's Adam Elliget topped Wando's Jacob Jahn, 6-2, 6-1, to win the third-place match in the Class AAAA-AAA state tennis tournament Tuesday at the Cayce Tennis Center.
 
Dorman's Wood Benton, a South Carolina signee, defeated Spartanburg's Spencer Brown, 6-0, 6-1, to claim the state singles title.


(05/20/14)  PREP ZONE: Summerville's Adam Elliget finishes third in AAAA tennis championships
COLUMBIA -- Summerville High School's Adam Elliget topped Wando's Jacob Jahn, 6-2, 6-1, to win the third-place match in the Class AAAA-AAA state tennis tournament Tuesday at the Cayce Tennis Center.
 
Dorman's Wood Benton, a South Carolina signee, defeated Spartanburg's Spencer Brown, 6-0, 6-1, to claim the state singles title.

(05/19/14)  PREP ZONE: Summerville's Adam Elliget, Wando's Jacob Jahn advance in state singles tennis tournament
COLUMBIA -- Adam Elliget of Summerville and Jacob Jahn of Wando advanced to the semifinals of the Class AAAA-AAA state singles tournament in boys tennis Monday at the Cayce Tennis Center.

Elliget, the fifth seed, will take on No. 1 Wood Benton of Dorman in the semifinals at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Jahn, the No. 6 seed, will play No. 2 Spencer Brown of Spartanburg in the other semi.

The championship match is set for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Elliget took wins over Emerald's Kittanon Nanakhon (6-1, 6-0), Spring Valley's Blake McGuirt (7-6, 7-0) and Jeffrey Dayton of St. James (6-3, 6-1) to make the semifinals. Jahn took three-set wins over Stephan Zotovic of Aiken and Jeffrey Price of Airport before a 6-2, 6-3 win over Socastee's Britton Bellamy in the quarterfinals.

Wando's Andrew DaCosta lost to Patrick Tobacco of Dorman by 6-3, 6-2 in the first round.


(05/15/14)  Waccamaw knocks off Bishops
MOUNT PLEASANT — Bishop England had the perfect lineup ready for archrival Waccamaw. But then Paul Hendrix showed up for Wednesday’s SCHSL Class AA-A boys tennis Lower State final. All the plans for the Bishops fell apart as the Waccamaw freshman star’s insertion into the No. 1 singles slot pushed everyone down a notch. And the perfect matchup was off as Waccamaw (12-5) cruised to a 4-1 win over the Bishops (13-3) at Creekside Tennis and Swim.

It marked the 12th consecutive year that the Pawleys Island school ended Bishop England’s season in the state playoffs.

The two teams split a pair of regular season matches in which Class AA-A singles champion Hendrix didn’t participate.

But the one time when the entire season was on the line, Hendrix played his only match of the season for the Warriors.

“That’s the first time he (Hendrix) has played all season,” first-year Waccamaw coach Lynn Hunt confirmed.

Hendrix was too consistent for the Bishops’ Lukas Zalesky, posting a 6-1, 6-2 victory at No. 1 over the hard-hitting senior who was forced into too many errors. That set up a domino effect that was broken only at No. 2 singles where BE senior Noah Stiepel outlasted everyone on the courts, including Waccamaw junior Justin Dunn.

With all of the other singles matches going to Waccamaw in straight sets, Stiepel was the last man standing in a 6-4, 3-6, 10-6 win over Dunn. But Waccamaw senior Joey Hewes had just finished off a 6-2, 7-5 victory over BE junior Jeffrey Jones at No. 3 singles that canceled out any plans for doubles and clinched the Warriors’ berth in Saturday’s state final.

“We played extremely well,” second-year BE coach Kristin Fleming said. “It was a hard-fought match, and we just came up short. They’re a good team.

“I knew Paul (Hendrix) would play, and that changed the dynamic of the match. Lukas and Noah had each gone 2-0 against them in the regular season.”

WACCAMAW 4, BISHOP ENGLAND 1
SINGLES: Paul Hendrix (W) def. Lukas Zalesky, 6-1, 6-2; Noah Stiepel (BE) def. Justin Dunn, 6-4, 3-6, 10-6; Joey Hewes (W) def. Jeffrey Jones, 6-2, 7-5; Ben Hewes (W) def. Jake Meyer, 6-3, 6-3; Jaz Greene (W) def. Thomas Sottile, 6-1, 6-0.


(05/13/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Green Wave hands West Florence its first loss
The Green Wave boys’ tennis team advanced to the third round of the Class AAAA playoffs before being eliminated by the defending state champs.

Summerville earned a 4-1 win over West Florence Thursday.

Adam Elliget won the No.1 singles match in 22 minutes followed by Walker Long who also didn’t dillydally in notching a win.

Then West Florence got on the board when Mason McLamb beat Jack Hazel at No. 5.

The remaining singles matches were very competitive.

Up two courts to one, No. 2 Green Wave player Adam Seith rallied from being down in the second set by winning straight sets.

Down a set on the No. 4 court, Brandon Sekula won his second set and then fought off four match points in a 10-point tiebreaker to win 11-9 over senior team captain Billy Holland. Sekula won the last six points to clinch the match 4-1.

“We played really well today and beat a very good team that was previously undefeated at 18-0,” Summerville coach David Long said. “My hat is off to the West Florence team. What a season. They fought hard today, especially Holland, and they are a classy bunch of kids.”

On Monday defending 4A state champion South Aiken (16-0) turned the tables on the Green Wave (13-8), earning a 4-1 win on its home court. This season marks the second straight year South Aiken has eliminated Summerville from the playoffs.

South Aiken earned a victory to eliminate Summerville for the second straight year.

The South Aiken depth proved too much as the tea won courts 2,4 and 5 quickly.

The Green Wave responded with Elliget gaining control in the No. 1 match and winning the first-set tiebreaker 7-1 and the second set 6-1. The junior will compete in the 4A singles tournament this week.

Long lasted 30 minutes trying to force the doubles but couldn’t close out the second set up 5-4.

Summerville’s coach said he is proud of his team, which made strides throughout the season.

“We knew we in for a fight and the better team won today,” Coach Long said. “I have a lot of respect for South Aiken's coach. My kids played well but it wasn’t enough.”

Summerville losses four seniors to graduation this year.

“It is very difficult to see the careers end for the seniors who have a combined 21 years of experience,” Coach Long said. “We lose a lot but we also return some quality players and we have some eighth graders who have worked hard all year in practice and they can’t wait to earn their spots the lineup. We will take a little time off and get back to work and try to build on the success of this year’s team. The goal is to build a consistent program and this is another good step in that direction.”

SUMMERVILLE 4, WEST FLORENCE 1
Singles: Elliget d. Grich 6-0, 6-1. Seith d. King 7-5, 6-4. Long d. Hiller 6-0, 6-1. Sekula d. Holland 5-7, 7-5, 11-9. McLamb (WF) d. Hazel 6-2, 6-2.

South Aiken 4 Summerville 1 (4A Lower State Semi-finals)
Adam Elliget (S) d. Stefan Zotovic 7-6(1) 6-1, Preston Tiffany (SA) d. Adam Seith 6-2 6-1, Petar Zotovic (SA) d. Walker Long 6-2 7-5, Johnny Bowman (SA) d. Brandon Sekula 6-1 6-2, Marco Zotovic (SA) d. Jack Hazel 6-0 6-1. Records Summerville 13-8, South Aiken 16-0.

Next Summerville season over, South Aiken home Vs. Lexington Wednesday 4A Lower State Final.


(05/11/14)  Will this be year Bishops put end to Waccamaw streak?
Will this be the year Bishop England finally ends Waccamaw’s dominance of the Bishops in the High School League’s Class A-AA boys tennis state playoffs? The Bishops’ last 11 seasons have ended with losses to Waccamaw in the playoffs. The two teams are on schedule to meet again in the Lower State final, with only a second-round meeting on Monday with visiting Dillon standing in the Bishops’ way and Academic Magnet in host Waccamaw’s path the same day.

The one thing in Bishop England’s favor is the Lower State seeding. The Bishops are the top seed, with Waccamaw second. That means Wednesday’s projected BE/Waccamaw Lower State final would be played on the Bishops’ home courts.

The two teams split a pair of 4-2 regular season decisions, but the bad news is that Waccamaw super freshman Paul Hendrix didn’t play either time. Hendrix is the defending SCHSL Class A-AA singles champion.

In BE’s 4-2 loss at Waccamaw on Monday, the Bishops’ Lukas Zalesky and Noak Stiepel took advantage of the absence of Hendrix to sweep Nos. 1 and 2 singles for the Bishops’ only wins.

A year ago, Waccamaw prevailed, 5-0, in the Lower state final.

“We’ve got a good shot in the playoffs,” BE coach Kristin Fleming said. “We’re deeper than last year.”

Warriors, Wave alive

Wando and Summerville could meet in the Class AAAA Lower State final on Wednesday at Wando. But both teams have their work cut out for them in Monday’s third-round matchups since Summerville (13-7) will play at defending state champion South Aiken, while Wando (17-2) will serve as host to perennial power Lexington.

Wando swept a pair of 4-2 decisions over Summerville in the regular season. The wins included a split by Wando seventh-grader Jacob Jahn in two matches against former two-time All-Lowcountry star Adam Elliget, who joined the Summerville program this school year. Wando’s only losses this season have been to Bishop England and Porter-Gaud.

“Monday, we will see how we stack up against the lower state favorite (South Aiken),” Summerville coach David Long said. “This is where I hope our difficult schedule and hard work in practice pays off.”

Notes

Three Charleston teams won state titles in the recent 55-and-over league tennis state championships at Hilton Head Island: the 4.0 men from LTP Tennis captained by Jim Butler, the 3.5 men from Family Circle Tennis Center captained by Bob Peiffer, and the 3.5 women from Charleston Tennis Center. Non-playing captains Elisabeth Pickelsimer and Beth Renken captained the 3.5 women’s state champions a week after directing their team to a national 7.0 (3.5) championship in Surprise, Ariz. Karen Farrell, Carol Poole and Lynda Wall were key players in both championships, and Renken starred in Arizona.

Former Family Circle Tennis Center pro Joann Lee has moved in at Mount Pleasant’s Creekside Tennis and Swim as its tennis director. Lee is scheduled to go to Atlanta later this month to receive an award as the 2014 Southern winner of the U.S. Pro Tennis Association’s 10-and-under pro of the year.

Charleston’s Diane Barker led the U.S. women’s 55 team to the ITF Seniors world team championship recently in South Florida. It marked the Americans’ eighth straight Maureen Connolly Cup championship. World’s fifth-ranked Barker also was runner-up in the women’s 55 individual competition the next week, suffering a three-set loss in the final.

Tennis Resorts Online has selected Kiawah Island as the world’s No. 2 tennis resort, and Wild Dunes as the fourth-best tennis resort in the world. Omni Amelia Island (Fla.) Plantation Resort, where famed tennis broadcaster Cliff Drysdale’s company manages 23 clay courts, has replaced Kiawah in the top spot.


(05/08/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Green Wave casts Demons from the playoffs
An old bet could mean a new hairdo for a former Green Wave coach.

Marquel Collins-Gray was the head coach for the Summerville High School tennis program up until this school year when he turned the reigns over to David Long. Naturally he continues to root for the athletes he developed bonds with over the years and even comes out to matches every now and then to show his support. He is particularly interested in how the Green Wave boys fare during the 2014 playoffs because he has a standing bet with the seniors on the team; if they lead Summerville to a state championship, he has to grow an Afro.

The seniors took the first step toward winning that bet Tuesday when they led the Green Wave to a 5-0 victory over Lugoff-Elgin in the opening round of the Class AAAA tennis playoffs. The Green Wave (12-7) advanced to face West Florence Thursday after press time.

If Summerville won the second-round match, it will travel to either South Aiken or Bluffton Monday needing only three wins to claim a state championship.

“We are trying to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since a 2010 loss to eventual Lower State champion Lexington,” Long said. “We have been playing well as of late and hope the very competitive regular season schedule has prepared us for the level of competition we will see in the playoffs. This team has worked very hard all year and bought into what we have tried to teach them in practice. We have four seniors with a combined 21 years of high school experience along with a pair year-round tournament players and a relative newcomer that have come together as a team with a common goal.”

It has been a strong season for the Green Wave team, which has been led by Adam Elliget (16-1 in singles play), Walker Long (16-3) and Brandon Sekula (15-4).

“I am fortunate to be in this situation coaching these kids,” Long said. “Marquel Collins-Gray brought most of these kids to where they are now and this year I have a great assistant coach in Jimmy Elliget who has been a big asset in developing the talent we have. This is the fun part of the season, win or go home, you got to love that. If you don’t embrace the higher stakes then your season will likely end quickly.”

Summerville 5 Lugoff-Elgin 0
Adam Elliget d. Hunter Horton 6-2 6-0, Adam Seith d. Hunter Johnson 6-2 6-4, Walker Long d. Nathan Tyson 6-1 6-0, Brandon Sekula d. Justin Tillman 6-0 7-5, Jack Hazel d. James Carraway 6-0 6-2
Records: Summerville 12-7, Lugoff-Elgin 9-8


(05/07/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
SUMMERVILLE 5, LUGOFF-ELGIN 0
Singles: Elliget (S) d. Horton 6-2, 6-0; Seith (S). d Johnson 6-2, 6-4; Long (S). d. Tyson 6-1, 6-0; Sekula (S) d. Tillman 6-0, 7-5; Hazel (S) d. Carraway 6-0, 6-2. Records: Summerville 12-7, Lugoff-Elgin 9-8. Notes: Summerville trying to reach quarterfinals for first time since 2010. Next: Summerville at Aiken/West Florence winner Thursday.

WANDO 6, ASHLEY RIDGE 0
Singles: Jahn d. Parvey 6-0, 6-0; DaCosta d. Marshall 6-1, 6-1; Weston d. Ackerman 6-1, 6-3; Lopresti d. Rabon 6-1, 6-1; Winglosky d. Zeng 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: McSheehy/Cox d. Kackley/Nixson 6-0, 6-0.
Next: Wando hosts Dutch Fork Thursday.

BLUFFTON 4, WEST ASHLEY 2
Singles: T. Anastopoulo (WA) d. Newland 6-3, 4-6, 10-6. Ropp (WA) d. Snyder 6-1, 7-6. Rosenblum d. S. Anastopoulo 6-4, 6-2. Thiloxene d. Shirley 6-2, 6-0. Bornstein d. Gunn 6-1, 6-1.  Doubles: Story/Ball d. Wise/Germain 6-0, 6-0.
Records: West Ashley 13-3. Bluffton 14-3. Next: Bluffton at South Aiken Thursday.


(05/06/14)  West Ashley, Wando open boys tennis playoffs
West Ashley has gone from the bottom of Region 7-AAAA boys tennis to nearly the top. The Wildcats (13-2) have climbed to a No. 2 seeding as the state playoffs are set to open on Tuesday.
 
Coach Ronnie Dupre's West Ashley team, which suffered both of its losses to 7-AAAA champion Wando, will open the playoffs at home against dangerous Bluffton of Region 8-AAAA.
 
Meanwhile, Wando is a top seed and will play host to No. 4 seed Ashley Ridge in the first round. The Warriors have become a serious challenger in the Lower State playoffs with outstanding young newcomer Jacob Jahn joining forces with junior Andrew DaCosta to give Wando a strong 1-2 punch.
 
West Ashley is led by Ted and Stratas Anastopoulo, the sons of College of Charleston women's coach Angelo Anastopoulo. Ted is a junior and plays No. 1 singles and doubles, while little brother Stratas holds down the third spot in singles as an eighth-grader.
 
"Ted is a grinder. He competes as well as anyone I've ever been around," Dupre said.
 
Former No. 1 Lee Ropp is back for his senior season after being away from West Ashley the last three seasons. He plays No. 2 for the Wildcats.
 
Bluffton is a No. 3 seed. "It's a tough first-round match. They are solid 1-through-7," Dupre said.
 
The West Ashley-Bluffton winner is projected to play at defending state champion South Aiken on Thursday.
 
Region 8-AAAA runner-up Summerville, led by former two-time All-Lowcountry ace Adam Elliget, has a home match Tuesday against No. 3 seed Lugoff-Elgin, while 7-AAAA third seed Stratford travels to 8-AAAA champion Beaufort.
 
The Class AA playoffs are scheduled to start on Thursday with archrivals Bishop England and Waccamaw expected to be the top two seeds in the Lower State.
 
 
(05/05/14)  Palmetto Christian boys fall to Spartanburg Day, 6-2, in SCISA Class A-AA tennis championship
Defending champion Spartanburg Day ended Palmetto Christian Academy's hopes of returning to the pinnacle of SCISA Class A-AA boys tennis Monday evening at the Cayce Tennis Center by scoring a 6-2 win over the Eagles in the state championship match.
 
Senior Austin Heinz and sixth-grader Luke Prendergast were the only victors for the Eagles from Mount Pleasant as they took the top two singles positions to send PCA into doubles down 4-2, but still with a chance to win a sixth state title in seven years.
 
Heinz, a two-time All-Lowcountry selection before missing last season while training at Nick Bollettieri's Academy in Florida, rolled to a 6-0, 6-0 win over Anders Ike at No. 1 singles, while Prendergast edged Matthew Poliokoff, 7-5, 6-4, at No. 2.
 
Spartanburg Day claimed the other four singles in straight sets.
 
Palmetto Christian coach Dewey Caulder split his top two guns (Heinz and Prendergast) for doubles, but the strategy couldn't save the Eagles (6-6) from a second straight state final loss to Spartanburg Day.
 
"I could not have asked for a better effort from our team," Caulder said. "Austin and Luke gave us a chance going into the doubles. We tried to pair up in a way that we could sweep but fell short.
 
"Some of our guys played before more people than they ever have. It was a great experience and should benefit us in the future. I could not be more proud of our kids."
 
SPARTANBURG DAY, 6, PALMETTO CHRISTIAN 2
SINGLES: Austin Heinz (PCA) def. Anders Ike, 6-0, 6-0; Luke Prendergast (PCA) def. Matthew Poliokoff, 7-5, 6-4; Connor Smith (SD) def. Trey Goolsby, 6-2, 6-0; Bryson Nagor (SD) def. Brandon Kassouf, 6-4, 6-0; Rollins Turner (SD) def. Michael Pernell, 6-0, 6-2; Rhett Foust (SD) def. P.J. Noce, 6-2, 7-5.  DOUBLES: Ike/Poliokoff (SD) def. Heinz/Noce, 6-4, 6-3; Turner/Smith (SD) def. Prendergast/Pernell, 6-3, 6-3; Nagor/Foust (SD) lead Goolsby/Kassouf, 7-6, 0-1.


(05/05/14) PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis

WACCAMAW 4, BISHOP ENGLAND 2.
Singles: Zalesky (BE) d. Dunn 6-1, 7-5; Stiepel (BE) d. J. Hewes 5-7, 6-2, 10-8; B. Hewes (W) d. Knot 6-3, 6-2; Green (W) d. Privett 7-6(2) 4-6, 10-7; Mushock (W) d. J. Meyer 4-6, 7-5, 10-8.  Doubles: Brinson/Tudor (W. d. Ranson/Warren 6-4. 6-2.
Records: Bishop England 12-2. Next: Playoffs on Thursday.


(05/03/14)  Palmetto Christian boys to play for state tennis title
Powered by the return of two-time All-Lowcountry senior Austin Heinz and the arrival of sixth-grader Luke Prendergast, Palmetto Christian Academy (6-5) is headed to the SCISA Class A-AA boys tennis state championship match after dealing Myrtle Beach Christian Academy a 7-2 loss Friday afternoon at Family Circle Tennis Center.

The state final will be played Monday against defending champion Spartanburg Day at 4 p.m. at the Cayce Tennis Center in Columbia. Spartanburg Day dethroned the Eagles in last year's state final while Heinz was training at Nick Bollettieri's Academy in Florida.

"They (Spartanburg) have a good team," veteran PCA coach Dewey Caulder said. "Everyone will have to step up. But I feel really good about the top two positions. Monday will be Austin's last match and it will be Luke's first final.

"Austin has been playing since sixth grade minus last year. It would be good to see him go out with a sixth state championship (seven total for the boys program) in his senior year. He has meant a lot to the PCA tennis program and will make some college coach/program that much more happy and successful."

Both Heinz and Prendergast scored easy victories in Friday's state semifinals as the Eagles won the top three singles matches and wrapped up the trip to the state final by taking five of the six singles.

PALMETTO CHRISTIAN 7,CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 2
Singles: Austin Heinz (PCA) def. Allen Butler, 6-0, 6-0; Luke Prendergast (PCA) def. Ian McCauley, 6-2, 6-0; Trey Goolsby (PCA) def. Jason DiGeronimo, 3-6, 6-2, 10-8; Tyler Underwood (MBC) def. Brandon Kassouf, 6-4, 6-4; Michael Pernell (PCA) def. Brandon MacDonald, 6-4, 6-4; P.J. Noce (PCA) def. Paul Game, 6-4, 6-3.  Doubles: Butler/McCauley (MBC) def. Goolsby/Kassouf, 8-1; Prendergast/Noce (PCA) def. DiGeronimo/Underwood, 8-0; Pernell/Matthew Bottone (PCA) def. MacDonald/Game, 8-3.


(05/03/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
JAMES ISLAND 4, BERKELEY 3
Singles: Wright d. Fleming 6-2, 6-4. Bridges d. Brown 6-3, 6-1. Sechrist d. S. Giannelli 6-2, 6-3. Marsch (B) d. Bailey 4-6, 6-2, 10-2. J. Giannelli (B) d. Lomano 6-3, 7-5.  Doubles: Sechrist/Bridges d. Fleming/Marsch 6-4, 6-2. Livingston/Hamilton (B) d. Wright/Maxwell 7-6, 7-4, 6-1.
Records: James Island 8-7 (4-2). Next: James Island and Berkeley in playoffs.


(05/02/14)  GOOSE CREEK GAZETTE: Knights blank rivals on court
The Stratford boys tennis team enters the postseason on a high note.

The Knights (8-6, 4-4 Region 7-AAAA) blanked Goose Creek 7-0 in a region match on Thursday.

They are slated to travel to Beaufort for the opening round of the Class AAAA playoffs on Tuesday.

Against Goose Creek, the Knights dropped just a total of 18 games.

Dylan Sides (2,1), Griffin Wong (0,1), Jeffrey Wong (0,2), Garett Sides (4,1) and Parker Hoffman (2,1) all won singles matches for Stratford.

Sides and Griffin Wong won at No. 1 doubles (1,0), while Jordan Smith and Anthony Yeung won (2,1) at No. 2 doubles.

The win gave Stratford a season sweep of Goose Creek. The Knights also won 7-0 in April.

Stratford has no seniors so the entire squad can return next spring.


(05/02/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Green Wave boys’ claim runner-up honors
The Green Wave boys’ tennis team wasn’t able to grab the region crown, but should enter the playoffs with its head held high.

Summerville won its final two games of the season this week to improve to 8-2 in Region 8-AAAA but Beaufort beat Bluffton 4-3 Tuesday to move to 9-1 and clinch the region championship.

The Eagles will host the No. 4 seed from Region 7-AAAA in the first round of the playoffs May 6. Summerville finishes as the Region 8 runner-up and will host the No. 3 seed from Region 4-AAAA, which will likely be Lugoff-Elgin. Bluffton finishes third in Region 8 and Ashley Ridge finishes fourth and will travel to the winner of Region 7, likely Wando, for the first round.

“Our regular season is over and we have a week to prepare for the playoffs,” Summerville coach David Long said. “We are very disappointed we did not get at least a share of the region crown and that stings quite a bit. Hats off to Beaufort who went out and earned the region title.”

Summerville does still have things to be proud of this season. Had Bluffton won Tuesday Summerville would have been the region’s top seed in the playoffs. The Wave split with both Beaufort and Bluffton this year and was fairly dominant in its other region matches. Summerville finishes its schedule with an 11-7 record after facing such non-region teams as Porter-Gaud, Bishop England and Wando.

Green Wave No. 1 singles player Adam Elliget didn’t lose a single set this season until April 23 when he lost a highly contested match to Wando’s Jacob Jahn, who Elliget had previously defeated in straight sets. Elliget will enter the playoffs with a 14-1 record.

Long is hoping his team will finish the year in style.

“We have a lot of talent and experience on this team and we have had some success this season against a very difficult schedule but the fact remains we have fallen short of our goals to this point,” He said. “We certainly should be very motivated to do well in the playoffs.”

Summerville is currently on a two-game winning streak after defeating Colleton County 7-0 Monday and Fort Dorchester 5-1 Tuesday.

Boys’ Tennis Results

Summerville 5, Fort Dorchester 1
SINGLES: Tommy McManus (FD) d. Adam Seith 6-4 7-6(5), Walker Long (S) d. Spence Howell 6-0 6-0, Brandon Sekula (S) d. Andrew Samuels 6-1 6-0, Austin Wiseman (S) d. Quincy Moorer 6-0 6-0, Jack Hazel (S) d. Cam Arnold 6-0 6-0, DOUBLES: Taylor Reynolds/Stephen Wills (S) d. J Segundo/Z Segundo 6-0 6-0.

Summerville 7, Colleton County 0
SINGLES: Adam Seith d. Kenny Johnson 6-0 6-0, Walker Long d. Charles Bailey 6-1 6-0, Jack Hazel d. Thomas Warren 6-0 6-1, Stephen Wills d. Matthew Crosby 6-0 6-1, Taylor Reynolds d. Nick Fanchette 6-0 6-0 DOUBLES: Wills/Reynolds d. Johnson/Bailey 8-6, Dennison Yangco/Chris Edwards d. Tiger Barnes/Joseph Sanders 6-0 6-0.


(04/30/14)  Hilton Head Christian knocks out Porter-Gaud in semifinals
As first-year Porter-Gaud boys tennis coach Jonathan Barth said Wednesday afternoon, "It was a tough day at the office."

Things just didn't fall into place for the two-time defending SCISA Class AAA state champion Cyclones on their home courts. Hilton Head Christian (5-6) won the key matchups and scored a 5-4 victory over Porter-Gaud (10-2) in the state semifinals, ending the Cyclones' string of five straight appearances in the title match.

The match had three key events that all went against the Cyclones: freshman Malone Vingi couldn't close on a 7-3 third-set match tiebreaker advantage at No. 4 singles as the two teams split the six singles; eighth-grader Brant Fenno suffered his first singles loss of the season, and to a player the Porter-Gaud No. 2 had beaten in the regular season; and senior Foster Moe, the two-time SCISA Open doubles champion (with Cross Tolliver), was unavailable, leaving the Cyclones undermanned in doubles.

Hilton Head Christian had all-everything senior Hampton Drake on its side, which was probably the biggest advantage for the third-seeded visitors. Clemson-bound Drake claimed a 6-1, 6-1 win over Porter-Gaud senior Seth Pinosky at No. 1 singles, and then served the decisive game to finish off a 6-4, 6-4 victory at No. 1 doubles over Fenno and sophomore Tolliver that clinched the Eagles' second trip to the state final in three years.

What Drake didn't take care of, brothers Ben and Alex Likens did as the trio won all three singles points and was in on the two doubles points.

Still up 8-6 after a couple of errors, the big-hitting Vingi double-faulted on three of his last four service points, including at match point in a 4-6, 6-2, 12-10 loss to backboard-like eighth-grader Alex Likens. Senior Ben Likens outplayed Fenno for a 6-2, 6-4 victory in a battle of left-handers, as well as teamed with Drake at No. 1 doubles.

Tolliver won at No. 3 singles for Porter-Gaud, and eighth-grader Connor Craigie and freshman Jack Kammerer won at Nos. 5 and 6 singles. But without Moe available, Hilton Head Christian was too strong in doubles for the Cyclones.

HILTON HEAD CHRISTIAN 5, PORTER-GAUD 4
Singles: Hampton Drake (HHC) def. Seth Pinosky, 6-1, 6-1; Ben Likens (HHC) def. Brant Fenno, 6-2, 6-4; Cross Tolliver (PG) def. Cameron Clark, 7-6, 6-0; Alex Likens (HHC) def. Malone Vingi, 4-6, 6-2, 12-10; Connor Craigie (PG) def. John Zeigler, 2-6, 6-2, 10-7; Jack Kammerer (PG) def. Walker Wood, 6-1, 6-2.  Doubles: Drake/B. Likens (HHC) def. Fenno/Tolliver, 6-4, 6-4; Pinosky/Vingi (PG) def. Clark/Zeigler, 6-2, 6-3; Wood/A. Likens (HHC) def. Craigie/Kammerer, 6-2, 6-2.

Class A-AA boys

Palmetto Christian Academy (5-5) and Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach were rained out Wednesday afternoon at Family Circle Tennis Center in a SCISA Class A-AA boys tennis state semifinal match. The match has been rescheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m. at Family Circle Tennis Center.


(04/28/14)  Porter-Gaud boys begin tennis title quest Monday
It’s the same old story in SCISA Class AAA state boys tennis. Two-time defending state champion Porter-Gaud and perennial powerhouse Hilton Head Prep are heavy favorites to square off in Friday’s state championship match. But first, the preliminaries must be played out on Monday and Wednesday.

Coach Jonathan Barth’s young and talented Porter-Gaud team (9-1) will open the playoffs Monday afternoon at its home courts on Albemarle Road against Columbia’s Cardinal Newman (5-6), the fourth seed in the lower bracket. Upper bracket top seed Hilton Head Prep (9-2) plays host to Ben Lippen in the first round.

A win on Monday would send lower bracket top seed Porter-Gaud into Wednesday’s semifinals at home against the winner of a match pitting second seed Hammond School against No. 3 Hilton Head Christian.

Region III rivals Porter-Gaud and Hilton Head Prep have squared off in five of the last six state finals, including 2013. The Cyclones have won 14 of the last 19 state titles.

To show how close these two programs are, Porter-Gaud and Prep split a pair of 6-3 results during the regular season.

This is Barth’s first venture into the playoffs as the Cyclones’ head coach after moving up to take over the top job when longtime coach Tom Higgins retired in 2013.

“Hilton Head Prep and the others have strong teams, but we have another strong team. We can do it,” is the way Porter-Gaud No. 1 Seth Pinosky sees the playoffs. “I’m excited about the playoffs . . . it’s my last year.”

This is Pinosky’s sixth time in the state playoffs. The 2013 All-Lowcountry player has played on three state championship teams.

In the Class A-AA playoffs that also start Monday, upper bracket top seed Palmetto Christian (4-5) will play a 3:30 p.m. match at Family Circle Tennis Center against fourth seed St. Andrew’s of Savannah. Former All-Lowcountry star Austin Heinz has returned to Palmetto Christian this spring after spending last season at Nick Bollettieri’s Academy in Florida.


(04/28/14)  Charleston team wins national title
he Charleston Tennis Center’s Playrights were crowned USTA league tennis’ 2013 women’s 55 national 7.0 champions Sunday in Surprise, Ariz. The Playrights, captained by Elisabeth Pickelsimer, definitely were a team of destiny. They had to win an appeal last spring to get into the state 3.5 playoffs as the LCTA’s second-place team, captured the state championship, and then won a coin flip to advance from the Southerns to the nationals in Arizona.

And after they had won the national championship on Sunday with 3-0 victory over a team from Pennington, N.J., the USTA entered their scores backward. For about an hour, the USTA’s TennisLink website had them listed as national runners-up.

But the nine Playwrights who made the trip to the nationals weren’t worried when someone advised them that the website listed them as losers in the championship match. The Playrights already had their national championship banner, photos and individual national championship glass tennis balls.

“I don’t know how I feel about being national champions,” said team co-captain Beth Renken, who teamed with Mary Ann Borysowicz in all five national playoff matches. “It will take a while for it to sink in. But we’re excited about it.”

It might be Monday about 7 p.m. when it finally sinks in that they are national champions. That’s when the Playrights are scheduled to land in Charleston. But these ladies will be flying pretty high even before the airplane takes off.

The teams of Renken/ Borysowicz, Anya Optis Park/Carol Poole and Lynda Wall/Karen Farrell all swept their championship matches in straight sets. Pickelsimer, Joy MacLean and Debbie Sisco were the other three members of the Playrights to make the trip to Arizona.

After finishing in a three-way tie for first place with 2-1 records in their flight on Saturday, the Playrights advanced to Sunday’s 7 a.m. semifinals by virtue of having the most individual wins. The Charleston team scored a 2-1 win over Austin, Texas, in the national semifinals.


(04/27/14)  Family Circle losing Schloss to Billie Jean King partnership
Lenny Schloss is taking his Eye Coach technique into a partnership with Billie Jean King.

A former University of Tennessee All-American, Schloss said Friday he has given Family Circle Tennis Center notice that he will not renew his contract as the director of Family Circle's popular Instinctive Tennis Academy when his current contract expires at the end of June.

"After 25 years as a former coach and player, I've made the decision to be a full-time partner with Billie Jean King," Schloss said about his new duties as CEO and founder of Billie Jean King's Eye Coach.

"Billie Jean believes it is the fastest way to train. You can practice at home between lessons."

The King/Schloss partnership already has taken the BJK Eye Coach to several countries outside the United States, with 16 U.S.-based clubs already signed up. Schloss expects 50-100 clubs to enroll in the program by the end of 2014.

Schloss will continue to reside in Charleston while he travels the globe promoting his unique eye and tennis ball-contact coordinating mechanism.

In the aftermath of Schloss' departure, Family Circle Tennis Center has announced an array of big names coming to town to join Bryan Minton, who served as director of elite and high performance tennis for ITA and coached local touring pro Shelby Rogers from 2009-11.

"For the past five years, ITA has built an exceptional tennis program at the Family Circle Tennis Center," said Rob Eppelsheimer, Family Circle's director of facilities and tennis development. "As Lenny Schloss shifts his focus 100 percent to development and marketing of the Billie Jean King's Eye Coach, we would like to thank Lenny and his team for the tennis programming foundation that ITA has built."

Starting July 1, renown Atlanta area teaching pro Jeff Wilson's MWTennis will replace Instinctive Tennis Academy at Family Circle Tennis Center. Wilson will serve as CEO of the new academy, with Minton signing up as its chief operating officer.

Wilson operated Alpharetta (Ga.) Tennis Academy and also has served as coach at Duke and Georgia Tech, as well as coached numerous ATP and WTA players.

Former Maria Sharapova coach/one-time world's No. 64-ranked Michael Joyce will become director of professional tennis for MWTennis. Family Circle Tennis Center will service novice tennis players as well as become the home base for touring professionals.

ROGERS STRUGGLES

Shelby Rogers is on a six-match losing streak after going 0-5 at Miami qualifying, Family Circle Cup main draw, and then first-round losses as the No. 1 seed in U.S. Pro Circuit events in Pelham, Ala., Dothan, Ala., and Charlottesville, Va.

The 21-year-old Charleston pro, now ranked 113th in the world, isn't expected to be the top seed this coming week when she plays in the $50,000 U.S. Pro Circuit event at Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.

Indian Harbour will be the third of a three-tournament segment U.S. Pro Circuit Har-Tru French Open main draw wild-card playoff. But with Dothan champion Grace Min winning her first two matches in Charlottesville, Rogers has been eliminated from the race for the French Open wild card she won a year ago.

The 70 WTA Tour ranking points Rogers won for capturing the title at Charlottesville last year are scheduled to rotate off the WTA Tour computer on Sunday night as Rogers' world ranking is projected to drop into the 130s.

LOCAL NOTES
-- The annual Charleston County Schools Superintendent's Cup tennis tournament is scheduled for next Saturday at Charleston Tennis Center, Maybank Tennis Center and The Citadel. Registration will be held at 8 a.m. at Charleston Tennis Center. Matches will be played from 9 a.m.-noon at the three tennis centers.

-- SCISA will begin its state playoffs on Monday, with two-time defending Class AAA champion Porter-Gaud and perennial power Hilton Head Prep the top seeds in the lower and upper brackets. Porter-Gaud will open play Monday at home against Cardinal Newman, while Pinewood Prep will visit Wilson Hall. Palmetto Christian is the No. 1 seed in the Class A-AA upper bracket and will play host to St. Andrew's on Monday.

-- USTA South Carolina is trying to recruit young professionals ages 22-35 to play league tennis on a team sponsored by a local company, with team members being encouraged to socialize after matches, according to Leigh Hewlett Greene, the association's manager of membership growth initiatives and community development. She can be reached at www.sctennis.com (or 800-644-7282).


(04/25/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Wave tennis team is still in the hunt
The Green Wave boys’ tennis team avenged a prior loss to Bluffton to stay alive in the chase for the Region 8-AAAA championship.

Summerville earned a 4-1 victory Tuesday in Bluffton. The Wave won the first four singles matches, eliminating the need for doubles play.

“It all came together today on the singles courts,” Summerville coach David Long said. “I am so proud of Adam Seith, he played his best match of the year to beat a strong player, only losing 3 games. He has struggled some this season but our team benefited today from all the work he put in over spring break. Adam was the difference.”

Summerville improved to 8-6 on the season and 5-2 in region matches. Bluffton fell to 6-3, 6-2. Beaufort defeated Ashley Ridge 7-0 Tuesday to improve to 7-5, 7-1 so the remaining region games will determine the region championship and playoff seeding for the region leaders.

“We still have a chance to win the region and that was a major goal for this team,” Long said. “We will play out the region and prepare for playoffs and see what happens. I am excited for my kids because this is a big win. Our coaching staff is very encouraged. Hopefully we are getting hot at the right time.”

Summerville is scheduled to close its schedule at Fort Dorchester April 29. The Class AAAA playoffs begin May 6.

Boys Tennis Results

SUMMERVILLE 4, BLUFFTON 1
Singles: Elliget d. Newland 6-1, 6-1. Seith d. Snyder 6-1, 6-2. Long d. Rosenbloom 6-4, 6-3. Sekula d. Philoxene 5-7, 7-1, 10-7. Bornstein (B) d. Hazel 7-5, 7-5. 

BEAUFORT 7, ASHLEY RIDGE 0
Singles: Angus d. Parvell 6-3, 6-1. Bachety d. Marshall 6-1, 6-3. Louw d. Acherman 6-0, 6-1. Paton d. Roban 6-0, 6-0. Stovall d. Zeng 6-1, 6-2.  Doubles: Angus/Bachety won by forfeit; Kam Olin/Daniel Lange d. Duncan/Kackley 6-1, 6-0.


(04/21/14)  TENNIS.com: Tying the Knot
Last week we interviewed professional racquet stringer Julian Li about his experience working with Priority One during the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. It’s a private company that worked off-site handling the stringing services for about a dozen clients. This week we’re getting the in-house perspective.

Kin Roseborough is the head stringer and a teaching pro/coach year-round at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island in Charleston, SC. Kin ran the stringing operations at the Family Circle Cup, the WTA event held at the facility, earlier this month. The other stringers for the event came in from out of town; one worked at the Australian Open and the Sony Open earlier in the year, while the other went on to string at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston the following week.

The group strung for 78 players including: Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Sara Errani, Sabine Lisicki, Sloane Stephens, Sam Stosur, Eugenie Bouchard, Venus Williams, Maria Kirilenko, Daniela Hantuchova, and the eventual champion, Andrea Petkovic.

We asked Kin for some inside info about his experience stringing at the event:

How many people/stringers did you have working on-site during the tournament?
KIN ROSEBOROUGH: We had two stringers for the day before qualifying matches began at the Family Circle Cup, three for qualifying and the first three days of main draw play, then down to two again from the round of 16 through the finals.

What was a typical day like?
KR: We would arrive by 7 a.m. to string racquets players had requested be done in the morning for that day's matches; also to be available for players who had an early-morning practice and needed to pick up racquets strung the night before. Late morning and early afternoon the stringing is sporadic. Then things pick up again as players drop frames off after their matches. Many players want their racquets done the night before. We remain on-site until the final night match is completed, in case a player needs a racquet strung while they are on court or needs to drop off after their match for the next day.

What did you see in terms of string preference?
KR: Not surprisingly, the most used string was Luxilon Big Banger—either ALU Power, ALU Power rough, Timo or Original. Second was RPM Blast, used by most of the Babolat players. More than 25 percent of the players used a hybrid of natural gut and poly, most frequently gut mains and poly crosses, though a few players did poly in the mains. The others were full poly, with the exception of one player using full gut.

Do the players or their coaches ever seek advice about strings or tension? Or are they pretty set in their ways?
KR: They know what they like. As players arrived from the Sony Open, they would ask us if others who had come in earlier were going up or down in tension from Miami.

From your experience, are the female pros just as discerning about their equipment as the men?
KR: The biggest difference between the WTA and the ATP is the number of racquets they string for a match. While a couple of the players at the Family Circle Cup may have 4-7 done like the men, most string 1 or 2 frames a day, with an occasional player doing three.

Did you notice any racquet trends among the players?
KR: Nothing significant. Only one player was using a "spin" patterned frame. We did see a few frames that were marked 16x18, which is what the retail version is, but the pro's racquet was actually 18x20. This is not too unusual at tour events.

Any odd stringing requests?
KR: Nothing too unusual. One player requested 31kg (68.3lbs) which was our highest tension, but it was in a Steam 105S. We did have a player tell us not to stencil the logo on her racquets; when she came to pick them up, she asked to use our supplies and do it herself.

What are the best and worst parts of stringing at a professional tournament?
KR: The best part is certainly the relationships: The teamwork with other stringers, the contacts with the tour coaches, and the interaction with the players—the large majority of whom are a pleasure to work with. The worst part is the long days—in my case, 11 consecutive day working 12-17 hours a day.


(04/16/14)  GOOSE CREEK GAZETTE: Knights coast past city rival in tennis
The Stratford Knights left no doubt in showing who was the city champion on the tennis court.

The Knights dropped just 11 games in blanking rival Goose Creek 7-0 on Wednesday. The win gave Stratford a 6-3 overall record and 2-2 mark in region play.

Dylan Sides (1, 2), Griffin Wong (0, 0), Jeffrey Wong (1, 0), Garett Sides (1, 3) and Parker Hoffman (1, 0) posted singles victories.

In doubles, Jordan Smith and Anthony Yeung (0, 1) were winners while Sides and Griffin Wong won 8-2 in a pro set.


(04/16/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Green Wave tennis team hands Eagles their first region loss
The Green Wave boys’ tennis team kept itself alive in the hunt for the Region 8-AAAA championship by earning a victory over Beaufort Thursday.

Summerville earned a 4-3 victory over the Eagles, who were previously undefeated in region play. The Green Wave improved to 7-6 with a 4-2 mark in region play while Beaufort fell to 6-5, 6-1.

Summerville now needs to defeat Bluffton and for Beaufort to drop one of its remaining matches in order to grab a share of the region title.

“We are still searching for more balance,” Summerville coach David Long said. “We are relying on the same players in most matches and we need the rest of the team to elevate their play. We have lost several matches by just one court and within those matches have been many third-set tiebreakers. Hopefully all these close matches against great competition will serve us well come playoff time.”

Green Wave junior Adam Elliget has not lost a set in 13 singles matches, and during that streak Summerville has played Bishop England, Porter-Gaud and Wando. The No. 1 singles player also dominated the Port Court Invitational in Wilmington that featured some of the best teams from North Carolina.

“Adam has proved he is the best player in the area and our region,” Long said. “I have got to believe he is the favorite to win the individual state singles crown.”

Against the Eagles, Summerville took a 3-2 lead after singles play with wins from Elliget, Walker Long and Brandon Sekula. The match clincher came at No. 1 doubles where the tandem of Elliget and Sekula earned a 6-0, 6-1 win.

The Wave travels to Bluffton on April 22 looking to avenge a loss to the Bobcats earlier this season.


(04/15/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Boys Tennis results
ASHLEY RIDGE 6, FORT DORCHESTER 0
Singles: Parvey d. McManus 7-6, 6-3; Marshall d. Howell 6-0, 6-0; Ackerman d. Samuels 6-0, 6-2; Rabon d. Moorer 6-1, 6-3; Zeng d. Arnold 6-2, 6-3.  Doubles: Johnson/Kackley d. J. Segundo/Z. Segundo 6-3, 6-0.
Record: Ashley Ridge 5-6. Next: Ashley Ridge at Beaufort on April 22.


(04/14/14)  LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Shortchanged
I purchased tickets to watch the great Serena Williams play tennis at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.  However, a few points into the match it became very clear that Ms. Williams had not come to play and was tired.  Had she withdrawn from the tournament prior to that match, very few of us would have purchased tickets for that night's session as she was "the draw" for the fans. I, for one, was offended at being "hustled" into buying tickets to witness a joke of a tennis match.

Frederic David
Bramlett Road, Taylors


(04/13/14)  STAFF REPORT: Kambourelis, Harrell Spark C of C Women’s Tennis
Led by great play from seniors Kelly Kambourelis and Jamie Harrell, the College of Charleston women’s tennis team closed out their regular season in style on Friday, downing the Terriers of Wofford University, 6-1, at the CofC Tennis Complex.

Playing in their final home match in the maroon and white, the seniors stole the show as Harrell blasted an overhand winner to seal the doubles point before Kambourelis dismissed Wofford’s Sarah Evans in straight sets to clinch the match for the Cougars.

“Kelly (Kambourelis) and Jamie (Harrell) have been tremendous in their time here at The College,” said College of Charleston Director of Tennis Angelo Anastopoulo. “They have been tremendous not just on the court, but for this institution as a whole. I can’t wait to see what they decide to do with their lives after they leave the program. They are two very talented people with very bright futures.”

Under crystal blue Mount Pleasant skies, the Cougars jumped out to a great start in doubles play as Kambourelis and freshman Mara Argyriou defeated the Wofford pairing of Catherine Martin and Mareli Sanchez, 8-3 on court two. With Jenny Falcone and Katherine Schofield immersed in a tough match on court one, Harrell and Samantha Maddox were able to close out the doubles point on court three following an emphatic overhead winner from Harrell in her final home outing.

In singles play, the Terriers looked to claw themselves back in to the game after freshman Thai Thompson fell on court six in straight sets. The Cougars came roaring back, however, as Katherine Schofield downed Catherine Martin on court four, 6-1, 7-5. After freshman Cypriot Mara Argyriou dismissed of Audrey Coventry, 6-2, 6-1, the focus turned to court one, where fittingly, Kambourelis clinched the match with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Sarah Evans to give the Cougars their 16th win of the season.

“It was a great match,” said Anastopoulo. “I think our girls overcame a lot of adversity today. I probably overworked them on Tuesday, but they found it in their hearts to win this match for the seniors. It was great to see Jamie clinch the doubles point with her trademark aggressive net play, and then to see Kelly clinch the match on court one – I’m just really proud of the whole team.”

The Cougars will now take a week to recover and focus on their studies before heading to Williamsburg, Va., for the CAA Championships Friday, April 18th-21st.

College of Charleston 6, Wofford 1
Apr 11, 2014 at Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
(CofC Tennis Center)
Singles competition
1. Kelly Kambourelis (COFC) def. Sarah Evans (WOF) 6-0, 6-4
2. Mara Argyriou (COFC) def. Audrey Coventry (WOF) 6-2, 6-1
3. Samantha Maddox (COFC) def. Julia Paulson (WOF) 5-7, 6-3, 1-0 (11-9)
4. Katherine Schofield (COFC) def. Catherine Martin (WOF) 6-1, 7-5
5. Grace Baker (COFC) def. Kalli Karas (WOF) 6-3, 6-4
6. Mareli Sanchez (WOF) def. Thai Thompson (COFC) 6-2, 6-1

Doubles competition
1. Jenny Falcone/Katherine Schofield (COFC) vs. Sarah Evans/Julia Paulson (WOF) 3-4, unfinished
2. Kelly Kambourelis/Mara Argyriou (COFC) def. Catherine Martin/Mareli Sanchez (WOF) 8-3
3. Samantha Maddox/Jamie Harrell (COFC) def. Taylor Carlson/Emily Erickson (WOF) 8-2


(04/13/14)  P-G eighth-grader Fenno wins SCISA Open
Brant Fenno is the son of two Princeton graduates, models his game after Novak Djokovic and even has been diagnosed with the same disease as Djokovic - celiac disease, a reaction to eating wheat and other items that contain gluten.

Like Djokovic, Fenno is pretty good at tennis. The Porter-Gaud eighth-grader just won the SCISA Open singles championship.

"This (celiac) has led to some difficult twists in his diet, and contributed to his injuries last year (he wasn't absorbing protein properly). But now with the help of a nutritionist, a physical therapist, and some good tennis coaches, Brant is right back playing the level that he played in 2012," said Edward Fenno, a local attorney and former Princeton tennis player, who doubles as Brant's father and one of his coaches.

Again like Djokovic, Brant has managed to play some pretty good tennis despite the disorder. In two seasons at Porter-Gaud, he is unbeaten in singles. He usually plays No. 2 for the Cyclones, but in the SCISA Open final, he defeated senior Seth Pinosky, Porter-Gaud's No. 1 player.

"Brant played truly brilliant tennis (in the tournament). He appears to have fully recovered both his form and his fitness after last year's injuries," Edward Fenno said.

Currently ranked among the top 25 boys 14 players in the South, Brant is cautiously looking forward to playing Belton this year, if Porter-Gaud's exam schedule allows it.

Fenno is coached by LTP pro Ben Simon and city pro Jason Nius as well as his dad and Porter-Gaud coach Jonathan Barth, the pro at Kiawah Island. Simon has returned to the area after teaching tennis in the Atlanta area.

Fenno's leap up to the No. 2 position from No. 5 for last season's SCISA Class AAA champions has helped the Cyclones overcome the loss of 2013 Lowcountry player of the year Thomas Spratt.

"Brant has been playing well," Barth said. "We're looking forward to the playoffs."

The Cyclones opened with eight straight victories before suffering a 6-3 loss at Hilton Head Prep in their last match. Porter-Gaud defeated Prep by the same score in its season opener.

The Cyclones likely will be favored when the SCISA state playoffs are held the week of April 28.

The SCISA Open was something of a Porter-Gaud affair, with Fenno and Pinosky in the singles final, senior Foster Moe/sophomore Cross Tolliver winning the doubles title, and freshman Jack Kammerer teaming up with Lowcountry girls player of the year Ann Martin Skelly to capture mixed doubles.

Rogers update

After eight straight first-match wins, Shelby Rogers is now on a streak of three consecutive first-match losses following a 7-5, 7-6 (4) loss to wild card Samantha Crawford in last week's $25,000 Pro Circuit Challenger at Pelham, Ala., where Rogers was the top seed.

The Daniel Island pro, currently ranked 110th in the world, also has entered a $50,000 Pro Circuit Challenger event starting Monday in Dothan, Ala. Earlier, Rogers lost in first-round qualifying at Miami's Sony Open, then was eliminated in the main draw first round at the Family Circle Cup.

Local notes

The deadline for league tennis' mixed doubles team registrations is April 21.

A Lowcountry Youth Tennis Association 10-and-under tournament will be held on April 26 at Family Circle Tennis Center from 2-5 p.m. Contact John Farrelly (john_farrelly@charleston.k12.sc.us).

-- Porter-Gaud's main competition in SCISA Class AAA boys and girls tennis in recent years has come from Hilton Head Prep, but the Hilton Head Island school plans to drop back to Class AA next school year.

-- The annual Charleston County Schools Superintendent's Cup tennis tournament is scheduled for May 3 at Charleston Tennis Center, Maybank Tennis Center and The Citadel. Registration will be held at 8 a.m. at Charleston Tennis Center. Matches will be played from 9 a.m.-noon at the three tennis centers.


(04/10/14)  GOOSE CREEK GAZETTE: Knights too strong in city tennis rivalry
The Stratford Knights left no doubt in showing who the city champion is on the tennis court.

The Knights dropped just 11 games in blanking rival Goose Creek 7-0 on Wednesday.

Dylan Sides (1, 2), Griffin Wong (0, 0), Jeffrey Wong (1, 0), Garett Sides (1, 3) and Parker Hoffman (1, 0) posted singles victories. In doubles, Jordan Smith and Anthony Yeung (0, 1) were winners while Sides and Griffin Wong won 8-2 in a pro set. Stratford traveled to Cane Bay on Thursday for another region match and won 6-1. Griffin Wong (0, 4), Jeffrey Wong (3, 3), Sides ((2), 4, (10-3) and Hoffman (0, 1) all recorded singles victories. Sides and Griffin Wong won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 doubles, while Smith and Yeung won 7-6, 6-2.

The wins gave Stratford a 7-3 overall record and 3-2 mark in region play. The Knights host Wando on April 22 in their next match.

(04/09/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Break out the brooms
The Green Wave boys’ tennis team swept both of its cross-town rivals last week.

Summerville defeated Ashley Ridge 6-0 Wednesday and Fort Dorchester 6-0 Thursday to improve to 6-5 on the season with a 3-2 mark in Region 8-AAAA.

Ashley Ridge did bounce back from its loss to the Green Wave, earning a 7-0 victory over region foe Colleton County Friday to improve to 4-5, 2-3.

This week, Summerville will attempt to avenge one of its losses in the region when it hosts a rematch with Beaufort Thursday. Ashley Ridge hosts a rematch with Fort Dorchester Thursday.

Results
Ashley Ridge 7, Colleton County 0
Singles: Parvey d. Johnson 6-2, 6-2. Marshall d. Bailey 6-1, 60. Ackerman d. Fanchette 6-0, 6-0. Rabon d. Barnes 6-1, 6-0. Nixon d. Sanders 6-1, 6-0  Doubles: Marshall/Parvey d. Johnson/Bailey 8-3. Johnson/Kackley d. Warren/Crosby 7-5, 2-1.
Summerville 6, Fort Dorchester 0
Singles: Elliget d. McManus 6-1, 6-0. Seith d. Howell 6-2, 6-3. Long d. Samuel 6-0, 6-0. Sekula d. Moorer 6-1, 6-1. Moeller d. Arnold 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: Wills/Reynolds d. J Segundo/ Z. Segundo 8-1.


(04/09/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
BISHOP ENGLAND 4, HILTON HEAD 3
Singles: Zalesky d. Steinour 7-6, 6-4. Stiepel d. Oliver 6-4, 6-4. Brockmann (HH) d. Knot 6-0, 6-0. Danzell (HH) d. Privett 6-1, 6-2. DeVincentis (HH) d. Sottile 6-2, 6-3. Doubles: Zalesky/Stiepel d. Steinour/Brockmann 6-2, 6-4. Jones/Meyer d. Malool/Schenkel 6-2, 5-7, 11-9.
Records: Bishop England 10-1. Next: Bishop England hosts PCA today.

STRATFORD 7, GOOSE CREEK 0
Singles: D. Sides d. Elkins 6-1, 6-2. G. Wong d. Rhodes 6-0, 6-0. J. Wong d. McNeil 6-1, 6-0. G. Sides d. Gaza 6-1, 6-3. Hoffman d. Leatherwood 6-1, 6-0.  Doubles: D. Sides/J. Wong d. Elkins/Rhodes 8-2. Smith/Yeung d. Ellis/DeGuzman 6-0, 6-1.
Records: Stratford 6-3 (2-2). Next: Stratford at Cane Bay today.

JAMES ISLAND CHARTER 4, PALMETTO CHRISTIAN 1
Singles: Pendergrass (PCA) d. Wright 6-0, 6-0. Bridges d. Goolsby 6-4, 3-6 (10-5). Sechrist d. Kassoff 6-2, 6-3. Bailey d. Pernall 7-5, 6-2. Lomano d. Battone 6-0, 6-1.  Records: James Island Charter 5-6 (1-1). Next: James Island at Berkeley today.

WANDO 4, SUMMERVILLE 2
Singles: Elliget (S) d. Jahn 6-3, 6-3. DaCosta d. Seith 6-1, 6-0. Long (S) d. Covington 3-6, 7-5 (10-7). Browder d. Sekela 6-4, 6-2. Redden d. Hazel 5-7, 6-2 (10-4).  Doubles: Weston/Lopresti d. Wiseman/Blumemberg 4-6, 6-2 (10-4).

WEST ASHLEY 6, CANE BAY 0
Singles: T. Anastopoulo d. Amble 7-6, 7-5. Ropp d. Howell 6-0, 6-0. S. Anastopoulo d. Hughes 6-0, 6-0. Gunn d. Buttery 6-2, 6-0. Foster d. Topel 6-2, 6-2.  Doubles: Sadler/Germain d. Preston/Troesch 6-3, 7-6 (10-6).
Records: West Ashley 9-1 (3-1). Next: West Ashley at Wando today.


(04/07/14)  MOULTRIE NEWS: Petkovic revives career at Family Circle Cup
When it was all over and the final shot had sailed just long of the baseline, it was time to dance.

Andrea Petkovic had earned her championship jig. Nearly two years of hardship had pushed her career to the brink, but Sunday was her sweet redemption.

Petkovic defeated Jana Cepelova, 7-5, 6-2, in the Family Circle Cup finals on Daniel Island to win her first WTA tournament victory in three years.

It’s the biggest tournament win of the 26-year-old’s career and, after an arduous rise back to relevance, it’s admittedly her most satisfying.

“I’m much more grateful and I can appreciate it much more than before,” Petkovic said. “I know what I went through in the past years and I know what I worked for and it’s very rewarding now.”

Two years ago, a string of injuries began to tarnish a promising career. Petkovic fell from No. 9 in the world to No. 192 in 12 months. Lengthy rehabilitation and poor showings during her return attempts made her question her future in tennis. But Sunday was validation. Cepelova charged through the opening rounds with wins over three top-10 seeds on way to the finals. She rediscovered elite success in Charleston and hoisting the crystal Family Circle trophy was the payoff for her persistence.

“I had a lot of those moments where I wanted to stop playing,” Petkovic said. “I didn’t believe it at all at certain moments, but I kept wanting it. That’s why I kept working and it paid off in the end.”

Petkovic was locked in from the start Sunday, breaking serve twice and opening a quick 3-0 lead. Cepelova responded with the resilience she showed all week and fired back with three straight games. Cepelova thrived with her drop shots and worked herself into a 5-4 lead.

“She’s such an amazing mover,” Petkovic said. “When I was facing set point, I told myself, ‘You’ve got to get loose.’ I relaxed and started hitting the ball harder, deeper, moving better, serving better.”

Petkovic roared back with three straight games to take the set. She went on to win the first five games of the second set to grab firm control of the match. Cepelova committed 27 unforced errors against just 16 from Petkovic. As the match wore on and fatigue set in, Cepelova was undone by Petkovic who was playing at the top of her game, dropping shots down the line and working the entire court.

“My start wasn’t good, but I tried to keep my game,” Cepelova said. “I tried to fight, but she’s a great player. She was better today.”

Cepelova put together her own magical run through the week, sparked by a win in straight sets over world No. 1 Serena Williams in Tuesday’s second round. By herself, with no coach, physio, trainer or family, she went on to defeat Elena Vesnina and Daniela Hantuchova, both ranked in the top 35, and advanced to her first final. Her coming-out party earned her the largest paycheck of her career and will soon give her the highest ranking, likely in the top 50.

But Sunday went to Petkovic. She danced in celebration at center court as the 2014 Family Circle Cup champion and left behind the struggles of the past two years. A week in Charleston had served her well and revitalized her love for the game.

“I just needed to remind myself why I started playing tennis in the beginning,” Petkovic said. “I just needed to remind myself and it came together this week and I’m very thrilled about that.”


(04/06/14)  LOWCOUNTRYTODAY.com: Players & Family Circle Cup Staff Make 2014 Magical
Relative Unknowns Shine During Championship Sunday

Well past their 25th (silver) and eight years shy of their 50th (golden) the Family Circle Cup celebrated their 42nd tournament in grand fashion. According to the anniversary gods the 42nd gift is real estate, and while the nice folks at Family Circle Cup weren’t giving away any property during the tournament two women, one a former rising star and another a qualifier were staking their claims among the tennis elite.

When all the dust settled from the green clay on Billie Jean Stadium Court Championship Sunday it was 26 year tour veteran Andrea Petkovic claiming her first WTA victory in over three years with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Jana Cepelova. Entering the tournament ranked 40th in the world and seeded 14th at the Family Circle Cup many believed Petkovic’s best tennis faded after a series of injuries in 2012 seeing the once promising player fall to 177th in rankings during the 2013 season.

Her opponent, a 20 year old Slovakian took a rather unique path to the runner up prize and championship match. A weekend qualifier Cepelova knocked out the returning champion and top ranked women’s player Serena Williams. The odds-on favorite to become a four time winner at the Family Circle Cup Williams had little time to get her feet wet in Charleston as she fell in the opening round on Tuesday night 6-4, 6-4. Cepelova becomes the lowest ranked player to make the Family Circle Cup finals.

It was a fairy tale ending to what was a magical week on Daniel Island. Ranked 78th coming to Charleston Cepelova will no doubt jump some 30 spots when the new rankings come out. On her way to Championship Sunday she knocked off two seeded players. Not bad for a kid who came to town without any assistance, no coach, no hitting partners. Perhaps many thought she’d never survive the ‘Serena train’, but obviously she proved them all wrong.

Petkovic will advance in the rankings as well, not only for winning but for taking out several name seeded players during the week. While the crowds at Family Circle Cup have become accustomed to Williams on center court on Sunday you could sense the excitement for Petkovic whose father once played for the Gamecocks in the mid 1980’s. Petkovic’s victory dance and overall jubilation thrilled the crowd of 7.790 who came out although the weather was overcast with a slight chance of precipitation.

Several of the preceding Family Circle Cups have been textbook but 2014 was written by two long shots who gave the crowd all they could expect. Think back 15 years and Serena and Venus Williams were just up and coming tennis hopefuls. Like in many sports sometimes the underdog shines, such was the case this year at the Family Circle Cup.

Many attendees or naysayers will grumble at the amount of star power at this year’s tournament but they cannot grumble over the quality of the play. There are four factors the Family Circle Cup does not have any power over. They do not know which players will enter the tournament, nor do they no which players will be injured prior to the tournament, and more importantly they do not know which player will advance through the week long tournament. Lastly the tournament staff cannot predict the weather. The FCC can however promise exciting tennis and that is what the crowd got with a pretty darned good weather week.

Over the 42 year history of the Family Circle Cup some of the biggest names in women’s tennis have claimed the glass trophy including Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, and the Williams’ sisters. The Family Circle Cup and the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) helped make the women’s tour what it is today. Oftentimes the Family Circle Cup has been the launching pad for new stars on the tour, perhaps 2014 is proof.

Kudos to Family Circle Cup Director Bob Moran and Tournament Manager Eleanor Adams for once again throwing an hellacious party over nine days at the tennis center on Daniel Island. The sponsors and the many vendors command praise as well as does Family Circle Cup Food & Beverage Manager Kathy Lipsky. The media are always taken care of and judging by the few patrons I talked with throughout the week they equally enjoyed the food, drink, and shopping.

Without Lipsky’s dedication and the support of local food and merchandise vendors the tournament would lack a certain appeal. Petkovic summed it up best in her post championship speech on center court when she thanked all the behind the scenes heroes, from those who drove her around town and to those who helped do her laundry.


As they say, ‘it takes a village’ and the Family Circle Cup are as a tight knit community as any group in the tennis world. If we take one thing away from the 2014 Family Circle Cup tournament it is that we saw some of the best tennis and perhaps tomorrow’s rising stars. 2015 should be exciting.


(04/06/14)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Fun Family Circle Cup, but the WTA owes Petkovic more competition
In the end, it all came together for gregarious Andrea Petkovic.

The celebratory fist pumps and accompanying "C'mon!" shouts made it to Sunday.

The daughter of former University of South Carolina tennis player Zoran Petkovic shed her (Clemson) orange semifinals outfit and wore Gamecocks black for the Family Circle Cup final.

The crowd loved her victory dance after a 7-5, 6-2 conquest of No. 78-ranked Jana Cepelova.

Petkovic then endeared herself to Charleston by thanking volunteers and fans.

The 26-year-old German is all about persistence, a former top-10 player who battled back from injuries and self-doubt to win her third WTA title, this one as a No. 14 seed. Petkovic had a blast in Charleston, and planned to continue on the way home to Darmstadt.

"I'm going to have Champagne," Petkovic said, "and I don't even drink Champagne. But I'm just going to have it for the heck of it on the airplane. I'm going to get drunk. I never get drunk on the airplane, but that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to walk around and dance with the cabin attendants."

Andrea Petkovic is so much fun.

But the tournament would have been more fun with a slightly stronger field.

It's not the fault of Family Circle Cup staffers who work year-round to maintain ties with top players, recruit first-time entrants and scout the best young talent for wild card invitations.

It's the WTA, still struggling with its application of sound schedule management. International flavor is great for growth of the sport, but there still are too many weeks - 16, including Family Circle Cup week - with more than one tournament at the same time.

Poor WTA management

Charleston prize money is more than Monterrey ($710,000 to $250,000), and the 32-player field in Mexico isn't as deep as the Family Circle's. But Monterrey had four players ranked in the top 25 (No. 12 Flavia Pennetta, No. 13 Ana Ivanovic, No. 14 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 25 Kirsten Flipkens).

The Family Circle Cup had seven players ranked in the top 25, but could have used a few more.

Charleston and Monterrey in the same week is like an Atlanta Braves split-squad game in July.

Cepelova was a great story this week. The 20-year-old Slovakian came to the tournament without family or a coach, upset No. 1-ranked (but tired) Serena Williams on Tuesday night, beat two other seeded players (No. 13 Elena Vesnina and No. 12 Daniela Hantuchova) and reached the final.

Ole Miss vs. Akron

But Family Circle Cup fans were spoiled by Serena Williams' titles in 2012 and 2013. Ideally, a story like Cepelova's runs its course in the quarterfinals.

Once in the semifinals, she met Belinda Bencic, only 17 and the No. 140-ranked player in the world. A college basketball match-up of the No. 78 and No. 140 teams in USA Today's current Sagarin computer ranking is Ole Miss vs. Akron.

An apples and blueberries comparison?

Well, here's one for you: Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan and Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain won the Family Circle Cup doubles title Sunday. Shvedova (No. 55) and Medina Garrigues (No. 111) are collectively ranked higher in singles than semifinalists Cepelova and Bencic.

"In Spain I will celebrate," Medina Garrigues said. "It's a good place to celebrate."

Cepelova hoped to celebrate briefly before moving on to Quebec City for Slovakia's Fed Cup competition against Canada. She certainly left Daniel Island with much more confidence than she brought.

A self-described "fighter," Cepelova had a set point in the first set against Petkovic.

A Slovakian flag appeared in the stands.

Then Cepelova and her 85-mph serve hit the wall.

"(Sunday) was no pressure for me," Cepelova said. "She's the better player."

Fans want pressure. More pressure than the WTA is slicing up.


(04/06/14)  Petkovic never lost the way to win at Family Circle Cup
The key to the match?

The rain amazingly held off.

Otherwise, Andrea Petkovic might not be the Family Circle Cup champion today.

The 26-year-old daughter of a former University of South Carolina tennis player lost focus only once, but never lost the way to win. There was no hurry or rush to finish, maybe partly thanks to the excellent weather for at least the 79 minutes Petkovic needed to post a 7-5, 6-2 win over Jana Cepelova.

Petkovic simply played her game nearly flawlessly en route to the biggest win of her career and the $120,000 payday that goes to the singles champion of the Family Circle Cup.

Cepelova impatient

Cepelova always seemed to be in a hurry to go no where after recovering from a 0-3 start. She rushed her shots, especially her backhands down the line that she let up on before completing her stroke. The high part of the net made the Slovakian pay dearly for her impatience.

Except for a four-game rally by Cepelova to take the lead in the first set, the 42nd Family Circle Cup final belonged to Petkovic. She was solid as a rock from the service line and baseline, picking Cepelova's game apart.

A statuesque German, Petkovic won most of the big points, particularly in the decisive last three games of the first set when Cepelova could do almost nothing right.

Petkovic's footwork

Petkovic's excellent footwork and strategy to move the ball from side to side until an opening developed appeared to strike panic in her opponent. That three-game swing was the story of the match as Petkovic won a total of eight straight games to practically put the match on ice.

Cepelova's urgency led to numerous errors in the big games when she repeatedly attempted to make up for bad positioning by over-hitting. That was a trait fans had not seen often during the week, especially not in her giant-killing victory over Serena Williams in the second round or three-set win over 17-year-old qualifier Belinda Bencic in the semifinals.

When Cepelova failed to outpatient and outmaneuver her opponent, the 20-year-old's consummate clay-court game fell apart.

She didn't have a workable alternative. She tried to go bigger and bigger, but her over-hitting didn't work this time.

Outplayed and outmatured

Cepelova was outplayed and outmatured. About the only part of Cepelova's game that worked consistently was her arsenal of drop shots.

Petkovic now appears to be headed for even bigger days with a game that has few weaknesses. The Family Circle Cup could do far worse for a poster girl.

A year from now when she returns as the defending champion, "AP" has the game to take her back to her previous place as an elite player among the world's best.


(04/06/14)  JEFF HARTSELL: Family Circle Cup notes: Jana Cepelova's solo act earns respect
During the best week of her pro career at the Family Circle Cup, there was something a little sad about Jana Cepelova.

"I'm here by myself," the 20-year-old Slovakian said more than once during her post-match news conferences. Her coach had returned home after Celepova's tournament in Miami last month, and there was no family with her on site at Daniel Island.

That made her run to the Family Circle Cup final, where she lost to No. 14 seed Andrea Petkovic 7-5, 6-2 on Sunday, all the more astounding. At No. 78, Cepelova is the lowest-ranked player ever to make the final in the 42-year history of the Family Circle Cup.

Now, after upsetting world No. 1 Serena Williams on Tuesday and following up with two more wins over top-35 players, Celepova will crack the WTA Tour's top 50 to go with a check for $64,000, almost as much as she'd won all year.

Not bad for a player who had to search out her own warmup partners this week and has no clothing contract.

"I was super impressed," Petkovic said. "I couldn't believe what was happening, because I think in the first three or four rounds, I didn't even realize she was alone here. I didn't realize she had no coach, and then I think yesterday or two days ago was the first time where I realized she was totally by herself, and I don't know how she did it."

Cepelova said she did consult with her coach via Skype during the tournament. But she was forced to rely on her own instincts during matches, and to eat room service meals at night.

"Sometimes, actually, it's not that bad," Petkovic said. "You have nobody that you can get angry at. You only have yourself, so you just keep the negative emotions inside of you because you can't let it out on anybody else."

Petkovic was even more impressed that Cepelova did not suffer a letdown after her 6-4, 6-4 win over Williams.

"I've been in those situations," she said. "You have a letdown because so many people start messaging you, and everybody is writing about it, everybody is in awe. And then keeping the momentum and playing that well and winning another three or four matches is absolutely amazing."

Cepelova did have some fans in her player's box Sunday at Billie Jean King Stadium Court, the host family of fellow player Karolina Pliskova.

"I'm going to go to dinner with them tonight to celebrate," Cepelova said.

Attendance watch

A crowd of 7,790 for Sunday's final boosted the total to 87,997 for the week. That's the Family Circle Cup's best since 2011, and its best without a Saturday night session since 2008. The tournament had an extra Saturday night session for three years from 2010-2012.

A sparkling week of weather was balanced out by the loss of world No. 1 Serena Williams in her opening match Tuesday night. Sunday's final was played in cool, drizzly conditions.

"Losing Serena definitely hurts us from a marketing standpoint, from a ticket sales standpoint," tournament director Bob Moran said. "We're about 85 or 90 percent sold before the tournament starts, so it hurts the walk-up more than anything else.

"But we've got to start building for the future at some point, and I think we had a really good start this week with some good young players emerging. We saw the next generation this week - Eugenie Bouchard, Sloane Stephens, great stories like Jana Cepelova and Belinda Bencic. I like what the future holds, and we have to start building toward the future now."

In 14 years on Daniel Island, the Family Circle Cup has now drawn 1,241,790 spectators, an average of 88,699 per year.

Doubles duty
Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova won the doubles title with a 7-6, 6-2 win over sisters Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan of Taipei.

It was their third title as a doubles team and second this year.

"We are good friends," Medina Garrigues said. "We are having fun always and communicating very well, and we're willing to work and improve our game."


(04/06/14)  JEFF HARTSELL: Family Circle Cup title goes to Andrea Petkovic with 7-5, 6-2 win over Jana Cepelova
After winning the Family Circle Cup championship Sunday afternoon, Andrea Petkovic broke into the "Petko Dance."

It's sort of a dance-club take on the twist -- even ESPN TV analyst Pam Shriver tried it during a postmatch interview -- and it might be making a comeback on the WTA Tour.

Petkovic, a 26-year-old German and a top 10 player just three years ago, took a giant step toward a return to tennis prominence with a 7-5, 6-2 win over unseeded Jana Cepelova before an appreciative crowd at Billie Jean King Stadium Court on Daniel Island.

In the doubles final Sunday, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova claimed the championship with a 7-6, 6-2 win over sisters Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan.

Petkovic's victory, her third WTA title, earned her a winner's check of $120,000 and will vault her from her current rank of No. 40 back into the top 30. More importantly, it could signal a return to the form that had the powerfully built, 5-foot-11 Petkovic ranked as high as No. 9 in the world in 2011 before injuries knocked her from the top 175.

Every Family Circle Cup champion in the tournament's illustrious 42-year history has either been ranked in the top three or made a Grand Slam final at some point in their career.

"Yeah! Come on, baby, you can do it," Petkovic said when apprised of that fact. "I might have to re-adjust my goals."

The 20-year-old Cepelova will have to some re-adjusting, as well. She will gain almost as much from the week as Petkovic. Cepelova knocked out world No. 1 Serena Williams on Tuesday night; ranked No. 78, she's the lowest ranked player ever to make a Family Circle Cup final.

But now, she'll jump into the top 50, and she earned a lot of respect for the grit she showed on Daniel Island, playing without her coach or any family on site. The Slovakian had to search for her own warm-up partners and used a fellow player as a coach during her upset of Serena.

"Before the tournament, if somebody tell me, 'You will be in final,' I cannot believe them," Cepelova said in her halting English. "Right now, you know, I'm a little bit upset. But maybe tomorrow everything (will be) okay. For me it was really nice week here in Charleston, really nice tournament, and I am happy for that. But I lost in the final."

Petkovic's humorous victory speech -- she told Cepelova "I could have coached you this week" and cracked, "I'm like a politician, I'm talking more than anybody -- provided a glimpse of the personality that made her win a popular one among her WTA peers.

"Sooo happy for you! Party crazy like only Petko can," tweeted Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium.

A string of injuries to her back, ankles and knee in the last two years had Petkovic wondering how long she could keep playing. She said the low point came at last year's French Open, when she lost in the second round of qualifying.

"That's when I wanted to stop," she said. "There were many times when I wanted to stop ... I didn't believe it at all in certain moments, but I kept wanting it. And that's why I kept working, and I'm very thankful that it paid off in the end.

There was no stopping Petkovic on Sunday.

Down 3-0 in the first set, Cepelova showed her fighting spirit by winning four straight games. But Petkovic fought off a set point and served out the set at 7-5, and was in total command from there, winning the first five games of the second set.

"It's tough to play for me today because I was a little bit tired from other matches," Cepelova said. "I tried to fight, but she's a great player. She was better today."

After the "Petko Dance," Andrea's next move on-court was to call her father, Zoran, on her cell phone. Zoran Petkovic played tennis at the University of South Carolina in the early 1980s after leaving his native Yugoslavia; Andrea credits her father's Western experience and education with changing her own future.

"I know what I went through in the past years, and I know what I worked for, and it's very rewarding now," she said. "And I just feel very happy."


(04/06/14)  Schnyder would have been right at home
Where is Patty Schnyder? This could have been her Family Circle Cup. She could have owned it.

The crowd-pleasing little Swiss left-hander is probably back home in Switzerland or some remote area of the world, cherishing her two runner-up trophies from the Family Circle Cup.

Meanwhile, clay-court tennis definitely has arrived in this Family Circle Cup. Handicapping a final pitting Andrea Petkovic and Jana Cepelova is quite a challenge. I would hesitate to pick a winner, other than Petkovic merely for her maturity - 26 years to 20 years for Cepelova.

Saturday's semifinals produced some of the most entertaining play seen during the Family Circle Cup's 14 years on Daniel Island. The matches were that competitive, especially the last two sets of the two three-setters - Petkovic's win over Eugenie Bouchard and Cepelova's 9-7 third-set tiebreaker survival against 17-year-old qualifier Belinda Bencic.

The crowd loved it. Bouchard and Bencic were the crowd favorites. Either could have been the face of the tournament for years to come. What a missed opportunity for both of them, and the tournament.

The fans took Bencic for their own. Late in the decisive tiebreaker, someone affectionately shouted out to Bencic: "Come on young'un."

If the final can capture that type of electricity among the fans, Sunday's match could be a good one. It should be highly competitive. But such a match-up might be more apt to occur in the early rounds in Paris.

Petkovic is the more likely hard-court player of the two, while Cepelova is clay-bound.

Both players are fighters. They have to be to have survived to the Sunday final, especially Cepelova, whose second opponent was Serena Williams.

Cepelova's best weapon is her consistency, although her go-for-broke shots against Bencic appeared to have been under radar control. Her topspin simply wouldn't let the bombs go long.

Once warmed up, such as in Saturday's third set, the Slovakian doesn't just take a big forehand swing, she puts every ounce of her being into her swing. And it still comes down on the other side. Simply amazing.

But against Petkovic, she might not warm up in time.

Then again, Petkovic wasn't exactly a ball of fire early in her three-set semifinal upset of Bouchard, winning the first game and then dropping the next six games. But once the fire was ignited, Petkovic powered serves and drove her backhands and forehands deep into the court.

The question is who will show up for the start of Sunday's 1 p.m. final. Hopefully, the fans.


(04/06/14)  Drysdale wants speed and silence
While in town to broadcast the Family Circle Cup, ESPN broadcaster Cliff Drysdale held a question-and-answer session at the downtown Marriott on Friday morning during a Tennis Industry Association conference.

He reiterated a couple of his pet peeves - stop the women's on-court shrieking and install a clock on the court to keep players serving on time.

A server gets a warning from the chair umpire for taking too long between points. The player is shocked.

No one told the player he was taking too long. So hall of famer Drysdale said why not put a clock on the court in plain view of the players where they will know exactly how much time they have before serving.

And the shrieking? Drysdale, the ATP Tour founder and former president, hopes the ATP will crack down first on the men, who really don't have a big problem in that area.

Drysdale thinks such a move would then bounce over to the women's game where there's a huge problem with shrieking. The ladies almost appear to be trying to out-shriek each other.

The Family Circle has had its share of shrieking, but shriek champions Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka aren't here, of course.

Attendance

Saturday's crowd of 8,417 pushed this year's attendance total to 80,207.

But with the fall out of former champions and name players for the quarterfinals and semifinals, most records aren't in jeopardy.

The total attendance is almost 8,000 below the pace of the overall best attendance in Charleston. That was in 2010 when John McEnroe and Anna Kournikova headlined a special Saturday night bonanza session that counted in the attendance numbers.

This is the 14th Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.

With no Saturday night session this time, the 2010 total is untouchable.

The current pace also is more than 4,000 off the pace of the 2006 Family Circle that attracted a Charleston WTA Tour-sessions only record attendance of 92,375 for the entire tournament.

But 2014 is more than 9,000 ahead of last year's attendance to this point, due to a complete washout of Thursday's day session in 2013.

No Americans left

When the third-seeded California pair of Abigail Spears and Raquel Kops-Jones bowed out of the doubles draw in a 7-5, 6-7 (5), 10-8 loss to Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain and Yaroslva Shvedova of Kazakhstan in Saturday's semifinals, the final Americans were eliminated from this year's Family Circle Cup.

Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan, both of Taipei, will be the opponents in Sunday's 11 a.m. doubles final after getting a 6-2, 3-1, retired victory over Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia and Anastasia Rodionova of Australia in the semifinals.


(04/05/14)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Green clay, the great Family Circle Cup equalizer for WTA players
There's something in a chemical compound unique to one patch of pristine Daniel Island real estate. Green clay mixed with WTA parity that comes with tournaments not featuring a strong run by Serena Williams produces strange results.

And so we have a Family Circle Cup final Sunday in which No. 14 seed Andrea Petkovic, ranked No. 40 in the world and with only two WTA titles to her name, is the overwhelming favorite.

Petkovic, 26, rallied past No. 6 seed Eugenie Bouchard in Saturday's semifinal. She will face dazzling 20-year-old Jana Cepelova, who outlasted Belinda Bencic, 17, in the first WTA semifinal for both players.

"I'm the oldest here?" Petkovic said, laughing. "Can you believe that? Oh, my God, I want to kill myself."

Bencic, ranked No. 140, got into the tournament as a qualifier.

Cepelova is ranked No. 78.

Madcap weeks like this have happened before.

Iva Majoli won the 2002 Family Circle Cup while ranked No. 58. At the time, she was the second-lowest ranked player to win a WTA title.

Sabine Lisicki, ranked No. 63, came out of nowhere - and Troisdorf, Germany - to win the 2009 Family Circle Cup. She stands as the lowest ranked Family Circle Cup winner, the only player to win the title without having won a previous WTA tournament.

But Cepelova lurks. This week's upset stretch raises the bar on green clay zaniness.

"I'm definitely going to be the favorite," Petkovic said before the second semifinal was over, "and they have nothing to lose."

Transition to Europe

Green clay is challenging enough by itself; the Family Circle Cup is the only WTA tour stop with such a surface. The hybrid composition - slower than hard courts but faster than red clay - is a nice transition to the clay-heavy European season leading to Roland Garros in late May.

"It's nice to have a clay court tournament in North America before we start the long European season," said Bouchard, who eliminated former Family Circle Cup champions Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic this week.

But the charm of Charleston comes after grueling two-week tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami. Some of the players are already tired when they arrive in Charleston.

Experience helps, to an extent. Jankovic knows green clay; the animated Serb has played in 10 Family Circle Cups. She won the 2007 title.

Still, this week was a grind.

"It's not easy when you play your first time on clay and you play a lot of matches and you get tired," she said after losing a quarterfinal match to Bouchard. "It takes a little bit of time to get match-tough on this surface because the legs get so sore and all of this."

Art of the slide

Mastering the art of sliding is the obvious key on clay. For Petkovic, it's been a particular challenge. She has been ranked as high as No. 10 in 2011 but suffered an ankle injury in 2012 while sliding on red clay.

"I was very afraid of sliding into my forehand side," Petkovic said, "and I've been working this week specifically on the practice court just trying to slide into my forehand and not losing a lot of time running through the shots, because that takes so much time."

Aggressiveness is the key, Petkovic said.

For lots of Saturday, Bouchard was the aggressor and in control - not just of a semifinal match but the tournament. The 20-year-old Canadian rising star was sliding and slamming balls into tight spots.

She seemed on the verge of her first WTA title.

Only to fall victim to Petkovic's steady slides to that trusty forehand side.

And green clay weirdness.

It won't be the last time Daniel Island's strange surface bites back. It will happen again, next year when Belinda Bencic is 18 and for many Aprils to come. Long after Eugenie Bouchard wins Grand Slam titles, marries a hockey star and retires rich.


(04/05/14)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Sunday Showdown: Cepelova, Petkovic will meet in Family Circle Cup final
This probably wasn't what Zoran Petkovic had in mind when he left a communist government in the former Yugoslavia to join the University of South Carolina tennis team. But Andrea Petkovic, daughter of the Gamecocks' top singles player in 1982, will play in the Family Circle Cup final Sunday after rallying Saturday for a 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over No. 6 seed Eugenie Bouchard.

"It's funny how destiny plays," said Petkovic, a 26-year-old who was raised in Germany. "But reaching a final of a big tournament here in South Carolina where my father went to college is an honor, and it's nice. It's a blessing."

Petkovic, ranked No. 40 and the No. 14 seed, will face unseeded Jana Cepelova for the Family Circle Cup title Sunday. Cepelova, 20, defeated Belinda Bencic, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6.

Bencic, 17, made the main draw as a qualifier.

Zoran Petkovic isn't on hand for the Family Circle Cup, but at least his daughter has a coach. Cepelova, a Slovakian ranked No. 78 and not expecting such a glorious Charleston run, is traveling alone. She has no clothing contracts.

She planned to order room service Saturday.

"I am a little bit happy," Cepelova said, "but then I am sad because I cannot talk to anybody. But I try to keep up with my family and friends at home and I am calling them. But I try to focus. I would like to fight."

It's the first WTA meeting for the finalists, both enjoying career-boosting weeks.

Cepelova served notice Tuesday night with a stunning upset of No. 1-ranked Serena Williams, the two-time defending Family Circle Cup champion. She beat No. 13 Elena Vesnina in the round of 16 and No. 12 Daniela Hantuchova, a teammate on Slovakia's Fed Cup team, in the quarterfinals.

Benic, from Switzerland, is ranked No. 140. But she won four main draw matches in Charleston. Bencic got by No. 3 Sara Errani in the quarterfinals, winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Bencic had the crowd behind her Saturday.

"It really hurts right now but I'm sure I'll learn from this," Bencic said.

Petkovic, down 4-2 in the third set, continually leaned on fierce forehand winners; she hit only two backhand winners all day.

There were tears of joy after the match. Petkovic was ranked as high as No. 10 in 2011. She is finally healthy after back, ankle and knee injuries over the last five years.

"I cry when I'm happy, strangely," she said. "I was just so relieved and I was proud that I came back from all these injuries."

Bouchard, 20, had her best tournament since breaking through in January with a march to the semifinals of the Australian Open. She beat No. 11 seed Venus Williams on Thursday and No. 2 seed Jelena Jankovic on Friday.

"I think I showed myself that even if I'm not playing well at certain moments - which I wasn't playing well in a lot of the matches - I can still fight and still save the match, and in my matches (against Williams and Jankovic) still pull out the win," Bouchard said.


(04/05/14)  Success in doubles and singles a challenge
Success in both singles and doubles at the same time takes a rare breed of player. A Martina (Hingis or Navratilova) or John McEnroe. Or Venus or Serena Williams. If a player does well in doubles, it can affect the player’s play in singles. Or it can be the other way around.

Take world’s No. 1 doubles player Shuai Peng, for instance. Singles apparently had an adverse effect on the Chinese player in doubles on Thursday.

Peng pushed Family Circle third seed Sara Errani to the limit before surrendering, 7-6, 7-6, in more than two hours of mid-day heat. A few hours later, bandaged-leg Peng and her partner, Su-Wei Hsieh, retired late in the first set of their first-round doubles match against Marina Erakovic and Arantxa Parra Santonja.

Jelena Jankovic and Andrea Petkovic both won their round of 16 singles matches, and then at least completed their doubles match later Thursday against Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, but suffered a three-set loss. So, it’s difficult to know if Jankovic’s and Petkovic's singles success and focus on Friday’s singles quarterfinals impacted their doubles play

By the way, past tournaments’ doubles play might even impact singles results. Just ask 2009 Family Circle champion Sabine Lisicki, who came straight to Charleston from winning the doubles title with comeback champ Hingis at Miami’s Sony Open.

Lisicki suffered a 6-1, 6-0 blitzing by Petkovic in the round of 16. And who got the blame?

Miami’s doubles success, of course.

“I played the final in Miami on hard court until the end that Sunday evening,” Lisicki said. That meant little practice on green clay. So, maybe doubles wasn’t the real culprit.

Two Americans

Venus Williams was the only one of 12 Americans to make it past the second round in singles. But now that she’s gone, too, after a round of 16 loss to Eugenie Bouchard on Thursday, there’s still some Red, White and Blue spirit.

Abigail Spears is a 32-year-old from San Diego and partner Raquel Kops-Jones is a 31-year-old from Fresno, Calif. Not only will they play the last match of the day on Saturday on Billie Jean King Court in the doubles semifinals, they are the only Americans still playing in this year’s Family Circle Cup.

Spears was a mixed doubles finalist at the U.S. Open in 2013 with Santiago González.

Impressive attendance

Thursday’s total attendance of 12,649 for the day and night sessions pushed this year’s attendance figures to 58,288. That number is just 20 below the pace through Thursday of Charleston’s no-Saturday-night-session record attendance of 2006.

The 2006 total attendance of 92,375 is the highest among Charleston’s previous Family Circle Cups that did not include a special Saturday night session. The 2006 tournament’s attendance through the Thursday sessions was 58,308.

The overall best attendance in Charleston was in 2010 when a Saturday night “Game, Set, Rock! Tennis. Amplified.” session featuring John McEnroe and Anna Kournikova drew 8,409 fans that helped pad the total attendance to 95,767. The through Thursday pace in 2010 was only 55,329.

Friday’s day session attendance was 7,230, which pushed total attendance to 65,518.

Rackets on schedule

Do you remember all of those racket-runners every time you watch Wimbledon or the French Open? Well, they do something similar at the Family Circle Cup.

Family Circle facility director Rob Eppelsheimer hires three stringers each year to string rackets for the players. He said the stringers are on schedule to match the 380 rackets they strung a year ago


(04/04/14)  Moultrie News: Family Circle Cup: Rising star downs former champ
After two days of comeback rallies, Venus Williams’ magic dried up Thursday in a third-round loss to Eugenie Bouchard at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.

No. 6 seed Bouchard ousted No. 11 seeded Williams, 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-4, to advance into the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.

Williams pulled out wins after playing from behind in both of the first two rounds. The 33-year-old says her focus and energy raises when she’s down in the match and for a while Thursday that seemed to be proving true again.

After falling in a tight 7-6 (6) opening set, Williams charged back with her best tennis of the day in a 6-2 win in the second set. Down 1-2 to start the second, the 2004 Family Circle Cup champion powered through the next six games, overwhelming Bouchard at times with her powerful serves and aggressive returns.

Williams’ strong play carried over into the third set as she broke serve and took a 2-1 lead. Bouchard countered with wins in the next two games. Williams followed with a perfect eighth game to tie the set, 4-4, but Bouchard regained the advantage with a win in the ninth.

“Just a lot of ups and downs, a lot of errors,” Williams said. “I just wanted to make the points shorter a lot of the times and made some bad choices.”

With the match on the line, Bouchard stayed sharp. Leading 5-4, she broke Williams’ serve and then returned her drop shot away from Williams into the open court to take the match.

Bouchard’s win continues to solidify the 20-year-old’s position as one of the game’s rising stars. In less than a year, she’s climbed from outside the top-100 rankings to No. 20 in the world. In September, she lost to Williams in three sets in Tokyo. Bouchard says aggressiveness made the difference between winning and losing Thursday.

“In the second set, I was really a bit too passive,” Bouchard said. “The third (set) I focused on really sticking to the baseline and I think that made a difference.

“I wasn’t mentally going for it enough. In the third, I decided to take it to her a little bit more ... just keep fighting, keep fighting and it paid off.”

Bouchard advances to face Jelena Jankovic Thursday at 1 p.m. Ranked No. 8 in the world, Jankovic is the tournament’s highest-ranked player remaining.

Former champions fall

Williams was the first of three former champions eliminated Thursday.

No. 4 seed and 2009 champion Sabine Lisicki fell, 6-1, 6-0, to Andrea Petkovic, while 2010 champion Samantha Stosur lost, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Lucie Safarova.

No. 2 seed Jankovic is the only former champion remaining after defeating Ajla Tomljanovic, 7-5, 6-1, Thursday. Tied 5-5 in the first set, Jankovic went on to win eight of the next nine games to take the match.

Also among those advancing Thursday was Jana Cepelova, who defeated Serena Williams in the second round, and Daniela Hantuchova, who defeated Shelby Rogers in the first round. Cepelova and Hantuchova will meet Friday at 7 p.m.


(04/04/14)  GENE SAPAKOFF: American idle: FCC life after Serena
How does a prominent WTA event look without Serena Williams and any trace of American pursuit of tennis excellence?

Intriguing, judging from Friday's display on Daniel Island.

A future star emerged from a terrific match with a career-boosting leap into the semifinals after a mild upset of the No. 2 seed.

A former Family Circle Cup champion scrambled from behind on the green clay, falling just a bit short.

There was high ESPN2 drama over three sets of a two-hour shootout.

And that was just Eugenie Bouchard's Family Circle Cup quarterfinal victory over Jelena Jankovic.

The future is murkier than the small sample size. Serena's early exit offers a glimpse of things to come, not just at the Family Circle Cup but at every tour stop.

How will not having Serena in action impact daily attendance? So far, not much.

How will not having Serena in the field impact pre-sale? Tournament management doesn't want to find out.

Not that she's finished. On the contrary, Serena is a fit 32 and ranked No. 1. She remains dominant.

"Now I know how Serena Williams feels sometimes," Bouchard's semifinal opponent Andrea Petkovic said Thursday after a 6-1, 6-0 rout of Sabine Lisicki in the round of 16.

Aiming for Martina

Serena will be back on Daniel Island in pursuit of glory; she admitted as recently as Monday that she has become aware of her legacy relating to WTA records.

"I never talk about it," Serena said. "I like to leave it there. I like no pressure."

Steffi Graf has a record-22 Grand Slam singles titles. Serena has 17.

Martina Navratilova leads in match wins (314), but Serena has 249 and won 78 matches last year - more than in any other year of her career.

Serena leads in career prize money. Her $55,424,766 is well ahead of No. 2, sister Venus Williams with $29,548,571.

But this won't last forever. Wager that Serena Williams will not stand for mediocrity, will not stick around long as a lesser-ranked player seeking wildcard paths into tournaments.

That's why this Family Circle Cup is an interesting trial run.

Gamecock ties, Clemson colors

The buildup to the tournament was the overwhelmingly popular Serena going for a three-peat and a Family Circle Cup record field of one dozen Americans.

So Serena, clearly tired after winning a two-week tournament in Miami, was bounced out in her first match by No. 78-ranked Jana Cepelova.

And, with all the talk of the young American contingent, the last U.S. player standing was the oldest. Venus Williams, 33, lost to Bouchard on Thursday in the round of 16.

"I'm no pushover," Venus reminded us earlier in the week.

Since the Family Circle Cup moved to Charleston in 2001, there have been only two other years without an American in the quarterfinals, 2006 and 2009.

Not having Serena this week showed other Americans simply can't be trusted to fill in the draw board gap.

But non-American players have a following, too. Supporters within a good crowd for a Friday afternoon tried to get behind Jankovic.

"And I appreciate that," Jankovic said. "You need that when you're fighting and times get tough. I think the crowd was pretty entertained and they enjoyed our match."

Bouchard seems destined to become a fan favorite, too.

"I'm just glad I won," the 20-year-old Canadian said, "and can stay in Charleston another day."

Want dynamic energy on Billie Jean King Stadium Court? Bouchard, determined not to lose to Jankovic in the quarterfinals for a second straight Family Circle Cup, frequently ran in place between games and points.

Bouchard wore orange and purple, Clemson style. In Saturday's semis she will face Petkovic, whose father Zoran played tennis at South Carolina.

No Serena.

No problem.

Not yet, anyway.


(04/04/14)  JEFF HARTSELL: Family Circle Cup's young final four: Bouchard vs Petkovic, Cepelova vs. Bencic
When it comes to busted brackets, March Madness has nothing on the April angst at the Family Circle Cup this week.

World No. 1 Serena Williams, who's won here three times, was out of the bracket faster than Coach K could find Mercer on a map.

And with I-526 off of Daniel Island clogged with former FCC champs - 2007 winner Jelena Jankovic, who lost Friday, was the last survivor of six ex-champions - the Family Circle Cup final four is stocked with start-ups, not brand names.

No. 6 seed Eugenie Bouchard is the only one of the top 13 seeds to make Saturday's semifinals, and the final four - also including 17-year-old qualifier Belinda Bencic, No. 14 seed Andrea Petkovic and unseeded Jana Cepelova - have combined to win all of two WTA Tour singles titles, both by Petkovic.

That's only 57 behind Serena.

But what this final four does have is Cinderella stories. Three of the four semifinalists are 20 or younger, the first time that's happened on the WTA Tour since 2008.

Bouchard, who knocked off No. 2 seed Jankovic by 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, in Friday's quarterfinals, was a Family Circle Cup qualifier ranked outside the top 100 at this time last year. Now, at age 20, she's one of the WTA's fastest rising stars.

Her semifinal foe, the German Petkovic, was ranked No. 9 in the world three years ago before a series of injuries almost knocked her out of the top 200. At 26, she's fought her way to back to a ranking of No. 40 and is the grand old lady of the semifinals after a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 win over No. 9 seed Lucie Safarova.

Serena-killer Cepelova, who upset the world's top player on Tuesday night, is a 20-year-old from Slovakia who is ranked No. 78. She beat No. 12 seed Daniela Hantuchova, 6-2, 6-1, on Friday night to continue the best week of her pro career.

"It really gave me a lot of match confidence," Cepelova said of her win over Serena, "for every match here."

And the best of these stories might belong to Bencic, Cepelova's semifinal foe and a Swiss prodigy ranked No. 140 in the world. She had to win two qualifying matches last weekend just to make the Family Circle Cup main draw. Bencic, who just turned 17 on March 10, benefited from a third-set meltdown by No. 3 seed Sara Errani on Friday night, winning by 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, to make her first WTA Tour semifinal.

Bencic smiled broadly when told that she would also crack the top 100 after beating three top 35 players to become the first FCC qualifier to make the semis.

"That's right, I make the top 100," said Bencic. "The top 100 is a goal for a lot of players, and to make the semifinals, that makes me very happy."

ESPN, televising the week's events, has been happy with the emergence of Bouchard, a blond Canadian ranked No. 20 in the world. She got the TV time slot in Friday's quarterfinals for her win over the No. 2 seed Jankovic, and will again Saturday for the 1 p.m. semi against Petkovic.

A Family Circle Cup title would be Bouchard's first on the WTA Tour and confirm her status as a marketable star. Her three-set win over Venus Williams on Thursday gives her two wins over former FCC champs this week.

"Every time I got into a tournament now and every match, I always believe I can win," said Bouchard, who made the semifinals at the Australian Open earlier this year. "So I walk on the court believing fully that I can win."

Friday's win over the eighth-ranked Jankovic was her second over a top 10 player this year, and Bouchard was pleased with her aggressiveness.

"She won't give you that many free points," Bouchard said. "So it was important to really take it to her. And when I won points and games, I think I did that best."

Bouchard has lost twice to Petkovic, both times on hard courts.

"I love watching (Bouchard) play because I really love that she's stepping in so much and being so aggressive," said the 26-year-old Petkovic, whose father, Zoran Petkovic, played college tennis at South Carolina. "I love to see that in a young player."


(04/04/14)  DownTheTee.com: Jane Voigt: Bouchard Through To Semis at Family Circle Cup (Link)
Eugenie Bouchard is the real deal.

The 20-year-old Canadian arrived at Family Circle Cup last year for her inaugural tournament. Ranked outside the top 100, she had to qualify. Then she ran away with matches until she faced Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals. That was it for Bouchard.

Not this year.

As fate would have it, Bouchard got a second chance against Jankovic today. The 20-year-old demonstrated all her game improvements and composed fighter's mind, as she defeated Jankovic, the highest remaining seed at No. 2. Scoreline: 63 46 63.

"Well, I didn't want it to be Groundhog Day, for sure," Bouchard said, smiling. "When I got to the court I didn't think about that, but definitely a little funny situation there."

Jankovic knew she was not at her best. As she walked in the press conference, she sighed as if on her last leg.

"I started well, then dropped a level," Jankovic started, slumped in the chair. "I was kind of a little bit flat. I let her take control of the match. I was trying to fight. I tried to move her a bit better. But at the end I was flat. I needed to move my feet more."

Bouchard had her ups and downs throughout the match. But her constant and consistence tactic to take the ball early was one key to her success.

"I think it was a factor," Bouchard said. "I was moving forward, trying to take time away from her. She can run down a lot of balls, so it was important to take it to her."

They all know tennis is a running game, but if you win a singles match and lose a doubles match late the same day in a super tiebreak 16-14 and don't get to bed until midnight and have to get up and play at 1 the next day, well, Jankovic was tired.

"It's not easy when you play your first time on clay and you play a lot of matches and you get tired," Jankovic said. "It takes a little bit of time to get match tough on this surface. The legs get so sore."

Jankovic does not think Bouchard has improved much since she played her last year, which goes against the flow of opinions.

"It was so close," she said. "It was a few points here and there that made the difference."

But Bouchard's intensity took its toll on Jankovic.

Balls zipped back. "I did not turn to hit the ball clean." She waited for the ball. "I was kind of flat and waiting for the ball to come to me, not that I move up and do the right thing."

Jankovic complimented Bouchard's game, in the end, and how well she played. Her predictions for the Canadian were tempered, though.

"She has nothing to lose right now," Jankovic said. "She's not the favorite. She'll be one of those when she's expected to win. Then it will be a little bit different. Now she can let loose against the top seeds. She's young and fresh and hungry. But who am I to predict? But I think she has a great future ahead of her."

Bouchard, the No. 6 seed, is an amazement to witness. Yes, her tennis game is good. She is way talented. And she possesses an attitude that is beyond her young years. She can thank her parents, Coach Saviano, and herself for this tennis excellence -- her Bouchardism.

However at times Eugenie's words seem out of place, as if articulated by a woman 10 years older and 50 years to the wise. But is she wise? Not so much only because of her age. However when asked about moving through a match, like point by point forgetting the mess, or not, left behind, she sounded precocious, "I've learned over the years to not get too high after a win or too low after a loss, and within a match as well, you know. The point you just played, well, it's already in the past. You want to take what you can to learn from it, if you miss a certain shot and just moving your feet more, staying lower, little things. But really you can't control it, so it's important for me to just remember to focus on what I can control on the court, and it's something I've been working on for the past few years. It's a work in progress."

Stay closely tuned to this young woman. She will progress. She will have defeats. And, she will learn in front of our eyes.


(04/04/14)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Bouchard, Petkovic advance to Family Circle Cup semifinals

Rising star Eugenie Bouchard defeated No. 2 seed Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 on Friday to advance to Family Circle Cup semifinals against No. 14 seed Andrea Petkovic. Bouchard, seeded No. 6, avenged a 2013 loss to Jankovic on Daniel Island.

Jankovic defeated Bouchard in the Family Circle Cup quarterfinals last year. Jankovic, 29, won the Family Circle Cup in 2007.
Photo Gallery

Bouchard, 20, is searching for her first WTA title.

Petkovic defeated No. 9 seed Lucie Safarova, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.

Other quarterfinal match-ups Friday will include No. 3 Sara Errani vs. qualifier Belinda Bencic and No. 12 Daniela Hantuchova vs. Slovakian Fed Cup teammate Jana Cepelova.


(04/04/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
ASHLEY RIDGE 7, COLLETON COUNTY 0
Singles: Parvey d. Johnson 6-2, 6-2. Marshall d. Bailey 6-1, 6-0. Ackerman d. Fanchette 6-0, 6-0. Rabon d. Barnes 6-1, 6-0. Nixon d. Sanders 6-1, 6-0. Doubles: Marshall/Parvey d. Johnson/Bailey 8-3. Johnson/Kackley d. Warren/Crosby 7-5, 2-1 (retired). Records: Ashley Ridge 4-5.

HILTON HEAD PREP 6, PORTER-GAUD 3
Singles: Woodson d. Pinosky 3-6, 6-1, 10-6. Fenno d. Lavely 6-1, 6-3. Kelly d. Tolliver 3-6, 6-4, 10-6. Kohli d. Dingi 7-5, 6-4. Shubblefield d. Craigie 6-2, 6-0. Fried d. Moe 6-0, 6-1.  Doubles: Woodson/Lavely d. Pinosky Tollver 8-3. Shubblefield/Fried d. Craigie/Vingi 8-5.

SUMMERVILLE 6, FORT DORCHESTER 0
Singles: Elliget d. McManus 6-1, 6-0. Seith d. Howell 6-2, 6-3. Long d. Samuel 6-0, 6-0. Sekula d. Moorer 6-1, 6-1. Moeller d. Arnold 6-0, 6-0. Doubles: Wills/Reynolds d. J. Segundo/Z. Segundo 8-1. Records: Summerville 6-5 (3-2).

WEST ASHLEY 6, GOOSE CREEK 0
Singles: T. Anastopoulo d. Elkins 6-0, 6-3. Ropp d. Rhodes 6-1, 6-0. S. Anastopoulo d. McNeal 6-0, 6-0. Gunn d. Mitchell 7-5, 6-3. Sadler d. Leatherwood 6-1, 6-0.  Doubles: Wise/Germain d. Ellis/DeGuzman 6-1, 6-2.
Records: West Ashley 8-1 (2-1). Goose Creek 0-3. Next: Hanahan at West Ashley on Monday.

WANDO 5, CANE BAY 1
Singles: Amble (CB) d. Covington 6-2, 6-3. Lopresti d. Howell 6-1, 6-3. Weston d. Hughes 6-2, 6-3. Ciuffo won 6-0, 6-0. Winglosky d. Topel 6-0, 6-1.  Doubles: Smith/Cox d. Zeigler/Welch 6-0, 6-0.


(04/03/14)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Family Circle Cup fun includes Geechee Q, Spanish moss, a little tennis
At football games, hanging around outside the main event is a mere extension of tailgating for unlucky folks without tickets.

At the Family Circle Cup on a Thursday full of weather arranged by the Daniel Island Rotary Club, it was hard to tell who was having more fun. Fans watching the likes of Venus Williams, Jelena Jankovic and other top players on Billie Jean King Court?

Or those taking part in the constant carnival outside the main stadium?

There is so much to do, buy, eat and drink that the match goes at least three sets with a tiebreaker.

Of course, it's possible to do both. Watch Eugenie Bouchard edge Venus in a classic three-set match and slip out to the Geechee Island Food Truck for seafood and grits, Geechee Q Sammich or pimento cheeseburger. Condiments include Spicy Bob Marley Sauce.

It was also easy to forget about the big stage for hours at a time.

Conventional tennis, anyone?
The Althea Gibson Court offers top-tier tennis in a close-knit setting. Fans can watch from umbrella-covered tables. There's a full bar in one corner. Oak tree limbs laced with Spanish moss hang over part of the bleachers.

No. 12 seed Daniela Hantuchova, a Family Circle Cup veteran, taught Teliana Pereira some hard lessons Thursday on the Althea Gibson green clay, winning 6-2, 6-3. Much to the delight of fans drinking mimosas or eating paninis ordered from the attached Duvall Express.

"Some players who have played a lot at the Althea Gibson Court develop a following over here," said Family Circle Tennis Center membership manager Nancy Heinz. "Then they take that following over to the stadium court."

Chocolate Sea Salt?
Court 3, idle Thursday but active earlier this week, is even more intimate: 18 green, wooden bleacher rows on one side of the court and four on the other.

You can hear the players whisper. They can hear you.

"It's awesome," said Family Circle Cup volunteer Monica Goldstein. "You really do get a close-up of the players. You can see their frustration, you can see their intensity. You don't get that in the stadium."

You also don't get TV analyst Pam Shriver signing autographs at the Salonpas tent - as she did late Thursday afternoon - for fans eating free samples of Oikos yogurt.

Samantha Stosur, the 2010 Family Circle Cup champion, knows her way around Charleston menus (Australians always know how to have a good time). This week she planned to dine at Hall's Chophouse, Fish, FIG and McCrady's.

"I make my reservations three or four weeks in advance," Stosur said, "and hope that matches don't conflict with bookings."

But while Stosur and fellow top seeds are slugging it out on green clay, Family Circle Cup patrons can eat well without knowing a maître d'.

From Zeus Grill gyros to Chick-fil-A, T&T Kettle Korn and Port City Italian Ice. At the King of Pops, it's possible to cool off with Chocolate Sea Salt, Kiwi Lemonade, Oreo Cheesecake or Orange Dreamsicle.

Serves, salads and No. 1
Midway through Bouchard's victory over Williams, tables were full of oblivious people munching on Daniel Island Grille meals aside the Matchpoint Market.

For exercise, the Interactive Tennis Zone loomed as a big green machine uncorking serves at kids just getting familiar with a cumbersome racket. A play-by-play announcer followed the action.

"Oh, that's OK, Molly," he shouted after a whiff. "Let's give it another try."

Too hot out there?

You can watch stadium court matches on large-screen TVs - and eat salads and wraps - inside the Verde tent at the Ketel One Racquet Club, where Happy Hour lasts four hours each weeknight.

It's always great to hear Cliff Drysdale go on about "exquisite" Charleston in his exquisite South African accent during ESPN2's Family Circle Cup telecasts.

"No. 1 travel destination in the U.S.A.," Drysdale pointed out Thursday while covering the Williams-Bouchard match on stadium court.

Surely, reasons include all that goes on outside of stadium court on Daniel Island.


(04/03/14)  TOMMY BRASWELL: Bencic making a name for herself at Family Circle Cup

Teenager Belinda Bencic had to play her way into the Family Circle Cup, but the 17-year-old qualifier from Switzerland will be competing in the quarterfinals Friday against No. 3 seed Sara Errani of Italy.

She advanced Thursday with a hard-fought 6-7, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Elina Svitolina, a match played away from the limelight of Stadium Court on the Althea Gibson Court.

"I was really excited to play this match and I really wanted to play in the quarterfinals," said Bencic, who received an obscenity warning during the match. "It was hard for me to get calm because I was quite nervous. I'm just that kind of person, very emotional on the court."

She said that even as a small child she was competitive and that nature still comes through. Bencic said she approached Thursday's match with a nothing-to-lose attitude.

"I had a tough match in the second round of the qualifier where I was down 1-3 in the third set. Then I managed to win and now I just keep going," Bencic said. "I had no idea that I was going this far in the tournament, but I'm just really happy this happened and I want to get a lot of points here."

Countrymen meet
Andrea Petkovic continued her strong play of late, ousting 2009 Family Circle Cup champion Sabine Lisicki, 6-1, 6-0, in a friendly battle of players from Germany. Petkovic has now won 26 of the last 27 games she has played and leads Lisicki in head-to-head matches, 4-2.

"It's always very difficult and they are always tight matches," Petkovic said of playing against her countryman. "I didn't give her a lot, you know. I didn't miss a lot. I played very deep. I played very solid. But definitely Sabine was not at her best today. She was a little off on her serving and I took advantage of that.

"After a few games you forget about it, but then I was already kind of rolling and in the zone. It was difficult for her to regroup, I think. It was a difficult match, and it wasn't a pretty one, but I'm kind of happy to get through."

Lisicki, who has battled a shoulder injury and had to take a break to have a blister on her right hand treated, said she didn't play well. She said she had no preparation for the clay surfaces.

"I missed the easy balls," Lisicki said. "The timing is still not there, sliding into the right balls, and it's not there yet."

All-Slovakian quarterfinal
Unseeded Jana Cepelova, the 20-year-old Slovakian who stunned No. 1 seed Serena Williams on Wednesday night, reached the quarterfinals with Thursday's three-set victory over Elena Vesnina. And she has a good chance Friday against No. 12 seed Daniela Hantuchova, also from Slovakia and a Fed Cup teammate.

Cepelova and Hantuchova have never played against other in a WTA match.

Cepelova has never reached a WTA semifinal.

Doubles duty
Three of the 16 singles contestants were scheduled for double duty Thursday - Shuai Peng of China who, with Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei, forms the top-ranked doubles team; Andrea Petkovic of Germany; and Jelena Jankovic all compete in doubles. Players are given a reasonable time to rest between completing their singles match and playing doubles.

Happy Hour
The Blue Dogs will provide the music Friday night at Happy Hour, with drink specials from 4-8 p.m. at the Ketel One Racquet Club on the Grand Lawn.

Big media turnout
The Family Circle Cup issued a record 115 media credentials. The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and USA Today are represented.

LCTennis Editor's Note:
Most media at the Cup occurred in 2012, at 282 credentialed.
*115 is the record lowest since the tournament arrived in Charleston.


Watch on ESPN2
The Family Circle Cup will feature live coverage on ESPN2, from 1-2:30 p.m. Friday and 1-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Attendance
Attendance numbers continued to climb with Wednesday's reported attendance at 14,010, approximately 800 higher than watched the two Tuesday sessions. The total through seven sessions is 45,639, higher by 270 fans at the same time in 2013. To equal the FCC record of 95,767 (set over 14 sessions in 2010), the tournament must average 7,367 fans over 13 sessions.


(04/03/14)  Williams, Lisicki fall in third round of Family Circle Cup
Vintage clay-court tennis has hit the Family Circle Cup. Welcome, Sara Errani.

While former champions Venus Williams, Sabine Lisicki and Samantha Stosur followed the trend in Thursday's round of 16 of big hitters fading out of the 42nd Family Circle Cup, grunt-it-out clay-court tennis may be ready to take over the tournament. That was right up Errani's alley as she marched into Friday's quarterfinals.
 
No. 6 seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, the hybrid-type athlete/tennis player between Errani's court wizardry and Williams' awesome power, withstood all of Williams' big serves and groundstrokes for a 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-4 victory over the seven-time Grand Slam tournament champion.

Andrea Petkovic, the 14th seed, wasted little time in putting away erratic fourth seed Lisicki, 6-1, 6-0, in a 55-minute battle of Germans.

Serbia's Jelena Jankovic, another former champion and the second seed, posted a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia, to set up a 1 p.m. Friday quarterfinal showdown with Bouchard on Billie Jean King Stadium Court.

In the night match, Czech Republic left-hander Lucie Safarova continued her mastery (9-2) over 2010 champion Stosur in a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory as Safarova's strategy to concentrate on Stosur's backhand paid huge dividends in the comeback.

Safarova broke the Australian's serve in the 10th game of the decisive set to end the match. After Stosur saved one of a double match-point situation when 2012 runner-up Safarova flew an easy overhead long, Stosur's backhand on the second match point sailed over the baseline.

"It was part of my tactic that I have to get into her backhand side, which is so much weaker than the forehand," Safarova said. "I was trying to serve a lot of the lefty serves into her backhand."

Errani, the No. 3 seed and 2012 French Open runner-up, looks like a title contender after scoring a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) victory over world's No. 1 doubles player Shuai Peng of China in a sun-drenched mid-day match that lasted more than two hours.

"I love clay," was Errani's calling card in the post-match interview, repeating it several times.

Errani appeared to toy with the go-for-broke two-handed hitting Peng at times. The Italian gained a big lead (4-1) in the second set as well as both tiebreakers (6-3 and 6-2), then allowed Peng to make things almost too interesting as Errani had to overcome set points in each set.

"The important thing was to win more than finish in two sets," Errani said, the typical philosophy of a true clay-courter.

"She was looking like she was physically tired (down 4-1) and she was trying to hit the ball faster to finish the point . . . so I thought I had the match in my hands.

"Of course, I'm very happy to finish in two, but I'm more happy I won," added Errani, who will face 17-year-old Swiss qualifier Belinda Bencic in Friday's third quarterfinal.

Errani rallied from 15-40 in the 12th game to force the first tiebreaker and then Peng served for the second set at 5-4 and 6-5. But Errani showed amazing resiliency and shot-making ability, even in the face of her 60-70 mph serves that at times Peng played ping-pong with to the corners for winners.

The headline match of the day between Bouchard and last American in the main draw Williams was full of dramatic moments, especially for the 33-year-old Williams, who said she wasn't at the top of her game this week. None were more dramatic than the 10th game of the decisive set when Williams was within one point of evening the set.

Instead, Williams drilled a forehand long, then netted a backhand before dropping a short volley over the net that Bouchard jumped on to hit a forehand to an open court to end the entertaining two-hour and 14-minute match as a hush came over the stadium.

"She played a lot more consistently than I did," Williams admitted. "I think my errors really hurt me a lot today, just a lot of up and down, a lot of errors."

Bouchard served for the first set against Williams but committed a pair of unforced errors while Venus turned her return game up a notch.

In the tiebreaker, Williams pounded away for a 5-3 lead, but with a set point at 6-5 she made two straight errors and finally could just watch as a Bouchard cross-court backhand landed in the corner to end the tiebreaker on the 14th point.

Bouchard, a 20-year-old with excellent defensive skills, felt she almost let the match get away from her in the second set by being too passive.

"In the second set, I was just a bit slow," Bouchard said. "I wasn't going for my serve enough.

"So in the third I kind of got back into it and I just tried to play my game. She can come up with great shots, but in the second set I was kind of letting her do that too much."

Bencic scored a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-1 win over Ukraine's Elina Svitolina, the world's highest-ranked teenager (No. 35) who upset fifth-seeded Sloane Stephens in the second round.

Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova, the 12th seed, stayed alive with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Teliana Pereira of Brazil on the Club Court where Serena Williams' conqueror, unseeded Jana Cepelova of Slovakia, knocked out 13th seed Elena Vesnina of Russia, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3.


(04/03/14) WCIV-TV: 20 years of tennis: 2 volunteers a mainstay of Family Circle Cup

The green clay courts at Family Circle Cup have their own rhythm, like a metronome, from racket to court and back again. Players grunt. Shoes slide and scratch. The volley builds to a crescendo; spectators suspend their breathing until the ball drops. And when it does, a collective exhale and cheering resounds from the Daniel Island stadium.

This is the buzz, the excitement that brings the best female players in the world, the crowds, and volunteers like Joyce Albrecht and Holly Nichols back to Charleston every year.

"Each year, when I leave, I say I won't come back. This is going to be my last year," says a smiling Albrecht.

A retired Chicago-area gym teacher with a grin that seems to say she's pulled a fast one on you, Albrecht is volunteering for the 20th year. It's around Christmas when she gets an email, a newsletter, or a flier planting the seed of temptation that calls her back. The memories of bone-chilling rain, sore feet and long days are somehow forgotten.

What she remembers are the laughs and companionship. She recalls a prank she pulled few years back on her friend and 19-year volunteer, Holly Nichols. Nichols had been tasked with sweeping a floor in a trailer.

"I'm not much for the cleaning thing to begin with," says Nichols, "I would sweep the pine straw out, leave and come back to more pine straw!"

The two erupt into laughter, interrupt one another and finish sentences where the other left off.

There are more than 500 people from eleven states that volunteer at the week-long tournament. Both Albrecht and Nichols love tennis and started volunteering after responding to help wanted ads in the newspaper two decades ago. That's when the tournament was still being held in Hilton Head, S.C. and some of it's current contenders were wearing diapers and drinking from bottles.

It was on a smaller scale then, hauling in portable metal bleachers and making site preparations only few days before the first serve. Their jobs have changed over the years, but they say what hasn't is the outstanding organization of the event and great treatment of its volunteers.

Albrecht is "the ears." She carries a walkie-talkie and does her best not to butcher Eastern European names. Nichols works in guest services, which puts her out front doing a variety of jobs including taking phone calls from a man who called several times five days before the final requesting to know who would win. She finally told him she'd be in Las Vegas if she knew.

He never called back.

"Before the tournament moved to Charleston, I was the lead volunteer. As of now, I'm second. So if that person leaves, I'll be in charge again," says Albrecht.

Nichols chuckles and rolls her eyes, "Oh no, not again, now I'm not coming back!"

There is a board outside of center court that has the names of all the volunteers and the number of years they have willingly put in dealing with big crowds, sometimes inclement weather, and extended hours. Albrecht and Nichols are not listed among the rest. Their names are at the top of the sign, in bold green letters.

They stand out.

Within that list of names below them, there are undoubtedly more creating great stories and lifelong relationships that they volunteered for.


(04/03/14)  MOULTRIE NEWS: Family Circle Cup: V. Williams rallies into round of 16
Three days in the books and Venus Williams is the lone American left standing in singles competition of the 2014 Family Circle Cup.

Just a day after escaping the opening round in three sets, No. 11 seeded Williams fended off Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa, 7-5, 7-5, Wednesday afternoon to earn her bid into the round of 16.

Scheepers jumped out to a 5-3 lead in the first set before Williams battled back to take the next four games for the win. Williams fell behind 40-0 in the 11th game and 30-0 in the 12th game but was able to rally back in both games off of Scheepers’ mistakes.

Williams appeared drained between sets as she laid slouched deep into the bench under an umbrella. She’s been battling sickness throughout the week and cited experience as key in overcoming some of the challenges on the court.

“I’m having a lot of ups and downs in the matches, a lot of errors are pulling together,” Williams said. “The good part is that I’m having to fight out of these situations so it’s making me tough.”

Scheepers got off to another strong start in the second set and looked ready to force a tiebreaker with an early 4-2 lead. But Williams again charged back to tie the set at 4-4, and again at 5-5, before taking the next two games and the match as Scheepers sent the final shot sailing out of bounds.

“(Scheepers) was playing so well, but the good thing is when I get behind I give even more effort and get even more focused,” Williams said. “I’ve been playing well from behind lately which is something you really have to do to win big matches.”

Williams advances to face No. 6 seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada Thursday afternoon in a match-up of the final two North Americans. After a first-round bye, Bouchard defeated Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-2, 6-0, Tuesday.

Americans become scarce

Outside of Williams, five Americans combined to win just two sets in five losses throughout Wednesday’s singles matches.

No. 5 seed Sloane Stephens fell, 6-4, 6-4, to Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina. No. 15 seed Madison Keys lost in three sets, 6-1, 6-7, 7-6, to Shuai Peng of China.

Lauren Davis was defeated by No. 2 seed Jelena Jankovic, 6-0, 6-3. Vania King lost, 7-5, 4-5, 6-3, to No. 4 seed Sabine Lisicki. Grace Min fell to Daniela Hantuchova, 6-2, 6-3.

The No. 5-seeded team of Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears is still alive in doubles competition and will face Jankovic and Andrea Petkovic Thursday night.

(04/03/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
SUMMERVILLE 6, ASHLEY RIDGE 0
Singles: Elliget d. Parvey 6-1, 6-1. Seith d. Marshall 4-6, 6-2, 10-7. Long d. Ackerman 6-0, 6-1. Sekula d. Rabon 6-0, 6-0. Hazel d. Zeng 6-0, 4-0 (retire).  Doubles: Wiseman/Blumemburg d. Johnson/Kackley 6-1, 6-1.
Records: Summerville 5-5 (2-2).
Next: Summerville plays Fort Dorchester today.

BISHOP ENGLAND 4, BEAUFORT 3
Singles: Zalesky d. Angus 6-4, 6-3. Stiepel d. Bachety 7-5, 6-0. Louw (B) d. Knot 7-5, 6-3. Paton (B) d. Meyer 7-5, 6-3. Stovall (B) d. Sottile 6-4, 7-5.  Doubles: Zalesky/Stiepel d. Angus/Bachety 6-4, 6-2. Warren/Privett d. Lange/Olin 6-3, 6-1.
Records: Bishop England 9-1.
Next: Bishop England hosts Porter-Gaud Monday.

WANDO 5, JAMES ISLAND 1
Singles: Covington d. Wright 6-2, 6-1. Bridges (JI) d. Redden 6-2, 1-6, 10-4. Lopresti d. Sechrist 7-6, 7-3, 6-3. Cuiffo d. Bailey 6-1, 6-4. Winglosky d. Lomano 6-3, 3-6, 12-10.  Doubles: Smith/Garrett d. Wright/Maxwell 6-4, 6-1.
Records: Wando 8-2.

(04/02/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Green Wave tennis team drops barn-burner to Bluffton
The cheers from the Green Wave tennis match were louder than those coming from the soccer game being played directly in front of Blanton Courts.

Most high school tennis matches are quiet affairs but Thursday’s battle between Summerville and Bluffton featured a bit of a ruckus.

Bluffton defeated Summerville 4-3, but not before two singles matches and a doubles match went into tiebreaker sets.

By the time the No. 3 and No. 4 singles matches reached tiebreakers, members from each side who were done playing began boisterously cheering on their teammates. Parents also became vocal with their support.

By the time the pivotal No. 2 doubles match was nearing an end it was getting dark. The Summerville/Bluffton boys’ soccer match that was held only yards away had reached an end so members of the two soccer teams made their way to the courts and joined in on the fun.

The doubles teams went back and forth until the Bluffton pair of Richard Snyder and Matthew Ball finally pulled out a 7-5, 7-6 (5) victory over Brandon Sekula and Jack Hazel to clinch the victory for the Bobcats.

Earlier in the day, Sekula claimed a 7-5, 5-7, 10-8 victory over Morgan Philoxene at No. 4 singles and Summerville’s Adam Elliget won the No. 1 singles match 6-1, 6-1. Elliget also teamed up with Austin Wiseman for a 6-2, 6-3 Green Wave victory in the No. 1 doubles match.

The other match settle by a tiebreaker came at No. 3 singles where Bluffton’s Davis Rosenbloom won 7-6, 1-6, 10-6 over Walker Long.

Expectations are high for the Summerville team, which carried a 4-4 record into play this week. The Green Wave is 1-2 in Region 8-AAAA.

“The team has played some very good tennis against some excellent competition but last week revealed we are not yet where we want to be,” Summerville coach David Long said. “We suffered region losses to Beaufort and Bluffton and had a non-region loss to Bishop England, all three by the score of 4-3. Newcomer Adam Elliget has provided stability at the top but we need more consistent play from the rest of the lineup.”

Three members of the team have had a particularly strong start this season. Elliget is 8-0 while both Long and Sekula are 6-2.

“I still believe we have the nucleus to contend for the region title but we are going to have to make some strides of improvement,” Coach Long said. “It is really about how you do in the state playoffs but the region determines the seeding which is important. I reminded our four seniors that they only have one month left in their high school career.”

On Thursday, Summerville hosts Fort Dorchester for another region match.


(04/02/14)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Jankovic wins in straight sets at Family Circle Cup
Jelena Jankovic, the 2007 Family Circle Cup champion and No. 2 seed, scored a straight set, 6-0, 6-3 victory over American Lauren Davis Wednesday. No. 3 seed Sara Errani and No. 4 seed Sabine Lisicki also advanced.

Errani moved on when Kiki Bertems retired with a lower back injury after losing the first set, 6-3. Vania King took Lisicki to three sets but the 2009 Family Circle Cup champion outlasted the American, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

Earlier Wednesday, another high-seeded American was upset; No. 5 Sloane Stephens dropped a 6-4, 6-4 stadium court match to Elina Svitolina.

Top seed Serena Williams lost Tuesday night. No. 15 seed Madison Keys dropped a three-set match to Shuai Peng.

Venus Williams rallied for a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Chanelle Scheepers after Scheepers led 4-1 in the second set.

Later Wednesday, No. 3 Sara Errani and No. 11 Venus Williams were scheduled for matches.


(04/02/14)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Errani, Lisicki, Venus win, No. 5 seed Sloane Stephens upset at Family Circle Cup
No. 3 seed Sara Errani and No. 4 seed Sabine Lisicki advanced Wednesday at the Family Circle Cup.

Errani moved on when Kiki Bertems retired with a lower back injury after losing the first set, 6-3. Vania King took Lisicki to three sets but the 2009 Family Circle Cup champion outlasted the American, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

Earlier Wednesday, another high-seeded American was upset; No. 5 Sloane Stephens dropped a 6-4, 6-4 stadium court match to Elina Svitolina.

Top seed Serena Williams lost Tuesday night. No. 15 seed Madison Keys dropped a three-set match to Shuai Peng.

Venus Williams rallied for a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Chanelle Scheepers after Scheepers led 4-1 in the second set.

Later Wednesday, No. 3 Sara Errani and No. 11 Venus Williams were scheduled for matches.

No. 2 Jelena Jankovic plays Wednesday night on stadium court against American Lauren Davis.


(04/02/14)  GENE SAPAKOFF: 0-4 at the Family Circle Cup, but don't give up on Sloane Stephens
It's become a regularly scheduled doubleheader every time Sloane Stephens takes the court.

- Stephens vs. foe.

- A 21-year-old American wrestling with grand expectations.

We began wanting a lot after Stephens stunned Serena Williams at the 2013 Australian Open quarterfinals. She was just 19, South Florida born and raised with an NFL bloodline.

But Stephens hasn't reached another semifinal in any tournament since, and typically bows out earlier than her seed forecasts.

Wednesday, for instance. Stephens, the Family Circle Cup's No. 5 seed, lost to Elina Svitlolina.

And had to explain herself.

Once more.

"If I play 10 more years of tennis, until I'm 31, that's a lot of tennis to be played," Stephens said. "I could like . I could win the next Grand Slam, or I could win one in six years and that would still be, you know, if I had pretty decent results and I was pretty consistent, I think that would still be pretty good."

She's right. Still plenty of time to struggle, mature, struggle more, gain perspective and start winning consistently. Stephens is the daughter of Sybil Smith, an All-American swimmer at Boston University, and late former NFL running back John Stephens. She has the athleticism and tennis game to succeed into her 30s.

There is no reason to expect true greatness from a player who had one enchanted fortnight in Australia.

And it wasn't such a mammoth upset Wednesday. Stephens is ranked No. 18 in the world; Svitlonia, a 19-year-old Ukrainian, is No. 35.

But that "rising American star" label is hard to live up to, even for someone who has won $2.4 million in prize money. Fans and reporters desperately seek a U.S. player able to join Serena in the top 10.

0-for-stadium court

Stephens and Williams have had a chilly relationship since that Australian Open upset last year. Stephens blasted Williams in a magazine article, then claimed her comments were off-the-record. Serena unfollowed Stephens on Twitter.

Stephens brought Williams into the conversation Wednesday when asked if she's feeling pressure to step up and represent American tennis.

"No," Stephens said. "I feel like the No. 1 player in the world on the women's side is Serena Williams and she's one of the greatest players to ever play our game and she's American, and she's still playing. I don't feel any pressure.

"If the pressure is on anyone, it's on her because she's one of the greatest to ever player and I don't feel like - I mean, she's dominating. What are they looking for?"

From Stephens, Charleston fans simply seek a victory. She is 0-for-stadium court in four straight Family Circle Cup appearances.

Charity, and Cracker Barrel

In 2011, Stephens was barely known.

Wednesday and last year, she had the Daniel Island crowd behind her.

"People are still yelling like crazy things," Stephens said. "But, like I said, that's going to happen for 10 more years if I keep playing."

Stephens dealt with a volley of expectations questions Monday upon her Family Circle Cup arrival. She talked tennis goals, but also life balance. Stephens is investigating good ways to provide deprived African girls with feminine hygiene products through her foundation.

"That's the kind of thing I like to think about," Stephens said.

Asked if Charleston's reputation for fine dining made her want to check out some restaurants, Stephens smiled.

"It does," she said, "but I'd really like to go to Cracker Barrel."

A nice choice for a good meal at a fair price.

No. 18 is a solid ranking.

Eventually, young Sloane Stephens will expand her game, on the court and around Charleston.

*LCTennis Editor’s Note:
I must disagree with Gene. I gave up on Stephens in 2013 when she won just two games after being heavily promoted and touted as the next American hope to replace Serena. She hasn't even won a set here yet.

Stephens' Family Circle Cup results:
2011  FIRST ROUND LOSS: Shuai Peng 6-2, 6-1
2012  FIRST ROUND LOSS: Jamie Hampton 7-5(0), 7-6(1)
2013  FIRST ROUND LOSS: Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-2, 6-0
2014: SECOND ROUND LOSS (First Round Bye): Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-4


(04/02/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
WEST ASHLEY 5, STRATFORD 1
Singles: T. Anastopoulo (WA) d. D. Sides 6-3, 6-1; Ropp (WA) d. G. Wong 7-5, 6-2; S. Anastapoulo (WA) d. J. Wong 6-4, 1-6, 11-9; Gunn (WA) d. G. Sides 6-1, 6-2; Hoffman (S) d. Germain 6-0, 6-1.  Doubles: Sadler/Foster (WA) d. Yeung/Smith 8-5.
Records: Stratford 5-3, 1-2.
Next: Stratford hosts Academic Magnet Monday.

WANDO 6, GOOSE CREEK 0
Singles: DaCosta (W) d. Elkins 6-0, 6-0; Browder (W) d. Rhodes 6-0, 6-0; Redden (W) d. McNeal 6-0, 6-1; Weston (W) d. Mitchell 6-0, 6-0; Lopresti (W) d. Gaza 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: Winglosky/Covington (W) d. DeGuzman/Leatherwood 6-0, 6-0.
Records: Wando 7-2, 3-0.

JAMES ISLAND 7, HANAHAN 0
Singles: Wright (JI) d. Briggs 6-0, 6-0; Bridges (JI) d. Vinson 6-3, 6-2; Seachrist (JI) d. Vong 6-2, 6-1; Bailey (JI) d. Magrane 6-3, 6-2; Lomano (JI) d. Meyer 6-0, 6-0. 
Doubles: Wright/Maxwell (JI) d. Hoff/Doback 6-1, 6-1
Next: James Island is at Wando today.

WEST ASHLEY 4, ACADEMIC MAGNET 3
Singles: T. Anastopoulo (WA) d. Legerston 6-3, 6-1; Moss (AM) d. Ropp 6-3, 6-2; S. Anastopoulo (WA) d. McCrae 6-3, 1-6, 10-8; Dunn (WA) d. Whitaker 7-6, 6-1; Nietert (AM) d. Wise 6-0, 6-1.  Doubles: T. Anastopoulo/Ropp (WA) d. Legerston/Moss 6-1, 6-4; Middleton/Bahadori (AM) d. Sadler/Foster 6-1, 6-3.
Next: West Ashley hosts Goose Creek Thursday.

PORTER-GAUD 7, PINEWOOD 2
Singles: Fenno (PG) d. Holoubek 6-1, 6-0; Tolliver (PG) d. Wert 6-0, 6-0; Vingi (PG) d. Russi 6-1, 6-1; Craigie (PG) d. Bailey 6-0, 6-0; Kammerer (PG) d. Diffley 6-1, 6-1; Snyder (PG) d. Olarv 6-0, 6-4. 


(04/02/14)  TENNIS.com BLOG:  Charleston sets good example for Miami
Miami likes its heat, both in the air and on the basketball court, but could probably do without the criticism its tennis tournament has recently received.

The Sony Open gave us two No. 1 vs. No. 2 singles finals (along with two men’s semifinal walkovers), but an unavoidable takeaway from the event is that it’s falling further behind its western rival, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, in terms of prestige and opinion.

Things aren’t at a boiling point for Miami, not with its coveted Masters 1000 designation, but renovations to the aging facilities are needed. Paul-Henri Mathieu called Miami the “most regressed tournament” on Twitter, after saying that Indian Wells was the “most improved tournament for the last decade.”

Of greater concern was this blunt assessment from tournament director Adam Barrett: “We want to stay in South Florida but we don’t want to run a second-class or third-tier event.”

For many reasons, Miami is not Indian Wells, and it shouldn’t look towards the Coachella Valley for inspiration. Yes, its $50 million renovation plans should take cues from Larry Ellison’s ideas, but Miami needs to differentiate from Indian Wells, not imitate it. It should, however, look to imitate a different American tournament in one significant way.

Which brings me to this week’s Family Circle Cup in Charleston. Now its 42nd year, the green-clay tournament has been an unqualified success story at a time when tournaments are leaving the United States in droves. It is the longest-running pro tournament sponsored by the same company, punches well above its weight in the fields it draws -- 15 of the 16 seeds in this year’s event are in the Top 40 -- and receives rave reviews from players.

And from this fan as well. Sadly, I won’t be attending the Family Circle Cup for the first time in five years, but I’ll be watching the women kick off the clay-court season on green Har-Tru. The surface is a pleasure to play on -- it’s easy to move around and forces you to hit a lot of shots -- and gives the U.S. something no other tournament offers. Think of Charleston as everything that Madrid wasn’t, when that tournament infamously switched to blue clay for one year.

I also think of Charleston as everything that Miami should be, only on a much smaller scale. Har-Tru has a long history in the state of Florida, and using it would be a natural way for Miami to evolve and create some much-needed buzz. Changing to clay would also be seamless from a calendar perspective, with the red-clay season beginning in Europe shortly after Miami’s conclusion (along with Charleston, of course).

Instead of ending a long hard-court slog, Miami could become the kickoff of the clay-court season. For that reason, I believe a surface switch would go over well with players, particularly those from South America who grew up on clay and receive tremendous support from the Latin-heavy crowds in Miami.

If Indian Wells serves as the entrée in the post-Australia hard-court meal, Miami is the third helping I didn’t really need. Charleston is something entirely different, the pecan-filled desert.

Enjoy it this week, perhaps with a sweet tea vodka, and hope that Miami comes to its senses and goes green.


(04/02/14)  CHARLESTON CHRONICLE: Family Circle Cup Tournament Hits Full Stride

Springtime is a very idyllic time of the year. And in the Lowcountry that reality hits home big time when the Family Circle Cup Tennis Tournament rolls around.

Beginning this past weekend on March 29, 2014, this spectacular extravaganza featuring some of the world’s best professional women’s tennis players was already in full bloom with spirited and anticipated competition. The finale is on Sunday, April 6, 2014, when this year’s champion will be crowned.

With world No. 1 and Family Circle Cup reigning champion, superstar Serena Williams, headlining this year’s showcase of stars, the tennis tournament figures to be one of the very best ever. Serena’s presence brings the fans of tennis out to see her because of her dynamic and potent approach to the game, setting the bar so high very few know what to do with her on the tennis court.

You name it and Serena Williams has done it all on the tennis courts of the globe. The women athletes’ all time money winner (more than 55 million dollars earned), this celebrated queen of tennis has won multiple Grand Slam single titles at Wimbledon, the U. S. Open, the Australian and French Opens among her numerous other single and doubles honors added to her splendid professional athletic resume.

Thus far the crowds at the Family Circle Cup have been a buzz over the 32-year-old Ms. Williams, who’s also a four time Olympic gold medalist (three times in doubles to go along with a single title, possibility of capturing her third in a row title. She previously won in 2012 and 2013. The expectation is high for Serena Williams who, naturally, entered the tournament listed as No. 1 and is the tournament’s top seed.

It’s to be noted that Serena also won in 2008, and the main competition for “this fast becoming a marvel in her own time” luminary’s Family Circle Cup throne comes from a hungry and talented group of challengers, including Ms. Williams’ famous sister, Venus Williams, the 2004 Cup victor and the tournament’s No. 2 seed for this year, Jeleena Jankovic, who won the event in 2007.

This year’s tournament is loaded with more past Cup champions including Nadia Petrova, who won in 2006, and Jellena Jankovic, the 2007 champion, who lost to Serena in last year’s championship match. Completing the former champion brigade’s list and ready to reclaim the 2014 Cup are Sabine Lisicki, 2009’s Cup winner, and Sam Stossur, who won in 2010.

Seasoned pros like Sorana Cirstea Sara Errani, and Sloane Stephens are ready to do battle in their quest to win the Cup also. Add to those stellar pros the names of Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Barbara Zahlavova Strycova among many other durable contenders, and you have a powerful glimpse of what’s been happening on Daniel Island since last weekend with many more tickets available for the remaining events and final tournament matches. The action is electric.

According to the Cup’s advance announcements, this year’s event features several eager newcomers who are more than willing to ascend up the ladder of professional tennis stratum and seeded rankings. Among them are (and were) Kiki Berten, Victoria Duval, Shelby Rogers, Eugenie Bouchard, Christina McHale, Grace Min, Alison Riske, Taylor Townsend and Madison Keyes. There are several other highly skilled players who are and were in attendance for this event competing to their heart’s content for the sake of victory.

As of Monday’s action, Grace Min beat Zarina Diyas, 6-1, 6-2, in what many considered a mild upset. Madison Brengle lost to Michelle Larcher DeBrito,6-4, 7-5. Taylor Townsend was defeated, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, by Jarmila Gajdosova. All these winners qualified to advance for further play in the week’s future main matches.

Others players who advanced through the allotted qualifying rounds into the main draw were No. 3 Alla Kudryavteva, No. 7 Belinda Bencie, No. 12 Saisai Zheng and Lesia Tsurenko. After these qualifying early matches, during which the first selection qualifying seedings were done, the excitement now begins for the next level of truly big time tennis thrills to begin in earnest.

You still have time to check out some of the best tennis played by anyone, male or female, you’ll ever see. These ladies are “baaad,” and you can be assured that that’s definitely good. Come see for yourself why they are called the world’s best.

The Family Circle Cup is quite an exceptional and professionally run affair. The Daniel Island setting and the stadium location are matchless entities unto themselves, and the professional players all seem to speak very highly of Charleston, the Family Cup staff and, of course, the challenging event itself as a key to the total success that makes the Family Circle Cup Tennis Tournament such a ballyhooed festivity.

It’s one of a kind and the Cup’s officiating personnel, along with all who are associated with this glamorous activity, take care of business again and again, year after year. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has to be proud of this event. It’s one of its very best.


(04/01/14)  Family Circle Cup players stop by at MUSC Children's Hospital
Tennis players competing at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel stopped by MUSC Children's Hospital on Tuesday to meet and play with the kids.

It's something tennis player Ajla Tomljanovic said was a must do for her.  She said she wanted to see a few smiling faces before getting back out on court for her next match.

This is the first year for MUSC Children's Hospital to be the official charity for the Family Circle Cup. The tournament will be donating $50,000 to the children`s hospital.


(04/01/14)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: FCC media event: with curiosity and access for all

The Monday of each Family Circle Cup week, the WTA invites representatives from international, national, state, and local media to attend an “All-Access Hour” with the top eight tournament players, and often several others. As members of the credentialed media, we at the Daniel Island News are fortunate to fraternize with these remarkable athletes for an hour, and are always anxious to share with our readers a unique peek at their personalities.

Traditionally, our deliverable has been a focused palette of responses from the players, often centered around one inquiry, such as “what does your mental pre-match prep look like?” or “where’s your favorite place to eat in Charleston?” The answers are varied and interesting, to be sure, but this year we wanted to pull back the lens a little bit.

The media event is one of those that has to be attended to be fully appreciated. But since we weren’t able to get press passes for all 30,000 of our readers, we put our team to work taking copious notes on the March 31 shindig – from noteworthy nuances to color commentary. In other words, we made y’all a fly on the wall.

At the Daniel Island Club on the picture-perfect spring afternoon, these top eight players of the tournament were present: 1. Serena Williams, 2. Jelena Jankovic, 3. Sara Errani, 4. Sabine Lisicki, 5. Sloane Stephens, 6. Samantha Stosur, 7. Eugenie Bouchard, and 8. Sorana Cirstea
 
The process
As each player arrives, she is guided across the back lawn of the Club by a WTA representative. After a brief interview with each television station and some FCC promo photos, the player makes her way into the Club ballroom to sign a range of merchandise – literally dozens of posters, photos, tennis balls, and hats.

Next, it’s on to the covered patio where several round tables are set up and reporters are eagerly waiting with notepads, pens, and recording devices in hand. The player sits at one of the tables, and the reporters surround her like a swarm of bees. The Q&A begins, and reporters are generally well-behaved, waiting for the player to finish a response before verbally elbowing out a fellow media-ite for the next question. However, what does seem at first blush very rude – but is apparently generally accepted interview procedure – is the frequent occurrence of reporters abruptly ditching one player’s interview for another at a nearby table.

And here’s where it proves a system that favors efficiency over social manners. Some players get through the televised media spots more quickly than others, so there is some overlap of arrival at the round tables. Sloan Stephens arrived most promptly, was first to sit at a table, and gave over 15 minutes of interview. Jankovic took the seat that Stephens had warmed up, and spent another 20 minutes with the media. But while she kept the reporters engaged, Cirstea sat down at an adjacent table and drew just a couple media members before politely departing after less than five minutes.

The overlap continued with Bouchard, Lisicki, and Stosur filing into the patio in relatively quick succession. Williams came in at the end – not to create a grand finale, but rather because she’d apparently had trouble finding the Club (and indicated on her way in that she was “stressed,” though she quickly recovered).

Perhaps the biggest hiccup in the process was when Errani, who had made the run through her local and WTA television spots, arrived at a media table as reporters were still in full chat with Bouchard. After waiting alone for several minutes and scanning through her phone, a WTA representative whisked her away. When a reporter asked if she would still provide comments, the tour rep stated that she was late for an autograph-signing event.

The players
First, the important stuff: Though they were all dressed in off-the-court athletic gear, nearly every one of them was wearing jewelry and well over half sported what appeared to be fresh (and super snazzy) manicures.

Most self-deprecating: Jankovic. She claims to have two personalities – one on the court and one off the court – but she is working on her composure. At the media table, however, she was the picture of calm, even as reporters hounded about her game-time temperament for the better part of the interview. Later, she was seen putting on the Club’s green, clearly poking fun at herself as she laughed while pretending to throw a golf-induced hissy fit.

Most likely to be adopted by Charleston: Stosur. When asked to reveal her favorite tournament, she replied, “I have to be honest, and I’m not just saying this because I’m here, but it’s this one. The event is so well-supported, and it’s such a great city.” She does a carriage tour every time she’s here, and always has her treasured restaurant reservations made well in advance.

Quote of the day: Williams. When asked about her willingness to reveal to the media her training and strategy, she responded, “I don’t want to share the secret recipe while I’m still cooking.”

Most endearing shout-out to parent: Lisicki, who more than once gushed about being coached by her father.

Arguably world’s most mature 20 year-old: Bouchard. She responded with serious, thoughtful answers, stated that she regularly leans on her parents and her agent for advice regarding her behavior and off-the-court image, and related her successful transition from Juniors to Pros as a near-scientific effort. Oh, and she did not have on any jewelry.

Most chill: Stephens. If there had been some appletinis, this truly would have felt like meeting a friend for happy hour. She was casual, authentic, off-the-cuff, and summed it up with this: “I have a lot of tennis to play – hopefully another ten years – so I’m just really trying to enjoy myself.”

The media
Reporters and camera crews were on hand from local media (from yours truly to the Post and Courier) and national publications (New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today). A half dozen cameras on tripods were set overlooking the marsh, ready for their close-up interviews with the players.

At the media tables, some reporters are always intent on asking technical questions, where others try to draw out more personality and flair. They set their voice-recording smartphones right in front of the player, then sit back to take notes sporadically. The long lens of a camera will occasionally creep up from behind, and begin clicking away as the player speaks on, hardly noticing.

Meredith Corporation had reporters on hand from “The Better Show” and were working with German player Andrea Petkovic as part of their sponsorship with Jamba Juice. She was a great sport – holding a plank, hanging out in a deep squat, and doing a walking lunge - even flexing her arms and making a funny face at the urging of a reporter.

An altercation between a bald eagle and a mighty osprey nearly stole the show. Early in the media hour, every head turned as the screech of a fowl fight came from just above the television setups on the lawn. Within seconds, the jokes came rolling in to the tune of, “Say what you will about the media being vultures – that eagle just stole a fish right out of the osprey’s beak!”

The administration
There were roughly a dozen organizers from both the WTA and the FCC. The folks from the WTA were often recognizable by their cool foreign accents, hushed tones, and shepherd-like chumminess with the players. The FCC crew were the ones looking like kids in a candy store, where the kids are actually very professional and the candy store is in their backyard.

The overall vibe
Love. Especially for and from the birthday girls. Midway through the media hour, Stephens – who celebrated her 21st birthday just a couple weeks ago - was sitting with a WTA television reporter when she spotted Stosur – a March 31 baby - walking toward another media area. Stephens shouted out, from a good 50 yards away, “Happy Birthday, Sam!” Stosur grinned widely and shouted back, “Thank you Sloane!” Later, as Stosur sat conferencing with reporters at a patio table, Stephens walked up from behind and gave her a big hug.

Bugs. Those nasty no-see-ums. The reporters swatted at them but pretended to not be distracted. The players swatted at them and commented on their persistence. Williams waved at them and itched her legs and, in the end, jokingly (but with perhaps some truth) blamed them for wrapping up her time at the media table.

Fun. All the players were great sports about participating in this access hour, never acting as though it was obligatory. It seemed as though they were perhaps happy to be away from the courts for a while – even if just down the road – to dish with some media friends old and new.


(04/02/14)  JEFF HARTSELL: Bounced from Family Circle Cup, world No. 1 Serena Williams 'needs a breather'
When it was over, the world's No. 1-ranked player sounded almost relieved that she wouldn't have to try to win the Family Circle Cup for a third straight year.

"I'm really just dead," Serena Williams said Tuesday night after a shocking 6-4, 6-4 loss in her opening match against Jana Cepelova, a 20-year-old Slovakian ranked No. 78. "I need some weeks off where I don't think about tennis and kind of regroup. I've had a long couple of years, and I'm really a little fatigued."

Serena's spring break - "I'm going to go on a vacation for sure," she said - will come at a price.

The 32-year-old was trying to win her third straight Family Circle Cup title and fourth overall, putting her in the company of tennis legend Chris Evert, who won five straight FCC titles from 1974-78.

Serena won her 59th WTA singles title last week on hardcourts in Miami. But it wasn't the quick turnaround to green clay that did her in; she's made that transition before. She said it was the culmination of the last two years, when she's reclaimed her No. 1 ranking and won 18 titles after a nearly year-long layoff in 2011 due to illness and injury.

"There's just been so much in the last several years," said Serena, who lost for just the fourth time on clay to a player ranked outside of the top 75. "I just need to take a deep breath and regroup. I think actually it'll really help me for the rest of the clay-court season."

Former Family Circle Cup champions Venus Williams, Serena's older sister, and Samantha Stosur flirted with similar disaster. Each needed three sets and more than two hours to win. No. 8 seed Sorana Cirstea did lose, and hometown favorite Shelby Rogers put up a brave fight in a 7-5, 7-5 loss to No. 12 Daniela Hantuchova.

But the big story was Serena, who had received a first-round bye. She was quick to credit Cepelova, who played a $50,000 ITF event in Osprey, Fla., last week and did not even bring her coach with her to Charleston. But Serena might have lost to almost anybody on Tuesday; as it is, it was her worst loss since she fell to No. 111 Virginie Razzano in the French Open in 2011.

Williams, who had won her last 15 matches at the Family Circle Cup, sleep-walked through the first 20 minutes, dropping the first five games as a stunned crowd at Billie Jean King Stadium Court watched in silence.

Early in the second set, Serena called for a medical time out and a trainer examined her lower back and taped her left thigh. Williams rallied briefly, but Cepelova did not fold, mixing solid groundstrokes with timely drop shots.

"All credit to her," said Serena, who lost on Stadium Court for the first time since she had to retire against Yung-Jan Chan in 2007. "She did well today ... she played the best she can probably play."

Cepelova actually defeated 2010 Family Circle Cup champ Stosur, then ranked No. 16, in three sets in Doha earlier this year. But even that didn't prepare her for the reality of upsetting the world's top player.

"No. No," Cepelova said when asked if she thought before the match that she could beat Serena. "Of course, if you go to the court, you have to have all head to win. But it was not on my . I was nervous and I was not thinking about my win today."

Serena's loss opens her side of the bracket for players such as No. 3-seed Sara Errani, No. 5 Sloane Stephens and No. 15 Madison Keys. Four former Family Circle champs - Stosur, Venus Williams, Sabine Lisicki and No. 2 seed Jelena Jankovic - lurk on the other side.

What has been Serena's Show on Daniel Island is now wide open. She'll be somewhere far away.

"I'm excited," she said. "I feel like I now have the time to just take a breath and the break that I really needed to take and go from there."


(04/01/14)  JEFF HARTSELL: Minus the Pips, Gladys Knight cheers on Venus Williams at Family Circle Cup

As Venus Williams swatted autographed tennis balls into the stands at Billie Jean King Stadium Court after her victory Tuesday, she aimed the last one straight at one of her biggest fans.

And without the aid of a single Pip, Gladys Knight snatched the ball out of mid-air.

"She's got some hand-eye coordination," Venus said of the famed singer, leader of the group Gladys Knight and the Pips. "Sings and plays sports. That's awesome."

Williams, whose career seems in permanent comeback mode since she was diagnosed in 2011 with Sjogren's Syndrome, had to fight hard Tuesday to avoid having to catch a midnight plane back to her home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

She needed three sets and more than two hours for a 6-3, 0-6, 7-5 victory over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic. Venus had four match points at 5-4 in the third, then closed it out by smashing a forehand volley on her fifth chance.

Williams, 33 and seeded No. 11 at the Family Circle Cup, has spent the last three years learning how to control her condition, an autoimmune disease that can sap energy and cause joint pain and digestive issues.

She made the semifinals at the FCC last year - "I don't know how," she said - and won in Dubai in Feburary, a major step for the seven-time Grand Slam champ.

"I haven't gotten rid of it," Venus said of Sjogren's. "I wish I could have. Unfortunately, it clings to me."

To combat the disease, she's adopted new exercise regimens and a vegan diet, and is "just always going for optimal health."

"This time last year, I was not definitely not anywhere in control," she said. "I was trying to figure out how I can be better, and sometimes that's tough because you're not doing anything wrong. You've always done things right your whole career, and you're facing something you can't control."

Williams will play South African Chanelle Scheepers in the second round. Maybe Gladys will bring a Pip or two with her.

"She's sweet," Venus said. "I've known her through the years, so it was a nice surprise to see her here. I didn't know she was coming."

Toss balls, win prizes

Family Circle Cup fans will have a chance to win a computer tablet or autographed memorabilia on Friday night at Stadium Court.

As part of SunTrust Night, the first 5,000 attendees will receive stress balls. After the night's first quarterfinal match (at about 8:45 p.m.), fans will try to toss the balls into one of eight-on court bins. One winner from each bin will receive a tablet or autographed items.

SunTrust will donate $5 for each ball that ends up in a bin (up to $2,500) to its pediatric oncology support fund at MUSC Children's Hospital.

Diet tips
At 5-11¼ and a rail-thin 137 pounds, 30-year-old Daniela Hantuchova makes a striking figure on court. And now, her diet secret is out.

Tuna steak. And lots of it, apparently.

"I had it at Blossom and Cypress," the No. 32-ranked player said, naming two of Charleston's most famous restaurants. "I don't know where else I'm going to have it, but it's awesome."

That's coincided with a drop in Nutella consumption.

"I'm trying to cut down on that a little bit, be a little smarter," she said of the hazelnut spread. "But yeah, if I have a chance, I still love it."

Attendance
Crowds for the first three days of the Family Circle, including two days of qualifying, totaled 18,348 fans, an average of 6,116 per session.

That's just ahead of last year's three-day pace of 18,261 fans. To equal the FCC record of 95,767 (set over 14 sessions in 2010), the tournament must average 7,367 fans over 13 sessions.


(04/01/14)  Shelby Rogers takes her game to another level in loss to Daniela Hantuchova at Family Circle Cup
There is no doubt that Shelby Rogers is a world-class tennis player after the performance the homegrown 21-year-old put on Tuesday in Family Circle Stadium. She did everything but close out a pair of sets.

Yes, she lost, 7-5, 7-5, to 12th-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia. Yet, Rogers probably gained a new level of respect with her play.

Knowing how close she had come to her first Family Circle Cup main draw victory, Rogers fought back tears in the interview room.

"I'm glad I put on a good show for the crowd and I'm glad they were here to see how I've improved . . . to play that well against a good, seasoned player is encouraging," said Rogers, now ranked 109th in the world.

"She knew exactly what to do on the big points . . . she made me feel the pressure and she was hitting really deep, moving well. She stepped up her game when she needed to."

This was a far better showing for Rogers than three years earlier on the same court when she won the first set against veteran Jill Craybas before dropping a 6-0 third set.

Rogers outhit and outplayed Hantuchova to be in position to serve for the first set and then to twice serve for the second set. She dropped the last four games of the first set and last five games of the second set.

For most of the other 15 games, Rogers played spectacular tennis in dominating a 30-year-old opponent who is currently ranked No. 32 and was once ranked as high as fifth in the world. Rogers put on a clinic in those games by nailing forehands and backhands cross-court and down the lines.

Rogers was a true big-time pro . . . until it came time to serve for the first set at 5-4. She gave the game away with four unforced errors. When she served to stay in the set two games later, she committed four more unforced errors.

Rogers bounced back in the second set and appeared poised to force a third set by charging to a 5-2 lead.

But just as she had done when the first set was on the line, Hantuchova, often labeled a one-dimensional player, changed her game. She went cautious, taking pace off of the ball and moving the ball around the court. And Rogers cooperated, falling prey to over-hitting and being caught out of position.

"I think it's the way you have to play on clay, change it up, mixing it up, not playing one dimensional and use different shots," Hantuchova said.


(04/01/14)  GENE SAPAKOFF and JEFF HARTSELL: Stosur, Williams survive three-set, first-round matches at Family Circle Cup

Former Family Circle Cup champions Samantha Stosur and Venus Williams survived demanding three-set matches Tuesday on Daniel Island. Stosur, the No. 7 seed, defeated Yaroslava Shevdova, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.

Williams, the No. 11 seed, fought through illness and a sloppy second set to eliminate Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 6-3, 0-6, 6-4.

Earlier Tuesday, Charleston's Shelby Rogers gave No. 12 seed Daniela Hantuchova two tough sets in pursuit of her first Family Circle Cup main draw victory but lost, 7-5, 7-5, on the Billie Jean King Stadium Court.

Rogers, 21, is ranked No. 109 among WTA players. She lost to Jill Craybas in her only previous Family Circle Cup main draw match, in 2011.

With plenty of fans, friends and family in the stands, Rogers took leads in both sets before bowing to the 30-year-old Hantuchova, ranked No. 32.

"I definitely know I can compete with these girls," an emotional Rogers said after the match. "I was up in both sets. I guess I learned that I need to be a little more solid, to be aggressive right back to close out these sets.

"I'm glad I was able to put on a good show for the crowd, that they were able to see how much I've improved," she said. "To play that well against a good, seasoned player was pretty incredible.

American Vania King advanced to the second round with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 win over Julia Glushko.

Later Tuesday on the stadium court, No. 7 seed Samantha Stosur plays Yaroslava Shevedova and No. 6 seed Eugenie Bouchard plays Alla Kudryavtseva.

No. 1 seed Serena Williams is in action Tuesday night against Jana Cepelova.


(03/31/14) GENE SAPAKOFF: Eugenie Bouchard, the WTA's top rising (North) American star
Always looking ahead, the Family Circle Cup marketing staff Monday had some of the world's top tennis players reading promos for next year.

"The Family Circle Cup, April 4th to 12th, 2015. We'll see you there," Eugenie Bouchard said, squinting through sunshine at a camera.

"Genie. Can we get you to finish with a smile?"

"I'll try," the 20-year-old Canadian said with a giggle.

No problem for Bouchard, the latest prime candidate for the future face of women's tennis. This week's Family Circle Cup has a great group of young Americans, but no one on Daniel Island shines brighter with potential than Bouchard. Ranked No. 20 in WTA singles, the Montreal native slugged her way to the Australian Open semifinals in January before losing to eventual champion Li Na.

"She may be the best player in the world one day," Na said.

Reasons to believe:

Bouchard was a junior whiz, training in Florida with coach Nick Saviano. She won the Wimbledon girls' final and other prestigious youth tournaments.

The 5-10, 134-pound Bouchard quickly transitioned from a steady player as a kid to a power pro, vaulting from No. 144 in the WTA rankings to No. 32 last year.

She gets it. The WTA is selling her look as well as her game, but Bouchard seems to have the head for career management, on and off the court.

"Outside attention is great," she said Monday. "But if there's no tennis, no one will really care. So I know I have to perform on the court and that's the reason I'm here."

Bouchard was asked if WTA players think of her differently now.

"I don't know," Bouchard said. "They can think what they want. I'm just focused on myself."

Popular with fans

Her post-Melbourne life has included plenty of adjustments.

"The main thing is just requests," Bouchard said. "My agent will say, 'Don't do this' or 'Don't do that' and I think it's important to say no to a few things just because it will take up so much time. The most important thing is my time on the practice court and fitness. After I get all those things done, then I can go and do something else."

That doesn't mean Bouchard can't enjoy a little popularity. A fan club turns up at every tournament. Canadian pop star Justin Bieber offered a good luck Tweet during the Australian Open.

A Family Circle Cup website poll Monday asked fans to vote for the player they were "most excited to see."

Two-time defending champ Serena Williams was the runaway leader with 560 votes. Bouchard was second with 185, well ahead of everyone else.

"It's fun at tournaments," Bouchard said. "More fans, more people care about what you're doing. I'm just trying to take it all in stride."

'Huge improvements'

High-level tennis success comes with tricky spin, as young players find out every year. Sloane Stephens, 21, reached the semifinals at the 2013 Australian Open, endured a year of ups and downs and finished ranked No. 12. She is No. 18 this week.

"I've learned that I have a lot of tennis to play," Stephens said Monday. "It's definitely been a learning process."

Bouchard carries the extra weight of an eager nation. The only other Canadians in the top 200 are No. 87 Sharon Fichman and No. 172 Aleksandra Wozniak.

Canada is still looking for its first Grand Slam singles champion.

Don't bet against Bouchard.

"She's made huge improvements in the last couple of years," WTA veteran Samantha Stosur said Monday. "Now she's made the semi of a Grand Slam. She has a good game and she's still young and there are still lots of ways she can improve. I think she's going to be an exciting player for years to come."


(03/31/14)  JEFF HARTSELL: Former Family Circle Cup champ Jelena Jankovic tries to avoid 'beast' mode
Sometimes when Jelena Jankovic watches herself on video, she barely recognizes the player on the screen. The trademark ponytail, pulled back tightly, and quick smile are there.

But once in a while there is ... the other.

"I put on the video and I'm like, 'Oh my God, who is that person?'" Jankovic said Monday as she prepares for her 11th appearance at the Family Circle Cup. "I have two personalities, one off the court and one on the court. On court, sometimes I turn into a beast. I don't know what happens, my evil twin comes on court."

Always personable away from the court, the 29-year-old Serb - who won the Family Circle Cup title in 2007 - is making a concerted effort to tame her on-court demons.

Ranked No. 1 in the world in 2008, Jankovic is back in the WTA Tour's top 10 at No. 8. A better grip on her emotions might help Jankovic close the gap with No. 1 Serena Williams.

Serena's 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 win over Jankovic in last year's FCC finals featured a moment when Jankovic grew frustrated with the pace of play.

"How long do I have to wait?" Jankovic asked.

"Until I'm ready," Serena answered.

Williams' straight-set win over Jankovic in Dubai earlier this year included a similar confrontation, complete with lengthy post-match discussion.

"I start beating myself, and it's like you get water in your ears," Jankovic said. "You don't know what's going on, you are not aware of how your opponent is playing or the mistakes you are making. I don't play well when I'm too calm, either, so it's a balance between staying calm and being pumped up to play good tennis."

Jankovic, who will open with a second-round match against young American Lauren Davis, will have the rest of the week to work on her emotions before she'll have to face top-seeded Serena. Jankovic is the No. 2 seed and the pair would not meet until Sunday's championship match.

Serena's secret
Unlike golf star Tiger Woods, who has made no secret of his desire to surpass Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships, Serena Williams claims to have no such magic number in mind.

"I like to keep it vague," the world's No. 1 player said Monday when asked about her goals. "That's my secret. That way, I don't put so much pressure on myself. I could stop playing today and say that I've had a great career."

It's a canny move for Serena. As great as Tiger's career has been, he's invited critics to see failure if he does not match Nicklaus' record.

The record for Grand Slam singles titles for women is 22, held by Steffi Graf. Serena is fourth on that list with 17 titles, one behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

"It feels good to see your name up there with historic players," said Serena, who is going for a three-peat at the Family Circle Cup. "You never think you could do something as awesome as they did."

FCC to host "Pink Out"
The Family Circle Cup and MUSC Health will team to host "Pink Out Komen Night for the Cure" on Wednesday night.

Fans are encouraged to wear pink for the evening session from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. For every fan in pink, the Family Circle Cup and MUSC Health will donate $1 to the local affiliate of Susan G. Komen.

Players will enter Stadium Court on a pink carpet, and ball crew and umpires will be wearing pink.


(03/31/14)  JEFF HARTSELL: Young Americans Madison Keys, Lauren Davis open Family Circle Cup with victories
At the Family Circle Cup players' party Sunday night, at a Charleston gathering place on Calhoun Street, 19-year-old Madison Keys did what a teenager should.

She had fun.

"I did," she said, flashing a smile at the memory. "At the photo booth, the dance floor, the candy bar. It was a fun party."

Things turned a bit more serious Monday afternoon on Billie Jean King Stadium Court. Keys, seeded No. 15 at the 42nd Family Circle Cup, had to gut out two tiebreakers on the way to a 7-6, 7-6 victory over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia.

Keys was one of three seeded players in action Monday amid mild temperatures and under blue skies on Daniel Island. Ninth-seeded Lucie Safarova, a Family Circle Cup finalist in 2012, and No. 10 seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia also advanced with straight-set victories in the $710,000 tournament.

Other young Americans were not as fortunate Monday. Alison Riske, 23, and ranked No. 48, fell in three sets to No. 77 Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa; and Varvara Lepchenko, 27, and No. 46, lost in three sets to Petra Cetkovska. Christina McHale and wild-card entrant Melanie Oudin both went out in straight sets.

World No. 1 Serena Williams, seeking her third straight Family Circle Cup title, opens her bid at 7 p.m. Tuesday on Stadium Court. Her sister, Venus, is seeded 11th and faces Barbora Zahlova Strycova in match that won't start before 11:30 a.m. on Stadium Court. Venus will be followed on Stadium Court by 2010 Family Circle Cup champ Samantha Stosur.

Hometown favorite Shelby Rogers of Daniel Island opens Tuesday's play against No. 12 seed Daniela Hantuchova at 10 a.m. on Stadium Court.

Keys, from Rock Island, Ill., is ranked No. 36 in the world, making her the second-highest ranked teenager on the WTA Tour, behind No. 35 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who also is 19 years old.

That means that for Keys, finding a balance between fun and business is an ongoing project, just as it is for any teenager. It's just for Keys, who has won more than $750,000 since turning pro in 2009, the stakes are a bit higher.

"If you know me, you know I don't do serious very well," said Keys, who counts baking and shopping among the things she does for fun. "There's a time and place to be serious, but for me it's just about enjoying life."

Playing on clay courts is not one of the things Keys does for fun, but her breakthrough season last year included a run to the quarterfinals on the Family Circle Cup's green clay. There, she lost to her idol, Venus Williams, 6-4, 6-4.

"There are definitely times when clay frustrates me," said Keys, who gave up only three points in her two tiebreaks against Lucic-Baroni. "And I'm sure it's pretty obvious to other people. But it's something I'm really working on. It's just getting used to it and being more comfortable on it."

Another young American, 20-year-old Lauren Davis, looked comfortable in just her second appearance at the Family Circle Cup. Davis, ranked No. 62 and from Gates Mill, Ohio, continued a strong recent run of play with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Germany's Dinah Pfizenmaier.

Davis knocked off world No. 4 Victoria Azarenka on the way to the round of 16 at Indian Wells last month.


(03/31/14)  WCIV-TV: Ladies Day Out at the Family Circle Cup
Fashion will take center court during Ladies Day Out at the Family Circle Cup. Models will be wearing the latest Spring designs from Antigua Apparel, the official tournament outfitter, Nike and EleVen by Venus Williams.

"Today at the Family Circle Cup is our first Ladies Day Out," said Eleanor Adams, Tournament Manager of the Family Circle Cup. "From the red carpet, to the fashion show on the grand lawn and the seminars on health and wellness, the day is all about women. Of course we have a full line-up of action packed matches, too."

Keeping with the red carpet fashion theme, Ladies are invited to take a photo on the red carpet just like the stars in Hollywood.

The fashion tent will also be offering special deals for shoppers. A t-shirt will be given to each shopper who spends at least $100.

The event will also be dedicated to health and wellness. Guests are invited to the Ketel One racquet club to chat with dermatologist, participate in a mind, body and fitness training session, hosted by fitness magazine's editor-in-chief.

A cooking tutorial is also available to those who are interested.

The event also promises culture with the Wine and Design mobile truck, the vanity salon style bus and Skirt! magazine 'Serves Lounge.'

The first 1,000 people through the gate will receive a attendee gift. Tickets for the event costs $60.00 for terrace level, and $25.00 for grandstand.

Unfortunately the Move Forward luncheon sold out last week.


(03/31/14)  MOULTRIE NEWS: FRANKIE MANSFIELD: Family Circle Cup grows even bigger in 42nd year
The courts are laid, the cameras are rolling and Daniel Island is buzzing full of tennis fans this week for the 42nd installment of the Family Circle Cup.

Since moving from Hilton Head to the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island in 2001, the event has grown into the premier tournament in women’s professional tennis. This year the tournament will see its largest broadcast exposure ever with the expansion of ESPN’s coverage.

What once was an eight-match broadcast has expanded to a 70-match week-long production broadcast live worldwide on the ESPN networks and WatchESPN websites. In the past, ESPN crews arrived on Wednesday and broadcast through Sunday. This year, ESPN will broadcast the entire tournament from Saturday of last week to Sunday of this week. Crews used to stay fixed on the stadium court, but now they broadcast the club court as well.

“Year one, we were trying to get the Family Circle Tennis Center off the ground,” tournament director Bob Moran said. “Today, we have a bigger footprint, more courts, more matches. The TV footprint with ESPN has grown dramatically and it only makes sense with the direction we’re headed and where they’re going with tennis coverage.”

This year’s field features players from 26 countries, while the American presence is as high as it has been since 2001. The main draw features 11 players from the United States, including world No.1 Serena Williams and No.16 Sloane Stephens. Also in the draw this year are Daniel Island natives Shelby Rogers and Melanie Oudin.

“It’s truly an international event. Consumption across the globe is much higher which is why ESPN bumped up the international coverage,” Moran said. “But there is a lot of excitement surrounding the younger Americans coming up. The crowd gets behind them. You can feel the energy in here when we have a young American playing well.”

Planning the Family Circle Cup is a 12-month process that begins just a week after the previous year’s tournament ends. As the interest and exposure grow, the event itself evolves from the inside out to maintain the high level of fan experience. Suites have been added to the stadium, along with bars in the upper levels. Even more tents line the surrounding lawns with food, drinks and live music. For operations director Jeff Church, the idea is to try to turn the entire event into one experience centered around the tournament.

“Everything has grown bigger and better over the years,” Church said. “We want fans to enjoy to come in and enjoy themselves, enjoy the tennis and take in all the comforts while having a sense of family atmosphere.”

Church says one of the most important parts of the event’s success behind the scenes is the experience of the Family Circle Cup team, along with the partnerships with the vendors. Church and Moran have been with the Family Circle Cup since it came to Daniel Island. Even Church’s assistant, Brian Richard, has been involved for the past 10 years. By now, the logistics of the event run like clockwork from top to bottom, making such a large, international event possible on Daniel Island.

“There is a lot that goes into it, but when you see the looks on the faces when they’re enjoying themselves, it makes our team and staff feel a lot better about it all,” Church said. “Knowing someone is coming through the gate, looking around and thinking this is really neat makes it all worth it.”


(03/31/14)  CHARLESTON CHRONICLE: Family Circle Cup Hosts “Pink Out for the Cure” to Benefit Susan G. Komen Lowcountry Affiliate
The Family Circle Cup and MUSC Health have teamed up to support “Pink Out Komen Night for the Cure” on Wednesday, April 2 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Family Circle Stadium on Daniel Island to benefit the Lowcountry Affiliate of Susan G. Komen. The Family Circle Cup encourages fans who attend the evening session to wear pink and help “pink out” the stadium. For each person who enters wearing pink, the Family Circle Cup and MUSC Health will donate $1 to the Komen Lowcountry Affiliate. Gates open at 5 p.m. and play begins at 7 p.m.

Several “pink out” themes will be performed on Thursday including: a pink carpet that will be rolled out in the player tunnel to introduce the players in style, the ball crew, umpires and court maintenance staff will be wearing pink Antigua shirts to show support. In addition, an MUSC Hollings Cancer Center patient and a Komen Lowcountry Affiliate representative will present the coin toss.

Pink Out Night can purchase tickets online at www.FamilyCircleCup.com or by calling (800) 677-2293. Use promo code ‘PINK’ to receive 25% off tickets to Wednesday’s night session.

"Family Circle Cup - and the entire Daniel Island community - have been such a huge part of what we are able to do as an affiliate,” says Taffy Tamblyn, executive director of the Affiliate. “The upcoming Pink Out Night is such a fun event that only adds to the enjoyment of the tournament and to the lives impacted in the Lowcountry."

"We are excited to join forces with MUSC Health to raise money for the Komen Lowcountry Affiliate," says Eleanor Adams, tournament manager for the Family Circle Cup. "Wednesday night will be very special for the Family Circle Cup, and I hope everyone will join us as we pink out the stadium!”

 
(03/30/14)  Growth of Tennis in Charleston (from familycirclecup.com)
Charleston always was a great tennis town. When the Family Circle Cup moved its tournament to Daniel Island in 2001, Charleston became even a greater tennis town.
The Family Circle Cup put Charleston on the national and international tennis maps. That led to Charleston being officially recognized as America’s Best Tennis Town on Sept. 6, 2010 on center stage at the U.S. Open. The achievement marked Charleston’s proudest tennis moment.
 
More: Previewing the Family Circle Cup Draw | Singles and Doubles Draws
There were others such as the 2004 Davis Cup tie against Belarus when Family Circle Stadium was packed with the world’s most avid and patriotic tennis fans, along with the excitement that came with the event. The package of fun included Andy Roddick’s bullet of a serve that became the fastest serve ever recorded.
 
When you think of tennis in Charleston, you automatically think of the world-class complex on Daniel Island that comes fully alive in early April.
 
While the Charleston area has exploded with growth and tourism during the Family Circle Cup era, tennis has blossomed along the way. League tennis participation has soared with the area’s growth.
 
No one knows exactly how much, but more than 4,200 unique players participated in the Lowcountry Tennis Association in 2013 whereas only about 2,600 unique players were in the league in 2005, the first time the LCTA has a record for unique numbers, according to former LCTA president Bob Peiffer and current head Ken Edwards.
 
The LCTA area included 3,843 USTA members in 2004, while currently there are 4,371 USTA members in the area for a 13.7 percent growth rate over nine years. USTA membership is a requirement for league tennis participation.
 
Only Atlanta tops the LCTA in player participation in the nine-state Southern Section. A total of 15,258 league registrations were made in 2013. There were 6,243 registrations in 2002.
Of course, there is the daytime Charleston Area Ladies Tennis Association where nearly a thousand women participated for 2013-14. A good percentage of these ladies play in the LCTA as well.
 
Court construction has flourished on Daniel Island and nearby Mount Pleasant areas since 2000, with the addition of at least 50 courts.
 
The Family Circle Cup opened the gates for the construction of tennis courts on Daniel Island when it decided to move to Charleston following its 2000 event at Hilton Head Island. Opening with 17 courts, the Family Circle Tennis Center now has 20 courts, 14 clay and six hard. The tennis center broke ground on two hard courts and one clay court in June 2013 with completion in October 2013.
 
The neighboring Daniel Island Club has grown from two courts in 2001 to 11 courts, and is adding one more court this year, with plans for four more in the future. The City of Charleston also has built two courts at Freedom Park on Daniel Island.
 
Family Circle Tennis Center brought Fritz Nau to Charleston as its tennis director in January 2001, and Nau eventually took his big league training camp credentials a few miles away to Mount Pleasant and opened the private Players Club (now named Live to Play Tennis) in 2005. LTP has 16 lighted courts, nine of them clay courts.
 
The town of Mount Pleasant has added three clay courts in recent years as well as two courts at Park West. West of the Ashley, the City of Charleston has a new six-court facility at Grand Oaks. Maybank Tennis Center on James Island has totally rebuilt into a sparkling tennis complex, adding two new clay courts. The Jack Adams Tennis Center in downtown Charleston is scheduled to rebuild its complex this summer.
 
Due to its long history as a tennis town and heavy league tennis participation, Charleston has earned a reputation for its tennis knowledge. That virtue is put on display every year at the Family Circle Cup where crowds identify with and appreciate doubles almost as much they as they enjoy seeing the great singles players such as Venus and Serena Williams who call on Family Circle Tennis Center every spring.
 
It’s not uncommon to see large crowds staying late on a Friday night to watch doubles inside Family Circle Stadium after the big-name stars have turned in to rest for the next day’s semifinals of the Family Circle Cup. When the stadium becomes the center of attraction, many veteran Family Circle Cup observers head to the outside courts for a close-up observation of some of the world’s most elite doubles players.

(03/30/14)  American Min breezes into Family Circle Cup main draw
Grace Min didn't waste any time on Sunday in nailing down her spot in the main draw of the $710,000 Family Circle Cup.

While fellow young Americans Madison Brengle, Taylor Townsend and Victoria Duval struggled with the windy and chilly conditions at Family Circle Tennis Center, Min was able to take the afternoon off.

Min, a 19-year-old from Atlanta who played the 11 a.m. opening match on the Althea Gibson Club Court, needed only 63 minutes to upset qualifying tournament top seed Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan, 6-1, 6-2, to earn a berth in the main draw that starts Monday.

Winner of the 2011 U.S. Open junior girls title, the hard-hitting Min proved to be too consistent on the green clay for her opponent, who was playing her first match in the tournament. The unseeded Min had posted a three-set upset of another seeded player a day earlier while also playing the first match on the Club Court.

The other three Americans chasing the eight qualifying berths suffered losses.

Brengle, the 24-year-old 13th seed from Delaware, pushed fourth seed Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal to a third-set tiebreaker before losing, 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (3). De Brito will be Min's opponent in the main draw on Monday.

Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, the 11th seed, turned back 18-year-old Atlanta native Victoria Duval, 6-4, 7-5. Duval, the sixth seed, had knocked out former Charleston resident Ellie Halbauer in the first round on Saturday.

That left only 17-year-old Taylor Townsend of Boca Raton, Fla., in the last match of the qualifying tournament with a chance to join Min as American qualifiers and pad the number of U.S. players in the main draw to 12, but Townsend suffered a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3 loss to Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia.

The other four players to advance through qualifying into the main draw were No. 3 Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia, No. 7 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, No. 12 Saisai Zheng of China and No. 14 Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine.

Notes
Despite high winds all afternoon, Sunday's attendance was 7,056, upping the total to 12,758. That surpassed last year's qualifying attendance by more than 800.

Several pros from the Family Circle Cup will visit downtown on Monday for a free 4:30-6 p.m. clinic at Jack Adams Tennis Center for juniors. The College of Charleston tennis team also will assist with the clinic. Free dinners will be provided for the juniors, but space is limited and interested participants should contact Charleston Tennis Center at 766-7401.


(03/30/14)  JEFF HARTSELL: At Family Circle Cup, a deep field of young American players seeks breakthrough win
Celebrating her 21st birthday recently, rising American tennis star Sloane Stephens registered for gifts at Target.

She did it through the wedding registry, so when the online form asked her whom she was marrying, Stephens entered the name of her mother, Sybil.

"I was going to marry myself, but I couldn't put the same name," Stephens said two weeks ago at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. "I ended up having to put my mom's."

It's a good bet that Stephens would trade all the 35 Target gifts she asked for (including "a three-bedroom tent") for a much more precious target - a breakthrough WTA Tour victory.

Stephens, from Coral Springs, Fla., and ranked No. 16 in the world, leads a deep field of young American players set for the Family Circle Cup this week on Daniel Island.

There are 11 Americans in the FCC field, the tournament's most since 2001. Eight of them are age 25 or younger, following in the wake of the estimable Williams sisters, No. 1-ranked Serena (age 32) and No. 31 Venus (33), who have 103 career titles and more than $83 million in career earnings between them.

With 11 U.S. players currently ranked in the top 72 in the world, the depth of American tennis is fairly solid. But the search for a top 10 complement to Venus and Serena continues, with players such as Stephens, 19-year-old Madison Keys, 23-year-old Alison Riske and 20-year-old Lauren Davis heading the candidate list.

Also in the main draw at the Family Circle Cup are Daniel Island's Shelby Rogers and Melanie Oudin, still trying to regain her form of the summer of 2009, when she made the round of 16 at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.

There are plenty of questions facing the young Americans.

"Is Sloane Stephens just good enough to tantalize, but not good enough to break into the top 10?" a writer at tennis.com asked before Indian Wells. "Is Madison Keys too movement-impaired to become a true phenom on the WTA Tour? From the rest of the young Americans, are there any potential top 10 players?"

The Family Circle Cup, the first clay court event of the season, should help reveal the answers to those questions as the young Americans learn about life on tour.

For Stephens, a nice run this year to the fourth round at the Australian Open was followed by indifferent results in the Middle East before she knocked off No. 11 Ana Ivanovic on the way to the quarterfinals at Indian Wells. Then, in Miami, she got waxed 6-1, 6-0 by Caroline Wozniacki.

New coach Paul Annacone, who was Pete Sampras' longtime mentor, is trying to help her smooth out the roller-coaster ride, which took her as high as the semifinals of the Australian Open (and a win over Serena) in 2013.

"I'm definitely going to go through ups and downs," Stephens said after her win over Ivanovic. "I'm just like another, you know, 20-year-old that's in college or whatever.

"I am a sorority of one," she said of life on tour. "Sloane Phi Sigma or whatever . All the things I've had to go through, traveling and being a professional athlete and being so young and having pressure, I think I kind of skipped the phase of wanting to go out and have fun."

Davis, from Gates Mill, Ohio, enjoyed a breakthrough of sorts at Indian Wells, with wins over No. 3-ranked Victoria Azarenka and fellow American Varvara Lepchenko before she was felled by a stomach virus.

"I'm playing really well, my confidence is high," she said after the 6-0, 7-6 win over Azarenka. "I'm always believing in myself, so we'll see how it goes."

Keys, from Rock Island, Ill., made the Family Circle Cup quarterfinals last year on the way to her first top 50 ranking. In Miami, she defeated Daniela Hantuchova before giving No. 2-ranked Li Na a battle in the third round, losing 7-6, 6-3. She handled that loss better than she has in the past.

"It's looking back three years ago and remembering those devastating losses and realizing, I'm here right now," she said. "The world didn't end. I didn't have to quit tennis.

"You know, life continues."

As does the search for that next American star.

YOUNG AMERICANS
There are 11 Americans in the main draw of the Family Circle Cup, most since 2001:
Name Age Rank
Serena Williams 32 1
Sloane Stephens 21 16
Venus Williams 33 31
Madison Keys 19 38
Alison Riske 23 48
Varvara Lepchenko 27 49
Lauren Davis 20 55
Christina McHale 21 57
Vania King 25 72
Shelby Rogers 21 110
Melanie Oudin 22 131


(03/30/14)  Halbauer leans a few lessons
Ellie Halbauer is a quick learner. She knows how to smile when things don't go her way.

So, what did the 16-year-old former Charleston resident learn in her 6-2, 6-2 blasting by highly touted junior Victoria Duval on Saturday in the first round of the Family Circle Cup's qualifying tournament?

"I learned how to sign autographs," Halbauer responded with a smile as she reached out to sign another autograph.

Halbauer was the center of attention at Family Circle Tennis Center. With heavy overnight rains pushing the start of play back three hours, and Halbauer scheduled to play the third match on the Althea Gibson Club Court, her fans were in wait mode most of the day.

"It didn't bother me, waiting around all day," she said.

A good group of fans stayed around until after 6 p.m. to watch Halbauer play, but earlier in the day the Club Court was packed.

Halbauer was overmatched in this one. Duval, an 18-year-old who upended Samantha Stosur in last year's U.S. Open, came out firing.

"She never missed. She went for everything," Halbauer said. "She jumped on top of short balls. The Dunlop balls went very fast."

Of course, Halbauer did more than learn how to sign autographs. "Keeping my balls deeper would be the only way I could beat her if I play her again. I had to hit a great shot just to win a point," she admitted.

Halbauer will spend a few days watching the tournament, then return to her home base in Boca Raton, Fla., for more training ... for that next step in what she hopes will be a pro career.

Family Circle notes

It was a good day for most Americans on the Club Court. Highly touted Taylor Townsend and Grace Min won three-set matches before the Halbauer-Duval encounter. All three winners are just one more win from making the main draw, as is fellow Madison Brengle.

If you're 12-and-under, it's a great day to love tennis. You've got a free pass to some great tennis. The second day of the Family Circle Cup qualifying tournament usually provides some of the most competitive tennis anywhere. It's do-or-die, with the eight winners on Sunday advancing to the main draw of the $710,000 WTA Tour event.

Austin Heinz is back in high gear for Palmetto Christian Academy after spending much of the last year at Nick Bollettieri's Academy in Florida. The high school senior was hanging out with his mother, Family Circle membership manager Nancy Heinz, in the members' court-side tent on the Althea Gibson Club Court Saturday. Austin's big job these days is sorting out the numerous college tennis scholarship offers he has received. He said he's being recruited by colleges as far away as UCLA.

If having his coaching resume include the likes of Halbauer and Shelby Rogers isn't enough, Family Circle pro Bryan Minton thinks it would be awesome if another of his proteges happens to hit it big on the men's pro circuit one of these days. Minton is quite happy about the Isle of Palms' Scotty Cameron winning the boys 16 title at the Icy Hot USTA Southern Level 2 Championships last weekend. Cameron was the state's most improved junior boys player for 2013. He has trained with Minton since 2012 at Family Circle.


(03/29/14)  WCBD-TV: Family Circle Cup Ball Crew prepares for tournament
The Family Circle Cup ball crew is an opportunity for volunteers 11 years old and up to be on court with the super stars of tennis, but being a member of the crew is far from glitz and glam. News 2's Cole Higgins found that out first hand when she joined supervisor and FCC's volunteer of the year, Sylvia Husky,and a few members of the crew, for practice.

"Their job is to keep the balls rolling to the players, because the players are professionals and they want their balls quickly," says Husky.

The team of volunteers has been practicing every Saturday since the first week in February. They perform drill after drill to prepare.

Six year ball crew veteran, Rachel Corvino shares the key to becoming a successful ball girl. "Probably being able to focus actually because there are a lot of things you got to keep track of, watching the players and the net people and the ball crew, you got to have focus," says Corvino.

Husky also says ball crew members, "need to be in the background, but very very efficient."

The kids sacrifice school and free time, but Corvino says all of the sweat and hard work pays off, "When like certain players will actually talk to you it's really cool and they'll acknowledge you and stuff. Getting to interact with them is a lot of fun."


(03/29/14)  GENE SAPAKOFF: No rival in sight, Serena Williams goes for Family Circle Cup three-peat
The rival question came up again this week in Miami immediately after No. 1-ranked Serena Williams defeated Maria Sharapova, 6-4, 6-3 in a Sony Open semifinal on Key Biscayne.

SERENA BY THE NUMBERS
3 -- Family Circle Cup titles won
58 -- Singles titles won as a professional
54.6 -- Career earnings in millions of dollars
183 -- Weeks ranked No. 1 in the world

It was a somewhat entertaining match. It was wholly predictable. Sharapova, a perfectly capable woman with four Grand Slam singles titles, has lost 15 straight matches to Serena.

The dominance is similar at the Family Circle Cup, where 2014 main draw play opens Monday on Charleston's green clay. Williams has won back-to-back titles.

"And Serena won the 2008 title here and didn't play at the Family Circle Cup from 2009 to 2011," Family Circle Cup tournament director and general manager Bob Moran said. "That means she's won 15 straight matches here."

Serena goes for the Daniel Island three-peat next week.

Rival?

What rival?

Most of the great players had a tennis nemesis. Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert for a long time. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Steffi Graf and Monica Seles, at least for a little while.

Serena Williams, 32, has been No. 1 for 183 weeks of her career. She was asked if she wished she had an arch-rival.

"I mean, everyone I play always plays me hard," Williams said, "so I feel like every match I play, I literally have to be on my best. So for me, I take a rival as every match, and I think that's one of the best ways to take it."

Serena vs. Venus

The mindset worked during an odd, rugged road to the 2013 Family Circle Cup championship. It was an endurance test even before Serena dropped the first set of the final to Jelena Jankovic before rallying for a 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 victory.

Rain delays forced a fabulous quadruple-header Friday in which the stadium court featured Serena Williams and Venus Williams winning third-round matches followed by Serena and Venus winning quarterfinal matches. Serena beat Mallory Burdette and Lucie Safarova; Venus defeated Vavara Lepchenko and Madison Keys.

"For a promoter to put up 'Serena Williams first on stadium court today, Venus Williams second, Serena Williams third, Venus Williams fourth' was something that will never happen again," Moran said.

The players got a kick out of it, too.

"Today was the day to have a ticket," Keys said.

Serena didn't lose a set.

"It was pretty awesome," she said. "A pretty intense day."

The Serena-Venus semifinal was a Family Circle Cup first. Serena's easy 6-1, 6-2 victory gave her a 14-10 lead in the sister rivalry.

A record crowd of 9,538 looked on.

"There was a buzz in the stadium I've never felt before," Moran said.

In Miami this week, Williams was asked if Justine Henin - the 2003 and 2005 Family Circle Cup champion - was her toughest foe.

Serena, with no hesitation: "Venus. Please."

120 mph serves

This year, Serena must navigate a main draw board featuring four former Family Circle Cup champions: Venus, Jankovic, Samantha Stosur and Sabine Lisicki.

Anyone who takes the court against Serena will have to face roaring right-handed power.

"I hadn't been serving great too much this tournament, and then I started serving a lot better," Williams said after the Sharapova match on Thursday. "I was hitting 120 (mph). I was like, 'Whoa. Is that me?' She actually was getting them back, too. I usually don't hit in the 120s like that. I was a little surprised. I wasn't trying to hit it that hard. I was definitely feeling pretty good about my serve, which made me feel good."

Evert won five Family Circle Cup titles in a row from 1974-1978 when the tournament was held on Hilton Head Island. Later, Tracy Austin, Navratilova, Evert (again), Graf, Gabriella Sabatini and Conchita Martinez won back-to-back Family Circle Cup titles.

A three-peat for Serena Williams would be just fine with many Charleston fans who like Williams for her play on the court and local charity work, including appearances at clinics and community events.

"It would be great for the tournament," Moran said. "There's no question that in this snapshot of an era, Serena's the best player in the world. To have her as our champion possibly three years in a row would be unbelievable."


(03/29/14)  Serena Williams garners Family Circle Cup's top seed
Shelby Rogers has a great draw for the 42nd Family Circle Cup.

She's in the same quarter as Serena Williams, right?

But otherwise, the homegrown product of Daniel Island is just a long shot, not a "no shot," in the main draw that was announced Saturday.

Top-seeded and top-ranked Serena Williams, of course, is in a different zone, having won the last two Family Circle titles, and three in all, and fresh from marching through Li Na on Saturday for her seventh Sony Open title.

After a first-round bye, Serena will play either American Melanie Oudin or first-time Family Circle main draw player Jana Cepelova of Slovakia in the second round.

Third-seeded Sara Errani, a clay-court specialist, heads the quarter opposite Williams' top quarter. But highly touted American Sloane Stephens, the fifth seed, also is in that quarter of the draw.

The 110th-ranked Rogers was working on an eight-event first-round winning streak before suffering a one-sided loss in the opening round of qualifying at the Sony Open. So, that pressure is off her back.

Now, all that Rogers has to think about is her large following of local fans in her second Family Circle main draw match. She lost in the first round to veteran Jill Craybas in 2011, dropping the third set, 6-0, after winning the first set.

"I feel more comfortable this time. I'm older and I've improved as well," said Rogers, a former junior Family Circle champion. "I just feel really comfortable here ... the home cooking and it's really nice to stay in your own house."

Bryan Minton sees 12th-seeded Daniela Hantuchova as a good first-round opponent for his former pupil. Hantuchova is tall and lanky and not particularly a great clay-court player. In short, Hantuchova has had an up-and-down career marked by inconsistencies in her game.

As far as facing Hantuchova in the opening round, she said, "I'm OK with the draw. I've never played or practiced with her. But the first round is tough, no matter.

"She hits a hard, flat ball that I think is better suited for hard courts. I'll just try to get her out of her rhythm."

Hantuchova was a first-round loser last year on Daniel Island.

The winner of the Rogers/Hantuchova match, which is expected to be played either Monday or Tuesday, will advance to play a qualifier in the second round, with a possible meeting with Serena in the quarterfinals.

Former champion and 2013 finalist Jelena Jankovic is the No. 2 seed and is in the bottom half of the draw in the same quarter as 11th seed and 33-year-old former champion Venus Williams.

A player to keep an eye on is No. 6 Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, an Australian Open semifinalist who also is in the quarter with Venus and Jankovic.

Former champions Samantha Stosur (No. 7) and Sabine Lisicki (No. 4) are in the third quarter of the draw.

Six former champions are in the field, with Nadia Petrova joining the Williams sisters, Stosur, Lisicki and Jankovic.

Ten Americans are among the 48 players in the 64-player main draw, excluding eight byes and eight qualifiers.


(03/28/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
BLUFFTON 4, SUMMERVILLE 3
Singles: Elliget (S) d. Newland 6-1, 6-1. Snyder (B) d. Seith 6-1, 6-2. Rosenbloom (B) d. Long 7-6, 1-6, 10-6. Sekula (S) d. Philoxene 7-5, 5-7, 10-8. Borinstein (B) d. Blumemburg 6-0, 6-1. Doubles: Elliget/Wiseman (S) d. Newland/Storey 6-2, 6-3. Snyder/Ball (B) d. Sekula/Hazel 7-5, 7-6 (5).
Records: Summerville 4-4 (1-2). Next: Summerville at Porter-Gaud Monday.

BISHOP ENGLAND 7, ACADEMIC MAGNET 0
Singles: Zalesky d. Legerton 6-3, 6-2. Stiepel d. Moss 6-2, 6-0. Knot d. Steen 6-2, 6-2. J. Meyer d. Mcrae 6-2, 6-0. Privett d. Bahadori 6-3, 6-4.  Doubles: Ranson/Adorno d. C. Johnson/Sakamuri 8-4. Warren/Shippee d. Pugh/Middleton 8-3.
Records: Bishop England 8-1. Next: Bishop England hosts PCA Tuesday.

WANDO 6, STRATFORD 0
Singles: DaCosta d. D. Sides 6-4, 6-4. Covington d. G. Wong 6-1, 6-2. Browder d. J. Wong 6-3, 6-1. Weston d. G. Sides 6-0, 6-3. Lopresti d. Hoffman 6-1, 6-2.  Doubles: Winglowski/Smith d. Smtih/Yeung 6-3, 6-0.
Records: Wando 6-2 (2-0).

WEST ASHLEY 6, FORT DORCHESTER 0
Singles: T. Anastopoulo d. McManus 6-3, 6-2. Ropp d. Howell 6-0, 6-1. S. Anastopoulo d. Samuels 6-0, 6-0. Gunn d. Moorer 6-0, 6-1. Foster d. Arnold 6-1, 6-2. Doubles: Dunn/Sadler d. P. Segundo/Z. Segundo 6-4, 6-3.


(03/28/14)  Family Circle Cup boasts lots of Charleston connections with Shelby Rogers, Ellie Halbauer and Brooke Mosteller

The 42nd Family Circle Cup is a dream come true for the tournament's vast legion of loyal fans. For the first time, the Charleston area is represented in both the qualifying tournament and the main draw.

Sixteen-year-old Ellie Halbauer and 21-year-old Shelby Rogers both grew up and trained in or around Family Circle Tennis Center. The common denominator for the start of both players' early tennis training was Bryan Minton.

"It's pretty neat that Ellie is in the qualifying and Shelby is in the main draw ... and Brooke Mosteller, Miss South Carolina, will sing the national anthem in the stadium (before the Family Circle Cup championship match on April 6). I taught Brooke (tennis), too," Minton proudly said Friday.

Minton, a former College of Charleston standout, is a Family Circle Tennis Center pro.

He has fond memories of the first times he saw Rogers and Halbauer on a tennis court.

Minton's initial training sessions with Rogers came at Fritz Nau's tennis academy at the Family Circle complex in 2001.

"The first time I saw Shelby I knew there was something special about this kid. I remember her standing out like that . . . tall and skinny with a little Mickey Mouse hat," Minton said.

"Shelby was with me all the way until the academy moved back to Family Circle Tennis Center in 2010, except for a few months she spent at Nick Bollettieri's in 2008."

Rogers now trains at the USTA Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla.

"Ellie trained with me at the Players Club from 2006-08, and the first time I saw her she was 8 years old. She was on a back clay court at the Players Club. She had two balls in her left hand like Steffi Graf. She tossed one up and cracked a serve, and I could see her potential. I knew she could have a really good tennis career," Minton said.

Minton saw his proteges again together on Thursday at Family Circle Tennis Center. "Ellie and Shelby came out to practice yesterday with the kids from FCC," Minton said. "It was great to have them out and it was really cool to see them practicing together."

Of course, Family Circle Cup general manager Bob Moran is proud of this moment in the Family Circle Cup's 14-year era on Daniel Island. "This speaks volumes about what a pro tournament can mean to a tennis community such as Charleston's," Moran said.

Halbauer earned the right to play in this weekend's qualifying tournament by winning last month's Dunlop Junior Championship at Family Circle Tennis Center. The former Charleston resident who now resides in the Boca Raton, Fla., area faces a stiff challenge in her opening qualifying match today.

In the third match on the Althea Gibson Club Court where play will begin at 10 a.m., Halbauer has drawn No. 6 seed Victoria Duval, a 136th-ranked 18-year-old who was one of the young American stars of last year's U.S. Open. Grace Min, another young American, plays the first match on the Club Court, followed by highly touted young American Taylor Townsend.

Zarina Diyas, a No. 105-ranked 20-year-old from Kazakhstan, is the No. 1 seed in qualifying.

Halbauer and the rest of the 32-draw qualifying field will have only one thing on their minds this weekend: Winning two matches and joining the 110th-ranked Rogers and the rest of the field in the main draw of the Family Circle Cup, which starts on Monday.


(03/28/14)  WCIV-TV: Hosts putting the ‘Family’ in tennis cup
Shealy has hosted Oudin for three years.







Oudin and Shealy.






Video
Out of the hundreds of volunteers during the Family Circle Cup, only a handful are responsible for taking care of the players.

About 25 people volunteer as host families for the week, including the Shealy family of Mount Pleasant. They said Melanie Oudin, the player who spends the week in their home, has become a member of the family; she's even met them on family vacations to New York City for the women's tennis tour.

Eleanor Adams, the tournament manager, set the Shealy family up with their player.

"Trying to recruit our fabulous volunteers, we don't have to try very hard to retain because they come back year after year," she said.

Adams says they've been lucky to recruit volunteers like Jackie Shealy who is celebrating her third year as a host mom. For Shealy, that means starting each day with a drive to the stadium with Oudin in the front seat.

"I just tell her, ‘Let me know your schedule.' And usually when I know she's going to be here, I plan my schedule around her schedule," Shealy said.

Shealy says the players' schedules can be non-stop at times. That's one reason she makes sure Oudin, the right-hander from Marietta, Ga., doesn't go hungry.

"You know, I get her some salads, some protein and all so she has kind of a regimented thing that she does. Of course, I have sweets around for her and take her out to restaurants," said Shealy.

She admits that she will sneak in a few sweet treats, but at the end of the day her favorite part of being a host mom is watching Oudin play.

"I go and cheer her on while she's playing tennis, and I've gotten all my girlfriends involved now. She hears us yelling for her and I feel like she's my own child when I'm there," Shealy said. "I'm her mother, so I have to carry on line I'm her mother."

Oudin and the rest of the top female players in the world take the courts for qualifying matches. The main draw begins Monday. Shealy will be in the stands for each of Oudin's match, hoping for a trip to center court at the end of the tournament.

On average it takes about 350 volunteers to keep the Family Circle Cup running for the entire week of the tournament.


(03/28/14)  WCIV-TV: Family Circle Cup Names MUSC Children's Hospital official charity
The Family Circle Cup has named MUSC Children's Hospital its official charity partner for the 2014 tournament, taking place March 29 – April 6 on Daniel Island.

With a goal to donate more than $50,000, the Family Circle Cup is asking its patrons to join in and help "put your money where the miracles are" to support this worthwhile organization.

"Our tournament has committed to help MUSC Children's Hospital create better lives for children through donating funds for top-notch facilities, technology, care and research," said Bob Moran, Tournament Director and General Manager.

Attendees can donate on-site to the MUSC Children's Hospital during the tournament. One philanthropic patron will win a trip to the 2014 U.S. Open.

The winner will receive a two-night stay in a Manhattan hotel, round-trip airline tickets from anywhere in the continental United States, two-box seats for Friday, August 29 evening session at the US Open, two-box seats for Saturday, August 30 day session at the US Open, $200 in US Open event cards and two ground transfers from airport to hotel for arrival and hotel to airport for departure.

"All of us at MUSC Children's Hospital are so excited, honored and grateful to have been selected as the Official Charity Partner for this year's Family Circle Cup tournament," said Dr. Rita Ryan, Chair and Professor of the Department of Pediatrics and Medical Director of MUSC's Children's Hospital.  "Once again, Family Circle Cup has shown that it is not only one of the most prestigious tournaments on the circuit, but also one of the most caring.  On behalf of our young patients and their families, we offer our most heartfelt thanks."

A group of players from the tournament will visit MUSC Children's Hospital on Tuesday, April 1 to show their support and interact with the children via games and Q&As.

If you'd like to volunteer or donate to MUSC Children's Hospital, please visit their website – www.MUSCkids.org. Volunteers are always welcomed to help with a variety of tasks, ranging from patient interaction to assistance with medical staff and administration. Donations are always appreciated, and your gift can be made to the MUSC Children's Hospital Fund by donating to the hospital's giving website – www.MUSCkids.org/giving, or by entering the US Open giveaway.


(03/28/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
BLUFFTON 4, SUMMERVILLE 3
Singles: Elliget (S) d. Newland 6-1, 6-1. Snyder (B) d. Seith 6-1, 6-2. Rosenbloom (B) d. Long 7-6, 1-6, 10-6. Sekula (S) d. Philoxene 7-5, 5-7, 10-8. Borinstein (B) d. Blumemburg 6-0, 6-1.  Doubles: Elliget/Wiseman (S) d. Newland/Storey 6-2, 6-3. Snyder/Ball (B) d. Sekula/Hazel 7-5, 7-6 (5).
Records: Summerville 4-4 (1-2). Next: Summerville at Porter-Gaud Monday.

BISHOP ENGLAND 7, ACADEMIC MAGNET 0
Singles: Zalesky d. Legerton 6-3, 6-2. Stiepel d. Moss 6-2, 6-0. Knot d. Steen 6-2, 6-2. J. Meyer d. Mcrae 6-2, 6-0. Privett d. Bahadori 6-3, 6-4. Doubles: Ranson/Adorno d. C. Johnson/Sakamuri 8-4. Warren/Shippee d. Pugh/Middleton 8-3.
Records: Bishop England 8-1. Next: Bishop England hosts PCA Tuesday.

WANDO 6, STRATFORD 0
Singles: DaCosta d. D. Sides 6-4, 6-4. Covington d. G. Wong 6-1, 6-2. Browder d. J. Wong 6-3, 6-1. Weston d. G. Sides 6-0, 6-3. Lopresti d. Hoffman 6-1, 6-2. Doubles: Winglowski/Smith d. Smtih/Yeung 6-3, 6-0.
Records: Wando 6-2 (2-0).

WEST ASHLEY 6, FORT DORCHESTER 0
Singles: T. Anastopoulo d. McManus 6-3, 6-2. Ropp d. Howell 6-0, 6-1. S. Anastopoulo d. Samuels 6-0, 6-0. Gunn d. Moorer 6-0, 6-1. Foster d. Arnold 6-1, 6-2.  Doubles: Dunn/Sadler d. P. Segundo/Z. Segundo 6-4, 6-3.


(03/27/14)  JEFF HARTSELL: Family Circle Cup a homecoming for 16-year-old Ellie Halbauer
Three years ago when she was just 13 years old, Ellie Halbauer and her family made a difficult decision. They would pack up and move from their Daniel Island home to south Florida, where Ellie could maximize her tennis potential.
 
"It was a tough decision," Halbauer said this week. "But the tennis is really good in South Florida."
 
Ellie's local fans and friends will get a chance to see how far her tennis has come this weekend, as the 16-year-old returns to Charleston to play in the qualifying draw for the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.
 
Recent results are promising for the 5-7 Halbauer, who now lives in Boca Raton, Fla., and trains at TopGun Tennis Academy. She won her first pro event in October in Hilton Head, claiming the title at the $10,000 Van Der Meer Shipyard tournament. And last month, she won the Dunlop Junior Championship at the Family Circle Tennis Center, earning a wild card into FCC qualifying.
 
Halbauer remains an amateur -- she was able to accept only expense money for her Hilton Head win -- and says she will decide when she's 18 whether to play college tennis or turn professional.
 
Meanwhile, her days at TopGun are filled with tennis and home-schooling, and not too much else.
 
"We wake up and play tennis from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.," said Halbauer, describing her typical day. "Then I go back home and so some school and eat lunch. It's back to tennis from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., and then we do fitness. Then, we go home and eat some more and go to sleep.
 
"It's a long day," she said. "But you've got to put in the work."
 
Halbauer got started in tennis as a way to keep up with her older brothers, Trey and Drew, saying, "I wanted to do what they did."
 
She trained at the former Players Club in Mount Pleasant with local pro Bryan Minton before moving to Florida.
 
"One of her coaches told us that he felt she had potential," said Natalie Halbauer, Ellie's mom. "And he felt we needed to get to south Florida for her training. I think it's been the right choice, because there are so many kids at the top level here trying to achieve the same goal, and they have the same life style with the schooling and tennis.
"Certainly, it's been a journey," she said. "You're just trying to keep it all together, and there's not a handbook to tell you how to do it."
 
Ellie also has been working at the USTA Training Center in Boca Raton, where Daniel Island's Shelby Rogers trains. (Rogers has a wild card into the main draw at the Family Circle Cup this year). At USTA, Halbauer works with coaches such as Kathy Rinaldi and Jamea Jackson.
 
Halbauer, who likes to pattern her game after that of third-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, will have to win twice in qualifying to make the Family Circle Cup main draw. She should enjoy something of a home court advantage on Daniel Island.
 
"At the Dunlop Cup, all her friends came to support her and it was great, a lot of heartfelt moments," Natalie Halbauer said. "I guess she's an ex-hometown girl, but she still feels like a hometown girl."


(03/26/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Swamp Fox tennis team sweeps Patriots
One Summerville team picked up its first Region 8-AAAA win Tuesday while another suffered its first region loss.

The Ashley Ridge boys’ tennis team swept Fort Dorchester 6-0 in North Charleston. The Swamp Foxes improved to 3-3 with a 1-1 mark in region play with the win.

The Summerville boys dropped a close match in Beaufort, falling 4-3. A three-set win at No. 5 singles clinched the victory for the Eagles, which improved to 2-3 with a 2-0 mark in the region. Summerville fell to 4-2, 1-1.

The Green Wave hosts Ashley Ridge at 4 p.m. April 1.


Tuesday Tennis Results

ASHLEY RIDGE 6, FORT DORCHESTER 0
Singles: Parvey (AR) d. McManus 6-2, 7-5; Marshall (AR) d. Howell 6-0, 6-2; Ackerman (AR) d. Samuels 6-0, 6-1; Rabon (AR) d. Moorer 6-4, 6-2; Zeng (AR) d. Arnold 6-1, 6-2.  Doubles: Johnson/Kackley (AR) d. J. Segundo/Z. Segundo 6-1, 6-2.

BEAUFORT 4, SUMMERVILLE 3
Singles: Elliget (S) d. Angus 6-1, 6-2; Bachety (B) d. Seith 6-3, 7-6 (4); Long (S) d. Louw 6-1, 6-1; Petrone (B) d. Sekula 7-6 (3), 6-3; Stovall (B) d. Wiseman 6-4, 7-6 (4), 10-8.  Doubles: Elliget/Seith (S) d. Bachety/Olm 6-0, 6-2; Angus/Langer (B) d. Hazel/Blumbmberg 6-4, 6-1.


(03/26/14)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Family Circle Cup 2014 event kicks off Saturday, March 29
By Elizabeth Bush

Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Sara Errani and the rest of the Family Circle Cup playing field will no doubt arrive at this year’s tournament ready to hit the clay with carefully crafted game plans for success. And although General Manager and Tournament Director Bob Moran won’t be competing on the courts, he’s got a strategy of his own to ensure the event is a winning experience for all involved.

“It’s paying attention to the little things,” said Moran. “It’s trying to create a great atmosphere at all times.”

That means catering to more than 90,000 fans, 200 plus volunteers, dozens of sponsors, and, of course, some of the best competitors in women’s tennis, including 24 of the Top 50 players in the world. The 42nd Annual Family Circle Cup, the largest tennis tournament held exclusively for female players, will once again take center stage in Charleston from Saturday, March 29 through Sunday, April 6. Now in its 14th year on Daniel Island, the event will feature top-ranked athletes from 26 countries.

”We’ve got six past champions right off the bat, which is always fantastic,” said Moran. “…And right now we have 11 players in the main draw that are American, and that’s the largest that we’ve ever had.”

What else is new this year?

Fans can certainly expect another action-packed event both on and off the courts. Look for a slightly new layout for the food court area that takes advantage of a new court surface, as well as an expanded bar and entertainment area on the grand lawn. The tournament will also be sprucing up security, a trend for many large sporting events across the country, including the Cooper River Bridge Run, after last year’s bombing at the Boston Marathon.

“This is truly an international event,” said Moran. “And that’s also the reason that we have to take the security measures that we take. From the broadcast side to the players’ side to the fans side, we want to make sure this is as tight and secure as we can get it.”

And for the first time in the history of the FCC tournament, more people will be watching the court showdowns via live video streaming than ever before. Coverage went international last year, when every match on stadium court from Monday to Sunday was broadcast across the globe via multiple International broadcast partners. This year, Moran reports that the tournament has signed a deal with ESPN to stream all matches in the United States on ESPN3.That adds up to a total of 50 matches and 100 hours of coverage, versus eight matches and 16 hours in 2012.

“If folks want to watch online, they want to watch on their tablet, or they want to watch on their phone, all they have to do is sign up for ESPN3 and they can see every match that’s here,” said Moran. “Again, it’s trying to bring more eyeballs to our sponsors, trying to grow the complexion of who we are as an event.”

A push for more social media interaction is also helping to bring in additional fans and generate excitement.

“It’s a new age, it’s a new world,” added Moran. “Everything we do right now is trackable with promotional codes. There’s not a marketing outreach that we use right now that we can’t measure.”

If you dream it, you can do it…
One aspect of the tournament Moran hopes many fans will tune in for is the fact that it offers the perfect opportunity for rising stars to shine.

Growing up playing tennis in the Lowcountry, with a world-class tennis event in your backyard, it’s easy to dream big. Just ask Charleston’s homegrown players Shelby Rogers and Ellie Halbauer, who both earned wild card entries into Family Circle Cup events after capturing the Dunlop Junior Cup title on Daniel Island (Rogers in 2010 and Halbauer in 2014).

Rogers, now age 21, once served on the FCC ball crew and has won five ITF titles since her professional tennis debut in 2009. Most recently, she made it to the second round at the BNP Paribus Open at Indian Wells, bumping her WTA rank to a career high of 110. Twenty-three year-old Alison Riske, who trained for many years in Hilton Head and is now ranked 48 in the world, also earned a wild card entry into the FCC (in 2009) after winning a Junior Cup title on Daniel Island. Halbauer, age 16, grew up on Daniel Island and is now training in Boca Raton, Florida. All three will be competing in this year’s FCC.

“What’s the impact of this event on young tennis players?” asked Moran. “I think it’s pretty evident…If you don’t think that a professional event has an effect on the community surrounding it, this is a great example… We’re here year round, we’re training and we’re trying to build the tennis community as much as we can, day in and day out. Having those three young ladies, and three really good stories, is a lot of fun for us to see.”

Game on!
Moran is also hoping the 2014 FCC will serve up yet another unique opportunity to showcase Daniel Island and all that it has to offer. So far, ticket sales for the event have come from 37 states and five countries.

“We’re really trying to do as much as we can with the local community and Daniel Island to just bring it to light. There are so many people coming here, and that’s not just true for Family Circle Cup, but for all the shows (we do). We’re pushing 250,000 people through here a year now and when you’re doing that, they’re on the island for an extended period of time, so let’s try and help them understand what’s out here.”

Last week, as Moran briefly sat in the bleachers on stadium court, under the warmth of the sunshine, he hoped this year’s event would break the 100,000 attendance mark. It is a goal he has been chasing these last several years, but Mother Nature always seems to get the final say.

“Give me nine days like this and I think we’ll be in good shape!” he said. “…We’re already looking at it’s very possible it’s going to be a little chilly in the evening so we’re making sure our merchandise tent has plenty of sweatshirts and blankets, we’ve got plenty of coffee and hot chocolate…we really have to adapt and do whatever we can to make the best out of the circumstances.”

But in the end, Moran promises that all who take part in the 2014 Family Circle Cup will most definitely be well served.

“We only have 8 days. I don’t get a re-do. I don’t get a game two. I don’t get another opportunity. We’ve got to do it right!”

And if past events are any indication, Moran and his team will score big yet again.


(03/26/14)  PREVIEW: My Charleston Weekend: March 27-April 2

Family Circle Cup
Billed as the largest women's-only tournament in the world, the Family Circle Cup will kick-off its 42nd year this weekend with the Draw Ceremony on the Grand Lawn, where players will find out who they will compete against. With a field that includes Venus and Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Sara Errani and Sloane Stephens, among others, the tournament is sure to satisfy tennis enthusiasts. In addition to the tennis, the event also includes numerous family-friendly activities, including a family weekend Saturday and Sunday that will include balloon artists, face painting, magicians, jump castles, climbing wall and more. Monday will see the inaugural Ladies Day Out, while numerous other promotions will be held later in the week. Happy Hour will be held Tuesday through April 4 and feature drink specials, tastings and live music.


(03/26/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
ASHLEY RIDGE 6, FORT DORCHESTER 0
Singles: Parvey (AR) d. McManus 6-2, 7-5; Marshall (AR) d. Howell 6-0, 6-2; Ackerman (AR) d. Samuels 6-0, 6-1; Rabon (AR) d. Moorer 6-4, 6-2; Zeng (AR) d. Arnold 6-1, 6-2.  Doubles: Johnson/Kackley (AR) d. J. Segundo/Z. Segundo 6-1, 6-2.
Records: Ashley Ridge 3-3.
Next: Ashley Ridge hosts Beaufort Thursday.

WANDO 5, WEST ASHLEY 1
Singles: DaCosta (W) d. Anastopoulos 5-7, 7-5, 10-1; Ropp (WA) d. Browder 6-4, 6-1; Redden (W) d. Gaun 6-0, 6-0; Weston (W> d. Foster 6-0, 6-2; Wingloski (W) d. Sadler 6-2, 6-1.  Doubles: Smith/McSheehy (W) d. Germaine/Wise 6-0, 6-1.
Records: Wando 4-2

STRATFORD 6, CANE BAY 1
Singles: Amble (CB) d. D. Sides 7-6, 6-1; G. Wong (S) d. Howell 6-0, 6-2; J. Wong (S) d. Hughes 6-4, 6-2; G. Sides (S) d. Buttery 6-2, 2-6, 10-6; Hoffman (S) d. Tope 6-1, 6-7, 10-4.  Doubles: D. Sides/G. Wong (S) d. Amble/Howell 6-3, 6-4; Smith/Yeung (S) d. Preston/Grace 4-6, 6-4, 10-5.
Records: Stratford 4-0, 1-0. Next: Stratford hosts James Island today.

BEAUFORT 4, SUMMERVILLE 3
Singles: Elliget (S) d. Angus 6-1, 6-2; Bachety (B) d. Seith 6-3, 7-6 (4); Long (S) d. Louw 6-1, 6-1; Petrone (B) d. Sekula 7-6 (3), 6-3; Stovall (B) d. Wiseman 6-4, 7-6 (4), 10-8.  Doubles: Elliget/Seith (S) d. Bachety/Olm 6-0, 6-2; Angus/Langer (B) d. Hazel/Blumbmberg 6-4, 6-1.
Records: Summerville 4-2, 1-1. Next: Summerville is at Bishop England today. Beaufort is at Ashley Ridge Thursday.


(03/26/14) DEIDRE SCHIPANI: Family Circle Cup invites you to "Slam" down its cold brew

What is Holy City Slam?

A proprietary beer brewed each season for the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament on Daniel Island, which runs March 29-April 6 this year. Family Circle Cup hosted a naming contest via Facebook and the fan favorite was "SLAM" for this annual craft beer.

What's the story?
In 2012, the Family Circle Cup and Holy City Brewing in Charleston set about crafting a signature beer for this annual tennis tournament. Pale ales were created in 2012 and 2013. This year the brewery switched it up with the creation of a German Helles lager with lime. The "helles" is German for bright, and identifies this as a golden lager with a clean finish.

Who's buying it?
This low alcohol-by-volume (4.8 percent) lager is made with Hallertu (a region of Bavaria) hops and Bohemian Pilsner malts. It is a seasonal release with easy drinkability and balanced malt-and-hops ratio. This is a beer for the Lowcountry where the citrus brightens the flavors of the hops and malts. Light beer drinkers as well as those who enjoy Czech-style pilsners will find this a refreshing warm-weather quaff.

Who's selling it?
Holy City Brewing, www.holycitybrewing.com, is the proprietary brewer. It is available at the brewery at Family Circle Cup on Seven Farms Drive on Daniel Island and Daniel Island Grill, 259 Seven Farms Drive also on Daniel Island.  Call the brewery at 276-5796 for other outlets.

Quotable
"It's light and refreshing with a hint of lime. Very drinkable! So different from the (brews) of the last two years, both of which I liked. This one's my favorite, though." - Kathy Lipsky, Mount Pleasant
"I found it to be perfect for the spring/summer. It had a great light, refreshing feel with a little citrus on the front end." - Bob Moran, Charleston


(03/25/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
ASHLEY RIDGE 4, CANE BAY 3.
Singles: Amble (CB) d. Parvey 6-3, 6-4; Marshall (AR) d. Howell 6-1, 6-0; Hughes (CB) d. Ackerman 4-6, 7-6, 1-0; Rabon (AR) d. Buttery 6-4, 6-2; Topel (CB) d. Zeng 3-6, 6-4, 1-0.  Doubles: Parvey/Marshall (AR) d. Amble/Howell 8-1; Johnson/Kackley (AR) d. Welch/Ziegler 2-6, 6-4, 1-0. 
Records: Ashley Ridge 2-3. Next: Ashley Ridge is at Fort Dorchester today.


(03/24/14)  WCIV-TV: Gamecocks' tennis coach has Lowcountry pedigree
Story
The Gamecocks have established themselves as a national power on the tennis court. Last year, they finished 18th in the country and have won three straight matches this year.

On Sunday, the Gamecocks beat The Citadel in Charleston and it was quite the homecoming for the coach.

The man at the head of the team is Charleston-bred.

"I played for Porter Gaud and Bishop England. I won a state title. That was the first taste of team competition I had," Josh Goffi said.

Goffi was hired as the head coach of the Gamecocks in 2010. Each year since, the team has been rebuilt. It's all part of his plan. But he didn't exactly plan to end up coaching.

"It was either being a world class player or get out and get into finance. I decided not to use my finance degree and fell in love with coaching for one reason. Chuck Kriese made such an impact on my life as a person; that's my job as head coach of the Gamecocks, to help these kids grow," he said.

It's a bit ironic since Kriese is now the head coach at The Citadel. He had been the legendary head coach at Clemson, where Goffi played.

"It was a little odd, The first few years were a bit tough. This is now my program -- 100 percent ours. Back when I played, I bled orange. Now I bleed garnet and black," he said.

And talk about going back to his roots, Goffi's assistant coach is another Charleston native and Clemson grad, Ryan Young.

"He's a big brother, a boss. He takes care of me. I've been learning the ropes of coaching and building great relationships. We both want to win so we work hard and really care about the kids," Young said.

So for Young and Goffi, nothing is more important for the Gamecocks than each year coming home to play against the coach that makes them feel at home.

"You see what you get and those guys got the right man there. What their guys learn is a non-compromised way of doing things. The reason The Citadel is great is you have rights of passage for what you earn. He makes his guys do the same thing at USC. I'm proud to see what's going on up there," Kriese said.

"There's nothing better than seeing these guys come through tough moments. There's not a better feeling than looking at adversity, look it in the eye and come through, seeing kids persevere. There's not a better feeling in the world. That's why we do it every day," said Goffi.

The Gamecocks are deeply rooted in the Lowcountry and that means victory in Columbia.


(03/21/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Blue Hose honor
Presbyterian College men’s tennis player Joel Roberts has been named The Crons Brand Big South Freshman of the Week for matches played Feb. 10-16. Roberts, a Summerville native and Pinewood Prep graduate, went 2-0 last week against Radford in the opening match of Conference play. In singles action he defeated Nico Ascarrunz, 7-6, 6-4 in the No. 3 position to clinch the 5-2 team victory over the Highlander


(03/21/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Swamp Fox tennis team hopes to be in the mix
Early in the boys’ tennis season, three seniors and a transfer student are leading the way for Ashley Ridge.

The Swamp Foxes are out to a 1-2 start this season, with a win over Cane Bay and a pair of losses to West Ashley. Teams in the area, including Ashley Ridge, had to cancel several practices and some matches due to weather so Ashley Ridge coach Andy Steingold says he isn’t sure what to expect from the competition he will face the next couple of weeks.

“All the teams are having trouble getting practices in,” he said. “I do like the effort our kids have given when we have practiced. They are all working hard so I’m sure we will improve, but I don’t know much about the competition. We have several players who can win on any given day, but until we really get into our region schedule it’s hard to say where we are.”

Junior Harrison Parvey transferred to Ashley Ridge from a private school in Greenville and claimed the Swamp Foxes’ No. 1 singles spot.

“He is a strong player who will be able to compete with all the other No. 1 players in the area, but we will just have to wait and see who closes those matches out,” Steingold said.

Senior Michael Marshall played No. 1 singles for Ashley Ridge last season. He will likely pick up a few extra wins now that he has moved into the No. 2 singles spot.

Seniors Blake Ackerman and Charles Zeng also bring experience to the Swamp Fox lineup. Ackerman is currently in the No. 3 spot followed by Zack Rabon at No. 4 and Zeng at No. 5.

Chase Nixon and Duncan Kackley have been teaming up for No. 2 doubles play. Nixon had no prior varsity experience before this season but Kackley did represent the Swamp Foxes in doubles play some last season.

The rest of the team is comprised of players moving up from JV team.

“We have a lot of players who are seasonal players,” Steingold said. “Our top two singles players are the only ones on the team who play tennis year round.”

Ashley Ridge opened Region 8-AAAA play Thursday after press time with a match against Bluffton. The Swamp Foxes play Cane Bay Monday and travel to Fort Dorchester Tuesday.


(03/20/14)  Shelby Rogers, Nadia Petrova join Family Circle Cup field
Two of the five main draw wild cards for the Family Circle Cup have been filled with the addition of Charleston's Shelby Rogers and 2006 champion Nadia Petrova to the field.

The 2014 tournament now has six returning past champions with Petrova, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Sabine Lisicki, Jelena Jankovic and Samantha Stosur.

Rogers brings the American player list to 10, the most American entries into the main draw since 2001, when 11 players from the U.S. played.

"We love giving deserving athletes an opportunity to play in the Family Circle Cup's main draw," said Eleanor Adams, Family Circle Cup Tournament Manager. "Nadia and Shelby both have strong ties to our tournament's history. Nadia as a past champion, and Shelby as winner of our Dunlop Junior tournament and beloved by our city."

Petrova was among a ground-breaking group of players who led the Russian revolution in women's tennis at the beginning of the millennium. Since 2005, Petrova has collected 37 WTA titles, 13 in singles and 24 in doubles, and has held a career high ranking of World No. 3 in both.

In 2006, Petrova won the Family Circle Cup title with a 6-3,4-6, 6-1 victory over Patty Schnyder. Petrova holds a 13-6 record at the tournament and is ranked seventh in money leaders with $404,570 in total prize earnings.

Rogers grew up on the green clay courts of the Family Circle Tennis Center and was a member of the Family Circle Cup's ball crew. She began her professional tennis career in 2009, and in 2012 captured her first title on the ITF circuit and has since won four more.

The Family Circle Cup's remaining three wild cards, including two top-20 players, will be announced at a later date. The tournament begins March 29 and wraps up April 6. For more information, call (800) 677-2293 or go to FamilyCircleCup.com.


(03/20/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
WANDO 5, PALMETTO CHRISTIAN 1
Singles: Heinz (PCA) d. Jahn 6-4, 6-3. DaCosta d. Pendergast 6-3, 7-6. Covington d. Goolsby 6-0, 6-0. Redden d. Kassof 6-1, 6-1. Ciuffo d. Pernell 6-2, 6-1.  Doubles: Winglowski/Lopresti d. N/A 6-0, 6-0.
Records: Wando 2-2.

STRATFORD 6, FORT DORCHESTER 0
Singles: Fidef d. McManus 6-4, 1-6 (10-5). G. Wong d. Samuels 6-0, 6-0. J. Wong d. Moorer 6-0, 6-0. Hoffman d. Z. Segendo 6-1, 6-0. G. Sides d. J. Segendo 6-2, 6-2. Doubles: Young/Smith d. McLean/Hamby 6-1, 6-0.
Next: Fort Dorchester hosts Beaufort Thursday.

SOUTH AIKEN 5, BISHOP ENGLAND 1
Singles: Zalesky (BE) d. S. Zotovic 2-6, 6-2, 10-2. Tiffany d. Stiepel 6-4, 6-2. P. Zotovic d. Knot 6-3, 6-2. Bowman d. Meyer 6-3, 6-2. M. Zotovic d. Sottile 6-0, 6-1. Doubles: Thatcher/Willis d. Ranson/Privett 6-4, 6-3.
Records: Bishop England 5-1 Next: Bishop England hosts Waccamaw.


(03/16/14)  Family Circle Cup Tickets 64% off
Groupon
Deal Options (Available April 14 – 20)
$25 for two tickets to an early-round night session (a $50 value)
$55 for one pass to all four early-round night sessions (a $110 value)
$35 for two tickets to the FINALS on Sunday, April 6, at 11 a.m. (a $70 value)
-    This is only $17.50 per GA Grandstand ticket.
-    *Last row of Terrace Level is just 8 ft. away and costs $80.00


(03/15/14)  Odds stacked against Halbauer again
The odds were stacked against Ellie Halbauer winning last month's Dunlop Junior Championship's girls 18 title over some of the top junior players in the country.

The challenge for the 16-year-old former area resident will be even greater when she returns to Family Circle Tennis Center in two weeks to compete in the Family Circle Cup's qualifying tournament.

Although several junior Family Circle Cup champions have gone on to play in the main draw of the Family Circle Cup, including Shelby Rogers, Mallory Cecil and Alison Riske, 2003 winner Shadisha Robinson is the only junior Family Circle champion to have advanced through qualifying into the main draw of the WTA Tour tournament.

"I'm coming," Halbauer assured Friday when reached in Bradenton, Fla., where she has been training with her coach. "I hope I can win it. I'm trying to get stronger ... I've got to get fitter."

There's one stroke Halbauer doesn't have to spend much time honing: her down-the-line backhand. That's the shot that probably played the biggest role in her three-set upset of former USTA top-ranked junior Kaitlyn McCarthy of Cary, N.C., in the Dunlop final. Halbauer, who moved to Boca Raton three years ago and now trains at the USTA training center there, also upended world's No. 2 junior Varvara Flink of Russia in the quarterfinals.

Beyond the March 29-30 qualifying tournament, Halbauer "would love" to follow in Shelby Rogers' footsteps and become a touring professional. "I haven't decided about college tennis," said the home-schooled sophomore, who trained under Bryan Minton at the old Players Club in Mount Pleasant from 2006-08.

Southern champs

Two local 7.5 combo senior women's teams won titles at the recent Southern Sectional Championships in Dothan, Ala.

Leah Biller's 40-plus team defeated Mobile, Ala., 2-1, for one title, and Joette Creager's 55-plus team defeated another Mobile team, 3-0, in the final.

Only two women's 55 teams participated in the Lowcountry Tennis Association's local league season, but Creager's Mount Pleasant Rec team won four of five meetings with Snee Farm to win the local league, then won the state to advance to the Southerns.

Former Wando coach Becky Williamson, who also played on Biller's 40-plus team through the state, posted a 5-0 record with partner Chris Jones in the 55-plus Southerns, while the Becky Montgomery/Mary Ann Borysowicz pair also went 5-0 for the 55-plus team in Dothan.

Biller's 20-player 40-plus team from Park West played a wide array of competition locally, then went 1-2 in its flight at state but still advanced to the semifinals and eventually won the state title by defeating its flight winner (Columbia) in a rematch.

Local notes

Diane Barker has been selected for the USTA's Maureen Connolly Cup 55-and-over team that will compete in the annual ITF Seniors World Championships at Palm Beach Gardens and Boca Raton, Fla., from April 21-26. The Charleston pro also will participate in the individual competition April 27-May 4.

Drew Halbauer has been offered a scholarship to play tennis for Louisville, according to his sister, Ellie, while older brother Trey is now teaching tennis at a country club in Connecticut.

Jonathan Edwards has accepted a tennis scholarship to play tennis at the University of Connecticut. Jonathan's father is LCTA president Ken Edwards.

Boosted by her eighth straight opening-match victory earlier this month in the main draw at Indian Wells, Shelby Rogers should climb from her current career-high 114th world ranking to among the top 110 women in the world when the new rankings come out Monday.

Several local facilities are scheduled to hold USTA Junior Play Days next Saturday: Charleston Tennis Center (9 a.m.-noon), Maybank Tennis Center (9-10:30 a.m.), Snee Farm Country Club (1-3 p.m.), Dunes West (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.), Daniel Island Club (1-3 p.m.) and Summerville's Doty Park (2-4 p.m.). Beginners to advanced players can participate. Go to www.youthtennis.com for more information.

Last month's fourth annual Legend Oaks Gives Back tournament raised $8,344 in support of The ARK Alzheimer's Family Support Services of Summerville.


(03/14/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Green Wave tennis team shows promise
With eight returning players and the addition of a major college prospect, the Green Wave boys’ tennis team should be competitive this season.

“We have the potential to be a very good team but we have to prove it on the court,” Summerville coach David Long said. “Our main goal is to learn how to win big matches that we could not win last year not only outside the region but against our region as well. Measurable goals include a region title and a strong showing in the state playoffs.”

Last year the squad placed third in region 8-AAAA and advanced to the round of the state playoffs before losing to eventual state champion South Aiken. This year’s 12 team members include four newcomers.

The returnees are led by a pair of all-region players in senior Adam Seith and sophomore Walker Long, who was named team MVP last year. Seniors Brandon Sekula and Austin Wiseman also return and were both in the starting singles lineup last year. Senior Brandon Blumenburg returns after playing No. 2 doubles most of last year.

The other returning players are sophomores Jack Hazel and Hunter Moeller and Alston Middle School eighth-grader Stephen Wills. Hazel and Moeller both saw action last year in doubles play.

The new players are led by junior transfer Adam Elliget, a Division 1 tennis prospect who is currently ranked sixth in South Carolina USTA junior boys and 321st nationally. He transferred from Pinewood Prep. The other newcomers are all eighth-graders at Rollings Middle School.

Taylor Reynolds, Dennison Yangco and Chris Edwards, along with Wills, will add depth and provide great promise for the future of Green Wave tennis. Reynolds’ sister Paige, a seventh-grader, was the No. 2 player for the Lady Green Wave in the fall.

Summerville improved to 3-1 on the season with a 5-1 win over James Island Tuesday. The Green Wave dropped the No. 5 singles match.

On March 17, Summerville travels to River Bluff, which has one of the stronger teams in the Columbia area. The Wave will host a match with Bishop England March 18 and then open region play at Colleton County March 20.

“I intentionally created a very difficult non-region schedule that includes Porter Gaud, Bishop England, Wando, and River Bluff to test our abilities and gauge where we stand before the playoffs,” Long said.


(03/15/14)  STAFF REPORT: CofC Takes Care of Spiders, 4-3
Rounding out a strenuous stretch of tennis that saw the Cougars play four matches in four days, the College of Charleston women’s tennis team downed the Spiders of Richmond University Friday afternoon, 4-3, in a tight contest at the CofC Tennis Complex.

“I’m really pleased with this win,” said College of Charleston director of tennis Angelo Anastopoulo. “We played very well in doubles and showed some toughness after Richmond took an early lead in singles. Richmond has won numerous Atlantic-10 titles and are a championship caliber team. I’m very pleased that we were able to get the win today.”

The Cougars (7-6) were great in doubles play, winning on all three courts, thanks to the Cougar pairings of Jenny Falcone and Katherine Schofield, as well as Mara Argyriou and Kelly Kambourelis – who on courts one and two – clinched the point for CofC, both winning 8-4. On court three Jamie Harrell and Samantha Maddox also claimed an 8-4 victory over Richmond’s Elizabeth Sims and Denny Lamachia.

In singles, The College extended its lead to 2-0, after senior Kelly Kambourelis quickly dismissed of Melissa Kandinata on court one, before Maddox put the Cougars on the cusp of victory on court four, winning 6-0, 6-4 against recent Atlantic-10 player of the week, Katya Salas. In the clinching match, Franklin, Tennessee native Katherine Schofield won in straight sets, 7-5, 6-2., to give The College its seventh win of the year.

“Kat’s (Schofield) win was the highlight of the day,” said Anastopoulo. “She went down early, but dug deep and started playing some great tennis. It was a good team effort all around.”

Next up for the Cougars is a Monday, Mar. 17, home conference match against the Pride of Hofstra University, at the College of Charleston Tennis Complex, where doubles play is set to begin at 1:00 p.m.


(03/14/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis

PORTER-GAUD 9, PINEWOOD PREP 0
Singles: Pinosky d. Holoubek 6-2, 6-2; Fenno d. Wet 6-0, 6-0; Tolliver d. Russi 6-0, 6-0; Vingi d. Diffley 6-0, 6-0; Moe d. Villanueva 6-0, 6-0; Craigie d. Bailey 6-0, 6-0. Doubles: Pinosky/Moe d. Holoubek/Wert 8-0; Snyder/Fenno d. Russi/Diffley 8-1; Harvin/Kammerer d. McConnell/Olarv 8-0


(03/14/14)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Legend Oaks gives back

Roger Lee/Journal Scene Legend Oaks Golf and Tennis Club officials and participants from this year’s Legend Oaks Gives Back Tennis Tournament, on Tuesday, presented a check to Peg Lahmeyer and Cheryl Moniz of The Ark of Summerville. From left are Richard Williams, Jim Chickarello, Kathy Chickarello, Andy Steingold, Steve Glaettli, Peg Lahmeyer, Aynsley Hadley, Cheryl Moniz, Carol Wilson, Lisa Diedrick, Laura Doerr and Su MacAdam.
PHOTO: Roger Lee/Journal Scene Legend Oaks Golf and Tennis Club officials and participants from this year’s Legend Oaks Gives Back Tennis Tournament, on Tuesday, presented a check to Peg Lahmeyer and Cheryl Moniz of The Ark of Summerville. From left are Richard Williams, Jim Chickarello, Kathy Chickarello, Andy Steingold, Steve Glaettli, Peg Lahmeyer, Aynsley Hadley, Cheryl Moniz, Carol Wilson, Lisa Diedrick, Laura Doerr and Su MacAdam.

The fourth annual Legend Oaks Gives Back USTA Level 2 Tennis Tournament raised more than $8,000 to support the Lowcountry community in need.

Held Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 at Legend Oaks Golf and Tennis Club in Summerville,

the tennis tournament started on a Friday evening and ran through Sunday afternoon. Despite the cold and rainy weather, 175 players ranging from beginners to the highest-ranking local players and professionals came out to make the event a huge success.

There were 19 champions crowned during the event. However the biggest winner was The ARK of Summerville, which was presented with a check for $8,344.50 on Tuesday.

Members of Legend Oaks Gives Back Tennis Committee selected The ARK as this year’s charity based on votes made by club members.

Club owner Jim Chickarello is thrilled the event has grown so fast over its four-year history, and that The ARK will benefit from the funds.

“It’s great to see so many residents within our community supporting their neighbors in need,” Chickarello said, “Local charities need our support more than ever.”

Chickarello thanked the Legend Oaks Gives Back Tennis Committee Members for their tireless efforts in support of this event. Those serving on this year’s committee included Carol Wilson-Chairman, Dawn Blatner, Lisa Diedrick, Laura Doerr, Aynsley Hadley, Su MacAdam, Holly Plyler, Andy Steingold and Richard Williams.

Chickarello also thanked the generous sponsors in the business community, club members, and neighbors in Legend Oaks for their continued support.

The Legend Oaks Gives Back program was founded in 2008 by Jim Chickarello. The club staff joins with club members and the Legend Oaks neighborhood, working together to help those in the immediate community in need. The year- round initiative, includes a major fall fundraiser with a tennis tournament, golf tournament and dinner with silent auction, a 5K run on the back nine, back to school supplies drive and a Christmas toy drive. Past donations have benefited Dorchester Children’s Center, Meals on Wheels of Summerville, MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, MUSC Children’s Hospital and The Palmetto House. Legend Oaks Gives Back, operating under the motto “A community working together, to help those in need!” has raised more than $170,000 since its inception.

The Legend Oaks Gives Back charity initiative welcomes businesses and members of the community who would like to become involved and help those in our local community in need. For more information, contact Theresia Ware at 821-4077, extension 103 or tware@legendoaksgolf.com.


(03/12/14)  STATE REPORT:  Tennis
In their inaugural Colonial Athletic Association home match, the College of Charleston men’s tennis team dispatched of James Madison University, 7-0, at the C of C Tennis Complex on Tuesday.

“It was a good performance for us as a team,” said College of Charleston head coach Jay Bruner. “We are improving a little with every match and getting tougher as we move in to the second half of the Spring season. Staying in the rankings at No. 75, means we are continuing to compete and show up for each match – doing what we know we can do.”

The No. 75-ranked Cougars (8-3), jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead after winning all three doubles matches to swiftly take the first point. On court number one, Brice Allanic and Charlie Ghriskey downed their JMU opposition, 8-5, while the Cougar pairings of Alon Faiman and Zack Lewis as well as Rodrigo Encinas and Crescente Lesser, rode to victory on courts two and three, 8-2 and 8-1, respectively.

In singles, the Cougars were led by Lesser on court three and Faiman on court six, as the two combined to lose only two games and extend the Cougar lead to 3-0. Closing out the match for The College was Chliean Rodrigo Encinas, who downed Australian Robert Sterling, 6-4, 6-4 to give the Cougars their eighth win of the season, and fifth on the trot.

The Citadel tennis team came up short against James Madison on Wednesday, falling 5-2 at the Earle Tennis Center. The Bulldogs slipped to 2-16 while JMU improved to 4-5.

Although the Dukes were able to secure the doubles point, The Citadel's Jackson Pride and Peter Bleach recorded their fourth win of the season in the No. 2 position over Maxi Branth and Alex Berdnioff, 8-6.

In singles play, Elliott Sperr knocked out the Dukes' Robert Stirling in two sets, 7-6, 6-3, to capture his fourth victory of the year. Bleach, the Bulldogs' No. 3 player, posted his third win by defeating Mijan Ruzic 6-4, 6-4.

The Citadel netters return to the courts Saturday to host a doubleheader, facing Old Dominion at 9 a.m., followed by Iowa at 2 p.m.


(03/12/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
Porter-Gaud 7, Wando 0
Singles: Seth Pinosky d. Andrew DeCosta, 6-1, 6-1; Brant Fenno d. McMillan Covington, 6-3, 6-2; Cross Tolliver d. Woods Browder, 6-3, 6-1; Malone Vingi d. Forrest Redden, 6-1, 6-3; Foster Moe d. Carter Weston, 6-4, 6-3. Doubles: Pinosky/Tolliver d. DeCosta/Browder, 8-1; Connor Craigie/Jack Kammerer d Ciuffo/Smith, 6-4, 6-3. Records: P-G 5-0.
Next: P-G at Pinewood Prep on Thursday

ASHLEY RIDGE 4, CANE BAY 2
Singles: Amble (CB) d. Parvey 6-1, 6-3. Marshall d. Hughes 6-1, 6-2. Howell (CB) d. Ackerman 3-6, 7-5, 1-0. Rabon d. Topel 6-7, 6-1, 1-0. Zeng d. Buttery 6-1, 0-6, 1-0. Doubles: Johnson/Kackley d. Grace/Ziegler 7-5, 6-1. Records: Ashley Ridge 1-1.

BISHOP ENGLAND 4, WANDO 3
Singles: Zalesky (BE) d. DaCosta 6-1, 7-5. Stiepel (BE) d. Covington 6-1, 6-0. Browder (W) d. Jones 2-6, 6-4, 10-6. Redden (W) d. Knot 7-6, 6-3. Weston (W) d. Meyer 6-4, 2-6, 11-9. Doubles: Zalesky/Stiepel (BE) d. DaCosta/Covington 6-1, 6-2. Privett/Ranson (BE) d. Wingloski/Ciuffo 6-7, 6-3, 10-5.
Next: Bishop England at Woodland today.

WEST ASHLEY 6, FORT DORCHESTER 1
Singles: McManus (FD) d. T. Anastapoulo 6-3, 6-2. Ropp d. Samuels 6-0, 6-0. S. Anastapoulo d. Howell 6-1, 6-2. Shirley d. Moorer 6-0, 6-1. Gunn d. Arnold 6-0, 6-2. Doubles: T. Anastapoulo/S. Anastapoulo d. McManus/Howell 7-6. Sadler/Foster d. J. Segundo/Z. Segundo 6-1, 6-1.
Next: Fort Dorchester at James Island Monday.


(03/11/14)  GOOSE CREEK GAZETTE: Knights boys coast in tennis
The Stratford boys tennis team dropped one match but was otherwise unchallenged by Fort Dorchester in a non-region match on Monday. The Knights improved to 1-0 on the season with the 6-1 victory.

Griffin Wong Jeffrey Wong, Parker Hoffman and Garrett Sides all had singles victories for Stratford. The tandems of Dylan Sides and Griffin Wong and Anthony Yeung and Jordan Smith recorded doubles victories. Stratford is set to travel to Berkeley on Wednesday, March 12 and host James Island Tuesday, March 18. They travel to Fort Dorchester for a rematch on Wednesday, March 19. 


(03/11/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
BERKELEY 6, FORT DORCHESTER 1
Singles: McManus (FD) d. Fleming 6-0, 6-2; Brown (B) d. Samuels 6-1, 6-2; S. Giannelli (B) d. Howell 6-2, 6-1; J. Giannelli (B) d. Moorer 6-1, 6-0; Marsch (B) d. Arnold 6-1, 6-1. Doubles: Fleming/Brown (B) d. McManus/Moorer 7-6; Livingston/Hamilton (B) d. Z. Sedundo/J. Sedundo 6-2, 6-3.
Records: Berkeley 1-0, Fort Dorchester 0-2.
Next: Fort Dorchester hosts West Ashley today.

SUMMERVILLE 5, JAMES ISLAND 1
Singles: A. Elliget (S) d. Davis 6-0, 6-0; Sith (S) d. Wright 6-1, 6-2; Long (S) d. Bridges 6-2, 7-5; Sekula (S) d. Sechrist 6-2, 6-1; Baley (JI) d. Wiseman 7-5, 6-4. Doubles: Bloomenburg/Hazel (S) d. Lomano/Pritchett 7-6, 6-7, 1-0.
Records: Summerville 3-1, James Island 1-1. Next: Summerville is at River Bluff on Monday. James Island hosts Wando on Thursday.


(03/06/14)  AP/At A Glance: Tennis
Charleston pro Shelby Rogers breezed past 90th ranked Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic, 6-0, 6-4, on Wednesday in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif.

The 29-year-old Cetkovska was fresh from a three-set win over world’s No 2 Li Na en route to a quarterfinal finish in Qatar.
 
Rogers, who this week climbed to a career-high 114th world ranking, will face 31st-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia in the round of 64. Rogers, 21, received a wild card directly into the Indian Wells Main Draw.


(03/04/14)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
PORT CITY INVITATIONAL TOURNAMENT at Wilmington, N.C.
Saturday
EAST CHAPEL HILL 8 SUMMERVILLE 1
Singles: Elliget (S) d. Smith 6-0 6-2, Devonport (ECH) d. Seith 6-0 6-1, Kevin Huang (ECH) d. Long 6-2 6-3, Desilva (ECH) d. Sekula 6-3 6-2, Rennie (ECH) d. Wiseman 6-0 6-0, Lutz (ECH) d. Blumemburg 6-0 6-0.  Doubles: Rennie-Wang (ECH) d. Long-Sekula 8-2, George-Drobny (ECH) d. Wiseman 8-0; Bond-Zach Au (ECH) d. Blumemburg-Hazel 8-0.

SUMMERVILLE 5 RALEIGH MILLBROOK 4
Singles: Elliget (S) d. Moody 6-1 6-0, Moody (RM) d. Seith 6-1 6-4, Long (S) d. Devore 6-0 7-5, Sekula (S) d. Brandt 7-6(5) 7-5, Creech (RM) d. Wiseman 6-1 6-1, Hazel (S) d. McClosky 6-7(5) 6-4 1-0(6). Doubles: Elliget-Seith (S) d. Moody-Moody 8-4, Brandt-Creech (RM) d. Long-Sekula 8-2, Devore-Butler (RM) d. Wiseman-Blumemburg 8-4.
Records: Summerville 2-1. Next: Summerville at James Island March 11.

Friday
SUMMERVILLE 7 WILMINGTON LANEY 2
Singles: Elliget (S) d. Ryder 6-0 6-2; McDonough (WL) d. Seith 3-6 6-4 6-1, Long (S) d. Taffer 6-2 6-2, Sekula (S) d. Schoolfield 6-0 6-0, Wiseman (S) d. Heydweller 4-6 6-4 6-3; Hazel (S) d. McNeill 6-2 6-7(6),7-5. Doubles: Elliget-Seith (S) d. Ryder-McDonough 8-3, Long-Sekula (S) d. Taffer-Schoolfield 8-6, Heydweller-McNeill (WL) d. Wiseman-Brandon Blumemburg 8-7(4).


(03/02/14)  Rogers gets timely wild card to Indian Wells
Shelby Rogers is back in the wild-card business. The 21-year-old Daniel Island product has been awarded a wild card directly into the main draw of the mega 96-draw tournament starting Wednesday at Indian Wells, Calif.

That's especially good since she hasn't lost her initial match in any tournament since last summer's U.S. Open. If Rogers can keep her streak alive in the desert, she would net enough WTA Tour ranking points to probably push her world ranking (currently No. 117) inside the top 110 players in the women's game.

Rogers has won seven straight opening matches in tournaments, whether main draw or qualifying. But after the first round, things have been kind of shaky for Rogers since last September when she was crowned champion of a $75,000 tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. She hasn't won a second-round match since Albuquerque.

The trend continued this past week in Acapulco when Rogers won her first-round qualifying match, then lost to young Allie Kiick in three sets the next round.

Of course, things could be much worse for Rogers . . . like the start of the 2013 season when she lost her first six matches, wrapping up the winless streak with a first-round qualifying loss at the Family Circle Cup.

Rogers rebounded from last year's disastrous start by defeating Kiick in the final of the $50,000 Charlottesville, Va., event and claiming a wild card into the main draw of the French Open. She then won the $50,000 ITF event in Lexington, Ky., to earn a wild card into the U.S. Open. She went directly to Las Vegas after winning Albuquerque and suffered a season-ending injury there in the second round.

Rogers in Cup?

The big question is whether Rogers will be awarded a wild card into the Family Circle Cup main draw. She has played in three Family Circle qualifying tournaments with one win and was awarded a main draw wild card in 2011.

Fellow former Family Circle Cup junior champion Alison Riske has moved up the world rankings rapidly in the last year and is now ranked 46th in the world. That's easily good enough for direct entry into next month's main draw.

Riske also went straight into the main draw in 2011 when she was ranked 118th, joining 2003 junior cup champion Shadisha Robinson as junior Family Circle winners to earn their way into the main draw on Daniel Island. Robinson advanced through the qualifying tournament in 2003.

In 2010 while ranked No. 188, Riske was awarded a wild card into Family Circle's main draw. Based on that information, Rogers could be in line for a main draw wild card into her hometown tournament.

P-G has reloaded

Porter-Gaud obviously has reloaded and has a head start on the race to a possible second straight SCISA Class AAA boys tennis state title. Scoring a 6-3 win over perennial state finalist Hilton Head Prep last Tuesday was a major first step for the Cyclones and new head coach Jonathan Barth.

The depth of the Cyclones' returning quartet of senior Seth Pinosky, eighth-grader Brant Fenno, sophomore Cross Tolliver and senior Foster Moe spaced out in the singles lineup, complimented by new young starters Connor Craigie and Malone Vingi, will be difficult to beat in SCISA's six-singles, three-doubles format.

Porter-Gaud also blitzed Palmetto Christian, 8-1, and will not play another regular-season match until March 10 when perennial SCHSL Class AA power Waccamaw visits Albemarle Point.

Local notes

Charleston Tennis Center will hold its annual St. Patrick's Day mixed doubles round robin on March 16 from 2-5 p.m. The tournament is open to the public. Contact Charleston Tennis Center (766-7401).

The Tri-County Elementary and Middle School Tennis League has grown to 133 teams this season (15 more than last year), according to league coordinator Peggy Bohne of the City of Charleston Recreation Department, which organizes the league every spring. Kindergarteners through eighth-graders compete in the league, which has three divisions. League play will start March 10. Contact Charleston Tennis Center.

The inner-city Courting Kids program will continue its spring season next Saturday at the Alan Fleming Tennis Center on John's Island from 10-11:30 a.m. and at the downtown Jack Adams Tennis Center from 1-2:30 p.m. A new Hispanic session also has been added on John's Island that will include 25 juniors from 7-16 years old. The Courting Kids program is coordinated by Charleston Tennis Center's Delores Jackson (766-7401).


(02/28/14)  Prep Zone: Boys Tennis Results
PORTER-GAUD 8, PALMETTO CHRISTIAN 1
Singles: Heinz (PCA) d. Pinosky 6-0, 6-2. Fenno d. Pendergast 6-0, 6-3. Tolliver d. DeMarco 6-0, 6-0. Vingi d. Goolsby 6-0, 6-0. Moe d. Kassouf 6-0, 6-0. Craigie d. Pernell 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: Tolliver/Vingi d. Heinz/Pendergast 8-5. Kammerer/Craigie d. DeMarco/Goolsby 8-2. Snyder/Feinman 8-1.
Records: Porter-Gaud 2-0.


(02/23/14)  STAFF REPORT:  College Tennis Results
Charleston Southern's women's team improved to 2-0 at the Buccaneer Tennis Complex as the Bucs swept visiting Wofford, 7-0.

The Buccaneers (3-3) picked up their second win in a row as Charleston Southern swept all three doubles matches to open the afternoon before Marketa Placha took home the final point on court No. 1, topping Sarah Evans, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).

In their inaugural conference match as members of the Colonial Athletic Association, the College of Charleston women captured their biggest win of the season so far, knocking off defending conference champion William & Mary, 4-3, at the Carolina Tennis Facility.

The Cougars (3-3) started the match strong, taking the doubles point following great performances from the pairings of Kelly Kambourelis and Mara Argyriou, as well as Samantha Maddox and Jamie Harrell, who dispatched their opponents, 8-4 and 8-5, respectively.


(02/21/14)  Lowcountry teams loaded as boys tennis season opens
First-year Summerville tennis coach David Long is counting on a big year for the Green Wave with the addition of former Pinewood Prep All-Lowcountry star Adam Elliget to go with four returning starters, while defending SCISA Class AAA state champion Porter-Gaud is in partial rebuild mode in the absence of two-time boys tennis Lowcountry player of the year Thomas Spratt. Elsewhere, Wando may be ready to bounce back in Winde Ellenberg's eighth season as head coach and challenge for something more than a ninth straight Region 7-AAAA title. Bishop England’s biggest problem once again likely will be trying to escape the shadows of Waccamaw in Lower State Class AA. And former All-Lowcountry Austin Heinz has returned from Nick Bollettieri’s Florida tennis academy to give Palmetto Christian Academy a lift in the Eagles’ last year in SCISA Class AA.

Wave aims high

In the High School League, where matches consist of only five singles and two doubles, Elliget should make a huge difference for Summerville in Region 8-AAAA. Elliget’s insertion at the top of the lineup enables Long to push his veteran returnees down the line, while Elliget steps up as a heavy favorite to win Nos. 1 singles and doubles.

Senior Adam Seith will drop back from No. 1 to No. 2 in the lineup, while year-around tournament sophomore Walker Long (the coach’s son) will fall from No. 2 to No. 3. Senior returnees Brandon Sekula and Austin Wiseman should round out the singles lineup.

“Our ultimate goal is to win the state championship,” said Long, who helped out with the team a year ago. “We hope to win the region and make a deep run in the playoffs. We have high expectations.”

Barth P-G coach

Jonathan Barth has giant shoes to fill at Porter-Gaud in his first year as head coach, replacing Tom Higgins who won seven state titles in his 11 years at the Albemarle Point school.

“I would think we’ll be a contender . . . with (2013 runner-up) Hilton Head Prep and Hilton Head Christian. Hilton Head Prep is always loaded, and Christian has (Clemson signee) Hampton Drake,” Barth said. “We’re a little younger than we have been, but our depth is helped out by the SCISA format (six singles and three doubles).”

All-Lowcountry returnees Seth Pinosky and Brant Fenno are expected to help ease the loss of Spratt, who is now playing tennis for the University of Pennsylvania. Pinosky played No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles with Spratt last year as a junior. Fenno is a highly regarded eighth-grader.

Wando improved

Ellenberg is expecting exciting things from newcomer Jacob Jahn, the fifth-ranked boys 14 player in the state in 2013, as well as the Warriors’ depth. “We are super solid,” Ellenberg said.

Jahn may push returning No. 1 Andrew DaCosta down to No. 2 for his junior year. The Warriors also have junior newcomer Austin Ciuffo, a tournament player who has moved in from Charlotte; junior Carter Weston, who sat out last year; sophomore Woods Browder, who missed last season with an ankle injury; and freshman Covington McMillan, who played No. 3 for the Warriors last season.

“If everything goes well, it could be our year,” Ellenberg said.

BE strong again

As usual, Bishop England is expected to rule SCHSL Class AA locally. Coach Kristin Fleming’s main aim has to be for the Bishops to avoid ending their season for the 12th straight year in the Lower State playoffs against Waccamaw.

“We’ve got a strong team . . more depth,” second-year head coach Fleming said.

All-Lowcountry players Lukas Zalesky and Noah Stiepel are back as seniors, along with improved junior Jeff Jones. The Bishops also have a strong newcomer in junior Daniel Knott, a transfer from the Virgin Islands.

PCA gets boost

Coach Dewey Caulder is hoping Heinz will impact Palmetto Christian’s state championship hopes. Heinz was the star for the Eagles in 2012 when they played in Class A and won their sixth state title in seven years. Without Heinz last season, the Eagles finished as Class AA state runner-up.

Caulder also is high on sixth-grader Luke Pendergast, who was ranked No. 5 in the state for 2013 in boys 12.

Junior returnees Chris DeMarco and Trey Goolsby will be near the top of the lineup.

The Eagles will move up to Class AAA next season.


(02/20/14)  Staff report:  Family Circle Cup main draw set; Serena Williams among five former champions
The main player draw for the Family Circle Cup is officially complete for the 42nd tournament, set for March 29-April 6 on Daniel Island. The world-class women's tennis field is led by defending champion Serena Williams, plus another pair of top 10 players - Jelena Jankovic and Sara Errani.

U.S. players Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens are also on the way.

"The competition for players has increased dramatically over the last few years, and we are extremely happy with not only the quality of our player field, but the depth of our player field," said Bob Moran, General Manager and Tournament Director. "From our two time defending champion Serena Williams, to next generation players like Sloane Stephens and Eugenie Bouchard, this field has something for every fan."

The Family Circle Cup's 56-player draw is made up of 43 direct entries into the tournament, five wild cards and eight qualifiers.

Other highlights from the Main Draw include:
- A player field representing 26 countries
- 24 players from the top 50 in the world
- Four Grand Slam Champions: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Samantha Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova
- Five past Family Circle Cup Champions: Serena Williams (2008, 2012, 2013), Samantha Stosur (2010), Sabine Lisicki (2009), Jelena Jankovic (2007), Venus Williams (2004)
- 10 American players


(02/17/14)  Halbauer claims Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship
Ellie Halbauer came home to the Family Circle Tennis Center and won its Dunlop Junior Championship on clay Sunday afternoon with a 3-6, 6-2, 10-8 victory over USTA third-ranked Kaitlyn McCarthy of Cary, N.C.

And, is there any doubt whether Halbauer will return to the site in late March to take advantage of the wild card her weekend success earned her for the WTA Tour's Family Circle Cup qualifying tournament?

Don't even ask the 16-year-old Boca Raton, Fla., resident that question. "I've been coming here since I was 8 years old (until she moved to Florida three years ago) to see the Family Circle Cup . I'll be back," insisted Halbauer, who now trains at the same USTA training center in Boca Raton as former Family Circle junior champion Shelby Rogers.

Halbauer, the No. 5 seed who had knocked off world's No. 2 junior Varvara Flink of Russia in the quarterfinals, won this championship with her sizzling backhand down the line, patience and brilliant movement.

Down 6-4 after McCarthy had won four straight points in the decisive 10-point tiebreaker, Halbauer committed only one error on a long lob the rest of the way while collecting one backhand winner for 8-7 against one forehand winner for McCarthy that tied the score at 8.

The other five points all ended in unforced errors by McCarthy, whose backhand hit the top of the tape and fell back to give Halbauer match point. McCarthy, a 5-8 blonde who was ranked No. 1 in U.S. girls 18 in 2013 and was seeded second here, then netted a forehand to end the match.

"I was hitting it really hard at first, and she (McCarthy) liked it a lot," Halbauer said about the first set. She changed her strategy to defense and allowed McCarthy to make more errors, but Halbauer still went for her backhand when she saw an opening down the line.


(02/16/14)  Elements affect league tennis, Dunlop junior event
Spring is just over a month away, but you would never guess it by the "northern like" weather we have had the last three weeks. League tennis is in full bloom, but only on paper as ice, snow, sleet, wind and the thermometer have been in control.

Through it all, I became a grandfather last Tuesday for the first time. And when 8-pound, 3-ounce Wyatt gripped my finger like it was a tennis racket in the hospital on our first meeting, I knew I had another tennis player.

Even the start of the Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship was pushed back Saturday morning by heavy rains on Friday night. Hopefully, the winds will die down for Sunday's last rounds at Family Circle Tennis Center, and the tournament will produce another outstanding prospect for a future Family Circle Cup.

Seventeen-year-old Russian Varvara Flink has the credentials to be playing regularly on the WTA Tour in a year or two. She's the No. 2 junior girl in the world, and aiming for No. 1 ... at the WTA Tour level. As her ITF ranking might indicate, the Dunlop Championship's top seed already has played numerous small-purse ITF events with considerable success.

Despite just moving to the United States from Ukraine this year after winning the Orange Bowl Junior championship and accepting a one-year scholarship to the new Russian Metropolia Tier One Tennis Academy in Coral Gables, Fla., Flink spoke perfect English on Friday when she contacted me from the airport in Florida on her trip to Charleston.

Local notes

The Family Circle Cup, which is only six weeks away, has scheduled a unique Ladies Day Out session for opening day on March 31. A "Move Forward" Luncheon with New York-based Fitness Magazine editor-in-chief Betty Wong as the guest speaker will be held from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Limited tickets to the luncheon, which also include terrace level seating, will be available (800-677-2293) until Feb. 28.

Several newcomers to the local junior scene are making their presences felt, including Thomas (Jacob) Jahn from Alabama (No. 5 in state boys 14 for 2013), Chad Nash from Georgia (No. 11 in state boys 14) and Coy Simon (No. 17 in state boys 14), who returned to Charleston from Georgia in 2013.

Jahn finished fourth in boys 14 at the recent Winter Southerns in Mobile, Ala., and Porter-Gaud All-Lowcountry Brant Fenno tied for ninth. Emma Navarro took second in girls 14, while Bishop England All-Lowcountry Lauren Quinn upset the girls 14 No. 1 seed en route to a tie for 17th.

High school tennis is right around the corner. Defending SCISA Class AAA state champion Porter-Gaud will open at home on Feb. 25 against 2013 state runner-up and region rival Hilton Head Prep.

Former All-Lowcountry Austin Heinz is back in the area after spending last season at Nick Bollettieri's Academy in Florida and should give coach Dewey Caulder's Palmetto Christian Academy team a big boost.

High School League play will start a few weeks later. Bishop England will open against Wando on March 12 at Creekside Tennis and Swim.

The deadline for entering the Feb. 28 Mount Pleasant Junior Challenger at the Whipple Road complex is Feb. 23. Registration is available online at sctennis.com (tournament No. 700020314). For more information, contact the tennis complex (856-2162).

Adults and youth 11-and-over can apply now for the Family Circle Cup ball crew. Volunteer positions can be applied for online at familycirclecup.com or at Family Circle Tennis Center. For more information, call the volunteer hotline (849-5309) and leave a message.


(02/15/14)  Junior Tennis Championship begins at Family Circle Tennis Center
The Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship is the official name, following in the footsteps of the Junior Family Circle Cup and Smash Cup. But regardless of the name, the Family Circle Tennis Center event has quite an impressive past.

The elite junior event starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday and awards its girls 18 winner a wild card into next month's Family Circle Cup qualifying tournament has a strong field.

In fact, top-seeded Varvara Flink is possibly the highest-rated player ever to appear in the event. The Orange Bowl junior girls champion, Flink is the No. 2 junior girls player in the ITF world rankings and owns a 432 WTA Tour ranking.

Having just turned 17 in December, the 5-9 Ukraine resident currently trains at the Metropolia Tier One Tennis Academy in Coral Gables, Fla., after receiving a one-year scholarship to the academy by winning the Metropolia Orange Bowl.

The No. 2 seed is Kaitlyn McCarthy of Cary, N.C., currently ranked No. 3 among U.S. girls 18 players, while USTA No. 12 Terri Fleming of Alpharetta, Ga., is the third seed.

Past girls 18 winners of the Family Circle junior event include in-state product Mallory Cecil, who won the event in 2008, then two months later captured the NCAA singles and team championships with Duke. Alison Riske (2009) is now ranked 46th in the world, and climbing.

Of course, local product Shelby Rogers marched through the 2010 Family Circle junior tournament and now is ranked 119th in the world. Rogers has won berths directly into the main draws of the French Open and U.S. Open in 2013. She lost in Thursday's round of 16 of the $100,000 Dow Corning tournament in Midland, Mich.

Columbia's Hayley Carter captured the last two girls 18 championships at Family Circle, then set records for titles won at Belton's Palmetto Championships. She's now playing for the University of North Carolina.

But none arrived at the Family Circle complex as highly regarded as Flink. Fresh from playing in the Junior Australian Open, Flink is excited about having an opportunity to compete for the Family Circle qualifying tournament wild card. Her goal is simply to be the No. 1 player in the women's game. That's why she's playing here. "Winning the wild card means a lot of to me," she said Friday.

Like the Orange Bowl, the Family Circle event will be played on clay at several sites, with Family Circle Tennis Center as the base site. Competition will be held in both boys and girls in 8-and-under through 18-and-under, and also will feature doubles. A total of 528 players sought entry into the tournament. Draws were limited to 32 players.


(02/03/14)  Executive Items - Molony leaves Family Circle Cup
Kathy Molony has left the Family Circle Cup to join Engaging Creative Minds as director of operations. Previously, she was events manager at Family Circle Tennis Center. She has a bachelor's degree from Winthrop University.


(02/02/14)  Southern No. 1 Mendez joins Ohio State
Matt Mendez has completed his junior tennis career with a pair of dream accomplishments. Not only is he now a freshman member of fifth-ranked Ohio State's tennis team, Mendez finished 2013 as the No. 1 junior in the South.

The 5-9, 160-pound local product spent most of last year training at Ivan Lendl's academy on Hilton Head Island. The hard work apparently is paying big dividends. He also won last fall's Southern Closed boys 18 crown and finished the year as South Carolina's No. 1-ranked junior.

"Matt has consistently been near the top of American junior tennis and has an all-around game," said veteran Ohio State coach Ty Tucker, who directed the Buckeyes to a 35-3 record and an appearance in the NCAA semifinals last spring. "He is a hard-working young man that leaves it all on the court every time he competes."

Pratt, Navarro tops

Two other Charleston area juniors earned No. 1 rankings in the state for 2013 in the regulation-sized court age groups as Jared Pratt took the top spot in boys 14 and Emma Navarro finished atop girls 14.

Pratt has been sidelined since late summer by surgery for curved-spine condition Scoliosisal, but plans to enroll at Bishop England next fall.

Pratt earned a No. 7 Southern ranking for 2013 in boys 14, while Navarro landed a No. 7 Southern ranking in girls 14. Scotty Cameron finished 14th in the South in boys 16.

Other state rankings

In boys 18, Adam Elliget (No. 5), Alex Santiago (6), Jonathan Edwards (9), Austin Heinz (12), Alexander Schneider (19) and Lukas Zalesky (20) finished behind Mendez in the state's top 20, while in boys 16 Scotty Cameron (2), Cameron Kirkwood (18) and Cross Tolliver (19) earned top 20 rankings.

Pratt was followed in boys 14 by Earl Navarro (4), Jacob Jahn (5), Chad Nash (11), Sam Kavarana (12), Brant Fenno (16) and Coy Simon (17). In boys 12, Luke Prendergast (5), Ian David Rasheed (16), Zach Dacuba (17), Mitchell Deames (18) and William Ross (19) took top 20 slots.

In girls 12, Lara Haley Schneider (3), Mcalindon Jahn (9), Margaret Navarro (10) and Emily Elliott (19) finished in the top 20. With Emma Navarro topping the girls 14 rankings, Lowcountry high school player of the year Ann Martin Skelly (3) of Porter-Gaud, Bishop England All-Lowcountry Lauren Quinn (8), Lillian Conant (12), Skat Bailey (15) and Katherine Lyman (16) landed spots in the top 20.

Samantha Shuster (3) and Elena Renee Schneider (18) were the only locals to make the top 20 in girls 16, while Courtney Geiss (14) and Bishop England All-Lowcountry Caroline Yodice (19) made the list in girls 18.

In small-court, compression-ball 10-and-under competition, the Severances led the way as Saige Elizabeth Severance was the top-ranked girl, while Sydney Alexis Severance was third, and Sawyer Severance was sixth among the boys.

An off week

The past week was one of the worst local weeks for tennis activity in memory. If the ice and snow weren't enough to keep most public clay courts at Family Circle Tennis Center, Mount Pleasant Rec's Whipple Road complex and Maybank Tennis Center closed from Tuesday afternoon until Saturday, locals woke up Saturday morning to a rainy day.

The result: Little or no practice in the week before many local leagues start their official spring seasons.

Local notes
The Family Circle Cup, which is only eight weeks away, has scheduled a unique Ladies Day Out session for opening day on March 31. A "Move Forward" Luncheon with New York-based Fitness Magazine editor-in-chief Betty Wong as the guest speaker will be held from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Limited tickets to the luncheon, which also include terrace level seating, will be available (800-677-2293) until Feb. 14.

Newcomers to the local junior scene include Thomas (Jacob) Jahn from Alabama, Chad Nash from Georgia and Coy Simon, who returned to Charleston from Georgia in 2013.

Jacob Jahn finished fourth in boys 14 at the recent Winter Southerns in Mobile, Ala., and Brant Fenno tied for ninth. Emma Navarro took second in girls 14, while Lauren Quinn upset the girls 14 No. 1 seed en route to a tie for 17th.

The deadline for entering the Feb. 28 Mount Pleasant Junior Challenger at the Whipple Road complex is Feb. 23. Registration is available online at sctennis.com (tournament No. 700020314). For more information, contact the tennis complex (856-2162).

Shelby Rogers, who has moved up to No. 119 in the world, is scheduled to play in the Feb. 10 Midlands, Mich., $100,000 event.

The Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship is scheduled for Feb. 15-16 at Family Circle Tennis Center. Competition in boys and girls 10-18 age groups will be offered, with round-robin play for 8-and-under. Registration online at tennislink.usta.com is available using tournament number 704140614 by Feb. 9. The girls 18 champion will receive a wild card into the Family Circle Cup's qualifying tournament.

Adults and youth 11-and-over can apply now for the Family Circle Cup ball crew. Volunteer positions can be applied for online at familycirclecup.com or at Family Circle Tennis Center. For information, call the volunteer hotline (849-5309) and leave a message.

Charleston Tennis Center will hold its annual Valentine's Day mixed doubles round robin next Sunday (Feb. 9) from 2-5 p.m.


(01/28/14)  STAFF REPORT: Lowcountry athletes take top honors at CAWS banquet
The South Carolina Coaches Association for Women's Sports (CAWS) recently honored its fall players of the year, and the Lowcountry was well represented.

Natalie Tucker of Wando was the Class AAAA volleyball player of the year, and James Island's Mary Seibert was the Class AAA player. Bishop England's Mary Harriet Moore was the Class AA honoree.

Annika Bovender of Academic Magnet was the Class AA golfer of the year.

Elizabeth Felix of Hilton Head was the Class AAA swimmer of the year, and Elaine Zhou of Academic Magnet was the Class AA swimmer of the year.

Barbara Tyler of Andrew Jackson was the Hall of Fame inductee, while Tara Grimsley of Dillon earned a special achievement award. She was the first girl to score a touchdown in a state championship football game.

Here is the complete list of winners, who were honored at the Columbia Convention Center:

Tennis
AAAA - Lauren Joch, Dutch Fork; AAA - Makenna Jones, Travelers Rest; AA - Ali DeSpain, Waccamaw; A - Olivia Lucas, Christ Church.


(01/19/14)  Hugs for Harper makes difference
The Hugs for Harper Tennis Tournament is making a difference. In just two years, the volunteer-based event has donated more than $100,000 to help fund pediatric cancer research at the MUSC Children’s Hospital’s Darby Research Institute.

The tournament, which is named in memory of pediatric soft-tissue cancer victim Harper Drolet, has been held the last two years at Kiawah Island. Through the efforts of the tournament, a dinner auction and corporate sponsors, the event raised $58,644 last September.

This year’s tournament will move to Charleston Tennis Center and be played on Sept. 6. The Hugs for Harper auction and dinner will be held at Charles Towne Landing’s Founders Hall the night before the tournament.

The goal of the endowment is to provide funds to pay for a full-time research scientist annually as part of the overall purpose of raising money to provide grants and to help in the search for a cure for soft-tissue cell cancer.

Barkers Down Under

South Carolina USTA adaptive tennis committee chairs Diane and Jack Barker departed Saturday for an Athletes Without Limits-sponsored 10-day trip to Australia with a group of special athletes with intellectual disabilities who will play their own tournament during the Australian Open. The finals of the special athletes event will be played on the same day as the women’s final.

The group also will visit Banella where the special athletes will compete on Australian grass against players from Australia, according to Diane Barker, the No. 5 women’s 55 player in the world.

Rogers’ formula

Shelby Rogers has been performing on a win-first-match, lose-second-match formula during her last month of tournament play after returning to tournament play following a three-month injury layoff.

The trend started in the Australian Open Wild-Card Playoffs in Atlanta before Christmas, then continued in the qualifying tournament for New Zealand’s $250,000 Auckland WTA event where she followed up an impressive win over Julia Cohen of the United States in the first round with a one-sided loss to a little-known player in the second round.

In last weekend’s Australian Open qualifying tournament Down Under, the 21-year-old Rogers opened with a win, but fell in straight sets to fellow American Madison Brengle in the second round. Rogers is currently ranked 125th in the world.

Junior Cup set

The Family Circle Cup junior tournament, officially known as the Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship, is scheduled for Feb. 15-16. Competition in boys and girls 10-18 age groups will be offered, with round-robin play for eight-and-under. Registration online at tennislink.usta.com is available using tournament number 704140614 by Feb. 9. The girls 18 champion will receive a wild card into the Family Circle Cup’s qualifying tournament.

Little Mo results

Ten juniors from Family Circle Tennis Center’s academy participated in the prestigious Little Mo International in West Palm Beach, Fla., in December. Jake Smith finished fourth in the eight-and-under division, while his brother Max Smith took fourth in the 11-and-under class.

Max Smith also won the tournament’s Maureen Connelly Brinker Sportsmanship Award and had his picture taken with touring pro Shelby Rogers, who won the national Maureen Connelly Brinker Award for sportsmanship in 2010 and now trains at the USTA training center in Boca Raton, Fla. William Ross was a semifinalist in mixed doubles 10-and-under, while Allie Gretkowski was a finalist in 10-and-under mixed with Mateo Janicijevi.

The Little Mo is the only tournament that allows 10-and-under players to compete with regular balls, and in their year and in mixed doubles.

Local notes

The Tri-County Elementary and Middle School League will hold its final coaches meeting next Sunday at 3 p.m. at Charleston Tennis Center. The league also is looking for volunteer coaches. Contact Charleston Tennis Center (766-7401).

The Jack Adams Tennis Center, adjacent to The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium, is scheduled to undergo a facelift this year. Construction to rebuild the six-court facility is expected to start this summer.

Adults and youth 11-and-over can apply now for the Family Circle Cup ball crew. Practice will begin next Saturday from 1-3 p.m. A parent orientation will be held at 1 p.m. next Saturday. Volunteer positions can be applied for online at familycirclecup.com or at Family Circle Tennis Center.

The College of Charleston’s annual Alumni Tennis Match will be held next Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Cougars’ Patriots Point complex.

Charleston Tennis Center will hold its annual Valentine’s Day mixed doubles round robin on Feb. 9 from 2-5 p.m.

The City of Charleston’s spring Courting Kids program is scheduled to start on March 1, 10-11:30 a.m. at the Alan Fleming complex on Johns Island and 1-2 p.m. at the downtown Jack Adams Tennis Center.


(01/04/14)  Cougars love March at home
What a schedule! An unprecedented 15 straight home matches, consuming the entire month of March.

Veteran College of Charleston women's coach Angelo Anastopoulo calls the venture "a really fun schedule." So, it's easy to understand why the congenial coach is smiling even more than usual as the Cougars enter their first season in the Colonial Athletic Association.
   
The short trip over to the Patriots Point tennis complex where the Cougars rarely lose looks better and better as cold weather sets in across much of the nation. After all, the Cougars are 92-20 at home over the past seven years.

But this January and February could test the Cougars. They open the season on Jan. 18 with a three-day road trip to South Carolina, Davidson and Wake Forest. They also will take on defending CAA champion William and Mary in Columbia in February.

"The conference shift has allowed us to play some teams we wouldn't normally play, which is great. We play 19 home matches and will see a lot of really good programs (including Notre Dame, North Carolina, Southern Miss and Tulane at home in March)."

The Cougars will face only five CAA opponents (W&M, at home against Hofstra and Towson, and visits to Wilmington and James Madison) in the regular season as they attempt to continue the success they have enjoyed in the Southern Conference in recent years. Anastopoulo has led his team to seven straight 20-win seasons and five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

Rogers falls

Victoria Duval took advantage of first-game service breaks in both sets and loose groundstrokes on big points by Daniel Island 21-year-old Shelby Rogers to score a 6-4, 7-5 victory on Saturday in the semifinals of the USTA's women's Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs in Norcross, Ga.

Rogers, ranked No. 125 in the world, had several chances to break back in the first set after dropping service in the first game of the match, but Duval's sizzling two-handed backhands proved to be just consistent enough to hold the top-seeded Rogers at bay.

Spratt hopes to start

Former Porter-Gaud star Thomas Spratt expects to be in the doubles lineup and is hoping to break into the singles starting lineup for the University of Pennsylvania as a freshman. The 2013 Lowcountry player of the year feels confident about his game after being introduced to the college game in both singles and doubles in several tournaments during the fall season.

Most of his doubles have been with fellow freshman and former junior doubles partner Marshall Sharp of Memphis.

While college tennis teams in the South often begin their regular seasons in January, cold-weather schools such as Philadelphia-based Penn usually start their outdoor seasons a month or two later. Penn will play its early-season matches indoors.

Registration for the Lowcountry Tennis Association's spring league season is currently in its final stages. Team registrations will end Friday at midnight when only teams whose rosters include the minimum number of players required to fill all positions for a league match will be eligible for league play. Men's and women's night leagues will play matches the same day and time as in the fall season, although the men's 40-plus league's matches will be played on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. or Saturdays at 1 p.m.

The annual captain's meeting for the local league tennis league will be held Monday at 6 p.m. at the Charleston County main library on Calhoun Street.