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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(12/21/15)  Wando’s Lily Conant is All-Lowcountry girls tennis player of the year
Wando’s No. 2 player lost once in the Bishop England Invitational, once in the Warriors’ Class AAAA state championship triumph and three days later in the state singles tournament final.

Along the way, Conant played a key role in leading Wando to a 25-1 record and first state title since 2009. She posted a pivotal victory over Lexington’s Madellina Mann, the player who had defeated Conant in the Bishop England event, in the Lower State semifinals to help the Warriors avenge their only loss of the season.

Conant is The Post and Courier’s Lowcountry girls tennis player of the year.

Eric Praedel, Conant’s first-year head coach at Wando, is the Lowcountry coach of the year after guiding the Warriors to their first state championship since Becky Williamson directed Wando to six consecutive state titles from 2004-09.

Are the Warriors on the verge of another string of state championships?

“I definitely think we can win it again next year,” Conant said. “We will have a lot of the same players back. We have only two seniors. Hopefully, Eric will coach us next year.

“Eric is a really good coach. He is easygoing and took a lot of pressure off us.”

Wando teammates Lauren Quinn. a sophomore, and freshman Kat Lyman join Conant on the All-Lowcountry team. Quinn, Lyman and Conant played important roles in the Warriors’ 2014 march to the state final.

“It felt good to win the state championship after losing in last year’s final. Our main goal was to win state,” Conant said.

Juniors Jenna Vroman and Camryn Deames and senior Gabrielle Dacuba represent Bishop England on the All-Lowcountry team after leading the Bishops to a fifth straight Class AA state title. Michaela Cuoco, who played No. 1 for an Ashley Hall team that advanced to its second straight SCISA state final, rounds out the All-Lowcountry team.

Conant, Quinn, Vroman and Deames are all repeaters from last year’s All-Lowcountry team.

“Lily worked hard all season, fought through injuries, and as a result was one of the top players in the state,” Praedel said. “I am extremely proud that she is able to represent our program by being honored as the player of the year.”

After suffering the only Wando loss in the Warriors’ 5-1 state championship victory over Boiling Springs, Conant had to regroup quickly on one day’s rest before tackling the AAA/AAAA state singles field. She responded by defeating Lexington’s No. 1 player (Katie Thompson) in the early rounds while advancing all the way to the state final.

“I was coming off a loss in the final to Boiling Springs, and I didn’t want to disappoint my team,” Conant said. “I wanted to make everyone happy.”

Conant is a hard-hitting 15-year-old who is ranked among the state’s top 20 players in girls 16. A Sullivan’s Island resident, she grew up in the area and started playing tennis at age 7. She is coached by Wild Dunes and former ATP touring pro Martin Zumpft.

“I love high school tennis. My friends all play and it’s like a close-knit family,” she said.

In a family of four brothers and one sister, none of whom play tennis, how did Conant find the game she loves so much?

“A couple of my friends in first grade invited me to go and hit. I really liked the atmosphere,” she said.

What’s her goal, other than to help Wando win a couple more state titles? “My goal is to go to college on a tennis scholarship.”

First Team
Lily Conant, sophomore, Wando
Lauren Quinn, sophomore, Wando
Kat Lyman, freshman, Wando
Jenna Vroman, junior, Bishop England
Camryn Deames, junior, Bishop England
Gabrielle Dacuba, senior, Bishop England
Michaela Cuoco, freshman, Ashley Hall
Player of the year: Lily Conant, sophomore, Wando
Coach of the year: Eric Praedel, Wando

Honorable Mention
PORTER-GAUD: Rebecca Kahn, McKenzie Davis, Sophie Williams, Leslie Wade, Lindsey Prus, Cris Espanol, Ellie Walter; PINEWOOD PREP: Hannah Rodgers, Leah Evans, Emilee Martichenko, Abbey Martichenko, Ellie Rodgers, Victoria Vietri; ASHLEY HALL: Rebecca Spratt, Gyles Laney, Linsey Yarbrough, McCrae Nistad, Hannah Ruether, Courtney Schnoor; WANDO: Tyler Kirk, Brittany Hellberg, Morgan Mitchell, Penelope Hayes, Shianna Guo; BISHOP ENGLAND: Emily Elliott, Lilly Woods, Drue Ranson, Mary Kollyn Lewis, Crista Vroman; SUMMERVILLE: Sullivan Long, Paige Reynolds, Lizzie Naval; ACADEMIC MAGNET: Mary-Geer Kirkland, Katie Hulsey; ASHLEY RIDGE: Arianna Brim, Katelyn Schmedeke; BERKELEY: Camren Tedder, Macey Burges; CANE BAY: Katie Maharrey, Diedre Kelly; COLLETON COUNTY: Alicia Roberson, Anni Crook; FORT DORCHESTER: Monai Mitchell, Taylor Rodgers; HANAHAN: Carlie Knutson, Kirsten Songer; JAMES ISLAND: Caitlin Daley, Sadie Glaze. PALMETTO CHRISTIAN: Lauren Pernell, Danielle Quinn; STRATFORD: Celeste Class, Kyleigh Clegg; WEST ASHLEY: Katie Lowe, Madison Clayton; CHARLESTON MATH & SCIENCE: Samantha Stafford; COLLETON PREP: Meredith Ware; GOOSE CREEK: Sarah Waring; WOODLAND: Courtney Simmons.

(12/19/15)  League tennis ends disqualification match reversals
Disqualification has been almost a “no-no” word in league tennis’ championship spring season. Two years ago, I know a 4.0 team that one day was unbeaten and seemingly a cinch for the playoffs and 1-7 literally the next day.

Two of the team’s players received disqualification notices at different times in the season. Both players came under the label “self-rated.” What would have been a championship 7-1 regular season was reversed to 1-7 when both players’ results were reversed, except of course their losses.

Thank goodness that won’t happen again anytime soon to any Southern league tennis team. There still will be disqualifications for self-rated players, but starting Jan. 1 match reversals for player rating disqualifications will no longer be part of the equation.

Yes, the rules have finally changed.

Being self-rated no longer will be frowned upon in the heat of spring’s league races. If a self-rated player is “bumped up” in season, the player simply will no longer be eligible to compete at the player’s old level, but the player’s results at the old level will still count in the standings.

One automatic berth?

State league tennis officials have voted to allow only one team per local league (the Lowcountry Tennis Association, for instance) to receive an automatic berth in the state tournament. The change has been approved by USTA South Carolina, but not yet by USTA Southern, according to LCTA president Stephen Wilson, who cast the only dissenting vote in the state voting.

In essence, the change (if passed) would result in the state’s largest league, LCTA, which typically has 20-30 men’s or women’s 18-plus 3.5 teams in each of the two (gender) leagues, receiving the same number (one) of automatic state berths as some leagues in the state that might have as few as two or three 3.5 teams.

As a result, the LCTA is in a state of possible change, to the extent that a non-binding poll of local league members will be held during the Jan. 5 LCTA captains meeting at the Charleston County Library on Calhoun Street on the possibility of splitting the LCTA into two separate local organizations (or local leagues) under different administrations along the lines of West Ashley/Summerville area and Mount Pleasant/Daniel Island.

This poll also is creating a debate on whether it is fair for a West Ashley teams to be required to travel to the Summerville area where three of the five lighted league facilities do not have the minimum number of courts needed to play a five-court match.

Peiffer to head state

Bob Peiffer has taken the next step in the USTA hierarchy. The former long-time LCTA president has been elected to serve as president of USTA South Carolina for the next two years.

Peiffer has served USTA South Carolina as executive vice president the last two years. He ended his 16-year LCTA reign in 2009,

“In my remarks immediately following the election, I told the people that my thrust was going to be ‘players first,’ and that I wanted the board, committee chairs, committee members, league coordinators, etc. to be communicating with the players, be they adults, senior, youth, etc., to know what they want, and then to do their best to accommodate those wants—and not to temper those wants with administrative convenience,” Peiffer said.

Peiffer is a retired Navy Supply Corps captain who is currently the administrator manager in the Addiction Sciences Division of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at MUSC.


The newly elected USTA South Carolina board of directors includes Kiawah Island pro Jonathan Barth as a vice president and Barbara Jones of St. George.

Diane and Jack Barker recently won a gold ball (120 combined age group) in the husband/wife nationals in Charlottesville, Va. Brenda and Harry Carter came in third in the 140 combined age group.

Local league tennis spring team-forming registrations will end Jan. 8.

(12/15/15)  Volvo Cars Open adds No. 9 Safarova, No. 14 Bencic
Lucie Safarova and Belinda Bencic have joined the field for the 2016 Volvo Cars Open (formerly the Family Circle Cup) on Daniel Island April 2-10.

Safarova is ranked No. 9 on the WTA Tour and Bencic, No. 14. Venus Williams, Angelique Kerber, Madison Keys and Andrea Petkovic have already committed to play in Charleston.

Both Safarova and Bencic had career-best years in 2015.

Safarova reached three finals in 2015, earning one title this season (Doha) and her best Grand Slam singles finish at the French Open. She also won four doubles titles, most notably winning her first and second Grand Slam at the Australian and French Opens.

Safarova, from the Czech Republic, has played in four Family Circle Cups and reached the quarterfinals in 2013 and 2014. She won the Family Circle Cup doubles title in 2012 and 2013.

Bencic, 18 and a native of Switzerland, won her first and second WTA titles in 2015 (Eastbourne and Toronto).

She was a semifinalist at the 2014 Family Circle Cup, after reaching the main draw through two rounds of qualifying matches.

Tickets for the 2016 Volvo Cars Open are on sale by phone (800-677-2293) and at volvocarsopen.com.

(12/05/15)  Pratt back to form from surgery
Jared Pratt appears to be all the way back.

Just ask one of his junior peers, Porter-Gaud ace Brant Fenno.

“Jared is definitely recovered from his surgery and back to where he was two years ago in the rankings,” said Fenno.

“He beat both Jacob (Jahn) and me decisively (in last weekend’s National Level 2 tournament in Montgomery, Ala.).”

Pratt had an exceptional weekend in Montgomery in winning both the singles and doubles titles in the boys 16 draw.

Pratt is the Bishop England star who was the Lowcountry player of the year last spring. He is currently ranked No. 1 in the state, No. 3 in the South and No. 49 in the nation, all in boys 16. A sophomore, he turned 16 years old in September.

Pratt’s two-year plan

Pratt had been working on a two-year plan after having to abandon his tennis career two years ago to undergo surgery for the curved-spine condition Scoliosis.

“Jared started back playing national tournaments this summer in the clay-court nationals,” his mother, Diane, said. “That was our goal, just to get back to the clay-court nationals in two years.”

Two days prior to his surgery in late September 2013, Pratt played No. 1 singles and doubles for the S.C. Southern Cup team and posted an 8-0 record as South Carolina finished second to Georgia in the Southern competition. He then was ranked No. 5 in the South in boys 14.

Pratt was diagnosed with minor Scoliosis at age nine, the same year his family moved to Daniel Island from Madison, Wis.

The condition continued to progress until surgery became eminent. “In July (2013), his curve had progressed significantly to 45 percent and surgery became necessary,” his mother said at the time.

Pratt qualified to play in this month’s Orange Bowl tournament, but his mother said, “He didn’t want to miss school.” He will be playing in the Winter Nationals in Scottsdale, Ariz., during the Christmas to New Year’s Day period.

High schools benefit

All of this is wonderful news to Bishop England coach Kristin Fleming Arnold, who is still celebrating her girls team’s fifth straight state championship and looking forward to Pratt leading the boys team to a possible second consecutive state title next spring.

Indeed, it’s a great time for boys high school tennis in the area. Fenno is a sophomore who also led Porter-Gaud to a state championship last spring. He is currently ranked 38th in the South.

Fenno earned an invitation to compete in the Orange Bowl qualifying, but declined because as his father (Edward) said, “too much homework and preparation for exams at Porter-Gaud.”

There also is hope that Jahn will return to high school tennis with Academic Magnet after sitting out a year of high school tennis following an All-Lowcountry season for Wando as a seventh-grader. Jahn is currently ranked 34th in the South.

Competition at MWTennis

All three of these players, Pratt, Jahn and Fenno, currently train at Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy.

“It’s great competition being able to hit with all of these guys who are all relatively even,” Fenno said, acknowledging Pratt’s edge.

Academic Magnet student Sam Kavarana (No. 51 in the South) and home-schooled Chad Nash (59th in the South) also train at MWTennis.

Two other local players are ranked in the boys 14 Southern top 100: Earl Navarro (No. 62), who attends Academic Magnet; and Coy Simon (No. 73), who hits and serves one-handed from both sides in the style of former French Open doubles champion Luke Jensen. Both Navarro and Simon train at LTP Tennis.

Crawford ranked 141

Samantha Crawford has climbed into the highest spot in the women’s world rankings among the four players with local links. After winning a $50,000 event in Scottsdale, Ariz., to earn a wild card in the main draw of January’s Australian Open, Crawford followed that up by making the quarterfinals of a $115,000 tournament in Carlsbad, Calif., to advance all the way to a career-high No. 141 in the world rankings.

Charleston native Shelby Rogers is now ranked No. 149, followed by Jessica Pegula at No. 155 and Ellie Halbauer at No. 471.

(12/01/15)  CHARLESTON HOME AND DESIGN:  Daniel Island Ace - Shelby Rogers
Professional tennis player Shelby Rogers reminisces about her athletic pursuits around the world and her roots, planted firmly within Lowcountry island soil.

When my four-year-old niece grows up, she wants to be a "petetinarian.7:As a kid, I wanted to be a professor. Every child seems to develop some dream of an adulthood career that's-enjoyable and ultimately fulfilling. Sometimes that dream is realized, sometimes differed, and sometimes altogether unattainable. Shelby Rogers wanted to-grow up to be like her sister, Sabra, who began the Rogers family's emersion into the world of tennis. When the racquet was still taller than her own frame, Shelby would practice on the sidelines as Sabra competed on the court. Soon, tennis became Shelby's own passion, and now, at twenty-two, she has trained and worked to become a professional tennis player affiliated with the Women's Tennis Association. Currently, she holds the number 73 ranking in the world and has attended numerous matches and tournaments from the Family Circle Cup in Charleston to The French Open in Paris. And, if you're wondering--as all do—she has even faced off against a Williams sister. I sat down with Shelby, Sabra, and their parents, Starley and Jim Gabrish, in their Daniel Island brick home to get the inside scoop about Shelby's journey to her dream job, life off the court, and childhood memories made in the South.

Shelby and her family built their lovely brick home (above) on Daniel Island over seven years ago. Today, it's Shelby's favorite place to escape when she's home from her travels.

(Left) The front door opens up into an elegant foyer. Each family member put his or her own personality Into the house, but Starley was responsible for the majority of the design.

(Inset) The kitchen is every family member’s favorite spot. Because she loves to cook, Starley requested a high-end stove, an in-counter fryer and steamer, and plenty of space for the family to keep her company.

(Above /Left) The kitchen also features a little bit of Charleston style, sporting several sweet-grass baskets.

(Above Right) Adjacent to the kitchen is the breakfast nook where the family prepares snacks and morning meals.

(Above) When the house was in the design phase, Shelby knew that she wanted a room with red walls. Her desk is now a home for a vast array of trophies and tennis memorabilia from her earlier years.

Shelby, your sister Sabra, who now works at MUSC, really fueled your love of tennis. What was it like to follow in her footsteps?

I give so much credit to Sabra. I wanted to be like my big sister and do what she did. Because of her, ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a professional tennis player, like all kids want to be a professional player of whatever sport they're in. Now, it's definitely different than what I thought it was going to be in a lot of regards, but it's really cool that I can say, "This is what I wanted to be when I was little, and here I am actually doing it."

So I'm guessing that you and Sabra spent many hours together on the court.

Yes. We started playing in Snee Farm, and Sabra and I both loved it. We worked with the same coaches, and we hit together a lot. Mom hit with us a little bit, too.

I could hit with them when they were really little, but then I couldn't keep up. When Shelby was younger, she had a terrible temper on the court.

Thanks, mom [laughs].

She did not like to lose [laughs].
You obviously have to keep your composure in the national arena, though. How have you learned to cope with losing matches and curb your temper?

Experience. Maturity. A lot of it was learning how to handle my emotions and let them go in different ways, either by hitting the ball or just kind of channeling my thoughts better. I think that all players go through that hurdle to improve their mental game; everybody's got to find their own way to deal with it.

It's never fun to lose a match. Even if the other player straight up outplays you, it's never a good day. I try to learn as much as I can from the losses so I can try to prevent them from happening again. For a while, I took each one pretty hard, but the bright side of tennis is that there's always next week. We have so many tournaments, and it's a yearlong season. If I've had a bad week, there's always a chance to redeem myself.

She's very competitive, and losing is always hard.

Passionate. I'll call it passion-ate [laughs].

Even the top players lose as much as they win, though.

Only one person is going to win every week; someone has to lose. Handling that is definitely a learning process, but I think I've gotten a lot better at it.

After high school, you decided to forgo the traditional college experience for a different type of learning on the court. Did you find this to be a difficult decision or something that seemed natural?

It was a little difficult because I was definitely the different one. Every-one was going to college, and I had to be the one to take the other path. I did the whole college process, I took some vis-its, and I really gave it a good thought. But deep down in my heart, I had to give myself a chance. I can always go back to school, but I can't always play on tour. I knew I would have regretted it had I not at least given it one try.

Starting out was nerve racking at first because there was so much uncertainty. It was a difficult decision, but for now, it's turned out all right [laughs]. As with any athlete, there will come a time when I'm going to have to stop. That's why I did this. I know I can't play forever, but for as long as I can, I'd like to keep going. I wouldn't change the decision for the world.

The unfortunate thing is that there's no road map that says, `This is how you become a pro tennis player."
How did you become a professional? What were the steps you took along the way?

We kind of knew the direction she was going, so it was important to us to take her to events like the US Open to see that she could be there. But to do that, she had to make a lot of sacrifices along the way. Homeschooling was one of those. She went through the IMG Bollettieri Academy program for a year, and our family was split up during that time because Starley went with her.

Shelby's really taken the hard road. When everyone else was going to different events, she missed those experiences. It is a tough sacrifice for a young kid to make. I think she's realized, though, that she didn't miss out on that much to earn all she has gained.

Now, the way she told us was kind of awkward (laughs). We were actually at Sabra's graduation from Emory, watching Shelby's tennis match on a phone. She had won, and let us know after-wards that she was taking the money. She said. 'I'm going pro?

Like a Band Aid, I just ripped it off.

What exactly classifies you as o pro, and what made taking the money such a huge move?

It's all about the money' part. It' you want to go to college and play in college. you can't accept prize money. You can accept it only it' It evens out your expenses. But if you make any son of profit. you're ineligible to play in schools. So college players can play professional events, they just can't make that profit.

Has turning your passion Into a money-earning profession changed your view of the sport at all?

I love it more. Now I get all the benefits from it (laughs). I can make a little money, and I can trawl all over the world. I've met so many great people through the sport. It's taught me a lot about myself. And I've learned so many life lessons just by traveling, meeting People, being In different cultures. and experiencing the world.

Part of that experience is being able to meet some of the top names ln tennis. I have to ask. Have you played the Williams sisters?

Every time I tell people that she's a pro tennis player, that's the first question. They say. 'Does she play Serena or Venus?' (laughs)

Everybody knows who they are. Now I can finally say “Yes, I have played one of them (Venus)!

She's such a sweet girl, to be honest. I've had the privilege of having a few conversations with her and getting to know her a little bit, whether it be in locker rooms or player lounges or whatnot. I respect her so much. She's a legend. She's done so many great things for the sport, and accomplished so much for herself. When I got out on the court with Venus, I was like. Okay, this is any other player.  It's the same sport. You have to treat this like you can win this match. It was a cool experience. Now I can tell people I actually played a Williams sister. I'm validated (laughs).

It was encouraging too. Though, because I did have a lot of opportunities in the match, I was like ‘I’m hanging thee with one of the best players of all tame.‘

You seem robe able to develop o relationship with the other pros despite the competition. Is there a sense of comradery amongst the players?

It's competitive. The American girls have a really nice group. We're all friends: we can hang out. go to dinners, and get -ma a little bit. That's nice to have, especially when we're traveling without family. Almost all of us are kind of the same age; we're coming up, playing well, getting into the top 100, and moving our rankings up. Rut some of the other players can be difficult at times. At the end of the day, we are all competing, so we don't want to give our secrets away. It's an individual sport, not a team sport; it's everyone for themselves.

They are a very talented group of girls who all want to be recognized. There's some adversity that comes with the sport, and I think that's where Shelby has done a very good lob handling herself. She doesn't let it mess up her game.

You know, everyone sees the glitz and glamour, which is what I want them to see because that is a big part of it. But like with any career, there are the various trials and tribulations that you go through, sometimes it's the adversity, or the busy schedule, or the physical requirements.

What goes into the training to pre-pare you to compete—successfully—against the other players?

It's a full-time job. I have to train on court and off court with weights, running, cardio, and all of that fun stuff. My day starts pretty early. I have about four hours of practice on court, then another couple of hours in the gym.

Recovering is a big part of training, too—sleeping well and keeping my body healthy so I can get up and do it again the next day. What I do is not normal for anyone's body. I definitely have to take care of myself.

With the training schedule, do you have enough time for fun, especial-ly when you're traveling to various countries?

I try to do a good job of balancing it. In each city, I make an effort to go out in the city and do a little sight-seeing. While I'm at these places, I don't want to just be moving from the tennis court to the hotel every day. It's not always easy because it is a very busy schedule.

Jim: Traveling for Shelby is a lot different than most people think. She's not a tourist; she has a job to do. When we travel with her, it's very difficult for me to keep up with her schedule.

You've played in Europe, Asia, and North America over the past few years, often leaving your family here on Daniel Island and some-times tagging them along with you. Does the constant travel become tiring?

Two years ago was the first time I was away for the holiday’s without my family. I was in New Zealand, and it was really tough. Christmas is such a big tradition for us. But then my friend over there invited me to her Christmas celebration, and you know, I just look at it as experiencing new things. I travel to all these amaz-ing places while I'm young and while I can. I'm not going to be able to play tennis forever, so I just try to savor the moment and enjoy everything while it lasts.

And actually that year, in New Zealand, Shelby's friend's family had a helicopter, so they took her from New Zealand and flew her over to a remote island. I was, of course, freaking out because my kid was on the other side of the world, and she was flying in a helicopter.

You can't really complain about being away from home with experiences like that [laughs].

It's probably been more difficult for us. Getting used to that—not having everybody here—has been tough. But, it's part of what she does, and we wouldn't want her to be anywhere else.

Its funny because in the off-season everyone is like, "Where are you going for vacation? You have some time off." I'm like, "I'm going home!" I want to sit on my couch and watch TV and do nothing. I don't want to travel. I don't want to go anywhere. I want to be in one place.

This home is definitely a comforting place to retreat. Is this the house you grew up in?

I actually grew up in Mt. Pleasant in Snee Farm. We moved here seven years ago when I was 15. We built this house. We all put our little suggestions into it, so it fits us perfectly. My room has four red walls—that was definitely my input. It's my favorite color. Mom and Jim did most of it, but each of us got to pick everything out in our respective rooms. Sabra did the blues in her room, and together we did the tile in our bathroom. I trained here at Family Circle Stadium, so this location was super convenient for that.

Was the proximity to Family Circle the impetus for building on Daniel Island?

It was more about having space.

At the time, if you were building a place of this magnitude, Daniel Island was the place to build. It was ideal for investment quality. I don't think that our decision was based around tennis, to be honest with you. Daniel Island is just a good place for a family. When we came over here, actually, there was very little product available.

It was a newer area at the time; they were building it up.

There was a house down the street, and we looked at it and wanted it. We rode home, and our realtor called us to say there were some other people interested in the house who were going to make an offer. I thought he was just pressuring us to make a decision. Well, then I found out that the other party made an offer, and it was an incredible one. The builder of this current house lived next door on Pagett Street, and I knew him from around town. He said, "I have a lot, and I could build you the same house in about 12 to 14 months." And so we were all in. It took way longer than that; it took two years. We were living in a very small house, and had just had my two children [Anthony and Alexus] move in. There were six of us and two bath-rooms. It was very cramped.

Shelby: One of our best memories was finally moving in. That day was awe-some. I had my own red room, and I was so happy. We all had our own space.

Seven years later, we've kind of had everybody evacuate this house at the same time. Upstairs, there are four empty bedrooms. All the kids were about the same age, and poof, everyone was gone. So now we're trying to get everything off the walls, and get everything repainted and resituated.

Now that you have moved out, Shelby, and have started your own career, have you begun to see yourself as successful?

I think its all perspective. There are many things I haven't accomplished yet. It's hard to look at it like I am successful because I feel so far from where I want to be. I've come a long way, but there's a long way that I want to go. I'm nowhere near being done.

(11/21/15)  Emma Navarro may be area’s next touring pro
It’s been five years since Charleston was named America’s Best Tennis Town. But the present might actually be the area’s real heyday in tennis.

Not only is Charleston linked to at least four world-ranked women’s players, led by home-grown Shelby Rogers at No. 146, another future area touring professional may be only a few more years in the making.

Emma Navarro, at age 14, already owns one professional victory, and the LTP Tennis prodigy appears to have the potential to play on the pro circuit in a few years. She is currently ranked 20th nationally in girls 14.

Navarro has two big junior international tournaments coming up before the end of the year that could determine just how highly she might be rated in 2015. Florida’s Eddie Herr event and the Junior Orange Bowl will help LTP tennis director Jerry Albrikes determine just how far Navarro has advanced.

“These two tournaments are very important to see how Emma stacks up against other girls in her age group,” Albrikes said Saturday.

Navarro is about 5-6, with the usual forehand from the right side and two-handed backhand. She is home schooled and trains three hours a day with Albrites.

When the first ball toss is made, Navarro automatically goes into match mode.

“Emma is a mentally very strong player. You have to beat her. If a player is having a bad day, they don’t want to play Emma. She shows up every day. Consistency is one of her strengths,” Albrites said.

“Her ball striking is very clean. She seldom misses her target.”

Emma is one of three Navarros who play the junior tennis circuit. Meggie is a top girls 14 player, while Earl Navarro plays a high level of boys 16. They all train at the excellent LTP facility, which is owned by their father (Ben Navarro).

Four touring pros

Much like Shelby Rogers, 20-year-old Samantha Crawford appears to be at her best in Grand Slam wild-card tournaments. Both have won two such segments on the USTA’s U.S. Pro Circuit, Crawford in back-to-back wild-card segments.

Now ranked a career-high No. 155 after winning the $50,000 event in Scottsdale, Ariz., last Monday to claim a wild card in the main draw of January’s Australian Open, Crawford appears ready to challenge for the top 100 with her aggressive groundstrokes and serve.

Jessica Pegula, who like Crawford resides and trains in Charleston when she’s not traveling the world, owns the second highest world ranking at No. 150 among the four Charleston area connections.

Eighteen-year-old Ellie Halbauer, who practically grew up at Family Circle Tennis Center, is ranked No. 465 in the world. She now resides in Atlanta.

Wando for real

The SCHSL singles tournament, held last Monday and Tuesday at Cayce Tennis Center, demonstrated why state champion Wando was easily the top Class AAAA girls tennis program in the state for 2015.

First-year Wando coach Eric Praedel sent four players to the singles tournament. Sophomore Lily Conant was runner-up, freshman Kat Lyman took fifth place and sophomore Lauren Quinn made the round of 16. Junior Tyler Kirk was the other Wando player in the tournament.

The only other Charleston area player participating in the 32-draw AAAA/AAA flight was James Island’s Caitlyn Daly, who also was selected to play in the North-South. “This is a first for me in the eight years I have been here (James Island),” James Island coach John Eppelsheimer said.

In the 16-player Class AA/A flight, AA state champion Bishop England was represented by finalist Camryn Deames. Samantha Stafford from Charleston Math & Science participated, along with Woodland’s Courtney Simmons.


Sunday night at midnight is the deadline for entering next weekend’s Charleston Thanksgiving Junior Classic. Play is scheduled to begin on Friday at 11 a.m. at Farmfield Avenue’s Charleston Tennis Center. All age divisions, boys and girls 10-18, will hold singles and doubles draws. Registration is available at sctennis.com.

Three local women’s teams won state titles in last weekend’s USTA S.C. State Singles League Championships at the Farmfield, Maybank and St. Andrew’s facilities. The local winners were 18-plus 3.5 (captain Rebecca Williams), 18-plus 4.5 (captain Andrea Hines) and 40-plus 3.5 (captain Lisa Brantley) teams.

Academic Magnet may give 2015 Class AA state boys champion Bishop England a real challenge next spring if former All-Lowcountry Wando star Jacob Jahn and junior standout Sam Kavarana play for the Raptors. The word is that two of the Navarros, senior Owen and junior tennis star Earl (a sophomore), also might be playing for the Raptors in the spring.

(11/20/15)  GAIL OSBOURNE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Pinewood Prep names new Director of Tennis
Pinewood Preparatory School has added Larry Klingenberg to its athletic staff as the new Director of Tennis.

Klingenberg is USPTA Certified and began teaching tennis in 1977 in Hampstead, Md. Throughout his years of coaching, he trained a wide range of players from young beginners to a Top 10 Collegiate player to a Pro Tour player. Beginning in 1979, he taught at Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy for approximately three years. After leaving the tennis academy, Klingenberg purchased his own tennis club in Hanover, Pa. He later moved to Florida and taught at Blue Water Bay Tennis Center in Pensacola.

Klingenberg and his wife Robin made their final move in 2000 to Summerville and enrolled their son Josh at Pinewood for his sixth-grade through twelfth-grade years. While Josh was at Pinewood, his father coached the boys’ tennis team.

Klingenberg has been tennis pro at Pine Forest since 2000 and the Director of Tennis at Pine Forest for the past eight years. He is also a certified racquet stringer and will remain available to string racquets while at Pinewood. He is a 5.0 USTA player and participates in the Charleston Area Professional Tennis League every year.

Assisting Klingenberg is Melissa Naval, who has coached an elementary and middle school team for the past seven years in the Tri-County School League. She, along with her husband Jun, played a vital part in bringing Junior Team Tennis to Summerville and coached several Junior Team Tennis teams. They most recently took an 18-and-under Summerville team to Sectionals over the summer.

Melissa has been a USTA Referee for five years and has run several adult and junior tournaments in the Tri-county area. Her two children are avid tennis players, and she and her husband are USTA league tennis players when their schedules allow.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Larry and Melissa joining our Pinewood family,” Pinewood Athletic Director Andy Morgan said. “Larry brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience that will add tremendous value to Pinewood and our tennis community. The partnership between Larry and Pinewood is something we have embraced with great enthusiasm. Larry, with help from Melissa, will run an after-school tennis program for Pinewood students along with offering clinics, lessons, camps and other tennis programs and events for the local Summerville community.”

For more information about Pinewood and its athletic programs, visit www.pinewoodprep.com.

(11/14/15)  Bishop England girls claim fifth straight state tennis title
Only the final score was close. Bishop England (15-3) wrapped up its fifth straight girls tennis Class AA state championship by winning the top four singles positions, then played out the rest of the state final for a 4-3 win over Christ Church (15-1) on Saturday morning at Cayce Tennis Center.

It was the Bishops’ state-best 20th state title, and coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s ninth (including four as a player). Senior Gabrielle Dacuba matched her coach with four state titles while posting a solid 7-5, 6-3 win over Christ Church’s Nila Veerabagu at No. 3.

“Gabrielle is real happy. Going out with four state titles is a huge achievement,” Fleming Arnold said.

Juniors Jenna Vroman and Camryn Deames, and Dacuba lifted their combined state championship total to nine, and were joined by freshman Emily Elliott in sweeping Nos. 1-4 singles, respectively.

The pro-set doubles were meaningless for the state champions. Christ Church had entered the final unbeaten with several notable wins against higher level competition, plus titles in two tournaments.

“This was a good win for us. We have a good group of girls. They came to play. We knew Christ Church was a great team, so we came prepared,” Fleming Arnold said.

“We (Vroman, Deames and Dacuba) won the first three points last year and again this year,” Fleming Arnold added, calling attention to similar success a year earlier in another 4-3 win over Christ Church in the state final.

Veteran Christ Church coach Sherry Adams probably is happy to know she won’t have to face Bishop England again next year since the Bishops are scheduled to move up to Class AAA for the 2015-16 school year.

“I was prepared for a tight match, but I’m not surprised we won decisively,” said Deames, who posted a 6-4, 6-2 win over Day Nuckolls.

Vroman had her rocket forehand grooved for the final, and scored a 6-0, 6-2 win over Christ Church’s Lauren Allen at No. 1. “My forehand was on today. This is so awesome, so exciting,” Vroman said. “I’ve got two (titles) in the boat. Hopefully, I’ll get another one next year.”

The day didn’t stop there. Elliott clinched the title in the tradition of Dacuba in 2014 by saving one match point in a third-set tiebreaker to hold on for a 6-2, 6-7, 12-10 win over Anna Thompson.

“The other girl missed a forehand and everyone ran on the court,” was the way Elliott described her first state title moment in her initial year on the team.

The title belonged to the Bishops at that point. BE freshman Crista Vroman kept playing, but fell in a third-set tiebreaker at No. 5 singles.

SINGLES: J. Vroman (BE) def. Allen, 6-0, 6-2; Deames (BE) def. Nuckolls, 6-4, 6-2; Dacuba (BE) def. Veerabagu, 7-5, 6-3; Elliott (BE) def. Thompson, 6-2, 6-7, 12-10; Philpot (CC) def. C. Vroman, 2-6, 6-2, 10-7.   DOUBLES: Allen/Thompson (CC) def. Woods/Ranson, 8-4; Pieper/Taylor (CC) def. Lewis/Blom, 8-4.

(11/12/15)  Bishop England aims for fifth straight tennis title in AA; Wando back in AAAA final
Bishop England’s girls tennis team doesn’t have to search for leadership as the Bishops zero in on a fifth straight Class AA state title.

Senior Gabrielle Dacuba, and juniors Camryn Deames and Jenna Vroman already own a combined six state championships. Dacuba has played key roles on the Bishops’ last three state championship teams, and Deames starred on the last two.

The Bishops (14-3) will be going up against Christ Church (15-0) for the second straight year in Saturday morning’s state title match at Cayce Tennis Center.

“it is really exciting to be going for my fourth state championship,” Dacuba said. “I thought one state championship would be good . . . but four would be amazing.”

Dacuba is from a tennis family. Her dad (Michael) played at Charleston Southern, and her mother (Tiffany) plays in the local CALTA league, while her brother Lleyton, a sophomore at Bishop England, helped the boys team win a state title last spring, and eighth-grader Zachary plans to be playing for the Bishops next fall.

“We’ve all played (tennis) since we were little kids and it’s always been abig part of our lives,” Gabrielle said.

A year ago against Christ Church, Vroman, Deames and Dacuba won three singles matches and then the Vroman/Deames doubles team gave the Bishops a 4-3 win over Christ Church in the state final. Dacuba had to pull out a 10-8 third-set tiebreaker at No. 3 to give the Bishops a 3-2 edge in singles

“It will be another really good match, another battle,” Dacuba said about the Christ Church matchup. “The whole team needs to bring our ‘A’ game to win this state championship. The girl (Lauren Allen) I played last year (at No. 3) has moved up to No. 1 this year.”

Perennial power Christ Church is strong again. The Cavaliers from Greenville have dominated everyone they have played this season, losing only two positions in a season that has included a 5-1 win over 2014 Class AAAA state champion Dutch Fork and a 7-0 blitzing of AAAA upper state runner-up T.L. Hanna.

“I have two state titles now, but I want to get No. 3,” said Deames. “It would be great to have three state championships. It would be really awesome if Gabrielle could win a fourth.”

The key to it all might be the 5-6 Vroman, who possesses a forehand that has earned her the nickname “The Rocket” from Family Circle Tennis Center pro Bryan Minton.

Vroman led the Bishops all the way in 2014 in her first year of high school tennis. It wasn’t a given that the Bishops would be back in the state final this season after Vroman suffered a wrist injury after playing one match and didn’t return to the lineup until Tuesday’s 6-0 Lower State championship win over Aynor. But the Bishops’ exceptional depth then came into play. And now the “big three” are leading the way again. Vroman, Deames and Dacuba are so talented that all three have the potential to play college tennis.

“I was playing really well before I hurt my wrist,” said the power-hitting Vroman. “Everything is fine now and I’m playing well, but my game isn’t where I want it to be yet.”

The injury was to Vroman’s left wrist, preventing her from hitting her powerful two-handed backhand.

Deames and Dacuba stepped up to Nos. 1 and 2 while Vroman was sidelined, and the Bishops hardly missed a beat.

“I’m so excited to be playing again,” said Vroman. “I had been out and hadn’t been able to hit backhands since early September.

“It’s been so much fun. I love all of the girls on the team. It’s just such an awesome feeling (to be going for another state title). When I started playing (on the team) I didn’t think it was going to be that big a deal, but now it’s just so awesome being part of the team,” added Vroman, who played volleyball as a freshman before switching to tennis.

“The state is a really a big deal . . . a chance of a lifetime. We definitely can win another state title, but Christ Church was good last year (and has four of its starters back).”

Of course, another key component for Bishop England is its coach. Kristin Fleming Arnold gave birth to twins during the summer, but hasn’t missed a beat on the court as she goes for her second state title in less than six months. Fleming Arnold also doubles as the boys coach at Bishop England.

The girls realize they have a special coach who helped the Bishops win state titles as a player and then played college tennis. She is an experienced and savvy coach, who knows all of the pitfalls and highs of championship tennis matches.

“Kristin is great,” said Deames. “We love going to the practices. Everyone on the team loves her. It’s great having a coach like her. She is a great mentor.”

Wando vs Boiling Springs
Wando (24-1) will be playing in its second straight Class AAAA girls state final on Saturday morning at Cayce Tennis Center, going against Boiling Springs (17-1).

Boiling Springs scored a 4-3 win over Dutch Fork in the semifinals of the upper state bracket and then defeated T.L. Hanna, 4-2, to earn a berth in the state final.

Wando, with first-year coach Eric Praedel at the helm, rolled past Bluffton, 5-1, in the Lower State final.

The Warriors suffered a 4-3 loss to Dutch Fork in last year’s state final, and their only loss this season came against Lexington in the Bishop England tournament.

(11/12/15)  Agassi, Roddick to play in Charleston during Volvo Cars Open
Former World No. 1-ranked men’s tennis stars Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick will take part in PowerShares Series tour matches held at Volvo Cars Stadium on Daniel Island on the Saturday night of the 2016 Volvo Cars Open.

Former WTA players James Blake and Mardy Fish will also participate in the April 9 event. The Volvo Cars Open — formerly the Family Circle Cup — is set for April 4-10.

The PowerShares series, which consists of a 12-city North American tour, features the four former stars playing two semifinals with winners meeting in a championship match.

“Bringing the PowerShares Series to our stadium expands our reach with fans and explores a new opportunity to showcase amazing tennis,” Bob Moran, Tournament Director and General Manager of the Volvo Cars Open, said Thursday. “The four players who have committed to our Charleston tournament are all tennis legends. For everyone in attendance this night will be the first, and potentially only, chance to watch these icons play live.”

Agassi, 45, won all four Grand Slam titles, including the U.S. Open twice and the Australian Open four times.

Roddick, 33, won the 2003 U.S. Open.

Roddick and Fish played on Daniel Island in 2004 for the U.S. Davis Cup team against Belarus.

Tickets for the event go on sale December 4 at 10 a.m. Tickets are $30 for terrace seating and $75 for box seating. The Charleston PowerShares Series will begin at 7 p.m. on April 9.

For more information, call (800) 677-2293 or go to volvocarsopen.com.

(11/10/15)  Bishop England cruises to fifth straight title game
Bishop England ran into a complete mismatch on Tuesday while winning its fifth straight Class AA Lower State girls tennis championship. The only thing that was long was the rural trip to Aynor where the deep and talented Bishops yielded a total of nine games in a dominating 6-0 win over Aynor.

Coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s BE team (14-3) will seek it fifth straight state championship on Saturday morning at Cayce Tennis Center against the Upper State survivor.

“We’re got a great team ... great depth ... and we’re looking forward to Saturday,” said Fleming Arnold, who is in her seventh year as the Bishops’ coach.

Junior standout Jenna Vroman, returning to the BE lineup after being out with an injury, set the stage at No. 1 singles with a 6-1, 6-1 win over the Blue Jackets’ Gentry Johnson. And junior Camryn Deames, senior Gabrielle Dacuba, freshman Emily Elliott and seventh-grader Lilly Woods steamrolled the Nos. 2-5 Aynor opposition.

The Bishops didn’t let up in No. 2 doubles where juniors Drue Ranson and Mary Kollyn Lewis kept up the pace.

“I don’t know who we’ll be playing on Saturday, but if it’s Christ Church it will be a tough match,” said Fleming Arnold, whose team scored a 4-3 win over Christ Church in last year’s state final.

SINGLES: J. Vroman (BE) def. Johnson, 6-1, 6-1; Deames (BE) def. Toth, 6-2, 6-1; Dacuba (BE) def. Baker, 6-0, 6-2; Elliott (BE) def. Evans, 6-0, 6-0; Woods (BE) def. Rabon, 6-0, 6-1.  DOUBLES: Ranson/Lewis (BE) def. Altman/Radicks, 6-1, 6-0.

(11/10/15)  Wando girls capture Lower State tennis title
It started at the top of the lineup for Wando on Tuesday in the Class AAAA girls tennis Lower State final when sophomore Lauren Quinn handed Bluffton seventh-grader Natalie Bassett her first loss of the season as the visiting Warriors (24-1) captured their second straight Lower State crown by cruising to a 5-1 victory at Bluffton (15-5).

“Lauren played well,” said first-year Wando coach Eric Praedel about Quinn, who played on two state championship teams at Bishop England before switching to Wando in 2014.

With Quinn’s sizzling two-handed strokes from both sides overpowering the smallish Bassett, 6-2, 6-4, at No. 1 singles, Lily Conant, Tyler Kirk and Brittany Hellberg wrapped up the match by sweeping Nos. 2-4 singles while yielding a total nine games in the three matches. Hallberg won a pair of 6-0 sets.

The only Wando loss came at No. 5 singles where sophomore Morgan Mitchell was inserted into the lineup after No. 3 Kat Lyman was unable to play due to sickness.

Kirk and Hellberg stepped up big time for the Warriors as they moved up a notch in the lineup. Freshman Penelope Hayes and seventh-grader Shianna Guo also won at No. 2 doubles for Wando.

“Yes, we have tons of depth on our team,” Praedel acknowledged.

The Warriors now advance to Cayce Tennis Center for Saturday morning’s state championship match against the winner of the Boiling Springs vs. either Spartanburg or T.L. Hanna Upper State final.

SINGLES: Quinn (W) def. Bassett, 6-2, 6-4; Conant (W) def. Riley, 6-3, 6-1; Kirk (W) def. Baxter, 6-3, 6-2; Hellberg (W) def. Castrillon, 6-0, 6-0; Szatmari (B) def. Mitchell, 6-1, 7-6.  DOUBLES: Hayes/Guo (W) def. Williams/Thomas, 6-2, 6-2.

(11/07/15)  Bishops, Warriors appear headed for state final again
The glory days for Bishop England’s girls tennis program appear to be in line to continue that legacy in the coming week. The Bishops have been the class of SCHSL AA tennis for the last four years, and that should continue for coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s deep and talented team.

Old rival Waccamaw turned out to not even be a tough test for the Bishops in the lower state semifinals as the Bishops yielded just 12 games in singles in a 6-0 romp, and Monday’s 4 p.m. Lower State final at Aynor probably won’t be much different.

Aynor defeated Waccamaw twice to win Region 8-AA, then handled Barnwell in the first round of the playoffs on Thursday and received a forfeit win over Academic Magnet on Friday.

A likely state final next Saturday morning at Cayce Tennis Center against perennial power Christ Church could be the tough test for Bishop England (13-3). Last year’s state final went the limit before the Bishops turned back Christ Church, 4-3.

The Bishops’ depth is scheduled to get even deeper in the final week of the season. Fleming Arnold plans to insert junior standout Jenna Vroman, who hasn’t played thus far in the state playoffs due to an injury, back at the top of the lineup.
Wando at Bluffton

Wando’s visit to Hilton Head Island for Monday’s 4 p.m. Lower State Class AAAA final at Bluffton High doesn’t look much different than the Bishops’ lower state match-up.

Wando (23-1) made amends for its only loss with a 4-2 win over previously unbeaten Lexington in the lower state semifinals. Bluffton (15-4) lost at No. 2 singles and survived third-set tiebreakers at Nos. 3 and 4 singles to hold off Region 7-AAAA runner-up James Island in the semifinals. James Island suffered a pair of 6-0 losses to 7-AAAA champion Wando.

“We did beat James Island 6-0 twice, but the state final is far from a lock,” acknowledged first-year Wando coach Eric Praedel. “We need to stay focused. The match will all be played at Bluffton.”

Wando simply has too much talent and depth to be troubled by Bluffton, although the Bobcats could test Wando’s hard-hitting Lauren Quinn at No. 1 singles with slight, little unbeaten (19-0) freshman backboard Natalie Bassett.

Then, there’s the state final next Saturday morning at Cayce Tennis Center. Dutch Fork, which handed the Warriors a 5-4 loss in last year’s state final, already has been eliminated, leaving Boiling Springs and either T.L. Hanna or Spartanburg to battle it out on Monday to decide the upper state’s berth in the state final.
Local notes

Everyone recognizes that Mike Baker is doing a great job as Charleston Southern’s women’s tennis coach. Summerville city tennis director Nancy Sumerset has nothing but praise for Baker and members of the Bucs’ Big South Conference championship team “for a phenomenal job on and off the court, leading fun drills, games with kids, adult and with Special Olympics” during a recent Friday Evening Fall Expo at Summerville’s excellent Doty Park tennis complex.

Seabrook Island’s 32nd annual Alan Fleming tennis tournament sparkled off the court last month by raising more than $40,000 to support Respite Care of Charleston, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families coping with Alzheimer’s disease. Also, the tournament was a Category 1 USTA National Championship Gold Ball event for mixed doubles in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s age groups. More than 240 players participated in the tournament.

The Smiling Seniors from the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department finished third in the recent 4.0 USTA national women’s 55 championships in Surprise, Ariz. The team went unbeaten in state and sectional tournaments, but after losing in the national semifinals bounced back to take the third-place match. The team members included captain Jane Fluet, and Emily Thomas, Vicki Zimpfer, Julie Raney, Becky Montgomery, Charlotte Gerber, Becky Williamson, Alice Wright, Betty Randolph, Meridy Kennington and Ruth Ennis

Holly Hill Academy is still celebrating its second straight SCISA Class A state championship. Senior No. 1 Kristi O’Connell wrapped up her high school career suffering only four losses the last four seasons. Coach Miriam Bessent’s Holly Hill team had been Class AA runner-up three times, but 2014 produced the team’s first state title.

The area has produced a number of boys high school players who are now playing college tennis. In addition to Palmetto Christian’s Austin Heinz at Stamford, some of the others include: Adam Elliget of Pinewood Prep/Summerville, JT Elliget of Summerville, Junior Duarte of Porter-Gaud/West Ashley and Dylan Sides of Stratford (all four at Spartanburg Methodist); Alex Amble of Cane Bay at Newberry; and Tommy McManus of Fort Dorchester at Belmont Abbey.

When USTA South Carolina holds its annual meeting at Wild Dunes a long list of local award recipients and organizations will be honored at a reception on Dec. 5: Diane Barker, adult female player of the year; Pine Forest Country Club’s Racquets for Recovery, adult tournament of the year; Bishop England’s Kristin Fleming Arnold, coach of the year; Family Circle Tennis Center’s Bryan Minton, pro of the year; Dion Straub of St. George, Junior Team Tennis volunteer of the year; LTP Tennis’ Emma Navarro, junior girls player of the year; Ashley Hall’s Rebecca Spratt, Mark Hodgin junior sportsmanship (girl); and Beau Wise of the Isle of Palms, official of the year.

(10/31/15)  Area high school teams gear up for tennis playoffs
Surprise. Waccamaw is a region runner-up.

That means the perennial power from Pawleys Island is expected to oppose four-time defending SCHSL Class AA girls tennis state champion Bishop England in just the second round of the state playoffs.

But, first, Waccamaw will have to pay a visit to Dorchester to take on Region 5 champion Woodland in Monday’s first round. Bishop England (12-3) will entertain East Clarendon at Snee Farm Country Club on Monday.

On paper, this should set up a Lower State semifinal on Wednesday at Snee Farm between the Bishops and Waccamaw.

Region 6-AA runner-up Academic Magnet will travel to Johnsonville on Monday. That winner will advance to play the Aynor/Barnwell survivor.

With Aynor surprising Waccamaw as the Region 8 titlist, Aynor appears to be possibly the toughest obstacle between the Bishops and another state final on Nov. 14.
Wando: An early test

Defending Class AAAA Lower State champion Wando (21-1) also has a little surprise, probably having to go on the road on Wednesday to take on unbeaten Lexington in the third round. Coach Eric Praedel’s deep and powerful Wando outfit crushed White Knoll, 6-0, in the first round and will play host to West Florence on Monday.

Meanwhile, Region 8-AAAA runner-up Summerville (14-6) will go to Lexington on Monday after opening with a win over Conway. This will be the Green Wave’s first second-round playoff appearance since 2007.

“Lexington is very good,” said Praedel, whose team’s only loss came against Lexington in Bishop England’s tournament. “I was surprised that we might play them in the third round, and not the lower state (final), but that is just how they did the bracket this year (Wando scored a 5-1 win over Lexington in last year’s lower state final).”

James Island opened with a AAAA playoff win over Irmo and will travel to Socastee on Monday.

In Class AAA, Berkeley will follow up a first-round win over Gilbert with a trip to Myrtle Beach.

(10/24/15)  Hammond’s experience, doubles too much for Ashley Hall
Mary Gastley’s dream of winning another state championship in her 30th season as Ashley Hall’s tennis coach didn’t happen on Saturday at Sumter’s Palmetto Tennis Center.

The SCISA girls Class AAA state final went the limit as expected, but the Panthers were beaten at their own game. Unlike many high school teams, Ashley Hall practices doubles routinely, preparing for the moment that could decide a state championship.

But it wasn’t in the cards. Hammond School’s superior experience and talent at the top of its lineup won this time, much like a year ago when Porter-Gaud came out ahead in the battle of doubles to turn back the Panthers in the state final.

It was 5-4 again, with Ashley Hall’s opponent again winning two of the three doubles.

It could have been senior day in that all five of Hammond’s wins were produced solely by seniors. Also, Ashley Hall’s two senior starters, Gyles Laney and McCrae Nistad, both collected victories in singles while Nistad also won at doubles.

“Yes, I would say that senior experience is an asset,” Gastley admitted.

The Panthers were out-seniored this time. With four starters returning, next year may be a different story.
SCHSL Playoffs

The SCHSL Class AAAA girls state playoffs will begin Wednesday with 2014 state runner-up Wando entertaining White Knoll. The Warriors are in the same quarter of the draw as unbeaten Lexington, the only team to defeat Wando this season.

If the two powerhouses meet again in the Lower State semifinals, the match would be played at Lexington this time. Wando knocked off another unbeaten Lexington team in last year’s Lower State final.

In other first-round Class AAAA matches, Region 8-AAAA runner-up Summerville will play host to Conway, while Fort Dorchester will travel to West Florence.

Bishop England will open defense of its four straight Class AA state championships on Nov. 2.
Local notes

After a two-year layoff, the Charleston Professional Tennis League is back for a second year in a row, and 13th overall as it heads into Friday’s semifinals and finals. The site is still undetermined, due to a change of venue forced by court conditions. For more information, visit cptltennis.org.

Four Lowcountry Tennis Association 18-plus teams won state combo titles last weekend at Hilton Head Island: captain Peter Brechtel’s 6.5 men, John Fanning’s 8.5 men, Mandy Manchester’s 5.5 women and Diana Shirley’s 7.5 women. Three local senior teams also won state titles: Elisabeth Pickelsimer’s 65-plus 7.5 women, Pat Boyd’s 55-plus 8.5 women and Jane Neckhardt’s 40-plus 6.5 women.

Charleston touring tennis professional Shelby Rogers (No. 147) is currently out of action with a back injury sustained in last weekend’s qualifying in Luxembourg. “(My) back is hurt so I am taking time to recover and heal,” she said Saturday from Florida. The injury likely ended Rogers’ hopes of climbing up the rankings high enough to earn a direct entry into January’s Australian Open. Samantha Crawford (175) was a quarterfinalist at $50,000 Saguenay, Canada, last week, while Jessie Pegula (151) made the second round. Ellie Halbauer (421), another player with local connections, made the main draw in Saguenay.

Brant Fenno gained a measure of revenge against Jacob Jahn in the recent USTA Regional in Northcross, Ga., with a straight-set victory in consolation play after both highly regarded local players had lost in the main draw boys 16 quarterfinals. Scotty Cameron and Mark Militzer both were boys 18 quarterfinalists.

Fort Dorchester’s Mittie Asbury has been selected as the Region 8-AAAA coach of the year. The all-region team is made up of Summerville’s Sullivan Long and Paige Reynolds, Fort Dorchester’s Monai Mitchel and Taylor Rodgers, Ashley Ridge’s Arianna Brim and Katelyn Schmedeke, Colleton County’s Alicia Roberson and Anni Crook, and 8-AAAA champion Bluffton’s Cooper Baxter, Rachel Riley and region player of year Natalie Bassett.

(10/23/15)  Ashley Hall to play for state tennis title
Ashley Hall advanced to its sixth SCISA Class AAA girls tennis state final in nine years on Friday at Sumter as the lower bracket top-seeded Panthers (15-4) yielded only one game in a 6-0 romp past No. 3 Thomas Sumter (9-8).

Coach Mary Gastley’s young Ashley Hall outfit will oppose Columbia’s Hammond School in Saturday’s 10 a.m. state championship match at Sumter’s Palmetto Tennis Center.

Hammond, the upper bracket top seed, earned its berth in the final with a 5-0 win over No. 3 Porter-Gaud.

“The goal was to get to this point ... and we’re here. Now we have to get out there and make it happen,” said Gastley, hoping to mark her 30th year as Ashley Hall’s coach with another state championship.

The Panthers, who suffered a tight 5-4 loss to archrival Porter-Gaud in last year’s final, will have to be at their best against a senior-dominated Hammond School team, which is led by senior No. 1 Brittany Desmond and the four other seniors that follow her in the lineup.

“I would think that as competitive as these two teams are it would come down to doubles,” Gastley said.

“I’m hoping we play our best match of the season tomorrow.”

Ashley Hall’s Mutt and Jeff freshman tandem of 5-foot Michaela Cuoco and 6-foot Rebecca Spratt got the rout started with a pair of shutouts at the top of the lineup, and senior Gyles Laney and junior Linsey Yarbrough kept it going with 6-0, 6-0 outings.

Senior McCrae Nistad finally yielded a game at No. 5, but sophomore Hannah Ruether kept the shutout string going at No. 6 singles.

Hammond has been waiting all season for this shot at a championship after failing to make SCISA’s final four weekend a year ago. Desmond cruised past Porter-Gaud sophomore Rebecca Kahn, 6-2, 6-2, to warm up for her showdown with Ashley Hall’s Cuoco on Saturday.

Coach Charlotte Hartsock’s non-senior Porter-Gaud lineup fought hard in a vain attempt to take the match to doubles and possibly earn a seventh straight berth in the state finals. PG sophomore Leslie Wade kept the Cyclones’ hopes alive until the very end of a 7-6, 7-5 loss to Hammond’s Franny Masella at No. 5, which gave Hammond the decisive fifth win it needed. PG sixth-grader Sophie Williams was ahead, 7-6, 4-4, at No. 3 when the match ended.


Singles: Cuoco (AH) def. Kistler, 6-0, 6-0; Spratt (AH) def. St. Cyr, 6-0, 6-0; Laney (AH) def. Vise, 6-0, 6-0; Yarbrough (AH) def. Mouzon, 6-0, 6-0; Nistad (AH) def. Townsend, 6-1, 6-0; Ruether (AH) def. Mosley, 6-0, 6-0.


Singles: Desmond (H) def. Kahn, 6-2, 6-2; Herring (H) def. Davis, 6-1, 6-0; Jenkins (H) def. Dowd, 6-0, 6-1; Masella (H) def. Wade, 7-6, 7-5; Turner (H) def. Prus, 6-1, 6-1.

(10/20/15)  STAFF REPORT: Girls tennis
Porter-Gaud’s first-round match in the SCISA Class AAA girls tennis state playoffs against Wilson Hall has been rescheduled to Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Sumter. Porter-Gaud, the third seed in the upper bracket, is the defending state champion. Wilson Hall is the second seed in the bracket.

(10/20/15)  STAFF REPORT:  Tuesday’s high school results: Girls Tennis

Singles: Head d. Pernell 6-1, 6-0. L. Johnston d. Quinn 6-0, 6-0. E. Johnston d. Estes 6-1, 6-1. Saleeby d. Noce 6-0, 6-0. H. Davis d. Howard 6-0, 6-0. G. Davis d. Beaufort 6-1, 2-6, 10-8.  Doubles: E. Johnston/H. Davis d. EG Campbell/Crandall 8-0. Saleeby/Lawson d. Jimenez/Carruthers 8-1. Casslevens/Tuck d. Emerson/E. Campbell 8-4.

Records: PCA finishes the season 5-9.


Singles: Kahn (PG) d. Beasley, 6-2, 6-2; Davis (PG) d. Spencer, 6-2, 6-3; Williams (PG) d. Munn, 6-2, 6-3; Beasley (WH) d. Wade, 6-1, 6-2; Davis (WH) d. Prus, 6-2, 4-6, 10-5; Guldan (WH) d. Espanol, 6-1, 6-1.   Doubles: Williams/Davis (PG) d. Spencer/Munn, 8-2; Kahn/Wade (PG) d. Beasley/Beasley, 8-1; WH d. Prus/Ellie Walters, 6-3.


Singles: Ware (CP) d. Pate 6-0, 6-1. Bailey (CP) d. Whitlock 6-0, 6-1. Razzi d. Peters 6-0, 6-3. Starnes d. K. Bell 6-1, 6-0. Tison d. E. Bell 6-1, 6-1. Chapman d. Martin 6-2, 6-2.   Doubles: Ware/Peters (CP) d. Pate/Whitlock 8-4. Razzi/Starnes d. Bailey/K. Bell 8-3.

Singles: Tedder d. Brim 6-2, 7-5. Ma. Burges d. Blatner 7-5, 6-2. Schmedeke (AR) d. Mi. Burges 6-3, 7-6. Ashabraner d. Gunther 6-3, 6-1. Ponce d. Teague 6-0, 6-1.   Doubles: McCutchen/Jones d. O’Sullivan/Morris 6-3, 6-3.

Singles: Gregg d. Maharrey 6-2, 6-0. Class d. Kelly 6-0, 6-0. Cady d. Kay 6-4, 6-2. Eudy d. Buttery 6-3, 6-2. Soldner d. Hicks 8-6.   Doubles: Ward/Hattayer d. Leya/Dodd 9-8.

Records: Stratford 6-8 (4-6). Next: Stratford enters the playoffs next Wednesday.

(10/19/15)  Ashley Hall tennis opens state title quest against Ben Lippen
Mary Gastley has learned from her 30 years as the head tennis coach at downtown all-girls school Ashley Hall that the only way to win a state championship is on the court.

Even if the Panthers are overwhelming favorites to win their first SCISA Class AAA state title since 2010, when they took top state honors for the third straight season.

On paper, lower bracket top seed Ashley Hall (13-4) appears to have a lock on its sixth berth in the state final in the last nine seasons as the Panthers open the playoffs on Monday afternoon at Charleston Tennis Center against bracket fourth seed Ben Lippen. A win there would put the Panthers in Friday’s 2 p.m. state semifinals in Sumter against No. 2 Heathwood Hall or No. 3 Thomas Sumter.

The final is slated for 10 a.m. Saturday at Sumter. Columbia’s Hammond School, which is led by veteran star Brittany Desmond, is a heavy favorite in the top bracket, which also includes No. 2 Wilson Hall, defending state champion Porter-Gaud at No. 3 and Pinewood Prep at No. 4.

Ashley Hall has a 6-0 team record (35-0 in individual matches) this fall against Porter-Gaud, Pinewood Prep and Heathwood Hall.

“We feel good heading into the playoffs,” Gastley said. “At this time in the season, you want to be playing your best. We had a great season and just hope our postseason will be as great.”

Ashley Hall’s only losses to state teams this season have been to defending state champions Bishop England (SCHSL AA) and Hilton Head Prep (SCISA AA), along with perennial power Myrtle Beach.

The Panthers are led by a pair of freshmen, smallish Michaela Cuoco, who helped power Ashley Hall to last year’s state final, and 6-foot newcomer Rebecca Spratt. In addition to playing the top two positions, Cuoco and Spratt have formed a successful No. 1 doubles team.

“We have a good chance to win state, but I don’t know anything about Ben Lippen,” said Spratt who was an especially timely edition to the team to replace departed 2014 eighth-grader Ana-Lei Kalawe.

“I’m having fun playing high school tennis. It’s a good way to bond with other girls on the team I might not have gotten to know otherwise, and I’ve been able to meet a lot of other girls on other teams.”

Porter-Gaud, which has played in the last six state finals, will visit Sumter’s Wilson Hall in Monday’s first round, while Pinewood Prep goes on the road to test Hammond. Coach Charlotte Hartsock’s Porter-Gaud team rushed past Wilson Hall, 5-1, in last year’s semifinals.

In SCISA Class AA, Palmetto Christian will visit upper bracket top seed Trinity Collegiate, while in Class A, Holly Hill Academy will play host to Beaufort Academy and Colle-ton Prep will travel to Lowcountry Prep. All three state finals are scheduled for Saturday in Sumter.

(10/15/15)  Family Circle Cup:  Past champions Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic to play the Volvo Cars Open
Angelique Kerber, the 2015 Family Circle Cup champion, and Andrea Petkvoic, the 2014 Family Circle Cup champion, will both return to Charleston for the inaugural Volvo Cars Open, April 2nd – 10th, 2016, on Daniel Island, S.C. The two top 20 players join Venus Williams and Madison Keys in a world-class player field forming for the 2016 tournament.

Kerber, currently ranked World No. 9, has won seven WTA titles, four of which she earned in 2015. After winning the Family Circle Cup, she went on to capture titles in Stuttgart, Birmingham and Stanford. She has made two previous appearances in Charleston, and holds a 7-1 win/loss record. As of October 2015, Kerber is on track to finish her fourth season in a row in the WTA Top 10.

“I am eager to play Charleston again next year,” said Angelique Kerber. “The 2015 tournament was a great week for me. I was happy with how I played, and everyone in Charleston was so friendly. I’m ready to be back and defend my title at the Volvo Cars Open.”

Fellow German countrywoman, Petkovic, currently ranked World No. 20, has made three previous appearances in Charleston and holds an 11-2 win/loss record. After winning the Family Circle Cup in 2014, she made the semifinals of the tournament the following year. Petkovic has six WTA titles, most recently winning in Bad Gastein and Sofia after Charleston in 2014, and Antwerp in 2015.

“Charleston holds a special place in my heart because it’s where I won my first ever Premier title,” said Petkovic. “It’s no secret that I love playing this tournament - the energy is relaxed, the fans are encouraging and the green clay really supports my game.”

“We are very excited to welcome back two former champions for our 2016 tournament,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Cars Open Tournament Manager. “Angie and Andrea have proven that they both play well here in Charleston, and I know each has made many new fans out of our attendees.”

Tickets for the 2016 Volvo Cars Open are now on sale. For more information on tickets, call 800.677.2293 or visit http://www.volvocarsopen.com. Patrons can purchase single session tickets, or choose from a variety of ticket and travel packages.

About the Volvo Cars Open:

The Volvo Cars Open is the largest women’s only tennis tournament in the world. The tournament receives four days of live broadcast domestically on ESPN2, and is viewed internationally in more than 143 countries, featuring more than 200 hours of live and delayed global broadcast time, reaching 9+ million viewers worldwide. The event, formerly known as the Family Circle Cup, moved to Charleston in 2001 from Hilton Head Island and will celebrate its 44th anniversary in 2016.

For more information on the Volvo Cars Open, call (800) 677-2293, email info@volvocarsopen.com, visit http://www.VolvoCarsOpen.com, Facebook (VolvoCarsOpen), Twitter (@VolvoCarsOpen) or Instagram (VolvoCarsOpen).

(10/10/15)  Wando gets early taste of unbeaten Lexington
Wando’s girls tennis team owns a flashy 14-1 record. The only drawback is that the Warriors’ one loss was to Lexington during the recent Bishop England Invitational.

That could be bad news for first-year Wando coach Eric Praedel’s team. The Warriors likely will face Lexington again in the Class AAAA state playoffs in a few weeks.

Wando dealt a previously unbeaten Lexington team a 5-1 setback in the 2014 Lower State final.

Lexington is unbeaten again after knocking off both Wando and four-time defending Class AA state champion Bishop England in the Bishop England tournament.

Wando gained a measure of revenge with a win over defending Class AAAA state champion Dutch Fork in the BE event.

The Warriors’ 4-3 loss to Lexington was somewhat surprising because Wando has practically the entire team back from last year.

Bishop England (11-3) already has wrapped up its region, and is looking toward the state playoffs where the Bishops appear to be headed for another Lower State championship showdown with Waccamaw. This time, Bishop England will have to travel to Waccamaw if the two teams meet in the state playoffs.

Coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s BE team’s other two losses came at the hands of Wando. The Bishops did come up with a big win, other than the Ashley Hall one, in their tournament by upending Dutch Fork.

Ashley Hall top pick

Ashley Hall has taken firm control of SCISA Class AAA Region III, holding a 26-0 individual match edge over the region’s other two teams — Porter-Gaud and Pinewood Prep.

In her 30th year as Ashley Hall’s coach, Mary Gastley and her team are solid favorites to appear in the state championship match one week from next Saturday. Hammond, with talented No. 1 Brittany Desmond, looks like the team to beat outside of Ashley Hall.

The Panthers (12-4) lost to tournament host Bishop England, but used the tournament to reverse an earlier loss to SCHSL Class AAA power Myrtle Beach. Another of the Panthers’ losses was to SCISA Class AA/former Class AAA power Hilton Head Prep.

After suffering a 5-4 loss to Porter-Gaud in last year’s state final, the Panthers are still led by freshman Michaela Cuoco, with added firepower from newcomer freshman Rebecca Spratt. “Getting a player of Rebecca’s caliber has helped the lineup (at No. 2). It gives us more depth down the line,” Gastley said.

Rogers in Europe
Shelby Rogers is in Europe, ready to celebrate her 23rd birthday on Tuesday. Actually, she is playing a little tennis, too.

The Charleston touring pro is in Linz, Austria, this weekend attempting to qualify for the $225,000 WTA Tour tournament that starts there on Monday.

Now ranked No. 151 in the world after making the final of a $50,000 event in Las Vegas last weekend, Rogers also plans to play another $225,000 event the following week in Luxembourg.

Local resident Jessica Pegula (No. 160) was a quarterfinalist in the current $50,000 ITF event in Kirkland, Wash. Samantha Crawford (No. 182) lost in the second round in singles, but was a semifinalist in doubles.

Local notes

Legend Oaks’ seventh annual “Gives Back Charity Weekends,” which included tennis, golf and a silent auction dinner, raised $32,516 to support Meals on Wheels of Summerville and One80 Place.

Brenda Carter helped the U.S. women’s 65-plus team capture the Kitty Godfree Cup recently in Umag, Croatia, in the International Tennis Federation world team championships.

Diane Barker and Matt Hane won their 11th national mother/son championship recently at the Country Club of Louisiana in Baton Rouge where Matt is the head tennis pro.

City of Charleston tennis pro Davy Hairston and longtime local tennis coach/pro Billy Silcox have scheduled a “discussion and tennis social” for 2 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the College of Charleston tennis complex at Patriots Point to discuss plans to bring back the “City Tennis Championships in 2016.”

(10/05/15)  LTP tennis tournament rained out
The LTP Charleston $10,000 U.S. Pro Circuit women’s tennis tournament ended on Monday without a champion as rain halted play in the middle of one semifinal.

Thus, the tournament ended with one finalist and two semifinalists.

American Caroline Price fought her way into the final with a 7-6 (3), 0-6, 10-6 win over Samantha Harris of Australia in one semifinal, while Slovakian qualifier Martina Frantova owned a 6-3, 1-2 advantage over fourth-seeded Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway when the rain interrupted the second semifinal on Monday afternoon.

The event will not be completed, according to tournament officials, as many of the same players headed off to Hilton Head Island for another $10,000 U.S. Pro Circuit stop.

Eikeri had posted a 4-6, 7-6 (4), 10-5 win over Elixane Lechemia of France earlier in the day in the quarterfinals. Frantova accepted a quarterfinal walkover against American Francesca Di Lorenzo, the 18-year-old Ohio State University player who had eliminated LTP’s Emma Navarro in the second round.

(10/04/15)  THE STATE: OPINION: Shelby Rogers, other female athletes deserve coverage
Columbia, SC - Thanks to The State’s sports department for its non-coverage of S.C. and Charleston native Shelby Rogers at the U.S. Open.

I love football too, but here we have a wonderful young lady who has worked so hard to overcome a recent injury to make it to the tournament as a qualifier. That in itself deserves some coverage. Zero mention of that.

Wins a solid first round. Zero coverage.

Wins a solid second round, which advances her to play the world’s No. 2 ranked player. Again, zero coverage.

You do the same disservice to the LPGA.

Title IX has been around a long time now. Maybe one day a State sports staffer will finally recognize that. Yes, I’m a season ticket holder to USC women’s basketball and have been for many years. But there are other women’s sports (college and professional) that deserve coverage too.

Cheryl D. Patrick

(10/02/15) Charleston Serves as Springboard for Crawford, Pegula
By James Beck/Special to USTA Southern

Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston has a great deal in common with big-time women's tennis, other than just occupying the same site as the oldest running WTA Tour women's event in the United States, the newly named Volvo Cars Open.

Former men's top 50 player Michael Joyce and his two proteges, up-and-coming 21-year-old Jessica Pegula and 20-year-old former U.S. Open junior champion Samantha Crawford, call Charleston and Family Circle Tennis Center home when they aren’t globe-trotting on the WTA Tour. Joyce, perhaps, is best known as the former coach of Maria Sharapova.

“Michael does all of the work with Jessie and Sam. When they’re in town, this is where they come,” said Jeff Wilson, the CEO of Family Circle Tennis Center-based MWTennis Academy.

“When they’re in town” are the key words. Touring professional tennis players travel the world for months at a time.

But when Crawford and Pegula are around, Family Circle Tennis Center members are awed as they practice and hit their professional-level shots. The members think of the two touring pros as “our girls.” Family Circle general manager Bob Moran was thrilled to be able to watch them playing in the US Open.

The members think nothing of it when they greet or cross paths with Crawford or Pegula. But very soon, these two young women could be occupying places among the top 100 women’s players in the world.

Of course, Family Circle members still reserve a special place in their tennis hearts for touring professional Shelby Rogers, who grew up on Daniel Island and at Family Circle Tennis Center, even though she now trains in Carson, California.

Crawford and Pegula have seen their tennis fortunes rise in recent months.

Pegula fought through qualifying to earn a berth in the US Open, while Crawford picked up a wild card into the Grand Slam event by coming in first in the summer's US Open Wild Card U.S. Pro Circuit segment.

Crawford cites Georgia upbringing

Crawford was still sparkling in mid-September in the $250,000 Coupe Banque Nationale WTA Tour event in Quebec, Canada. She advanced through qualifying all the way to the Quebec quarterfinals with an upset of 89th-ranked Evgeniya Rodina of Russia.

It was the fourth straight win in Quebec for Crawford. The big-serving (seven aces against Rodina) qualifier is currently ranked No. 188 in the world.

Tennis success is nothing new to the 6’2” Crawford, who started playing tennis at age 4 in Georgia where she grew up.

“My mom was the one who introduced me to the game. She learned how to play in grad school and still plays almost every day,” Crawford said.

“I started drills at age 4 at Jerry Baskin's tennis academy in Marietta, Georgia. I then went on to train at Universal Tennis Academy, then with Rebecca Jensen, and then Stephen Diaz's tennis academy while still working with Rebecca, all in Georgia.”

“When I was 10, I lived in China for almost a year and trained while I was there. Shortly after I got back from China I moved to Florida to train at Nick Saviano's tennis academy.”

She then trained full-time at the USTA training center in Boca Raton, Fla., with Kathy Rinaldi.

What were Crawford’s notable moments as a junior? Winning the 2012 US Open girls’ title was a giant moment that capped her junior career.

“My biggest moments I think from my junior career are winning 16s Eddie Herr, the grade 1 ITF in Carson and winning (USTA national) hard-court doubles in San Diego two years in a row,” she said.

“I decided to turn pro in January of 2013, shortly after the US Open after giving it a lot of thought.”

Pegula leaves behind western New York roots

Meanwhile, Pegula followed up her second-round appearance in the US Open by fighting through qualifying and upsetting 128th-ranked Nicole Gibbs in the Quebec first round by winning six of the last seven points in a third-set tiebreak.

On the rise after sitting out most of 2014 with a knee injury that required surgery, Pegula has climbed to No. 161 in the world on the strength of eight wins her last 10 matches.

Pegula has been around big-time sports since late in her teen years when her parents, Terry and Kim Pegula, purchased the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres hockey team.  The Pegulas added to their sports empire a year ago with the purchase of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

That was perfect timing for Jessica, who at the time was still rehabilitating her right knee after undergoing surgery in April, 2013. She was back home in Buffalo, enjoying the excitement that came with her family owning a National Football League team.

She had missed much of the excitement of the Sabres’ ownership because she was trying to make her own way in the sports world as a tennis player, a path she started out on as a 6-year-old.

She wants to make a name for herself, rather than just to be known as the daughter of Terry Pegula, who made his own fortune in oil and gas before being able to live the dream of purchasing the Sabres and Bills.

Obviously, Pegula isn't in this grind called professional tennis just for the money. She is determined to make her own mark in the field of athletics.

Her tennis game is strong enough to stand on its own. She has climbed more than 600 places in the world rankings in 2015 alone.

Yet, it doesn’t hurt to be part of a multi-billionaire family.

The Pegula clan is celebrating these days as Jessica appears to be just a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from cracking the world's top 100, hopefully before the year ends. Pegula and Crawford prepared for the Quebec tournament at an indoor facility in Buffalo before making the short trip across the border.

To make things even better for the Pegulas, the Bills got off to a 2-1 start.

Pegula has made an amazing comeback. Two years ago at Wimbledon in the last few months of her teen years, Pegula took a tumble that injured her right knee. She tried to keep playing for awhile, but the knee kept nagging her and prevented her from playing at a high level. She was ranked 123 at the time.

Finally, after nearly a year of struggling with the knee, Pegula underwent surgery by noted knee surgeon James Andrews in Pensacola, Florida.  She played only two matches in 2014.

Joyce expects Pegula to make a charge deep into the top 100 by the time the first renamed Family Circle Cup is held next April as the Volvo Cars Open.

Pegula is powerful, yet crafty; definitely a student of the game. "I have been around the best players in the world. I was a good player as well. I think through it (situations), and I think Jessie does that, too," Joyce said.

"She has easy power. I love the way the ball comes off of Jessie's racket. She hits a clean ball. I think she can be in the top 50 at least. Just staying healthy is the big thing.  She has a big serve for being so short (5-6). She gets a lot out of her serve.

Pegula has trained long hours during the last year at Family Circle Tennis Center under the watchful eye of Joyce, and now travels the globe to play in small and large tournaments while attempting to  qualify for the majors. She came within one win of qualifying at both the French Open and Wimbledon, dropping three 7-5 sets in two losses.

And finally, in New York on American tennis' grandest stage, the perseverance paid off for Pegula. She appeared to be back to where she was two years ago.

“The sky's the limit for Jessie,” Joyce says. “It’s just how badly she wants it  … and staying healthy.”

(10/01/15)  GOOSE CREEK GAZETTE: Lady Knights blank rivals in tennis
City rivals Stratford and Goose Creek tangled on the tennis court Tuesday, Sept. 29 in a Region 7-AAAA match and it was the Lady Knights who netted the victory celebration.

Stratford won the match 6-0, improving to 4-4 overall and 2-2 against Region 7 foes.

Goose Creek fell to 0-3 overall and has the identical record in region play.

“I am excited about the energy we are getting from new, young players that are really taking to the game,” SHS coach Walt Moorer said. “Even though some aren’t getting a lot of playing time this season, they will be important in competition in the near future.”

The Lady Knights got key contributions from a pair of newcomers to the starting lineup on Tuesday. Eighth-grader Elizabeth Sivertsen won at No. 4 singles (6-0, 6-1) and sophomore Ryan Gourdine won at No. 5 singles (6-4, 6-0).

Doubles tandem Daisy Ward, a junior, and freshman Emily Hattyer played together for the first time this fall and came away with a 6-1, 6-2 victory.

The top three in the lineup Tuesday, sophomore Kyleigh Gregg (6-2, 6-2), freshman Celeste Class (6-0, 6-2) and senior Reagan Cady (6-0, 6-1), all won their matches in straight sets.

“They are very competitive with each other and make each other better players,” Moorer said.

Eighth-grader Aubrey Eudy generally starts for the Lady Knights but sat out the Goose Creek match.

The Lady Knights have some matches ahead that will determine their playoff seeding. They host West Ashley on Oct. 8 and James Island on Oct. 13 before ending the regular season at Goose Creek on Oct. 15.

Stratford could finish anywhere between second and fourth with a strong finish, which would qualify the Lady Knights for the Class AAAA playoffs.

They lost to West Ashley 5-1 last time.

“We get a second shot at them and we want to make a better showing for ourselves,” Moorer said. “That match will probably determine third and fourth in our region.”

Cady and No. 5 singles player Sydney Soldner are the team’s only seniors.

“We have big expectations for the future even though our seniors will be missed,” Moorer said. “We want to aim higher than just making the playoffs. That will require offseason work from our players.”

(10/01/15)  THE STATE: Volvo aims to invest $1 billion in South Carolina by 2030
Volvo aims to create 4,000 jobs and invest $1 billion at its Berkeley County automobile plant by 2030, according to the company’s contract with South Carolina officials.

The company must create 2,000 jobs in its first phase, by Dec. 31, 2023, and an initial investment of $600 million, according to that contract, obtained by The State newspaper through a Freedom of Information Act request.

In return, the company will get more then $200 million in incentives from the state, Berkeley County and the state-owned Santee Cooper utility.

Volvo also was promised:

▪  A six-month lease for a retail space along Charleston’s King Street for a Volvo brand store. The cost – up to $40,000 – will be paid by the Charleston Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

▪  A display at the Charleston International Airport for a year at no cost. That commitment was promised by state Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Berkeley, director of the Charleston County Aviation Authority. “If we display a Volvo car at the airport,” Campbell said. “I think it’s nothing but good news.”

▪  A three-year sponsorship of a women’s tennis tournament – formerly known as the Family Circle Cup – held annually on Daniel Island. “Sponsorship opportunity includes, but is not limited to, national television advertising during the tournament, naming rights to the stadium, tournament signage and hospitality venues during the tournament weekend,” S.C. Parks, Recreations and Tourism Director Duane Parrish wrote in a letter to Volvo. The national TV exposure was valued at $3.5 million in 2014, the state said.

▪  Two options for temporary office space – a site near the Charleston airport and another near the plant site, in Nexton – for which the company would receive $400,000. Nexton is a new community in Summerville.

Volvo will produce all of its revamped S60 luxury sedans at its new S.C. plant, officials announced last week.

The new models will be exported worldwide. Volvo expects to build 57,000 cars a year when the plant is in full production and 100,000 a year when it is expanded in about a decade.

The company should begin hiring in late 2017 and expects to produce its first cars in 2018.

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.

Volvo incentives

South Carolina offered more than $200 million in incentives to win over automaker Volvo, including:

$123 million from the state Commerce Department, including $70 million that S.C. lawmakers allocated in the state budget

$30 million through pots of money that the state Commerce Department has access to, including its deal-closing fund

$54 million that the state-owned Santee Cooper utility is spending to buy the Berkeley County site, and in loans and grants

$5 million that Berkeley County will contribute to the land purchase

Multi-millions that Volvo will receive in tax credits, based on the number of jobs that it creates and the amount those jobs pay

Multi-millions that Volvo will save on its property taxes via a fee-in-lieu agreement with Berkeley County

$40,000 the Charleston Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau will pay for a six-month lease for a King Street brand store

(10/01/15)  Mount Pleasant team wins USTA Southern Sectional tennis championship
The Mount Pleasant Recreation Department’s 55-and-over women’s 4.0 tennis team recently captured a U.S. Tennis Association Southern Sectional tennis championship played in Asheville, N.C.

The team, captained by Jane Fluet, advanced to the nationals that will be held Oct. 23-25 in Surprise, Ariz.

Team members include Fluet, Emily Thomas, Vicki Zimpfer, Julie Raney, Becky Montgomery, Charlotte Gerber, Becky Williamson, Alice Wright, Betty Randolph, Meridy Kennington and Ruth Ennis.

(10/01/15)  Five advance to final eight in LPT tennis tourney
Rain was the story of the third day of the LTP 10K Charleston Women’s Pro Tennis Tournament’s main draw.

Before the rain came through, five players advanced to the final eight.

Joanna Vale Costa of Portugal followed up her victory over the top seed with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Francesca Fusinato (Italy). Caroline Price (USA), after saving three match points in her opening round, defeated eighth seed Ayan Broomfield (Canada. Elixane Lechemia (France) defeated Natsuho Arakawa (Japan), 6-1, 6-2.

Ulrikke Eikeri the fourth and highest remaining seed, defeated Stefana Andrei (Roumania), 6-0, 6-0. The last match completed on the day was Francesca Di Lorenzo of Ohio State who took out local favorite Emma Navarro by the score of 6-3, 6-2.

Earlier Thursday, Jade Lewis (New Zealand) completed her first-round match taking out third seed Anna Brogan (Great Britain) 6-0 in the third and deciding set.

Matches were canceled for the day due to rain and will continue Friday starting at 9:30 a.m., weather permitting.

The tournament is a USTA Pro Circuit event.

Thursday results

Women’s Singles, Main Draw, Round 1
Jade Lewis, New Zealand, def. Anna Brogan [3], Great Britain, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0
Q-Elizabeth Scotty, United States, def. Makenna Jones, United States, 6-4, 7-6 (6)
LL-Natusho Arakawa, Japan, def. Q-Olga Zavarotnaya, Belarus, 6-1, 6-2
Q-Martina Frantova, Slovakia, def. Madeleine Kobelt, United States, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8)

Women’s Singles, Main Draw, Round 2
Joanna Vale Costa, Potugal, def. Francesca Fusinato, Italy, 6-0, 6-2
Caroline Price, United States, def. Ayan Broomfield, Canada, 6-1, 6-2
Elixane Lechemia, France, def. Natusho Aradawa, Japan, 6-1, 6-2
Ulrikke Eikeri [4], Norway, def, Q-Stefana Andrei, Romania, 6-0, 6-0
Francesca Di Lorenzo, United States, def. Emma Navarro, United States, 6-3, 6-2

Wednesday results

Natsuho Arakawa, Japan, and Jacqueline Pelletier, United States, def. Chloe Beck and Emma Navarro, United States, 1-6, 6-4, [11-9]
Abigail Desiatnikov, United States, and Dominique Schaeffer, Peru, def. Elixane Lechemia, France and Laetitia Sarrazin, France, Walkover
Natalie Pluskota and Caroline Price, United States, def. Nami Otsuka and Lindsay Song, United States, 6-2, 7-5
Anna Brogan, Great Britain, and Maureen Drake, Canada [3], def. Stefana Andrei and Luana Stanciu, Romania, 7-5, 6-2
Francesca Di Lorenzo, United States, and Ulrikke Eikeri, Norway, def. Erin Clark and Katie LaFrance, United States, 6-2, 6-2
Madeleine Kobelt, United States, and Nika Kukharchuk, Russia [2], def, Kimberley Koerner, Germany, and Brianna Thompson, Australia, 6-2, 7-5

(09/29/15)  STAFF REPORT: Top seeds fall in LTP tournament
Three of the top five seeds fell Tuesday in the first round of the USTA Pro Circuit’s women’s $10,000 LTP Charleston tournament at LPT Center in Mount Pleasant.

The 930th-ranked Joanna Vale Costa of Portugal ousted the tournament’s number 1 seed, Lauren Herring of the United States. Samantha Harris of Australia defeated sixth seed Gloria Lang of Canada, 6-3, 6-1. Elixane Lechemia of France defeated seventh seed Angelina Zhuravleva of Russia, 6-2, 6-2.

The two seeds to advance were fourth-seeded Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway, who defeated A.E. Nefedova of Russia, 6-2, 6-2, and eighth seed Ayan Broomfield of Canada, who deefeated LTP wild card Katie LaFrance, 6-2, 6-2.

Qualifying Singles, Round 3:
Martina Frantova, Slovakia, def. A. Roman Dominquez [1], Spain, 6-1, 6-3
Stefana Andrei, Romania, def. Lauren Cooper, USA, 6-2, 6-1
Abigail Desiatnikov, USA, def. Alexa Bortles, USA, 6-3, 6-4
Meible Chi, USA, def. Dominique Schaefer, Peru 6-1, 6-3
Elizabeth Scotty, USA, def. Natsuho Arkawa, Japan, 6-2, 6-2
Jade Lewis, New Zealand, def. Ramya Natarajan, India, 6-4, 6-1
Olga Zavarotnya, Belarus, def. Kennedy Wicker, USA, 6-3, 6-4
Stephanie Nemtsova, USA, def. Salome Devidze, Georgia, 6-4, 6-1

Women’s Doubles, Main Draw, Round 1:
Natsuho Arakawa, Japan, and Jacqueline Pelletier, USA def. Chloe Beck, USA and Emma Navarro, USA, 1-6, 6-4, [11,9]
Q-Natalie Pluskota, USA, and Caroline Price, USA def. Nami Otsuka, USA and Lindsay Song, USA 6-2, 7-5
Anna Brogan [3], Great Britain and Maureen Drake, Canada def. Stefana Andrei, Romania and Luana Stanciu, Romania, 7-5, 6-2
Francesca Di Lorenzo, USA and Ulrikke Eikeri, Norway def. Katie LaFrance, USA and Erin Clark, USA, 6-2, 6-2
Madeleine Kobelt [2], USA and Nika Kukharchuk, Russia def. Kimberley Koerner, Germany and Brianna Thompson, Australia, 6-2, 7-5

Women’s Singles, Main Draw, Round 1:
Joanna Vale Costa, Portugal def. Lauren Herring [1], USA, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0
Francesca Fusinato, Italy def. Maureen Drake, Canada, 6-0, 6-0
Caroline Price, USA def. Nika Kukharchuk, Russia, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
Ayan Broomfield [8], Canada def. Katie LaFrance, USA, 6-2, 6-2
Samantha Harris, Australia, def. Gloria Liang [6], Canada, 6-3, 6-1
Elixane Lechemia, France def. A. Zhuravleva [7], Russia, 6-2, 6-2
Ulrikke Eikeri [4], Norway def. A. Nefedova, Ru 6-2, 6-2.

(09/29/15)  DAVID QUICK: Thanks to hands-only CPR, Wells Fargo exec will walk in Saturday’s Heart Walk as a survivor
This Saturday’s Heart Walk will be a bookend of sorts for Rob and Donna Norvelle.

Last year, they participated as part of Rob’s involvement on the “executive leadership team.” He is the area president of Wells Fargo bank. Though involved in other charities, the Heart Walk was the first time either had been involved in American Heart Association’s biggest event in the Lowcountry.

Rob and Donna Norvelle (center) participated in last year’s American Heart Association Heart Walk for the first time. Since then, Rob has had a heart attack, recovered, and gone on to lose 35 pounds and six inches off his waist.

But this year, they have a new perspective. Rob, who is 56, will be wearing a red cap — and they will be walking in celebration of him surviving a heart attack known as a “widow maker.”

On that Monday evening , the Norvelles were playing in the first match of the spring mixed doubles season with the Dunes West team at Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island.

“I felt great,” recalls Rob. “We started the match and we were playing really well. I was hydrated. Donna had peanuts there so that we had sustenance throughout the match. I had no indication anything was going wrong.

“About halfway through the second set, I was serving and Donna was at the net. I tossed the ball up to serve and I had a sensation of passing out, of immediate with disassociation going on around me. I felt no pain.”

Donna, who was at the net, recalls hearing the sound of Rob’s racquet hit the ground and then the looks on the faces of their opponents, followed by screams.

“I turned around and he was face down ... There was blood coming from his mouth (caused by Rob apparently biting his tongue),” says Donna.

Within a minute, a tennis player on a nearby court who had seen Rob collapse was at his side performing hands-only CPR. (The player, who the Norvelles and the association know, has not responded to requests to be interviewed.)

He was joined in taking turns doing hands-only CPR by Dr. Erin Balog, a local pediatrician, and another physician who happened to be running on a trail near the court.

Meanwhile, tennis center staff brought out one of two defibrillators, or AEDs, on location and after one shock, Norvelle responded so well that he wanted to stand up, but he wasn’t allowed to. Staff also followed protocol by heading to locations to guide a responding ambulance directly to him.

Surviving ‘widow maker’

A 98 percent blockage of the left anterior descending artery had caused the heart attack and cardiac arrest, known as the “widow maker” because of its fatality rate. A stint was placed in the artery the next day and he was discharged from the cardiac intensive care unit by Thursday.

As is custom, survivors of heart attacks and strokes lead the start of the American Heart Association’s Lowcountry Heart Walk.

Norvelle adds that his recovery from ICU to rehabilitation has been at the Medical University of South Carolina where “I had the absolute best care.” He admits the toughest part of his recovery in the weeks to follow were sore ribs caused by the CPR, but that it not only saved his life but his quality of life.

Sara Nelson, development direct for the heart association in Charleston, says the Norvelle’s incident was a case when “everything went right.”

“It couldn’t have gone better,” says Nelson, noting that bystanders “tend to freeze” in incidents like this.

“This underscores the importance of taking CPR classes and having AEDs ... In this case, it saved Rob’s life.”

CPR+AED = Saved Lives

Rob Norvelle says he owes all involved a debt of gratitude and that “it’s difficult to describe all the emotions associated with that.”

Donna says no thank-you notes or gift cards to those who saved Rob’s life could ever express the gratitude she feels for saving the life of her husband of 32 years.

So her way of thanking them is by becoming an advocate, namely for joining the Heart Association in its efforts to get legislation passed in South Carolina requiring CPR training for all high school students and making sure all the local tennis centers have defibrillators.

The Norvelles, who play tennis at Dunes West, were lucky to have been playing at Family Circle on that night. At the time, Dunes West did not have a defibrillator, which cost about $1,000 each. Now, as a result of Rob’s heart attack and Donna’s advocacy, it does have one and other area tennis centers have been alerted.

Changing lifestyle

Meanwhile, Rob’s focus has been on getting healthy.

Once a lover of red meat — eating it several times a week, often at business lunches and dinners — it has been replaced with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and fish.

“I’ve become a huge asparagus fan, which I wouldn’t have touched before (the heart attack),” says Norvelle.

He has followed up cardiac rehab with regular workouts at the MUSC Wellness Center almost every day of the week.

As a result, he has lost 35 pounds and six inches off his previous 46-inch waistline.

“I probably need to lose another 35 or 45 pounds and another four to six inches off my waist,” says Norvelle. “This is the healthiest I’ve been in years.”

And while Rob hasn’t joined Donna on the tennis court quite yet, it’s not because he can’t.

“I have no heart damage at all. I have full ability, but it’s been so hot. I’m a tad bit heat intolerant because of the medications. Normally, I play through the summer. I thought I’d wait until fall to start back.”

Heart Walk ’15

The Norvelles will participate in the Heart Walk with a new, more humble appreciation for it.

And while Rob says last year’s walk enlightened him about the range of people with heart issues, he recalls the thoughts he had watching the survivors at the event.

“I remember feeling immortal and that this (a heart attack) wasn’t going to happen to me. In general, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with me,” says Rob. “When I went down on the tennis court that day, it was a shock to the perception of myself.”

As for projecting what the experience on Saturday will be for him — and certainly the Wells Fargo team — he doesn’t know. But he will be among the newest to wear the red hat of survivorship.

If you go
What: American Heart Association’s Lowcountry Heart Walk.
When: 8 a.m. Saturday.
Where: Liberty Square, Charleston.
Cost: Free, but participants are asked to seek donations for the heart association.
More: http://bit.ly/1KvHXf5

(09/28/15)  JOHN McDERMOTT: Owner of Charleston’s NBC-TV affiliate attracts unsolicited buyout offer
A Texas-based broadcaster launched an unsolicited buyout bid Monday for the owner of Charleston’s NBC television affiliate, five weeks after its previous offer was rejected.

Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. said it is willing to buy Media General Inc. in a stock-and-cash deal valued at $4.1 billion, including existing debt it would assume.

Media General, which owns WCBD-TV in Mount Pleasant and 70 other U.S. stations, said in written statement that it “will carefully ... consider the proposal to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.”

The Richmond, Va.-based company said it would not comment further until its board of directors completes the review.

Nexstar said the bid represents a 30 percent premium to Media General’s closing stock price of around $11.15 Friday.

The buyout offer emerged less than three weeks after Media General agreed to buy Meredith Corp., which owns TV stations, publishes magazines and controls the former Family Circle Cup professional women’s tennis tournament on Daniel Island. That annual spring event recently was renamed the Volvo Cars Open under a new sponsorship agreement.

Nexstar founder and CEO Perry Sook called the Meredith tie-up “illogical” and “ill-conceived,” in a letter to Media General’s top executives Monday.

Sook said he privately offered to purchase the Virginia broadcaster on Aug. 10 for “a substantial premium” but was turned away two weeks later without discussion. Also, he said, Nexstar attempted “for many months” before that to begin “substantive” negotiations with Media General.

“The combined company’s significantly expanded audience reach and portfolio diversification would be highly attractive to programmers and advertisers alike,” Sook wrote Monday. “We strongly believe a combination of Media General and Nexstar is far more compelling strategically and financially than your planned acquisition of Meredith.”

The deal would create a “pure play” broadcaster with 162 stations in 99 markets reaching 39 percent of U.S. households, according to Irving, Texas-based Nexstar, which has no presence in South Carolina.

The Media General-Meredith deal would bring together 82 stations in 54 markets.

Some station owners are looking to bulk up because they believe size and scale will give them more bargaining power when they hammer out programming fees with cable and satellite TV companies.

“The transaction we are proposing would be a transformational event for both Nexstar and Media General shareholders and would deliver superior, immediate and long-term value to Media General’s shareholders compared with Media General’s proposed acquisition of Meredith,” Sook wrote.

Shares of Media General jumped 22 percent to close at $13.64 on Monday.

(09/26/15)  Cyclones lose two-time player of year Skelly
Porter-Gaud appeared to be a solid contender just a few weeks ago to repeat as SCISA Class AAA state girls champion. That's no longer the case.

Coach Charlotte Hartsock's team has lost the services of two-time Lowcountry player of the year Ann Martin Skelly for at least this season. Hartsock has confirmed that Skelly is no longer on the Porter-Gaud team. Although she hasn't played singles in a match this season, Skelly has played some doubles.

Skelly's mother, Kelly, said, “(Ann Martin) hopes to play again next season as a senior. In preparation to possibly play college tennis, she's going through some changes in her game that require her to take a break from playing competitive tennis.”

Without Skelly's superb left-handed game, Porter-Gaud has fallen on hard times with a 2-4 record going into Monday's rescheduled match against archrival Ashley Hall (the match was rained out Thursday).

Ashley Hall, which lost to Porter-Gaud in the 2014 state final, now looks like the probable favorite to win this year's state title, with Columbia's Hammond School as the top threat.

“Since there are only three teams in our conference (Ashley Hall, Pinewood Prep and Porter-Gaud), I have played some other SCISA teams in the state,” veteran Ashley Hall coach Mary Gastley said, pointing out that the Panthers have played and defeated Cardinal Newman and Heathwood Hall (twice), and lost to former AAA power Hilton Head Prep.
Wando unbeaten

Wando is on a roll under first-year coach Eric Praedel. The Warriors were unbeaten going into the weekend and should be strong contenders for the Class AAAA state girls title they narrowly missed winning last year.

They are so deep and loaded that Praedel is having a hard time playing all of the stars. “My top girls are extremely talented and my focus is to keep them positive if they get down in a match. They are by far their biggest critics,” Praedel said.

“We are off to a good start. We have quality wins over Bishop England and Porter Gaud.”

Wando is led by sophomores Lauren Quinn and Lily Conant, freshman Kat Lyman, junior Tyler Kirk, senior Brittany Hellberg and sophomore Morgan Mitchell, who played No. 3 last fall. Only Hellberg and Kirk didn't start in singles in 2014.

“There are several girls competing for starting varsity spots ... we are very deep,” Praedel said.

LTP U.S. Pro event starts

U.S. Pro Circuit Tennis has returned to the area for the $10,000 Charleston LTP tournament at Mount Pleasant's LTP Tennis. Veteran touring professional Alexandra Mueller is the top seed in the 32-player main draw.

Eight players from the 64-player qualifying draw on Sunday and Monday will advance to the Tuesday start of the main draw. Play will begin at 11 a.m. daily until next Sunday's noon singles final. Attendance is free to the public.

Mueller is a 27-year-old from Abington Township, Pa., who has been ranked as high as 280th in the world and owns victories over the likes of Alison Riske, Madison Brengle and Nicole Gibbs. She is currently ranked No. 583.

LTP product Emma Navarro, who ended 2014 ranked 37th nationally in girls 14 and is aiming to become No. 1 in the nation, has been awarded a main draw wild card along with Katie LaFrance of Little Rock, Ark., who also trains at LTP. LaFrance turns 16 on Tuesday.
Local notes

Jared Pratt closed out the summer impressively in boys 16 in the 128-draw Level 1-A Southern tournament in Columbus, Ga., taking first place in singles and second in doubles in boys' 16. Jacob Jahn took fifth place in singles, and fourth in doubles with fellow Academic Magnet student Sam Kavarana, who also made the round of 16 in singles. Jahn defeated Brant Fenno in singles in the round of 16.

Charleston's WTA Tour connections are on the rise. Local native Shelby Rogers is still No. 154 in the world, while local residents Jessica Pegula and Samantha Crawford are Nos. 158 and 178, respectively. Crawford came through qualifying and advanced to the quarterfinals in the WTA Tour stop in Quebec, while for the second straight tournament (dating back to the U.S. Open) Pegula fought through Quebec qualifying and then won a round in the main draw.

Rogers withdrew from last week's Albuquerque, N.M., U.S. Pro Circuit event with a small scare. “Everything is OK. I had a little setback with some back pain, but I will be heading to Las Vegas next week,” Rogers said last week. Of course, Rogers has seen her share of injuries this year.

A Mount Pleasant Rec team captained by Jane Fluet will be heading to Surprise, Ariz., next month to compete in the women's 55 national championships after taking the Southern 4.0 title last weekend in Asheville, N.C.

In the Southern Sectional 40-plus championships in Asheville, Sarah Pitts' team from Mount Pleasant Rec was the women's 3.0 runner-up.

Local teams did well in the recent state mixed doubles championships in Florence. The state titlists included Michael Carroll's 18-plus 7.0 MPR team, Lauren Brown's 18-plus 10.0 team, Angie Thomas' 40-plus 7.0 MPR team, Rob Wilson's 40-plus 8.0 I'On team and Wonza Welch's 65-plus 7.0 Farmfield team.

The Lowcountry Tennis Association party will be held Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. at Family Circle Tennis Center as part of the HSI Charleston Pro Tennis League program. The eight-team CPTL will hold its next program on Friday night at I'On.

(09/22/15)  Charleston Regional Business Journal: Lowcountry Affiliate of Susan G. Komen to host Swing for the Cure
Charleston, SC – The Lowcountry Affiliate of Susan G. Komen announces Swing for the Cure, a weekend fundraising event on Oct. 2-3 featuring golf and tennis tournaments, a cocktail reception, a silent auction and an oyster roast and BBQ party with all proceeds supporting the fight against breast cancer.

The weekend will kick off with the oyster roast and BBQ party Friday, Oct. 2 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Lettered Olive in Wild Dunes. Tickets are $30 per person or $50 per couple and will include a Lowcountry feast and two complimentary drinks.

The tennis and golf tournaments will be held Saturday, Oct. 3 from 12:30-7 p.m. at the Wild Dunes Resort on Isle of Palms, followed by a cocktail reception featuring a silent auction. Tickets are $100 per person.

“Swing for the Cure is going to be a fun community event to help raise funds to find the cures,” says Taffy Tamblyn, Executive Director of Komen Lowcountry Affiliate. “This will be a great event leading up to the Race and is another way for our Lowcountry community to get involved and make a difference.”

The tennis event is designed as a dynamic team competition, but players can register individually. Each team will have a tennis pro from the Charleston area competing with them. Prizes will be given throughout the day.

The nine-hole golf tournament will be held on the Harbor Course at Wild Dunes. All players will receive a “bounce back pass” to play on the newly renovated, Fazio-designed, 18-hole, Links Course upon its completion valid with a cart fee. The field will be limited to 40 golfers.

To purchase tickets and register for any of the weekend events visit komenlowcountry.org/lowcountry-events/swing/ or call (843) 566-8011.

(09/18/15)  PREP ZONE: Girls Tennis
Singles: Waring (GC) d. Maharrey 6-4, 6-1. Kelly d. Julius 6-2, 6-2. Jones d. Gann 6-2, 6-4. Kay d. Ortiz 6-1, 6-1. Buttery d. Tatspaugh 6-0, 6-1.  Doubles: Leya/Hicks d. Litchfield/Price 6-4, 6-1.

Records: Cane Bay 1-5. Goose Creek 0-2. Next: Cane Bay at James Island Tuesday. Goose Creek hosts Wando Tuesday.

Singles: Kirk d. Class 6-3, 6-1. Hellberg d. Gregg 6-0, 6-0. Mitchell d. Cady 6-1, 6-3. Guo d. Soldner 6-0, 6-0. Hayes d. Eudy 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: Moore/Berly d. Sivertsen/Gourdine 6-4, 6-1.

Records: Stratford 3-3 (1-1). Wando 6-0. Next: Stratford at West Ashley Tuesday. Wando plays Berkeley Tuesday.

Singles: Brim (AR) d. Riley 6-4, 4-6, 1-0. Bassett d. Blatner 6-0, 6-0. Baxter d. Schmedeke 6-2, 6-3. Castrillon d. Morris 6-1, 6-1. Joyner d. Gunther 6-2, 6-0.  Doubles: Williams/Szatmarri d. O’Sullivan/Wall 6-1, 6-0.

Singles: Handy d. Ware 6-4, 6-2. Inglis d. Bailey 6-0, 6-0. Bauer d. Peters 6-0, 6-0. Foster d. K. Bell 6-0, 6-0. Lucci d. E. Bell 6-0, 6-0. Bundy d. Bishop 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: Handy/Inglis d. Ware/Bailey 8-0. Bauer/Foster d. Peters/K. Bell 8-0. Lucci/Bundy d. Bishop/Martin 8-0.

Singles: O’Connell d. Walter 8-3. Breland d. Gupta 8-1. Becker d. Riser 8-1. Bozard d. Summers 8-6. Myers d. Hinds 8-1. Salley d. Friarson 8-2.  Doubles: O’Connell/Myers d. Walter/Gupta 8-2. Breland/Salley d. Riser/Summers 9-7. Becker/Weatherford d. Hinds/Williams 8-2.

Records: Holly Hill Academy 6-0. Next: Holly Hill Academy at Carolina Academy Wednesday.

(09/17/15)  Charleston Regional Business Journal: Tickets on sale for Volvo Cars Open tennis tournament
Tickets for the Volvo Cars Open (formerly the Family Circle Cup) are on sale today, 200 days before the 44th tournament begins on Daniel Island, April 2 – 10, 2016.

The nine-day event is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in the world, attracting an average of 90,000 attendees (actual average is 82,000 – according to announced attendance) and 70+ of the top tennis stars competing in a total of 92 matches.

With 13 sessions to choose from, including four weekend dates and four nighttime matches, there’s an opportunity for everyone to enjoy professional tennis in Charleston at the Volvo Cars Open. Tickets start at only $10 and go up to $80 for prime seating during finals weekend. Ticket packages are available for those wanting to experience more tennis at a greater value. All juniors, 15 and under, are free in the general admission seating during the entire tournament.

Coming off impressive US Open runs, Madison Keys, World No. 18, and Venus Williams, World No. 24, have both joined the player field for the 2016 Volvo Cars Open. Keys was a finalist at the 2015 WTA Charleston event, and Williams was a champion in 2004. The two are currently the second and third top-ranked Americans in the world.

Patrons who purchase tickets to the Volvo Cars Open within the first two weeks of sales will be entered for a chance to win an exclusive, VIP player package, featuring:

- Two invitations to the private Volvo Cars Open Player Party
- Two seats in a player’s box during a selected match
- Autographed items by Venus Williams and Madison Keys

Deadline to purchase for entry is September 29th at 11:59pm ET.

To purchase individual session tickets or ticket packages, visit Ticketmaster.com, the Volvo Cars Open website (www.volvocarsopen.com) or call the box office, 800-677-2293.

(09/12/15)  Vinci went to war with Serena, and won
NEW YORK — It’s a city of disbelief.

How could this happen? Serena Williams losing to an unseeded 32-year-old?


It was that bad. Everyone had taken for granted that Serena would destroy doubles standout Roberta Vinci. Even Vinci hinted that she believed that would be the case.

Of course, that didn’t happen. At some point, the 43rd-ranked Vinci decided to go to war with Serena.

Vinci came to play. Serena didn’t. She obviously wasn’t expecting a war to break out.

It wasn’t that Serena didn’t fight until the end. She did, but although she later emphasized that she didn’t feel the pressure except on a couple of shots, she certainly didn’t maintain her focus through the second and third sets of her 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Vinci in the U.S. Open semifinals on Friday.

It didn’t end there. Serena supporters were giving away tickets to Saturday’s final. High-priced ones too. Of course, there are no cheap tickets to a Grand Slam tournament final.

The Nightmare at Flushing was real. There would be no Serena Grand Slam.

At least, not this year.

There were plenty of empty seats in the largest tennis stadium in the world on Saturday when Flavia Pennetta posted a 7-6, 6-2 win over Vinci in the battle of Italians final.

This was more like the caliber of match you might expect to see in the opening round of the Volvo Cars Open. Great tennis, but not Grand Slam final quality.

Even at 33 years old, Serena is so far superior to the rest of the women’s game that you can’t rule out the same setting reoccurring at the final Grand Slam event of 2016.

It all depends on if Serena sets her mind on the challenge.

She may, and if she does, it’s possible. This time was different. As bad as Vinci wanted to see Serena win the Grand Slam, she wanted to win more.

“I’m a little bit really sad for Serena,” Vinci said afterward.

When the match was on the line, Vinci resorted to league tennis tactics, lob after lob. Whatever would win the point. It didn’t matter.

Vinci just wanted to be the one to put the last ball in play on every point ... and then the match.

Mission accomplished. “She did not want to lose today. Neither did I, incidentally,” Serena assured.

Serena committed errors on the easiest of shots, and hit winners on the most difficult.

This isn’t to say Vinci didn’t deserve to win. She did.

From lobs to whatever it took to get the job done. The scrappy little (5-4) Italian made marvelous gets, wonderful slice backhands and best of all brilliant half volleys. For good measure in her last love service game, she came up with a pair of extraordinary half volleys, one off the forehand and one off the backhand.

It was difficult to watch Serena the last few games as she fought with a vengeance, practically stumbling as she lunged for ball after ball. She would not give up, not until Vinci came up with the delicate forehand half volley that ended the misery.

“I never felt pressure,” Serena assured.

It will be interesting to see how long Serena really wants to go through this type of agony in the future. Then again, she might decide that she has nothing to lose. And she doesn’t.

What happened Friday afternoon at Arthur Ashe Stadium doesn’t change anything as far as to where Serena Williams ranks on the list of all-time greats.

She’s still at the top of the list.

“I did win three Grand Slams this year,” Serena said. “Yeah, I won four in a row. It’s pretty good.”

(09/11/15)  PREP ZONE: Girls Tennis
Singles: Sanders d. Brim 6-2, 6-1. Mitchell d. Blatner 6-2, 6-3. Schmedeke (AR) d. Rodgers 2-6, 6-2, 10-5. Zhang d. Morris 6-2, 6-1. Gunther (AR) d. Alberts 6-1, 6-2.   Doubles: Sanders/Mitchell d. Brim/Schmedeke. A. Teague/L. Teague (AR) d. Wallace/Benson 7-5, 6-1.


Singles: Cuoco d. Pernell 6-0, 6-1. Spratt d. Quinn 6-2, 6-0. Laney d. Este 6-0, 6-0. Yarbrough d. Noce 6-1, 6-1. Nistad d. Howard 6-0, 6-1. Reuther d. Beaufort 6-0, 6-1.   Doubles: Yarbrough/Laney d. Pernell/Quinn 8-1. Bitter/Reuther d. Howard/Beaufort 8-3. Schnorr/Laurent d. Noce/Smalls 8-1.

Records: Ashley Hall 5-3. Next: Ashley Hall at Heathwood Hall Tuesday.

Singles: Stafford d. Maharrey 6-1, 6-1. Runey d. Kelly 6-3, 6-1. Espy d. Jones 6-2, 6-0. Coleman d. Kay 6-3, 6-1. Limestone d. Buttery 4-6, 6-0, 10-5.   Doubles: Leya/Dodd (CB) d. McComb/Russell 6-3, 6-6 (5-7), 10-5.

Records: Cane Bay 0-4. Charleston Math and Science 4-3. Next: Cane Bay hosts Stratford Tuesday. Charleston Math and Science play Ashley Ridge Tuesday.

Singles: Long d. Roberson 6-1, 6-0. Reynolds d. A. Crook 6-0, 6-1. Naval d. C. Crook 6-1, 6-0. McKee d. C. Griffin 6-0, 6-4. Pagan d. Strictland 6-2, 6-0.   Doubles: Zoeller/Shelbourne d. Virdin/M. Griffin 6-0, 6-1.

Records: Summerville 5-1. Colleton County 1-1. Next: Summerville hosts Ashley Ridge Tuesday. Colleton County at Berkeley Monday.

Singles: O’Connell d. Pate 6-1, 6-1. Breland d. Razzi 6-0, 6-0. Becker d. Balding 6-1, 6-0. Bozard d. Whitlock 6-0, 6-2. Myers d. Risor 6-2, 6-2. Salley d. Chapman 6-0, 6-4.  Doubles: Breland/Myers d. Emerson/Cooper 8-2. Becker/Weathorford d. Sophia/Sara 8-4. B. Salley/S. Salley d. Trinity/Annie 8-2.

Next: Hilton Head Academy hosts Beaufort Monday.


Singles: Evans (PP) d. Brim 6-4, 5-7, 1-0. Blatner d. H. Rodgers 2-6, 6-4, 1-0. Schmedeke d. E. Rodgers 6-3, 6-4. Osborne (PP) d. Morris 6-1, 6-3. O’Sullivan d. Hylton 6-2, 4-6, 1-0. Wall d. Vietri 6-2, 6-1.  Doubles: Brim/Blatner d. Evans/Rodgers 8-5. Rodgers/Osborne (PP) d. Schmedeke/Morris 8-5. Hylton/Vietri (PP) d. Teague/Fuller 8-5.

(09/08/15)  JOHN McDERMOTT: Owner of Charleston’s NBC carrier buying Volvo Cars Open organizer
The parent of the NBC television affiliate in Charleston is buying the publisher that owns the newly renamed Volvo Cars Open women’s tennis tournament held on Daniel Island.

Media General Inc.’s cash-and-stock acquisition of Meredith Corp. is valued at about $2.4 billion.

The combined company will be called Meredith Media General. It will own 88 TV stations in 54 markets and a stable of magazines that include Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, Allrecipes, Parents and Shape.

The deal is scheduled to close mid-2016. It requires approval from shareholders of both companies and from the Federal Communications Commission.

Locally, Richmond, Va.-based Media General owns WCBD-TV in Mount Pleasant. Its shareholders will own about 65 percent of the combined company.

Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith owns a controlling stake in the former Family Circle Cup, which was renamed the Volvo Cars Open under a three-year deal announced earlier this month. The Iowa-based publisher relocated the 43-year-old professional tour event to Charleston from Hilton Head in 2001.

Meredith CEO Steve Lacy will become chief executive officer and president of the combined company. Media General’s chairman, J. Stewart Bryan III, will retain that title after the sale.

Meredith Media General will have corporate and executive offices in Des Moines and Richmond.

(09/06/15)  Shelby Rogers falls to second-seeded Halep at U.S. Open
Simona Halep demonstrated again Saturday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium why she is the second-ranked women’s tennis player in the world. The 5-6 Romanian was just too consistent, too athletic and too good a mover to allow a second-hundred player to seriously challenge her.

Charleston touring professional Shelby Rogers fought hard, but she managed her only service break as Halep served for the match. That wasn’t enough to prevent the quick-footed Halep from galloping into the round of 16 with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Rogers in 67 minutes.

“She played well tonight, very solid, moved well and didn’t give me much. She’s really aggressive and moved the ball around well,” said the 154th-ranked Rogers, who followed up her match with an ice bath.

“I think I had the right plan. I just have to cut down on the errors.”

Rogers leaves New York with a $68,600 paycheck. “I’m glad I got a break at the end,” she said.

“It (playing in the world’s largest tennis stadium on a Saturday night) was an incredible experience that I will never forget.”

Rogers started off well for a 2-2 deadlock, but then Halep won the next six games to take charge of the match. In seeing her five-match winning streak snapped, qualifier Rogers managed to hold service twice in each set as she went for her first serve hard.

It was her second serves and service returns that cost Rogers dearly. She won only six of 24 second-serve points and 10 of 40 receiving points. Rogers did best Halep in net points won (9-6) and aces (2-1).

Rogers went for her shots the entire match. “It worked really well at the beginning, but she defends well and moves the ball around. That’s a pretty good combination,” she said.

The 22-year-old Rogers plans to continue her year on Sept. 14 in the Quebec, Canada, event in which she was a semifinalist last year.

Rogers hopes to be back in the top 100 by the end of the year to qualify for direct entry into January’s Australian Open. “That’s my goal,” she said. “I plan to work really hard to get there.”

(09/05/15)  THINGS TO DO: Tennis Play Events: Celebration of Worldwide Day of Play
What: During National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in September, the USTA and numerous tennis facilities are hosting USTA Free Tennis Play Events across the country in celebration of Nickelodeons Worldwide Day of Play. USTA Free Tennis Play Events allow families to share their love for tennis together while having fun and being active.

When: 10:30 a.m.-noon on Sat., Sept. 5

Where: Charleston Tennis Center, 19 Farmfield Drive, Charleston

Price: Free

(09/04/15)  Shelby Rogers set for third-round U.S. Open match
Shelby Rogers is happy to still be in New York with her family.

Playing in the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday is icing on the cake. Winning five straight matches in the Big Apple is pretty special.

Sleeping in Friday morning on an off day also was nice. The 22-year-old touring professional from Charleston knows the party could end on Saturday when she takes on world’s No. 2-ranked Simona Halep of Romania in the third round of the U.S. Open.

The match is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Arthur Ashe Stadium on one of the most-attended days of the U.S. Open, due to the three-day Labor Day weekend and round of 32 pairings. Andy Murray’s match will follow.

This is a career moment for a player ranked 154th in the world, playing the current best player in the women’s game outside of Serena Williams in the largest tennis stadium in the world.

“It’s exciting ... the chance of a lifetime. I’ve never played in Arthur Ashe Stadium,” Rogers said Friday. “This is the biggest tennis stadium of all. I’ll just enjoy the experience.

“It’s been an incredible couple of weeks for me,” she said about her five wins in 10 days, including three in qualifying.

“This was a recovery day,” she said after holding a 40-minute practice session on the U.S. Open grounds and getting a massage.

Rogers got a taste of the media exposure on Thursday after scoring a 6-4, 6-4 win over Kurumi Nara, Japan’s highest-ranked player (82). Now that Rogers was in the last 32 players in the tournament, she took part in the usual media sessions.

Rogers was asked by the media if she had any connection to the church where the shooting happened.

“Not personally,” she responded, and added, “It really affected the whole city, even though it wasn’t personal. I didn’t know the people. But it was just a really tough incident to watch. I was in Europe at the time. So seeing how my city reacted was really special. I was so proud of them, the way they came together.”

Of course, Rogers’ opponent has been in the spotlight all week. Halep held a Friday afternoon session with ESPN in its booth where Arthur Ashe Stadium loomed in the background. Rogers said she didn’t see the interview.

Halep will turn 24 years old later this month. Like Rogers’ first two opponents (5-4 Sachia Vickery and 5-1 Nara), Halep is relatively short (5-6) by current WTA Tour standards. Rogers is 5-9.

Of course, Halep is a different class of player from Rogers’ previous opponents. Halep may be the only player in New York capable of stopping Serena Williams’ charge to a calendar Grand Slam.

While Rogers hits a good backhand, Halep has a great backhand. The backhand probably is what separates Halep from the rest of the pack.

But as Rogers said after her victory over Nara, “I have nothing to lose. I just hope I bring my ‘A’ game. ”

(09/03/15)  Rogers advances to U.S. Open third round
Shelby Rogers has done it again, overpowering another smaller opponent to advance to the third round of the U.S. Open.

This time, it was 5-1, 117-pound Kurumi Nara of Japan, who couldn’t handle Rogers’ thunderous serves and powerful ground strokes as Rogers scored a 6-4, 6-4 victory on Thursday in the second round of the year’s last Grand Slam tennis tournament.

Rogers shot out to 5-3 leads in both sets, then held service in each 10th game, closing out the match with an ace out wide as the bewildered-looking Nara couldn’t get near the high-kicker. That prompted a delayed raised fist by Rogers and a few moments later a hug over the guardrail from her mother, Starley Gabrish.

“It took me a second to react ... I thought the serve might have been a little wide at first,” Rogers said.

“I was a little excited ... my first time reaching the third round of a major.”

The Charleston touring pro nailed six aces and 25 winners to just one ace and 13 winners for Nara.

Many more of Rogers’ serves were near-outright winners. And from the baseline, the 22-year-old powered backhands and forehands to the corners in relentless fashion.

“I had a hard time early in the match, but then I figured out how to win on not my best day. I started serving and playing better. When I’m serving well, I usually play well,” Rogers said.

With her fifth straight victory in New York, qualifier Rogers already has earned $68,600 and collected enough WTA Tour ranking points to advance into the world’s top 130 from her current No. 154 perch.

But another victory won’t be easy to obtain. World’s second-ranked Simona Halep of Romania will be Rogers’ next opponent.

“I get a day off tomorrow and play her (Halep) on Saturday. I’m excited to advance in the tournament and play some of the better players. It’ll be pretty incredible,” Rogers said.

“I have nothing to lose.”

As in her 6-2, 6-2 romp past 5-4 Sachia Vickery on Tuesday in the first round, Rogers jumped out to a quick start with a service break in the first game. Nara broke right back, but after holding service in the third game the quick little Japanese player held service only once more in the first set. And that was after Rogers failed to cash in on her first set point with a 5-3 lead.

In the deciding game of the first set, Rogers roared back from double break point with three huge serves in succession for her second set point. This time, Rogers turned on her patience switch until her opponent finally netted a forehand to end the set.

Rogers came up with the only service break she needed in the second set in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead and held service the rest of the way.

In a first-round doubles match, Family Circle Tennis Center academy player Jessie Pegula and partner Melanie Oudin put on a solid performance, but still suffered a 6-4, 7-6 (5) loss to Chia-Jung Chuang and world’s 14th-ranked singles player Timea Bacsinsky of Switzerland.

(09/02/15)  Public picking up the tab for @volvocarsopen tennis tournament sponsorship
Alt title: Net income: Commerce Department trying to raise money for Volvo’s sponsorship

What do you think?

~ Results as of 09/02/15
Should taxpayer money be used for things like event sponsorships?
17%    Yes, it’s part of luring good business.
78%    No, event sponsorships should not be part of incentive packages offered to businesses.
5%      I have no strong opinion.

The state Commerce Department is working with Volvo Cars to put the automaker’s name on the nation’s largest women’s-only professional tennis tournament, with the agency’s top official trying to raise private money to pay for the sponsorship.

All the money to pay for the sponsorship isn’t in hand, though, and Hitt wants to persuade local business owners to donate funds in what he is calling “a win-win situation” that promotes the entire Lowcountry.

It is not clear whether Volvo will contribute toward paying for the sponsorship.

“We aren’t disclosing any specifics related to this matter,” Volvo spokeswoman Laura Venezia said in an email.

Volvo is building its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Berkeley County, thanks in part to a roughly $200 million incentives package the Commerce Department put together. Most of that state money is paying for infrastructure, such as a new exit on U.S. Interstate 26 near Ridgeville, to help build the $500 million plant that will employ up to 4,000 workers and produce its first car in 2018.

Adrienne Fairwell, a Commerce Department spokeswoman, said it is not yet clear how much money needs to be raised to pay for the sponsorship, which is good for three years with an option for two more. She said no taxpayer dollars will be used for the sponsorship.

Fairwell said the sponsorship was discussed with Volvo officials while the Commerce Department was trying to recruit the automaker to South Carolina.

Hitt hinted that the state would help Volvo “propel their brand” during the automaker’s official announcement of the plant in May.

“I think you will see many things unfold in the weeks and months ahead that will be part of that strategy,” Hitt said in May, referring to the state’s efforts to help market Volvo. “It all doesn’t happen on the first day.”

Volvo sees the tennis sponsorship as a way to reach its target of affluent consumers, and its long history with the sport gives the automaker a direct line to that demographic, said Britt Beemer, a marketing expert and CEO of America’s Research Group in Summerville.

“This is a very smart move for Volvo,” said Beemer, who added that his group’s studies show a strong correlation of people who drive Volvos and watch tennis. “As many as three out of four people who watch tennis on TV are potential Volvo customers.”

According to tournament officials, the Volvo Cars Open will reach more than 90,000 spectators and more than half of those have annual household incomes of more than $100,000.

The tournament, broadcast nationally on the ESPN2 and ESPN3 cable networks, attracts a middle-age — 45 to 68 years old — audience of well-educated people, with nearly 40 percent holding advanced degrees.

“As we are establishing our U.S. manufacturing footprint in the Charleston area, this is an ideal way for us to leverage our presence in the community,” Lex Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Cars North America, said in a statement.

Volvo executives were in Charleston during this year’s tournament, which was played about five weeks before the company picked South Carolina for the new plant.

Volvo also is taking advantage of other public marketing opportunities. For instance, Charleston International Airport has agreed to display some of the automaker’s vehicles in a public area of the state’s busiest airport, an official from the Charleston Regional Development Alliance said last week.

Volvo’s history with professional tennis — sparked in part by former company CEO Pehr Gyllenhammar's enthusiasm for the sport — started in 1973 with a small tournament in New Hampshire called the Volvo International Tennis Tournament. Volvo began producing and sponsoring the Washington, D.C., Volvo Classic tennis tournament in 1975 and the Volvo Tennis Games in Palm Springs, Calif., in 1979. The company also has been sponsor of Grand Prix events in the 1980s, the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Rhode Island and other events.

Family Circle magazine had been the title sponsor since the WTA Tour stop made its debut in 1973 at Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island. Organizers moved the event up the coast to Charleston in 2001, to what is now the Family Circle Tennis Center.

Next year’s tournament will be held April 4-10 on Daniel Island.

Athletic support
Some local examples of government agencies providing public dollars or tax breaks for privately owned sports ventures:

S.C. Stingrays: North Charleston City Council voted in February to give the hockey team up to $250,000 annually over the next two years to help cover the team’s debts. The Stingrays have lost between $400,000 and $700,000 per year since they took the ice in 1993. The team pays the city about $6,000 per game for use of the North Charleston Coliseum.

Charleston Battery: Berkeley County Council last year approved a property tax break on the soccer team’s privately owned MUSC Health Stadium, reducing the annual taxes by $65,000 to about $5,000. A study showed the tax break would help save a business that contributes $3 million to the local economy.

Charleston RiverDogs: The RiverDogs of the Class A South Atlantic League have a lease with the city of Charleston that calls for $25,000 to $35,000 in field supplies per year. The team shares its home field and ballpark with The Citadel.

(09/02/15)  Pegula falls to Cibulkova at U.S. Open
Family Circle Tennis Center academy player Jessica Pegula appeared to have Dominika Cibulkova on the ropes five points from the finish line of Wednesday’s second-round U.S. Open match, but allowed the 2014 Australian Open runner-up to sneak back into the match and finally win it.

Cibulkova recovered from a foot-fault call that gave Pegula double break point to win the 11th game of the second set, then came up with a love service break to even the match at a set each before closing out a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 win over the scrappy 21-year-old Pegula in a televised match.

Charleston touring professional Shelby Rogers’ second-round match against Kurumi Nara of Japan is scheduled for Thursday as the third match on court 13 where play will begin at 11 a.m.

Pegula, ranked No. 260 in the world, scrapped all the way and generally out-hit Cibulkova until Pegula gave the Slovakian new life in the second set.

After getting breaks in Cibulkova's first two service games for a 3-0 lead, Pegula led 5-3 before allowing Cibulkova to deadlock the first set. Pegula then came up with a service break and a service hold to take a set lead over the world’s 50th-ranked player.

Pegula also jumped off to a 3-1 lead in the second set, but the often erratic Cibulkova got her game together to win three straight games for a 4-3 lead.

Pegula held the next two times for a 5-5 deadlock, and appeared to be in control of the second set and match after a foot fault was called on Cibulkova on a second serve that Pegula had returned into the net. That gave Pegula a 40-15 edge, but she wasted both break points as she badly over-hit on a service return and then was passed by Cibulkova.

Cibulkova won the next two points for a 6-5 lead before breaking Pegula to close out the second set.

Cibulkova jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the third set and then swapped service breaks before serving out the match.

Pegula will now team with former Family Circle academy player Melanie Oudin to open doubles play on Thursday against Timea Bacsinsky and Chia-Jung Chuang.

(09/01/15)  Post & Courier: Net income: Commerce Department trying to raise money for Volvo’s sponsorship
The state Commerce Department is working with Volvo Cars to put the automaker’s name on the nation’s largest women’s-only professional tennis tournament, with the agency’s top official trying to raise private money to pay for the sponsorship.

Athletic support

Some local examples of government agencies providing public dollars or tax breaks for privately owned sports ventures:
S.C. Stingrays: North Charleston City Council voted in February to give the hockey team up to $250,000 annually over the next two years to help cover the team’s debts. The Stingrays have lost between $400,000 and $700,000 per year since they took the ice in 1993. The team pays the city about $6,000 per game for use of the North Charleston Coliseum.

Charleston Battery: Berkeley County Council last year approved a property tax break on the soccer team’s privately owned MUSC Health Stadium, reducing the annual taxes by $65,000 to about $5,000. A study showed the tax break would help save a business that contributes $3 million to the local economy.

Charleston RiverDogs: The RiverDogs of the Class A South Atlantic League have a lease with the city of Charleston that calls for $25,000 to $35,000 in field supplies per year. The team shares its home field and ballpark with The Citadel.

Volvo announced its title sponsorship of the Women’s Tennis Association event — formerly known as the Family Circle Cup, now the Volvo Cars Open — on Monday. It’s a move Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt and other state officials hope will boost the company’s name recognition in the Lowcountry and appeal to wealthy American consumers.

What do you think?
Should taxpayer money be used for things like event sponsorships?
15%   Yes, it’s part of luring good business.
79%   No, event sponsorships should not be part of incentive packages offered to businesses.
6%    I have no strong opinion.
All the money to pay for the sponsorship isn’t in hand, though, and Hitt wants to persuade local business owners to donate funds in what he is calling “a win-win situation” that promotes the entire Lowcountry.

It is not clear whether Volvo will contribute toward paying for the sponsorship.

“We aren’t disclosing any specifics related to this matter,” Volvo spokeswoman Laura Venezia said in an email.

Volvo is building its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Berkeley County, thanks in part to a roughly $200 million incentives package the Commerce Department put together. Most of that state money is paying for infrastructure, such as a new exit on U.S. Interstate 26 near Ridgeville, to help build the $500 million plant that will employ up to 4,000 workers and produce its first car in 2018.

Adrienne Fairwell, a Commerce Department spokeswoman, said it is not yet clear how much money needs to be raised to pay for the sponsorship, which is good for three years with an option for two more. She said no taxpayer dollars will be used for the sponsorship.

Fairwell said the sponsorship was discussed with Volvo officials while the Commerce Department was trying to recruit the automaker to South Carolina.

 Hitt hinted that the state would help Volvo “propel their brand” during the automaker’s official announcement of the plant in May.

“I think you will see many things unfold in the weeks and months ahead that will be part of that strategy,” Hitt said in May, referring to the state’s efforts to help market Volvo. “It all doesn’t happen on the first day.”

Volvo sees the tennis sponsorship as a way to reach its target of affluent consumers, and its long history with the sport gives the automaker a direct line to that demographic, said Britt Beemer, a marketing expert and CEO of America’s Research Group in Summerville.

“This is a very smart move for Volvo,” said Beemer, who added that his group’s studies show a strong correlation of people who drive Volvos and watch tennis. “As many as three out of four people who watch tennis on TV are potential Volvo customers.”

According to tournament officials, the Volvo Cars Open will reach more than 90,000 spectators and more than half of those have annual household incomes of more than $100,000.

The tournament, broadcast nationally on the ESPN2 and ESPN3 cable networks, attracts a middle-age — 45 to 68 years old — audience of well-educated people, with nearly 40 percent holding advanced degrees.

 “As we are establishing our U.S. manufacturing footprint in the Charleston area, this is an ideal way for us to leverage our presence in the community,” Lex Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Cars North America, said in a statement.

Volvo executives were in Charleston during this year’s tournament, which was played about five weeks before the company picked South Carolina for the new plant.

Volvo also is taking advantage of other public marketing opportunities. For instance, Charleston International Airport has agreed to display some of the automaker’s vehicles in a public area of the state’s busiest airport, an official from the Charleston Regional Development Alliance said last week.

Volvo’s history with professional tennis — sparked in part by former company CEO Pehr Gyllenhammar’s enthusiasm for the sport — started in 1973 with a small tournament in New Hampshire called the Volvo International Tennis Tournament. Volvo began producing and sponsoring the Washington, D.C., Volvo Classic tennis tournament in 1975 and the Volvo Tennis Games in Palm Springs, Calif., in 1979. The company also has been sponsor of Grand Prix events in the 1980s, the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Rhode Island and other events.

Family Circle magazine had been the title sponsor since the WTA Tour stop made its debut in 1973 at Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island. Organizers moved the event up the coast to Charleston in 2001, to what is now the Family Circle Tennis Center.

Next year’s tournament will be held April 4-10 on Daniel Island.

(09/02/15)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Family Circle Cup tennis tournament renamed Volvo Cars Open
The Family Circle Cup is the second major sporting venue on the island to get a name change in recent weeks. Earlier this summer the Charleston Battery renamed its Daniel Island stadium from Blackbaud Stadium to MUSC Health Stadium. And, on Monday the Meredith Corporation announced a new partnership with Volvo Cars of North America for the Family Circle Cup. In conjunction with Volvo Car’s first American plant in South Carolina’s Berkeley County, the brand will become the title sponsor for the Family Circle Cup, changing the tournament name to the Volvo Cars Open.

In a letter to fans notifying them about the name change, Bob Moran, General Manger and Tournament Director of the Volvo Cars Open, said, “The tournament will continue to be owned and operated by Charleston Tennis Center, LLC, a subsidiary of the Meredith Corporation, publisher of the Family Circle Magazine. The day-to-day operations of the tennis center facility and tournament staff will remain the same.”

A spokesperson said that Charleston Tennis, LLC will continue to operate the facilities and event programs including concerts, community events, and tennis programs. The tennis center will keep the name “Family Circle Tennis Center,” which has over 400 members and over 150 juniors training. All tennis operations will remain the same.

“Family Circle’s commitment to women’s tennis began in 1973, and the tournament continues to be a premiere event on the WTA tour. Our new relationship with Volvo is a great opportunity for both of our companies to build on and celebrate the tournament’s rich history while finding new and exciting ways to expand and grow its reach with our marketing partners,” said Tom Harty, President, National Media Group, Meredith Corporation.

He notes that Volvo’s decision to create its first United States production facility in South Carolina, and to become title sponsor for the event, will “help to ensure that the tournament and facility along with its broad range of programs remain a vital part of the Charleston community both now and for many years to come.”

“It is a great honor to become the title sponsor of this world-class tournament; one that like Volvo Cars, celebrates passion and performance,” said Lex Kerssemakers, President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America. “As we are establishing our U.S. manufacturing footprint in the Charleston area, this is an ideal way for us to leverage our presence in the community.”

The Volvo Cars Open is truly an international event for the Charleston area, with players and fans attending from across the globe. The tournament averages 90,000 attendees each year and reaches more than 10 million television viewers worldwide.

“The title sponsorship change is a natural evolution of our event,” said Moran. “We are an international event with players, fans and viewers from across the globe.  The opportunity for Meredith to partner with a world-class brand like Volvo Cars is a perfect fit.”
Moran noted that Family Circle and Charleston Tennis will continue to market the event to Meredith’s 100 million consumers.

“Volvo is a welcome addition to the tour and the event continues to be a pioneer in women’s professional sports, creating milestones that over the years have directly influenced the popularity of women’s professional tennis,” said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO, WTA. “The tournament has a roster of past champions that include some of the biggest names in the history of women's tennis including Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Steffi Graf, Gabriela Sabatini, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati, Venus Williams, Justine Henin and Serena Williams.”
The Volvo Cars Open will take place April 2 – 10, 2016 on Daniel Island.

Tickets for the 2016 Volvo Cars Open will go on sale Tuesday, September 15, 2015. For more information on tickets, call 800.677.2293.

(09/01/15)  Charleston Regional Business Journal: Family Circle Cup tennis tournament renamed to Volvo Cars Open
The world’s largest women-only tennis tournament has a new name.

Volvo Cars of North America has become the title sponsor of the Family Circle Cup, the Daniel Island tournament that has seen such past champions as Serena and Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Justine Henin and Chris Evert.

The Family Circle Cup tennis tournament on Daniel Island has been renamed the Volvo Cars Open. (Photo/File)The Family Circle Cup tennis tournament on Daniel Island has been renamed the Volvo Cars Open. (Photo/File)

The 2016 Volvo Cars Open is slated for April 2-10. According to the tournament website, the tennis center will remain the Family Circle Tennis Center and tennis operations will remain the same.

Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith Corp., the national media group that publishes Family Circle magazine, announced the change Monday to the tournament, which is a Women’s Tennis Association event.

“Family Circle’s commitment to women’s tennis began in 1973, and the tournament continues to be a premier event on the WTA tour. Our new relationship with Volvo is a great opportunity for both of our companies to build on and celebrate the tournament’s rich history while finding new and exciting ways to expand and grow its reach with our marketing partners,” Tom Harty, president of Meredith Corp.’s national media group, said in a statement.

According to the WTA, Family Circle magazine was previously the longest-running title sponsor in professional tennis. The tournament will continue to be owned and operated by Charleston Tennis LLC, a subsidiary of Meredith Corp., a news release said.

“It is a great honor to become the title sponsor of this world-class tournament; one that, like Volvo Cars, celebrates passion and performance,” Lex Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, said in a statement. “As we are establishing our U.S. manufacturing footprint in the Charleston area, this is an ideal way for us to leverage our presence in the community.”

Volvo plans to build its first American factory in Berkeley County. The company expects the factory to cost $500 million and employ up to 2,000 people over the next decade.

Berkeley County supervisor Bill Peagler said the sponsorship announcement is “another example of the extraordinary commitment Volvo Cars has to continuing the incredible quality of life we enjoy in Berkeley County.”

“Volvo Cars has truly embraced and made a home in Berkeley County — a place to not only work and be successful but also to live and enjoy the amazing activities we offer,” Peagler said in a statement. “Berkeley County is grateful for Volvo Cars’ commitment to our county, our people and this most enjoyable tournament.”

The tournament averages 90,000 attendees each year and reaches more than 10 million television viewers worldwide, according to Meredith Corp. Tickets for the 2016 Volvo Cars Open will go on sale Sept. 15.

(09/01/15)  DOWNTHETEE.COM: The US Open: The Biggest and Baddest Slam
Each year the USTA ups the ante at its flagship Grand Slam, presenting an entertainment extravaganza that acts as an end-of-summer blowout for its millions of loud and loyal fans. During the Open Era, which began in 1968, the tennis governing body has ventured to sate appetites for pomp, firsts, and bigger-is-better agendas.

It built the largest tennis-specific stadium — named for Arthur Ashe — in 1997, which seats 22.5 million per session and accommodates a portion of the 700,000-plus people that enter the gates.

It offers the biggest pot of prize money, too. More than any other major tournament. It was first to pay women the same as men. It was first to introduce the tiebreak format in the final set. And a couple days ago it made media history with the introduction of mid-match player interviews.

It was fittingly inaugurated by American CoCo Vandeweghe. She’d won the first set over compatriot, Sloane Stephens. Out popped ESPN correspondent Pam Shriver. She sat right down next to Coco for a changeover chat.

“What were you most happy with in the first set?” Pam asked Vandeweghe, whose leg jiggled up and down faster than a kid on a trampoline. And, “What do you need to do in the second set to close out the win?”

According to ESPN, the mid-match ‘interview’ could become a trend. Don’t fans want to be closer to their players? That’s the thinking behind the move.

Vandeweghe had been approached by the USTA and ESPN about the interaction before the match. She was game, and thought it might be a good idea and bring fans closer to players.

But what about the distraction? Don’t players ponder bigger and better things during those 90 sacred seconds?

“Well, that was my original thought when I was approached about the idea,” Vandeweghe said. “But, you know, there’s lots of distractions that go on during a tennis match. If you aren’t able to put those distractions aside, then you need to kind of definitely work on that aspect of your game.

“When I was just in the moment. It felt right, so I did it. Maybe another time I’ll be not feeling it as much and I’ll tell Pam to go sit back down, which might be equally as fun.”

Bless those California girls. Flexible and relaxed.

But what happens when a top-tier player says no to the interview, which seemingly will be their prerogative? Will TV step in and reschedule them? Bottom line: TV will win. They pay the bills sit in the command chairs.

Novak Djokovic admitted that he wouldn’t be using it this Open.

Ditto for Serena Williams.

She said in her post-match press conference, “Being a vintage player from Lord know what decade — and I’m old school, so I don’t know it that’s something I would do, per se — but I found it quite interesting. [But] I’m really focused the whole time. I’m really trying to think about what I want to do. I don’t necessarily want to answer questions about anything.”

Gimmicks like this might be another way to inch closer to viewers, in-between their tweets, Instagrams and text messages. But just watch the people in the front row seats of any stadium at Flushing Meadows. How many have their heads buried in a smart phone? Those within feet of Vandeweghe probably missed the historic moment, but others might have caught it on a jumbo-tron around the grounds.

And what about the player who isn’t approached and sits quietly during the 90-second break. Will it disturb them?

“Tennis is so mental,” Mike Saia, Director of Communication for Family Circle Cup from 2006-2012, said in an interview yesterday. “It’s crucial to have this important and long relied upon time window to come up with an effective tactic or plan a major tactical change.”

Saia suggested that the move might provide added entertainment value, but that it probably points more to ESPN’s goal of better ratings. “It’s the tournament’s and tours’ responsibilities to put their world-class athletes’ needs first,” he added.

Baseball, basketball and football have similar mid-game interviews, but journalists don’t talk with players; they talk with coaches. Has the US Open surged ahead of these dominant team sports in a race to be friends with professionals athletes?

Other pressing questions remain about this, what many would call, intrusion. Who gets picked? What about players who struggle with English? They will want to satisfy the organizations that write their paychecks, but do they fit the profile?

“If this becomes the norm, less media-savvy underdogs will face a public speaking situation in front of live global audiences while fighting for their livelihood,” Saia said. “I just think its a lack of respect for the game and a willingness to do whatever ESPN wants to do in its flagship year. This definitely originates with ESPN.”

If the trend continues — if you can even call it that — be prepared for players to repeat canned comments like the ones we hear right as players take to the courts. Comments that reveal nothing and seem empty. However, it will get that ESPN logo out there for all to see.

And just how much money will players bank?

Following in the big-is-better theme, this year total prize money has been increased by 10.5% or $42.3 million USD, making the Open the most lucrative Grand Slam.

By comparison, total prize money at the Australian Open this year was $36.3 million. The French Open handed out $29.5 million. Wimbledon distributed $42.2 million to players, just below the Open’s total money package. (All currency is USD.)

Thus the men’s and women’s singles champions will earn $3.3 million each. On top of that, the winner of the Emirates Airlines US Open Series, a promotional event created by the USTA and ESPN that incorporates eight summer tournaments, will earn an additional million if they win the title.

Karolina Pliskova won the U.S. Open Series, but only will earn $39,500 this year. She lost in her first round match and was seeded No. 8. But Andy Murray could capture that bonus if he hoists the winner’s trophy on September 13. That would be a total payout of $4.3 million!


Can you imagine the smile on Kim Sears’ face, his April bride? One would hope they’d spend a portion of their income in New York City, of course.

All kidding aside, The Open was the first slam to offer women equal pay. Billie Jean King is the one person who worked tirelessly for gender equality in tennis. She was duly honored for her contributions when the USTA name the site, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 2006.

And the tiebreaks the Open introduced in 1970?

Well, the USTA put their heads together and decided players shouldn’t have to spend hour upon hour on court if a tiebreak was introduced. Players could get to the locker rooms and press quicker, and not wait until someone wins a match by two games.

You do remember the 11-hour affair at Wimbledon where John Isner and Nicolas Mahut dragged out a match for over 3 days, Isner finally laying the puppy to bed 70-68 in the fifth? It might have been the match that put Isner on the map, but it’s not going to repeat itself in this town.

People have things to do. Places to go. People to text.

The tie-break-through continues to fit in well with television’s demands and the USTA’s drive to grab viewership. How else would it pay all the bills?

To answer that question, the USTA paved new ground when it signed an 11-year contract earlier this year with ESPN and all its buddy broadcasters: ESPN2, ESPNNews, and ESPN3. The World Wide Leader in Sports will pay the governing body $825 million over the length of the contract and broadcast 130 hours of live tennis its first year.

This deal severed relationships with CBS, which had held the rights for 46 years. You could almost hear people yelling, ‘good riddance.’ No more taped matches, which drove them crazy and definitely lost its punch in the instantaneous world of communications.

Finally, with this Open’s focus on Serena Williams and her quest to make history for self, country and the U.S.T.A., it’s important to note that tickets for the women’s final have sold out whereas the tickets for the men’s final have not sold out.

It’s a first! Take a bow New York.

(09/01/15)  Charleston’s Rogers beats Vickery in first round of U.S. Open
Charleston touring tennis professional Shelby Rogers opened up “lights out” while playing near-flawless and generally excellent tennis in dominating American 20-year-old Sachia Vickery, 6-2, 6-2, on Tuesday night in the first round of the U.S. Open.

In winning her fourth straight match in New York, qualifier Rogers regularly hit winners from both sides in overpowering her smaller 5-4 opponent while showing great patience, power and consistency from the baseline and service line.

Rogers, ranked No. 154 and a first-round winner in a second straight U.S. Open, will play Kurumi Nara of Japan in the second round, probably on Thursday. Nara upset 27th-seeded Alize Cornet of France, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Rogers and Nara have never faced each other.

Meanwhile, Family Circle Tennis Center academy player Jessie Pegula will play her second-round U.S. Open match on Wednesday against 50th-ranked Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia as the third match on show-court No. 5 where play will begin at 11 a.m.

Rogers pulled off service breaks in Vickery’s first two service games and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the match before finally yielding a pair of service holds by her erratic opponent.

“It was a great night ... couldn’t have gone much better,” Rogers said. “I was seeing the ball well and moving well. It was key that I got the early breaks and was always playing from ahead.”

The 22-year-old Rogers was especially excited that she didn’t double fault even once. “My serve saved me a couple of times,” she said.

In the second set, Rogers gave up an early 2-0 lead for 2-2 with her only drop of service in the match, then yielded only one point in the next two games and broke Vickery again in the seventh game while winning the last four games of the match.

Rogers used her big serve to fight off one break point in the eighth game, then closed out the match by holding serve on two backhand errors by Vickery.

(08/31/15)  USTA satellite tennis returns to Charleston
Satellite tennis is returning to the Charleston area after a five-year absence.

The complex has changed names from the Players Club to LTP Tennis, but the clay courts that held the $10,000 Pro Tennis Classic in 2010 will be the site once again when the USTA Pro Circuit’s women’s $10,000 LTP Charleston tournament is held Sept. 29-Oct. 4.

Some of the stars of the previous event here — players such as Shelby Rogers, Lauren Davis and Nicole Gibbs — are playing this week in New York City in the U.S. Open. Andre Agassi even played in a similar event at Creekside Tennis and Swim before that.

Charleston has a longstanding tradition of holding satellite tournaments where fans can get an up-close view of future stars.

A 64-draw qualifying tournament will be held Sept. 27-29, and a pre-qualifying event is scheduled for Sept. 11-13, with an entry deadline of Sept. 9. The pre-qualifying winner will earn a wild card into qualifying.

The main draw will include only 16 players.

The tournament director will be Jerry Albrikes, who also operates the LTP facility.

(08/31/15)  Jessie Pegula wins, Samantha Crawford loses in first round of U.S. Open
Going 1-for-2 isn’t bad when the tournament is a major.

That’s the way tennis coach Michael Joyce sees things after Jessie Pegula’s 7-5, 6-3 upset of 54th-ranked Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium on Monday in the first round of the U.S. Open.

Samantha Crawford, the other half of Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy’s presence in the U.S. Open’s main draw, suffered a 6-4, 6-2 loss to American Irina Falconi.

Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers will begin her fourth U.S. Open on Tuesday against American wild card Sachia Vickery (137) in the fourth match on court No. 6 where play will begin at 11 a.m.

“I’m not surprised in the least Jessie won the match,” said Joyce, who coaches both Pegula and Crawford. “She’s been through a lot with the knee. I’m so proud and happy to see her break through.”

Pegula has climbed more than 500 places in the world rankings this year to a current No. 260 after playing only two matches in 2014 due to a knee injury. Monday’s win will push her well inside the top 200.

“Jessie played a solid match. She stuck to her game plan. The other girl served really well most of the match so it was key Jessie took care of her service games. Jessie plays better against higher ranked opponents. Her game matches up well to the top 100 players.”

Pegula’s second-round opponent will be hard-hitting 50th-ranked Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, last year’s Australia Open runner-up.

Pegula broke through in the first set by taking advantage of a double fault by Van Uytvanck to gain a second break point, and then cracked a big cross-court forehand service return deep into the court. Pegula then held service to close out the set. She got another break in the fifth game of the second set and then ended the 84-minute match with a service break.

(08/31/15)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Family Circle Cup becomes Volvo Cars Open
The Family Circle Cup started as a pioneering women’s tennis tournament on Hilton Head Island in 1973. Champions have included icons of the sport — Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and both Williams sisters.

For years, everyone associated with the tournament has made the most of its distinction as the longest-running event tied to the same sponsor in professional tennis. But change to the Volvo Cars Open is good, tournament officials say. The largest women’s-only event on the WTA tour, played on Daniel Island since 2001, will give way to new title sponsorship starting with the April 2016 event. Tournament director Bob Moran officially announced the move Monday at the U.S. Open in New York.

“My whole team is very cognizant of our 43 years of history,” Moran told The Post and Courier. “It’s also our responsibility to keep it moving along and growing. As we recognize 43 years of great history, we also see a great future with Volvo being involved.”

Swedish-based luxury automaker Volvo announced in May it will open its first North American plant in Berkeley County sometime in 2018.

The Meredith Corp., a major media company with offices in Iowa and New York, will maintain controlling interest in the tournament and the Family Circle Tennis Center.

The contract with Volvo is for three years, with an option for two more years.

“Family Circle’s commitment to women’s tennis began in 1973, and the tournament continues to be a premiere event on the WTA tour. Our new relationship with Volvo is a great opportunity for both of our companies to build on and celebrate the tournament’s rich history while finding new and exciting ways to expand and grow its reach with our marketing partners,” said Tom Harty, president of Meredith’s National Media Group.

Though Volvo and Meredith declined to discuss specifics, Volvo gives the tournament a financial boost, local profile and short-term security as the star-starved WTA hopes for new marquee players to come somewhat close to matching interest in top Family Circle Cup participants of the past. The list includes Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova.

“There will really be no changes to ownership, operation or leadership,” Moran said. “This is simply a title sponsorship change. It’s part of the process for Volvo here and it’s a good move for them as they’re starting to build their facilities.

“For the greater good of the tournament, this makes total sense.”

A $500 million Volvo facility near Ridgeville could employ as many as 4,000 workers. A state incentive package is worth $200 million, including new infrastructure.

“It is a great honor to become the title sponsor of this world-class tournament; one that like Volvo Cars, celebrates passion and performance,” said Lex Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America. “As we are establishing our U.S. manufacturing footprint in the Charleston area, this is an ideal way for us to leverage our presence in the community.”

Tournament prize money goes up from $731,000 in 2015 to $752,000 in 2016 with similar increases anticipated during the Volvo deal, Moran said.

No. 1-ranked Serena Williams, 33, is a three-time Family Circle Cup winner but skipped the event last April to fit other stops into her adjusted busy schedule. Germany’s Angelique Kerber defeated American Madison Keys in the 2015 final.

Other Family Circle Cup champions since the event moved to Charleston include Jennifer Capriati, Venus Williams, Justine Henin, Samantha Stosur and Caroline Wozniacki.

Attendance for the 2015 Family Circle Cup was 86,176, slightly less than the 87,997 for 2014. The tournament has averaged 82,786 fans during its 15 years in Charleston, with a high of 95,767 in 2010.

The final and other selected matches are telecast on ESPN2 over the four days of the tournament.

(08/31/15)  WCBD-TV: Family Circle Cup announces new title sponsor
Meredith Corporation has unveiled an exciting, new partnership with Volvo Cars of North America for the Family Circle Cup, the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in the world. In conjunction with Volvo Car’s first American plant in South Carolina’s Berkeley County, the brand will become the title sponsor for the Family Circle Cup, changing its name to the Volvo Cars Open.

“Family Circle’s commitment to women’s tennis began in 1973, and the tournament continues to be a premiere event on the WTA tour. Our new relationship with Volvo is a great opportunity for both of our companies to build on and celebrate the tournament’s rich history while finding new and exciting ways to expand and grow its reach with our marketing partners,” said Tom Harty, President, National Media Group, Meredith Corporation.

He notes that Volvo’s decision to create its first United States production facility in South Carolina, and to become title sponsor for the event, will “help to ensure that the tournament and facility along with its broad range of programs remain a vital part of the Charleston community both now and for many years to come.”

The tournament aligns with Volvo’s core mission and target market. The luxury-car brand has been built up over decades, and is one of the world’s best known and respected companies within the vehicle industry. Volvo has also been involved in tennis historically in the past.

“It is a great honor to become the title sponsor of this world-class tournament; one that like Volvo Cars, celebrates passion and performance,” said Lex Kerssemakers, President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America. “As we are establishing our U.S. manufacturing footprint in the Charleston area, this is an ideal way for us to leverage our presence in the community.”

The Volvo Cars Open is truly an international event for the Charleston area, with players and fans attending from across the globe. The tournament averages 90,000 attendees each year and reaches more than 10 million television viewers worldwide.

“The title sponsorship change is a natural evolution of our event,” said Bob Moran, General Manger and Tournament Director of the Volvo Cars Open. “We are an international event with players, fans and viewers from across the globe.   The opportunity for Meredith to partner with a world-class brand like Volvo Cars is a perfect fit.”

Moran notes that Family Circle and Charleston Tennis will continue to market the event to Meredith’s 100 million consumers. The tournament will continue to be owned and operated by Charleston Tennis, LLC, a subsidiary of Meredith Corporation, publisher of Family Circle.

“Volvo is a welcome addition to the tour and the event continues to be a pioneer in women’s professional sports, creating milestones that over the years have directly influenced the popularity of women’s professional tennis,” said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO, WTA. “The tournament has a roster of past champions that include some of the biggest names in the history of women’s tennis including Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Steffi Graf, Gabriela Sabatini, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati, Venus Williams, Justine Henin and Serena Williams.”

The Volvo Cars Open will take place April 2 – 10, 2016 on Daniel Island.

Tickets for the 2016 Volvo Cars Open will go on sale Tuesday, September 15, 2015. For more information on tickets, call 800.677.2293.

Berkeley County Issues Statement on Volvo Cars Open Announcement:
Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler issued the following statement following the announcement that Volvo Cars of North America will now be the title sponsor of the Family Circle Cup Tennis Tournament on Daniel Island in Berkeley County:

“Today’s announcement is another example of the extraordinary commitment Volvo Cars has to continuing the incredible quality of life we enjoy in Berkeley County. Volvo Cars has truly embraced and made a home in Berkeley County – a place to not only work and be successful but also to live and enjoy the amazing activities we offer. Berkeley County is grateful for Volvo Cars’ commitment to our county, our people and this most enjoyable tournament.”

(08/31/15)  PR NEWSWIRE: Meredith Corporation Unveils New Title Sponsor For The Family Circle Cup
Volvo Cars of North America to become title sponsor of the Volvo Cars Open

NEW YORK and DANIEL ISLAND, S.C., Aug. 31, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Meredith Corporation (NYSE: MDP) (www.meredith.com) unveiled today an exciting, new partnership with Volvo Cars of North America for the Family Circle Cup, the largest women's-only tennis tournament in the world. In conjunction with Volvo Car's first American plant in South Carolina's Berkeley County, the brand will become the title sponsor for the Family Circle Cup, changing its name to the Volvo Cars Open.
From left to right: Chairman and CEO Steve Lacy and Chief Marketing Officer Nancy Weber of Meredith Corporation joined Bodil Eriksson, VP of Marketing and Lex Kerssemakers, CEO Volvo Cars of North America at the U.S. Open to announce the Volvo Cars Open, a Family Circle Event partnership.

"Family Circle's commitment to women's tennis began in 1973, and the tournament continues to be a premiere event on the WTA tour. Our new relationship with Volvo is a great opportunity for both of our companies to build on and celebrate the tournament's rich history while finding new and exciting ways to expand and grow its reach with our marketing partners," said Tom Harty, President, National Media Group, Meredith Corporation.

He notes that Volvo's decision to create its first United States production facility in South Carolina, and to become title sponsor for the event, will "help to ensure that the tournament and facility along with its broad range of programs remain a vital part of the Charleston community both now and for many years to come."

The tournament aligns with Volvo's core mission and target market. The luxury-car brand has been built up over decades, and is one of the world's best known and respected companies within the vehicle industry. Volvo has also been involved in tennis historically in the past.

"It is a great honor to become the title sponsor of this world-class tournament; one that like Volvo Cars, celebrates passion and performance," said Lex Kerssemakers, President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America. "As we are establishing our U.S. manufacturing footprint in the Charleston area, this is an ideal way for us to leverage our presence in the community."

The Volvo Cars Open is truly an international event for the Charleston area, with players and fans attending from across the globe. The tournament averages 90,000 attendees each year and reaches more than 10 million television viewers worldwide.

"The title sponsorship change is a natural evolution of our event," said Bob Moran, General Manger and Tournament Director of the Volvo Cars Open. "We are an international event with players, fans and viewers from across the globe.   The opportunity for Meredith to partner with a world-class brand like Volvo Cars is a perfect fit."

Moran notes that Family Circle and Charleston Tennis will continue to market the event to Meredith's 100 million consumers. The tournament will continue to be owned and operated by Charleston Tennis, LLC, a subsidiary of Meredith Corporation, publisher of Family Circle. 

"Volvo is a welcome addition to the tour and the event continues to be a pioneer in women's professional sports, creating milestones that over the years have directly influenced the popularity of women's professional tennis," said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO, WTA. "The tournament has a roster of past champions that include some of the biggest names in the history of women's tennis including Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Steffi Graf, Gabriela Sabatini, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati, Venus Williams, Justine Henin and Serena Williams."

The Volvo Cars Open will take place April 2 – 10, 2016 on Daniel Island.

Tickets for the 2016 Volvo Cars Open will go on sale Tuesday, September 15, 2015. For more information on tickets, call 800.677.2293.

Volvo Cars of North America, LLC, (www.volvocars.com/us) is a subsidiary of Volvo Car Group of Gothenburg, Sweden. VCNA provides marketing, sales, parts, service, technology and training support to Volvo automobile retailers in the United States. For more information please refer to the VCNA media website at: http://www.media.volvocars.com/us.

Meredith Corporation (NYSE: MDP; www.meredith.com) has been committed to service journalism for more than 110 years. Today, Meredith uses multiple distribution platforms - including broadcast television, print, digital, mobile, tablets and video - to provide consumers with content they desire and to deliver the messages of its advertising and marketing partners.

Meredith's National Media Group reaches a multi-channel audience of 220 million consumers monthly, including more than 100 million unduplicated American women and over 60 percent of U.S. Millennial women. Meredith is the leader in creating content across media platforms in key consumer interest areas such as food, home, parenthood and health through well-known brands such as Better Homes and Gardens, Parents, Shape and Allrecipes. The National Media Group features robust brand licensing activities, including more than 3,000 SKUs of branded products at 4,000 Walmart stores across the U.S. Meredith Xcelerated Marketing is a leader at developing and delivering custom content and customer relationship marketing programs for many of the world's top brands, including Kraft, Lowe's and Chrysler.

Meredith's Local Media Group includes 17 owned or operated television stations reaching 11 percent of U.S. households. Meredith's portfolio is concentrated in large, fast-growing markets, with seven stations in the nation's Top 25 - including Atlanta, Phoenix, St. Louis and Portland - and 13 in Top 50 markets. Meredith's stations produce approximately 650 hours of local news and entertainment content each week, and operate leading local digital destinations.

For more information on the Volvo Cars Open, call (800) 677-2293, email info@volvocarsopen.com, visit http://www.VolvoCarsOpen.com, Facebook (Volvo Cars Open), Twitter (@VolvoCarsOpen) or Instagram (VolvoCarsOpen).

For further information: Arielle Alpino, 757-810-3301, arielle@obviouslee.com; or Patrick Taylor, Meredith Corp., 917/653-4785, Patrick.Taylor@meredith.com; or Meghan Heide, Meredith Corp., 212/551-7072, Meghan.Heide@meredith.com; or Laura Venezia, Volvo Cars of North America, 201/245-8426, Laura.Venezia@volvocars.com

(08/31/15)  DAVID WREN: Commerce steers campaign to fund Volvo sponsorship
The state Commerce Department is working with Volvo Cars to put the automaker’s name on the nation’s largest women’s-only professional tennis tournament, with the agency’s top official trying to raise private money to pay for the sponsorship.

Volvo announced its title sponsorship of the Women’s Tennis Association event — formerly known as the Family Circle Cup, now the Volvo Cars Open — on Monday. It’s a move Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt and other state officials hope will boost the company’s name recognition in the Lowcountry and appeal to wealthy American consumers.

All the money to pay for the sponsorship isn’t in hand, though, and Hitt wants to persuade local business owners to donate funds in what he is calling “a win-win situation” that promotes the entire Lowcountry.

It is not clear whether Volvo will contribute toward paying for the sponsorship.

“We aren’t disclosing any specifics related to this matter,” Volvo spokeswoman Laura Venezia said in an email.

Volvo is building its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Berkeley County, thanks in part to a roughly $200 million incentives package the Commerce Department put together. Most of that state money is paying for infrastructure, such as a new exit on U.S. Interstate 26 near Ridgeville, to help build the $500 million plant that will employ up to 4,000 workers and produce its first car in 2018.

Adrienne Fairwell, a Commerce Department spokeswoman, said it is not yet clear how much money needs to be raised to pay for the sponsorship, which is good for three years with an option for two more. She said no taxpayer dollars will be used for the sponsorship.

Fairwell said the sponsorship was discussed with Volvo officials while the Commerce Department was trying to recruit the automaker to South Carolina.

Hitt hinted that the state would help Volvo “propel their brand” during the automaker’s official announcement of the plant in May.

“I think you will see many things unfold in the weeks and months ahead that will be part of that strategy,” Hitt said in May, referring to the state’s efforts to help market Volvo. “It all doesn’t happen on the first day.”

Volvo sees the tennis sponsorship as a way to reach its target of affluent consumers, and its long history with the sport gives the automaker a direct line to that demographic, said Britt Beemer, a marketing expert and CEO of America’s Research Group in Summerville.

“This is a very smart move for Volvo,” said Beemer, who added that his group’s studies show a strong correlation of people who drive Volvos and watch tennis. “As many as three out of four people who watch tennis on TV are potential Volvo customers.”

According to tournament officials, the Volvo Cars Open will reach more than 90,000 spectators and more than half of those have annual household incomes of more than $100,000.

The tournament, broadcast nationally on the ESPN2 and ESPN3 cable networks, attracts a middle-age — 45 to 68 years old — audience of well-educated people, with nearly 40 percent holding advanced degrees.

“As we are establishing our U.S. manufacturing footprint in the Charleston area, this is an ideal way for us to leverage our presence in the community,” Lex Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Cars North America, said in a statement.

Volvo executives were in Charleston during this year’s tournament, which was played about five weeks before the company picked South Carolina for the new plant.

Volvo also is taking advantage of other public marketing opportunities. For instance, Charleston International Airport has agreed to display some of the automaker’s vehicles in a public area of the state’s busiest airport, an official from the Charleston Regional Development Alliance said last week.

Volvo’s history with professional tennis — sparked in part by former company CEO Pehr Gyllenhammar’s enthusiasm for the sport — started in 1973 with a small tournament in New Hampshire called the Volvo International Tennis Tournament. Volvo began producing and sponsoring the Washington, D.C., Volvo Classic tennis tournament in 1975 and the Volvo Tennis Games in Palm Springs, Calif., in 1979. The company also has been sponsor of Grand Prix events in the 1980s, the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Rhode Island and other events.

Family Circle magazine had been the title sponsor since the WTA Tour stop made its debut in 1973 at Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island. Organizers moved the event up the coast to Charleston in 2001, to what is now the Family Circle Tennis Center.

(08/31/15)  JOHN McDERMOTT: Volvo to become title sponsor at Charleston’s Family Circle Cup, sources say
Family Circle Cup organizers are expected to announce that carmaker Volvo will become the title sponsor for the professional women’s tennis tournament held each spring on Daniel Island, The Post and Courier has learned.

Details are expected to be announced this week, perhaps as early as Monday afternoon.

Family Circle magazine has been the title sponsor since the WTA Tour stop made its debut in 1973 at Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island.

Organizers moved the event up the coast to Charleston in 2001, to what is now the Family Circle Tennis Center.

The naming rights deal with Volvo has been kept under tight wraps.

A spokesman for the Swedish carmaker, which in May announced plans to build a $500 million plant that could bring up to 4,000 jobs to Berkeley County, did not did not respond to a request for comment last week.

A Family Circle Cup representative could not be reached.

Berkeley County had no comment, said Tim Callanan, deputy supervisor.

Volvo executives were in Charleston during the April tournament, which was played about five weeks before picking the Charleston area for the new plant, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The carmaker is midway through a global transformation that involves the complete remake of its vehicle lineup.

It plans to build its first North American plant off Interstate 26, near Ridgeville. The company’s goal is to nearly double its U.S. sales to more than 100,000 vehicles annually after the first cars roll out of the South Carolina factory in 2018.

As part of that growth plan, the carmaker is looking for ways to showcase and promote its brand.

For instance, Charleston International Airport has agreed to display some of the automaker’s vehicles in a public area of the state’s busiest airport, an official from the Charleston Regional Development Alliance told that group’s financial supporters Thursday.

It was unclear whether the Family Circle name will remain on the Daniel Island tennis center, a public facility owned by the city of Charleston. A city spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

(08/31/15)  Shelby Rogers, Jessica Pegula hope to build on momentum at U.S. Open
Shelby Rogers and Jessica Pegula could have an advantage in momentum when they begin play this week in the singles main draw of tennis’ U.S. Open after fighting through three matches each in last week’s qualifying tournament in New York.

Samantha Crawford, Charleston’s other player in the main draw, won’t have that momentum when she begins play on Monday as a wild card. But the 20-year-old Crawford experienced a similar advantage in 2012 when after capturing the U.S. Open junior championship, she won three more matches in the U.S. Open qualifying tournament to claim a spot in the main draw of the Grand Slam event.

“Shelby has three matches under her belt that should help her confidence. Jessie also played three good matches, and that should give her momentum,” said former Maria Sharapova coach Michael Joyce, who now coaches Pegula and Crawford at Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy.

Pegula (No. 257) will begin play in the U.S. Open at 11 a.m. Monday on court No. 7 against Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium (54), while Crawford (220) will take on American Irina Falconi (72) in the third match on court 11 where play will begin at 11 a.m.

Rogers (154) should begin her fourth U.S. Open on Tuesday against young American wild card Sachia Vickery (137).

The 21-year-old Pegula also received a main draw doubles wild card with former Family Circle academy player Melanie Oudin. Pegula and Crawford train year-around here, while local native Rogers trains at Marc Lucero’s camp in Carson, Calif., after playing out of Family Circle in 2014.

(08/29/15)  Lowcountry loaded with state tennis title contenders
One state championship-caliber team for an area is special. But three? Or maybe four?

That’s just what local high school tennis fans have to look forward to in the current girls season. Porter-Gaud and Bishop England are strong again, perhaps even better than a year ago when the Cyclones won SCISA’s Class AAA state crown and the Bishops walked off with the SCHSL Class AA title for the fourth straight season.

And talking about walking into a gold mine, Michigan transplant Eric Praedel has inherited virtually the complete team that took Wando all the way to the SCHSL Class AAAA state final last fall.

Lauren Quinn, Lily Conant and Morgan Mitchell were only freshmen last year when they played the top three positions at Wando for then coach Leigha Jakious, and Nos. 4 and 5 Kat Lyman and Penelope Hayes were just eighth-graders.

In addition to the Warriors returning all five singles starters, 12-and-under junior standout Shianna Guo has joined the team along with Ashley Hall transfer Skat Bailey. Other potential future stars are Meredith Berly, Tyler Kirk and Sophie Moore.

“We have an enormous amount of individual talent ... that is without question,” said Praedel, a Wando teacher who had three years of varsity experience in Michigan before arriving in the Charleston area at the first of this year.

After pulling off a double-state championship last school year (girls and boys titles) and recently becoming a mother (twins, a girl and a boy), BE coach Kristin Fleming Arnold may be set for an encore on the courts. The Bishops are loaded with their top five players back.

Junior No. 1 Jenna Vroman is a budding star for the Bishops. And Nos. 2-4 Camryn Deames (junior), Gabrielle Dacuba (senior) and Drue Ranson (junior) are all solid performers, all with multiple state titles already. Junior Mary Kollyn Lewis is back at No. 5.

The Bishops also have a strong group of newcomers — freshman Crista Vroman (Jenna’s sister), seventh-grader Lilly Woods and freshman Emily Elliott.

While it appears that Wando and Bishop England will be fighting it out for area supremacy, Porter-Gaud always can rely on the star power of junior Ann Martin Skelly, the two-time Lowcountry player of the year, and a group that includes sophomore Rebecca Kahn and seventh-grader MacKenzie Davis, last year’s Nos. 3 and 4 players.

Third-year Porter-Gaud coach Charlotte Hartsock also will rely heavily on promising sixth-grader Sophie Williams, and eighth-graders Ellie Walter and Lindsey Prus.

Playing without Skelly and Williams, the Cyclones already have suffered a loss to SCISA member Heathwood Hall, which also defeated the Cyclones early last season.

“We are going to try our best to repeat (as state champions). We have a nice team,” Hartsock said.

But don’t forget about Ashley Hall, which defeated the Cyclones twice in the regular season last fall only to suffer a 5-4 loss to P-G in the state final.

In her 30th year as Ashley Hall’s coach, Mary Gastley has a darkhorse that is fully capable of developing into a state champion. The Panthers not only have ace No. 1 freshman Michaela Cuoco and three other starters back, they are joined by freshman Rebecca Spratt, a standout from the junior ranks who likely will play No. 2 this fall.

Returning Nos. 3-5 junior Linsey Yarbrough, senior Gyles Laney and senior McCrae Nistad will help make the Panthers a threat again, while 2014 No. 2 Ana-Lei Kawale has departed.

Sophomore Hannah Reuther has moved up as a starter at No. 6, while other returnees include senior Courtney Schnoor and sophomore Addison Propes. Newcomers Anna Bitter (sophomore), Carter Bitter (junior) and Sarah St. Laurent (junior) should add depth.

Summerville should be a factor in SCHSL 8-AAAA with seven of its top eight players back and being picked to challenge Bluffton in the region. The Green Wave’s top three players (Sullivan Long, Paige Reynolds and Lizzie Naval ) are all freshmen and three-year starters.

“I am very fortunate to have nearly all year-around players, and that has not been the case in prior years at Summerville,” coach David Long said.

Academic Magnet has a good group of returnees, led by seniors Mary Geer Kirkland and Katherine Hulsey, but the Raptors usually play second fiddle to Bishop England in Class AA tennis.

(08/29/15)  Pegula's weapons, mature game, perseverance pay off
Jessica Pegula is a rarity in today's women's tennis. She's powerful, but yet nimble and crafty in her game.

She can hit with the best, then change gears on a dime.

She has what her coach — former Maria Sharapova coach Michael Joyce — calls “easy power ... a great weapon to have.”

At 21 years old, Pegula has what might be called “a mature game” that's embedded in her “all the weapons” game.

She is a survivor, overcoming a year off the WTA Tour with a knee injury that required surgery. She's a fighter.

And, yes, this is Jessie Pegula, the daughter of the billionaire owner of the Buffalo Sabres and Bills (Terry Pegula).

She's definitely not in it for the money.

She has trained long hours the last year in Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy under the watchful eye of Joyce, traveled the globe to play in small tournaments and then attempted to qualify for the majors. She came within one win of qualifying at both the French Open and Wimbledon, dropping three 7-5 sets in two losses.

All of the experience of coming back from the brink of seeing the possible end of her tennis career, to those close losses in the last two majors' qualifying, made Pegula a better and more complete player.

And finally, on Friday in New York on American tennis' grandest stage, the perseverance paid off. The easy-going, likable young woman appeared to be back to where she was two years ago (then ranked No. 123 in the world while still a teenager) when she took the tumble at Wimbledon (2013) that injured her right knee and resulted in surgery in April 2014. That cost her a year of her tennis life (in 2014, she played only two matches at Hilton Head Island).

Pegula booked a spot for Monday in the U.S. Open's main draw with Friday's win in the last round of qualifying. Charleston's own Shelby Rogers also earned a spot in the main draw, but will not play on Monday.

“I would be disappointed if Jessie didn't make the top 50,” Joyce said Saturday morning from New York. “I think there's a good chance that by Charleston (Family Circle) next year she could be in the top 100.”

Meanwhile, Pegula's current No. 257 ranking (she started the year at No. 775) is projected to jump approximately 35 places as the result of her three wins in New York. And, of course, with a win over 54th-ranked Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium in the main draw first round, she would climb higher.

Joyce, who will pull double duty on Monday with fellow Family Circle academy player Samantha Crawford also on the opening-day card against American Irina Falconi, likes Pegula's chances in the first round. “Most of her (Van Uytvanck's WTA ranking) points have come on clay,” he said.

“Jessie tends to do better in big tournaments, just like in the second round (a one-sided win over qualifying top seed and world's 71st-ranked Margarita Gasparyan of Russia).”

The game changed while Pegula was away. The women grew bigger and more powerful. “The players hit the ball so hard now,” Joyce said.

“Some girls might win challenger events, but then when they move up in the rankings they don't match up with the better players.” That plays right into Pegula's crafty, but powerful game.

“The sky's the limit (for Pegula) ... just how badly she wants it ... and just staying healthy is the big thing.

“It's pretty amazing to have both Jessie and Sam in the main draw. They earned their way.”

Pegula and Crawford learned Friday they have received a wild card into the U.S. Open's doubles draw.

“One thing I like about Jessie is her attitude,” Joyce said. “When Sam came through in Lexington (Ky.) to earn her wild card, Jessie was so proud and happy about it. I think that probably motivated Jessie a little.”

(08/29/15)  ISLAND PACKET: Smith Stearns product Jessica Pegula qualifies for US Open
Jessica Pegula always wanted to play pro tennis, especially the U.S. Open, according to Kelley Stearns.

The former Smith Stearns Academy trainee turned pro in 2009. On Friday, she achieved the U.S. Open part of her goal.

Pegula defeated Melanie Oudin 7-6 (8), 6-0 in the third and final round of qualifying to earn a spot in the main draw. She'll face Alison Van Uytvanck in the first round. Play starts Monday.

If she wins, she would face seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovich or Dominika Cibulkova in the second round.

Pegula didn't have an easy path to the main draw. On Tuesday, she needed three sets to defeat Japan's Shuko Aoyama 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.

Then, on Thursday, she upset top-seeded Margarita Gasparyan of Russia, 6-3, 6-3.

After moving to Hilton Head from Pittsburgh with her family when she was 7, Pegula trained for seven years at Smith Stearns as a junior. Billy Stearns was her coach.

After turning professional, Pegula moved to Boca Raton, Fla., though her family still has a home on the island.

Pegula's father is natural gas tycoon Terry Pegula, who owns the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and the NFL's Buffalo Bills.

Though she is based out of Florida, Pegula sometimes trains in Charleston with her coach, Michael Joyce, who formerly coached Maria Sharapova.

Pegula received a wild card into the U.S. Open qualifying tournament.

In April, she reached the third round of the WTA Family Circle Cup in Charleston, losing to Jelena Jankovic.

In 2011, Pegula was awarded a doubles wild card into the U.S. Open and paired with Taylor Townsend.

They reached the third round. She reached the second round with Madison Keys in 2012.

Pegula, who has a 120-86 singles record and has three ITF singles titles to her name, is ranked 257th in the world.

Another player with a local tie is in the main draw, as well.

Former Van Der Meer student Allison Riske will play Eugenie Bouchard in the first round.

If Riske and Pegula should each win two matches, they would face each other in the third round.

(08/28/15)  Times Leader: My Corner, Your Corner: Tony Callaio: Reflecting on time spent with a living legend
Today is a special day for Arthur Worth Collins Jr.

Arthur is not a Greater Pittstonian and, to my knowledge, he’s never set foot in northeastern Pennsylvania. But he is known to millions of people all over the world.

He is an American journalist, broadcasting pioneer, author of several books, and has been inducted in not one, but two Halls of Fame – the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame and the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I’m speaking of none other than Bud Collins.

Bud Collins may not be a household name, but in the Boston area where he has written for the Boston Herald, mainly the Boston Globe, is best known for his work in the professional tennis world globally.

Bud, who turned 86 years young in June, is receiving a great honor today in Flushing, New York, the site of the U.S. Tennis Open, as the United States Tennis Association (USTA) will honor him by naming the media center after him. From now on, the media center will be known as the “Bud Collins U.S. Open Media Center.” That’s quite an honor.

For several years, I had the privilege of working at a women’s professional tennis tournament in Charleston, South Carolina, called The Family Circle Cup where I wrote, photographed, escorted pro tennis players to appearances, handled center court video coverage and other duties over an 11-day period each spring.

In 2008, Bud was hired by the event to be the master of ceremonies for the week-long tournament. The tournament was host to top world-class players like Maria Sharapova, Venus and Serena Williams and Carolina Wozniacki. I had the honor of being Bud’s handler for the entire week — meaning I worked side-by-side him every day.

I only knew Bud as the guy on TV, the guy with the extremely loud pants made from crazy prints that became one of his signatures. At times, I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. After all, I was with a legend not only in the sport of tennis, but in the world of broadcast and print journalism.

Bud’s knowledge of sports, tennis in particular, was astounding. His mind was sharp as a tack and his delivery was unique. He has written six books on tennis including, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis,” a copy of which he personalized for me. I was thrilled.

Anita, Bud’s third wife (his first two wives died of cancer) is an absolute delight and quite the accomplished photographer. She’s part Italian, so between photography, tennis and our heritage, we had a lot to talk about. She recalled having “polenta on the board” which cornmeal-based Italian tradition that my mother also prepared for us many years ago.

The first thing I noted about Bud was that he graduated high school in 1947, the same year as my dad. They also were one month apart in age. While together, Bud and I shared tennis stories and opinions. But we shared one other thing — we are both victims of prostate cancer. Even though Bud is a public figure, I never knew he had cancer. It took me by surprise. I can recall the conversation vividly when I shuttled him in a golf cart to his next appearance in Charleston.

Between the cancer, the proximity in age with my late dad and tennis, I felt a bond with Bud Collins. We both spoke of our experience with the dreaded disease and how it seems to be on the rise. Testing is being done more vigorously now than ever before. The cancer is caught earlier and being treated with high success rates of survival.

Even though today is a special day for Bud at the U.S. Open, it’s sort of bittersweet to go back to Flushing. A few years back, Bud took a terrible tumble there and suffered a nasty injury to his leg, requiring multiple surgeries, many weeks in the hospital and a career slow-down. His stepdaughter Danielle tells me Bud is still as sharp and witty as ever. That’s a good thing.

I’m glad to see Bud’s day in the sun at the Open. Even though he’s been the recipient of many honors and accolades, something tells me the naming of the media center will top the cake.

Congrats, Bud, and thank you for the special time I spent with you and Anita in Charleston.

(08/28/15)  Shelby Rogers battles her way into main draw of U.S. Open
Shelby Rogers is headed back to the U.S. Open’s main draw for the fourth time, advancing through the Grand Slam event’s qualifying tournament this time.

The 22-year-old touring tennis professional from Charleston fought off everything 15th-seeded Russian Alla Kudryavtseva could throw her way on Friday in the final round of qualifying to claim a 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory that puts Rogers in the main draw.

Charleston now will have three connections in next week’s main draw as Jessie Pegula became the second Family Circle Tennis Center academy player to earn a berth in the main draw with a 7-6 (8), 6-0 win over fellow academy player Melanie Oudin on Friday.

Samantha Crawford earned a wild card into the main draw earlier this month. Pegula and Crawford both have trained at Family Circle Tennis Center for the past year.

This was a huge victory for Rogers, who was playing only her second tournament after being sidelined for two months while rehabilitating a knee injury. She has seen her world ranking drop from No. 70 to No. 154.

“It’s nice to be back on the court and fighting. I worked hard to come back, and now I’ve got a little confidence back,” Rogers said.

Of course, there was more at stake than just making the main draw. Rogers will earn $39,500 for advancing to the main draw, whereas a third-round qualifying loser will receive only $15,000.

Rogers rallied after dropping the first set to the 119th-ranked Kudryavtseva, who served four aces and won 12 of the 13 first serves she put into play. But Rogers won the last four games of the second set to even the match.

In the third set, Rogers fought off two break points in the seventh game, then held service in the long ninth game to force Kudryavtseva to have to serve to stay in the match. Rogers rallied from a 40-love deficit and cashed in on her second match point when Kudryavtseva netted a forehand.

“I settled down in the second set and got more of her serves back into play, and got some momentum,” Rogers said.

(08/26/15)  STAFF REPORTS: Charleston’s Shelby Rogers wins U.S. Open qualifying match
Charleston touring tennis professional Shelby Rogers scored a 6-4, 6-3 victory over young American rival Grace Min on Tuesday in the opening round of the qualifying tournament for next week’s U.S. Open.

Rogers, ranked No. 154, will oppose Mandy Minella of Luxembourg in the second round of qualifying’s three rounds. It was the second consecutive straight-set win for Rogers over Min.

Charleston resident Jessica Pegula also advanced to the second round with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 win over Shuko Aoyama of Japan. Pegula has trained for the last year at Charleston Tennis Center, where first-round winner Melanie Oudin also currently trains.

Family Circle Tennis Center academy player Samantha Crawford qualified earlier this month for a berth in the main draw of the U.S. Open.

(08/24/15)  PREP ZONE: Girls Tennis
Singles: Arianna Brum d. Macey Burges 6-3, 6-7. Camren Tedder d. Natalie Blatnet 6-1, 6-1. Misty Burges d. Anna Morris 6-4, 6-0.Katelyn Schmedeke d. Logan Ponce 6-4, 7-5.Abigayle Ashabraner d. Katie O’Sullivan 6-1, 6-4.  Doubles: McCutchen/Gianelli d. Gunther/Taylor Sparling 6-2, 6-4.

Singles: O’Connell d. Walter 6-1, 6-2. Breland d. Riser 6-0, 6-2. Becker d. Sumners 6-1, 6-0. Bozard d. Friarson 6-0, 6-0. Myers d. Williams 6-0, 6-0. Salley d. Hinds 6-0, 6-1.   Doubles: O’Connell/Becker d. Walter/Riser 8-0. Breland/Bozard d. Dumners/Friarson 8-0. Myers/Weatherfords d. Williams/Hinds 3-1.

Next: Holly Hill at Thomas Sumter on Thursday.

(08/15/15)  Halbauer, at 18, leaving all options open   
What's up with two-time junior Family Circle Cup champion Ellie Halbauer?

She's eligible as a just-turned 18-year-old, but will she try for a record third title next February at Family Circle Tennis Center?

Halbauer has been all over the map since a family move from Charleston to Boca Raton, Fla., a couple of years ago. She now trains out of her father's tennis facility in the Atlanta area (Alpharetta). Home-schooled and home-trained, she has been a touring tennis player for the last two years. Still an amateur, though ... leaving the door open to college offers from Florida and Georgia Tech.

She has played well enough to lift her WTA Tour ranking to a career-high No. 425 in the world. That may not sound so impressive. But for an 18-year-old?

When you start off above a thousand (actually No. 833 at the start of last year), rising up the ranks isn't easy while playing in dog-eat-dog ITF events such as $50,000 Granby, Canada, where she recently was a quarterfinalist with a victory over former world's No. 27 Laura Robson.

If you've been around Charleston tennis for awhile, you probably remember the annual visits to the area by the then lower ranks of professional tennis to play in one of the $10,000 events held at Creekside Tennis and Swim (Andre Agassi, anyone?), Mount Pleasant Rec (Vanessa Webb?) or then LTP Tennis (tiny Lauren Davis?).

Yes, it's tough out there.

Halbauer is headed to Winnipeg on Aug. 24 for a $25,000 event.

“I'm not sure about it (college), but it's always in the back of my mind,” Halbauer said Saturday morning.

And about the same for playing in another junior Family Circle. “I'm not sure about coming back ... but it's my last year ... I have to come back.”

Her goal: “To be in the top 300 by the end of the year.”
Good Rogers start

Shelby Rogers started her return from a knee injury to the pro tour this past week by winning three matches before losing in Saturday's semifinals of a $25,000 ITF event in Landisville, Pa. Now ranked No. 157th, Rogers is scheduled to play the $100,000 event in Vancouver this coming week.

Family Circle Tennis Center academy player Samantha Crawford, who has climbed to No. 224 in the WTA rankings and owns a wild card into the main draw of the U.S. Open after making the final of the $50,000 event in Lexington, Ky., also is scheduled to play Vancouver with a main draw wild card.
Hugs for Harper

This year's fourth annual Hugs for Harper events will be held over two weekends. The first event will be the tennis tournament on Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Farmfield Avenue's Charleston Tennis Center. To enter the round robin (partner not needed to enter), contact the Farmfield clubhouse (843-766-7401).

A week later (Sept. 18), the annual Hugs for Harper benefit Dinner and Auction will be held at Founders Hall at Charles Towne Landing. Contact Jamie Drolet (843-607-0857) or MUSC event coordinator Emma Blitch (843-792-5788).

These events celebrate the life of Harper Drolet by supporting others who battle pediatric cancer. Proceeds will benefit the Charles P. Darby Children's Research Institute at MUSC.
Local notes

Legend Oaks' seventh annual Give Back Tennis Tournament and Silent Auction is scheduled for Sept. 4-6. Contact Legend Oaks tennis director Andy Steingold (843-737-3460).

Family Circle Tennis Center will host the second segment of its non-sanctioned Grand Slam Series men's/women's singles and doubles event from Sept. 10-13. Register online at www.usta.com (No. 700123115) through Sept. 7.

Registrations for league tennis' fall seasons are now open.

Sunday is the deadline for Charleston Tennis Center's Rated Adult Open, which is set to begin on Friday. Registration is available online (700045615). Contact the Farmfield office.

(08/02/15)  Crawford is Charleston’s U.S. Open connection
The upcoming U.S. Open main draw will have at least one Charleston connection. Maybe more, if Shelby Rogers makes it through qualifying. Everyone in Charleston tennis circles might not recognize the name Samantha Crawford. She’s a tall (6-2) 20-year-old Georgian with a big game. She won the U.S. Open junior championship in 2012, and also advanced through qualifying into the main draw of that year’s last Grand Slam event.

Crawford has trained the past year at Family Circle Tennis Center in the MWTennis Academy.

She is Charleston’s first connection to this year’s U.S. Open main draw by virtue of already having wrapped up the U.S. Pro Circuit’s U.S. Open Wild Card competition. When Crawford closed out a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win over Jennifer Brady on Friday night in the quarterfinals of a $50,000 event in Lexington, Ky., she clinched the wild card.

Then, Crawford went one better. She defeated veteran Julie Coin of France, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2, in Saturday’s semifinals to advance to the Sunday final against Nao Hibino of Japan.

As the only American player left in the tournament after the quarterfinals, Crawford had amassed a lead-tying 30 WTA Tour two-tournament ranking points for the three-tournament circuit, clinching the wild card with her tie-breaking No. 250 world ranking even before taking the court on Saturday.

Rogers also won the 2013 U.S. Open wild card competition by winning the Lexington tournament.

Rogers is back

Shelby Rogers will return to the pro tour for the Aug. 10-16 $25,000 event in Landisville, Pa. The Charleston 22-year-old hasn’t played since suffering a right knee MCL tear nearly two months ago in England. Rogers’ world ranking did not qualify for direct entry in the main draw of the U.S. Open.

Currently ranked No. 118 in the world, Rogers also is scheduled to play in a $100,000 tournament in Vancouver the week of Aug. 17-23. U.S. Open qualifying will start Aug. 25.

Crawford also is scheduled to compete at Landisville and Vancouver.

‘The wall’ at Farmfield

A few tennis complexes have a wooden backboard, but most do not. If they do have one, it might be located on one of the regular courts. That can be a problem on a busy day or night.

But “the cement wall?” That’s even more of a select group.

And one with its own fenced-in court?

“The wall” is a special place at Farmfield Avenue’s Charleston Tennis Center. If you can’t find an opponent, or just want to get warm for a match, you (even visiting players) can head out to the fenced in “wall court” in the back of the complex. Night or day. It’s lighted. Really.

The green cement steel bar-reinforced monster of a wall is always there to serve as the opponent. Kids participating in the Elementary and Middle School League love it. That’s about the only time an early-arriving league tennis player might have trouble finding a spot on the lined-off wall court.

Even if one or two players are already hitting off the wall, there’s usually room for another one. The wall is that big, maybe 12 feet tall and 40 feet wide with a fence attached to the top to prevent balls from flying out. Wider than the normal court, the wall court has a service line and a net-high line on the wall.

It was there almost from the facility’s 1976 beginning, following after a wooden backboard that was blown down by a storm.

Just how important is the wall court at Farmfield? When the rest of the 15-court facility is resurfaced, the wall court also is resurfaced and relined, just as it was a couple of weeks ago.

Of course, the largest tennis wall probably anywhere is the scoreboard end of Johnson Hagood Stadium, which serves as one side of Hagood Avenue’s Jack Adams Tennis Center. This brick wall helped produce some of Charleston’s best junior players ever, such as former collegiate All-Americans Janice Durden of Clemson and Arthur Anastopoulo of South Carolina.

Tennis camps

Charleston Tennis Center (766-7401) and Maybank Tennis Center (406-8814) have space available in their last two weeks of summer tennis camps. Register online at www.charleston-sc.gov-recreation or contact the tennis centers.
Maybank also is having an adult day tennis camp Wednesday through Friday as well as an elite junior tennis camp Aug. 10-14.

(08/01/15)  OPINION: Patrick Harwood: Fix Collins Park tennis courts
I am among an enthusiastic group of regular players at the Collins Park public tennis courts in North Charleston. I, and other players who use this court, implore city officials to address the obvious need for repairs at this former gem of a facility off Dorchester Road.

Last resurfaced in 2006, the once sparkling blue courts have become moldy and gray. One court has been out of commission for more than a year with its net removed and tree roots pushing up its surface.

Another court has been rendered nearly unplayable because of an unending water leak spewing from a nearby crack. All the courts are so worn that dusty spots can be as slippery and hazardous as ice.

Public recreational facilities like Collins shouldn’t be an afterthought. The complex serves not only North Charleston but players from all around the metro area.

Collins Park tennis players are active in area league play and have had great success over the years. League matches have been regularly hosted there but the deteriorating conditions and dwindling courts are making that more difficult.

If repairs aren’t made soon, the place is at risk of being abandoned by tennis players altogether. That would be an unnecessary shame.

North Charleston officials should fix the courts at Collins Park and make them once again a point of pride for the city.

Patrick Harwood
Arthur Hills Circle
North Charleston

(07/24/15)  OPINION: Tennis windscreens ruin view at Jack Adams
Green windscreens attached to nine-foot fences directly in front of spectator bleachers are blocking the view of the six courts at the Jack Adams Tennis Facility.

I am a member of the Charleston Westside Tennis Club at that facility, located next to Johnson Hagood Stadium. I have been a member for more than 30 years. Over the years, no windscreens were in place and no one complained. The Recreation Department went along with viewer satisfaction that no screens were needed. Why, then, are they needed now?

Recently, the courts were rebuilt and it is a class-one facility, except spectators cannot see the courts clearly.

We rent these courts to play teams from Augusta, Columbia and Charlotte. We want our guests and all other viewers to see the matches from the bleachers. Now that goal is not possible.

We asked the Recreation Department to have the windscreens removed, but our request fell on deaf ears.

The club president met with Mayor Joe Riley and the ombudsman, Brian Sheehan, to assist in getting the windscreens removed. It has been over two months, and the screens are still in place.

The problem isn’t just spectators not being able to see matches. If you are inside on the courts, you cannot see who is sitting in the bleachers or who is loitering on the outside. This poses a safety risk.

The City of Charleston, voted the Best Tennis Town in the U.S., should remove the windscreens.

Mattie P. Sanders
Betsy Road, Charleston

(07/20/15)  Shelby Rogers still recovering from knee injury, hopes to be ready for U.S. Open qualifying
After playing in the last four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, Shelby Rogers apparently will have to go through qualifying to earn a berth in this year’s U.S. Open.

Monday was the last day for players to earn direct entry in the year’s last major event as the top 108 players in the world, according to the rankings released Monday, earned berths. Rogers is currently ranked 118th in the world.

Rogers, the Charleston touring tennis professional who suffered atorn MCL five weeks ago in England, is still recovering and rehabilitating her right knee.

But there’s still good news for Rogers’ fans following her rehabilitation. She is back on the court practicing.

“Recovery is going really well. I’m back on the court. I should be ready to go in a couple of weeks, still figuring out which tournament will be my first one back,” Rogers reported. “But I will definitely play before the U.S. Open.

“It probably won’t be Washington, D.C. (Aug. 3), probably the week after . . . smaller tournaments most likely.”

That’s encouraging news for the 22-year-old. The four-week U.S. Open Series will begin in two weeks, followed by the Aug. 31 start of the U.S. Open. Qualifying will be held prior to that.

Rogers saw her world ranking drop 35 places to No. 119 last Monday as her tour points from a 2014 runner-up finish at Bad Gastein, Austria, rotated off of the computer ahead of this year’s tournament due to Bad Gastein being staged two weeks earlier in 2014.

(07/18/15)  Barth thrilled by special session with Pope
Kiawah Island tennis director Roy Barth has competed against some of the greatest players in the history of professional tennis. But Roy and his wife, Colleen, experienced one of their biggest thrills when they were privileged to be among a group of tennis officials who were in attendance for a special session with Pope Francis at the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall in Rome.

Pope Francis used the early May occasion to talk about sports and tennis as an “educational experience.”

Barth, the current president of the Professional Tennis Registry, was in Rome to attend the second annual International Tennis Coaches Symposium. The Italian Tennis Federation served as host for the special session.

“Colleen was born and raised as a Catholic, and I’m a Catholic, so we were excited to see the Pope,” Barth said. “He’s a peoples’ Pope. He talked about sports, work and family.

“We also were excited to go back to Rome after all of these years,” added Barth, a former world’s top 50 player who competed against the likes of Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors. “We didn’t have the time to see the sights there when I was on the tour.”

Wild card series

Family Circle Tennis Center/MWTennis Academy players Jessie Pegula and Samantha Crawford ran into tough opening draws Tuesday in the first tournament of the U.S. Open Wild-Card Challenge. After suffering first-round losses in the $50,000 event at Stockton, Calif., Pegula and Crawford are entered this coming week at Sacramento.

Pegula’s two wins in Wimbledon qualifying lifted her ranking 42 places to No. 258 in the world as the 21-year-old posted an 8-4 record in Europe. Crawford is ranked No. 251.
Hugs for Harper

Registration for the fourth annual Hugs for Harper benefit Dinner and Auction is already open online. The event will be held Sept. 18 at Founders Hall at Charles Towne Landing.

The event celebrates the life of Harper Drolet by supporting others who battle pediatric cancer. Proceeds will benefit the Charles P. Darby Children’s Research Institute at MUSC.

Outback Steakhouse will cater the dinner, with live music provided by the Brady Smith Band.
Local notes

Allie Gretkowski followed up her singles runner-up success in last month’s Southern Closed girls 12 championships with an outstanding performance in the girls 12 clay-court nationals at Palm Gardens, Fla. The MWTennis Academy youngster posted a sixth straight win in consolations on Saturday morning to win the West Draw singles consolation. She also was a doubles semifinalist.

The Kiawah Island Summer Junior Championship (S.C. Level 3, tournament number 700033015) is scheduled for Aug. 28-30. The entry deadline is Aug. 23 for the all-divisions (10 through 18, singles and doubles) tournament.

The free Fourth of July Carnival put on by Charleston Tennis Center and Tour Tennis was a big success. More than 100 kids and adults participated in new city pro Davy Hairston’s first big event at the Farmfield Avenue complex.

The latest news on the resurfacing of the Farmfield courts is that crews have completed work on 12 of the facility’s 15 courts and started resurfacing the last three courts on Saturday morning.
Rogers nears return

There’s good news for Shelby Rogers fans following the Charleston touring tennis professional’s rehabilitation from a right knee MCL tear suffered five weeks ago in England. She is back on the court practicing.

“Recovery is going really well. I’m back on the court. I should be ready to go in a couple of weeks, still figuring out which tournament will be my first one back,” Rogers reported Saturday morning.

“But I will definitely play before the U.S. Open.”

That’s great news for the 22-year-old. The four-week U.S. Open Series will begin in two weeks, followed by the U.S. Open.

Rogers saw her world ranking drop 35 places to No. 119 last Monday as her tour points from last year’s runner-up finish at Bad Gastein, Austria, rotated off of the computer ahead of this year’s tournament due to Bad Gastein being staged two weeks earlier in 2014.

Barring possible wild cards, that means Rogers likely will have to qualify for most tournaments leading into and including the U.S. Open.

(07/04/15)  Israel Tennis Centers fuel kids' dreams
Israel isn't known for producing world-class tennis players. Shahar Peer at No. 120 is the highest-ranked female player from the small Middle Eastern country.

You've probably never even heard of Dudi Sela, who at No. 85 is Israel's top-rated man.

But the Israel Tennis Centers every year are giving more than 20,000 Israeli children dreams of one day playing at Roland Garros or Wimbledon. Or just hope.

Israeli visitors from the Israel Tennis Centers put on an exhibition last month for about 70 guests on a tennis court in the backyard of a private residence on Sullivan's Island. Many of the area's leading pros attended the festive event and lawn party.

The list of locals included former College of Charleston standout/current Mount Pleasant Rec pro Or Dekel, a Haifa, Israel, native who grew up in the ITC program and reached a high of No. 316 in the world. Dekel credits much of his success to the ITC program.

In addition to the four children who traveled from Israel for the U.S. summer tour and Dekel, the Sullivan's Island exhibition also featured former Porter-Gaud star Seth Pinosky and several local juniors.

“Through the discipline of tennis the Israel Tennis Centers strive to improve the lives of children in one of the most conflicted regions of the world,” opens the mission statement of the ITC, which was founded in 1976 and has 14 centers spread across Israel serving underprivileged neighborhoods. The ITC is open to all children in Israel, regardless of background, religious affiliation or economic circumstance.

“It was a highlight to come back to Sullivan's Island ... Our last event (here) took place in 1991,” said Yoni Yair, the Israeli Development Director for Israel Tennis Centers.

“We have raised a significant amount of money (from the exhibition on Sullivan's Island) which will have a huge impact on our children and programs in Israel. We do hope to come back in 2016 so we can continue to establish our name and raise more funds to benefit our cause.”

Rogers sidelined

Shelby Rogers has entered a critical period in her life as a touring tennis professional. She is nursing an injured right knee that will sideline her for an undetermined length of time.

“I tore my MCL, but I don't need surgery, thank goodness,” Rogers said Friday. “It's getting much better. I tried to play Wimby (Wimbledon) and do the best I could.

“But now I will take time to rehab and get 100 percent healthy. (It's) hard to say how long it will take, but I will take as much time as I need to make sure I am absolutely ready to play.”

The injury three weeks ago in qualifying at Birmingham, England, came at an inopportune time for the 22-year-old Rogers. She failed to win a game against 14th-ranked Andrea Petkovic of Germany in the first round at Wimbledon.

Coming up in two weeks will be the tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria, where Rogers was a finalist in 2014.

“Unfortunately I won't be playing Bad Gastein this year ... great memories there for me,” she said.

The 198 points Rogers earned last year at Bad Gastein (of her current total of 734 points) will rotate off the WTA's computer rankings on July 27. If Rogers is unable to replace some of the 198 points, she would be projected to drop approximately 25 positions below her current 84th ranking.

U.S. team falls short

Diane Barker and the women's 55 U.S. team failed in their bid to win a fourth straight Maureen Connolly Cup for the USTA, losing to Great Britain in La Baule, France. Former world's No. 1 senior Barker did not participate in the world singles championships due to a hand injury.

More than 100 kids and adults showed up for new city pro Davy Hairston's fun-filled (food-filled, too) free Charleston Tennis Center/Tour Tennis Fourth of July Carnival. The facility's soon-to-be resurfaced 15 courts were still crowded under midday's 90-degree temperatures.

(07/01/15) DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Where in the world is Shelby Rogers?
Shelby has arrived in London, for her Wimbledon debut! (third leg of the tennis Grand Slam). She’s is in the midst of rehabbing a recent injury, but is set to battle this week against Andrea Petkovic, the 14th seed.  Here Shelby stands astride Center Court!

Seven things you didn’t know about London:
• “For almost a century, London was the most densely populated city on earth. It was eclipsed by Tokyo in 1925 (another London-Toyko connection: London was the first city to reach a population of more than one million, in 1811; it remained the largest city in the world until it was overtaken by Tokyo in 1957).
• “In the early 1950s, anyone could get hold of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. His number was in the phone book.
• “The nursery rhyme Pop Goes the Weasel refers to the act of pawning one’s suit after spending all one’s cash in the pubs of Clerkenwell.
• “Heathrow Airport is so named because the land on which it is built was once a sleepy rural hamlet called Heath Row.
• “East London is the most popular film location in the city, playing host to everything from Oliver! to A Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket. The naval buildings of Greenwich stood in for Washington in Patriot Games.
• “Events at the 1908 London Olympics included rugby, standing jumps and tug of war.
• “Waterloo Bridge was built mostly by women.”

36,233 Miles so far
• Charleston to Auckland: 8,296 miles
• Auckland to Sydney: 1,341 miles
• Sydney to Melbourne: 544 miles
• Melbourne to LA: 7, 931 miles
• LA to Acapulco: 1647 miles
• Acapulco to Monterrey: 610 miles
• Monterrey to Carson, CA: 1,979 miles
• Carson, CA to Indian Wells, CA: 131 miles
• Indian Wells to Miami: 2,614 miles
• Miami to Osprey, FL: 218 miles
• Osprey to Charleston, SC: 494 miles
• Charleston to Bogota: 1,982 miles
• Bogota to Boca Raton, FL: 1,555 miles
• Boca Raton to Cagnes-sur-Mer: 4,853 miles
• Cagnes-sur-Mer to Rome: 444 miles
• Rome to Strasbourg: 673 miles
• Strasbourg to Paris: 305 miles
• Paris to Nottingham, England: 419 miles
• Nottingham to Birmingham, England: 71 miles
• Birmingham to London: 126

(06/29/15)  TIMES OF INDIA: Serena's sadness at Charleston massacre
US tennis star Serena Williams called the Charleston massacre unspeakably sad and recalled Monday how she refused to play in South Carolina while the Confederate flag flew above the state legislature.

A black female protester scaled a flagpole on the grounds of the South Carolina legislature in Columbia on Saturday and removed the Confederate flag amid fierce debate about the racially-charged symbol in the wake of the Charleston killings elsewhere in the US state.

Impassioned debate about the flag was sparked by the mass shooting of nine black worshippers in Charleston on June 17. The alleged white supremacist gunman, Dylann Roof, 21, appeared in photos online with the flag.

In 2000, Williams pulled out of the Family Circle Cup in South Carolina in support of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's call for a boycott over the Confederate flag flying above the state legislature.

The flag was eventually removed from the state house dome to a monument in the grounds later that year.

"I wouldn't go to Charleston until the flag was removed. Once it was, I went there, and only after the Confederate flag was removed," Williams said after winning her first round match at Wimbledon.

"What happened in Charleston is a tragedy yet again to our country, the United States. It's really unspeakable how sad it is and how much of a toll it can have.

"But you just have to continue to have faith, continue to believe, continue to be positive, continue to help people to the best of your ability."

There has been a growing clamor for the flag -- branded by US President Barack Obama as "a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation" -- to be removed from the grounds of the state house in Columbia.

Once flown by the rebel army of the slave-owning South during the Civil War, the confederate flag is seen by some as a symbol of regional heritage. But many more view it as an ugly reminder of racism's cruel legacy.

Williams said she was proud of how the community reacted to the Charleston massacre.

"Everyone was so positive and a lot of people went there. Obviously Obama. It was a very emotional time for many people of all races in the United States, and outside the United States," she said.

(06/29/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: Charleston’s Shelby Rogers loses at Wimbledon with a heavy heart
The day after the shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, pro tennis player Shelby Rogers posted this on Twitter: “Heartbroken for my city. Praying for the victims, families, friends, & this world (because) things like this just can’t happen. #CharlestonShooting.”

Rogers lost her first-round match at Wimbledon in London on Monday afternoon, falling 6-0, 6-0 to No. 14 Andrea Petkovic of Germany. She did so with a brace on her right knee and with her hometown of Charleston on her mind.

“It’s tough being so far away,” Rogers told espnW before the match. “All I can do is send up my prayers and watch my city continue to be strong.”

In matches leading up to Wimbledon, Rogers wore shoes with the word “Charleston” printed on them. Wimbledon’s strict rules on all-white attire do not allow her to wear those shoes during the Grand Slam tournament.

Rogers told espnW that she’s not surprised at the reaction in Charleston to the June 17 Emanuel AME shootings, which left nine victims dead. She said she watched the funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney on-line.

“It’s nice to see people react in such a positive way and help heal each other and forgive each other and come together and move forward with love instead of more negativity coming upon the city,” she said.

“Growing up there, the community has always been very close-knit and very loving and very caring and forgiving. I’ve seen that since my childhood, and it’s really nice to see it on such a big public scale so everyone else can see it, too.”

(06/28/15)  Rogers draws Petkovic again in first round of a major
Call it a bad draw or the luck of the draw, but it’s probably a little unusual for one player to draw the same opponent in the first round of consecutive Grand Slam tennis tournaments.
That’s the fate of Charleston touring professional Shelby Rogers, whose first-round opponent on Monday at Wimbledon will be 14th-ranked Andrea Petkovic of Germany. Petkovic dealt Rogers a 6-2, 6-1 defeat in the first round of the French Open late last month.
Rogers, currently ranked 83rd in the world, also suffered a 6-3, 6-3 loss to 2014 Family Circle Cup champion Petkovic last year in the Bad Gastein, Austria, final in the only other meeting between the two players.
The Rogers-Petkovic match is scheduled as the fourth match on court 18, where play will begin at 11:30 a.m. in London. That schedule should have Rogers on court around mid-afternoon, Charleston time.
Charleston narrowly missed having a second representative in the Wimbledon main draw when Family Circle Tennis Center Academy player Jessie Pegula suffered a 7-5, 7-5 loss to Sashia Vickery in the last round of Wimbledon qualifying. Vickery also defeated Pegula in the first round of this year’s Family Circle Cup.

(06/28/15)  ESPNW: Making Her Wimbledon Debut, Shelby Rogers' Heart Is In Charleston
When she plays the first main-draw Wimbledon match of her career Monday, Shelby Rogers won't be allowed to wear the shoes on which she has written the word "Charleston" in magic marker.

But it hardly matters because the 22-year-old's hometown already is rooted deep in her heart, etched in her soul that much deeper after nine African-Americans attending a Bible study were shot and killed on June 17 in a downtown Charleston church by a 21-year-old who later claimed he wanted to start a race war.

Shelby Rogers says she hasn't been surprised by the displays of love and forgiveness in her hometown of Charleston.

Though Wimbledon rules prohibit her from playing in anything non-white in matches, Rogers said Sunday she is "trying to continue the love" by wearing the shoes in practice and doing whatever else she can.

"That's the thing to stress, the love part and the unity and how everybody is supporting each other and being there for each other in a really tough time," she said. "Hopefully I can go back and help [raise] donations. It's tough being so far away. All I can do is send up my prayers and watch my city continue to be strong."

Rogers was playing in Birmingham, England, when the shooting occurred, and though she did not know any of the victims personally, she said, "Everyone knows of them, and the Rev. [Clementa Pinckney]."

She watched Pinckney's funeral services online, and while it was difficult not being home, she said, "being on Facebook and seeing all the videos and feedback and just how the city was responding was really touching to me."

Rogers moved from Charleston to Boca Raton, Florida, when she was 18 to train at the USTA center. But the imprint of the place she was born and raised will be a part of her always.

"It was almost like growing up in a little bubble," she said. "It was this perfect setting and every time I go back, it makes my heart so happy because it's just a happy place to be."

The fact that she can still use those words to describe her hometown tells the story of a place few outside Charleston truly understood until the June 17 tragedy. Though people there have the same "Never thought it would happen here" reaction as most places where random acts of violence occur, Rogers was heartened but not surprised to see the response.

"It's nice to see people react in such a positive way and help heal each other and forgive each other and come together and move forward with love instead of more negativity coming upon the city," she said.

"Growing up there, the community has always been very close-knit and very loving and very caring and forgiving. I've seen that since my childhood, and it's really nice to see it on such a big public scale so everyone else can see it, too."

Rogers' stepfather, Jim Gabrish, who's at Wimbledon with her mother, Starley, to see Rogers play, called Charleston "a role model for other cities ... to see how people can come together."

"The shooter had a quote," Shelby Rogers said, "that he wanted to start this hateful thing, and to conquer that with the exact opposite, to conquer that with love, to not let the negative win, is really special."

Deflecting apologies that this interview was not about tennis, Rogers is obviously a very self-aware and selfless young woman and a worthy role model herself. Monday, though, does mark "a very big day for me," her first time competing at the All England Club after playing qualifying rounds off-site.

Rogers said she has been awestruck by Wimbledon, describing it as "very green and very beautiful," in advance of facing 14th-seeded Andrea Petkovic.

"I hit on the match court for the first time and it was absolute perfection," she said. "I mean, they don't overlook a thing. I saw someone yesterday scrubbing in between bricks. Every flower is perfect. There's a piece of trash, someone picks it up. Everything is immaculate. It's amazing."

She was not quite ready, however, to say the flawless surroundings put her in a similar state of mind.

"Yeah, but I don't want to do anything wrong," she said with a laugh. "I don't want to mess anything up. I feel like I have to sit with good posture, like somebody is watching me all the time."

All the better if they are.

(06/24/15)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Family Circle Tennis Center hosts Grand Slam Series Wimbledon
The Family Circle Tennis Center hosted the Grand Slam Series Wimbledon Segment on June 12 - 14. The Wimbledon Segment was the first in a series of three Grand Slam tournaments to be offered. The next being the US Open Segment on September 10 - 13, 2015.

The series was sponsored by: Allstate – Wally Burbage Agency, McCullough Khan, LLC, and Dr. Michael Zetz Crescent Moon Orthodontics.

Congratulations to the champions and finalists.

In women’s singles, the 3.0 champion was Diane Pernell and the finalist was Kate Headrick; the 3.5 champion was Lisa Burke and the finalist was Hollie Connolly; the 4.0 champion was Olga Blandford and the finalist was Camille Johnstone.

In women’s doubles, the 3.0 champions were Diane Pernell and Robin White and the finalists were Deirdre McMurtry and Jamie Olender; the 3.5 champions were Kristen Hay and Meghan Van Alen and the finalists were Shana Meyer and Lauren Wonderlic; the 4.0 champions were Colleen Fleming and Teri Robinson and the finalists were Marie Ferrigno and Camille Johnstone.

In men’s singles, the 3.0 champion was Luis Lopez and the finalist was Bob Gately; the 3.5 champion was Chris Shelderfer and the finalist was Jafar Moghadam; the 4.0 champion was Andrei Mazere and the finalist was Darin Fort; the 4.5 champion was Dave Williams the finalist was Carlos Lopez.

In men’s doubles, the 3.0 champions were Wade Boatwright and Jerry Regenbogen and the finalists were Barry Emerson and Chris Shelderfer; the 3.5 champions were Steven Dolloff and Rich Hughes and the finalists were Kevin Kuehmeier and Bill Park; the 4.0 champions were Nima Moghadam and Mat Sears and the finalists were Andrei Mazere and Bo McNinch; the 4.5 champions were Brandon Grimm and Carlos Lopez and the finalists were Danny Blyth and Colie Crosby.

In mixed doubles, the 6.0 champions were Kevin Kuehmeier and Paige Kuehmeier and the finalists were Luis Lopez and Lisa Lopez; the 7.0 champions were Greg Yancey and Kate Headrick and the finalists were Rich Hughes and Diane Rozier; the 8.0 champions were David Robinson and Teri Robinson and the finalists were Michael Millican and Meghan Van Alen.

(06/21/15)  Shelby Rogers in recovery mode for Wimbledon
Shelby Rogers is thrilled about winning her 1st WTA Tour doubles titles with Coco Vandeweghe.
But Rogers helps make a particular hard work ready for a appropriate knee damage forced the Charleston Tour specialist be in purchase from a first-round qualifier last weekend in Birmingham, England in retirement to perform in this year’s third Grand Slam occasion. She’s skipping following week’s last Grasplatz warmup in Eastbourne to rehabilitate the knee.
Of course, the majors frequently keep financial well-being for many 2nd 50-ranked players. If you are a direct entry gamers like Rogers, certain you be there just for playing select in the very first round at Wimbledon check out for $35,802.
“I have to escape Eastbourne to give me time to recover. Wimbledon is (a) priority and I am almost everything I can to be prepared to perform “mentioned the 84th Place Rogers, who has remained given that the injury in England.
The player Rogers misplaced a couple of weeks prior to the 1st round in Nottingham, 17-12 months-old Ana Konjuh Croatia won the $250,000 event.
Rogers’ doubles title came the very first week of June in a small tournament in Eastbourne. The achievement lifted Rogers’ double ranking at No. 155 in the planet. “I had a great time playing with Coco” Rogers stated.
Dye sparkles
Former Berkeley standout Zac Dye has finished an outstanding second yr of tennis for Spartanburg Methodist School , Dye assisted lead Methodist to a last No. ten national junior college ranking. He was No. 9 in singles in a double space and 14.
“Zac was also awarded as 1 of the 10 ITA All-Americans and is the 1st tennis player in Spartanburg Methodist ever this award to acquire “Methodist coach Zach Williams reported.
On completion of two many years at Methodist, Dye Union has committed (Ky.) University to play his last two seasons of university tennis.
Southern Finalist
The Charleston region generates one singles finalist in the last week Southern Closed Junior Championships. Allie Gretkowski who trains from MWTennis Academy, moved all the way to the final of the Women twelve Southern’s in Cary, NC the tournament No. 2 seeds, Gretkowski won 6 games ahead of losing.
Also in the ladies twelve competition, Maggie Navarro was a quarter-ultimate match, even though Carri lost Hayes in the round of 32.
As No. 3 seeds advanced in ladies 16 in Tiny Rock, Ark., Emma Navarro to the quarter-finals, then the consolation draw won. Brant Fenno manufactured the boys 16 round of 16, although Jared Pratt and Jacob Jahn lost in the round of 32.
In 14-and-beneath in Macon , Ga., Kat Lyman and Lara Schneider advanced to the round of 32 in ladies, whilst Reilly Wilson manufactured the round of 32 in singles, before getting to cramps.
Citadel signee Adam Elliget and Mark Militzer sophisticated to the round of 32 in boys 18s in Mobile, Alabama.
The little court ten-and-underneath competition at East Part Cayce Tennis Center saw Grace Baker and Dylan Voeks it to the round of sixteen in women, and Otto Sewell advance to the Round of 16 in boys.
Pegula climbing
Family members Circle Tennis Center Academy player Jessie Pegula Globe Ranking has practically 500 places since the starting of 12 months to a recent No. 298, getting climbed 5 wins in 7 games in Europe. The 21-12 months-outdated scored three straight wins qualifying tournament for the $ 250,000 Topshelf event in the Netherlands, only the principal draw is missing. She defeated a leading 100 gamers on the way.
Ms. Barker and the girls-fifty five US group failed in their efforts to give the USTA a fourth straight Maureen Connolly Cup in La Baule, France, losing to the Uk.

(06/10/15) DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Where in the world is Shelby Rogers?
Nottingham, well known in English lore, is home to none other than the gentleman who robs from the rich and gives to the poor. It is not known if Shelby ran into him in Sherwood Forest or Nottingham Castle (and this just in from our UK news desk: Shelby and Robin plan to enter the mixed doubles draw at Wimbledon later this month, keep an eye out for the Hood-Rogers duo!).  England, you should know, is the sixth country that Shelby has visited this year!

Some interesting facts about Nottingham (located in the county of Nottinghamshire), courtesy of experiencenottinghamshire.com:
• “In 1607, the founding Pilgrim Fathers left Bassetlaw to start their new life in Holland. It was 13 years later, in 1620, when the Pilgrims reached Plymouth Rock, here in the states;
• “Ibuprofen was discovered in Nottingham;
• “Robin Hood is Nottinghamshire’s most famous son;
• “Nottingham is one of eight core cities recognized by the English government; and
• “Nottingham’s Goose Fair has existed since at least 1284 (when it lasted eight days).”

36,036 Total Miles
• Charleston to Auckland: 8,296 miles
• Auckland to Sydney: 1,341 miles
• Sydney to Melbourne: 544 miles
• Melbourne to LA: 7, 931 miles
• LA to Acapulco: 1647 miles
• Acapulco to Monterrey: 610 miles
• Monterrey to Carson, CA: 1,979 miles
• Carson, CA to Indian Wells, CA: 131 miles
• Indian Wells to Miami: 2,614 miles
• Miami to Osprey, FL: 218 miles
• Osprey to Charleston, SC: 494 miles
• Charleston to Bogota: 1,982 miles
• Bogota to Boca Raton, FL: 1,555 miles
• Boca Raton to Cagnes-sur-Mer: 4,853 miles
• Cagnes-sur-Mer to Rome: 444 miles
• Rome to Strasbourg: 673 miles
• Strasbourg to Paris: 305 miles
• Paris to Nottingham, England: 419 miles

(06/06/15)  Barth Tennis Academy to provide training for juniors
Juniors looking for a place to hone their games in preparation for the big events coming up this summer and fall, even college, can get tips and training from a local tennis legend and former world’s top 50 player at Kiawah Island’s Roy Barth Tennis Center.

The Barth Tennis Academy will run weekly through Sept. 4, with son Jonathan Barth directing day-to-day operations under the guidance of Kiawah tennis director Roy Barth.

Roy Barth played seven years on the tour, going against the likes of Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg.

The academy concentrates on a combination of play-action drills, technical evaluation, conditioning and match play. Sessions run Monday through Friday, five hours each day. Contact Jonathan Barth (768-2706 or jonathan_barth@kiawahresort.com).
Jessie and Shelby

Family Circle Tennis Center touring pro Jessie Pegula is one win away from qualifying for the $250,000 WTA Tour event in the Netherlands, while 74th-ranked Shelby Rogers is a direct entry in the main draw of the $250,000 tournament in Nottingham, England.

Both tournaments are grass-court warmups for Wimbledon.

For the second straight tournament, the 21-year-old Pegula has notched a pair of victories in qualifying. She outlasted Jelena Ostapenko of Lativa in three sets in Saturday’s second round of qualifying.

Two state champs

League tennis’ recent 18-and-over state spring championships at Aiken and Greenville each produced one champion and one runner-up from the Lowcountry Tennis Association. Captain Tony Carmola’s 4.5 men from Mount Pleasant Rec took top state honors at Aiken, while Meghen Van Alen’s 3.5 women from LTP Tennis won a state title at Greenville.

The LTP women were runners-up in their local flight, but came alive to capture the eight-team local playoffs before marching through the state competition.

Alice Kryder’s 4.5 women from LTP Tennis were runners-up at Aiken. Kerrie Scott’s 3.0 women from the Daniel Island Club took second place in Greenville.
Local notes

Mount Pleasant’s Shianna Guo also was a third-place winner at Belton’s Palmetto Championships, taking the third-place match in girls 12. Guo trains at LTP Tennis.

Grace Baker of Maybank Tennis Center was the highest local finisher in the small-court 10-and-under competition at Belton, capturing third place in girls 10.

Family Circle Tennis Center will hold a a Grand Slam Series of adult singles/doubles tournaments, beginning Thursday with a Wimbledon event. Play will be held on Thursday and Friday nights, and weekends. Contact FCTC (849-5300).

(06/04/15)  GREENVILLE NEWS: Ann Green: Juniors visit Sportsclub for weekend tournament
The Sportsclub Junior Championships begins Friday with approximately 50 tennis players competing in singles and doubles at the club on Congaree Road.

The event runs through Sunday.

The players, mostly from South Carolina, range in age from 12 to 18 with 10-and-under divisions also available.

The 10-and-under youths will play on a 60-foot court using low-compression orange balls and smaller rackets.

“We’ve had this tournament for about 15 years give or take,” said David Carrick, Sportsclub's director of tennis. “We rescheduled it from the last of February and end of March because of the weather.”

He added, “The boys 10s, 12s, 14s and 16s are pretty good draws. ...There’s the option for doubles, but most of the kids play singles.”

Five state titles were awarded this week at the USTA South Carolina 18 and Over 2.5-3.5 State League Championships for men and women.

In the finals at the Greenville Country Club, teams from Greenville, Florence, Lexington, Myrtle Beach and Charleston won championships and will advance to compete next month against the top teams from throughout the South.

Winners included: Lowcountry Tennis Association 3.5 women's team (Meghan Van Alen, captain); Grand Strand Tennis League Myrtle Beach 3.5 men's team (Brian Piercy, captain); Lexington Area Tennis Association 3.0 women's team (Susan Taylor, captain); Pee Dee Tennis League Florence 3.0 men's team (Kelly Pinkerman, captain); and Upper Piedmont Tennis Association Greenville 2.5 women’s team (Katherine Mattice, captain).

The event drew 900 players and 60 teams from throughout the state to four tennis facilities in Greenville County for the three-day event.

Runners-up included teams from the Midlands, Greenville, Charleston and Bluffton.

For their next test, the winners will go to the USTA League 18 and Over Southern Sectional Championships on July 24-26 in Mobile, Alabama.

(05/31/15)  Pratt captures singles title at Belton Palmetto Junior Championships
Heading into the last month of its first year at Family Circle Tennis Center, MWTennis Academy is making an impact on local juniors as well as growing its list of touring professionals, including the area’s only victories at the French Open.

MWTennis’ Jared Pratt brought home the area’s lone singles title from last weekend’s Belton Palmetto Junior Championships. Three of the area’s four finalists (Pratt, Jacob Jahn and Reilly Wilson) also play out of MWTennis. Pratt defeated Jahn in the boys 16 final, while the son of MWTennis CEO Jeff Wilson (Reilly) was a finalist in boys 14.

Carri Hayes of Mount Pleasant was the only local non-MW finalist. She was runner-up in girls 12.

Two of the three third-place finishers from the area, Sam Kavarana in boys 16 and Bishop England star Jenna Vroman in girls 16, also represent MWTennis. Wando standout Kat Lyman took the area’s other third-place trophy (girls 14) at Belton.

“The thing I am most proud of from our 33 players who played Belton is that we had no incidents,” said Jeff Wilson, who attended his first Belton (fellow MW namesake Bryan Minton attended his 20th). “We had the top four seeds in boys 16, and 15 of our players qualified for Southerns.”

About his 14-year-old son, Wilson pointed out that after starting tournament play late last summer, Reilly Wilson is now ranked fifth in the state and 30th in the South.

MWTennis is currently made up of 179 kids ages 4 to 18 years old.
Pegula’s French wins

In the touring pro division of MWTennis, Jessie Pegula won two matches in the French Open qualifying tournament, narrowly missing a berth in the main draw. Ranked 123rd in the world two years ago prior to undergoing knee surgery, Pegula has climbed nearly 400 places in the rankings in 2015. With the two wins in Paris, she should advance from her current No. 383 ranking to inside the top 320.

Pegula will compete in the Netherlands in a $250,000 WTA event that starts June 8, then continue her grass-court preparation for Wimbledon qualifying at the Premier level event in Birmingham, England. Melanie Oudin, a 2011 U.S. Open mixed doubles champion, will begin her comeback at the same three grass-court events. MW pro tour director Michael Joyce will make the trip with Pegula and Oudin.

Meanwhile, 2012 U.S. Open junior champion Samantha Crawford, now ranked No. 242 in the world, is fresh from defeating Allie Kiick in the semifinals of a $25,000 ITF event in Raleigh, N.C., before falling in the final. Crawford will next play a $25,000 ITF event in Sumter.

(05/27/15) DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Where in the world is Shelby Rogers
Shelby, on a rare break from training for The French Open, is joined by sister Sabra at the world famous Louvre. And, in a bid to share something you didn’t know about Paris, here’s The City of Light by the numbers:

• Streets in Paris: 6,100
• Bakeries in Paris: 1,784
• Bars in Paris: 1,124
• Open terraces: 9,057
• Places to grab an espresso: 181
• Number of stop signs: 1
• Number of trees (all referenced and measured): 470,000

• Charleston to Auckland: 8,296 miles
• Auckland to Sydney: 1,341 miles
• Sydney to Melbourne: 544 miles
• Melbourne to LA: 7, 931 miles
• LA to Acapulco: 1647 miles
• Acapulco to Monterrey: 610 miles
• Monterrey to Carson, CA: 1,979 miles
• Carson, CA to Indian Wells, CA: 131 miles
• Indian Wells to Miami: 2,614 miles
• Miami to Osprey, FL: 218 miles
• Osprey to Charleston, SC: 494 miles
• Charleston to Bogota: 1,982 miles
• Bogota to Boca Raton, FL: 1,555 miles
• Boca Raton to Cagnes-sur-Mer: 4,853 miles
• Cagnes-sur-Mer to Rome: 444 miles
• Rome to Strasbourg: 673 miles
• Strasbourg to Paris: 305 miles

(05/23/15)  Struggling Shelby Rogers faces tough draw in French Open
Shelby Rogers has run into a difficult first-round draw in the French Open. Former Family Circle Cup champion Andrea Petkovic will be a tough obstacle to overcome on the red clay of Roland Garros.

This bit of possible bad luck couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time for Rogers. The 22-year-old touring pro from Charleston appears to be in a major victory drought, one that could impact her future on the WTA Tour. Her lone win over a player ranked above her in the last nine months came in the first round of last month’s Family Circle Cup when she defeated then No. 64 Silvia Soler-Espinosa.

Even after posting a first-round victory last weekend in the $250,000 event in Strasbourg, France, Rogers has managed just four victories in her last 19 matches. She lost to 63rd-ranked Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round.

Currently ranked 80th in the world, Rogers earned more than 600 of her current 717 WTA Tour ranking points during the less than four months period from this time (French Open) last year through early September.

That means Rogers needs another big summer to avoid descending into the high 100s or 200s in the world rankings — in other words, the land of playing ITF events or qualifiers for almost any tournament with a purse more than $50,000.

This is the sometimes cruel life of a touring tennis professional in a world that has thousands of women aspiring to strike it rich on the WTA Tour.
Clements All-American

Former Charleston area junior star Connor Clements has been named an NAIA All-American after posting a 28-1 record in leading Georgia Gwinnett to a second straight NAIA national championship. Clements was the only Gwinnett player to register a win in singles in all four matches in the nationals.

“Connor just does not lose here,” Gwinnett coach Chase Hodges said. “When we come down to Mobile (Ala.), he is a beast. He played on another level this whole week. He’s brought his A-game every time we’ve played here, and I’m really proud of him. He’s a great player.”
Locals semifinalists

Wando junior Scotty Cameron made a strong run at the Class AAAA-AAA state singles title by winning three straight matches to reach the semifinals. But Cameron defaulted in the semifinals. Chambers Easterling of Spartanburg won the state title.

In Class AA-A, Bishop England’s Jeff Jones earned third-place honors after losing to eventual champion Paul Hendrix of Waccamaw in the semifinals. Waccamaw left-hander Justin Dunn was state runner-up.

Bishop England freshman star Jared Pratt, who split a pair of matches with Hendrix during the season, did not participate in the competition.
Local notes

Charleston’s Diane Barker is preparing to head for La Baule, France, to lead the United States’ three-time defending champion women’s 55 team in the ITF Seniors World Team Championships from June 8-13. The top players will stick around another week to compete for the individual title.

Two local teams earned state championships in the recent 40-plus state tournament at Aiken. A 3.0 Mount Pleasant Rec women’s team captained by Sarah Pitts and a 3.5 LTP Tennis women’s team captained by Maggie LaCoste took top state honors. State runners-up were Jennifer Rickell’s 4.0 Mount Pleasant Rec women, Christine Zavada’s 4.5 Mount Pleasant Rec women and Mark Mogul’s 4.5 I’On men.

The Lowcountry Tennis Association is currently holding team registrations for the summer combo season. Teams must have three eligible combo pairings by the May 31 team registration deadline to participate in the league.

Family Circle Tennis Center will hold a a Grand Slam Series of adult singles/doubles tournaments, beginning with a Wimbledon event June 11-14. Play will be held on Thursday and Friday nights, and weekends. Contact FCTC (849-5300).

Spartanburg defeated South Aiken for this year’s Class AAAA boys state crown, while A.C. Flora upended Hilton Head High in the Class AAA final. Bishop England downed Christ Church in the Class AA title match.

Summerville’s David Long was named the Region 8-AAAA coach of the year. The all-region team included Walker Long and Jack Hazel from Summerville, Tommy McManus and Austin Stahl from Fort Dorchester, Harrison Parvey and Zack Rabon from Ashley Ridge, and Kenny Johnson and Thomas Warren from Colleton County.

(05/21/15)  MOULTRIE NEWS: Local tennis teams win state titles
 Local Mount Pleasant women’s tennis teams turned in top performances at the U.S. Tennis Association South Carolina state championships earlier this month in Aiken.

Mount Pleasant won the women’s 55 and over 4.0 state title with a 2-1 win over Lexington in the tournament finals. The ladies’ three-day run included 2-1 wins over Seneca, Bluffton and Myrtle Beach.

Team members include: (front, from left) Charlotte Gerber, Becky Williamson, Julie Raney, Emily Thomas, SueJuen Wright, Becky Montgomery, Ruth Ennis, Merridy Kennington, (back) Captain Jane Fluent and Vicki Zimper.

Mount Pleasant also won the women’s 40 and over 3.5 state championship.

Alison Shor and Maggie LaCoste captain the team.

Both Lowcountry Tennis Association teams will represent South Carolina at the USTA regionals in Asheville, North Carolina, in August.

(05/21/15)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: BE boys tennis wins first state title since 1997
 By Jim Greenho Assistant BE tennis coach
This last week the Bishop England boys’ tennis team won both the lower and overall state title. This was quite an accomplishment and the first time the team has won the state title since 1997.   

The team worked very hard all season and fought off a tough Waccamaw team, who the Bishops had not beaten in 12 years, to win the lower state title match held at Snee Farm. With the match tied at 3-3, the doubles team of junior Peyton Warren and freshman Lleyton Dacuba took care of the key clinching point. 

Two days later the boys made their way to the Cayce Tennis Center where they took on the upper state champions Christ Church in a fierce battle. The tournament tough freshmen singles’ duo of Jared Pratt and Dacuba got the Bishops their first two points, winning in straight sets and were then followed by a key win at No. 5 singles by sophomore Brian Privet to take a 3-0 lead.  Senior co-captain and Citadel bound Jeff Jones had almost a two hour battle before losing a tight match at No. 2.

The entire team and fan base were all huddled around senior Daniel Knott’s match at No. 4 singles, which had the most drama of any match of the day. Knott had four match points in the second set to clinch but his feisty opponent would not give up and it went to a third set tiebreaker. With the entire team title on the line, Knott came through with an incredible effort and won 10-3 in the breaker. 

The doubles were played in abbreviated fashion, but with the title in hand it was but a formality.  

Head coach Kristin Fleming Arnold was home on bed rest but Coach Jim Greenho (the author of this article) had his orders in hand and the team brought the championship trophy home to Daniel Island.

The team extends a very special thank you to Snee Farm and the Daniel Island tennis staffs for the generous donation of court time.

The special group of senior leaders will head off to college next year: Jeff Jones to The Citadel, Will Ranson to USC, and Daniel Knott to Coastal Carolina.

(05/21/15) DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Where in the world is Shelby Rogers?
Here’s Shelby, after her 6-1, 6-1 victory this past weekend in Strasbourg, France, a city located just two miles from the German border. As France’s seventh most populous city, Strasbourg is home to one of two European Parliaments (the other is in Brussels) and hosts France’s oldest Christmas market.  The city is a fine blend of French and German – the architecture distinctly German, the food distinctly French. Strasbourg is said to be one of the best preserved historical cities in France, and is known for its medieval streets (and black-and-white timber-framed buildings) in the Petite-France district.

 Total Miles travelled = 35,312
• Charleston to Auckland: 8,296 miles
• Auckland to Sydney: 1,341 miles
• Sydney to Melbourne: 544 miles
• Melbourne to LA: 7, 931 miles
• LA to Acapulco: 1647 miles
• Acapulco to Monterrey: 610 miles
• Monterrey to Carson, CA: 1,979 miles
• Carson, CA to Indian Wells, CA: 131 miles
• Indian Wells to Miami: 2,614 miles
• Miami to Osprey, FL: 218 miles
• Osprey to Charleston, SC: 494 miles
• Charleston to Bogota: 1,982 miles
• Bogota to Boca Raton, FL: 1,555 miles
• Boca Raton to Cagnes-sur-Mer: 4,853 miles
• Cagnes-sur-Mer to Rome: 444 miles
• Rome to Strasbourg: 673 miles

(05/16/15)  Bishop England boys capture state tennis title
Most high school coaches are happy with one state championship a year.

But Kristin Fleming Arnold has taken the success model to a higher level, thanks to Bishop England clinching the Class AA boys tennis state championship in singles en route to scoring a deceptively one-sided 4-3 win over Christ Church on Saturday at Cayce Tennis Center.

It was the first boys tennis state championship for the Bishops (10-5) since 1997. Fleming Arnold also doubles as the coach of the Bishop England girls, who have brought home state titles each of the last four years.

Two state titles in one school year is quite an accomplishment, but not quite as important as Fleming Arnold’s next big match. She and her husband, Charlie, are expecting twins in less than two months. Due to related complications, Kristin was unable to make the trip to Columbia Saturday morning.

“I’m fine,” Fleming Arnold assured at midday Saturday. “I’m extremely happy. I was definitely there in spirit.”

What about two state titles in one year? “That kind of coincides with twins,” she said.

With assistant coach Jim Greenho filling in for Fleming Arnold, the Bishops dominated the Cavaliers in singles to get the job done quickly for a 4-1 edge. Doubles were meaningless at that point.

And that’s saying something, considering that Christ Church (10-9) was making its sixth straight appearance in the state final and owns an S.C.-record 24 state titles.

“It was nice to finish it in singles,” Fleming Arnold said.

The singles rout started with freshman Jared Pratt at No. 1 when Christ Church sophomore Wes Quattlebaum retired for the second straight match, this time while down 4-2 in the first set.

Things slowed down for the Bishops at No. 2 where senior captain Jeff Jones lost, but freshman No. 3 Lleyton Dacuba and sophomore No. 5 Brian Privett put the Bishops on the threshold of a state championship with straight-set wins.

Senior Daniel Knott finished the job, but not before Christ Church’s Robert Philpot had fought off four match points in the second set to force a third-set match tiebreaker which Knott pulled out for a 7-5, 5-7, 10-3 title-clinching victory.

The day could have officially ended there, but the two teams decided to play pro-sets for doubles anyway, with Christ Church taking both matches. Pratt, as well as Lower State final doubles star Dacuba, sat out doubles this time.

“The boys played hard, and they really wanted it,” said Fleming Arnold, who is in her third year as boys coach. She has coached the girls six years, and now has a total of five overall state titles.

SINGLES: Pratt (BE) def. Quattlebaum, 4-2, retired; Gallus (CC) def. Jones, 6-4, 6-4; Dacuba (BE) def. Houser, 6-3, 6-4; Knott (BE) def. Philpot, 7-5, 5-7, 10-3; Privett (BE) def. Carroll, 6-1, 7-6 (4).  DOUBLES: Gallus/Houser (CC) def. Jones/Ranson, 8-7; Chase/Preston (CC) def. Warren/Sotill, 8-3.

(05/15/15)  GOOSE CREEK GAZETTE: Amble on: Cobras tennis standout concludes career
The best tennis player in Cane Bay history has also been one of the school’s brightest.

Senior student-athlete standout Alex Amble, the Cobras’ No. 1 tennis player since his freshman year, will finish the season in the state singles tournament May 18-19. Amble recently inked a national letter of intent with Newberry College.

“He’s gotten a lot stronger as far as being a tennis player,” Cane Bay boys tennis coach Mary Terry said. “He’s active in the band. He’s active in the community. He represents Cane Bay well.”

Amble, who will graduate from Cane Bay in June, has a 4.1 grade-point average and has participated in the marching band and concert band at CBHS. He’s first chair percussion and has made all-state band. He’s also fluent in Spanish.

At a signing ceremony last week, Amble said he plans to major in music at Newberry.

Amble has shown to have a lot of rhythm and talent on the court too. He’s been all-region every season since the eighth grade, when he was the No. 4 player.

He was 13-1 this spring and is ranked No. 36 overall among 18-year-olds in the state by the USTA. As a junior, he was 13-3.

He is a No. 1 seed in the state tournament.

“I’ve seen him at work some times in his head and that translates on the tennis court,” Terry said. “He’s great at strategy. He can think ahead. He’s mature for a high school kid.”

The state tournament is a 36-player field from both Class AAA and AAAA schools.

“I’m expecting and hoping he plays well,” Terry said.

Newberry finished this past season with a 12-9 record and will return all but one senior, including five players from other countries.

College tennis will be a challenge Amble tackles head on, Terry indicated.

“Being determined and having a work ethic go hand in hand,” she said. “… I think he definitely needs to get stronger and more explosive and powerful as any athlete stepping up from high school and college would.”

(05/15/15)  Bishops shift focus to state championship showdown with Christ Church
The only thing Bishop England’s boys had on their minds on Thursday was old nemesis Waccamaw. The Bishops dreamed of a state tennis title, but they didn’t dare to think about Saturday’s 10 a.m. Class AA state championship match-up at Cayce Tennis Center.

The Bishops knew they faced the supreme test in the Lower State final. After all, Waccamaw had ended their season in the playoffs 12 straight years.

Even after Bishop England had salvaged a 4-3 win over 2014 state champion Waccamaw to earn a shot at perennial powerhouse Christ Church in the state final, the Bishops’ typical answer to questions about their next opponent was, “I don’t know.” All the way down to coach Kristin Fleming Arnold, the mastermind of the Bishops’ championship run, as well as four consecutive state titles by the BE girls team.

But this is all new to the boys team, although the family of freshman No. 3 star Lleyton Dacuba, who blanked his singles opponent and then teamed with Peyton Warren to win the decisive No. 2 doubles match, is very familiar with state finals. Gabrielle Dacuba, Lleyton's sister, has played a major role in the BE girls’ last three state championships.

Christ Church (10-8) has the Bishops’ full attention now. This will be the Greenville school’s sixth straight appearance in the title match. The Cavaliers own a state-record 24 state titles.

The key to the final likely will return to the top of the Bishops’ lineup where freshman Jared Pratt had been unbeaten until his loss to Waccamaw’s Paul Hendrix on Thursday. Hendrix also bested Pratt in the No. 1 doubles match-up.

“I played OK, but I guess I played a little tentative because Paul (Hendrix) is so patient and consistent,” Pratt said Friday.

But Pratt said Christ Church sophomore No. 1 Wes Quattlebaum has a completely different type game. “Wesley is a good player, just as good as Paul. Wesley has a good serve and he likes to go for his shots.”

Pratt said he last played Quattlebaum “two or three years ago at Belton, I think. I won like 4 and 4.”

The status of Quattlebaum is questionable after he retired midway through the first set of his singles match against Southside. The Cavaliers had the match wrapped up in singles, so Quattlebaum wasn’t needed for doubles.

In his first year of high school tennis, the 6-1 Pratt is enjoying playing for the Bishops.

“It’s fun, definitely a good team spirit,” he said.

Senior captain Jeff Jones agreed. “This is awesome. I’m very excited for Saturday. We’re a very deep team with a good atmosphere,” Jones said.

Christ Church is solid throughout as indicated by the Cavaliers’ sweep of the Nos. 2-5 singles positions and No. 2 doubles in their 5-2 Upper State title victory over Southside Christian on Wednesday.

That’s almost a carbon copy of the Bishops’ domination of Waccamaw at the lower positions, except for the No. 2 singles position where Jones lost a close match in the Lower State final.

(05/13/15) DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Where in the world is Shelby Rogers?
The European Leg of the tennis tour, featuring major tournament stops in Madrid, Rome, Paris and London, heads to Rome this week and Shelby, no doubt, is enjoying the historic and gorgeous capital city (not to mention the food!). Known as the Eternal City, Rome is nearly 3,000 years old and modern Rome features more than 900 churches and 280 fountains (the most famous of which is the Trevi Fountain, where more than 3,000 Euros are swept up nightly from the bottom of the basin – all proceeds donated to charity).

Miles traveled so far this year: 34,639 miles
• Charleston to Auckland: 8,296 miles
• Auckland to Sydney: 1,341 miles
• Sydney to Melbourne: 544 miles
• Melbourne to LA: 7, 931 miles
• LA to Acapulco: 1647 miles
• Acapulco to Monterrey: 610 miles
• Monterrey to Carson, CA: 1,979 miles
• Carson, CA to Indian Wells, CA: 131 miles
• Indian Wells to Miami: 2,614 miles
• Miami to Osprey, FL: 218 miles
• Osprey to Charleston, SC: 494 miles
• Charleston to Bogota: 1,982 miles
• Bogota to Boca Raton, FL: 1,555 miles
• Boca Raton to Cagnes-sur-Mer: 4,853 miles
• Cagnes-sur-Mer to Rome: 444 miles

(05/13/15)  Wando, Academic Magnet fall in tennis
Wando’s first trip to the Class AAAA Lower State boys tennis final in nearly a decade didn’t go the Warriors’ way on Wednesday afternoon in Aiken as unbeaten South Aiken rolled up a 5-1 victory.

The only win for Wando (14-2-1) came at No. 1 singles where junior ace Scotty Cameron scored a 6-1, 6-1 win over South Aiken senior Stefan Zotovic.

“We had three very tight matches at (Nos.) 2, 3 and 5 ... the DaCosta brothers (Nos. 2-3 Andrew and Robert) and (Parker) Lopresti had solid singles matches,” said Winde Ellenberg, who was making her first trip to the Lower State final in her eight years as Wando’s coach.

South Aiken, the 2013 state champion and 2014 state runner-up, was playing in its sixth straight Lower State final.

Wando was forced to play without talented sophomore No. 2 player McMillan Covington, who was unavailable for the match. That meant the DaCostas moved up one position each in the Wando singles lineup.

“It was an intimidating match as they (South Aiken) had a huge fan base, but the guys pulled together and cheered for one another,” said Ellenberg, whose team was playing for a third straight day.

“The heat played a big factor, especially well into second sets, as well as three matches straight, but the boys played great. They played 100 percent as I had four seniors that really wanted to take Lower State.”

Raptors fall

In a Class AA Lower State semifinal played at Pawley's Island, Academic Magnet (8-5) played without five of its top eight players due to AP exams and forfeited No. 5 singles as Waccamaw posted a 6-1 victory over the Raptors.

Defending state champion Waccamaw now advances to the Lower State final Thursday against Bishop England at Snee Farm Country Club in Mount Pleasant. Match time will be approximately 4:30 p.m.

“I think we could have won if we were at full strength. I had to play three freshmen in the top four,” first-year Academic Magnet coach Gary Weart said. “At full strength, I don’t know what would have happened.”

Academic Magnet freshman Brandon Kassous scored a 3-6, 6-4, 10-7 win over Stephen Russell at No. 3 singles.

SINGLES: Cameron (W) def. Zotovic, 6-1, 6-1; Tiffany (SA) def. DaCosta, 6-4, 6-4; Sklizovic (SA) def. DaCosta, 6-2, 7-6 (14-12); Bowman (SA) def. Pandey, 6-0, 6-3; Zotovic (SA) def. Lopresti, 6-4, 6-3.  DOUBLES: (No. 2) Sklizovic/Hogue (SA) def. Weston/Redden, 6-0, 6-1.

SINGLES: Dunn (W) def. Michael Pi, 6-0, 6-0; Hewes (W) def. Bahadori, 6-1, 6-2; Kassous (AM) def. Russell, 3-6, 6-4, 10-7; Kent (W) def. McFee, 6-3, 4-6, 11-9; Rowland (W) win by default.   DOUBLES: Hughes/James Lee (W) def. Pi/Bahadori, 8-4; Johnson/Rowland (W) def. Pugh/Leaden, 6-3, 5-7, 10-4.

(05/12/15)  Wando tennis knocks off Lexington
Wando took a big step forward on Tuesday with a 5-1 victory over old nemesis Lexington (15-3) in the Class AAAA Lower State boys tennis semifinals.

But the giant step still awaits the Warriors (14-1-1) as they go on the road on Wednesday to face unbeaten South Aiken in the Lower State final. Match time will be 5 p.m. in Aiken. South Aiken scored a 4-3 win over Socastee in the semifinals.

This will be South Aiken’s sixth straight trip to the Lower State final. For Wando, coach Winde Ellenberg said, “This was exciting. This will be my first trip to the Lower State final in my eight years as (Wando) coach.”

Lexington, which had eliminated Wando in the third round each of the last two seasons, couldn’t match up with the Warriors this time. Junior No. 1 Scotty Cameron, seniors Nos. 3 and 4 Andrew and Robert Dacosta, and eighth-grade No. 5 Vinod Pandey all won in straight sets, yielding a total of just 16 games to collect the four wins needed to wrap up the victory for Wando.

Cameron, displaying brilliant volleys and big-kicking forehands deep to the corners, led things off with a 6-1, 6-0 romp over Lexington junior Thomas Bryan.

“We’re excited about playing South Aiken,” said Andrew DaCosta, who like brother Robert played his last home match for the Warriors. “We haven’t gone past the third round in awhile. I feel strongly that we can beat South Aiken.”

But the Warriors will have to do it without sophomore McMillan Covington, according to Ellenberg. “McMillan is going surfing in Nicaragua,” Ellenberg said. Covington suffered a 6-4, 3-6, 10-6 loss to Lexington junior Will Horton at No. 2 singles.

That means the Warriors likely will be playing with a weaker lineup as Nos. 3-5 all move up a notch and Ellenberg looks for a No. 5 player.

“It’s going to be a tough match for Wando on the road where South Aiken will have a big group of supporters,” veteran Lexington coach Eric Jackson said. “Both teams are very deep, but South Aiken has some older boys with more experience. South Aiken’s Nos. 1, 4 and 5 players are all seniors.”

SINGLES: Scotty Cameron (W) def. Thomas Bryan, 6-1, 6-0; Will Horton (L) def. McMillan Covington, 6-4, 3-6, 10-6, Andrew DaCosta (W) def. Rod Andrew, 6-1, 6-3; Robert DaCosta (W) def. Nick Neal, 6-3, 6-3; Vinod Pandey (W) def. Hector Santillan-Vazquez, 6-1, 6-4.  DOUBLES (No. 2): Parker Lopresti/Carter Weston (W) def. Chase Neuberger/Henry Sims, 6-4, 4-6, 10-7.

(05/12/15)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
Singles: Cameron d. Halys 0,1. Covington d. Grich 3,3. DaCosta d. Hiller 5,0. Pandey d. King 5,3. McLamb d. Redden 4,2.

Next: Wando hosts Lexington Tuesday.

Singles: Jones d. Utley 6-3, 6-2. Knot d. Lloyd 6-0, 6-0. Ranson d. Lauyrans 6-1, 6-4. Sottile d. Utley 6-0, 6-1. Byrd d. Nelson 6-2, 6-0.   Doubles: Meyer/Flathman d. Rush/King 6-1, 6-0.

(05/10/15)  STAFF REPORTS: South Carolina women’s tennis falls to No. 8 Virginia in second round of NCAA Tournament
The 29th-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team suffered a narrow 4-2 loss to No. 8 Virginia on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Sheridan Snyder Tennis Center in Charlottesville, Va. The Gamecocks, who defeated Princeton, 4-3, in the first round, ended the season with a 15-11 record. The Cavaliers improved to 23-5 and advanced to the NCAA Championships in Waco, Texas, that begin May 15. Virginia will face either Baylor or Rice in the Sweet 16.

Virginia took the doubles point with a pair of victories on courts two and three. Cassie Mercer and Stephanie Nauta won first at two, 8-3, against Meghan Blevins and Megen Cochran, and Danielle Collins and Maci Epstein upended Elixane Lechemia and Ximena Siles Luna, 8-2, at three to clinch the doubles point for the Cavaliers. At one, No. 40 Caroline Dailey and Hadley Berg had a 5-3 lead against Virginia’s No. 28-ranked Julia Elbaba and Skylar Morton when play was stopped.

Berg wasted no time getting the Gamecocks right back in the match with a straight-set victory at the No. 6 spot. She defeated Mercer 6-3, 6-0 to pull the match even in recording her 20th singles win of the season. The freshman finished her first NCAA Tournament with a 3-0 combined singles and doubles record.

The Cavaliers answered right back with Epstein taking out yesterday’s hero for the Gamecocks, Siles Luna, at No. 5 singles by scores of 6-2, 6-0. Siles Luna clinched South Carolina’s win over Princeton in the first round yesterday with a three-set victory. The junior finished the season with a 19-8 record in singles and went 12-3 in dual matches.

Brigit Folland tied up the score once again, 2-all, after she pushed past Morton at the four spot, 6-4, 6-3, to record her 22nd victory this season. No. 40 Nauta, though, dealt the Gamecocks another blow with her 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Blevins at No. 3 to give the Cavaliers the lead yet again.

With the score 3-2 in favor of UVa, Virginia’s No. 6 Elbaba held a one-set-to-love lead on No. 45 Lechemia at one, but the Gamecock senior gained the upper hand early in the second set and held on to win, 6-4, after losing the first, 7-5. Meanwhile, No. 121 Dailey had taken the first set from No. 15 and defending NCAA singles champion Collins in a tiebreaker at two, 9-7, but Collins rebounded to win the second, 6-4, after coming back from a 3-0 hole to force a third set.

Dailey defeated Collins during the regular season when the Gamecocks took a 5-2 loss in Charlottesville in January, and she looked to do it again after the two split the first four games of the third set. From there, however, Collins managed to leap ahead 4-2 and then had a chance to push it to 5-2, but Dailey saved a game point to keep the deficit at just one. Collins shifted into an even higher gear in the next two games, winning seven straight rallies to set up triple match point. Dailey saved one, but Collins put the contest in the books on her second try to thrust Virginia into the Sweet 16 for the fifth year in a row.

At one, Lechemia managed to take the first game of the third set and her match with Elbaba was subsequently suspended during the second frame as Collins closed out Dailey on court two.

Despite the loss, the Gamecocks have won at least one round in the NCAA Tournament 18 times in their 21 consecutive appearances. South Carolina’s streak of 21 straight bids is tied for the 11th longest active streak in the country and their 25 overall appearances is 13th most in NCAA history.

The season is still not complete for Lechemia, as she will compete in the 64-woman NCAA Singles Championship that begins May 20 in Waco. Draws for the tournament will be announced the day before the event begins.

(05/09/15) Hanahan may be an emerging area tennis power
Hanahan High School appears to be a new emerging power in area high school tennis.

This is no joke. Hanahan has the looks of being for real.

At least, the Hawks have won a pair of matches in the SCHSL Class AAA state playoffs. And the future appears to be rosy.

Veteran league tennis player/Collins Park head pro Glenn Cobb has grown a competitive team in his four years as the Hanahan boys tennis coach. The Hawks are 8-4, and headed to Florence on Monday to take on Wilson for a berth in the Lower State final.

Wilson can’t be overlooked after posting a 4-2 win over Beaufort in the second round. Hanahan competes in Region 8-AAA, which includes perennially strong Hilton Head High as well as Beaufort. Hanahan’s four losses were split among those two league rivals.

“Hopefully, next year we’ll be able to compete with them (Hilton Head and Beaufort),” Cobb said about his young team that is expecting to add a couple more solid players for next season. “Plus, my seventh-graders are small, and if they grow a little that will help us.”

Hanahan even played the first two rounds without its No. 2 player, eighth-grader Mark Jones, who was out of town. But on Thursday, junior Nick Briggs and seventh-grader J.T. Ramey moved up a notch from their Nos. 3 an 4 singles positions to join with freshman No. 1 Karim Hyatt to post a 4-3 win over No. 1 seed Brookland-Cayce as Hyatt and Briggs also teamed up to win the decisive No. 1 doubles.

Hyatt and Jones are year-around tennis players. They train three days a week at Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy.

Jones will be back in the lineup on Monday at No. 2, while seventh-grader Campbell Crusman returns to No. 5.

How did Cobb end up as the Hanahan tennis coach? When Hanahan athletic director Dawn Smith asked Cobb if he knew someone with a strong tennis background who might be interested in taking over the tennis program, Cobb thought about it awhile. “I used to coach my daughter, so I told her (Smith) I would take the job.”

Just like that, Hanahan started on the road to respect in high school tennis.

Kiawah tops world

Kiawah Island is back on top of the world in the view of tennisresortsonline.com.

Longtime Kiawah tennis director Roy Barth has done his work well. Along with having a great product to promote, he has helped lift Kiawah Island Golf Resort from its 2014 No. 2 perch back into its customary top spot. This is the eighth time in the last 10 years that readers of the online Web site have selected Kiawah as the No. 1 tennis resort on the planet.

The Isle of Palms’ Wild Dunes Resort isn’t far behind, as it holds down the third spot. Rancho Valencia, Calif., is second.

The rest of the top 10 (in order) are: JW Marriott Desert Springs (California) Resort & Spa; Omni Amelia Island (Florida) Plantation Resort; Sea Island (Georgia); La Quinta (California) Resort & Club/A Waldorf Astoria Resort; Punta Mita (Mexico); Mauna Kea Beach (Hawaii) Hotel; and Four Seasons Resort Nevis (West Indies).

Local Notes

Two Lowcountry Tennis Association teams won titles in last weekend’s 55-and-over state tournament at Hilton Head Island. St. Andrew’s 3.5 men defeated Maybank Tennis Center in the semifinals, then won the title, while the Mount Pleasant Rec’s 4.0 women also were crowned champions. Also, the 3.0 men’s 70 team from Seabrook Island took state honors.

Shelby Rogers lost in the first round last week of the $100,000 tournament in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France. She is scheduled to compete this coming week in Rome.

MWTennis touring pros Jessie Pegula and Samantha Crawford both suffered three-set losses in the second round last week in the $50,000 ITF event in Indian Harbor Beach, Fla., to end their chances of capturing the USTA’s clay court pro circuit wild card berth into the main draw of the French Open.

Creekside Tennis and Swim is engaged in a Tennis 101 adult beginner series on Mondays from 6-7 p.m. through May 25. Contact the tennis club (884-6111).

Family Circle Tennis Center will hold a a Grand Slam Series of adult singles/doubles tournaments, beginning with a Wimbledon event June 11-14. Play will be held on Thursday and Friday nights, and weekends. Contact FCTC (849-5300).

(05/08/15)  DAVID CARAVIELLO: For South Carolina tennis star Meghan Blevins, there’s been no place like home
COLUMBIA — On the surface, there is nothing that separates Court 4 from the others at South Carolina’s tennis center. The white lines are the same length, the green service boxes are the same width, the net is the same height as all the rest. The difference is in the bleachers rising above, where Megan Blevins’ family has assembled for every home match for the past two years.

They’re a boisterous group, sometimes 20 strong, tailgating in the parking lot before taking their seats above the court where Blevins plays No. 4 singles for USC. The senior from North Charleston has enjoyed two standout seasons at South Carolina, this year winning 54 combined matches, the highest total by a Gamecocks player in nearly three decades. It’s been made possible because of Blevins’ skill and tenacity, but also the support she feels flowing down from above.

Meghan Blevins has won eight of her last nine singles matches, was named South Carolina’s team MVP, and will lead the Gamecocks into their 21st consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance beginning Saturday against Princeton in Charlottesville, Va.

“My mom has a big family, so a lot of them come,” Blevins said. “Court 4, there’s a little section up there of my entire family. And they’re loud. That’s our family, we’re a loud family. But it’s amazing. I know my mom and dad’s voices. I know my dad’s clap. I think it’s incredible that I get to be here and I get to play in front of them now.”

It’s incredible it even happened, given the winding and often difficult path which led her to Court 4. She watched her mother battle breast cancer. She relied on the kindness of others to help her continue to train and play in tournaments. She experienced the joy of her mother going into remission — then the pain of her father developing kidney cancer. She went to college 1,100 miles away, realized it was much, much too far from home, and then transferred to a program that hadn’t recruited her, but happened to have one scholarship available at the right time.

No wonder, then, the mood at Court 4 is often so celebratory, with her mother, father — both now in remission — and assorted siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins watching over her. No wonder Blevins has enjoyed a spectacular senior season in which she’s won eight of her last nine singles matches, was named South Carolina’s team MVP, and will lead the Gamecocks into their 21st consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance beginning Saturday against Princeton in Charlottesville, Va.

“When you have that support, it kind of calms you down. It makes you a little sharper,” said Martin Zumpft, Blevins’ personal coach, who runs the Process Tennis Academy at Wild Dunes. “That can make all the difference in the world. If you improve at that level five to 10 percent, it can really push you to that next level, and I’m sure that’s what’s happened to her.”

Tennis, cancer, remission, and coming home — for Meghan Blevins and her family, all those things are encapsulated in Court 4.

‘She was going to be fine’

Cancer, Lisa Blevins’ sister once told her, cannot be your story. It cannot change you, it cannot redefine who you are. “It was really important that cancer wasn’t our story,” said Lisa, Meghan’s mother. So when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she and her husband Ted chose not to tell their three children immediately. They didn’t want to burden them, didn’t want to change who they were. Eventually, they realized there was no choice.

“In retrospect, you look back and say, I know that’s impossible to not change who they are by the thought of a parent not being there anymore,” she said. “But we tried, anyway.”

All this as their middle child Meghan was beginning to blossom into a tennis player who would become a top national recruit. They weren’t a tennis family, but Meghan was a wispy girl uncomfortable playing contact sports, and she found her competitive outlet with a racquet. She started hitting with Teddy Wright, a coach a North Charleston High School, where Lisa was girls’ basketball coach from 1996 through 2002. Meghan was 8, and practicing with high school kids.

Lisa took her to Mount Pleasant Recreation, where pro Clay Maynor taught Meghan how to play tennis. The aptitude emerged quickly — after helping Wando win back-to-back titles as an eighth-grader and a freshman, she switched to an online charter school and began training with Zumpft at the former Players Club in Mount Pleasant. Then the club was sold. Then Lisa Blevins lost her job.

Then came the cancer diagnosis. “It was like the trifecta of doom,” Lisa said. “I’m sure at some point she was thinking, ‘Is this all going to end?’ as far as her training and our ability to get her trained in an environment that was the best.”

South Carolina tennis player Meghan Blevins (front left) with her parents and extended family after a match in Columbia.

The Blevinses were not wealthy. Lisa taught elementary school for 16 years and is now pursuing a culinary degree, while Ted spent 14 years on nuclear submarines and now works at MUSC. But for Meghan’s tennis, they found a way. “We struggled,” Meghan said, “and since they put so much into my tennis, and if I was going to do it, I was going to try to be the best at it I could be. That was the expectation.”

The struggle was magnified once Lisa began treatment. Meghan was scheduled to play in her first national tournament, a clay-court event for 16-year-olds in Virginia Beach, Va., when her mother underwent surgery to have a chemotherapy port put in. Lisa and her younger daughter Haley had always been Meghan’s traveling companions, road-tripping with her to tournaments and ensuring her food and warm-ups were taken care of. Now, that setup was interrupted. There was no way Lisa could drive Meghan to Virginia Beach.

So others stepped up, beginning with the family of a tennis-playing friend who wasn’t even in the tournament. They drove her to Virginia. Her older brother Ben began driving her to events. Zumpft, whom Lisa calls their “rock of Gibraltar,” became more like a family member than a coach.

“Everyone kind of took one for me,” Meghan said. “I felt terrible about it at the time. I felt like I was so spoiled.”

The tennis court became her escape, the place where she could try and forget, at least for a little while, about her mother’s condition. But she could never push it too far away. “She had some rough days, for sure,” Zumpft said. “I remember there would be times she’d be really quiet, and you knew something was weighing down on her. But she’s a tough cookie. She’s very resilient.”

Like mother, like daughter. After the surgery to install her port, Lisa drove to Virginia Beach to see Meghan’s final match — but was so exhausted afterward, she slept in the passenger seat while her daughter drove home. Lisa didn’t like wigs, so she wore a scarf once treatment began altering her appearance. Even on difficult days, she still drove Meghan out to Wild Dunes, where Zumpft had relocated his academy. She would sit in the shade with a book, every once in a while looking up to watch her daughter train.

“My mom’s a fighter, so there wasn’t even a question — she was going to be fine,” Meghan said. “It was still hard. Terrible. But what she did, even with cancer, was pretty incredible.”

No wonder there was never any thought of quitting. “I don’t think my mom would have let that happen, honestly,” Meghan said. Her parents kept putting all they could into her training, she continued to put all she could into her game. Lisa fought through treatment and surgery, and found remission. Meghan rose through the junior rankings, and received college offers. It looked like she was headed to North Carolina, not too far away.

Then Oklahoma State head coach Chris Young visited the Blevins household, and suddenly Meghan was bound for what felt like the middle of nowhere.
‘More of a connection’

During her seven years coaching high school basketball, Lisa Blevins never had a Division I prospect, much less a player as highly recruited as her daughter was in tennis. So when coaches began showing up at their doorstep, they were unprepared. “We were really bad about it,” Lisa said. “We really didn’t know. We fell for a lot of stuff. We believed a lot of stuff. She believed a lot of stuff.”

Meghan loved to travel, and thought she wanted to attend college out of state. Now she laughs about how naive she was then, and how readily she moved out to Stillwater, Okla., without even visiting the campus. “The Oklahoma State coach came and visited, came to my house, and kind of just blew me away with the stuff he was saying,” she said. “I just decided to commit. We really didn’t know what we were doing.”

The first time they saw Stillwater was when they moved Meghan in for her freshman year. There were plans for a sparkling new tennis center. They met T. Boone Pickens, the school’s billionaire benefactor. But nothing could make up for the distance. They weren’t the kind of family that could fly out whenever they wanted, so they had to settle for visits on those rare occasions when the tennis team played in the Southeast.

That distance felt even greater when cancer returned — this time afflicting her father Ted, who ultimately needed to have a kidney removed. He was diagnosed the summer after Meghan’s freshman season, and suddenly the anxieties were flooding back once again, and they followed her all the way back to Oklahoma.

“I think I was mostly scared and just completely devastated for them. My dad, to see my mom go through it, and then for him to get it .... They’re the absolute greatest, so they made it pretty easy for us,” Meghan said.

“It was hard when they told us, and hard to watch them go through it. But I think me, my brother and my sister tried to do everything we could for them to make it as easy as possible. I think it’s just one of those things where it’s like — what? How does this happen to our family? Which is selfish, but you don’t feel like it’s going to, and then it does. After going through my mom’s, which was really, really tough, it was really sad seeing everything my dad had to go through. But when it came around again, we were ready. They’re both incredible.”

Meghan has only positive things to say about her time at Oklahoma State, where she went 21-14 in singles as a sophomore. But with her dad now battling cancer, she wanted to be closer to home. The Blevinses have always been South Carolina fans, to the point where Lisa used to jokingly tell Meghan — even if nowhere else offered her a scholarship, she wasn’t going to Clemson. “That was our family rule,” Meghan said with a smile.

But Blevins hadn’t been recruited by Arlo Elkins, who oversaw the USC women’s program for 29 seasons before he died in 2012. New coach Kevin Epley had on his roster another Charleston-area product who had switched from a Big 12 school — Alex Martin of Mount Pleasant, who had grown up training with Blevins before transferring to USC from Texas. Blevins called her friend to inquire about any potential open spots in the Gamecocks’ roster.

There was one. Blevins met with Epley, who needed reassurance that she wasn’t going to change her mind again. She wasn’t. “Best decision maybe I’ve made in college,” Blevins said of the move. “I knew I wanted to play at a big-time school and be closer to home. (USC) was pretty much my top choice. And the fact there was a spot open — I didn’t have to look anywhere else.”

Her mother still sounds amazed at how it happened. “The Carolina thing was just luck,” Lisa said. Zumpft, who has coached Blevins longer than anyone, isn’t surprised she’s elevated her game in such comfortable surroundings. Blevins this year has won 27 singles and 27 doubles matches, and her combined 54 victories are the most by a USC player since Biljana Mirkovic won the same number in 1987-88.

“I think it’s always been important for her to have the right people around her, and I think she kind of found that,” he said. “Not to throw the people under the bus in Oklahoma, but I think there was more of a connection here — familiarity, people coming out to watch her, her family being able to come watch her in Columbia. None of that really occurred in Oklahoma. So I think that’s played an important role, for sure.”

That both parents are in remission certainly helps. “They’re good. They’re positive,” Blevins said. Although she plans to be a volunteer assistant coach at South Carolina next semester, she still has one event remaining as a player. Ted and Lisa aren’t making the trek to Virginia — they believe they detract from their daughter’s focus during road matches, so they’ll keep tabs from home.

But Meghan Blevins knows, whether it’s on USC’s Court 4 or in the NCAA Tournament, her parents are never very far away.

(05/07/15)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Where in the world is Shelby Rogers
Cagnes-sur-Mer, on the French Riviera

Shelby has landed in the French Riviera, in the gorgeous seaside resort and fishing village of Cagnes-sur-Mer (just 9 miles from Nice, France, and an hour’s drive from Italy). As described by provenceweb.fr: “Cagnes-sur-Mer’s medieval quarter is full of tiny streets, stairs, little restaurants and old houses that gradually descend down and blend with the modern lower city.” Also known as the City of artists, Cagnes-sur-Mer is where the famous painter Renoir spent the last 12 years of his life, seeking relief from arthritis.  
Miles traveled so far this year: 34,195
•    Charleston to Auckland: 8,296 miles
•    Auckland to Sydney: 1,341 miles
•    Sydney to Melbourne: 544 miles
•    Melbourne to LA: 7, 931 miles
•    LA to Acapulco: 1647 miles
•    Acapulco to Monterrey: 610 miles
•    Monterrey to Carson, CA: 1,979 miles
•    Carson, CA to Indian Wells, CA: 131 miles
•    Indian Wells to Miami: 2,614 miles
•    Miami to Osprey, FL: 218 miles
•    Osprey to Charleston, SC: 494 miles
•    Charleston to Bogota: 1,982 miles
•    Bogota to Boca Raton, FL: 1,555 miles
•    Boca Raton to Cagnes-sur-Mer, France: 4,853 miles

(05/06/15)  Czech Republic’s Marketa Placha leads Charleston Southern women into NCAA tennis playoffs
What could be better?

Playing tennis and going to college at the same time is a real treat. Just ask Charleston Southern senior ace Marketa Placha.

“I wanted to study and play tennis. In the United States, it’s great. You can do both at the same time,” she said.

The two-time Big South Conference women’s tennis player of the year didn’t have that luxury back home in the Czech Republic.

It was college or tennis.

And this spring, Placha has earned the added bonus of participating in the NCAA playoffs along with her CSU teammates, a first for the CSU team.

The playoffs will start for the Bucs on Saturday at noon in the Athens, Ga., regional against No. 6 seed Georgia. The Bucs are 18-2 overall, and three weeks removed from their march through the Big South tournament after winning the regular-season title.

“We’re all excited about going to the NCAAs,” Placha said.

Even her parents and sister are scheduled to arrive from the Czech Republic on Thursday. They’ll also travel to the NCAA regionals to watch her play.

“My three years at CSU have been one of the best periods of my life,” said the 23-year-old tennis star who attended Virginia Commonwealth one year before transferring to CSU.

“I didn’t really like VCU, and (CSU coach Mike) Coach Baker offered me the opportunity to come here.”

Placha has made her presence felt at CSU as a player and team leader.

“It has been a pleasure to coach Marketa,” Baker said. “She is really good and very humble. She is the same every day. A professional. She comes to practice and gives 100 percent every day. That is why she is so good.”

Placha has lost only twice this season in singles, once against Clemson and the other loss against Coastal Carolina. She avenged the second loss in the Big South championship match.

Looking ahead to Saturday, the 5-8 Placha said, “We have nothing to lose. I think we will play good since they are seeded and no one expects us to win. I am very excited about my match since I know I am playing a really good girl.”

Georgia is a longtime powerhouse in women’s tennis. The Bulldogs are in the NCAA playoffs for the 29th consecutive season and have won two national titles. Georgia has been a national quarterfinalist the last four seasons.

Placha is looking forward to the challenge, and she thinks her big game is perfect for the opportunity. “I play an aggressive game, and my game is to go for a lot of winners,” she said.

After leaving CSU, Placha is scheduled to attend the IMG Tennis Academy in Florida this summer. She then plans to enroll in an MBA program. “I don’t see myself just to be a tennis player,” she said. “I would like to finish school first and I would like to work in a business. That’s my priority.”

(05/05/15)  Cyclone Boys Tennis Wins State Title
The championship of SCISA boys tennis’ highest level is returning to Porter-Gaud for the 15th time in the last 21 seasons after the Cyclones’ convincing 5-1 victory over Wilson Hall in Friday’s Class AAA state final in Sumter.

Porter-Gaud’s non-senior lineup pulled out third-set match tiebreakers by sophomore Malone Vingi and freshman Manning Snyder at Nos. 3 and 4 to finish off homestanding Wilson Hall (13-2) in singles with the aid of a rally by sophomore Jack Kammerer from 4-1 down in the second set at No. 5.

With three freshmen and two sophomores winning in the Nos. 2-6 positions — Brant Fenno, Vingi, Snyder, Kammerer and Connor Craigie — the Cyclones (11-2) made the final score of a battle of the top seeds from the upper and lower brackets look one-sided.

But the singles verdict could have been much closer, without the toughness of Vingi and Snyder as well as Kammerer’s rally to close out his 6-3, 6-4.

“They (Vingi, Snyder and Kammerer) really came through today, and got the job done,” second-year Porter-Gaud coach Jonathan Barth said. “It feels good to get my first title as a head coach after being Tom’s (Tom Higgins) assistant five years and winning three times.”

In the much anticipated battle at No. 1, Wilson Hall ace Thomas Brown defeated P-G junior Cross Tolliver, 6-3, 6-2.

“It could have been 3-3 in singles if Malone, Manning and Jack hadn’t pulled out their matches,” Fenno pointed out. The freshman left-hander was quite happy about the quick finish as he headed immediately after the match for Clemson to begin competition on Saturday morning in a national level 4 junior tournament.

“This one is my second state title, and it feels so great ... just like the one two years ago,” said Fenno, whose 6-1, 6-2 win over Wilson Hall’s Trey Davis gave the Cyclones their first point of the final. “It’s a great feeling to have everyone play so well and pull it out.”

Vingi was especially happy about closing out an 11-9 match tiebreaker win over sophomore Hunter Hendrix at No. 3, as he remembered last year’s heartbreaking loss at No. 4 singles in a third-set tiebreaker in the Cyclones’ 5-4 state semifinal loss to Hilton Head Christian.

“This was a much better day ... no double faults, but the match last year helped me today,” Vingi said.

“Jack (Kammerer) and I finished at exactly the same time. We were lucky to get out of there without having to play doubles,” added Vingi, who plays a big game with heavy top spin.

Vingi will always remember his last point in this year’s title match. “I was serving at 10-9, and served a big one to his backhand, and then I hit a forehand to his backhand. It wasn’t a winner, but he couldn’t get it back,” he said.

And, then, the celebration began.

Singles: Thomas Brown (WH) def. Cross Tolliver, 6-3, 6-2; Brant Fenno (PG) def. Trey Davis, 6-1, 6-2; Malone Vingi (PG) def. Hunter Hendrix, 6-2, 4-6, 11-9; Manning Snyder (PG) def. Tradd Stover, 3-6, 6-3, 10-6; Jack Kammerer (PG) def. Pierce Thompson, 6-3, 6-4; Connor Craigie (PG) def. Chandler Stone, 6-2, 6-2.

(05/04/15)  GOOSE CREEK GAZETTE: Knights coast past rival in tennis
The Stratford boys tennis team concluded the regular season with a victory over its crosstown rival on April 30.

The Knights blanked Goose Creek 7-0 and dropped just five games in the process.

Stratford finished the regular season 9-5 overall and 5-5 in Region 7-AAAA. The Knights placed fourth in the region standings and were set to travel to Region 8 No. 1 seed Bluffton on May 5 to begin the Class AAAA playoffs.

Against Goose Creek, Dylan Sides (0-0), Griffin Wong (0-0), Parker Hoffman (0-0), Jordan Smith (1-0) and Anthony Yeung (2-0) coasted in straight sets.

In doubles, Jeffrey Wong and Garett Sides (0-1) won at No. 1 while Zach Crawford and Hamilton Payne (0-1) won at No. 2.

This playoffs mark the final moments in the program for seniors Sides, Griffin Wong and Jeffrey Wong.

(05/04/15)  High school tennis playoffs begin Tuesday
There’s bad news once again for Class AAAA boys tennis teams from the Lower State. All roads to the SCHSL Lower State final could run through South Aiken.

If that’s not a tough enough task alone, Region 5-AAAA runner-up Lexington again anchors the bottom of the Lower State draw as the state playoffs begin on Tuesday.

South Aiken won the 2013 state championship and was state runner-up last year as the Thoroughbreds advanced to the Lower State final for the fifth consecutive year.

“We’re excited about the playoffs and as always, we would like to go further than last year and hopefully play for Lower State and/or state,” veteran Wando coach Winde Ellenberg said. “But South Aiken is going to be great competition and Lexington always gives us a great match.”

With that in mind, Lexington has ended Wando’s season each of the last two years in the third round. And South Aiken took care of Region 8-AAAA Summerville in the second and third rounds in 2013 and 2014.

The good news for Wando is that the Warriors are the Region 7-AAAA champions and have gone unbeaten against SCHSL competition in the regular season. Wando’s only loss came against SCISA Class AAA state champion Porter-Gaud.

That means the Warriors will have the home-court advantage if they happen to face Lexington in the third round again. First, Wando must take care of a weaker Blythewood team on Tuesday in Mount Pleasant, then follow that up with another win at home on Thursday against the River Bluff/West Florence survivor.

Wando is strong at the top of the lineup with standout newcomer Scotty Carpenter at No. 1 singles and doubles.

Summerville plays host to James Island in Tuesday’s first round, and that one could be close after the Green Wave took three third-set tiebreakers in singles in last month’s 5-1 win. The winner of that one likely would travel to play a strong Socastee team in the second round, with a trip to South Aiken looming in the third round.

Meanwhile, 7-AAAA runner-up West Ashley will send its brothers act against visiting Fort Dorchester in the first round.

Brothers Junior (senior) and Ozzy Duarte (eighth grade) are sandwiched around brothers Ted (senior) and Stratas Anastopoulo (freshman) in West Ashley’s top four positions.

“If we win, we would go to South Aiken,” West Ashley coach Ronnie DuPre said, sizing up the Wildcats’ possibly short-lived playoff hopes.

The other local Class AAAA pairing will send Stratford to Bluffton for the first round.

In Class AAA, Berkeley will visit Hartsville on Tuesday, while Hanahan goes to Manning.

The Class AA state playoffs will begin on Thursday, with Bishop England a strong contender to reach the state final after shelling defending state champion Waccamaw, 5-1, last week.

(05/01/15)  Porter-Gaud boys win state tennis title
The championship of SCISA boys tennis’ highest level is returning to Porter-Gaud for the 15th time in the last 21 seasons after the Cyclones’ convincing 5-1 victory over Wilson Hall in Friday’s Class AAA state final in Sumter.

Porter-Gaud’s non-senior lineup pulled out third-set match tiebreakers by sophomore Malone Vingi and freshman Manning Snyder at Nos. 3 and 4 to finish off home standing Wilson Hall (13-2) in singles with the aid of a rally by sophomore Jack Kammerer from 4-1 down in the second set at No. 5.

With three freshmen and two sophomores winning in the Nos. 2-6 positions — Brant Fenno, Vingi, Snyder, Kammerer and Connor Craigie — the Cyclones (11-2) made the final score of a battle of the top seeds from the upper and lower brackets look one-sided.

But the singles verdict could have been much closer, without the toughness of Vingi and Snyder as well as Kammerer's rally to close out his 6-3, 6-4.

“They (Vingi, Snyder and Kammerer) really came through today, and got the job done,” second-year Porter-Gaud coach Jonathan Barth said. “It feels good to get my first title as a head coach after being Tom’s (Tom Higgins) assistant five years and winning three times.”

In the much anticipated battle at No. 1, Wilson Hall ace Thomas Brown defeated P-G junior Cross Tolliver, 6-3, 6-2.

“It could have been 3-3 in singles if Malone, Manning and Jack hadn’t pulled out their matches,” Fenno pointed out. The freshman left-hander was quite happy about the quick finish as he headed immediately after the match for Clemson to begin competition on Saturday morning in a national level 4 junior tournament.

“This one is my second state title, and it feels so great ... just like the one two years ago,” said Fenno, whose 6-1, 6-2 win over Wilson Hall’s Trey Davis gave the Cyclones their first point of the final. “It’s a great feeling to have everyone play so well and pull it out.”

Vingi was especially happy about closing out an 11-9 match tiebreaker win over sophomore Hunter Hendrix at No. 3, as he remembered last year’s heartbreaking loss at No. 4 singles in a third-set tiebreaker in the Cyclones’ 5-4 state semifinal loss to Hilton Head Christian.

“This was a much better day ... no double faults, but the match last year helped me today,” Vingi said.

“Jack (Kammerer) and I finished at exactly the same time. We were lucky to get out of there without having to play doubles,” added Vingi, who plays a big game with heavy top spin.

Vingi will always remember his last point in this year’s title match. “I was serving at 10-9, and served a big one to his backhand, and then I hit a forehand to his backhand. It wasn’t a winner, but he couldn’t get it back,” he said.

And, then, the celebration began.

Singles: Thomas Brown (WH) def. Cross Tolliver, 6-3, 6-2; Brant Fenno (PG) def. Trey Davis, 6-1, 6-2; Malone Vingi (PG) def. Hunter Hendrix, 6-2, 4-6, 11-9; Manning Snyder (PG) def. Tradd Stover, 3-6, 6-3, 10-6; Jack Kammerer (PG) def. Pierce Thompson, 6-3, 6-4; Connor Craigie (PG) def. Chandler Stone, 6-2, 6-2.

(05/01/15)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
Singles: A. DaCosta d. Healey 7-6(4), 6-1. R. DaCosta d. Sechrist 6-0, 6-0. Lopresti d. Bridges 6-4, 6-2. Weston d. Bailey 6-1, 6-2. Winglowski d. Alexander 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: Smyth/Botos d. Eddy/Jenkins 2-6, 6-0, 10-6.

Notes: Wando clinches the region.

Singles: Pratt d. Hendrix 6-3, 4-6, 12-10. Dunn (W) d. Jones 6-1, 6-0. Dacuba d. Hewes 6-0, 6-1. Knot d. Russell 6-2, 6-1. Privet d. Lee 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: Sottile/Byrd d. Kemp/Rowland 8-5.

Singles: D. Sides d. Leatherwood 6-0, 6-0. G. Wong d. Hamilton 6-0, 6-0. Hoffman d. Pack 6-0, 6-0. Smith d. Johnson 6-1, 6-0. Yeung d. Hoover 6-2, 6-0.  Doubles: J. Wong/G. Sides d. Leatherwood/Hamilton 6-0, 6-1. Crawford/Payne d. Borg/Boone 6-0, 6-1.

Records: Stratford 9-5 (5-5). Next: Stratford plays in the first round Tuesday.

Singles: T. Anastapoulo (WA) d. Long 6-2, 6-0. Wills d. S. Anastapoulo 6-2, 7-5. Hazel d. O. Duarte 6-1, 4-6, 10-6. Gunn (WA) d. Reynolds 7-6(5), 6-0. Prathipati d. Sadler 6-1, 6-2.  Doubles: Long/Wills d. S. Anastapoulo/O. Duarte 6-1, 6-3. Foster/Harris (WA) d. Yangco/Lenkiwicz 7-6(4), 6-3.

Records: Summerville 10-8-1 (6-2). West Ashley 11-4 (6-3). Next: Summerville hosts James Island Tuesday. West Ashley hosts Fort Dorchester Tuesday.

(04/28/15)  STAFF REPORTS: CSU, CofC honor award winners
Charleston Southern senior Christian Reyes was named as the 2015 recipient of the Hunter Cup, presented to CSU’s top student-athlete, and seniors Saah Nimley and Marketa Placha were named the 2014-2015 Male and Female Athletes of the Year, highlighting CSU’s 49th annual Athletic Awards Banquet.

Senior Jennifer Giles was named the winner of the R.L. Wynn Christian Leadership Award, and senior Paul Gombwer was named the Michael Frost Christian Athlete Award recipient.

Reyes will receive the Hunter Cup at CSU commencement ceremonies this May thanks to his work in the areas of Christian leadership, community service, athletics and academics.

Reyes was voted to the Capital One Academic All-District 4 Football Team last November. On the field, Reyes capped his career as Charleston Southern’s all-time leading rusher, running for 2,200 yards in just 24 games as a Buccaneer.

Nimley recovered from injury to lead Charleston Southern to its second Big South regular-season championship in the last three years. Nimley was named Big South Player of the Year and an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American after finishing fifth nationally in both scoring average and 3-pointers per game.

Nimley led the Big South in both categories, and capped his career as the only player in the league’s 31-year history to tally more than 1,800 points and 500 assists. He left his name all over the CSU record book as well, departing as the program’s all-time leader in assists and made free throws. Nimley also ranks second in Charleston Southern history in threes, and third in scoring.

Placha led Charleston Southern to its first Big South women’s tennis championship and back-to-back regular-season championships, clinching the final point in the championship match against Coastal Carolina. The senior is the reigning two-time Big South Player of the Year and she is a three-time All-Conference Singles selection during her time with the Bucs.

Team award winners and 100 seniors across all 21 varsity sports and support groups were honored at the College of Charleston Athletics #CougAwards Banquet sponsored by The Cougar Club on Tuesday night at TD Arena.

MVP Award recipients included Mackenzie Johnston of men’s cross country, Trish Rein of women’s cross country, Leland Archer of men’s soccer, Jenny Falcone of women’s tennis, Will Ryan of men’s swimming and diving, Jayme Groth of women’s swimming and diving, Hope Walker of women’s soccer, Charlie Ghriskey of men’s tennis, Isabel Duane of cheer, Zach Munroe of men’s golf; and Laura Fuenfstueck of women’s golf.

The CofC sailing team won the 2015 Cougar Cup, which is presented annually to the team with the most participation points in the NCAA Student-Athlete Development commitment areas of athletic excellence, academic excellence, personal development, career development and service.

C.C. Buford of women’s golf and Clerc Cooper of sailing were both honored as co-winners of the prestigious J. Stewart Walker Cup, which the highest award given by the athletics department to a deserving student-athlete. The award is named after J. Stewart Walker, Jr., a 1978 CofC graduate, who was very active in athletics until his death in 1983.

(04/27/15)  GOOSE CREEK GAZETTE:  Cobras win region match
The Cane Bay boys tennis team posted a Region 7-AAAA victory over county rival Goose Creek on April 21 at CBHS.

The Cobras lost only three games in five singles matches and survived a tough match at No. 2 doubles to beat the Gators, 6-0.

Alex Amble blanked his opponent over two sets at No. 1 singles as did Sam Boltz at No. 5.

Michael Buttery, John Kimsey and Randy Hicks dropped just one game in victories at Nos. 2-4 respectively.

Kayed Al Dahabi and Tyler Farr won their match at No. 2 doubles, 7-5, 6-3.

The Cobras were set to travel to Wando on Tuesday before ending the regular season on Thursday, April 30 against West Ashley.

(04/27/15)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
Bluffton 4, Summerville 3
Singles: Long (S) d. Newland 7-5, 7-6 (5); Ball (B) d. Wills 6-2, 6-1; Greiner (B) d. Hazel 5-7, 6-3, 10-5; Reynolds (S) d. Hahn 6-3, 6-3; Prathipati (S) d. Story 6-4 7-6 (4).   Doubles: Newland/Ball (S) d. Long/Wills 6-4, 6-3; Chafer/Sease (B) d. Yangco/Lenkiewicz 6-3, 7-5.

Records: Bluffton 11-3, 7-0; Summerville 9-8-1, 6-2. Next: Bluffton at Colleton County Tuesday. Summerville at West Ashley Wednesday.

West Ashley 4, Cane Bay 2
Singles: Amble (CB) d. T. Anastapoulo 6-1, 4-6 (10-7); S. Anastapoulo (WA) d. Buttery 1-6, 0-6; Gunn (WA) d. Howell 0-6, 4-6; Kimsey(CB) d. Nico Harris 2-6, 6-3, (10-5); Foster (WA) d. Hicks 2-6, 1-6.  Doubles: Sadler/Patel (WA) d. Boltz/Farr 3-6,1-6.

Hilton Head 4, Bishop England 2
Singles: Oliver (HH) d. Jones 6-1, 6-1; Daniel (HH) d. Knot 6-2, 6-2; Steiner (HH) d. Ransom 6-2, 4-6, 10-7; Privet (BE) d. Oliver 6-1, 6-1; Byrd (BE) d. Advocaat 7-5, 6-0.   Doubles: Feldman/Ihenhoch (HH) d. Warren/Sottile 2-6, 6-3, 10-8.

Next: BE hosts Waccamaw Thursday.

Ashley Ridge 5, Colleton County 1
Singles: Parvey (AR) d. K. Johnson 6-1, 6-2; Bailey (CC) d. Rabon 6-3, 1-6, 1-0; M. Nixon (AR) d. Howell 6-2, 7-6; C. Nixon d. Fanchette 6-4, 6-3; X Leo (AR) d. Sanders 6-1, 6-3.   Doubles: Kackley/B. Johnson (AR) d. Bowman/Owens 6-3, 6-0.

(04/25/15)  Hairston returning home to Farmfield
Davy Hairston is bringing his crafty left-handed game back to town. He’ll be teaching tennis this time, not dominating the junior ranks.

This is a guy who walked on at the University of Virginia and rose to the ranks of No. 1 in singles and doubles as a junior and senior. The son of a heart surgeon has taught tennis all over the world. At age 51, Hairston is the new head tennis professional at Farmfield Avenue’s Charleston Tennis Center.

Welcome home, Davy. Farmfield tennis, while superb as a league tennis center, needs a jolt of new life to keep up with the area’s other outstanding junior and adult teaching facilities.

Hairston has served the last three years as the head tennis pro at the Farmington Country Club, a charming clay-court facility in Charlottesville, Va., that has a proud history. Saturday was his last day there.

“I’ll drive there (Charleston) on Sunday and start work on Monday,” Hairston said on Friday from Charlottesville.

Home has a way of calling world travelers back.

“When I learned of Farmfield (Charleston Tennis Center), I jumped at it,” said Hairston, who grew up taking lessons from former Ashley Hall/Florida State star Jane Hirsch and Billy Silcox, Charleston Tennis Center’s first pro.

Hairston was the state’s top junior. He led Porter-Gaud to state titles.

“I chose to go to UVA because my Dad went there and I was born there.”

“It didn’t matter that he wasn’t recruited by Virginia. “I walked on and got a scholarship,” he said.

“My greatest win was beating Jay Berger when he was at Clemson,” he said about the current USTA national coach, who won the 1989 U.S. Clay Courts at Wild Dunes.

After college, Hairston tried the satellite circuit, “but Dad got sick, so I came home.”

He later went back out to see the world. He taught tennis at Club Med resorts, worked in Florida for famed teaching pro Rick Macci, went to the South Pacific, held the position of national tennis coach for Guam, taught tennis in Mexico and directed programs at resort hotels. He entered hotel management in the late 1990s until 2004 in the Caribbean.

Hairston slowed down enough to wed Sandy from the Turks and Caicos Islands. They have a son and a daughter.

“I’ve lived a mobile life,” he said. After kids, he needed more permanence. Tennis called him home to Charlottesville.

When Fredrik Andersson left the Farmfield pro’s position in January to move to Germany, the door to another home swung open for Hairston. He leaped through it.

A Welcome Davy round robin/party will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. at Farmfield. Contact the clubhouse (766-7401).

MW stars follow Rogers

Current Family Circle Tennis Center/MWTennis touring pros Jessie Pegula and Samantha Crawford are trying to follow in Shelby Rogers’ footsteps this spring through the women’s Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge. Rogers earned her first berth in the main draw of the French Open two years ago by winning the Challenge.

Pegula and Crawford both made the singles quarterfinals this past week in the three-tournament segment’s opening $50,000 tournament in Dothan, Ala. After dropping three-set singles matches and also finishing as quarterfinalists as a doubles team, Pegula and Crawford are playing this coming week in Charlottesville, Va., the tournament Rogers won in 2013 to secure her French Open bid.

Rogers is scheduled to leave Thursday to play in the $100,000 Cagnes-sur-Mer ITF event in France that begins on May 4. Irina Falconi, who teamed with Rogers as doubles finalists last week in Bogota, Colombia, also is entered.

(04/25/15)  Fewer obstacles in way of another Porter-Gaud tennis title
The road looks a little smoother for Porter-Gaud in this year’s SCISA boys tennis Class AAA state playoffs.

Hilton Head Prep and Hilton Head Christian, the 2014 state champion and runner-up, are competing in the Class AA state playoffs this time.

That should be very good news for Porter-Gaud, not only because Hilton Head Christian snapped the Cyclones’ streak of five state years as a finalist with a win in last year’s state semifinals, but also because Hilton Head Prep has handed Porter-Gaud its only two losses this spring.

So, with the Hilton Head Island worries out of the way, the Cyclones (9-2) have a good shot at winning their third state title in four years.

“Our division (Class AAA) is certainly different with the two Hilton Head teams gone, especially Hilton Head Prep, which beat us twice this year,” second-year Porter-Gaud coach Jonathan Barth said.

“We haven’t played any of the teams that are in our draw, except Pinewood Prep.” Porter-Gaud scored a pair of one-sided wins over Pinewood Prep during the regular season.

Upper bracket top seed Porter-Gaud has received a first-round bye in the state playoffs that start Monday. The Cyclones are scheduled for a home semifinal on Wednesday against the winner of Monday’s Ben Lippen/Cardinal Newman match.

Sumter’s Wilson Hall is the top seed in the lower bracket and will oppose Monday’s Pinewood Prep/Hammond winner in Wednesday’s other semifinal. The final is scheduled for Friday.

“I don’t know anything about Ben Lippen or Cardinal Newman. I know Wilson Hall has a strong team with some good players,” Barth said. “We just have to be prepared, and expect to play some strong competition.”

Junior Cross Tolliver and freshman Brant Fenno have been the leaders for the Cyclones in the top two singles positions and at No. 1 doubles.

Showdown set

The SCHSL Class AA regular-season showdown between Bishop England and Waccamaw is set for Thursday at Snee Farm. The winner will land the top seeding and important host role if the two rivals meet once again in the Lower State final on May 13.

(04/23/15)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Where in the world is Shelby Rogers
Shelby is back in the States, but only for another week. She heads to Europe on the 30th, for a stretch – beginning with a tournament in Cagnes-sur-Mer (southeastern France), then on to Rome (Italy Open) and Paris (French Open). Shelby is coming off of a sterling week in Bogota, Colombia when she teamed with Italian Irina Falconi (pictured here with Shelby) to make the finals in the Claro Colsanitas Open. It was their first-ever pairing, and a successful one at that! And they played two doubles matches this past Sunday (thus, the double double), defeating Colombia’s Mariana Duque-Marino and Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig in the semifinals (10-8 in the third set tiebreaker), then coming back hours later to play the final against the Brazilian team of Paula Cristina Goncalves and Beatriz Haddad Maia (this time, 10-6 in the breaker). Earlier this week, Shelby flew back to the States, to Boca Raton, FL, for a week of practice, before heading across the pond.
29,342 Miles
• Charleston to Auckland: 8,296 miles
• Auckland to Sydney: 1,341 miles
• Sydney to Melbourne: 544 miles
• Melbourne to LA: 7, 931 miles
• LA to Acapulco: 1647 miles
• Acapulco to Monterrey: 610 miles
• Monterrey to Carson, CA: 1979 miles
• Carson, CA to Indian Wells, CA: 131 miles
• Indian Wells to Miami: 2614 miles
• Miami, FL to Osprey, FL: 218 miles
• Osprey, FL to Charleston, SC: 494 miles
• Charleston to Bogota: 1982 miles
• Bogota to Boca Raton, FL: 1,555 miles

(04/23/15)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
Singles: McManus d. Parvey 6-4, 4-6, 1-0. Rabon (AR) d. Oplanic 4-6, 6-1, 1-0. Stall d. M. Nixon 4-6, 6-4, 1-0. Laverne d. C. Nixon 7-6, 6-0. Leo (AR) d. Ferriera 6-2, 6-4.  Doubles: McManus/Olpanic d. Parvey/Rabon 7-6, 5-7, 1-0. Kackley/Johnson (AR) d. Segundo/Segundo 6-2, 6-4.

Singles: Long d. Parvey 6-2, 7-5. Hazel d. Rabon 6-1, 6-0. Wills d. M. Nixon 6-0, 6-0. Reynolds d. C. Nixon 6-0, 6-0. Prathipati d. Leo 6-0, 6-1.   Doubles: Yangco/Lenkiewicz d. Kackley/Johnson 6-3, 7-5.

Records: Summerville 9-7-1 (6-1). Ashley Ridge 2-9 (1-6). Next: Summerville at Bluffton Monday. Ashley Ridge at Colleton County Monday.

Singles: Tolliver d. Dunn 6-3, 6-4. Fenno d. Hewes 6-0, 6-0. Vingi d. Russell 6-1, 6-3. Snyder d. Lee 6-1, 6-3. Kammerer d. Kemp 6-1, 6-3. Craigie d. Rowland 6-1, 6-3.  Doubles: Fenno/Snyder d. Dunn/Hewes 8-3. Vingi/Kammerer d. Lee/Tucker 8-0. Harvin/Harvin d. Johnson/Kemp 8-0.

Singles: Amble (CB) d. Healey 6-0, 2-6, 11-9. Sechrist d. Buttery 6-2, 6-2. Bridges d. Howell 6-2, 6-2. Bailey d. Kinsey 6-1, 6-1. Alexander d. Hicks 6-1, 6-1.  Doubles: Jenkins/Eddy d. Farr/Boltz 6-2, 6-0.

Records: James Island 8-5. Cane Bay 3-8. Next: James Island hosts Fort Dorchester Monday. Cane Bay hosts West Ashley Monday.

Singles: Miller (W) d. Pi 7-6, 6-3. Ethredge d. Cobbs 6-1, 6-2. Nietert d. Noah Bahrick 6-2, 6-0. McFee d. Graham 6-0, 6-0. Nadeau d. Nick Bahrick 6-1, 6-1.  Doubles: Nietert/McFee d. Cobbs/Noah Bahrick 8-6.  Records: Academic Magnet 7-4 (2-1). Woodland (1-3). Next: Academic Magnet hosts Stratford Wednesday.

Singles: J. Duarte d. D. Sides 6-2, 6-1. T. Anastapoulo d. G. Wong 7-5, 6-7, 10-8. S. Anastapoulo d. J. Wong 6-0, 6-2. O. Duarte d. G. Sides 6-1, 2-6, 10-7. Gunn d. Smith 6-2, 6-1.   Doubles: Harris/Sadler d. Payne/Yeung 6-1, 1-6, 10-8.

Records: Stratford 8-4 (4-4). West Ashley 8-3 (4-3). Next: Stratford at James Island Tuesday. West Ashley at Cane Bay Monday.

(04/18/15) ISLAND PACKET: Only on Hilton Head: Island's sporting delights accommodate watchers and doers
There was a time when tennis whites trumped Heritage plaid.

Two major, televised tennis tournaments -- the World Invitational Tennis Classic and the Family Circle Magazine Cup -- brought throngs of visitors to the island.

The WITC -- an exhibition-style mini tournament that included only the very top 16 players in the world -- gave us a chance to see John Newcombe, Billie Jean King, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert.

It also gave local kids a chance to work as ball boys or girls and as gofers for TV commentators Pancho Gonzalez and Chris Schenkel.

The Family Circle Cup, now played up the coast in Charleston, started as the Virginia Slims Classic and drew some of the game's top women players to the Sea Pines Racquet Club.

It was easy in those days to be a tennis player -- and a fanatic. It was the biggest thing on the island.

It's a bit more difficult now.

Sure, we have more local adult tennis leagues than ever and a couple of renowned tennis academies.

But golf has come up swinging -- and winning.

When you talk world-class island events, the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing comes to mind first. That success is due in large part, to the staff, volunteers and sponsors who committed their time, talents and money to nurturing and running it.

And while I don't golf, I have long had one of the best seats in the house for the Heritage, since I grew up in a house on the 11th tee of the Harbour Town Golf Links. Let's just say being a tournament spectator sort of runs in the family.

Here, though, you can watch or play with equal abandon, and your choices aren't limited to activities involving rackets or clubs, balls or tees.

There are also biking clubs, running clubs, beach yoga, paddle-boarding, parasailing, windsurfing, swimming, bird watching and, of course, gator watching.

You can switch from one to another as mood -- or health or age -- dictate.

All of which might leave you exhausted, but never bored.

(04/18/15)  STAFF REPORTS: CSU wins Big South women’s tennis crown
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Big South Conference player of the year Marketa Placha started and finished Charleston Southern’s 4-0 victory over Coastal Carolina on Saturday that gave the Bucs (18-2) the Big South tournament women’s tennis championship.

Coach Mike Baker’s regular-season/tournament champion CSU squad earned a berth in the upcoming NCAA tournament with the victory in the final at the Asheville Racquet Club.

Appropriately, Placha, a senior from the Czech Republic, clinched the title with a No. 1 singles 6-4, 6-0 victory over Coastal’s Libby Scott, who had handed the CSU ace one of the only two losses she suffered during the regular season. Placha also teamed with German freshman Sophie Cloessner for an 8-0 win at No. 3 doubles that opened the way for the Bucs’ first point.

After winning the doubles point, CSU quickly moved into position to capture the championship with one-sided wins at Nos. 2 and 3 singles as German senior Yvonne Hubler blitzed Coastal’s Romane Delay, 6-2, 6-0, following Canadian senior Angelica Sidorenko’s 6-2, 6-2 victory over Coastal’s Honami Yazawa at No. 3.

Charleston Southern captured the doubles point when the No. 2 Nicolin Luecke/Hubler team finished off an 8-6 win over Coastal’s Maria Babayan and Sara Bondar. Placha and Cloessner made quick work of Coastal’s Cari Berry/Delay team to give the Bucs the early lead.

CSU’s Mi’Kola Cooper and Sidorenko led the Libby Scott/Yazawa pair, 6-5, at the No. 1 position when the Bucs clinched the doubles point. Former Porter-Gaud star Cooper owned a 6-4, 0-1 lead over Coastal’s Sara Bondar at No. 4 singles when Placha wrapped up the title.

The Bucs trailed at Nos. 5 and 6 singles when the match ended.

The No. 2 College of Charleston women’s tennis team finds itself with a ticket to the CAA championship match for a second straight year after defeating Elon, 4-1, Saturday at the Millie West Tennis Facility in Williamsburg, Va.

“It was Senior Day Take II for us,” CofC head coach Angelo Anastopoulo said. “(Elon’s) Coach Anderson has done a terrific job with her freshmen. It takes years to build up the mental and physical endurance to win a match like that. The only reason we won today is that we had a little more experience in that, as evidenced by the performance of our seniors.”

The Cougars (14-12, 6-1 CAA) previously defeated the Phoenix (15-8, 2-2 CAA) in a close 4-3 regular-season conference match just eight days earlier.

Charleston took an early 1-0 lead by clinching the doubles point for the ninth straight match. After Elon’s duo Taylor Casey and Erica Braschi earned an 8-3 victory at the No. 3 doubles spot, the Cougars responded with consecutive wins at the top two spots. The 79th-ranked tandem of senior Jenny Falcone and junior Katherine Schofield topped Kirsten Ward and Barbora Lazarova, 8-2, for their eighth straight No. 1 doubles win. For the second day in a row, senior Samantha Maddox and sophomore Mara Argyiou clinched the doubles point for the Cougars at the No. 2 spot, this time downing Olivia Lucas and Bridget Liddell, 8-3.

CofC’s three seniors recorded wins in singles to give the Cougars their 10th straight win. Falcone struggled early on court five, needing a tiebreak to defeat Casey in the first set 7-6 (1). She then cruised to a 6-1 victory in the second set to boost Charleston’s lead to 2-0 and cement her eighth consecutive singles victory.

After Elon’s Lazarova put the Phoenix on the board with a win at No. 3 singles, CofC senior Grace Baker completed a three-set win over Kamilla Beisenova on court six. After falling 6-4 in the first set, Baker bounced back to take the next two sets 6-2, 6-3. Just as she had in doubles, Maddox clinched the match for the Cougars with a three-set victory at the top spot over Ward. Maddox, an all-CAA second-team selection, is now 11-14 on the season, with eight of her wins coming as CofC’s top singles player.

The Cougars face top-seeded William & Mary (15-6, 3-1 CAA) at 10 a.m. Sunday.

It came down to the last match standing as the No. 4-seeded College of Charleston men’s tennis team upset top-seeded and defending champion UNCW, 4-3, in the semifinals of the CAA Men’s Tennis Championship on Saturday at the Millie West Tennis Facility in Williamsburg, Va.

With the win, the Cougars (15-9) advance to the league’s championship match for the second year in a row and will face No. 3-seeded and host William & Mary at 2 p.m. Sunday.

It marked CofC’s first win over a ranked opponent this season in four tries as the Seahawks (11-8) were ranked No. 63 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings.

Sophomore Vasily Kichigan clinched the match for the Cougars, winning a three-setter at No. 4 singles over UNCW’s Xander Veys, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. Junior Zach Lewis and junior Garrett Gordon also won their respective singles matches in straight sets at the No. 5 and No. 6 lines, respectively. Lewis won a second-set tiebreaker over Zach Hublitz, 6-4, 7-6 (4), while Gordon dispatched Andres Torres, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

CofC entered singles with momentum earning the doubles point early with wins at the No. 2 and 3 spots. Senior Charlie Ghriskey, a transfer from W&M, and Lewis defeated UNCW’s Santtu Leskinen and Xander Veys, 8-5, on court two.

Junior Josh Record and sophomore Rodrigo Encinas clinched the doubles point for the Cougars with a 7-4 tiebreak victory over Taylor Cramer and Hublitz on court three. The win was the eighth straight for Encinas and Record, who lead the Cougars with a team-best 10-1 doubles record.

(04/16/15)  Former Porter-Gaud tennis star Cooper a crucial part of Charleston Southern’s success this season
s and in doubles, Mi’Kola has proven to be a crucial part of our team success this season. Her focus in practice and matches has greatly improved this year which has allowed her to have a very special year,” Baker said.

Cooper was ahead, 6-4, 2-1, at No. 3 singles against Gardner-Webb’s Stina Magnusson when the Bucs wrapped up Thursday’s victory. A transfer from Morgan State, Cooper has gone 13-4 in singles this season as a junior.

She credits Baker with playing a major role in her improvement. “I like to hit winners,” said the hard-hitting junior who has been named to the all-conference doubles team.

“But Coach Baker taught me not only to win, but to make it difficult for my opponents where they don’t want to play me again. That’s by staying in the point longer and coming to the net more. I go for big shots more now and not just for the lines.”

A former All-Lowcountry player who played one season for Morgan State before transferring to CSU for her sophomore year, Cooper is happy being close enough to home that her family and friends can watch her play. “I was homesick (in Baltimore). I rarely got to come home. Plus, it was cold,” she said.

The former national Arthur Ashe Essay Contest winner as a teenager hopes that her aggressive style of play will help her when she tests the next level of tennis.

“I have a newfound confidence in my game and I am hoping that can carry over. I am looking to play some pro tournaments this summer,” she said, mentioning in particularly pro satellite events at Hilton Head Island and Sumter.

Superb athletic ability, heavy top-spin groundstrokes and a big overhead are some of the reasons that make Cooper’s game so impressive. She delivered a combined seven aces in her singles and doubles matches against Gardner-Webb.

Cooper has learned to harness the power she demonstrated so well while leading Porter-Gaud to a state championship as a senior.

“I like to hit top-spin. The girls don’t like to play balls that bounce up high,” she said.

The 20-year-old criminal justice major is “very happy” playing college tennis for the Bucs. “Our team is bonded. We go out to dinner on Fridays to keep a family atmosphere” she said.

And, yes, Cooper thinks the Bucs can pull off a tournament championship feat.

(04/16/15)  THE COLLETONIAN: JEFF DENNIS: Martina Hingis returns to Family Circle Cup
After a 14-year hiatus from the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament, Martina Hingis returned to play doubles with Sania Mirza. The dynamic duo won the Sunday finals match, giving them the FCC Doubles Title, and giving the crowd a chance to reminisce about when Hingis was tops in tennis back in the late 1990’s. In singles competition, it was Angelique Kerber of Germany who claimed the title of 2015 FCC Champion.

For those keeping track, Hingis – nicknamed the Swiss Miss-won 43 singles titles during her career including five Grand Slam titles. Hingis stepped away from pro tennis for a time but began a doubles comeback during 2013 with Daniela Hantuchova. She changed partners several times, and even found some limited success in 2014, but it wasn’t until recently that things began clicking. That’s when she joined India’s Sania Mirza, and they have ripped off three consecutive doubles titles in 2015.

Their play at the Family Circle Cup was so dominant that they made their wins look easy. Hingis was in top form physically and seemed as nimble as ever when coming to the net. In fact, it appeared in the finals match that her opponents were keeping the tennis ball away from her. Too bad for them that Mirza is actually ranked the No. 1 doubles player in the world, and she was more than up for the challenge. This doubles pairing may make some noise at Wimbledon, and Lowcountry tennis fans got a glimpse of greatness at the FCC.

The main singles draw at the Family Circle Cup lacked the same star power as previous years, when both Venus Williams and sister Serena Williams decided not to play. The top eight seeds included the 2014 FCC Champ Andrea Petkovic but much of the field was younger, up and coming players. Of course this allows for more storylines along the course of play during the week, and the FCC title was anyone’s to win.

The top seed Eugenie Bouchard was ousted early in tourney play, after accepting a wild card bid to attend on late notice. Bouchard played well at the FCC in 2014 and has the look of a future FCC champ if she keeps returning to play. Petkovic made it to the semifinals but was ousted by fellow 27-year old German player Angelique Kerber. The other semifinal winner was American Madison Keys who breezed through all her matches, and she looked to be the favorite to win.

Sunday’s final match was played under cloudy skies and in a brisk cool wind. Kerber won the first set easily using a fast start, and then slow deliberate play. The crowd was clearly supporting Keys and when she played harder at the end of the second set the noise level grew. Keys held off Kerber to win the second set and avoid an early exit. However, her third set play wasn’t stellar enough to win, and Kerber claimed her fourth-ever women’s tennis title. At 20 years old, Keys can take a lot of positives from reaching the finals and it’s a safe bet that she will return in 2016.

(04/16/15) DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Where in the world is Shelby Rogers
Bogota, Colombia

Shelby hits the red clay this week, voyaging to South America for the first time this year. She’s now in Bogota, the capital of Colombia and home to nearly seven million residents. Founded in 1538, Bogota is known as the highest city of the world with over three million people (it sits 8,360 feet above sea level). And Colombia is unique in that it is the only South American country with both Atlantic and Pacific coastlines – all told, the country has over 300 beaches. This week’s tournament is housed at a club that features both equestrian and soccer, along with tennis.

27,787 Miles

• Charleston to Auckland: 8,296 miles
• Auckland to Sydney: 1,341 miles
• Sydney to Melbourne: 544 miles
• Melbourne to LA: 7, 931 miles
• LA to Acapulco: 1647 miles
• Acapulco to Monterrey: 610 miles
• Monterrey to Carson, CA: 1979 miles
• Carson, CA to Indian Wells, CA:
 131 miles
• Indian Wells to Miami: 2614 miles
• Miami, FL to Osprey, FL: 218 miles
• Osprey, FL to Charleston, SC: 494
• Charleston to Bogota, Colombia: 1982 miles

(04/15/15)  STAFF REPORTS: Three Cougars, coach Anastopoulo receive All-CAA honors
College of Charleston women’s tennis placed three of its members on the 2015 All-CAA Women’s Tennis First Team and veteran coach Angelo Anastopoulo was named the CAA Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year, the Colonial Athletic Association announced Wednesday night.

“It certainly is a surprise to be honored by my fellow coaches,” Anastopoulo said. “I thought that as a team we struggled early in the season, but I have been very happy with our overall improvement, especially throughout our conference schedule. I am very humbled and honored by this award.”

Under Anastopoulo, the team amassed a 12-12 season record, while playing a challenging schedule that included seven nationally ranked opponents. After opening its conference slate with a loss to No. 55 William & Mary, the Cougars reeled off four straight CAA victories over Delaware, UNC Wilmington, Elon and James Madison.

Anastopoulo has been a fixture in CofC tennis, spending 24 years at the helm of women’s tennis while also acting as the director of tennis for the last 13 years. Anastopoulo served a 10-year stint as the men’s tennis coach from 1991-2001. He has been honored as the conference coach of the year in three different leagues at the Division I (CAA, SoCon) and Division II (TAAC) levels.

Three of Anastopoulo’s squad also were recognized by the conference. Senior Samantha Maddox garnered first-team All-CAA honors in singles after having been named the CAA Women’s Tennis Player of the Week on March 24. The Lexington, Ky., native has compiled 10 wins on the season, with seven coming at the No. 1 spot. This is the second all-conference honor of the senior’s career; she was named to the All-SoCon Second Team as a freshman.

Senior Jenny Falcone and junior Katherine Schofield were named to the All-CAA First Team for doubles. The pair, currently ranked 79th in the country in the latest ITA poll, have had a banner year with highlights that include defeating the No. 1 doubles team in the nation and being named the CAA Women’s Tennis Doubles Team of the Week three times, with back-to-back accolades on April 7 and 14. Falcone and Schofield have racked up a 12-7 record in 2015 and will enter the CAA Championships on a six-match win streak.

Falcone also was named to the CAA All-Academic Team.

Five different members of the College of Charleston men’s tennis team garnered All-CAA accolades, tying UNC Wilmington for the most players from any team, as announced by the Colonial Athletic Association on Wednesday.

“One of the best parts about the season’s latter stages is that our student-athletes get honored for their hard work throughout the year,” CofC Head Coach Jay Bruner said. “To have five different student-athletes receive accolades from the conference office is quite an achievement and I’m happy with the way the group came together as a team this season. I’m very proud of them for all their hard work.”

The Cougars (13-9, 2-1 CAA) had two players named to the All-CAA Men’s Tennis Second Team in singles. Sophomore Rodrigo Encinas, CofC’s top-seeded singles player earned second-team All-CAA honors after compiling seven wins in 2015, including a three-set comeback victory against Hofstra’s top player, Beau Wills. This is the second year the Santiago, Chile, native has been honored by the CAA.

Charlie Ghriskey also picked up second-team all-conference honors. The Mount Kisco, N.Y., native racked up a 14-8 record on the season, playing primarily at the No. 3 spot. Ghriskey received the CAA Men’s Tennis Player of the Week award on Feb. 11.

Seniors Brice Allanic and Alon Faiman were named to the All-CAA Men’s Tennis Second Team for doubles. The duo won four matches at the No. 1 spot over opponents from Winthrop, Savannah College of Arts & Design, The Citadel and James Madison. Allanic also picked up three wins with partner Franz Sydow.

Junior Zack Lewis rounded out the conference honors with a spot on the All-CAA Academic Team. The Richmond, Ky., native racked up a team-best 15-5 singles record, playing primarily at the No. 5 spot. He will enter the CAA Championships with a four-match win streak and having won eight of his last 10 matches.

(04/15/15)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
Singles: Pratt (BE) d. Tolliver 6-3, 6-1. Fenno d. Jones 6-1, 6-0. Decuba (BE) d. Vingi 7-6, 6-4. Snyder d. Knott 6-2, 2-6, (6). Kammerer d. Privett 2-6, 6-3, (9).   Doubles: Harvin/Harvin d. Warren/Byrd 5-7, 6-4, (8).

Records: Porter-Gaud 9-1. Next: Porter-Gaud at Hilton Head Prep Tuesday.

Singles: D. Sides d. Leatherwood 6-0, 6-0. Hoffman d. Hamilton 6-0, 6-0. J. Wong d. Pack 6-0, 6-0. G. Sides d. Johnson 6-0, 6-1. Smith d. Hoover 6-0, 6-2.   Doubles: Yeung/Payne d. Boone/Borg 6-3, 6-2. Robinson/Crawford d. Loftas/Smith 8-1.

Records: Stratford 6-2 (3-2). Next: Stratford hosts Academic Magnet today.

Singles: Long d. Johnson 6-0, 6-0. Hazel d. Bailey 6-1, 6-0. Wills d. Warren 6-0, 6-0. Reynolds d. Bridge 6-0, 6-0. Prathipati d. Fanchette 6-0, 6-0.   Doubles: Yangco/Lenkiewicz d. Sanders/Bowman 6-1, 6-0.

Singles: Hazel d. Johnson 6-0, 6-2. Wills d. Bailey 6-1, 6-0. Reynolds d. Warren 6-0, 6-2. Yangco d. Bridge 6-0, 7-5. Lenkiewicz d. Sanders 6-2, 6-0.   Doubles: Edwards/Lewis d. Fanchette/Bowman 6-1, 6-1.

Records: Summerville 7-6 (5-1). Colleton County 0-6 (0-4). Next: Summerville at Bishop England Thursday at Snee Farm. Colleton County hosts Ashley Ridge Thursday.

Singles: DaCosta d. Healey 6-2, 6-4. Lopresti d. Sechrist 6-4, 4-6, 10-5. Bridges (JI) d. Weston 6-3, 6-2. Wingloski d. Bailey 6-3, 6-3. Smyth d. Alexander 6-1, 6-1.    Doubles: Botos/Esakov d. Jenkins/Eddy 6-0, 6-4.

(04/15/15)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: STEVE FERBER: Kerber Wins Family Circle Cup
A powerful ending to this year's Family Circle Cup

In what some are calling the best final in Family Circle Cup history, German veteran southpaw Angelique Kerber defeated Madison Keys, the fast rising U.S. Star who, at just 20 years old, is pure power. In the final, Keys routinely drove serves in excess of 120 mph (her top serve hit 124), placing her in the pantheon of female servers on the tour.

Impressions from last week’s tournament:
• If you’re looking for a new partner (we’re talking tennis here) . . . pick 34-year old and 5-time Grand Slam Champion Martina Hingis. That’s what Sana Mirza did six weeks ago when Mirza (then the #3 doubles player in the world, now she’s #1) switched partners and teamed with Hingis to win three premier tournaments in a row. How good are they? As of Sunday, they’re a perfect 14-0, winning Indian Wells, Miami and Charleston, losing just three sets along the way!

• If you haven’t won a tournament in 18 months . . . don’t panic. That’s exactly what Germany’s Angelique Kerber did this week. During an interview session with this reporter a week ago, Kerber acknowledged the enormous pressure she places on herself to excel. Kerber has been ranked in the top 10 for years, and prior to this week stood at No. 14 in the world. So, why the pressure, the worries? Said Kerber, who has no equal in terms of physical preparation: “I wish I could play in matches like I do in practice.” Well, this week she did, playing with strength, consistency and an iron will – qualities that, over time, guarantee a spot at the head table.

• If you think the mental game isn’t important . . . think again.  In some circles, it’s the factor that separates the top echelon from the rest. Players are more prepared that ever, physically and nutritionally, yet mental preparation has yet to catch up. It’s the next frontier.

• If you think your injuries are because of old age . . . think again.  A concert of twenty-somethings were feeling the grind this week, when high ranking Lucie Safarova, Sabine Lisicki, Mona Barthel, Ekaterina Makarova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Jelena Jankovic (OK, she’s 30) all had to bow out of the tournament because of injury (Safarova and Lisicki, before it began).

• If you think your work schedule is tiring you out . . . think about the grind these players endure. Yes, you’re thinking, they’re paid handsomely, so it makes up for it. But that’s only at the highest level. There are more than 2,500 players on the WTA tour and for the vast majority, competing (in 55 tournaments, in 33 countries around the world) is an enormous physical and mental commitment.

• If you think youth is overrated . . . think again. Of the 56 women who competed in the main draw at this year’s Family Circle Cup tournament, only three were over 30 years of age (and half were born in the 1990s!).

• If you have yet to circle April 2-10, 2016 on your calendar . . . you should. Those are the dates for next year’s Family Circle Cup tournament!

City of Chas News Release

The Family Circle Cup, the premiere women’s championship tennis tournament, just completed its 15th season in Charleston, South Carolina after moving here from Hilton Head, SC.  Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. said, “The best women’s tennis in America is played right here on Daniel Island at the Family Circle Cup.  Meredith Corporation, which operates the Family Circle Cup, has been an outstanding community partner while generating over $500 Million in total economic impact. We celebrate this milestone anniversary and look forward to many years of excellent tennis on Daniel Island in the City of Charleston.”

At City Council Meeting on Monday, April 13, the City of Charleston introduced a proclamation recognizing the contribution of the Family Circle Cup and the Meredith Corporation. Council recognized that the Family Circle Cup is a valuable incentive here for tennis, especially with our young people and has provided international exposure for the City of Charleston and for the sport of tennis.

Nancy Weber, Executive Vice President of Marketing for the Meredith Corporation and Eleanor Adams, Tournament Director of the Family Circle Cup were present at the city council meeting to accept the proclamation naming April 13, 2015 as Family Circle Cup and the Meredith Corporation Day in the City of Charleston.

(04/12/15)  MUSC: Shane K. Woolf, MD
Shane K. Woolf, MD
Chief, Sports Medicine
Department of Orthopaedics
Medical University of South Carolina

The crowds have departed, the tents have come down, the world-class tennis athletes have begun competition for their next tournaments, and the MUSC Health Sports Medicine team has settled back into a ‘normal’ workweek.

From April 4th through 12th around 90 international athletes, and a half dozen physiotherapists, massage therapists and other medical staff from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) occupied the clubhouse at the Family Circle Cup, which was repurposed as a locker room, lounge, dining hall, physiotherapy center, equipment repair and tuning shop, and medical clinic for these remarkably talented athletes.  It was a wonderful week of great competition, classy sportsmanship, and beautiful spring Charleston days. Much of our time was spent either in the small office we used as our clinic or out near the courts to be immediately available if needed.

I had the good fortune of collaborating on the care of the athletes once again with Alec Decastro, MD (Primary Care Sports Medicine), Jana Upshaw, MD (Emergency Medicine), and Michael Barr, PT (Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy). Our efforts with the WTA for this year’s tournament actually began just after the 2014 event ended, when we all debriefed the medical care provided to the athletes and mapped out the plan for the 2015 event.  Out of that discussion came improvements in our care coordination as well as technologic advances including implementation of a telemedicine connection with our medical subspecialty colleagues at MUSC. The athletes and physiotherapists with the WTA were thrilled to have the ability to virtually ‘meet’ with consulting specialists, themselves world-class, from MUSC without leaving the comfort of the clubhouse.

Throughout the past year, planning the medical coverage, organizing the necessary medical supplies, credentialing and background checks for our team, regular teleconferences with the WTA sports medicine leadership, and on-site coordination with the local Family Circle Cup organizers, Bob Moran and Eleanor Adams were tasks that our group addressed nearly every week to prepare for the 9 days of competition.

Our week actually began on April 3rd, the night prior to the qualifying matches, with a meeting with the WTAs physiotherapists at our medical clinic. We reviewed protocols, emergency action plans, medical record keeping, ‘red alert’ athletes who have unusual or risky medical conditions, and even assessed several athletes who were arriving from tournaments elsewhere in the world. Overall, the three MUSC Health Sports Medicine physicians split our duties covering the tournament from 9 AM until 10 or 11 PM most every night of the week. Each of us also had clinical duties all week, so this meant little sleep, long days, tight schedules, and over 60 hours of time providing medical care at the FCC in addition to our regular practices. Despite the All-Access badges, walkie-talkie, direct interaction with famous athletes, and perceptions of family and friends who see us roaming the FCC grounds all week, this role is rewarding, enjoyable, and fun, but certainly not glamorous.

A typical day might involve a physical exam for a new WTA athlete who won in the qualifier. This is completed with numerous pages of documentation. Then the physiotherapists might ask for a shoulder evaluation on an athlete who complains of pain on motion of the joint after a match. We are each credentialed to evaluate and treat these athletes with rehab protocols, prescription anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and so forth.  So the evaluations are handled like any other clinical visit in practice. Another knock on the clinic door might bring an athlete who needs a contact lens prescription or perhaps renewal of asthma medication.

Then the walkie-talkie will awaken with a call from one of the PTs on Court 3 with an athlete who is feeling dizzy in the second set of her match. We gather our medical bag, including stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, and other supplies, and rush out to the court to assess the athlete for cardiac or heat related issues. In this case, dehydration from a gastrointestinal condition might be the problem. She finishes the match, but then comes into the medical office to obtain documentation for a medical withdrawal from her next tournament so that she will have an extra week to rest and recover from the illness. We are responsible for this documentation and any necessary treatment plans as well. Similarly, more complex injuries might warrant consultation with our peers at MUSC, referral for specialty evaluation, or mapping a treatment plan for the player as she travels to the next tournament in Europe or South America.

Each night would end with a check out among the medical personnel on athletes who just finished the evening matches. In many cases, we might examine an athlete or two after 10 PM once the fans have left, the player has checked in with the WTA, urine blood doping screen was completed and she still has a knee or wrist that is aching. Once all of the documentation is finished, we shut down the medical clinic and head home to rest a few hours before the next day’s work begins.

It is a privilege to work with the WTA, Family Circle Cup, and these talented athletes. They trust the care of our MUSC Health Sports Medicine team. We are already beginning to prepare for next year’s Family Circle Cup April 2-10, 2016! Hope to see you there.

(04/12/15)  The little fighter named Angelique deserves the crown
In this corner, the fighting WTA/FCC champion: Angelique Kerber.

She was pounded from start to finish by the powerful, bruising blows of Madison Keys.

But the little counter-puncher stung like a bee and exhibited extraordinary footwork.
If this had been a boxing match, Kerber probably would not still have been standing to see her opponent’s last blow sail well past the baseline.

Keys did everything — but win the match. She almost delivered a knockout, but allowed Kerber to keep fighting.

In one of the most exciting finals in the 43-year history of the Family Circle Cup, this one had a little of everything before Kerber finally prevailed, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

After committing backhand errors on 10 of the first 13 points of the match, Keys came back hitting — and hitting. She was relentless. She hit all-out until the end, with the exception of two points when she was just one game from the finish line. That was after substitute coach Lisa Raymond (for Lindsay Davenport) came out on the court after Keys had just fought off two break points to take a 5-4 lead in the third set.

I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that Raymond advised her 20-year-old pupil to take some air out of the ball in the next game against Kerber’s serve. Keys did that for two points and lost both, then started banging shots again. She lost 14 of the last 18 points in the match.

Of course, Kerber deserved this title. The 27-year-old German was solid almost from start to finish, with the exception of a blip at 4-4 in the second set. She served flawlessly, most of the time to Keys’ weaker backhand side. And she made amazing return after amazing return down the stretch.

The normal routine for Keys to win a point was to put a ball away two or three times before finally winning the point. Kerber was that resilient, shaking off apparent leg problems. She would not go down, even when Keys practically knocked her down on the backhand side.

Kerber won’t change. She’ll always be a backboard that won’t go away. Even her serve, as simple as it looks to return, is complicated because she’s a lefty. Kerber’s serve has this low trajectory on it bounce, almost sliding into a returner’s body.

Keys can have the world of tennis at her feet. She has everything it takes, but a taste of patience. When she acquires that, her young legion of fans will have something to really cheer about.

Another Serena? Keys has the potential. She hits and serves nearly as big, and possibly has better mobility than current world’s No. 1 Serena Williams.

Keys should win this title many times. But right now the little fighter with the pretty name Angelique has earned the title. She will wear the crown well.

Kovinic and Rogers

Madison Keys has been in everyone’s picture for quite some time now. But the real unknown that appears to have what it takes to make a big name for herself on the WTA Tour is Danka Kovinic. She is the 20-year-old from Montenegro who practically knocked then-defending champion Andrea Petkovic off the court in the quarterfinals. Kovinic needs patience. She will have everything else once she fine-tunes her big game just a bit.

At least Shelby Rogers won a match this time before the home crowd, even though she failed to finish off what could have been a big boost for her career in the second round. The one win will lift Rogers’ current No. 80 world ranking a couple spots when the next rankings come out on Monday. Rogers will open play as the sixth seed in a $250,000 red clay event in Bogota, Colombia, on Monday against 114th-ranked Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain.

(04/12/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: At Family Circle Cup, Keys can’t close out Kerber
When Madison Keys fulfills the potential that so many see in her, she will close out a match like this one.

On Sunday, the 20-year-old Keys had a crowd of 8,023 fans at the Family Circle Cup’s Stadium Court on her side, chanting “Let’s go, Madison!” at several junctures. She had a worthy opponent, world No. 16 Angelique Kerber, on the ropes with a 4-1 advantage in the third set. She had her second WTA title and first on clay within her grasp.

It didn’t happen.

The 27-year-old Kerber demonstrated the difference between the wiles of a WTA veteran and the promise of youth, rallying for a hard-fought 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Keys in the final of the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.

Kerber dropped to her knees and then to her back after clinching the victory in 2 hours and 16 minutes. It was her fourth win on tour and earned her $124,000. Kerber also kept the Cup in German hands; her victory followed that of friend and countrywoman Andrea Petkovic last year.

“I mean, it’s unbelievable,” said Kerber, who went 0 for 4 in WTA finals last year, the only top-10 player to fail to win a title. “To win the title here in Charleston after really difficult weeks that I had, I’m feeling great. I had last year four finals and I didn’t won one, so it’s great to win actually this tournament.”

Keys, ranked No. 20 in the world, defeated Kerber in three sets to win her first title last year. But that was on grass at Eastbourne in Great Britain. On Charleston’s clay on a cool and breezy Sunday, she couldn’t close the deal.

“Yes, I was up 4-1,” a teary Keys said afterward. “But at the same time, it’s one break, and she completely lifted her level. You know, it kind of just totally changed right then. It’s good because I wasn’t playing my best, but I still was so close.

“But then, it also hurts a little bit more.”

Down 1-4 in the third, Kerber got a visit from her coach. His advice seemed to work.

“He just said, just relax and just play point by point,” Kerber said. “Just believe in yourself and just go for it. And I just try it, because it was really hard to break her. She really served well today, so I was just trying to focus on every single point like he told me, and I think that was the best advice he gives me.”

Pitting her defensive skills against Keys’ power, Kerber won three straight games to get to 4-4. Serving at 5-5, Keys hit her first double fault of the match to give Kerber a break point, which she cashed in when Keys hit a backhand long. Kerber served out the match from there.

“She was definitely taking more chances with her forehand and moving me around a little bit more,” said Keys, who had 57 unforced errors to just 21 for Kerber. “She was definitely taking time away and being more aggressive.”

The loss was difficult to accept for Keys, who is the third-ranked American behind sisters Serena and Venus Williams, and has to contend with a lot of “next big thing” discussion. She made her first Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open this year and is eager for the next step.

“The expectation from other people kind of gets on me,” Keys said. “But it’s more like the internal expectation of, you know, I was playing really good tennis in Australia and I wanted to see that again. This week I saw a lot of good tennis, so I’m pretty happy with it.”

She can also be proud of the grit she showed Sunday.

“You know, I could have gone away after the first set,” Keys said. ”I dug deep and still put myself in a position to win.”

Also Sunday, the doubles team of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis won the Family Circle Cup title with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Casey Dellacqua and Darija Jurak.

The tournament title was the third straight for Mirza, who moved to No. 1 in doubles ranking, and Hingis, who won Family Circle Cup singles titles in 1997 and 1999.

(04/12/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: Family Circle Cup Notes: India’s Mirza goes from cow dung to No. 1
Sania Mirza grew up in India playing tennis on courts made of cow dung. On Sunday, she teamed with tennis great Martina Hingis to win the pair’s third straight WTA doubles title. As a bonus, the 28-year-old Mirza also ascended to world No. 1 in WTA doubles rankings.

No wonder her upcoming autobiography has the working title “Against All Odds.”

“We used to make and practice on courts — I’m sorry — made out of cow (dung), said Mirza, who was born in Mumbai. “So to come from there and pick up a tennis racket and have the guts to say, OK, I am going to go out and play at the highest level in the world against all the odds.”

Mirza, who is married to Pakistani cricket player Shoaib Malik, has been a controversial figure amid the religious and political forces that roil her home country. But she hopes her tennis success can make an impact in India.

“I always say anything is possible,” she said. “You have to believe that as a woman and as a girl you are not a weakness; you’re a strength … If you put your mind to it, you put hard work in, anything is possible, no matter where you’re from.

“Even if that means you’ve grown up playing on courts made of cow dung.”

Hingis’ second career

Martina Hingis’ first tennis career was one of the great ones — she was No. 1 in the world, won 43 WTA singles titles and five Grand Slams and earned more than $20 million.

But the 34-year-old from Switzerland is having a pretty cool second act, as well.

“It’s kind of the third phase already,” Hingis joked after pairing with Mirza to win a third straight WTA doubles title. “I really enjoy the moment. What happens now, every victory, every match is a bonus.

“The older you get, the more you can also enjoy and lean back.”

Hingis retired from tennis in 2007 after coming back from torn ligaments in her ankle, and returned to play doubles exclusively in 2013.

But it seems her singles career might not be over. There’s talk that Hingis could play singles for the Swiss Fed Cup team against Poland in an upcoming tie.

“I had that question pop up, definitely,” Hingis said. “But we’ll see once we get there. We’ll make that decision when I’m there.”

Attendance watch

Sunday’s crowd of 8,023 boosted Family Circle Cup attendance to 86,176 for the week, just below last year’s 87,997. The Family Circle Cup has averaged 82,786 fans during its 15 years on Daniel Island, with a high of 95,767 in 2010.

(04/12/15)  AP: Kerber saves best for last in Family Circle Cup tennis finale
Angelique Kerber didn’t like playing on clay. That changed Sunday when the fifth-seeded German rallied past American Madison Keys to win the Family Circle Cup.

The 27-year-old Kerber trailed 4-1 in the final set, yet took six of the final seven games to pull out a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 victory for her fourth career WTA title and first on the slow, gunky coating power players love to hate.

“You know, it was never my favorite surface,” Kerber said. “But it’s changed in the last year. I knew that I can play also on clay and it’s good also for my (overall) game because I’m playing defensive and being aggressive.”

Kerber showed both those qualities against the power-hitting Keys, who came into the final without dropping a service game. Kerber broke Keys in the first game and five times overall, relentlessly sending 120 mph serves and sizzling groundstrokes back that had gone for winners earlier in the week.

Still, it was a frustrated Kerber in the third set who needed a good talking to from coach Torben Beltz to refocus and re-strategize. He told Kerber to up her aggressiveness and take the game to Keys, something that happened early on but not in the middle part of the match.

Kerber listened and pulled off the stunning comeback.

“She completely lifted her level and it total changed right then,” Keys said.

Kerber won 12 of the next 16 points to tie the decisive set at 4-all. Keys moved in front one last time at 5-4 before Kerber dug in to take control and unnerve the previously steady Keys.

Kerber tied the set at 5-all on three errors by Keys. Kerber held off four game points in the next game to break Keys’ serve a fifth and final time and move in front 6-5. Kerber took the final game at love with Keys hitting into the net and hitting out – Keys finished with 57 unforced errors, nearly triple Kerber’s 21 – to give Kerber the victory.

Kerber fell on her back and covered her face in celebration when Keys’ final shot sailed long.

“To win here in Charleston, it feels great,” she said. “I had a great week.”

Keys, seeded seventh, entered the final on a strong run. She had dominated four opponents in reaching her first clay-court final. But Kerber was just as relentless at keeping the ball in play and counting on Keys’ aggressiveness to lead to mistakes on the slow surface.

Kerber broke serve three times in a surprisingly quick opening set. Keys found her footing in the second set to tie the match. She moved Kerber from side to side and used her powerhouse forehand to gain control. That continued into the third set and she built a 4-1 lead.

(04/11/15)  Kerber may have the Keys to the FCC final
Madison Keys brings back memories of Mary Pierce’s amazing 2000 Hilton Head Island exhibition of one-shot tennis.

Americans would love to see Keys’ streak continue in Sunday’s Family Circle Cup final against German Angelique Kerber.

The 20-year-old American has the game to do it. But it’s certainly not a done deal when you consider Keys’ opposition so far on Daniel Island.

Keys has given up only 14 games in four matches. That’s come against Kateryna Bondarenko and one- dimensional doubles veteran Lucie Hradecka, both qualifiers, as well as gritty little Lauren Davis and Andreea Mitu. Who?

Yes, thank goodness for the 66th-ranked Davis. The other three victims have an average world ranking of 128.

So, maybe it’s a little premature to get excited about Keys’ play in this Family Circle Cup. But you can’t overlook a player who plays a game as big as the one Keys has displayed this week.

Big serve ... big forehand. Or big service return ... big forehand.

You can bet that the left-handed Kerber will find Keys’ backhand on a regular basis. If Keys does have a weakness, other than inconsistency, it’s her backhand.

Keys’ hope is her serve. If she can repeatedly put it into play in the 120 mph range, Keys will have a chance.

But back to 2000 when Pierce pounded out one-sided victory after another, even in the 56-minute final that saw her obliterate Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario’s consistency and grittiness in a 6-1, 6-0 romp. That one game was only the 11th that Pierce gave up in the entire tournament. She put on an awesome demonstration of sheer power all tournament long.

Enter Kerber. This 16th-ranked 27-year-old is all about fight. She didn’t give up a point without a fight against old friend and defending Family Circle champion Andrea Petkovic in the semifinals.

Kerber is a picture of concentration as she often practically sits down while hitting low backhands. Plus, there’s the left hand that made the difference in a 6-4, 6-4 semifinal win that snapped her three-match losing streak to Petkovic.

Kerber’s left-handed strokes and serve should be just enough to throw off Keys’ power, although Keys managed her first victory over Kerber last year in three sets on grass at Eastbourne after a pair of straight-set hard-court wins by Kerber.

Hradecka’s serve was the only thing that caused any problem for Keys in her 6-1, 6-4 win on Saturday. But once Keys hit the first groundstroke, she usually was in control of the point. Keys isn’t likely to be in such control in the final, going against a player of Kerber’s ability. A former No. 5 player in the world, Kerber should be able to keep constant pressure on Keys with her consistently deep, penetrating left-handed groundstrokes, especially to Keys’ backhand corner.

In the face of pressure, power doesn’t always work, especially on clay. Baseline rallies aren’t a power hitter’s dream come true.

For the first time in the tournament, look for Keys to have to hit a lot of balls on Sunday.

Of course, Keys has the big service weapon. But while Kerber doesn’t have the service power of Keys, the German regularly hits the first serve with precision and placement.

My pick: Kerber. Even more so if it goes three sets.

(04/11/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: Family Circle Cup finals pits Madison Keys and Angelique Kerber
Along with a blistering serve and powerful forehand, Madison Keys has her sarcasm game switched on this week at the Family Circle Cup.

“I expect to win the French Open now, yes,” the rising American star said Saturday after reaching the first clay court final of her young tennis career. A Grand slam title on red clay might be a reach, but a breakthrough triumph on Sunday on the Family Circle Cup’s green clay certainly seems plausible.

Keys, 20 and seeded seventh, will face a formidable foe in No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber, who ousted friend, countrywoman and defending FCC champ Andrea Petkovic, 6-4, 6-4, in the other semifinal.

But the last time they met, Keys got the best of the 27-year-old Kerber, winning her first (and only) WTA singles title in three sets on the grass at Eastbourne last year.

“Angelique is obviously a great player,” Keys said of Kerber, who is ranked No. 16 and has won six WTA titles. “She’s made tons of finals, won tons of matches. No matter what, it will be a tough match. But at the end of the day, I’m more concerned with myself.”

Keys herself has been playing just great this week. In four straight-set wins, Keys has lost just 14 games and has not been broken on serve even once. Her road has not been the most difficult — she’s faced two qualifiers and players ranked No. 107 and 61 — but there’s no denying her level of play.

“It’s definitely kind of surprising,” said Keys, who is ranked No. 20 and made the semifinals at the Australian Open this year, her first Grand Slam semi.

“I don’t think the grass final (at Eastbourne) surprised people as much. But I’m really happy. It’s been a pretty good transition from hard court to clay court.”

Kerber faced an emotional challenge Saturday against Petkovic, the third seed and fan favorite who is now 11-1 in matches played at the Family Circle Cup. The two pals grew up playing against each other in junior tennis in Germany.

They shared a long hug at the net after Kerber clinched the match.

“It’s not easy to play against a good friend, a close one, actually” said Kerber, who began this year ranked in the top 10 but is just 12-9 in matches this season. “I think we both played very well and gave everything we could today.”

It was a disappointing end to her title defense for Petkovic, who made the semifinals at Miami two weeks ago and has battled fatigue all week on Daniel Island.

“I think Angie played a fantastic match,” Petkovic said. “She played really, really great tennis, and she didn’t give me any presents at all. She was rock solid today, and I think she played fantastic.

“I really wasn’t physically able to pull through the long and tough rallies, I think. I worked the point well and then I missed the easy one because I was exhausted most of the time.”

For her part, Kerber exhibited no sarcasm when she said she was not surprised to see Keys in a clay court final.

“She’s a very talented player and I think she can play on any surface,” she said. “She hits the ball, she has a great strong serve. I think it’s the first time we play on clay, so let’s see.”

(04/11/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: Family Circle Cup Notes: Lucie Hradecka’s long, excellent week
Lucie Hradecka made the doubles semifinals in Miami, hopped a plane to Charleston and immediately began playing qualifying matches. She arrived at 1 p.m. last Saturday and hit the court at 4 p.m.

“I was joking with my coach, I hope so we’ll not be like from plane to car and car to plane and go home,” Hradecka said with a laugh.

On the contrary, Hradecka’s stay in Charleston proved long and fruitful. The 29-year-old Czech, ranked No. 110, won six matches in seven days to make it to Saturday’s semifinals, where she lost 6-1, 6-4 to Madison Keys.

She earned $32,525 for the week, pushing her over the $200,000 mark for the season, and beat two top-30 opponents in No. 25 Caroline Garcia and No. 13 Sara Errani.

That will go a long way toward her goal of reaching her previous high ranking of No. 41.

“I would like to come back to my best ranking,” she said. “We’ll see what I do this year.”

No words

The emotion was apparent when Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic, friends and rivals since they played junior tennis in Germany, hugged after Kerber’s semifinal victory.

“Not many words to say,” Kerber said. “I think everybody saw it.”

Petko on Keys

Petkovic did not get to see much of Keys this week, but saw enough to know that the young American could be a factor on clay this year.

“I can definitely tell that she can play great on clay,” Petkovic said. “She just has to believe it, and probably with the Americans just get the timing on the sliding a little bit right, because they grow up on hard court.

“But with her game, she definitely has the game for clay. She can — I think she can play really, really well at the French Open.”

11 straight

Petkovic had won 11 straight matches at the Family Circle Cup, including a run to last year’s title, before her semifinal loss to Kerber on Saturday. She had to withdraw before a match against Caroline Wozniacki in 2013.

“It will never happen again!” Petkovic said of her streak, raising her arms in mock triumph.

Keys humor
As befits a player who has not lost a service game all week, Madison Keys has been in good humor at her press appearances. After her win Saturday, the 20-year-old noted that changing direction in cross-court rallies was a key for her.

Why? she was asked.

“Because that would be far too boring,” she said. “The unforced errors that come when you change down the line on dumb balls are way more fun.”

TV time
Sunday’s final between Keys and Kerber is set for 1 p.m. on ESPN2, with Cliff Drysdale and Pam Shriver on the call.

Sunday’s doubles championship between No. 1 seed Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza and Casey Dellacqua/Darija Jurak will be at 10:30 a.m.

Attendance watch

A total of 7,916 fans turned out on Saturday to push the week’s total to 78,153 heading into Sunday’s finals.

(04/11/15)  STAFF REPORTS: CofC women claim eighth straight tennis win
HARRISONBURG, Va. — The strength of College of Charleston women’s tennis doubles game made the difference for the Cougars for the second straight match as CofC outlasted James Madison, 4-3, Saturday at Hillside Courts.

“Yesterday was an incredibly long and emotional match, and when we arrived in Harrisonburg, Va., at midnight our rooms had been given away,” CofC head coach Angelo Anastopoulo said. “So we didn’t have a proper night’s sleep and had an early morning, but our team just did a wonderful job with having flexibility and they didn’t look for any excuses.”

After starting with singles competition on Friday due to the threat of rain, the Cougars (12-12, 4-1 CAA) returned to the normal routine of beginning with doubles competition.

Senior Samantha Maddox and sophomore Mara Argyriou got the team started with an 8-4 win at the No. 2 spot for their sixth consecutive doubles victory. Junior Brooke McAmis and senior Grace Baker clinched the doubles point for the Cougars with an 8-5 victory on court three, putting them at 3-0 on the year. The CAA Women’s Tennis Doubles Team of the Week duo of senior Jenny Falcone and junior Katherine Schofield posted an 8-6 win over JMU’s Taylor Pinchoff and Alex Huie. The Dukes tandem received the same CAA weekly honor prior to Falcone and Schofield winning it last week.

Heading into singles, Schofield boosted Charleston’s lead to 2-0 with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Huie on court three. JMU bounced back with wins at the No. 2 and 6 spots to tie the match at 2-2. Maddox pulled out a 7-5, 6-2 first-set victory over Pinchoff on court one, following it up with a 6-2 win for her seventh win in nine matches as the Cougars’ top seed.

The Dukes (12-7, 2-3 CAA) tied the score with Dylan Owen’s three-set victory over Baker at the No. 5 spot. The match came down to Falcone and Kimmy Herrock on court four. Falcone had edged Herrock in the tiebreak to win the first set, before letting the second set slip away, 6-4. Falcone rebounded from her second-set loss to claim a 6-2 victory in the third set and clinch the match for CofC.

“Real credit goes to Samantha and Jenny; they stepped up and played some good matches today,” Anastopoulo said. “I’m sure Jenny was very fatigued, but she really rose to the occasion and used a lot of heart to win the match for us.”

The two conference wins this weekend give Charleston a 4-1 CAA record.

Charleston Southern closed out the 2015 regular season on the road with a 6-1 win over host UNC Wilmington as the Buccaneers continue to build momentum heading into next week’s Big South Women’s Tennis Championships.

The Bucs swept doubles play for the sixth straight match on their way to taking their 15th win of the season as CSU improved to 15-2 overall on the year in dual match play.

CSU also took five of the six singles matches as the Bucs have dropped only two team points over the last five matches.

On the day CSU was announced as the Big South regular-season champion and top overall seed in the 2015 Big South Championships, the Bucs wasted little time jumping ahead of the Seahawks in sweeping all three doubles courts for the first point of the match.

Angelica Sidorenko and Mi’Kola Cooper topped Christine Kharkevitch and Annika Sillanpaa on court no. 1, 8-5, for the first Bucs win. Sophie Cloessner and Marketa Placha assured the doubles point would go to the Bucs with an 8-5 win on court no. 3 over Hollie Champion and Alix Theodossiou. Yvonne Hubler and Nicolin Luecke completed the sweep on court no. 2 with an 8-6 win over Miller Hales and Alyssa Ritchie.

Singles action saw Placha, Hubler, Luecke, Cloessner and Valeria Koussenkova all prove victorious in the CSU win.

(04/10/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: At Family Circle Cup, friends Petkovic and Kerber will meet again in semifinals
Andrea Petkovic and Angelique Kerber first played against each other when they were just kids, on the junior tennis circuit in their homeland of Germany.

“I used to lose to her all the time,” Petkovic said of her countrywoman. “I lost to her I think 25 times. I couldn’t even win a game.”

The 27-year-old Germans — known as “fräuleinwunder” at home — are on more equal footing these days. Petkovic, the third seed and defending champion, will meet No. 5 seed Kerber in the Family Circle Cup semifinals Saturday after hard-fought victories Friday.

Petkovic, ranked No. 11, lost a first set for the second time this week and rallied for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over qualifier Danka Kovinic. Kerber, ranked No. 16, was down 1-5 in the first set before staging her own comeback for a 7-6 (4) , 7-6 (3) win over No. 13 Irina-Camelia Begu.

Earlier Friday, No. 7 seed Madison Keys overwhelmed fellow American Lauren Davis, 6-2, 6-2, to earn her first Family Circle Cup semifinal in three visits to Daniel Island. She will face qualifier Lucie Hradecka, who is ranked No. 110 and scored a 6-2, 6-4 upset of No. 14 Sara Errani in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Kerber and Petkovic will meet for the 10th time; Kerber leads the head-to-head series 6-3 over her friend, but Petkovic has won the last three.

“Angie is one of the few people to whom I would entrust absolutely any secret,” Petkovic has said. For her part, Kerber credits Petkovic with pulling her out of a funk a few years ago, helping her to the semifinals of the U.S. Open in 2011.

“Without Andrea, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Kerber said during Fed Cup play last year. “She pulled me from a deep hole I had climbed into.”

Now, Kerber must beat her friend in order to win her fourth WTA singles title; Petkovic seeks her seventh. They haven’t played a tour match since 2011.

“You need to try to put the emotion outside,” said Kerber. “But I think we know each other so well that it doesn’t matter what happens on court. Tomorrow we will still be friends. One of us will win, and we will try to give our best and the better will win tomorrow. Let’s see.”

Petkovic was at less than her best against Kovinic, slamming her racket to the green clay after losing the first set. Her mother immediately left the box; Mom did not approve.

“I definitely know why she left the box,” an abashed Petkovic said. “And that’s OK. Sometimes, it does help me when I get really angry. It’s better than getting disappointed and feeling sorry for yourself.”

At the start of the second set, Kovinic — a 20-year-old from Montenegro ranked No. 121 — made some unforced errors that helped Petkovic get back into the match.

“She gave me a few presents, and then I found my rhythm,” she said. “I sort of snapped my teeth into the game again.”

The 29-year-old Hradecka has been snapping her teeth into healthier food to boost her career. She’s a seasoned veteran who has won more $3.4 million in her career, and she’s dangerous on clay. More than half of her 75 career main-draw wins have come on clay, and she’s reached six WTA finals in her career, four of them on clay.

Saturday’s semifinal against Keys will be Hradecka’s seventh match in eight days, as the Czech had to qualify for the Family Circle Cup. But a new diet might give her an energy boost against the 20-year-old Keys. Hradecka avoids gluten, dairy and eggs. It must help; she’s 22-7 in singles this year.

“In the beginning, it was tough to choose food, because egg and milk you have everywhere,” she said. “But I’m used to it, and it looks like it works, so I’m fine with this.”

(04/10/15)  SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: COURTNEY NGUYEN: Still adjusting to clay, Madison Keys advances to Family Circle Cup semis
No. 20 Madison Keys advanced to her second clay semifinal on Friday, defeating fellow American Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-2 at the Family Circle Cup where she will play surprise semifinalist Lucie Hradecka. The 29-year-old Czech, ranked No. 110, pulled off the upset over No. 4 seed Sara Errani 6-2, 6-4 to make her first tour-level semifinal since May 2013.

In the bottom half of the draw, defending champion Andrea Petkovic rallied from a set and a break down to defeat qualifier Danka Kovinic 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the semifinals. She will play either Angelique Kerber or Irina-Camelia Begu.

Keys came into Charleston having won just one match since her breakout run to the semifinals at the Australian Open, where she reaggravated an upper leg injury that hampered her preparation for the two Premier mandatory tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami. Keys has lost just nine games in three matches with better preparation for the green clay, and has yet to be broken this week with her vaunted serve back online. She has saved all six break points she's faced.

"It's not the easiest game for me, being on clay, but so far it's been a pretty good transition, and just working on it more and more every year," she said. "So you know, just feeling more comfortable on it."

Keys has never been shy about clay being her worst surface, but the block may be more mental than technical. In her first WTA main draw match on red clay two years ago, she routed French Open champion Li Na at the Madrid Open. Her first WTA semifinal came last year in Strasbourg on clay. Holding serve is a premium skill on the surface and her serve, which was clocked as high as 122 mph this week, can give her free points. The power she generates off the ground on both wings can penetrate slow courts.

The most important thing for Keys on this surface is to remain patient and to play smart, two things she admits she struggles with on any surface. "It does slow the ball down, so my serve is not as effective and power isn't always as effective," she said. "So definitely having to put some more height on the ball, and kind of rally a little bit more before I can pull the trigger. But at the same time it's still the basic, set up the point, when you have it, go for it. So it's an added two, three balls, but pretty much the same game plan."

"You don't have to change your game to play on clay," Keys said before the tournament. "You have to play smarter, you have to play a little more patient, but it's not like it's rocket science all of a sudden. If you just play your game and tweak little things here and there it's not like it's a completely different game.

While Keys may feel well-rested and has moved through the draw easily, Petkovic is fighting through the physical and mental fatigue coming off a long two weeks in Miami, where she made the semifinals. Two of her three matches this week have gone the distance and she's also into the doubles semifinals with Marina Erakovic. She was completely outplayed in the first set by Kovinic, a 20-year-old qualifier gifted with a massive serve and powerful groundstrokes. She was able to get the frustration out of her system with a few hearty racket throws, which she joked would earn a grounding at the hands of her parents, who are in Charleston for the week.

"There are just off days, and today was definitely my off day," Petkovic said. "When I felt my emotions were setting in and I was getting really frustrated and angry and very stressed, I felt that was the tiredness and the fatigue."

"And so in the beginning of the second set I just told myself, okay, Andrea, you will play point-by-point. If you lose, that's okay, but please don't embarrass yourself with racket throwing and tantrum throwing. So that's what I really focused on, and she gave me a few presents in the beginning of the second set, and that's when I started believing I could win this match. I sort of got my claws into it."

Petkovic can take solace in knowing she's undefeated in Charleston, having won all 11 of her matches at this tournament. A win on Saturday would also put her back in the top 10. If she's looking for a moment to catch her breath after a strong start to the season, it won't come soon. After Charleston she'll head to Sochi, Russia for Germany's Fed Cup semifinal against a Russian team that includes Maria Sharapova, and then immediately back to Germany the following week for the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

Saturday's semifinals begin at 1 p.m. ET with Keys facing Hradecka.

(04/10/15)  GENE SAPAKOFF and JEFF HARTSELL:  Qualifier Hradecka ousts No. 4 seed Errani
Lucie Hradecka isn’t some tennis newbie. At 29, she’s been a pro since 2002, known best for doubles: 17 WTA titles, including the 2011 French Open and 2013 U.S. Open.

As a singles player, Hradecka is ranked No. 110 in the world. She had to qualify last weekend for the Family Circle Cup main draw. But the clay-court specialist upset No. 4 seed Sara Errani in the quarterfinals on Friday, winning 6-2, 6-4, to set up a semifinal match with Madison Keys.

It was her sixth match in seven days.

“I arrived here at 1 p.m. (from Miami on Saturday) and at 4 p.m. I played a match,” said Hradecka (hra det ska), who is from the Czech Republic. “I was joking with my coach, ‘I hope it will not be like from plane to car and from car to plane to go home.’ And one week later, I’m still here. And that’s awesome.”

Errani owns seven career singles titles, but dropped out of the WTA top 10 (to No. 14) for the first time since June of 2012 after last week’s Miami Open.
Keys on Walter Scott

Semifinalist Madison Keys, the child of a black father and white mother, was asked about Walter Scott, shot to death last week by a North Charleston policeman.

“I’ve heard a little bit about it,” Keys said. “Condolences to Walter Scott’s family and it’s obviously tragic. I mean, it’s a tragic thing and it shouldn’t happen.”

Saturday time change

With a forecast calling for rain Friday night and early Saturday morning, the Family Circle Cup pushed back Saturday play to 1 p.m. Gates will open at 10 a.m. Keys will face Hradecka at 1 p.m. on Stadium Court, followed by the second semifinal.

Popularity contest

Fans might be evenly divided if the popular Keys meets defending champ Petkovic, whose father played tennis at the University of South Carolina, in Sunday’s final.

“I mean, everyone loves Petko,” Keys said. “You can’t not love Petko. So I feel like she’s a crowd favorite wherever she plays. I mean, she’s funny.”

Keys even took a picture of a picture in the morning paper and sent it to Petkovic.

“I thought it was really flattering,” she said. “I told her it should be her new profile picture. So we’ll see if she takes my advice on that.”

(04/10/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: Defending Family Circle champ Andrea Petkovic into semifinals
She had to work hard for it, but defending champion Andrea Petkovic is still alive in the Family Circle Cup.

Petkovic, the only one of the top three seeds left in the tournament, dropped a first set for the second time this week. But the 11th-ranked German rallied again, this time for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over qualifier Danka Kovinic on Stadium Court.

She pumped her first and thumped her chest emphatically after running her match record to 11-0 at the Family Circle Cup.

In Saturday’s semifinals, Petkovic will face the winner of Friday night’s quarterfinal between No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber and No. 13 Irina-Camelia Begu

Earlier Friday, No. 7 seed Madison Keys overwhelmed fellow American Lauren Davis, 6-2, 6-2, to earn her first Family Circle Cup semifinal in three visits to Daniel Island. She will face qualifier Lucie Hradecka, who is ranked No. 110 and scored a 6-2, 6-4 upset of No. 14 Sara Errani in Friday’s quarters.

At 29, Hradecka is a seasoned veteran turned who has won more $3.4 million in her career, and she’s dangerous on clay. More than half of her 75 career main-draw wins have come on clay, and she’s reached six WTA finals in her career, four of them on clay.

Saturday’s semifinal against Keys will be Hradecka's seventh match in eight days, as the Czech had to qualify for the Family Circle Cup. But a new diet might give her an energy boost against the 20-year-old Keys. Hradecka avoids gluten, dairy and eggs. It must help; she’s 22-7 in singles this year.

“In the beginning, it was tough to choose food, because egg and milk you have everywhere,” she said. “But I’m used to it, and it looks like it works, so I’m fine with this.”

(04/10/15)  GENE SAPAKOFF: No. 7 seed Madison Keys tops Lauren Davis to reach Family Circle Cup semifinals
Lauren Davis was ready for her Family Circle Cup quarterfinal match against longtime friend Madison Keys.

Going into Friday’s All-American clash Davis said she knows Keys’ game “like the back of my hand.”

So informed, Keys grinned.

“She just knows everything, doesn’t she?” Keys said. “She has me figured out.”

Well, not quite.

Keys, the No. 7 seed, rolled to a 6-2, 6-2 victory, right in line with a sizzling week on what had been her least favorite surface.

This might be the start of something big for a 20-year-old full of potential, and an American tennis audience hungry for post-Williams stars.

But how to explain this new clay dominance?

“I don’t know. Just kind of happening,” said Keys, who advances to Saturday’s semifinals against qualifier Lucie Hradecka. “It’s not the easiest game for me, being on clay. But so far it’s been a pretty good transition (from hard courts) and I’ve been working on it more and more every year.”

It doesn’t matter if there is an American among the next group of WTA stars.

Except to those worried about tennis TV ratings in the U.S.
From Ohio, Illinois

Among ranked Americans, Keys (No. 20) is the next best thing after Serena Williams (No. 1) and Venus Williams (No. 15). She has game, personality and poise.

Ideally, there are more — and more competitive — All-American matches in store this year involving Varvara Lepchenko (No. 30), Coco Vandeweghe (No. 37) and Sloane Stephens (No. 40).

Friday’s battle of 2014 Fed Cup teammates had potential. Davis, ranked No. 66 and playing in her first clay court quarterfinal, was having a great week. She upset fatigued No. 1 seed Eugenie Bouchard (6-3, 6-1) on Tuesday and got by No. 15 seed Mona Barthel (6-3, 7-6) on Thursday.

At 21, Davis is just 16 months older than Keys. They share Midwestern roots (Keys from Rock Island, Ill., Davis from Gates Mill, Ohio) and both live in Boca Raton, Fla.

There are classic contrast elements, too.

Keys is 5-10, long and lanky.

Davis is a speedy 5-2, one of the shortest players ever on tour. She grew up liking Justine Henin, for the seven Grand Slam singles titles and because of all that grit in a smallish (5-5¾) player.

Keys attacks with a long swing and fierce baseline power game. Davis is adept at backhand winners with her tighter strokes, and merrily chases balls from the net to the wine garden.

They split their first four matches.

After a 2-2 start, it wasn’t close this time.
Different than 2013

Keys, who made her WTA debut at 14, hasn’t been broken all week. She lost only five games in early-round wins over Kateryna Bondarenko and Andreea Mitu. Keys is looking for her second tour title, her first on clay. She hasn’t made it past the second round at Roland Garros in two appearances on the most famous red clay in the world.

It’s a different Madison Keys than the 18-year-old who surprised her way to the Family Circle Cup quarterfinals in 2013.

She lost to Venus Williams.

“I was definitely more of the underdog playing through it and hadn’t had as much success,” Keys said. “This year, I’ve been the seed; I’ve been the one who’s supposed to win. It’s a different pressure, for sure.”

This year, it looks like Keys is just scratching her new semi-favorite surface.

(04/09/15)  TOMMY BRASWELL: Injury forces Jankovic from Family Circle Cup
Jelena Jankovic’s appearance Thursday on Stadium Court was brief, but one the 2007 Family Circle Cup Champion felt she owed to the spectators who showed up to watch her play Danka Kovinic.

Jankovic hobbled out to the net and apologized to the fans, many of whom didn’t know that she had to inform Family Circle Cup officials she would be unable to play the night’s feature match because of an injury to her right foot suffered in Tuesday’s win over Tatjana Maria. Jankovic said she felt a twinge in the match but it didn’t bother her until after she cooled down and began to feel pain in her foot.

“The next morning I woke up and foot swelled up … and I couldn’t step on it,” Jankovic said. “Yesterday I took a day off. I didn’t train. I thought it would settle down and get better.”

That didn’t happen, so Jankovic will be getting an MRI on the foot Friday to find out what is going on.

“I cannot play in this way, to do all the pounding and jumping. It will make it worse and who knows how long to recover,” she said.

The injury was on the ball of the foot. Jankovic, limping slightly, said it is painful to walk and she was forced to put pressure on the side of her foot.

“I really looked forward to playing against Danka. She’s a young player and I’m her idol. Just being with her on the court would be very special. It’s sad that I wasn’t able to come out and perform. It’s never nice to end a tournament this way,” said Jankovic, who said she has seldom had to retire from a tournament.

Jankovic, 30, said she loves playing in Charleston and felt like the spectators deserved an apology. Many of them were unaware of her injury and wished her “good luck” as she rode to an interview session to talk about the injury.

“People are coming out to watch, and it’s a shame. I would be disappointed, too, if I bought tickets to watch someone that I like to play and it’s a nice match. So that’s the least I could do,” Jankovic said.

“This just happened out of the blue. I really don’t understand why it happened and how it happened. It’s really unfortunate. There are some things you can’t control. I did not feel tired. I felt fresh. I felt excited to be competing. It’s my first tournament on clay and I love playing here. “I’m at the stage of my career where I cannot risk and I have to take care of my body and my health.”
Attendance watch

Attendance at the 2015 Family Circle Cup continues to be solid, although slightly below 2014. The attendance total through Thursday’s day matches was 50,257 as compared to 51,904 at the same time in 2014. Last year’s tournament drew a total of 87,997.

The tournament record since the event moved from Hilton Head to Charleston was 95,767 in 2010.
Friday night fun

There will be a ball toss after Friday’s first night match with some fan winning a GoPro camera. Fans can double their odds of winning by visiting sponsor SunTrust’s display until 7 p.m.
TV time

ESPN2 will carry the matches live Friday from 1-2:30 p.m. and from 1-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. All singles matches are streamed live on ESPN3.
Kids free

Kids under 15 are admitted free to the Family Circle Cup all week with an accompanying adult.

(04/09/15)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Petkovic climbs up from Down Under at Family Circle Cup; Jankovic withdraws
Andrea Petkovic was too worn out to focus on revenge, but a Family Circle Cup victory over Australian Open tormentor Madison Brengle made for an uplifting end to a taxing singles match. Petkovic, the defending champion, moved on to Friday’s quarterfinals against Danka Kovinic with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Brengle on Thursday.

Brengle, a 25-year-old Dover, Del., native stunned Petkovic in the first round at Melbourne (5-7, 7-6, 6-3) in January. She has some of the strongest backhand strokes on the WTA Tour, and a sound counter-punching approach that confounded Petkovic.

“After that I really sat down with my coaches and I worked on the spin on my forehand and on the slice and just trying to change the rhythm, open up the courts, make them run more,” said Petkovic the highest seed remaining at No. 3. “And I think even though I didn’t play well (Thursday), I played well strategically and I think that paid off in the end.”

Fatigue nearly got the best of Petkovic, who improved to 10-1 at Daniel Island, a few hours after fellow German Mona Barthel retired with dizziness while trailing American Lauren Davis 6-3, 3-0.

The Davis victory sets up an All-American quarterfinal against friend Madison Keys, a 6-2, 6-0 winner over Andreea Mitu.

Kovinic advanced when No. 6 seed Jelena Jankovic withdrew with a right foot injury.

In other quarterfinal matches, No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber will face Irina-Camelia Begu, No. 4 seed Sara Errani will play Lucie Hradecka. Kerber had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Lara Arruabarrena. Hradecka defeated No. 8 seed Caroline Garcia, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4.

Begu advanced Wednesday when No. 2 seed Ekaterina Makarova withdrew from the tournament with an intestinal illness.

With so many casualties, maybe the biggest upset is that Petkovic, 27, says she will be fine with a little rest and proper care.

“I have these days where sort of all the tiredness accumulates in my body,” she said, “and then once I surpass this day, I feel like the next days are better. … I have all my recovery things and drinks and stretching, massage, and it will be fine tomorrow, I’m sure.”

On the other side of the draw, Davis, a 21-year-old native Ohioan who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., is having one of the best weeks of her career. On Wednesday, she was dominant in a 6-3, 6-1 upset of top seed Eugenie Bouchard.

“I love the tournament,” Davis said. “It’s an amazing tournament. I love the support. I feel really comfortable on the clay. I feel like I’m sliding well and that my game really suits it well, so yeah, I’m just really enjoying myself.”

(04/09/15)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Sapakoff: A Family Circle Cup Topspin Quiz (with football and Kettle Korn)
Family Circle Cup crowds get larger on the weekend, and the tennis gets more serious than John McEnroe on hold. Time for The Topspin Quiz, designed to baffle veteran tennis enthusiasts even while giving racketless people a qualifier’s chance.

Brought to you by green clay, that fun surface that might replace home lawns someday in the warmer future. Try not to double-fault:

1. Who was the top seed at the 2001 Family Circle Cup, the first held in Charleston?
a. Lindsey Davenport
b. Jennifer Capriati
c. Martina Hingis

2. Of the 38 people in the Daniel Island Grille concession line during the Caroline Garcia-Lucie Hradecka match Thursday, how many were women?
a. 38
b. 34
c. 19, plus the tiebreaker: a baby girl in a stroller

3. Defending champion Andrea Petkovic’s father, Zoran, went 18-8 in singles matches for the South Carolina Gamecocks in 1982. What was South Carolina’s football record in 1982?
a. 7-4 with a win over Michigan
b. 4-7 with a loss to Furman
c. 3-6-2 with ties against Virginia Tech and Clemson

4. Who said “It’s not easy to come from hard (surface) to clay, it’s easier to go from clay to hard” on Thursday?
a. German quarterfinalist Angelique Kerber
b. A clerk at Pottery Barn
c. ESPN2 analyst Pam Shriver

Althea Gibson legacy

5. The 2015 Family Circle winner will receive:
a. $124,000 and a Waterford crystal vase
b. $1.1 million and some Kettle Korn
c. A Daniel Island Grille franchise in Paris

6. The Althea Gibson Club Court at is named for the late, great black tennis pioneer born in which South Carolina town?
a. Camden
b. Holly Hill
c. Silver

7. Madison Keys will face Lauren Davis on Friday in an All-American quarterfinal. Which two players met in an All-American semifinal in 2013?
a. Sloane Stephens and Coco Vandeweghe
b. Serena Williams and Venus Williams
c. Serena Williams and Christina McHale

8. Cliff Drysdale, the dapper former tennis star on site to lead ESPN2 broadcasts, did his usual best to sell Charleston on Thursday with lines like “a visitor’s paradise.” Drysdale is from what country?
a. Australia
b. South Africa
c. Rock Island, Ill.

Green clay, Bad Gastein

9. The only back-to-back Family Circle champion since 1995 is:
a. Conchita Martinez
b. Venus Williams
c. Serena Williams

10. The huge poster that goes up alongside Family Circle Stadium several weeks before each tournament shows:
a. The cover of Family Circle Magazine’s annual spring cupcake issue
b. The defending singles champion
c. Anna Kournikova

11. Total number of green clay surfaces on the WTA Tour:
a. 1 – Charleston
b. 2 – Charleston and Bad Gastein
c. 3 – Charleston, Bad Gastein and Guangzhou

12. The record for oldest Family Circle Cup participant is held by:
a. Billie Jean King (44) in 1988
b. Martina Navratilova (48) in 2005
c. Rosie Casals (50) in 1999

Answers: 1. c. (Hingis is playing doubles in Charleston this year), 2. b., 3. b. (the Gamecocks went 4-7 in 1982 in Richard Bell’s only season as head coach), 4. a., 5. a., 6. c. (Silver is in Clarendon County), 7. b., 8. b., 9. c. (Serena Williams won Family Circle Cup titles in 2008, 2012 and 2013), 10. b., 11. a., 12. b.

Scoring: 10-12 correct – Ace (you get your rackets restrung regularly); 7-9 correct – Backhand winner (but upgrade to a new doubles partner); 4-6 – Split set (one word: footwork); 0-3 – Withdraw/injured (maybe next April).

(04/09/15)  WARREN WISE: Charleston area hotels near capacity from tennis, tourists and media
The Charleston area boasts close to 18,000 hotel rooms, and apparently almost all of them are booked.

With the Family Circle Cup being played on Daniel Island, the rush of spring tourists during the busiest month of the year and the crush of national media pouring in to cover the Walter Scott shooting, lodging is hard to find.

“We were full before then,” Dan Blumenstock, chairman of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said of this week’s news events. “This is the busiest month of the year as a whole in Charleston.”

Blumenstock, director of operations for Lowcountry Hotels, which owns three lodgings near the airport and another downtown, said his firm’s rooms were sold out long before this week. He called Charleston area hotel’s no vacancy signs “a good problem to have.”

Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery might feel differently. He flew in Wednesday, worked all day chasing the Scott killing and decided to look for a room late in the evening.

“When I drop into a place, the hotel is the last place I look at,” Lowery said.

He started searching online and kept finding sold-out hotels close to Charleston, so he began looking one city farther away and then one city farther. He finally found a room at the Country Hearth Inn in St. George.

Lowery called the staff gracious and accommodating.

The number of visitors to the region jumped more than 37 percent from 3.5 million in 1998 to 4.8 million in 2014.

Feeding off the flood of new tourists, developers will add 394 new rooms this year in downtown Charleston as the Midtown project brings two Hyatt brands, and The Spectator and the Grand Bohemian welcome guests.

In Mount Pleasant, another 400 rooms are planned through four other projects. The closest one to opening is the 90-room addition to the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, which will be completed this fall at Patriots Point.

It is sold out as well through the weekend, according to its website.

Other hotels soon to check in are at the base of the Ravenel Bridge and beyond the Isle of Palms connector.

A new 133-room Hilton Garden Inn opened last month just across the bridge in Mount Pleasant.

“We are completely sold out through the weekend,” desk attendant Michael Nelson said.

(04/09/15)  AP: Andrea Petkovic improves to 10-0 at Family Circle
Pete Iacobelli
Defending champion Andrea Petkovic kept up her perfect run at the Family Circle, improving to 10-0 and advancing to the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over American Madison Brengle on Thursday.

The third-seeded Petkovic is the highest-ranked player left after No. 1 seed Eugenie Bouchard lost Wednesday night only hours after No. 2 seed Ekaterina Makarova withdrew with a stomach illness.

Petkovic had lost to Brengle in their only other meeting, a first-round matchup at the Australian Open. Petkovic, ranked 11th, was a player on the rise expecting bigger things when Brengle handed her a three-set loss three months ago.

Petkovic now says that loss was a wake-up call, showing her she didn't have a "Plan B" for when she wasn't feeling strong, dealing with harsh conditions or just not in the right mental place to compete.

She spent the past few months working on that. The results were apparent this time against Brengle.

Petkovic trailed 2-1 in each set, digging in both times to rally past her opponent. When Petkovic let her 5-2 lead in the second set slip to 5-4 and Brengle was a point away from tying the set, Petkovic had an overhead putaway to force deuce, then pressured Brengle with deep, precise ground strokes she could not keep in play to take the victory.

"Even though I didn't think I played well today, I played strategically well and that paid off in the end," she said.

Petkovic will play qualifier Danka Kovinic in Friday's quarterfinals. Kovinic advanced when No. 6 seed Jelena Jankovic withdrew Thursday with a right foot injury..

American Lauren Davis, who ousted Bouchard, advanced into the quarterfinals after No. 15 seed Mona Barthel retired while trailing 6-4, 3-0. Davis fell behind in the match 4-0 before winning nine straight games to reach the Family Circle quarterfinals for the first time.

"I feel really comfortable on the clay," said the 21-year-old from Gates Mills, Ohio. "I feel like I'm sliding well and that my game really suits it well, so yeah, I'm just really enjoying myself."

Davis next plays fellow American Madison Keys, the seventh seed who beat Andreea Mitu, 6-2, 6-0.

No. 4 seed Sara Errani topped Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. Fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber also advanced with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Lara Arruabarrena.

Errani will play Lucie Hradecka, a qualifier who beat No. 8 seed Caroline Garcia, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4.

Kerber will meet 13th-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu in the quarterfinals. Begu moved on when Makarova withdrew.

Petkovic, 27, typically avoided the Family Circle, one of the season's early clay-court tournaments, to get some practice for the European events ahead. She decided to give the circuit's oldest women's-only tournament a try two years ago - and hasn't lost since.

Petkovic won two matches here in 2013 before withdrawing due to injury. Last year, she was a surprise champion after two-time defending winner Serena Williams was knocked out early. And Petkovic has continued to thrive this time.

She said the surface suits her game, but she also revels in the easy, relaxed atmosphere in one of South Carolina's coastal gems. The laid-back approach lets Petkovic remember that you don't always have to grind things out or worry about upping the speed of your serve.

"Most you know me and know I'm very uptight. "I'm a very stiff German most of the time," she joked.

(04/08/15)  AP: 2nd-seeded Makarova withdraws from Family Circle Cup
Pete Iacobelli
Second-seeded Ekaterina Makarova has withdrawn from the Family Circle Cup with a stomach illness only hours after winning her opening match Wednesday.

Makarova felt stomach pain during her 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 win over China's Zhang Shuai and saw trainers after the match. She said in a statement she and her team feel it's best to get healthy for the remainder of the clay-court season.

The WTA cited gastrointestinal illness as Makarova's reason for leaving.

Makarova's departure means 13th-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu, the 26-year-old Russian's next opponent, will advance to Friday's quarterfinals.

"I'm really disappointed to have to withdraw here in Charleston," Makarova said in a statement. "It's one of my favorite tournaments and I've really enjoyed my time here these past few days. Unfortunately I felt pain in my stomach today during the match and called the trainers, but it hasn't got any better."

Makarova is ranked eighth in the world and among just two top-10 players competing in the clay-court tournament.

Top-seeded Eugenie Bouchard, ranked No. 7, is scheduled to play later Wednesday.

Makarova overcame a slow start to get past Zhang. Makarova, who lost in the doubles finals at the Miami Open on Sunday, said she hadn't gotten to practice on clay before arriving at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

But Makarova was seen grabbing her side early in her opening match. She played through the discomfort to win. Still, she said in postmatch comments she's have the illness checked out.

Begu, of Romania, advanced by defeating Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-0, 6-7 (4), 6-4.

In other matches, No. 4 seed Sara Errani of Italy topped last year's finalist, Jana Cepelova of Slovakia, 6-3, 7-6 (5).

Past Family Circle champion and former U.S. Open winner Sam Stosur of Australia, the ninth seed, fell in three sets to Lara Arruabarrena of Spain, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

No. 12 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland lost to Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

(04/08/15)  GENE SAPAKOFF: American Lauren Davis stuns top seed Eugenie Bouchard at Family Circle Cup
Lauren Davis said she was “relatively calm” facing Family Circle Cup top seed Eugenie Bouchard on Wednesday.

“But nervous as well,” said Davis, 21. “I think it’s really good to be nervous.”

The emotional swirl worked as well as Davis’ steady backhand during a 6-3, 6-1 upset of Bouchard, ranked No. 7 in the world. The 5-2, 121-pound Boca Raton, Fla., resident made few mistakes on the way to one of the biggest wins of her career.

“Yeah, for sure,” Davis said. “She’s an amazing player, so this is a great win for me.

“I’m really happy.”

Davis, ranked No. 66, will face No. 15 seed Mona Barthel of Germany in the round of 16 on Thursday. Barthel defeated American Sloane Stephens, 6-3, 7-6.

Three other seeded players didn’t make it through early Wednesday action. No. 2 seed Ekaterina Makarova defeated Shuai Zhang in three sets but later withdrew with a “gastrointestinal illness.”

No. 9 seed Samantha Stosur, the 2010 Family Circle Cup champion, fell to Lara Arruabarrena, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Qualifier Danka Kovinic upset No. 12 seed Belinda Bencic, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Bouchard, 21, is still adjusting to the high expectations that come with rising star status. The Montreal native shot from No. 144 in the WTA rankings to No. 32 in 2013. But she has struggled on the court and with various injuries this year.

“Everything is kind of just healing,” Bouchard said, “but even if something doesn’t hurt anymore, you know, you’ve had that lack of training, that lack of match play. Just the feelings on the court are so off.”

Bouchard had a long post-match meeting with her new coach, Sam Sumyk.

“I definitely felt a little bit slow today, overpowered, which is never usually the case,” Bouchard said. “Usually I’m the one dominating. So it was definitely just not good. Whatever happened was not good.”

Bouchard reached the Family Circle Cup semifinals last year.

Davis wasn’t necessarily the crowd favorite early in Wednesday’s match; Bouchard earned Charleston popularity over the last few years. But fans got behind her as she was making surprising progress.

“I’m an American,” Davis said. “So I would hope that they would be behind me.”

She looks forward to her match with Barthel.

“I haven’t played her in about a year or something, but she’s a great player,” Davis said. “She’s been playing really well. So it’s going to be a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity, so I’m looking forward to it.”

(04/08/15)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Family Circle Cup parity, Zombie Bob and the Grand Slam path
Contrary to Wednesday oddness, it’s not quite “anybody’s” Family Circle Cup to win. Former No. 1-ranked star Martina Hingis, 34, is only playing doubles.

Ace, the longtime tennis-ball shaped Family Circle Cup mascot, has officially retired and is ineligible.

But the first player to reach the quarterfinals personifies the parity in a tournament missing top-ranked Serena Williams and No. 2 Maria Sharapova.

Meet No. 13 seed Irina-Camelia Begu, who won twice Wednesday. The 24-year-old Romanian got into the round of 16 with a three-set victory over Yaroslava Shvedova, and into the quarterfinals via a walkover when No. 2 seed Ekaterina Makarova withdrew with an intestinal illness after defeating Shuai Zhang in three sets.

Not that Makarova is a household name outside of households in her native Moscow.

But with Makarova and top seed Eugenie Bouchard out of the way, the path is a bit easier for the likes of Begu, American Lauren Davis and Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena. Davis made short work of Bouchard on Wednesday after Arruabarrena upset 2010 Family Circle Cup champion Samantha Stosur.

Notice to participants: This is your grand opportunity to follow in the green clay-soiled Charleston footsteps of Jennifer Capriati, Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic and Sabine Lisicki and turn a surprising Family Circle Cup title into Grand Slam success.

Welcome to Daniel Island, gateway to Paris and London and Queens.
Capriati, Henin, Jankovic

It’s OK for Family Circle Cup fans to miss Serena, long for Maria, wish Eugenia had stuck around longer and parody parity. But there is plenty of April fun just in the 50 yards between the Zombie Bob’s Pizza truck and a Shotgun Fairies raffle table full of very cool autographed tennis stuff and other goodies to benefit the Susan G. Komen battle against breast cancer.

On the courts, a bunch of players representing the changing, up-for-grabs nature of the WTA Tour are vying for that signature Family Circle Cup leap into the European clay court season. Maybe a few of them will be famous someday.

Capriati used the 2001 Family Circle Cup title as part of a comeback that included titles at the 2001 French Open and 2002 Australian Open.

Henin upset Serena Williams in the 2003 Family Circle Cup final, and less than two months later had her first Grand Slam title (French Open). She also won the 2003 U.S. Open and 2004 Australian Open. Henin repeated the Family Circle-French Open title routine in 2005.

Breakthrough tennis, anyone?

Jankovic’s 2007 ascent started with a glorious Family Circle Cup week and led to a semifinal appearance at Roland Garros. By 2008, Jankovic was No. 1 in the world.

For Bouchard, a Family Circle Cup semifinal appearance last year (including a quarterfinal win over Jankovic) was part of her surge from No. 32 to No. 7. The 21-year-old Canadian made the semis at the French Opens and the final at Wimbledon, big reasons why she is the top seed on Daniel Island this year.
No. 121, and dangerous

But Bouchard showed up here last April as the next big thing.

Lisicki came out of nowhere to show off a scorching serve and win the 2009 Family Circle Cup. She remains the lowest ranked (No. 63) player ever to win the tournament, but went on to make the Wimbledon quarterfinals a few months later.

Which gives hope to a player such as delightfully personable Danka Kovinic, a 20-year-old, hard-serving qualifier from Montenegro fresh off Wednesday’s 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 upset of No. 12 seed Belinda Bencic.

“I never felt better in my life,” said Kovinic, ranked No. 121. “I think I played the best tennis here. I’m really enjoying it.”

Next, Kovinic must play Jankovic, one of her tennis idols and a sometimes doubles partner.

“There is always a chance,” Kovinic said. “I don’t know. I’ll just go there and have fun. Maybe it will be kind of weird to play and all because all the time I was watching her, I was cheering for her every match, and now I have to play against her.”

No worries. Like Sabine Lisicki, Kovinic has a great equalizer in her 120 mph-plus serve.

(04/08/15)  ANDREW MILLER and GENE SAPAKOFF: ‘Big milestone’ for Rogers despite loss
Shelby Rogers will spend the next few weeks hammering out the mistakes in her game while preparing for the European clay court season. Correctable flaws were apparent Wednesday in the second set of a 7-5, 6-1 Family Circle Cup loss to tournament qualifier Sara Sorribes Tormo.

The Mount Pleasant native prefers to “take the positives” away from a tennis facility dear to her heart and development.

Rogers, 22, won Monday night against Silvie Soler-Espinosa to snap an 0-6 WTA losing streak this year and earn her first main-draw Family Circle Cup victory.

“I overcame a big milestone here and had a good first match and I did some good things in the first set (Wednesday),” Rogers said, “so I just want to keep building on that and continue throughout the season. It’s a long year ahead.”

Tormo, ranked No. 195, was the underdog in every way against No. 80 Rogers. But the 18-year-old Spaniard kept Rogers off balance with a mix of defensive shots on her favorite surface. Tormo had no problems with the hometown crowd.

“The biggest win of my career,” Tormo said.

Tormo advances to the round of 16 to face No. 4 seed Sara Errani, a 6-3, 7-6 winner over 2014 Family Circle Cup finalist Jana Cepelova.

Rogers didn’t fair much better in her doubles match later in the day. Marina Erakovic and Andrea Petkovic defeated Rogers and Alison Riske, 6-4, 6-2.
Keys advances

On a day when chaos ruled at the Family Circle Cup, Madison Keys brought a little sanity back to the tournament.

Keys used a strong ground game to easily dispatch Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-2, 6-1, in 56 minutes in the night’s final singles match.

Top-seeded Eugenie Bouchard went down in straight sets to Lauren Davis as three of the four-seeded players were either defeated or left the tournament. Ekaterina Makarova defeated Shaui Zhang, but withdrew from the tournament with an illness.

“Yeah I thought I was going to lose,” Keys said with a chuckle. “I don’t really focus on the other matches during the day. I try to stay focused on myself and my match. Obviously, some seeds have lost, but I think that happens every tournament.”

With the two top seeds already gone from the draw, Keys, the tournament’s seventh seed, becomes an interesting prospect to advance through the field.
Jersey auction

The day was a total loss for top-seeded Bouchard.

Bouchard, who is ranked No. 7 in the world, lost her opening match of the tournament to Davis, 6-3, 6-1.

After the match, however, Bouchard, an avid ice hockey fan and Montreal native, received a South Carolina Stingrays jersey following the match from head coach Spencer Carbery. The No. 15 jersey had a “Bouchard” nameplate on the back.

“I love going to games, it’s a great sport to watch live,” Bouchard said.

Carbery, a native of Victoria, British Columbia, has been a longtime tennis fan and has followed Bouchard’s career.

“She’s a great player, it was such a thrill to watch her play and meet her,” Carbery said. “She couldn’t have been nicer. It’s too bad she didn’t win her match.”
Attendance watch
Blues skies and summer-like temperatures have given the Family Circle Cup a boost at the gates.

After drawing 11,534 fans Tuesday — 6,432 during the game and 5,102 for the night matches — the tournament had 14,388 in total attendance during Wednesday’s matches.

That figure includes 7,532 during the day matches and 6,856 for the night session.

TV time
ESPN2 will carry the matches live Thursday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m. The coverage Thursday and Friday will be from 1 p.m. until 2;30 p.m. and from 1-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Kids free

Kids under 15 are admitted free to the Family Circle Cup all week with an accompanying adult.

(04/08/15)  CHARLESTON CHRONICLE: Hakim Abdul-Ali: The Family Circle Cup Hits the Lowcountry
As sure as springtime hits the scenic lower section of the Palmetto State with anticipation, professional women's tennis is the thing that also goes along splendidly with this historic area just like the Lowcountry's famous shrimp and grits.

The 2015 Family Circle Cup tournament time is here and it's definitely carving out an equally famous reputation of its own.

The celebrated Women's Tennis Association (WTA) event is held on sumptuous Daniel Island, just a stone's throw away from the Holy City of Charleston, South Carolina.

This is the 43rd year of the tournament, and it's to be noted with pride that lovely Daniel Island and the City of Charleston has been the home base for this glorious event for the past fifteen years and counting.

This year, beginning on April 4, 2015, the Family Circle Cup professional women's tennis tournament began, and it will continue its unquestioned role as a vital showcase for some of the world's best female professional tennis athletes to do what they do best. Competition abounds at the tournament and it's world class.

The elite competitors exhibit, before an enthusiastic throng of tennis buffs and aficionados, some of the most intense and quality athletic skills you're ever going to see.

This year's stellar ensemble of female tennis pros are here at the Family Circle Cup and Tennis Center providing action and thrills galore on their way, hopefully, to the championship, which will be held on Sunday, April 12, 2015.

Leading this year's stunning array of tennis pros are the returning reigning 2014 champion, Andrea Petkovic, 2007's Family Circle Cup winner Jelena Jankovic, rising star Madison Keys, Belinda Bencic and Samantha Stosur, a Family Circle Cup winner in 2010.

Right on their heels and in the mix are 2009 Family Circle Cup champion Sabine Lisicki, Sloane Stephens, Ekaterina Makarova, Sara Errani and our own local star in the making, Shelby Rogers, among other thirsty hopefuls. The tournament has been alive with excitement thus far as these young lady titans battle each other for supremacy in the fiercely competitive world of women's professional tennis, and it's a sporting show that shouldn't be miss.

Visibly absent from this year's event are the heralded Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, who need no introduction to any serious and knowledgeable sports fan. They will not be participating in this year's Family Circle Cup matches.

These legendary African-American superstars are surely missed from the Cup scene, but the above mentioned star power players, along some electric up and coming ones in the making are ready to threaten to challenge and dethrone the Williams' control of women's tennis royalty. If it is to happen anytime soon, then you'll probably see whoever that is at this year's Family Circle Cup doing her preparatory thing in hopes of ascending to tennis' lofty rank of tops in her field.

For example, one individual who "The Charleston Chronicle"' had the distinct pleasure of interviewing during the Family Circle Cup Media Access Day, which was held on Tuesday, April 6, 2015, was 20-year-old Madison Keys. There's a buzz going on about her these days, especially after her strong showing in the recent 2015 Australian Open. She's definitely a young warrior ready to expand her game.

This native of Rock Island, Illinois, now calling Boca Raton, Florida home, told me that she's been playing tennis since she's was four-years-old and that no one forced her to take up the sport. She's been in love with the game of tennis since then.

When I asked her about what advice that she'd give to anyone interested in playing tennis. She offered," I think it's just focusing about having fun. (You know) it's just something as simple as buying a racket off the shelf, getting some balls and hitting them against wall. It makes you start loving the game of tennis, but it doesn't put the importance nor winning nor losing or things like that as main emphasis in playing. The game should be fun."

Madison poignantly continued saying, "Also, you don't need a tennis court, another person or stuff like that, which is is one of the things that makes playing tennis (today) so tough. It can be expensive because you need so many things. So, if you can find just find a couple of balls, find a racket and find a wall to hit the balls against. Go have some fun and start learning to love the game, getting better and better as you get into it, so that it doesn't become that expensive."

I was very impressed with Ms. Keys' youthful poise and sense of humble frankness. She's a verbally buoyant young lady who exudes a polite aura of classy joy in doing what she does best which is playing a spectacular game of tennis.

Of course that can be said of all the worthy and qualified participants in this year's event on Daniel Island.They are all extremely talented, and they have worked hard to get where they are in their quests for tennis stardom.

The Family Circle Cup's organization is a top flight tour de force, constantly performing at high professional levels of courtesy, service and care. This was evidenced by me as I saw an efficient event handled and run with class and poise, supported by a publicized more than four hundred volunteer work force. These friendly and dedicated volunteers are there year-after-year and are the glue that holds this event together.

Special respectful thanks are to be extended to Bob Moran, Family Circle Cup Tournament Director and General Manager, and his staff for creating an atmosphere where media and tennis stars get together and work to answer pertinent questions and concerns. Mr. Moran, a true professional in his own right, also expressed to me the importance of the African-American community being a necessary and an inclusive part of the Family Circle Cup's present and future ongoing activities because he's committed to establishing an effective sense of diversity and inclusion for everyone.

If you've read "The Charleston Chronicle" over the last twenty or so years that I've had the unique honor of writing for this very respected acknowledged news source, you know that I tell it like it is. And I'm telling you that you need to make it your business, if possible, to check out some of the remaining tournament matches leading up to the climatic final on the 12th of April. It truly is a happening.

The Family Circle Cup is our Lowcountry's time to enjoy. Take the kids with you. You and they will enjoy the events and activities that are set up for your and their entertainment and delight at the tournament.

(04/07/15)  JOHN: Venus Williams at Player’s World of Sports!
Fans who visited the Venus Williams “EleVen” promotion at Player’s World last night were treated to an opportunity to visit with another tennis legend.  Stan Smith stopped by also!

Don’t Miss This Week’s Tennis E-News!

We try to post our weekly Tennis E-News email newsletter every Tuesday morning- at 6:05 am to be exact! Why exactly 6:05?  Why not!  We are particularly excited about this week’s issue because it is going to be packed with interesting Lowcountry tennis news.  This Tuesday we will have the first look at the 2015 Hilton Head Pro League team rosters, information on the newest Hilton Head tournament, and hopefully pictures of us with Venus Williams from the Monday night Player’s World event.  All this in addition to the usual news, flyers, and USTA links!  If you are not a subscriber, please consider subscribing to the FREE Tennis E-News.  The subscription form is found on the right side of our website pages.  To see past issues of the Tennis E-News, please visit www.hiltonheadlovestennis.com/blog.

(04/07/15)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
Singles: Amble (CB) d. Healey 6-1, 6-0. Sechrist d. Buttery 6-0, 6-1. Bridges d. Howell 6-1, 6-0. Bailey d. Kimsey 6-1, 6-1. Evan d. Preston 6-0, 6-1.  Doubles: Jenkins/Eddy d. Gillard/Hicks.

Singles: Long d. Parvey 7-5, 6-0. Hazel d. Rabon 6-1, 6-2. Wills d. M. Nixon 6-0, 6-0. Reynolds d. C. Nixon 6-2, 6-4. Lenkiewicz d. Leo 7-5, 6-1.  Doubles: Long/Wills d. Parvey/Rabon 8-3. Prathipati/Yangco d. Kackley/Johnson 6-1, 6-2.

Records: Summerville 4-6 (2-1). Ashley Ridge 1-7 (1-2). Next: Summerville at Fort Dorchester Tuesday.

Singles: Bahadori d. Miller 6-2, 6-2. Kassouf d. Cobbs 6-0, 6-1. Sakamuri d. Allen 7-5, 6-1. Nietert d. No. Behrick 6-0, 6-2. Pugh d. Pate 6-4, 6-1.  Doubles: Miller/Cobbs (W) d. McFee/E. Leadem 8-5. M. Leadem/King d. Graham/Ni. Behrick 8-0.

Records: AM 3-3. Woodland 2-3. Next: AM at James Island Wednesday.

Singles: T. Anastapoulo (WA) d. D. Sides 6-1, 7-6. G. Wong d. S. Anastapoulo 5-7, 6-4, 10-6. A. Gunn (WA) d. P. Hoffman 6-4, 6-0. J. Wong d. N. Harris 6-4, 6-3. G. Sides d. B. Foster 4-6, 6-1, 10-8.  Doubles: T. Anastapoulo/S. Anastapoulo (WA) d. D. Sides/G. Wong 1-6, 6-4, 10-5. J. Smith/A. Yeung d. Sadler/Patel 7-5, 6-3.

Records: Stratford 4-1 (2-1). Next: Stratford at Fort Dorchester Wednesday.

Singles: DaCosta d. Leatherhead 6-0, 6-0. Pandey d. Hamilton 6-0, 6-0. Redden d. Pack 6-0, 6-0. Weston d. Johnson 6-0, 6-0. Botos d. Boone 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: Winglowski/Smyth d. Hoover/Barg 6-0, 6-0.

Records: Wando 4-1 (3-0).

(04/07/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: Defending champion Petkovic survives scare
Defending champion Andrea Petkovic said it never crossed her mind that she might lose her opening-round match Tuesday in the Family Circle Cup. But South Africa’s Chanelle Scheepers certainly opened Petkovic’s eyes by convincingly winning the opening set.

Petkovic managed to turn things around, thanks to a conversation with her coach, who reminded her that she was playing the hard-court game that had taken her to the semifinals of her previous tournament in Miami but was now playing on the green clay of Family Circle Cup’s Stadium Court. With that in mind, Petkovic rallied for an encouraging 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory.

“There were at least 10 or 12 shots where I just stopped moving because I thought that the rally was over…The thing I love most about clay I didn’t do at all in the first set So this is a case where it’s good to have on-court coaching because otherwise I don’t know if I would have won the match,” said the 27-year-old from Germany.

Petkovic said she was hitting the ball fine but wasn’t being patient in the rallies. And she needed to get accustomed to the clay.

“I wanted to finish off the rally in three or four shots, which is impossible on clay. I really tried to focus on putting more spin on the balls and being more patient in the rallies,” Petkovic said.

When she finally put Scheepers away, Petkovic broke into a dance, not as a way of ending what had to be a frustrating opening match, but because a group of spectators behind her were dancing.

“It was contagious,” Petkovic said.

“It never really crossed my mind I might lose. That’s actually the upside of being confident when you’ve played well in a tournament before. Even when you’re playing badly and things are not going your way, you always have this belief in yourself that you’re somehow going to turn the match around. So that was really, really good for me,” Petkovic continued.

“As strange as it sounds, (playing) three sets may be good for me. Now I really have no excuses anymore if I lose.”

Fine dining in Charleston

Veteran Samantha Stosur is known as one of the fittest players on the WTA Tour, her bulging biceps a favorite of tennis photographers around the world.

But her diet plan -- at least while she’s in Charleston -- is not one for mere mortals.

“The goal,” she said, “is to eat as much as possible, but keep playing lots of matches so you don’t put on 10 pounds.”

The 31-year-old Australian carefully plans her dining destinations when she comes to the Family Circle Cup so that she hits new spots as well as old favorites.

“I actually booked every night of the week, just in case I was here the whole week,” said Stosur, who won the Family Circle Cup in 2010. “Two restaurants every night ... So if anyone’s looking for an extra reservation, I’ve probably got one.”

So Stosur’s win over Sesil Karantantcheva on Tuesday got her into the second round -- and earned her another feast at a Charleston restaurant.

Martina doubles up
WTA great Martina Hingis has embarked on a second career of sorts -- as a doubles specialist. The 34-year-old Hingis, who won five Grand Slam singles titles during her career, is playing doubles with India’s Sania Mirza, and the pair won doubles titles at Miami and Indian Wells.

Hingis and Mirza will make their Family Circle Cup debut on Stadium Court on Wednesday night, facing Anastasia and Arina Rodionova of Australia.

TV Time
Every singles match at this year’s Family Circle Cup will be live-streamed on ESPN3, giving fans in 143 countries access to the tournament, with a total of 93 matches over 130 hours of airtime available on TV and the web. ESPN2 will carry matches from 1-2:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Kids free
Kids under 15 are admitted free to the Family Circle Cup all week with an accompanying adult.

Attendance Watch
The Family Circle Cup is off to a fast start in attendance, with crowds of 6,314 and 6,340 coming out for qualifying matches on Saturday and Sunday, and 5,486 on hand for Monday’s first day of main draw play. On Tuesday, 11,534 fans were on hand, 6,432 for the day session and 5,102 for the night matches.

(04/07/15)  LOWCOUNTRYTODAY.com: Family Circle Cup's Annual Nine Day Party
Tennis Center, Sponsors, & Volunteers Roll Out Welcome Mat Every April
By Jeff Walker, Sports & Entertainment Writer

Every year as they’ve done since 2001 the Women’s Tennis Association in partnership with Meredith Corporation, along with the fantastic folks at the Family Circle Cup under the fine leadership of Bob Moran and Eleanor Adams host a nine day party on Daniel Island. While world class tennis players hope to stay through Sunday April 12th with thoughts of lifting up the winners trophy, fans from low country and beyond come to Daniel Island to enjoy epic matches and the week-long festivities.

Now in it’s 15th year on Charleston’s resort community the Family Circle Cup organization have pretty much got the tournament down to a science. They seem to know what works and where to improve when needed. Those attending this week will find a majority of their favorite eateries, shops, and assorted vendors hoping to make everyone’s visit a pleasant memory. This is a fun filled event for tennis fans of all ages.

Past champions and up and comers will be among the field. Some hoping for another shot of glory with others longing to join the likes of Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, and the Williams’ sisters as Family Circle Cup winners. Teenagers alongside tour veterans including local resident Shelby Rogers ranked 86th in the world dream of standing on center court as the nine day party comes to a close.

The unsung heroes during Family Circle Cup week continue to be the hundreds of volunteers, who donate their time and energy to ensure fans not only have an incredible time, but a safe one. There are the valets who sit under the concrete bridge waiting to park your car if you so choose. Or how about the volunteers that sit miles away from the stadium directing traffic. They may never see a match but the tournament wouldn’t go off smoothly without them.

The same can be said for the many law enforcement and first aid officers. Inside the tennis compound there are a bevy of men and women, young and old, some retired, others taking time off from work or during spring break to make sure your day or night, or your week long experience is the best it can be. This is truly an example of a community coming together to extend southern hospitality, and no one does that better than Charleston SC.

Once inside it’s a mixture of shopping, networking, music, dining, exhibitions, kids activities, and a whole lot of pomp and circumstance. The Family Circle Cup folks have positioned a number or kiosks and tents to educate and inform patrons on events and happenings at the tournament. If you’re looking for tennis apparel, hats, t-shirts, sunglasses, you won’t have far to search.

The usual business partners return year after year. The corporate boxes are abuzz with attendants willing to wait on business types out for a relaxing day of tennis and networking. Sun Trust, Wells Fargo, Prudential, and First Citizen’s Bank are well positioned on the main concourse as is Nicholson Yachts Worldwide making a first time appearance. Mixing sports and business is an age old practice, and the Family Circle Cup provides a great backdrop.

Just outside the stadium you’ll find a bevy of sponsors tents, an ideal mix of locals and out-of-towners. The Lowcountry Tennis Association along with the City of Charleston, MUSC Children’s Hospital, Daniel Island Real Estate, Bryan Minton’s MW Tennis Academy, SCE&G, and Hudson Nissan represent the home team with Salonpas, Dunlop Sports, Antiqua Performance Apparel, and Verizon holding court as invited guests. New to the field this season include Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen.

One of my returning favorites is Icicles Performance Eyewear. Headquartered out of Colorado owner Kemp Buononato and his staff will be more than happy to help you find the right sunglasses for day to day use or for whatever high profile sports and recreation you are into. Whether you play tennis, ride a Harley, enjoy water sports, or are just in need for durable and fashionable eyewear, Icicles has you covered. Stop by their booth and give them a try. The way they feel, the way they are constructed, and the way they make you look will impress you.

Walk the miracle half mile around the sidewalks and you’ll be thoroughly entertained. Fans may want to test their skills inside one of the practice courts attempting to return balls served by a machine. It’s fun and competitive. Sponsored by Dunlop it is always happening. Stroll a little further and visit the fine crews from MUSC Children’s Hospital offering attendees an opportunity to win tickets to the US Open. The Lowcountry Tennis Association will gladly educate on all they do locally to promote the sport.

Of course what would a party be without food and drink, and there is plenty to be found. Local favorite Daniel Island Grill (DIG) returns offering up traditional pub favorites, and low country classics, with a creative, innovative and healthy approach. An island favorite DIG has moved closer to stadium court in a stand along tent alongside the market shops. Bon appetite.

A variety of local food trucks will motor on in throughout the week with Hamby Catering offering up low country favorites in vendor village. Apart from the food court you’ll find food everyone can agree on including Chick fil-a, the best chicken sandwich in the south, Half Court Hotdogs, Zeus Grill, and Duvall Express Café.

If you’re looking for something a bit more healthier Verde (salads) is may be just the ticket. In between lunch, dinner, or that fill me up snack satisfy your sweet tooth with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Italian Ice, King of Pops Gourmet Popsicles, Mountain Top Jumbo Pretzels, or maybe some carnival treats from T&T Kettle-Korn & Candied Nuts.

Craving liquid refreshment to complement all that great food. Ketel One Vodka, Miller-Lite, Pepsi Cola, Royal Cup Cofee, and Clos Du Bois are once again the official beverage sponsors for the 2015 Family Circle Cup. In the mood for a cold brew or a glass of red or white wine, you’ll find several beer and wine gardens perfectly positioned throughout the compound.

The social scene is all abuzz at the Family Circle Cup with The Racquet Club sponsored by Ketel One on the Grand Lawn the place to be. Offering a full service bar, televisions with live camera feeds and a comfortable atmosphere, this is the place to meet, mingle, and relax at the Cup. Each night features drink specials and nightly entertainment. The low country’s most noted catering company Duvall Events happily attends to the many corporate boxes.

Family Circle Cup Merchandise Tent (inside the main gate) offers the latest fashions in tennis clothing and that got to have souvenir. There you’ll find Antigua along with Nike and many other popular brand names. The tent also carries a full array of Family Circle Cup branded items for that keepsake. Something for all ages, hats, shirts, jackets, cute shorts & tops to make you look good in the stands or on the court.

Charleston's number one tennis training facility aims to take your game to the next level. Want to enjoy a great day of tennis then the Family Circle Cup is the ticket. If you’re looking for a family friendly environment then the Family Circle Cup can accommodate. If you’re looking for a great food and drink then Family Circle Cup will satisfy your craving. Looking for a great place to entertain friends or clients, then the Family Circle Cup is happening.

The 2015 Family Circle Cup offers up professional women’s tennis and a hell of a lot more. It’s a concerted effort by the tennis center, locals businesses, and volunteers to make it the best event each and every year. In Charleston during the month of April it’s the place to be or to be seen. If you’re enjoying yourself without any worries the folks on hand are doing their jobs properly. Whether you a have a day off, or maybe the entire week, make plans to spend your days or even a couple of your nights at the Family Circle Cup Tournament.

Thanks to you Bob and Eleanor and their Family Circle Cup staff and your many sponsors. We salute your commitment to excellence year after year. The Daniel Island tennis facility is the perfect location to host the annual Spring event, after all Charleston SC is not only the friendliest and most hospitable city in the country it is also home to the best tennis town in America.

(04/07/15)  WTA TENNIS: ALL ACCESS HOUR Bouchard: Dream Big And Work Hard
Eugenie Bouchard met the press at the Family Circle Cup and talked about her wildcard, the Road To Singapore and more. What’s her advice for up-and-comers?

A lot of players would kill for Eugenie Bouchard‘s start to the year – quarters of the Australian Open, fourth round of Indian Wells – but she wasn’t satisfied. And with a gap in her schedule, the Family Circle Cup seemed like a perfect fit, so she asked for a wildcard.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Charleston right here on wtatennis.com!

“I felt like I hadn’t played enough matches in my past couple of tournaments. I’d gotten knocked out earlier than I would’ve wanted to,” Bouchard said at Monday’s All Access Hour. “I had a two to three week gap here and it just seemed like a perfect fit, so we thought about it at the last second after Miami, and if I could get a wildcard. The tournament was nice enough to give me one, so here I am.

“I have great memories from Charleston as well, so it’s just great to be back again.”

For the World No.7, the Family Circle Cup is a chance to get some more matches, something she’s been craving – that became evident when she was asked whether she was happy with her start to the year.

“No,” she replied. “Unless I win every tournament I’m never going to be happy. But I know that’s impossible. I just want to do better every year, and one thing I want to work on this year is consistency – I had a good tournament in Australia, but I want to do it at all the other tournaments, not just the Grand Slams. I want to see every tournament as important and do well at all of them.”

And after such a breakthrough 2014 season, there are times Bouchard will have a lot to defend as 2015 goes on, including here – she reached the semifinals last year. But she’s not thinking that way.

“It only makes it tougher mentally. It kind of brings you to the past, or even into the future, thinking that you’ll have to defend this result next year – but it’s important to stay in the moment.

“I’m trying to see it like the Road To Singapore, where everyone starts at zero at the beginning of the year, you just try to do as well as you can, and see where you end up at the end of the year.”

However her sophomore year at the top goes, one thing’s certain – Bouchard has an incredibly bright future ahead of her, coupling perfect technique with unmatched aggression and mental toughness beyond her years. She’s the first player born in ’92 or later to break the Top 10 – and she was born in ’94.

What advice would the 21-year-old give to kids with dreams of making it big in tennis?

“My favorite thing to say is dream big and work as hard as you can to achieve that,” Bouchard said. “It’s really important to have a specific goal in mind and really see it when you go to sleep at night, and dream about it. I’ve had that since I was young, dreaming of lifting the Wimbledon trophy.

“It motivates you so much to get there. You can really almost feel that you can accomplish it.”

(04/06/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: Stosur wins at Family Circle Cup; Shelby Rogers to face qualifier
Samantha Stosur returned to the scene of one her finest tennis moments Tuesday, opening her Family Circle Cup run with a 6-2, 6-4 win over qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva.

Stosur, currently ranked No. 26 on the WTA Tour, won the 2010 Family Circle Cup with a memorable 6-0, 6-3 destruction of Vera Zvonareva on the Stadium Court on Daniel Island.

Two other former champions, 2007 winner Jelena Jankovic and defending champ Andrea Petkovic, will be in action Tuesday at the Family Circle Cup.
Hometown girl Shelby Rogers learned the name of her second-round foe when No. 14 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was forced to retire from her match Tuesday. Rogers will face qualifier Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, who won by 6-3, 3-0 (ret.)

Tuesday on Stadium Court
Sloane Stephens vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Jelena Jankovic vs. Tatjana Maria
Angelique Kerber vs. Evgeniya Rodina
7 p.m. - Andrea Petkovic vs. Chanelle Scheepers

Tuesday’s results
Samantha Stosur d. Sesil Karatantcheva, 6-2, 6-4
Sara Orribes Tormo d. No. 14 Anastasia Pavyluchenkova, 6-4, 3-0 (ret).
Madison Brengle d. Edina Gallovits-Hall, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2
Lara Arruabarrena d. Cagla Buyukakcay, 6-2, 6-2

(04/06/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: At Family Circle Cup, hometown girl Shelby Rogers wins – finally
After Shelby Rogers won for the first time in the Family Circle Cup on Monday, a throng of kids waited above the tunnel at Billie Jean King Stadium Court, clamoring for her autograph.

It wasn’t that long ago that the 22-year-old Rogers was one of those kids — working as a Family Circle Cup ball girl, training on the facility’s green clay courts, cavorting with friends on the grounds.

“I’ve got so many balls, hats, wristbands — everything you can possibly imagine,” Rogers said, recalling her days as a Daniel Island autograph hound. “I even got a kiss on the cheek from Jennifer Capriati.”

Rogers made a memory Monday that might surpass even a kiss from the 2001 Family Circle Cup champion. The hometown girl routed 67th-ranked Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 6-3, 6-1, to claim her first main-draw victory in the Family Circle Cup.

“Everyone tells me how lucky I am to have a tournament in my hometown, and I am blessed,” said Rogers, a Mount Pleasant native now ranked No. 86 in the world.

But that blessing comes packed with pressure, and Rogers shed tears after her previous appearances in the Family Circle Cup main draw resulted in losses, in 2011 and 2014.

“To win here has been a goal of mine for a long time,” said Rogers, who turned pro in 2010 at age 17. “I have tried every year and have had some tough matches here. Each one made me stronger and tougher, so now I get to enjoy this moment.”

The moment came in part because of Rogers’ decision to play at a lower-level ITF tournament last week in Florida. After losing in the first round of the Miami Open, Rogers dropped to 0-6 in WTA matches this year. In Osprey, Fla., Rogers won two matches to make the quarterfinals, a nice boost heading into her homecoming in Charleston.

“It was good,” Rogers said. “I got some matches in on clay down there, and it’s always a difficult transition from hardcourts to clay. It was nice to be at a a low-key, smaller tournament and get acclimated to moving and sliding on clay. It was a smart move.”

The first part of this season has been a lesson on life in the big-time of the WTA Tour for Rogers. Last summer, she knocked off several top 20 players, including No. 8 Eugenie Bouchard, and made her first WTA final at Bad Gastein, pushing her ranking into the top 100 and qualifying her for main draws this year. Her first-round losses this year include one to No. 2 Maria Sharapova.

“I’ve had a lot of losses, but not to bad players,” Rogers said. “I have had a lot of really cool experiences that are getting me a lot of exposure and getting me used to playing in bigger stadiums and in bigger matches. My ranking is higher now, so I have to be ready to play from the first match on against someone like Sharapova. So it’s a learning curve.”

Against Soler-Espinosa, Rogers faced a 27-year-old ranked 19 spots higher. But Rogers took charge from the middle of the first set on, winning nine of the last 10 games. She won 75 percent of her first-serve points, fought off all four break points and needed just 74 minutes for the win.

“I started going after my shots a little bit more,” she said, “hitting the ball a little deeper and got some confidence going.”

Now, Rogers’ goal is to keep that confidence stoked as she navigates all the memories and emotions that come with playing in your hometown. She could face No. 14 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round.

“I’m still about to cry,” Rogers said after Monday’s match. “But it’s happy tears this time.”

In other first-round matches Monday, No. 16 seed Heather Watson of Great Britain was ousted by Donna Vekic in three sets. Seeded players Zarina Diyas, Mona Barthel and Irina-Camelia Begu all advanced, Begu and Barthel in straight sets.

Lauren Davis won a spirited battle between young Americans, outlasting Grace Min 6-7, 7-6, 6-3. American hopefuls Christina McHale and Nicole Gibbs went out in straight sets, while wild-card entrant Sachia Vickery needed three sets to get past fellow American Jessica Pegula, who trains at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

(04/06/15)  JEFF HARTSELL and JAMES BECK: FCC notes: Pegula unable to keep momentum

When a player ranked in the 600s in the world makes the main draw of one of the WTA Tour’s Premier level events, it’s a golden opportunity to make a move in the rankings.

That’s the world of the point-chasers, the big difference maker on the pro tour. Jessica Pegula is currently ranked 614th and set to move up approximately 150 spots as the result of her two victories in the Family Circle Cup’s qualifying tournament over the weekend. Not bad for a player who started the year ranked No. 775.

But a win in Monday’s first round in the $731,000 tournament’s main draw could have sent Pegula’s ranking soaring into the 380s. Therefore, her 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to Sachia Vickery could be a significant momentum-changer for the 21-year-old Pegula in her return from her 2013 knee surgery.
Once ranked as high as No. 123 in the world, Pegula played well in her third match in as many days on the Althea Gibson Club Court. But as hard as Pegula tried, Vickery simply wouldn’t let the local resident of the MWTennis Academy win anything easily in front of her legion of fans.

“I fought hard … I gave myself a chance to win the match,” said Pegula, the daughter of Buffalo Bills/Sabres owner Terry Pegula.

But it was the endless array of short floating balls by Vickery off Pegula’s deep, penetrating groundstrokes that probably decided the match. Pegula failed to put most of those balls away and allowed Vickery to continue fighting.

“I’ve got to work on coming in more,” Pegula admitted.

There also was an inordinate number of line-painters by Vickery, a 20-year-old from Hollywood, Fla., who is ranked No. 137.

 “I think she hit five lines in one game,” Pegula said. “She did that the last time we played, too (another three-set loss to Vickery earlier this year on hard courts). She came up with some big serves.”

Yes, like two Vickery aces to the same spot on back-to-back break points with Vickery serving at 4-2 in the second set.

TV time
Every singles match at this year’s Family Circle Cup will be live-streamed on ESPN3, giving fans in 143 countries access to the tournament, with a total of 93 matches over 130 hours of airtime available on TV and the web. ESPN2 will carry matches from 1-2:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Ladies Day
Tuesday is Ladies Day Out at the Family Circle Cup, with giveaways, shopping and dining available. Renowned Charleston foodie Nathalie Dupree will host a gourmet lunch and presentation from 11 a.m, to 12:30 p.m. For information, call 800-677-2293.

Kids free
Kids under 15 are admitted free to the Family Circle Cup all week with an accompanying adult.

Attendance watch
The Family Circle Cup is off to a fast start in attendance, with crowds of 6,314 and 6,340 coming out for qualifying matches on Saturday and Sunday, and 5,486 on hand for Monday’s first day of main draw play.

Former champions Samantha Stosur and Jelena Jankovic and defending champ Andrea Petkovic highlight Tuesday’s action on Stadium Court.

(04/06/15)  MOULTRIE NEWS: Mt. Pleasant’s Rogers wins first Family Circle match
Charleston native Shelby Rogers is batting back tears of joy this time around.
The WTA rising star who grew up in Mount Pleasant won her first-ever Family Circle Cup match Monday afternoon, beating Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain 6-3, 6-1 in a first-round encounter.
The 22-year-old Rogers, ranked the world No. 80, dominated after the two players split the first six games, winning nine of the final 10 games of the match.
“I’m still about to cry… but happy tears this time,” Rogers said, breaking into a smile. “There are so many memories that come flooding back when I’m here.”
Rogers is playing in the Cup for the fifth time and the main draw for the third time. She’s had a career-best year over the last 12 months on the WTA, reaching her first final in Bad Gastein.
She reached a career-high No. 70 in the world in September of last year. Rogers could potentially face former junior world No. 1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in round two, the No. 14 seed here.
“It’s been a goal of mine for a while,” Rogers said of a victory here. “I’ve had some tough matches here but they have made me a little stronger and a little tougher so I think I get to enjoy this one today.”

(04/06/15)  WCIV-TV ABC 4: Top 8 Family Circle Cup players gather for media day
The top eights seeds of the Family Circle Cup don't have to play Monday because they all have a bye into the next round. But that doesn't mean they have a bye from talking to the media.

On Monday the top names in the field gathered to take questions from the media. As always, there was a colorful cast of characters giving it a spin on Daniel Island.

"I think there is a tough field, some great competition out there this week, I am looking forward to starting tomorrow and hopefully doing well," said former champ Jelena Jankovic.

Jankovic is always colorful -- in fashion and in language. The former 2007 champion and 2013 semi-finalist is a crowd favorite to watch and listen to.

"No, no, I try to stay calm and focused and do my job in the proper way. New JJ? Same old me, a little wiser, a little calmer hopefully with a little self-control," she said.

One player certainly to watch for and hard to miss is the defending champion, Andrea Petkovic.

"That's actually crazy. I never had a 50-foot poster of myself anywhere, especially not in South Carolina and Charleston. So that has been an amazing feeling," she said. "It's a new situation defending such a big title. There's more pressure than last year where I flew off the radar, but I'm ready, I love it here."

Petkovic endeared herself to fans last year, and now they're returning to see her defend the title. It's a different scenario but she has the same goal.

"It is different. Although I played really well after Charleston -- after that everything came together. I had a full year to get used to it," Petkovic said. "To come as title defender is a different story. I am very excited to be in this position. I've earned it and I look forward to taking on pressure."

But the pressure may be on Eugenie Bouchard, a Top 10 in the world and the top seed in the field at the Family Circle Cup.

"Yea, I feel that way for a year now, something I am trying to get used to. It's a position I want to be in, I worked to get here, I need to embrace it. I just know that most opponents will play best against me and go for it," she said. "They have nothing to lose, and I expect the best tennis out of everyone. That's a good thing because it will push me to be better and have tougher matches."

It will be a tough ride to the top on Sunday, and right now the field is wide open and it's anyone's guess who will step onto center court for the final.

(04/06/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: Family Circle Cup opens under blue skies on Daniel Island
The Family Circle Cup began its 15th year in Charleston on Monday, under blue skies and warm breezes on Daniel Island.

Charleston’s own Shelby Rogers, ranked No. 86 on the WTA Tour, seeks her first main draw win in her hometown tournament on Family Circle Stadium Court, where she once served as a ball girl. The 22-year-old Rogers faces No. 67 Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain.

Other Americans in action Monday include qualifier Jessica Pegula, who trains at the Family Circle Cup Tennis Center; and No. 66 Christina McHale. Americans Grace Min and Lauren Davis face off on Althea Gibson Court.

In early action Monday, American Irina Falconi fell to Germany’s Tatjana Maria, 6-1, 6-3.
Yaroslava Shvedova defeated Stefanie Voegele, 7-5, 6-2.

Andrea Petkovic, ranked No. 10 in the world, is back to defend her title in the $731,000 tournament.
Monday on Stadium Court

10 a.m. -- No. 16 seed Heather Watson vs. Donna Vekic
Shelby Rogers vs. Silvia Soler-Espinosa
Timea Babos vs. Mona Barthel
Nicole Gibbs vs. Shuai Zhang

Monday’s results
Tatjana Maria d. Irina Falconi, 6-1, 6-3
Yaroslava Shvedova d. Stefanie Voegele, 7-5, 6-2
Chanelle Scheepers d. Marina Erakovic, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4

(04/06/15)  Bouchard No. 1 seed; Petkovic looks to repeat
Andrea Petkovic could only dream a year ago about winning the Family Circle Cup. At best, she was a long shot.

But what about winning this tournament twice in a row?

Petkovic took the NO. 3 seed in Saturday afternoon’s draw party at Family Circle Tennis Center.

Like all of the top eight seeds, Petkovic has a first round bye in the $731,00 tournament that starts Monday on Daniel Island. The defending champion could face a major obstacle in the quarterfinals since the talented German is in the same quarter of the draw as another former champion, No. 6 seed Jelena Jankovic.

“I’m just here to play some great tennis,” Petkovic said after arriving earlier in the day following  a loss on Thursday in the semifinals of the Miami Open.

“I would love to repeat. You can never forget something like last year’s Family Circle Cup. All of the great memories hit me as soon as I got here,” said Petkovic, cherishing last year’s championship even more as the daughter of a former University of South Carolina tennis player.

“Dad wasn’t here last year, but he’s here this year.”

The 27-year-old Petkovic shared the draw party spotlight on Saturday with touring pro Shelby Rogers. Rogers will be paired against Silvia Solar-Espinosa of Spain in the first round.

Top seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada is in the same quarter of the draw as hard-hitting young American No. 7 seed Madison Keys, but otherwise could have smooth sailing in the top half of the draw. Italian clay-courter Sara Errain, the no. 4 seed, and No. 8 seed Caroline Garcia of France loom as the top challengers for Bouchard in the opposite quarter (Rogers’ quarter) of the top half of the draw.

However, highly-touted American Sloane Stephens, unseeded this time, could be matched up against Bouchard in the round of 16, while Bouchard’s first opponent will come from one of two young Americans, Grace Min or Lauren Davis, in the second round.

The bottom half, with two of the draw’s former champions (Jankovic  and Petkovic) bunched together, and the other former champion (No. 9 seed Samantha Stosur) in the other quarter, is loaded with pitfalls.

Angelique Kerber, the always dangerous left-handed German, is the no. 5 seed and could meet Stosur in the round of 16. Second-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia could await the winner of that showdown in the quarterfinals.


Former Family Circle Cup singles champion Martina Hingis entered the Family Circle doubles draw with Sania Mirza.

(04/05/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: At Family Circle Cup, Shelby Rogers ready for sequel to ‘Summer of Shelby’
At every tournament, it seemed, the assembled media had the same question for Shelby Rogers.

“Shelby,” the reporters asked, “is this the biggest win of your career?”

The question was only natural, given the summer that the Mount Pleasant native put in last year on the WTA Tour. The 22-year-old pro chalked up victories over top-20 players Carla Suarez Navarro and Sara Errani while making the finals in Bad Gastein, Germany; followed that up with a win over No. 21 Alize Cornet in Washington, D.C.; and topped off the remarkable run with a three-set win over No. 8 Eugenie Bouchard in Montreal.

That stretch — call it the “Summer of Shelby” — pushed Rogers’ ranking from No. 123 to No. 72 and helped her into the WTA Rising Stars Invitational in Singapore at the end of the year. It also helped her come up with an answer to that question.

Mount Pleasant native Shelby Rogers knocked off eighth-ranked Eugenie Bouchard last year. Both players are in the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island this year.

“After a while, I was like, ‘Let’s see what this week has in store,’ ” Rogers said.

Last summer also catapulted Rogers into a whole new world on the WTA Tour. Instead of playing in qualifying tournaments in order to get into main draws, Rogers is now getting straight into main draws of tournaments, including this week’s Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.

That’s a big deal for Rogers, who was a ballgirl at the Family Circle Cup and trained there as well.

“It’s different for me this year because I’m in the main draw because of my ranking,” said Rogers, who is now ranked No. 86 and has played in the Family Circle Cup main draw twice before. “I didn’t need a wild card or have to ask for any favors. So it’s a really big milestone for me because I grew up there.

“I was always thankful for the wild cards they gave me,” Rogers said. “But to earn my way in, that’s a very different feeling for me.”

That main-draw feeling also comes with a sharp edge, however. Instead of playing her way into form in qualifying — as she did before each of her big wins last summer — Rogers is now immediately faced with a quality foe in the first round.

For example, this year Rogers main-drawed straight into the Australian Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments and a big deal for a young player. But her first-round foe was No. 67 Ajla Tomljanovic, and Rogers was quickly out of the tournament in three sets. In her next tournament, Rogers’ first-round foe was none other than No. 2 Maria Sharapova, and Rogers was gone in straight sets.

In fact, Rogers was 0-6 in singles matches this year until she went to an ITF event in Osprey, Fla., last week and won twice before losing in the quarterfinals.

Getting used to life in the main draw can be a challenge, said defending Family Circle Cup champion Andrea Petkovic.

“For me, the first thing was mentally accepting that you are one of those players, that you are equal to those players in the main draw,” said Petkovic, who defeated Rogers in the finals at Bad Gastein last year. “And then you don’t have those warmup matches anymore. You have to be right on point from the first match on, and you can’t let any weaknesses happen to you in that first match. It’s definitely a different story.”

Rogers knows she has to keep improving in order to make her next breakthrough. She spent much of the winter training in Los Angeles with new coach Marc Lucero.

“I feel like I have a clear idea of my game and what I need to do,” Rogers said. “I spent a lot of time over the last year developing that. Every player has an identity on court, and you have to believe in that and trust it — ‘This is my game, and this is what I’m going to do to win.’ ”

Lucero, a former USTA coach who is now traveling with Rogers, is part of that process.

“It really helps,” Rogers said. “He’s there to see all your matches, to see how you respond to certain situations. He can say, ‘Remember what you did last week, we’re doing to do these drills to improve that.’ You get lots of feedback from the matches, and a coach can help with the travel stuff as well and take some of that off my plate.”

Petkovic, for one, is confident Rogers will make it through this stage, as well.

“She’s such a dangerous player,” Petkovic said. “She hits the ball well and so clean, it’s very difficult to play against her. She’s improved so much already, and she’ll improve even more. She’ll go far.”

For this week, Rogers will be happy if she can show off that improvement to her hometown fans.

“It is hard to treat this like any other tournament,” she said. “There are a lot more emotions involved for me here, but at the same time it’s really fun. I get to see my friends and family and get them involved in what I do, in something that’s a big part of my life.

“After all, it’s hard to fly all your friends to Australia.”

(04/05/15)  Pegula marches through Family Circle Cup qualifying
Charleston has a new tennis prodigy.

Welcome, Jessica Pegula.

Touring tennis professionals come to Daniel Island from all over the world, many of them just in hopes of qualifying for the main draw of the $731,000 Family Circle Cup. Just qualifying is a tall order.

But Pegula didn’t have to travel here. She’s a resident of Mount Pleasant, and represents Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy. After qualifying for the main draw of this week’s big tournament, she’s the face of the academy.

“This (Pegula’s success) is significant. I think it’s great to see the results coming from a lot of effort,” MWTennis CEO Jeff Wilson said about the 10-month-old academy. As he spoke, Wilson was leading a group of 65 MWTennis juniors through a drill in Family Circle Stadium Sunday afternoon.

Pegula’s straight-set march through two weekend qualifying matches was the biggest thing that happened to the tournament this weekend. Well, except maybe Martina Hingis’ entry into the doubles draw.

The 21-year-old daughter of the owner of the Buffalo Bills/Sabres (Terry Pegula) is the first local player to come through the qualifying tournament into the main draw. Shelby Rogers has made it a couple of previous times as a wild card before earning her way into the main draw this year as a result of her world ranking.

That makes Pegula a pretty special player to the legion of supporters who surrounded the Althea Gibson Club Court on Sunday afternoon to watch her 7-6 (5), 6-3 conquest of tall Lesley Kerkhove of the Netherlands in the second round of qualifying.

Now on a hot streak that has seen her win four of her last five matches (all on clay), Pegula has advanced to her second Family Circle main draw. She made the main draw’s round of 16 two years ago, but later underwent knee surgery that had her on the mend until late last year.

Pegula’s first-round match in the main draw is scheduled for Monday as the third match on the Althea Gibson Club Court (play starts at 10 a.m.) against hard-hitting young American wild-card entry Sashia Vickery.

A crafty strategist with big-time groundstrokes off both wings, Pegula broke out of a 2-2 deadlock by winning three straight games in the second set. She wasted two match points in the eighth game before finishing the job in the ninth game.

“The first set wasn’t very good tennis,” Pegula said about a set in which she wasted two set points in the 10th game and another one in the tiebreaker before closing out the first set.

“I think our serves kept us in the match the first set cause neither of us played well. I just got kind of nervous trying to close out the first set. I kind of told myself I had to step it up. I only played well on big points. I thought I played well in the tiebreaker.”

Pegula was one of eight qualifiers for the main draw on Sunday. The other seven were: (1) Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic, (3) Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria, (13) Laura Siegemund of Germany, (7) Kristina Kucova of Slovakia, (8) Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain and (15) Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine.

(04/05/15)  TENNISWORLD: Fire Alarm at 3 AM in Charleston. WTA Players and Their Tired Faces
A fire alarm rang Easter Wishes out loud a little too early for the WTA players present in Charleston for the 2015 Family Circle Cup. At 3 AM a fire alarm went on while the tennis players were sleeping, forcing all-stars to exit the structure as soon as possible with no chances for the WTA stars to grab their most important belongings with them. Tired and shocked, the players shared the moment with funny tweets and pictures they posted on social media.

What follows is a compilation of the WTA players' tired faces and funny moments in Charleston in their first Easter moments...

The Italian also made fun of Yulia Putintseva on a Tweet. The Kazakh was the only one who left the Hotel with her racquets under her arms. Errani: "If there is a fire, Putintseva is going to win the tournament for sure, she is the only one who took her rackets."

And Yulia replied:

Belinda Bencic showed her tired face...

The alarm happened to be a false, but now we know how the tennis stars look like in the morning when they have just woken up...

(04/04/15)  JEFF HARTSELL: Andrea Petkovic: Family Circle title ‘most important of my career’
When last seen in Charleston, Andrea Petkovic was planning a celebratory flight home.

“I will drink champagne from my trophy,” Petkovic said after winning the Family Circle Cup title on Daniel Island. “That’s going to be fantastic ... And I’m going to walk around and dance with the cabin attendants.”

A year later, details of that flight to her home in Germany remain gratefully fuzzy.

“I was very happy my mom and sister were with me to take care of me,” Petkovic said recently. “I just remember being very happy and tired at the same time, but more happy than tired.”

The 27-year-old Petkovic has played at the Family Circle Cup only twice in her career, but she’s quickly grown fond of the tournament and of Charleston, for very good reasons:

She’s never been beaten in a match in Charleston. She had to withdraw from a quarterfinal match against Caroline Wozniacki in the round of 16 in 2013, and her run to last year’s title included wins over No. 4 seed Sabine Lisicki and No. 6 Eugenie Bouchard, making Petkovic 8-0 in matches played at the Family Circle Cup.

Her father, Zoran, played tennis at the University of South Carolina in the early 1980s, playing No. 1 singles for the Gamecocks. Last year, Andrea posed with the FCC trophy while wearing a “Carolina” sweatshirt.

And Andrea counts last year’s FCC title as the most important among her six career WTA singles titles.

“I still believe that to this day,” Petkovic said from Miami, where she made the semifinals of the Miami Open last week. “I’ve won three more titles since then, but that was the most important in my whole career, maybe even more important than my first title.”

When Petkovic came to Charleston last year, she was in the midst of a comeback that had her doubting her place in the game. She had cracked the WTA top 10 in 2011, reaching three Grand Slam quarterfinals that year. But a knee injury cost her much of the 2012 season, and though she worked her way back to the top 40 in 2013, it wasn’t until she won at the Family Circle Cup last year that she felt fully restored.

“Charleston just brought all the life back into me,” said Petkovic, who has won more than $4.7 million in her career. “After all my injuries, I was struggling to find myself, even more mentally than physically. I was so filled with doubt that I was standing in my own way, and Charleston gave me the power to break through those walls of doubt.

“I felt like a totally transformed player after that title. It wasn’t just winning the title, but how I played. I was moving real well on the court and trusting myself and my abilities. It was definitely a turnaround in my career.”

After winning in Charleston, Petkovic won twice more last year and again this season at Antwerp, and currently ranks 10th on the WTA Tour, just off her career high of ninth in 2011.

Zoran Petkovic will accompany his daughter back to Charleston this week, revisiting a state that played no small part in Petkovic family lore. After playing for USC, Zoran went on to play Davis Cup for Yugoslavia, and was Andrea’s teacher after the family moved to Germany when she was just six months old.

“He talks about his days at South Carolina all the time,” Andrea said of her father. “For him, coming from a Communist country in Yugoslavia, with restricted freedom and liberty, to the U.S. was an incredible experience. And then being on the team and playing college tennis, it was amazing for him to get all the love and great energy from the people there.

“The way he talks about it, it was one of the best times of his life. Even though it must have been pretty hard for a Yugoslavian guy coming to the U.S., when he talks about, his eyes start to sparkle.”

Petkovic has been known to add her own brand of sparkle to the WTA Tour.

Her free-wheeling press conference after her win last year was a glimpse into one of the more intriguing personalities on the tour. She’s known for breaking out the “Petko Dance” after victories, plays the drums for fun and skewers herself and fellow athletes in YouTube videos starring her alter ego, “Petkorazzi.”

She recently made her first foray into the world of serious art acquisition; listens to music ranging from Coldplay to Drake (“Coldplay is the best. Can you delete ‘Coldplay is the best?’ she said last year); and reads Goethe, Falubert and Wilde.

It’s all part of balancing her yin and yang, in Petkovic’s case represented by cool German star Steffi Graf and hot-blooded American Serena Williams.

“My two idols I grew up with were Steffi Graf, who is the stereotype German, and Serena Williams ... that rebellious, rock and roll type of tennis player that brought new energy, brought something new to tennis,” Petkovic said. “I just admire them both. I wish I could have five percent of either one. I would be very happy, a very happy girl.”

(04/04/15) WCSC-TV Live 5 News: Family Circle Cup Draw Released
World No. 7 and top seed Genie Bouchard headlines the 2015 Family Circle Cup singles draw, revealed Saturday afternoon.

Defending champion Andrea Petkovic, the No. 3 seed, helped in the making of the draw, and the German sits on the opposite half of Bouchard along with No. 2 seed Ekaterina Makarova, setting up what could be a blockbuster final weekend in Charleston.

Those three members of the WTA top 10 will be the names to watch, while clay court specialist Sara Errani, seeded fourth, is the other top seed in Bouchard's half of the draw.

Up-and-coming American Madison Keys, the No. 7 seed, is Bouchard's potential quarterfinal foe in the top section of the draw that is teeming with American talent. Wild card Bethanie Mattek-Sands will play compatriot Sloane Stephens in a must-see first round match, the winner drawn to perhaps play Bouchard in round three.

Former champions Jelena Jankovic and Sam Stosur are seeded sixth and ninth, respectively, and landed in the bottom half of the draw. Jankovic, a former world No. 1 is scheduled to meet Petkovic (her good friend and sometimes doubles partner) in the quarterfinals, while the Australian is a potential last eight opponent for Makarova.

Angelique Kerber and Caroline Garcia round out the top eight seeds, which come from seven different countries in an international Cup field.

Local hope Shelby Rogers, a 22-year-old Charleston native who joined Petkovic at the draw ceremony Saturday, meets Silvia Soler-Espinosa in the first round. That winner could face No. 14 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in round two.

In all, 13 Americans are in the draw, including No. 10 seed Varvara Lepchenko as well as rising stars Christina McHale, Madison Brengle and Lauren Davis. Davis will meet another American Grace Min in round one for the right to face Bouchard.

All eight top seeds receive a first-round bye at the Family Circle Cup, a Premier-level event on the WTA calendar. It is the lone event on the women's tour to be played on Har-Tru green clay, and helps kick off the two-month clay season, which culminates at the French Open next month in Paris.

Both Bouchard and Petkovic were semifinalists at Roland Garros a year ago, following a semifinal battle here in Charleston, won by eventual champ Petkovic. Petkovic made the final four at last week's Miami Open and won the sixth title of her career in February at the Diamond Games in Antwerp.

Keys, the Illinois native who had a breakthrough event at the Australian Open earlier this year, could face fellow American Alison Riske in round two as well as Lepchenko in the third round. Keys is coached by former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, a three-time Grand Slam champion.

Belinda Bencic, a fast-rising 18-year-old is the No. 12 seed and takes on Australian Casey Dellacqua to start. The Swiss standout was a surprise semifinalists here a year ago.

Qualifying matches continue Sunday while the main draw gets underway Monday.

(04/04/15)  WCIV-TV ABC 4: Doubles partners Hingis, Mirza to play Family Circle Cup
Martina Hingis, former World No. 1, five-time Grand Slam singles winner and nine-time Grand Slams double winner, has officially entered to play doubles at the Family Circle Cup.

Hingis, the 1997 doubles and 1999 singles champion of the Family Circle Cup, will play with Sania Mirza. Both partners are currently ranked within the top 10 for doubles, Mirza at World No. 3 and Hingis at World No. 5.

Mirza and Hingis will play in the doubles finals of the Miami Open tomorrow, then travel to Charleston to compete in the 2015 tournament. The doubles partners captured the title at Indian Wells earlier this year.

“The Family Circle Cup fans undeniably love doubles,” said Eleanor Adams, Tournament Manager. “We have multiple top 10 doubles players this week, and I know each match will have a large crowd, as they always do in Charleston. Martina and Sania's addition will only strengthen the field.”

Mirza has won two WTA doubles titles this year, marking 24 total career wins.

Doubles competition begins on Monday, April 6, with the final at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, April 12.

(04/04/15)  Pegula gives MW Academy first win in Cup
Saturday was one of the most memorable days on the Althea Gibson Club Court — thanks to four wild cards, three with Family Circle Tennis Center connections.

Ellie Halbauer and Sam Crawford went down as did 15-year-old CiCi Bellis, but Jessica Pegula is still swinging in the Family Circle Cup qualifying tournament.

Pegula made everyone at host MWTennis Academy proud Saturday. M&W duo Bryan Minton and Jeff Wilson were smiling from ear to ear when one of their proteges gave the 10-month-old academy a present money couldn’t buy Saturday with a first-round win in the qualifying tournament.

All the daughter of Terry Pegula, owner of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, needs to do is win one match on Sunday to advance into the main draw of the $731,000 Family Circle Cup. The MW crew will be out in full force again Sunday.

But winning here is nothing new to Pegula. Two years ago, she not only advanced through qualifying but also won two rounds in the main draw.

Slowed by injury

A right knee injury slowed her progress down. But when she learned that her coach then and now, MW pro director Michael Joyce, was moving from Los Angeles to Charleston to join a new academy at Family Circle Tennis Center, Pegula signed on.

“I love Club Court,” she said after pulling off a 6-3, 7-6 (4) upset of qualifying tournament second seed Lin Zhu of China on Saturday before the home crowd.

Showing her true clay-court colors, the 21-year-old Pegula rallied from 5-2 down to win the second set.

“I grew up on clay at Hilton Head Island. I learned how to play on clay.”

Yeah, like the last point of the match when she scrambled to her backhand to get one looming winner by Zhu back into play, then repeated the effort on a follow up potential Zhu winner by going beyond the backhand ally to chase down the ball and deliver a heavy top-spin backhand to Zhu’s forehand corner. Zhu, who had rallied from 5-0 down in the tiebreaker, could only watch Pegula’s match winner.

Pegula admitted that she “played really well” to spring the upset. She was prepared for the match after winning two matches in a clay-court qualifying tournament in Osprey, Fla., earlier in the week.

“I just played that tournament to get some matches,” she said.

What the talented ball-striker really wants is another shot in the main draw.

Pegula now faces Lesley Kerkhove of the Netherlands, who scored a 7-5, 6-3 upset of Ukraine’s Maryna Zanevska, for a spot in the main draw.

Ranked No. 652 in the world, Pegula got into the qualifying only as a wild card. She still has a long way to go. But don’t count her out.
Count on Crawford

Meanwhile, you also can count on hard-hitting Samantha Crawford to win something significant on hard courts. The 20-year-old former U.S. Open junior champion didn’t have the patience to overcome the consistent double-fisted game of Kristina Kucova of Slovakia.

Now ranked 250th in the world, Crawford demonstrated a big-time game. All she needs is confidence in it.

Before arriving at MWTennis in December, the 6-2, 20-year-old Crawford spent four years at the USTA training center in Boca Raton, Fla.

“I just need to play more consistently,” she said after a 7-6 (3), 6-4 loss to the seventh-seeded Kucova.

But hard courts are Crawford’s love. “I like one-shot tennis,” she said.

And that wasn’t all that happened on the Althea Gibson Club Court Saturday. World’s No. 1 junior Bellis, just a few days away from her 16th birthday, showed off her crafty game, but suffered a 6-4, 6-2 loss to Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine.

Family Circle junior tournament champion Ellie Halbauer fell behind 4-0, but still made things interesting in a 6-2, 6-4 loss to qualifying top seed Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic.

Halbauer, who grew up playing at Family Circle Tennis Center before moving to Boca Raton and now Atlanta, lost in the first round for the second straight year. At 17 years old, Halbauer will have to decide if she’s a hard hitter or a crafty top-spinner. Hradecka hit two-handed from both sides, and nearing her 30th birthday was too experienced and strong for Halbauer on this day.

(04/03/15)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Family Circle Cup maintains WTA ‘prestige’ as oldest women’s-only tournament
Among the 35 top-ranked players on the WTA Tour, only Serena and Venus Williams are older than Jelena Jankovic (30) and Sam Stosur (31), a pair of former Family Circle Cup champions aiming for more Daniel Island magic next week.

Chris Evert won eight Family Circle Cup singles titles. Conchita Martinez played in finals matches 12 years apart.

But the craftiest green clay veteran is the 43-year-old tournament itself. The Family Circle Cup pre-dates disco music and the Gerald Ford administration.

It’s the oldest women’s-only tournament on the WTA Tour.

“Having that loyalty from Family Circle for so many years has been tremendous,” said Mary Joe Fernandez, an ESPN analyst and former WTA player. “The WTA has delivered. They’ve always had top players. The best of the best have played there through the years, and it’s one of the favorite stops for the players.

There are challenges ahead, mostly within a tennis world short on rising stars. Such event stability, however, is as rare in sports as free admission — which kids get this year throughout the Family Circle Cup.

Consider the scene in 1973, when the Family Circle Cup made its debut on Hilton Head Island.

Major League Baseball was adjusting to a new-fangled thing called free agency.

Professional basketball was heading toward an NBA-ABA merger.

John Wooden and UCLA still ruled college hoops.

In tennis, players come and go, tournaments start and fold.

The Family Circle Cup beats on, thanks to a stream of loyalty that flows from the top.
Sponsor/owner status

Rosie Casals defeated Nancy Gunter to win the first tournament on Hilton Head Island in 1973. Evert won the next five Family Circle Cup titles, and the event went big time with live NBC coverage featuring Dick Enberg and Bud Collins in the booth.

Hilton Head’s Family Circle Cup participants made up a who’s who of tennis: Casals and Billie Jean King, Evert and Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin and Pam Shriver, Steffi Graf and Gabriela Sabatini.

That gave the sponsor more publicity than it originally expected.

“First and foremost, our success has a lot to do with having one title sponsor,” Family Circle Cup Tournament Director Bob Moran said. “For 43 years, they’ve always been there and have always supported.”

The Meredith Corporation, an Iowa-based media and marketing giant that owns Family Circle Magazine among other titles, owns the tournament sanction.

“We’re not just the title sponsor,” Moran said. “That’s very rare.”

Star power followed the Family Circle Cup to Charleston in 2001. Winners have included Serena and Venus Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Justine Henin and Caroline Wozniacki. Maria Sharapova, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova have played on Daniel Island.

“The tour has made sure that they get a quality field, and they want to keep the prestige of having this being the longest running tournament,” ESPN’s Brad Gilbert said. “I think that’s obviously two factors: Support of the tour and support of the players. Then it all of a sudden makes it for the fan base to continue to be what it is. But it’s a great event.”

Elsewhere on the WTA Tour, seven U.S. tournaments have folded since the Family Circle Cup moved to Charleston in 2001 (Oklahoma City, Scottsdale, Amelia Island, San Diego, Los Angeles, Dallas and Memphis).

The Bank of The West Tournament in Stanford has been around since 1971 but did not have an event in 1978.
Keys to future success

Family Circle Cup attendance was up to 87,997 in 2014, the best since 2011 and the best without a Saturday night session since 2008. In 14 years on Daniel Island, the Family Circle Cup has drawn 1,241,790 spectators, an average of 88,699 per year.

The 2015 field includes top 10 players Eugenie Bouchard, Ekaterina Makarova and Andrea Petkovic, plus American players Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Madison Brengle and Alison Riske, among others. But No. 1-ranked Serena Williams and No. 16 Venus Williams, the most popular players with Charleston fans, won’t play in the Family Circle Cup this year. Their busy schedules include Fed Cup matches in Italy the week after the Family Circle Cup.

Keys to future Family Circle success:

— Having enough players atop the WTA rankings that interest casual tennis fans.

— Getting enough of those players to come to Charleston.

The Family Circle Cup tries, with a hospitality blitz that includes daily gifts for players, transportation and a player party.

“We always want the best players we can get,” Moran said. “It’s not an easy process, and it’s harder now than it ever has been because there are so many options for the players. And also with Fed Cup. It’s definitely a challenge.”

A tournament born before the Williams sisters can probably survive without the Williams sisters if it can hang in there until the next stars are born, raised and ready for green clay.

(04/02/15)  Family Circle Cup player withdraws
#5 Safarova - back injury
#6 Peng
#7 Strycova
#8 Lisicki

FCC Facebook:
We are sad to announce that Lucie Safarova has withdrawn from the Family Circle Cup with a back injury.

“Unfortunately my back injury doesn’t allow me to come and play in Charleston this year. I’m sorry to my fans there and I hope I will be back next year! It’s one of my favorite events and I’m sad to miss it.” - Lucie

(04/02/15)  ABC 4: DAVE WILLIAMS: Family Circle Cup forecast: Great weather, even better tennis
Tennis anyone? The azaleas and the wisteria are in bloom. The temperatures are up and down with a few tastes of summer like warmth, but every once in a while a lingering cold chill as well.

It's spring in the Lowcountry, and that means the women's professional tennis tour is headed back to Charleston on Daniel Island.

The Family Circle Cup is Charleston's premiere tennis event with matches stretching over approximately a week. Play begins in the morning, goes all afternoon, and there are also matches once the sun descends for the evening. Everything is outdoors which means weather is key to the success of the event for players and spectators alike.

The event was moved to Charleston in 2001 and has almost always been completely in early to mid April. The only exceptions to the rule were 2012-2014 when the first few days of the tournament fell at the final few days of March.

This year the ladies will start play on Saturday, April 4, and the winners will be crowned on Sunday, April, 12.

This is the only women's tennis tournament played on green clay. These courts actually need moisture to add stability. Players and fans may not be so keen on rain -- or event organizers for that matter -- but it is not necessarily a bad thing for the actual playing surface.

Since weather is such a key component to the Family Circle Cup, here's a look back at some of the variables over the past 14 years.

The range of dates the tournament has encompassed is from March 30 to April 22, the average high and low range during that time period is 73-78 and 50-55 respectively.

More specifically during the 2015 run it will be 74-76 for highs and 51-52 for lows, on average.

The hottest temperature on a day during the FCC happened twice at 91; first on April 22, 2002 and more recently and April 2, 2012. The coldest daytime high temperature of 55 occurred April 10, 2003.

The coldest temperature during the tournament was 39, which has happened twice on April 6, 2011, and again on March 31, 2014.

The warmest low temperature was a balmy 73 degrees which happened on April 21, 2002.

Most years are not too bad as far as rainfall goes, generally averaging less than three-quarters of an inch for the entire week.

To put that into perspective, a summertime thunderstorm which may last less than one hour in the Lowcountry can drop several inches of rain.

The two wettest years in FCC history were 2003 with 2.74 inches and 2004 with 1.21 inches. The wettest day ever recorded in the tournament's Daniel Island history was 1.5 inches on April 8, 2003.

Have the hat/visor, sunscreen, bug spray, jacket, shorts, sunglasses and always comfy shoes ready to go. A wide range of conditions may occur during the FCC in any one given year. That's why it's wise to check the latest forecast with ABC News4 before heading to Daniel Island.

(04/02/15)  STAFF REPORTS: Family Circle Cup issues wild cards
The Family Circle Cup has issued three wild cards into its qualifying draw to young American players. Jessie Pegula, 21, Samantha Crawford, 20, and Maria Sanchez, 25, will compete for a spot in the tournament’s main draw, beginning on April 4 on Daniel Island.

“We typically award wild cards into our qualifying round to American players,” said Bob Moran, Tournament Director. “It’s always a great honor to give these girls a chance to compete at a WTA Premier event. It’s even more rewarding this year, as the next two American players on the entry list are Jessie and Sam, who train at MWTennis Academy, right here on-site at the Family Circle Tennis Center.”

Pegula has won three ITF doubles titles. This will be her fourth time playing in Charleston’s qualifying draw. In 2013, she made the third round of the tournament before losing to Jelena Jankovic.

Crawford has won one ITF singles title and three ITF doubles titles. In 2012, she won the U.S. Open girl’s singles title. This will be Crawford’s first appearance at the Family Circle Cup.

Sanchez has won one WTA doubles title, two ITF singles titles and 10 ITF doubles titles. Sanchez attended the University of Southern California, where she was a three-time All American tennis player in both singles and doubles. She was named the No. 1 collegiate player for the 2011-2012 season. This will be her second time playing the Family Circle Cup, the first since 2012.

The Family Circle Cup’s 56-player draw is made up of 43 direct entries into the tournament, five wild cards and eight qualifiers.

(04/01/15)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Beth Bush: It's tennis time! Family Circle Cup brings international flair to Daniel Island
This year’s Family Circle Cup has an unmistakable international flair, as flags have been added to both River Landing Drive and Seven Farms Drive along the I-526 on and off ramps. The new additions, made possible by funding from the Daniel Island Town Association, reflect the 31 countries represented by players taking part in the tournament. The idea for the flags came from Daniel Island resident and Daniel Island News contributor Steve Ferber. According to Jane Baker, vice president of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners Association, positive feedback about the colorful show of support continues to flow in.

“We are so fortunate to have the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island and I whole heartedly endorsed Steve’s great idea,” she said.

Heads up Family Circle Cup fans - the tournament’s global tennis experience is changing, and it’s all happening faster than Sabine Lisicki’s record-breaking 131 miles per hour serve.

There are several new offerings in store for the 43rd Annual FCC, set to take place April 4 - 12 on Daniel Island. The one with the highest buzz factor is no doubt the FCC’s partnership with Snapcastr, a local company that will provide several large viewing screens on site to track real-time social media interactions related to the tournament. Both players and fans are invited to get in on the action by using the designated tournament hashtag, #FCC2015, when posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms.

“We’re really taking it to another level,” said FCC Tournament Manager Eleanor Adams. “…It will be all about their experience here…I think it will be fun for the patrons who are here on the site who will be able to tell instantly what the players are feeling and what they’re up to, not only on site, but also when they are going around Charleston.”

There will be daily contests for players with prizes for the one who sends out the most FCC tweets, the most re-tweets, the most reach, or the “most fun” post of the day.
“We’re just trying to amplify, amplify, amplify,” said Bob Moran, FCC Tournament Director. “… Snapcastr is an innovative company here. They’ve done some really cool things with some really big players in the event world. I’m really excited about what that’s going to bring.”

On the broadcast side, the tournament continues to expand its worldwide reach with coverage on both ESPN2 and ESPN3. This year, 25 matches on Stadium Court will be televised, as well as another 40-plus Club Court matches online, bringing total coverage to more than 100 hours. Moran expects some 15 million fans from across the globe will tune for FCC action.

“It’s really impressive,” noted Moran. “Starting in 2017, our goal…is no matter what court (the players) are on and where they’re playing, you can watch them. It’s just where the world is going. Fifteen years ago, in 2001, internationally we broadcast a total of 16 hours, eight matches, and we’ll be in the 40 match range this year. It’s dramatically changed.”
“The online viewing component is just huge,” added Adams. “…That’s a lot of sets of eyes on Daniel Island.”

Tennis talent: a turning of the tide?

This year’s FCC player field will have some familiar faces - namely past champions Andrea Petkovic (2014), Samantha Stosur (2011), Jelena Jankovic (2007), and the aforementioned power server Sabine Lisicki (2009).  All in all, the tournament will feature eight of the Top 20 players in the world. Ekaterina Makarova of Russia is the FCC’s top seed with a current World No. 10 ranking.

“She’s a fantastic singles player and she’s an unbelievable doubles player as well,” added Adams of Makarova. “And she is making her Charleston debut!”

While there is much to look forward to during the nine-day event, Adams said she is most excited about the participation of a promising new group of American players. Topping the list is Madison Keys, the highest ranked U.S. player, followed by Sloane Stephens, Alison Riske, Madison Brengle, Lauren Davis, Christina McHale, Shelby Rogers of Daniel Island, Nicole Gibbs, and Taylor Townsend.

“Finally the girls are making the scene,” she said. “They’re just a great group of women…. This is kind of a new wave that I haven’t seen in a long time. They just have wonderful camaraderie and they cheer each other on.”

For Rogers, who started playing tennis at age 8 at the Family Circle Tennis Center, the chance to compete in the 2015 FCC as a main draw player is a career highlight.

“This is the first year that Shelby has gained entry in to the Family Circle Cup without a wild card,” added Adams, who watched Rogers, now ranked 86th in the world, play at Indian Wells two weeks ago. “That’s really telling about how hard she’s worked, and how far she’s come…She was so excited!”

The tournament’s younger players are also on the “watch list,” she said, noting Caroline Garcia of France, Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, and Heather Watson of Great Britain.

“I think of this year as kind of turning the tide. The younger players are making themselves known, showing their talents, and I think the patrons will get really excited seeing these players get so fired up on the court. They are fighting for every single match, because it means so much to them.”

“We have gone through a generation of Williams sisters,” added Moran, referencing tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams, both FCC veterans. “When we were here 15 years ago, they were 18 and 19 years old. Now they are 33 and 34. They’re on the back end of their careers. We’re not gonna have them (on the WTA Tour) forever…Now we’ve got to start developing the next generation. That’s what we’re looking to support.”

To aid in that mission, the local FCC team is committed to growing the game of tennis, particularly for the younger generation. There are currently about 160 players in the Family Circle Tennis Center’s year-round MWTennis instructional/training program, which includes four professional players. For this year’s FCC tournament, SunTrust will distribute some 3,000 complimentary tickets to kids 15 and under. Those who take part will also get a special invitation to come back to the FCTC after the tournament to give the sport a try.

“We’re building a program of aspiration here,” said Moran. “…And Shelby Rogers is a great example of that. Fifteen years ago, a little girl on that court at 7 years old with flowers for Jennifer Capriati decided right there that she wanted to be a professional. Now she’s back in our main draw 15 years later. That’s what we’re about.”

More FCC highlights for 2015
In addition to large viewing screens with near instant social messaging, the FCC campus will also feature a new elevated platform for viewing the two main practice courts. There will also be a brand new volunteer tent located just off the Grand Lawn to service some 500 individuals who assist the tournament in areas such as transportation, media, ticketing, court maintenance, and more. Additionally, East Shore Athletic Club will be adding a new free-standing tent near the Club House to serve players looking for a gym/work-out area. Also, look for some additional “eye-catching” enhancements, added Moran, such as new yellow furniture on Stadium Court.

So Family Circle Cup fans, get set for another action-packed, unforgettable tournament as some 125 tennis players from all over the world battle it out to become the next FCC champion. And be sure to keep those cameras and fingers ready to share it all with the world: #FCC2015 #makingmemories #dontmissaminute.

(04/01/15)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Philip Bowman: Young Americans worthy successors to the Williams sisters?
The Family Circle Cup has a history of being a battleground for some of the best players in Europe. This year, the 46th annual event, slated for April 4-12, could be the test ground for an American woman to prove there will be a worthy successor to the Williams sisters, who have dominated the U.S. and world tennis scene since the late 1990s.
Both Serena and Venus will not compete in this year’s event, but there’s still much star-spangled talent including Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens. Both have impressive early career resumes and the potential to be heirs to the defending Family Circle Cup champions.

They share a common goal: to be the best American. And they have had common success. Both Keys and Stephens were Australian Open semifinalists at the age of 19. Stephens did it in 2013; Keys reached the semifinals in January.

A showdown between Keys and Stephens on the Stadium Court would be worthy of a big crowd and a world television audience.

The two squared off against each other for the first time last week on Stadium Court during the Miami Open, and Stephens, No. 45 in the world, defeated World No. 18 Keys 6-4, 6-2 in a match that lasted 72 minutes. Keys didn’t help her cause with 36 unforced errors.

Other U.S. women in the main draw include Alison Riske, Madison Brengle, Lauren Davis, Christina McHale, Shelby Rogers, Nicole Gibbs and Taylor Townsend.

The 5-foot-7 Stephens recently turned 22 and is closing in on the $3 million mark in career earnings despite having not won a WTA title. She played well at Indian Wells, reaching the Round of 16 before falling to Serena Williams in three sets.

Stephens, who has been ranked as high as No. 11 in the world, lost in the first round of the Australian Open to Victoria Azarenka. But it was at that event, that Stephens grabbed the tennis world’s attention by reaching the semifinals in Melbourne in 2013.

Keys was hoping to use Miami as a springboard to a top 10 ranking after an excellent performance at the Grand Slam event in Melbourne, reaching the semifinals. She has been under the spotlight and has handled the pressure well.

This will be Keys’ third straight year playing on Daniel Island. She reached the quarterfinals in 2013 where she lost to Venus Williams and made the Round of 32 last spring.

Risk, another American on the rise, is currently ranked No. 43 in the world. The Pittsburgh native was born a day before the 4th of July in 1990 and has one WTA title under her belt. She reached the second round at Indians Wells.

Brengle is No. 44 in the world, the only other American ranked in the top 50. Her best effort of the year came at the Australian Open where she reached the Round of 16 before falling in two sets to Keys.

(04/01/15)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Philip Bowman: Eight's not enough: Bouchard makes nine!
Family Circle Cup crowd favorites and all-time greats Serena and Venus Williams will not compete in this year’s event on Daniel Island.

Still, eight of the world’s top 20 players were listed in the main draw in mid-March. But evidently, eight wasn’t enough. On March 30, Family Circle Cup tournament officials extended a main-draw wildcard to World No.7. Eugenie Bouchard.

That gives the 43rd annual clay-court event three of the top 10 players in the world. The others include Ekaterina Makarova at No. 9 and defending FCC champ Andrea Petkovic at No. 10.

“We are thrilled to offer Genie a wild card for our 2015 tournament,” said Eleanor Adams, Tournament Manager for the Family Circle Cup. “Our spectators in Charleston have become part of ‘Genie’s Army’ fan base, and we know they will be excited to hear of her return. We are delighted to welcome back the talented, young tennis star to our tournament.” 

This will be Bouchard’s third appearance in Charleston. She has an 8-2 record here, making the quarterfinals of the Family Circle Cup in 2013 and the semifinals last year.

Last year was historic for Bouchard, who climbed into the top 5 with breakout performances in the Grand Slams. She reached semifinals the Australian Open and Roland Garros, and the final at Wimbledon. She also won her first WTA title at Nurnberg.

The other top 20 players include Lucie Safarova, Czech Republic; Sara Errani, Italy; Angelique Kerber, Germany; Madison Keys, U.S.; Shuai Peng, China and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, Czech Republic.

Makarova will make her first appearance in Charleston in five years and brings potential. She cracked the world top 10 after a solid season in 2014. She reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and followed that up with a semifinal appearance at the U.S. Open.

Makarova will have plenty of competition as this year’s field includes four past Family Circle Cup champions, including last year’s titlist, Petkovic. Other past champions include Samantha Stosur (2011), Sabine Lisicki (2009) and Jelena Jankovic (2007).

“The quality of the field is extremely strong with a great mix of past Champions (Lisicki, Stosur, Jankovic and Petkovic) and what we consider the rising stars, Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Belinda Bencic and many more,” Family Circle Cup General Manager Bob Moran said. “With the latest addition of Eugenie Bouchard to the Draw, that gives us nine of the Top 20 players in the world as of (March 30).”

Petkovic used the victory in Charleston as a springboard to a major comeback. She reached her first career Grand Slam semifinal at Roland Garros. She also reached the semifinal at Stanford. She has one title to her credit this year, winning at Antwerp in February.

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

Safarova has a solid history in Charleston and is making her fifth appearance. She lost in the 2012 finals to Serena Williams, but claimed a championship in doubles. She has reached the Family Circle Cup’s quarterfinals the last two years.

She had a strong season in 2014, with four other quarterfinal appearances as well as well as the semifinals at Wimbledon and Moscow. She has won one WTA title this year, claiming victory in Doha in February.

Errani is hoping the third time in Charleston will be a charm after a most-impressive run last year that included quarterfinal appearances at Grand Slam events at Roland Garros and the U.S. Open. She also reached the semifinals in Rome and Paris.

Her resume includes a championship effort at Rio de Janiero in February.

Kerber was World No. 9 when she entered this year’s event, but she has slid down the rankings ladder.

She finished 2014 ranked in the top 10 for the third consecutive year. The left-hander from Germany reached four finals in four WTA events and qualified for at least the third round in all Grand Slam events.
This will mark her second appearance in Charleston. In 2010, she reached the third round before falling to Daniela Hantuchova in three sets.

“I’m very much looking forward to my return to Charleston for the Family Circle Cup this spring,” Kerber said when she entered the field. “Charleston is a beautiful city with great tennis fans.”

Keys, who is coached by tennis hall of famer Lindsay Davenport, will make her third consecutive appearance in Charleston.

She reached the quarterfinals in 2013 where she lost to Venus Williams and reached the Round of 32 in 2014. She won her first WTA title last June to push her world ranking to No. 27 at the time.

Peng is as well known for her doubles championships as well as an impressive singles career.

She reached a career high ranking of World No. 1 in doubles last year, making her first Chinese professional tennis player, male or female, and in singles or doubles, to reach World No. 1 She won in doubles at Wimbledon in 2013 and at Roland Garros last spring.

She has 17 doubles titles on the WTA and nearly $7 million in career earnings. But she is seeking that elusive first singles title.

Strycova is another one of the entrants that has a string of 17 doubles titles. She also has one singles championship.

(04/01/15)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Steve Ferber: Family Circle Cup: By the Numbers
The number of main-entry players who speak three languages or more (defending champion Andrea Petkovic speaks four: French, German, English and Serbian, while both Jelena Jankovic and Jarmila Gajdosova speak three languages and are learning Spanish). The one language that all 12 speak?  English.  Other languages include: Croatian, Czech, French, German, Italian, Mandarin (Christina McHale, from the U.S., speaks English, Spanish and basic Mandarin), Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak and Spanish.

The number of main-entry FCC players that hail from Europe (this includes four players from Russia, whose land mass spans both Europe and Asia, with 75% of the Russian population residing in Europe). Of the remaining 19 main-entry players, 10 are from the U.S., 4 from Oceania, 1 from Africa and 4 from Asia (two players from China and two from Kazakhstan, a country that also spans Asia and Europe, with 96% of their population in Asia).

The average lifetime earnings of the 43 main-entry players. Eight of those players have earned more than $5 million lifetime (of those eight, Jelena Jankovic, Sam Stosur and Sara Errani also top the $10 million mark), while 11 hope to pierce the $1 million level this year. 

The number of female tennis players who have won the FCC tournament AND, at one point, were ranked No. 1 in the world: Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Steffi Graf, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Justin Henin, Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki. The nine women who were ranked #1 in the world but have never held the FCC crown are three active players – Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and Victoria Azarenka – and these six former greats: Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo and Dinara Safina.

The percentage of main-entry players that have a two-handed backhand! Of the 43 main-entry players, five are lefties: Ekaterina Makarova (#9), Lucie Safarova (#11), Angelique Kerber (#15), Casey Dellacqua (#42) and Taylor Townsend (#99).

The number of letters in Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova’s last name (the longest non-hyphenated last name on the tour). Anastasia hails from Russia and is ranked #38 in the world.

The number of countries in the world that receive the FCC broadcast.

The number of world-class tennis tournaments on Daniel Island that you don’t want to miss!

The number of tennis balls that will be used in the FCC tournament!

The number of WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) tournaments on the 2015 campaign: 21 Premier tournaments (one of which is the Family Circle Cup), 32 International tournaments and the 4 Grand Slams. This year’s WTA tour kicked off in Brisbane and ends in Singapore, in late October, when the 8 top players compete in the WTA Finals.

The number of FCC volunteers who have worked every year since the tournament relocated to Daniel Island, in 2001. The 32 are: Joyce Albrect, Bobbi Bees, Phil Bees, Mary Bergstrom, Minn Britt, Donna Brown, Roberta Browning, Susan Bynum, Chile Caneda, Lou Clarke, Gene Cook, Joette Creager, Deb Currin, Ann Douty, Lisa Frizelle, Sylvia Huskey, Ernie Kornahrans, Pat Kornahrens, Don Lindeman, Pat Linder, Jan Malloy, Carl Masonberg, Janet Masonberg, Betty McMahon, Mickey McMahon, Ann Nodtvedt, Carol O’Connor, Jann O’Toole, Barbara Rivers, Don Rose, John Sigler and Arlene Southerland.

(03/31/15)  Small Business Lunch at Halls: Bob Moran: Family Circle Cup
The King Street Marketing Group and Halls Chophouse are pleased to present Bob Moran, Tournament Director of the Family Circle Cup, as our guest speaker for Small Business Lunch at Halls, Thursday, March 13th.

From March 29 to April 6 there will more than 100 ladies on Daniel Island fighting for one purse at the largest women's-only professional tennis tournament in the world. And Bob Moran runs that extraordinary show.

Join us for lunch at Halls and learn how Bob Moran manages the WTA's most successful event and discusses his management team's effort to hit the 100,000 mark in attendance this year.

For nine days every spring Charleston becomes the center of the women's professional tennis universe. The Family Circle Cup provides a major impact on Charleston with over 95,000 attendees representing 49 states, the UK and Canada, plus millions of television viewers across the country and around the globe seeing Charleston at its finest.

This year's tournament will have players from 26 countries with four Grand Slam champions, five past Family Circle Cup winners and the top women in tennis with Serena and Venus Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Samantha Stosur, Sara Errani and many more.

In addition to being the tournament director, Moran is also the General Manager of the Family Circle Tennis Center (FCTC) responsible for exploring revenue opportunities with concerts and events.

"We're busy. We've evolved from just doing the Family Circle Cup to being an event management team," he told Mt. Pleasant Magazine. "We want to grow our business and our revenue streams. Our mission is to bring value to this community, and we're always looking at opportunities to do just that."

Under Moran's leadership, there's been an impressive list of performers at FCTC including hometown Grammy winner Darius Rucker, The Black Crowes, Don Henley, Sugarland, Al Green, Daryl Hall and John Oates, the Zac Brown Band, Boyz II Men and Train.

If you're interested professional sports promotion, event marketing and interesting discussions with local VIP's over an extraordinary mid-day meal, you'll enjoy Small Business Lunch at Halls.

Each month, Small Business Lunch at Halls features a distinguished speaker from the business, civic or political arenas upstairs at Halls Chophouse with an imaginative three-course meal prepared by Executive Chef Matthew Niessner.

Tickets are $29 per person for the luncheon and parking. Doors open at 11:30 AM and lunch is served promptly at noon. Limited seating of 70 participants provides an intimate experience with each speaker.

Halls Chophouse is located at 434 King Street in downtown Charleston. Parking, validated at the event, is available at the Visitors Center Garage on Ann Street between King and Meeting Streets.

(03/31/15)  843Sports.com: 2015 Family Circle Cup: TennisAtlantic.com's Steve Fogleman helps us break down the field
by Sydney Hunte

We’re only a few short days away from the annual Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island. Thousands have passed through the gates of Family Circle Tennis Center since 2001 to see players like Venus and Serena Williams, Justine Henin, Martina Hingis and Caroline Wozniacki up close (and in Hilton Head before that, where Steffi Graf, Jennifer Capriati, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova were among the winners). There’s not the same starpower in this year’s edition, which begins on Saturday, but some young and up-and-coming talent will be featured along with some veteran international competitors.

I was able to catch up with TennisAtlantic.com editor Steve Fogleman and get his thoughts on what he sees from his vantage point.

1. First off, what is your overall view of the field? It doesn’t have the “sizzle” that recent events have had, I noticed.

The Fajitas known as Family Circle Cup are not sizzling this year, but they were warmed up in the microwave with the addition of Genie Bouchard. She’s a star in her own right. With her wild card appearance, it becomes just a Serena-less field. So maybe Serena’s boycott of Indian Wells was actually a good thing for Charleston fans as she doesn’t like to over-fill her dance card.

The good thing about Charleston is the knowledgeable and dedicated tennis fans. In other cities, the subtraction of Serena and Venus Williams would put a massive damper on ticket sales. Based on the four years I’ve covered Family Circle Cup from Charleston, I’m confident that your area fans like watching future stars as much as current ones, and that’s why the event is one of the better money-makers on the WTA calendar.

2. Probably the biggest name that will be there is Bouchard, who had a very good 2014 and was on the cusp of winning a major or two. How does she project for this year going into not just the FCC, but the French Open coming up

Genie Bouchard has developed significantly since I saw her play her first WTA event in College Park, Maryland four years ago, but I think it will be difficult for her to raise her game into the top 4. However, if she can win a major, she will rise to the level of a marketing Supernova in the likes of Maria Sharapova. I want her to succeed as a fellow North American. We can use all the talent we can adopt here!

3. As far as American tennis is concerned, Venus and Serena have ruled the roost, but Venus might be toward the end of her career and Serena, while still dominant, won’t last forever. We have seen Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens, who will both be at the event, move forward as two young players most likely to take their place as top American players. To me, it seems Madison has the clear edge right now. Do you agree, and if so, what can Sloane do next week here in Charleston to close the gap?

No one could use this trophy more than Sloane Stephens right now to right her ship and head back toward claiming the #3 American player rank behind Serena and Venus. Her inconsistent form has dropped her to USA #8. She may surprise in Charleston, but I have my eyes on others as dark horses to go deep on Stadium Court.

4. So who is the favorite to win in your eyes? Will it be Andrea Petkovic again or someone else? Who are those dark horses to keep an eye on

(Bouchard) is always a threat in tournaments, but I’m looking at someone else to win here, like Ekaterina Makarova (the original top seed), defending champ Andrea Petkovic or 2007 FCC champ Jelena Jankovic. I love Madison Keys’ chances depending on her draw, Barbara Zahlavova Strycova (BZS), based on her 2015 sprint from the gate, and Belinda Bencic, who started her great winning WTA ways last year at Family Circle Cup. Even relatively dedicated tennis fans had barely heard of her until she made the run in Charleston in 2014. Finally, I wouldn’t count out Alison Riske, who knows these courts well after training at the Family Circle Tennis Centre and is one the best Americans on clay.

Great fans, great players, one of the best venues anywhere. Charleston tennis fans are very lucky and I hope they know it. Based on the loyal repeat crowds, I’d say they do.

(03/31/15)  Goose Creek Gazette: Family Circle Cup celebrates Military Appreciation Night
The Family Circle Cup is pleased to partner with Prudential Financial Inc. for the third consecutive year to provide active-duty and retired military and their families complimentary admission to the Family Circle Cup tournament on Military Appreciation Night, Thursday, April 9, at 7 p.m.

The night will honor the brave men and women who serve the country in the Armed Forces. Activities include a live performance from the Freedom’s Groove Army Band from Fort Bragg, a Color Guard presentation, the coin toss performed by Joint Base Commander Col. Jeffery DeVore and the National Anthem sang by 1st Lt. Chad T. Slayton of Joint Base Charleston.

This year for the first time, Prudential is proudly offering professional development workshops and a networking event for military members who have completed active duty, or soon will, and their spouses.

“We’re so excited to expand our partnership with Family Circle this year,” said Cathy Christian, vice president, Enterprise Services and Financial Systems at Prudential and a former U.S. Air Force captain. “It’s important to prepare for the various stages of our lives. The workshops we’re offering will help military service men and women and their spouses get ready for their transition to the civilian workforce.”

During the workshops, Prudential associates will meet one-on-one with transitioning military and their spouses to hold mock interviews, review their resumes and teach them important interviewing skills. In addition, Prudential and Saks Fifth Avenue will collaborate on a “Dress for Success” workshop giving participants tips for dressing appropriately during interviews and in the workplace. The workshops will be held April 7 and April 8 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in North Charleston from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. To register in advance, visit www.cvent.com/d/krqp37.

A recruitment and networking event will take place on April 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when participants can meet representatives from Prudential and local companies from various industries to discuss employment opportunities after leaving the military and to be considered for available positions in the civilian workforce. Everyone who attends the networking event will receive Sky Suite tickets to attend the Family Circle Cup Military Appreciation Night presented by Prudential later that evening.

(03/30/15)  STAFF REPORTS: World No. 7 tennis player Genie Bouchard joins field for Family Circle Cup
Genie Bouchard, the No. 7 women’s tennis player in the world, will return to Charleston for the 43rd Family Circle Cup tennis tournament.

The Family Circle Cup extended a main draw wild card invitation to Bouchard, who will be making her third appearance in the tournament. She has an 8-2 record at the Cup, set for April 4-12 on Daniel Island.

“We are thrilled to offer Genie a wild card for our 2015 tournament,” said Eleanor Adams, Tournament Manager for the Family Circle Cup. “Our spectators in Charleston have become part of ‘Genie’s Army’ fan base, and we know they will be excited to hear of her return. We are delighted to welcome back the talented, young tennis star to our tournament.”
Bouchard, 21, made the quarterfinals of the Family Circle Cup in 2013 and the semifinals in 2014. The native of Montreal, Canada, is coming off her best year on the tour. In 2014, she cracked the top 5 in the world rankings after reaching her first two Grand Slam semifinals at the Australian and French Opens, as well as her first Grand Slam final in Wimbledon. She also won her first WTA title at Nurnberg.

The Family Circle Cup’s 56-player draw is made up of 43 direct entries into the tournament, five wild cards and eight qualifiers.

For ticket information, call (800) 677-2293 or go FamilyCircleCup.com.

(03/29/15)  P&C Special Section (online)

(03/29/15)  Celebrating 15 Years In Charleston
“Family Circle Cup.” No other identification is needed.

It’s been the same name for 43 years, unchanged all of this time, something very unique in sports, particularly the international scheme of professional tennis.

The last 15 years have been especially special for the Family Circle Cup in its permanent home on Daniel Island, complete with a superb complex and big-time stadium.

The people of the Lowcountry know and love the Family Circle Cup. Just ask anyone.

And around the world, the same affection is felt for this amazing tournament as demonstrated in 2010 by Charleston’s selection as America’s Best Tennis Town.

Almost everyone in the Lowcountry is familiar with the big tennis tournament held next to the Mark Clark Expressway. You can’t travel the expressway between West Ashley/North Charleston and Mount Pleasant, and not notice the site, particularly the majestic stadium. It’s something for everyone to be proud of.

And then the one week in early April, when the world of women’s tennis lands on Daniel Island, the sun seems to rise and set on Family Circle Tennis Center.

The Family Circle Cup has been the grandest and the longest running of any major non-Grand Slam tournament played on American soil.

The most significant event in Family Circle Cup history occurred 15 years ago when the tournament packed up on Hilton Head Island and headed to Daniel Island.

And, immediately, the 2001 Family Circle Cup was the toast of the town with a dream matchup between the always-popular Martina Hingis and comeback sensation Jennifer Capriati in the final that was a repeat of the Australian Open final that year. Capriati won that 2001 Family Circle Cup in a thrilling three sets, then went to Paris and captured the French Open to reach second base in the chase for an elusive calendar Grand Slam.

The highlights just kept coming for the tournament.

All of the greats of the open era of the women’s game have made their stop here. The stadium court is aptly titled Billie Jean King Court.

King and the other eight members of the “Original Nine” players of the WTA Tour arrived on Daniel Island for a showcase at the 2012 Family Circle Cup. It was the first time in more than a quarter century that Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Judy Dalton, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Julie Heldman, Kerry Melville Reid and King all got together to celebrate the birth of the women’s tour.

Surely, another highlight of the Family Circle Cup era on Daniel Island came when mighty mite Justine Henin handed the great Serena Williams her first loss of the year in the 2003 final. Since that first final here for Serena, we’ve seen her rise to Superwoman status while winning the prestigious Family Circle Cup crown three times.

And who could forget the rain-plagued 2013 Family Circle Cup when Venus and Serena Williams both won a pair of matches on Friday to set up their first confrontation in four years. Serena won that one en route to her third Cup title.

Serena and Venus were only 18 and 19 years old when they started their Family Circle careers. Now as Venus and Serena appear to be in the twilight of two of the greatest careers ever in women’s tennis, their influence will continue to impact the women’s tour in the likes of young players such as American Madison Keys and Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.

Caroline Wozniacki’s career blossomed at the 2011 Family Circle Cup, winning the singles title as a 20-year-old in a performance that helped her launch a successful career that now has her ranked among the top players in the world.

In one of the most anticipated matches ever on Daniel Island, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova squared off in a thrilling three-set encounter in the 2008 quarterfinals.

John McEnroe, Chris Evert and other tennis stars of another era played a significant role in the tournament’s life on Daniel Island in the three-year period from 2010-12 when the Family Circle Cup staged Saturday night exhibition extravaganzas after the tournament semifinals.

The Family Circle Cup is truly an international event.

The tournament is broadcast in 143 countries. The tournament is showcased in 70 hours of airtime, showing 40 matches to 10 million viewers. Fifty-three matches are broadcast online for live streaming. In all, more than 100 hours of tennis coverage from the Family Circle Cup is available around the world.

As Family Circle Cup general manager Bob Moran says, “In 2017, we hope that the tennis fans will be able to watch their favorite player any time and any place, and the Family Circle Cup will be there leading the way.”

(03/29/15)  Packed International Field Makes For Another Crowded Charleston Title Path
For any of the top women’s tennis players in the world, finding their way through a crowded Family Circle Cup field is never easy. And in 2015, the story is no different on Daniel Island.

At least eight of the top 20 players have made the trip to Charleston this year, including four past champions, nine Americans, a local player on the rise and a youngster with the talent to be the next big thing.

Defending champion Andrea Petkovic of Germany headlines the field, the 27-year-old having won three more titles since her triumph here last April and making the semifinals of the French Open in Paris. She welcomes the challenge of fellow top 10 resident Ekaterina Makarova, a Russian who’s been to the final four of both the US and Australian Opens in the past few months.

The familiar names to Charleston area tennis fans are almost too many to mention. Along with Petkovic, former winners Jelena Jankovic (2007), Sabine Lisicki (2009) and Sam Stosur (2010) are in the draw, as is local native Shelby Rogers and 20-year-old Madison Keys, a semifinalist at the Australian Open in January.

Other top 20 residents include Lucie Safarova, Sara Errani, Angelique Kerber and Peng Shuai.

Still only 22, it’s been a top-notch year for Rogers, who grew up in Charleston and last year reached a career-high ranking of No. 70 in the world after making her first WTA final in Austria, where she lost to a familiar face in Petkovic.

Keys, an Illinois native, made international headlines with her run in Melbourne in January. She beat Venus Williams en route to her first major semifinal, bowing out to eventual champion Serena Williams. Big things are expected of the big-hitting U.S. gal, who tapped former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport as her coach in November.

Overall, more than 20 countries are represented in the 56-player main draw. Makarova, the Russian, makes a return here for the first time since 2010, when she lost in the first round.

Safarova, who hails from the Czech Republic, won the biggest title of her career last month in Doha, defeating former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the final. Errani, the Italian, was the French Open finalist in 2012.

Yet the depth of this field is what makes it most remarkable: American standout Sloane Stephens is included in it, as is 18-year-old Belinda Bencic, who had a breakout event here last year as a semifinalist. Other dangerous names include Christina McHale, Alison Riske, Ajla Tomljanovic and Madison Brengle.

And who walks away with the title? It’s as hard of a question as any we’ll face this week.

(03/29/15)  Petkovic Takes Free And Familiar Approach To Find Success
Back in Charleston a year after she won the biggest title of her career at the Family Circle Cup in 2014, Germany’s Andrea Petkovic is playing tennis as freely as she ever has in her career. And that’s just the way she likes it.

Since her win last April, she has won three additional tournaments and reached the semifinals of the French Open.

“I’m just so looking forward to it,” said the ever-smiling 27-year-old on returning for the Family Circle Cup.

“I love the tournament and I know that I play well there, so there is no need to put pressure on myself. For me, it’s just about expecting the least and being prepared for the best.”

Petkovic is as unique of a personality as you can find in women’s tennis. She reads philosophy books at length, enjoys debating politics and – for a long stretch of her career – was best known for the “Petko dance,” an on-court jig she performed after winning big matches.

There is no dance these days, but she’s still having plenty of fun. This year, her father, Zoran, will tag along with her to Charleston. He, too, has ties to the Palmetto state. He was a standout singles tennis player at the University of South Carolina in the early 1980s.

“I’m really looking forward to having him with me,” Petkovic said before adding, with laughter: “He’s more well-known there than I am.”

But, all joking aside, Charleston is a place that Petkovic described as a home away from home, part of the reason why she felt as though her best tennis came through when she needed it last year, including in a semifinal upset over a red-hot Genie Bouchard.

“In German, we have this word, ‘familiar,’” Petkovic explained, noting the two dots above the a. “It means when you go somewhere and it’s not your family, but you feel like it’s family. You just come there and you feel a part of what’s happening. [The organizers] put so much love and thought into this event. It’s just about the details.”

The details of Petkovic dreams remain clear to her, as well: She’d like to win a Grand Slam, win a women’s tennis’ team event [Fed Cup] and climb to the top of the world rankings.

“The dream of holding a Grand Slam trophy, that’s the biggest dream,” said Petkovic, who owns six career titles. “But now my goal is definitely to just improve my game and take it day by day, too. I think that everything is about improvement and the rankings will come.”

But where does she rank in her family when it comes to popularity in South Carolina?

“When I came to Charleston the first time in 2013, I had been a top 10 player and…well, I wasn’t a nobody,” Petkovic said. “But everybody was like ‘Welcome back,’ to him [Zoran], giving him big hugs and inviting him to dinner.”

“He was so proud and,” she continued, smiling: “Cocky. But, hey, that’s okay.”

Sounds as though Petkovic will be right at home once again in Charleston. Welcome back!

(03/29/15)  Connecting the Pieces in the Tennis Community
You know the game, “Six Degrees of Separation?” In tennis, it’s all too easy.

The WTA is the most global of women’s sports organizations in the world, with tournaments in dozens of nations and players coming from everywhere from China, to Australia, Kazakhstan to the U.S.

But it’s also a traveling village of sorts. Faces are familiar, lives intertwined and a close-knit community forms that travels from place to place, tournament to tournament.

This week it arrives at the Family Circle Cup, beginning with defending champion Andrea Petkovic.

“Petko,” as she’s known, calls Jelena Jankovic one her closest friends on tour, but they’ve also played doubles together before (including in Charleston). Jankovic and Petkovic share their roots, as well, Petkovic with a Serbian father, born just three hours away from Jankovic in Bosnia.

This year at the Family Circle Cup, former winners Petkovic and Jankovic are joined by fellow past champions Sam Stosur and Sabine Lisicki. Lisicki is Petkovic’s German countrywoman, as are entrants Mona Barthel and Angelique Kerber.

And the connections continue…

Kerber and Madison Keys faced off at the 2014 Aegon Championships, where Keys defeated Kerber to win her first career title.

Keys’ and Sloane Stephens’ paths-crossed last year during the 2014 Family Circle Cup, when the tennis stars took to a dock in downtown Charleston for a quick volley on the harbor.

Both will be playing in the Family Circle Cup this year. So too will Charleston-native Shelby Rogers, who qualified for the main draw for the first time.

Rogers will take stadium court again, just as she did 15 years ago as a ball girl, when she was selected to present flowers to the inaugural Charleston winner, Jennifer Capriati.

Have you connected all the dots? Good. Let’s play some tennis.

(03/29/15)  Historic Digital Deal For WTA Means Global Exposure For Women's Tennis
For the millions of women’s tennis fans around the world that can’t make it to every match, there’s an ever-improving way for them to watch the action from afar.

In December, the WTA announced a historic deal with PERFORM, a media production company, that laid out a 10-year, multi-platform live rights deal worth more than $525 million. It is the largest such deal in women’s sports history.

“This is a game-changing and historic moment for our fans and for women’s sport,” Stacey Allaster, the Chairman & CEO of the WTA, said in December. “Our new broadcast strategy to produce all 2,000 main draw singles matches in partnership with PERFORM will deliver exponential global exposure for our players, tournaments and partners.”

That deal, which will reach full realization in 2017, will mean that every main singles match at the Family Circle Cup will be available via online streaming, as well as doubles matches in the semifinals and finals.

Currently the Family Circle Cup is on the forefront of broadcasting. The tournament is viewed in 143 countries worldwide and receives 70 hours of airtime, showcasing 40 matches to 10 million viewers. In addition, 53 matches are available online for live streaming, equating an additional 60 hours of tennis coverage from the Family Circle Cup. The PERFORM deal will only strengthen and expand Charleston’s reach around the world.

The deal forms WTA Media, which will produce the content for online audiences to include the live match streams, a magazine feature show to showcase the off-court life on tour and a robust presence on social media.

Can’t follow your favorite players around the world? No problem. Now, you don’t have to miss any of the action. Win-win!

(03/29/15) MW Tennis Academy
For one week each year, the stars of the WTA descend on the Family Circle Tennis Center for the Cup. But the 51 other weeks a year, there are now world-class players training here, as well. In July, Bryan Minton and Jeff Wilson partnered together to bring MWTennis Academy to Daniel Island from Atlanta, and with it came the creation of a training center for Melanie Oudin, Samantha Crawford and Jessica Pegula, three women who have had various successes on the pro tennis level.

Shelby Rogers ended her training at the Family Circle Tennis Center shortly after MWTennis arrived.

“This facility gives us the opportunity to have a home base for professional players,” said Wilson. “Not a lot of facilities can do that. There are a lot of tennis federations in the world that aren’t doing what we’re doing here. It’s a heck of a lot of work, but it’s extremely rewarding.”

The academy is also a lot more than just a training program for WTA players in the Charleston area: MWTennis has nearly 200 juniors that are part of the various instructional groups and an adult program that boasts almost 500 participants. It’s the largest tennis program in the area.

“We’re a one-stop shop for everyone from kids that are just getting into the game to elite players who have won at the US Open,” said Wilson of the 20-court facility.

Minton heads up the staff of coaches that are helping grow the academy, which Wilson says has far exceeded their expectations to this point. They are excited to continue to improve the programs and service every day. One coach on the MW team knows his fair share about the WTA. Michael Joyce, director of pro tennis for the academy, spent seven years coaching Maria Sharapova, during which time she reached World No. 1 and won two Grand Slams.
“We have three players who are Grand Slam-level and there’s not anything like that in the Charleston area,” said Wilson. “But it’s great for our juniors to connect with those pros on a daily basis. It’s part of our fabric as an academy: They are on a first-name basis with some the juniors and adults. It’s a sense of community. We love that.”

(03/29/15)  BLOG: Guys and Gals in the World of Sports Advertising:  Family Circle Cup
Spring break!!!! I just returned back to Elon after a week long stay in the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina. One of my college friends is from there and lives 20 minutes outside of the city on a beautiful little island called Daniel Island. Here, they are setting up for the annual Family Circle Cup, a female tennis tournament located here since 1973. It is the oldest professional woman’s tennis tournament and grows bigger every year. Each player is represented by a flag from their home country down the main promenade on Daniel Island. The tournament runs from April 4th to the 12th this year.

Growing up in a heavily tennis oriented family and additionally playing tennis since I was a little girl, I have watched many tennis matches, both in person and on TV. With this, I though it was pretty awesome that my best friend who lives on this little island in SC lives in a place home to a major women’s professional tennis tournament.

While driving by from the highway, a perfect few of a massive female tennis player is displayed across the side of the bleachers. The advertisement most certainly draws in your attention, although it is hard to miss a massive tennis stadium in the midst of a cute and trendy small Charleston suburb. Something in which I thought particularly related to this blog was that my friend who lives here, Natasha, said that each year the tournament has noticeably getting bigger and bigger. The flags alining the main street were a new addition from last year’s tournament, and the small island will be expecting upwards of 100,000 people for the weeks events.

With Family Circle Magazine sponsoring the event each year, I think looking into the advertisements come from a unique perspective. From the media in which I was exposed to, I had no experienced many promotional ads outside of South Carolina. Once arriving in the state however, billboards displayed the events details along with a player and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, a famous and recognizable bridge connecting Daniel Island to downtown Charleston. This woman is displayed on all of the advertisements I had scene, making the campaign limited.

In regards to feminism, it is a great feat to have been hosting a successful all woman’s professional tournament of any sort. Although tennis is one of the singular sports that almost values women and men equally, it is an impressive feat to have such a long outstanding female tennis tournament in such a beautiful quaint part of Charleston.

(03/28/15)  Big-time tennis abounds at FCTC even before Cup
Big-time tennis is even closer to you than next weekend’s start of the nine days of the Family Circle Cup.

Last weekend as I left Family Circle Tennis Center, a couple of familiar faces caught my attention. Former Maria Sharapova coach Michael Joyce was sitting at the entrance to the clubhouse talking with one of his players, former Fed Cupper/2011 U.S. Open mixed doubles champ/2009 U.S. Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin.

Joyce resides in the Charleston area these days while serving as director of the pro division of the MWTennis Academy at Family Circle Tennis Center. Oudin also is a local resident while enrolled in the academy.

And other times, a visitor might see tour-level players Samantha Crawford and Jessica Pegula training at the Daniel Island complex. Crawford was the U.S. Open junior champion in 2012 and is currently ranked 250th in the world. Pegula is the daughter of natural gas tycoon Terry Pegula, who happens to own the Buffalo Bills and Sabres.

Both Crawford and Pegula recently returned from Indian Wells, Calif., where they participated in qualifying for the mega ATP/WTA event held there. They’re in Osprey, Fla., this weekend preparing for a $50,000 ITF circuit event. But both will be back at Family Circle Tennis Center next weekend to play in the Family Circle Cup’s qualifying event.

Oudin is skipping the Family Circle qualifying event, according to MWTennis CEO Jeff Wilson.

Of course, local WTA player Shelby Rogers and two-time junior Family Circle champ Ellie Halbauer trace their early years in tennis to Family Circle Tennis Center. Rogers will be playing in the main draw of the Family Circle Cup, while Halbauer will play in the qualifying event next weekend.

One of the young stars of MWTennis is hard-hitting 16-year-old German Vivian Wolff. The bubbly youngster came out of nowhere earlier this month to sweep through the girls 18 division of Lexington’s ITF Topspin Classic while yielding just two games.

“My goal is win a slam,” the hard-hitting 5-8 player insists. Another Steffi Graf?

Wolff has been living in this country most of the last year and has applied for citizenship. Her dad resides in Atlanta and has dual citizenship.

Family Circle update

Shelby Rogers apparently hopes to get in a little more match practice and hopefully snap her nine-match losing streak before heading to Charleston to play in the Family Circle Cup. Rogers is entered in the $50,000 ITF event that starts Monday in Osprey, Fla. She is slated to be the No. 4 seed, following after 2014 Family Circle runner-up Jana Cepelova.

Local fans should get their first glimpse of new Rogers coach Marc Lucero. Rogers now trains under Lucero at the RAMP tennis academy in Carson, Calif.

Samantha Crawford has a wild card into the main draw in Osprey, while Jessica Pegula has a wild card into the qualifying tournament. Melanie Oudin withdrew from the Osprey tournament.

Ellie Halbauer played this past week in a $25,000 event in Palm Harbor, Fla., winning three matches in qualifying, then opening with a main draw win before losing in the second round. She withdrew from Osprey.

High school update

It may seem like high school tennis just started, but actually only four weeks remain before the SCISA state playoffs.

With two victories over Wando and one over Bishop England, Porter-Gaud looks like the strongest team in the area with only a loss to Hilton Head Prep.

Porter-Gaud and Bishop England are scheduled to square off again on April 14 at Porter-Gaud. The Bishops opened with five straight victories before running into Porter-Gaud and then South Aiken.

Local notes

Porter-Gaud did not send representatives to the annual SCISA Open, which was held this past week in Sumter. Instead, the Cyclones played a match against the Collegiate School of New York.

The Family Circle Cup has scheduled a League Tennis Night for the April 7 session.

Eric Ramsey’s 6.5 men’s combo 18-plus team from Mount Pleasant Rec recently finished as runner-up in the Southern Sectional in Mobile, Ala.

In the women’s 55 Southerns at Auburn, Ala., Joette Creager’s 7.5 combo team from Mount Pleasant captured a sectional championship.

(03/27/15)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
Singles: Cameron d. D. Sides 6-0, 6-0. A. DaCosta d. G. Wong 6-0, 6-0. R. Dacosta d. Hoffman 6-0, 6-2. Covington d. J. Wong 6-0, 6-0. Pandey d. G. Sides 6-0, 6-1.  Doubles: Redden/Lopresti d. Smith/Yeung 6-1, 6-0.

Next: Wando hosts Bluffton or Irmo Wednesday.

(03/26/15)  Daniel Island News: Where in the World is Shelby Rogers?
25, 093 miles traveled in 2015

• Charleston, SC to Auckland, New Zealand: 8,296 miles
• Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia: 1,341 miles
• Sydney, Australia to Melbourne, Australia: 544 miles
• Melbourne to LA: 7, 931 miles
• LA to Acapulco, Mexico: 1647 miles
• Acapulco, Mexico to Monterrey, Mexico: 610 miles
• Monterrey, Mexico to Carson, CA: 1979 miles
• Carson, CA to Indian Wells, CA: 131 miles
• Indian Wells, CA to Miami, FL: 2614 miles
 Current rank: 86 in the world
 Where is she today? Miami, FL, for the two-week-long Miami Open
 Next stop: Charleston (Family Circle Cup)

 Shelby, flying cross-country from California to Florida, has now passed the 25,000 mile mark, as she prepares for the Miami Open, in Miami, Florida.  Here’s she’s cooling down from a practice session in her compression socks!  The city of Miami, known as the Magic City, formally took root in the 1890s, growth spurned when multi-millionaire Henry Flagler extended his railroad line along Florida’s east coast into West Palm Beach. And, in the 1920s, the city experienced the largest per capita increase of any city in the country, setting the stage for Miami to become of the nation’s major tourist centers (think: South Beach!). Miami is the 45th largest U.S. city with a population just over 380,000 people.

(03/25/15)  STAFF REPORTS: CSU women remain unbeaten at home in tennis
Charleston Southern gave its 2015 women’s tennis senior class a day to remember in their final home match of the regular season as the Buccaneers swept visiting Presbyterian College, 7-0, Tuesday in Big South action.

The Buccaneers recognized seniors Marketa Placha, Yvonne Hubler and Angelica Sidorenko in a brief ceremony following the match, but it was down to business on the courts at home as the Bucs went undefeated at the Buccaneer Tennis Complex for the second straight season, running their home winning streak to 16 consecutive matches.

CSU improves to 12-2 overall with the victory, 6-1 in Big South Conference play, with three matches to go in the regular season.

For the third straight match, the Buccaneers swept doubles play with Angelica Sidorenko and Mi’Kola Cooper taking the 8-1 win on court no. 1 over C.M. Andrews and Brittany Nuttall to open the action. Nicolin Luecke and Yvonne Hubler finished play on court no. 2 shortly after with an 8-1 win over Sara McBride and Caroline deLoach, while Sophie Cloessner and Marketa Placha completed the CSU sweep with an 8-0 win over Antonia Conze and Madison Utberg on court no. 3.

The Bucs swept all six singles courts for the seventh time this season and third time at home.

College of Charleston senior Samantha Maddox was recognized as the CAA Women’s Tennis Player of the Week.

The Lexington, Ky., native earned the honor after posting a perfect 4-0 mark in singles and a 3-0 mark in doubles last week. Her efforts helped the Cougars (6-12, 0-1 CAA) go 3-1 at Patriots Point last week with wins over Rutgers, UMBC and Davidson.

Charleston touring tennis professional Shelby Rogers will return home to the Family Circle Cup riding a nine-match losing streak after dropping a 7-6 (1), 6-1 decision to Romania’s Monica Niculescu on Tuesday in the opening round of the Miami Open.

Rogers, currently ranked 86th in the world, was in the midst of a nine-match losing streak in 2014 when she entered the Family Circle Cup as a wild card. She said she is looking forward to returning to Charleston for the Family Circle Cup (April 4-12) as one of the main draw direct entry players.

“It feels amazing. I worked hard to get my ranking up and am so happy to have earned my way into the draw,” she said.

(03/25/15)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
Singles: Sarkar (CS) d. Tolliver 7-5, 6-0. Fenno d. Bicks 6-3, 6-4. Agarwal (CS) d. Vingi 6-1, 7-6. Snyder d. Pines 6-7, 6-2, 11-9. Kammerer d. Ragpal 4-6, 7-5, 10-4. Craigie d. Schneider 6-0, 6-0. Doubles: Tolliver/Fenno d. Sarkar/Bicks 8-4. Agarwal (CS) d. Vingi/Kammerer 8-6. Snyder/Craigie d. Shiva/Sabet 8-6.

Singles: Parvey d. Johnson 6-1, 6-2. M. Nixon d. Bailey 6-3, 6-2. Rabon d. Warren 6-2, 6-2. C. Nixon d. Bridge 6-1, 6-3. Leo d. Fanchette 6-0, 6-1.   Doubles: Kackley/Johnson d. Bowman/Sanders 6-0, 6-2.

Records: Ashley Ridge 1-5 (1-0). Next: Ashley Ridge at Bluffton Thursday.

Singles: Cameron (W) d. Jay Duarte 7-5, 6-1; A. DaCosta (W) d. T. Anastopoulo 6-0, 6-4; R. DaCosta (W) d. S. Anastopoulo 6-1, 6-2; O. Duarte (WA) d. Redden 4-6, 6-2, 10-6; Smyth (W) d. Gunn 7-5, 2-6, 10-8.   Doubles: Cameron/R. DaCosta (W) d. J. Duarte/ T. Anastatoulo 8-5; Eskou/Botos (W) d. Harris/ Sadler 6-2, 6-4.

Records: Wando 2-1. West Ashley 2-1. Next: West Ashley at James Island on Thursday.

Singles: Gamble (CB) d. D. Sides 6-3, 6-2. G. Wong d. Buttery 6-0, 6-0. J. Wong d. Howell 6-4, 6-4. Hoffman d. Kinsey 6-2, 3-6, 10-3. G. Sides d. Preston 6-4, 6-0.   Doubles: D. Sides/G. Wong d. Gamble/Buttery 6-0, 6-1. Smith/Yeung d. Hicks/Gillard 6-1, 6-3.

Records: Stratford 3-0 (1-0). Next: Stratford at Wando Thursday.

Singles: Newland d. Long 6-0, 6-0. Ball d. Hazel 7-6 (2), 7-6 (9). Wills (S) d. Greiner 6-1, 6-4. Hahn d. Reynolds 6-2, 7-5. Story d. Prathipati 6-1, 6-0.  Doubles: Sease/Chafer d. Lenkiewicz/Edwards 6-2, 6-1.

Records: Summerville 3-5 (1-1). Next: Summerville at Beaufort today.

(03/24/15)  Rotary Club of Charleston:  Bob Moran: Family Circle Cup
This week Bob Moran delivered an address which truly shows that spring has begun.  Moran is the general manager of the Family Circle Cup, which will take place this year from April 4 through April 12.  The Family Circle Cup was started in 1973 and Moran began working with the event in 2000 when the event moved to Charleston from Hilton Head.  The event has grown substantially since it began, encompassing as it does now many activities which surround the Women’s Tennis Association tournament.  With so many functions daily this annual event promotes tennis in a very family-friendly environment.

There will be 13 sessions, both day and night, and Moran highlighted a few special activities occurring during the tournament.  Wednesday, April 8, is Pink Out Night for the Cure presented by MUSC Health.  For each attendee wearing pink funds will be donated to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure Lowcountry.  Thursday, April 9, is Military Appreciation Night sponsored by Prudential.  Active duty and retired military and their families can receive complimentary admission.  Friday, April 10, SunTrust presents a ball toss contest.  Participants will toss balls into a box on court for a chance to win a new Nissan.

Players in this year’s tournament hail from 25 countries across the globe.  Every match is broadcast internationally and on ESPN or ESPN2.  Family Circle Magazine has sponsored this event longer than any other sponsor of any other tournament in the WTA circuit.  The stadium on Daniel Island is owned by the City of Charleston but the Cup has a long-term lease which ensures that this important event is here to stay.  Over 15 million viewers world-wide will see the Cup and Charleston, making this a huge advertising opportunity for our city’s tourism industry.  Family Circle Magazine and its parent company alone will be sponsoring the visits of 250 of the magazine’s top advertisers to Charleston.  Moran estimated that the magazine will pay for 2,000 hotel nights for these visitors, which clearly is a substantial investment in Charleston’s hospitality community.

Clearly this event is a wonderful opportunity for Charleston to be in the world’s spotlight, but Moran emphasized that the Family Circle Cup organization is an active part of our community all year round.  There are over 500 members of the Family Circle Tennis Center who enjoy the facilities daily throughout the year.  Through the Tennis Center the Cup sponsors along with the City of Charleston programs which bring tennis to our community’s children, many of whom would otherwise not be able to enjoy this healthy and fun sport.  Certainly this information from Moran was especially cogent as our club continues bringing tennis to the children of James Simons Elementary School.

But tennis is not the only activity which occurs at the Family Circle Cup stadium.  Moran noted that it has become a venue for concerts and shows as well – 12 to 15 are planned for this year.  Some of the musical groups on tap for this year include the Doobie Brothers, Boston and Earth, Wind and Fire.

When questioned about the move to Charleston from Hilton Head, Moran noted that 15 years ago the event occurred at the same time as the Heritage Golf Tournament.  There simply was not sufficient space and logistical infrastructure in Hilton Head to support two large and growing tournaments occurring simultaneously.  The move to Charleston has allowed the Cup to grow exponentially, much to the City’s benefit.  The move also brought some surprising changes for its organizers.  Since the Family Circle Cup was located originally in a beach environment, the organizers expected that players would want to continue to stay in a beach venue in the Charleston community.  Once players found out about Charleston’s dining scene, however, they soon began staying for the most part in our City’s downtown, again providing a wonderful boost to our hospitality industry.

One of the special draws of the Family Circle Cup is the accessibility of the players.  It is easy for attendees to get autographs, pictures and “face time” with the premiere players in the WTA.  The Cup truly brings tennis to our community in a large way.  In fact, Moran proudly touted the fact that for the first time ever a player will participate this year is a Charleston native who first fell in love with the game serving as a ball girl at the Cup.  No one knows what future tennis star may be taking the first step toward such stardom at this year’s Family Circle Cup!

(03/23/15)  LowcountryBizSC - Tennis Tournament Goes Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness
The Family Circle Cup and MUSC Health have teamed up to support “Pink Out Night for the Cure” to benefit the Lowcountry Affiliate of Susan G. Komen. This event will take place Wednesday, April 8 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Family Circle Stadium on Daniel Island. Gates will open at 5 p.m. 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. Survivors wearing their 2014 Survivor Race shirt will receive a free general admission ticket.

“This is about so much more than raising breast cancer awareness — it’s about giving hope to our neighbors in need,” says Lucy Spears, mission programs manager of Komen Lowcountry. “The money that’s raised at Pink Out Night will be used in our Lowcountry mission programs and for supporting community health grants, education and advocacy.”

Several “pink out” themes will be performed on Wednesday 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. Daniel Island’s Peace, Love & Hip Hop crew will perform on the court before the first match. The Shotgun Fairies, the top fundraising team from the 2014 Race for the Cure, will also be on-site raffling off items to help raise money for the cause.

“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!”

We are thrilled to have the support of Family Circle Cup and MUSC in our efforts,” says Spears. “What a fun way to save a life!”

(03/19/15)  USTA S.C.: Jonathan Braden: Charleston School, LYTA Using Tennis To Improve Kids' Behavior
Tennis has benefited the Charleston area in many ways over the years.

The sport has helped the area’s economy, especially every April when thousands flock to the Family Circle Cup. Tennis also helps more than 5,000 Charleston USTA league players enjoy camaraderie and exercise every year.

The sport’s most important contribution to the area, though, might be what a nearby school with fewer than 530 students has tried this school year.

Haut Gap Middle School is using tennis and a well-known USTA academic program to improve students’ grades and behavior.

Two days a week, some students needing extra behavioral or academic support skip an elective, such as physical education or music. On one of the days, the students study the USTA’s Academic Creative Engagement curriculum, or ACE, which focuses on math, literacy, nutrition, tennis and social skills. The other day, the students learn how to play tennis.

“It’s not so much I’m going to exclusively teach you tennis lessons,” said Daniel Vella, an assistant principal at Haut Gap. It’s more like, Vella said, “Here’s how to play that sport and here’s the life lessons you can learn from being out there.”

Haut Gap has been using the ACE and tennis program only since August, but school officials have seen enough to say the program works. Students speak highly of it and look forward to their classes. Their behavior has improved and administrators expect the students’ grades to improve as well.

“Overall, it’s a success,” Vella said.

He and other school administrators were approached last summer about using ACE and tennis by officials with the Lowcountry Youth Tennis Association, a Charleston non-profit that provides youth tennis programs.

Katherine Lewis, LYTA president and a school climate specialist for the Charleston County School District, and other local officials had seen tennis help improve kids’ behavior during summer programs.

The LYTA officials approached Haut Gap administrators because the school was already using an innovative behavior program, said Meg Farrelly, an LYTA board member.

The school's “Positive Behavior Intervention Supports" encourages teachers to model and teach students how they should behave rather than how they should not. The program is part of a school-wide support framework for the success of all students.

Haut Gap administrators agreed to try tennis, and in the fall, about eight kids took the courses. This spring, nine are enrolled.

During one afternoon last month, the students showed the program’s early success.

John Farrelly, LYTA school programs director, stood with three students inside a classroom and pointed to a poster that outlined the behavior he expected to see the next 50 minutes.

“What I want you to work on today is using positive words and action,” Farrelly said to the class of three girls, three people smaller than usual.

A few minutes later, they walked outside, past the three classroom trailers behind the school and onto the two tennis courts, which look new – no cracks or weeds. The shining sun made it feel warmer than 59 degrees.

About 30 minutes into class, the girls were playing “King of the Court” when Lauren Hernandez hit a clean forehand winner past a classmate. “Good job,” Lauren said to her friend.

Lauren, like a lot Haut Gap students, had only occasionally played tennis before last fall. She enjoys playing weekly now. “I can get more exercise and I can move a lot,” she said.

The exercise students get is another reason the program works, said Melvin Wright, a counselor at Haut Gap. Most kids naturally prefer to play and run around outside rather than sit in a classroom.

“It’s a better intervention, especially at the middle school level,” Wright said.

The program also has improved kids’ behavior.

Most of the students who have gone through the tennis and ACE program now behave better in the classroom, as measured by the behavior grade students get at the end of each day, Wright said.

To Courtney Birmingham, a 13-year-old seventh grader on court with Lauren, the program has helped her gain confidence.

Before she played tennis at school, she was shy. “I used to be as timid as a mouse,” she said.

During other classes, she was often afraid to raise her hand or speak up at all. Her friends and teachers had to remind her raise to her voice. But, through having success on the tennis court, such as striking a solid backhand every now and again, she’s now more likely to raise her hand and speak clearly when answering that question in her classes.

“(Tennis) helps me get more courage,” Courtney said, standing tall, speaking clearly and looking you in the eye. “It’s made me feel like I can do anything. I feel like I can conquer the world.”

John Farrelly has seen other kids’ improve in a similar way. The kids see they can be good at tennis, and soon they believe their success can transfer to other areas, including math class.

“Everything then all comes together,” said Farrelly, who also teaches music two days a week at a Charleston elementary school.

Meg Farrelly, John’s wife, said, “Tennis is the fun so that we can make a change in other places.”

Vella, the assistant principal, said staff members plan to review behavior and achievement data this summer and find more students to send to ACE and tennis in the fall.

He is particularly encouraged by the program because few Haut Gap kids played tennis regularly before but now almost all who have played the sport enjoy it.

Vella also is excited because the life skills kids learn during ACE and tennis, such as how to win and lose gracefully and how to work well with others, will benefit the students – and the Charleston area – long after the kids graduate eighth grade and leave Haut Gap.

“All those kind of latent functions aren’t just applicable to the sport, they’re applicable to real life,” Vella said, “and that’s what the program focuses on.”

(03/19/15)  STAFF REPORTS: CofC Women's Tennis
College of Charleston women’s tennis was unable to convert a late rally into a win as the Cougars dropped a tight 4-3 decision to Massachusetts on Wednesday afternoon at Patriots Point.

“We showed heart but UMass showed a lot more heart,” CofC Head Coach Angelo Anastopoulo said. “We’ve got to get a little tougher and get a little meaner.”

CofC (4-12, 0-1 CAA) won three matches in singles to come back from a 2-0 deficit to take the lead. Freshman Sarah Jane Jones started the rally with her third collegiate singles win at the No. 6 spot, defeating Brittany Collens 6-1, 6-5. Senior Samantha Maddox edged her opponent, Aarzoo Malik, 7-5, 7-6 for her first singles victory of the year as the Cougars’ top seed and fourth singles win overall.

“Sam[antha] played well and I think she kept us in the match, giving us a 3-2 lead, but we quickly gave it away,” Anastopoulo said.

Senior Jenny Falcone, who is one half of the CAA Women’s Tennis Doubles Team of the Week, picked up her eighth win of the year with a 6-2, 6-1 at No. 4 singles to give Charleston a 3-2 lead over the Minutewomen (8-4).

Freshman Ana Yrazusta, the Atlantic 10 Performer of the Week and ECAC New England Tennis Player of the Week, and Carol Benito both needed three sets to pull out the win on courts two and four respectively.  Benito’s 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over senior Grace Baker tied the teams at 3-3 and brought the decision down to junior Katherine Schofield Yrazusta on court two. After falling 6-2 in the first set, Schofield battled back to take the second set in a tiebreak. She remained close on Yazusta’s heels throughout the third set but the Minutewoman escaped with a 6-4 win to capture both her singles match and the victory for UMass.

The Cougars won’t have much time to recover as they continue Anastopoulo’s self-proclaimed “hell week” of six home matches in six days. Up next is No. 29 Oklahoma who will be looking to rebound from losses to No. 54 Texas and No. 8 Baylor over the weekend. The Sooners hold onto an 11-4 record and are led by freshman Lily Miyazaki, who has an 11-2 mark at No. 1 singles.

CofC  defeated Oklahoma 4-3 in 2012, when the two teams last met and the series is tied at 1-1.

“Oklahoma is here because we split our first two matches,” Anastopoulo said. “We won the last time they were here, 4-3. It will be difficult to duplicate that because we’ve got some injuries and things, but we’ll certainly look forward to playing them and giving it our best.”

Fans can follow the action at Patriots Point, which begins at 2 pm, on Live Stats.


1. Samantha Maddox (CofC) def. Aarzoo Malik (UMass) 7-5, 7-6
2. Ana Yrazusta (UMass) def. Katherine Schofield (CofC) 6-2, 6-7, 6-4
3. Jenny Falcone (CofC) def. Arielle Griffin (UMass) 6-2, 6-1
4. Carol Benito (Mass) def. Grace Baker (CofC) 4-6, 6-2, 6-1
5. Anna Woosley (Mass) def. Helena Nyikos (CofC) 3-6, 6-1, 6-3
6. Sarah Jane Jones (CofC) def. Brittany Collens (Mass) 6-1, 6-5
Order of Finish: 3, 5, 6, 1, 4, 2

1. Ana Yrazusta/Carol Benito (Mass) def. Jenny Falcone/Katherine Schofield (CofC) 6-1
2. Samantha Maddox/Brooke McAmis (CofC) vs. Arielle Griffin/Brittany Collens (Mass) 3-3, unf.
3. Chanel Glasper/Anna Woosley (Mass) def. Helena Nyikos/Grace Baker (CofC) 6-0
Order of Finish: 3, 1

(03/16/15)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
Singles: McManus (FD) d. Healey 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 10-2; Seacrest (JI) d. Olympic 6-0, 6-0; Bridges (JI) d. Stall 6-2, 6-1; Evans (JI) d. Lavere 5-7, 6-2, 10-5; Bailey (JI) d. Ferriera 6-0, 6-3.  Doubles: Jenkins/Eddy (JI) d. Segundo/Segundo 6-0, 6-1.

Records: JI 1-1, FD 0-3. Next: JI at Academic Magnet Wednesday, FD at Summerville Thursday.

Singles: Amble (CB) d. Darvey 6-4, 6-3; Buttery (CB) d. Nixon 6-3, 7-5; Howell (CB) d. Rabon 4-6, 6-1, 1-0; Kimsey (CB) d. Nixon 6-4, 6-2; Preston (AR) d. Leo 6-0, 6-4.  Doubles: Gillard/Hicks. d. Johnson/Kackley 1-6, 6-4, 1-0.

(03/14/15)  Fenno only All-Lowcountry tennis player back
And then there was only one.

Porter-Gaud freshman Brant Fenno is the lone member of the 2014 all-Lowcountry boys tennis team still active in local high school tennis.

There were three underclassmen on last year’s all-Lowcountry team, but Jacob Jahn (Wando) decided not to play high school tennis in the eighth grade. Also, three-time all-Lowcountry performer Adam Elliget is no longer playing tennis for Summerville.

The good news is that freshman Jared Pratt moved in as Bishop England’s No. 1 and junior Scotty Cameron joined Wando as the Warriors’ No. 1.

Even with Pratt not playing, the Bishops charged past Summerville, 5-1. And with Wando missing Cameron, Porter-Gaud blitzed the Warriors, 5-1.

Fenno and his Porter-Gaud teammates will pose a major challenge for their opponents. The Cyclones play Bishop England at Snee Farm on Wednesday in a matchup of unbeatens. Before that, Porter-Gaud will entertain perennial power Hilton Head Prep on Tuesday.

But the word is that since Hilton Head Prep and Hilton Head Christian dropped back to SCISA Class AA, most of their tennis academy stars are no longer playing high school tennis.

As West Ashley coach Ronnie DuPre points out about Wando still looking like the team to beat in Region 7-AAAA, “No doubt about it. It has been years since they (Wando) have lost a region match.” DuPre should know. Both of West Ashley’s region losses last season were to Wando.

But if Wando has a challenger, it is 2014 region runner-up West Ashley, which has boosted its Anastopoulo brothers (senior Ted and freshman Stratas)-led lineup with former Porter-Gaud standout Junior Duarte. Now a senior, Duarte was an all-Lowcountry second-teamer as a freshman when he helped Porter-Gaud win a state championship.
College update

Charleston Southern’s women and the College of Charleston men are off to strong starts, while The Citadel men and College of Charleston women are struggling thus far during the spring season.

With former Porter-Gaud star Mi’Kola Cooper off to an 8-1 record in singles while playing Nos. 3-5, coach Mike Baker’s Charleston Southern’s women’s team had won nine of its first 10 matches going into Saturday’s home match against Longwood. The Bucs’ only loss had come in a tournament against South Alabama.

Jay Bruner’s C of C men are 10-5 headed into next Thursday’s home match against Maryland-Baltimore.

But the C of C women’s team, which has earned NCAA playoff berths five of the last six years, is 3-10 after sweeping Buffalo and UNC-Greensboro on Saturday at the Patriots Point complex. Coach Angelo Anastopoulo’s C of C women’s team will play at home Monday through Saturday, including Monday against Clemson and Thursday against Oklahoma.

The Citadel men entered Saturday’s match at Chattanooga with a 13-match losing streak and an overall record of 2-19. Coach Chuck Kriese’s Bulldogs will play host to Wofford on Friday.

Rogers’ happy return

Shelby Rogers is looking forward to returning to Charleston for the April 6-12 Family Circle Cup as one of the main draw direct entry players. “It feels amazing. I worked hard to get my ranking up (currently No. 82 in the world) and am so happy to have earned my way into the draw,” Rogers said after her close loss at Indian Wells on Thursday.

“I’ve always appreciated the wcs (wild cards), but it’s definitely a different feeling being in on my own. I can take a little confidence from that in itself. Can’t wait to come back to FCC and put on a good show for the fans.”

Local notes

City tennis manager Peggy Bohne reports that last Wednesday’s celebration of the renovation of the downtown Jack Adams Tennis Center “was great. We had three of Jack Adams’ daughters there as well as lots of people who played on those courts on the 1950s and 60s.” Mayor Joe Riley also took part in the celebration.

Virginia teams Old Dominion and James Madison played a match last Wednesday at Charleston Tennis Center, with Old Dominion winning, 7-0.

The Tri-County Elementary and Middle School League will begin play on Monday with 115 teams.

(03/14/15)  STAFF REPORTS:  CSU shuts out Longwood, 4-0, in women’s tennis
Charleston Southern defeated Longwood on a rain-shortened Saturday afternoon as the Buccaneers improved to 4-0 in Big South Conference play following their 6-0 win over the Lancers.

The match started three hours late due to rain, but the teams were able to get all six singles matches in at the Buccaneer Tennis Complex. Doubles play was called midway through the matches on all three courts as rain ended the afternoon.

CSU improved to 10-1 overall, 4-0 in Big South play with the victory, while Longwood fell to 6-8, 1-3.

Marketa Placha, Yvonne Hubler, Angelica Sidorenko, Nicolin Luecke, Sophie Cloessner and Valeria Koussenkova all recorded singles victories, while the Bucs were leading on all three doubles courts when play was suspended.

Sidorenko took the opening point of the match for the Bucs on court no. 3 topping Maria Coronel 6-0, 6-0. Hubler followed shortly after with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Anna Pelak on court no. 2, while Placha topped Malin Allgurin on court no. 2, 6-0, 6-0 to put CSU ahead 3-0.

Luecke took the fourth point for the Bucs on court no. 4 topping Paloma Alatorre, 6-0, 6-1, while Sophie Cloessner defeated Mason Thomas on court no. 5, 6-2, 6-1. Koussenkova closed out singles action with a hard-fought 6-2, 7-5 win on court no. 6 over Nicole Parker.

Doubles action saw Sidorenko and Cooper leading Allgurin and Alatorre on court no. 1, 4-0, while Hubler and Luecke were leading 4-1 over Pelak and Parker on court no. 2. Placha and Cloessner held the 3-0 lead on court no. 3 over Thomas and Coronel before play was called.

College of Charleston women’s tennis hit its stride as the Cougars picked up wins over Buffalo (4-3) and UNC Greensboro (4-0) in front of a home crowd at Patriots Point Tennis Center.

“The team did a great job in making my birthday special by picking up two victories,” head coach Angelo Anastopoulo said about going 2-0 on his 48th birthday. “They played their heart out and did a terrific job.”

Rainy weather and wet courts delayed CofC’s (3-10, 0-1 CAA) first match more than two hours. When Charleston and Buffalo (4-5) finally did take the courts, the Bulls took the early 1-0 lead with doubles wins at the No. 1 and No. 3 spots. The Cougars responded by capturing singles wins on courts three through six to put them over the top with a 4-3 victory. Junior Katherine Schofield’s three-set triumph at the No. 3 spot clinched the match for the Cougars.

Riding the momentum of the first win, the Cougars began their second match with old Southern Conference foe UNC Greensboro (4-6). CofC won the doubles point for just the third time this year with wins at the top two spots, giving Charleston a lead it wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the match.

Every single member of the Charleston team won at least one match, either in singles or doubles competition, throughout the day.

(03/13/15)  THE STATE: Venus Williams to make appearance at Hilton Head business
Venus Williams may not have made it to Hilton Head Island for the Family Circle Cup when it was held at Sea Pines, but she'll be stopping by next month.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist will be making an appearance April 6 at Players' World of Sports, a sports store located on Shelter Cove Lane.

Williams will be promoting her EleVen line of tennis and athletic apparel and from 4:30 to 6 p.m. she will pose for pictures with anyone who has purchased an article from her line at Players' World of Sports.

"We thought it was a very big opportunity for Hilton Head and for us, of course," store manager Shannon Jilly said.

Jilly said Players' World of Sports is the only store on the island that carries Williams' line and has since at least 2008.

"She does appearances at stores every once and a while if she can get to it, and this one worked out," Jilly said.

Jilly said customers who purchased an item from Williams' line would be given a ticket that would enable them to have their picture taken with Williams on April 6. She said they were anticipating between 100 and 150 people to take advantage of the offer.

"But you never know," she said.

(03/13/15)  Rogers’ rally falls short at Indian Wells
Shelby Rogers almost had a great week.

One day after gaining her first main draw entry into her hometown Family Circle Cup, the 22-year-old touring tennis professional staged a brilliant rally on Wednesday that fell short and allowed Belgium’s Kristen Flipkens to post a 6-2, 6-4 win over Rogers in the first round of the WTA super tournament in Indian Wells, Calif.

Because of her world’s No. 82 ranking, Rogers was awarded a direct entry into the April 6-12 Family Circle Cup.

Rogers was also a direct entry at Indian Wells. But after a 2-2 deadlock, the 29-year-old 61st ranked Flipkens used her all-around consistency to win seven straight games for a 3-0 lead in the second set.

Marc Lucero, Rogers’ new coach, came out on the court with Rogers down 5-2 in the first set of the nationally televised match. “You have to make sure your legs are underneath you, especially on your backhand,” Lucero told Rogers.

The big-hitting Rogers got to deuce in the next game before sailing a forehand volley long to end the first set. After falling behind 5-1 in the second set, Rogers won three straight games and served with a game point in the tenth game. She saved match points in the ninth and tenth games before having second thoughts about a Flipkens forehand that nipped the baseline on Flipkens third match point. Rogers returned the shot, but didn’t move for Flipkens’ next forehand that ended the match.

Now riding an eight-match losing streak and without a win in 2015, Rogers will have a direct entry into Miami’s Sony Open that starts in two weeks. Rogers won her first round match at Indian Wells last year, but then suffered nine losses in succession before starting a streak that carried her to a career high of No. 70 in the world.

Serena Williams has returned to the BNP Paribas Open, ending a 14-year personal boycott of the $5 million tournament that began when she was booed as a teenager on her way to winning the title in 2001.

Williams took questions during a 10-minute news conference on Thursday, a day before the world’s top-ranked women’s player is to compete in her first match.

The 19-time major champion says she never thought she would return to the two-week tournament in the Southern California dessert. However, she says she eventually decided “it was really good timing for me.”

(03/12/15)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
Singles: D. Sides d. J. Giannelli 6-3, 6-3. G. Wong d. S. Giannelli 6-1, 7-6. Marsch (B) d. J. Wong 4-6, 7-6, 10-5. G. Sides d. Huxford 6-2, 6-2. Hoffman d. Bell 6-1, 6-3.   Doubles: D. Sides/G. Wong d. J. Giannelli/Marsch 8-6. Livingston/Honeycutt (B) d. Smith/Yeung 7-5, 6-2.

Records: Stratford 2-0. Next: Stratford at Academic Magnet Monday, March 23.

Singles: Jones d. Pi 6-1, 6-0. Dacuba d. Bahadori 6-3, 6-1. Knot d. Whitaker 6-2, 6-1. Ranson d. Kassouf 6-2, 6-4. Privet d. Sakamuri 6-2, 6-0.   Doubles: Warren/Sottile d. Pugh/Leader 8-3.

Records: Bishop England 4-0. Next: Bishop England at Whale Branch Tuesday.

Singles: Tolliver d. Holoubeck 6-2, 6-3. Vingi d. Baly 6-1, 6-0. Snyder d. Garcia 6-3, 7-5. Kammerer d. McConnell 6-1, 6-1. Craigie d. Olaru 6-1, 6-1. Harvin d. Baker 6-1, 6-3.  Doubles: Tolliver/Vingi d. Holoubeck/Garcia 8-1. Snyder/Kammerer d. Baly/McConnell 8-1. Craigie/Blais d. Price/Olaru.

Records: Porter-Gaud 3-0. Next: Porter-Gaud hosts Hilton Head Prep Tuesday.

(03/12/15)  STAFF REPORT: CSU wins sixth straight tennis match
Charleston Southern won its sixth consecutive match at the Buccaneer Tennis Complex as CSU defeated UNC Greensboro, 7-0, Thursday in non-conference action.

The Buccaneers took all six singles matches and two of the three doubles sets in running their win streak to six in a row as CSU improved to 9-1 overall on the season.

The Bucs took the doubles point to open the contest as Marketa Placha and Sophie Cloessner topped Jamie Grinberg and Masey DeMoss 8-2. Nicolin Luecke and Yvonne Hubler followed with an 8-5 win over Stephanie Falcon and Blaine Boaz to put the Bucs ahead 2-0.

UNCG’s Kayla Cammie and Corinne Blythe topped Angelica Sidorenko and Mi’Kola Cooper 9-7 to end doubles competition.

Placha, Hubler, Sidorenko, Luecke, Cooper and Cloesser all recorded singles wins for the Bucs as CSU closed out its fourth sweep of the season.

(03/12/15)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Kids get in free, a Family Circle Cup ace other sports should copy
It’s not brain surgery. As youth access to modern technology grows, there is an outflow of young fans from stadiums and arenas in all sports.

Look around. If you see a kid at a game, the eyes likely are looking down into a smartphone instead of up at the action. Attendance at college athletic events is alarmingly down among students, a reflection of teen disinterest in spectating.

The Family Circle Cup has the right idea.

Convinced that women’s professional tennis is worthwhile and that young fans will appreciate the sport if given a taste, the Family Circle Cup is offering free admission for kids 15 and under throughout the April 4-12 tournament, plus one free training day from Family Circle Tennis Center-based MWTennis. The training session will include on-court match play, technique and fitness training.

“It just makes total sense for us,” said Bob Moran, the Family Circle Cup tournament director and general manager.

Watching Family Circle Cup tennis, Moran points out, can spark interest in playing tennis at places such as the Family Circle Tennis Center. Which might lead to more interest in watching tennis.

Getting creative to get kids involved makes just as much sense for every other sport interested in sustained growth.
Masters, and RiverDogs

Augusta National Golf Club was way out front with its Junior Pass Program started in 2008. Kids ages 8-16 can attend a Masters round free if accompanied by a an accredited patron. Augusta’s youth participation initiatives have been just as bold.

The Charleston RiverDogs for years have opened turnstiles at The Joe to school bus loads of kids on Education Day, a fun introduction to minor league baseball for rookie fans.

While big league sports leagues are making gobs of cash from TV deals, Major League Baseball attendance fell in 2014. NFL attendance dropped every year from 2008-2011.

Attendance at the Family Circle Cup, the largest women-only tennis tournament in the world, gradually declined from a total of 95,767 in 2010 to 78,147 in 2013. It climbed back to 87,997 in 2014.

Free tennis, anyone?

“On any given day at the Family Circle Tennis Center, you have kids from four or five years old all the way up to the professional girls we have training here,” Moran said. “It’s really cool to see the progression in that and the younger kids looking up to the older kids, and the older kids looking up to the professional players.

“We want to build on that. We looked at that and said, ‘We just have to do a better job of getting more kids involved in tennis; how do we do that?’”
Tickets vs. tech

Family Circle Cup management is aiming for year-round impact, and that might not come from a basic Kids Day found at almost every tournament in the world.

“So No. 1, we have to get them here,” Moran said.

SunTrust stepped up as the free tickets sponsor.

The free tennis training part of the plan adds incentive, and paradox to the marketing theory that operators shouldn’t give worthwhile entertainment away for free. In the Family Circle Cup case, the chance to see defending champion Andrea Petkovic mix it up with rising American star Madison Keys may not be as critical to tennis growth as a 12-year-old learning the finer points of a backhand slice.

By the way, it’s more than possible that some of those kids glued to smartphones are better off than mere spectators if they are engaged in something productive and legal.

In that case, the Family Circle Cup offers a reminder that entertainment and exercise can make for a nice little break from technology.

“I hope this may encourage other tennis tournaments out there,” Moran said.

Other sports, too.

(03/11/15)  ANDREW MILLER: Andrea Petkovic, Ekaterina Makarova highlight Family Circle Cup main draw
The preliminary main player draw for next month’s Family Circle Cup was announced on Wednesday and includes defending champion Andrea Petkovic and eight players ranked in the WTA’s top-20.

The Family Circle Cup’s 56-player draw is made up of 43 direct entries into the tournament, five wild cards and eight qualifiers. The week-long event will be played at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island.

“The depth in our player field is what we strive for each year,” said Eleanor Adams, tournament manager for the Family Circle Cup. “From top-ranked players like Ekaterina Makarova and our defending champion Andrea Petkovic, to the next generation of talent, we are certain the diversity of players within the field this year will bring fierce and entertaining competition on the courts.”

The field features eight players in the WTA’s top-20, including Ekaterina Makarova (9), Petkovic (10), Lucie Safarova (11), Sara Errani (12), Angelique Kerber (14), Madison Keys (18), Shuai Peng (19) and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (20). Four past Family Circle Cup Champions, including Petkovic (2014), Samantha Stosur (2011), Sabine Lisicki (2009) and Jelena Jankovic (2007) are scheduled to play.

Keys is the top-ranked American player in the event after making the Australian Open semifinals earlier in the season.

It will be Makarova’s first appearance in the Lowcountry in five years. Makarova broke into the WTA top-10 for the first time in her career in January, after a breakout season in 2014 that included a singles quarterfinals appearance at Wimbledon, and her first Grand Slam singles semifinal at the U.S. Open.

Petkovic had a major comeback during the 2013-2014 season. After her Family Circle Cup title, Petkovic reached her first career Grand Slam semifinal at the French Open. She went on to reach the semifinals in Stanford, before taking home an additional WTA title at Bad Gastein. Petkovic started the 2015 season with a win in Antwerp in February.

Safarova will play Charleston for her fifth time. After making the finals in both singles and doubles in 2012, losing to Serena Williams in singles before taking the doubles win, she has gone on to make the Family Circle Cup’s quarterfinals the last two years. Safarova reached an additional four quarterfinals following the 2014 Family Circle Cup, as well as the semifinals at Wimbledon and Moscow. Most recently, she won the title in Doha last month.

Rounding out the top-four in Charleston’s player field is Sara Errani. This year’s tournament will be her third appearance at the Family Circle Cup. Errani reached the quarterfinals at two Grand Slams in 2014, the French and U.S. Open, as well as the finals in Rome and Paris. Errani won her first title of 2015 in Rio de Janeiro

(03/10/15)  LowcountryBizSC:  Family Circle Cup Searching for National Anthem Singers
Tournament hosting 5th annual “Oh Say Can You Sing” contest

Do you have what it takes to belt out the National Anthem in front of thousands? Five lucky singers will have the opportunity to show off their vocal talent at the Family Circle Cup on April 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th and 12th.

For the fifth year, The Family Circle Cup, in partnership with Cumulus Radio, is collecting online video submissions to narrow down the search for five all-star singers.

To be considered, singers must:

- Record a video audition, no longer than two minutes in length
- Upload a public video to YouTube
- Log on to any of the Cumulus radio stations websites – 95SX, NashFM96.9,WTMA1250, z93Jamz and Magic1073 – access the submission form and provide the link to your YouTube video audition.

All entries must be submitted by 12:00 a.m. on March 20th.

Ten finalists will be notified on Monday, March 23rd and each will move into the final round, to be determined by online voting. Online voting will begin at 12:00 pm on Monday, March 23rd on all Cumulus radio station websites, concluding at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30th. The winners will be announced on-air Tuesday, March 31st and their auditions will be posted to Cumulus Radio websites.

The five contestants receiving the highest total votes will have the opportunity to sing the National Anthem one day during the Family Circle Cup.

Each winning singer will also receive four terrace level tickets to the Family Circle Cup on the day they are scheduled to sing.

The Family Circle Cup takes place April 4 – 12th, 2015 on beautiful Daniel Island. Tickets for the event can be purchased via the Family Circle Cup website. For more information on the event, visit: http://www.familycirclecup.com.

(03/10/15)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
Singles: McManus (FD) d. D. Sides 7-6, 7-5. G. Wong d. Oplanic 6-0, 6-0. J. Wong d. Stall 6-1, 6-1. G. Sides d. Laverne 7-6, 6-2. Hoffman d. Ferriera 6-1, 6-1. Doubles: D. Sides/G. Wong d. McManus/Stall 8-1. Smith/Yeung d. J. Segundo/Z. Segundo 6-3, 6-2.

Records: Stratford 1-0 (0-0). Fort Dorchester 0-1. Next: Stratford hosts Berkeley Thursday.

Singles: Long (S) d. Jones 6-4, 6-3. Dacuba d. Hazel 6-1, 7-5. Knot d. Wills 4-6, 6-3, 13-11. Ranson d. Reynolds 7-6(8), 6-3. Privette d. Lewis 6-0, 6-1.  Doubles: Sottile/Warren d. Prathipati/Yangco 7-5, 6-0.

Records: Bishop England 1-0. Summerville 1-3. Next: Bishop England hosts Battery Creek today. Summerville at James Island (Maybank Tennis Center) Wednesday.

(03/09/15)  College Tennis
College of Charleston men’s tennis saw its four-match road win streak snapped with a 7-0 loss to Clemson.

The Tigers (8-6) swept the doubles point with wins in all three matches.

Senior Charlie Ghriskey was the only one to win a set for the Cougars (8-4), bouncing back from a 6-2 loss in the first set at the No. 3 spot to earn a 6-4 triumph in the second set. His opponent, Daffra Sanon, won a third set tiebreak 1-0 to complete the sweep for the Tigers.

College of Charleston women’s tennis earned its first win of the season on the team’s home courts with a 5-2 victory over Appalachian State at Patriots Point Tennis Center.

The Cougars (1-8) took an early 1-0 lead after clinching the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and 2 doubles.

Junior Katherine Schofield and senior Jenny Falcone swept App State’s top doubles team of Clare Cox and Mackenzie LaSure, who held a 5-2 record going into the match.

(03/09/15)   College Tennis
The College of Charleston men’s tennis team swept Spartanburg Methodist to cap a six-match road swing and returns home to the CofC Tennis Center at Patriots Point for a pair of matches against Middle Tennessee State and Richmond.

The Cougars (9-3, 1-0 CAA) defeated the Pioneers (0-5) in straight sets in all six matches after winning the doubles points with victories on all three courts. Senior Josh Record, junior Matt Daly and sophomore Hunter Geddes all recorded their first singles win of the season with triumphs at No. 3, 4 and 6 respectively. Senior Charlie Ghriskey earned his first win as CofC’s top seed and moved to 9-3 on the season after fighting off a late rally by Southern Methodist’s top player, Zac Dye, 6-1, 7-6.

Head coach Jay Bruner’s squad returns home for its first home match since hosting No. 33 Virginia Tech on Feb. 21. The Cougars will host Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday at 3 pm for the first of the Blue Raiders doubleheader in Charleston. Middle Tennessee State will travel to Citadel following the conclusion of Charleston’s match.

The Blue Raiders (7-5) are coming off a tough 4-3 loss to No. 13 TCU in Murfreesboro on Mar. 6. Tuesday’s match will be just the third road contest for Middle Tennessee. Senior Ettore Zito leads the team as the top singles player and is 4-1 in his last five matches, including a 6-1, 6-3 triumph over the 28th ranked singles player, Cameron Norrie of TCU. Junior Robin Riethmueller is also on a five-match win streak at No. 6 singles.

College of Charleston will return to its home courts the following day to host a second match against Richmond. The Spiders (6-4) will play Citadel on Tuesday before meeting the Cougars on Wednesday for a 3 pm match. Richmond went 2-1 last week with road wins over Hampton University (7-0) and Appalachian State (4-3) and a 5-2 loss to East Carolina. Redshirt-senior Ethan Dunbar was named the A-10 Co-Performer of the Week after going 5-0 in all top-flight matches.

Vs. Spartanburg Methodist:
1. Charlie Ghriskey (CofC) def. Zac Dye (SMC) 6-1, 7-6
2. Franz Sydow (CofC) def. Harry Reed (SMC) 6-1, 6-0
3. Josh Record (CofC) def. Keith Quick (SMC) 6-0, 6-1
4. Matt Daly (CofC) def. Mouhamed Gueye (SMC) 6-0, 6-1
5. Alon Faiman (CofC) def. Dalton Hendrix (SMC) 6-1, 6-0
6. Hunter Geddes (CofC) def. Reynard Julien (SMC) 6-0, 6-0

1. Rodrigo Encinas/Josh Record (CofC) def. Zac Dye/Dalton Hendrix (SMC) 8-3
2. Charlie Ghriskey/Vasily Kichigin (CofC) def. Harry Reed/Mouhamed Gueye (SMC) 8-3
3. Hunter Geddes/Matt Daly (CofC) def. Keith Quick/Reynard Julien (SMC) 8-0

(03/05/15)  Cougars Sweep Pride in First Conference Match
College of Charleston men’s tennis swept Hofstra, 7-0, en route to its fourth straight road win on Wednesday evening at the Point Set Indoor center.

Hofstra (3-2, 0-1 CAA) put up a good fight in doubles, with two of three matches going to a tiebreak. Sophomore Vasily Kichigin and senior Charlie Ghriskey earned a 6-4 win at the No. 2 doubles spot to boost their record to 3-0 on the year as a pair. Junior Josh Record and sophomore Rodrigo Encinas clinched the doubles point for the Cougars with a 7-6(1) win on court three. CAA Men’s Tennis Doubles Team of the Week Brice Allanic and Franz Sydow continued their success on the court with a 7-6(3) win over Beau Wills and Niko Vulinovich at the top spot.

The Cougars ( 8-3, 1-0 CAA) clinched the match with straight set wins at the second, third, fourth and sixth seeds. Kichigin easily handled his opponent, Leonardo Pires, at the No. 4 spot with a 6-1, 6-1 victory. Junior Garrett Gordon followed suit with a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 6 singles over Stuart MacLeod. Second-seeded Allanic’s 7-5, 6-3 win over Ari Richman ensured a victory for Charleston.

Senior Charlie Ghriskey, who was playing on his home court as a native of Mount Kisco, N.Y., edged Vulinovich 7-5 in the first set before sailing to a 6-1 victory in the second set on court three.

Encincas and junior Zack Lewis both rebounded from first set losses to win the next two sets and take the match. Encincas, who faced Wills in the top spot, was swept 6-0, in the first set but battled back to earn a pair of 6-4 victories. Playing on court five, Lewis bounced back from a 6-1 loss in the first set to defeat Ricky Hendler 6-1, 6-3 in the second and third sets. and extend his singles win streak to five.

After five days on the road, CofC returns home for a few days rest before heading to the Upstate for a doubleheader with Clemson (10 am) and Spartanburg Methodist (3 pm) on Sunday.

1. Rodrigo Encinas (CofC) def. Beau Wills (HOF) 0-6, 6-4, 6-4
2. Brice Allanic (CofC) def. Ari Richman (HOF) 7-5, 6-3
3. Charlie Ghriskey (CofC) def. Niko Vulinovich (HOF) 7-5, 6-1
4. Vasily Kichigin (CofC) def. Leonardo Pires (HOF) 6-1, 6-1
5. Zack Lewis (CofC) def. Ricky Hendler (HOF) 1-6, 6-1, 6-3
6. Garrett Gordon (CofC) def. Stuart MacLeod (HOF) 7-5, 6-3

1. Brice Allanic/Franz Sydow (CofC) def. Beau Wills/Niko Vulinovich (HOF) 7-6(3)
2. Vasily Kichigin/Charlie Ghriskey (CofC) def. Stuart MacLeod/Ricky Hendler (HOF) 6-4
3. Rodrigo Encincas/Josh Record (CofC) def. Leonardo Pires/Ari Richman (HOF) 7-6(1)

(03/05/15)  Gene Sapakoff: Three-time Family Circle Cup champion Serena Williams won’t play in 2015 event
No. 1 ranked Serena Williams, a Charleston fan favorite, is not expected to play in the 2015 Family Circle Cup, Tournament Director Bob Moran said Thursday.

Scheduling is the major issue. The Family Circle Cup starts April 4 on Daniel Island and Williams, 33, has opted to play in the March 11-22 Indian Wells tournament for the first time in 14 years. She always plays the two-week Miami event just prior to the Family Circle Cup.

This year, Serena and Venus Williams also are scheduled for Fed Cup matches in Italy the week after the Family Circle Cup.

No. 17-ranked Venus Williams also is unlikely to play in Charleston.

“Adding Indian Wells for Serena didn’t help us at all,” Moran said. “I’m pretty confident Serena will not be here. With Venus, it’s possible but I don’t expect it.”

Serena Williams won the Family Circle Cup in 2008, 2012 and 2013 and has appeared in the event eight times, including the last three. Venus Williams, 34, won the Family Circle Cup in 2004 and has played in the last three tournaments.

The Family Circle Cup field is highlighted by defending champion Andrea Petkovic, No. 9 Ekaterina Makarova, former champions Jelena Jankovic and Sam Stosur and nine Americans, led by No. 19 Madison Keys.

Other players will join the field as five wildcard invitations remain.

(03/04/15)  LIVE 5 News:  Charleston leaders to dedicate renovated tennis center
Charleston officials will dedicate the city's newly-renovated tennis center Wednesday night.

Renovations to the Jack Adams Tennis Center involved demolition of the courts and infrastructure, the construction of six new asphalt courts, new fencing and lighting and new drainage and related items.

Mayor Joe Riley and members of city council will celebrate the completion of the project Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

The facility is located at 209 Congress St. near the Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium and is home to the Courting Kids Junior Tennis Program as well as the Westside Tennis Club.

The complex dates back to 1927, when two tennis courts were built as part of the "Municipal Recreation Unit," which also included a football and baseball field. Four clay courts were added in 1938 by the Works Project Administration, city leaders say.

The center was named in honor of former Recreation Director Jack Adams upon his retirement in 1976.

(02/28/15)  High school tennis off to slow start
High school tennis, much like league tennis, has been controlled by the weather in the early stages of the spring tennis season.

Monday nights have been especially consistently wet as rain has plagued league tennis on four of the five regularly scheduled men’s 3.5 nights.

In high school tennis, about the only activity has been a scrimmage pitting possibly the area’s top two boys teams. In that unofficial meeting, Porter-Gaud scored a 5-2 win over Wando.

Having lost 2014 All-Lowcountry Jacob Jahn, who is concentrating on junior tennis as an eighth-grader this season, Wando is fortunate to have freshman Scotty Cameron on board. Cameron opened with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Porter-Gaud junior Cross Tolliver at No. 1 singles in the scrimmage. Porter-Gaud freshman Brant Fenno played No. 2 against the Warriors’ Andrew Dacosta and prevailed, 6-1, 6-2.

Porter-Gaud is scheduled to play its first match of the season on Tuesday against Beaufort Academy at the Cyclones’ complex on Albemarle Road.

The Cyclones’ first test of the spring should come on March 11 when Wando visits Porter-Gaud, although the match will be somewhat meaningless except for local bragging rights in that Porter-Gaud represents SCISA Class AAA and Wando plays in the High School League’s Class AAAA.

With perennial Class AAA power Hilton Head Prep now in Class AA along with Hilton Head Christian, coach Jonathan Barth’s Porter-Gaud outfit isn’t expected to have much of a struggle in its own league. The Cyclones should be heavy favorites to win SCISA’s top-tier state title.
Bishops have Pratt

Meanwhile, Bishop England is scheduled to begin the Jared Pratt era on March 9 at Summerville, which has All-Lowcountry standout Adam Elliget back for one more season. A potential Pratt-Elliget confrontation should be worth watching.

Pratt is a talented freshman who is making a comeback from surgery in the fall of 2013 for the curved-spine condition Scoliosis. He was ranked as high as the South’s top 10 in boys 14 prior to the surgery.

Minus the graduated Lukas Zalesky and Noah Stiepel, coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s Bishop England team has last season’s No. 3 players back in Jeff Jones and Daniel Knott. Jones yielded the third spot to Knott last spring after being sidelined by an injury.

The Bishops’ other two starting singles players, freshman Lleyton Dacuba (No. 3) and senior Will Ranson (No. 5), are the brothers of Gabrielle Dacuba and Drue Ranson, who helped lead the Bishop England girls to a fourth straight Class AA state title last fall.

“We have a tough schedule playing South Aiken, Hilton Head, Beaufort, Wando, Porter-Gaud and Waccamaw,” Fleming Arnold said.
Rogers in Mexico

It comes in handy for Shelby Rogers to be ranked among the top 100 women’s tennis players in the world. Direct entry is much better than having to spend a weekend in an Acapulco or Monterrey, Mexico, playing grueling dog-eat-dog qualifying matches.

As a result of her world’s 80th ranking, Rogers is in Monterrey this weekend, preparing for the $500,000 Monterrey Open. She is a direct entry in the 32-draw event that starts on Monday and is scheduled to take on 92nd-ranked Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine in the first round.

That’s much better than her first-round draw in Acapulco where she suffered a straight-set loss to second-ranked Maria Sharapova last Monday night.

Rogers plans to play in the super tournaments at Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami in the upcoming weeks as she zeroes in on what she expects to be a direct entry into the Family Circle Cup in five weeks.

City tennis manager Peggy Bohne reports that the first round of interviews for a new head tennis pro at Farmfield Avenue’s Charleston Tennis Center have taken place. Former head pro Fredrik Andersson left Charleston for Germany five weeks ago.

The spring Courting Kids program started this weekend and will continue next Saturday from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Alan Fleming Tennis Center on John’s Island and from 1-2:30 p.m. at the rebuilt Jack Amdams Tennis Center next to Johnson Hagood Stadium. The cost is a one-time fee of $10 for city residents and $25 for non-city residents. Contact Charleston Tennis Center (766-7401).

The Tri-County Elementary and Middle School Tennis League will start on March 9 with a total of 115 teams.

Old Dominion University’s men’s team will be in town all this coming week and will practice daily from noon to 3 p.m. at Charleston Tennis Center.

The Lowcountry Junior Challenger is set for March 13-15 at Charleston Tennis Center. Registration is available online at www.sctennis.com.

A celebration of the renovation of the Jack Adams Tennis Center will be held Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the downtown complex.

(02/15/15)  Former Charleston junior Halbauer wins second straight Dunlop Junior Championship
Just wait until next year. 

Ellie Halbauer fully expects to be going for a record third straight girls 18 title next year in the Family Circle Cup’s 15th annual junior clay-court championship. 

“I’ll be back next year,” the 17-year-old former Charleston junior said on a cold Sunday afternoon at Family Circle Tennis Center after using her “true grit” style of play to frustrate Duke-bound third-seed Kaitlyn McCarthy for a second consecutive year in the final of the Dunlop Junior Championship, this time, 7-5, 5-7, 1-0 (10-6). 

And once again, Halbauer will take her savvy and intelligent tennis game to the qualifying tournament for the WTA Tour’s Family Circle Cup as a result of a victory over McCarthy, a trim, hard-hitting 17-year-old blonde from Cary, N.C., who couldn’t keep enough of her brilliant groundstrokes on the court to outlast Halbauer.

“Every time I tried to hit with her, she won the point, so I tried to change it up,” said the 5-8 Halbauer, who demonstrated amazing racket control with high-twisting groundstrokes that bounced almost as high to her opponent’s forehand, and especially backhand as balls seemed to drop into corners from out of the sky.

“I try to run down every ball I can get to,” said Halbauer, who also hit her share of winners, especially brilliantly placed backhands crosscourt. 

The top seed this time after being the fifth seed a year ago, Halbauer broke McCarthy in the eighth game of the second set and served for the match. But McCarthy found new life in her sizzling groundstrokes as Halbauer opened the door with several errors to allow McCarthy to win three straight games to win the second set and force a 10-point third-set match tiebreaker. 

Halbauer quickly took charge of the tiebreaker for a 5-1 advantage. Four of the last five points Halbauer needed to wrap up the match in approximately two hours and 15 minutes came on McCarthy errors. 

“I’ll do my best to win one this time (in the qualifying tournament),” said the currently Atlanta-based Halbauer, who ran into hard-hitting Victoria Duval in the first round of last year’s Family Circle Cup qualifying. 

Halbauer warmed up for the early afternoon final by blitzing University of Mississippi-bound fourth seed Brooke Stevens, 6-0, 6-0, on Sunday morning while “just playing well.”

Dunlop Junior Championship 
Matches played on Sunday, Feb. 15 

Boys’ 10 Singles RED (Final Round) 
Gabe Avram (2) (Charlotte, NC) def. Mason Coon (1) (Cary, NC) 4 5; 4 1; 1 0 

Boys’ 10 Singles RED (Playoff) 
William Landry (Pinehurst, NC) def. Tip Price (Greenville) 4 1; 4 0 

Boys’ 10 Singles WHITE (Final Round) 
Lincoln Battle (1) (Raleigh, NC) def. Augie Ballantine (2) (Wilmington, NC) 4 1; 4 0 

Boys’ 10 Singles WHITE (Playoff) 
Brandon Mercado (Pawleys Island) def. Johnathan Baddour (4) (Chapel Hill, NC) 4 2; 4 0 

Boys’ 12 Doubles (Final Round)
Nathanael Tiffany (Aiken) / Stanley Waters (Isle Of Palms) def. Davis Phillips (Bluffton) / COLIN TUTTLE (2) (Wilmington, NC) 9 8(4) 

Boys’ 12 Singles green dot (Final Round) 
Lukas Steffen (1) (Cary, NC) def. Sam Farnham (2) (Charlotte) 6 3; 6 4 

Boys’ 12 Singles green dot (Playoff) 
Carter Pate (Winston Salem, NC) def. Sawyer Severance (Daniel Island) 6 3; 6 2 

Boys’ 12 Singles RED (Semifinal Round) 
Brolin Dorsey (1) (Anderson) def. Lance Cochran (Charlotte, NC) 6 3; 6 2 
Will Cubitt (2) (Spartanburg) def. Davis Phillips (3) (Bluffton) 6 4; 2 6; 10 4 

Boys’ 12 Singles RED (Final Round) 
Brolin Dorsey (1) (Anderson) def. Will Cubitt (2) (Spartanburg) 6 4; 7 6(4)); 10 7 

Boys’ 12 Singles RED (Playoff) 
Davis Phillips (3) (Bluffton) def. Lance Cochran (Charlotte) 4 6; 6 3; 11 9 

Boys’ 12 Singles WHITE (Semifinal Round) 
Stanley Waters (3) (Isle Of Palms) def. COLIN TUTTLE (1) (Wilmington, NC) 6 4; 6 2 
Mitchell Deames (2) (Daniel Island) def. Nathanael Tiffany (4) (Aiken) 6 1; 6 4 

Boys’ 12 Singles WHITE (Final Round) 
Stanley Waters (3) (Isle Of Palms) def. Mitchell Deames (2) (Daniel Island) 6 1; 6 0 

Boys’ 12 Singles WHITE (Playoff) 
COLIN TUTTLE (1) (Wilmington, NC) def. Nathanael Tiffany (4) (Aiken) 6 1; 6 0

Boys’ 14 Doubles (Final Round) 
Zachary Tapper (Durham, NC) / Zachary Theodossiou (Asheville, NC) def. Banks Evans (Clayton, NC) / Will Funston (4) (Atlanta) 9 7 

Boys’ 14 Singles RED (Semifinal Round) 
Reilly Wilson (Charleston) def. Aaron Sklizovic (Aiken) 6 4; 6 4
Banks Evans (Clayton, NC) def. Scott Tabor (4) (Little Rock, AR) 6 3; 6 3 

Boys’ 14 Singles RED (Final Round) 
Banks Evans (Clayton, NC) def. Reilly Wilson (Charleston) 7 6; 6 2 

Boys’ 14 Singles RED (Playoff) 
Scott Tabor (4) (Little Rock, AR) def. Aaron Sklizovic (Aiken) 4 6; 6 3; 1 0(6) 

Boys’ 14 Singles WHITE (Semifinal Round) 
Garrett Kozar (Zachary, LA) def. Sam Dean (Charlotte) 6 4; 7 6 

Boys’ 14 Singles WHITE (Semifinal Round) 
Cleeve Harper (Hilton Head Island) def. Campbell Wildrick (2) (Spartanburg) 6 1; 6 0 

Boys’ 14 Singles WHITE (Final Round)
Cleeve Harper (Hilton Head Island) def. Garrett Kozar (Zachary, LA) 6 3; 6 1 

Boys’ 14 Singles WHITE (Playoff) 
Campbell Wildrick (2) (Spartanburg) def. Sam Dean (Charlotte, NC) 6 1; 6 2 

Boys’ 16 Doubles (Final Round) 

Thomas Jahn (Mount Pleasant) / Sam Kavarana (1) (Mount Pleasant) def. Chad Nash (Daniel Island) / Max Vicario (2) (Mooresville, NC) 8 6 

Boys’ 16 Singles RED (Semifinal Round) 
Chad Nash (1) (Daniel Island) def. Blair Nagel (3) (Atlanta) 6 4; 6 0 
Thomas Jahn (2) (Mount Pleasant) def. Kevin Huang (4) (Chapel Hill, NC) 6 1; 2 6; 1 0(7)

Boys’ 16 Singles RED (Final Round) 
Thomas Jahn (2) (Mount Pleasant) def. Chad Nash (1) (Daniel Island) 6 4; 6 1 

Boys’ 16 Singles RED (Playoff) 
Kevin Huang (4) (Chapel Hill, NC) def. Blair Nagel (3) (Atlanta) 6 4; 6 3 

Boys’ 16 Singles WHITE (Semifinal Round) 
Ryan Jurist (1) (Mooresville, NC) def. Simon Wilson (Anderson) 6 2; 6 2 
Britton Bellamy (Myrtle Beach) def. Max Vicario (2) (Mooresville, NC) 6 1; 6 4 

Boys’ 16 Singles WHITE (Final Round) 
Ryan Jurist (1) (Mooresville, NC) def. Britton Bellamy (Myrtle Beach) 6 0; 6 0 

Boys’ 16 Singles WHITE (Playoff) 
Max Vicario (2) (Mooresville, NC) def. Simon Wilson (Anderson) 7 5; 6 3 

Boys’ 18 Doubles (Final Round) 
Spencer Brown (Spartanburg) / Jeffrey Dayton (1) (Murrells Inlet) def. Hardy Brown (Greensboro, NC) / Benjamin Wayand (Cary, NC) 8 6 

Boys’ 18 Singles RED (Semifinal Round) 
Mark Carnes (4) (Sumter) def. GARY CARTER (Knoxville, TN) 2 6; 6 4; 1 0(3) 
Spencer Brown (3) (Spartanburg) def. Jensen Martin (Raleigh) 6 2; 6 3 

Boys’ 18 Singles RED (Final Round) 
Spencer Brown (3) (Spartanburg) def. Mark Carnes (4) (Sumter) 6 1; 6 1 

Boys’ 18 Singles RED (Playoff) 
GARY CARTER (Knoxville, TN) def. Jensen Martin (Raleigh) Wo (inj) 

Boys’ 18 Singles WHITE (Semifinal Round) 
Jeffrey Dayton (1) (Murrells Inlet) def. Benjamin Van Hout (Woodstock, GA) 7 6(3); 7 5 
Hardy Brown (Greensboro, NC) def. Samuel Dromsky (Martinez, GA) 6 0; 6 1 

Boys’ 18 Singles WHITE (Final Round) 
Jeffrey Dayton (1) (Murrells Inlet) def. Hardy Brown (Greensboro, NC) 6 4; 6 2 

Boys’ 18 Singles WHITE (Playoff) 
Samuel Dromsky (Martinez, GA) def. Benjamin Van Hout (Woodstock, GA) 6 1; 6 0 

Girls’ 10 Singles (Semifinal Round) 
Peyton Philemon (1) (Wilmington, NC) def. Allie Bittner (4) (Greer) 2 4; 4 2; 1 0(2) 
Grace Baker (3) (Charleston) def. Dylan Voeks (Sullivan's Island) 4 2; 4 0 

Girls’ 10 Singles (Final Round) 
Peyton Philemon (1) (Wilmington, NC) def. Grace Baker (3) (Charleston) 4 0; 4 2 

Girls’ 10 Singles (Playoff) 
Dylan Voeks (Sullivans Island) def. Allie Bittner (4) (Greer) 4 1; 4 2 

Girls’ 12 Doubles (Final Round) 
Halle Futch (Charlotte, NC) / Emma Wilkins (1) (Charlotte) def. Natalie Bassett (Bluffton) / Shianna Guo (Mount Pleasant) 8 5 

Girls’ 12 Singles green dot (Final Round) 
Maggie Gehrig (Charlotte, NC) def. Brooke Wrigley (Bluffton) 6 4; 7 6 

Girls’ 12 Singles green dot (Playoff) 
Ashley Bentz (Loganville, GA) def. Francis Drake (1) (Thomasville, GA) 6 2; 6 0 

Girls’ 12 Singles RED (Semifinal Round) 
Shianna Guo (Mount Pleasant) def. Helen Alvis (Raleigh) 6 1; 6 2 
Carri Hayes (2) (Mount Pleasant) def. Emma Wilkins (Charlotte) 6 1; 6 1 

Girls’ 12 Singles RED (Final Round) 
Carri Hayes (2) (Mount Pleasant) def. Shianna Guo (Mount Pleasant) 6 2; 7 6(4)) 

Girls’ 12 Singles RED (Playoff) 
Helen Alvis (Raleigh) def. Emma Wilkins (Charlotte) 6 2; 2 6; 1 0(7) 

Girls’ 12 Singles WHITE (Semifinal Round) 
Halle Futch (1) (Charlotte) def. Brooke Bittner (Greer) 6 1; 6 2 
Grace Krusling (Irmo) def. Saige Severance (Daniel Island) 7 5; 6 1 

Girls’ 12 Singles WHITE (Final Round) 
Halle Futch (1) (Charlotte) def. Grace Krusling (Irmo) 6 1; 6 2 

Girls’ 12 Singles WHITE (Playoff) 
Brooke Bittner (Greer) def. Saige Severance (Daniel Island) 6 3; 3 6; 10 3 

Girls’ 14 Doubles (Final Round) 
Lara Schneider (Mt. Pleasant) / Katie Weber (1) (Charlotte, NC) def. Ella Imhof (Waxhaw, NC) / Brianna Taranto (2) (Raleigh) 8 4 

Girls’ 14 Singles RED (Semifinal Round) 
Robin Alston (1) (Rock Hill) def. Emma Bentz (Loganville, GA) Wo (inj) 
Brianna Taranto (Raleigh, NC) def. Katie Weber (2) (Charlotte) 6 3; 3 6; 1 0(7) 

Girls’ 14 Singles RED (Final Round) 
Robin Alston (1) (Rock Hill) def. Brianna Taranto (Raleigh) 6 0; 6 0 

Girls’ 14 Singles RED (Playoff) 
Katie Weber (2) (Charlotte) def. Emma Bentz (Loganville, GA) Wo (inj) 

Girls’ 14 Singles WHITE (Semifinal Round) 
Ella Imhof (1) (Waxhaw, NC) def. Katherine Lyman (4) (MT Pleasant) 6 1; 6 3 
Lara Schneider (2) (Mt. Pleasant) def. Kayla Wilkins (Charlotte) 6 1; 6 2 

Girls’ 14 Singles WHITE (Final Round) 
Lara Schneider (2) (Mt. Pleasant) def. Ella Imhof (1) (Waxhaw, NC) 6 3; 3 6; 1 0(5) 

Girls’ 14 Singles WHITE (Playoff) 
Katherine Lyman (4) (MT Pleasant) def. Kayla Wilkins (Charlotte) 4 6; 6 3; 1 0(4) 

Girls’ 16 Doubles (Final Round) 
Maggie Cubitt (Spartanburg) / Elise Mills (2) (Prosperity) def. Kylie Duckworth (Martinez, GA) / Caroline Garrido (1) (Gastonia, NC) 9 8(6) 

Girls’ 16 Singles RED (Semifinal Round) 
Madison Dillon (3) (Hilton Head Island) def. Maggie Cubitt (1) (Spartanburg) 1 6; 6 4; 1 0(8) 
Jenna Vroman (4) (Daniel Island) def. Maddie Weber (Charlotte, NC) 6 0; 6 1 

Girls’ 16 Singles RED (Final Round) 
Madison Dillon (3) (Hilton Head Island) def. Jenna Vroman (4) (Daniel Island) 6 0; 6 2 

Girls’ 16 Singles RED (Playoff) 
Maggie Cubitt (1) (Spartanburg) def. Maddie Weber (Charlotte) 6 3; 6 1

Girls’ 16 Singles WHITE (Semifinal Round) 
Chloe Hamlin (1) (Blountville, TN) def. Katharine Sherman (Augusta, GA) 3 6; 7 5; 1 0(7) 
Kylie Duckworth (2) (Martinez, GA) def. Elizabeth Truluck (3) (Myrtle Beach) 1 6; 7 5; 1 0(6) 

Girls’ 16 Singles WHITE (Final Round) 
Chloe Hamlin (1) (Blountville, TN) def. Kylie Duckworth (2) (Martinez, GA) 6 2; 6 2 

Girls’ 16 Singles WHITE (Playoff) 
Katharine Sherman (Augusta, GA) def. Elizabeth Truluck (3) (Myrtle Beach) 6 4; 7 5 

Girls’ 18 Doubles (Final Round) 
Emma Navarro (Charleston) / Peyton Pesavento (Advance, NC) def. Valerie Droop (Hilton Head Island) / Masako Makiba (Hilton Head Island) 8 3 

Girls’ 18 Singles (Semifinal Round) 
Ellie Halbauer (1) (Boca Raton, FL) def. Brooke Stevens (4) (Martinez, GA) 6 0; 6 0 
Kaitlyn McCarthy (3) (Cary, NC) def. Anna Kalinskaya (2) (Aventura, FL) 6 3; 7 6(5) 

Girls’ 18 Singles (Final Round) 
Ellie Halbauer (1) (Boca Raton, FL) def. Kaitlyn McCarthy (3) (Cary, NC) 7 5; 5 7; 1 0(6) 

Girls’ 18 Singles (Playoff) 
Brooke Stevens (4) (Martinez, GA) def. Anna Kalinskaya (2) (Aventura, FL) Wo (inj)

(02/14/15)  Emma Navarro is area’s highest-rated junior
A No. 1 ranking nationally? A lofty goal?

For most tennis players, yes. Quite lofty.

But for 13-year-old Emma Navarro, a No. 1 national ranking isn’t such an unrealistic dream. She already is ranked 37th nationally in girls 14 in the final USTA rankings for 2014, and still has a year left in 14s to make her dream come true as early as the 2015 rankings.

As well as being the area’s highest-ranked junior nationally, Navarro also is the area’s highest-ranked junior in the Southern rankings (No. 2 in girls 14). She also is ranked 17th in Southern girls 16.

“My goal is to be No. 1 in the nation,” Navarro said Friday. And, yes, she has an eye on a pro career.

Navarro, a 5-4 right-hander, trains at LTP Tennis under Jerry Albrikes. She is home-schooled and practices tennis four hours a day, six days a week. She also participates in a daily hour-long fitness program at LTP.

Online schooling lasts five hours daily. So, there isn’t a lot of time left for fun things.

“I really love tennis,” she proclaims.

Many juniors struggle in making the transition from pre-teen tennis to the upper junior levels, but judging from her high ranking in 16-and-under that shouldn’t be the case for Navarro.

“I’m looking for Emma to get even better when she hits her growth spurt,” said Albrikes, who has been teaching Navarro since she was 7 or 8 years old. “She is really quick, strong and fast.

“She hits with a lot of spin like boys, and her serve gets better and better, and more accurate every year. Her serve is fundamentally sound. There is not a lot of things that can go wrong with her serve.”

Navarro spent this cold weekend playing in the girls 18 division of the Family Circle Cup junior tournament, losing to University of Mississippi-bound third seed Brooke Stevens early Saturday morning.
Wando loses Jahn

Just when it appeared that Wando might make a run at the Class AAAA state championship, the Warriors have lost Jacob Jahn, the area’s highest-rated junior boy nationally (63rd in boys 14) and Southern (No. 3) in 2014 final rankings. “He will not be playing for Wando — with his crazy schedule and trying to work on both 14s and 16s, we just couldn’t make it work this year,” Jacob’s mother, Robin Jahn, said.

“He’s still in middle school, so there’s plenty of years of tennis ahead for him.”

She said her All-Lowcountry son would attend Academic Magnet next school year and hopes to play for the Raptors.

But don’t sell coach Winde Ellenburg’s Wando outfit short yet. Scotty Cameron, the area’s highest-ranked Southern boys 16 player (24th), is the Warriors’ new No. 1 player.

Porter-Gaud sophomore Brant Fenno is the area’s only other junior boy ranked in the top 100 nationally (84th in boys 14). Fenno also is rated 22nd in boys 14 in the South. Earl Navarro (Emma’s brother) is rated 25th in the South in boys 14.

Lara Schneider is rated fourth in Southern girls 12.

State rankings
In final 2014 state junior division rankings, Porter-Gaud two-time Lowcountry player of the year Ann Martin Skelley leads the list of top 20 players with a No. 2 ranking in girls 16.
Girls 12 state rankings: Margaret Navarro (Emma’s sister), No. 5; Allie Gretkowski (6), Carri Hayes (10), Logan Summit Voeks (11) and Mcalindon Jahn (13).
Girls 14 (tentative): Lauren Quinn (4), Emma Smith (10), Lily Conant (12), Michaela Cuoco (13), Skat Bailey (14), Emily Elliott (15) and Kat Lyman (16).
Girls 16: Jenna Vroman (6), Camryn Deames (8) and Tyler Kirk (18).
Girls 18: Samantha Schuster (5).
Boys 12: Stanley Alan Waters (5), Luke Prendergast (6), Michell Deames (12), Zachary Dacuba (15), William Ethan Baly (18) and William Ross (20).
Boys 14: Fenno (4), Sam Kavarana (6), Coy Simon (7), Chad Nash (9), Lleyton Dacuba (15), Brendan Healey (18) and Manning Snyder (19).
Boys 16: Mark Militzer (5), Cameron (6), Jared Pratt (7), Kavarana (8), Nash (9) and Fenno (12).
Boys 18: Adam Elliget (4), Cameron (5), Jonathan Edwards (17) and Cameron Kirkwood (20).

(02/12/15)  Ellie Halbauer aims for second straight title in Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship
Ellie Halbauer has her eyes set on joining the short list of players who have won the Family Circle Cup’s junior girls title two times when the Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship begins Friday at Family Circle Tennis Center.

“I feel good about my chances to win again,” said the 17-year-old Halbauer on Thursday while en route to her “real home” from her current “tennis home” in the Atlanta area.

Halbauer, who grew up practicing and playing tennis at the world-class Daniel Island facility, is aiming for her second straight Dunlop title. She is the top seed this time. Seeded fifth a year ago, Halbauer rallied from a set down to upend second seed Kaitlyn McCarthy of Cary, N.C., in last year’s final. McCarthy is the fourth seed this time.

“Kaitlyn is always tough,” said Halbauer, who practiced with McCarthy at a recent tournament.

But current Clemson player and No. 2 seed Liz Jeukeng of Kansas City might have something to say about who makes Sunday’s final of this 14th annual clay-court event as well as 16-year-old third seed Anna Kalinskaya of Aventura, Fla.

The girls 18 champion once again will earn a berth in the qualifying tournament for the Family Circle Cup to be held April 6-12.

Halbauer is switching her training base to Alpharetta, Ga., where her dad (Chip Halbauer) has recently acquired the 22-court Windward Tennis Academy. Halbauer has been training heavily with her coach, former WTA Tour player Edina Gallovits, on the facility’s two clay courts. The Halbauer family is in the process of moving to the Atlanta area from Boca Raton, Fla.

Halbauer’s tennis highlights include a title at a $10,000 tournament at Hilton Head Island, and an appearance in the quarterfinals of a $50,000 event in Macon, Ga. She is currently ranked No. 603 in women’s tennis.

More than 500 entrants from 13 states are entered in the Dunlop Junior, which is a Southern Level 3 event. Boys and girls will compete in divisions 8-and-under through 18-and-under.

The tournament’s two-time winners include Floridian Nina Pantic (2006-07) and South Carolina product Hayley Carter (2012-13).

(02/09/15)  College Tennis: C of C Men Win
College of Charleston won its home opener with a 5-2 victory over former league rival Winthrop at Patriots Point Tennis Center.

The Cougars (2-1) picked up the doubles point with wins at the first and third seeds. Seniors Brice Allanic and Alon Faiman defeated Winthrop’s Peter Nagovnak and Dylan Commerford, 6-3, while Josh Record and Charlie Ghriskey teamed up on the third court to pick up a 6-4 win over Caio Gomas and Julian Bradley.

Charleston won singles matches on the second through fifth courts. Allanic narrowly edged Commerford in the first set, 7-6, before moving on to win the second set, 6-1, at the No. 2 spot. Ghriskey defeated Steven Patrick in decisive fashion, 6-0, 6-2, as the third seed. Sophomore Vasily Kichigin and junior Zack Lewis both earned 6-4, 6-4 wins over their opponents in the fourth and fifth spots, respectively.

Winthrop (2-2) earned victories on the first and sixth courts.

C of C next faces Bethune-Cookman on Friday at 2:30 pm in Daytona Beach, Fla.

(01/31/15)  Farmfield tennis complex loses its head pro
Charleston Tennis Center won’t be the same. Fredrik Andersson has left the Farmfield Avenue facility after serving 14 years as its head pro.

Fredrik and his wife, Nadia, have returned home to Europe. They left this past week for Nadia’s native Germany where she has landed a job with a major European auto manufacturer. A Swede, Fredrik appears to have given up teaching tennis in the near term.

Charleston tennis will miss the always smiling, mild-mannered, well-liked Fredrik. He was an All-American tennis player for Lander College where he helped the Senators win the NAIA national championship.

Replacing Andersson will be difficult because of the affection Charleston Tennis Center members have for their departed pro. But in another sense, the search should be an easy one since Farmfield is one of the country’s outstanding public tennis centers.

City tennis manager Peggy Bohne and her staff run the 15-court complex like a well-oiled machine, one of the most organized tennis facilities anywhere.

Pros from across the area and state likely will jump at the chance to teach tennis at Charleston Tennis Center.

Of course, the search will take some time as the city posts the job for 10 business days, according to Charleston Recreation Department director Laurie Yarbrough, before considering the applicants.

Farmfield could be a terrific job for some lucky teaching professional. The potential for success is enormous.

Rogers update
Although Shelby Rogers failed to advance past the first round of the Australian Open main singles draw, the Charleston touring pro did notch a doubles victory Down Under while playing with Donna Vekic of Croatia.

Rogers and Vekic rallied from 4-1 down in the third set to defeat the French team of Alize Cornet and Pauline Parmentier, 4-6 6-2 6-4, in the first round. The Rogers/Vekic pair then lost to seventh seeds Caroline Garcia of France and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia, 6-3 3-6 6-3, in the second round.

Local notes
The College of Charleston’s men’s and women’s teams are off to slow starts. Coach Jay Bruner's men dropped their season opener to North Florida, and will play their first home match next Sunday at 2 p.m. against Winthrop at Patriots Point. Meanwhile, coach Angelo Anastopoulo’s women’s team, which has lost one-sided road matches to Marshall, Kentucky and Wake Forest, will play its first home match on Sunday at noon against Winthrop.

Coach Chuck Kriese's Citadel team dropped four of its first five matches by 7-0 scores while scheduled to play 17 of its first 18 matches on the road during the first half of the season.

Charleston Tennis Center will celebrate Valentine’s a day late when it holds its annual Valentine’s mixed doubles round robin on Sunday, Feb. 15, from 2-5 p.m. Contact the tennis center (766-7401) to sign up, partner or no partner.

The Tri-County Elementary/Middle School League will begin on March 9. Anyone interested in coaching one of the teams can contact Peggy Bohne (766-7401).

The City of Charleston’s Courting Kids spring tennis program will begin Feb. 28 and run six Saturdays. Sessions will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Alan Fleming courts on Johns Island and from 1-2:30 p.m. at the “brand new” six courts at Jack Adams Tennis Center adjacent to The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium. Contact Charleston Tennis Center (766-7401).

A dedication ceremony for the rebuilt Jack Adams complex is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 28 at 1:30 p.m.

Charleston Tennis Center has replaced some of its old trees with six white crepe myrtles and four oak trees.

(01/28/15) Live 5 News: Madison Keys Commits To 2015 Family Circle Cup
Madison Keys, who has reached the semifinals of this week's Australian Open after defeating Venus Williams on Tuesday, will be coming to the Lowcountry to take part in the 2015 Family Circle Cup in April the tournament announced on Wednesday.

This will be Keys' third straight year playing on Daniel Island. She reached the quarterfinals in 2013 where she lost to Venus Williams and made the round of 32 in 2014.

Currently ranked 35th in the world, Keys has 1 career singles title in the WTA with a victory at the AEGON International in the United Kingdom last June. She reached her career high ranking of 27th shortly after that win although she's expected to go higher after already surpassing her best performance in a major with her run in the Australian.

The 19-year-old American is currently coached by Tennis Hall of Famer Lindsay Davenport.

The Family Circle Cup will take place from April 4th-12th.

(01/20/15)  GAIL OSBOURNE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Pinewood Prep hires new Director of Tennis
Chat Singh has been named the new Pinewood Tennis Director.

“We are very excited about having Chat join our Pinewood community,” Pinewood Athletic Director Andy Morgan said. “Chat has such a strong passion for the game of tennis and it comes out in his teaching on the court with his players. We are looking forward to the programs he will develop and watching the students grow as tennis players under Chat’s guidance. He brings a very high level of coaching, swing development and a strategic approach to the game, which is a big benefit for our student-athletes.”

Singh is a certified tennis professional from Punjab, India, and has been teaching tennis for the past seven years. As a player, Singh held a ranking in the Top 100 on the International Junior Circuit (ITF) and he represented India in the World Youth Cup.

Before Singh moved to the United States, he had a successful tennis program in his home town of Patiala, India, where he worked with some of the tennis players that now compete in the top D1 colleges in the United States.

Singh graduated from and played tennis for Francis Marion University where he studied graphic design but knew that tennis was his passion and that coaching tennis is where he belonged.

Since moving to Charleston with his wife and son, Singh has worked with the High Performance junior tennis program at the Family Circle Tennis Center and with the Charleston Southern University’s women’s tennis team, as well as working with both adult and junior tennis programs at Wild Dunes Resort.

“Teaching tennis is my passion,” Singh said. “My goal is to bring tennis into everyone’s daily life. I feel doing so will keep the community happy and healthy. Tennis helps teach kids how to work hard towards their goals, when they have a school environment where tennis is both competitive and fun. It is my target to help set up a tennis goal and achieve it alongside every individual, whether it is recreational tennis or professional. Pinewood is the perfect fit for me as the children are here on campus and they seem to have a competitive nature about them and are ready to succeed. I also have the support of the faculty and administration and I am excited about the future of tennis at Pinewood.”

Morgan says Singh will be responsible for running Pinewoods after school tennis programs, along with offering lessons, hitting sessions, clinics and camps.

“He will also work closely with Coach Richard Schulz as a member of our coaching staff for our boys and girls tennis teams,” Morgan said.

(01/20/15)  Shelby Rogers falls in first round at Australian Open
“Three and Out.”

That football term fits Charleston touring tennis professional Shelby Rogers’ trip Down Under. In her latest match, Rogers jumped off to an impressive lead before faltering in a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 loss to 67th-ranked Ajla Tomljanovic on Tuesday in the first round of the Australian Open.

The loss ended the 76th-ranked Rogers’ trip to New Zealand and Australia with a 0-3 record.

After rallying from a 3-1 deficit into a 3-3 deadlock in the second set, the 22-year-old Rogers managed to win only one more game in the two-hour match in Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. Tomljanovic used her consistency to close out Rogers by winning the last seven games.

Tomljanovic put the match on ice by winning 16 of the first 17 points of a third set in which the 21-year-old Australian won a total of four love games as Rogers’ big groundstrokes lost their accuracy.

Tomljanovic limited Rogers to seven points in the third set while committing only two unforced errors to 15 by Rogers.

The match was the nightcap of a full day and night of tennis before a large crowd that had just watched Aussie Lleyton Hewitt thrill a packed arena with another inspiring victory. Tomljanovic's spirited play to recover from an early 4-1 deficit kept the crowd going until almost midnight.

(01/17/15)  Rogers hoping third trip Down Under brings success
Shelby Rogers is hoping her third trip to the Down Under region of the world makes a sharp turn toward success as she prepares to play this coming week in the main draw of the Australian Open for the first time.

The draw wasn’t entirely unkind to the Charleston touring tennis professional in that she upset Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-4, 7-6 (5), this past summer in Montreal. Of course, 21-year-old Aussie Tomljanovic will be looking for revenge against Rogers in the first round in front of the home crowd in Melbourne.

Rogers’ match against the 64th-ranked Tomljanovic will not be played before Tuesday (Monday, Charleston time, since Melbourne is 16 hours ahead of Charleston).

This trip Down Under so far hasn’t been kind to Rogers. She opened two weeks ago in the main draw in Auckland, New Zealand, by allowing a 6-1, 4-0 lead to evaporate against Lauren Davis. Rogers then moved over to Sydney, Australia, and suffered a 6-1, 6-4 first-round qualifying loss to 88th-ranked Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine.

The two losses dropped Rogers’ three-year record in New Zealand and Australia to 2-6. Hopefully, new coach Marc Lucero of California will be able to help Rogers turn things around in the year’s first Grand Slam.

Rogers appears to be having a great time in Australia. Her Facebook page displays the front sports page of Friday’s “The Age” newspaper dominated by a photo of Rogers and Australian player Olivia Rogowska with a large snake wrapped around their shoulders. Rogers Facebooks: “Look who made the Aussie newspaper . . . and little insert pic of Rafa . . . shouldn’t it be the other way around? Haha . . . having a blast down unda so far!”

Now ranked 75th in the world, the 22-year-old’s popularity also is rising back home in Charleston. Rogers’ Facebook page shows Rogers as the cover story/photo of the winter 2015 edition of Charleston Home + Design magazine.
P-G strong again

Porter-Gaud appears to once again be a contender for the SCISA Class AAA boys state title after having its string of five straight championship match appearances broken last spring.

The Cyclones, as usual, are loaded with young experienced players to complement freshman Brant Fenno and junior Cross Tolliver, both of whom should be among the area’s top players. Sophomore Malone Vingi also has the game to make a serious move up the Cyclones’ ladder in the loss of 2014 No. 1 Seth Pinosky to graduation.

Porter-Gaud’s path to a possible state title appears to be smoother this year with the switch to Class AA by perennial AAA powerhouse/2014 state champion Hilton Head Prep as well as state runner-up Hilton Head Christian.

The Cyclones won seven state championships during Tom Higgins’ 11 years as head coach before he turned over the reins to Jonathan Barth last year.

In addition to eighth-grade star Jacob Jahn, Wando returns senior Andrew DaCosta. “We will have a very strong lineup,” veteran Wando coach Winde Ellenberg proclaims.

Making the outlook for Wando brighter will be Robert DaCosta, who is switching back to tennis from track for his senior year. The Warriors probably should be the strongest High School League team in the area, even though Summerville still has Adam Elliget back for a fourth run at All-Lowcountry honors.

Fenno and Jahn are the other All-Lowcountry performers returning.

Coach Kristin Fleming Arnold appears to be in a rebuilding mode at Bishop England after losing All-Lowcountry star Lukas Zalesky and standout Noah Stiepel to graduation.

Ronnie DuPre’s West Ashley team should be strong again with the return of the Anastopoulo brothers, senior Ted and freshman Stratas. The sons of College of Charleston women’s coach Angelo Anastopoulo helped West Ashley post a 13-2 regular-season record in 2014, with both losses coming to Region 7-AAAA champion Wando.
Legend Oaks event

The Championships at Legend Oaks Plantation, a Level 2 USTA-sanctioned adult tournament that again this year will benefit “The Ark” of Summerville, is scheduled to begin either Jan. 29 or 30. Registration is available online at tennislink.usta.com/tournaments, using tournament No. 700006215. The entry deadline is next Sunday.

(01/15/15)  Daniel Island News:  Where in the World is Shelby Rogers?
Shelby poses outside of Sydney’s world-famous Opera House, a 1,000-room entertainment facility that hosts 3,000 events per year. Open 363 days a year (closed only Christmas Day and Good Friday), the Opera House was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973 (its architectural style is expressionist modernism). The Concert Hall’s Grand Organ is the largest mechanical version of this instrument in the world, with 10,154 pipes. It took ten years to build. And the Opera House’s sails were built using cranes made specifically for the job in France, each costs $AUS100,000 (the Opera House itself cost $AUS102 million, more than ten times its original estimate of $AUS7 million). The glass used in the building is unique to the Sydney Opera House, and was made to order in France; the roof is covered with more than one million tiles, made by Swedish company Höganas.

Current rank: 72 in the world
Current city/country: Sydney, Australia
Prior city/country: Auckland, New Zealand
Facts about Sydney, Australia
• Over 30% of Sydney’s 4.6 million people were born overseas. The city has the seventh largest percentage of foreign-born individuals in the world;
• The main languages spoken in Sydney are: English, Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Greek and Vietnamese;
• Cricket and rugby are two of the city’s most popular sports – Sydney will host the 2015 Cricket World Cup;
• Sixty percent of Australia’s top 100 companies are headquartered in Sydney. As one of the country’s top industrial centers, Sydney is capital of Australia’s ICT (information communications technology) industry and the country’s leading finance center;
• Sydney officially became a city in 1842, but the region has been inhabited by indigenous Australians for at least 30,000 years based on radio carbon dating;
• Over 229 films have been set in, or featured, Sydney (recent films: “You, Me and Dupree” and “Finding Nemo”).

(01/13/15)  Family Circle Cup adds No. 9 Kerber, No. 10 Makarova to 2015 field
Angelique Kerber, ranked No. 9 in the world, and No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova have joined current champion Andrea Petkovic in the 2015 Family Circle Cup player field. The Family Circle Cup takes place April 4–12 on Daniel Island.

“We are excited to bring these powerful and talented players to Charleston to join our 43rd tournament player field,” said Eleanor Adams, Family Circle Cup tournament manager. “Kerber and Makarova are fierce competitors to be reckoned with, and we are happy our fans will have the opportunity to watch them play live in Charleston.”

The 2014 season marks the third year in a row that Kerber has finished with a year-end ranking within the top 10. The left-handed German reached the finals in four WTA tournaments last year and made at least the third round in all four Grand Slams.

The 2015 Family Circle Cup will be Kerber's second appearance in Charleston, her first in five years. In 2010, she made the third round of the tournament before losing to Daniela Hantuchova in three sets.

“I’m very much looking forward to my return to Charleston for the Family Circle Cup this spring,” said Kerber. “Charleston is a beautiful city with great tennis fans.”

Russia’s Makarova is currently the only WTA player in both the singles and doubles top 10.

She broke into the WTA singles top 10 for the first time in her career in January 2015, stemming from a standout 2014 season that included a singles quarterfinals appearance at Wimbledon, and her first Grand Slam singles semifinal at the U.S. Open. Makarova also took home a Grand Slam doubles win at the U.S. Open, and appeared in the doubles final at both the Australian Open and in Miami.

The 2015 Family Circle Cup will be Makarova’s first time competing in the Charleston tennis tournament.

“It’s a great feeling to be ranked within the top 10 for my first time,” said Makarova. “I’m looking forward to building on my momentum from the 2014 season and playing in Charleston.”

Tickets are available at FamilyCircleCup.com or by calling the box office at (800) 677-2293.

(01/07/15)  Daniel Island News:  Family Circle Tennis Center Annual Classic raised $12,500 for MUSC Children's Hospital
The Family Circle Tennis Center hosted the Annual Holiday Classic Presented by Allstate Wally Burbage Benefiting MUSC Children’s Hospital on December 12 – 14, 2014. With 235 players participating in this Men’s and Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles tournament, 110 MUSC Children’s Hospital Wish List items donated, and many Silent Auction treasures won, the Family Circle Tennis Center wishes to extend a huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of this event. A check for $12,500 was presented to MUSC Children’s Hospital.
Congratulations to the champions and finalists:

Women’s 2.5 Doubles Champions - Diane Pernell/Kimberly Heck; Finalists - Linda Pylant/Brenda Swaim.
Women’s 3.0 Doubles Champions - Suzanne Brown/Jennifer Klos; Finalists - Erin Grimm/Tanya Mueller.
Women’s 3.5 Doubles Champions - Ashley Carroll/Caroline Dix; Finalists - Lisa Burke/Kim Riley.
Women’s 4.0 Doubles Champions - Jane Manuel/Patty Mogul; Finalists - Leah Biller/Kelly Moneyhun.
Men’s 3.0 Doubles Champions - Rhett Corley/Bernie Dreher; Finalists - Caton Easterling/Darin Fort.
Men’s 3.5 Doubles Champions - Steven Dolloff/Rich Hughes; Finalists - Brandon Dermody/Gary Heinz.
Men’s 4.0 Doubles Champions - Juan Colon-olivieri/Andrei Mazere; Finalists - Chris Bolig/Joseph Nemeth,
Men’s 4.5 Doubles Champions - Cadill Maharaj/Mat Sears; Finalists - Anthony Carmola/Michael Viljac.
6.0 Mixed Doubles Champions- Daniel Putignano/Liz Putignano; Finalists Kevin Kuehmeier/Paige Kuehmeier.
7.0 Mixed Doubles Champions - Michael Carroll/Ashley Carroll; Finalists - Mack Madonick/Christine Ramsey.
8.0 Mixed Doubles Champions - Joseph Nemeth/Mary Westbrooke, Finalists - Nicholas Butner/Caroline Dix.
9.0 Mixed Doubles Champions - Silvia Dolecki/Art Welling; Finalists - Beth Cockerham/Brandon Grimm.

(01/07/15)  Daniel Island News: Where in the world is Shelby Rogers?
Editor’s Note: Beginning with this issue The Daniel Island News launches a year-long feature by Steve Ferber, tracking our native daughter’s global travels. Tennis pro Shelby Rogers, currently ranked #72 in the world, departed Charleston last week for her first tournament of the year, in Auckland, New Zealand! Whenever Shelby hops on a flight, to her next tourney, we’ll take you there, sharing insights about the country/city, and tracking her miles and on-court results. Join us for the ride (and become a charter member of Rogers’ Raiders – details to come!).

Shelby stands in front of Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower, which, at 1,076 feet tall, is the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere!

Miles traveled in 2015: 8296 miles
Current rank: 72 in the world
Current city: Auckland, New Zealand
Fast facts About Auckland:
• Quality of Life: Auckland ranks 3rd out of 221 world cities in the Mercer Quality of Living Survey. Vienna ranks #1, Zurich #2.
• Demographics: nearly 40% of Aucklanders were born overseas.
• Nickname: Auckland is known as the “City of Sails” (derived from the popularity of sailing).
• Population: nearly one-third of New Zealand’s 4.52 million people live in the Auckland urban area.
• Topography: Auckland is the only city in the world built on a basaltic volcanic field that is still active. According to aucklandcouncil.govt.nz, “much of Auckland is built on the Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF), which covers 360km2 and contains at least 50 volcanoes.”

(01/04/15)  Shelby Rogers starting year in New Zealand
Charleston touring tennis professional Shelby Rogers missed New Year's Day altogether.

"I have arrived in Auckland! Skipped right over New Year's Day in the air . . . ha ha," Rogers emailed from New Zealand where she is starting another year on the WTA Tour. "It's the second of January here and I left the 31st from L.A.

"I love this country, it's so beautiful and green, and the people couldn't be any nicer."

World's No. 72 Rogers is a direct entry into the 32-player singles main draw of the $250,000 tournament in Auckland. Rogers will square off against 55th-ranked, 5-2 Ohioan Lauren Davis in the first round. Caroline Wozniacki is the top seed. Main draw play is scheduled to start on Monday (or Sunday, Charleston time).
USTA on defense

The USTA has posted a defense of its NTRP league tennis rating system on its website, reflecting on the 35-year history of the hugely popular league tennis program.

Veteran Dunes West/Planter's Pointe player David Oyster, who like many others also questions the sometimes inaccurate league rating system, asked me to comment on the USTA article.

Most of the article focuses on the National Tennis Rating System the league uses. The fact that more than 300,000 players received year-end ratings in 2014 is impressive, a testament to the affection but sometimes dismay that playground tennis players from all segments of the country have for league tennis.

The NTRP system's primary problem is three-headed, all related to each other: the self-rating process and dynamic ratings lead to in-season disqualifications. Take away the self-rating process and return to its initial verification system (evaluations from pros), and there would be no in-season disqualifications; and therefore, no real reason for the complexity and secrecy of the algorithm-based dynamic ratings.

The year-end ratings aren't all inaccurate, although the appeal-down process is fairly useless in most cases. Disqualified or reclassified players justifiably often feel they have no recourse.

Unless a change in the rating process is made, players probably shouldn't be put through the appeal process, except for health or age issues. League tennis should handle the appeal process seamlessly prior to releasing its ratings. The computer shouldn't have the final word.

As an example of the occasional inefficiency of the NTRP system, of three players on my 3.5 18-plus teams who were bumped up and three others who probably should have been bumped up, the NTRP system correctly hit .333 at decision-making time. Good in baseball, but not in a computerized rating system. One of the reclassified players was a 69-year-old who clearly should not have been bumped up.
LCTA schedule

The new year in league tennis is just a week or two away. Monday is the deadline for forming spring league teams (18-plus, 40-plus, 55-plus and 70-plus). That means teams must have the required number of players (the minimum number of players needed to fill all positions for a match) on their rosters by that time in order to be included in a league.

Also, on Monday at 6 p.m., the Lowcountry Tennis Association's annual captains meeting is scheduled to be held at the Charleston County Library on Calhoun Street