2016

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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(12/31/16)  USTA SC: Volunteers and coaches from across the state to receive USTA SC Annual Awards
Tennis coaches, players and volunteers from all over the state will be honored for their tennis achievements later this year by USTA South Carolina. In all, 24 people and organizations will receive USTA South Carolina annual awards at the organization’s annual meeting on Isle of Palms in December.

This year’s group of award recipients features a range of tennis accomplishments. One recipient has volunteered with the league program since 1978; another recipient has been a certified USTA Official for more than 20 years.

“These award recipients showcase vast talent in the sport of tennis in South Carolina,” said Graham Cox, executive director of USTA South Carolina. “We are proud to celebrate their accomplishments and dedication to growing tennis throughout our state.”

The 2016 USTA South Carolina annual award recipients:

USTA SC Annual Award     Recipient
Adaptive Tennis Volunteer of the Year     Nanette Howerin, Blythewood
Adult Female Player of the Year     Ann Hunt, Hilton Head Island
Adult Male Player of the Year     Tom Meigs, Seneca
Adult Tournament of the Year     The Holiday Classic
presented by Wally Burbage Allstate Agency, Daniel Island
Coach of the Year     Sherry Adams, Greer
Community Service Award     Carolina Rollin’ Rackets, Rock Hill
Community Tennis Association of the Year     The Greater Greenville Youth Tennis Association, Greenville
Company of the Year     The McLeod Hospital of Florence, Florence
Jim Russell Junior Tournament of the Year     Florence Tennis Association Boys and Girls High School Tournaments, Florence
John Newcomb Pro of the Year     Jonathan Barth, Kiawah Island
Junior Team Tennis Volunteer of the Year     Wendy Kingsley, Camden
Junior Boy Player of the Year     Jared Pratt, Daniel Island
Junior Girl Player of the Year     Maggie Cubitt, Spartanburg
Most Improved Junior Boy     Hale and Wyatt Emerson, Florence
Kimberly Hampton Most Improved
Junior Girl of the Year     Katherine Lyman, Daniel Island
Helen Jeter League Volunteer of the Year     Patti McVey, Leesville
Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Boy     Sam Kavarana, Mt. Pleasant
Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Girl      Gracie Waldron, Mountville
Media Award     James Beck, Charleston
Member Facility of the Year     The Wexford Tennis Club, Hilton Head Island
Pete Conklin Official of the Year     Lee Ward, Columbia
Tennis Family of the Year     The Cori and Michael Smith family, Daniel Island
Wilton McKinney Award     Oliver Crawford, Spartanburg


(12/31/16)  Charleston was a special tennis town in 2016
America's best tennis town just keeps getting better.

But, how could 2017 top 2016?

Yes, 2016 was pretty special, from the area's own home-grown touring professional reaching the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament, to one of the area's large group of talented juniors winning a national doubles championship, to another junior earning a No. 3 national ranking.

From the state's first hosting of a national junior championship to the first version of a world-level women's professional tournament named Volvo, the area experienced it all last year.

The top 10 highlights started in April when the Volvo Car Open took the place of the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island. Crowd favorite Sloane Stephens finally arrived at her potential to take home the crown and a flashy new Volvo.

The Randy Pate Tennis Academy moved from Winston-Salem, N.C., to Mount Pleasant just in time to play host to the boys' 12 USTA National Clay Court championship in July at LTP Tennis and Swim Club.

The 12-and-under boys played spectacular tennis for a week. Names such as eventual national champion Evan Wen are likely to pop up one day on the ATP Tour.

Rogers' special moment

June was a dream month for Shelby Rogers as she appeared in the quarterfinals of the French Open. Center court at Roland Garros was a long way from the days of Rogers clinging to the fences at Snee Farm Country Club watching her older sister, Sabra, playing junior tennis.

Rogers is starting 2017 ranked 59th in the world. Due to two withdrawals, she is in the main draw of the WTA Tour event that is starting this weekend in Brisbane, Australia.

Indeed, 2016 was a big year for the 24-year-old Rogers. This year could be even bigger, with Rogers in position to climb back into the world's top 50 in the next few weeks. The year's first Grand Slam, the Australian Open is only a couple of weeks away.
Navarro a double star

Emma Navarro was a double highlight. The 15-year-old LTP Tennis product not only was half of a girls 16 doubles team that captured a National Clay Court championship, she joined the Ashley Hall team at mid-season and practically carried the Panthers to a SCISA state title.

Navarro is the state's No. 1-ranked girls 18 player. She also is rated second nationally in girls 16 doubles.

In August, Bishop England standout Jared Pratt climbed to No. 3 nationally in boys 16. That came just three years after Pratt underwent surgery for the curved-spine condition Scoliosis. He was selected as state boys player of the year and is the state's top-ranked boys 18 player.

The other highlights included state titles out of nowhere for the Academic Magnet and Hanahan boys as well as Bishop England's sixth straight girls state title and Kat Lyman's Southern singles championship.

Hawks, Raptors fly high

A couple of years ago, no one would have predicted that Academic Magnet and Hanahan both would have gone unbeaten in 2016 while winning state championships. Or that these two teams might have become probably the state's top two boys high school teams in 2016.

Neither school had looked like tennis schools in the past. Neither had ever won a state title.

But then sophomore Kerim Hyatt and freshman Chad Nash showed up on the tennis court for Hanahan by way of Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy. A Class AAA title was the result. Hyatt and Nash probably will be joined by a couple more players of similar talent, and the Hawks easily could be the state's best high school team in 2017.

And at Academic Magnet, freshman Jacob Jahn, and sophomores Sam Kavarana and Earl Navarro were in the Raptors' lineup that edged out defending state champion Bishop England in the local Class AA ranks on the way to the state title.

Bishop England's girls were just as amazing in an unbeaten season and march to a Class AAA state championship that gave the Bishops their sixth consecutive state title.

An even bigger surprise in 2016 may have been Kat Lyman's girls 16 Southern Hard-Court Championship in Little Rock, Ark., after starting the tournament as the No. 5 seed. She defeated the top seed in the final.

Lyman is South Carolina's top-ranked girls 16 player and winner of the state's most improved girl award. She is definitely a player to watch in 2017.


(12/24/16)  LIVE5NEWS: Live 5's Top 10 Sports Stories of 2016
2016 was another amazing year of sports stories in the Lowcountry. Live 5 has been there to cover it all from our own back yard to across the country. Here's what we've narrowed down as the Top 10 sports stories of the year. Part 1 will be released Christmas Eve, Part 2 on Christmas Day and the final part on Monday.

10. Sloane Stephens wins Volvo Car Open - Our list begins with a new era began for the professional tennis tournament on Daniel Island as the Family Circle Cup became the Volvo Car Open. A stacked field was in town this year as 6 former champions took part in the event. But it was American Sloane Stephens who won for the first time in the Lowcountry. Stephens would beat defending champion Angelique Kerber in the semis before taking out qualifier Elena Vesnina in straight sets for the title.

9. Charleston Southern wins back-to-back Big South Championships - Charleston Southern's football team went through all kinds of ups and downs in 2016. From opening the season with a loss at North Dakota State in a nationally televised game to losing multiple quarterbacks to injury to having dozens of players and head coach Jamey Chadwell suspended over the course of several games for minor violations. Still, the Bucs overcame it all and went on to win their 2nd straight Big South championship and head back to the FCS Playoffs. Their year was ended in the postseason with a loss to Wofford.

8. RiverDogs win division title - It had been 11 years since the RiverDogs had qualified for the postseason. They had never done it as a Yankees affiliate but in June, Charleston clinched the first half Southern Division championship with a win over Augusta. Part owner Bill Murray was even on hand to take part in the champagne celebration.

7. Spencer Carbery leaves Stingrays - One of the longest eras in Stingrays history came to an end as Spencer Carbery resigned as the teams head coach back in June. Carbery had been the teams head coach for 5 seasons, tying the longest tenure in franchise history. He had also spent time with the team as a player and assistant coach. Carbery’s assistant Ryan Warsofsky would be named the 7th head coach in team history as his replacement.

6. Shelby Rogers makes quarterfinals at French Open - Shelby Rogers shocked the tennis world in late May as the Lowcountry native made a run to the quarterfinals of the French Open. It was the deepest run in a major Rogers has ever had which included beating 10th ranked Petra Kvitova along the way. It helped propel Shelby up the rankings to number 59 in the world to end the season, her highest ranking ever.

5. Raven Saunders in the Olympics - The Summer Olympics in Rio had a number of Lowcountry natives participating this year. Summerville alum Carvin Nkanata, Ft. Dorchester alum Jasmine Quinn and Burke’s Raven Saunders who finished in 5th place in the shot put competition and received a hero's welcome when she returned home.

4. Clemson dominates South Carolina - The in-state rivalry game that was over just as fast as it started. The first meeting between Dabo Swinney and Will Muschamp as rival head coaches saw Clemson score early and often to jump out to a 35-0 lead over South Carolina and never look back. Deshaun Watson, who would finish 2nd in the Heisman trophy race, threw 6 touchdowns as the Tigers torched the Gamecocks 56-7 for their 3rd straight win in the series.

3. Summerville wins state baseball title for fallen teammate - Number 3 comes from high school baseball where Summerville’s year began with tragedy as the team lost one of their teammates Tripp Rabon who passed away in a car accident weeks before the start of the season. But it ended with triumph as the Green Wave, who dedicated their season to their fallen friend, would go 27-7 on the year and win the AAAA state championship. Summerville would need all 3 games in the state title series before finally taking out JL Mann in game 3, 2-1.

2. The Citadel starts 10-0 - 2016 for The Citadel football team began with their head coach Mike Houston leaving the team to head to James Madison. Days later, offensive coordinator Brent Thompson was named as the new head coach and things clicked right away. The Bulldogs would get off to their best start ever, winning their first 10 games of the season and, in the process, win the Southern Conference championship…The Cit would earn a first round bye in the postseason thanks to thrilling wins over Wofford, Samford and Chattanooga. But the season would come to an end with an upset loss to the Terriers in the playoffs.

1. Clemson falls in National Championship game - And our number 1 sports story for 2016 happened within the first few days of the new year. Clemson had earned a spot in the national championship game as the top ranked team in the country with a 20 point win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl and they gave Alabama everything they had putting up 40 points on the night. But it wouldn’t be enough as the Tigers were denied their first national championship since 1981 falling to the Crimson Tide 45-40.


(12/21/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: FCTC Holiday Classic serves up tennis and goodwill
The 9th Annual Holiday Classic presented by Allstate Wally Burbage benefiting the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital welcomed 226 players to Family Circle Tennis Center for a weekend of competitive tennis on December 2 – 4.

This USTA sanctioned event offered men’s and women’s doubles along with mixed doubles. As part of the event, FCTC members and tournament players donated over 150 items from the MUSC Child Life Atrium Wish List and numerous gift cards for children undergoing treatment at the hospital.

“Congratulations to all of our champions and finalists and to the real winner - MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital,” said Nancy Heinz, FCTC membership manager. “A special thanks to everyone who supported this year’s event.”

The following were finalists in the FCTC Holiday Classic: 3.0 Women - Gretchen Bunker and Caryn Lyons; 3.5 Women - Jana Estes and Kathy Roberts: 4.0 Women - Kell Culclasure and Cheryl Windham; 4.5 Women - Ann Harrah and McCuen Livingston; 3.0 Men - Griff Brame and Rusty Fox; 3.5 Men - Wes DeLancey and Kurt Sherer; 4.0 Men - Steve Cohen and Hod Verble; 4.5 Men - Paul Carmola and Brandon Owens; 6.0 Mixed - Amy Etheridge and Bruce Etheridge; 7.0 Mixed - Jennifer Esse and Mikhil Sanduria; 8.0 Mixed - Cristina Garrett and Dave Williams; and 9.0 Mixed - Andrea Hines and Josh Trueblood.


(12/20/16)  AP/Post and Courier: Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova injured in knife attack
PRAGUE — Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was injured by a knife-wielding attacker at her home on Tuesday.

The 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion said the injury to her left hand was "severe."

"In my attempt to defend myself, I was badly injured on my left hand. I am shaken, but fortunate to be alive," Kvitova, who is left-handed, wrote on Twitter. "The injury is severe and I will need to see specialists, but if you know anything about me I am strong and I will fight this."

It was not immediately clear how the injury could affect Kvitova's play. Details of her injury were expected to be released later Tuesday. She is scheduled to play in the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island in April.

"What happened to me was certainly not pleasant, but it's behind me," Kvitova said in an earlier statement on the Facebook page of the Czech Republic's Fed Cup team. "I have the best possible care and I'm in touch with my loved ones. The worst is behind me."

Kvitova's spokesman, Karel Tejkal, said the incident, which he described as a burglary, occurred Tuesday morning in the eastern Czech town of Prostejov.

Prostejov police spokesman Frantisek Korinek said the attacker, a man who is about 35 years old, escaped from the scene and was at large. He said police have launched a manhunt.

Kvitova was scheduled to participate in a charity event in the city of Brno on Tuesday with another Czech player, Lucie Safarova.

"It's horrible," Safarova told Czech public radio. "Things like that are shocking to all of us. It can happen to anyone of us. That's really terrible."

In April 1993, Monica Seles was at the height of her success when she was stabbed in the back during a changeover at a tournament in Hamburg. A man reached over a courtside railing and knifed her, leaving an inch-deep slit between her shoulder blades.

Seles returned to the game 27 months later and reached the 1995 U.S. Open final.

In an unrelated move earlier Tuesday, Kvitova withdrew from the Czech Republic team at next month's Hopman Cup mixed-team tennis tournament because of an earlier foot injury.


(12/19/16)  Bishop England's Jenna Vroman leads All-Lowcountry girls tennis team
Thinking big can have its reward, even in high school tennis.

Jenna Vroman believed from the very beginning of her senior year at Bishop England that she could have a special season for the Bishops' girls tennis team.

Going unbeaten wasn't unthinkable.

"It was just a goal of mine," Vroman said. "I don't like losing and I felt like it (an unbeaten season) was something I could accomplish."

Not only did Vroman go unbeaten, she led the Bishops to an undefeated season capped by a sixth straight state championship.

She's headed to Wofford now to play college tennis. To top it off, Vroman has been selected as The Post and Courier's All-Lowcountry player of the year for girls tennis.

She is joined on the All-Lowcountry team by fellow Bishop England senior Camryn Deames and sophomore Emily Elliott; 2015 Lowcountry player of the year Lily Conant, a junior from Wando; Swedish transfer Porter-Gaud junior Alex Hildell; and Ashley Hall freshman Emma Navarro, who joined the Panthers at midseason and went unbeaten while leading them to a SCISA Class AAA state title.

Vroman, Deames and Conant are all three-time All-Lowcountry performers.

Veteran Ashley Hall coach Mary Gastley was selected as the Lowcountry coach of the year for guiding the Panthers to a fourth state title in the last decade of her 30 years as the all-girls school's tennis coach.

Vroman nearly missed boarding former BE standout Kristin Fleming Arnold's trainload of 11 state titles (four as a player, the 2015 boys title and the six girls crowns).

Vroman played volleyball, not tennis, as a freshman at Bishop England. But it was no fun for the talented and highly competitive athlete sitting on the bench at volleyball matches.

"Jenna came out (for tennis) her freshman year for tryouts but didn’t play because of volleyball," Arnold said. "I was disappointed she didn’t play but was excited when she decided to play her sophomore year.

"Jenna is a competitive, driven, and hard-working player. She has made great improvements in her game over the last three years. I am excited for Jenna’s decision to play for Wofford and to watch her continue to grow as a player. She has a very bright tennis career ahead of her."

One reason Vroman chose Wofford was because her mother, local 5.5 league tennis standout Deanna Vroman, played college tennis at Maryland and was a little disappointed by the intense training schedule, according to Jenna.

"I am really excited about Wofford," said Vroman, whose younger sister (sophomore Crista Vroman) also played a key role in the Bishops' march to the state championship.

"They (Wofford) were always interested in me, but I didn't think I was going there. I wanted to go to a larger school, but my mom kept after me about Wofford. She went to a larger school and played college tennis and she didn't like it that much."

Vroman, 17, is planning to follow in the footsteps of both her parents, who are doctors.

"I am looking to be a doctor, too. I want to do something with neurology," she said. "If it weren't for my mom I would not be playing tennis. She has definitely played an instrumental role and helped me develop my tennis game."

All-Lowcountry Girls Tennis Team

First Team
Jenna Vroman, Bishop England, senior
Camryn Deames, Bishop England, senior
Emily Elliott, Bishop England, sophomore
Emma Navarro, Ashley Hall, freshman
Alex Hildell, Porter-Gaud, junior
Lily Conant, Wando, junior

Athlete of the Year: Jenna Vroman

Coach of the Year: Mary Gastley, Ashley Hall

HONORABLE MENTION
BISHOP ENGLAND: Lilly Woods, Eleanor Campbell, Crista Vroman, Drue Ranson, MacKenzie Penton, Caroline Lively.
PALMETTO CHRISTIAN: Lauren Pernell, Danielle Quinn, Ellery Estes, Gabe Noce, Katelyn Howard, Danielle Beaufort.
WANDO: Abby Sinclaire, Adelia Phillips, Penelope Hayes, Morgan Mitchell, Ellie Zimmerman, Sophie Moore.
ACADEMIC MAGNET: Mina Schaafsma, Aileen Shi, Thandi Nixon, Caroline Young, Mary Clair Newsom.
ASHLEY HALL: Rebecca Spratt, Linsey Yarbrough, Hannah Reuther, Addison Propes, Marissa Dye.
PINEWOOD PREP: Leah Evans, Ellie Rodgers, Jessica Osbourne, Victoria Vietri, Abbey Martichenko.
PORTER-GAUD: Rebecca Kahn, Michaela Cuoco, MacKenzie Davis, Barrett Dowd, Emma Grice.
OCEANSIDE: Emma Smith, Jill Morse, Cam Rossa, Emily Loring.
ASHLEY RIDGE: Arianna Brimm, Lydia Teague, Katelyn Schmedeke.
SUMMERVILLE: Paige Reynolds, Sullivan Long, Lizzie Naval.
JAMES ISLAND: Gigi Hinson, Elizabeth Snyder, Ashton Loring.
BERKELEY: Macey Burges, Camren Tedder.
CANE BAY: Morgan Montemayor, Nicole Montemayor.
COLLETON COUNTY: Alicia Roberson, Anni Crook.
FORT DORCHESTER: Temp Sanders, Zoi Zachos.
HANAHAN: Carla Vaca, Carlie Knutson.
HOLLY HILL ACADEMY: Madison Breland, Sarah Becker.
STRATFORD: Kyleigh Gregg, Aubrey Eudy.
WEST ASHLEY: Madison Clayton, Katie Lowe.
WOODLAND: Courtney Simmons, Maia Wilson.
COLLETON PREP: Meredith Ware.
LOWCOUNTRY PREP: Emerson Pate.


(12/17/16)  Smiths lead area's tennis families
The Charleston area is blooming with serious tennis families these days. Some families have as many as three or four juniors traveling the world of national, Southern and state tennis tournaments, garnering impressive results.

The Cori and Michael Smith family of Daniel Island was honored by USTA South Carolina as the state's tennis family of the year last weekend at Wild Dunes. And there are several other similar tennis families, particularly on Daniel Island and at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant.

As hall of fame Kiawah Island director of tennis Roy Barth puts it, "Charleston has become a real tennis town. There's tennis everywhere."

Barth, of course, has seen the change first hand as Kiawah's only tennis director. He grew up in California and was an All-American at UCLA before engaging in a world's top 40 pro career and finally landing at Kiawah in 1976.

His son, Kiawah pro Jonathan Barth, was honored as state pro of the year during the festivities at Wild Dunes, and also was selected as Southern pro of the year.

Jared Pratt received the state's junior boys player of the year award, while Kat Lyman picked up the most improved junior girls award.

The Smith family is all about tennis, although Michael is a golf pro at the Daniel Island Club. While taking a year off after completing her college tennis career at the University of Pennsylvania, Cori took a job in the pro shop at Wild Dunes and met then Wild Dunes golf pro Michael, a former mini tour golfer.

Cori never moved back to Boston, and later started the tennis program at the Daniel Island Club.

Fourteen-year-old Max Smith is rated 20th in the South in 14s (No. 7 in S.C.), 11-year-old Jake is 20th in the South in 12s (No. 4 S.C.) and just turned eight Luke is No. 61 in the state in boys 12. They all train at MWTennis Academy at Family Circle Tennis Center where Cori currently assists with the junior program. She also serves as a fitness trainer at the Daniel Island Club.

"I was teaching tennis at the Daniel Island Club and started the tennis team (Elementary School League) at the Daniel Island School," Cori said. "That's how Max started playing. I asked him to get on my team. He got out there and started playing and fell in love with it."

Jake was a competitive golfer at six years old when he finished in the top 10 in the World Cup junior competition in North Carolina. "Then he took up tennis and didn't play golf competitively after that," his mother said.

Luke just fell in line.

"They just love to go over to MW. It's just the experience, not just on the court but off the court as well," Cori said.

How do the parents manage such a busy tennis schedule?

"They (Max and Jake) have competed in states as far as Florida and California," Cori said. "We always enjoy the travel.

"My husband is extremely supportive. We just try to be efficient, fit it all in, have a positive attitude and have fun with it. Michael is very involved in their travel.

"It helps to have tennis and school on the island."

Max and Jake are full-time at MWTennis, from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, taking online schooling there from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Luke is in the second grade at the Daniel Island School, and attends the after-school program at MWTennis at 4 p.m. They have all used Bryan Minton from the start for their private instruction, according to their mother.

"My husband drops them off and we pick them up. Most weekends are tournaments. They love to fish on weekends with their dad, and do water sports," said Cori Saturday morning while at The Citadel with Jake and Luke for a tournament.

What's next for the Smith boys? "I'm not sure. They all might stay at MW and be online-schooled through high school," Cori said.

And what is most special about the tennis moments. "All three have paired up at some point for several doubles titles -- that has been my favorite moment as a tennis mom."

Notable tennis families

It's not unusual for families to have two kids heavily involved with tennis. "We have 20-25 families that have two or more kids (at MW). I know, because I do the billing and they get discounts," said Jeff Wilson, the MWTennis co-founder (along with Bryan Minton).

"But having families with several high-ranking kids is few and far between," added Wilson, who has one high-ranking junior (boys 16 Southern 32nd-ranked Reilly Wilson) and two younger ones who train regularly.

Over at LTP Tennis and Swim, club owner Ben Navarro has put together the area's highest-ranking stable of family juniors. Fifteen-year-old Emma Navarro is No. 1 in the state in girls 18, and No. 3 in the South and No. 17 nationally in girls 16. Younger sister Maggie Navarro is No. 2 in Southerns and No. 19 nationally in girls 12. Brother Earl Navarro is 35th in the South and No. 9 in the state in boys 16.

Then there's the Four Severances out of LTP, but based on Daniel Island: Saige, Sydney, Sutton and Sawyer. All four own Southern rankings in 12-and-under, led by Saige at No. 10. Saige (No. 3), Sydney and nine-year-old Sawyer have top 20 state 12-and-under rankings. Eight-year-old Sutton is 27th in the state in 12s.


(12/14/16)  MOULTRIE NEWS: Frankie Mansfield: Holiday Classic spreads Christmas cheer through tennis
More than 200 players descended on Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island earlier this month for the ninth annual Holiday Classic.

The weekend tournament, sponsored by Allstate Wally Burbage, benefits the patients of the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital. More than 150 items from the MUSC Child Life Atrium wish list and numerous gift cards were delivered through donations raised through the tournament and its silent auction.

The USTA sanctioned event included men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles matches.

Division          Champions                              Finalists
3.0 Women            Jill Cazabon/Cami Gilsenan          Gretchen Bunker/Caryn Lyons
3.5 Women            Nicole Junco/Rebecca Overdorf       Jana Estes/Kathy Roberts
4.0 Women            Charlotte Gerber/Allison Pickhardt  Kell Culclasure/Cheryl Windham
4.5 Women            Marsha Davis/Mary Beth Westbrooke   Ann Harrah/McCuen Livingston

3.0 Men              Bill Davis/Nick Pavia               Griff Brame/Rusty Fox
3.5 Men              Kevin Kuehmeier/Bill Park           Wes DeLancey/Kurt Sherer
4.0 Men              Juan Colon-olivieri/Andrei Mazere   Steve Cohen/Hod Verble
4.5 Men              Toby Kederer/Dave Williams          Paul Carmola/Brandon Owens

6.0 Mixed            Tyler Floyd/Eve Young               Amy Etheridge/Bruce Etheridge
7.0 Mixed            Rich Hughes/Jennifer Smith          Jennifer Esse/Mikhil Sanduria
8.0 Mixed            Nicole Juncu/Brandon Owens          Cristina Garrett/Dave Williams
9.0 Mixed            Diane Barker/Edward Fishburne       Andrea Hines/Josh Trueblood 


(12/14/16)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: 2016 Club Championships
I would like to thank all those who both participated in and came out to support their friends in our Tennis Club Championships last weekend. As promised the weather was beautiful although a little chilly at the beginning. I want to especially thank Tabatha Waddill for her chili and Allen Welch for his barbecue on Saturday afternoon. It's amazing how much food people can eat and still run around the tennis court. We had pizza and wings on Sunday that didn't slow anyone. I would also like to thank Jimmy Hunter for his continued support of all our events.
 
The competition was fierce, the matches were long, but we got through it without anyone missing a single Christmas party. There were approximately 45 players from the 2.5 to 4.5 level. There were 6 singles and 5 doubles divisions. The rules this year were that each of the singles division winners would go into a drawing for the Club Champion Parking spots where we would have one male and one female winner.
 
Singles Winners                                  Runner Up
Ladies 2.5  Beth Ann Kluft                Patti Hawthorne
Ladies 3.0    Jean Craig                        Sherry Doran
Men 3.0              Bryan Ritzul                    Steve Ihrke
Men 3.5          Keith Rodwell                     Alan Doran
Men 4.0           Jeff Nixon                       Mark Howard
Men 4.5          Davis Craig                      Greg Catalano
 
Doubles Winners
2.5 Ladies - Patti Hawthorne/Jane Jackson
3.5 Ladies - Kristin Keefe/Stephanie Martino
3.0 Men - Tom Page/Bryan Ritzul
3.5 Men - Frank Grubb/Gary Caccamise
4.0/4.5 Men - Greg Catalano/Don Fletcher
 
Runner Up
2.5 Ladies - Deana Cumbie/Jean Nisbet
3.5 Ladies - Kelley Johnson/Kirsten Lanphear
3.0 Men - Tom Iorizzo/David Miller
3.5 Men - Rip Armstrong/Alan Doran
4.0/4.5 Men - Davis Craig/Scott Tyler
 
The drawing for the Club Champion Parking was held at the Cabana following the final singles matches. The Ladies Club Champion Parking Spot was won by Jean Craig. The Men Club Champion Parking Spot was won by Keith Rodwell.
 
Our next major event will be the Azalea Clay Court Classic in March. This tournament has been bumped up to a USTA State Level 2 Event. Save the dates, March 24-26.
Watch out also for our Monthly Tennis Socials.
 
We will be hosting a special "trunk show" in January for the
ladies to view Spring styles. Wine, snacks, and good times included. Date coming soon!
 
Thanks again to everyone.
Andy Steingold, director of tennis


(12/12/16)  STAFF REPORTS: Kvitova joins Volvo Car Open field
Petra Kvitova will make her Charleston tennis debut at the 2017 Volvo Car Open. Kvitova, 26, is a two-time Wimbledon champion and currently No. 11 in the Women's Tennis Association rankings.

She ended the 2016 season in impressive fashion, picking up titles at Wuhan and Zhuhai, as well as helping the Czech Republic to a historic fifth Fed Cup title in six years. Kvitova won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014 and made the semifinals of the Australian Open and French Open in 2012.

The Volvo Car Open already has commitments from defending champion Sloane Stephens, former WTA No. 1 players Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki, No. 8 Madison Keys and No. 10 Johanna Konta.


(12/05/16)  MOULTRIE NEWS: On Vacation - USTA South Carolina State Championship
The women's Snee Farm 65-plus tennis team went to Hilton Head and won the USTA South Carolina State Championship, held Nov. 10-12.

They don't go anywhere without their Moultrie news, and this time it brought them their first win.

Team members include — lower left: Paula Rivers, Alison Shor, Connie Unthank, Sharon Skowronek, Ida Havelka; Upper left: Charlene Willis, Donna Mastrandrea, Mindy Rosenthal, and Chris Barth. Not pictured: Jan Moore, Gloria Pringle and Myra Brody.


(12/03/16)  DIANE KNICH:  Library construction plans as fuzzy as a fresh tennis ball
Diane Knich dknich@postandcourier.com Dec 3, 2016 (3)

Two years ago, Charleston County voters approved $108 million for new libraries, but so far, the only thing built with the money is a new tennis court next to the James Island Elementary School.

And library officials are beginning to make a racket about the lack of progress — and about free building sites that aren't really free, after all.

The Charleston County Public Library board questioned county officials earlier this week about the delays in starting construction. Work should have begun on all of the buildings by now, board members said, but there hasn’t been a single groundbreaking ceremony.

While the library board and other groups promoted the 2014 referendum, which also included renovations to 13 existing libraries and a support services building, the Charleston County Facilities Department is handling all the construction work. Most renovation work will begin after the new libraries are completed.

Andy Brack, chairman of the library system's board, said the delays range from about seven months for the new Mount Pleasant library in Carolina Park behind Wando High School to indefinite periods for new buildings planned in West Ashley and North Charleston.

“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room,” Brack said to Deputy County Administrator Walt Smalls. “We’re two years into this, and we haven’t broken ground. People are wondering ‘Where the hell is the library?’”

If the county doesn’t borrow the money and get to work, interest rates may rise, forcing the building plan to be scaled back, Brack said. With a lot of other construction set to begin in the Charleston area, there also will be more competition for contractors and subcontractors to do the work, and that would boost the cost and potentially delay progress even more.

Smalls said all of the buildings are progressing, and signs announcing the future site of a public library will be posted this month in Mount Pleasant, James Island and Hollywood.

Also, he said some building projects faced delays because the county is sharing sites with other groups, including the town of Hollywood and the Charleston County School District — arrangements that have complicated matters and slowed progress.

James Island library

Construction is expected to begin in June, 10 months behind the initial schedule, on the 20,000-square-foot James Island facility, Smalls said.

The building, which has an estimated price tag of $12 million, will be built next to James Island Elementary School on South Grimball Road, a site owned owned by the Charleston County School District.

Choosing a site for the building was a contentious process last year, with many islanders preferring a more centrally located building near Camp, Dills Bluff or Folly roads. County Council voted instead to build it in the predominantly black neighborhood near the school.

One of the reasons some council members gave for choosing that site was that the land would be donated by the school district, which would cut down on costs.

But Jeff Borowy, the school district’s chief operating officer, said the land wasn’t donated. Instead, the county covered the $218,000 cost of building and maintaining a tennis court next to the elementary school in exchange for the land.

The tennis court already is completed.

County Councilman Joe Qualey, who lost his push for a more centrally located library site, said he had no idea the county was building a tennis court in exchange for the land.

“One of the main reasons we went with that site is because the land was free,” he said.

West Ashley library

Borowy said the county and school district also are hammering out an arrangement for a site for a new 20,000-square-foot library on the West Ashley High School campus, off the Glenn McConnell Parkway.

The county could pay for the construction of roads or parking lots on the campus in exchange for the land, he said, but the specifics haven't been worked out.

Under the initial schedule, construction on the $13 million building was supposed to start in August. The county later delayed the start until October 2017. Currently, it’s unclear when construction might begin.

Borowy said the school district and county should come up with a plan in the next few months. Then the plan must go through an approval process. He's not sure how long that might take.

North Charleston/Pinehaven

Library board members appeared most displeased with the status of replacing the Cooper River Memorial Branch on Rivers Avenue and Dorchester Road, near the site of the former Pinehaven shopping center.

They were expecting a new stand-alone, 15,000-square-foot library, behind the existing branch where the former Sheriff’s Office now stands. The new building, with an estimated price tag of $8.3 million, was supposed to open before the Cooper River branch was torn down to make room for a park.

But Smalls said the county now is trying to use the site for both a library and a new social services building. The county owns most of the land, but it has to purchase two parcels from private owners to make the new plan work.

The county conceived of the new social services building after an earlier plan to lease space in the former Navy hospital, which is across the street, fell apart.

Smalls said the county might build just one building that would house both the library and the county's social service offices. He also said the existing branch might have to close to make way for construction before the new building opens its doors.

The county likely will hire an architect in January to create a plan, Smalls said. “We have to look at that site in its entirety to take advantage of parking and other things,” he said.

Brack said the new library was supposed to open in August 2017. He asked Smalls what he should tell nearby residents when they ask when they will get their library.

“I would tell them wait until we hire an architect and make a schedule,” Smalls said.

Board member Janet Segal said voters were promised that existing libraries wouldn’t be closed before new ones are built.

And board member Maya Hollinshead said that’s especially important in that North Charleston neighborhood, where many residents don’t have cars.

"The people in that area deserve their own library and their own building,” she said.

Hollywood/St. Paul's Parish

A 15,000-square-foot library planned in Hollywood also is moving slowly. The $8.2 million building will share a site with a new Hollywood Town Hall, which town leaders have not raised money to build.

Construction on the library currently is expected to begin in May 2017, but the building will occupy the lower portion of the site that has problems with flooding. The ground there must be raised before any construction can begin.

Smalls said the Town Hall side of the property is better, but the town isn’t interested in giving the library the higher portion of the site. The county is working on plans to improve and create better access to the library's part of the site, he said, and he thinks it will be worth it.

"It’s four donated acres,” Smalls said.

Mount Pleasant

The new $23.3 million Mount Pleasant library is the furthest along. Construction is expected to begin in May on the 40,000-square-foot facility.

The building's parking lot will have a special section for golf carts.

Library board member Ed Fava, a former county administrator and county councilman, said he hopes the county moves forward as quickly as possible with all the buildings.

Charleston County didn’t sell the referendum to voters, he said. The library board and supporters who formed a nonprofit organization worked for more than a year to promote it. And they want to demonstrate to voters that they will deliver on their promises.

“That’s why there’s a lot of passion,” he said. “We’ve got a lot invested.”


(12/03/16)  Dave Berryman leaves a special legacy
David William Berryman passed away the day after Thanksgiving.

"He played golf the same day he died. He got his last round in. That's the way he would have wanted it," said his son, David William Berryman Jr.

Dave, as everyone called this friendly, likable Canadian, was 66. He leaves behind a legacy that touches several sports and many hearts.

He was one of those people who made a difference in Charleston area tennis in the years before the Family Circle Cup arrived to change area tennis forever.

He coached tennis a number of years at the College of Charleston, guiding the Cougars to a runner-up finish in the 1987 men's NAIA national team championships. Two of his doubles teams also met in the NAIA men's doubles final that year.

"Having two of his (doubles) teams in the national final was the highlight of Dave's coaching life. I know it was the highlight of my tennis life," said Matt Willson, who teamed with fellow College of Charleston hall of fame member Eric Girard to win the national doubles title. Willson is now based in Los Angeles and works in commercial film productions.

"I taught for Dave at Creekside one summer. He knew the game. He was a professional about it.

Besides being a coach he was like a player, he was always with us. He cared about every aspect of our lives."

Berryman's other world locally was the Charleston Tennis Club (now Creekside Tennis and Swim) community in Mount Pleasant where he made a lasting impact on local juniors while serving as tennis director for nearly a decade. He also kept Creekside's once highly regarded Charleston Invitational Tennis Tournament going strong in the 1970s and 80s.

"He (Berryman) made it where all of us stayed around tennis for a lifetime," said Beth Niemyer Maynor, who "lived two doors down from Davy Hairston, across the street from Trip Riesen (local attorney who played at C of C) and two doors the other way from Jeff Quinn (father of current local junior standout Lauren Quinn). We all grew up playing under Dave.

"We tend to have stuck with it. It's still a part of our lives. CITT and all of the fun tennis events at Creekside were special. It was a wonderful era . . . a special time."

Long-time C of C coach Billy Silcox, current Charleston Tennis Center head pro Davy Hairston and many others were linked to both of those worlds.

"Dave was a super nice guy. He did well with all the groups he worked with," said Silcox, who still helps coach tennis at the College of Charleston. "He followed me at Creekside and also at the College of Charleston."

Hairston grew up in Creekside's tennis program under Berryman, and served as his assistant coach at C of C.

"Not only was he my coach at Creekside where I lived and played as a junior (age 10-18), but I was Dave’s assistant coach at C of C in 1989-90," Hairston said. "He was an influential teacher of the game, a respectable coach with great insight into how to win, and also a great player, himself. He made a lasting impact on me that contributed to my success on the court and off."

Berryman, a native of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, was always a hockey fanatic. Some say he could have played hockey professionally, but he headed down the tennis road when he played college tennis for Memphis State (now Memphis University).

After leaving Charleston, Berryman ventured into hockey management in the ECHL with Louisiana and Arkansas teams and was named the league's executive of the year in 1996. He also was involved in arena football management.

Berryman died in Ocala, Fla. A graveside service will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. at Mount Pleasant Memorial Gardens on Mathis Ferry Road.

"Dave was an amazing athlete . . . a scratch golfer . . . he could have played pro hockey. He was a fantastic athlete. He was very competitive," said local tennis player John Santos, who grew up under Berryman's wing at Creekside, helping and taking lessons from Berryman. Santos became a tennis All-American at Coker College.

"Serving left-handed, he'd generate a different spin, then he would switch to his right hand for his ground strokes. That was mind-boggling," Santos added about the ambidextrous Berryman.

"Dave was a neat guy. He was such a good person. He was always there. Dave took me under his wing and basically gave me free lessons.

"He was a great advisor. He was a great friend and mentor, a special guy. He will be missed, for sure. He taught us a lot of lessons for life."

Beth Niemyer Maynor starred in college tennis at Furman, and was the Southern Conference player of the year as a senior. But it's the SoCon sportsmanship award she won as a college junior that stands out most to her.

"Sportsmanship was so important to Dave. He had such a gentle spirit," said Maynor, now a physical therapist whose husband Clay Maynor is the tennis director for the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department.

"I started tennis with Dave when I was five years old. He taught me from 5 to 13. He introduced my whole family to tennis . . . mom, dad, sister. I owe him a lot. He created such a positive atmosphere.

"He took me to Florida to my first national (tournament) when I was 12.

"He really helped me to set a goal to win the state 10s (at Farmfield). That was my goal, and we talked about it. He helped me to reach it."


(11/30/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Smiths named 'Tennis Family of the Year' for SC
By: Philip M. Bowman

“The family that plays tennis together stays together” could be the motto of the Smith family of Daniel Islan
 
But there is a slight twist for the Smith family, which includes mom Cori, dad Michael and children Luke, Jake and Max. When the Smiths hit the road to watch their tennis sons in action, dad occasionally takes a break from the serves, volleys and stress of high performance tennis.

“He helps balance everyone and everything out,” Cori Smith said of her husband Michael, who serves as a golf pro on Daniel Island. “Sometimes he brings his fishing poles or finds other things to do when he needs a break from the action.”

The Smiths are committed to tennis and if you need proof, just check out the family’s resume. The Smiths have been named the USTA Tennis Family of the Year for South Carolina and will be honored this month at the organization’s annual banquet.

Cori has been a longtime tennis instructor and coach while enjoying a wildly successful playing career.

Her sons are also talented. The youngest child, Luke, is only 8 but is state ranked in the 12-and-under group.

Jake, 11, is ranked in the top 20 in the South by the USTA in the 12-and-under group. Max, 14, is ranked in the top 20 in the South for the 14-and-under age group.

The family often hits the road on the weekend so their sons can compete at a high level. The two oldest brothers have played in tournaments in such locales as Florida, Alabama and Atlanta to name a few venues.

The boys are totally dedicated to the game. Jake and Max are both homeschooled at the MW Tennis Academy on Daniel Island at the Family Circle Tennis Center. Luke attends the academy’s after-school program three days a week.

The Smith boys are focused and driven to compete and succeed. But they can be found playing other sports, mainly soccer, for a change of pace.

Other award winners with Daniel Island connections include Jared Pratt and Katherine Lyman.

Pratt, who plays for Bishop England, won the junior boys’ Player of the Year honors while Lyman won the Kimberly Hampton girls’ Most Improved Player award .

Kimberly Hampton was named Most Improved Junior Girl in 1992. Kimberly was an outstanding junior player from Easley who went on to play for Presbyterian College, where she compiled an undefeated record in South Atlantic Conference matches. After college, she joined the US Army and rose to the rank of Captain. She was killed in 2004 when the helicopter she was piloting was shot down in Iraq. She was 27. Kimberly was a tough competitor, a fine young lady and a brave soldier.

The local award winners will join coaches, players and volunteers from all over the state and will be honored for their tennis achievements later this year by USTA South Carolina at the organization’s annual meeting on Isle of Palms.

“These award recipients showcase vast talent in the sport of tennis in South Carolina,” said Graham Cox, executive director of USTA South Carolina. “We are proud to celebrate their accomplishments and dedication to growing tennis throughout our state.”


(11/21/16)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Defending champion Sloane Stephens joins 2017 Volvo Car Open field
Sloane Stephens beat Elena Vesnina in the 2016 Volvo Car Open final last April, and both were officially added to the 2017 field Monday. Stephens, 23, joins Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki as past champions who will play in the tournament scheduled for April 1-9 on Daniel Island.

Stephens is No. 35 in the current Women’s Tennis Association rankings. Vesnina is No. 16.

Also added Monday: Johanna Konta of the United Kingdom, ranked No. 10.

“Our player commitments continue to grow, and we are thrilled to bring Johanna, Sloane and Elena to Charleston,” tournament manager Eleanor Adams said.

Konta, 25, is having a breakthrough year and will play in the tournament main draw for the first time. She won her first WTA title this year in Stanford. She made the finals in Beijing and semifinals in Eastbourne and at the Australian Open. Konta also reached the quarterfinals in Wuhan, Montreal, Miami, Monterrey and the Rio Olympics.

She is the first woman from Britain to reach the top 10 in 32 years.

Stephens has three WTA titles in 2016, with Auckland and Acapulco along with the Volvo Car Open. With a winner’s check of $128,100 last April, she received a new car, a blue Volvo V60 Polestar.

Vesnina has played in 10 previous Charleston tournaments. She was also a singles finalist in 2011. Along with fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, she won a Gold Medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics in women’s doubles.


(11/19/16)  Elliotts experience huge seven-day tennis stretch
The Elliott family of Daniel Island enjoyed a huge seven-day tennis span earlier this month.

The 40-plus 8.0 mixed doubles team that Maria Elliott plays on at Family Circle Tennis Center won a national championship in Surprise, Ariz., on Sunday, Nov. 6. That's right, national champions, a feat most league tennis players can only dream about.

That's not all. Not to be outdone, Maria's 16-year-old daughter, Emily Elliott, did her part the next day in keeping Bishop England's unbeaten season and march to a another girls tennis state championship alive in a lower state final against Waccamaw. The sophomore standout had another big day the following Saturday in easily winning her match at No. 3 singles in the Bishops' 7-0 romp past Mid-Carolina for their sixth consecutive state championship.

Yes, it was quite a week for Daniel Island, the Family Circle Tennis Center league tennis team, and Bishop England. And, of course, the Elliott household, although hubby Scott and 14-year-old son Matthew could only help the girls celebrate their success.

Most local tennis players and followers probably know the well-documented Bishop England story.

But what the Family Circle Tennis Center mixed doubles team captained by Allison Pickhardt accomplished all the way from Daniel Island, to the Chattanooga Southern Sectionals, to Arizona was extraordinary. After dropping its first match of the local league season, the Family Circle "I'd Hit That" team won 22 straight matches. The last two wins both were by 2-1 over teams from Texas and Florida.

In addition to Elliott and Pickhardt, the team includes Mathew Sears, Cristina Garrett, Nima Moghadam, Mark Pickhardt, Richard Hughes, Dave Williams, Teri Robinson, Mandy Jones Mixson, Greg Yancey, Tyler Davis, Christina Liegl, Elizabeth Forney, Stephanie Donley, Meghan Van Alen, Michael Millican and David Robinson.

Like many league players, Maria works her job into her tennis schedule. For instance, she played on four mixed doubles teams. Her 40-plus 9.0 mixed team also made it to the sectionals where, like at the state tournament, she played for both teams, at times running from one court to another court to play in a different match.

In her free time from tennis, Maria still runs ... a business, that is..

Emily also is quite busy. Fortunately for the Elliotts, Bishop England, Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy and the Elliott's residence are all located on Daniel Island. Emily, who was No. 4 on the Bishops' 2015 tennis team, also played soccer for BE as a freshman.

But her mother said tennis has won. Emily currently drills five or six days a week at MWTennis.

"It's BE, to tennis (MW), to home for Emily," said Maria, a 4.5 player who played college tennis at Winthrop.

"Emily has played soccer and tennis since the seventh or eighth grade, but she gravitated to tennis and loved it. She likes tennis best. Now the focus is on tennis and getting a college scholarship."

RATINGS COMING

It's time for some young, hard-hitting players who win most of the time in league tennis to maybe start worrying about their current NTRP rating. That is, unless they are looking forward to getting "bounced up" to a higher level.

No one apparently knows until the 2017 ratings appear online. That date shouldn't be more than a week or so away.

That's just in time for registration for the 2017 spring championship season. Team registrations will open Dec. 2 and run through Jan. 6 when an adult league team is required to have a minimum of eight players on its roster in order to participate in the spring leagues.

The annual captains meeting is scheduled for Jan. 4 at the main library on Calhoun Street.

LOCAL NOTES

Allie Gretkowski took first place in girls 14 doubles and second in singles in the recent USTA National Selection Tournament at Hilton Head Island. The 13-year-old also made it to the girls 18 doubles semifinals in the recent Lexington ITF tournament.

The SC Level 3 Charleston Thanksgiving Junior Classic is scheduled for next weekend at Charleston Tennis Center. The entry deadline is Sunday (tonight) at midnight. Registration is available at www.sctennis.com (tournament No. 700045916). Contact tournament director Peggy Bohne (843-766-7401).

The SC Level 4 Snee Farm Country Club Junior Challenger is set for Dec. 2-4 (entry deadline Nov. 29). Registration is available online (tournament No. 700119716). Contact tournament director Richard Shy (richardshy@hotmail.com).

The award-winning (USTA SC and Southern) Holiday Classic adult tournament at Family Circle Tennis Center is scheduled for Dec. 2-4 (entry deadline Nov. 29). Online registration for this USTA-sanctioned tournament is available (tournament No. 704126716).

In addition to Family Circle's Holiday Classic being chosen as the USTA Southern adult tournament of the year, Kiawah Island's Jonathan Barth was selected as the Southern's professional of the year. Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., who has teamed with LTP Tennis' Emma Navarro to win national doubles titles, won the Southern's junior sportsmanship award.


(11/16/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: BE girls' tennis team scores 21st state title!
By: Philip M. Bowman

The Bishop England girls’ tennis team won its sixth straight state championship, and No. 1 as a Class AAA entry, with a 7-0 romp of Mid-Carolina Saturday at the Cayce Tennis Center.

Here’s a few more numbers to crunch. Coach Kristen Fleming-Arnold, Class of 1993, also played on four state championship teams when she was a student at BE.

The title gives the Bishops 21 overall state titles, which all adds up to No. 10.

Modern math?

Hardly. All the numbers mentioned give the Bishops the No. 10 spot on the all-time state championships list in the country, according to the National Federation of High Schools Record Book.

The Bishops are a long way from the top of the tennis mountaintop at a national level with 21. Honolulu Punahou leads with 42 state titles while Edina, Minn. checks in at No. 2 with 33 state crown
 

Still, no one is complaining at the Daniel Island-based school, where everyone is celebrating.

The Bishops also completed the season with a perfect record, 18-0. It is believed to be the first perfect season in the school’s tennis history.

“I’ve been a coach here for eight years and a player for four years, and I don’t remember any tennis team going undefeated,” said Fleming-Arnold, who also coaches the boys’ team and owns a state title as coach of that program. “We’ve had some good seasons, winning state championships when we had a good record with four or five losses. But I can’t remember a team going undefeated.”

Fleming-Arnold said much of the focus was on winning a state title, not going undefeated. She might have mentioned it a few times when the team was nearing 10 straight regular-season victories.

“I did tell the team we were 17-0 after we won the Lower State,” she said. “I don’t think the girls took it as extra pressure. I think they took it as a challenge and were excited to close it out.”

It might be the most talented team, depth-wise in school history.

No. 1 Jenna Vroman signed with Wofford last week, while No. 2 Camryn Deames inked with the Air Force Academy. They have a combined seven state titles under their belts.

“Jenna and Camryn had big roles,” Fleming-Arnold said. “They helped build this team and the program. They had talent on the court and leadership abilities off. They will be missed.”

Vroman, No. 1 in singles who missed the Lower State championship with an illness, survived a challenge in a 7-5, 6-4 victory win over Mid-Carolina’s Elise Mills

Deames played well as usual in the state finals with a 6-0, 6-1 singles victory over Caroline Magnet. She lost just nine games in four state championship matches.

Emily Elliott, the Bishops’ No. 3 player topped Riley Frazier 6-2, 6-2.

The Bishops Lilly Woods defeated Sarah DeWitt 6-0, 6-0 and Eleanor Campbell topped Candice Northcutt, 6-0, 6-0.

In doubles, Vroman and Deames teamed up to defeat Mills and Frazier, 9-8, while Crista Vroman, Jenna’s younger sister, and Drue Ranson defeated Reagan Pee and Catherine Taylor, 6-0, 6-0.


(11/12/16)  Bishop England wins state tennis title; Academic Magnet falls
Bishop England tennis fans probably would forgive coach Kristin Fleming Arnold if she ever took a state final for granted. If she did, that would be a first.

Fleming Arnold is 11-0 in state finals with the Bishops after their 7-0 blitzing of Mid-Carolina in Saturday’s Class AAA girls tennis state championship match at Cayce Tennis Center. The victory marked the sixth consecutive state title for Bishop England and the Bishops’ 21st girls tennis state title overall, tops in the state.

The eighth-year coach also went 4-0 in state finals as a player for the Bishops. A 1993 BE graduate, she guided the Bishops to a boys state title in 2015.

“It’s nice to be successful at a school you attended and played for,” she said. “This was a great team . . . a great group of girls.

“I’m excited for the girls. We won our own tournament, went undefeated and won a sixth straight championship. This was our first unbeaten team. It’s the best team I’ve had. We’ve had depth in the past, but this is the first year we’ve had depth and a lot of talent.”

This team even had two seniors who signed college grants on Wednesday, No. 1 Jenna Vroman with Wofford and No. 2 Camryn Deames with the Air Force Academy. They won seven state titles between them, Deames with four.

“Camryn and Jenna worked incredibly hard,” Fleming Arnold said. “They helped build this team and the program, and other girls could see how hard they worked.”

Deames continued her success in finals, notching a 6-0, 6-1 singles victory against Mid-Carolina’s Caroline Magnet and has yielded just nine total games in four finals. “I’m glad we won it for (coach) Kristin,” Deames said. “It feels awesome to win a sixth straight state title.”

Vroman had a tougher time in posting a 7-5, 6-4 win over Mid-Carolina sophomore Elise Mills. “Our match was close, but we’ve had close matches in the past. I actually lost to her in our last match at Belton, and now we’re 2-2 against each other,” Vroman said.

“It’s been an amazing experience. Going to state is so much fun, even though we were expected to win,” she said.

One player who definitely will miss Vroman and Deames is sophomore Emily Elliott, the Bishops’ No. 3 player who posted a 6-2, 6-2 over Riley Frazier. “Hopefully, I’ll be No. 1 next year, but we’ll miss Jenna and Camryn,” Elliott said.

BISHOP ENGLAND 7, MID-CAROLINA 0
Jenna Vroman (BE) def. Elise Mills, 7-5, 6-4; Camryn Deames (BE) def. Caroline Magnet, 6-0, 6-1; Emily Elliott (BE) def. Riley Frazier, 6-2, 6-2; Lily Woods (BE) def. Sarah DeWitt, 6-0, 6-0; Eleanor Campbell (BE) def. Tandice Northcutt, 6-0, 6-0.   DOUBLES: J.Vroman/Deames (BE) def. Mills/Frazier, 9-8; Crista Vroman/Drue Ranson (BE) def. Reagan Peel/Catherine Taylor, 6-0, 6-0.

Academic Magnet

Academic Magnet faced a major challenge on Saturday in the Raptors’ second appearance in a girls tennis state championship. Christ Church (17-1) demonstrated too much talent and tournament experience for the Raptors (14-3) while scoring a 7-0 victory at Cayce Tennis Center in the Class AA state final.

The result was much the same as the Raptors’ first final appearance, a 6-1 loss to Christ Church in the 2009 Class A state final.

This time, Christ Church was making its 10th straight appearance in a state final and the Cavaliers won their 14th state title overall.

“We have grown a lot as a team since the beginning of the season and feel we have a better perspective on what it will take to win state next year,” first-year Magnet coach Tracey Castle said.

“It’s been a great first year coaching the girls tennis team. The final score certainly does not reflect how hard the girls played today. I am very proud of what they have accomplished.”

CHRIST CHURCH 7, ACADEMIC MAGNET 0
SINGLES: Day Nuckolls (CC) def. Mina Schaafsma, 6-0, 6-1; Lauren Allen (CC) def. Aileen Shi, 6-0, 6-0; Abby Riddle (CC) def. Thandi Nixon, 6-3, 6-1; Mary Philpot (CC) def. Carolina Young, 6-0, 6-2; Mary Cage Carter (CC) def. Mary Claire Newsome, 6-0, 6-0.   DOUBLES: Avery Nuckolls/Sarah Allen (CC) def. Schaafsma/Shi, 8-3; Paula Pieper/Jenna Taylor (CC) def. Sophie Estoppey/Tori Streetman, 6-1, 6-1.


(11/10/16)  PINE FOREST - NOVEMBER ENEWSLETTER: Racquets for Recovery
Just a few last-minute reminders about Racquets......
 
The deadline to register is fast - approaching - Sunday, October 30th.  We have already seen a great number of players sign up to play - don't miss out!
 
Debbie Moser Memory Board - As you may know, this year's tournament is dedicated to our dear friend Debbie Moser, who passed away not long ago.  To celebrate our friendship with Debbie, a few of her close friends are creating a personal photo board of Debbie memories.  If you have a favorite photograph (no photocopies) of you and Debbie, there will be a place at the Racquets tournament to pin them up for all to see.  Please have photos be no larger that 4X6, and please write your name on the back.  Debbie would have loved that we are all sharing special memories! For questions or more info, please contact Pascale or Gwen.  pascale.bortolin@juno.com; ggreenwalt41@gmail.com
 
We are still in need of volunteers - especially on Friday morning & afternoon for set-up,(maybe some heavy lifting) and on Saturday evening.  Please contact Kelley Johnson if you can help!  ramhead@aol.com
 
Raffle tickets on sale now for a Custom-made Oyster Table
$10 Donation per Ticket
Drawing: Sat. Nov. 5, 2016
Table can be designed as you wish!
 
12th Annual Racquets for Recovery - November 4-6,  2016
The Club at Pine Forest, Summerville, SC
 
"Taking a Hard Swing at Breast Cancer" MEN'S, WOMEN'S & MIXED DOUBLES TOURNAMENT
 
Help us break our overall donation of $250,000
 
2016 Racquets for Recovery
Dedicated to Debbie Moser
 
All the proceeds for this year's event will continue to benefit the special fund set up at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.  This fund helps meet the needs of their "local" breast cancer patients in their day-to-day lives. 
 
Tennis Tournament - USTA Level 3 - Sanctioned Men's, Women's and Mixed Doubles (no singles, but new 50+ division).  
 
$50 per player for the first event and $20 per player for the second event plus USTA fees.
Entry Fee includes:  Event Hat, Beverages, Friday Night Cookout, Saturday & Sunday Lunch, and Saturday Night Celebration
 
Register Early, deadline is 10/30 - Tournament ID #  700042416
Friday Night Cookout  All are welcome -  November 4th at 6:30
Courtesy of Trinity Catering - Allen Welch

Join us for the first rounds of the tournament and be a part of the pink excitement!
 
Check us out on Saturday - there will be silent auction items that everyone can bid on.
 
                                                                
Raffle tickets on sale now for a Custom-made Oyster Table
$10 Donation per Ticket
Drawing: Sat. Nov. 5, 2016
Table can be designed as you wish!
 
Contact - Shirley Hunter at racquestsforrecovery@gmail.com  or 843-200-3815  or visit our Facebook page - www.facebook.com/racquetsforrecovery

Hurricane Party
PFCC HURRICANE APPRECIATION NIGHT
 
Over a month ago we had a brush with Hurricane Matthew. Though many other areas were harder hit than us in Pine Forest, we still had our own challenges. Our success that weekend wasn't our absence of challenges; it's was our ability to deal with them collectively. We had neighbors offering up tree removal, chainsaws, water, generators, following up with SCE&G, home inspection for evacuated neighbors and much more. In many cases, we only know these people through Facebook. As a community, lets put the faces and names together in a gathering to personally thank everyone collectively in person. On Saturday November 19th @ 6pm lets get together at Pine Forest CC to thank everyone. It's a potluck. Bring a dish or appetizer!! We will have live music by JamiSun! If you've never heard him, you're in for quite a treat!! Along with that, we will have collection tubs set up for canned food donations. John Michael Stagliano will be collecting canned food for the Lowcountry Home of Hope. LHH is a home that provides a safe shelter, food, support services and an avenue to self sufficiency for homeless adults in our community. It's our hope that their Thanksgiving will be as belly filling and grand as our own. We hope to see you there and thanks again for making this neighborhood a model for GIVING!!


(11/10/16)  Camryn Deames has unfinished business at Bishop England before taking her tennis skills to Air Force Academy
Joleen Deames isn't concerned at all about her 17-year-old daughter's upcoming move from Daniel Island to Colorado Springs, where she will play tennis the next four years for the Air Force Academy.

Bishop England senior Camryn Deames is a mere 5-5, 105 pounds, but a black belt in karate.

"The karate and fitness training will be a huge asset to her at the Air Force Academy," said Joleen, a CPA with the City of Charleston.

Camryn sees the Air Force Academy experience, starting with basic training in early summer, as a golden opportunity. "I can go there and be whatever I want to be," she said.

First, there's a small assignment for Camryn: Help Bishop England's unbeaten girls tennis team one last time in a pursuit of a sixth straight SCHSL state championship on Saturday at noon at Cayce Tennis Center. Upper state champion Mid-Carolina will be the Bishops' opponent in the Class AAA state final.

On Monday, Camryn led the Bishops (17-0) to their fourth consecutive lower state title with a 6-0 win over Waccamaw. She played No. 1 in Monday's match while usual No. 1 Jenna Vroman sat out due to sickness. Deames signed her commitment with Air Force on Wednesday while Vroman signed with Wofford.

Playing in state finals hasn't really been a true test for Deames. She has yielded a total of only eight games in her previous three trips to the state final, including a 6-0, 6-0 win in 2013 when the Bishops scored a 6-0 win over a previously unbeaten Mid-Carolina team.

"Playing tennis was a way to grow and hang out with my friends and family," Deames said about her high school tennis career.

But this is a special Bishop England team. "I think we surprised ourselves. We knew we were a really good team, but we had to prove it," she said. "I think we have a great team, a really deep one. We have a good program and a great coach (former BE player Kristin Fleming Arnold)."

Deames started playing tennis when she was six or seven years old, although she tried volleyball and lacrosse as an eighth-grader at Daniel Island School.

She earned her black belt while a sophomore in high school. "I started (karate) with my little brother (current eighth-grader Mitchell) and I enjoyed it," said Deames, who trains for tennis at Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy.

"The karate training was a five-year journey for Camryn," her mother said. "She trained three times a week at the Daniel Island Dojo. She would go to tennis from 4-6 p.m., then eat dinner in the car on the way to karate from 6:30-7:30.

"She does not train on a regular basis now but plans to go back to the Dojo after high school tennis. It is hard to fit in her training at Family Circle, BE tennis, fitness training and her school work. "

Raptors face Christ Church

The Academic Magnet Raptors (14-2) will play Greenville's Christ Church (16-1) on Saturday at noon in the Class AA girls tennis state final at Cayce Tennis Center.


(11/09/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: BE tennis team pursue state title
By: Philip M. Bowman

The beat goes on for the Bishop England High School volleyball and girls’ tennis teams in pursuit of yet more state championships.

The Bishops’ volleyball team will go after its 18th straight state championship, first at the Class AAA level, when they play Camden at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at White Knoll High School. A championship would extend the Bishops’ current national record of consecutive state crowns.

They advanced with an impressive 25-12, 25-14, 25-10 triumph at Bluffton Monday night.

The tennis team will go after its sixth straight state title, and first at the Class AAA level, when they play Mid-Carolina at noon Saturday at the Cayce Tennis Center.

The Bishops’ netters advanced with an impressive 6-0 victory over Waccamaw in Monday night’s Lower State championship at Snee Farm Country Club. The triumph gave the Bishops a 17-0 record heading into the season finale. Waccamaw closed out the season with a 10-9 mark.

The Bishop England tennis team’s victory was even more impressive because No. 1 singles player Jenna Vroman was sick and missed the match. She is expected to play Saturday.

Camryn Deames played No. 1 singles Monday night and crushed Kate Drosieko, 6-0, 6-1. Emily Elliott, Lilly Woods, Eleanor Campbell and Mackenzie Penton all cruised to easy wins in singles play.

Drue Ranson and Crista Vroman teamed up in doubles to give the Bishops another victory.


(11/07/16)  Bishop England girls tennis shuts out Waccamaw for Class AAA Lower State crown
Wofford-bound Jenna Vroman came down sick on Monday. Without any advance notice, Air Force Academy-committed Camryn Deames moved up from No. 2 to the top of the Bishop England lineup.

The results were the same for the Bishops (17-0) as they posted their third straight playoff shutout with a 6-0 victory over Waccamaw (10-9) at Snee Farm Country Club to capture the SCHSL girls tennis Class AAA Lower State championship.

Next up for coach Kristin Fleming Arnold's BE team is a shot at a sixth consecutive state title on Saturday at noon at the Cayce Tennis Center against either Mid-Carolina or Clinton.

"We have a very strong team, a lot of good players, a lot of depth," Fleming Arnold said about the decisive win even without the team's No. 1 player.

It never hurts to have a pair of major college recruits playing on your team, either.

Deames, a 5-5, 105-pound black belt, was totally focused in delivering a 6-0, 6-1 win over Waccamaw sophomore Kate Drosieko. The Bishops yielded a total of just eight games.

"I felt pretty confident today," said Deames, who is having quite a week with a one-sided victory at No. 1 singles in the lower state final, a Wednesday signing with Air Force Academy and a chance to be a part of a state championship for the fourth straight year.

Sophomore Emily Elliott, eighth-grader Lilly Woods, sophomore Eleanor Campbell and seventh-grader Mackenzie Penton followed the lead of Deames while fellow senior Jenna Vroman gave her support from the sidelines. "She'll be ready Saturday," Fleming Arnold said about her usual No. 1.

But it was Crista Vroman (Jenna's sophomore sister) and senior Drue Ranson who scored the only individual shutout of the day with a 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 2 doubles.

BISHOP ENGLAND 6, WACCAMAW 0
SINGLES: C‎amryn Deames (BE) def. Kate Drosieko, 6-0, 6-1; Emily Elliott (BE) def. Sassy Tolson, 6-2, 6-0; Lilly Woods (BE) def. Annie Reichart, 6-2, 6-0; Eleanor Campbell (BE) def. Mary Drosieko, 6-0, 6-1; Mackenzie Penton (BE) def. McCallee Watson, 6-1, 6-1.   DOUBLES: Drue Ranson/Crista Vroman (BE) def. Georgia Mattar/Rylee Allison, 6-0, 6-0.


(11/05/16)  Rogers having major impact on local junior tennis
Shelby Rogers had the best year of her tennis career. She accomplished things that must have seemed like dreams just a couple of years ago.

From starting the year at No. 146, she broke into the world's top 50 in August. In Paris, she made the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam in June.

Of course, this 24-year-old is from Charleston. That's rarified air for any local player before her.

Rogers has had a major impact on junior tennis in the Charleston area. Every young tennis player in town dreams of following Shelby's dream road.

Just last week, Rogers came home to Charleston. She stopped by Charleston Tennis Center to hit with several of the area's brightest young stars. "The girls wanted to see what it was like to hit against her . . . what a pro ball is," said local teaching pro Chip Hand, Shelby's brother-in-law.

"All the kids that hit when Shelby was there (Charleston Tennis Center) were my normal ones. She hit with Lauren Quinn, Jared Pratt and Jenna Vroman that day."

Hand, a former Brigham Young All-American, now is based out of Mount Pleasant's Park West and Charleston Tennis Center after operating out of Family Circle Tennis Center for several years.

"I came home for a week on vacation," Rogers said. "Chip is my brother-in law (married to Shelby's sister, former Bishop England star Sabra Rogers) ... I went to say Hi.

"I'm still working with Marc (Lucero) ... doing preseason in LA again. I'm finished for the year ...  getting ready for Australia since I didn't play (there) this year."

She is looking forward to 2017, especially the early part. "Not (a lot of points to defend) at the beginning of the year. Lots of opportunity to get back in the top 50," said the currently 60th-ranked Rogers, whose career-high No. 49 ranking came in August.

Only two left

Bishop England was expected to be right where the Bishops are with two match dates left in the 2016 girls high school tennis season. It's a little disappointing that Wando isn't there, too. And Summerville, of course.

But Academic Magnet's berth in Monday's Class AA lower state final is exciting, even if the Raptors have to travel to Marion for a 4:30 p.m. matchup.

Academic Magnet has a good chance of winning the lower state title. But perennial power Christ Church, the probable opponent for the Raptors in a state final, has won 13 state titles, and might have 16 if it hadn't had to take on Bishop England in the last three AA/A finals.

Bishop England owns a South Carolina best 20 state girls championships and is currently working on a string of five straight state titles.

The unbeaten Bishops will play long-time rival Waccamaw in Monday's 4:30 p.m. lower state Class AAA final at Mount Pleasant's Snee Farm Country Club, with the winner facing either Clinton or Mid-Carolina in Saturday's final at Cayce Tennis Center. The Bishops are heavy favorites to add another state title to their record.

Local Notes

The 15-year-old team of Emma Navarro of LTP Tennis and Georgian Chloe Beck continued their outstanding year by finishing as runner-up on Saturday in girls 18 doubles at the International Tennis Federation event in Lexington. Navarro was a quarterfinalist in singles, while Beck won the singles title.

Southern boys 16 No. 1 Jared Pratt is playing this weekend in Delray Beach, Fla., along with many other local juniors in a national selection tournament that was postponed by Hurricane Matthew. "I'm not traveling to this one," coach Chip Hand said. "Jacob (Jahn) is in 16s, and Sam (Kavarana) and Jared are in 18s, and the sites are quite far apart . . . so too tough to watch all (three)."

USTA South Carolina has announced that Judy Levering of Hilton Head Island and Renata Marcinkowska of Myrtle Beach will be inducted into the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame on Dec. 10 at Wild Dunes Resort.

Remember Nicole Coopersmith, the talented 17-year-old up-and-coming winner of last month's $10,000 Pro Circuit at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant? The precise-hitting 5-9 blonde daughter of a former WTA Tour player already has climbed 108 spots in the WTA rankings to No. 476 since her departure from Charleston. Coopersmith's big points boost came in qualifying and then making the round of 16 in a $50,000 event in Mexico.

Ellie Halbauer is sitting at No. 333 in the world, but made the round of 16 at $50,000 Scottsdale, Ariz., and should climb to a career high on Monday.

It looks doubtful that former area resident Samantha Crawford, currently ranked No. 105, will be able to win another Australian Open Wild Card Challenge three-tournament segment of $50,000 events. Crawford lost in the first round at Macon, Ga., and Scottsdale, with only Waco, Texas, left.

Pine Forest Country Club tennis director Andy Steingold recently played on a Southern senior team that won its third straight Keith Donoff Men's Challenge Cup at Bitsy Grant Tennis Center in Atlanta. The Southern team competed against teams from the Midwest and Middle States sectionals as well as another team from the South.

The Summerville Seahawks Junior Team Tennis group received a big present, even if an invitation to the JTT Nationals at Cayce Tennis Center came just four days before the event started. Although the Seahawks did not win the event, coach Josh Byrd and his team were thrilled at the chance to play for a national championship.

Randy Pate Academy player/Wando student Chelsea Sawyer has announced that she will sign with the University of Tennessee on national signing day this month. Sawyer trains at LTP Tennis after moving here from Pate's academy at Winston-Salem, N.C., but was not able to play for Wando this fall due to SCHSL residency rules.


(11/03/16)  Bishop England girls defeat Aynor in SCHSL Class AAA tennis Lower State semifinals
Bishop England had an even easier time this year on its rural trip to Aynor. The Bishops (16-0) dropped a total of only five games in scoring a one-sided 6-0 victory over Region 6-AAA champion Aynor (12-4) on Wednesday afternoon in the SCHSL Class AAA girls tennis lower state semifinals.

Coach Kristin Fleming Arnold's deep and talented BE team now needs only two more victories to claim a sixth straight state championship. With only four available courts at Aynor, the Bishops wrapped up the match quickly, dropping only a pair of games in those four matches. The other singles match and No. 2 doubles match weren't much closer as the teams played only pro-sets at those positions since the match was already decided.

A year ago while en route to a fifth consecutive state title, the Bishops lost nine games to the host Blue Jackets in the lower state Class AA final.

Senior stars Jenna Vroman and Camryn Deames both posted 6-0, 6-0 shutouts in earning Bishop England's spot in next Monday's Lower State final at Snee Farm Country Club in Mount Pleasant against Region 6 runner-up Waccamaw or Region 6 third place Georgetown.

BISHOP ENGLAND 6, AYNOR 0
SINGLES: Jenna Vroman (BE) def. Shelley Baker, 6-0, 6-0; Camryn Deames (BE) def. Rilee Rabon, 6-0, 6-0; Lilly Woods (BE) def. Sarah Evans, 6-0, 6-1; Eleanor Campbell (BE) def. Rebekah Altman, 6-0, 6-1; Caroline Lively (BE) def. Grier Bethea, 8-2.   DOUBLES: Dru Ranson/MacKenzie Penton (BE) def. Macie Adams/Laura Ellis, 8-1.

WANDO, WAVE LOSE

In a repeat of the 2014 Class AAAA state championship match, Region 5-AAAAA runner-up Dutch Fork ended 2015 state titlist Wando's hopes of a third straight appearance in the state final on Wednesday in Mount Pleasant as the Silver Foxes defeated Wando, 4-2 , in the Class AAAAA Lower State semifinals.

Coach Eric Praedel's Wando team (17-4) won only at Nos. 2 and 5 singles.

Dutch Fork will now join 5-AAAAA champion River Bluff in Monday's Lower State final. River Bluff posted a 5-1 win over Summerville in the other Lower State semifinal.

River Bluff (21-2) dropped No. 1 singles, but that was all as the Gators turned back Summerville (15-8) in Lexington on Wednesday. Sophomore Paige Reynolds collected the lone win for the Green Wave in a tight three-setter.

RIVER BLUFF 5, SUMMERVILLE 1
SINGLES: Reynolds (S) def. Floyd, 3-6, 6-2, 10-5; Votion (RB) def. Long, 6-1, 6-0; Togneri (RB) def. Naval, 6-4, 6-3; Zhu (RB) def. McKee, 7-5, 6-0; Thatcher (RB) def. Pagan, 6-1, 6-1.   DOUBLES: Roquemore/Byers (RB) def. Zoeller/Rast, 6-3, 6-1.

RAPTORS ADVANCE

Region 6-AA champion Academic Magnet (13-2) had little trouble with Green Sea-Floyds on Wednesday afternoon as the Raptors blanked the visitors, 7-0, in a Class AA Lower State semifinal match played in North Charleston.

Coach Tracey Castle's Magnet team lost a total of only 10 games to the Class A Trojans and will face Region 7-AA titlist Marion (11-1) on Monday in the Lower State final at Marion.

Marion posted a 6-0 win over 6-AA runner-up Woodland (7-3) in Marion in the other semifinal.

ACADEMIC MAGNET 7, GREEN SEA-FLOYDS 0
SINGLES: Mina Schaafsma (AM) def. Kaylea Jordan, 6-0, 6-0; Aileen Shi (AM) def. Emory Kienast, 6-0, 6-1; Thandi Nixon (AM) def. Hali Hutchinson, 6-0, 6-0; Caroline Young (AM) def. Tamera Jackson, 6-1, 6-1; Mary Clair Newsom (AM) def. Chance Caulder, 7-5, 6-1.   DOUBLES: Schaafsma/Shi (AM) def. Jordan/Kienast, 8-0; Sophie Estoppey/Tori Streetman (AM) def. Shayla Hardee/Sarah Hewitt, 8-1.

MARION 6, WOODLAND 0
SINGLES: Sammie Querubin (M) def. Courtney Simmons, 7-5, 7-6; Rae Inabinet (M) def. Maia Wilson, 5-7, 6-1, 10-8; Andi Querubin (M) def. Blair Floyd, 6-0, 6-1; Julian Inabinet (M) def. Kimani Green, 6-4, 6-3; Emily Graham (M) def. Charlene Simpson, 6-2, 6-0.  DOUBLES: Lonesha Bethea/Jasmine Wiggins (M) def. Makayla Cobbs/Yani Perry, 6-0, 6-1.


(11/02/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Charleston Mixed Doubles teams battle adversity and evacuate all the way to Tennessee!
By: Submitted by DIBA President and FCTC Team Captain Dave Williams

The Low Country Tennis Association (LCTA) 8.0 and 9.0 age 40 and over teams battled difficult circumstances leading up to the USTA Sectional Tournament in Chattanooga October 7-9. Both teams swept their state tournament losing only one combined court during their championship run, however Hurricane Matthew evacuations of family members and other relatives in harm’s way looked to derail their goals while in Tennessee. Despite losing four of their players, the 9.0 team was still able to battle for a 2-2 record. The 8.0 team on the other hand went undefeated in pool play and advanced to the national championships in Surprise, Arizona (to be held this weekend) with a 2-1 victory in the finals. It was a bittersweet tournament as one couple learned that a tree had fallen through the roof of their home back in Charleston, causing them to head home early and miss the finals. In the end, team members know that tennis takes second place to family, but in this case with families evacuating together to Chattanooga, everyone was able to share in the celebration.


(11/01/16)  Bishop England girls getting closer to sixth straight state title in tennis
Unbeaten Bishop England has a favorable path in its pursuit of a sixth straight SCHSL girls tennis state championship, while Wando faces a key test at home on Wednesday against Dutch Fork in a battle of the last two Class AAAA state champions.

Coach Kristin Fleming Arnold's BE team (15-0) has to travel to Region 6-AAA titlist Aynor on Wednesday afternoon for a Class AAA lower state semifinal. The Bishops crushed Aynor, 6-0, in last year's lower state AA final while yielding just nine games in another match played at Aynor.

A win on Wednesday would advance the Bishops to a lower state final against either Georgetown or old rival Waccamaw next Monday at Snee Farm Country Club in Mount Pleasant. Waccamaw was runner-up to Aynor in region play and Georgetown is a No. 3 seed from its region.

The Bishops, behind seniors Jenna Vroman and Camryn Deames, have scored consecutive 6-0 victories over Loris and Brookland-Cayce in their first trip to the Class AAA state playoffs.

In Class AAAAA, Wando (17-3) appears to be fully capable of making a run for a second straight state title after taking back-to-back 6-0 wins over Lexington and Blythewood. But 2014 Class AAAA state champion Dutch Fork is a perennial challenger for state honors. The No. 1 matchup between the Warriors' Lily Conant and Dutch Fork's Sam Callis should be a good one, according to Wando coach Eric Praedel.

In the other AAAAA lower state semifinal, Summerville is geared up for a major challenge at River Bluff, a team that defeated Wando in the Bishop England Invitational. Coach David Long's Summerville team pulled off a 4-3 upset of No. 1 seed Socastee on Monday. The Green Wave was runner-up to Wando in 7-AAAAA.

Academic Magnet appears to have a strong chance in Class AA as the Raptors entertain Green Sea-Floyds on Wednesday afternoon in North Charleston in a lower state semifinal. Magnet blitzed Johnsonville, 6-0, in Monday's first round.

Woodland's Wolverines, coached by Gladys Summers, will play at Marion in the other lower state AA semifinal. Courtney Simmons led the Wolverines to a 7-0 win over Barnwell in the first round.


(11/01/16)  Tuesday's High School Sports Scores: Girls Tennis
RIVER BLUFF 5, JAMES ISLAND 1
Singles: Hinson (JI) d. Floyd 7-5, 6-3. Votion d. Snyder 6-0, 6-0. Togneri d. Loring 6-2, 6-0. Zhu d. Baker 6-4, 6-0. Thatcher d. Masindet 6-0, 6-0.   Doubles: Roquemore/Byers d. Harris/Eng 6-0, 6-0.

Records: James Island 13-4. Next: James Island’s season is complete.

WANDO 6, BLYTHEWOOD 0
Singles: Conant d. Myers 6-1, 6-4. Sinclaire d. Slagle 6-1, 6-2. Phillips d. Kramer 6-1, 6-0. Hayes d. Pryor 6-2, 6-4. Mitchell d. Haran 6-0, 6-0.    Doubles: Moore/Zimmermann d. Kitowicz/Todd 6-1, 6-4.

WOODLAND 7, BARNWELL 0
Singles: Simmons d. Scruggs 6-3, 6-1. Wilson d. Stone 6-1, 6-1. Floyd d. Davis 6-3, 6-2. Green d. Chavis 6-0, 6-1. Simpson d. Hooper 6-2, 6-4.   Doubles: Cobbs/Perry d. Razencrott/Henderson 6-3, 6-3.

Records: Woodland 7-2. Next: Woodland at Marion today.


(10/31/16)  STAFF REPORTS: Five local teams alive in SCHSL tennis playoffs
Five local teams survived the first round of the SCHSL girls tennis state playoffs last week, and Class AA Academic Magnet joins the playoffs on Monday as 2015 state champions Bishop England (14-0) and Wando (16-3) appear to be the most serious contenders for state titles once again.

Coach Kristin Fleming Arnold's BE outfit will continue the Bishops' charge to a possible sixth straight state title against visiting Brookland-Cayce (No.2 seed) on Monday in the Class AAA playoffs. The Bishops (1) rolled past Loris in last week's first round.

Three teams, led by Wando, are still alive in Class AAAAA. Coach Eric Praedel's Wando team (1) will take on what Praedel calls "a good team" when the Warriors face Blythewood (3) on Wando's home courts in Mount Pleasant on Monday after winning 6-0 over Lexington in the first round.

Also in AAAAA, James Is-land (3) will visit River Bluff (2), while Summerville (2) will travel to Socastee (1). James Island scored a 6-0 win over Sumter (4) in the first round, and Summerville pulled out a 4-3 victory over (4) Spring Valley.

In Class AA, which will play its first round on Monday, Academic Magnet (1) will take on Johnsonville (2) in North Charleston. Berkeley (3) will travel to A.C. Flora (1) on Monday in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs.


(10/27/16)  Thursday's High School Sports Scores: Girls Tennis
WANDO 6, LEXINGTON 0

Singles: Conant d. Lewis 6-1, 6-2. Sinclaire d. Bryan 6-3, 6-0. Hayes d. Goodman 6-0, 6-3. Mitchell d. Santilla 6-1, 6-2. McKellar d. Verman 6-3, 6-2.   Doubles: Zimmermann/Moore d. Garvin/Whetzell 6-2, 6-2.

Next: Wando hosts Blythewood Monday.


(10/27/16)  Wednesday's Lowcountry High School Sports Scores: Girls Tennis
JAMES ISLAND 6, SUMTER 0
Singles: Hinson d. Crawford 4-6, 7-5, 10-4. Snyder d. E. Alan 6-1, 6-3. Loring d. Smuts 6-2, 6-2. Baker d. R. Alan 6-0, 6-1. Masindet d. Shuping 6-1, 6-0.   Doubles: Eng/Harris d. DuBosey/Pittman 6-1, 6-2.

Records: James Island 13-3. Next: James Island at River Bluff Monday. Sumter's season is complete.

WEST FLORENCE 5, WEST ASHLEY 1
Singles: Dunnam d. Clayton 6-3, 7-5. Emerson d. Lowe 7-5, 6-3. Sansbury d. Brazelton 6-2, 6-0. Murry (WA) d. B. Yarnal 6-1, 1-6 (10-7). King d. Diamond 6-2, 6-2.   Doubles: A. Yarnal/Storr d. Laban/Angel 6-0, 6-3.

Next: West Florence plays the winner of Ashley Ridge and Dutch Fork Monday. West Ashley's season is complete.

SUMMERVILLE 4, SPRING VALLEY 3
Singles: Reynolds d. Latham 6-4, 3-6, 10-7. Long d. McMillin 6-3, 6-1. Naval d. Vanderberg 6-0, 6-0. Thompson (SV) d. McKee 6-3, 3-6, 10-5. Hoffman (SV) d. Pagan 6-4, 6-3.   Doubles: Reynolds/Naval d. Latham/McMillin 7-6(4), 7-6(3). Rao/Williams (SV) d. Zoeller/Rast 4-6, 6-2, 10-5.

Records: Summerville 14-7 (11-3). Spring Valley 6-9 (6-6). Next: Summerville at Socastee or hosts Irmo Monday. Spring Valley's season is complete.


(10/26/16)  LCTA e-Newsletter
EVENT UPDATE

LCTA/CPTL Annual Party Time Change
The LCTA / CPTL annual party is this Saturday, October 29, 2016 at the Family Circle Tennis Center, Daniel Island, SC. The starting time has been moved to 2:00 p.m. and will continue until approximately 6:00 p.m. 

There will be 2 sets of matches. The semifinals start at 2:00PM and the finals start at 4:00PM.

Charleston's Outdoor Catering will provide wonderful food and beverages at no cost to you. Food and beverage will be available starting at 2:00PM and will continue until 5:00PM, or as long as available.

A 40 & Over Mixed Doubles team from LCTA which is advancing to the National Championships will be conducting a fundraiser during the party.

Ratings are expected to be published in late November. USTA is doing a significant re-rate which will primarily impact players above 60. We will update you on details as they become available.

Phil Burke and Steve Gretkowski have asked to step down as coordinators. Steve Speer has agreed to take the position for both 18 & Over, 4.0 and 4.5 Women flights. Thank you Phil and Steve for your years of hard work.

Please check our Facebook and www.lctatennis.org for updates.

SAVE THE DATE

LCTA Annual Captains Meeting
The LCTA Annual Captains meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 4, 2017 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Charleston County Library (88 Calhoun Street, Charleston SC).

12th ANNUAL RAQUETS FOR RECOVERY
"Taking a Hard Swing at Breast Cancer"
Dedicated to Debbie Moser
November 4-6, 2016
Another one of our own, Debbie Moser, has lost her life after a courageous battle with breast cancer. Debbie was so proud to be a part of this charity event, and of the positive effect that the funds raised have on so many recovering breast cancer patients. All of the proceeds will continue to benefit the special fund set up at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center which helps to meet the day-to-day needs of "local" breast cancer patients.

Help us break our overall donation of $250,000

USTA Level 3 - Sanctioned Men's, Women's and Mixed Doubles (no singles)
$50 per player for the first event and $20 per player for the second event plus USTA fees.
Entry Fee includes: Event Hat, Beverages, Friday Night Cookout, Saturday & Sunday Lunch, and Saturday Evening After Party.

Register Early - Tournament ID # 700042416

Friday Night Courtside Cookout
November 4th at 6:30
Courtesy of Trinity Catering - Allen Welch
Join us for the first rounds of the tournament and be a part of the pink excitement!

Saturday Silent Auction
Everyone can bid!

Contact: Shirley Hunter at racquetsforrecovery@gmail.com or (843) 200-3815
 or visit our Facebook page.

Donations to: MUSC Foundation Hollings Cancer Center
Mail to: Racquets for Recovery - 500 Hawthorne Ave., Summerville, SC 29483


(10/23/16)  Ashley Hall girls tennis topple Porter-Gaud for tennis title
Mary Gastley has won many state championships in her 30 years as Ashley Hall's tennis coach, but few were sweeter than the Panthers' 5-3 win over rival Porter-Gaud (11-5) on Saturday afternoon at Creekside Tennis and Swim in the SCISA Class AAA state girls final.

This one came down to doubles after the Panthers (14-8) had taken an all-important 4-2 lead in singles behind the dominant 1-2 combination of freshman Emma Navarro and sophomore Rebecca Spratt, and wins by junior Addison Propes and eighth-grader Marissa Dye.

The Navarro/Spratt No. 1 doubles team gave the Panthers the decisive fifth point with a 6-1, 6-0 win over the Cyclones' junior pair of Alex Hildell and Rebecca Kahn to mark Gastley's fourth state title in the last decade in seven trips to the final.

Navarro breezed to a 6-0, 6-0 win over Swedish transfer student Hildell at No. 1 singles, while the 6-0 Spratt scored a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Kahn.

But Propes' 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 5 singles over Porter-Gaud senior Barrett Dowd was the difference between Ashley Hall going into doubles tied at 3-3 or ahead 4-2. Propes had lost to Dowd in a 5-4 Ashley Hall win two weeks earlier.

"They (titles) are all very special," Gastley said. "It was a great win. They (girls) just needed to believe. I think it was extra special for the young players to experience it, and it was special for a senior (Linsey Yarbrough) to win her first state title.

"My girls were ready to play. I think this was their best singles performance of the whole season, and they needed to be on their game to defeat Porter-Gaud. It was huge to be able to go into doubles with a 4-2 lead."

Navarro, a girls 16 national doubles champion in juniors, also knew how important it was to be ahead 4-2 after singles. "Being up 4-2 in singles was better than last time (when it was 3-3)," said Navarro, who went 5-0 in singles after joining the team at mid-season.

"Rebecca and I knew that we just had to win our doubles match to win the title. There's a lot of pressure in playing on a team, but I like it. I'm really happy to be playing high school tennis."

Spratt, whose older brother Thomas won three state titles at Porter-Gaud, said she was a little nervous going into the decisive doubles match. "But I knew we had a great team, and Emma is a great player. All I had to do was set Emma up at the net," Spratt said.

"We are a very strong team," Porter-Gaud coach Charlotte Hartsock said. "But the insertion of Emma Navarro into Ashley Hall's lineup earned two points that pushed them over the top for the win."

ASHLEY HALL 5, PORTER-GAUD 3

SINGLES: Emma Navarro (AH) def. Alex Hildell, 6-0, 6-0; Rebecca Spratt (AH) def. Rebecca Kahn, 6-3, 6-4; Michaela Cuoco (PG) def. Linsey Yarbrough, 3-6, 6-3, 10-5; McKenzie Davis (PG) def. Hannah Reuther, 6-0, 6-1; Addison Propes (AH) def. Barrett Dowd, 6-3, 6-2; Marissa Dye (AH) def. Emma Grice, 6-3, 6-2.

DOUBLES: Navarro/Spratt (AH) def. Hildell/Kahn, 6-1, 6-0; Cuoco/Davis (PG) def. Yarbrough/Reuther, 6-0, 6-0.


(10/23/16)  Long SCHSL playoffs start on Wednesday
The SCHSL state girls tennis playoffs will be drawn out this year over a three-week period.

The playoffs will start on Wednesday for Classes AAAAA, AAAA and AAA, and Class AA will join the fray in the middle week on Oct. 31.

The playoffs will play out on Nov. 12 with the state finals at the Cayce Tennis Center.

The best hope locally probably is undefeated Bishop England, which has won the last five Class AA titles, but is now competing in Class AAA. Coach Kristin Fleming Arnold's team is loaded once again, led by All-Lowcountry senior performers Jenna Vroman and Camryn Deames.

The Bishops will take a 12-0 record into a local showdown with Class AAAAA Wando, the 2015 Class AAAA state championship team, on Monday at Snee Farm. Second-year Wando coach Eric Praedel lost several players to online schooling, but 2015 Lowcountry player of the year Lily Conant is still tough to defeat at No. 1 for the Warriors.
Family Circle champs

A 40-plus 8.0 mixed doubles team from Family Circle Tennis Center is flying high these days after securing a spot in the national mixed doubles championships in Surprise, Ariz. , Nov. 4-6.

Captain Allison Pickhardt's Family Circle team posted a 5-0 record in winning the Southern Sectional championship two weeks ago.

The team is made up of Christina Liegi, Mandy Mixson, Meghan Van Alen, Stephanie Donley, Teri Robinson, David Robinson, Greg Yancey, Mark Pickhardt, Micheal Millican, Nima Moghadam and Tyler Davis.

The team is planning to hold a fundraiser next Saturday at Family Circle Tennis Center during the annual LCTA party. Contact David Robinson (palmettocards@gmail.com) for information about the silent auction.

Rogers climbs

Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers jumped up to No. 60 in the world in the latest WTA Tour rankings after upsetting 19th-ranked Elena Vesnina of Russia in a third-set tiebreaker in the opening round of the hard-court tournament in Tianjin, China. Now 24 years old (Oct. 13), Rogers made the round of 16 in the tournament.

She earlier had defeated Vesnina on clay in the round of 64 at the French Open.

Rogers then moved over to Moscow after China, but French clay-courter Alize Cornet eliminated Rogers in the first round.

Former Charleston junior Ellie Halbauer has climbed to a career-high No. 329 in the world. Halbauer is still a teenager, having turned 19 in July.
Locals lead way

When the USTA put together a national camp this weekend on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Charleston area juniors took three of the six spots in the 13-and-under girls group. Also, Randy Pate of LTP Tennis and Swim's Randy Pate Academy and Bryan Minton of Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy served as two of the three coaches for the event.

The three local girls are Whitley Pate, Allie Gretkowski and Carri Hayes. Hayes was the third-place finisher in the 2016 girls 12 National Clay Court Championships.

Local notes

There's good news for the entries to the Seabrook Island's Alan Fleming Senior Open Clay Court State Championship that was cancelled in the face of Hurricane Matthew's approach earlier this month. The tournament has been rescheduled for Nov. 9-13. Last year's event raised $40,000 to support Respite Care of Charleston.

USTA South Carolina's 2016 award winners will be honored during the organization's annual meeting in early December at Wild Dunes. The local winners are: Daniel Island's Holiday Classic, adult tournament of the year; Kiawah Island pro Jonathan Barth, pro of the year; Bishop England's Jared Pratt, junior boy player of the year; Kat Lyman, most improved junior girl of the year; Academic Magnet's Sam Kavarana, Mark Hodgin junior sportsmanship boy; the Cori and Michael Smith family of Daniel Island, tennis family of the year; and James Beck, media award.

The 12th annual Racquets for Recovery is scheduled for Nov. 4-6 at Summerville's Pine Forest Country Club. The registration deadline is Oct. 30. Contact Shirley Hunter (racquetsforrecovery@gmail.com or 843-200-3815).

The Kiawah Island Junior Championship also has been rescheduled for Oct. 28-30.

The Mount Pleasant Junior Tennis Classic will be held Nov. 4-6. The entry deadline is Oct. 31. Registration is available online (tournament No. 700030616).

Randy Pate Academy player/Wando student Chelsea Sawyer has announced that she will sign with the University of Tennessee on national signing day in early November. Sawyer trained at LTP Tennis and Swim after moving here from Pate's academy at Winston-Salem, N.C., but was not able to play for Wando this fall due to SCHSL residency rules.

The Charleston Pro Tennis League's final is set for next Saturday at 4 p.m. at Family Circle Tennis Center. The Lowcountry Tennis Association's annual party was rescheduled for next Saturday at Family Circle Tennis Center as part of the CPTL final celebration.


(10/21/16)  SCISA tennis
Ashley Hall scored a convincing 6-0 whitewashing of previously unbeaten upper bracket top seed Wilson Hall on Friday afternoon in Sumter in the semifinals of the SCISA Class AAA girls tennis state semifinals.

The victory set up a 2:30 p.m. Saturday state title showdown at Mount Pleasant's Creekside Tennis and Swim between local archrivals Ashley Hall and Porter-Gaud.

Making its seventh state final in the last 10 years under 30th-year coach Mary Gastley, Ashley Hall's freshman/sophomore top two of Emma Navarro and Rebecca Spratt each posted 6-0, 6-0 victories to start the rout. The Panthers will be going for their fourth state title in a decade in Saturday's final.

"We're looking forward to a good match tomorrow," Gastley said.

The Panthers split a pair of matches against Porter-Gaud this season, but Ashley Hall posted a 5-4 win with the aid of the late-joining Navarro in the teams' second meeting

Wilson Hall (13-1) was playing on its home courts, but didn't have the experience or talent to match up against the visiting Panthers, who have played more than 20 matches this fall. Ashley Hall suffered four losses in the regular season, but also had four other losses in tournament play.

Senior Linsey Yarbrough, junior Hannah Reuther, junior Addison Propes and eighth-grader Marissa Dye all won in straight sets for Ashley Hall in the Nos. 3-6 singles positions.

ASHLEY HALL 6, WILSON HALL 0

SINGLES: Emma Navarro (AH) def. Zan Beasley, 6-0, 6-0; Rebecca Spratt (AH) def. Sallie Stenser, 6-0, 6-0; Linsey Yarbrough (AH) def. Emily Ann Beasley, 6-2, 6-3; Hannah Reuther (AH) def. Lizzy Davis, 6-2, 6-1; Addison Propes (AH) def. Shelby Guldan, 6-3, 6-3; Marissa Dye (AH) def. Carly Allred, 6-2, 7-5.

Porter-Gaud

Porter-Gaud had little trouble advancing to Saturday's SCISA Class AAA girls tennis state final on Friday afternoon in Sumter as the Cyclones' top five players yielded a total of only seven games while clinching a 5-1 victory over Columbia's Ben Lippen School.

The Cyclones (11-4) will take on archrival Ashley Hall on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Creekside Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant for the state title.

Juniors Alex Hildell and Rebecca Kahn rolled up 6-0, 6-0 victories for the lower bracket top seeded Cyclones, and sophomore Michaela Cuoco, eighth-grader McKenzie Davis and senior Barrett Dowd didn't have much trouble wrapping things up.

Only Porter-Gaud junior Emma Grice lost at No. 6 singles in a nail-biter, falling 13-11 in the third-set tiebreaker to Ben Lippen seventh-grader Hannah Hicken.

PORTER-GAUD 5, BEN LIPPEN 1

SINGLES: Alex Hildell (PG) def. Caroline Eckstrom, 6-0, 6-0; Rebecca Kahn (PG) def. Lily Meetze, 6-0, 6-0; Michaela Cuoco (PG) def. Amelia Murphy, 6-1, 6-2; McKenzie Davis (PG) def. Graham Caulk, 6-0, 6-1; Barrett Dowd (PG) def. Elizabeth Rew, 6-1, 6-2; Hannah Hicken (BL) def. Emma Grice, 1-6, 7-6, 13-11.


(10/21/16)  Swedish teen leading Porter-Gaud girls in SCISA tennis playoffs
It's almost as if Porter-Gaud coach Charlotte Hartsock discovered gold a couple of months ago.

Alexandra Hildell even has blonde hair.

Alex, as Hildell prefers to be called, arrived with her family in Mount Pleasant in the heat of summer. They came from Gothenburg, Sweden, the home of Volvo Cars.

Mats Hildell is a Volvo executive. "He interviews people to come to work here (at the new Volvo complex near Ridgeville)," Alex said of her father.

"He has a two-year contract here . . . we might stay on."

At any rate, Alex Hildell wants to attend college in the United States and play tennis. That isn't possible in Sweden. "They don't have high school teams (or college tennis) back home."

Hildell landed in the No. 1 slot when she joined the Porter-Gaud team on Aug. 1, and is one of the main reasons the Cyclones (10-4) are a virtual toss-up with Ashley Hall for the SCISA girls Class AAA state tennis championship this weekend in Sumter.

Columbia's Ben Lippen School stands in the Cyclones' way in a 2:30 p.m. state semifinal on Friday. A Porter-Gaud victory could set up showdown between archrivals Porter-Gaud and Ashley Hall (12-6) for the SCISA state title Saturday.

Hildell has played tennis since she was eight or nine years old. "I love tennis, but tennis is very different back home. I played on a club team," said the 5-7 junior.

Her dad and three sisters (two older, one younger) all play tennis.

"All of my sisters played tournament tennis, but when they got my age they quit playing tournaments," she said.

She said she misses her friends back home, but she has become accustomed to traveling the globe. Three years ago, the Hildells were moving back to Sweden from a three-year stint in Shanghai, China.

"Mom is a little sad about having to leave her job, but she still works online with her (research) job back home," she said.

Hartsock is just glad the Hildells landed in Charleston. "Alex is a very good player," Hartsock said.

"She has a strong baseline game and serve. Both sides, forehand and backhand, are equally strong."

Hildell has been a solid No.1 for the Cyclones, losing only three times in singles.

Ashley Hall semifinals

Ashley Hall's foe in Friday's 2:30 p.m. semifinals will be Sumter's unbeaten Wilson Hall, which will be playing on its home courts at Sumter's Palmetto Tennis Center.

The last nine SCISA Class AAA finals have included either Ashley Hall or Porter-Gaud. The local rivals split two regular-season matches. With freshman Emma Navarro aboard, Ashley Hall posted a 5-4 victory over the Cyclones last week as Navarro defeated Hildell.

Porter-Gaud, Ashley Hall, Wilson Hall and Ben Lippen all moved into the semifinals with 6-0 victories earlier this week in the quarterfinals.

While Porter-Gaud needed only a little more than 30 minutes to secure its victory over Laurence Manning by yielding just one game in the match, Ashley Hall cruised by 2015 state champion Hammond School. Ben Lippen defeated Orangeburg Prep and Wilson Hall downed Cardinal Newman.


(10/21/16)  PREP ZONE: Thursday's High School Sports Results: Girls Tennis
SUMMERVILLE 5, JAMES ISLAND 1
Singles: Hinson (JI) d. Reynolds 6-3, 6-1. Long d. Snyder 7-6 (6), 6-1. Naval d. Loring 6-1, 6-3. McKee d. Baker 6-1, 7-5. Pagan d. Masindet 3-6, 6-4, 10-6.   Doubles: Zoeller/Rast d. Harris/Eng 6-4, 6-0.

Records: Summerville 13-7 (11-3). James Island 12-2 (11-3). Next: Summerville earned the 2 seed and will host the region V 4 seed in the AAAAA playoffs Wednesday. James Island earned the 3 seed and will host the region VI 4 seed in the AAAAA playoffs Wednesday.


(10/20/16)  PREP ZONE: Wednesday Prep Scores: Girls Tennis
WANDO 5, ASHLEY RIDGE 1
Next: Wando enter the playoffs Wednesday.

WEST ASHLEY 6, STRATFORD 0

SUMMERVILLE 6, STRATFORD 0
Singles: Reynolds d. Gregg 6-2, 6-1. Long d. Eudy 6-0, 6-3. McKee d. Sivertsen 6-1, 6-4. Pagan d. Gourdine 6-0, 6-0. Rast d. Ward 6-0, 6-0.   Doubles: Wilson/Spears d. Hattaway/Neilson 6-3, 6-3.

Records: Summerville 12-7 (10-3). Stratford 5-11 (3-11). Next: Summerville plays James Island for the 7AAAAA number 2 playoff seed today. Stratford enters the playoffs the number 6 seed in Region 6 and travels to the number 1 seed Wednesday.


(10/19/16)  GRACE RAYNOR: Caroline Wozniacki to play in 2017 Volvo Car Open
One week removed from announcing that Venus Williams has plans to return to Charleston for the 2017 Volvo Car Open next April, the tournament added another star to the lineup Wednesday morning.

Caroline Wozniacki, currently ranked No. 17 in the world, will appear in the tournament for the fifth time in her career and first time since 2013.

Wozniacki won the Volvo Car Open — formerly known as the Family Circle Cup — in 2011, and was a finalist in 2009.

“I’m very pleased with my past results in Charleston,” Wozniacki said in a statement.

“The feel of the tournament is very relaxed and I always enjoy playing there. I’m looking forward to visiting again in April and hopefully winning the title again.”

On tour now, Wozniacki has recently claimed titles in Tokyo and Hong Kong this season, and made it into the semifinals of the U.S. Open in September, before falling to eventual winner Angelique Kerber.

Wozniacki, the 26-year-old Denmark native, has 25 career WTA singles titles and more than $22 million in total prize money. In 2010 and 2011, she finished the season ranked No. 1, and she will finish the 2016 circuit with a top 20 ranking for the ninth straight time.

“Caroline plays very well on the green clay in Charleston,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open Tournament Manager in a statement.

“She is one of the most talented and charismatic players on the Tour, spending two seasons at World No. 1.  Our fans will be so excited to watch her compete again next April”.


(10/17/16)  GRACE RAYNOR: Medieval sport: World champion Camden Riviere hopes to bring court tennis to Charleston
Pete Sampras was moments away from being inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame when his eyes caught those of Camden Riviere.

“Hey, you! Redhead!” Sampras said to Riviere on that July 2007 afternoon in Newport, R.I.

“You’re the one I’ve been hearing about. I wanna see this game (you play).”

Riviere, an Aiken native, plays court tennis — also called real tennis — and has since he was five years old.

The sport dates back to 12th century Europe, planting its roots in France and spreading to England before arriving in the United States in the 1700s.

“It’s the origin of any racquet sport,” Camden’s father, Rhett Riviere, said.

“Ping pong, badminton, squash, handball, racquetball: they all came from pieces of one larger game.”

And now, court tennis could be on its way to Charleston.

Camden and Rhett have been trying to establish a court in the Lowcountry for five years, a project that will cost about $2 million. The father-son duo said they have raised $1.3 million to date. If they reach the $2 million mark, they already have plans to build the facility at the Daniel Island Tennis Club center.

Similar to lawn tennis, court tennis is played with two players, racquets and a net. But court tennis players also utilize walls around the court to put the ball in play or to play a ball. That makes court tennis facilities a little more detailed in the construction process. Daniel Island Club Tennis Director Ben Cook has told the Rivieres that if they get it built, he will manage the court.

Cook, too, is an avid amateur player, ranked in the top 25.

“The history in court tennis is very rich. The (Tennis Court Oath) was signed on a court tennis court. It was a game of royalty for a long time. Any time the kings or the royalty met in Europe, between the 15th and 18th centuries, they met and played court tennis,” Camden said.

“So with Charleston’s history being one of the oldest cities in the U.S., it would blend in perfectly with what Charleston has, and that’s one of the parts we’re really excited about. We’ve been really keen on keeping the history of the game alive.”

The Tennis Court Oath, signed in 1789, was the Third Estate of France’s way of banding together until it could establish a new constitution for the country. It made waves leading up to the French Revolution, and was signed on a real tennis court.

According to Rhett, Henry VIII was playing court tennis when he learned of the beheading of his second wife, Ann Boleyn. There was a time in France when it was banned, because people were putting religion on the back burner and turning all of their attention toward the sport. England, too, prohibited the sport for a period of time when it led to excessive gambling.

Today, there are 10 courts in the U.S. — Aiken; Boston; Newport, R.I.; Tuxedo Park, N.Y.; Lakewood, N.J.; Philadelphia; Washington D.C.; Chicago; and two in New York City. One is currently being built in Providence, R.I.

Camden has played all over the world and won court tennis’ French Open in September.

He is also the current International Real Tennis Professionals Association world champion, a title he earned by knocking off Rob Fahey, whom many consider to be the greatest court player in the game.

Camden’s world title is safe for now. The top four challengers in the world will compete against each other for a crack at dethroning him in 2018.

In the meantime, though, it’s back to work as he and Rhett take the next steps in what they hope will culminate with the court getting built.

But first, they need the rest of the money.

“These aren’t easy projects to get done,” Camden said. “But we knew we wanted to build a court in Charleston.”


(10/17/16)  Ashley Hall, Porter-Gaud open SCISA tennis title bids
Porter-Gaud and Ashley Hall, the two favorites for this year’s SCISA Class AAA girls state tennis championship, are in opposite halves of the draw and cannot meet until Saturday’s state final at Sumter’s Palmetto Tennis Center.

The two local teams split their two regular season matches, with Emma Navarro-led Ashley Hall scoring a 5-4 win over Porter-Gaud on Tuesday. The last nine Class AAA state finals have included either Porter-Gaud or Ashley Hall.

Ashley Hall, which was state runner-up to a then senior-led Hammond School in 2015, will open the state playoffs on Monday against Hammond at Charleston Tennis Center. The winner will advance to Friday’s semifinals in Sumter against the Wilson Hall/Cardinal Newman winner.

Porter-Gaud will play host to Laurence Manning on Monday afternoon on its courts at Albemarle Point. The winner will advance to play either Ben Lippen or Orangeburg Prep in the semifinals.

In Class AA, Palmetto Christian is scheduled to play at Spartanburg Day on Monday.

In Class A, two-time defending state champion Holly Hill Academy will visit Lowcountry Prep on Monday for a state semifinal. The winner will face Beaufort Academy in the state final on Saturday at Sumter.


(10/12/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Groundbreaking held for new BE tennis center
Bishop England High School’s Monsignor John L. Manning Tennis Center is a step closer to reality after the school recently held the official ground-breaking ceremony.

The facility, which will include five courts and lights, will be home to the Bishops’ tennis teams. It will be located adjacent to Father Kelly Field, the school’s baseball complex. The girls’ program has 19 state titles in its history while the boys’ program has 11. It will also be used by the school’s physical education classes and alumni and friends of the school will also have access.

Adding tennis courts will be one of the last major expansions at the campus. The school moved from its Calhoun Street campus in downtown Charleston to Daniel Island in time for the 1998 academic year and since then, the BE tennis teams have held court at the Family Circle Tennis Center, the Daniel Island Country Club, Snee Farm Country Club, LTP, Creekside, the Mount Pleasant Tennis Complex on Whipple Road, and the Farmfield tennis facility in West Ashley.

“It was just so hard to find a place to play and to practice because Charleston is one of the top tennis cities in the country,” Bishop England athletic director Paul Runey said. “We would have to be able to block off six or seven courts a day for two to three hours at a time. That’s getting tougher and tougher to do. You also had the time element. You can’t get the kids to the courts until about 4 or 4:30 and you are competing against tennis leagues for time and availability.”

Runey said the school’s $400,000 fundraising project is well underway. To date, $217,000 has been raised and the naming rights for all five courts. That form of sponsorship cost $35,000.

But the school must raise 100 percent of the funds to finish the project. “We’ll go forward with this phase of construction,” Runey said. “But there’s a chance we will have to place it on hold until we receive all the money.”

Kristen Fleming Arnold, who coaches both the boys’ and girls’ teams, said there is no place like home.

“It means everything to the program,” she said of the courts and facility. “It will help with the logistics of the program.”

There are many ways to contribute, including a sponsorship package that begins at $500.

For more information, contact Runey at pruney@behs.com or Alumni Relations Director Kelly Duffy at kduffy@behs.com.


(10/12/16)   Venus Williams commits to 2017 Volvo Car Open
Seven-time grand slam winner Venus Williams has committed to play in the 2017 Volvo Car Open, to be held April 1-9 on Daniel Island.

Williams, who won the tournament in 2004, reached the Wimbledon semifinals this year. Her last grand slam singles title came at Wimbledon in 2008.

Williams, 36, joins WTA No. 7-ranked player Madison Keys and Olympic Gold Medalist Monica Puig in the player field.

“Venus is a seven-time Grand Slam champion, and one of the most recognizable and respected athletes, not only in tennis but in all sports,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open tournament manager. “After a career spanning two decades, and with an amazing resurgence over the past year, she’s still winning titles, competing at the top of the game and entertaining the fans. Few others have contributed to the history of woman’s tennis as Venus has, and it’s an honor to welcome her back to Charleston.”

Williams has amassed 49 WTA titles in her career, including one in 2016 in Kaohsiung. She recently made the semifinals in Wimbledon, finals in Stanford and the fourth round of the U.S. Open, which resulted in a three-set match that ended in a tiebreaker against Karolina Pliskova.

“I love Charleston,” said Williams. “It is one of my favorite stops throughout the year, where the fans always support and push me. I have so many wonderful memories and can’t wait to come back to play again in April.”

The 2015 season marked the 12th time in her career that Williams has finished the year in the top 10.


(10/08/16)  Ashley Hall, Porter-Gaud title contenders
It’s pretty safe to say that either Ashley Hall or Porter-Gaud will be in this year’s SCISA Class AAA girls tennis state championship match.

Why? The last nine finals have featured at least one of the two local private schools.

Plus, junior sensation Emma Navarro plans to play for Ashley Hall in the upcoming state playoffs, while Porter-Gaud has a new solid No. 1 player in junior Alexandra Hildell, who moved to Charleston with her family this past summer from Sweden.

Navarro, a 15-year-old freshman, ranked 23rd nationally in girls 16, has played only one match for the Panthers. But she confirmed during the recent USTA Pro Circuit tournament at LTP Tennis and Swim that she will be available to play during the SCISA playoffs for coach Mary Gastley’s team.

So, look for either the Panthers or Cyclones, or both teams, to be in the Oct. 22 state title match. They have met three times in the last nine SCISA finals.

“She (Hildell) is a very fine player who is a nice addition to our team,” Porter-Gaud coach Charlotte Hartsock said. “We are excited about the last week of the (regular) season and look forward to the SCISA state championship.”

The Cyclones are 8-3 after having a pair of matches (against Hilton Head Pro and Wando) called off in the last week. They have lost only to unbeaten Bishop England (twice) and strong newcomer Oceanside Collegiate Academy, both public schools.

Guess who is up next for Porter-Gaud? Of course, it’s Ashley Hall on Tuesday at Charleston Tennis Center.

Porter-Gaud won the first meeting with Ashley Hall, 7-2. The Panthers also have suffered a pair of losses to Bishop England and one to Hilton Head Prep.

BE eyes 6th title

Bishop England (12-0) won its own always high quality tournament for the second time in seven years. The Bishops have scored 5-1 victories over SCHSL Class AAAA powers Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head High, and have beaten Oceanside, Ashley Hall and Porter-Gaud twice each. Bishop England is scheduled to play at unbeaten Wando on Tuesday in a battle of probably the top two local teams.

Moving up to Class AAA with this year’s SCHSL reclassification, coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s BE outfit appears to be primed to win a sixth consecutive state title. The Bishops, not only are strong up top with seniors Jenna Vroman and Camryn Deames, sophomore Emily Elliott, and eighth-grader Lilly Woods, they are deep as always.

Fleming Arnold is looking forward to the construction of five new lighted courts at Bishop England. Ground-breaking for the complex was conducted last Monday between rainstorms.

National champs

A local team captained by Wild Dunes tennis director Charly Rasheed is fresh from capturing the men’s 5.5/open 40-and-over national championship last weekend in Las Vegas.

Team members also included Ellerbe Dargan, Ramon Bernal, Shawn Harris, Martin Zumpft, Chris Waters, Brian Burke and Phil Whitesell.

Carter wins again

Brenda Carter added to her long list of national and international titles recently. After taking the women’s 70 doubles and mixed doubles titles in the world championships in Croatia, Carter flew directly to Portland, Ore., to compete in the indoor nationals at nearby Vancouver, Wash.

Carter won both the national indoor women’s 70 singles and doubles titles in the Great Northwest.

Local Notes

The Charleston Pro Tennis League is heading down the stretch. Summerville’s Pine Forest Country Club is excited about playing host to the CPTL next Friday, starting at 6 p.m. The league will then move to Seabrook Island on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. The CPTL final is scheduled for Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. at Family Circle Tennis Center.

The Lowcountry Tennis Association’s annual party was cancelled on Friday and rescheduled for Oct. 29 at Family Circle Tennis Center as part of the CPTL final celebration.

The Kiawah Island Junior Championship is still set for next weekend. Sunday (today) is the entry deadline. Registration is available online.

Too bad that the Alan Fleming Senior Open Clay Court State Championship at Seabrook lost out to Hurricane Matthew last week and had to be cancelled.

Cindy Babb took fourth place in the women’s 65 hard court nationals at LaQuinta (Calif) Resort and Club. Babb also took third in doubles.

Diane and Jack Barker captured the 120 husband/wife nationals in Charlottesville, Va.

Shelby Rogers is now ranked 72nd in the world, off a career-high of No. 49 just a few weeks ago. She lost first-round matches at both the Wuhan and Beijing tournaments in China, while posting a 2-8 tour record since making the quarterfinals at the French Open.


(10/06/16)  LCTA OCTOBER e-Newsletter
EVENT UPDATE

LCTA/CPTL Annual Party Rescheduled
Due to weather conditions from Hurricane Matthew, the LCTA/CPTL Annual Party has been rescheduled for SATURDAY,  October 29 at 4:00 p.m. at Family Circle Tennis Center, Daniel Island.

Come cheer Captain Cadill Maharj and our LCTA team to another victory. Charleston's Outdoor Catering will provide wonderful food and beverages at no cost to you.

Please check our Facebook and www.lctatennis.org for updates.

CONGRATULATIONS

National Championship
Captain Charly Rasheed's LCTA 40 & over Open Men's team won the National Championship in Las Vegas, this past weekend.  Great job representing the SC Lowcountry. 

Pictured left to right: Ramon Bernal, Brian Burke, Philip Whitesell, Charly Rasheed, Chris Waters, and Martin Zumpft. Not pictured: Ellerbe Dargan and Shawn M. Harris

12th ANNUAL RAQUETS FOR RECOVERY

"Taking a Hard Swing at Breast Cancer"
Dedicated to Debbie Moser
November 4-6, 2016
Another one of our own, Debbie Moser, has lost her life after a courageous battle with breast cancer. Debbie was so proud to be a part of this charity event, and of the positive effect that the funds raised have on so many recovering breast cancer patients. All of the proceeds will continue to benefit the special fund set up at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center which helps to meet the day-to-day needs of "local" breast cancer patients.

Help us break our overall donation of $250,000

USTA Level 3 - Sanctioned Men's, Women's and Mixed Doubles (no singles)
$50 per player for the first event and $20 per player for the second event plus USTA fees.
Entry Fee includes: Event Hat, Beverages, Friday Night Cookout, Saturday & Sunday Lunch, and Saturday Evening After Party.

Register Early - Tournament ID # 700042416

Friday Night Courtside Cookout
November 4th at 6:30
Courtesy of Trinity Catering - Allen Welch
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Mail to: Racquets for Recovery - 500 Hawthorne Ave., Summerville, SC 29483


(10/02/16)  Coopersmith wins USTA Women’s Pro Circuit tournament
Participants on the bottom circuit of professional tennis dream about big paydays, but only a few ever see the pot of gold.

Second seed Nicole Coopersmith was all smiles as she picked up her check for $1,568 for winning the singles final of the $10,000 USTA Women’s Pro Circuit tournament at LTP Tennis and Swim. But, in reality, the 12 WTA Tour ranking points she earned in the process are far more valuable in the long term.

Climbing up the WTA rankings normally is a slow process for young players. It may be for Coopersmith, too. But maybe not.

In June 2010 in the final of another $10,000 tournament at the then Players Club, 16-year-old Lauren Davis lost to veteran Petra Rampre on the same court where on Sunday morning Coopersmith used her extraordinary ball-striking ability to post a solid 6-3, 6-4 victory over unseeded University of South Carolina sophomore Ingrid Martins of Brazil.

Davis was ranked No. 896 then and climbed more than 400 points by the end of 2010 before reaching a career high No. 43 in 2014.

There is hope, especially for a player as talented as 17-year-old Nicole Coopersmith of Palm City, Fla.

Coopersmith’s ranking should climb approximately 60 spots from her current No. 584 next week when the LTP points are applied to her ranking.

What’s her goal, other than one day being better than her mother? “My goal for the year is to break 500,” Coopersmith said.

That could happen quickly. Coopersmith and her mother, former Croatian WTA Tour player Maja Palaversic Coopersmith, were headed to Hilton Head Island later Sunday for another $10,000 event.

A title there likely would push Coopersmith into the top 500.

Against Martins, Coopersmith did what she did all week in posting five straight-set victories, allowing no more than eight games in any match. She blistered the backhand corners of her opponents with high-power forehands, usually hitting within a foot of both the baseline and sideline, committing only a few errors. Coopersmith didn’t give Martins’ potent forehand a chance to hurt her.

“My forehand was not as effective as it has been,” said the normally consistent 5-10 Martins, who upset top seed Naomi Totka of Hungary in the quarterfinals.

Martins committed a ton of errors this time, mainly because of the pace and placement of Coopersmith’s serves and ground strokes.

How is Coopersmith able to hit with such precision and power? “A lot of practice,” she said. “I like playing to their (opponents’) weaknesses.”

Although Coopersmith admitted that her high-velocity game is built for hard courts, that didn’t slow her down on LTP’s clay. Hilton Head also will be on clay. “I have to get used to it (clay),” she said.

“She (Coopersmith) is improving in the mind,” her mother said.

Talking to herself after nearly every mistake, and even correcting the chair umpire in the first set’s decisive ninth game when the score was announced as 30-30. “It’s 40-15,” Coopersmith responded as she prepared to serve the point that gave her the first set on a Martins error.

Coopersmith fell behind 2-0 in the second set, but got the break back and then broke again for 5-4 before serving out the 90-minute match at 40-15.


(09/30/16)  Coopersmith, Martins advance to LTP semifinals
Nicole Coopersmith could be aiming for Grand Slam titles. But her goal is more realistic, at least for the present.

“I just want to be better than my mother,” the 17-year-old Coopersmith said Friday afternoon after advancing to the singles semifinals of the $10,000 USTA Women’s Pro Circuit event at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant.

Maja Palaversic Coopersmith was standing a few feet away, knowing her 5-10 blonde-haired daughter has far bigger dreams and potential than just to match her mother’s highest ranking of No. 117 in the world. Currently ranked No. 584, second seed Coopersmith looks like the favorite to take top honors at LTP.

Coopersmith played superb tennis, flashing strong ground strokes and consistency, in holding off hard-hitting fifth seed Jaeda Daniel of Philadelphia, 6-3, 7-5. Daniel held a 5-3 lead in the second set, but Coopersmith picked up her game to win four straight games.

Power-hitting left-handed top seed Naomi Totka of Hungary fell by the wayside on Friday, falling to unseeded University of South Carolina sophomore Ingrid Martins from Brazil, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

“I started the third set playing my game. I forced myself to be focused,” said Martins, a crafty clay courter. “I started playing better and she started making errors.”

Martins will face qualifier Yukako Noi of Japan at 10 a.m. on Saturday in the first semifinal.

The second semifinal on Saturday will pit Coopersmith against 2013 collegiate player of the year Lauren Embree of Florida. Embree, the third seed, posted a 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Hilton Head Island Academy player Jade Lewis of New Zealand.

After surviving a two-hour and 50-minute match the day before in which her opponent retired at 5-5 in the third set, Noi wouldn’t quit against flashy 15-year-old Colombian Emiliana Arango, rallying for a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 win.

“I started playing steady and she made some errors,” said Noi, a senior at Florida State.

National clay court girls 16 doubles champions Emma Navarro of LTP Tennis and Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., were eliminated in the doubles semifinals, 6-3, 6-0, by the aggressive net-hugging team of former Notre Dame star Quinn Gleason of New York and former University of North Carolina No. 1 Whitney Kay of Atlanta.

The Navarro/Beck team dropped 10 straight games, five of which went to deuce in the no-ad scoring format, after Navarro held service for a 3-2 lead in the first set.

In Saturday’s 11 a.m. doubles final, Gleason and Kay will go against third seeds Andie Daniell of the U.S. and Canadian Erin Routliffe.


(10/02/16)  Coopersmith, Martins to clash in LTP final
Nicole Coopersmith could be the real deal. The 17-year-old daughter of a former WTA Tour player has certainly looked like the real thing this week during the $10,000 USTA Women’s Pro Circuit event at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant.

But Coopersmith will have to prove her talent and potential again in Sunday’s 10 a.m. final against talented University of South Carolina No. 2 Ingrid Martins of Brazil as Coopersmith continues her journey up the ladder of the world rankings where she is currently No. 584.

Coopersmith, the No. 2 seed, outlasted third-seeded 2013 national collegiate player of the year Lauren Embree, 6-3, 6-3, on Saturday in the semifinals. The unseeded Martins flirted with disaster in the second set before recovering from a 5-1 deficit to win six straight games to post a convincing 6-1, 7-5 victory over qualifier Yukato Noi of Japan and Florida State.

With the victory, Martins’ plans for Sunday changed. The 20-year-old sophomore had been scheduled to leave on Sunday morning for the Oracle Masters Championship in Malibu, Calif. “I’ll have to change my flight . . . I’ll be here,” Martins insisted.

The University of Alabama’s 34th NCAA-ranked team of sophomore Andie Daniell of Douglasville, Ga., and 6-2 senior Erin Routliffe of Canada captured the doubles title with a 6-4, 6-2 win over former Notre Dame player Quinn Gleason and ex-North Carolina No. 1 Whitney Kay.

Coopersmith, who spent her early years traveling with her mother, Maja Palaversic Coopersmith, and father on the WTA tour and now resides in Palm City, Fla., had to fight for almost every point against Embree, a gritty former University of Florida All-American.

Nothing came easy for the 5-10 Coopersmith. She cut her right index finger during a tumble in the first game of the match and was broken after getting off to a 40-0 lead.

“The points were long. I had to stay in the point and be aggressive,” Coopersmith said. “I would have to play an extra two or three balls to set up my shots to her backhand.”

After falling behind 2-0, Coopersmith unleashed an onslaught of torrid forehands, strong backhands and delicate drop shots to wear down Embree. Coopersmith broke service for 5-3, setting up a love service game to end the first set.

Other than Noi’s quick start in the second set when Martins departed her aggressiveness in favor of a more passive game, Martins totally controlled the other semifinal. Noi had been a picture of consistency while winning six straight matches, but could do little right in the first seven games and last six games of the match.

“I played my game the first set and she was having a hard time when I was aggressive,” said Martins, who reverted to her aggressive game to save four set points and the second set. “I have to be aggressive to win. I have to win the point. I couldn’t wait for her to miss.”


(09/30/16)  Coopersmith, Martins advance to LTP semifinals
Nicole Coopersmith could be aiming for Grand Slam titles. But her goal is more realistic, at least for the present.

“I just want to be better than my mother,” the 17-year-old Coopersmith said Friday afternoon after advancing to the singles semifinals of the $10,000 USTA Women’s Pro Circuit event at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant.

Maja Palaversic Coopersmith was standing a few feet away, knowing her 5-10 blonde-haired daughter has far bigger dreams and potential than just to match her mother’s highest ranking of No. 117 in the world. Currently ranked No. 584, second seed Coopersmith looks like the favorite to take top honors at LTP.

Coopersmith played superb tennis, flashing strong ground strokes and consistency, in holding off hard-hitting fifth seed Jaeda Daniel of Philadelphia, 6-3, 7-5. Daniel held a 5-3 lead in the second set, but Coopersmith picked up her game to win four straight games.

Power-hitting left-handed top seed Naomi Totka of Hungary fell by the wayside on Friday, falling to unseeded University of South Carolina sophomore Ingrid Martins from Brazil, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

“I started the third set playing my game. I forced myself to be focused,” said Martins, a crafty clay courter. “I started playing better and she started making errors.”

Martins will face qualifier Yukako Noi of Japan at 10 a.m. on Saturday in the first semifinal.

The second semifinal on Saturday will pit Coopersmith against 2013 collegiate player of the year Lauren Embree of Florida. Embree, the third seed, posted a 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Hilton Head Island Academy player Jade Lewis of New Zealand.

After surviving a two-hour and 50-minute match the day before in which her opponent retired at 5-5 in the third set, Noi wouldn’t quit against flashy 15-year-old Colombian Emiliana Arango, rallying for a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 win.

“I started playing steady and she made some errors,” said Noi, a senior at Florida State.

National clay court girls 16 doubles champions Emma Navarro of LTP Tennis and Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., were eliminated in the doubles semifinals, 6-3, 6-0, by the aggressive net-hugging team of former Notre Dame star Quinn Gleason of New York and former University of North Carolina No. 1 Whitney Kay of Atlanta.

The Navarro/Beck team dropped 10 straight games, five of which went to deuce in the no-ad scoring format, after Navarro held service for a 3-2 lead in the first set.

In Saturday’s 11 a.m. doubles final, Gleason and Kay will go against third seeds Andie Daniell of the U.S. and Canadian Erin Routliffe.


(09/29/16)  Former tennis star Hana Mandlikova still in the game supporting her daughter on LTP circuit
Four-time Grand Slam tournament champion Hana Mandlikova experienced it all as a touring tennis professional back in the era of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. She even lost to each of them in a Wimbledon final, the only thing preventing Mandlikova from owning a career Grand Slam.

But she said none of that is as tough or nerve-racking as watching her 15-year-old daughter Elli Mandlik absorb a one-sided loss in the round of 16 of the $10,000 USTA LTP Women’s Pro Circuit tournament at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant.

Mandlikova couldn’t use her great variety of shots to bail out Elli, to keep her from suffering a 6-1, 6-1 loss to second seed Nicole Coopersmith of Palm City, Fla., on Tuesday.

“This is a lot more nerve-racking,” 54-year-old Hana Mandlikova said as she sat near the fence on the side of the court watching her daughter play. Moments earlier, Elli had bounced a ball off the fence in disappointment over what was happening on the court.

“They don’t play the same now (as we did),” the mother said. “They all play the same way now. They have no feeling in their hands.

“It took longer to develop back then. I came in a lot and had a one-handed backhand. I didn’t start on the tour until I was 17.”

With one U.S. Open, one French Open and two Australian Opens on her singles resume, Hana Mandlikova knows her daughter has plenty of time to mature into a complete player. “I want her to do everything. It just takes longer to learn. But there’s no hurry. She has plenty of time,” she said.

Mandlikova just watches Elli play. She doesn’t coach her. Elli and her twin brother, Mark, have their own coach back home in Bradenton, Fla.

“I don’t like to travel now. I like to stay home,” said Mandlikova, who had to turn down an invitation to play in the Legends event at the recent U.S. Open due to a sore back.

At the LTP event on Thursday, national girls 16 clay doubles champions Emma Navarro and Chloe Beck advanced to the doubles semifinals with a second straight default victory.


(09/28/16)  Mandlik advances at Pro Circuit event
Wednesday was a great day for five of the eight qualifiers for the main draw of the $10,000 USTA LTP Women’s Pro Circuit tournament at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant.

Ellie Mandlik, with four-time Grand Slam champion mother Hana Mandlikova watching, was one of the five qualifiers posting wins. The 15-year-old Mandlik from Boynton Beach, Fla., now faces 17-year-old second seed Nicole Coopersmith of Palm City, Fla., the daughter of former WTA Tour player Maya Coopersmith, in Thursday’s round of 16.

Coopersmith defeated 15-year-old wild card Abigail Forbes of Raleigh, 6-2, 6-3.

The other four qualifiers advancing included former Notre Dame player Quinn Gleason, who ended just-turned 15-year-old Watkinsville, Ga., qualifier Chloe Beck’s three-match winning streak, 6-0, 7-6 (3).

The girls 16 national clay court champion doubles team of LTP standout Emma Navarro and Beck got a break when fourth seeds Veronica Miroshnichenko of Russia and New Zealand’s Jade Lewis pulled out of doubles.

That turn of events gave Navarro and Beck a spot in the quarterfinals on Thursday in the fourth match of the day on court four against Americans Jaeda Daniel and Ingrid Neel.

Qualifiers Malleen Nuudi of Estonia, 17-year-old Madeline Meredith of Vestavia, Ala., and Yakato Noi of Japan also posted wins. New York 18-year-old sixth seed Neel advanced, but fourth seed Erin Routliffe of Canada was upset by Colombia’s Emiliana Arango, 6-2, 6-4.

Play will start at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The tournament is open to the public and free.


(09/28/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Volvo Car Open signs deal with the Tennis Channel
Wall-to-wall coverage will give national exposure to largest women's-only tennis tournament

Daniel Island based Volvo Car Open, one of the largest women’s-only tennis tournaments in the world, has signed a wide-ranging, eight-year media rights agreement with Tennis Channel. Beginning in 2017, the exclusive on-air and digital deal guarantees more exposure for the tournament than ever before, with an increase in live television hours nationally and expanded regional marketing efforts. The network will also carry live matches on its digital subscription service Tennis Channel Plus throughout the tournament. As with high-profile tournaments like the French Open and the BNP Paribas Open, Tennis Channel will have a studio desk on the tournament grounds throughout the weeklong event. The competition takes place April 3-9, 2017, at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

Covering the action first serve to last, Tennis Channel plans to provide coverage of more than 130 hours of the Volvo Car Open action in 2017. Tennis Channel Plus will offer 360 hours of streaming coverage as well, with all on-air and digital competition available on-demand. In addition to carrying the doubles final live, the network will have a live daily lead-in show from its tournament studio desk, akin to pre-contest programs like Tennis Channel Live at the US Open.

“We always look for opportunities to tell as much of a tournament’s story as possible and the Volvo Car Open is one of the rare events filled with players who annually make deep runs at the Slams,” said Ken Solomon, president, Tennis Channel. “Every year, top players like Venus and Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, and Madison Keys make Charleston a key stop on their calendar. Moreover, the event has a unique blend of rising young Americans and international contenders who showcase the depth of talent on the tour today.”

Tennis Channel, which is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the largest television broadcasters, will work with local Sinclair station WCIV-TV for marketing and other cross-promotional opportunities. This is similar to Tennis Channel’s approach at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., another tournament the network covers in its entirety. In its first year, that partnership led to a five-percent increase in tournament ticket sales and the largest crowd in a decade. Meredith Corporation, Volvo Car Open’s owner and a national media group with magazines like Family Circle, SHAPE and Better Homes & Gardens, will also work with Tennis Channel for cross-promotional integration.

“This exciting new agreement will give us unprecedented levels of coverage translating into hundreds of hours of content to distribute and promote,” said Bob Moran, general manager of the Volvo Car Open. “Tennis Channel has a very affluent and appealing viewership that aligns well with our event and our sponsors. We basically now will have a cable network dedicated to the Volvo Car Open and Charleston, South Carolina, for an entire week. The ability to showcase every singles match played and, for the first time ever, feature our doubles final through both linear and digital mediums is what excites us the most.”

The Volvo Car Open, formerly known as the Family Circle Cup, was founded in 1973 and has a long history of showcasing the sport’s top players. Hall of Famers and other stars who have won the championship include: Tennis Channel analysts Martina Navratilova (1982-83, 1988 and 1990) and Tracy Austin (1979-80), as well as Chris Evert (1974-78, 1981 and 1984-85), Steffi Graf (1986-87, 1989 and 1993), Venus Williams (2004) and Serena Williams (2008 and 2012-13).

Because of the tournament’s place in the annual tennis calendar, the Volvo Car Open routinely plays host to both top-ranked stars and rising young players in women’s tennis. Scheduled immediately after the Miami Open – a “fifth major” destination participated in by players from around the world – the Charleston event draws a mix of international and U.S. players. The 2016 tournament field included Americans Venus Williams, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens, along with 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, who later won the US Open and is currently the World No. 1 singles player. Stephens won the event, marking her fourth title.


(09/28/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Barker's US doubles team tops France to claim third place
By: Philip M. Bowman

Ask Diane Barker where she’s played tennis in her illustrious career and she will sound like an atlas expert.

“Helsinki. New Zealand, France, Australia, South Africa, Germany and Florida,” she says. “Almost every country in Europe and every continent except the ones that get cold, and places like Greenland and Iceland.”

Her latest sojourn was to Helsinki, Finland last month to compete in the Maureen Connolly Cup at the ITF Senior World Team Championships. The tournament is the highest-ranked event on the ITF Seniors Circuit.

She was injured in her singles match, which was contested on a hardcourt surface, and couldn’t finish her match. But her United States team topped France in doubles to claim third place.

She suffered injuries to both of her calf muscles and one injury occurred in her singles match.

“I couldn’t finish my match,” she said. “I couldn’t even walk off the court.”

Barker is 58 and has played tennis for 49 years, with time off to have three babies. She plans to play as long as she is healthy. But she was at home on Daniel Island over the Fourth of July weekend, watching Wimbledon on television.

“You see the same unforced errors and you see how important that first serve is,” she said. “My husband also plays tennis and we were watching it together, saying, ‘That’s exactly what we do.’ But it’s at a much higher level, of course.”

Barker has an impressive list of accomplishments playing at a higher level.

She earned all-America status at the College of Charleston and owns seven world singles titles. She recently won the Women’s 55 national clay court championships.But she didn’t compete in the world individual championships, which were also held in Helsinki

Barker doesn’t plan to slow down.

“I move up to the 60s next year and can’t wait to get to the next age group,” she said. “But it’s all about injuries. As long as I am healthy, I’m playing.”


(09/27/16)  Beck wins at USTA LTP Women’s Pro Circuit tournament at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant
National girls 16 clay court doubles champions Emma Navarro and Chloe Beck experienced opposite results on Tuesday in the $10,000 USTA LTP Women’s Pro Circuit tournament at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant.

LTP standout Navarro suffered a 7-6 (6), 6-4 loss to No. 7 seed Carla Lucero of Argentina in a late afternoon main draw singles match.

Beck, a national 15th-ranked girls 16 player from Watkinsville, Ga., won her second straight match against college players and third straight overall in the qualifying tournament just before Navarro went on court. This time, it was a 6-3, 6-4 win for Beck over Middle Tennessee State’s Contanza Magazzini of Italy that earned Beck a spot in the singles main draw.

Earlier in the day, Beck won the last two games of a match that had been interrupted by rain on Monday to complete a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory over College of Charleston senior No. 1 ace Liza Fieldsend. Beck called it her toughest match of the qualifying tournament.

Navarro and Beck were unable to play their main draw doubles match on Tuesday due to the weather delays, but the 15-year-olds are scheduled to begin doubles play on Wednesday (not before 1 p.m.) against fourth seeds Jade Lewis of New Zealand and Veronica Miroshnichenko of Russia.

Looking ahead to the main draw in singles and doubles, Beck said about the Navarro/Beck doubles team’s chances, “I think anyone can win on a given day. I feel like we’re both on the same level as these other girls. It’s just the little things that separate players.”

Elizabeth Mandlik, the 15-year-old daughter of four-time Grand Slam tournament champion Hana Mandlikova, was another qualifier for the main draw.

Charleston Southern’s Nicolin Luecke of Germany lost in the last round of qualifying, while CSU's Sophie Cloessner of Germany was eliminated in the second round of qualifying by Magazzini.
 

(09/27/16)  College of Charleston’s men’s and women’s tennis teams sweep City Tennis singles
The City Tennis Championships turned out to be a singles sweep for the College of Charleston’s men’s and women’s tennis teams.

Hard-hitting Alec Angradi of Ellicott City, Md., finished the job Tuesday night at Charleston Tennis Center by capturing the men’s singles title before a good crowd of supporters. Just a freshman with big ball-striking ability, Angradi held off Mercer University graduate Anderson Scarpa, 6-3, 6-4, in the final.

C of C senior standout Liza Fieldsend, the Colonial Athletic Association’s tournament most valuable player in the spring, won the women’s title over the weekend with a win against Mary Beth Westbrooke.

Angradi was pleased to close out the men’s final against local player Scarpa, who won a pro event earlier this month in the Atlanta area and plans to test the professional circuit waters after completing his college career last spring.

Scarpa fought back from a 5-1 deficit in the second set to close to 5-4 before Angradi came up with big serves and shots to move to triple match point in the 10th game.

Angradi made good on the third match point.

“He doesn’t miss much,” Angradi said about Scarpa. “I played pretty aggressively to take the big lead.”

Angradi is a 5-10, 18-year-old who expects to start in the second half of the Cougars’ singles lineup.

“I came to the College because Coach (Jay) Bruner took so much time with me when I came down when he was recruiting me,” said Angradi, who attended online school in high school.

Angradi scored a victory over his coach (Bruner) in the semifinals of the City Championships.

Earlier in the tournament, Deanna Vroman and Mark Mogul captured the mixed doubles title with a 6-1, 6-1 win over host pro Davy Hairston and Westbrooke.

In men’s doubles, Jared Pratt and Chip Hand took top honors with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Clay Gates and Perry Allen.

(09/27/16)  STATE REPORT: LTP Charleston USTA Pro Circuit women’s tourney play cut short by rain
Rain played havoc with qualifying for the $10,000 LTP Charleston USTA Pro Circuit women’s tournament on Monday as an afternoon rainstorm ended play for the day. The tournament’s main draw is still scheduled to start around midday on Tuesday at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant.

U.S. wild card Elizabeth Mandlik managed to score a 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory over American McCartney Kessler before the rain came.

Local girls 16 Southern clay court champion Kat Lyman wasn’t saved by the rain, and dropped a 6-1, 6-2 decision to Yukato Noi of Japan.

Emma Navarro, the 15-year-old LTP star who has won a pair of girls 16 national doubles titles with Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., is scheduled to play a first-round main draw singles match against No. 7 seed Carla Lucero of Argentina on Tuesday (not before 11:30 a.m.). Navarro and Beck are then scheduled to play a first-round main draw doubles match (not before 4 p.m.).

Beck still has to finish the third set of a qualifying second-round singles match against College of Charleston No. 1 Liza Fieldsend at 10 a.m. Tuesday.


(09/26/16)  College of Charleston’s Fieldsend wins City Tennis Championship, first round qualifying match
College of Charleston standout Liza Fieldsend had a big weekend. After winning the singles title in the revived City Tennis Championships, the All-Colonial Athletic Association player from New Braunfels, Texas, won a first-round match in qualifying for the $10,000 U.S. Women’s Pro Circuit tournament at LTP Tennis and Swim.

Fieldsend moved into the second round of qualifying on Sunday at LTP with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over former Porter-Gaud/current Charleston Southern senior Mi’Kola Cooper. Fieldsend now faces 15-year-old girls 16 national doubles champion Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., on Monday at 1 p.m. (or later). Beck is LTP star Emma Navarro’s doubles partner.

Three wins in the 64-player qualifying tournament are needed to advance to the singles main draw, which will start on Tuesday afternoon.

Charleston Southern’s Sophie Cloessner and local junior Kat Lyman also advanced to the second round at LTP. Lyman, the Southern girls 16 clay-court champion, scored a 6-0, 6-1 win over Canadian Sarah Sediri.

At Charleston Tennis Center on Sunday, national boys 16 No. 4 Jared Pratt and pro Chip Hand took the doubles crown in the City Championships, which was revived this year after 12 years. Anderson Scarpa, who completed his career at Mercer University in the spring, moved into the men’s final with a 4-6, 6-4, 13-11 win over Chris Peeke. Scarpa will face College of Charleston freshman Alex Angradi in the final on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

BE wins title

Meanwhile, Bishop England wrapped up the 16-team Bishop England Invitational girls title with a 5-1 win over Oceanside Collegiate Academy. Jenna Vroman, Emily Elliott, Eleanor Campbell and Mackenzie Penton all scored victories in singles for the Bishops, while the Drue Ranson/Dew Bobey doubles team also won.

Oceanside’s only win came at No. 3 where Camryn Rossa defeated BE’s Lilly Woods, 7-5, 6-3.

Coach Kristin Fleming’s five-time state champion BE team defeated Rivers Bluff (4-3), Porter-Gaud (5-1) and Myrtle Beach (5-1) to reach the final. The title was the second for the Bishops in the tournament’s seven-year history.


(09/26/16)  Volvo Car Open, Tennis Channel sign 8-year deal
The Volvo Car Open and Tennis Channel signed an eight-year media rights agreement that will guarantee first-ball-to-last TV coverage for the first time in the history of the Daniel Island tournament, one of the largest women’s only tennis tournaments in the world.

The agreement will be announced Monday and begins with the 2017 edition of the tournament, set for April 3-9 at the Family Circle Tennis Center. Tennis Channel, a cable network that projects to reach some 60 million homes in 2017, will televise more than 130 hours of the Volvo Car Open, including both the singles and doubles finals, with a total of 360 hours available on digital and on-demand platforms.

It’s a big bump from the seven hours of coverage the Volvo Car Open got on ESPN (with more streamed on ESPN3) in 2016, the final year of a five-year deal between ESPN and the Volvo Car Open.

“Charleston and the Volvo Car Open will have a cable network dedicated to us for an entire week,” said Bob Moran, general manager of the Volvo Car Open. “In addition to being able to show our singles and doubles finals live, there will an hour-long show live every day from Charleston, a daily tennis update with all the Tennis Channel talent here.

“It’s the entire week, and that’s what we have to be able to do — to create content, create more impressions for our partners and sponsors and be able to deliver that much more to our partners and fans.”

Video: Tennis chiefs plan to select fixed venue cities for Davis and Fed Cup finals.

The Tennis Channel entered into a similar deal in 2015 with the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., paying a rights fee of a reported $2.1 million for four years. Rights fees for the Volvo Car Open were not disclosed.

Moran said that ESPN, which reaches about 90 million homes, wanted to continue its relationship with the Volvo Car Open, but the Tennis Channel offer was more attractive — especially after Sinclair Broadcast Group bought Tennis Channel last year, dramatically boosting the number of households reached.

“When Tennis Channel comes back with the Australian Open in (January) 2017, they will be promoting our event all year long,” Moran said. “It’s a marketing plan for three months to promote our event to tennis fans all over the country, a great promotional tool.”

At the 2015 Citi Open, the Tennis Channel’s first year with the Washington, D.C., tournament, attendance was up five percent and total television “view impressions” doubled to about 34 million for the week.

“The Citi Open is the best example for what we want to do,” said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO of Tennis Channel. “We came in and said, rather that just do a few hours, let’s do the whole tournament on air and on Tennis Channel Plus. That is the model we are looking to take into as many tournaments as we can, and really shows how important the Volvo Car Open and Charleston are to us.”

Tennis Channel partners with other media companies to provide coverage of all four Grand Slam events, and Solomon said the same resources will be put to work at the Volvo Car Open, including a live daily lead-in show from a tournament studio desk. Tennis Channel talent includes tennis greats such as Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport and Jim Courier, and announcers Ted Robinson and Bill Macatee.

“We started this approach almost 11 years ago at Roland Garros (the French Open),” Solomon said. “Our goal is to make viewers feel like they are there, including the whole cultural spectacle that a week-long tennis tournament is. Our job is to make you feel like you are there, even if you can’t hop on a plane and go to Charleston.”

The Volvo Car Open’s history — it was the Family Circle Cup until 2015, moved to Charleston from Hilton Head Island in 2001 and celebrates its 45th anniversary next — and traditional mix of established players and up-and-comers made it attractive, Solomon said. Navratilova and Austin are former champions, along with Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Venus Williams and three-time champ Serena Williams, who last won in 2013. American star Sloane Stephens won last April, and No. 1-ranked Angelique Kerber kicked off her current hot streak with a Daniel Island victory in 2015.

“There’s so much history there, and the tournament comes right after Miami and Indian Wells when the whole country is fired up for tennis,” Solomon said. “We want to keep it going right through, with audiences able to see the complete story as it unfolds.”

Steve Simon, CEO of the WTA Tour, called the new partnership “very exciting.”

“The Tennis Channel’s commitment to quality production, covering first ball to last, and bringing every event they are a partner of to life, will drive tremendous value to the event and our fans both on TV and on-site,” he said. “We’re delighted to see Tennis Channel on board for the next eight years.”

Tracy Austin, who won the event in 1979 and 1980, could be one of Tennis Channel’s analysts on Daniel Island in April.

“South Carolina is one of tennis’ most passionate hotbeds, and I always enjoyed playing there,” she said. “It’s great news that Tennis Channel is going to show people around the country what makes this event so special every spring.”

Sinclair Broadcast Group also owns Charleston stations WTAT-TV and WCIV-TV, which means the singles and doubles finals could be simulcast on those stations.


(09/26/16)  TENNIS CHANNEL via PR NEWSWIRE: Tennis Channel Signs Eight-Year Rights Agreement With Volvo Car Open In Charleston, S.C.

Wall-to-Wall Coverage Promises Greatest National Exposure in History for One of World's Largest Women's-Only Tennis Tournaments

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Tennis Channel has signed a wide-ranging, eight-year media rights agreement with the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, S.C., one of the largest women's-only tennis tournaments in the world. Beginning in 2017, the exclusive on-air and digital deal guarantees more exposure for the tournament than ever before, with an increase in live television hours nationally and expanded regional marketing efforts. The network will also carry live matches on its digital subscription service Tennis Channel Plus throughout the tournament. As with high-profile tournaments like the French Open and the BNP Paribas Open, Tennis Channel will have a studio desk on the tournament grounds throughout the weeklong event. The competition takes place April 3-9, 2017, at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

Covering the action first serve to last, Tennis Channel plans to provide coverage of more than 130 hours of the Volvo Car Open action in 2017. Tennis Channel Plus will offer 360 hours of streaming coverage as well, with all on-air and digital competition available on-demand. In addition to carrying the doubles final live, the network will have a live daily lead-in show from its tournament studio desk, akin to pre-contest programs like Tennis Channel Live at the US Open.

"We always look for opportunities to tell as much of a tournament's story as possible and the Volvo Car Open is one of the rare events filled with players who annually make deep runs at the Slams," said Ken Solomon, president, Tennis Channel. "Every year, top players like Venus and Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, and Madison Keys make Charleston a key stop on their calendar. Moreover, the event has a unique blend of rising young Americans and international contenders who showcase the depth of talent on the tour today."

Tennis Channel, which is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the largest television broadcasters, will work with local Sinclair station WCIV-TV for marketing and other cross-promotional opportunities. This is similar to Tennis Channel's approach at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., another tournament the network covers in its entirety. In its first year, that partnership led to a five-percent increase in tournament ticket sales and the largest crowd in a decade. Meredith Corporation, Volvo Car Open's owner and a national media group with magazines like Family Circle, SHAPE and Better Homes & Gardens, will also work with Tennis Channel for cross-promotional integration.

"This exciting new agreement will give us unprecedented levels of coverage translating into hundreds of hours of content to distribute and promote," said Bob Moran, general manager of the Volvo Car Open. "Tennis Channel has a very affluent and appealing viewership that aligns well with our event and our sponsors. We basically now will have a cable network dedicated to the Volvo Car Open and Charleston, South Carolina, for an entire week. The ability to showcase every singles match played and, for the first time ever, feature our doubles final through both linear and digital mediums is what excites us the most."

The Volvo Car Open, formerly known as the Family Circle Cup, was founded in 1973 and has a long history of showcasing the sport's top players. Hall of Famers and other stars who have won the championship include: Tennis Channel analysts Martina Navratilova (1982-83, 1988 and 1990) and Tracy Austin (1979-80), as well as Chris Evert (1974-78, 1981 and 1984-85), Steffi Graf (1986-87, 1989 and 1993), Venus Williams (2004) and Serena Williams (2008 and 2012-13).

Because of the tournament's place in the annual tennis calendar, the Volvo Car Open routinely plays host to both top-ranked stars and rising young players in women's tennis. Scheduled immediately after the Miami Open – a "fifth major" destination participated in by players from around the world – the Charleston event draws a mix of international and U.S. players. The 2016 tournament field included Americans Venus Williams, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens, along with 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, who later won the US Open and is currently the World No. 1 singles player. Stephens won the event, marking her fourth title.

Tennis Channel (www.tennischannel.com), which is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, is the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle. A hybrid of comprehensive sports, health, fitness, pop culture, entertainment, lifestyle and travel programming, the network is home to every aspect of the wide-ranging, worldwide tennis community. It also has the most concentrated single-sport coverage in television, with telecast rights at the US Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros (French Open), Australian Open, ATP World Tour events, WTA competitions, Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Hopman Cup. Tennis Channel is carried by nine of the top 10 video providers.

About Volvo Car Open
The Volvo Car Open is the largest women's only tennis tournament in the United States. The event, formerly known as the Family Circle Cup, moved to Charleston, S.C., in 2001 from Hilton Head Island, S.C., and will celebrate its 45th anniversary in 2017. The Volvo Car Open welcomes more than 90,000 spectators each year. The tournament features a singles draw of 56 players, a qualifying draw of 32 players and a doubles draw of 16 players. The tournament is owned and operated by Charleston Tennis, LLC, a subsidiary of Meredith Corporation, publisher of Family Circle. For more information on the Volvo Car Open, visit http://www.VolvoCarOpen.com, call (800) 677-2293, email info@volvocaropen.com, Facebook (Volvo Car Open), Twitter (@VolvoCarOpen) or Instagram (VolvoCarOpen).

About Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI)
Sinclair is one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country. The Company owns, operates and/or provides services to 173 television stations in 81 markets, broadcasting 482 channels and has affiliations with all the major networks. Sinclair is the leading local news provider in the country, as well as a producer of live sports content. Sinclair's content is delivered over multiple-platforms, including over-the-air, multi-channel video program distributors, and digital platforms. The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information which can be accessed at www.sbgi.net.

About Meredith Corporation
Meredith Corporation (NYSE: MDP; www.meredith.com) has been committed to service journalism for 115 years. Today, Meredith uses multiple distribution platforms – including broadcast television, print, digital, mobile 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 more than 100 million unduplicated women every month, including nearly 75 percent of U.S. Millennial women. Meredith is the leader in creating and distributing content across platforms in key consumer interest areas such as food, home, parenting and health through well-known brands such as Better Homes and Gardens, Allrecipes, Parents, Shape and EatingWell.

Meredith also 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 an award-winning, strategic and creative agency that provides fully integrated marketing solutions for many of the world's top brands, including Kraft, Lowe's, TGI Friday's and NBC Universal.

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 over 660 hours of local news and entertainment content each week, and operate leading local digital destinations.


(09/24/16)  Emma Navarro preps for SCISA against pros
What’s next for Emma Navarro? A national girls 16 doubles champion already, now the 15-year-old is playing high school tennis for Ashley Hall and getting ready to compete in the $10,000 Mount Pleasant Women’s Pro Circuit event at LTP Tennis and Swim.

Navarro could be the deciding factor for coach Mary Gastley’s Ashley Hall team in this fall’s SCISA Class AAA state playoffs. She had announced earlier that she didn’t plan to play high school tennis. So, you can imagine the excitement at Ashley Hall, especially for Gastley and the tennis team.

Navarro has played one match already for the Panthers in a win over two-time SCISA Class AA champion Hilton Head Prep. She won that match impressively.

But starting Tuesday, Navarro will be playing in the main singles draw of the LTP pro tournament. Navarro notched her first professional win in last year’s event.

Navarro also is teaming with Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., in doubles at LTP. And after winning one national title and finishing as runners-up in another national, the 15-year-olds might hold their own in doubles in the pro event.

Navarro is currently ranked 23rd in the nation in girls 16 and No. 3 in the South in girls 16.

Qualifying will start on Sunday at LTP. The entire week of tennis is free to the public.

Play will begin on the LTP clay at 10 a.m. Sunday through Friday. The semifinals are slated for next Saturday at 11 a.m., with the singles final scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 2, at 2 p.m.

Local Southern clay court girls 16 singles champion Kat Lyman and Charleston Southern’s Sophie Cloessner are entered in the qualifying tournament.

Rogers in China

Shelby Rogers has dropped 12 places in the WTA Tour rankings since hitting a career-high No. 49 a few weeks ago, but she now owns a World Team Tennis title.

“WTT was an amazing experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better first season,” said Rogers, who played for the WTT champion San Diego Aviators. “My team was great, felt more like a family. I definitely made new lifelong friends. Winning the championship was just the icing on top.”

Rogers was one of the stars in the Aviators’ championship win over the Orange County Breakers. Rogers notched wins in singles and doubles, hitting winners from all over the court. She scored a 5-2 win over Nicole Gibbs in the key women’s singles match.

The soon-to-be 24-year-old Rogers arrived in China last week to compete in the $2.29 million tournament in Wuhan where she will face Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer in the first round. Two weeks later, Rogers will compete in the China Open in Beijing.

Carter wins worlds

Charleston’s Brenda Carter is making a big splash in her first year of competition in women’s 70. On Saturday in Umag, Croatia, Carter added 70-and-over women’s doubles and mixed doubles titles in the world individual championships. She was a semifinalist in singles.

Even before officially reaching age 70 in June, Carter won singles and doubles titles in the 70s national hard courts and clay courts earlier this year.

Carter also played for the USTA’s Althea Gibson Cup team in the women’s 70 world team championships in Umag the week before the world individual tournament, helping the U.S. team to a seventh-place finish with a 2-2 record in singles.

Halbauer’s big advance

Former Charleston resident Ellie Halbauer leaped to a career-high No. 340 in the world last month by winning four straight matches and advancing to the final of a $25,000 event in Gatineau, Canada.

Currently ranked No. 342, the 19-year-old Halbauer started the year at 464. She lost in the first round of qualifying for the U.S. Open.

Local notes

Don’t forget, Bishop England High School will hold a ground-breaking ceremony at 6 p.m. on Monday for the five-court Father Manning Tennis Complex to be built next to the baseball field at the Daniel Island school. Charleston Mayor John Techlenburg will be among the speakers.

The Charleston Pro Tennis League will hold its next program on Friday night at the I’On Club in Mount Pleasant. A week later on Oct. 7, the CPTL will team up with the annual LCTA party at 6 p.m. at Family Circle Tennis Center.

Here’s an interesting note for high school sports. After earning Lowcountry player of the year honors as a freshman and sophomore while leading Porter-Gaud to two SCISA state tennis titles, Ann Martin Skelly skipped tennis her junior year. And now as a senior, she’s playing golf for Porter-Gaud.

National boys 16 No. 4 Jared Pratt recently left the MWTennis Academy at Family Circle Tennis Center to train with other juniors at Park West in Mount Pleasant under former MW pro Chip Hand’s guidance.

Host pro Davy Hairston will be in the mixed doubles final of the City Championships at 9 a.m. Sunday at Charleston Tennis Center. Charleston’s Anderson Scarpa, who completed his career for Mercer in the spring, will be in the singles semifinals at noon.


(09/24/16)  Rising tennis star Jared Pratt finds time to unwind in Charleston championships
Some of the top juniors and adults in the area are taking advantage of the renewal of the City of Charleston Tennis Championships to relax a bit and to play “fun” tennis.

Nationally fourth-ranked boys 16 Jared Pratt is the leader of that pack. It’s dog-eat-dog out on the junior circuit where the Bishop England star spends much of his time. In the city event at Charleston Tennis Center, Pratt is playing only doubles, usually even more of a relaxing competition than singles.

“The City of Charleston Championship is just an added opportunity for me to play with my coach, Chip Hand, and I hope to have fun while learning even more from him on court about competing,” said Pratt, whose initial doubles match with Hand in the city tournament was rained out Friday night.

It’s been something of a dream year for the just-turned 17-year-old Daniel Island resident.

“My goal was to be in the top 10 (nationally in boys 16),” Pratt said. “Making it all the way to No. 3 was great.”

The No. 3 national ranking came last month after he finished sixth in singles at the National Hard Courts in Kalamazoo, Mich., and was runner-up in doubles.

“Robert Maciag (Virginia) and I had never played doubles together before Kalamazoo, so making the finals was unexpected but amazing,” said Pratt, who won the boys 18 doubles title at the Southern Championships this summer with regular partner Britton Johnston (Georgia).

“In boys junior tennis, we always hear a lot about Kalamazoo so I have always wanted to do well there and am thankful that I did this year.”

All of this from a young man who just three years ago in the fall of 2013 underwent surgery to correct the curved-spine condition Scoliosis. Obviously, he’s now “100 percent” healthy.

In next year’s Kalamazoo tournament, Pratt should have an opportunity to play for a berth in the 2017 U.S. Open. The hard court national boys 18 champion annually earns a berth in that year’s main draw of the U.S. Open.

“Kalamazoo is exciting but extremely competitive. I need to make sure my Southern ranking is high enough to return for my first year in the 18s. Just being there and competing against the top players is an opportunity,” the 6-1 player said.

Pratt, the South’s top-ranked boys 16 player (No. 10 in boys 18), took third place in the National Clay Courts earlier this summer. “Clay is not my best surface so getting a bronze ball was unexpected but exciting.”

He is fresh from playing in the Southern Cup in Chattanooga where he went 7-1 in boys 18 singles and doubles competition for the runner-up South Carolina team.

“This fall, I plan to do two National Selection tournaments (National Level 2), the South Carolina ITF in Lexington, and the National Winter Championships,” he said, looking ahead to the rest of the year.

Pratt also is looking forward to his junior year of tennis at Bishop England in the spring as he prepares for a college career. “My goals have always been to continue to improve on the court and to do well in the classroom. I hope to continue to do so at BEHS and with my tennis, and to carry that through to a college where I can do the same,” he said.

“I am uncertain as to where I want to go and have just begun the recruiting process. I am open to getting to know the different Division I programs and their players and coaches.

“Right now my focus is on doing well with junior tennis and finding a great program for me to continue to improve in college.”

Pratt recently left the MWTennis Academy at Family Circle Tennis Center to train with other juniors at Park West in Mount Pleasant under Hand’s guidance. Hand also left the pro staff at MWTennis a few weeks ago.

“I really try to work on all areas of my game. I guess the biggest thing is understanding how to play the bigger tournaments against the bigger and more powerful guys,” he said. “Luckily, my coach for the last five years (Hand) has been able to help me understand what to expect and to prepare me for the big tournaments, having done so well himself.”


(09/21/16)  HILTON HEAD ISLAND PACKET: Author Judy Fogarty has a book for Lowcountry tennis enthusiasts
Author Judy Fogarty will sign her new book, “Breaking and Holding,” at 2 p.m. Oct. 7 at Nevermore Books, 201 Carteret St. in Beaufort. The event is free and open to the public.

Savannah-native Fogarty sets much of her novel in and around the Lowcountry. It tells the story of a roller-coaster relationship between a tennis player searching for success and a troubled woman searching for escape.

The novel’s acclaim was highlighted by it being the only work of fiction available at this past year’s U.S. Tennis Open’s Players’ Lounge, where players like Serena and Venus Williams and Roger Federer went to watch TV, read books and relax, according to a press release.

Details: nevermorebooks201@gmail.com or 843-812-9460


(09/20/16)  Shape Invitational tennis tournament cancelled
The Shape Magazine Invitational women’s collegiate tennis tournament that was scheduled to be played Thursday through Saturday has been cancelled and will be rescheduled, according to Family Circle Tennis Center facility director Rob Eppelsheimer.

“Trying to work around the fall tournament schedule and matches is tough,” Eppelsheimer said Tuesday.

The first Shape Invitational was held last March at Family Circle Tennis Center with Vanderbilt’s Frances Altick winning the singles title and earning a wild-card berth in the main draw of the WTA Tour’s Volvo Car Open, formerly the Family Circle Cup. The collegiate tournament was switched to this fall to avoid a conflict with the regular spring college tennis season.


(09/19/16)  PREP ZONE: Girls Tennis
Summerville 4, Ashley Ridge 0
Singles: Reynolds (S) even with Brim 6-4, 3-6 suspended; Long (S) d. Schemedeke 6-4, 6-3; Naval (S) d. Teague 6-4, 6-0; McKee (S) d. Wall 6-2, 6-2; Pagan (S) d. Gunther 6-3, 6-2.  Doubles: Zoeller/Rast led Sparling/Morris 4-2 suspended.

Records: Summerville 4-3 (3-1), Ashley Ridge 3-4 (3-1). Next: Summerville at Fort Dorchester Tuesday; Ashley Ridge host James Island Tuesday.

Palmetto Christian 8, Robert E. Lee 1
Singles: White (REL) d. Quinn 7-5, 6-4; Estes (PCA) d. Kirven 6-1, 6-0; Howard (PCA) d. Dinkins 6-4, 6-3; Beaufort (PCA) d. Anna Grace Kirven 6-0, 6-0; Carruthers (PCA) d. Capell 6-1, 6-0; Shaw (PCA) d. McCutchen 6-1, 6-0.   Doubles: Campbell/Jimenez (PCA) d. Kirven/Dinkins 8-5; Grace/Carruthers (PCA) d. McCutchen/Capell 8-1; Brown/Crandall (PCA) d. Diggs/Wafford 8-0

Record: PCA 3-1. Next: PCA vs. Pinewood Prep at Family Circle Tennis Center on Tuesday.

Oceanside Academy 5, Porter-Gaud 1
The OCA girls tennis team won their season opener on August 22 with a hard fight 5-2 victory over Summerville.
Jill Morse clinched the victory with a 5-7, 6-1, 10-7 win at number 2 singles.

1- Emma Smith OCA defeated Paige Reynolds S 6-0, 6-1
2- Jill Morse OCA def Sullivan Long S 5-7, 6-0,10-7
3- Camryn Rossa OCA def Lizzie Naval S 6-4 6-0
4- Emily Loring OCA def Hannah McKee S 6-3 6-0
5- Dylan Zoeller S def Caitlin Mahoney OCA 6-0 6-0

1 Doubles Smith/Morse OCA def Reynolds/ Long S 8-4
2 Doubles Pagan/Rast S def Hettich/Tasopoulos OCA 6-0 6-0

Varsity Girls Tennis Roster 2016
Caroline Hettrich
Caitlin Mahoney
Jill Morse
Camryn Rossa
Emma Smith
Journey Tasopoulos
Grace Wilder

~ Head Coach: Chris Waters / cwaters@oceansidecollegiateacademy.org
Chris Waters has been in the tennis coaching profession for the last 25 years.  A native of Charleston he grew up West of the Ashley and played high school tennis at Middleton High School.  He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina.  In 1993 he was the assistant tennis coach at the College of Charleston under current women’s tennis coach Angelo Anastopoulo.  From 1994-2001, Chris was the Head Men’s and Women’s tennis coach at Limestone College in Gaffney, SC.  In their 3rd as a program the women’s team hosted a school best 17-4 record.  In his 7 years at Limestone, both the men’s and women’s teams had overall winning records at what was then the smallest NCAA Division II school in the nation.  From 2002-2009, Chris was the Director of Tennis at Holly Tree Country Club in Simpsonville, SC.  During his tenure, Holly Tree was one of the largest and most vibrant junior programs in the Upstate.  Several junior players from Holly Tree went on to play and have successful college tennis careers.  Currently Chris is a teaching professional at the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department, which has one of the largest adult and junior programs in the Charleston area.  With over 100 teams, several sanctioned tournaments, and many other programs, MPRD has been a staple of the Mount Pleasant tennis for decades.  Chris’ teaching philosophy combines fine-tuned fundamentals along with specific game planning based on individual strengths.  Chris is excited about bringing his experience and proven techniques to Oceanside Collegiate Academy.

VARSITY GIRLS TENNIS SCHEDULE 2016
Mon.  Aug 22 @ Summerville 4:00 p.m.
Tues. Sept 6 @  Myrtle Beach 4:30 p.m.
Wed. Sept  7 @  BE 4:00 p.m.
Mon.  Sept 19 @ Porter Gaud 4:00 p.m.
Wed.  Sept 21 @ BE 4:00 p.m.
**Sept 23-25 BE tourney
Tues.  Sept 27 @ Ashley Hall 4:00 p.m.
Mon.  Oct 3 @ Hanahan 4:00 p.m.
Thurs. Oct 6 @ Academic Magnet 4:00 p.m.


(09/17/16)  Burke’s Tyzell Richardson balances passion for tennis and music
Tyzell Richardson is a multi-talented teenager. He often has to choose between his favorite muscial instrument and his favorite sport.

The 15-year-old sophomore at Burke High School enjoys playing the clarinet in the Bulldogs’ highly regarded band, but playing tennis wins his heart.

Richardson also obviously writes well. He recently was selected by the USTA Southern Section as the winner of the 15-16 year-old division in the annual Arthur Ashe Essay competition. He received an all-expenses paid trip to last month’s Winston-Salem Open ATP Tour event on the campus of Wake Forest to accept the award. While there, he took part in an autograph/photograph session with ATP Tour standout Donald Young.

Earlier this summer, Richardson also won the sportsmanship award at the annual National Junior Tennis and Learning Leadership camp in Oxford, Miss. He represented the Lowcountry Junior Tennis Association (LYTA) in both events.

“I really wanted to do it (the essay) last year but I got sidetracked, so I made sure I did it this year since I had the ideas of what I wanted to put in the essay,” Richardson said. “I talked about tennis and school and focused on both of them in the essay.”

His essay included this statement: “While off the court problems will always surface and it seems gunshots and drama in our community destroy many of my peers, I commit myself to tennis shots and training to control the situation instead of it controlling me.”

The essay answered the question: “How have your skills in tennis impacted the development of your character and how you address your personal challenges on and off the court?”

Richardson’s dream would be to play college tennis and to concentrate on an education in music. He also wants to become a chair umpire in tennis.

“I think he wants to be a chair umpire because when he was a ball kid at FCC (Family Circle Cup). I introduced him to a friend of mine who is a gold badge chair (Zhang Juan, who goes by Jennifer when in the U.S.),” said veteran local tennis umpire and LYTA board member Meg Farrelly, who served on the line-calling team at the Cincinnati ATP/WTA tournament and the U.S. Open. She nominated Richardson for the Arthur Ashe award.

“As soon as Tyzell is old enough, he will become a USTA umpire,” added Farrelly.

John Farrelly, Meg’s husband, is Richardson’s coach and mentor. He traveled to Winston- Salem with Richardson.

Richardson’s love for music goes back five years when he picked the clarinet for an instrument demonstration in middle school. “My band director was a clarinet player and I enjoyed watching him play the clarinet,” said Richardson, who resides in North Charleston.

Richardson’s grandmother works downtown and gives him a ride to Burke each day in time to attend 7:30 a.m. band practices.

“Music has meant a lot to me. I want to get a masters in music education,” he said.

As a member of the Burke band, he enjoys playing at the Bulldogs’ football games. “That’s a good time,” he said.

“If I get a band scholarship, I want to go where I can try out for the tennis team. Or if I get a tennis scholarship, I just want to focus on getting my degree in music.”

Burke doesn’t have a tennis team, so Richardson will play tennis for West Ashley High in the spring. “Burke gave me permission to play for West Ashley, and they wanted me,” Richardson said.

Richardson plays in local junior tournaments and participates in LYTA where he also serves as a volunteer. He volunteers as an ACE Summer Camp counselor. “I enjoy the impact I have upon kids younger than me. Tennis has taught me you don’t just take, you also give back and hopefully inspire others,” he stated in his essay.

“Tyzell is volunteering as a court monitor this weekend for the 10-and-unders,” Meg Farrelly said. “I cannot begin to describe how much he loves every aspect of this game.”


(09/15/16)  Charleston Regional Business Journal: Charleston Tennis Center Revives Local Tournament
The Charleston Tennis Center is proud to announce the return of the City of Charleston Tennis Championships for the first time in 12 years. The tournament will be held from September 20-25 at the Charleston Tennis Center located on 19 Farmfield Avenue, and will include events throughout the week for all ages and levels of tennis enthusiasts.

With support from local businesses and sponsors, division winners will receive prize packages and singles winners will receive prize money.  Participants must register by September 14, 2016 in order to participate.  Registration is available to Tri-County residents for $45.  Participants can register through the USTA website at www.tennislink.usta.com, and do not have to be USTA members.

The tournament is Open Division, which offers men and women an opportunity to compete for the title of “Best Player in Charleston.”  The tournament will include a free junior clinic, a Special Olympics demonstration, a food truck night, a hospitality tent for players and sponsors, and some of the best local tennis available for viewing.

With records dating back to its commencing in 1962, the City Championships served as a unique tournament allowing only residents of Charleston’s Tri-County area to participate. This tournament encouraged local players to compete and socialize with their peers, tennis pros, and student athletes. Plaques are currently mounted at the Charleston Tennis Center with past winners of the tournament, including Akim Anastapoulo, Bryan Minton, Diane Barker, and current tournament director, Davy Hairston.

Director of Recreation for the City of Charleston, Laurie Yarbrough said, “As an avid tennis player, I am excited to see the community come together at one of our facilities to celebrate the game locally. I am looking forward to developing this tournament for years to come.”

For more information, call the Charleston Tennis Center at (843) 769-8258.


(09/10/16)  Don’t rule out a terrific future for Pliskova
Angelique Kerber is the new world’s No. 1, the U.S. Open champion and for all practical purposes the face of women’s tennis after another shocking loss by Serena Williams. But don’t look too far away without considering 24-year-old Karolina Pliskova.

Garbine Muguruza was the early Serena successor, the one almost everyone seemed to predict for greatness after her French Open success. But now it’s difficult for fans even to remember Muguruza.

Pliskova may be a keeper. She has something that can’t be taught: explosive power.

It’s unusual for any player to overpower Serena, but that’s what happened in Pliskova’s straight-set ousting of Serena in the semifinals.

The tall Czech gave Kerber all she could handle in Saturday’s U.S. Open final. Only a lack of big-match experience probably cost Pliskova her first Grand Slam title, especially in those last few games after she held a 3-1 lead and appeared headed for the title. That’s when Pliskova changed her game to over-attack mode and tried to blow the ultra-consistent Kerber off the court.

Of course, it didn’t work against an opponent who committed only three unforced errors in the first set. In the last game alone, Pliskova hit four excellent serves, but three loose shots and was broken at love to end a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 loss. Pliskova committed 30 more unforced errors than Kerber.

Nevertheless, Pliskova may be bound for bigger things in the near future. There isn’t anything uncanny about her sudden rise on the women’s scene. She’s just a late bloomer who has simply matured into an exceptional talent.

Pliskova is 6-1, but looks taller when she tosses up the ball for her serves. And now she has the total package: good quickness and mobility, and strong ground strokes, not to mention that long reach and usual poise. Plus, she loves to win. Serena could do very little against Pliskova’s power-bouncing serves.

Pliskova may take the cover girl spot from Kerber before Kerber can get settled into it.

Djokovic or Stan

Three months ago, many experts fully expected Novak Djokovic to be playing for a calendar Grand Slam on Sunday and a 14th major title.

The last few months have been something of a struggle for Djokovic, from losing early at Wimbledon to journeyman Sam Querrey, to an injured left wrist and a first-round setback at the Olympics.

But here he is in a seventh U.S. Open final after toying with the unpredictable and somewhat childish court antics of Gael Monfils in Friday’s semifinals. Three Grand Slam finals, and maybe titles, in one year aren’t bad at all. A win on Sunday would put Djokovic just four away from matching Roger Federer’s record 17 major titles.

After Djokovic finally had enough of the ultra-talented Monfils’ push-or-play tactics, Stan Wawrinka gave Djokovic something new to think about Friday night. Wawrinka put on a one-handed backhand clinic in his four-set win over Kei Nishikori. Even a mid-match roof-closing didn’t faze Federer’s former understudy.

Djokovic appeared worn out and still nagged by his wrist. If Wawrinka is “on” in similar fashion to his last three sets against Nishikori, “Stan The Man” may be a big obstacle for the Serbian wonder to overcome. Wawrinka is tennis’ most explosive talent, from his serve to a huge forehand, to the real weapon, that one-handed backhand. He simply wore out the smaller Nishikori with his power from all angles.

The roof

Oh, yes, the roof. Arthur Ashe Stadium isn’t the same this year.

It’s almost cozy now inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The roof makes the difference. Fans in the upper deck no longer bake in the sun, even when the roof is open.

It can still get a little warm when the roof is open, but nothing like the old days.

The air is even different. The feel is certainly different.

Andy Murray can complain about the sound of the rain drops pelting the roof. Let them fall.

It’s now the age of the roof. Everyone stays dry, and believe it or not, even cooler whether the roof is closed or open.

Oh, sure, it rained this year. Even on Wednesday and Friday. It was all wet outside on the Billie Jean King Tennis Center grounds. But inside, it was nice and cozy.

Everyone here will always remember this as the year the rain disappeared.

The security

With the hyped up security this year, wonder how the cute little dog that appeared on the Jumbotron in someone’s arms earlier in the week got there?

The extra security is a good thing, of course. Emptying your pockets is now to be expected, even for the news media. As well as going through the scanner, and maybe even be singled out to be frisked before being allowed to go through the gates.

Police cars are everywhere at the media/general admission entrance near the site’s trademark World’s Fair globe. The police cars block all entrances to heavily populated areas, a lesson apparently learned from the Nice, France, truck assault.

I’m not sure, but there appears to be even more heavily armed policemen than in the past.

Once through the gate, life inside the Billie Jean King Tennis Center is more blissful than ever. With its impressive new roof impossible to overlook and sparkling new grandstand court immediately greeting visitors, the U.S. Open is a top of the line sporting venue. It’s a new era, but the sites for the nearly 20 Super Bowls and NCAA Final Fours I’ve covered for this newspaper fall well short of Flushing Meadows. But, then, this is tennis.

Local notes
 
Bishop England High School will hold a ground-breaking ceremony for new tennis courts at the school on Daniel Island on Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. Charleston Mayor John Techlenburg will be among the speakers.

The Charleston Pro Tennis League will hold its next program on Friday night at 6 p.m. at Dunes West. The following week, the CPTL will be at LTP Tennis and Swim on Sept. 23. The league opened its season on Friday night at the Daniel Island Club.

The Lowcountry Tennis Association’s annual party will be held on Oct. 7 at Family Circle Tennis Center as part of the CPTL’s Friday night program.

The registration deadline for the Oct. 5-9 Alan Fleming Senior Open Clay Court State Championship at the Seabrook Island Club will be Sept. 19. Registration is available at www.alanflemingtournament.com.

Wednesday is the deadline for entering the Sept. 20-25 City of Charleston Tennis Championship at Charleston Tennis Center at 19 Farmfield Ave. Competition will be available for all age groups and tennis levels. Contact the tennis center (843-769-8258) or register online (tennislink.usta.com). The event is not limited to USTA members.

The Hugs for Harper’s fifth annual dinner/auction event is scheduled for next Friday night at Founders Hall at Charles Towne Landing. Contact Emma Blitch (843-792-5788 or blitch@musc.edu).

The already popular Shape Magazine Invitational women’s collegiate event will be held Sept. 22-24 at Family Circle Tennis Center. This second Shape Invitational was moved from spring to the fall to avoid conflict with the 2017 regular college tennis season. The singles winner will receive a wild card into the main draw of next spring’s Volvo Car Open.

LTP Tennis and Swim will be the site from Sept. 26-Oct. 2 for its second women’s U.S. Pro Circuit satellite tournament. This tournament will have a $15,000 purse.


(09/06/16)  PREP ZONE: GIRLS TENNIS
WANDO 5, JAMES ISLAND 1
Singles: Conant d. Hinson 6-2, 6-1. Snyder (JI) d. Phillips 6-2, 6-2. Sinclare d. Loring 6-1, 6-2. Hayes d. Baker 6-3, 6-1. Mitchell d. Masindet 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: McKeller/Moore d. Harris/Eng 6-1, 6-2.

Records: James Island 1-1. Wando 2-0.

SUMMERVILLE 6, WEST ASHLEY 0
Singles: Reynolds d. Clayton 6-0, 6-1. Long d. Lowe 7-5, 4-6, 10-6. Naval d. Brazelton 6-1, 6-1. McKee d. Murry 6-1, 6-0. Zoeller d. Diamond 6-3, 6-1.  Doubles: Pagan/Rast d. Laban/Angel 6-1, 6-3.

Records: Summerville 2-2 (2-0). West Ashley 0-2 (0-2). Next: Summerville at Wando Thursday. West Ashley at James Island Thursday.

FORT DORCHESTER 4, STRATFORD 2
Singles: Sanders d. Gregg 6-0, 6-0. Zach d. Eudy 6-2, 6-1. Benson d. Sivertsen 6-4, 0-6 10-4. Harter (S) d. Tallman 6-0, 6-0. Hoffman d. Nielson 6-4, 6-3.   Doubles: Gourdine/Ward (S) d. McPherson/Hewitt 6-3, 6-4.

CANE BAY 4, HANAHAN 2
Singles: Ki. Songer (H) d. N. Montemayor 7-5, 6-2. Ka. Songer (H) d. M. Montemayor 6-4, 6-4. Kelly d. Hatcher 1-6, 6-3, 11-9. Maharrey d. Rourk 6-3, 6-3. Leya d. Guo 6-1, 6-3.   Doubles: Dodd/Williams d. Gervais/Swindal 6-1, 6-0.

Next: Cane Bay hosts Colleton County Thursday. Hanahan at Manning Tuesday.


(08/31/16) Rogers falls in second round of U.S. Open
Seventeen-year-old Californian Catherine Bellis wore Charleston touring tennis professional Shelby Rogers down with her consistency Wednesday to post a 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 win in the second round of the U.S. Open.

After charging through the first set, Rogers’ game came unglued at the start of the second set as the 5-7, 110-pound Bellis jumped out to a 4-0 lead that the hard-hitting Rogers couldn’t recover from. Rogers wouldn’t give up, though, as she won two straight games to close to 4-2 and bounced back from a love-40 start in the seventh game before dropping service after seven deuces.

After the 49th-ranked Rogers held service for a 2-1 lead to start the third set, the 158th-ranked Bellis buckled up and won the last five games of the match.

Rogers out-aced Bellis, 5-1, but tossed in seven double faults to five by Bellis. The battle of unforced errors probably decided the match as Rogers had 35 unforced errors to 26 for Bellis.


(08/29/16)  STAFF REPORT: Charleston’s Shelby Rogers upsets Sara Errani in first round of U.S. Open
Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers rallied from 5-2 down in the second set to post a 6-4, 7-6 (3) upset of No. 27 seed Sara Errani of Italy on Monday in the first round of the U.S. Open.

Rogers, ranked 49th in the world, out-aced Errani, 9-0, in moving to a second-round match against young American Catherine Bellis.

After falling behind 5-2 in the second set, Rogers held service, broke service and then moved into a 6-5 lead by breaking Errani again, but the Italian broke back at love to force the tiebreaker. Rogers recovered from a 3-2 deficit in the tiebreaker to win the last five points of the match.

Rogers jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first set and served out the set, taking the set in a 40-15 service hold.
 
Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic lived up to her 24th seeding with a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 win over former Charleston resident Samantha Crawford in Monday’s opening round.


(08/28/16)  Local tennis league among top 10 nationally
The Lowcountry Tennis Association has been the state’s largest USTA tennis league for more than a decade, as well as the second-largest league in the USTA’s nine-state Southern Section, topped only by Atlanta’s huge league tennis program.

And now the LCTA has been recognized as the 10th-largest local league in the entire country in total number of participants for the first half of 2016, based on total league entries, or the 7,112 times the USTA computer has posted a USTA member’s $12 local league registration fee. Atlanta is third in the nation behind northern California and Denver.

In unique numbers, that’s a total of 2,881 men and women who played in the LCTA for the first six months of 2016. Many players obviously play on multiple teams, especially seniors who sometimes play in just about every age group available to them.

How does that stack up with past LCTA participation? “I expect that we (LCTA) will end the year with 15,000-plus participants and somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,300 unique players,” said USTA S.C. president Bob Peiffer, a former LCTA president. “I don’t have recent information, but in 2013 we had 15,258 participants in the LCTA.”

There is even more good news locally, however, although Peiffer warned, “Tennis is facing some challenges now, and my understanding is that is true with most sports.

“From June 2015 to June 2016, the LCTA had an increase of 94 unique players (3 percent). Across the nation, however, we lost 6,172 unique players from 2015 to 2016. By the way, we have over 900 more unique players than any other league in the state.”

Peiffer also pointed out that the LCTA has more than 2,000 participants than any other league in the state. However, the LCTA covers from Walterboro to Summerville to Kiawah/Seabrook Islands to all of the Charleston area. There is no other league in sight unless you go to the Grand Strand area or the Hilton Head Island/Beaufort area.

At the same time, Peiffer said that a merged Columbia/Lexington league would be larger than the LCTA in participation. Columbia and Lexington are separate leagues that between them usually receive twice as many of the much sought-after berths in state tournaments as the LCTA.

Some local captains favor splitting up the LCTA into three leagues: the Summerville area, West Ashley and East of the Cooper, which would give each area its own state tournament berths.

LCTA members attending last January’s captain’s meeting participated in a non-binding vote concerning the question of splitting the LCTA into two leagues. Although such a split likely would double the number of local teams receiving berths to the state championships, a possible split was voted down.

CPTL coming

The Charleston Pro Tennis League is preparing for another season, its third year back after taking a year off. Former College of Charleston tennis coach Phil Whitesell is in his third year of running the league.

A league that has set the pattern for many tennis leagues across the country, the CPTL will begin its 14th season on Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Daniel Island Club.

Some of the stars of the coed league include South African Davis Cupper/two-time CPTL MVP Kabelo Maleka and former top 300 WTA Tour player Anna Livadaru, former Vanderbilt All-American Ryan Preston and ex-Florida State All-American Anca Dumitrescu.

The league has put together an eight-match schedule that will end on Oct. 29 with the league final at Family Circle Tennis Center. Another big night is expected for Oct. 7 when the CPTL shares the spotlight at Family Circle Tennis Center with the LCTA’s annual party.

Alan Fleming event

Seabrook Island already is planning for the Oct. 5-9 Alan Fleming Senior Open Clay Court State Championship. The registration deadline is Sept. 19, with registration available at www.alanflemingtournament.com.

The Seabrook Island Club expects to attract more than 250 senior players from more than 20 states to compete in the tournament that in 2007 was designated as the Senior Open Clay Court State Championship. The 2010 tournament was designated S.C. Senior/Adult Tournament of the year.

The tournament was awarded the USTA’s highest level National Championship status for the mixed doubles 40s, 50s and 60s events two years ago. The 70s mixed doubles was added in 2015 as a national championship.

Last year’s tournament raised more than $40,000 for Respite Care of Charleston.

The late Tom Kent will be recognized this year for his work for the tournament and tennis at Seabrook Island and John’s Island. The Men’s Sportsmanship Award trophy will be named the Tom Kent Award.

Pratt still rising

Bishop England star Jared Pratt, the South’s No. 1 boys 16 player, has climbed to a No. 3 ranking nationally in boys 16 after taking sixth place in the recent National Hard Courts in Kalamazoo, Mich.

The area also has two other top 100 national boys 16 players in Academic Magnet standout Sam Kavarana (No. 76) and Porter-Gaud’s Brant Fenno (No. 97). It’s rare air for local juniors to have three 16-and-under players ranked in the top 100 nationally at the same time.

The rarity filters down to girls 12 where the Charleston area has four players ranked in the national top 100. Whitley Pate leads the way at No. 20, followed by Carri Hayes at No. 22, Margaret Navarro at No. 47 and Sophie Williams at No. 67.

Emma Navarro is ranked No. 22 nationally in girls 16.


(08/14/16)  Pratt - Navarro finalists in national doubles
It’s been a big last few weeks for Daniel Island’s Jared Pratt. After finishing third in the USTA National Clay Courts in boys 16 in July and climbing to a No. 5 national ranking, Pratt then was featured in a three-page layout in Tennis Magazine.

And Saturday, the Bishop England standout narrowly missed winning a national doubles championship. The latest result came in Kalamazoo, Mich., where Pratt teamed with singles semifinalist Robert Maciag of Sterling, Va., to finish as runners-up in the boys 16 USTA National Hard-Court’s 128- draw doubles championship.

The 11th seeded Pratt/Maciag team fell, 7-6 (5), 6-3, in the doubles final to Californians Andrew Ton and Maximilian Wild, the second seeds.

Pratt also made it to the round of 16 in the 256-player main draw singles bracket, then advanced to the consolation semifinals. If Pratt wins his first match on Sunday, he will play for fifth place in the second match.

Sam Kavarana also had a good tournament, going to the round of 64. Brant Fenno made it all the way to the round of 16 in doubles.

Navarro’s narrow miss

Emma Navarro just missed winning a second straight national doubles championship on Saturday when the Charleston player teamed with Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., in a 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5 loss to the ninth-seeded Andrea Cerdan/Christina Hand team of New Jersey in the doubles championship match of the girls 16 hard court nationals in San Diego.

Navarro and Beck were the second seeds after winning the clay court nationals earlier this summer. Navarro also was a singles quarterfinalist in San Diego.
Girls 12 sparkles

In the girls 12 nationals in Alpharetta, Ga., Maggie Navarro made the round of 32 singles, while Whitley Pate and Sophie Williams lost in the round of 64. Navarro and Pate advanced to the quarterfinals as a doubles team.

It’s really significant and a tribute to the local academies that the Charleston area currently has the state’s eight highest-ranked girls 12 players in the national rankings: Carri Hayes (20), Pate (21), Williams (70), Navarro (72), Logan Voeks (136), Saige Severance (219), Mattie Dermody (244) and Gigi Hinson (361).
Rogers WTT finals

Shelby Rogers may be on a losing streak in singles competition on the WTA Tour, but the Charleston touring pro has fared well playing World Team Tennis for the San Diego Aviators the last two weeks. As part of primarily a four-player squad, Rogers helped the Aviators clinch a berth on Friday night in the Aug. 26 WTT championship match.

With one regular season match still to be played, the Aviators (8-3) defeated the host New York Empire on Friday to earn a return to New York’s West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills to take on the West Coast rival Orange County Breakers (also 8-3) for the WTT title.

Rogers, currently ranked at a career-high No. 51, had been scheduled to play in the Cincinnati WTA/ATP Tour event this coming week, but is not entered in the main draw or qualifying draw. She plans to play the New Haven, Conn., WTA stop the week before the World Team Tennis final and the U.S. Open, which begins on Aug. 29.
City Championship

A round-robin tennis celebration was held on Friday to announce the re-launch of the City of Charleston Tennis Championship on Sept. 20-25. The theme of the tournament is “Compete for the title of: Best Tennis Player in Charleston.”

The tournament at Farmfield Avenue’s Charleston Tennis Center will include men’s and women’s open singles, along with doubles and mixed doubles. Host pro Davy Hairston noted that the event will be returning to the local tennis scene for the first time in 12 years.

Contact Hairston at the Farmfield complex (843-766-7401 or hairstond@charleston-sc.gov) for details and to register. A player’s party/BBQ will be held on Sept. 22 and a free junior clinic will be offered on Sept. 24.
Local notes

Local Junior Team Tennis coordinator April Gift reports that the Summerville Seahawks 18U team was awarded a wild card to this weekend’s sectionals in Rome, Ga. Josh Byrd is the Seahawks’ coach. Also, Maybank Tennis Center’s 12U advanced team, coached by Susan Baker and Toni Young, bypassed the state tournament and went straight to the Rome sectionals due to no state competition in the team’s division.

The Hugs for Harper’s fifth annual dinner/auction event is scheduled for Sept. 16 at Founders Hall at Charles Towne Landing. Contact Emma Blitch (843-792-5788 or blitch@musc.edu).

St. Andrew’s Parks and Playground will hold its Back To School Challenger next weekend. Sunday (today) is the registration deadline (tournament No. 700026516). Contact tournament director Phil Burke (843-345-2895 or fillup@standrewsparks.com).


(08/04/16)  TENNIS MAGAZINE: JAMES BECK: Back Condition Doesn't Keep Junior from Top Ranking
Sleeping in an upper body brace every night for three-and-a-half years has to be agonizing, even painful. Then to be told he still must undergo surgery to correct a curved spine took top Southern junior Jared Pratt’s agony to another level.

Pratt was just a kid – 14 years old – when told he had scoliosis. Naturally, he was scared, mostly because he realized that he might never achieve his tennis dreams. Scoliosis was a frightening word that described his condition as he faced a “big operation.”

In September of 2013 he underwent surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston for the curved spine condition. He was worried that his game might never be the same again.

Of course, his biggest concern was how scoliosis would impact his body after the surgery. Could he still aim to play tennis in high school or college?

All of the doubts and pain now appear to be behind the 16-year-old as he accomplishes one milestone after another. He’s 6-foot-1 now and says he’s “100 percent” healthy.

Earlier this year, approximately two-and-a- half years after the surgery, Pratt became the No. 1 Boys’ 16s player in the nine-state USTA Southern, the country’s largest section.

Not only does Pratt play a full junior schedule, he also plays tennis for Bishop England High School on Charleston’s Daniel Island. “High school is fun and less stressful than tournament tennis,” he said.

Less than two years after the surgery, Pratt helped Bishop England win its first state title in nearly two decades and he was honored as the best high school player for 2015 in the Charleston area.

In a period when many academy-trained players ignore the call of high school tennis, veteran Bishop England coach Kristin Fleming Arnold is grateful for Pratt’s affection for her program.

GETTING BACK TO NORMAL

Pratt had known about his condition since age 8. “I had a routine doctor’s appointment and they checked my spine then,” he said.

The condition continued to progress until surgery became the logical course of action. In July 2013, Jared’s mother, Diane, said at the time, “(Jared’s) curve had progressed significantly to 45 percent and surgery became necessary.”

Just two days prior to his surgery, Pratt played No. 1 singles and doubles for the South Carolina Southern Junior Cup team and posted an 8-0 record as South Carolina finished second to Georgia in the competition.

At that point, he knew he had a bright future in tennis ... if only it weren’t for the back ailment.

The decision to undergo surgery still wasn’t an easy one. But Dr. James Mooney, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at MUSC, assured Jared and his family that, without the surgery, his condition would only grow worse.

The memory of the upper body brace will always be there for Pratt. “Leading up to surgery was not much fun. There were many sleepless nights,” he said, reliving the three-and-a-half years he had to sleep in the brace.

The nights sometimes carried over into the days, into matches. “I had pain in my lower back after playing for awhile. It was never major, but it did force me out of a tournament once,” he recalled.

“I always hoped that the brace would be good enough, but once I saw Dr. Mooney he assured me that it would continue to get worse without surgery even if I wore the brace, because I had so much growing to still do.

“I knew before my surgery that I could achieve a high Southern ranking, but I had no idea how I would play after surgery. So I am a little surprised (by the success).”

Diane was impressed by her young son’s perseverance. “I am extremely proud of how Jared handled his recovery and his return to tennis,” she said. “It was such a long recovery and I know it was hard for him to return to playing tennis and tournaments when he knew he wasn’t at 100 percent, but getting out there was part of the process.

“Some days were harder than others, but I am glad he persevered and is playing well. We were lucky to have had a lot of people to lean on, including family, his coaches and many friends, especially in the tennis community,” his mother added.

JAMES BLAKE IS ON THE PHONE

Pratt received encouragement during a special phone call from another tennis star who also experienced the effects of scoliosis – the former No. 4 player in the world, James Blake, in October 2013, a few weeks after Pratt’s surgery.

“He (Blake) was very nice and related to how scary scoliosis can be and to undergo such a big operation. He seemed very down to earth,” Pratt said.

As a teenager, Blake was limited by scoliosis. He wore a back brace 18 hours a day for five years.

“The call (from Blake) gave Jared a lift. He was excited,” Diane said.

Jared has been rising ever since and has been pleasantly surprised by the pace of his recovery.

“It didn’t take that long to recover my strokes once I was allowed to start playing again,” he said. “Rotation on ground strokes and serves felt awkward for a couple of months, and I had neck and back pains for awhile. I couldn’t play for more than 30 minutes without getting tired when I first started playing again.”

The following fall, Pratt enrolled at Bishop England as a freshman. He joined the tennis team in spring of 2015, and immediately made his presence felt.

This year, he secured a No. 15 USTA national ranking in Boys’ 16s by going 8-0 in the USTA Spring National Team championships in Mobile, Ala.

His center of the universe is Daniel Island, home of the WTA Tour’s Volvo Car Open. Pratt trains there at Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy.

His dad, Flip (Phillip), is a consultant for technology giant Oracle Corporation at the Federal Department of State in Charleston.

Of course, his parents played a key role in his recovery. “My family has been tremendously helpful during my recovery. My mom stayed with me every day at the hospital. There have been up and down moments but I’m thankful to be where I am right now.

“I would also like to say that during my surgery and recovery, not only were my family and coaches great but all my tennis friends and families were amazing. Many visited, others sent gifts and all contacted me during my recovery and wished me well.”

He doesn’t travel alone through the tennis world. “My mom takes me to most of my tournaments which involves a lot of travel throughout the South and other parts of the United States. My Dad goes once in awhile when he can take off work or around holidays.”

And how did this young man become such an outstanding tennis player, other than the fact both of his parents play tennis?

“I watched a lot of tennis on TV when I was younger and have taken lots of lessons. Technique is important and I have been lucky to have good coaches.”

MWTennis CEO Jeff Wilson, a former Georgia Tech and Duke assistant tennis coach, has closely followed Pratt’s training regimen.

“Jared and his parents really followed the competitive plan that Bryan Minton laid out for them. Due to the adherence to this plan, Jared reached a high level of Southern and national play during his formative years,” Wilson said.

 “Jared only played up at the next level when he was winning tournaments at the previous level. Most players skip this critical step and play what everyone else plays. There was great communication between coaches, parents and Jared as to how to proceed in order to protect him as he made his way back from his surgery. Jared played a smart and purposeful schedule, competed well, and built his confidence back as he went.”

Pratt moved into the Southern’s No. 1 slot in mid-January of this year while sweeping both Boys’ 16s titles in the Southern Winter Level 1 Championships in Rome, Ga.

He still has a long tennis ride to go. “I see myself playing college tennis. I don’t think I’ll play professionally, but it’s always a possibility,” he said.

For Jared Pratt, possibilities are endless.


(07/30/16)  Carri Hayes newest local junior star
She also owns a No. 2 Southern ranking.

“I was a little surprised since I was the 17th seed,” she admitted about her recent success.

But not her coach, Martin Zumpft. “She showed signs of success a few weeks before, winning a girls 12 National Selection tournament during the same week as (2016) Belton,” pointed out Zumpft, who runs an academy at Wild Dunes Resort.

“Carri is a great competitor, very strong willed, and a very good athlete with a huge forehand to complement her already solid all-around game. She loves playing tennis and competing.”

Ready to start her second year of online schooling in a few weeks, Hayes also will move up to the girls 14 division on the court. She turns 13 in September.

“I love to hit the ball hard,” said the 4-10 Mount Pleasant player, who was the girls 12 singles runner-up and a doubles champion at Belton in 2015.

Her dad, Cliff, got her started in tennis on a neighborhood court in Mount Pleasant when she was 8 years old.

“I noticed she had real good hand-eye coordination, and she could really run and hit the ball hard,” Cliff Hayes said.

Pratt No. 5 in nation

Southern No. 1 Jared Pratt had another sparkling showing in the national boys 16 clay courts in Delray Beach, Fla. A third-place singles finish pushed his national ranking to fifth.

The Bishop England standout scored a one-sided victory over Academic Magnet star Sam Kavarana in the round of 16. Kavarana is now ranked 81st in the nation.

In Hayes, Whitley Pate (No. 25) and Maggie Navarro (No. 71), the Charleston area has the three highest-ranked South Carolina players in national girls 12.

National girls 16 doubles champion Emma Navarro owns the state’s highest ranking in national girls 16 (No. 33 combined).

Fenno sees results

Brant Fenno has changed his game to take more advantage of his left-handed strokes, and the latest results were positive. He did not drop a set in his first four matches in the boys 16 clay court nationals in Delray Beach, Fla., while advancing to the round of 16.

Fenno also was named Day 4 boys 16 “Player of the Day.” His national ranking jumped to No. 111 after the nationals.

“He has been working hard this spring to add a heavy rolling ball back into his standard repertoire of flat power,” said Edward Fenno, Brant’s father. “While it has taken him a while (and a ‘step back’ in the rankings) to find his range on the shot and to adjust to the new mix of strategies, it seems to be clicking pretty well now.”

After taking a year off from high school tennis to concentrate on his game, the three-time All-Lowcountry player plans to rejoin the Porter-Gaud team as a junior this school year.

Boys 12 wrap-up

Hard-hitting Evan Wen is the new No. 1 boys 12 player in the nation after winning last week’s National Clay Courts at LTP Tennis.

ESPN tennis analyst/former French Open runner-up Mary Joe Fernandez, married to noted IMG sports agent Tony Godsick (Roger Federer’s agent), was reported seen at the local national tournament. The couple’s son, Nicholas Godsick, lost in the round of 64 to No. 4 seed Phillip Deaton of Seattle.

Rogers an Aviator

Charleston’s Shelby Rogers is playing this summer for the San Diego Aviators of World Team Tennis. The James Blake/Ryan Harrison-led team will open its season on Sunday evening in Carlsbad, Calif., at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa against the Orange County Breakers.

Rogers has moved up to No. 52 in the world. After dropping opening round matches the last two weeks at Washington and Montreal, she is hoping to snap a five-match losing streak since advancing to the quarterfinals of the French Open when she plays in the tournaments in Cincinnati and New Haven leading up to the U.S Open.

Notes

Charleston area player Cindy Babb won the women’s 65 national grass court singles championship. Babb also teamed with Pam Simmons of Charleston to take a bronze ball in doubles.

Captain Heidi Strenck’s 18-plus women’s 2.5 team from the Daniel Island Club was runner-up in the Southern Championships in Mobile, Ala.

St. Andrew’s Parks and Playground will hold its Back To School Challenger Aug. 19-21. The registration deadline is Aug. 14 (tournament No. 700026516). Contact tournament director Phil Burke (843-345-2895 or fillup@standrewsparks.com).

The Lowcountry Junior Team Tennis program sent 10 teams to the recent state tournament in Florence. Summerville’s 18U team made the finals. League director April Gift reports that 513 kids participated in the Lowcountry league in 2016.


(07/26/16)  Emma Navarro captures national doubles title
Emma Navarro has been almost as busy as her father’s LTP Tennis and Swim Club the last few weeks.

Of course, Ben Navarro’s LTP Tennis and Swim Club is in recovery mode from serving as the host last week of the first USTA junior national championship played in South Carolina. But 15-year-old Emma actually has brought home a national championship trophy.

Navarro teamed with 14-year-old Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., on Saturday to cap off a sparkling year of doubles together with a national girls 16 clay court doubles title in Virginia Beach, Va.

The Navarro/Beck team lived up to its No. 2 national seeding and more by not dropping a set in the tournament and practically breezing to the national title with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Alexa Noel of Summit, N.J., and Payton Stearns of Mason, Ohio.

“We played really well, especially in the final,” said Navarro, who lost in the third round of singles in Virginia Beach. “The only close match was in the quarterfinals when we were down 4-5, 30-40. We came back and won 7-5, and won the next set 6-1. That and the first round were probably our toughest matches.

“In the final, I served for the national championship at 5-1, 40-15 . . . and we took a lot of pictures,” Navarro said Saturday night before heading off to Italy for a family vacation.

But it will be back to work on the court very soon as Navarro and Beck head to San Diego, to compete in the USTA National Hard Court Championships in two weeks.

It’s been a big year for the Navarro/Beck team that won the first tournament they teamed up in, last year’s Sweet Sixteen in Delray Beach, Fla., and followed up with the prestigious Eddie Herr tournament doubles crown, both in 14-and-under. When they moved up to 16-and-under doubles, they continued to win with the Easter Bowl title in Indian Wells, Calif., in April.

“Emma has a good serve and that sets me up for my volleys. We play with each other a lot, so we know how to play with each other,” Beck said. “We don’t use signals a lot, but before Emma serves we usually discuss where she is going to serve to. Emma doesn’t miss a lot of ground strokes, so I can poach and go when she hits a really deep ball.”

Beck trains with her parents at their tennis academy in Bogart, Ga., but prior to embarking on trips to major events she usually comes to Charleston to train with Navarro for a few days at LTP Tennis.

Navarro, who plans to attend Ashley Hall School as a freshman this fall, thinks much of the doubles team’s success is because, “We just try to keep our energy up and stay positive.”


(07/23/16)  Wen rallies to capture USTA Boys 12 National Clay Court Championships
Evan Wen always wants to dictate the point. He always wants the ball.

That’s his nature. He repeatedly walks toward the net, anxious to get the ball and serve it.

Yet, an observer pointed out on Saturday late in the USTA Boys 12 National Clay Court Championships final, “He hasn’t served many aces.”

That was in the preliminaries. The match was now on the line. Bam, bam, bam. Two aces and a service winner seconds later, and the top seed was sitting on triple match point for a national championship. He had never before even been seeded in a national tournament.

The power-hitting 6-1 giant wasted those three match points, but then hit a pair of forehand winners to finish off a comeback 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over sixth seed Victor Lilov of Raleigh to wrap up the national singles title at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant.

In some ways, it was a repeat performance for the 12-year-old from Morristown, N.J. It had seemed like in every crucial or decisive game throughout his seven-match march to the title, Wen would call on his biggest and best shots to destroy his opponent’s dreams of an upset.

As the smooth and talented 5-5 Lilov admitted after the match, “He started playing better and better, and then he was just too good.”

If not for Wen’s attendance at the 2010 U.S. Open final between Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, none of this might have happened.

“He had no interest at all in tennis, but when he was 6 and a half years old, we took him to the U.S. Open final,” his mother, Cathi Wen, said. “He didn’t want to go. But after that match while leaving the stadium, he was begging to play tennis. He said, ‘I want to do that.’”

Since that time, there has been no stopping the online-schooled youngster in his march to what he hopes will be a pro career. He has been relentless, training 35 hours weekly.

Wen already loved his backhand when his coach, Clay Bibbee, told him he wanted him to develop a weapon. One of the biggest forehands you’ll see at any level was the result. And the backhand still remains a potent weapon.

After suffering an early break when he misfired on three straight bombs, Wen dropped a poorly played first set. “I just felt like I had to get a few more balls on the court,” Wen said.

When Wen finally tightened up his game and made his opponent win points, the tide changed, especially when the match was on the line. From 3-4 down in each of the last two sets, Wen took ownership of the court with his big serves and forehands. He finished off the second set with a backhand winner and the third set with a forehand winner.

Award Winners

Gold Ball Singles: Evan Wen (Morristown, N.J.)
Silver Ball Singles: Victor Lilov (Raleigh)
Bronze Ball Singles: Jack Anthrop (Orlando, Fla.)
4th Places Singles: Phillip Deaton (Auburn, Wash.)
Doubles Gold Ball: Anthrop/James Delgado (High Point, N.C.)

Doubles Silver Ball: Braden Shick (Greensboro, N.C.)/Ryan Colby (Alexandria, Va.)
Doubles Bronze Ball: Bruno Kuzuhara (Coconut Creek, Fla.)/John Lasanajak (Lawrenceville, Ga.)
Gold Draw Winner: Kian Vakili (Longwood, Fla.)
Gold Draw Runner-Up: Jiaxi Ma (Alhambra, Calif.)
USTA Sportsmanship Award: Alvaro Pedraza (University Park, Md.)


(07/23/16)  Wen, Lilov advance to championship
Evan Wen is learning what it feels like to be a top seed. Every-one seems to know about "the big guy" in the USTA Boys 12 National Clay Court Championships at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant.

"There's more pressure. Everyone knows you're No. 1," the 12-year-old boy giant said.

Living up to a top seeding is difficult, even if you're 6-1 and your opponent is 16 inches shorter.

Wen felt that pressure in Fri-day's semifinals, even more so because he was playing against hi§ doubles partner, crafty 4-foot-9 fourth seed Phillip Deaton of Auburn, Wash.

As he has been doing all week, Wen knocked his opponent off the court when it counted most. His mighty forehand might have been at its best yet in a third set that finished off his 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 victory.

Wen earned a place in Saturday's 10 a.m. final against sixth seed Victor Lilov of Raleigh. Lilov made quick work of third seed Jack Anthrop of Orlando, Fla., 6-1, 6-2, in the other mid-day semifinal.

"Evan hit his forehand really well in the third set," said Wen's coach, Clay Bibbee. "He took advantage of Phillip's second serve, and he picked up his energy."

After being blown away by Wen's power in the first set, the left-handed Deaton used Wen's power to create his own pace in the second set, with the aid of a good set of serving. Wen eventually would go for too much, and commit errors.

There wasn't "too much" in the third set when it pertained to Wen's forehands. He hit al-most all of them perfectly, and for outright winners. The Morristown, N.J., youngster looked

Victor Lilov pumps his fist after hitting a winner in Friday's semifinals. like he, indeed, was nearly ready to "go pro" and live his dream.

"I felt a lot of pressure trying to close out the match," Wen admitted. After wasting two match points in losing the seventh game of the third set, Wen made good on his fourth match point of the match in the next game. A sizzling backhand down the line did the job.

Wen should feel good about his chances again in the final, just as he did about the semi-finals and an opponent he had beaten in another tournament. Wen holds a 2-0 edge over Lilov.

Lilov is a smooth 5-5 performer who trains at North Carolina State and in a summer camp in Mooresville, N.C. He is the son of Bulgarian parents.
 
After winning the long fifth game of the second set, Lilov also won the next three games to earn his spot in the final.

"I've never been past the round of 16 in a Super National tournament before," Lilov said.

Lilov likes his chances at finally defeating Wen after "two closes matches" against him.

"He's powerful. I have to be super aggressive," Lilov said.


(07/22/16)  Wen, Deaton advance in USTA Boys 12 National Clay Court Championships
Winning a national championship isn’t easy. Just ask top seed Evan Wen and No. 4 Phillip Deaton about what it takes to maintain their chances of winning the USTA Boys 12 National Clay Court Championships.

Neither is there yet, but with the help of their exceptional wills to win both are one match closer, although only one can win the singles titles.

The two doubles partners will oppose each other in Friday’s singles semifinals at 11 a.m. at LTP Tennis and Swim Club in Mount Pleasant.

Wen had to fight off a stomach ailment the entire second set in Thursday afternoon’s heat, and finally had to call for the trainer. Yet, he outlasted 16th seed Ryan Colby of Alexandria, Va., 6-4, 7-6 (4).

“It was really painful,” the tall (6-1) and powerful 12-year-old said. “I just told myself not to think about it until after the point(s).”

Over and over again, it went until Wen drilled the last of his sizzling forehands for a winner to end the match in the second-set tiebreaker. He was down 5-4 in the second set when he grabbed his stomach and bent over in pain. That’s when the trainer was called.

“These are the kind of tough matches you’ve just got to get through, and Evan found a way to do it,” said Clay Bibbee, Wen’s longtime coach from Morristown, N.J.

Wen played a doubles match later in the day with Deaton. “Of course, I’ll play tomorrow. I’ve never pulled out of a real match,” Wen said.

The 4-foot-9 Deaton had to go the distance in singles before pulling out a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 over unseeded Alvaro Pedraza of University Park, Md. Deaton, a left-hander with true grit and talent, trailed 4-3 in the third set. He stayed alive with a string of amazing and acrobatic recoveries.

“I had to fight for every point. I just kept telling myself to focus on every point,” said Deaton, who didn’t complete his singles match until just past 6 p.m., four hours and a half after he first took the court but had to leave the court when thunder hit the area.

“I just gave it my all. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

Can Deaton upend Wen, who defeated him in straight sets in the Winter Nationals?

“I have the mentality that I can beat anyone in the tournament,” Deaton said.

The other semifinal at 12:30 p.m. Friday will pit No. 3 seed Jack Anthrop of Orlando, Fla., and hard-hitting No. 6 Victor Lilov of Raleigh.

Quarterfinal Results
Evan Wen, Morristown, N.J., def. 16-Ryan Colby, Alexandria, Va., 6-4, 7-6
Jack Anthrop, Orlando, Fla., def. 17-Jiaxi Ma, Alhambra, Calif., 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Phllip Deaton, Auburn, Wash., def. Alvaro Pedraza, University Park, Md., 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
Victor Lilov, Raleigh, def. 14-Kian Vakili, Longwood, Fla., 6-1, 6-7, 6-2.



(07/20/16)  Seattle lefty advances at Boys 12 clay court nationals
Phillip Deaton is a crafty left-handed pitcher who plays on a select baseball team back in the suburbs of Seattle. The indoor/outdoor Amy Yee Tennis Center in Seattle is named for his deceased great aunt.

A smallish 12-year-old, Deaton has a small dilemma: baseball or tennis.

This week, it’s tennis in the USTA Boys 12 National Clay Court Championships at LTP Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant where he is the fourth seed. Deaton lived up to his seeding on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-1 romp past No. 17 seed Braden Shick of Greensboro, N.C., in the round of 16.

Deaton kept pace with 6-1 top seed Evan Wen of Morristown, N.J. Wen once again used his big serve and forehand to post a 6-3, 6-1 victory over unseeded Chase Thompson of Mission Viejo, Calif.

Deaton and Wen are each one win away in Thursday’s quarterfinals from a showdown in Friday’s semifinals.

Third seed Jack Anthrop of Orlando, Fla., also advanced, but No. 2 seed Samir Banerjee of Basking Ridge, N.J., was upset by No. 14 Kian Vakili of Longwood, Fla., 6-4, 6-4, in the bottom half of the draw.

Deaton is amazingly quick with great hands. And he can twist one of his left-handed forehands into the corners, well, almost like a pro. He seldom makes unforced errors.

On top of baseball and tennis, Deaton actually goes to school full-time where he is starting the seventh grade, his dad Bob Deaton said. He trains at the Eastside Tennis Center in Kirkland, Wash.

“He started tennis when he was 4 years old, played tournaments at 5. He’s been pretty serious since he was 7 years old,” said his father, who incidentally doesn’t play tennis.

Why is Deaton playing tennis? Aunt Amy, of course?

“He uses the same motion on his left-handed pitches that he uses on his serve,” Bob Deaton said.

ROUND OF 16 RESULTS
1-Evan Wen, Morriston, N.J., def. Chase Thompson, Mission Viejo, Calif., 6-3, 6-1
14-Kian Vakili, Longwood, Fla., def. 2-Samir Banerjee, Basking Ridge, N.J., 6-4, 6-4
3-Jack Anthrop, Orlando, Fla., def. 15-Cooper Williams, New York, N.Y., 6-0, 6-3
4-Phillip Deaton, Auburn, Wash., def. 17-Braden Shick, Greensboro, N.C., 6-4, 6-1
6-Victor Lilov, Raleigh, N.C., def. 10-Cole Stelse, Scottsdale, Ariz., 6-3, 6-1
17-Jiaxi Ma, Alhambra, Calif., def. 11-Noah Hernandez, Chicago, 7-6, 7-6
16-Ryan Colby, Alexandria, Va., def. 17-Zaid Abuhamda, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 7-5, 6-3
Albero Pedraza, University Park, Md., def. 17-Hardy Owen, Sandy, Utah, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4


(07/19/16)  Wen vaults into Round of 16 of Boys 12 tennis tourney
Evan Wen looks like a man among boys at the USTA Boys 12 National Clay Court Championships at LTP Tennis and Swim Club in Mount Pleasant.

At 6-1, he’s well over a foot taller than many of the 128 competitors. And the 12-year-old top seed from Morristown, N.J., backs up his size with immense talent that includes huge forehands and 110 mph serves.

Wen used those weapons when he needed them most in taking a pair of victories on Tuesday at LTP Tennis and Swim Club to vault into Wednesday’s round of 16. He also flashed a solid net game, a consistent backhand and good mobility.

Indeed, he isn’t joking when he says his goal is to “go pro.” Of course, he has a ways to go to catch up with his hero, Roger Federer.

Wen pounded big serves and uncorked clean winners off his forehand to charge out of a 5-5 first-set deadlock and 4-3 deficit in the second set to post a 7-5, 6-4 victory over talented and consistent 17th seed Bruno Kuzuhara of Coconut Creek, Fla., in an early afternoon third-round match.

Early Tuesday morning, he scored an easier 6-1, 6-3 win over Damian Sancillo of Henrico, Va., in the second round.

“When I get the chance I go for it,” he said about his powerful forehand. “But it’s definitely tougher when I’m playing against a player who is consistent (such as the much smaller Kuzuhara).”

Wen is just now seeing the results of his seven hours of daily training. “This is the first year I’ve been seeded in the nationals,” said Wen, who is scheduled to play a 1:15 p.m. match on Wednesday at LTP.

After Sunday’s washout and Monday’s scattered rainstorms, tournament officials instituted the no-ad scoring format, which speeded up play and helped put the tournament back on track in main draw singles.


(07/18/16)  STAFF REPORT: USTA tourney completes first round
The USTA Boys 12 National Clay Court Championships survived scattered morning storms to complete the first round of the 128-player singles main draw Monday evening, with the help of new sites providing courts.

After a complete rain-out on Sunday, Monday produced better results, despite the inclement weather in the morning. Matches were switched from LTP Tennis and Swim Club in Mount Pleas-ant to Wild Dunes Racquet Club on the Isle of Palms, Seabrook Island Club and Snee Farm Country Club, with matches starting late in the afternoon.

"We're going to get the first round out of the way today, and regroup Tuesday morning," tournament host Randy Pate of LTP's Randy Pate Academy said.

Singles and doubles are scheduled to be played at LTP and the Country Club of Charleston on Tuesday, starting at 8 a.m. Consolation matches likely will be played elsewhere, according to Pate.

Top seed Evan Wen of Morristown, N.J., held off Rahul Sac dev of Cary, N.C., 7-6, 6-4, ear Monday morning to advance to the second round. Wen is a powerful 6-1 player, who plays like a boys 16 competitor.

Left-handed fourth seed Phil-lip Deaton of the Seattle area used his consistent baseline game to score a 6-2, 6-2 win over Nicholas Mangiapane of Davidson, N.C.

First Round Singles Results
(2) Samir Banerjee d. Adltya Narayanan 6-1, 6-1 James Rico d. Azariah Rusher 6-1, 6-0
(17) Jelani Sarr d. Ceders Hasler 7-5, 6-0 Waleed Qadir d. Ethan Muza 6-4, 7-5
(14) Klan Vakill d. Alex Dinkov 6-0, 6-2
Zak Vince d. Davis Taylor 6-4, 6-3 (17)
Michael Ross d. Colin Tuttle 6-1, 6-1
Calvin Wellman d. Meecah Bigun 6-2, 6-1
(6) Victor Ulov d. Nathan Blakey 6-1, 6-0
Alex Koong d. Kale Mize 6-4, 6-1
(17) Grant Lothringer d. Filip Cebic 6-0, 1-6, 6-1
Nicholas Herdoiza d. Saahil Singh 6-0, 6-1 (10)
Cole Stelse d. Hughes Peus 6-0, 6-0
Anish Gangavaram d. Yair Grltzman 6-3, 6-3
(17) Leamer 'Tien d. Andrew Rundle 6-3, 5-7, 7-5
James Albarracin d. Donovan Spigner 6-3, 7-6 (3)
Jack Anthrop d. Preston Steams 6-1, 6-0
Kaylan Bigun d. Solomon Giles 7-6, 6-7, 7-6
(17) John Lasanajak d. Deacon Thomas 6-2, 6-3
(15) Cooper Williams d. Jakob Esterowitz 6-1, 6-1
Nico Jamison d. Andrew Kahn 6-2, 6-1
(17) Julian Wu d. Kevin Thomas 7-6, 6-2
Tall Jarmond d. Joseph Phillips 6-2, 6-4
Alexander Adamec d. Ethan Schiffman 6-1, 6-4
(17) Jiaxi Ma d. Michael Zheng 6-3, 6-2
(11) Noah Hernandez d. Krish Vennam 6-2, 6-3
Joshua Kim d. Slater Miller 6-4, 5-7, 6-0
(17) Will Mayew d. Ryan Nash 6-1, 6-0
Rltesh Patil d. Andrew Delgado 6-4, 1-6, 7-6
Paxton Pritchard d. Zane Ford 6-1, 6-3
Daniel Green d. Mark Joy 6-3, 6-1
(9) Aman Sharma d. Luke Bennett 6-1, 6-3
Ethan Carr d. Vineet Ramesh 6-0, 6-1
Alvaro Pedraza d. (17) Kabeer Kapasi 6-3, 6-1
Jayanth Devalah d. Lucas Coriaty 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
(7) Phillip Deli d. Aldan Kim 6-7, 6-4, 7-6
(17) Braden Shick d. Maxwell Exsted 6-0, 6-1
(13) James Delgado d. Ty Switzer 6-3, 6-1
Jack Wong d. Jarrett Chen 6-0, 6-2
Adam Sun d. Owen Megargee 6-3, 6-2
Nicholas Godsick d. Mitchell Lee 7-5, 6-1
(4) Phillip Deaton d. Nicholas Manglapane 6-2, 6-2
Ervin Perkowski d. Dylan Applegate 7-5, 6-1
(17) Andrew Saki d. Charles Hobbs 6-0, 6-4
Landon Ardila d. Dylan Koziol 6-0, 6-3
(16) Ryan Colby d. Bjorn Swenson 6-1, 6-4
Adltya Srinlvasan d. Akshay Joshi 6-2, 6-1
(17) Zaid Abuhamda d. Brock Anderson 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
Stefan Regalia d. Mikkel Zlnder 7-5, 6-2
(5) Alexander Chang d. Peter Anastasakis 7-6, 6-2
Chase Thompson d. Chase Robinson 6-2, 7-6
(17) Thomas Faurel d. Adnen Jippov 6-3, 6-1
Qidao Lien d. Solomon Brown 6-2, 6-1
(12) Jeffrey Etterbeek d. Luke Butera 6-3, 6-2
Keith Bunn d. Daniel Pries 6-3, 6-4
(17) Bruno Kuzuhara d. Jake Kennedy 6-2, 6-0
Damian Sancillo d. Uam Bimie 6-1, 6-3
(1) Evan Wen d. Rahul Sachdev 7-6, 6-4


(07/18/16)  STAFF REPORT: Rain wreaks havoc on USTA junior tourney
Rain and thunderstorms played havoc with the USTA's Boys 12 National Clay Court Championships on Sunday. Only two singles matches in the 128-draw tournament were completed.

The tournament will double up on Monday with two main draw singles rounds at LTP Tennis and Swim Club in Mount Pleasant and the Country Club of Charleston. No doubles or consolation matches are scheduled to be played on Monday.

Top seed Evan Wen of Morristown, N.J., will open play at 8 a.m. on Monday at the LTP complex.

The Daniel Island Club had been scheduled to be a third site on Sunday only, and will not be used as a site on Monday.

No doubles were played on Sunday, but doubles have not been cancelled, tournament officials said.

The format will remain the same for singles in the main draw with best of three full sets.

Second seed Samir Banerjee of Basking Ridge, N.J. and sixth seed Victor Lilov of Raleigh, scored straight-set wins in the only singles matches played on Sunday, yielding a total of three games between them.


(07/16/16)  Talent flocking to Lowcountry for USTA national junior championship
What does a national top seed in boys 12 look like?

“He’s big and strong. You’d think he’d be in the 16s. He stands apart with his height (6-1),” is the way LTP Tennis and Swim Club pro Jerry Albrikes described Evan Wen of Morristown, N.J., on Saturday after hitting with the youngster in a clinic.

Such a powerful player can dominate in 12-and-under. The next Pete Sampras?

The best young tennis players in the nation are here for at least five days, probably eight days in the case of Wen, to participate in the first USTA national junior championship ever held in South Carolina.

The next Andre Agassi? Maybe fourth seed Phillip Deaton of the Seattle area.

“Just looking at him (Deaton), he looks like just another player. But when you hit with him, you can see why he’s the No. 4 seed. He doesn’t miss,” Albrikes said about Deaton, who finished fifth a year ago in the USTA Boys 12 National Clay Court Championships.

The Charleston tennis community has never seen such outstanding young talent on display locally. That’s why Albrikes is encouraging the huge local tennis base to come out to see these type kids play the game, especially in the later rounds Thursday through Saturday at LTP Tennis off Mathis Ferry Road in Mount Pleasant.

The 128-draw tournament will start 8 a.m. on Sunday at LTP, the Daniel Island Club and the Country Club of Charleston.

“There will be plenty of support and energy the first four days since every player is guaranteed a minimum of four matches, but then people start leaving,” Albrikes said. “That’s when the highest level matches start.

“It’s important to the tennis community that members, players and tennis fans get out and see the best boys 12 players in the nation play. That’s what the tournament will be Thursday through Saturday.

“There’s no charge to come out. We have a stadium set up for the fans. Anyone can just call the club and find out the times of the matches.”
Tournament notes

How big is junior tennis? There are approximately 4,300 juniors in South Carolina who have active USTA memberships, 45,000 in the nine-state Southern Region and 193,711 nationally.

Players are here from all over the country for the nationals. California has 12 participants and Florida has 14. But North Carolina has the most with 15 entrants. South Carolina, which has a strong local contingent in several age groups such as boys 16 and girls 12 at other national tournament sites, has only two players in the National Boys 12 Clay Courts, one from Hilton Head Island and one from Simpsonville.

Saturday was check-in time for the entire boys 12 national field. “All nine clay courts are busy. They’ll all practicing,” Albrikes said.

The player party and a ping-pong tournament also were popular events on Saturday’s agenda.
Local notes

National clay courts are being held all over the nation for the next week. For instance, LTP Tennis has five players participating in the girls 12 nationals in Boca Raton, Fla. (Maggie Navarro, Whitley Pate, Sophie Williams, Saige Severance and Logan Voeks), while at least two other locals (Maggie Dermody and Carri Hayes) also are in Boca Raton.

Five locals are participating in the current boys 16 nationals in Delray Beach, Fla. (Jared Pratt, Jacob Jahn, Sam Kavarana, Chad Nash and Brant Fenno). Former Wando ace Scotty Cameron and Mark Militzer are on the player list for the boys 18 nationals, also in Delray Beach.

Charleston’s Shelby Rogers and former resident Samantha Crawford are entered in the main draw of Washington’s Citi Open this coming week. Rogers is currently ranked 59th in the world and Crawford has broken into the top 100 at No. 98.

Former Charleston junior Ellie Halbauer has jumped into the world’s top 400 for the first time at No. 392.

Pine Forest Country Club tennis director Andy Steingold was pleased with the turnout of 70 players for the club’s recent “Wimbledon White” attire tennis party.
 


(07/15/16)  Charleston set to host state’s first USTA national junior championships
Patrick Hieber of Germany is on a tennis vacation in Charleston. Well, not exactly.

Hieber is taking time off from his full-time job in law enforcement to serve as the tournament director for the first USTA national junior tennis championships ever played in South Carolina.

The 38-year-old resident of Fulda, Germany, arrived in Charleston on Tuesday night, and he plans to fly out the day after the USTA Boys 12 National Clay Court Championships end next Saturday. It’ll be back to his government job in Germany, where he gets 32 paid vacation days annually.

Hieber will spend most of the next week at base site LTP Tennis and Swim Club, off Mathis Ferry Road in Mount Pleasant. Matches also will be played at the Country Club of Charleston (Sunday through Tuesday) and the Daniel Island Club on Sunday. Seventeen courts will be in use at the three facilities when play begins at 8 a.m. on Sunday.

“I’m here only a short time, but this is a nine or 10-month job,” Hieber said Friday. “I did everything online from back in Germany.”

Even lining up chair umpires is a major assignment for a national championship. “We’ll have a chair umpire for every match played, even doubles and consolation matches,” said the law school graduate.

That’s a lot of chair umpires when you consider that a 128-player compass draw will be used, and every player is guaranteed at least four matches. That takes some management, especially when the sites are so spread out the first few days.

The tournament was originally scheduled to be played in Winston-Salem, N.C., but Randy Pate moved his junior academy to LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant from Winston-Salem.

“We talked to the USTA and they gave permission to move the tournament here this year,” Hieber said.

“The best 128 boys 12 (players) from the entire U.S. will play. The field is probably the strongest in at least five years according to the ranking positions. At the end of registration our first alternate was still ranked No. 209 in the nation. I think the very nice location at LTP Tennis Club and the popularity of Charleston have a lot to do with it.”

How did Heiber land this tennis gig?

“I played competitive tennis and in 1995 I came to the United States as an exchange student. I just happened to land in Statesville, N.C. (the site of Pate’s earlier tennis academy). That’s where I met Randy Pate,” said Heiber, who was ranked 72nd in the world in men’s 35 earlier this year.

Heiber and Pate remained friends, and in 2011 Heiber took a three-year furlough from his government job to live out his passion. “I worked for Randy from 2011-14 as director of the Randy Pate Academy in Winston-Salem,” he said.

In the process, Heiber ran the Boys 12 National Championships three years in Winston-Salem. Then, it was back to Fulda, a town of about 60,000 that dates back to the Middle Ages.


(07/02/16)  Barker looking forward to competing in 60s
Almost everyone at some point feels the pain that can accompany aging, including the seniors who travel the world and win what seems like an endless number of championships. Even the Diane Barkers of senior tennis.

Barker competed in the ITF's women’s 55 world team championships last month in Helsinki, Finland. The former College of Charleston All-American helped the USTA team finish third.

The owner of seven world singles titles and the recent women’s 55 national clay court champion, Barker didn’t stick around this past week to compete in the world individual championships. She suffered a pair of injuries in Helsinki. “I pulled both calf muscles, one week apart from each other,” Barker said.

“But ... I was not planning on staying for the individuals because my body cannot take the hard courts for two weeks straight.”

Thus, at 58 years old, Barker is looking forward to moving up to the life of a 60-and-over senior tennis player. “I move up to the 60s next year and can’t wait to get to the next age group,” she said.

While most everyone else wishes that the clock turned the other way, senior tennis players look forward to “aging up.”

The Severance clan

There are many super tennis families in the area, including the Navarro clan of LTP Tennis and Swim owner Ben Navarro. Of course, Emma, Maggie and Earl Navarro are amazing. Maggie is ranked No. 3 in the South in girls 12, Emma is No. 8 in girls 16 (No. 16 in girls 18) and Earl is 42nd in the South in boys 16. Even older brother Owen played tennis for State AA champion Academic Magnet.

Another LTP family also is making great strides in tennis. Four Severances own Southern rankings in 12-and-under.

As their mother, Ashley Severance, said, “My husband (Matt) and I have four children who all play tennis. Sydney (turned 12 in May), Saige (turned 11 in May), Sawyer (9) and Sutton (8). They all four play up in the 12s division.

Saige is the leader. Ranked 25th in the USTA’s nine-state Southern Section, she teamed with Whitney Pate to win the girls 12 doubles title in the recent Southern hard courts as well as lost to Pate in quarterfinals in singles.

Sydney is 74th in Southern girls 12, Sawyer is No. 147 in boys 12 and Sutton is No. 259 in boys 12.

“Our oldest, Sydney has battled injuries for the past year that have kept her from playing tennis eight months of the year,” Ashley Severance said. “Saige has about two more years left to play in 12s, which is exciting. Sawyer was No. 1 in 10s as a 7-year-old ... so we moved him up to 12s when he turned 8 ... similar story with his younger brother Sutton.”

Ranking record?

The Charleston area currently has what must be a record nine players among the top 40 players (or eight of the top 30) in the Southern girls 12 rankings: Maggie Navarro (3), Allie Gretkowski (6), Carri Hayes (8), Whitney Pate (13), Sophie Williams (15), Mattie Dermody (24), Saige Severance (25), Logan Voeks (30) and Gigi Hinson (40).

Boys 16-and-under is a close second with eight players in the top 50: Jared Pratt (1), Jacob Jahn (16), Sam Kavarana (18), Brant Fenno (32), Coy Simon (41), Earl Navarro (42), Huntley Allen (45) and Chad Nash (46).

Pratt also has moved up to No. 16 in Southern boys 18 and No. 12 in national boys 16.

Local Notes

While online-schooled girls 16 Southern hard-court singles champion Kat Lyman, just a sophomore, said she will not play high school tennis this fall for defending SCHSL Class AAAA girls state champion Wando, Porter-Gaud’s SCISA Class AAA state boys champions are regaining the talent of three-time All-Lowcountry junior Brant Fenno, who left Porter-Gaud last school year to concentrate on tennis training.

Summerville’s Pine Forest Country Club has scheduled a “Wimbledon White” attire tennis event for next Saturday from 6-9 p.m. No partner is needed to register for the food/fun/tennis evening, although a fee is required. Contact tennis director Andy Steingold (andy@pineforestcountryclub.com).

The City of Charleston Junior Hard-Court Championships are scheduled for July 15-17 at Charleston Tennis Center. The entry deadline is July 11. Registration is available online at USTA.com (team number 700044816).

September will be a busy month for local tennis. The Shape Invitational women’s collegiate event is switching from March to Sept. 22-24 to avoid the conflict the tournament had with the regular college season when Family Circle Tennis Center held its inaugural Shape event in March. Also, LTP Tennis will stage its second women’s U.S. Pro Circuit satellite tournament Sept. 26-Oct. 2, this time a $15,000 event.

Don’t forget that LTP Tennis will hold Charleston’s first USTA national championship junior tournament in just two weeks (July 17-23) when the National Boys 12 Clay Court Championships move into the area. The Country Club of Charleston and the Daniel Island Club also will serve as hosts in the early rounds.

Just wondering if Sam Querry has been watching Coastal Carolina baseball.


(07/01/16)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: ROGER LEE: Man says Summerville tennis community needs to catch up
Rob Rosenblum is launching a local grassroots movement aimed at developing more interest in tennis.

Rosenblum is looking to apply the principles of the Community Sports Association to Lowcountry tennis.

He says CSA concepts really helped grow tennis in the part of New York where he lived prior to moving to Summerville in 2014 and there is no reason why they can’t produce similar results in the greater Summerville area.

“There is a real need for more tennis programming for both adults and juniors in the greater Summerville area,” Rosenblum said. “We are far behind such areas as Charleston and Mt. Pleasant. CSA Tennis is embarking on a major effort to create the Summerville Area Tennis Association to address these issues.

Our goal is to work closely with the USTA and the Town of Summerville to begin growing inexpensive programs for all ages and all levels of play.”

In Summerville and many other areas, young athletes who don’t belong to a country club or have a parent who plays may not be exposed to tennis.

While there are youth tennis programs in the area, many are expensive and there are no leagues comparable to those established for sports such as baseball and football.

Rosenblum is hoping the formation of the Summerville Area Tennis Association will lead to the development of programs that are affordable and offer new opportunities for kids and adults a like.

“We need to make tennis less frustrating and more fun,” Rosenblum said. “The fun of tennis is playing, not receiving instructions. A one-hour clinic or lesson doesn’t typically show someone how much fun it is. Drills have their place, but providing ways for players to get on the court and compete with others of their skill level is the way you build a population of tennis players.”

If tennis leagues could be established then they could become a stepping stone for players wanting to take on more challenging levels of tennis.

Rosenblum is encouraging anyone who wants to volunteer time toward helping grow tennis in the area to contact him.

“We need your input and guidance so that we can provide the programming that you feel is best for you and our community,” he said. “Our very first step is to have a brief organizational meeting at a time and place that is most convenient”

He is asking those interested to email their name, contact information and time preference for a meeting to csa@csatennis.com. He is also asking those interested to select one of five time preferences: 1. Weekday morning 2. Weekday afternoons 3. Weekday evenings 4. Weekend mornings and 5. Weekend afternoons.


(06/30/16)  Charleston’s Rogers wins doubles match at Wimbledon
Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers is still alive at Wimbledon, in doubles.

Rogers and Alexandro Panova of Russia rallied from a set down to score a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 upset of the No. 12 seeded team of Margarita Gasparyan of Russia and Monica Niculescu of Romania in the first round of doubles on Thursday.

Rogers served out the one-hour and 46-minute match by holding service in the long ninth game of the third set.

Rogers was eliminated from singles competition in the first round on Monday by Sabine Lisicki of Germany.

Meanwhile on Thursday, former Charleston resident Samantha Crawford suffered a 6-3, 6-4 loss in the second round of singles to 28th seed Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.


(06/27/16)  Shelby Rogers loses to Lisicki in first round at Wimbledon
This Wimbledon wasn’t a lengthy dream for Shelby Rogers. The Charleston touring professional’s fortnight lasted less than an hour.

Germany’s Sabine Lisicki won the first 11 points and nailed down the first set in 18 minutes while cruising to a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Rogers on Monday in London in the opening round of the Wimbledon Championships.

The grass-court experience wasn’t anything like what Rogers experienced last month on the clay courts of the French Open when she advanced all the way to the quarterfinals, and leaped nearly 50 spots in the world rankings in the process. This time, Rogers earned $41,300, nearly $300,000 less than she won in Paris.

Lisicki, the 2009 Family Circle Cup champion, started off like the player who was the 2013 Wimbledon runner-up and a 2011 semifinalist. She served three aces in the first game, and was up 4-1 in 12 minutes. Despite currently being ranked 19 places below the 62nd-ranked Rogers, Lisicki dominated the match. Rogers did pull even in the second set at 3-3 with her only break of service.

Lisicki buckled down in the six-deuce eighth game to hold service for a 5-3 lead, then came up with a service break of her own at love to end the match.

Lisicki had the edge in almost all categories, 9-1 in aces, 19-10 in winners and 12-16 in unforced errors.


(06/26/16)  Charleston’s Rogers opens Wimbledon against Lisicki
There’s good news for Charleston touring tennis professional Shelby Rogers as she attempts to relive her French Open success as the Wimbledon Championships begin on Monday in London.

Rogers is actually playing someone ranked 20 spots below her No. 61 ranking in Monday’s first round of the grass court Grand Slam event. But the opponent also happens to be 2009 Family Circle Cup (now Volvo Car Open) champion Sabine Lisicki of Germany.

The Rogers-Lisicki showdown is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. Charleston time in the day’s first match out on court 18.

Lisicki, a talented and hard-hitting 26-year-old who has been ranked as high as 12th in the world, was a 2013 Wimbledon finalist and a 2011 semifinalist. She also was a quarterfinalist on three other occasions.

Rogers upset a string of seeded players at the French Open before running into eventual champion and current world’s No. 2 Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals. Rogers’ only match since Paris was a first-round qualifying loss at Mallorca, Spain.


(06/18/16)  Wando’s Kat Lyman wins Southern title
Charleston tennis experienced another big day on Saturday when Wando star Kat Lyman walked away with the girls 16 singles title in the USTA Southern Closed Hard-Court Championships in Little Rock, Ark.

“I played well. I really wanted to win, but I knew it would be a close match,” the 15-year-old Lyman said while on the road home from Arkansas with her mother Saturday afternoon. “I was really happy when I won.”

Winning the Southern final was even more exciting than Wando’s Class AAAA state championship last fall. “This is more exciting, I think, since we (Wando) were favored to win the whole year,” she said.

Lyman went 7-0 in singles, capping the week as a No. 5 seed with a 6-4, 7-6 (2) upset of top-seeded Carly Briggs of Calhoun, Ga., on Saturday morning. Lyman also was a doubles quarterfinalist.

After playing No. 3 for the Warriors as an online-schooled freshman, Lyman doesn’t expect to play high school tennis as a sophomore, instead focusing more on her full-time tennis training at LTP Tennis and Swim.

Local newcomer Whitney Pate also won the girls 12 singles Southern championship in Cary, N.C. Pate is the daughter of Randy Pate, whose Randy Pate Tennis Academy recently moved to Mount Pleasant’s LTP Tennis from Winston-Salem, N.C

But titles didn’t end there for the Charleston area in probably its most successful week ever in Southern closed tournaments. Pate also won the girls 12 Southern doubles title with Paige Severance of Mount Pleasant, while Brant Fenno was a Southern boys 16 doubles titlist in Little Rock, and Southern boys 16 No. 1 Jared Pratt played up and collected a boys 18 doubles crown in Mobile, Ala.

Pratt topped off a 15-1 week Saturday morning by taking the consolation singles crown after winning seven straight matches in the consolation draw following a loss in the round of 32. Indeed, it was a big week for just-turned 15-year-old Emma Navarro, who like Pratt played up in the 18-and-under division. Navarro was a girls 18 doubles finalist and a singles semifinalist.

Overall, Charleston won two of the eight Southern singles titles (boys and girls) and had five other top five singles finishers; in doubles, the area produced three titles and two runners-up.

Other Southern results

Academic Magnet star Sam Kavarana made the round of 16 in Southern boys 16 in Little Rock, then won five straight matches to take the consolation title.

Fenno, and high school stars Jacob Jahn, Chad Nash, Kerim Hyatt and Earl Navarro all made the singles round of 32 in the Southern boys 16 tournament. Wando’s Lauren Quinn made the round of 32 in girls 16 singles.

Allie Gretkowski posted a 14-2 singles/doubles record in Macon, Ga., in Southern girls 14 while winning the consolation singles title and advancing to the doubles final.

Sophie Williams took fifth in girls 12 singles, while Mattie Dermody made the girls 12 round of 16 in singles.

David Nawabi advanced to the round of 16 in boys 12, and Maxwell Smith made the round of 16 in boys 14.

Rogers loses qualifier

Shelby Rogers went from the glamour of playing in the French Open quarterfinals to suffering a loss in the first round of qualifying last weekend for the $250,000 event in Mallorca, Spain. Rogers fell in straight sets to 150th-ranked Elise Mertens of Belgium, who qualified and then won a round in the main draw.

Rogers has moved up to No. 59 in the world. She will be in the main draw at Wimbledon, which starts June 27.

Busy September

September is shaping up to be a busy month for major local tennis events. The Shape Invitational women’s collegiate event is switching from March to September to avoid the conflict the tournament had with the regular college season when Family Circle Tennis Center held its inaugural Shape event in March. Also, LTP Tennis will hold its second women’s U.S. Pro Circuit satellite tournament Sept. 26-Oct. 2.

Several members of the eight-player USTA summer traveling team that trained for a week recently at Family Circle Tennis Center are expected to participate in the Shape tournament, which offers a main draw wild card into the Volvo Car Open to its singles winner.
 
Inaugural Shape champion Frances Altick of Vanderbilt was a member of the USTA summer traveling team as was former two-time Dunlop Junior champion Hayley Carter of the University of North Carolina, along with Ohio State’s Francesca DiLorenzo, who ended local junior star Emma Navarro’s first pro run in the 2015 LTP satellite and made the semifinals of the current $25,000 event in Sumter.

Notes

Former Charleston junior Connor Clements played on his third straight NAIA national championship team at Georgia Gwinnett and was named an All-American. The former Southern No. 1 will be going for a school record fourth national title in 2017 as a fifth-year senior. Guinnett finished 26-0.

Charleston’s Diane Barker will compete for the USTA'S women’s 55 team in the ITF Seniors World Team Championships this week in Helsinki, Finland. Barker owns seven world singles titles. The individual world championships will be June 25-July 2 in Helsinki.

The 3.5 men’s 18-plus team from Creekside Tennis and Swim recently won a state spring season championship in Greenville. Daniel Island’s 2.5 women also won an 18-plus state title.

The City of Charleston Junior Hard-Court Championships are July 15-17 at Charleston Tennis Center. The entry deadline is July 11. Registration is available online at USTA.com (team number 700044816).


(06/04/16)  What happens when talent and intangibles merge?
What happened when Shelby Rogers stepped to the service line ready to close out the first set in the French Open quarterfinals?

She didn’t just yield to the pressure of the moment. No, this is a time when the opposition digs in and focuses on each point. It was more about that intangible than how Rogers reacted to it in the key 5-4 game while holding a set point. New French Open champion Garbine Muguruza simply lifted her game.

Although league tennis certainly doesn’t carry the pressure of a Grand Slam match, even league tennis players have that gut feeling of their own when they are called on in a competitive situation to meet the challenge of serving to close out a set or a match. It’s never easy.

Rogers knew that when she stepped to the line. Everything just went against her. All of the breaks and lucky bounces went the other way. It can happen even if the server plays a near-perfect game.

The failure to convert the set point and subsequent break of service appeared to take some of the life and tenacity out of Rogers’ game. She appeared to be flat and sluggish after that turn of events.

Rogers didn’t tighten up. She just lost a little focus and intensity. It would have been something to see if Rogers had managed to hold service to win the first set. She might have been a millionaire by now.

It was still a great two weeks for Rogers, an unbelievable achievement for a girl who grew up in Charleston watching and adoring her big sister play tennis.

By virtue of what happened in Paris, Rogers is pretty much assured of being a direct entry in the main draw of the next four Grand Slam tournaments, which is worth in excess of $100,000 itself.

National Team Here

The USTA national summer women’s team will train this coming week at Family Circle Tennis Center. The eight-player team will include former two-time Dunlop Junior Family Circle champion Hayley Carter of the University of North Carolina, Shape Invitational winner Frances Altick of Vanderbilt and two-time NCAA champion Danielle Collins of the University of Virginia.

“Collins went three sets with Simona Halep in Arthur Ashe Stadium in the 2015 U.S. Open,” pointed out MWTennis CEO Jeff Wilson.

“These girls are being funded by the USTA as they move from college to the professional ranks. The USTA is sending their head trainer and sports psychologist for this camp. Our players and coaches will be working side by side with these people all week.”

Dermody sparkles

Twelve-year-old Mattie Dermody of Mount Pleasant had a special Belton . The No. 1 seed in girls 12 singles and doubles, Dermody lived up to the billing by bringing home both titles from last weekend’s Palmetto Championships.

After defeating Saige Severance in the singles final, Dermody teamed with Gigi Hinson in an all-Charleston doubles final to win against Saige and Sydney Severance.

Dermody trains at Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy. She has been playing tennis since age eight. She’s online-schooled, and her father, league tennis player Brandon Dermody, said, “Right now, she is not planning to play high school tennis. But never say never.”

A new Wando star?

Belton boys 16 champion Huntley Allen is a story within itself. The step son of Randy Pate, who has moved his tennis academy from Winston-Salem to LTP Tennis, Allen plans to spend the next school year in the Charleston area.

“I think he (Allen) will go to Wando,” Pate said Saturday.

That’s good news for a Wando boys program that slipped a bit this spring.

Hanahan star Chad Nash was the boys 16 singles runner-up to Allen. Nash also won the boys 16 doubles crown with Luke McClelland of Rock Hill by defeating the MWTennis pair of Kerim Hyatt and Reilly Wilson.

Other Belton results

Academic Magnet’s Earl Navarro, who also is part of LTP’s Randy Pate Academy, took the third-place prize in boys 16 singles.

Kat Lyman was runner-up in girls 16 singles. Wando teammates Lauren Quinn and Lyman won the girls 16 doubles crown.

Bishop England’s Jenna Vroman defeated Ann Martin Skelly for third place in girls 18 singles, and was part of the girls 18 doubles runner-up team.

Allie Gretkowski took third place in girls 14 singles and was runner-up in girls 14 doubles. Stanley Waters was a boys 14 doubles champion.

Ian Rasheed won the boys 12 singles title and was runner-up in boys 12 doubles to Lucas Acevedo and Jacob Smith. William Baly took third place in boys 12 singles.

The girls 10 singles title went to Breeze Simon of Charleston.

Local Notes

Academic Magnet standout Sam Kavarana was a boys 16 quarterfinalist in last weekend’s USTA National Selection Tournament in Philadelphia. Magnet teammate Jacob Jahn made the second round.

Emma Navarro was runner-up in girls 16 in the USTA National Selection Tournament in Fort Myers, Fla. Navarro and Chloe Beck also advanced to the cancelled doubles final.


(06/02/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: French Open ‘career-changing’ for Charleston’s Shelby Rogers
So, Shelby Rogers, you’ve captured the attention of the tennis world at the French Open, earned the biggest paycheck of your life and sent your world ranking soaring.

Before and after the French Open for Shelby Rogers:

Before After
No. 108 World ranking No. 59*
No. 16 U.S. ranking No. 6
$62,732 2016 prize money $394,732*
$799,773 Career prize money $1,126,773*
16-12 2016 match record 20-13
169-133 Career match record 173-134
*Projected

What’s next?

“Definitely a few days off, I think, are in order,” Rogers said after her whirlwind week in Paris, where she barely squeezed into the main draw, then won four straight matches to make the quarterfinals in a Grand Slam event for the first time. “It’s been a lot on my body these last couple of weeks — and mind. But it’s been a lot of fun.”

The immediate future for Rogers, who grew up in Charleston and was famously a ballgirl at the Family Circle Cup (now Volvo Car Open) on Daniel Island, includes the switch from the red clay of Roland Garros to the grass-court season, culminating at Wimbledon from June 27 to July 10. Rogers is entered in the Mallorca Open, a grass-court tourney in Spain set for June 13-19, during the run-up to Wimbledon.

But the impact of Rogers’ performance at the French — where she reeled off three straight wins over Top 30 players to become the first American player not named Serena or Venus Williams to make the French Open quarters since 2005 — will be felt far beyond the next month, says Bob Moran, tournament director at the Volvo Car Open.

“It’s definitely career-changing for Shelby,” said Moran. “And it’s a great opportunity for her.”

Rogers’ agent Sam Duvall said, “Runs like these can change the trajectory of a player’s career.”

The first place life will change for the 23-year-old Rogers is in her schedule. Prior to the French Open, Rogers played in qualifying rounds in Strasbourg, and in two “minor league” ITF events in Florida and Virginia, earning a grand total of $4,444 in those three events.

With her ranking soaring from No. 108 to a projected No. 59 after the French, Rogers can say good-bye to all that -- at least for a while.

“It’s really important to recognize that the biggest difference will be week-in and week-out,” Moran said. “She’ll be making main draws without having to go through qualifying. That’s fewer matches she has to play, and a definite paycheck every week. That’s a big difference.

“When you are No. 108, the only tournaments where you are making the main draw is the majors. At other events, you have to go through qualies or ask for a wild card. Now, she won’t have to do that.”

That brings with it a sense of security that’s hard to come by for players ranked in the triple digits.

“All players are looking for that breakthrough to open doors,” Moran said. “This is Shelby’s breakthrough. Now she knows she can beat any player on tour, because she did that this week.”

The bottom line in Rogers’ bank account will change, as well. She earned about $327,000 in Paris, five times as much as the $62,000 she’d earned previously this year, and nearly half of her career winnings of $799,773. That pushes her earnings past $1.1 million for her seven-year career.

Rogers’ off-court earnings should increase, as well. Her agent, Sam Duvall of Topnotch Management, already has secured new sponsorship deals for Rogers.

“Our group spent the time between her fourth round and quarterfinal match contacting numerous companies to see who would be interested in branding for her quarterfinal match,” said Duvall, whose firm also represents No. 1 American male player John Isner. “We closed two deals for that match only, with JeltBelt and Alliant.”

There will be more deals coming, in addition to Rogers’ current sponsorship agreements with Asics and Wilson.

“From a marketing standpoint, so many more people know who she is and her story,” Duvall said. “We will now focus on increasing her exposure through public relations and marketing opportunities. We will also look to bring a few partners on board, in addition to the deals with Asic and Wilson she already has.”

Said Moran, “This is not a Charleston story, it’s a national and international story. It’s opened a lot of people’s eyes to Shelby, and it’s a great opportunity now for Sam to knock on doors. Anybody who spends money in the tennis world or the sports world, now they recognize who Shelby is.”

Rogers’ reputation among her fellow players, and among tournament directors such as Moran, could not be much better.

Tennis journalist Courtney Nguyen, who works for the WTA Tour, said recently of Rogers: “You won’t find a single player with something bad to say about her.”

Rogers’ impact in the Lowcountry will grow as well, Moran said. The Volvo Car Open, a women’s only event, has been held in Charleston since 2001, starting as the Family Circle Cup. Rogers was a ballgirl there, won the Family Circle Cup junior event on Daniel Island and won a main draw match there in 2015.

“For me, it’s not a surprise that we have a young lady as opposed to a young man to first make an impact on the tennis world,” he said. “I believe tournaments like the Volvo Car Open have a great effect on community tennis and junior tennis. We are seeing a lot of young ladies who are inspired by and are aspiring to be who Shelby is. It will have a great effect on the Charleston market, no question.”

For her part, Rogers hopes for more weeks like the last one in Paris.

“Every win I’ve had here has been really special to me,” she said. “I hope to have many more like it.”


(06/02/16)  Shelby Rogers scores big
Charleston’s Shelby Rogers didn’t walk away with the big trophy, but she was nevertheless a big winner at the French Open tennis tournament.

The former ball girl at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island defied the odds as the 108th-ranked player beat 19th-ranked Karolina Pliskova, then 12th-ranked Petra Kvitova and then 28th-ranked Irina-Camelia Begu.

As she entered Wednesday's quarterfinal match against Garbine Muguruza of Spain, fans were hoping to call the 23-year-old Miss Rogers the greatest French Open Cinderella — the first player ranked outside the top 100 to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros stadium.

But Ms. Muguruza prevailed 7-5, 6-3 over Ms. Rogers, who still will walk away with about $327,000, a much higher ranking and a high profile in the tennis world.

Especially in Charleston, where she began playing tennis at age 6 and competed on the national stage when she was 11.

Home-schooled during high school, Ms. Rogers focused on her tennis. Despite multiple scholarship offers from top colleges, she decided to forgo college and become a professional tennis player.

“I hope that I can inspire some people too because that’s really one of the biggest reasons why I play is for the kids growing up, for the people from Charleston,” she said last weekend. “I want to be a good role model. Hopefully I am.”

During an interview after her win over Ms. Begu, Ms. Rogers asked through tears of joy how to say “I’m excited” in French.

She should be excited. And the Lowcountry should be proud of her accomplishments on the courts. Here’s hoping to see lots more of Shelby Rogers in the winner’s circle.


(06/01/16)  Rogers’ remarkable run ends in French Open quarters
Shelby Rogers’ Cinderella run at Roland Garros struck midnight Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the French Open in Paris.

Rogers was dealt a 7-5, 6-3 exit by No. 4 Garbine Muguruza, who finally broke through to the French Open round of four after consecutive quarterfinal losses the past two years.

Rogers, ranked No. 108 in the world, was facing a challenge never before accomplished at Roland Garros as no player ranked outside the Top 100 has ever reached the semifinals.

“It’s the biggest match of my life, and it’s hard not to think about that,” said Rogers. “But I thought I handled it pretty well. You know, I wasn’t too nervous, so I did a good job in the beginning, kind of just breathing and controlling myself.”

If Rogers felt any early nerves, it only worked to her benefit as the Charleston native shot out to a 5-3 lead in the opening set. As the set went on, though, errors unraveled Rogers’ strong start. Up 5-4, Rogers served for the set before surrendering two straight breaks on way to a 5-7 loss.

“She [Rogers] played well. She went for her shots,” Muguruza said. “Gradually I felt better on court. In the first set I calmed down and I said to myself, ‘Let’s dictate play’. That’s what I did.”

Muguruza won seven straight games, breaking Rogers’ opening serve on way to a 3-0 lead in the second set. Just as Rogers seemed to be through, she broke back and pulled even at 3-3. The last gasp was fleeting, however, as Muguruza reeled off the last three games in minutes, capitalizing on Rogers’ errors with powerful strokes. Rogers opened the deciding ninth game with two backhand errors, forced and unforced, followed by a forehand error before Muguruza ended with a forehand winner.

Rogers committed 21 unforced errors, 12 on forehand ground strokes, against 13 from Muguruza who excelled most of the match with her big ground strokes.

“She definitely knew what she wanted to do with the big points,” Rogers said. “I think that was the biggest thing.”

Rogers doesn’t leave Roland Garros empty handed though. Along with a six-figure payday that far surpasses her career best, new fans latched on to the 23-year-old former Family Circle Cup ball girl in droves, celebrating with her as she shed tears at center court.

After collecting successive wins over No. 19, No. 12 and No. 28, she’s expected to soar from her 108th world ranking to No. 59 and from sixteenth in the U.S. to No. 9.

“I definitely want to keep doing what I have been doing because it’s been going pretty well these last couple of weeks,” Rogers said. “I just want to keep building on this week. There were a lot of positives for me and I want to continue that throughout the year.”


(06/01/16)  JEFF HARTSELL and JAMES BECK: Charleston’s Shelby Rogers loses to end dream run at French Open
For a moment there, it looked like Charleston’s Shelby Rogers would continue her magical run at the French Open.

Trying to become the first women’s tennis player ranked outside the top 100 to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros, Rogers charged to a 5-3 lead with a set point against fourth-ranked Garbine Muguruza on court Suzanne Lenglen.

But that’s where the storybook run ended for Rogers.

Muguruza, runner-up at Wimbledon last year, won the final four games of the first set, and took a 7-5, 6-3 quarterfinal victory over Rogers on Wednesday at Roland Garros. Rogers finished one win short of becoming the first American woman other than Serena or Venus Williams to reach the final four in Paris since Jennifer Capriati in 2004.

“The match was kind of weird, like there was a lot of momentum shifts in the first,” Rogers said. “In the second even she went up 3-0, and I came back. I think both of us just had streaks of playing well and then not playing very well. She definitely knew what she wanted to do with the big points. I think that was the biggest thing.

“But I’m pretty happy with the way I played. It was just kind of an execution issue today. A few errors here and there. Yeah, I enjoyed it as much as I could for a loss.”

Still, what a career-changing tournament for Rogers, who grew up in Charleston and served as a ballgirl at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.

Ranked No. 108 and one of the final players into the main draw, the 23-year-old Rogers reeled off upset wins over 19th-ranked Karolina Pliskova, No. 12 Petra Kvitova (a two-time Wimbledeon champ) and No. 28 Irina-Camelia Begu to reach the quarters. According to ESPN, only two other women ranked outside the top 100 have landed in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event in the past two decades.

Rogers’ French Open paycheck of about $327,000 is nearly half of her career prize money of $799,000, and her ranking will rocket to a projected No. 59 on the WTA Tour, a career high. She’ll be the sixth-ranked American player, behind only Serena and Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe.

“I definitely want to keep doing what I have been doing because it’s been going pretty well these last couple of weeks,” Rogers said. “I just want to keep building on this week. There were a lot of positives for me and I want to continue that throughout the year.”

Muguruza was impressed.

“Shelby played very good,” Muguruza said after the match. “She was playing with confidence and a lot of precision. I wanted so much to win today and hopefully I can make it until the last day. I definitely want to keep going.”

Rogers appeared to have her game fully under control after holding service for a 5-3 lead in the first set. She came up with an excellent serve out wide, and then delivered a winning forehand cross court to gain a set point. But the pressure seemed to ignite the power and relentlessness of the 6-1 Muguruza, who won 11 of the next 14 points to claim the first set.

Muguruza suddenly couldn’t be stopped, chasing down wide serves by Rogers that had the potential to end points quickly. Playing in the French Open quarterfinals for a third straight year, the 22-year-old Spaniard wiped out the set point with a winning backhand swinging volley, then put another big Rogers serve out wide back into play. Muguruza was relentless until she powered a forehand down the middle of the court just behind Rogers, catching her flat-footed. Rogers netted a backhand to allow Muguruza to pull even at 5-5.

Muguruza broke Rogers at 15-40 to end the first set, as Rogers committed three unforced errors and served a double fault.

In the face of Muguruza's powerful strokes and relentless court coverage, Rogers then started the second set with seven unforced errors in the first three games. She rallied for 3-3 before Muguruza closed out the match.

Rogers left the court much the same way she’s done for more than a week, with a smile and a wave. She won’t soon forget her week in Paris.

“It was amazing,” she said. “It was really a great experience.”


(06/01/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: Charleston’s Shelby Rogers finally loses in French Open
For a moment there, it looked like Charleston’s Shelby Rogers would continue her magical run at the French Open.

Trying to become the first player ranked outside the top 100 to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros, Rogers charged to a 5-3 lead with a set point against fourth-ranked Garbine Muguruza on court Suzanne Lenglen.

But that’s where the storybook run ended for Rogers. Muguruza, runner-up at Wimbledon last year, won the final five games of the first set, and took a 7-5, 6-3 quarterfinal victory over Rogers on Wednesday.

Still, what a career-changing tournament for Rogers, who grew up in Charleston and served as a ballgirl at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.

Ranked No. 108 and one of the final players into the main draw, the 23-year-old Rogers reeled off upset wins over 19th-ranked Karolina Pliskova, No. 12 Petra Kvitova (a two-time Wimbledon champ) and No. 28 Irina-Camelia Begu to reach the quarters.

“Shelby played very good,” Muguruza said after the match. “She was playing with confidence and a lot of precision. I wanted so much to win today and hopefully I can make it until the last day. I definitely want to keep going.”

Rogers’ French Open paycheck of about $327,000 is nearly half of her career prize money of $799,000, and her ranking will rocket towards the top 50.

Muguruza, from Spain, had 20 winners to 16 for Rogers, and five aces to Rogers’ three.


(06/01/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: PHILIP BOWMAN: Shelby Rogers roars into the quarterfinals at the French Open
Charleston’s First Lady of Tennis is getting worldwide exposure in one of tennis’ most hallowed venues.

Shelby Rogers, a native of Daniel Island, is having the time of her life in the city of Lights. Rogers, unheralded and World No. 108, reached the quarterfinals of the French Open, proving her talent, mettle and might have been the perfect combination to navigate the red clay of Roland Garros.

Rogers, who was a one-time ball girl when the Family Circle Cup rolled into town, became just the ninth player since 1983 to enter the tournament ranked outside the top 100 and reach the elite eight.

Not only that, Rogers is the first American other than Venus or Serena Williams to make the quarterfinals since 2005.

“I’m definitely outside of my comfort zone already, and I keep telling myself, you belong here, you belong here,” Rogers said. “You know, play your game, do the things that got you to this moment. Don’t change anything.”

On Sunday, Rogers needed only 81 minutes to dispose of 25th seed Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-3, 6-4 on Suzanne-Lenglen Court.

Rogers has been efficient in Paris, topping 17th seed Karolina Pliskova, Elena Vesnina and 10th seed Petra Kvitova in successive matches. It marks the first time the 23-year-old American has reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event.

“I think that’s a very important point on backing up a big win,” Rogers said. “I guess I have done that pretty much this whole tournament, starting with the first round, because that was a huge upset for me and kind of set the tone for the last few matches I have played.”

Rogers had previously advanced into the third round of a major tournament just once, losing in the third round of last year’s U.S. Open.

Rain wiped out play Monday at Roland Garros.

Rogers was scheduled to play No. 4 seed, Spaniard Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. The match was still being played when the paper went to print.

“I’m ready to step up to the challenge, I think. I have nothing to lose. I have no pressure. It’s just been a great experience here, and I want to keep enjoying it and keep pushing myself,” Rogers said.


(05/31/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: Charleston’s Shelby Rogers takes French Open court again Wednesday
The next chapter in Shelby Rogers’ storybook run at the French Open is set for Wednesday afternoon, Paris time.

Rogers, the Mount Pleasant native who has captured the imagination of tennis fans around the world, will take on fourth-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the quarterfinals. The match is slated to be the second match on court Suzanne Lenglen, following a men’s third-round match between Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Stan Wawrinka that will not start before 2 p.m. Paris time.

That means Rogers’ match — barring the rain that has disrupted the last couple of days at Roland Garros — should start sometime around lunch time in Charleston, where Rogers grew up and served as ball girl at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.

Rogers, ranked No. 108 when the French Open began, was one of the last players into the main draw. She has strung together upset victories over No. 17 seed Karolina Pliskova, No. 10 seed Petra Kvitova and No. 25 seed Irina-Camelia Begu en route to her first quarterfinal appearance in a Grand Slam event.

Rogers and the fourth-seeded Muguruza have never met on the WTA Tour. The 6-foot Muguruza has reached the quarters at the French Open the last two years, and was a finalist at Wimbledon in 2015. She’s won two WTA singles titles in her career.

Having lost in the French Open quarters to Maria Sharapova and Lucie Safarova the last two years, Muguruza is seeking a breakthrough of her own.

“I think each tournament is different,” Muguruza said. “I can’t really compare things. Of course, I’m very happy to have qualified for quarterfinals. This is where I have stopped in the past, which means I’m extremely motivated to move on.

“But again, I don’t really like to compare tournaments. Each tournament is different. Typically when I start a new tournament, I forget about everything I have done before or everything I have done the previous year.”

For her part, Rogers is becoming quite comfortable on court Suzanne Lenglen, where she defeated Begu on Sunday.

“I really enjoyed playing on that court. It was a great experience,” she said. “I think that’s a very important point on backing up a big win. I guess I have done that pretty much this whole tournament, starting with the first round, because that was a huge upset for me and kind of set the tone for the last few matches I have played.”

Rogers has already earned at least $327,000 for making the quarterfinals, and will take home more than $550,000 if she advances to the semifinals. Her ranking also will skyrocket.

Tennis Channel coverage is set for 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday.


(05/29/16)  MOULTRIE NEWS: FRANKIE MANSFIELD: Mount Pleasant’s Rogers advances to French Open quarterfinals
The crowd at Roland Garros erupted in approval as a true underdog stood in the middle of the historic clay court reveling in the biggest win of her young career.

“You guys are awesome,” Shelby Rogers let out to the Paris crowd as she fought off tears. “I love this.”

The Mount Pleasant native, ranked No. 108 in the world, reached the first Grand Slam quarterfinal of her career with a 6-3, 6-4 upset of 25th seeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania at the French Open on Sunday.

“I always dreamed it could happen,” Rogers said. “But I’m not sure I thought it could.”

Rogers had previously advanced into the third round of a major tournament just once, losing in the third round of last year’s U.S. Open. Otherwise, just twice in nine Slam appearances had she passed the first round, advancing to the second round at the 2013 French Open and the 2014 U.S. Open.

“If you don’t expect to do well, then maybe you shouldn’t play, you know?” Rogers said. “I keep going back to trying to treat this as any other tournament, any other tennis match. Obviously the stakes are much higher and the players are much better.”

It’s the fourth upset of the tournament for the 23-year-old Rogers who opened her march to the quarterfinals with a win over No. 17 seed Karolina Pliskova last Monday, then won straight sets against Volvo Car Open runner-up Elena Vesnina on Wednesday, before toppling No. 10 Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, on Friday.

“I keep reminding myself to play one point at a time and that this is just another tennis match,” Rogers said. “But that’s getting a little bit harder to do as the rounds get farther.”

Just five players ranked below Rogers have reached the quarterfinals of the French Open in the past 30 years. She’s the first American not named Venus or Serena Williams to make the round of eight since 2005.

“I’m definitely outside of my comfort zone already,” said Rogers, a former ball girl at the Family Circle Cup. “And I keep telling myself, ‘You belong here, you belong here.’”

Rogers next collides with No. 4 Garbine Muguruza, the 2015 Wimbledon runner-up, who ousted 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-3, 6-4, to reach the quarterfinals for the third straight year.

“Here we go, you have the horses of Lenglen lifting their hearts for you,” former French player Marion Bartoli, now a TV commentator, assured Rogers after her win Sunday.

“One match a time, right?” Rogers asked before thanking the crowd appropriately in the country’s native tongue. “Merci beaucoup.”


(05/29/16)  Shelby Rogers’ French Open run inspires Charleston’s juniors
Even as she takes Paris and the tennis world by storm, Charleston’s Shelby Rogers hasn’t forgotten the girls she grew up playing with in the Lowcountry.

How could she? They keep blowing up her phone.

“I had a great group of girls in Charleston that I grew up with, kind of this really nice peer group, and they have been texting me so much,” Rogers said Sunday after advancing to the quarterfinals of the French Open. “It’s awesome to just see how long we have been friends and that they still support me. They were a huge part of why I have been so successful.”

Rogers, who defeated 25th seed Irina-Camelia Begu by 6-3, 6-4, to make the quarters, is inspiring a new generation of Charleston juniors with her Paris performance, playing in televised matches and going for a paycheck of more than a half-million dollars in her next match.

Just ask the player who could be Charleston’s next big-time pro, Ellie Halbauer, currently ranked No. 401.

“I think Shelby is doing amazing. I am so happy for her,” the 18-year-old Halbauer said Sunday. “I have always looked up to her ever since I was eight years old. It is very inspiring for me to see her reaching the quarterfinals of one of the biggest tournaments of the year. I hope one day I will be able to do the same. She can win the whole thing.”

Halbauer trained at the Players Club (now LTP Tennis) under Rogers’ former coach, Bryan Minton, before moving away to train in Florida and Atlanta.

Most of the Charleston area’s top juniors were elsewhere this weekend, hoping to claim some glory for themselves in places such as Belton, for the prestigious Palmetto Junior Championships, or Philadelphia for a USTA national title.

“The kids here are so excited,” Minton said Sunday. He was in Belton helping coach a group of 43 juniors from Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy.

One of the juniors in Belton is girls 14 singles and doubles top seed Allie Gretkowski, who is only 12 years old.

“Shelby gave me a racket when I was eight years old after an exhibition match she played at the Family Circle Cup,” Gretkowski said. “I never took the grip off the racket until it became unusable.

“What I’m doing now is what Shelby did. She won girls 16 here (Belton) when she was 13.”

Perhaps Minton, the man who started Rogers in tennis and served as her coach for 11 years, said it best. “It is awesome that a young girl growing up in Charleston can make it to the quarters of the French Open. The inspiration is outstanding,” Minton said.

From Paris, Rogers paid tribute to her Charleston coaches.

“I was in Charleston til I was 18 and working with my coach Bryan Minton, and Fritz (Nau). They were unbelievable at working on my technique, my skills,” Rogers said.

She also remembered when close friend Melanie Oudin, as a 17-year-old in 2009, sparkled by advancing to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.

“It was a time when we needed an American player to kind of grab on to,” Rogers said.

“It was definitely inspirational and gave me motivation to work harder, because I see her doing it, and why not me, you know? So I hope that I can inspire some people too because that’s really one of the biggest reasons I play is for the kids growing up, for the people from Charleston. I want to be a good role model. Hopefully I am.”

Jeff Hartsell contributed to this article.


(05/29/16)  Charleston’s Shelby Rogers charges into French Open quarterfinals
The crowd at court Suzanne Lenglen roared Sunday as Charleston’s Shelby Rogers wiped away tears.

“I always dreamed it could happen,” Rogers said. “But I’m not sure I thought it could.”

Rogers’ dream French Open continued Sunday, as she reeled off a fourth consecutive upset to advance to the quarterfinals in Paris.

Rogers took a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 25 seed Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania to earn her first quarterfinal berth in a Grand Slam tennis tournament. The first American into the quarters, she will face No. 4 Garbine Muguruza for a spot in the semifinals.

The unseeded 108th-ranked Rogers both laughed and cried as she celebrated with the French crowd after a backhand by Begu sailed just beyond the baseline to end the 79-minute match on the red clay of Roland Garros.

As the 23-year-old Rogers broke into a big smile, dropped her racket to put her hands over her face and crossed her heart, coach Marc Lucero congratulated Rogers’ mother, Starley, in the player’s box.

It was a memorable scene virtually no one expected to happen when Rogers arrived in Paris, one of the last players into the main draw.

Now, she’s the first American aside from Serena and Venus Williams to reach the quarters in Paris since 2005, and is the lowest-ranked player to make it this far since 2012.

“I hope that I can inspire some people too, because one of the biggest reasons why I play is for the kids, for the people from Charleston,” Rogers said. “I want to be a good role model. Hopefully, I am.”

Rogers didn’t just win against Begu; other than for a few games in the second set, she dominated the match. She totally frustrated Begu with her power from the baseline, strong serving and ball placement. It was almost a carbon copy of the way Rogers played in a third-round upset of 10th-seeded, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

Rogers already has earned $330,000 at the French Open, nearly half of what she’d earned in her career thus far. She’s projected to reach a career-high ranking of around No. 60 in the world, rare air for a player who grew up in Charleston and served as a ballgirl during the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.

Rogers’ Paris breakthrough — she’s pulled off four straight upsets to earn the quarterfinals — has captivated international tennis media and the crowds at Roland Garros. It’s also proved popular with fellow players.

“You’re such a gem,” fellow American Sloane Stephens posted on Twitter. “There’s not a single person that deserves this more!”

After Sunday’s win, the court announcer started a post-match interview with Rogers by remarking, “They love you here on this court.” Rogers told the crowd, “Thank you so much. This is an incredible moment for me … I’m glad it didn’t start raining. You guys are awesome.”

The only American left in the bottom half of the draw, Rogers won almost every phase of the match: 15-12 in winners and 20-29 in unforced errors. The big difference was her 67 percent of second-serve points won, compared with Begu’s 26 percent.

“I’m definitely outside my comfort zone already, and I keep telling myself, ‘You belong here, you belong here,’ ” Rogers said. “You know, play your game, do the things that got you to this moment. Don’t change anything.”

The 25-year-old Begu never really found a way to hurt Rogers. Not a big hitter, Begu played a basic clay court game.

I keep reminding myself to play one point at a time and that this is just another tennis match,” Rogers said. “But that’s getting a little harder to do as the rounds get farther.

“The people around me are doing a very good job of helping me … staying in the moment. My coach, my family, they are very excited, obviously. But every time I go to hug them they’re like, ‘You’re not done, you’re not done.’ ”

Finally in the second set, Begu found a small weapon in her backhand cross court. It was too late by then. Rogers was soaring and blasting balls to all corners of the court.

Begu started the 10th game of the second set by netting a backhand drop shot, and Rogers followed that up by going around the net posts for a backhand winner to put Begu in a 0-30 hole. Begu came back with a drop shot winner, but then netted a backhand to give Rogers double match point.

Rogers put pressure on Begu with a deep backhand straight down the middle, and Begu responded with a similar backhand that just missed the baseline to end the match.

The first set lasted 34 minutes as Rogers took an early 3-1 lead with textbook corner-to-corner tennis, and set up her big forehand with placement serving out wide. She often changed pace in the middle of points, going to deep looping forehands or slice backhands. The strategy appeared to frustrate the 5-11 Begu.

Begu broke Rogers to close to 4-3, but then Rogers served a love game and broke Begu at 15-40 when Begu double-faulted at set point.

As a frustrated Begu changed rackets at the end of the first set in an effort to better match up with Rogers’ power, the TV announcer remarked, “Shelby Rogers is eating up pace.”

The only time in the match that Rogers appeared to lose focus came in the first two games of the second set when she committed three errors in dropping service in the first game at love, then committed three more unforced errors in the long second game as Begu took a 2-0 lead.

Rogers bounced back from a service break that allowed Begu to even the second set at 4-4 to hold service at 40-30 on a forehand winner set up by a big serve. That put Begu under the pressure of having to hold serve to stay in the match. She failed.

As she left the court, Rogers signed a TV camera lens with a heart symbol: “I love you Paris.”

By now, it’s clear that Paris loves her right back.


(05/27/16)  Charleston’s Shelby Rogers creating a buzz at French Open
Shelby Rogers called it “one of the best moments” of her life after scoring her third straight upset at the French Open on Friday.

“I’m obviously at a loss of words,” she told reporters in Paris after her three-set victory over two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

Rogers, who grew up in Charleston and honed her tennis skills at the Family Circle Tennis Center, is riding a wave of breakthrough buzz. Tennis legends Billie Jean King and Chris Evert took note of her run, and Rogers’ backstory — she was an 8-year-old ballgirl at the Family Circle Cup (now the Volvo Car Open), chasing down balls for Jennifer Capriati and Venus Williams — has captivated tennis media at Roland Garros.

“I’m so excited. I’m going out to dinner with all of my family and friends,” Rogers said. “I’m staying one mile from the courts, so it has been super convenient.

“I went to the Notre Dame with my parents the other day, which was beautiful. And the Eiffel Tower never gets old. This moment is surreal.”

By virtue of her 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-0 victory over Kvitova, Rogers advanced to the round of 16 in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career. She will play 25th seed Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania in her next match, either Sunday or Monday.

Currently ranked 108th, Rogers already is assured of a $194,000 payday and a projected spot in the world’s top 80.

After Kvitova netted a forehand to give Rogers the win in one hour and 43 minutes, the 23-year-old raced into the open arms of her stepfather, former Citadel football star and NFL veteran Jim Gabrish, for a victory hug.

“It’s definitely up there as one of the best moments of my life,” Rogers said. “Being able to share it with my family and friends and everyone that’s here makes it even more special. My coach is here, my parents are here, my boyfriend is here ... My box was filled. I was very happy to look over and share that moment with them.”

King and Evert, both French Open champions, were impressed.

“Way to go @Shelby_Rogers_!!!!! So happy and proud of you. Continue to #GoForIt!” King posted on her Twitter account.

Evert posted, “Big win for @Shelby_Rogers. So happy for her! #go USA.”

It’s all been dream-like for Rogers.

“I started playing tennis when I was 4. I have loved it ever since,” Rogers said. “I always had dreams of being a professional tennis player. It’s been a long journey, but moments like this make it all worth it.”

Bryan Minton, who coached Rogers for 11 years, isn’t surprised by her success.

“This has always been her time of the year ever since she was a young girl learning how to win titles at Belton,” said Minton, who once again is preparing to take a group of junior players from Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy to Belton for the annual Palmetto Junior Championships.

“It won’t surprise me if she fights her way to the finals because she knows how to do it. She has been training for opportunities like this since she told me she wanted to be a pro at 8 years old.”

On Friday, Rogers moved better, out-hit and outplayed Kvitova, a Czech who was a semifinalist in Paris in 2012. Thirty-six of the big-hitting Kvitova’s balls missed their mark, while Rogers committed only half that many unforced errors. Rogers also won the battle of winners, 25-21.

The first set was a mismatch that took only 23 minutes. Rogers used the court to her advantage, nailing ground strokes and big serves to all corners of the court that Kvitova couldn’t return.

“She (Kvitova) started playing much better in the second (set). I was just trying to take it point by point, because if I started to think too much, she for sure would have the advantage there,” Rogers said.

Rogers’ game tailed off a bit in the second set, but she still charged to a 4-2 lead before suffering her only service break of the match to level the set at 4-4. Kvitova then picked up her game dramatically in the tiebreaker to move into the third set with a full head of steam.

Kvitova's momentum was short-lived as Rogers opened the decisive set with a service hold, then came up with a service break at 15-40. After moving ahead 4-0, Rogers served a pair of aces in a love game to move into a commanding 5-0 lead.


(05/26/16)  USA TODAY: American Shelby Rogers on to third round to face Petra Kvitova
PARIS — Walking through a sea of fans Wednesday at the French Open, Shelby Rogers could weave through unnoticed: The American was the second to last player accepted into the main draw and is ranked No. 106, but suddenly she’s into the final 32 after winning twice this week.

She was on her way to the Tennis Channel set for a live interview in which producers flashed a photo of her at the WTA tournament in Charleston in 2001. She was a ball girl at the event, close to where she grew up in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

“Jennifer Capriati kissed me on the cheek and I never wanted to wash my face again,” Rogers, now 23, said on air of one her childhood heroes. “I was eight. I remember Venus (Williams) being so nice.”

What has been nice — and even more than that — has been Rogers’ week in Paris. Monday she shocked No. 17 seed Karolina Pliskova in the first round, one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, and then followed up with a decisive 6-4, 6-2 effort over Elena Vesnina, a former top-25 player.

“It’s impressive,” Rogers said of her own effort in an interview while walking back to the locker room after her Tennis Channel appearance. “I’m really happy with the way I’m playing. I hope to keep it going.”

Friday Rogers will be tested again in a third-round encounter with Petra Kvitova, the No. 10 seed and two-time Wimbledon champion.

Can Rogers compete with the hard-hitting Czech lefty?

“I have to think that, don’t I?” she said. “Otherwise I’m not a contender. I think I do a lot of things really well. Any given day you can beat anyone. It’s exciting.”

Rogers, who has spent time in Florida training, moved to Los Angeles two years ago to base herself from the U.S. Tennis Association’s training center in nearby Carson. She now works with Marc Lucero, a former USTA coach.

After reaching a career-high No. 70 in 2014, Rogers had a nightmare slew of injuries last year, including a torn MCL and back problems. But she qualified and made the third round at the 2015 U.S. Open, losing to then-No. 2 Simona Halep.

She's had a healthier season since missing the Australian Open. In February she made her second career WTA final in Rio de Janeiro.

“The biggest change is that I’ve just been able to play,” she noted. “I’ve been able to get my match count up and get in a groove. Last year I had a bunch of injuries, so I was resetting all the time. It’s about momentum.”

The momentum was stolen away from Rogers’ favorite team — the Tampa Bay Lightning — Tuesday in the NHL playoffs against the Penguins. Rogers, who trained near Tampa for a time, lives and dies by her team's results, though she’s had to force herself to go to bed on time in Paris: The game times are too late here.

“That’s not very good match prep,” Rogers said of middle-of-the night hockey watching during a Grand Slam. “I love hockey… I just love the aggression of it. I love the atmosphere at the games and you can get rowdy and shout. It’s a fast-paced, fun sport to watch.”

Would she want tennis to take on hockey’s rowdy DNA? Not quite.

“I like the individual aspect of tennis. It’s serene,” she said. “You’re there fighting your own individual battle.”

Rogers had just one player ranked below her get into the main draw. (“I kept refreshing the entry list page,” she said on the Tennis Channel set before going on TV. “It was stressing me out.”

What she knows – and believes with wins over Pliskova and Vesnina – is that confidence can pay dividends, particularly in a time in women’s tennis when (aside from Serena Williams) there is no dominating force.

“I think all of us [Americans] are confident that we can compete with anyone on any surface,” she said. “Right now in the women’s game, anyone can win. As a collective group, we’re pushing each other and helping each other to be more confident. Everyone is on the same page: We want to be great and do great things.”

What she hopes is for great things on the court against Kvitova on Friday. What tennis player could she try to emulate who had also worked as a ball kid? The great Roger Federer might be a good start.

“It’s amazing what he’s done… I could watch him everyday,” she said of Federer. “I’m sad he’s not here. But he’ll be back soon.”


(05/26/16)  Charleston’s Shelby Rogers ready for third-round foe Petra Kvitova at French Open
Shelby Rogers started the year with a goal of going into the French Open as a main draw direct entry. “That was the goal, and I did it,” the 23-year-old Charleston touring pro said a few weeks ago when she learned she had locked up a main draw spot at Roland Garros.

Rogers is currently ranked No. 108 in the world, the cutoff for direct entry into the French Open.

Heading into Friday’s third-round match against former two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Rogers is enthusiastic about her chances.

“I am very excited to be in the third round,” Rogers said after her second-round conquest of 49th-ranked Elena Vesnina. The win marked the second time in the last three Grand Slam tournaments that Rogers has advanced to the round of 32.

“Paris has been lovely and I’m looking forward to facing another tough opponent that has had a lot of success. I will try to keep doing what I have been doing and bring my best game on Friday and enjoy the moment,” said Rogers, who is now slated for a return to the top 100.

Rogers will be playing for $80,000 extra in Friday’s match alone, having already earned a payday of $114,000 in Paris.

Most of the questioning after scoring her second straight upset in Paris was about things off the court, such as her visit to the White House to meet President Obama as well as her focus on life.

“It’s really easy to get caught up in the media, the fans, the everyday stuff like that,” said Rogers, who upended 17th seed Karolina Pliskova in the first round.

“You have to focus on your character and becoming a good person. That sort of stuff. That’s always been really important to me. Being close with my family, keeping your friends close, that stuff is what really matters.

As for her mental approach, she said, “We’re the only ones out there. It’s all us out there. ... It’s definitely a huge mental game, and you have to really believe in yourself and be a confident person and be really confident in what you’re doing as far as your game goes.”


(05/25/16)  Charleston’s Shelby Rogers reaches third round of French Open with upset of Vesnina
Charleston’s Shelby Rogers charged into the round of 32 at the French Open on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Volvo Car Open runner-up Elena Vesnina of Russia.

“I was aggressive. I took some chances,” Rogers said. “Served really well today, especially when it counted, serving out the match. I’m super excited. Third round here for the first time.

This marked the second time in the last three Grand Slam tournaments in which the 23-year-old Rogers has advanced to the third round. At last year’s U.S. Open, she fought through qualifying and then won a pair of main draw matches for five straight wins.

Rogers is currently ranked 108th in the world, but is projected to move inside the world’s top 100 again to a spot around 95th as a result of her two wins in Paris.

She will face former two-time Wimbledon champion and French Open 10th seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the round of 32. The 26-year-old Kvitova posted a 6-4, 6-1 win over Sui-Wei Hsieh on Wednesday.

Rogers took charge of the match by winning the last three games of the first set, holding serve in the 10th game with an ace at 40-15. She had closed out her upset of 17th seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the first round with an ace.

Rogers then raced into a commanding 5-1 lead in the second set after 29-year-old Vesnina held service in the first game of the set.

After failing to close out the match on her first match point in the seventh game of the second set, Rogers bounced back to serve for a 40-0 lead in the next game before Vesnina saved one match point. Rogers ended the match when Vesnina committed a forced backhand error on the next point.

Rogers nailed 29 winners to Vesnina’s 14, and also served five aces with no double faults.

When asked how she approached the future and if she wanted to win a Grand Slam event, Rogers said, “It’s definitely a process-oriented mindset. Nothing can happen overnight. You can have a good week, sure, but it’s doing the little things right that will pay off in the long run and make me that consistent player that can do well week in and week out. So take care of the details and the success will come.”


(05/23/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: Charleston’s Shelby Rogers wins first-round match at French Open
Charleston’s Shelby Rogers pulled off a first-round upset at the French Open in Paris on Monday, taking out the No. 17 seed in one of professional tennis’ Grand Slam events.

Rogers rallied for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

It was Rogers’ second win in a French Open match, and her fourth match victory in a Grand Slam tournament.

Rogers, ranked No. 108, will face Russian Elena Vesnina in the second round. Vesnina, ranked No. 49, defeated American Madison Brengle by 6-2, 6-3 in the first round.

Rogers and Vesnina have never met on the WTA Tour.


(05/21/16)  Junior player Emma Navarro getting older, and better
Girls 14-and-under tennis players got a break last week when Emma Navarro turned 15 years old.

The LTP Tennis product has been holding her own against some of the best juniors in the country, regardless of their age. She already is ranked 34th in the United States in girls 16 doubles and owns a professional singles victory.

Emma is growing up. She’s now nearing 51/2-feet tall.

Currently online-schooled, she’ll be a freshman at Ashley Hall in the fall. But veteran Ashley Hall coach Mary Gastley isn’t celebrating.

Navarro doesn’t plan to play high school tennis. She will be too busy with school, a national junior schedule and travel between Ashley Hall and training in Mount Pleasant at LTP Tennis.

“I don’t really have time for high school tennis,” she said.

As for the future, she said, “I’m definitely planning to play college tennis ... we’ll see (about a pro career) after that.”

Navarro has teamed with 14-year-old Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., in doubles to produce some of the most impressive results in junior tennis since late in 2015.

After winning the girls 14 crown at the prestigious Eddie Herr International Championships in Bradenton, Fla., in December, the Navarro/Beck team won the Easter Bowl’s girls 16 doubles title in April in Palm Springs, Calif. They followed that up last month with the girls 18 title in Coral Gables, Fla.

“We have good balance. We’re steady,” Navarro said about the doubles chemistry.

“It was exciting.”

Navarro also has played three straight girls 18 ITF singles tournaments, and has made the quarterfinals, and round of 16 twice.

“I like competing in girls 18. It’s different, but I like it,” she said.

Life will be different for Navarro in the fall when she enrolls at Ashley Hall. “I’ll hit before and after school since I’ll be able to go in late . . . about 10 a.m.,” she said.

Tennis, of course, is a big part of the Navarro family. Ben Navarro, Emma’s father, owns LTP Tennis and Swim Club. Academic Magnet senior Owen and sophomore Earl also are strong in tennis, as is 12-and-under standout Maggie.
Raptors superiority

How did Academic Magnet so easily march to an unbeaten season and its first state championship? It’s primarily because the Raptors probably were the best team in all classifications and leagues in the state playing high school tennis this spring.

The Raptors had probably three of the top seven or eight players in the state in all of high school tennis, with Jacob Jahn (14), Sam Kavarana (32) and Earl Navarro (44) ranked among the top 50 boys 16 players in the South.

Kavarana and Jahn finished second and third in last week’s Class AA-A state singles tournament.

Waccamaw junior Paul Hendrix, who didn’t play in the state playoffs against Academic Magnet, defeated both Jahn and Kavarana en route to a fourth straight state Class AA-A singles title.

Bishop England sophomore Jared Pratt, the South’s No. 1 boys 16 player and 14th in the nation, did not play in the state singles tournament.
Local notes

Class AAA state champ Hanahan’s Chad Nash (No. 52 in the South), Kerim Hyatt (59) and Mark Jones all were named to the Region 8-AAA team, while the Hawks’ Glenn Cobb was coach of the year.

In Region 8-AAAA, Summerville’s Walker Long was player of the year and the Wave’s David Long was coach of the year, while Stephen Wills and Fernando De Araoz joined teammate Long on the all-region team. Ashley Ridge’s Zac Rabon and Exavier Leo, Colleton County’s Kenny Johnson and Charles Bailey, and Fort Dorchester’s Thomas Ho and Will Shope also made the team.

Former Charleston junior Ellie Halbauer, still nearly two months from her 19th birthday and still an amateur, has crashed the world’s top 400 at No. 394 for the first time.

Brenda Carter is fresh from winning her second straight national singles and doubles titles in her first year participating in women’s 70, this time the national hard courts in San Diego. She yielded just 10 games in five singles matches.

Charleston’s Diane Barker won the women’s 55 singles crown in the national clay courts held earlier this spring in Houston.

Charleston’s Shelby Rogers (No. 108 in the world) has drawn a tough opener for the first round of the French Open — 17th seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Former Charleston area resident Samantha Crawford (No. 105) also is a direct entry, and will play 44th-ranked Timea Babos of Hungary in the first round.

Women’s senior tennis is flourishing at Charleston Tennis Center, with five teams winning state titles: 55-plus 3.0 and 3.5 teams; and 70-plus 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0 teams. Mount Pleasant Rec’s 55-plus 4.0 women and 40-plus 4.5 men, and Family Circle’s 40-plus 3.0 women also won state titles.

Former local junior/pro Matt Hane, Diane Barker’s son, has switched from the post of tennis director at the Country Club of Louisiana in Baton Rouge to the impressive Country Club of Virginia in Richmond.


(05/14/16)  Academic Magnet, Hanahan win first boys tennis state titles
COLUMBIA — Charleston tennis demonstrated its state superiority in the High School League state championships Saturday as unbeatens Academic Magnet and Hanahan easily marched to their first boys tennis state titles.

Academic Magnet’s 4-1 win over Christ Church for the Class AA-A crown was almost a carbon copy of Hanahan’s 4-2 victory over defending champion A.C. Flora for the Class AAA title. The top four players from both Academic Magnet and Hanahan all posted victories at Cayce Tennis Center to give the Charleston area its first dual state championship season in boys SCHSL tennis in more than 15 years.

Academic Magnet players celebrate the school’s first boys tennis state championship on Saturday in Columbia.
Enlarge Academic Magnet players celebrate the school’s first boys tennis state championship on Saturday in Columbia. James Beck/Special to The Post and Courier
Remarkably, the success could be spelled MW-LTP as in MWTennis and LTP Tennis. All eight individual winners represented one of the two tennis academies, with seven winners coming out of Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis.

The results signaled a bright future for the Raptors and Hawks. Both teams have only one player between them among their singles starters listed above a sophomore.
Academic Magnet 4, Christ Church 1

The Raptors’ virtual walk to success came at the expense of Christ Church (17-4), failing once again to collect its 25th state championship. Bishop England denied the Cavaliers a year ago.

Freshman Jacob Jahn, sophomores Sam Kavarana and Earl Navarro, and freshman Vinod Pandey all scored straight-set victories at Nos. 1-4 to enable the Raptors (14-0) to hoist the state championship without having to play doubles under the scorching midday sun.

Pandey was the first to finish in about 40 minutes as he lost the first two games, then won 12 in a row at No. 4 to knock out Christ Church’s Chase Garrett, 6-2, 6-0.

A short time later, Jahn was finishing off erratic big-hitting Christ Church junior Wes Quattlebaum, 6-2, 6-4, to clinch the team win.

“He (Quattlebaum) played a lot better in the second set,” Jahn said. “But I played smart all around, neutralizing his big serve.”

Unbeaten Kavarana polished off the Cavaliers’ Ric Philpot, 6-0, 6-0, while LTP product Navarro took out Jackson Houser, 6-2, 6-3, in 42 minutes.

The only setback for the Raptors came at No. 5, where junior Chris Moss suffered a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Sam Russell.

Andrea Langley obviously picked the right year to return to coaching tennis at Academic Magnet.

“This team has so much energy,” said Langley, who coached the Magnet girls in 2006.

“We had a great year. We had a great leader and captain in senior William Pugh, who is going to Princeton.”
Hanahan 4, A.C. Flora 2

Freshman Bradley Upshaw rallied from 5-2 down in the second set for a 6-2, 7-6 (1) win over Flora’s Austin Powell at No. 4 to clinch the championship for Hanahan (15-0). That came after eighth-grader J.T. Ramey rallied to win the second set at No. 5, but dropped a third-set match tiebreaker in a 6-2, 5-7, 10-2 loss to Flora’s Alex Echols.

“When I got down 5-2, I felt some pressure,” said Upshaw. “But when the team came over and got behind me I felt better. While I was playing, I didn’t know the overall score of the match, but I felt good when I realized we had won.”

Freshman Mark Jones set the pace for the Hawks with a quick 6-0, 6-0 win over Flora’s Hal Fant, and Hanahan sophomore Kerim Hyatt sailed past Zach Kirkland, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 2. Both Jones and Hyatt closed out the season without dropping a set.

“I came in smartly (to the net) and played patterns that were good for me and not for him,” said Hyatt.

Freshman Chad Nash, the Hawks’ No. 1 player, scored an impressive 6-1, 6-3 win over the Falcons’ Lukas McClamrock to set the stage for Upshaw to finish the job.

“It feels awesome to finish 15-0,” Nash said. “Our team was great today.”

Hanahan coach Glenn Cobb was pleased to see the young Hawks overcome what he described as a “hostile environment” dominated by the large red-clad crowd from the hometown Falcons.

“We had the first-time jitters. This was their (Flora’s) third straight final. They had the homecourt advantage,” Cobb said.

A.C. Flora won the No. 2 doubles match.


(05/13/16)  Hanahan and Academic Magnet boys tennis teams aim for state titles
The Hanahan and Academic Magnet boys tennis teams will be on unfamiliar grounds Saturday morning: state final courts.

Neither school has ever won a boys tennis state championship, or even played in a state boys final. But that could change in the 10 a.m. SCHSL finals at Cayce Tennis Center.

Hanahan (14-0) will be going against defending state champion A.C. Flora of Columbia (14-4) for the Class AAA title, while Academic Magnet (13-0) will take on perennial tennis powerhouse Christ Church of Greenville (17-3) in the Class AA-A final.

The two Charleston teams are approaching the state finals in different ways. Hanahan principal Ric Raycroft told the Hawks on Wednesday after their Lower State title victory over Hilton Head Prep that they would spend Friday night in Columbia and have dinner there. Academic Magnet is “going up first thing in the morning,” according to coach Andrea Langley.

“He (Raycroft) was telling us he was proud of the team,” said Hanahan coach Glenn Cobb.

Hanahan is loaded up top, with freshman No. 1 Chad Nash and sophomore left-hander Kerim Hyatt, who teamed up at No. 1 doubles in the decisive matches to clinch the Region 8-AAA title and the Lower State crown.

Cobb is “cautiously optimistic but not taking anything for granted” after getting word from Nash and Hyatt that they didn’t recognize the names of any of the A.C. Flora players. Probably the biggest cause for the Hawks’ confidence, other than their brilliant play throughout the season, is the fact that Hilton Head High owns a 4-3 win over the Falcons this season. Hanahan defeated Hilton Head three times this spring.

Although having a super top three in freshman Jacob Jahn, and sophomores Sam Kavarana and Earl Navarro, along with solid players at the bottom of the lineup, the Raptors’ Langley said, “We are hopeful, but are not taking one single point for granted. The boys are ready to give their best effort yet.”

Christ Church No. 1 player Wes Quattlebaum is 18-2 this season after retiring from his last two playoff matches in 2015 with a shoulder injury.

After the Cavaliers’ 4-3 loss to Bishop England in last year’s state final, Christ Church coach Bobby Austell said, “We fully expect to compete for our 25th (state) championship next season.”


(05/11/16)  Academic Magnet boys tennis tops Bishop England
Junior Chris Moss rallied at No. 5 singles to lift Academic Magnet (13-0) to a 4-1 win over 2015 SCHSL Class AA state champion Bishop England in Wednesday’s Lower State final and into the Raptors’ first boys tennis state final.

The Raptors will play for the Class AA state championship Saturday morning at 10 o’clock at Cayce Tennis Center.

Moss’ victory came after Sam Kavarana, Earl Navarro and Vinod Pandey had yielded just three games between them in Nos. 2-4 singles to set the stage for Moss to complete the victory.

“I’m so glad there was no doubles,” Academic Magnet coach Andrea Langley said. “I’m just real honored to be around these kids and future leaders . . . inside and outside of school.”

But it took a strong performance from Moss to make it happen without going into doubles. After losing the first set in a tiebreaker against Bishop England freshman Rafe Flathman, Moss turned things around in the second set and prevailed, 6-7, 6-3, 10-4, as all of his teammates stood by courtside watching.

“The first part of the match he (Flathman) came out hitting strong shots, and I wasn’t ready,” Moss said. “I adjusted to it and played better. I was just a little nervous in the first set.

“This is a great opportunity for the school to win its first state tennis title.”

Nationally 13th-ranked Jared Pratt took care of business at No. 1 singles for the Bishops with a 6-0, 6-0 blitzing of Magnet freshman Jacob Jahn.

Magnet sophomore Kavarana played consistent tennis in posting an easy 6-0, 6-1 win over hard-hitting but erratic Bishop England sophomore Lleyton Dacuba at No. 2. “I just played well and stayed solid the whole time,” said Kavarana, a concert pianist and winner of a state high school piano competition.

Sophomore Navarro was too strong for BE senior Peyton Warren in a 6-0, 6-0 romp. Pandey then took No. 4 singles easily for the Raptors.

“They are a very good team,” said BE coach Kristin Fleming Arnold about the Bishops’ Region 6-AA rivals. “I knew we had to win No. 5 singles. That would have given us a chance (with both Nos. 1 and 2 doubles not played.

“We won’t have to play Academic Magnet next year since we’re moving up to AAA.”

ACADEMIC MAGNET 4, BISHOP ENGLAND 1
SINGLES: Pratt (BE) def. Jahn, 6-0, 6-0; Kavarana (AM) def. Dacuba, 6-0, 6-1; Navarro (AM) def. Warren, 6-0, 6-0; Pandey (AM) def. Bekrick, 6-0, 6-2; Moss (AM) def. Flathman, 6-7, 6-3, 10-4.


(05/11/16)  Hanahan tennis tops Hilton Head for Class AAA Lower State title
Hanahan no longer has a secret weapon. The doubles team of Chad Nash and Kerim Hyatt has been fully exposed as a difference maker.

Nash and Hyatt were at it again Wednesday at Collins Park, this time delivering the No. 1 doubles victory that gave the Hawks (14-0) the SCHSL boys tennis Class AAA Lower State championship in a 4-3 win over Hilton Head High (17-7).

Just as they had been a few weeks earlier in wrapping wrap up a region title for Hanahan, the Nash/Hyatt duo was just too good and too consistent for Hilton Head’s Steinour brothers, Tate and Cooper. Their 6-4, 6-4 win staked the Hawks to a berth in Saturday’s 10 a.m. state final at Cayce Tennis Center.

“I believe we can win it (state title) if we play solid and with the energy we’ve been having,” said Nash, an online-schooled freshman who nailed an overhead at the net on a return by Tate Steinour off a serve by Hyatt to end the match.

“I played a pretty smart point,” Nash said about the match-winner.

Nash said he had one of his best serving matches of the season in the doubles matchup. “I really served well. I didn’t lose many points on my serve,” he said.

Hyatt, a sophomore left-hander with exceptional volleying ability, started slowly but came through late in both sets. After being broken in the first game of the doubles match, Hyatt found his game. “I was nervous. My legs were shaking and I couldn’t get a good toss,” Hyatt said. “But I got it under control. I just took a little while to adjust.

“I feel confident we can win it,” Hyatt said about Saturday’s final.

Hyatt, and freshmen Mark Jones and Bradley Upshaw posted decisive victories at No. 2-4 singles to give the Hawks a chance to end the match without playing No. 1 doubles.

But Hilton Head’s hard-hitting Alex Ittenbach edged Hanahan eighth-grader, 7-5, 6-7, 10-7, at No. 5 singles to deadlock the match at 3-3 and send it to No. 1 doubles.

“It’s hard to beat a team three times in a row,” Hanahan coach Glenn Cobb said about the Hawks’ 3-0 sweep of 2014 state champion Hilton Head.

HANAHAN 4, HILTON HEAD 3
SINGLES: T. Steinour (HH) def. Nash, 6-3, 7-5; Hyatt (Han) def. C. Steinour, 6-1, 6-3; Jones (Han) def. Will Advocast, 6-1, 6-2; Upshaw (Han) def. Rothwell, 6-1, 6-0; Ittenbach (HH) def. Ramey, 7-5, 6-7, 10-7.   DOUBLES: Nash/Hyatt (Han) def. Steinour/Steinour, 6-4, 6-4; Tobin/Gavin (HH) def. Briggs/Niavez, 7-5, 7-5.


(05/07/16)  Three local title contenders on schedule
Local state title contenders Academic Magnet, Bishop England and Hanahan are on schedule, but things could get a little more exciting as the coming week develops.

How does Academic Magnet-Waccamaw sound for Monday? Or how about Hanahan-Hilton Head High or maybe even Magnet-Bishop England rematches for Wednesday?

Yes, Wednesday could be quite nerve-wracking for the area’s three remaining SCHSL title contenders. Although Hanahan and Academic Magnet both have defeated their potential Lower State final opponents twice each this season, victories on Wednesday aren’t a cinch.

First, all three have to get by Lower State semifinals on Monday. Unbeaten Magnet faces the toughest challenge on the road at perennial Class AA power Waccamaw. It is uncertain whether Waccamaw will have three-time SCISA Open singles champ Paul Hendrix on hand to face the Raptors.

Even with a win at Waccamaw, Magnet might have its hands full in a probable Lower State Class AA final at home on Wednesday against a healthy Jared Pratt at No. 1 and potent Lleyton Dacuba at No. 2 for the Bishops, although the Raptors also are impressive at the top two positions with Jacob Jahn and Sam Kavarana. The difference maker might be Magnet sophomore Earl Navarro, possibly the area’s best No. 3 player.

Bishop England coach Kristin Fleming Arnold received good news on Saturday that Aynor had upset Region 7 champ Green Sea-Floyds, 7-0. That means the Region 6 runner-up Bishops will play at Snee Farm on Monday against Region 8 No. 2 Aynor.

Hanahan (12-0) shouldn’t have any problems on Monday at Collins Park, although the opponent will be Wilson, the team that eliminated the Hawks, 5-1, in the Lower State semifinals a year ago. A win by coach Glenn Cobb’s Hawks would set up a probable home meeting with Hilton Head on Wednesday for the Class AAA Lower State title.

The Hawks own 4-2 and 4-3 victories over Hilton Head, but the last one came down to No. 1 doubles. The good news for Hanahan is that No. 1 doubles is a strength with left-handed junior standout Kerim Hyatt and sophomore Chad Nash looking like possibly the best doubles team in the area.

Carter’s national titles

Brenda Carter will be turning 70 next month, but she already is winning women’s 70 national singles and doubles titles. The Charleston resident took both titles in last month’s national clay courts in Baton Rouge, La. She will be playing the national hard courts this coming week in San Diego.

Talking about winning titles, Carter owns 48 of the gold balls that come with winning USTA national titles. That’s 26 singles, 19 doubles, two mixed doubles and one husband/wife (with husband Harry Carter, who keeps track of all the titles).

To top it off, she has won three ITF world titles, one each in singles, doubles and mixed, along with four ITF world team titles.

Local notes

Kiawah Island was selected as the No. 1 tennis resort in the world for the ninth time in the past 11 years by Tennis Resorts Online. Wild Dunes took second place.

Former local junior Ellie Halbauer should move into the world’s top 400 for the first time after an outstanding two-week run in $10,000 pro events in Argentina. The 18-year-old won the first $10,000 tournament, then suffered a loss in the second event’s final on Saturday to the same player she had beaten in the previous week’s final.

Porter-Gaud senior Cross Tolliver completed his competitive tennis career Friday in the Cyclones’ SCISA Class AAA state championship win over Wilson Hall. He plans to skip college tennis (“too much commitment”) and concentrate on academics at Brown University. He took two AP Exams on Wednesday before his sterling comeback match-clinching three-set win at No. 1 singles in the state semifinals.

Sunday is the deadline for entering next weekend’s Haygood/Grady Memorial adult tournament (ID 700033116) at Kiawah Island.

Navarro’s hot streak

Emma Navarro is one of the hottest junior doubles players in the country. The LTP Tennis player has teamed with Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., to win a string of major junior doubles titles.

The two 14-year-olds won the girls 14 crown at the Eddie Herr International Championships in Bradenton, Fla., in December, then teamed up to win the Easter Bowl’s girls 16 doubles title in April in Palm Springs, Calif. They followed that up last week with the girls 18 title in Coral Gables, Fla.

Navarro is currently ranked eighth in the South in girls 16, and 99th nationally. She trains with LTP Tennis general manager Jerry Albrikes, and will be part of the new Randy Pate Tennis Academy at LTP, along with Earl Navarro. Of course, their father, Ben Navarro, owns LTP Tennis.

Rogers seeing Bradys

Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers has run into a case of the Jennifer Bradys. There’s only one Brady, but that’s been one too many the last two weeks in the USTA’s Pro Circuit clay court French Open wild-card segment.

Rogers already is direct entry in the French, and doesn’t need the wild card. Which is good, since the 192nd-ranked Brady upended the top-seeded Rogers in the first round of the $50,000 event in Charlottesville, Va., then eliminated the 109th-ranked Rogers in Friday’s quarterfinals of the $75,000 tournament in Indian Harbour, Fla.


(05/06/16)  LTP Tennis Club to host national junior event
LTP Tennis Club in Mount Pleasant will be the site for the first-ever South Carolina-hosted U.S. Tennis Association national junior championship when the boys 12-under USTA National Clay Court Championships are scheduled to be held at the Mathis Ferry Road complex from July 17-23.

The boys 12 clay court nationals had been set to be held in Winston-Salem, N.C., again this summer, but will switch to the Charleston area as a result of the Randy Pate Tennis Academy moving to LTP Tennis from Winston-Salem.

Pate’s nationally recognized academy is scheduled to arrive at LTP Tennis in June after operating out of Winston-Salem since 2007, where Pate had staged the national boys 12 clay courts for the last eight years. Pate petitioned the USTA to move the championships to LTP Tennis, and received notice from the USTA on Friday that this year’s event would be held at the Mount Pleasant club.

The switch to LTP Tennis for 2016 is already listed on the USTA website. National championships are bid on a year-to-year basis, according to Pate.

“Since this is a new location, future possibilities will be based on how well we run the tournament,” Pate said. “Bill Osaki, head of the Southern USTA, said that this would be the first junior national championship in S.C.”

LTP Tennis Club owner Ben Navarro is well aware of the significance of the national tournament coming to Charleston.

“LTP is thrilled at the prospect of hosting South Carolina’s first junior national championship. With Charleston consistently ranked as one of America’s great tennis cities, it only seems fitting that we would host a premier junior event,” said Navarro, the founder and CEO of Sherman Financial Group LLC.

“We hope that once players and parents experience this amazing city as well as our first class facility, that this will be the first of many national junior events to be hosted here.”

At least one club East of the Cooper with clay courts will be used for the tournament. LTP Tennis, which started as the Players Club under Fritz Nau in 2003, has 16 lighted courts, but only nine clay courts.

“We need 16 clay courts to meet the needs of the tournament. We ran 20 courts in Winston-Salem,” Pate said. “It’s the top 128 players in the nation.”

Navarro also is pleased to have Pate’s academy at LTP, which also has a swim club facility on site. “The addition of the Randy Pate Tennis Academy to LTP will round out our offerings to top junior players,” Navarro said. “We couldn’t be more pleased about having a premier academy featuring many top juniors and a professional of Randy’s experience and character joining our facility. His track record of placing juniors at top colleges that offer both elite academics and tennis is unrivaled in the Southeast.”

Pate said he has a six-year contract with LTP Tennis to “run a high-end academy” at LTP. He will be responsible only for the Randy Pate Academy, a much different situation than he had in Winston-Salem where he and his staff were in charge of all operations at the public 20-court (14 clay) Hanes Park.

“We were in charge of everything at Hanes Park. At LTP, we can focus on what we do best. Our sole responsibility will be to help kids be as good as they can be,” Pate said.

The Pate Academy in Winston-Salem and previously in Statesville, N.C., has trained some of the nation’s top juniors. The academy at LTP also will limit its school-year program to 24 national level juniors, who mostly will attend local public schools or be home schooled. The academy runs an open program in the summer months.

“My family and 10-15 of North Carolina’s top players along with a few players from other states, will be moving to the Charleston area beginning in June,” Pate said. “Most of the kids we have are nationally ranked.”

Pate will be joined in his elite school-year academy by three current LTP pros, while others will help with the summer program. LTP general manager Jerry Albrikes, who trains nationally ranked junior Emma Navarro, will work with the Pate Academy.

Pate is a 52-year-old Raleigh native who played college tennis and basketball. After attending Atlantic Christian College in Wilson, N.C., and the University of Winnipeg, Pate started his tennis academy at Statesville in 1987 at a public tennis facility. He moved the academy to Winston-Salem in 2007

“Every player who has graduated our academy for the last 28 years has been offered a college scholarship,” Pate said. “Our recent graduates are playing for or on their way to Stanford, UNC, South Carolina, N.C. State, Tennessee, TCU, Louisville, Liberty, Davidson, UNC Asheville, Air Force, Whitman, Indiana and Wofford.”


(05/06/16)  Porter-Gaud boys wins back-to-back tennis titles
Porter-Gaud staged a repeat performance Friday afternoon in Sumter with a 5-1 victory over Wilson Hall to claim a second straight SCISA Class AAA state boys tennis championship.

In a repeat score of the 2015 final against the same team in Sumter, the Cyclones (11-2) nailed down the victory in singles with only senior No. 1 Cross Tolliver falling again to standout Wilson Hall junior Thomas Brown. This time, Brown prevailed over Tolliver, 6-2, 6-1.

But Nos. 2-6 Manning Snyder, Malone Vingi, Jack Kammerer, Connor Craigie and Luke Harvin all came through to wrap up another title for the Cyclones. Three of the five players are juniors, with Snyder and Craigie being sophomores.

For Kammerer and Craigie, it was the third straight state final individual wins for each player. Those two players, along with Harvin, yielded a total of just nine games at the bottom three positions.

While it was the second title in three tries for Jonathan Barth as head coach, the state championship was the 16th in the last 22 seasons for the Cyclones.

“There were some close, competitive matches,” Barth said. “Malone (Vingi) was down two match points, but came back to win (11-9 in the third set tiebreaker). That was great.”

But everyone had to wait around on the slender 6-1 Snyder to finish off a 7-6 (2), 6-3 win at No. 2 over Wilson Hall junior Hunter Hendrix before celebrating. “The team was up 4-1 after my first set. I wrapped it up, but everyone had to wait,” said Snyder, who won at No. 4 in the 2015 final.

“I am happy . . . we pulled it out, and in Sumter . . . on their home courts. It was a good day to be a Cyclone.”

For Vingi, it was the second straight year he posted an 11-9 third-set victory in the state final against Wilson Hall, just a different guy at No. 3 this time, Wilson Hall senior Tradd Stover.

“It was awesome to win two in a row,” Vingi said. “When I was down two match points, I just took deep breaths and tried to calm down and keep more balls in play. We had to win (Nos.) 2-6 (to wrap up the match in singles), and we pulled them out.”

PORTER-GAUD 5, WILSON HALL 1
SINGLES: Thomas Brown (WH) def. Cross Tolliver, 6-2, 6-1; Manning Snyder (PG) def. Hunter Hendrix, 7-6 (2), 6-3; Malone Vingi (PG) def. Tradd Stover, 6-3, 2-6, 11-9, Jack Kammerer (PG) def. Chandler Stone, 6-1, 6-4; Connor Craigie (PG) def. William Coulter, 6-0, 6-2; Luke Harvin (PG) def. Davis Kellog, 6-2, 6-0.


(05/04/16)  Porter-Gaud boys to play for tennis title
Porter-Gaud senior Cross Tolliver ended his home tennis career Wednesday with one of his biggest and most memorable wins, one that gave the Cyclones a shot at a second straight SCISA Class AAA boys state championship.

Tolliver won the last seven points of a third-set match tiebreaker at No. 1 singles to rally from a set down to outlast talented Hammond School sophomore William Lynch, 5-7, 6-3, 10-6, to close out a 5-0 victory for the Cyclones without having to play doubles.

The lengthy match ended on a double fault by Lynch, but not before the 6-3 Tolliver nailed a pair of service winners and then a mighty forehand cross court to reach team and individual match point. It was a measure of revenge for Tolliver, who had suffered a three-set loss to Lynch in the SCISA Open individual tournament.

The sudden verdict rendered the tight No. 2 singles match between Porter-Gaud sophomore Manning Snyder and Hammond’s Stephen Lynch meaningless as the two players walked off the court without finishing.

Otherwise, the Cyclones swept the other four singles, with junior Malone Vingi, junior Jack Kammerer, sophomore Connor Craigie and junior Luke Harvin yielding a total of six games while sweeping Nos. 3-6 singles.

Due to rain postponements in the upper bracket, the Cyclones (10-2) will now wait until at least Thursday evening to learn who their state final opponent will be in a match that is tentatively scheduled for Friday afternoon in Sumter.

Tolliver admitted to playing cautiously in the tiebreaker once he tightened the score. Lynch responded with a pair of loose ground strokes that gave Tolliver a 7-6 advantage.

“I usually try to win the point, but basically I was just waiting on him (to make mistakes),” Tolliver said.

PORTER-GAUD 5, HAMMOND SCHOOL 0
SINGLES: Tolliver (PG) def. W. Lynch, 5-7, 6-3, 10-6; Vingi (PG) def. Owens, 6-1, 6-3; Kammerer (PG) def. Asbill, 6-1, 6-0; Craigie (PG) def. Lott, 6-0, 6-0; Harvin (PG) def. Goodwin, 6-0, 6-1.


(05/03/16)  GOOSE CREEK GAZETTE: Sweet success: BHS tennis team ends regular season on high note
For Berkeley varsity boys tennis, it was a good week.

But it was also bittersweet.

The team finished the regular season by defeating Manning 6-1 Tuesday and Woodland 6-1 Thursday.

“We’ve had some close matches with Manning in the past,” said varsity tennis coach George Whittaker. “Today (Tuesday) the scores did not indicate how close some of those matches really were.”

Whittaker noted the varsity players’ experience showed with their wins.

“I have played Manning every year I have coached,” Whittaker said. “Kay Young has a great program and we always have a good match.”

Singles winners with Manning were James Giannelli 6-2, 6-1, Samuel Giannelli 6-1, 6-3, Hugh Huxford 6-3, 6-1 Preston Bell 6-0, 6-4 and Tony Bower 6-1, 6-1.

At 2 doubles, Gray Livingston and Ethan Shuler won 6-4, 6-1.

For the match with Woodland singles Winners were James Giannelli 6-4, 6-4, Samuel Giannelli 6-0, 6-3, Hugh Huxford 6-1, 6-2 and Preston Bell, 6-0, 6-4.

At 1 doubles, Samuel Giannelli and Preston Bell won 8-5 and at 2 doubles, Gray Livingston and Ethan Shuler won 6-0, 6-2.

In ending the regular season (with a pizza and cupcakes celebration for senior night), Whittaker will soon be saying goodbye to three seniors he’s coached since he took over the team four years ago.

Whittaker has coached Gray Livingston and Preston Bell since they were freshman with Giannelli joining the team not long after a new rule allowed home-schooled students to play on teams at their assigned school.

“These three guys have been a major part of the team these past four years,” Whittaker said noting none of the three will play in college “but I know all three of them will keep playing tennis in the future.”

Giannelli has plans to attend Trident Tech, Bell is headed to the Citadel and Livingston will attend Williams College in Massachusetts.

“It is always special to see your players mature from freshmen to seniors,” Whittaker said.

The team travels to Brookland-Cayce for the first round of the playoffs May 3.


(05/01/16)  Academic Magnet, Hanahan take center stage for tennis playoffs
Academic Magnet and Hanahan, two boys tennis teams not accustomed to unbeaten records and notoriety this time of year, have center stage as the state high school playoffs arrive this coming week.
 
Buoyed by local academies, primarily Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis, the Raptors and Hawks are loaded with some of the best young talent in the state. It’s rather unique that they are in different SCHSL classifications and will not face each other this spring, and both now appear set to possibly run the table and bring home state titles.

Hanahan’s top four of freshman No. 1 Chad Nash, sophomore Kerim Hyatt and freshmen Mark Jones and Bradley Upshaw all train at MWTennis, along with three of Magnet’s top four, freshman No. 1 Jacob Jahn, sophomore Sam Kavarana and freshman No. 4 Vinod Pandey. The Raptors’ No. 3 player, sophomore Earl Navarro, trains at LTP Tennis.

Hanahan (11-0) could advance all the way through the Class AAA Lower State final without having to leave Collins Park by virtue of the Hawks’ sweep of 2014 state champion/2015 state runner-up Hilton Head High to capture the Region 8-AAA crown.

“If we get by the second round, we should make it to the Lower State finals. I haven’t had time to research every team though,” Hanahan coach Glenn Cobb said.

The Hawks will begin the playoffs on Tuesday at Collins Park against Region 5 fourth seed Aiken. The winner of that matchup will play either Manning or Region 7 runner-up Myrtle Beach in the second round on Thursday.

Academic Magnet (10-0), which beat out defending Class AA state champion Bishop England for the Region 6-AA crown by defeating the Bishops twice in the regular season, is scheduled to open the state playoffs on Thursday by entertaining Barnwell. A win there likely would send the Raptors on the road next Monday to take on perennial power Waccamaw.

Meanwhile, Southern No. 1 Jared Pratt-led Bishop England is always a threat, even though the Bishops as a No. 2 seed may not play a home match in the playoffs, starting with at trip to Woodland on Thursday. Pratt was away last Wednesday when the Raptors blanked the Bishops, 6-0.

The Class AAAA state playoffs also will begin on Tuesday. Both local region champions, Wando (10-6, 10-0) from 7-AAAA and Summerville (14-3, 8-0) from Region 8, will be at home as No. 1 seeds.

Summerville will entertain No. 4 seed Sumter on Tuesday, needing a win to advance to Thursday’s second round against the winner of Tuesday’s West Ashley at perennial power Lexington match.

“Playoffs get tough in the second round, but if we’re good enough to beat Lexington and advance, then West Florence (third round?) and Socastee or Aiken (Lower State final?) are comparable,” Summerville coach David Long said. “These are clearly the best five (AAAA) teams in the Lower State.”

Wando will meet Irmo (a fourth seed) in the first round and would also be favored to play at home on Thursday in the second round against Tuesday’s Ashley Ridge at Socastee winner. Another possible trip to powerhouse South Aiken, which plays host to Stratford on Tuesday, could loom for the Warriors in the third round. Wando lost at South Aiken in last year’s Lower State final.

James Island (10-5, 8-2) will take on River Bluff on Tuesday at the Trojans’ new courts on campus. The Trojans are led by sophomore Brendan Healey, who went 10-0 in region play at No. 1 singles.

SCISA pairings

SCISA defending Class AAA state champion Porter-Gaud has a bye on Monday and will face the winner of Monday’s Hammond School/Ben Lippen match on Wednesday in the state semifinals at the Cyclones’ home courts in West Ashley.

Pinewood Prep will travel to Cardinal Newman in Monday’s first round, with the winner advancing to Wednesday’s state semifinals against Wilson Hall, a 5-1 victim of the Cyclones in the 2015 title match.

The state final is scheduled for Friday in Sumter.


(04/24/16)  Hanahan has an ace in the hole for playoffs
Unbeaten Hanahan staged a preview on Thursday of what might happen in the upcoming Class AAA state playoffs when the Hawks unveiled a secret weapon.

They played the decisive No. 1 doubles match for the second time this season, this time for a 4-3 win over fellow 8-AAA power Hilton Head High to wrap up the region crown.

In the process, the exceptional doubles ability of Hanahan sophomore Kerim Hyatt was put on display for a small group of supporters under the lights at Collins Park as an afternoon match stretched into the evening. Hyatt is a slender left-hander who hits a one-handed backhand and plays much bigger in doubles than one might expect from his 5-8 or 5-9 stature.

Hyatt’s sizzling slice backhand volleys are a thing of perfection, a difference-maker in doubles. Opponents hardly have a chance of putting a racket on the ball once Hyatt connects with backhand volleys that he delivers with great pace at sharp angles.

“It’s where talent meets hard work,” is the way MWTennis Academy CEO Jeff Wilson describes Hyatt’s volleying technique.

One of the guys on the other side of the net for Hilton Head was James Madison signee Tate Steinour, who had sent the team match to No. 1 doubles as a result of his three-set victory at No. 1 singles over Hanahan freshman ace Chad Nash, Hyatt’s doubles partner.

Elite SCHSL teams such as Hanahan don’t often get to practice live doubles. Most regular season matches are decided in the five singles and No. 2 doubles matches.

This practice for the Hyatt/Nash duo could prove very helpful in the weeks ahead for coach Glenn Cobb and his 11-0 Hanahan club that has an open week before the playoffs start on May 3. The Hawks easily could see 2014 state champion/2015 state runner-up Hilton Head again in the Lower State final.

Practice time outside of Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy is hard to find for Hyatt and Nash. While Hyatt trains at MWTennis after a full day of school at Hanahan, Nash is a full-timer at MW, drilling for tennis in the morning from 9-11, attending online classes at the Family Circle complex from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and then hitting the tennis courts again in the afternoon from 2-4 p.m., with 4-6 p.m. optional for tennis. Even fitting high school matches into their schedules can be tricky.

Hyatt is a stellar doubles player, something of a rarity in high school tennis. With quickness, mobility, aggressiveness, powerful serves and big left-handed ground strokes complementing his strong net game, Hyatt has the tools to go places in tennis.

He is preparing for college and maybe even life on the pro tour. Is he good enough to play with the pros? “We’ll see,” the 16-year-old said with a smile.

Why does Hyatt like tennis so much that he has trained the last six years at Family Circle Tennis Center? “I like being out there (on the court) alone,” he said.

Nash carries 130 pounds on his 5-7 to 5-8 frame, but wears size 111/2 shoes. He expects to grow, and hopefully end up at the U.S. Naval Academy. He usually plays a more conservative, consistent game these days before revving it up as he grows.

“I like the team atmosphere and the experience it gives me before college,” Nash said about playing high school tennis for the first time.

Of course, MWTennis is the centerpiece of both Nash’s and Hyatt’s tennis lives, as it is with a herd of outstanding young boys and girls in the area. Less than two years old, MWTennis is gaining national exposure and appears to be possibly on the bubble of becoming a major player internationally among junior tennis academies. The world class Family Circle Tennis Center isn’t a bad selling point.

High schools such as Hanahan and Class AA unbeaten Academic Magnet, as well as defending Class AA state champion Bishop England, are reaping the dividends of the level of training offered at MWTennis. LTP Tennis also figures in the high school picture with several outstanding talents, but to a lesser extent than MW.
Local pros update

Shelby Rogers may have played the best tennis of her life in parts of a three-set loss to 80th-ranked Lara Arruabarrena in the Volvo Car Open’s first round. She is hoping to have that game in Charlottesville, Va., this coming week in a $50,000 U.S. Pro Circuit clay-court event, where she likely will be the top seed. She will be out to repeat her 2013 title at Charlottesville.

Meanwhile, Jessie Pegula lost Saturday in the semifinals of the $50,000 event in Dothan, Ala. Ellie Halbauer will play a $10,000 event this coming week in Argentina, where she will be one of the top seeded players.
Playoffs coming

Academic Magnet will attempt to lock up the Region 6-AA title on Wednesday when the Jacob Jahn/Sam Kavarana- led Raptors travel to Snee Farm to take on Bishop England. Regardless of the outcome, both teams will be in the AA state playoffs that start May 5. Like Hanahan, the Raptors are a serious threat to bring home a state championship.

In SCISA, Porter-Gaud will begin defense of its Class AAA state title on May 2.


(04/24/16)  STAFF REPORT:  Cougars win CAA titles in men’s golf, tennis
College of Charleston won a pair of Colonial Athletic Association trophies on Sunday as the men’s golf team three-peated and the men’s tennis team upset the No. 1 seed to win its first-ever CAA championship.

In Elon, N.C., the Cougars men’s tennis team rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat No. 1 seed UNC Wilmington, 4-3, to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Regional tournament, the first round of the NCAA tournament. They will find out the location and tournament dates in the coming weeks.

“I am extremely proud, and excited for our guys.” Cougars coach Jay Bruner said. “They fought just like they have all season. They continued to get better and better as the season went on and they earned this win today against a very good team.”

This is the third consecutive season that Charleston (19-6) had made it to the CAA Championship final round. With the match tied at 3, Charleston’s Juan Estevarena secured the clinching point, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, over the CAA Men’s Tennis Player of the Year, Santtu Leskinen, to bring home the championship for the Cougars.

The Cougars got other singles victories from Zack Lewis, Charlie Ghriskey and Garrett Gordon.


(04/21/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Suspects steal merchandise from vendor tents at VCO
City of Charleston Police officers with Daniel Island-based Team 5 were called to the Volvo Car Open grounds during the tournament week in response to reported thefts from three merchandise tents. According to the police report filed on the incident, two suspects, both local high school students, were seen entering the property on April 7 around 1:30 a.m. by on-site security officers.

One suspect, described in the report as a white male, age 18, was detained. A second suspect, also a white male, fled the scene but was later identified. The pair allegedly took some $3000 worth of sunglasses, jewelry and other merchandise from the tents. Most of the stolen items have been recovered. The case remains under investigation. No charges have been filed as of yet.


(04/20/16)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
ACADEMIC MAGNET 6, JAMES ISLAND 1
Singles: Jahn d. Healey 6-0, 6-1. Navarro d. Bridges 6-0, 6-1. Pandey d. Sechrist 6-3, 7-6 (10-7). Evans (JI) d. McFee 6-2, 7-6 (7-5). Moon d. Alexander 6-2, 7-6 (12-10).   Doubles: Jahn/Navarro d. Healey/Bridges 8-3. Pie/Demetre d. Jenkins/Eaddy 6-1, 6-2.

Records: Academic Magnet 8-0. James Island 8-3. Next: James Island at Cane Bay today.

PORTER-GAUD 5, WANDO 1
Singles: Rollover d. Browder 6-1, 6-0. Snyder d. Johnson 6-1, 6-4. Vingi d. Kirk 6-3, 3-6, 12-10. Bumgarner (W) d. Kammerer 6-3, 6-2. Craigie d. Redden 6-2, 6-2.   Doubles: Harvin/Harvin d. Smyth/Shaw 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.


(04/17/16)  State Report: CSU advances to semifinals in Big South women’s tennis tournament
LYNCHBURG, Va. — Charleston Southern opened its championship defense on Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Big South women’s tennis championships with a 4-1 victory over No. 5 Campbell.

The fourth-seeded Buccaneers took the doubles point to open the match, while Valeria Koussenkova, Kimberley Koerner and Sophie Cloessner all won their singles match-ups as CSU topped Campbell for the second time this season.

Charleston Southern advances to take on the top overall seed Liberty on Sunday. Doubles play is set for 11 a.m.

Juan Estevarena secured the winning point in the No. 1 singles flight as the College of Charleston men defeated Charlotte, 4-3, at Patriots Point. 

The Cougars (16-6) will next play in the CAA Tournament, set to begin on Thursday.


(04/18/16)  GOOSE CREEK GAZETTE: Knights net tennis victories
Stratford’s boys tennis team netted a pair of victory celebrations last week, edging Berkeley 4-3 on April 12 and Cane Bay 5-2 on April 14.

The Knights host West Ashley on Thursday, April 21 and James Island on April 26 before ending the regular season at Goose Creek on April 28.

Against Berkeley, Jordan Smith won in three sets at No. 3 singles while teammates Anthony Yeung and Zach Crawford coasted at Nos 4 and 5 singles.

Yeung and Quincy Moorer teamed up to win in three sets at No. 2 doubles to lock up the match.

Against Cane Bay, Jeffrey Wong, Parker Hoffman, Garett Sides, Smith and and Yeung swept the five singles matches. Sides won in three sets.
Hawks sweep

Hanahan swept a pair of matches last week, beating Summerville 4-2 and Berkeley 5-1. The Hawks are unbeaten on the season.

Hanahan boys 4, Summerville 2
Singles: Nash d. Long 6-0, 6-1. Hyatt d. Wills 7-5, 6-3. Upshaw d. De Araoz 7-6 (4), 3-6, 10-5. Reynolds (S) d. Briggs 6-0, 5-7, 10-5. Ramey d. McGinnis 6-3, 6-2.   Doubles: Lewis/Edwards (S) d. Vong/Miavez 6-2, 6-1.

Records: Hanahan 8-0 (4-0). Summerville 10-3 (4-0).

Hanahan 5, Berkeley 1
Singles: Nash d. J. Gianelli 6-0, 6-0. Hyatt d. S. Gianelli 6-1, 6-0. Upshaw d. Hugh 6-1, 6-0. Briggs d. Bell 6-2, 6-0. Ramey d. Bassett 6-0, 6-0.   Doubles: Shuler/Gray (B) d. Vong/John 6-0, 6-1.


(04/17/16)  DAVID WREN: BUSINESS Q&A: Lex Kerssemakers drives Volvo Cars
Lex Kerssemakers didn’t change his work style when Volvo Cars picked him a little more than a year ago to lead the Swedish automaker’s resurgence in the United States.

At a glance
Who: Alexander ‘Lex’ B.M. Kerssemakers
Title: Senior vice president Americas region; president and CEO Volvo Car USA
Born: Netherlands in 1960
Education: Graduated in automotive business management, Institute of Automotive Management, Driebergen, Netherlands, in 1982
Personal: Married, has a daughter and a son
Hobbies: Snowboarding, mountain biking, field hockey, classic cars
Source: Volvo

Kerssemakers has always been first in the office and last to leave.

“I’ve always been an early bird,” Kerssemakers said. “I love to be early. In the morning, I try to tackle the conversations with Europe, and then you have the rest of the day to focus on the U.S. and South America.”

If the new job has changed his work habits in any way, it’s in the amount of frequent-flyer miles he accumulates.

“The United States is so amazingly big. I’m spending a lot more time traveling,” said Kerssemakers, who got his start with Volvo in 1983 as a purchasing manager and now oversees operations in North and South America, including construction of the company’s first U.S. manufacturing plant in Berkeley County. The first S60 sedan is scheduled to roll off the assembly line at that campus near Ridgeville in 2018.

Kerssemakers makes at least two cross-country trips each week and has an intercontinental flight at least once a month. It’s a lot of travel, but an important part of the job, he said.

“In the end, we are a people business,” Kerssemakers said. “Meeting people, looking people in the eyes and connecting. We have technology like video meetings, and that’s very good, but sometimes when we have intense discussions with a retailer about investments or whatever, I want to be there. I want to show that we are committed.”

That type of commitment helped Volvo record a 24.3 percent increase in U.S. sales in 2015 — 70,047 vehicles including an all-new XC90 sport-utility vehicle that was named Motor Trend magazine’s SUV of the year.

Sales through March of this year are up another 19.2 percent as Volvo closes in on its goal of six-figure annual sales in the U.S., something it hasn’t achieved since 2007.

Kerssemakers took time during the recent Volvo Car Open tennis tournament on Daniel Island to talk with The Post and Courier. The conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: This is the first year Volvo has sponsored the Volvo Car Open tennis tournament here in Charleston. What are your thoughts on the tournament so far?

A: Actually, it’s been very good. The Volvo brand is big, but we want to be intimate, connect with the customers and dialog with the customers one-to-one. When you see this fantastic, charming stadium and it’s all relaxed and intimate, it fits us perfectly.


(04/12/16)  TENNIS.com:  Ladies Choice
Sloane Stephens won her third tournament of the season this past week at Volvo Car Open in Charleston. If the event’s name is unfamiliar, it had previously been known as the Family Circle Cup. Kin Roseborough is the head stringer at the Family Circle Tennis Center, and for the past few years he has provided a glimpse of the stringing room during the busy WTA Tour stop. This time around he has been kind enough to open up the log books to show us the breakdown of racquet and string preference among the participants.

PLAYER FRAMES
There was a pretty even split between Babolat (28 players) and Wilson (27 players). The next two most popular—Head (13) and Yonex (12)—were just as close. Add the four up and you have 90% of the players.

PLAYER STRINGBED
Nearly 30% of players used a full bed of Luxilon, mostly ALU, with some 4G and ALU Rough. Next was natural gut mains with polyester crosses at 19%. Those two set-ups alone accounted for roughly half the players in the draws. Another 14.6% used all Babolat RPM Blast, followed by poly mains and gut crosses with almost 8%.

In terms of tensions, the pros at the tournament fell into a wide range. The vast majority were between 45—55 lbs. One of the singles quarterfinalists strung at nearly 64 lbs., and one of the doubles champions used just under 41 lbs. Several of the players who are primarily doubles specialists were stringing between 39—42 lbs.

MAIN STRINGS
When it comes to the main strings in a hybrid configuration, Babolat was the leading choice—many cases it was VS gut, with the remainder primarily RPM Blast. Luxilon was still the No. 1 poly, with a lot of ALU, some ALU Rough and quite a few players with 4G. Wilson gut was third with about 8% (both orange “pie slices” are Wilson gut due to a database glitch). Yonex Poly Tour Pro was next at just under 8%.

CROSS STRINGS
The roles were reversed in the crosses with nearly 40% choosing Luxilon ALU and 4G. Babolat was second with RPM, VS gut and some Pro Hurricane making up the selections. The remaining 30% was a mix of other leading brands.


(04/11/16)  STAFF REPORTS: Local Tennis Notes: Charleston Tennis Center is 40
Charleston Tennis Center will celebrate its 4th anniversary Friday night and Saturday with a full schedule of exhibitions, round robins and clinics.

The schedule will kick off with a 6-8 p.m. round robin on Friday with free food.

Exhibition matches will be held throughout the day on Saturday. A free clinic is set for 10-11:30 a.m. on Saturday with local pros, including Farmfield head pro Davy Harrison and assistant Tyler Davis, Maybank Tennis Center pro Toni Young, Family Circle Tennis Center’s Bryan Minton, former Farmfield pro Fredrik Andersson, College of Charleston women’s coach Angelo Anastopoulo and others.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg will be present for a noon Saturday appreciation ceremony, along with St. Andrew’s pro Phil Burke and Billy Silcox, the original pro at the Farmfield Avenue complex.

Family Circle Tennis Center’s Dewey Caulder will be the chef for a cookout at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by a Special Olympics Tennis Team exhibition and an adult/child round robin.

High Schools

Hanahan is still unbeaten behind Chad Nash and Kerim Hyatt, and the Hawks appear to be a serious contender for the Class AAA boys state title. The Hawks are preparing for a big test on Wednesday at Summerville, which is the Region 8-AAAA leader.

In 7-AAAA, the new face at the top of the standings is James Island.  The Brendan Heatley-led Trojans are 4-0 in a region that is usually dominated by Wando, which is James Island’s Tuesday opponent at Wando.

James Island also is excited about the school’s brand new lighted six-court tennis complex.

“New courts are wonderful,” James Island coach John Eppelsheimer said. “Lots of interest from the community to use them. Court space on James Island is very limited.”


(04/11/16)  LOWCOUNTRYTODAY.com: JEFF WALKER: Sloane Stephens Claims First Volvo Car Open Title
Young American Grabs Biggest Career Victory & New Car

Fans got what they had hoped for as the 2016 Volvo Car Open was full of exciting tennis. When all the dust settled on the green clay court on Daniel Island a young emerging American tennis sensation outplayed a former finalist in winning her first big time tournament. New crowd favorite Sloane Stephens downed Russia's Elena Vesnina 7-6 (4) and 6-2 to claim her third ever WTA victory.

The 25th ranked player and 7th seeded Stephens will no doubt jump up in the rankings after her week on Daniel Island. Her first prize check came with a surprise new car compliments of Volvo.

After winning her third tournament in 2016 with the Volvo Car Open the most high profile victory Stephens says Sunday doesn't propel her as the next face of tennis just yet. "I mean obviously I don't think of it that way.  I just think I'm playing tennis.  I'm enjoying myself.  I'm having fun."

Where she's at in the rankings and how others view her game doesn't factor in Stephens overall game plan. "I'm happy to be winning tournaments, and I mean that's all I can really think about, just trying to get better and every week try and go for another title.  So that's all I really think about when I play tournaments every week."

A win on clay may help prepare Stephens for the grueling European leg of women's tennis. "I'm excited.  Like clay is my favorite surface, so I mean I'm excited to get over to Madrid and Rome and play all those tournaments. It's a good start.  I mean I couldn't ask for a better start.  So I'm excited to get over there and start playing."

After playing seven matches total on Daniel Island, including the pre-tournament weekend qualifiers Vesnina prefers to look at the bigger picture when it comes to winning and losing. "It's just tennis.  You know, you can't win everything.  Of course, I wanted to win for my second try title here in the Volvo Car Open, and it's an amazing tournament, and I was really, really happy."

Vesnina admitted Stephens had a better Sunday afternoon. "Sloane was playing really solid.  She was like a little bit better, one step faster, one step better.  Like serving with a good percentage of the first serve.  She was moving really well.  I mean she's one of the best players on the defense, so when she's sliding and getting all those balls, at some point I was just thinking, you know, she's everywhere."

Both players were shocked when Volvo (tournament sponsor) gave a car to the winner. Vesnina joked she might have played harder had she known ahead of time. I told Bob that I was like, if you would tell me before the final that there is a car, you know, maybe it would be different result.  But he was like, we need to keep it a secret.  We're trying to keep it a secret."

In doubles play the team of Garcia & Mladenovic defeated top seeded Mattek Sands & Safarova 6 2, 7-5. Caroline Garcia said the key to their win was respecting each other’s game and communication. "It was definitely a very good final, and I think both teams played a great level of tennis. "We have improved every day, and we try some different things, some new things, and it worked pretty well.  And we have good communications since the beginning of the year, and we are enjoying what we are doing on court."

So the first ever Volvo Car Open (formerly Family Circle Cup) is now in the books. Weather was decent for the most part with cooler and windier days near the finals weekend. Local favorite Shelby Rogers lost in her first match but continues to improve and will play in Europe.

Fans saw some exciting tennis on Daniel Island, and maybe the last year for Venus Williams who bowed out after a second round loss. Maybe the torch for America has been handed over to Stephens. The 2017 Volvo Car Open is less than a year away but Sloane Stephens banner will cascade from the stadium for all to see


(04/11/16)  MOULTRIE NEWS: FRANKIE MANSFIELD: Stephens cruises at Volvo Car Open
Sloane Stephens wasn’t expecting much out of her trip to Charleston last week.

A few days of tennis, maybe some good food and then hop a plane back home to Los Angeles. After all, she was just 1-5 in her past five appearances in the Holy City. When a friend told Stephens of her plans to come watch her play at the Volvo Car Open, she encouraged her to get there early.

“I was like, ‘Well, I’ve never won a match there so the earlier you could come in the week, the better,” the 23-year-old American joked.

But in a tournament ruled by upsets this year, it was Stephens who emerged victorious last week on Daniel Island. Stephens won 7-6 (4), 6-2 over Elena Vesnina in the finals Sunday to earn her third WTA title of the season.

“I have a lot of anxiety coming into this tournament because I’ve never done well here,” Stephens said. “I changed my mindset and just thought, ‘You know what? I’m just going to have fun. I have nothing to lose… Just go out and play and have fun.’

“I should just do that every week.”

Stephens, seeded seventh, entered as the favorite in all but one of her five matches. But even she benefited from a bit of upset magic in the tournament semifinals. Facing world No. 2 Angelique Kerber, Stephens controlled the first set 6-1 and built a 3-0 lead in the second before the defending tournament champion was forced to retire with a viral illness. Kerber was the only player seeded in the tournament’s top four seeds to make the semifinals. Five of the top eight were eliminated before the quarterfinals.

Vesnina, ranked 85th in the world, was the first qualifier to make the finals in the tournament’s 44-year history. The Russian won seven matches, and played in two doubles matches, in eight days just to advance into Sunday’s finals.

“That’s quite a lot,” Vesnina said. “For me, actually, this final is like a win. I know there is only one winner. And for all the athletes, there is only one place No. 1. But here, today, I feel like I’m a winner because I played so many matches from qualifying.”

Vesnina rallied back from a 5-2 first-set deficit to win four straight games and serve for the set before Stephens halted the streak and forced a tiebreaker. Vesnina evened the tiebreaker at 3-3 before Stephens found her rhythm and won four of the next five games.

“I played a really good point at 3 all… Once I started thinking ‘Hit it, be aggressive’ it started coming out more,” Stephens said. “I was playing really passive and I had a bit of T. Rex arms syndrome, so I need to just hit through the ball.”

Stephens went on to win five of the first six games in the second set, outpacing Vesnina on every point.

“She was a little bit better. One step faster, one step better,” Vesnina said. ““At some point, I was just thinking, ‘She’s everywhere.’”

Stephens is the first American to win the tournament since Serena Williams went back-to-back in 2012-13 at the Family Circle Cup. She’s the first American not named Venus or Serena to win it since 2001.

Having already exceeded her own expectations with the tournament championship, Stephens lit up with a surprised look of excitement when Volvo rolled a new baby blue V60 Polestar onto the court as part of her prize.

“Did you know I was getting a car?” she let out excitedly. “Neither did I.”


(04/10/16)  TENNIS.com:  With third title of young year, Stephens' rollercoaster career at something of a peak
The book on Sloane Stephens was that she only got up for big events. A semifinalist at the 2013 Australian Open at 19, Stephens went on to reach the fourth round at each of her next five majors, including a quarterfinal showing at Wimbledon. Yet it took her until the summer of 2015, in Washington, D.C., to at long last win her first tour-level title.

Fast forward from D.C. to S.C.—South Carolina, the site of Stephens’ third title of the young 2016 season—and the 23-year-old American is a more well-rounded and self-assured player than she was when she stunned Serena Williams in Melbourne three years ago. Only two players have won three WTA tournaments so far this year: Former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and Stephens, the champion at Auckland, Acapulco and now Charleston, with a 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory over plucky qualifier Elena Vesnina.

“Being in the final from qualies, I still can’t believe I’m standing here,” said Vesnina, a finalist here five years ago but whose forte is doubles. “To Sloane, you deserve this win. I’m really happy for you.”

Stephens’ natural ability has never been questioned, but almost everything else about her has. Unable to build upon her instant success as a teenager, the Florida native has been passed over in the “next great American” race by Madison Keys, unfairly compared to Venus and Serena Williams, and called every name in the book, from a diva to a wasted talent to probably much worse. Since the 2014 French Open, she’s reached the fourth round of a major just once. After ending 2013 at No. 12 in the rankings, she finished outside the Top 25 each of the next two years. She bottomed out in Miami two years ago, taking a desultory 6-1, 6-0 defeat to Caroline Wozniacki, a jarring result that made everyone question just what kind of player Stephens really is.

The roller coaster ride that is Stephens’ career hasn’t ended, even with her Lowcountry triumph, and it may just be beginning. In the six tournaments she’s played this season, Stephens has won three and lost her opening-round match at the others. (In an ironic twist, those losses came at the three most prestigious events, the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami.)

What does this latest week of consistency show? That at the very least, Stephens can rebound after taking a punch. As she said yesterday, there’s something to be said for bouncing back.

It was a resilient week from Stephens in many respects. Her main-draw record in Charleston was just 1-5—“They kept asking me back to the tournament,” Stephens said in faux disbelief today—but she won five matches this visit, four in straight sets. Today, she had the better of the extended early rallies and amassed a 5-2 lead without great difficulty. But Vesnina, whose experience in doubles Grand Slam finals served her well in the partisan arena, turned the set and match around with backboard-level defense and a constant barrage of deep, crosscourt backhands. Zoning, she forced Stephens to hit yet another forehand, move for yet another wide recovery and strike yet another volley as she slowly climbed back into contention. Like her entire career thus far, Stephens’ results to these challenges varied.

When Vesnina ran off a fourth consecutive game for a 6-5 lead and served for the set, an earlier remark by Rennae Stubbs, sitting in a suite high above the court, seemed prescient: “I said this yesterday, it’s going to be 7-5, 7-6 in the third—it’s going to be a battle.”

Stubbs was half-correct: This final was a battle, no time more so than in this pivotal game. In an unexpected turn—or ascent, on what I’ll call the Sloanercoaster—Stephens raced to a 0-40 edge. But after letting all three break points fall by the wayside—the ‘coaster was now careening down the track—a Vesnina escape was in sight. The 85th-ranked Russian earned a set point, but flattened a ball into the net. After a tense second deuce, where Stephens’ service return barely fell in and Vesnina’s backhand clipped the net and fell just out, the fourth time was a charm as she broke serve to reset the set.

In the safe haven of a tiebreaker, Stephens never trailed and took the hour-plus set to the delight of the well-heeled patrons. It took the wind out of Vesnina's sails and sent the Sloanercoaster onto its smoothest path of the day: Once again, Stephens took a 5-2 lead. And once again, the fourth time was a charm for the crowd favorite. After a seemingly comfortable 40-0 advantage, Stephens finally secured the win on her fourth match point.

“I love Charleston, and I want to come back on vacation here,” a giddy Stephens said during her victory speech.

Stephens and Charleston didn’t mix in her prior visits, but in the tournament’s first year as the Volvo Car Open (for nearly half a century it was known as the Family Circle Cup), it was a fresh start for the world No. 25. And while the win and the trophy were nice, all Stephens could talk about when all was said and done was her new blue Volvo, a mobile emblem of achievement driven onto the green clay court.

“You guys, I just got a car!” exclaimed Stephens, who seemed genuinely moved by the gesture. “You might have saw my test drive last week. I told my coach, we should get one of those, it’s so cool!”

Where the Sloanercoaster goes next is anyone’s guess, and the same can be said for Stephens and her new ride. But at least for the moment, their values have never been higher.


(04/10/16)  AP/ESPN: Sloane Stephens captures Volvo Car Open over Elena Vesnina
-- Sloane Stephens invited a friend to come watch her play at the Volvo Car Open.

"And I was like, 'Well, I've never won a match there, so the earlier in the week you could come, the better,'" Stephens said, laughing.

Turns out, the rising 23-year-old American had a nice, long stay, winning her third WTA title of the season with a 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory over Elena Vesnina in the final Sunday.

Stephens had actually won one match in her previous five main-draw appearances on Charleston's green clay. In this visit, the seventh-seeded Stephens from Plantation, Florida, dropped only one set on the way to her first clay-court crown.

Stephens said she changed her fortunes here when she changed her attitude, going from anxious about past losses to carefree about her chances.

"Just go out and play and have fun because, I mean, it's just another week," Stephens said she told herself. "Like I don't have anything to lose. My life is great. It's tennis and this is what I do every week. So I kind of just changed my mindset and that worked.

"I should just do that every week," she joked.

Stephens almost has done that in 2016, previously winning events in Auckland and Acapulco. The victory in Charleston gives her four career titles.

Not that Vesnina made it easy, rallying from 5-2 down in the opening set and holding a set point before Stephens forced the tiebreaker.

Vesnina put away a shot at the net to make it 3-3 in the tiebreaker before Stephens won four of the next five points to move in front.

Stephens did not let herself get down during Vesnina's comeback.

"I knew I was going to get my opportunity, some way, if I just battled every point," she said. "And I think it worked."

Stephens made sure not to give the 29-year-old Russian any openings in the second set. She was up 5-1, and even after blowing a 40-0 lead in the final game, Stephens' strong groundstrokes pushed Vesnina deep into corners with shots she could not return.

"At one point, I was thinking, 'She's everywhere,'" Vesnina said of Stephens' play.

Vesnina hit a service return wide on the final point as the big crowd at stadium court cheered. Stephens was the first American to win the title since Serena Williams took consecutive trophies in 2012 and '13 when this was the Family Circle Cup.

Vesnina, who lost to Caroline Wozniacki in the 2011 final, was the first weekend qualifier to reach the tournament's championship match. The fatigue of 718 minutes -- nearly 12 hours -- of tournament tennis looked as though it finally set in during the final set.

For Vesnina, the long ride in Charleston was well worth being a little tired.

"All the way from the qualies. I can't believe I'm standing here in the finals," she told the crowd. "I love Charleston."

Stephens has a couple of more reasons to love Charleston, too.

Along with the $128,100 for winning, Stephens was stunned when she received a powder-blue Volvo V60 Polestar from the tournament.

"Did you know I was getting a car?" she excitedly asked. "Neither did I."

When asked what she'd do with it, she answered simply, "Drive it."

Maybe all the way to the French Open?

Stephens was pleased with her clay performance and will tackle tournaments in Madrid and Rome before heading to Paris. She has reached the fourth round at Roland Garros the past four years and is hopeful her Charleston win is a springboard to even more.

"I mean, I couldn't ask for a better start," she said. "So I'm excited to get over there and start playing."


(04/10/16)  NBC 2 NEWS:  Sloane Stephens wins Volvo Car Open
It all came down to an American and a qualifier and for the first time since 2001, an American without the last name “Williams,” left Daniel Island as the Singles Champion.

Florida native Sloane Stephens captured her third victory of the season and first in six tries on the Charleston clay courts, defeating Elena Vesnina 7/6, 6/2.

Vesnina was the first qualifier in 44 years to make the Singles finals at the Volvo Car Open (formerly known as the Family Circle Cup). In the end, Stephens proved to be too tough for the Russian who had already won 7 matches.


(04/10/16)  ABC News 4:  Roddick wins Powershares series over Agassi at Volvo Car Open
Andy Roddick can still rock a 135-mph serve and return forehands from Andre Agassi and James Blake. Roddick won the Powershares Series event at the Volvo Car Open Saturday night, defeating Agassi 6-1.

In semifinal play, Roddick beat his former Davis Cup teammate James Blake 6-3 to advance, and Agassi beat Mardy Fish 6-2 in the other semifinal match.

Before the match, the legends of men's tennis fielded questions from reporters on the series.

"I love the opportunity to play against friends as well as legends. These guys are one in the same in that regard," Blake said. "My whole career felt like a dream come true doing what I love and now I get to continue it, and we get to continue it in a slightly less pressure-filled environment."

While the four men were still aggressively competing in the tiebreak sets, the atmosphere gave them a chance to relax. At one point in Roddick's first match, he challenged the umpire when Blake called his own line.

Calling the umpire's seat a high chair, he asked the Australian official what his job function was during the match, settling on calling the points.

"Essentially," the umpire responded, getting laughs from the crowd.

In the final, Agassi called a Roddick return out as Roddick protested, saying he didn't know what to feel because he was being cheated by his idol.

Roddick's win Saturday night marked his 11th on the champions tennis circuit for players over 30. Roddick, who is 33, won eight titles in the 2015 series.

Charleston is a place Roddick and Fish know well. As members of the 2004 Davis Cup team that made the final, they played in Charleston, and Roddick made history with a 155 mph serve.

"It was such a big deal for us then just because we had never been in a Davis Cup final. So kind of sweeping here and winning 3-0 in that tie was a real big deal for us," Roddick said.

"We had a great time. I was really excited when we chose Charleston for that tie, and then just all good memories from that week and really happy to be back now."

Roddick said on the golf cart ride to the media center, the players talked about how much the liked Charleston. Roddick said it was on a short list of cities he and wife Brooklyn Decker would consider moving to.

As a teen in the 80s, Agassi played on the clay courts at Wild Dunes and then again in 1992 he appeared against Ivan Lendl in Charleston after he won Wimbledon for the opening of a tennis center.

"I try to forger every event with Ivan Lendl, so that one I'm struggling with," Agassi said, laughing. "However, Wild Dunes I remember well. Played Jimmy Brown first round. Played Lawson Duncon in the semis, beat him 4 and 3. I've always enjoyed coming here, no doubt. It is a quaint little town, and me and Andy's wife have also talked about moving here. Just kidding."

On Friday night, Blake won the series opener in Chicago, beating John McEnroe 6-4. It was his fifth Powershares series title.

"I was shocked last night at how much James has improved over the years. I mean, he played lights out. Or maybe I've decreased, I don't know," Agassi said.

"It's very explosive tennis, so you want to get comfortable early. But playing outside with the wind on green clay, I just wouldn't expect a whole lot."

Each Powershares event features two single-set semifinal matches and another championship match.


(04/10/16)  Sloane: From a smooth start to champion
Elena Vesnina probably should have won the first set of Sunday’s Volvo Car Open final, and today maybe driving the flashy brand new Volvo that went to the champion.

Truthfully, Vesnina just blew the opportunity with her aggression.

Five years ago, out on the Club Court at Family Circle Tennis Center, it was almost impossible not to recognize the immense talent of an 18-year-old who glided around the court like a ballet dancer. Not too much power in those days, just silky smooth movement.

She made some errors, even then, but not enough to prevent her from winning a pair of qualifying matches to advance to the main draw of the 2011 Family Circle Cup.

Stephens had won only one match on Daniel Island since then, until the new Volvo cars showed up at the tennis center during the past week. She had paid the price.

Face of the event

Stephens could be the face of this tournament for many years to come. She has the game and the winning personality to take over this event.

Who knows how many Volvos she could have in her garage by the time she’s the age of 34-year-old Serena Williams?

Everyone soon will recognize the name Sloane, if they don’t already. Just as they know Serena and Venus.

They say in football, and some other sports, that defense will win almost every time. And defense surely won for Sloane on Sunday afternoon before a large and appreciative crowd at Volvo Car Stadium.

You almost had to feel sorry for the 29-year-old Vesnina. She had come so far since arriving in town for last weekend’s qualifying tournament.

Vesnina pounded balls to every corner of Billie Jean King Court, only to see Stephens virtually floating to them and getting her racket in front of them.

Sloane’s ‘easy power’

Stephens’ “easy power” had kept Vesnina at bay while charging to a 5-2 lead in the first set. But then Vesnina caught fire with her all-out full-court assault and finally appeared to be on the verge of taking the set.

It was then that Stephens demonstrated experience beyond her 23 years as she patiently guided her defensive returns to the other side of the court to an opponent who had turned up her full-attack mode one notch too high.

A set point quickly disappeared for Vesnina, thanks to a netted backhand. Two more aggressively hit balls later that went astray, and the tide had changed as a tiebreaker would decide the first set.

Six points into the tiebreaker (3-3), Stephens switched from her casual power game to big power with three outright winners in the next five points to take the first set.

Vesnina never gave up, but by then Stephens had fallen back into her “easy power” mode. And the finish line was in sight in a 7-6, 6-2 win.


(04/10/16)  GRAYCE RAYNOR: Elena Vesnina’s week qualifies as success at Volvo Car Open
Elena Vesnina has been on Daniel Island for the better part of 10 days, but until Sunday, the 29-year-old Russian had yet to find a window to explore downtown Charleston with her friends.

That’s what happens when you win as frequently as Vesnina did this week in the Volvo Car Open, which came to a conclusion Sunday when Sloane Stephens defeated Vesnina 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the tournament’s final.

Dating back to April 2, Vesnina rattled off seven straight singles victories, including two in the qualifying round, before Stephens beat her in Vesnina’s eighth and final singles match of the tournament. The 85th-ranked Vesnina became the first qualifier to ever reach the championship, and she also played two doubles matches, bringing her grand total of matches played to 10.

“Finally, I have a chance to go downtown because I was playing every day,” she said. “And I was finishing so late, so I was having dinner on Daniel Island.”

Vesnina’s flight wasn’t scheduled to take off until Monday, which gives her some much-deserved rest time before she heads to the Fed Cup next week in Europe. But as exhausted as her body was after so many consecutive days of tennis, Vesnina didn’t give Stephens the title easily Sunday afternoon.

After No. 25 Stephens took an early 5-2 lead in the first set of play, Vesnina rattled off four straight games to take a 6-5 lead. Stephens eventually won the next game to make it 6-6 and force a tiebreaker, where Vesnina kept it close before she eventually fell 7-4.

Stephens cruised through the second set, 6-2, though it took her five match points to finally seal the deal.

“It was not easy for me, and playing a lot of matches, maybe my body wasn’t that — say — fast, like at the beginning of the week,” Vesnina said. “But still, it’s not about that. It’s just about tennis, and somebody was just a little bit better today. And that’s why she won.”

Vesnina joked that had tournament director Bob Moran told her the winner would walk away as the proud new owner of an electric blue Volvo V60 Polestar, she might have played better.

But jokes aside, Vesnina still feels like she’s leaving Charleston on a high note, both mentally and physically, playing some of her best tennis.

“For me, actually this final is like a win I feel a little bit. I know that there’s only one winner and for us, for all the athletes, there’s only one place, No.1,” she said. “But here, today, I feel like I’m a winner … I’m just really happy about my run here. Let’s see how it’s going to be the rest of the year.”

Doubles winners

Frenchwomen Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic have decided to join forces for the 2016 Olympics, and if Sunday’s Volvo Car Open doubles finals is any indication of the future, the two could be a dominant duo in Rio.

Garcia and Mladenovic won the doubles championship after they defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova 6-2, 7-5 on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s not only about Olympics. It’s true that it’s a great coincidence that we are in 2016 and there’s Olympics coming up. But for me, there was no doubt of the quality player that Caroline is, and I guess it was just a matter of time,” Mladenovic said. “We never had before an opportunity to play together … I mean it was a great call and idea to join our forces together.”

Attendance

The attendance for Sunday’s final on a brisk Daniel Island afternoon came in at 7,478. The total attendance for the entire Volvo Car Open was 92,266 — up 6,090 from 2015.


(04/10/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: Sloane Stephens wins Volvo Car Open - and a Volvo
The look of shock on Sloane Stephens’ face when the electric blue Volvo V60 Polestar rolled on court Sunday at Volvo Car Stadium was priceless.

“You guys, I just got a car!” Stephens told the cheering crowd.

Stephens, ranked No. 25, won for the third time in 2016 and fourth time in her career on Sunday, taking out qualifier Elena Vesnina in the final of the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island by a score of 7-6 (4), 6-2. The No. 7 seed, Stephens cashed the winner’s check of $128,100 and got a surprise bonus -- a new car!

“Did you all know I was going to get a car?” Stephens asked reporters in the press room after her win. “Me neither. That was crazy.”

The pressure on young American stars such as Stephens can sometimes seem crazy. She was ranked as high as No. 11 in 2013, the same year she made the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. But that remains her best performance in a Grand Slam, and she did not win a WTA title until last year in Washington.

This year, before tax day, she’s won more than $290,000 and tournaments in Auckland, Acapulco and now Charleston, where she had been 1-5 in five previous main-draw appearances.

After celebrating her title Sunday by running through a gauntlet of high-fiving ballkids and posing on the hood of her new Volvo, Stephens was not interested in pondering her place in the game.

“I mean obviously I don’t think of it that way,” she said. “I just think, I’m playing tennis. I’m enjoying myself. I’m having fun.

“I mean I’m happy to be winning tournaments, and that’s all I can really think about, just trying to get better and every week try and go for another title.”

Vesnina, a 29-year-old Russian who had to win two qualifying matches just to get in the main draw, gave Stephens everything she could handle in a tense first set on a cool Sunday afternoon on Daniel Island.

Stephens powered out to a 5-2 lead over the 85th-ranked Vesnina, who was ranked as high as No. 21 before a shoulder injury at the 2014 U.S. Open. But Vesnina battled back, winning four straight games to serve for the set at 6-5.

Vesnina had a set point that she squandered on a backhand into the net. On Stephens’ fourth break point of the game, Vesnina’s slice forehand hit the top of the netcord, bounced high in the air and fell back on Vesnina’s side of the court. The crowd let loose a huge roar, and Stephens had forced a tiebreak at 6-6.

At 3-3 in the tiebreak, Stephens belted a forehand winner and went on to win the tiebreak, 7-4.

“I just thought to myself, I needed to be more aggressive and take my opportunities,” Stephens said. “I was playing really passive. And I had a bit of T. Rex arm syndrome, so I needed to just hit through the ball.”

Vesnina, playing her 10th match of the week (including doubles) seemed to hit the wall in the second set.

“Sloane was playing really solid,” said Vesnina, who also was runner-up here in 2011. “She was like a little bit better, one step faster, one step better. I mean she’s one of the best players on the defense, so when she’s sliding and getting all those balls, at some point I was just thinking, you know, she’s everywhere.”

In fact, Vesnina thinks Stephens is bound for bigger and better things.

“I felt that I lost to a player who can be back in top 10 this year,” Vesnina said. “I really think like that because Sloane, she has the potential for that.”


(04/09/16)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
HANAHAN 6, WOODLAND 0
Singles: Nash d. Miller 6-0, 6-0. Jones d. Macian-Cuba 6-1, 6-0. Upshaw d. Allen 6-0, 6-1. Ramey d. Collen 6-1, 6-1. Briggs d. Behick 6-0, 6-0.    Doubles: Vong/Miavez d. Hodges and his partner.

Records: Hanahan remains undefeated. Next: Hanahan plays Hilton Head for the region championship Thursday.

JAMES ISLAND 5, WEST ASHLEY 1
Singles: Healey d. Duarte 6-2, 6-1. Anastopoulo (WA) d. Bridges 6-4, 6-2. Sechrist d. Foster 6-2, 7-6 (7-5). Evans d. Richardson 6-1, 6-1. Alexander d. Cruz 6-2, 6-4.   Doubles: Eaddy/Jenkins d. Goss/Nicholson 6-0, 6-0.

Records: James Island 8-2 (6-0). Next: James Island at Academic Magnet today.

HILTON HEAD PREP 5, PORTER-GAUD 4
Singles: Ferreira d. Tolliver 6-2, 7-5. Fried d. Snyder 7-5, 7-6. Vingi (PG) d. Sturgis 6-3, 6-3. Lin d. Kammerer 7-5, 6-2. Craigie (PG) d. Pearce 6-1, 6-0. Harvin (PG) d. Marko 6-3, 6-0.    Doubles: Ferreira/Lin d. Tolliver/Kammerer 8-2. Sturgis/Fried d. Snyder/Vingi 8-5. Harvin/Craigie (PG) d. Pallen/Perex 8-1.

Next: Porter-Gaud at Wando today.

WANDO 5, STRATFORD 1
Singles: Browder d. Wong 6-1, 6-2. Bumgarner d. Hoffman 6-2, 6-1. Redden d. Sides 6-0, 6-4. Brahen d. Smith 6-4, 6-4. Yeung (S) d. Nguyen 7-5, 6-2.    Doubles: Nawabi/Shaw d. Crawford/Payne 6-0, 6-0.


(04/09/16)  Playing their best tennis, watch out for Vesnina
Sloane Stephens is playing the best tennis of her young life.

She hardly had to play at all on Saturday, though, to reach the final of the inaugural Volvo Car Open.

Slightly older in her tennis life at age 29, Elena Vesnina had to play much harder to reach her second singles final at Family Circle Tennis Center. Even at that, Vesnina very likely also could be playing the best tennis of her career. At least, that’s the way her game has looked through seven straight victories in the Volvo Open, including a pair in qualifying.

Vesnina looks like a slugger, a pure striker of the ball from both sides. Most of the time, that doesn’t work on clay against a pure clay-courter such as Sara Errani. But by the end on Saturday, Vesnina had taken away the will of her little Italian opponent.

The 29-year-old Russian simply outslugged Errani. That’s hard to do on clay against an opponent with so much nimbleness and touch in her game, but yet with consistently strong ground strokes. Errani seemed to lose heart when she lost a close game to fall behind 4-2 in the third set of a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 loss to Vesnina.

Meanwhile, Stephens’ 6-1, 3-0 advancement when ailing defending champion Angelique Kerber retired was hardly a matchup as Kerber put up a fight in only the game she won, the fifth game of the match.

But Stephens’ always explosive game has matured to the point where fans might not miss having a Serena or Venus Williams around for Sunday’s Volvo Open final.

A bit erratic earlier in her career, the 23-year-old American appears to have learned when to pull the trigger on her shots and when not to. She has so much “easy power” she doesn’t have to go for broke on every shot. She kind of floats around the court these days until an opening occurs.

Why not play that way again Sunday? Stephens already is 2-0 in finals this year.

A seeded player who has been regarded as her country’s next great player against an older qualifier ranked 85th in the world wouldn’t look like much of a match-up on paper.

But Vesnina is a fighter. She repeatedly demonstrated that trait against Errani, who may have been expecting the Russian to collapse in the manner of Moscow resident Yulia Putintseva on Friday night after a long tiebreaker first set.

Not Vesnina. She made her share of errors. But for every mistake, she pounded a dozen or two mighty forehands or backhands to Errani’s forehand corner.

For that reason, Vesnina cannot be overlooked. She has the game to put Stephens on the defensive and to keep her there. Don’t be surprised if Vesnina forces Stephens out of her comfort zone, and into over-hitting.

Vesnina didn’t get the title the first time in 2011 against Caroline Wozniacki, but don’t count her out of this one.

My pick: Vesnina.

CSU Faces Challenge

Charleston Southern (13-4, 7-2) faces a tough task in repeating as the Big South Conference women’s champions this spring. After winning regular-season and tournament titles in 2015, the Bucs tied Coastal Carolina in the regular-season standings behind co-winners Liberty and Winthrop.

“It will be a dog fight,” veteran CSU coach Mike Baker said, looking ahead to next weekend’s Big South tournament in Lynchburg, Va. “We are all close. We need to rest and we have to love the challenge.”

Charleston Southern will play Campbell next Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Big South tournament.

High Schools

Unbeaten Hanahan is gearing up for a big test on Wednesday at Summerville. The Chad Nash-led Hawks lead their AAA region while Summerville tops 8-AAAA.

In 7-AAAA, there’s a new face at the top of the standings: James Island. The Brendan Healey-led Trojans are 4-0 in a region that is usually dominated by Wando. And these two teams will square off Tuesday at Wando.

Coach John Eppelsheimer also is smiling about James Island’s brand new lighted six-court tennis complex at the school. “New courts are wonderful,” he said. “Lots of interest from the community to use them. Court space on James Island is very limited.”


(04/09/16)  GRAYCE RAYNOR: Agassi, Roddick, Blake and Fish thrill crowd at VCO
A row of tennis royalty lined center stage of the press room at Family Circle Tennis Center on Saturday, joking about balding and Charleston bars and memories — lots of them — over the years.

Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish were all noticeably loose — just happy to be together on Daniel Island for the PowerShares Series; happy to be competing in a low-pressure, more-fun environment for the fans.

“I love the opportunity to play against friends, as well as legends. These guys are one in the same in that regard,” the 36-year-old Blake said. “I really enjoy these matches because I think the fans get to see a little bit of our personality, as well. We’re having more fun out there. It’s not as businesslike as some of us were when we were playing on tour, on the main tour.”

Indeed the fans did get a glimpse of the group’s sense of humor, as Agassi and Fish matched up in the first one-set semifinal, followed by Roddick and Blake in the second. Agassi and Roddick met in the championship, which Roddick claimed 6-1.

At one point in his first match, Agassi delivered a crisp, cross-court backhand out of Fish’s reach, only to quip across the net, ‘You forgot about that, didn’t you?!’ as fans laughed heartily. Midway through Roddick’s set with Blake, Roddick paused for a moment to take a sip out of a spectator’s drink.

“On the golf cart over we were talking about how much we love Charleston,” Roddick said. “My wife and I always talk about if we were forced to move, this would be on the short list of places we would want to go.”

But while Saturday was mostly a lighthearted affair for those in attendance, the players included, for 79-year-old Leah Hughes from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., seeing Roddick play had a much deeper meaning.

“Mom just got out of the hospital and she wanted to see Andy play so badly,” said Hughes’ daughter, Rachel Johnson. “So we drove up from West Palm Beach, Fla., just for this so that she could see her favorite player. I mean heck, there’s more pictures of Andy Roddick in the house than there are of me.”

Leah was wrapped in a jacket and gloves another spectator had lended her, and she sat in a wheelchair while she cheered on Roddick. Through the entirety of the match, Rachel held up a lime green sign shaped in the form of a fan. On it, it said “Andy’s Super” to make it known that her mother was Roddick’s super fan.

All Rachel wants is for Leah to meet Roddick one day, and that’s why making the drive from Florida to South Carolina was fully worth it.

“I wrote his organization, I wrote everybody, called everybody to see if I could just get them to meet her,” Rachel said. “She’s not well, and I’d like her to meet Andy while she still can.”


(04/09/16) Sloane Stephens to face qualifier Elena Vesnina in Volvo Car Open final
Sloane Stephens has no illusions about how she’s played in Charleston up until this week.

“I’ve always played like garbage here,” said the WTA star, who had a 1-5 main-draw record in five previous visits to Daniel Island.

Stephens, the No. 7 seed, cruised into Sunday’s Volvo Car Open final when defending champion and world No. 2 Angelique Kerber was forced to retire from Saturday’s semifinal with a viral illness. The score was 6-1, 3-0, ret.

Stephens, ranked No. 25, will gun for her first Charleston title and third championship of the year at 1 p.m. Sunday against qualifier Elena Vesnina. Vesnina, ranked No. 85, became the first qualifier to make the finals in the 44 years of this tournament with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win over No. 5 seed Sara Errani.

Though she had to win two qualifying matches to reach the main draw, the 29-year-old Vesnina is no unproven rookie. She was once a top 25 player, has two WTA Tour titles to her credit and made the finals here in 2011, losing to then-No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

A shoulder injury suffered at the U.S. Open in 2014 set her back, but the newly married Vesnina is on the comeback trail, having won seven straight matches this week.

“It took a while for me to recover after that,” said Vesnina, who is from Russia. “I was struggling with confidence, I was losing some points, I was dropping in the ranking, I was not winning matches. And it was really difficult to come up. I’m really happy that I actually doing well now, and I’m not actually looking at my ranking that much. I’m just looking at my game. That’s, I think, the most important thing.”

A large crowd at Volvo Car Stadium on Saturday anticipated a heavyweight showdown between top-seed Kerber and Stephens, who had split two earlier matches in their careers. But on a cool, breezy afternoon, it was clear from the start that the 28-year-old Kerber was not at her best.

Kerber lost the first set by 6-1 and called for the trainer in the second set. She staggered through that game before hugging Stephens and telling her she could not continue. Stephens said she had no clue until the match started that Kerber was ill.

 “I just thought I’m going out to play a match,” Stephens said. “I just thought it was going to be a battle. And unfortunately she wasn’t feeling well. But I mean it’s understandable, it happens. I wish her well. I hope she gets better soon because I know they have Fed Cup coming up next week. That’s all you can really do in that sort of situation.”

Kerber’s victory here last year launched her to three more wins in 2015, and then to her first Grand Slam title, at the Australian Open in January. There, she defeated No. 1 Serena Williams in the final, pushing her own ranking to No. 2.

Kerber was tested in the second round here, with Lara Arruabarrena pushing her to three sets. But she won her next two matches by the same score (6-2, 6-3) and appeared in good shape to attempt a title defense this weekend.

But her body language was not good from the start on Saturday. She face-palmed after missing one forehand early, then shook her head after another errant shot. Early in the second set, trainers appeared to take her blood pressure and temperature.

“I am sad and disappointed because I love Charleston, and I always when I’m going on court trying to give my best,” Kerber said. “And for sure I wasn’t 100 percent today, like everybody (could see) this. I’m sad to retire and couldn’t give 100 percent today.”

Kerber said she did not feel right even in her warm-up.

“When I was warming up this morning, I felt a little bit like something is wrong,” she said. “But I was thinking that when I’m going on court, the energy will come back and I will feeling okay. And it starts in the first few games in the first set that I was feeling that, yeah, something is not good.”

For Stephens, the Volvo Car Open final continues a feast-or-famine year for the 23-year-old. She’s either won -- two titles in Acapulco and Auckland this year -- or gone out in her opening match (three times, including last week in Miami). She’s just glad to have finally figured out how to play on Daniel Island’s green clay.

“I think I just came in thinking, ‘I love this tournament; I have nothing to lose, and I’ve always played like garbage here,’” she said. “I need to just figure it out.

“I just tried to say to myself I don’t have anything to lose. I might as well just go have fun. I love Charleston. Why wouldn’t I want to be here until Sunday? So I think taking on that mindset has helped me because I’m going to be here on Sunday.”


(04/09/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: Volvo Car Open Notes: Sloane Stephens wants your shoes
Sloane Stephens has been doing more than playing tennis this week on Daniel Island.

Stephens, who will play for her first Charleston title on Sunday in the Volvo Car Open finals, also has been doing good work for the Soles4Souls program.

Soles4Souls collects new and used shoes for redistribution to those who need them, and Stephens makes it a point collect shoes at various WTA Tour stops.

The 23-year-old said she collected 47 pounds of shoes for Soles4Souls in Miami last week, and hopes to top that figure in Charleston, with the help of the Volvo Car Open’s Bob Moran and Eleanor Adams.

“Bob and Eleanor want to beat Miami, which I think we’re going to do,” she said. “So yeah, we’re going to beat 47 pounds, and it’s turned out really good. Bob and Eleanor, they’ve given a lot more tickets away than I think they thought they were going to. But it’s worked out really nice.”

Stephens posed for a photo with some of the shoes, which she described as “supes cute.”

History lesson

Elena Vesnina will be going for her third career singles title today against Sloane Stephens. She’s fully aware of what company she’d be in with a Volvo Car Open championship.

“It’s a big match for me,” she said. “It’s great to be in the final, especially in a great tournament like Charleston. So many great champions were here, playing many years. We have posters in the gym and the players’ lounge with like Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert. You’re just looking at them, and you know that this tournament, it means a lot for us.”

Angie’s Wish

Angelique Kerber was upset that she could not give the crowd her best effort in Saturday’s semfinal against Sloane Stephens. She was forced to retire with a viral illness. Spectators gave her a standing ovation after she had to stop playing.

“I’m like hoping that the final will be really great for the people and for the fans,” she said. “And let’s see who will join Sloane in the final, and yeah, I will just have fingers crossed that it will be a perfect final for you guys.”

Doubles final

The team of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic, both from France, defeated Germans Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Laura Sigemund in the doubles semifinals on Saturday, winning by 6-4, 6-3. They will face Bethanie-Mattek Sands and Lucie Safarova, 6-2, 3-6, (10-4) winners over Vania King and

Alla Kudryavtseva, in Sunday’s 10:30 a.m. doubles final.


(04/08/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: Defending champ Kerber retires against Stephens in Volvo Car Open
Defending champion and world No. 2 Angelique Kerber was forced to retire with a viral illness from her semifinal match against Sloane Stephens on Saturday at the Volvo Car Open.

Before a big crowd at Volvo Car Stadium, the top-seeded Kerber looked out of sorts from the start. She lost the first set by 6-1 and called for the trainer in the second set. Kerber finished out that game before hugging Stephens and telling her she could not continue.

Stephens, seeded seventh and ranked No. 25, made her first Volvo Car Open final with a score of 6-1, 3-0, ret. She’ll face either qualifier Elena Vesnina or fifth seed Sara Errani in Sunday’s final.

“I’m happy to be through to the final,” Stephens told the crowd after the match. “I’m sad it had to be this way, and I wish (Kerber) a nice recovery.”

Kerber’s victory here last year launched her to three more wins in 2015, and then to her first Grand Slam title, at the Australian Open in January. There, she defeated No. 1 Serena Williams in the final, pushing her own ranking to No. 2.

Kerber was tested in the second round here, with Lara Arruabarrena pushing her to three sets. But she won her next two matches by the same score (6-2, 6-3) and appeared in good shape to attempt a title defense this weekend.

But her body language was not good from the start on Saturday. She face-palmed after missing one forehand early, then shook her head after another errant shot. Early in the second set, trainers appeared to take her blood pressure and temperature.

Kerber went out to finish that game, but at the changeover gave Stephens a hug and said she had to retire.

For Stephens, the Volvo Car Open final continues a feast-or-famine year for the 23-year-old. She’s either won -- two titles in Acapulco and Auckland this year -- or gone out in her opening match (three times, including last week in Miami).


(04/08/16)  LIVE5NEWS:  Kerber, Stephens advance to Volvo Car Open semifinals
Top seed Angelique Kerber and the only American left in the field, Sloane Stephens, will meet in the semifinals of the Volvo Car Open on Saturday after picking up quarterfinal victories on Daniel Island on Friday.

Kerber had no trouble in her match against Irina-Camelia Begu winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-3. She's trying to become the 8th different woman to win in Charleston in back to back years.

"I think I'm getting used to the clay." Kerber said after the match. "Of course after Miami I didn't have too much time to get used to the clay court, so the first matches of course for me are like the toughest ones to get back on clay, and now I'm feeling like better and better. And it's great like, yeah, to play good tennis again on clay court."

Stephens was taken to the limit by Daria Kasatkina, fighting off a match point in the third set but holding on to win 6-1, 5-7, 7-5. A trip to the semifinals is a big lift for the American, who's struggled in this tournament in the past.

"For me this is obviously really great." Stephens said. "In six years here I've only won one match in the main draw, so for me this is awesome. And I'm playing well. I've had a good year so far, and it's only the beginning of the season. So I'm pleased with that."

On the other side of the bracket, Elena Vesnina has worked her way from qualifier to the semifinals after earning a 7-5, 6-4 win over Laura Siegemund. Vesnina, who hasn't lost a set this entire week, was a finalist in Charleston in 2011 falling to Caroline Wozniacki. She said coming into this week as a newlywed has been inspiring.

"Since I come here first time, I always had some really good results." Vesnina said. "Not as good as in 2011 when I was in the final.  But every time when I was coming here I was really enjoying my game.  And this year maybe it's a bit different because this time I'm playing in let's say -- I'm a Mrs., yeah?  I'm a Mrs. So it feels different. And maybe that gives me some power or some strength now to play and to compete and to win my matches."

She'll match up against the tournament 5th seed Sara Errani who also won in straight sets on Friday night beating Yulia Putintseva, 7-6, 6-1.

The semifinals will begin at 1pm on Saturday.


(04/08/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: Angelique Kerber, Sloane Stephens to face off in Volvo Car Open semis
Angelique Kerber has quickly made herself at home in the Lowcountry. It’s taken Sloane Stephens a bit longer to feel comfortable on the green clay of Daniel Island.

The two WTA Tour stars — Kerber, ranked No. 2 in the world and a Grand Slam champion, and Stephens, the perpetually promising American — will meet in Saturday’s semifinals of the Volvo Car Open after taking vastly different routes to get there on Friday.

Kerber, the top seed and defending champion here, cruised past Irina-Camelia Begu by 6-2, 6-3, for her eighth straight match victory at Volvo Car Stadium. Stephens, ranked No. 25, had to fight off a match point to survive Daria Kasatkina of Russia, 6-1, 5-7, 7-5.

Stephens, 23, and Kerber have met twice before, both times on the hard courts of Indian Wells. Kerber won in three sets in 2012, but Stephens took their match last year by 7-6, 6-2.

“Sloane is a great player, I know, and I’ve played against her a few times already,” Kerber said. “I will just try to go out against her and try to take the challenge, to play a good match.”

Stephens definitely recalls that first meeting.

“Oh, my God,” she said. “The first time I played her I was up 6-1, 5-0, I think, and I had like eight match points and I lost. Thanks for reminding me.

“She’s playing well. She’s obviously Grand Slam champion now, so it’s going to be difficult. But I’m looking forward to it, just looking forward to getting out there and competing, and I’m excited for that.”

Stephens also is excited to finally have some on-court success in Charleston, a city she loves to visit. But in five previous appearances on Daniel Island, Stephens had won only one of six main-draw matches.

“At the beginning of the week I was like, oh, my God. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Stephens, who already has won two WTA titles this year. “I was really nervous, because obviously coming into here I haven’t done well here. So I think I had more anxiety and nervousness about just being here.”

Stephens handled the nervy moments well against Kasatkina, who is seeded No. 14 and ranked No. 35. Stephens raced through the first set, but Kasatkina won the second and took a 5-4 lead in the third.

Stephens took over from there, winning the final three games and the final eight points to clinch the victory in two hours and 24 minutes.

“I knew what I had to do,” Stephens said. “I needed to step inside the court and be a little more aggressive. I think I started doing that towards the end of the second set, and then when it came down to it, I was able to just kind of hit my way through.”

Kerber, on the other hand, needed just 72 minutes for her win over Begu, who did not even manage a break point.

“I think I’m getting used to the clay,” Kerber said. “After Miami, I didn’t have too much time to get used to the clay, so the first matches on clay for me are the toughest. Now, I’m feeling better and better.”

Kerber’s victory here last year catapulted her to three more WTA singles titles in 2015 and her first Grand Slam championship, at the Australian Open, in January. She beat world No. 1 Serena Williams there.

“It helps me a lot because I have great memories here,” said Kerber, the top seed. “The people are so nice, and the feeling of being back here at the tournament that was so important for me last year, to coming back on track actually. It’s just a great feeling.”


(04/08/16)  ABC NEWS 4: Businesses seeing green with Volvo Car Open
The Volvo Car Open is the hottest ticket in Charleston right now, and businesses are reaping the rewards of the weeklong tournament.

Volvo Car Open is the largest and longest-running women-only tournament in professional tennis. The tournament brings the best professional women's tennis players to the Lowcountry, and with it comes lots of money.

Nearly 100,000 people flock to Daniel Island to watch the game and businesses are seeing lots of green.

To say the game is good for business is an understatement. In recent years it's pumped more than $25 million into the Charleston economy.

The matches are broadcast domestically on ESPN2, and is viewed internationally in more than 165 countries. It features more than 100 hours of live broadcast and more than 3,000 hours of delayed global broadcast, reaching more than 10 million viewers worldwide.

Several Daniel Island business owners said they bring in extra staff for the week to accommodate the influx of people. Lines are long but business is good.

The tournament wraps up Sunday.


(04/08/16) GENE SAPAKOFF:  Busy James Blake ready for ‘a good show’ with Agassi, Roddick, Fish
James Blake is delighted to take part in a PowerShares Series of mini-matches that includes old ATP tour pals Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish on Saturday night at Volvo Car Stadium. But it won’t be the first time the former Harvard student has made a tennis impact on Daniel Island.

A 2013 phone call from Blake helped Bishop England sophomore Jared Pratt get through a two-year battle to recover from back surgery. Both struggled with scoliosis — curvature of the spine — that got in the way of high-level youth tennis pursuits.

Bishop England sophomore Jared Pratt received encouragement from James Blake after undergoing back surgery. (File/James Beck)
Enlarge Bishop England sophomore Jared Pratt received encouragement from James Blake after undergoing back surgery. (File/James Beck)
“It was a lot of lying in bed for a lot of months,” Pratt said, “and then slowly working my way back into it.”

Blake didn’t need surgery but, having been diagnosed with scoliosis at 13, he wore a back brace 18 hours a day until he went to college.

“When my friends hear about a kid with scoliosis or anything relating to that, they think of me and think that maybe my experience can help,” Blake said. “I was happy to do it and hopefully it made a difference.”

Pratt’s reaction to the pep talk: “It was cool. He seemed very down to earth. I had a slight idea he might call but it was pretty much a surprise.”

Pratt has bounced back to “100 percent,” and has the rankings to prove it: No. 1 in South Carolina for boys 16, No. 3 in the South.

Blake, 36, won’t be worried about rankings Saturday night but he is ready for PowerShares singles competition with Agassi, Roddick and Fish in the one-set semifinals and one-set championship match format.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Blake, who will play Friday with Agassi, Fish and John McEnroe at a PowerShares event in Chicago. “The environment is perfect: You get three matches and you get to see four of your favorite players.”

Agassi reached No. 1 in the world and won eight Grand Slam singles titles from 1992 to 2003.

Roddick was No. 1 and won the 2003 U.S. Open.

Blake won 10 ATP titles during a pro career that went from 1999 to 2013. He reached No. 4.

Fish got to No. 7.

Roddick and Fish played together on the 2004 U.S. Davis Cup team that defeated Belarus on Daniel Island.

When not playing tennis, Blake is multi-tasking more than most of the other married dads with two kids in his San Diego neighborhood.

Blake’s foundation, inspired by his late father, primarily aims to fund early detection cancer research. Blake ran the New York City Marathon last November to raise awareness and money, and finished his first 26.2-mile run in a very respectable 3 hours, 51 minutes.

Last month, Blake took part in an Easter Egg Roll activity program for children at the White House. He met President Obama for the first time.

“That was amazing,” Blake said. “He is truly an inspiration for so many and an inspiration for me. I voted for him twice and I was proud to meet him. He told me he thought I handled the situation in New York well.”

Blake hasn’t reached a resolution with New York City regarding a September, 2015, incident in which the mild-mannered tennis star was slammed to the sidewalk and handcuffed outside Manhattan’s Grand Hyatt Hotel by a police officer who mistook him for an identity-theft suspect.

“There are a lot of situations where there is an unsympathetic victim,” Blake said. “A lot of times, people don’t believe someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time or that someone wasn’t doing anything wrong. A lot of people are, well, they’re cynics. If that happened to me inside a liquor store at 2 a.m., people might have said, ‘What was he doing in that neighborhood?’ or something like that.

“But, for me, when it was noon in the middle of Manhattan and you’re on your way to a U.S. Open appearance, it was pretty tough to be an unsympathetic victim; I wasn’t up to no good. But I was happy to give a voice to people who don’t usually have a voice. Because there are so many good cops, we need to hold the bad ones accountable.”


(04/07/16)  WTA: TBT: Schnyder Slides Through Charleston
A decade after last reaching the Volvo Car Open final, former World No.7 Patty Schnyder's surprising comeback returned to Charleston.

Charleston loves Patty Schnyder and Patty Schnyder loves Charleston. It was 10 years ago that the former Swiss No.1 made her second final in Charleston in 2006. Seeded No.3, Schnyder put together an inspired run that included a though three set win over top seed Justine Henin before losing to No.2 seed Nadia Petrova 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. The run came four years after her first romp to the final, where she beat Amelie Mauresmo, Mary Pierce, Serena Williams, and Jennifer Capriati before losing to Iva Majoli in the final.

Those seed-thrashing runs like endeared Schnyder to the Charleston crowd. The Swiss reached a career-high No.7 and won 11 titles in her career before hanging up her racquet after the 2011 French Open. Then came the announcement last year that she was embarking on a tentative comeback, entering a $25K ITF tournament in Darmstadt, Germany in July.

Schnyder remained on the ITF circuit until this week. Now 37 years old and ranked No.455, Schnyder returned to Daniel Island for the first time since 2011 after receiving a wildcard into qualifying at the Volvo Car Open. She lost in three sets to Samantha Crawford, but her return was more about relationships than results. She came back to see all the familiar faces who she befriended over her many visits to Charleston, from volunteers, to tournament staff, and of course tournament director Bob Moran.

"Patty Schnyder has been playing in our tournament since before we relocated from Hilton Head Island," Moran said. "She's a part of our family, and we are thrilled to welcome her back to our tournament."

WTA Insider spoke to Schnyder by phone this week.

WTA Insider: You have such a long-standing relationship with this tournament in Charleston. What has it been like coming back?

Schnyder: It's very special, and it was just great. Getting to see people again after five years and so many volunteers, even Eleanor Adams, the tournament manager. We're really close and spent so many years together, but it's been emotional and lots of fun to be around them again.

WTA Insider: Why did you make the decision to retire back in 2011?

Schnyder: Everything was frustrating me and I was stressed too much. You need a switch. It was really frustration; I didn't want to be around anything anymore. I didn't want to travel, be on the court, compete. The stress made it all enough. It's not that it was an easy decision but I just couldn't handle it anymore.

WTA Insider: What brought you back to tennis?
Schnyder: I was kind of having fun playing matches [in the Swiss league], enjoying the competition. I was also working hard and I was on court again, so I thought - because I was winning those league matches and I wanted to try to get some real competition. So that was the thought, and I was having fun, and I was in the sport but not traveling, and I just love to travel. It's a great combination and that's always been the lifestyle I like, so why not try it?

WTA Insider: Your last tour-level tournament before this week was the 2011 French Open. What did you do during your time away from the sport?

Schnyder: I really wanted to be away from tennis. I didn't play for one and a half years. I really needed a rest from everything.

I did some studying with animals. I was an acupuncturist for dogs. I was spending more time at home with that. Then, I started being in tennis, with some juniors again. I was coaching a bit, and I started to really enjoy being around tennis again. Those are some of the things I was doing until they wanted me back for the club team and I was hesitant. I wasn't sure, but it was nice to be competing again.

WTA Insider: Are you in a position to be thinking about goals right now?
Schnyder: No, not yet. Maybe now, I'm thinking more about goals but not really setting goals. Now, these thoughts are coming back of maybe setting something, but so far I was just trying to get my game back. It hasn't been so easy to get the concentration back.

For so many years I wasn't on the court and to have to focus and concentrate for over two hours is not easy and I'm realizing that's one of the hardest parts. I also have a few injuries. Nothing bad; some players who play 15 years like me wake up with pain everywhere. I'm not like that, but I have a few injuries, which keep me off the court and from working out.

The whole thing is really about being healthy, getting the concentration and the mental stuff, but it's fun to try to get it back at this stage of your life. It's a challenge and I just like it.

Patty Schnyder



(04/07/16)  JEFF HARTSELL:  Angelique Kerber wins, Venus Williams loses at Volvo Car Open
Angelique Kerber is starting to get that feeling again. And that could lead to some bad feelings for the rest of the field at the Volvo Car Open.

Kerber, the defending champion here, struggled to a three-set victory in her first match on Tuesday night, dealing with the transition from hard courts to green clay, and from the heat of Miami to a chilly night at Volvo Car Stadium on Daniel Island.

On a warm and breezy Thursday afternoon, the top-seeded Kerber looked much more comfortable, rolling to a 6-2, 6-3 win over qualifier Kristina Kucova. That put Kerber into the quarterfinals, one step closer to becoming the first player to win this tournament in consecutive years since Serena Williams in 2012 and 2013.

Kerber and No. 7 seed Sloane Stephens avoided the string of upsets that left just three of the top 10 seeds — and one of five former champions — still in the field. Former winners Venus Williams and Samantha Stosur were among those who hit the exits Thursday, while Stephens beat No. 12 Daria Gavrilova in straight sets.

“I think the feeling is coming back like I had last year,” said Kerber, who is ranked No. 2 behind only Serena Williams. “Right now, I’m feeling much better on clay again, moving like, yeah, it feels better. And when I hit the ball, I’m feeling the ball, I’m feeling the court.”

Kerber, 28 and from Germany, also is feeling the love from fans at Volvo Car Stadium. Her first Grand Slam title, at the Australian Open this year, has dramatically raised her profile. Beating Serena in the final there didn’t hurt, either.

“When I walk in here, of course the people recognize me much more than last year,” she said. “But it feels good. I mean, I’m enjoying it, and the people are so nice here. I’m feeling like really I’m welcome at home, so it’s great.”

Kerber has been able to maintain focus as other top players in the draw crash out. Third-seeded Venus Williams and No. 10 Stosur went out Thursday, a day after top 10 seeds Belinda Bencic, Lucie Safarova, Andrea Petkovic and Madison Keys were beaten, along with former Charleston winner Sabine Lisicki.

The 35-year-old Venus, ranked No. 14, battled 21-year-old Yulia Putintseva for three hours before the younger player won, 7-6, 2-6, 6-4.

Venus received a standing ovation from the crowd when the match was over. But the seven-time Grand Slam champ spent less than a minute in the press room to discuss her loss.

“She played really well, you know, and I think sometimes it just comes down to luck,” said Venus, who won this tournament in 2004. “You just don’t get any luck. And there’s no easy matches, and I tried to continue to play aggressive, but just wasn’t in the cards today.”

Williams did not serve as well as she did during her opening win against American Allison Riske, firing just two aces and hitting just 50 percent of her first serves. That allowed Putintseva to piled up 17 break points, and she converted 11.

After forcing a third set, Venus went down 4-2 before battling back to 4-4. Putintseva, from Kazakhstan, closed the match out from there.

“You know, I just tried and she always seemed to have an answer,” Venus said. “And, you know, a lot of shots were just too tough. So what can you do?”

Stosur, the 2010 champion, fell by 6-4, 7-6 to No. 5 seed Sara Errani of Italy, now the top threat to Kerber. They would meet in the finals, but Errani is not thinking that far ahead.

“No, I’m just thinking about the next match,” said Errani, who is ranked No. 20 and is seeking her 10th career singles title. “I know it’s really difficult to win matches. Now I have to play against a really good player (Putintseva), who today beat Venus and is playing great on clay.”

For her part, Stosur is sad to leave Charleston so soon. She ate at FIG (twice), Hall’s Chophouse and High Cotton during her stay.

“I’m always disappointed when I have to go,” said Stosur, who is off to her native Australia to play Fed Cup against the U.S. next week. “Especially when there are two days left of the tournament where I wish I was playing.”

Kerber will try to ignore the chaos in the draw.

“I am just thinking about my next opponent, and that’s it,” said Kerber, who will face either Irina-Camelia Begu or Monica Puig in the quarters. “It’s not like I’m looking at the draws every night, looking who is in, who is out. Sometimes you know when good players are out. But at the end, I’m just trying to play day by day and trying to improve my tennis, especially now on clay.”

Also Thursday, No. 14 seed Daria Kasatkina moved on with a 6-0, 6-4 win over American qualifier Louisa Chirico. Newly married qualifier Elena Vesnina of Russia defeated Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino, 6-1, 6-3. German Laura Siegemund, who took out No. 8 seed Madison Keys, earned her quarterfinal spot with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.


(04/07/16)  JEFF HARTSELL:  Volvo Car Open notes: Around the world with Samantha Stosur
Samantha Stosur will have a demanding travel schedule when her run in the Volvo Car Open ends.

The 2010 winner here will jet home to Australia for next week’s Fed Cup competition with the U.S. in Brisbane. Then it’s off to Europe for the heart of the clay court season, culminating with the French Open in Paris.

“It’s not ideal, that’s for sure,” said Stosur. “I certainly wouldn’t be going back to Australia next week if it wasn’t for Fed Cup. But look, that’s the draw that came. And now that I’m going back, I’m looking forward to going home — well, home for like two days, and then the rest of the time will be at Fed Cup.

“But I can see my family there and some friends. So even though it’s going to be a quick trip, it’s going to be a lot of fun and worthwhile.”

Speaking of Fed Cup, Russian-born Daria Gavrilva, seeded 12th here and ranked No. 37, has been cleared to compete for Australia.

On the U.S. team are Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe, Christina McHale and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Pay gap

American player Bethanie Mattek-Sands has been active on the WTA Tour’s player council and is involved in the pay-gap issue between men’s and women’s players that has reignited in recent weeks.

“It’s a hot topic right now, but it’s never really gone away from our conversations when we’ve talked with the WTA about it,” she said. “If you take someone, a guy that’s 15 in the world in singles and a girl that’s 15 in the world in singles, they’re still not making the same. So it’s not technically equal.

“It’s equal at eight tournaments a year. I think the men still have a lot more opportunities to play. They have more tournaments per week. So I think there’s a lot of things that we have constantly been working on; whether it’s a hot topic in the media or not.”

Mattek-Sands thinks the gap can be closed.

“You know what, I’ll say yeah. You know, nothing is impossible. I’m kind of one of those people that thinks anything is possible. I mean really, like you put your nose down to the ground and figure some things out. I think it is.”
Surprising Schnyder

WTA veteran Patty Schnyder made a comeback on Daniel Island this week, returning to competitive play after retiring in 2011. The 37-year-old Schnyder, now a mom, lost in qualifying last weekend but made an impression on Stosur.

“I just saw here hitting out there,” Stosur said this week. “She looks exactly the same as what she did when she was playing.”

Schnyder became a fan favorite in Charleston, playing this tournament 15 times and making the finals twice. Stosur said she was scrolling through the rankings recently and saw Schnyder’s name.

“I thought, ‘Okay, is that THE Patty Schnyder?’” Stosur said. “And then we saw her in the clubhouse a couple of days later. To have her back out here is really exciting. She was a tricky opponent, the lefty with the spin. She still slides great on these courts, and was never easy to play.”
TV Time

ESPN2 will televise Friday’s quarterfinals from 1-2:30 p.m.; Saturday’s semifinals from 1-3 p.m.; and Sunday’s final match from 1-3 p.m.
Attendance Watch

Crowds of 7,005 for Wednesday’s session and 5,450 for the night matches brought the week’s total to 42,797 at the Volvo Car Open. That’s an average of 6,114 for seven sessions thus far. Last year’s tournament averaged 6,629 per session. The 2011 tournament, which drew a record 94,241 spectators, averaged 6,731 fans for 14 sessions.


(04/07/16)  Charleston Regional Business Journal: Lucrative incentives helped lure Volvo to Lowcountry
To recruit Volvo Car USA, South Carolina promised a three-year sponsorship and naming rights to the Family Circle Cup, up to $400,000 for temporary office space, up to $40,000 for a brand store in downtown Charleston and a 12-month product display at Charleston International Airport, according to documents obtained from the state Commerce Department.

A combination of state and privately funded incentives, including sponsorship of the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament and temporary office space, organized by Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt and Gov. Nikki Haley helped secure Volvo's planned manufacturing facility near Ridgeville, according to state documents obtained by the Charleston Regional Business Journal. (Photo/File)A combination of state and privately funded incentives, including sponsorship of the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament and temporary office space, organized by Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt and Gov. Nikki Haley helped secure Volvo's planned manufacturing facility near Ridgeville, according to state documents obtained by the Charleston Regional Business Journal. (Photo/File)

Fundraising is ongoing to pay for the automaker’s tennis tournament sponsorship. Efforts include a four-day, private event within a tent on tournament grounds that is paid for by area companies’ sponsorships. Officials did not disclose how much money needed to be raised to cover costs of the Volvo Car Open. The tournament started Saturday and runs through Sunday.


Those perks are in addition to about $200 million in state-provided incentives designated mostly for infrastructure projects, including site prep and a new interchange on Interstate 26 to serve the Volvo plant.

The Charleston Regional Business Journal obtained the Volvo incentives package and recruitment documents through a Freedom of Information Act request. Volvo is referred to as “Project Soter” in the documents — the original code name for the project before it became public.

The combined incentives were used to entice the Sweden-based automaker to choose Berkeley County for its future U.S. manufacturing site amid intense competition among other contenders, including Georgia.

A letter sent by Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt on May 28 to a Volvo executive — whose name was blacked out in the documents — outlined the extra incentives, such as the sponsorship, which were not included in the initial offer letter to the company.


Those additional incentives were originally discussed at an April 29 meeting in New York City, during which state officials made their final presentation to Volvo executives.

Less than two weeks later, Volvo chose South Carolina for its plant.

Volvo has promised to invest $600 million and create at least 2,000 jobs in the Lowcountry; the car plant is expected to bring additional suppliers and have a ripple effect on the region’s economy. Volvo’s first S60 sedan is anticipated to roll off production lines in late 2018 at the Berkeley County site — the only facility in the world to produce the new model. The automotive campus is currently under construction in the Camp Hall Commerce Park near Ridgeville.

Company leaders have cited various reasons for putting down roots in South Carolina, including the site’s proximity to the Port of Charleston, the airport and the interstate; a skilled workforce and state-run training program; a large tract of land on which it can build; collaboration among state agencies; and the success of other mega manufacturers in the state.

Incentives also played a role. Most of the non-infrastructure incentives were not funded by the state; rather, they were paid for by Lowcountry agencies working in conjunction with Commerce officials, Hitt said.

The state will spend tax dollars on projects — via incentives approved by the S.C. Coordinating Council for Economic Development — if the projects provide infrastructure for the surrounding area that might bring in future jobs or companies.

Regarding the other incentives, Hitt said it is typical for Commerce to work with businesses and agencies in the respective communities to fund some additional perks to persuade a company to locate in South Carolina — such as the brand store or tennis tournament sponsorship offered to Volvo.

“This is the largest rural project that we’ve ever encountered as a state. It is going into an area where there have never been these types of jobs before, which are expected to reach out to half a dozen counties and stretch beyond I-95,” Hitt said. “It will be a remarkable project in part of the state that often doesn’t get the chance to have something with this much impact.”

Additional incentives breakdown:

Volvo Car Open — The sponsorship

In a May 8 letter, Duane Parrish, the director of the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, offered Volvo a three-year title sponsorship of the largest women-only tournament in professional tennis, now known as the Volvo Car Open.

The tournament has been played on Daniel Island since moving from Hilton Head Island in 2001. It has seen past champions such as Serena and Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Justine Henin and Chris Evert.

The sponsorship includes national TV advertising during the tournament, naming rights to the stadium, signage around the tournament and the opportunity to have vehicle displays and test drives for attendees, documents show. Hospitality venues and box seats are also available to the sponsor for entertaining clients and staff during the tournament.

The value of the tournament sponsorship was not disclosed by fundraisers, Commerce officials or tournament organizers.

The tournament averages 90,000 attendees each year and reaches more than 10 million TV viewers worldwide, according to a news release announcing the sponsorship change.

Family Circle magazine was the sponsor of the Family Circle Cup since its beginning in 1973, making it the longest-running title sponsor in professional tennis. The magazine did not return requests for comment by press time. The tournament will continue to be owned and operated by Charleston Tennis LLC, a subsidiary of Meredith Corp., the Des Moines, Iowa-based national media group that publishes Family Circle magazine.

Lex Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Car USA, said in a statement that the sponsorship “is an ideal way for us to leverage our presence in the community.”

Volvo Car Open — Fundraising

Fundraising for the sponsorship is ongoing.

Companies and agencies across the state are being asked to pay anywhere from $3,000 to at least $50,000 to fund The Palmetto Club, which Hitt said is essentially “an event inside of an event” at the Volvo Car Open.

The Palmetto Club will be inside a 3,600-square-foot, private tent that will be on site at the tournament from today through Sunday. Attendees will have access to food and drinks, an outdoor lounge area large enough for 100 people, parking and entertainment. It is designed to bring business leaders, site consultants and Volvo executives under one roof.

The profit from that four-day event will be used to cover the event itself, as well as Volvo’s sponsorship this year, according to Darin MacDonald, who was hired in August to sell the sponsorships. He began selling late last year, after the event concept was designed.

Mostly $10,000, $25,000 or $50,000 sponsorships are being sought, said MacDonald, the events vice president for Love Golf Management, an event planning company.

MacDonald said the concept is to create “a social setting were business could be discussed, but at the same time, it would be a very relaxed atmosphere with access to the tournament and other activities” such as harbor cruises, live music at the tournament or tickets to watch matches. He expects around 125 attendees at the event each day.

Hitt declined to share how much money has been raised for The Palmetto Club event — and therefore for the tournament sponsorship — nor how much needs to be raised to cover the sponsorship. He said no taxpayer dollars or incentive funds are used for the sponsorship.

“We have worked with companies in the private sector to help us offset that cost,” Hitt said. “That effort has been ongoing for many, many months.”

MacDonald worked with Hitt, formerly of BMW Manufacturing Co., to create the BMW Charity Pro-Am celebrity golf tournament in Greenville in 2001. Now in its 15th year, that tournament raises money for area nonprofits, showcases BMW’s impact in the Upstate and brings money into the region each year. MacDonald said both The Palmetto Club and tournament sponsorship will similarly bring money into the Lowcountry and support Volvo’s growth in the region.

Those who have sponsored the event thus far “see the vision,” he said, and those who declined for this year have said that requests came too late because annual budgets were already finished.

MacDonald, who has talked with more than 100 companies so far, expects the first year to be small, similar to the BMW Pro-Am’s start, and then grow as Volvo’s presence increases in the Lowcountry. The fundraising process will repeat for the next two years of Volvo’s three-year sponsorship deal.

“The money that I’m really focusing on is the money to pay the sponsorship,” MacDonald said, referring to the naming rights of the tennis tournament but declining to provide a price tag. “That’s the commitment that’s out there.”

Volvo’s downtown Charleston brand store

The Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau offered to identify and secure a location on King Street for Volvo to open a brand store and to pay the lease for six months — up to a maximum of $40,000 — documents show.

Visitors bureau CEO Helen Hill said in an email that Volvo has not moved forward on the store concept or location yet, noting that officials want to further study the Charleston market and region before opening a store. The bureau did not comment on where the funding for the lease payments would come from.

“This presence will provide an unparalleled means of introducing our visitors and residents to Project Soter’s products,” Hill said in a March 26, 2015, letter to the Commerce Department that was used to pitch to Volvo.

Hitt said the brand store will help connect visitors and residents to Volvo’s products, similar to Michelin’s store along Main Street in downtown Greenville, which was open from 2007 until last year.

Volvo’s temporary office space

Volvo was given two options for temporary office space while its automotive campus is under construction for the next few years, according to a lease proposal sent to Commerce by Colliers International – Charleston on April 22.

Volvo chose a nearly 16,000-square-foot space at the S.C. Research Authority’s new building at Nexton, a mixed-use development in Summerville, rather than a North Charleston site. SCRA is Volvo’s landlord, the lease shows.

The state offered to pay $400,000 to offset the company’s costs of upfitting the chosen space. The funding comes from a $20 million contingency fund that was presented to Volvo at the April 2015 meeting in New York; Volvo may allocate that funding to other priorities as needed, documents show.

“We try to spend our money on infrastructure that will last. When Volvo pulls out, we will have an improved property, and the improvement stays with the building for future users,” Hitt said, which he said is why this incentive can be funded with state money.

According to the lease, Volvo occupies much of the third floor of the SCRA Applied Research Center at 315 Sigma Drive off exit 199 along Interstate 26. Offices were fully built out and furnished at no cost to Volvo. Rent for the first year of the three-year lease is paid for as well, Commerce spokeswoman Adrienne Fairwell said in an email.

Volvo’s airport display

The Charleston County Aviation Authority, which owns and operates Charleston International Airport, offered to build a display platform for Volvo to showcase its products at the airport for one year, documents show.

The display is not expected to cost the airport anything, airport spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells said in an email, declining to elaborate further.

The airport plans to finish its $200 million terminal redevelopment project this summer, and airport officials want construction completed before a display location is determined. One option is between the baggage claim and rental car pavilions, Gunnells said. A rendering in the state documents shows a Volvo car displayed on a platform underneath the sky dome in the center of the airport.

“A key design aspect of the renovation is to showcase companies with a local presence, including many well-known Charleston and South Carolina brands,” Airports Director Paul Campbell Jr., also a state senator, wrote in a May 7 letter to Commerce. “If Project Soter were to join our community, we would be proud to feature a prominent company display in our airport.”


(04/06/16)  LIVE5NEWS:  Venus advances; Bencic, Petkovic among upsets at Volvo Car Open
Four top 10 seeds and two former champions were among those eliminated from play at the Volvo Car Open on Wednesday while former champions Venus Williams and Sam Stosur advanced in straight sets.

Williams had no problems picking up a straight sets win over fellow American Alison Riske.

"I think today I was aggressive, which is important for my game, even on clay." Williams said. "You still want to dictate the points.  You don't want to just loop it back and hope for the best.  And a lot of high first-serve percentage was very helpful today.  Just trying to do the things that I do and try to do those well with a minimal amount of errors is always super helpful for me."

Venus advances to the 3rd round where she'll face Yulia Putintseva who eliminated 2009 Family Circle Cup champion Sabine Lisicki in 3 sets on Wednesday.

Stosur, the 2010 champion, picked up a straight sets win over Jana Cepelova, 6-4, 7-5. She'll play the tournament's 5th seed Sara Errani on Thursday.

Among the big upsets on Wednesday, 2nd seed Belinda Bencic, 4th seed Lucie Safarova and 6th seed and 2014 champion Andrea Petkovic.

Bencic was made quick work of by qualifier Elena Vesnina, 6-1, 6-1 while Safarova was taken out by wild card Louisa Chirico in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3.

Petkovic, a crowd favorite since her win 2 years ago, was in control of her match against Puerto Rico's Monica Puig up 5-2 in the 1st set. But Puig would go on to win 11 of the next 13 games and stun Petkovic 7-5, 6-2.

"Well, I think I was playing really well." Puig said. "Even though I was down, I missed a couple of easy shots, I thought, some short balls; and sometimes you're playing well and you just miss those shots. So I just had to adjust my game a little bit, just keep believing that I could hit the same way and eventually they were going to go in.  So didn't really change anything there.  Just try and kept a positive mentality throughout."

Action continues on Thursday with top seed Angelique Kerber playing on Stadium Court at 11 am.


(04/06/16)  LIVE5NEWS:  Volvo Car Open unveils new feature to interact with fans
Thousands of tennis fans are flocking to Daniel Island for the Volvo Car Open. The tournament has added new features to make the experience for fans more interactive, with the help from a local company.

Will Jamieson, works for Stre.am, a local company that's created a live video platform. For the first time, The Volvo Car Open tournament is using it to live stream many of the matches.

"It's bringing fans who are on the outer courts a little bit of a better experience," said Bob Moran, tournament coordinator.

Stre.am has set up Android phones above many of the Volvo Car Open outer and practice courts.

"You can see the courts you want to see, the people you want to see play, it's fantastic," said , Diana Cignavitch, tennis player.

Users can watch the live video from the Stre.am website or by downloading their free app.

"For women sports, I don't think they get a lot of media coverage, co this keeps people in the loop," said Triah Richards, tennis fan.

While you watching their favorite players, users can chat with other fans in, real time.

"It's a great way to hear people's viewpoint you get to see comments and fun things that people thing," said Cignavitch.

Moran says the feature has been well received by fans so far this tournament.

"Fans are absolutely loving it and we're able to see that engagement on Twitter," said Jamieson. "Some of the players have even tweeted about it saying 'thanks Volvo Car Open, as well as Str.eam, for giving fans a more complete viewing experience'."

Volvo Car Open coordinators hopes that Stre.am can help them not only enhance the fans they've got at the tournament this year, but engage a new audience of tennis fans who are tuning in.

So far, more than 25,000 people have watched the live video stream of the tournament.


(04/06/16)  ANDREW MILLER:  Upsets dominate third round at VCO
Married life seems to agree with Elena Vesnina.

It certainly has seemed to enhance her singles play of late.

Vesnina and Pavel Tabuntsov were married back in November and the 29-year-old Russian has played some of her best singles ever since they tied the knot.

Vesnina overwhelmed second-seed Belinda Bencic, 6-1, 6-1 Tuesday at the Volvo Car Open.

Meanwhile, on a day when upsets were the rule rather than the exception, Monica Puig ousted sixth-seed and 2014 VCO champion Andrea Petkovic, 7-5, 6-2.

Vesnina has been known for most of her career as a top-flight doubles player, winning 12 times on the WTA Tour, including a U.S. Open title in 2014.

But her singles play has picked up of late. Vesnina advanced to the quarterfinals at Doha last month and won two matches last week in Miami, including a win over Venus Williams.

Beating Bencic, who was the No. 10 ranked player in the world entering this week, only gives Vesnina more confidence in her singles play.

“Pavel gets very nervous when he’s watching me play, but I like it when he can make a tournament,” Vesnina said. “He’s not here this week, but he was watching on television. I think maybe I’m playing better in singles because I feel settled off the court. Getting married is very important for any woman, me included.”

Bencic, who has been bothered by a sore back, appeared to slow down considerably in the second set.

“Elena is always dangerous no matter how fit she is,” Vesnina said. “In the first set we had some really close games and she was moving very well. We had some long rallies and some really tricky points. I thought I was playing a little bit faster than her and a little more consistent at the beginning of the second set. At the end of the second set you could tell she wasn’t moving as well.”

Vesnina said Charleston remains one of her favorites stops on the tour.

“I love coming here every year and I have friends that live in town,” Vesnina said. “It feels like a second home to me. The fans have always been amazing to me here.”

Puig, who is ranked No. 62 in the world coming into the tournament, found herself down 5-3 in the opening set against Petkovic and then proceeded to capture 10 of the next 13 games.

“Even when I got down, I felt like I was playing really well,” Puig said. “I missed a couple of easy shots, I thought, some short balls; and sometimes you’re playing well and you just miss those shots.

“So I just had to adjust my game a little bit, just keep believing that I could hit the same way and eventually they were going to go in.”

Petkovic has become a fan favorite at the tournament, winning in 2014 and with her father’s ties to the state. Zoran Petkovic was a top singles player at the University of South Carolina in the early 1980s. Andrea wore a Gamecocks sweatshirt when she won the title in 2014.

“I definitely had to be on my toes, knowing that she is a fan favorite as well because she won here in 2014,” Puig said. “It’s something that you have to be conscious about because the crowd is going to want to back her a little bit more.”


(04/06/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: Venus Williams dominates in Volvo Car Open
Venus Williams plans nothing less than “worldwide domination” with her clothing line, called “EleVen.”

“Oh yes, we have big plans,” the WTA Tour star said Wednesday.

The runways may have to wait, however, as the elder Williams sister shows few signs of wearing down on the tennis court. Venus was impressive in winning her opening match at the Volvo Car Open, taking a brisk 6-4, 6-2 win over fellow American Alison Riske.

The seven-time Grand Slam champ, at 35 the oldest player in the tournament on Daniel Island, avoided the run of upsets and injury that befell some of the Volvo Car Open’s biggest names Wednesday.

No. 2 seed Belinda Bencic, ranked No. 10 in the world, went out in straight sets, and fellow seeds Lucie Safarova, Madison Keys and Sabine Lisicki (the 2009 winner here) also were dismissed. Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard was forced to retire in the third set of her match with an abdominal injury.

No. 10 seed Samantha Stosur, who won here in 2010, and No. 7 seed Sloane Stephens advanced with straight set wins.

All of those upsets could help clear a path for Venus, who already this year added to her career total of 49 WTA titles. She’d love to win No. 50 at the same place she won in 2004.

“I’ve got a tournament win already this year,” Williams said. “So that always makes you pumped.”

Williams seems to have gotten a handle on her Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can dry out the mouth and eyes and sap strength. She looked plenty strong against Riske, a 25-year-old who is ranked No. 94.

The two traded powerful groundstrokes on a cool and breezy afternoon at Volvo Car Stadium. Riske played the first set to 4-4 before Venus slammed a 111-mph ace to hold, then broke Riske’s serve to take the first set.

That was one of three aces for Venus, who reached 123 mph on the radar gun. She won 65 percent of her first-serve points, and attacked Riske’s second serve, winning 64 percent of those points.

“I think today I was aggressive, which is important for my game, even on clay,” Williams said. “You still want to dictate the points. You don’t want to just loop it back and hope for the best. And a lot of high first-serve percentage was very helpful today. Just trying to do the things that I do and try to do those well with a minimal amount of errors is always super helpful for me.”

Williams said earlier this week that she missed her sister Serena, who is not here this week. But her father Richard was in attendance Wednesday; Charleston apparently is one of the patriarch’s favorite tour stops.

“Yeah, he loves this tournament,” Venus said. “So he was asking me when I was getting here and, you know, making sure that he was all set up. And he actually went to Miami, too. But he now just goes to his favorite events, I guess. He likes to drive to them, so just wherever he’s comfortable now.”

Venus lost her first matches at Indian Wells and Miami, leaving her with some extra time to make the transition from hard courts to the green clay of the Family Circle Tennis Center.

“Since I had an early dismissal in Miami, I had a chance to get on the clay, so that was probably helpful,” she said. “Typically when you play deep, you only have a little bit of time to go into a different surface. I don’t like to change surfaces throughout the year because I think it can lead to injury.

“So it feels good out there. The center court is a lot slower than the practice courts, so that took a little bit of adjusting. I’d never played Alison before, so I had to get to know her game a little bit, and she played really well today.”

With former champ Lisicki out, Venus will face No. 61 Yulia Putintseva in the third round. Venus is 3-0 against the Russian, including a straight-set win earlier this year.

Like Richard Williams, Sloane Stephens loves Charleston. She just wishes her record here was better. The 23-year-old has played here five times, with a main draw record of 1-5 to show for it.

Perhaps her Lowcountry luck will change with Wednesday’s 6-4, 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic, moving her to the third round for the first time.

“Honestly, I can’t think of anything,” Stephens said when asked to explain her lack of South Carolina success. “Like I love this place, I love this tournament. I honestly don’t know why, and it’s very frustrating. But when you find a place you like, you keep coming back no matter what. So I think it’s just one of those places that I don’t have very good luck.”

Stephens, who already has won two singles titles this year and three for her career, had better luck than Bouchard, who was forced to retire in the third set of her match.

Bouchard said she strained her abdomen in her first match here and tried to fight through it Wednesday after splitting sets with Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain. It’s the same injury that troubled her last summer.

“I wanted to give it another game in the third set, and when I realized I couldn’t serve faster than I could serve lefty, then I thought I should probably stop playing,” she said. “So it stinks.”

Keys, an American seeded No. 8, fell in three sets to German Laura Siegemund, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. A finalist here last year, Keys slipped and fell in the second set and finished the second-round match with her left wrist taped.

American wild-card entrant Louisa Chirico continued her fine run with a 6-3, 6-3 blitzing of the No. 4 seed, Safarova. The 15th-ranked Safarova, a finalist here in 2012, has been making a comeback from bacterial infections and reactive arthritis.

“It’s been hard, but each week that I’ve been practicing, I felt better and better,” Safarova said before the match.


(04/06/16)  ABC NEWS 4:  Wednesday a day of upsets at Volvo Car Open
Madison Keys. Belinda Bencic. Lucie Safarova. Genie Bouchard. Sabine Lisicki. Andrea Petkovic.

That's the list of seeded players who won't be continuing in this year's Volvo Car Open after a Wednesday of upsets.

Wednesday ended much like it began, with a seeded player getting an early bounce from the Volvo Car Open at the hands of a lower ranked player. In a prime time match-up between 2014 champion and current 6-seed Andrea Petkovic and Puerto Rico's Monica Puig, it was Puig who dominated.

After going down 5-3 in the first set, the No. 62 player in the world charged back, forcing the set to 7-5.

"Well I think I was playing really well. Even though I was down 5-3, I missed a couple easy shots, I thought -- some short balls. And sometimes you're playing well and you just miss those shots," Puig said.

"So I just had to adjust my game a little bit, just keep believing that I could hit the same way and eventually they were going to go in."

In the second set, it was all Puig as Petkovic got frustrated with her play and the way she returned Puig's powerful forehand. Puig stayed positive, even when Petkovic was pushing back and forcing long points.

"If I'm doing the right things, if I'm frustrating her, if I have an opportunity to come back, try and just be aware of everything on court and having that type of really focused mentality where you're aware of every little thing that's going on," she said.

Puig and Petkovic are not unknown to each other; Puig leads their matchups 5-2 after Wednesday night.

"Just because I have a winning record doesn’t mean that each match is easy," Puig said. "I mean, our matches have been quite tough and the last time she played me on clay she beat me."

The morning started with 8-seeded Keys, who lost in a three-hour ordeal on center court against Laura Siegemund, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 4-6. Keys took a fall late in the second set as she was trying to mount a comeback. She closed out the set and took a medical break to have her wrist looked at and rewrapped.

Siegemund is making the most of her second appearance in Charleston. In her first ever meeting with Keys, the win is the joint-best of her career. Keys is ranked 22nd in the world, and Siegemund also defeated Jelena Jankovic, who was also ranked 22 at the time.

Lucie Safarova, the fourth overall seed in the tournament, fell to the 19-year-old American Louisa Chirico. Chirico won her qualifier over the weekend against Naomi Osaka, and is setting herself up to become the darling of this year's Volvo Car Open if her level of play continues to stun her opponents.

She next faces Daria Kasatkina, the 14th seed in this year's tournament.

After Safarova fell, Lisicki dropped the third set against Yulia Putintseva, ending her run at the cup.

Bouchard bowed out during her match. A lingering abdominal injury forced her to retire after splitting the first two sets against Lourdes Dominguez Lino.

It was a hard decision, Bouchard said. Her coach urged her to retired several times during Tuesday's match, but Bouchard played through the first two painful sets.

"It's so hard for me to stop playing a match unless I am dying. So yeah, [my coach] strongly suggested that I stop," she said. "I wanted to give it another game in the third set, and when I realized I couldn't serve faster than I could serve lefty, then I thought I should probably stop playing. So it sucks."

She said she actually felt the abdominal pain in her side return during Tuesday's match, but it wasn't so serious that she felt like she needed to leave the tournament.

"After I cooled down and everything from my match yesterday, last night, you know, I really realized I did something to it," Bouchard said. "So you know, I tested it out in practice this morning, and it was there, so I had to tape it before the match hoping I could kind of get by with that, but it wasn't enough."

It's unclear how long she will be sidelined as she nurses the injury. She is open to exploring any methods possible to heal though, she said in a press conference after her match.

"I want to do anything I can to make sure this doesn't happen again," Bouchard said. "It's something that for me it has been kind of a worrying issue, but yeah, I mean I want to do anything I can to avoid having this again in the future."

Then Belinda Bencic, playing in the last match of the afternoon before the dinner break, dropped her match against Elena Vesnina. That match led up to the Petkovic loss under the lights.

Bencic became a fan favorite in Charleston in recent years after making a run deep into the tournament.

There are still a few big names left in the tournament, including Venus Williams and 2015 champion Angelique Kerber.

Williams used her powerhouse serves and crisp groundstrokes for a 6-4, 6-2 victory over fellow American Alison Riske at the Volvo Car Open on Wednesday.

The third-seeded Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, is seeking her 50th career WTA title -- and got off to a strong start at the clay court event. She had consecutive serves of 121 mph and 119 mph to close out one game in the first set as fans in the stadium court marveled as the ball zoomed past Riske.

"I think today I was aggressive, which is important for my game even on clay. You still want to dictate the points. And a lot of high serve percentage was very helpful today," Williams said.

Williams, 35, kept up the attack throughout, winning the final four games to advance.

Others moving on were fifth-seeded Sara Errani and seventh-seeded Sloane Stephens.


(04/06/16)  AP:  Venus Williams Gets Off to Strong Start in Charleston
Venus Williams had not played much winning tennis since capturing her 49th WTA title in February.

She was more than ready to show off her game at the Volvo Car Open on Wednesday.

The third-seeded Williams used her powerhouse serves and crisp groundstrokes for a 6-4, 6-2 victory over fellow American Alison Riske. Williams advanced on a day when several other top seeds were upset at the year's first clay-court event.

Williams didn't care what surface she was on, the 35-year-old simply wanted to wipe away bad memories of first-match losses at Indian Wells and Miami since winning a WTA event in Taiwan two months ago.

"I just came into the tournament eager, just ready to go, especially after waiting two weeks," she said. "So it's four weeks and only two matches and you're like, argh. So I usually don't have that problem."

Williams won't have such troubles in Charleston, although several high seeds already did: No. 2 Belinda Bencic, No. 4 Lucie Safarova, No. 6 Andrea Petkovic and No. 8 Madison Keys all lost their first-matches here.

Bencic of Switzerland, ranked 10th in the world, was beaten by Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1. Safarova, a former finalist here, fell to American wild-card entrant Louisa Chirico, 6-3, 6-3. Germany's Petkovic, the 2014 champion here, lost to Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 7-5, 6-2. Keys fell to Germany's Laura Siegemund, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4. Past champion Sabine Lisicki of Germany, seeded 15th, was also ousted.

Other seeded winners along with Williams were No. 5 Sara Errani of Italy, No. 7 Sloane Stephens of the United States and 10th seeded Sam Stosur of Australia.

Williams, the seven-time Grand Slam champion, got off to a strong start at the clay-court event. She had consecutive serves of 121 mph and 119 mph to close out one game in the first set as fans in the stadium court marveled as the ball zoomed past Riske.

Williams, 35, kept up the attack throughout, winning the final four games to advance. She won the final two games without dropping a point. Riske walked to the sideline after a 102 mph ace that put Williams ahead 5-2, then the 25-year-old from Pittsburgh double-faulted to end the match.

"I think today, I was aggressive, which is important for my game, even on clay," Williams said. "You still want to dictate the points."

The top seed and defending champion, Angelique Kerber, needed a third-set tiebreaker to escape her opening match Tuesday night over Lara Arruabarrena. Kerber, the reigning Australian Open champion, returns to action at the season's first clay-court tournament on Thursday.

Eugenie Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon finalist, withdrew from her match with Lourdes Dominguez Lino with an injury to her lower abdomen.

Williams moved easily in her first match on clay this season and quickly erased any mistakes with her stellar play. The 2004 winner here when it was called the Family Circle Cup had her serve broken by Riske to fall behind 4-3. Williams immediately broke back then closed out the set with two more wins.

Riske broke Williams' serve to start the second set before the world's 14th-ranked player took control.

Venus and younger sister Serena have combined to win four Volvo titles in the previous 11 years. Venus Williams has never lost her opening match in Charleston in eight career appearances.

The 21-year-old Keys took a hard tumble in her loss to Siegemund while sliding for a ball in the third set and had her left wrist wrapped by a trainer.

Keys had hoped to start her clay-court season with another strong showing like last year in Charleston. She didn't lose a set on the way to the finals when Keys lost to Kerber in three sets.

This time, Siegemund's feistiness could not be matched. She continually caught Keys flat-footed on the baseline, forcing the taller American to rush up and spray returns wide. Siegemund also hung tough against Keys' powerhouse serves and forehands, sending them back often as quickly as they arrived.

"It was a very difficult match," Siegemund said. "Madison played really tough when things were tight."


(04/06/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: Volvo Car Open notes: Shelby Rogers, Sloane Stephens and the Prez
The basketball scouting report on President Obama says the slender left-hander has good court awareness and can hit the open jumper.

Charleston’s Shelby Rogers can report that the President knows his way around a tennis court, as well.

“He’s good,” Rogers said this week at the Volvo Car Open. “He’s got a little lefty slice. His footwork is exceptional, so props to him. It was mini-tennis, but you could tell he knew what he was doing.”

Rogers and fellow WTA Tour pro Sloane Stephens got a chance to hit with Obama when they were invited to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll last month.

“It was so cool, a last-minute thing,” Rogers said. “My agent asked me if I wanted to do it, and I said, ‘Why are you even asking? Of course I want to.’ My mom was able to go with me, so it was really special.”

A small court was set up on the White House lawn, and the President traded shots with some children.

“Barack came out to this little two-court setup and hit with us and the kids,” Rogers said. “He was very nice and personable, went around and shook hands with everyone.”

So Shelby, you and the President are on a first-name basis?

“Yeah, we’re best friends,” Rogers said with a laugh.

Stephens was equally impressed.

“It was amazing,” she said. “President Obama is amazing. I would marry him, I love him so much.”

Not too worry, Sloane met Mrs. Obama, too.

“He was so nice and sweet, and we saw Michelle also,” Stephens said. “She was great, too.”
Sam to Shelby

After losing in the first round at the Australian Open this year, Aussie Samantha Stosur spoke about the pressure and expectations of playing in front of hometown fans. Charleston’s Shelby Rogers, who lost her first-round match at the Volvo Car Open, can certainly relate, if on a smaller scale.

Rogers was visibly frustrated after her three-set loss to Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena on Monday.

“I’ve gotta win the first round, then I might be able to give advice,” Stosur said. “To be honest, there is pressure. It’s just different pressure, because there’s pressure every single week that we play, no matter where we are.

“I think the biggest thing for me is that I’m desperate to do well and play my best tennis right there, right then ... It’s always a challenge, but if you want to try to get through that, you gotta think about what works. Losing early doesn’t always mean you couldn’t handle the moment. Maybe you played somebody who played too well, as well. So I think you can’t get down on yourself, because every match is different.”
TV Time

ESPN2 coverage of the Volvo Car Open begins Thursday from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The same time slot is set for Friday, with Saturday and Sunday coverage from 1 to 3 p.m.
Attendance Watch

Attendance through Tuesday night at the Volvo Car Open was 30,342, an average of 6,068 per session. That’s just off last year’s average of 6,628 per session, for a total of 86,176. The largest crowd so far was for qualifying on Sunday, with 7,467. Tuesday’s day session drew 7,124 people, and the night matches had 4,526 attendees.


(04/06/16)  JEFF HARTSELL:  Sloane Stephens gets rare win at Volvo Car Open
Sloane Stephens’ record in Charleston does not match her regard for the Holy City.

The 23-year-old WTA Tour star has visited Charleston to play tennis every year for the past five years, with a main-draw record of 1-5 to show for it.

Perhaps her Lowcountry luck will change with Wednesday’s 6-4, 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic. Stephens, seeded seventh and ranked No. 25, advanced to the third round of the Volvo Car Open for the first time.

“Honestly, I can’t think of anything,” Stephens said when asked to explain her lack of South Carolina success. “Like I love this place, I love this tournament. I honestly don’t know why, and it’s very frustrating. But when you find a place you like to keep coming back no matter what. So I think it’s just one of those places that I don’t have very good luck.”

Stephens, who already has won two singles titles this year and three for her career, had better luck than seeded players Madison Keys and Lucie Safarova.

Photos

Keys, an American seeded No. 8, fell in three sets to German Laura Siegemund, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. A finalist here last year, Keys slipped and fell in the second set and finished the second-round match with her left wrist taped.

American wild-card entrant Louisa Chirico continued her fine run with a 6-3, 6-3 blitzing of the No. 4 seed, Safarova. The 15th-ranked Safarova, a finalist here in 2012, has been making a comeback from bacterial infections and reactive arthritis.

“It’s been hard, but each week that I’ve been practicing, I felt better and better,” Safarova said before the match.

Also Wednesday, No. 12 seed Daria Gavrilova defeated Shuai Zhang, 6-4, 6-0, and qualifier Kristina Kucova out-lasted Kateryna Bondarenko, 0-6, 6-3, 6-3.

No. 3 seed Venus Williams and No. 6 Andrea Petkovic, both former champions here, are slated to play later Wednesday at Volvo Car Stadium.


(04/06/16)  THE DANIEL ISLAND NEWS:  OPINION – SUE DETAR:  Vivid Memories from the Family Circle Cup
This year ushers in the first ever Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island. For the first 15 years that the tennis tournament was played on Daniel Island, it was known as the Family Circle Cup. As a tribute to the past, we asked fans, players, volunteers and event staff to reflect on their most vivid memories from the Cup. You can find their memories on pages 24-26 of this week’s edition.

Many people who were involved in the past with the Cup remembered the tornado that struck the stadium and grounds during the qualifying matches of the 2006 tournament. That is a most vivid memory for me as well. I was watching a match on Club Court when I saw a storm approaching. The sky was getting very black so, as a precaution, I headed for the exit. As I was driving down Island Park Drive, the tornado crossed right in front of my car at Guggenheim Plaza. At the time, there were no buildings located between Island Park Drive and the stadium. The cover photo depicts the clear path the tornado took from the road to the stadium.

Soon after, as I turned from Island Park Drive onto Seven Farms Drive, my car was pelted with hail. Later, when I retraced my path back to the tournament, I could see the damage the tornado caused. Luckily, no one was injured. There was some minor damage to trees and to the stadium banners and tents. Former Cup Media Director Mike Saia shared this week that some of the debris from the tornado is still in the trees behind the stadium! This was a unique event for a tennis tournament, and indeed remains a vivid memory for all who witnessed it. You can read the original story from 2006 on our web site at: http://www.thedanielislandnews.com/tornado-hits-family-circle-cup-daniel.... Of course, the event is about tennis, and there are many great memories from the tennis action. Most vivid for me: Sam Stosur’s dominating 6-0, 6-1 victory over Vera Zvonareva in 2010 and Zvonareva’s racket smashing meltdown on center court; Jelena Jankovic riding down Seven Farms Drive in a golf cart after her 2007 victory with pure joy on her face and waving like a beauty queen; 5’ 6” Justine Henin-Hardenne defeating the World No. 1 Serena Williams 6–3, 6–4 in 2003; and the Patty Schnyder/Conchita Martinez fake-out, non-handshake after their crazy 2004 match.

Although the name has changed, the tournament remains a top-notch event with world class tennis, excellent vendors and entertainment, and a great hometown. Fans, players, volunteers and staff can look forward to making many new memories at the Volvo Car Open!


(04/06/16)  THE DANIEL ISLAND NEWS:  Keeping Tennis in Balance
My exhaustive research, dating back to 40,000 B.C., reveals that (stunningly) men and women have been playing together for a long time (a fact, I suppose, for which we should all be thankful). But in the world of sports, it’s a rare day that the genders mix. Tennis may be the only haven. So when talking about gender equality, gender balance and financial equity, tennis is best positioned to be the forerunner. Yet, challenges persist.

Two recent events have fanned the flames of equity, fairness and balance.

Event 1: last month’s stunning comments by Ray Moore, former Executive Director of the Indian Wells tennis tournament in California. Said Moore, according to multiple reports: “I think the WTA -- you know, in my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA [Women’s Tennis Association], because they ride on the coattails of the men. . . .They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky. If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.”

Event 2: last week’s legal filing by five members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, charging the U.S. Soccer Federation with wage discrimination, asserting that they’re vastly underpaid, compared with their male counterparts.

Moore is suffering, no doubt, from amnesia, forgetting entirely the enormous contributions made by Billie Jean King (who made tennis national news) and players like Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Venus and Serena Williams. And the U.S. Soccer Federation, no doubt, is just suffering, having waited far too long to rectify the situation. After all, it’s the women’s national team that has helped move soccer (at long last) to center stage.

Tennis, soccer and golf are unique in that men and women compete worldwide in the same sport. But tennis stands alone in that women and men join forces throughout the year, not just at the major tournaments but on the court as well (i.e., in mixed doubles). And while gender equity is not among its most vulnerable flaws (thanks to Venus, the majors now deliver equal checks to women and men*), there are other challenges.

The central challenge is for all parties to develop a more holistic view of how their sport works, and what drives popularity over the long haul. The central issue, of course, is balance, and tennis faces three: 1. Balance between the genders; 2. Balance among the players (the elite vs. those ranked 100+); and 3. Balance between the players, their associations and tournament directors. It’s a natural ebb and flow, but when one particular piece gets out of balance (e.g., ensuring that players ranked 101-200 can make a living, ensuring that balance is maintained between player needs/rights and those running the show), it’s critical to pause, gather the troops and reexamine how best to move the sport forward, in order to breed, and maintain, long-term success.

The solution? Convene an annual Tennis Summit where players (elite, journeymen and newcomers) gather with tournament directors and representatives of the ATP and WTA. The Summit, each year, would examine the issue of balance (there’s that word again) – between woman and man, between high and low ranking athletes, between tournament directors (large and small) and players.

Maintaining balance in our personal lives is challenging enough. Imagine trying to do it with millions of dollars at stake, and hundreds of interested parties.

* The same cannot be said, of course, for other sports or the world at large. Witness these statistics, courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics: in 2009, only 24% of the country’s CEOs were women; in 2010, American women on average earned 81% of what their male counterparts earned; up from 62% in 1979, but still! And here’s my favorite: it’s been less than 100 years that women in the United States have been able to vote. That one boggles my mind!


(04/06/16)  THE DANIEL ISLAND NEWS:  Hanahan tennis transforms, enters the week undefeated
Just a few years ago at Hanahan High School, it might have been a case of “Tennis, anyone? Please!”

But times have changed. Coach Glenn Cobb is in his fifth year as coach of the boys’ team, and he has turned the program around, building interest, which has yielded great success.

The Hawks were 6-0 heading into action this week. The team already has victories over Hilton Head and Beaufort, teams that placed 1 and 2 respectively in Region 8-AAA last spring. Hanahan placed third, but just might be No. 1 in the Lower State in 2016.

“Up until last couple of years, we had kids from Hanahan who played tennis during the high school season only,” Cobb said. “Now, we have kids who play year round and compete in the big tournaments. We have a true 1-5 in singles. In the past, our Nos. 1, 2 and 3 players should have played at 3-4 and 5. Having a true 1-5 makes a big difference when you play the tough competition.”

Last spring, Hanahan reached the third round of the Class AAA playoffs. The Hawks defeated Manning in the first round and Brookland-Cayce in the second. They lost to Wilson, a team that reached the Lower State championship against Hilton Head.

This year’s team seems to have the talent to contend for a Lower State championship. The team is young, but talented with only one senior. Nick Briggs is the senior, and he holds down the No. 5 position.

Newcomer Chad Nash is playing No. 1 despite being only a freshman. He is currently ranked No. 10 in the SC boys 16 age group.

Kerim Hyatt, who is a sophomore, is the Hawks’ No. 2 singles player. He is currently ranked number 13 in the SC boys 16s.

Mark Jones is a 9th grader and is playing No. 3 and is ranked 95 in the Boys 16.

Another freshman, Bradley Upshaw, is the No. 4 singles player. He is ranked 53rd in the Boys 16. Eighth-grader J.T. Ramey and freshman John Miavez, make a good doubles team.

One of the Hawks’ strengths is the team chemistry.

“They play well together and they like each other, which is very important,” Cobb said. “They cheer each other. When one does well, it sort of sets the tone for the other players.

The team’s success doesn’t surprise Cobb.

“To be honest with you, when we started getting more kids to come out, especially those who play year round, I knew we could have a good team. But I have been pleasantly surprised with what we have been able to accomplish.”

The tennis season is in high gear with the playoffs set to commence next month. Where will the Hawks be when the postseason begins?

“I hope we can win the Lower State championship,” Cobb said. “I haven’t seen any of the better teams in the Upstate, but I know we can compete in the Lower State. I just tell the players to go out and play the best they can. They usually put up a good fight.”


(04/06/16)  THE DANIEL ISLAND NEWS:  VCO players hit Charleston courts to serve kids
William held the racket tightly while stepping up to his turn a few feet from the net. On the other side, a woman with her hair pulled back in a tight pony tail tossed him the ball.

“Nice!” she said, as the young boy took a swing. “Keep looking at the ball!”

Pleased with his shot, William stepped around to rejoin a line of other kids awaiting their turn on this sun-filled afternoon at the Jack Adams Tennis Center in downtown Charleston.

On the surface, it may have looked like any other practice day on the courts here last Monday. But on this particular day, there was most definitely a little added star power sprinkled in. Four players from the Volvo Car Open stopped in to lend a hand as part of the tournament’s “Tennis in the City” event, an annual one-day inner-city youth tennis clinic sponsored by SunTrust Bank. The purpose of the event is to bring together WTA tennis players, tennis pros, and high school and college players, to introduce the game to local kids.

William’s teacher during the program was WTA player Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia, who thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“I love to talk to kids about tennis and play,” she said, while taking a break from interacting with her eager young students. “It’s nice to see a spark in a kid’s eyes when they make a good shot or a good serve!”

Fourth grader Samiya Grant got a chance to practice with Abigail Spears, a WTA player from the USA who started playing tennis at age 7.

“It was good!” exclaimed Grant. “I learned about my forehand and backhand.”

“It’s all new to me,” added Jalejah Bennett, a student at Charleston Charter School for Math and Science. “…I got to hit the ball today! It’s been a good experience!”

Spears and fellow USA player Raquel Atawo have taken part in Tennis in the City several times while playing for the Volvo Car Open, formerly known as the Family Circle Cup. Both were glad to be back for the program this year.

“This is how I started out,” said Spears. ‘I started playing at public parks, so I feel like if kids like it and they have fun, then it’s something they can do…Raquel and I like working with the kids. It puts things in perspective, because sometimes you get outside ourselves in what we do.”

“It’s very nice,” added Atawo, who has earned 15 WTA doubles titles in her pro career. “The kids are always excited to play. It’s fun. We’re not just drilling them. We’re getting involved with them, talking to them, kind of having a laugh. And giving them a little feedback, too!”

As for their best advice for those interested in pursuing the sport?

“Be disciplined and work hard,” said Atawo. “And try and laugh at yourself every now and then. Some of them may not understand that quite yet!”

“It’s hard to make (it) alone, so find a friend!” added Kudryavtseva, currently ranked 191 in the world. “You can find a friend and you can go together and play. Every time you have a chance to work on your hand and eye coordination, that’s going to get you healthy and athletic throughout your whole life, whether its tennis or another sport. But as far as tennis, I always tell them to look at the ball! You’d be surprised. I’ve been in professional tennis for 20 years and my coach still has to tell me ‘Keep your eyes on the ball!’”

The afternoon appeared to be a grand slam for 11 year-old homeschool student Joe Gladstein.

“I’m having a lot of fun. I’ve never actually met a pro tennis player, so it’s been very interesting! A lot of them speak different languages!”

Fourth grader Evelyn Hill, a student at Lambs Elementary School, was equally impressed.

“It’s awesome!” she said. “I’ve never played before and I think it’s really cool learning what the awesome tennis players do. I learned how you have to move around and stuff! I love tennis!”


(04/06/16)  THE DANIEL ISLAND NEWS:  VCO top seeds sound off on gender pay gap
The issue of equal prize money for men and women is most certainly not a new topic of discussion in professional tennis circles. Tennis great Billie Jean King began advocating for the cause back in the 70s, with the creation of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). In recent years, the gap has started to close, as several large tournaments have begun offering both male and female players comparable pieces of the prize pie. But there is still a noteworthy imbalance. According to a 2014 article in Forbes Magazine by Miguel Morales, “On average, female pros earned 23.4% logged dollars less than their male peers during the 2009 season.”

Just last week, five members of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team filed a wage discrimination suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the U.S. Soccer Federation. At the Volvo Car Open All-Access Media Hour on Monday, The Daniel Island News asked several of the tournament’s top seeded players to weigh in on the gender gap issue. Here is what they had to say:

“There are always going to be people who don’t think that another person should be paid equally. And it’s important for men to get on board. Because these same men have daughters, they have wives, they have sisters, and they should want those same opportunities for the people in their families. They have women in their lives that are important to them…And it’s made me re-examine what I can do more, not just for women’s tennis, but across the board for women around the world. That next step is really to get men involved. We’ve rallied and we’ve fought for the right things, and we’ve gotten the women behind us, and now it’s time to get the men. That’s the evolution that I see…What’s the right thing to do? I think that’s where we have to go, just appealing to the human spirit and treating each other as humans and that’s super important.” -Venus Williams, USA (WTA Rank No. 25, 2004 Family Circle Cup Champion).

“I totally support equal pay….I don’t focus so much on the political part of things. I’m here just to play tennis and what happens off the court is OK, but I am not so involved in that.” -Belinda Bencic, Switzerland (WTA Rank No. 10).

“I think it’s a big thing, but it’s funny because I don’t think the men realize that…I think the men kind of focus on the few tournaments that we do get equal prize money and freak out and make it seem like every single week we get the same, which is not true. I can understand why we don’t make as much money those weeks because the men’s tournaments are a higher tournament. It’s obviously something the WTA is trying to change, but as of right now, I think it is what it is. The WTA is trying to, on our part, figure out a way we can maybe close the wage gap. There is definitely a distinct wage gap but certain men seem to not always appreciate that.” -Madison Keys, USA (WTA Rank No. 22).

“It’s tough to say something about this, but I think…everybody is the same. They are the same people…It doesn’t matter…For me it’s really important to treat everyone (the same).” -Angelique Kerber, Germany (WTA Rank No. 2, 2015 Family Circle Cup Champion).

“I’m all for equal prize money, equal pay….That’s just a general thing for everyone. Equal is fair… Everyone deserves the same.” -Sloane Stephens, USA (WTA Rank No. 25).

"The fact is we don’t earn equal prize money…We only earn it in the Grand Slams and in a few other tournaments, but men earn more than we do….I think sometimes we just hope that those problems are in the past and that we have come much further. But it’s good to be confronted with the thoughts of men that still think that way and it’s maybe nice for us to have discussions with them and to explain our point of view. I just wish that we would be leaders…and it wouldn’t have to matter about who is more popular, who is this, who is that. We just as a sport stand for something more than just equal prize money. We stand for community and for sportsmanship…That’s what the sport is about. Everybody, no matter what race, what gender, everybody has an opportunity in the sport with just their talent and their hard work to achieve whatever they want.” -Andrea Petkovic, Germany (WTA Rank No. 28, 2014 Family Circle Cup Champion).


(04/06/16)  THE DANIEL ISLAND NEWS:  Kerber focused on defending her title and winning again in Charleston
Angelique Kerber spent Monday afternoon swatting away the no-seeums during the Volvo Car Open all-access hour, which was held outside at the Daniel Island Club.

That’s the price of success for the 28-year-old German, who won the Family Circle Cup championship last year. She used that victory as a springboard to a great season that continued into January of 2016 when she won the Australian Open.

She was one of the top eight seeds who met the press on Monday. It’s part of her duties as one of the best players on the WTA Tour.

“A lot more people recognize me,” Kerber said of her first Grand Slam title that she captured in Melbourne. “I had a lot more media stuff to do, which I really like. I enjoy it. My life has changed. But me, I think I am the same person I was last year.”

Kerber arrived in Charleston last year in a slump which resulted in her dropping to No. 16 in the world. That’s what happens when you have a stretch in which you lose 7 of 10 matches. But she righted herself in Charleston and the results reverberated around the world and culminated in Melbourne when she won $2.5 million for her outstanding two weeks.

“It was always my dream to win the Australian Open,” said Kerber, who grew up rooting for another German with an impressive Family Circle Cup history: Steffi Graf. “It was a crazy two weeks because at first, I was match-point down then I won against (Victoria) Azarenka who I never beat before. Then I played the German (Annika Beck) as well and, of course, in the finals I beat Serena Williams, which was really special – the most special moment in my career so far.”

She is the World No. 2 as she began play this week on the green clay.

“After Charleston, things changed step-by-step,” Kerber said. “I went to Stuttgart and played well. For me, I had much more confidence after I won in Charleston.”

She reached the semifinals of the Miami Open, the event that precedes the Volvo Car Open. She played most of the tournament with her left leg heavily wrapped.

Charleston is the first clay-court event of the season. After that, it’s time to head to Europe for a stretch of tourneys that culminate with Roland Garros in Paris.

Last year, there was talk of a seasonal Grand Slam, but Serena Williams came up short in the U.S. Open. Kerber is only thinking about Charleston. Paris is too far down the road.

“I am now in Charleston and I’m really focusing on this tournament, right now,” she said. “I will take it step-by-step.”


(04/06/16)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
JAMES ISLAND 6, CANE BAY 0
Singles: Healey d. Havell 6-0, 6-0. Bridges d. Hicks 6-0, 6-1. Sechrist d. Craver 6-0, 6-1. Evans d. Welch 6-1, 6-0. Alexander d. Harvey 6-1, 6-4.  
Doubles: Jenkins/Eaddy d. Bishop/Morris 6-3, 6-1.

Records: JI 5-2. CB 1-4. Next: JI hosts Stratford Wednesday. CB hosts Berkeley Wednesday.

STRATFORD 5, WEST ASHLEY 2
Singles: Anastopoulo (WA) d. Wong 6-2, 6-2. Foster (WA) d. Sides 6-1, 6-0. Hoffman d. Richardson 6-3, 6-4. Smith d. Clontz 6-2, 5-7, 10-7. Yeung d. Dewd 6-1, 6-0.  Doubles: Wong/Sides d. Anastopoulo/Foster 8-4. Crawford/Moorer d. Nicholson/Goss 7-5, 6-3.

Records: Stratford 5-1 (2-1). Next: Stratford at James Island Wednesday.


(04/05/16)  ANDREW MILLER: Kerber survives Arruabarrena, 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3)
It was supposed to be an easy match.

A glorified warm-up match for Angelique Kerber, the Volo Car Open defending champion, and a way to ease into a tournament that has meant so much to her.

But Lara Arruabarrena, the 80th-ranked player on the WTA tour, had other ideas.

Kerber, who captured her first major championship win at the Australian Open in January, held on to beat Arruabarrena, 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), in her opening match of the Volvo Car Open on Tuesday night.

Arruabarrena did all she could to ruin Kerber’s night, using strong ground strokes to move her opponent around the court and frustrate the 2015 champion in a match that lasted 2 hours and 38 minutes.

“I never saw her play like this,” Kerber said. “And I heard already that she played very well, and I was feeling that. It’s always freaky to play the first match on clay, and I was trying to stay in the match, trying to play it point by point, especially in the tiebreaker because I knew that’s the last few points in the match.

“I’m just happy about the match. It was for sure a tough first round on clay here in Charleston.”

It looked like it was going to be an easy night for Kerber as she cruised to a 6-2 first set victory in just 33 minutes.

However, with her victory over Charleston’s Shelby Rogers on Monday, Arruabarrena had already played in six matches this season on clay when she stepped on the Volvo Car Stadium court Tuesday night.

This was Kerber's first match on clay this season.

Arruabarrena came storming back in the second set as long rallies dominated the action. The second set took nearly an hour and Arruabarrena evened the match at a set apiece, finishing with 20 winners.

With Kerber up 2-1 in the third set, the two battled more than 15 minutes in Game 4. The game featured 26 points and 12 deuces, but Kerber finally finished the game with a forehand winner to grab a 3-1 lead.

The two exchanged games down the stretch as Kerber finally found some rhythm in the tiebreaker winning, 7-3.

“It’s a really special feeling being back,” Kerber said. “It was really important win for me last year, which changed everything for me. The crowd was just amazing. They are supporting you, and to play in front of these guys here is just feeling like home and it’s really great to be back.”

Wild card winner

Also Tuesday, American wild-card entrant Louisa Chirico, just 19 years old, scored a 3-6,l 6-1, 6-1 victory over qualifier Naomi Osaka of Japan. It was the first match win on the WTA Tour this year for Chirico, who is ranked No. 126 and is from Westchester, N.Y.

Fellow American Madison Brengle was not as fortunate, losing 7-5, 6-2 to qualifier Kristina Kucova.


(04/05/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: Sam Stosur returns to scene of her prime at Volvo Car Open
If any place in the tennis world has good vibes for Samantha Stosur, it has to be Charleston.

The 32-year-old Aussie loves it here, and the stadium court on Daniel Island is the site of one of the most overpowering performances of her career — a 52-minute demolition of Vera Zvonareva in the 2010 finals of this tournament.

“Best match I’ve ever played,” Stosur says with a grin.

Stosur returned to the scene of her prime Tuesday, taking a 6-4, 6-4 win over 23-year-old Aleksandra Krunic in the first round of the Volvo Car Open. Ranked No. 26 and seeded 10th here, the 2011 U.S. Open champion now has a singles record of 14-8 in Charleston, including a trip to the semifinals in 2012.

Add in a gourmet’s appreciation for Lowcountry food and a loud contingent of Aussie tennis fans, and it’s no wonder that Stosur considers the South Carolina coast a home away from the Gold Coast of Australia.

“I love coming back here, I say it every single year,” said Stosur, making her 10th appearance in Charleston. “And yeah, it’s nice to play on this court. It’s great to have the fans supporting you, and I do feel like I’ve got lots of support when I play here. And I’ve played some of my best tennis here ... I certainly feel comfortable being in this city.”

Against Krunic, a Serb ranked No. 124, Stosur had to overcome breezy conditions and 11 double faults in a match that lasted one hour and 39 minutes. Stosur faced 20 break points, but saved all but four of them, and cashed in on the big points — she won six of her 11 break points.

“It’s always good to get through any match,” Stosur said. “I guess overall, yeah, my tennis could have been a little bit better, and my serve especially. Whether it was the conditions, a bit of lack of focus at times, whatever the case, it’s certainly something that I need to rectify for the next round.

“But it was tricky conditions out there. It was pretty windy and a bit swirly at times, and then with the wind, it was a bit tricky as well, so matches like that they’re not easy. But to get through it in the end in straight sets, I’m happy with that.”

On the tail end of a career that’s seen her win more than $15 million and climb as high as No. 4 in world rankings, Stosur still looks as fit as ever. Type in her name on Google, and the search engine answers with “arms” and “abs” and “workout”.

“I guess I’m definitely on the end of my career,” she said. “However long that is, I don’t know yet. But look, I’m feeling fit and healthy and feel like I can still improve my tennis and hopefully get higher in the rankings than what I’ve been the last couple of years.

“But I really want to try and make the most of each event that I’m able to play, and I want to do well in the bigger tournaments of course. I really just start to enjoy my tennis. I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to achieve in my career so far. So kind of anything from this point on is — not a bonus, because you work hard for it — but I don’t feel like I need to prove anything.”

Krunic, on the other hand, was making her first appearance in Charleston. She made a name for herself at the 2014 U.S. Open, defeating Madison Keys and Petra Kvitova on the way to the round of 16.

“Look, for someone who’s quite, I guess, slight in a lot of ways — she’s not a very big girl — she moves very well,” Stosur said. “She’s very fast. There was a couple of times I hit a short ball or a drop shot and I didn’t think she was going to get to it, and she did.

“She does that stuff very well. She moves the ball around the court well. She’s not too, I guess, patterned. She doesn’t go cross court every single time off any shot. You gotta be smart when you play her not to give her the things that she likes.”

Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard won her opener Tuesday, taking a 6-3, 6-4 win over Alexandra Dulgheru.

Also Tuesday, American wild-card entrant Louisa Chirico, just 19 years old, scored a 3-6,l 6-1, 6-1 victory over qualifier Naomi Osaka of Japan. It was the first match win on the WTA Tour this year for Chirico, who is ranked No. 126 and is from Westchester, N.Y.

Fellow American Madison Brengle was not as fortunate, losing 7-5, 6-2 to qualifier Kristina Kucova.

Tuesday’s results
No. 14 Daria Kasatkina d. Saisai Zheng, 6-2, 6-1
No. 10 Samantha Stosur d. Aleksandra Krunic, 6-4, 6-4
Louisa Chirico d. Naomi Osaka, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1
Kristina Kucova d. Madison Brengle, 7-5, 6-2
Shuai Zhang d. Lesley Kerkhove, 6-1, 6-2
Yaroslava Shevdova d. Evgeniya Rodina, 6-1, 6-1
Yulia Putintseva d. Kurumi Nara, 7-6, 6-0
Eugenie Bouchard d. Alexandra Dulgheru, 6-3, 6-4
Monica Puig d. Lucie Hradecka, 6-3, 6-2


(04/05/16)  GENE SAPAKOFF: The next Martina Hingis? No, the first Belinda Bencic
Belinda Bencic is enjoying that stepping stone in a superior athlete’s life between Next Big Thing and household name, whether she realizes it or not.

“Well, I’m not recognized when I’m walking down the street,” said Bencic, No. 10 in the WTA rankings and the No. 2 seed at the Volvo Car Open. “Definitely not.”

Pretty soon, maybe?

“No, no. I don’t think so,” the almost famous 19-year-old from Switzerland said with a giggle. “I don’t think I want that. Sometimes I think it must be pretty tough for Hollywood stars. I mean, you cannot go to the supermarket normally.”

Sorry, kid.

Get ready for many selfie requests in tennis hotbeds such as Paris, London, New York and Daniel Island.

Autograph seekers are just around the corner.

Bencic’s game is too good, the career arc too bright for her to remain anonymous in the fresh produce section for long.

She is a rich blend of athleticism, smarts and style that reminds people of fellow Swiss Martina Hingis. That’s in part because Bencic’s coaches are her father Ivan and Hingis’ mother, Melanie Molitor. Unlike most teens, she reads opponents well on the court and reads books off the court, preferring crime novels. Bencic speaks four languages and almost a fifth (French). She already owns WTA tour titles (Eastbourne and Toronto in 2015).

Bencic (pronounced ben-chich) vaulted into the top 100 for the first time after winning six matches at the 2014 Family Circle Cup and reaching the semifinals as a qualifier before losing a three-set classic to Jana Cepelova. She opens Volvo Car Open play Wednesday against qualifier Elena Vesnina.

“I have great memories here,” Bencic said. “It’s nice to be here on the green clay. It’s a special tournament. It’s so much more relaxing than other tournaments.”

A mentor and her mom

Hingis, 35 and still ranked No. 1 in doubles, won five Grand Slam singles titles and the 1997 Family Circle Cup.

The WTA once had an official mentor program in which veteran players helped rising young stars adjust to life on tour; Hingis’ mentor was Lindsay Davenport. Unofficially, the program goes on.

“I personally have Martina and her mom, so I have private mentoring,” said Bencic, who at 5-9 is two inches taller than Hingis.

That goes for off-the-court stuff, too.

“How (Hingis) handled the media, how she handles the pressures,” Bencic said. “She can give all that experience to me so maybe I won’t repeat some of the mistakes she made. It’s a good advantage for me.”

Hingis and Molitor are not always around; Bencic travels with her father, a former hockey player and businessman who escaped Cold War Czechoslovakia with his parents and resettled in Switzerland. But that Hingis family shadow is never far away.

“They don’t have different styles of coaching because my dad tries to listen to what Melanie says and go from there,” Bencic said. “I’ve been playing at her academy since I was a kid so we all have the same philosophy.”

Good attention

Few players in this Volvo Car Open field are as intriguing. Bencic is just fast enough, and just strong enough but mostly relies on versatility and cardio-training. She stays in shape with frequent runs, including on trails around Daniel Island.

A run to the final on Sunday wouldn’t surprise anyone on tour.

A Volvo Car Open title, of course, would move her a bit closer to famous.

“I see attention as a positive problem to have,” Bencic said. “It’s good to have attention. It means you’re playing well. It’s part of the process. It’s what champions can handle.”

Spoken like a true champion, and someone who soon won’t be able to shop at the supermarket normally.


(04/05/16)  LIVE5NEWS:  Kerber survives; Stosur, Bouchard advance at Volvo Car Open
Defending champion Angelique Kerber got all she could handle and more in her opening match at the Volvo Car Open on Tuesday night being taken to a 3rd set tiebreak by Lara Arruabarrena before finally pulling out a 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (3) win.

Kerber cruised through the 1st set in just over half an hour and managed to take an early lead in the 2nd set but Arruabarrena, who beat Lowcountry native Shelby Rogers on Monday, would not go away. She come back to take the 2nd set, 7-5 and matched Kerber almost shot for shot in the 3rd set before finally running out of gas.

"I think for me it was not so easy" Kerber said after the match. "because it was not like this that I was feeling my rhythm the whole match.  It was like up and downs in the match, but I know that the first matches on clay are always like this, and I was trying to stay like positive. Sometimes, of course, it's like not so easy because on clay the balls are also bouncing a little bit different, and so it was like more, you know, to stay in the match, focusing on the points, and yeah, not thinking too much about the negatives, more thinking, okay, play the game and try to, yeah, improve your game in this match and also in the next matches to be ready for the next matches on clay."

Despite the difficult match, Kerber said returning to Charleston, where she won the Family Circle Cup last year, meant a lot to her.

"It's a really special feeling, and today also when I went there on the center court where last year this tournament was really important for me, which changed everything for me, and also for the next months last year.  So the crowd was just amazing, you know.  They are supporting you, and to playing in front of these guys here is just feeling like home and it's really great to be back."

2010 Family Circle Cup champion Sam Stosur and fan favorite Genie Bouchard were among the players to advance to the 2nd round with victories on Tuesday afternoon.

Stosur picked up a straight sets win over Aleksandra Krunic 6-4, 6-4.

"It's always good to get through any match." Stosur said. "I guess overall, yeah, my tennis could have been a little bit better, and my serve especially. Whether it was, you know, the conditions, a bit of lack of focus at times, whatever the case, it's certainly something that I need to rectify for the next round. matches like that they're not easy, but to get through it in the end in straight sets, I'm happy with that."

Bouchard advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Alexandra Dulgheru. For the 22-year old Canadian, who was ranked as high as 5th in the world in 2014 before an awful year in 2015 knocked her back down, she's looking forward to the climb back to the top.

"It's an odd feeling." Bouchard said after the match. "I feel like I'm kind of back -- I feel like I'm back in the past to 2013 when it was my first year on the professional tour, kind of, you know, not being seeded, playing smaller events, things like that. So I feel like, yeah, I just have to kind of work my way back up again, kind of grind, you know, being ranked lower. But it's a challenge, you know, and I'm completely up to the challenge. I'm positive about it. I'm trying to look forward, and you know, everyone -- the media loved building me up when I was doing well and then breaking me down when I was doing bad. So I'm hoping they'll have a good comeback story."

RESULTS - APRIL 05, 2016
Women's
Singles - Second Round
[1] A. Kerber (GER) d L. Arruabarrena (ESP) 62 57 76(3)
M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) d [11] K. Mladenovic (FRA) 46 64 76(13)
First Round
[10] S. Stosur (AUS) d [Q] A. Krunic (SRB) 64 64
[14] D. Kasatkina (RUS) d S. Zheng (CHN) 62 61
[Q] K. Kucova (SVK) d M. Brengle (USA) 75 62
B. Mattek-Sands (USA) d T. Pereira (BRA) 57 63 62
M. Puig (PUR) d L. Hradecka (CZE) 63 62
[WC] L. Chirico (USA) d [Q] N. Osaka (JPN) 36 61 61
S. Zhang (CHN) d [Q] L. Kerkhove (NED) 61 62
Y. Shvedova (KAZ) d E. Rodina (RUS) 61 61
Y. Putintseva (KAZ) d K. Nara (JPN) 76(4) 60
E. Bouchard (CAN) d A. Dulgheru (ROU) 63 64

Women's
Doubles - First Round
G. Dabrowski (CAN) / D. Jurak (CRO) d [WC] M. Keys (USA) / S. Stephens (USA) 62 63
V. King (USA) / A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) d [WC] H. Berg (USA) / P. Cline (USA) 63 60
D. Kasatkina (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) d K. Bondarenko (UKR) / O. Savchuk (UKR) 67(4) 63 10-6
A. Groenefeld (GER) / L. Siegemund (GER) d A. Rodionova (AUS) / K. Siniakova (CZE) 26 76(4) 11-9

ORDER OF PLAY - WEDNESDAY, APRIL 06, 2016
VOLVO CAR STADIUM start 10:00 am
[8] M. Keys (USA) vs L. Siegemund (GER)
D. Kovinic (MNE) vs [7] S. Stephens (USA)
A. Riske (USA) vs [3] V. Williams (USA)
[Q] E. Vesnina (RUS) vs [2] B. Bencic (SUI)

Not Before 7:00 pm
M. Puig (PUR) vs [6] A. Petkovic (GER)
C. Dellacqua (AUS) / S. Stosur (AUS) vs [3] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Mladenovic (FRA)

ALTHEA GIBSON CLUB COURT start 10:00 am
[12] D. Gavrilova (AUS) vs S. Zhang (CHN)
[4] L. Safarova (CZE) vs [WC] L. Chirico (USA)
[5] S. Errani (ITA) vs Y. Shvedova (KAZ)
E. Bouchard (CAN) vs L. Domínguez Lino (ESP)
[1] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) vs A. Klepac (SLO) / K. Srebotnik (SLO)

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
[Q] K. Kucova (SVK) vs K. Bondarenko (UKR)
[15] S. Lisicki (GER) vs Y. Putintseva (KAZ)
I. Begu (ROU) vs B. Mattek-Sands (USA)
[LL] J. Cepelova (SVK) vs [10] S. Stosur (AUS)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
A. Konjuh (CRO) vs [14] D. Kasatkina (RUS)

Not Before 1:00 pm
[4] R. Atawo (USA) / A. Spears (USA) vs L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / I. Olaru (ROU)


(04/05/16)  MOULTRIE NEWS:  World tennis pros volley at Breach Inlet
German tennis players Angelique Kerber, World No. 2, and Andrea Petkovic, World No. 38, played tennis on a temporary court built on Breach Inlet for a promotional shoot for the Volvo Car Open.

The inaugural Volvo Car Open, formerly the Family Circle Cup, is currently taking place on Daniel Island in Charleston, SC now through April 10.

The two good friends and former Charleston champions, Kerber won in 2015 and Petkovic in 2014, traded playful rallies as local media and beach onlookers captured photos. The breach is between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, and separates Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms.

Kerber starts her title defense today, April 5, in Charleston at the Volvo Car Open at 7pm ET, against Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena.


(04/05/16)  Former VCO champ Andrea Petkovic comes through ‘bad phase’
When Andrea Petkovic won in Charleston in 2014, it seemed a rejuvenation for the tall, athletic German’s tennis career. A top 10 player in 2011 before injuries struck, she went on to win twice more in 2014 and broke back into the top 10 in 2015.

But Petkovic’s path has not been nearly as smooth as that of countrywoman Angelique Kerber, who launched a run of four titles in 2015 at Charleston. Kerber then won the Australian Open for her first Grand Slam trophy this year, rising to No. 2 on the WTA Tour behind Serena Williams.

Petkovic, on the other hand, found herself pondering retirement late last year at the age of 28, a move that would have robbed the tour of one of its funniest and most open personalities.

“I think it was just a bad phase of growing up,” said Petkovic, who is back on Daniel Island for the fourth time at the Volvo Car Open. “Sometimes you wish you were not so much in the spotlight. I think it was just me questioning my life decision at that point, and asking myself where would I have been had I gone on a different path.”

Petkovic grew up in a tennis family, her father Zoran having played at the University of South Carolina.

“When you are young, you have so many doors open,” she said. “The older you get, a lot of doors close for you, and it was just the sudden realization that some doors have closed in my life because of tennis.”

Petkovic’s mother fell ill in 2015, adding to her doubts. Some good results on court hid her internal struggles, but Petkovic said she was uncertain for a good five or six months.

“I was unhappy with what I was doing, and trying to find a better way of living and enjoying myself,” she said.

At the end of the 2015 season, Petkovic took some time off and traveled with friends, spending a lot of time in New York City.
“I needed to be in the normal life for a while,” she said. “I needed to decide if I wanted to be in the tennis world, and if so under what conditions. It was a matter of me finding out if tennis was the choice I should have made.

“I came to the conclusion that it was a good choice, so it was all for nothing. I kind of suffered for nothing.”

Petkovic laughed when she said that, and seems to be having fun this week. She and Kerber did a photo shoot the other day, hitting balls back and forth on the beach at Breach Inlet.

But the tennis life — despite the photo shoots and the money (Petkovic has won $5.8 million in her career) — is not for everyone, she said.

“You have to be built for it,” Petkovic said. “You have to have a certain character, and embrace the loneliness at times, not only on court but off it. There are a lot of times when you are lonely. It sounds sad, but it’s not that sad. It’s just part of being a player that’s not told on the commercials.”
‘Bad words’

A Romanian media outlet is reporting that French player Caroline Garcia allegedly made offensive remarks during her 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 loss to Romanian player Irina-Camelia Begu on Monday.

Prosport said that Garcia, speaking in French, called Begu a “gypsy” during the match and used some “other bad words.” The remarks were reportedly caught on tape.

The incident made headlines in Romania, home country of tennis great Ilie Nastase. Nastase told Prosport that he also had been called “gypsy” by French players at the French Open.

A WTA official said the tour is looking into the incident


(04/05/16)  JEFF HARTSELL:  Sam Stosur returns to scene of her prime at Volvo Car Open
If any place in the tennis world has good vibes for Samantha Stosur, it has to be Charleston.

The 32-year-old Aussie loves it here, and the stadium court on Daniel Island is the site of one of the most overpowering performances of her career — a 52-minute demolition of Vera Zvonareva in the 2010 finals of this tournament.

 “Best match I’ve ever played,” Stosur says with a grin.

Stosur returned to the scene of her prime Tuesday, taking a 6-4, 6-4 win over 23-year-old Aleksandra Krunic in the first round of the Volvo Car Open. Ranked No. 26 and seeded 10th here, the 2011 U.S. Open champion now has a singles record of 14-8 in Charleston, including a trip to the semifinals in 2012.

Add in a gourmet’s appreciation for Lowcountry food and a loud contingent of Aussie tennis fans, and it’s no wonder that Stosur considers the South Carolina coast a home away from the Gold Coast of Australia.

“I love coming back here, I say it every single year,” said Stosur, making her 10th appearance in Charleston. “And yeah, it’s nice to play on this court. It’s great to have the fans supporting you, and I do feel like I’ve got lots of support when I play here. And I’ve played some of my best tennis here ... I certainly feel comfortable being in this city.”

Against Krunic, a Serb ranked No. 124, Stosur had to overcome breezy conditions and 11 double faults in a match that lasted one hour and 39 minutes. Stosur faced 20 break points, but saved all but four of them, and cashed in on the big points — she won six of her 11 break points.

“It’s always good to get through any match,” Stosur said. “I guess overall, yeah, my tennis could have been a little bit better, and my serve especially. Whether it was the conditions, a bit of lack of focus at times, whatever the case, it’s certainly something that I need to rectify for the next round.

“But it was tricky conditions out there. It was pretty windy and a bit swirly at times, and then with the wind, it was a bit tricky as well, so matches like that they’re not easy. But to get through it in the end in straight sets, I’m happy with that.”

On the tail end of a career that’s seen her win more than $15 million and climb as high as No. 4 in world rankings, Stosur still looks as fit as ever. Type in her name on Google, and the search engine answers with “arms” and “abs” and “workout”.

 “I guess I’m definitely on the end of my career,” she said. “However long that is, I don’t know yet. But look, I’m feeling fit and healthy and feel like I can still improve my tennis and hopefully get higher in the rankings than what I’ve been the last couple of years.

“But I really want to try and make the most of each event that I’m able to play, and I want to do well in the bigger tournaments of course. I really just start to enjoy my tennis. I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to achieve in my career so far. So kind of anything from this point on is — not a bonus, because you work hard for it — but I don’t feel like I need to prove anything.”

Krunic, on the other hand, was making her first appearance in Charleston. She made a name for herself at the 2014 U.S. Open, defeating Madison Keys and Petra Kvitova on the way to the round of 16.

“Look, for someone who’s quite, I guess, slight in a lot of ways — she’s not a very big girl — she moves very well,” Stosur said. “She’s very fast. There was a couple of times I hit a short ball or a drop shot and I didn’t think she was going to get to it, and she did.

“She does that stuff very well. She moves the ball around the court well. She’s not too, I guess, patterned. She doesn’t go cross court every single time off any shot. You gotta be smart when you play her not to give her the things that she likes.”

Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard won her opener Tuesday, taking a 6-3, 6-4 win over Alexandra Dulgheru.

Also Tuesday, American wild-card entrant Louisa Chirico, just 19 years old, scored a 3-6,l 6-1, 6-1 victory over qualifier Naomi Osaka of Japan. It was the first match win on the WTA Tour this year for Chirico, who is ranked No. 126 and is from Westchester, N.Y.

Fellow American Madison Brengle was not as fortunate, losing 7-5, 6-2 to qualifier Kristina Kucova.

Tuesday’s results
No. 14 Daria Kasatkina d. Saisai Zheng, 6-2, 6-1
No. 10 Samantha Stosur d. Aleksandra Krunic, 6-4, 6-4
Louisa Chirico d. Naomi Osaka, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1
Kristina Kucova d. Madison Brengle, 7-5, 6-2
Shuai Zhang d. Lesley Kerkhove, 6-1, 6-2
Yaroslava Shevdova d. Evgeniya Rodina, 6-1, 6-1
Yulia Putintseva d. Kurumi Nara, 7-6, 6-0
Eugenie Bouchard d. Alexandra Dulgheru, 6-3, 6-4
Monica Puig d. Lucie Hradecka, 6-3, 6-2


(04/05/16)  JEFF HARTSELL:  Former VCO champ Andrea Petkovic comes through ‘bad phase’
When Andrea Petkovic won in Charleston in 2014, it seemed a rejuvenation for the tall, athletic German’s tennis career. A top 10 player in 2011 before injuries struck, she went on to win twice more in 2014 and broke back into the top 10 in 2015.

But Petkovic’s path has not been nearly as smooth as that of countrywoman Angelique Kerber, who launched a run of four titles in 2015 at Charleston. Kerber then won the Australian Open for her first Grand Slam trophy this year, rising to No. 2 on the WTA Tour behind Serena Williams.

Petkovic, on the other hand, found herself pondering retirement late last year at the age of 28, a move that would have robbed the tour of one of its funniest and most open personalities.
 
“I think it was just a bad phase of growing up,” said Petkovic, who is back on Daniel Island for the fourth time at the Volvo Car Open. “Sometimes you wish you were not so much in the spotlight. I think it was just me questioning my life decision at that point, and asking myself where would I have been had I gone on a different path.”

Petkovic grew up in a tennis family, her father Zoran having played at the University of South Carolina.

“When you are young, you have so many doors open,” she said. “The older you get, a lot of doors close for you, and it was just the sudden realization that some doors have closed in my life because of tennis.”

Petkovic’s mother fell ill in 2015, adding to her doubts. Some good results on court hid her internal struggles, but Petkovic said she was uncertain for a good five or six months.

“I was unhappy with what I was doing, and trying to find a better way of living and enjoying myself,” she said.

At the end of the 2015 season, Petkovic took some time off and traveled with friends, spending a lot of time in New York City.

“I needed to be in the normal life for a while,” she said. “I needed to decide if I wanted to be in the tennis world, and if so under what conditions. It was a matter of me finding out if tennis was the choice I should have made.

“I came to the conclusion that it was a good choice, so it was all for nothing. I kind of suffered for nothing.”

Petkovic laughed when she said that, and seems to be having fun this week. She and Kerber did a photo shoot the other day, hitting balls back and forth on the beach at Breach Inlet.

But the tennis life — despite the photo shoots and the money (Petkovic has won $5.8 million in her career) — is not for everyone, she said.

“You have to be built for it,” Petkovic said. “You have to have a certain character, and embrace the loneliness at times, not only on court but off it. There are a lot of times when you are lonely. It sounds sad, but it’s not that sad. It’s just part of being a player that’s not told on the commercials.”

‘Bad words’

A Romanian media outlet is reporting that French player Caroline Garcia allegedly made offensive remarks during her 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 loss to Romanian player Irina-Camelia Begu on Monday.

Prosport said that Garcia, speaking in French, called Begu a “gypsy” during the match and used some “other bad words.” The remarks were reportedly caught on tape.

The incident made headlines in Romania, home country of tennis great Ilie Nastase. Nastase told Prosport that he also had been called “gypsy” by French players at the French Open.

A WTA official said the tour is looking into the incident


(04/05/16)  LIVE TENNIS:  Angelique Kerber vs Lara Arruabarrena WTA Charleston tennis live: Defending champion starts her title campaign
World no. 2 Angelique Kerber takes on Lara Arruabarrena in the Charleston first round at 7pm local time (12am GMT)
World no. 80 Arruabarrena has won just five games in two meetings with Kerber - the latest right here last year

She may have endured a little wander after her surprise Melbourne triumph in January, but Germany's Angelique Kerber appears to be back on track after last fortnight's Miami Open campaign. Having lost three of four matches since her maiden Grand Slam triumph – including an opening round Indian Wells defeat to Denisa Allertova, 7-5 7-5 – convincing wins over giant-slaying Barbora Strycova and no. 22 seed Madison Keys were part of a run to the semi-finals. There, only a highly in-form Victoria Azarenka stalled her progress, winning 6-2 7-5 on the way to securing the Indian Wells-Miami double.

Kerber, meanwhile, is back up to her career high ranking of world no. 2, and should relish being back on the green clay of what was the Family Circle Cup, and is now the Volvo Car Open. Last year was only the 28-year-old's second appearance at the event, and yet her heavy groundstrokes were immediately at ease on one of the first dirt-tournaments of the year. Beating Andrea Petkovic and Madison Keys en route to the trophy, the top seed at this year's event broke a streak of just one final won in her previous nine attempts. And in hindsight, triumph at the WTA tour's only green clay tournament seems to have permanently changed her fortunes, as she has won four titles in the 12 months following on from Charleston. Is she destined for silverware once more?

Her first round opponent, Lara Arruabarrena, will be endeavouring to make certain that she is not. Freshly 24 and ranked world no. 80, the Spaniard will be on her favourite surface when she faces Kerber in the USA. While she seems more adept on a doubles court at present, Arruabarrena once marked herself out as a rising prospect with WTA Bogota victory in 2012, and also won a trophy in Cali the following year. The former world no. 70 – who holds a career high of no. 28 in doubles – has already contested two clay-court tournaments this season, reaching the final of her latest. This was, however, on the lower-tier ITF circuit. Arruabarrena has won just three matches in WTA main draws this year, and despite a win via retirement over world no. 2 Simona Halep last year, things do not look extremely hopeful for her on Tuesday.

Angelique Kerber and Lara Arruabarrena have faced off twice before, and in those two meetings the lower ranked player has claimed just five games combined. Even more ominously, their last meeting came right here in the Charleston first round last year – and eventual champion Kerber was a dominant 6-3 6-0 victor. This was their only prior meeting on clay.

It looks as though there can only be one winner in this clash, but Angelique Kerber has fallen foul of multiple upsets in the past month or so. There is always a chance that there will be another as she faces Lara Arruabarrena in Charleston at 7pm local time (12am GMT Wednesday.)


(04/04/16)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Venus Williams rising to ‘not even human’ Olympics record
Sloane Stephens was reminded Monday that fellow Volvo Car Open participant Venus Williams is aiming for her fifth Olympics.

That’s right, back when Stephens was 7 years old, Williams defeated Elena Dementieva in the gold medal match at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Note that most members of the gold medal-winning 2000 U.S. Olympic baseball team — including Ben Sheets, Sean Burroughs, Roy Oswalt and former South Carolina Gamecocks shortstop Adam Everett — have started and ended major league careers.

Williams, 35, is still at it. She has a No. 14 WTA singles ranking entering the Volvo Car Open.

“Venus is a beast,” Stephens said. “That’s awesome. For me to play in one Olympics, that would totally be fine. But for her to play in five, that’s like … I don’t even know. She’s not even human.”

Take a close look this week at a sports marvel for the ages. Williams and Roger Federer would become the first five-time singles players in Olympic tennis history.

Just another thing to like about Venus: She loves this represent-your-country stuff and has the souvenir pins to prove it.

“It means everything to me; the Olympics have always meant so much,” Williams said Monday. “It’s been a joy and an honor to be part of it. It’s just been icing on the cake with a cherry on top to be able to bring home some medals.”

The hardware haul includes one singles gold medal and three doubles gold medals won with sister Serena.

So far.

Keys and Stephens

There is competition within the scramble for Sunday at the Volvo Car Open as players seek to solidify their Olympic standing before the August fun in Rio de Janeiro. The top four U.S. players make the singles draw, providing they are ranked among the top 56 on June 6. It looks good for Venus and No. 1 Serena, plus No. 22 Madison Keys and No. 25 Stephens (Coco Vandeweghe is No. 36).

“It’s a huge thing for me,” said Keys, 21. “I think it’s a huge honor and hopefully I’m able to play and I’m very excited for that.”

Tracking Venus’ Olympic run by former U.S. teammates adds perspective.

Monica Seles and Lindsay Davenport were the other Americans in the singles draw in Sydney in 2000.

At Athens in 2004, the year Williams won the Family Circle Cup, it was Lisa Raymond and Chanda Rubin.

Jill Craybas joined Venus and Serena in Beijing for the 2008 games, where Venus lost in the quarterfinals.

At London in 2012, Venus lost a third-round match to Angelique Kerber, this year’s Volvo Car Open defending champ. Other U.S. singles players were Serena, Christina McHale and Varvara Lepchenko.

“I can believe it, just because it’s Venus,” Keys said of the Olympic streak. “Hopefully I get to be a part of that team and get to see her fifth Olympics happen.”
‘Surreal feeling’

Williams can become the second-oldest singles player in Olympic history. Turning 36 in June, she will be slightly younger than Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman, who was 36 at Beijing in 2008.

As Volvo Car Open players and fans roll off I-526 and onto Daniel Island, they are greeted by a long row of flags representing the countries of participants.

It was also a nice reminder of the Olympics, one of Venus’ favorite subjects.

“Just the feeling of getting into that moment,” she said. “There are so many issues in the world and it’s just a moment when it feels like the world pulls together. When you’re actually there at the Olympics, it’s just a wonderful, surreal feeling.”

Over and over and probably repeated a ridiculous fifth time.


(04/04/16)  JEFF HARTSELL:  Equal pay debate a ‘wake-up call’ for Venus Williams
Venus Williams was at the forefront of securing equal prize money for women’s tennis players at Wimbledon nine years ago. Now, women and men are paid the same at the four Grand Slam events and at some — but not all — joint tournaments throughout the tennis calendar.

Imagine Venus’ disappointment, then, when equal pay for female athletes emerged again as a subject for debate in recent weeks. Comments from the tournament director at Indian Wells — and from men’s star Novak Djokovic — reignited the controversy.

And it’s not just tennis. Recently, members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team filed a wage-discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, claiming a pay gap when compared with the men’s team.

“I thought we were a little bit further along,” Williams said Monday at the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island. “But in a lot of ways, I’m happy that it happened. It’s a wake-up call for me, to not sit still and to do what I can for women — not just in tennis, but around the world.”

The Indian Wells tournament director lost his job after claiming that women’s tennis “rides on the coattails” of the men’s game.

“If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born because they have carried this sport,” Ray Moore said. “They really have.”

Djokovic suggested that men deserve more prize money.

“I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches,” he said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. Women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve.”

The top money winner on the WTA Tour so far this year is 2015 Volvo Car Open champ Angelique Kerber with $2.9 million; Djokovic leads the men’s tour with almost $4.9 million. The pay gap extends down the rankings, as well. The No. 10 player on the men’s tour has earned $604,000 to $537,000 for the No. 10 woman.

“I thought we were better than this,” 2014 Volvo Car Open champion Andrea Petkovic said of the debate. “I thought we were more modern in tennis, leaders on this issue. The fact is, we don’t have equal pay. We have it in the Grand Slams and a few other tournaments, but men earn more than we do.

“I thought these problems were in the past, that we had come much further than that. But it’s good to be confronted with the thoughts of men that still think that way and to have those discussions with them.”

And yes, Petkovic has heard that the men play best-of-five sets at some tournaments.

“Always the five sets,” she said. “If I hear that one more time, I will play five sets each and every time just so I don’t have to hear that. I get so frustrated with that.”

For Venus, it’s a larger issue that just a few more dollars on a paycheck.

“It’s important for men to get on board,” she said. “Men have daughters, wives, sisters. They should want the same opportunities for the women in their families. They have to realize that when they say these things, they are also saying it about the women in their lives.”

Total prize money for the Volvo Car Open is $753,000, with $128,100 going to the winner.
Back to college

Vanderbilt star Frances Altick earned a wild-card berth in the Volvo Car Open by winning the Shape Invitational last month at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

But Altick’s stay in Charleston did not last long this time. She was eliminated by American Alison Riske, 6-3, 6-2, in a first-round match on Monday.

Nevertheless, it was good experience for Altick, who has relatives in Charleston and plans a pro career after college. She and her Vanderbilt teammates will try to defend the national title they won last year.
Quick hits

The youngest player in the Volvo Car Open is 18-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia. Oldest? 2004 champion Venus Williams, who is 35.

There are players from 21 countries in the field at the Volvo Car Open, excluding qualifiers. The U.S. has the most (11), with Germany second with five. German players Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic have won the last two tournaments on Daniel Island.

Serena Williams is not on Daniel Island this week — “I miss her,” sister Venus said — but her presence is still felt. Serena is No. 1 this week for the 164th week in a row, the second-longest streak in WTA history behind Steffi Graf’s 186. All told, Serena has been No. 1 for 287 weeks in her career, third all-time behind Graf (377) and Martina Navratilova (332).


(04/04/16)  TENNIS.com:  Week in Preview: Charleston, Houston, Katowice, Marrakech
From the start of Indian Wells to the end of Wimbledon, there’s no time off for the players or the fans who follow them. You might think we’d enjoy a breather now that the month-long U.S. spring hard-court season has concluded, but no, both tours have already made their leap into the clay-court season.

OK, “leap” may be too strong a word here. How about we say that the ATP and WTA will each dip their toes into the clay waters this week? The men are at the only Stateside red-clay event, in Houston, while the women head for the only green-clay event on either tour, in Charleston. Here’s a look ahead at the draws.

Volvo Car Open
Charleston, S.C.
$753,000; WTA Premier; Clay

Yes, for the last 40-odd years, this was the Family Circle Cup, one of the game’s signature women’s-only tournaments. Now it’s the Volvo Car Open. Not the Volvo Open; the Volvo Car Open. That may sound odd, but we won’t complain. A title sponsor is a title sponsor, no matter how redundant it may be.

As always, Charleston boasts a strong draw for a tournament without a fat purse. Angelique Kerber, Belinda Bencic, Venus Williams and Lucie Safarova are the top four seeds, and they’ve all been in the Top 10 at one point this season. Of the four, I’m most curious about Bencic. She began the year promisingly, but has slumped in the U.S. so far. She has played well in Charleston in the past. As for Kerber, the defending champion, we’ll see whether the thigh injury that slowed her in Miami has healed.

There are other players of interest and crowd favorites here as well: Andrea Petkovic, Madison Keys, Sam Stosur and Sabine Lisicki have reached finals in Charleston in the past. This year they’ll be joined by the newcomer of the moment, Daria Kasatkina.


(04/04/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: American Christina McHale goes out early at Volvo Car Open
An American hopeful at the Volvo Car Open was eliminated early on Monday, as Christina McHale was beaten in a first-round match at Volvo Car Stadium.

McHale, ranked No. 57 on the WTA Tour, went down in three sets to Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino by 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. Dominguez, 35, is ranked No. 112.

It was the fifth straight first-round loss at this tournament for the 23-year-old McHale, who made the quarterfinals on Daniel Island in 2011.

No. 11 seed Kristina Mladenovic of France advanced with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Tatjana Maria.

Charleston’s Shelby Rogers is scheduled to play the fourth match on stadium court today.

Monday’s results
Lourdes Dominguez Lino d. Christina McHale, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1
No. 11 Kristina Mladenovic d. Tatjana Maria, 6-4, 6-3
Kateryna Bondarenko d. Misaki Doi, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
Daria Gavrilova d. Zarina Diyas, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
Elena Vesnina d. Cindy Burger, 7-5, 6-2
Jana Cepelova d. Anastasija Sevastova, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1


(04/04/16)  ABC News 4:  Hometown hopeful Shelby Rogers loses first round Volvo Car Open battle to Arruabarrena
In an emotional first match for Charleston's own Shelby Rogers, crowd support and a strong second and third sets were not enough to overcome Spain's Lara Arruabarrena.

Rogers fell 4-6, 6-3, 4-6 in the final match of Monday night.

Fans cheered for Rogers as she left the stadium, but she did not acknowledge them as is her usual form. During an interview session later, she apologized to her fans for letting her emotions take over after the match.

"I have to say thank you to the fans for staying so late. I know it was a long day, and I should apologize for the way I left," she said. "It was the fans who really got me through the second set."

Rogers played a strong match, serving up eight aces to Arruabarrena during the night. She fought back just as many break points in the first set before giving up a ninth.

Rogers' serves were lightning fast at times, reaching speeds of 107 to 114 mph. One of her eight aces was a set-winner in the second.

In the third, Arruabarrena pushed a 2-0 lead early before Rogers fought back to 3-3. On Rogers' faults, Arruabarrena picked up two more points to make it 5-3.

"I was like, 'I'm not giving up. I'm going to fight for every point,'" Rogers said. "It came down to a couple of points in the third where I didn't step up."

Over the weekend, Rogers said lingering injuries from the past couple years were gone and she felt like she was playing some of her best -- and healthiest -- tennis to date. It was something she wanted to see play out this week on Daniel Island.

Despite the loss, she said she's still looking forward to a strong summer season.

"I'm healthy and able to compete and play matches like that. I'm not sitting out watching everyone else play matches," Rogers said.

Arruabarrena advances to play defending champion Angelique Kerber in the second round.

Monday's results:
Lourdes Dominguez Lino d. Christina McHale, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1
No. 11 Kristina Mladenovic d. Tatjana Maria, 6-4, 6-3
Kateryna Bondarenko d. Misaki Doi, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
Daria Gavrilova d. Zarina Diyas, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
Elena Vesnina d. Cindy Burger, 7-5, 6-2
Jana Cepelova d. Anastasija Sevastova, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni d. Shuai Peng, 6-2, 6-1
Ana Konjuh d. Sesil Karatantcheva, 6-3, 6-3
No. 15 Sabine Lisicki d. Irina Falconi, 6-4, 6-3
Alison Riske d. Francis Altick, 6-3, 6-2
Danka Kovinic d. Cagla Buyukakcay, 6-1, 6-3
Lara Arruabarrena d. Shelby Rogers, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6


(04/04/16)  LIVE 5 NEWS:  Shelby Rogers falls, Lisicki advances at Volvo Car Open
Lowcountry native Shelby Rogers was unable to advance past the first round of the Volvo Car Open on Monday falling in 3 sets to Spain's Lara Arruabarrena 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

Rogers, playing in Volvo Car Stadium, had been given main draw wild card entry on Friday and had a chance to face off against top seed and defending tournament champion Angelique Kerber in the 2nd round. Instead, she was unable to improve on her 1 career victory in the main draw of her home town tournament.

Sabine Lisicki, who won the then Family Circle Cup in 2009, advanced in the 1st round this year beating American Irini Falconi 6-4, 6-3.

RESULTS - APRIL 4, 2016
Women's
Singles - First Round
[11] K. Mladenovic (FRA) d T. Maria (GER) 64 63
[12] D. Gavrilova (AUS) d Z. Diyas (KAZ) 61 16 63
[15] S. Lisicki (GER) d I. Falconi (USA) 64 63
K. Bondarenko (UKR) d [16] M. Doi (JPN) 46 63 61
L. Arruabarrena (ESP) d [WC] S. Rogers (USA) 64 36 64
I. Begu (ROU) d C. Garcia (FRA) 64 26 76(3)
A. Konjuh (CRO) d [Q] S. Karatantcheva (BUL) 63 63
D. Kovinic (MNE) d [Q] C. Buyukakcay (TUR) 61 63
[LL] J. Cepelova (SVK) d A. Sevastova (LAT) 46 64 61
A. Riske (USA) d [WC] F. Altick (USA) 63 62
L. Siegemund (GER) d [LL] P. Tig (ROU) 46 63 63
M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) d S. Peng (CHN) 62 61
L. Domínguez Lino (ESP) d C. Mchale (USA) 26 64 61
[Q] E. Vesnina (RUS) d [Q] C. Burger (NED) 75 62

Women's
Doubles - First Round
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) d [2] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) 64 62

ORDER OF PLAY - TUESDAY, APRIL 5, 2016
VOLVO CAR STADIUM start 10:00 am
S. Zheng (CHN) vs [14] D. Kasatkina (RUS)
[Q] A. Krunic (SRB) vs [10] S. Stosur (AUS)
E. Bouchard (CAN) vs A. Dulgheru (ROU)
B. Mattek-Sands (USA) vs T. Pereira (BRA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] A. Kerber (GER) vs L. Arruabarrena (ESP)
[WC] H. Berg (USA) / P. Cline (USA) vs V. King (USA) / A. Kudryavtseva (RUS)

ALTHEA GIBSON CLUB COURT start 10:00 am
[Q] N. Osaka (JPN) vs [WC] L. Chirico (USA)
M. Brengle (USA) vs [Q] K. Kucova (SVK)
L. Hradecka (CZE) vs M. Puig (PUR)
M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs [11] K. Mladenovic (FRA)

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
S. Zhang (CHN) vs [Q] L. Kerkhove (NED)
Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs E. Rodina (RUS)
G. Dabrowski (CAN) / D. Jurak (CRO) vs [WC] M. Keys (USA) / S. Stephens (USA)
D. Kasatkina (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) vs K. Bondarenko (UKR) / O. Savchuk (UKR)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
K. Nara (JPN) vs Y. Putintseva (KAZ)
A. Groenefeld (GER) / L. Siegemund (GER) vs A. Rodionova (AUS) / K. Siniakova (CZE)


(04/04/16)  LOWCOUNTRYBIZ: Legend Oaks Gives Back Championships benefit The ARK
The fifth annual Legend Oaks Gives Back USTA Level 2 Tennis Tournament, benefiting The ARK Alzheimer’s Family Support Services, raised $4,000 to support the Lowcountry community in need. The event was Jan. 29-31 at Legend Oaks Golf and Tennis Club in Summerville.

The event opened Friday night and ended Sunday afternoon, with the crowning of 14 champions throughout the event. There were 121 players, ranging from beginners to the highest ranking local players and professionals, who came out to make the event a huge success.

The biggest winner of the event was the The ARK Family Support Services, selected by the members of the Legend Oaks Gives Back Tennis committee, based on votes by the members of Legend Oaks Golf & Tennis Club. Owner Jim Chickarello is thrilled that the event has grown so fast over its five-year history, and that a local Lowcountry community charity will benefit from the funds raised. “It’s great to see so many residents within our community supporting their neighbors in need,” Chickarello said. “Local charities need our support more than ever.”

Chickarello thanked the Legend Oaks Gives Back Tennis Committee members for their tireless efforts in support of this event: Lisa Diedrick – Co-Chair, Noelle Hauck – Co-Chair, Dawn Blatner, Jeff Nixon, Holly Plyler, Deania Sparling and Carol Wilson. A big thank you also went out to all the generous sponsors in the business community especially major sponsors Heritage Trust Federal Credit Union, Lori & Eric Carlson and Soul Whispers Arts. The event would not have been possible without the support of the many volunteers from within the neighborhood and community and all the participants from across the Lowcountry and South Carolina.

The Legend Oaks Gives Back initiative was founded in 2008 by Jim Chickarello, owner of Legend Oaks Golf and Tennis Club in Summerville. The club staff joins with club members and the Legend Oaks neighborhood, working together to help those in the immediate community in need. The year-round initiative includes a major fall fundraiser with tennis tournament, golf tournament and dinner with silent auction, a 5K run on the back nine, a used golf club drive, a back to school supplies drive and a Christmas toy drive, in addition to this annual USTA Level 2 Tennis Tournament.

Past donations have benefited The Alzheimer’s Association, Dorchester Children’s Center, Meals on Wheels of Summerville, MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, MUSC children’s Hospital, One80 Place (formerly The Palmetto House) and The South Carolina Junior Golf Association. The Legend Oaks Gives Back initiative, operating with the motto “A Community Working Together, to Help Those in Need” has raised over $277,000 in cash donations and goods since its inception in 2008.

The eighth annual Legend Oaks Gives Back Charity Weekend will be Sept. 9-11. Also, Legend Oaks Gives Back will host a used tennis racquet drive benefiting the Professional Tennis Registry Foundation’s program “Racquet Round-Up.” ThroughApril 30, drop off used racquets at Legend Oaks Golf and Tennis Club, 118 Legend Oaks Way, Summerville.

Pictured, from left, are Kathy Chickarello, Brian Ouse, Noelle Hauck, Bryant McKee, Megan Severn (The ARK) Peg Lahmeyer (The ARK), Theresia Ware, Lisa Diedrick, Jim Chickarello and Tony Jones.


(04/03/16)  Pair of Dutch players top final Volvo Car Open qualifying
The Dutch hit the jackpot on Sunday in the Volvo Car Open qualifying tournament finals. Two rather obscure players from the Netherlands qualified for the main draw of the WTA Tour Premier-level event that starts Monday at Family Circle Tennis Center.

Cindy Burger, a 23-year-old Dutch, got plain lucky when qualifying third seed Samantha Crawford pulled out of her scheduled match against Burger in the final round qualifier on Sunday. Crawford suffered a right wrist injury in a fall during a first-round victory over 37-year veteran Patty Schnyder on Saturday.

Powerful Lesley Kerkhove scored one of the biggest wins of her career by rallying past 10th seed Patricia Maria Tig of Romania, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, to give the Netherlands two of the eight main draw qualifiers.

As it turned out, the 21-year-old Tig also was awarded a berth in the main draw as a lucky loser. Tig is ranked 129th in the world.

Another lucky loser was 2014 Family Circle Cup runner-up Jana Cepelova of Slovakia, a 22-year-old ranked 126th in the world.

But 17-year-old rising star Raveena Kingsley of Baltimore fell by the wayside in front of a large mid-day crowd on the Althea Gibson Club Court. Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria, the 26-year-old 11th seed, jumped on the talented Kingsley early and then outlasted the LSU recruit in the second set for a 6-0, 7-5 win to advance to the main draw.

“I need to get mentally tougher,” said the 5-7 Kingsley, who is currently ranked No. 347 in the world.

Kingsley thrilled the crowd by hitting numerous lines in the second set, but her ball found the net too often as Karatantcheva kept the pressure on by playing consistent clay-court tennis.

The athletic Kingsley served for the second set at 5-4, but lost the next three games, committing three unforced errors in the 10th game.

Kingsley is trying to decide whether she will turn pro or remain an amateur and head to LSU in the fall or in January in time for a freshman year of tennis at LSU. “It will depend on how I do on the circuit,” she said.

Her goal is to reach the top 150 by the fall or the top 100 by the end of the year. If either of those happen, Kingsley said she would turn pro and not play collegiate tennis.

The only top 100 qualifier was top-seeded Elena Vesnina of Russia, the 29-year-old 2011 Family Circle Cup runner-up who is now ranked 96th. Once ranked as high as 21st in the world, Vesnina scored a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain on Sunday.

The youngest qualifier was 18-year-old 104th-ranked Naomi Osaka of Japan, who posted a 6-4, 7-6 (7) win over the hard-hitting Cepelova.

Karatantcheva (No. 138), Burger (159) and Kerkhove (190) were just three of the seven qualifiers who were ranked outside the world’s top 100. Both Dutch players are at or near the top of their career rankings.

Kerkhove, a 24-year-old who has yet to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, made a big rally to put the pressure on the consistent Tig.

“She played fast at first and served well,” said the 5-7 Kerkhove, who lost to then-Charleston resident Jessica Pegula in last year’s final round of qualifying here. “But in the second set, she made some double faults and mistakes.”

That allowed Kerkhove to get back in the match and eventually to hold service on her fifth match point in the 10th game as the two players engaged in long, intense baseline battles. Finally, the bigger Kerkhove unloaded on a serve out wide that handcuffed the slender Romanian opponent to end the match.

The other three main draw qualifiers were 25-year-old 12th seed Kristina Kucova of Slovakia (No. 139), 23-year-old eighth seed Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia (125) and 26-year-old No. 7 seed Cagla Buyukakcay of Turkey (121).
Jankovic withdraws

Former Family Circle Cup champion Jelena Jankovic withdrew from the Volvo Car Open due to a right shoulder injury.

Jankovic had been the No.9 seed.

“I’m very disappointed that I had to withdraw from this event. It is one of my favorite events on the tour. I really tried my best to recover and be ready to play, but unfortunately I still need more time to do the rehabilitation,” the 2007 Family Circle champion said.


(04/03/16)  LIVE 5 NEWS: Jankovic drops out of Volvo Car Open
Former Family Circle Cup champion Jelena Jankovic, who was the 9th seed in this year's renamed Volvo Car Open, had to withdraw on Sunday due to a right shoulder injury.

"I'm very disappointed that I had to withdraw from this event." Jankovic said in a statement. "It is one of my favorite events on the tour. I really tried my best to recover and be ready to play, but unfortunately I still need more time to do the rehabilitation. I look forward to hopefully coming next year and being healthy. Hopefully in a week, I can start hitting balls.  It's still too fresh and too risky at the moment to be playing at a high level.  And if I'm going to go on court, I'm going to play 100% and I want to show my best.  Under this condition, I cannot do that so I'm really disappointed. I'm sad that I won't be able to play in front of so many fans that I have here."

Since she withdrew prior to a schedule being released, her position in the draw is taken by the 13th seed, Irina-Camelia Begu. The next player to be seeded, Eugenie Bouchard, will take the vacated 13th seed position and a qualifier or lucky loser takes the position created by this move.

Petra Cetkovska has also withdrawn with a right thigh injury, but as she is not seeded her position will be filled by a qualifier or lucky loser.

RESULTS - APRIL 03, 2016

Qualifying Singles - Second Round
Qualifying - [1] E. Vesnina (RUS) d S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 64 64
Qualifying - [2] N. Osaka (JPN) d [9] J. Cepelova (SVK) 64 76(7)
Qualifying - C. Burger (NED) d [3] S. Crawford (USA) walkover
Qualifying - [7] C. Buyukakcay (TUR) d [16] Y. Bonaventure (BEL) 75 61
Qualifying - [8] A. Krunic (SRB) d J. Jaksic (SRB) 60 62
Qualifying - L. Kerkhove (NED) d [10] P. Tig (ROU) 16 63 64
Qualifying - [11] S. Karatantcheva (BUL) d [WC] R. Kingsley (USA) 60 75
Qualifying - [12] K. Kucova (SVK) d M. Larcher de Brito (POR) 61 75

ORDER OF PLAY - MONDAY, APRIL 04, 2016
VOLVO CAR STADIUM start 10:00 am
L. Dominguez Lino (ESP) vs C. McHale (USA)
I. Begu (ROU) vs C. Garcia (FRA)
[15] S. Lisicki (GER) vs I. Falconi (USA)
[WC] S. Rogers (USA) vs L. Arruabarrena (ESP)

ALTHEA GIBSON CLUB COURT start 10:00 am
T. Maria (GER) vs [11] K. Mladenovic (FRA)
[12] D. Gavrilova (AUS) vs Z. Diyas (KAZ)
[WC] F. Altick (USA) vs A. Riske (USA)
L. Siegemund (GER) vs [LL] P. Tig (ROU)

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
K. Bondarenko (UKR) vs [16] M. Doi (JPN)
A. Sevastova (LAT) vs [LL] J. Cepelova (SVK)
[Q] S. Karatantcheva (BUL) vs A. Konjuh (CRO)
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs [2] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs S. Peng (CHN)
[Q] E. Vesnina (RUS) vs [Q] C. Burger (NED)
D. Kovinic (MNE) vs [Q] C. Buyukakcay (TUR)


(04/02/16)  LIVE 5 NEWS: Draw is Set
Defending champion Angelique Kerber is the number 1 seed as the main draw was set and play began in the qualifying round on Saturday at the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island.

Kerber is one of six former Family Circle Cup champions who will be playing in Charleston this week. She's joined by 3rd seed Venus Williams, 6th seed Andrea Petkovic, 9th seed Jelena Jankovic, 10th seed Samantha Stosur and 15th seed Sabine Lisicki.

Belinda Bencic, the 10th ranked player in the world, is the 2 seed for the tournament.

2011 Family Circle Cup finalist Elena Vesnina won her opening qualifying match against Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 6-4, 6-0. She'll attempt to earn one of eight qualifying spots on Sunday when she faces Sara Sorribes Tormo.

RESULTS - APRIL 2, 2016
Qualifying Singles - First Round
Qualifying - [1] E. Vesnina (RUS) d S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 64 60
Qualifying - [2] N. Osaka (JPN) d T. Martincova (CZE) 60 62
Qualifying - [3] S. Crawford (USA) d [WC] P. Schnyder (SUI) 62 16 62
Qualifying - [WC] R. Kingsley (USA) d [4] K. Siniakova (CZE) 46 64 62
Qualifying - M. Larcher de Brito (POR) d [5] A. Tatishvili (USA) 26 60 75
Qualifying - L. Kerkhove (NED) d [6] X. Han (CHN) 63 57 64
Qualifying - [7] C. Buyukakcay (TUR) d J. Boserup (USA) 76(1) 16 76(7)
Qualifying - [8] A. Krunic (SRB) d M. Oudin (USA) 36 60 63
Qualifying - [9] J. Cepelova (SVK) d [WC] E. Halbauer (USA) 60 46 61
Qualifying - [10] P. Tig (ROU) d [WC] L. Robson (GBR) 63 63
Qualifying - [11] S. Karatantcheva (BUL) d A. Hlavackova (CZE) 46 76(5) 63
Qualifying - [12] K. Kucova (SVK) d A. Sadikovic (SUI) 63 60
Qualifying - C. Burger (NED) d [13] V. Cepede Royg (PAR) 64 26 75
Qualifying - J. Jaksic (SRB) d [14] A. Lim (FRA) 61 63
Qualifying - S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP) d [15] J. Pegula (USA) 26 61 75
Qualifying - [16] Y. Bonaventure (BEL) d A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) 63 76(0)

ORDER OF PLAY - SUNDAY, APRIL 3, 2016
ALTHEA GIBSON CLUB COURT start 10:00 am
Qualifying - [1] E. Vesnina (RUS) vs S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP)
Qualifying - [WC] R. Kingsley (USA) vs [11] S. Karatantcheva (BUL)
Qualifying - [3] S. Crawford (USA) vs C. Burger (NED)

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
Qualifying - [2] N. Osaka (JPN) vs [9] J. Cepelova (SVK)

Not Before 12:00 noon
Qualifying - M. Larcher de Brito (POR) vs [12] K. Kucova (SVK)

Not Before 2:00 pm
Qualifying - [8] A. Krunic (SRB) vs J. Jaksic (SRB)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
Qualifying - [7] C. Buyukakcay (TUR) vs [16] Y. Bonaventure (BEL)

Not Before 1:00 pm
Qualifying - L. Kerkhove (NED) vs [10] P. Tig (ROU)

First Round
[1] A. Kerber (GER) Bye
[WC] S. Rogers (USA) vs. L. Arruabarrena (ESP)
M. Brengle (USA) vs. Qualifier
K. Bondarenko (UKR) vs. [16] M. Doi (JPN)
[9] J. Jankovic (SRB) vs. C. Garcia (FRA)
B. Mattek-Sands (USA) vs. T. Pereira (BRA)
L. Hradecka (CZE) vs. M. Puig (PUR)
[6] A. Petkovic (GER) Bye
[4] L. Safarova (CZE) Bye
Qualifier vs. [WC] L. Chirico (USA)
Qualifier vs. A. Konjuh (CRO)
S. Zheng (CHN) vs. [14] D. Kasatkina (RUS)
[12] D. Gavrilova (AUS) vs. Z. Diyas (KAZ)
S. Zhang (CHN) vs. E. Bouchard (CAN)
D. Kovinic (MNE) vs. Qualifier
[7] S. Stephens (USA) Bye
[5] S. Errani (ITA) Bye
Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs. E. Rodina (RUS)
A. Sevastova (LAT) vs. Qualifier
Qualifier vs. [10] S. Stosur (AUS)
[15] S. Lisicki (GER) vs. I. Falconi (USA)
K. Nara (JPN) vs. Y. Putintseva (KAZ)
[WC] F. Altick (USA) vs. A. Riske (USA)
[3] V. Williams (USA) Bye
[8] M. Keys (USA) Bye
L. Siegemund (GER) vs. Qualifier
M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs. S. Peng (CHN)
T. Maria (GER) vs. [11] K. Mladenovic (FRA)
[13] I. Begu (ROU) vs. A. Dulgheru (ROU)
L. Domínguez Lino (ESP) vs. C. Mchale (USA)
P. Cetkovska (CZE) vs. Qualifier
[2] B. Bencic (SUI) Bye


(04/02/16)  ABC NEWS 4:  Players set Volvo Car Open main draw while families enjoy weekend of access
Gates open Monday morning for another year of women's main draw tennis as the Volvo Car Open kicks off its first year under a new name.

There are several big names returning in 2016, including last year's champion Angelique Kerber and 2014 champion Andrea Petkovic. Venus Williams is making a return as well.

Hometown hero Shelby Rogers was given a wildcard into the main draw and said she's looking forward to playing healthy. In recent years, she's battled injuries that stopped short a run deep into the tournament.

During Saturday afternoon's draw ceremony, Rogers' name was drawn first, and fans paired her with Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena. The victor will face Kerber in the next round.

Rogers says she's ready to play in front of a home crowd.

"Game is similar but the mentality - more mature hopefully. I've been here, I'm used to it. Other players say it's too tough to play at home, you want to do extra well. Doing better of not putting pressure on myself. They support me no matter what, so that's nice," she said.

Rogers plays Monday, the fourth match of the day on center court.

Americans Williams, Madison Keys, and Sloane Stephens all have first round byes.

Meanwhile, there are several big names sitting out for this year's Charleston-based tournament, including American fan favorite Serena Williams and always expressive Jalena Jankovic, as was announced Sunday afternoon.

While Saturday and Sunday for players meant qualifying matches on side courts in the hopes of making it to the main draw, for tennis fans it was also Family Weekend.

That meant plenty of attractions for the youngest tennis fans, including lessons on center court and a chance to hear from Keys and Genie Bouchard on their special shots.

Two fans even had the chance to play across the net from the two pros.

Chandler, a 9-year-old tennis player wielding a racquet almost as big as she was, managed to return a Keys serve and volley with the third-ranked American player for a few minutes.

Hayes managed to get Bouchard's attention and a chance to return the Canadian star's wicked backhand, including a slicing return down the line that surprised both Bouchard and Keys.

Beyond center court, there were dance and trampoline demonstrations during the weekend along with the tournament's daily serve contests, pro tips, and a jump castle.

Kids under the age of 15 are admitted free to the Volvo Car Open.


(04/02/16)  LIVE 5 NEWS:  Main Draw set for Volvo Car Open
Defending champion Angelique Kerber is the number 1 seed as the main draw was set and play began in the qualifying round on Saturday at the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island.

Kerber is one of six former Family Circle Cup champions who will be playing in Charleston this week. She's joined by 3rd seed Venus Williams, 6th seed Andrea Petkovic, 9th seed Jelena Jankovic, 10th seed Samantha Stosur and 15th seed Sabine Lisicki.

Belinda Bencic, the 10th ranked player in the world, is the 2 seed for the tournament.

2011 Family Circle Cup finalist Elena Vesnina won her opening qualifying match against Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 6-4, 6-0. She'll attempt to earn one of eight qualifying spots on Sunday when she faces Sara Sorribes Tormo.

RESULTS - APRIL 2, 2016

Women's
Qualifying Singles - First Round
Qualifying - [1] E. Vesnina (RUS) d S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 64 60
Qualifying - [2] N. Osaka (JPN) d T. Martincova (CZE) 60 62
Qualifying - [3] S. Crawford (USA) d [WC] P. Schnyder (SUI) 62 16 62
Qualifying - [WC] R. Kingsley (USA) d [4] K. Siniakova (CZE) 46 64 62
Qualifying - M. Larcher de Brito (POR) d [5] A. Tatishvili (USA) 26 60 75
Qualifying - L. Kerkhove (NED) d [6] X. Han (CHN) 63 57 64
Qualifying - [7] C. Buyukakcay (TUR) d J. Boserup (USA) 76(1) 16 76(7)
Qualifying - [8] A. Krunic (SRB) d M. Oudin (USA) 36 60 63
Qualifying - [9] J. Cepelova (SVK) d [WC] E. Halbauer (USA) 60 46 61
Qualifying - [10] P. Tig (ROU) d [WC] L. Robson (GBR) 63 63
Qualifying - [11] S. Karatantcheva (BUL) d A. Hlavackova (CZE) 46 76(5) 63
Qualifying - [12] K. Kucova (SVK) d A. Sadikovic (SUI) 63 60
Qualifying - C. Burger (NED) d [13] V. Cepede Royg (PAR) 64 26 75
Qualifying - J. Jaksic (SRB) d [14] A. Lim (FRA) 61 63
Qualifying - S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP) d [15] J. Pegula (USA) 26 61 75
Qualifying - [16] Y. Bonaventure (BEL) d A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) 63 76(0)

ORDER OF PLAY - SUNDAY, APRIL 3, 2016
ALTHEA GIBSON CLUB COURT start 10:00 am
Qualifying - [1] E. Vesnina (RUS) vs S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP)
Qualifying - [WC] R. Kingsley (USA) vs [11] S. Karatantcheva (BUL)
Qualifying - [3] S. Crawford (USA) vs C. Burger (NED)

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
Qualifying - [2] N. Osaka (JPN) vs [9] J. Cepelova (SVK)

Not Before 12:00 noon
Qualifying - M. Larcher de Brito (POR) vs [12] K. Kucova (SVK)

Not Before 2:00 pm
Qualifying - [8] A. Krunic (SRB) vs J. Jaksic (SRB)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
Qualifying - [7] C. Buyukakcay (TUR) vs [16] Y. Bonaventure (BEL)

Not Before 1:00 pm
Qualifying - L. Kerkhove (NED) vs [10] P. Tig (ROU)

First Round
[1] A. Kerber (GER) d Bye
[WC] S. Rogers (USA) vs. L. Arruabarrena (ESP)
M. Brengle (USA) vs. Qualifier
K. Bondarenko (UKR) vs. [16] M. Doi (JPN)
[9] J. Jankovic (SRB) vs. C. Garcia (FRA)
B. Mattek-Sands (USA) vs. T. Pereira (BRA)
L. Hradecka (CZE) vs. M. Puig (PUR)
[6] A. Petkovic (GER) d Bye
[4] L. Safarova (CZE) d Bye
Qualifier vs. [WC] L. Chirico (USA)
Qualifier vs. A. Konjuh (CRO)
S. Zheng (CHN) vs. [14] D. Kasatkina (RUS)
[12] D. Gavrilova (AUS) vs. Z. Diyas (KAZ)
S. Zhang (CHN) vs. E. Bouchard (CAN)
D. Kovinic (MNE) vs. Qualifier
[7] S. Stephens (USA) d Bye
[5] S. Errani (ITA) d Bye
Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs. E. Rodina (RUS)
A. Sevastova (LAT) vs. Qualifier
Qualifier vs. [10] S. Stosur (AUS)
[15] S. Lisicki (GER) vs. I. Falconi (USA)
K. Nara (JPN) vs. Y. Putintseva (KAZ)
[WC] F. Altick (USA) vs. A. Riske (USA)
[3] V. Williams (USA) d Bye
[8] M. Keys (USA) d Bye
L. Siegemund (GER) vs. Qualifier
M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs. S. Peng (CHN)
T. Maria (GER) vs. [11] K. Mladenovic (FRA)
[13] I. Begu (ROU) vs. A. Dulgheru (ROU)
L. Domínguez Lino (ESP) vs. C. Mchale (USA)
P. Cetkovska (CZE) vs. Qualifier
[2] B. Bencic (SUI) d Bye


(04/02/16)  Crawford’s power too much for Patty and her fans
Poor Patty Schnyder.

Her fans from the Family Circle Cup days were on hand hoping to pull the 37-year-old through one more time. It didn’t happen.

Former local player Samantha Crawford was just too strong to allow that to happen in Saturday’s opening round of qualifying for the Volvo Car Open.

Crawford, who hits like the 6-2 powerhouse she is, flirted with disaster in the second set after injuring her right wrist in a fall in the first set. She became a little erratic, and most of her big shots missed their target as Patty gave her fans a thrill.

But when Sam Crawford turned on the power and mixed in accuracy in the third set, Schnyder didn’t stand a chance in the face of Crawford’s raw power from all over the court. Not only did Crawford master Schnyder’s tricky left-handed game, but she also handled the delicacy of playing in a stiff wind.

“With the wind, you just have to aim for bigger targets,” Crawford said.

Now, if Crawford can play the type of tennis she played in dominating the first and third sets during her 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 win over Schnyder, she might advance into the Volvo Car Open’s main draw.

Perched precariously close to the top 100 at No. 109 with the French Open ranking deadline approaching, a Volvo Car Open main draw and a good showing, would likely earn Crawford a direct entry into the French Open. The former U.S. Open junior champion hits a big ball from both sides, and even bigger from the service line.

Playing on the same Althea Gibson Club Court that had been so frustrating to close friend Jessie Pegula and former Daniel Island resident Ellie Halbauer in opening-round losses on Saturday, Crawford didn’t even mind that Schnyder seemed to own the fan base. Of course, Crawford and Pegula spent most of 2015 as area residents.

Samantha Crawford signs an autograph for a fan with her injured right hand after winning a first-round qualifying match on Saturday at the Volvo Car Open.

 “I hurt my right wrist when I fell in the first set and I was making errors in the second set,” Crawford said. “I like playing on the Club Court. There’s not many other courts nearby.”

Crawford, who now trains out of Plantation, Fla., with former USTA coach Nick Saviano, will battle Cindy Burger of the Netherlands on Sunday for a berth in the Volvo Car Open main draw.

Pegula also gave the locals hope in the second match on the Club Court as she easily took the first set from Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo with precision ground strokes. Pegula hardly showed up in the second set and then fought back from a 5-4, 40-15 hole in the third set only to lose 2-6, 6-1, 7-5.

The daughter of the owner of the Buffalo Bills/Sabres, Pegula was simply her own worst enemy through much of the second and third sets. She tried to pull the string with her mostly brilliant and sizzling forehands and backhands too often against a gritty clay-courter.

Every time it looked like Pegula had Sorribes Tormo on the ropes, it was actually the other way around. The Spanish player couldn’t match Pegula’s shot-making ability or power, but she put almost everything into play.
Halbauer wins set

There was good news for Halbauer. The 18-year-old didn’t win her match, but she did win her first set in the three qualifying matches she has played at Family Circle Tennis Center. After being shut out in a rain-plagued first set, Halbauer took the fight to 2014 Family Circle Cup runner-up Jana Cepelova in the second set before falling, 6-0, 4-6, 6-1.

“It was more fun today ... because I won a set,” joked Halbauer, who had played in the last two Family Circle Cup qualifying tournaments by virtue of winning back-to-back Dunlop Junior titles.

In the process, Halbauer demonstrated to local fans that she also can play aggressive tennis to go along with her natural clay-court type of game. She showed off a few weapons with her forehand and backhand, but the serve hasn’t reached that stage yet.

Halbauer not only has new strategy, she has a new coach. Chip Brooks, who spent 35 years as the tennis director at Nick Bollettieri’s Academy, is her new coach. Brooks coached 10 top-ranked players, including Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

“She’s got to do more of what she did in the second set,” Brooks said about Halbauer, who resided for four years on Daniel Island and now plays out of Plantation, Fla. “At this level, you’ve got to take advantage of your opportunities. She’s got to get better, and don’t waste first serves.”


(04/02/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: For defending champion Angelique Kerber, ‘everything clicked’ in Charleston
For Angelique Kerber, everything changed last year when she arrived in Charleston. And her life hasn’t been the same since.

Kerber pulled up to the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island last year in a slump, and a bit out of sorts. The 28-year-old German, who had established herself as a top 10 player on the WTA Tour, had won just three of her previous 10 matches and watched her ranking drop to No. 16.

“I didn’t have the best start last year,” Kerber said. “But when I came to Charleston, I was feeling from the first moment like I was really welcome. I had some great matches there, and the fans were amazing. Everything clicked there.”

Playing in Charleston for just the second time, Kerber won five straight matches to take her fourth WTA singles title. She went on to win three more titles in 2015, a run that launched her to the Australian Open this year. There, she conquered world No. 1 Serena Williams in the finals to win her first Grand Slam event.

This week, Kerber returns to Charleston for the Volvo Car Open ranked No. 2 in the world, with the Australian Open trophy sitting “right in the middle of her living room” at home and the phrase “Grand Slam champion” in front of her name.

“After Charleston, I had a lot of confidence again and played some great tennis,” she said. “That tournament was very important to me last season. I’m looking forward to coming back, having a great time and maybe playing some great tennis again.”

The Australian Open trophy, she said, is a reminder “of the best two weeks of my career so far.” So are the expectations and duties that come with winning one of tennis’ major championships.

“I recognize I am a Grand Slam champion. I have a lot more things to do,” Kerber said. “It’s a different pressure than I had before. I have much more confidence inside of me. It feels different, but I know I need to go with what worked because this is why I had the highlight of my career.”

Despite the increased fame — and a paycheck of $2.5 million — resulting from the Australian Open, Kerber insists she’s the same person who grew up idolizing Steffi Graf and enjoys sleeping, swimming, dancing and hanging out with friends. Those friends include countrywoman Andrea Petkovic, the 2014 Family Circle Cup champion.

“For me as a person, nothing changes,” Kerber said. “I’m the same person. But a lot of things have changes around me. I have so much to do with the press, and a lot of people recognize me on the streets and on the airplane. But my team and me, my family, were still the same.”

But WTA star Victoria Azarenka certainly sees a difference in Kerber.

“She’s a very good player and obviously winning the Australian Open and playing so well this year, she plays with a different confidence and really raised her level,” Azarenka said.

Kerber’s success has sparked a renewed interest in tennis in Germany, the home of past legends Graf and Boris Becker.

“It feels good because now I am seeing that tennis is going up again in Germany,” she said. “Football is the biggest sport there, and I love to watch it; I’m a big football fan. It’s great to see, after Steffi Graf and Boris Becker, that now again the people are watching tennis and the focus is getting bigger on tennis again. This feels good, and I’m proud that I am the person that makes tennis so popular again.”

With her increased profile comes more responsibility to speak out on issues surrounding the game, of which there have been plenty lately.

— On Maria Sharapova testing positive for using a banned drug: “I was shocked,” Kerber said. “When I heard about it, I was shocked like everybody. But I don’t know the details, so I can’t say too much. I know I’m always looking twice or three times now at what I put in my body. It’s important for everybody to check what they are taking.”

— On a tennis official saying that women players “ride the coattails” of stars on the men’s tour: “Of course, it is bad,” she said. “I think the WTA and women’s tennis has a great history in the past, and we are working very hard. At the end, I think it’s good that he’s not a tournament director anymore.”

Kerber’s main focus, however, is her tennis.

At the Miami Open last week, she had her left leg heavily wrapped. Still, Kerber made the semifinals for the first time since the Australian Open, a result that she admitted was sorely needed.

“Actually, it was not so easy after (the Australian Open), because I had so many things to do,” she said. “And after Indian Wells, where I was still not feeling 100 percent.”

As she did last year, Kerber spent some time in Las Vegas recently, working with her idol, Graf.

“It was quiet,” she said. “I was working really hard on the court with Steffi and Andre (Agassi), which is always a great experience to be with them on the court ... I had the feeling that I was practicing hard again and that I’m ready again for some tough matches.”


(04/01/16)  GENE SAPAKOFF: Charleston tennis, by Volvo Car Open or any name, smells as sweet
The late Richard Feynman, a renowned physicist famed for World War II work on the atomic bomb and for pinpointing faulty Space Shuttle O-rings as the key to the 1986 Challenge disaster, learned early that names were overrated.

Feynman’s father pointed out a brown-throated thrush. He said it was known as something else in German, and something else in Chinese, and so on.

 “When you know all the names in every language of that bird,” the elder Feynman said, “you know nothing — absolutely nothing — about the bird.”

Then the Feynmans carefully noted pecking habits and feather composition.

The Volvo Car Open is the new name of the WTA stop on Daniel Island. Some people, accidentally or deliberately, will still call it the Family Circle Cup.

In the international vernacular of veteran tour players, the nine-day Volvo Car Open that starts at the Family Circle Tennis Center with qualifying matches Saturday is simply “Charleston.”

It doesn’t matter much.

By any name, the oldest tournament in women’s professional tennis has endured since 1973 with colorful characteristics of toughness and fun. It has survived a 2001 move from Hilton Head, a drop from NBC to ESPN2 and the retirement of Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf. Adjusting to 2016 tennis scandals (alleged match-fixing and confirmed Maria Sharapova performance-enhancing drug use) and welcoming a new title sponsor that hopes to add prestige to its new $500 million Berkeley County plant is no big deal.

As usual, some people will come for the tennis. The field includes former champions Angelique Kerber, Venus Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Samantha Stosur, Sabine Lisicki and Andrea Petkovic.

Other people come for Pickleball Clinics (all week), Ladies Day (Tuesday), Pink Out Night for the Cure (Wednesday), Military Appreciation Night (Thursday), the Matchpoint Market, beverages on the Grand Lawn, live music and Food Trucks ranging from Roadside Seafood to Tow in the Dough.

For most fans — and this event regularly draws from at least 40 states — it’s a mix of both.

So long, Sharapova

Past is always present. The Volvo Car Open, per tradition, honors former champions with posters displayed around the facility. Three-time champion Serena Williams will not participate for the second year in a row, but her charity good will in Charleston is likely to keep bringing non-sports fans and her role as unofficial WTA spokesperson covers all tour stops.

Williams at the Australian Open addressed a match-fixing scandal in which BBC and BuzzFeed reported the practice has been widespread in a sport popular with gamblers worldwide. Men’s star Novak Djokovic confirmed he was offered $20,000 to throw a match in 2007.

“You know, if that’s going on, I don’t know about it. ... I’m kind of, sometimes, in a little bit of a bubble,” Williams said.

The Sharapova case hits a bit closer to home at the only green clay tournament in professional tennis. The Russian-born, Florida-trained star made her Family Circle Cup debut at 15 in 2003, won Wimbledon just 15 months later and went on to earn $285 million in prize money and endorsement deals. Sharapova lost to Serena Williams in an epic 2008 three-set quarterfinal that might be the best tennis match ever played on Daniel Island.

Sadly, at 28 and facing a ban that might last as long as four years for taking the endurance-building drug meldonium, she might not return.

As a WTA Tour player, that is. While top players can check out of active participation at this event, many never leave.

Agassi and Roddick

Evert won a record eight Family Circle Cup singles titles, Navratilova four. The great rivals returned for a merry Family Circle Cup 35th anniversary celebration news conference in 2008.

Someone brought up the subject of “greatest career win.”

“Do you have one?” Navratilova asked Evert. “They always ask me that.”

“I always go back to the ‘85 French Open,” Evert said, “when I beat you. Sorry. Well, that’s a compliment to you.”

“Yes, it is,” Navratilova said. “I take it as such.”

Navratilova and Evert were back on Daniel Island in 2012 with Chris serving as a coach and Martina participating in a series of exhibition doubles matches with John McEnroe, Todd Martin, Martina Hingis, Tracy Austin and Aaron Krickstein.

Popular off-bracket Saturday night fun is back at the Volvo Car Open on April 9. Former men’s stars Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish will clash in a PowerShares Series showcase.

WTA stars, former ATP stars, wine and cheese, shopping and Chick-fil-A. Again.

You don’t have to be an authority on quantum electrodynamics like Richard Feynman was to know a name of an event has absolutely nothing to do with its consistent plumage.


(03/31/16)  GRACE RAYNOR: Fan favorite Patty Schnyder returns to Volvo Car Open after retiring in 2011
For weeks, Patty Schnyder knew without a trace of doubt that it was time to walk away.

Nearly 17 years on the WTA circuit had finally taken their toll, both mentally and physically. She was 32 years old, exhausted, and ready to say goodbye to professional tennis for good — so she did on May 28, 2011.

“I knew for a few weeks in a row it was coming. Mentally, I was just worn out,” Schnyder said. “(But) I really had a tough time. Almost every evening I was almost close to tears. For me it was really heartbreaking to leave that chapter of my life.”

As it turns out, Schnyder couldn’t stay away for long.

The now 37-year-old Swiss is out of retirement and her next stop is Charleston for the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island. Schnyder earned a wild card into the qualifying draw, which begins Saturday at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

“I’m totally excited. I’m really happy to be playing again and meeting the people that I spent so many nights and memories with,” Schnyder said. “It’s going to be really emotional seeing me play there again.”

Upon retirement in 2011, Schnyder went on a two-year hiatus from tennis, during which she essentially didn’t even touch a racquet. Mentally, she was burned out.

“I needed a break from tennis,” she said. “It really took a while until I really felt like it’s a great sport again and I wanted to play it.”

Schnyder eventually began to compete again in July after she discovered that training was something she was beginning to enjoy once more.

A new mother to 16-month old daughter KimAyla, Schnyder now balances motherhood with her revitalized career, which she became serious about again in October.

Saturday will mark her first appearance in the Charleston tournament since 2011, and her 16th overall. She has reached the finals twice in singles — 2002 and 2006 — and twice in doubles, in 1999 and 2009.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how many people recognize me or remember some of my matches I had,” she said. “I definitely had great, great wins and great matches also for the crowd. We had kind of a very, very emotional relationship with the fans.”

At 37, Schnyder will be the oldest competitor in the qualifying field and — if she advances — the main draw, as well. Venus Williams and Lourdes Dominguez Lino are both 35.

In the qualifying round, Schnyder — who owns 11 WTA singles titles total — could face any one ranging from 17 years old (Raveena Kingsley) to 35 (Dominguez Lino).

The average age of the qualifiers is about 24, more than a dozen years younger than Schndyer.

“It’s OK,” Schnyder said of any lingering doubt regarding her age or physical shape. “I try my best and I know that I’m playing pretty good again.

“I can understand if (people) have these kind of thoughts, but I am having fun and that’s important.”

Bob Moran, who is in his eighth year of serving as the director of the tournament, indicated that the new mother is in about the same physical shape coming out of retirement as she was when she was at the peak of her career years ago.

He also spoke to Schnyder’s feisty spirit, something Charleston fans had fond memories of through the years.

Fans might remember a particularly heated showdown between Schynder and Conchita Martinez in 2004.

“I don’t know if there’s a player like Patty out there, to be honest,” Moran said. “There’s plenty of players that have plenty of passion and fire, I think they all just show it in different ways. But there’s no question Patty developed just kind of who she was.”


(03/31/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Volunteers are the backbone of the Volvo Car Open
According to Jo Cooper, volunteer coordinator for the Volvo Car Open tennis tournament, it takes a lot of help from volunteers to ensure the success of a tennis tournament, especially one the size of the Volvo Car Open.

“More than 500 people volunteer their time at the Volvo Car Open. We could not do it without our dedicated volunteers. We have 350 people that work behind the scenes in one of 13 different departments,” states Cooper of the magnitude of what it takes to organize an event of this size.

Recruiting that many volunteers is quite a task. However, there are incentives that are given to help make the process a little easier. Though there is a fee of $60 to be a volunteer and each volunteer must work a minimum of 6 or 7 shifts, there are many extra perks depending on how many extra shifts you commit to. At minimum, all volunteers receive a uniform, a credential (which allows for admission to all nine day sessions), a hat, and two tickets to the PowerShares. But if you work more than the minimum number of shifts, extra tickets and even a debit card for food is given. That may be why so many volunteers come back year after year.

“We have 32 volunteers that have not missed a year since the tournament has been in Charleston. They have been helping us out for the past 16 years. This truly is a dedicated group of volunteers. Each year I look forward to finding out what has happened in their lives since the last tournament. Watching great tennis is a nice perk we all have in common,” Cooper says.

The people who are recruited to help with the tournament come from many different places. Daniel Island certainly provides a large number of volunteers based on the sheer convenience of location. Volunteers also come in various ages.

Daniel Island resident Don Rose may be 82 years old, but he loves the hustle and bustle of the Volvo Car Open tournament. So much so, he hasn’t missed a tournament in the 16 years that it has been here on Daniel Island. Most of those years he’s spent his volunteer hours within the transportation department. Rose enjoys there different jobs he gets to do every year.

“The variety of duties in the transportation department is enormous. I think the main purpose of the transportation department is to satisfy the needs of the players. We take them where ever they want to go in the Charleston area, whether it’s going for passport photos, visa, or simply shopping, as well as to the practice courts and of course back and forth to the hotels,” says Rose.

Another job, easily considered the most important job, is transporting the players to and from the airport. Rose looks forward to seeing the players each year, but notes that not all the rides are ‘good’ ones.

“The pick-ups are usually easy. The returns are more difficult because the younger players are disappointed when they lose in the first round and have to go on to their next tournament or go home. I call it the ‘The Trail of Tears.’ I always promise that we will see them next year and to practice,” says Rose of transporting the players to and from the airport.

Zack O’Dell, who will be volunteering for the first time this year also in the transportation department, is most looking forward the possibility of interacting with the European players. Having lived in Germany, O’Dell speaks German and also hold a German driver’s license.

“I hope to have the chance to converse in German with some of the German players during the tournament. As an American who has lived abroad it is always comforting to be able to speak one’s native language in a foreign country,” says O’Dell.

An equally important job lies within the Ball Crew department. With training sessions for volunteers beginning in late winter, the ball crew’s time commitment starts well before the tournament begins. But the opportunity to be close to the players makes finding volunteers relatively easy.

“Our Ball Crew team has 200 dedicated members that have been practicing since February. They enjoy up close and personal contact with our players,” says Cooper. Because the ball crew utilizes youth volunteers, it has been a great way for local Daniel Island kids to get involved with the tournament.

Zade Hyatt, 10, from Daniel Island, is in his second year volunteering for the tournament. Two years ago he was a ball crew member, then took last year off, and again is on the ball crew this year. “I like getting to be next to the pro tennis players,” says Zade, “And I don’t get nervous…I just focus on the things I’m supposed to do.”

Another young ball crew member this year is JD Sutterlin. His experience as a tennis player makes volunteering that much more exciting. When asked what he is looking forward to the most, he says “Watching the players up close and seeing their footwork and movement on the court.”

Again, the success of a well-put-together tournament is the hard work and dedication from many people in many different areas.

“All of our volunteers are vital to the success of the tournament,” Cooper says with gratitude!


(03/31/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Seven Americans Entered in this year's main draw
The Volvo Car Open will showcase an American icon, one of the greatest players who represents its proud past – and present: Venus Williams.

The tournament, which kicks off the clay-court season, will also feature two of the most promising players in America’s future: Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys.

Those are just three of the seven Americans entered in this year’s event, which commences with qualifying play on Saturday and first-round action on Monday.

Williams, half of the greatest sibling tennis tandem in history, heads to Daniel Island with the World No. 13 ranking. Stephens, who just turned 23 is World No. 22 while Keyes who just turned 21 is World No. 24.
Williams, a former World No. 1 and 2004 Family Circle Cup champion, will make her eighth appearance in Charleston, where she holds a 17-5 record.

In 2013, Williams made a return to the Cup’s final four, losing in the semifinal to sister and World No. 1 Serena Williams. The match marked the first time the sisters met in singles since 2009, and the first time on clay since 2002.

Williams has been ranked World No. 1 in singles by the WTA three different times for a total of 11 weeks at the top.
She became the World No. 1 for the first time on February 25, 2002, becoming the first African- American woman to achieve this feat during in the open era.

She and her sister are credited as changing the women’s game and ushering a new, modern era of power and athleticism on the WTA tour.

She’s won seven grand slam singles, which is good enough for 12th on the all-time list. She is one of only five women in the open era to win 200 or more main draw Grand Slam singles matches.

Stephens will be making her sixth appearance in Charleston. She already has one title under her belt this year, winning the ASB Classic in Auckland. Last year, she won her first WTA title of her career with a win in the Citi Open in Washington.
She was a semifinalist in Strasbourg and Eastbourne, and was a quarter-finalist in Miami and Seoul. She reached the fourth round at Roland Garros.

“I love playing on clay, it’s my favorite surface,” Stephens said. “I’m excited to kick off the clay court season in Charleston again this year at the Volvo Car Open.”

Keys also is no stranger to Charleston. She’s having an impressive run in Miami, the tourney that precedes the Volvo Car Open. Keys defeated Roberta Vinci of Italy, the No. 9-ranked player in the world, in their third-round match 6-4, 6-4. The victory advanced Keys to the fourth round against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu, ranked 35th in the world.

The other Americans in the field and their ranking include Christina McHale (56), Madison Brengle (60), Monica Puig (67), Allison Risk (86) and Bethanie Mattek-Sands (87).


(03/31/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Qualify draw includes Charleston favorites Shelby Rogers and Patty Schnyder
The qualifying draw for the Volvo Car Open is officially complete for the tournament, with qualifying rounds beginning on April 2 and finishing on April 3. Volvo Car Open’s qualifying draw consists of 32 players – 28 direct entry participants and four wild cards. Eight players in the qualifying field will advance into the main draw of the Volvo Car Open, which starts on April 4th.

The qualifying round highlights a range of past Charleston players, including Shelby Rogers, the local fan-favorite, who grew up on Daniel Island and volunteered as a ball girl at the tournament, Jana Cepelova, a finalist in the 2014 Family Circle Cup, and Lauren Davis, who reached the quarterfinals of the tournament last year.

Nine Americans are featured in the qualifying draw. In addition to Rogers and Davis, Alison Riske, Samantha Crawford, Anna Tatishvili, Louisa Chirico, Jessica Pegula, Ellie Halbauer and Raveena Kingsley have all entered into the tournament.
Rounding out the draw, the Volvo Car Open has issued four wild cards into its qualifying field to Patty Schnyder, Laura Robson, Halbauer and Kingsley.

Schnyder is on a comeback tour, after retiring from the sport in 2011. She’s won 11 WTA singles titles and reached a career high ranking of World No. 7. She’s competed in the Family Circle Cup 15 times, reaching two finals in Charleston and holding a 27-12 tournament record.

“There are a handful of players in our qualifying field that have large fan bases in Charleston – Shelby, Jessie, Sam and Ellie all have ties to the Lowcountry,” said Bob Moran, Volvo Car Open Tournament Director. “Patty Schnyder has been playing in our tournament since before we relocated from Hilton Head Island. She’s a part of our family, and we are thrilled to welcome her back to our tournament.”

Robson is a former Top 50 player, holding a career-high ranking of World No. 27, who is making a return to tennis after a lengthy wrist injury. She’s reached the fourth round in both Wimbledon and the US Open. This is her second time entering the Charleston field, having competed in the 2013 tournament.

Halbauer is a two-time Dunlop Junior champion, providing her with two past wild cards into the Volvo Car Open. Born and raised in Charleston, the 18-year-old has won one ITF title.

Kingsley earned her wild card entry into the Volvo Car Open during the SHAPE Magazine Invitational earlier this month. As the finalist of the collegiate tournament, she was granted access into Charleston’s qualifying draw. The 17-year-old will play for Louisiana State University in fall of 2016.

The Volvo Car Open’s 56-player draw is made up of 43 direct entries into the tournament, five wild cards and eight qualifiers.



(03/31/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: They keep coming back! Volvo Car Open

Angelique Kerber PROFILE
Current Rank: 3
Age: 28
Country: Germany
Languages: German, Polish, English
Residence: Puszczykowo, Poland. In the heart of Poland, and located roughly 200 miles west of Warsaw, Puszczykowo is located in Poznan County and is home to over 9,000 residents. It’s surrounded by the Wielkopolski National Park.*

HERE IN CHARLESTON (Record: 7-1)
• 2010 – reached round of 16, losing to Daniela Hantuchova
• 2015 - Won tournament, defeating Madison Keys in three sets

2016 HIGHLIGHTS (YTD Record: 13-5)
• Won Australian Open in January 2016
• Reached final in Brisbane


Belinda Bencic PROFILE
Current Rank: 10
Age: 19
Country: Switzerland
Residence: Wollerau, Switzerland – home also to tennis great Roger Federer, Wallerau is home to just over 7,000 people, nearly 20% of whom are from foreign nations. The city boasts an unemployment rate under 1.5% and is home to Itamin, a world leader in the manufacturing of rollercoasters. The city is located 20 miles outside of Zurich.*

HERE IN CHARLESTON (7-2)
• 2015 – Defeated Dellacqua, lost to Kovinici
• 2014 – Reached semifinals at the age of 17, defeating Errani in quarters

WHY SHE’S COMING BACK TO CHARLESTON
Q: What keeps you coming back to Charleston?

Bencic: “Well, mostly because there I had my first breakthrough and a good result. I broke into the top 100 there and I played the semifinals. It’s nice memories and also I just like the tournament.”

Q: When you think about your prior experiences in Charleston, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Bencic: “Yeah, the semifinal how I played and I beat Errani in the quarterfinals which was like the first big win for me.”

2016 HIGHLIGHTS (YTD Record: 13-6)
• Reached semifinals in Sydney, Final in St. Petersburg
• Defeated both Kerber and Petkovic in Fed Cup  


Venus Williams PROFILE
Current Rank: 13
Age: 35
Country: United States
Residence: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida – incorporated in 1960 by insurance magnate John MacArthur, the city – with a current population of nearly 50,000, was formerly home to cattle ranches, pine forests and swamplands.*

HERE IN CHARLESTON (Record: 19-6)
• 2014 – reached round of 16
• 2013 – reached semifinals, lost to Serena
• 2012 – reached quarterfinals
• 2009 – reached round of 16
• 2007 – reached semifinals
• 2005 – reached round of 16
• 2004 – Won tournament, defeating Conchita Martinez in three sets

2016 HIGHLIGHTS (YTD Record: 7-3)
• Won tournament in Kaohsiung, won both Fed Cup matches against Poland’s Kania and Linette  

Lucie Safarova PROFILE
Current Rank: 15
Age: 29
Country: Czech Republic
Languages: Czech, German, English
Residence: Monte Carlo, Monaco – located at the base of the Maritime Alps along the French Riviera, Monte Carlo is one of Europe’s leading tourist resorts and known for its famous casinos. James Bond movies Never Say Never Again and Golden Eye were filmed in Monte Carlo.*

HERE IN CHARLESTON (Record: 11-4)

• 2014 – reached quarterfinals
• 2013 – Won doubles title with Mladenovic; in singles, reached quarters
• 2012 – Won doubles title with Pavlyuchenkova; in singles, reached finals, losing to Serena
• 2006 – Reached quarterfinals

2016 HIGHLIGHTS (YTD Record: 0-2)
• Coming back from an injury late in 2015  

 
Sara Errani PROFILE
Current Rank: 18
Age: 28
Country: Italy
Languages: Italian, Spanish, English
Residence: Bologna, Italy – the 7th most populous city in Italy, Bologna is famous for its towers and length porticoes, and is known as a cultural and artistic center. Home to more than one million people. In 2000 it was declared the European capital of culture and in 2006 a UNESCO “city of music.”

HERE IN CHARLESTON (YTD Record: 5-4)
• 2015 – reached quarterfinals
• 2014 – reached quarterfinals
• 2008 – defeated Ditty, lost to Cornet

WHY SHE’S COMING BACK TO CHARLESTON
Q: When you think about the Charleston tournament, both on and off the court, what is the first memory that you think of?

Errani: “. . . [b]ecause my coach comes with his family and two kids so we have a lot of fun there playing with the kids, so it’s nice that in the tennis club there are the small courts for the kids and we go there to play with them. It’s fun.”

2016 HIGHLIGHTS (Record: 9-7)
• Reached final in Dubai, losing to Strycova  
 

Andrea Petkovic PROFILE
Current Rank: 21
Age: 28 Country: Germany
Languages: French, German, English, Serbian

Residence: Darmstadt, Germany – Located in the Frankfurt Metropolitan Region, Darmstadt holds the official title of the “City of Science” and houses, among other scientific institutions, the European Space Operations Centre and the GSI Centre for Heavy Ion Research (where several chemical elements were discovered). Armstead is also the seat of the world’s oldest pharmaceutical company, Merck, which is the city’s largest employer. The city is home to over 150,000 people.*

HERE IN CHARLESTON (YTD Record: 11-3)
• 2015 – reached semifinals, losing to eventual winner Kerber
• 2014 – Won tournament, defeating Jana Cepelova
• 2013 – reached round of 16

WHY SHE’S COMING BACK TO CHARLESTON

Q: “So, Andrea, tell me what keeps you coming back to Charleston?”
Petkovic: “I think it’s just the atmosphere, I don’t know. It’s one of my favorite courts, which is the center court, and also the Althea Gibson Court, it’s just beautiful. You can just relax, everybody is so friendly, it’s always the same people when you come back and it just feels like coming back to a family so I really enjoy it. And also Charleston is a beautiful town with great restaurants and a great vibe around it so I enjoy myself very much.”

Q: “And speaking of the restaurants and the vibe, what do you do when you get out to explore? Do you get out to explore?”
Petkovic: “Not too much, but I do enjoy just strolling through the streets because it has kind of a European vibe, I would say, you can just walk around and you can get everywhere by foot and that’s really nice. And yeah, the Halls Chophouse is one of my favorite restaurants…it’s really good. So, yeah.”

Q: “And in the past, can you talk about some of your favorite memories both on and off the court? Like funny moments or moments that stick out to you?”
Petkovic: “Well, I think obviously the greatest moment in Charleston was when I won it. It was really a key moment for me, and my career, and it really sort of pinpointed my comeback after all my injuries. So that was very important and very emotional. And then coming back the next year and having this huge billboard over the bridge with myself on it that was kind of special, you know. I mean I didn’t have such a big billboard, but it’s a different thing when you have it in Germany where you’re sort of well-known and having that in America in a town that’s so far away was really special.”

Q: “And obviously the player party appearance with Jelena Jankovic would have been a highlight for off the court.”
Petkovic: “Yeah, definitely we always have great fun. And actually also playing doubles with Jelena, with JJ, we didn’t play so many times, but somehow every time we played we played in Charleston and we had so much fun. I remember at one crazy point we played against Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond actually. And we played on Althea Gibson Court and it was packed and we had a standing ovation for five minutes I think and it was so much fun and we were just enjoying ourselves a lot.”

2016 HIGHLIGHTS (Record: 8-5)
• Reached semifinals in Doha, forced to retire due to injury  

Jelena Jankovic PROFILE
Current Rank: 26
Age: 31 Country: Serbia
Languages: Serbian, English, French, and learning Spanish
Residence: Dubai, United Arab Emirates – located on the Emirate’s northern coastline, Dubai has emerged as a global city and business hub of the Middle East. In 2014, Dubai’s hotel rooms were rated as the second most expensive in the world, after Geneva. The city, home to over 2.5 million people, will host World Expo 2020.*

HERE IN CHARLESTON (21-11)
• 2015 – had to bow out in third round, due to injury
• 2014 – reached quarters
• 2013 – reached finals, losing to Serena Williams in three sets
• 2012 – lost to Venus Williams
• 2011 – reached semifinals, losing to Carolina Wozniacki
• 2010 – reached quarters
• 2008 – reached quarters
• 2007 – Won tournament, defeating Dinara Safina
• 2006 – lost to Julia Vakulenko
• 2005 – lost to Justine Henin
• 2004 – lost to Lindsay Davenport
• 2002 – lost to Stephanie Foretz

2016 HIGHLIGHTS (Record: 6-8)
• Reached round of 16 at Indian Wells, losing to Agnieszka Radwanska
WHY SHE’S COMING BACK TO CHARLESTON

Q: What keeps you coming back to Charleston? Is it the food? The setting? Temperature?
Jankovic: “I think everything. I think, first of all, I think the people and the organization of the tournament and the people that are playing a role in organizing it are so nice and so, how do you say? They take good care of the players. They really care about us. They really want to make us feel at home and I think that’s what people and players appreciate very much. And we love the courts, we love the food, we love the coziness of the tournament. It is so relaxed and so beautiful.”

Q: When you think about your prior experiences in Charleston on and off the court, what memories come to mind?
Jankovic: “Winning in 2007 and overall just setting a nice time with the people there. Every time and every year I see them over and over again. I think those memories are priceless.”  

Samantha Stosur PROFILE
Current Rank: 27
Age: 32 Country: Australia
Residence: Gold Coast, Australia - Located just outside of Brisbane, on the east coast of Australia, Gold Coast is home to over half a million people, and is known as a major tourist destination, with its sunny subtropical climate, surfing beaches, canal and waterway systems, theme parks, nightlife, and rainforest hinterland. The city will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.*

HERE IN CHARLESTON (13-8)
• 2015 – lost to Lara Arruabarrena in 2nd round
• 2014 – reached round of 16, losing to Lucie Safarova
• 2013 – reached round of 16, losing to Eugenie Bouchard
• 2012 – reached semifinals, losing to Serena
• 2011 – reached round of 16, losing to Elena Vesnina
• 2010 – Won tournament, defeating Vera Zvonareva
• 2007 – in singles, lost to Venus Williams; in doubles, lost in round of 16
• 2006 – Won doubles tournament with Lisa Raymond; in singles, lost to Lucie Safarova
• 2005 – in doubles, reached quarters; in singles, reached 2nd round

WHY SHE’S COMING BACK TO CHARLESTON

Q: “What keeps you coming back to Charleston?”

Stosur: “Well, I love the tournament. It gets really well supported by the fans and they love coming out and watching the tennis whether it’s the qualies or the finals, so there’s always a great atmosphere around the center as far as the tournament goes. And, I actually just love the city. It’s one of my favorite cities in America and I’ve got some really great friends there that I always love to see. The food is amazing so that always helps and yeah, I just always have a great time so there’s always lots of good memories.”

Q: “And speaking of exploring the city and everything, when you do have some time, what do you typically like to do in Charleston off the court when you have some free time?”

Stosur: “Well I’ve done that horse carriage tour probably three or four times actually. And I eat lots of good food, I go out for coffee, go to quite a few of the shops there are some nice little kind of antiquey, unique kind of shops around. And yeah, catch up with those friends I’ve mentioned so there’s never any shortage I always hope that I do well so I’m there for the whole week!” 2016 HIGHLIGHTS (YTD Record: 7-4) • In Fed Cup, defeated both Cepelova and Schmiedlova of Slovakia • Reached round of 16 at Indian Wells, losing to eventual winner Victoria Azarenka • Reached quarters in Sydney  

Patty Schnyder PROFILE
Current Rank: 455
Age: 37
Country: Switzerland
Residence: Baech, Switzerland
HERE IN CHARLESTON/HILTON HEAD (Record: 27-12)
• 2011 – lost in 1st round (then retired on May 28, 2011)
• 2010 – in 3rd round, lost to Caroline Wozniacki
• 2009 – in 2nd round, lost to Elena Vesnina
• 2008 – in quarters, lost to Elena Dementieva
• 2007 – in 2nd round, lost to Shuai Peng
• 2006 – reached finals, losing to Nadia Petrova
• 2005 – reached semis, losing to Elena Dementieva
• 2004 – reached semis, losing to Conchita Martinez
• 2003 – in second round, losing to Vera Zvonareva
• 2002 – reached final, losing to Iva Majoli
• 2001 – lost in 1st round
• 2000 – reached round of 16, losing to Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario
• 1999 – reached semis, losing to Anna Kournikova
• 1998 – in quarters, losing to Monica Seles
• 1997 – reached 2nd round
2016 YTD Record: 5-2

* Source: Wikipedia Note: 2016 records include tournaments through March 20, 2016

Q: What keeps you coming back to Charleston?
Jelena Jankovic “I think everything. I think, first of all, I think the people and the organization of the tournament and the people that are playing a role in organizing it are so nice and so, how do you say? They take good care of the players. They really care about us. They really want to make us feel at home and I think that’s what people and players appreciate very much. And we love the courts, we love the food, we love the coziness of the tournament. It is so relaxed and so beautiful.”

Sam Stosur “Well, I love the tournament. It gets really well supported by the fans and they love coming out and watching the tennis whether it’s the qualies or the finals, so there’s always a great atmosphere around the center as far as the tournament goes. And, I actually just love the city. It’s one of my favorite cities in America and I’ve got some really great friends there that I always love to see. The food is amazing so that always helps and yeah, I just always have a great time so there’s always lots of good memories.”

Andrea Petkovic “I think it’s just the atmosphere, I don’t know. It’s one of my favorite courts, which is the center court, and also the Althea Gibson Court, it’s just beautiful. You can just relax, everybody is so friendly, it’s always the same people when you come back and it just feels like coming back to a family so I really enjoy it. And also Charleston is a beautiful town with great restaurants and a great vibe around it so I enjoy myself very much.”


(03/31/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Volvo Car Open Fan Activities!
In addition to player matches, there are plenty of other fan-friendly activities happening as part of the Volvo Car Open. Check out the following schedule of events (source: www.volvocaropen.com).

BY DAY….

Saturday, April 2 - Sunday, April 10
Lisette L Montreal Pants Giveaway! Visit the Lisette L Montréal pop-up shop on-site all week. When you try on a pair of their pants, you will be entered to win a free pair. Drawings will take place every half hour!

Ban Cardio Tennis Court 12:00 pm -12:30pm, 12:30 pm- 1:00pm Get a 30-minute tennis workout in at the Open, thanks to Ban. Cardio tennis clinics will occur twice a day throughout the week. We’ll supply the equipment, just bring your A-game! Players of all abilities are welcome.

Saturday, April 2 - Sunday, April 3 Family Weekend 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
The theme of the weekend is bounce! Kids of all ages will experience a weekend filled with jump castles, jugglers, tennis games, magicians, trampolines and live dance performances. Acts include the nationally acclaimed trampoline performers, FlippenOut on Saturday April 2nd and Peace, Love, Hip Hop and Kyle and the K’Otics on Sunday April 3rd. All Activities are family-friendly and can be enjoyed around the ground while taking in world-class tennis matches.

Saturday, April 2
Draw Ceremony 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm Be a part of Volvo Car Open history as player names are drawn to determine who will battle it out on the courts! Interact and take photos with WTA players.

Monday, April 4 - Sunday, April 10
MUSC Health Pickleball Clinics

11:00 pm - 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Hop on the short courts and play some pickleball! This sport combines elements of tennis, ping pong and badminton. Beginners and experts welcome!

Tuesday, April 5
Lisette L Montréal Ladies Day 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Join us for a special day of tennis with your best girls! For the cost of a Tuesday ticket, you’ll enjoy giveaways, shopping, wine and cheese tastings and loads of activities, all while watching world-class women’s tennis. Rally up the ladies and make a day of it!

Girl Talk Luncheon 11:00 am - 12:30 pm Presented by Lisette L Montréal The “Ladies Day Luncheon” is all about girl talk this year. Plan to be entertained by two fashionable mother-daughter duos: Snezana and Jelena Jankovic, former World No. 1 and Lisette Limoges, world-renowned fashion designer, and daughter Kathryne. Tickets are $60 and include a catered lunch. * A Volvo Car Open day session ticket is required, along with the luncheon ticket.

BY NIGHT…

Happy Hour Nightly 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Tuesday, April 5
Dunlop Sport/Antigua Performance Apparel 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm Be one of the first 2,000 fans through the gate on Tuesday night, and receive a special gift. In addition, the merchandise tent will offer special pricing on all Antigua clothing. After the first match, two lucky USTA teams will compete head-to-head on court.

Wednesday, April 6
Pink Out Night for the Cure 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm Presented by MUSC Health Join us in our effort to PINK OUT the stadium in support of the Susan G. Komen® for the Cure Lowcountry. For each person wearing pink through the gates, the Volvo Car Open will make a donation to cancer research, community health outreach and advocacy programs.

Thursday, April 7
Military Appreciation Night 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm In honor of the men and women who serve our country in the Armed Forces, the Volvo Car Open, on behalf of Prudential, is proud to host military appreciation night – giving active-duty and retired military, plus their families complimentary admission. Join us in thanking our service members and their families.

Friday, April 8
SunTrust Night 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Don’t miss an exciting night of great matches and prizes. Join SunTrust on Friday when they host an interactive on court activity – the annual ball toss. A true fan favorite!

Saturday, April 9 2016 PowerShares Series!
7:00 pm Mark your calendars for this exciting addition at the Volvo Car Open Stadium. Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish will play live in this PowerShares series event. To purchase tickets, call 800-677-2293.


(03/31/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: DI News History - March 31, 2016
FIVE YEARS AGO
In the March 31, 2011 issue of The Daniel Island News the top story was Family Circle Cup preview and the return of defending champion Sam Stosur. Additionally, islander Shelby Rogers, who teamed with Patty Schnyder in an exhibition doubles match the previous year, were set compete together in the main doubles draw.

In top business news, 109 River Landing Drive, right next to Sermet’s Courtyard, was purchased for $1.56 million by 109 River Landing LLC, a partially owned subsidiary of Colonial Commercial Group (CCG) in Greenville, SC. The 4-story building, which was custom built six years prior, has roughly 12,500 square feet of space, of which 1,200 was available for leasing.

Major tenants at the time included Wells Fargo Advisers, Millennia Medical and Resolution Management Consultants.


(03/31/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Kerber set to defend her Charleston title against a talented field
It’s the Volvo Car Open, now. But the tournament, formerly known as the Family Circle Cup, still has plenty of talent, plenty of familiar faces.

Eight of the top 24 players on the WTA tour are entered in this year’s event, which commences Saturday with qualifying play. First round action begins Monday.

The reigning champ and five past winners are entered in this year’s event, which kicks off the clay-court season.
The defending champion is Angelique Kerber, a German who is currently ranked No. 3 in the world. She used last year’s victory as a springboard for a great run that has continued in ’16. She won the first Grand Slam event of the year, taking home the top prize at the Australian Open in January.

Andrea Petkovic, the 2014 champ, will provide plenty of competition. Other winners of the Daniel Island tournament entered in the field are 2010 champ Samantha Stosur, 2009 winner Sabine Lisicki, 2007 champion Jelena Jankovic and 2002 champ and crowd favorite Venus Williams, who returns to Daniel Island after a one-year absence.

Kerber has won seven WTA titles, four of which she earned in 2015. After winning in Charleston, she continued her success, winning titles in Stuttgart, Birmingham and Stanford. She captured her first grand slam in Australia.

Kerber has made two previous appearances in Charleston, and owns a 7-1 record on the green clay in Charleston.
“I am eager to play Charleston again,” Kerber said. “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. 21, will be making her fourth appearance in Charleston and has had great success, with an 11-2 record. After winning the Family Circle Cup in 2014, she made the semifinals last April. 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


(03/31/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: It's 'Game On' for 2016 Volvo Car Open!
DI tournament offers magical match-up for fans and players

While you are not likely to see a large-sized mouse in a tuxedo roaming the grounds at next week’s Volvo Car Open, formerly known as the Family Circle Cup, the experience is sure to be almost as magical as what you might find at a certain fun-filled, family-friendly amusement park in Florida.

Fresh off a program at Disney University in Orlando, VCO tournament director Bob Moran is taking a few cues from Mickey’s playbook on how to create some exciting and memorable fan-fare for this year’s event.

“What’s our mission?” Moran said, from his office at the Family Circle Tennis Center last week. “How do we make the experience better? The Disney quote that resonated with me was really clear. Over manage the things that people tend to forget about and overlook. Where are the little areas we can make a difference?”

Moran and his team took the Disney creed to heart and are all-in on making sure fans are well served as they hit the grounds April 2 – 10 for this year’s tournament, now in its 16th year on Daniel Island. The biggest change is of course the event’s new name. Volvo Car, USA came on as the title sponsor late last summer, a move that is certain to bring a unique flavor to the tennis showdown for both fans and players.

“I think the way we look will be different,” added Moran, who stressed that the tournament is still owned and operated by Meredith Corporation and Family Circle Magazine. “Obviously our signage is all going to be different. They’re getting used to us as much as we’re getting used to them, but I know their on-site displays are beautiful and it’s really going to step up how we look and how we feel.”

Moran said the decision to name a new title sponsor was not an easy one, but he believes it was the right way to move the tournament forward.

“This is an international brand that is coming to Charleston to call it home, as we call it home,” he continued. “If there was ever an opportunity to create a partnership with an international brand that made sense for us, it’s Volvo.”

Fans can look for Volvo car displays on the grounds and opportunities to “ride and drive,” along with a huge presence from company representatives throughout the tournament. The top-seeded players will be given a Volvo to drive during their stay, while other players can make use of loaner cars for a few hours at a time if they want to go out on excursions.

"They love that because it gives them the opportunity to explore the area,” added Eleanor Adams, tournament manager. “So many of them love to go sight-seeing and to the plantations and to the beach. This gives them a little bit more freedom to do that.”

Fans will also experience a re-energized VCO team that is even more focused on customer service.

“I want anybody who walks in our gate and asks a question of anybody who works here, not just our volunteers, not just our staff, anybody that they ask a question of they can get an answer.”

As in years past, Moran and his staff have worked diligently to create ways to engage fans on every level during their tournament time. In 2016, look for new opportunities to catch the on-going action on the courts.

“We’re going in a different direction this year,” he said. “We’re always going to be very active on social media with the players…but we’re taking that up a notch.”

The VCO has partnered with Stre.am, a video platform company founded by a College of Charleston student, to offer an amplified viewing experience for fans. A unique URL for the tournament will allow fans to see what’s happening via live video as competitions play out across the grounds.

“They are actually going to outfit little cameras on all the practice courts, the non-ESPN courts,” said Moran. “We’re going to create a QR code for this. When someone comes in, this QR code will go straight to that URL. This is all about the fan experience. If someone is in the stadium, they can use their phone or their iPad and go to this unique URL…and have options to click on what’s going on the Club Court, or on one of the practice courts.”

They also plan to stream content from player functions, such as the VCO Player Party, which will be held at the South Carolina Aquarium this year.

“We’re dipping our toe into the water a little bit,” said Moran. “But we feel like it will just be another asset that our fans can use…What we want to provide is the opportunity for people to be able to see what’s going on elsewhere when they’re in different parts of the facility.”

According to a VCO press release, the tournament receives four days of live broadcast domestically on ESPN2 and is viewed internationally in more than 165 countries. In 2015, the event attracted some one million viewers in the United States and close to 12 million around the globe. This year, Moran estimates they could reach 15 million viewers.

Another new VCO feature in 2016 will be the addition of a second Jumbotron screen on Stadium Court.

“No one will be in the stadium now without seeing the video interaction,” said Moran.

Also look for an on-court announcer at the popular Althea Gibson Court for the first time, as well as added seating. The area will be completely enclosed with bleachers this year and will include court walk-ons, music, and other features – making it more “stadium-esque,” said Moran. In addition, the VCO talent hosts Andrew Krasny and Nick McArdle will be creating daily video wrap-ups, at the end of each day during the tournament, that will be sent out to fans. The Daily Slice will still be distributed in written form each morning and provided to fans as they enter the grounds.

“A lot of the things we do for the fan experience are really focused on new media, video, content, and those types of things,” continued Moran. “And making it a little bit easier and more enjoyable.”

ON THE PLAYER SIDE

Now in its 44th year, the newly renamed VCO is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in the world. This year, expect to see many of the game’s greatest players descend on Daniel Island for a chance at winning the title crown and a piece of the $753,000 prize money pie. The 2016 player field includes six former champions – Angelique Kerber (2015), Andrea Petkovic (2014), Samantha Stosur (2011), Sabine Lisicki (2009), Jelena Jankovic (2007), and Venus Williams (2004).

“I think that’s really incredible,” said Adams, of the champions’ return. “To have these players who want to come back year after year because they’ve fallen in love with the event, and they have fallen in love with Charleston and the people – that’s what it’s all about. I think that’s a testament to Charleston and Daniel Island, that they feel at home and that they are proud of the titles that they’ve won here.”

Adams is also excited to report that the tournament will once again boast a strong U.S. presence, with players such as Williams, Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Madison Brengle, Christina McHale, Varvara Lepchenko, Irina Falconi, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Local favorite Shelby Rogers, who grew up on Daniel Island, is set to take part in the qualifying rounds this weekend.

“It’s kind of a resurgence of American tennis,” added Adams. “They are very patriotic and really support one another.”

In addition to vying for this year’s VCO title, players will have plenty of opportunities to engage in outreach efforts in the Charleston community during their stay, including patient visits at MUSC Children’s Hospital and the annual SunTrust “Tennis in the City” event for kids at the Jack Adams Tennis Center in downtown Charleston.

“We feel it’s really important to take the players to that community,” said Moran, of the Jack Adams event. “It’s good for both the players and for the kids and their families to do that.”

Players will also be treated to some good old fashioned Southern hospitality during their time in Charleston, a trademark of the VCO event. New this year will be a special “Player Dining Tent” on the VCO campus where they will enjoy a variety of athlete-friendly meals and snacks provided by Hamby Catering. New premiere sponsor Lisette L Montreal, an apparel company offering “perfect fit” pants, will host activities for both players and fans throughout the week, including a pop-up shop on site. In addition, the Family Circle Tennis Center’s clubhouse will be transformed into a relaxing lounge atmosphere for players to enjoy some downtime between matches.

Daniel Island connections

A variety of Daniel Island-based businesses have also stepped up to serve players and other VCO reps during the tournament. Steve and Gail Salomon of Mission Essentials will provide the company’s popular insect repellant to ward off pesky no-see-ums and mosquitos, Bohemia Salon will do the make-up for Pam Shriver’s VCO live broadcasts, O2 Fitness will offer up an on-site gym for players, and Daniel Island’s Fit Culture will give players an opportunity to pop in for complimentary classes at their new location on Seven Farms Drive. Other island supporters include the Hampton Inn, Publix, Daniel Island Grille, and the Daniel Island Club. In addition, several local families will provide private housing for players during their stay.

“We usually have between 25 and 30 players and coaches in homes,” said Betty McMahon, VCO housing coordinator. “This year we have 10 staying on Daniel Island. The players are so appreciative of their family’s support and many players have developed very close relationships with their host families and continue to stay with them for several years.”

LET'S GO!

Armed with another recipe for success in 2016, the Volvo Car Open team is ready to roll out the welcome mat for over 100 players from all over the world and more than 90,000 fans. A surge in ticket sales this year is a good indicator that things are off to a good start, said Moran. The tournament will no doubt deliver plenty of winning moments both on and off the courts, as well as a little magic along the way. And it will be a place, for at least a select few champions, where dreams really do come true.


(03/30/16)  LOWCOUNTRY BIZ: Volvo Car Open partners with Sloane Stephens to collect shoes in fight against global poverty
Soles4Souls shoe collection bins on-site at the Volvo Car Open & at O2 Fitness Club, Donate a pair of shoes to receive a pair of general admission tickets to the Volvo Car Open when Sloane Stephens plays

Attention anyone with a closet:  Those shoes you no longer want are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.
That’s the message being delivered by American tennis star, Sloane Stephens and the Volvo Car Open, which has launched a drive to collect 2,500 shoes to help achieve positive change, both humanitarian and economic, via Soles4Souls. Used and new shoes can be dropped off in Charleston from April 2nd – 10th at the Volvo Car Open, 161 Seven Farms Drive Charleston, SC, and at O2 Fitness Club, 910 Johnnie Dodds Blvd, Mt. Pleasant, SC, where shoe collection bins will be placed. Anyone that donates a pair of shoes at either location is eligible to receive a free pair of general admission tickets to a Sloane Stephens match. Stephens will make an appearance at the Johnnie Dodds location of Mt. Pleasant’s O2 Fitness Club to raise awareness for Soles4Soles on Sunday, April 3rd at 11am.

Stephens has partnered with the Nashville-based charity to collect new and used shoes and clothing and redistribute to people in need through direct donations and micro-enterprise partners. The Volvo Car Open has signed on as one of Stephens’ Soles4Souls tournament partners, along with the Miami Open, City Open, Western & Southern Open and the Louisville International Open.

Since its inception in 2006, Soles4Souls has distributed over 26 million pairs of shoes to the underprivileged in 127 countries, including Kenya, Thailand, Nepal, and Haiti, as well as all fifty U.S. states.

The connection between poverty and shoes is well documented.  The World Bank estimates that approximately 400 million children worldwide – more than the entire U.S. population – live in pronounced poverty.  Millions of these children will grow up never having had a pair of shoes, resulting in significant ramifications for their health and well-being.  Lacking proper footwear, countless children will not be able or permitted to attend school.  And tens of millions of these poverty-stricken, barefoot boys and girls will be infected with soil-transmitted parasitic diseases like hookworm, causing lasting suffering and lifelong debilitation.

“I feel very fortunate to be working with Soles4Souls and to have the opportunity to create a positive change for those less fortunate, said Stephens. “As athletes, we receive clothing and shoes that could be donated to create opportunities for others. I am honored to be in a position to make a small difference in the lives of others and help support a powerful and sustainable way for people to lift­ themselves and their families out of poverty.”

“Sloane and Volvo Car Open are supporting Soles4Souls because it is the definition of a social enterprise where solid business practices are used to create positive change in people’s lives,” said Bob Moran, Volvo Car Open Tournament Director.  “Sloane is a strong supporter of Soles4Souls’ anti-poverty mission, and we hope to take a big step in providing the organization with the used shoes they require to keep making a difference for people in need.”

To donate to Soles4Souls in Charleston, South Carolina, bring your shoes to:

    The Volvo Car Open, 161 Seven Farms Drive Charleston, SC 29492
    O2 Fitness, 910 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

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

About Soles4Souls
Soles4Souls is a not for profit global social enterprise committed to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing. The organization advances its anti-poverty mission by collecting new and used shoes and clothes from individuals, schools, faith-based institutions, civic organizations and corporate partners, then distributing those shoes and clothing both via direct donations to people in need and by provisioning qualified micro-enterprise programs designed to create jobs in poor and disadvantaged communities. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Soles4Souls is committed to the highest standards of operating and governance. Visit soles4souls.org for more information.

About the Volvo Car Open
The Volvo Car 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 165 countries, featuring more than 100 hours of live broadcast and more than 3,000 delayed global broadcast time, reaching 10+ 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 Car Open, call (800) 677-2293, email info@volvocaropen.com, visit http://www.VolvoCarOpen.com, Facebook (Volvo Car Open), Twitter (@VolvoCarOpen) or Instagram (VolvoCarOpen).


(03/30/16) From college to Volvo Car Open, Vanderbilt star Frances Altick about to play a lot of tennis
Frances Altick is quite busy these days in her tennis world, not to mention that she’s a senior at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn.

Altick and her defending national champion Vanderbilt women’s tennis team play at Mississippi State on Friday, then head to Oxford, Miss., to take on Ole Miss on Saturday.

After that, Altick will travel back to Nashville before flying to Charleston on Sunday to participate in the Volvo Car Open, that starts this weekend at Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island.

Once here, she will be residing with the same family she stayed with while winning the Shape Invitational earlier this month to earn a berth in the Volvo main draw.

Why change? She must have had a rabbit’s foot in her pocket during the tournament on the clay courts at Family Circle Tennis Center. She lost in the last round of round-robin play, but her opponent was injured, and Altick received the berth in the Shape semifinals and went on to win the final.

“My relatives (grandfather John Gault, and great aunts Yvonne Santos and Claire Richter) from Charleston will definitely be there ... along with my dad and aunt who are coming (from Monroe, La.) to see me play,” Altick said.

“I am staying with Amira and John Cranor, who live on Daniel island right near the tennis center. They hosted my teammate and me for the Shape Invitational and they were really great to us. We had a great time together, so I’m excited to stay with them again this time.”

But what about playing in a major WTA Tour tournament?

“I’m really excited for the opportunity to play in such a high-level tournament and see how I match up with some of the best players in the world. I definitely like my chances better since the tournament is on clay. It’s my favorite surface. I’m just excited to get to be in that environment of a Premier-level WTA tournament and see how my level matches up,” she said.

After Altick’s clay-court performance during the Shape Invitational, no one will be surprised if she pulls off an upset or two in the Volvo Car Open.

Altick has the game to make it happen. It might just depend on the draw. But Altick may be the closest thing to a perfect clay-court player anyone will see in the Volvo Car Open. She has patience, quickness in court coverage and is fully capable of delivering winners.

“I definitely like my backhand down the line, and my movement is probably one of my greatest strengths too,” Altick said.

The Volvo Car Open might be her first pro event, but it won’t be her last.

“I am planning to continue to play tennis after graduation, starting with smaller professional events and working my way up,” Altick said. “I might play the USTA Pro Circuit events as well as some international tournaments. I’ll miss college tennis, but I’m excited to get started on that (pro circuit) soon.”

But she knows there’s nothing like winning a national championship, unless it’s a second national title.

Altick, an NCAA all-tournament team member last year, is unbeaten this season in dual matches (13-0) while playing Nos. 2 or 3 for the Commodores. Overall, she has a team-best 27-3 record and has won her last 10 matches.

“We’re definitely improving as a team and could compete for a national championship,” she said. “Like last year, we’ve started a little slow, but we’re learning with each match we play and hope to finish strong.”


(03/26/16)  Halbauer excited to return for third straight qualifying
Ellie Halbauer is excited to be returning for a third straight year to Family Circle Tennis Center to compete in the facility’s WTA Tour tournament’s qualifying event. And this time, she earned it on the merits of her game.

After receiving wild cards into the Family Circle Cup qualifying tournament the last two years by winning back-to-back Family Circle juniors, Halbauer’s game has advanced far enough to be awarded a wild card into next weekend’s qualifying event for the Volvo Car Open.

It also helps to have grown up in and around Family Circle Tennis Center.

“I’m super excited,” Halbauer said on Friday.

It may seem that Halbauer is a bit older, but she’s still an 18-year-old who usually plays all over North America. And she’s still an amateur.

“I haven’t signed pro yet,” she assured. “I’ve been playing for two years on the circuit, but I’m waiting until January of next year to finally make the decision. I just need to keep playing tournaments and getting more matches under my belt to move up in the rankings. My goal this year was to make it into the 300s, so I’m already pretty close.”

Halbauer’s No. 416 world ranking may not sound too impressive, until you consider that more than 900 players are ranked below her by the WTA Tour. That list includes Laura Robson (504), Aleksandra Wozniak (510), Alexandra Stevenson (544) and Victoria Duval (584).

Sound a little more encouraging for Halbauer?

Halbauer has everything it takes to make a major move in the world rankings. She has a great game, a big heart and true grit. If she develops a major weapon, she’ll head straight upward in the rankings.

Volvo loses McCarthy

Duke freshman Kaitlyn McCarthy played so hard to earn a berth in the Volvo Car Open, and she had to settle for a qualifying tournament wild card after finishing as runner-up in the Shape Invitational. Now, McCarthy has to pass up that opportunity.

“I have been writing a paper for school. I am not able to get away from Duke next weekend in order to compete in Volvo, which is extremely disappointing, but hopefully in the future I will be able to come down and compete,” McCarthy said Friday.

With McCarthy unavailable, highly rated LSU recruit Raveena Kingsley was awarded a Volvo qualifying tournament wild card. Kingsley was scheduled to play in the Shape Invitational, but was unable to participate.

Rogers taking break

Shelby Rogers is taking the week off after losing in the first round of qualifying for Miami’s mega-tournament last week.

“I am so excited as always. I haven’t been home since Thanksgiving. I’ve had a lot of matches this year, especially on clay, and I feel really good about where my game is,” said the 103rd-ranked Rogers.

With natives Halbauer and Rogers getting wild cards into Volvo qualifying along with local connections Samantha Crawford (109) and Jessie Pegula (151), next weekend’s event will be a special treat for local tennis fans. Having four players linked to Family Circle Tennis Center returning demonstrates just how much impact the Family Circle Cup had on local tennis during its 15-year run on Daniel Island.

Crawford has made the most impressive move of these four players since last year’s Family Circle Cup in which Pegula advanced through qualifying into the main draw where Rogers already was listed. Crawford, who competed in Family Circle qualifying a year ago, has had a big year.

A 21-year-old former U.S. Open junior champion, Crawford was in the main draw at Indian Wells, then made the quarterfinals of a $125,000 event in San Antonio and advanced through qualifying in the current Miami tournament.

Crawford also played in the main draw of the Australian Open and won six straight matches in Brisbane before losing to Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals. She defeated former Family Circle champ Andrea Petkovic in the quarterfinals.

High school update

Academic Magnet and Hanahan appear to be possibly the two strongest SCHSL boys teams locally. But even though Magnet defeated Bishop England, 5-1, the first time around, the Bishops and boys 16 Southern No. 1 Jared Pratt may still have something to say about who wins the Class AA state title they won a year ago.

Chad Nash/Kerim Hyatt-led Hanahan should be able to make a strong run in the Class AAA state playoffs. The Hawks are unbeaten and for real under coach Glenn Cobb as evidenced by their 4-2 win over perennial power Hilton Head High on Tuesday.

Of course, Wando is no longer a super power in Class AAAA with four losses already. The Warriors miss 2015 All-Lowcountry standout Scotty Cameron, who isn’t playing high school tennis this season.

But over in Region 8-AAAA, Summerville is making noise. The Green Wave defeated perennial titlist Bluffton on Thursday and are riding high at 8-2 overall.

“With the rest of the region way down making it a two-team race, this 5-1 win gives us control of the No. 1 seed,” Summerville coach David Long said. “Bluffton would have to beat us (on April 19) 6-0, or 5-1 and win a tiebreaker.”

In SCISA, Porter-Gaud looks fully capable of defending its Class AAA state title. Coach Jonathan Barth’s deep P-G outfit lost All-Lowcountry Brant Fenno to online schooling, but is still unbeaten with victories over Waccamaw, Hilton Head Prep and Wando (twice).

The Cyclones will not have to contend with Hilton Head Prep in the SCISA AAA state playoffs that will start on April 27 since Prep now competes in AA.

Local notes

A Mount Pleasant women’s 55 team captained by Patricia Boyd was runner-up in the recent Southern combo doubles championships in Auburn, Ala.

Former Porter-Gaud standout Mi’Kola Cooper is red-shirting her senior season at Charleston Southern while recovering from shoulder surgery that she underwent last October. Coach Mike Baker expects Cooper back in 2017.

Defending Big South women’s champion Charleston Southern is off to a 9-3 (4-1 Big South) start after losing to Winthrop this past week. The Bucs will entertain 2015 Big South runner-up Coastal Carolina on Wednesday and 2015 conqueror Liberty on Saturday.

The College of Charleston men (12-5) and women (14-10) are off until next Friday when the men travel to Elon, while Liberty plays at the C of C women.


(03/25/16)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
SUMMERVILLE 5, BLUFFTON 1
Singles: Long (S) d Hahn 6-2, 6-1; Ball (B) d Wills, 6-4, 6-4; De Araoz (S) d Swetnam 6-2, 6-3; Hazel (S) d Chaten 6-2, 6-0; Reynolds (S) d Welch 6-2, 6-0.  Doubles: Lewis/McGinnis (S) d Grushon/Aerni 7-6 (5), 6-4

Record: Summerville 8-2 (2-0) Bluffton 3-4 (2-1). Next: Summerville at Fort Dorchester on April 5.

WANDO 7, STRATFORD 0
Singles: Browder Woods d. Jeffrey Wong 6-3, 6-0; Matthew Kirk d. Garett Sides 6-1, 6-3; Jack Johnson d. Parker Hoffman 6-0, 6-1; Harrison Brahen d. Jordan Smith 6-2, 6-1; Ryan Daniel d. Anthony Yeung 7-5,6-1.   Doubles: Johnson/Palmer Smyth d. Wong/ Sides 9-7; Sam Botos/Andrew Nguyen d. Zach Crawford/Quincy Moorer 6-0, 5-7, 10-6.

Record: Stratford 4-1 (1-1).  Next: Stratford at West Ashley on April 5.

HANAHAN 6, BERKELEY 0
Next: Hanahan vs. Beaufort on April 7.


(03/24/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: Shelby Rogers, Patty Schnyder in Volvo Car Open qualifying
Hometown favorite Shelby Rogers and WTA Tour veteran Patty Schnyder highlight the qualifying draw for the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island.

Eight players from the 32-player qualifying draw on April 2 and 3 will advance to the main draw, which begins on April 4 at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

Rogers, who grew up on Daniel Island and served as a ballgirl at the tournament when it was called the Family Circle Cup, She is currently ranked No. 103 and last year won a main-draw match at her hometown tournament for the first time.

Schnyder, twice a finalist in Charleston, is making a comeback after retiring from the game in 2011. She has 11 WTA singles titles to her credit, with a career-best singles ranking of No. 7.

Others in the qualifying draw include 2014 finalist Jana Cepelova and Lauren Davis, who reached the quarterfinals last year.

Nine Americans are featured in the qualifying draw. In addition to Rogers and Davis, Alison Riske, Samantha Crawford, Anna Tatishvili, Louisa Chirico, Jessica Pegula, Ellie Halbauer and Raveena Kingsley have all entered into the tournament.

The Volvo Car Open also issued four wild cards into its qualifying field to Schnyder, Laura Robson, Halbauer and Kingsley.

“There are a handful of players in our qualifying field that have large fan bases in Charleston — Shelby, Jessie, Sam and Ellie all have ties to the Lowcountry,” said Bob Moran, Volvo Car Open tournament director. “Patty Schnyder has been playing in our tournament since before we relocated from Hilton Head Island. She’s a part of our family, and we are thrilled to welcome her back to our tournament.”

Tickets for the 2016 Volvo Car Open are now on sale. For more information on tickets, call 800-677-2293 or go to volvocaropen.com. Patrons can purchase single session tickets or choose from a variety of ticket and travel packages. Qualifying weekend tickets are $10 for adults and kids 15 and under are free.


(03/23/16)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
BISHOP ENGLAND 4, SUMMERVILLE 3
Singles: Pratt d. Long 6-3, 6-0. Dacuba d. Wills 6-4, 6-0. De Araoz (S) d. Privett 6-4, 4-6, 10-3. Hazel (S) d. Warren 6-1, 6-2. Reynolds (S) d. Meyer 6-4, 6-4.  Doubles: Pratt/Dacuba d. Long/Wills 4-6, 6-1, 10-2. Sottile/Flathman d. Lewis/McGinnis 6-3, 6-2.

Records: Summerville 7-2 (1-0). Bishop England 2-2 (1-1). Next: Summerville at Bluffton today.

BISHOP ENGLAND 4, WANDO 3
Singles: Dacuba d. Browder 7-6, 6-3. Privett d. Kirk 6-1, 6-2. Johnson (W) d. Warren 6-3, 6-1. Meyer d. Ridden 6-3, 6-3. Nawabi (W) d. Sottile 6-2, 6-1.   Doubles: Dacuba/Privett d. Browder/Ridden 7-5, 6-2. Brahen/Botos (W) d. Flathman/Rentas 3-6, 6-3, 10-7.

Records: Bishop England 3-2.

JAMES ISLAND 6, GOOSE CREEK 0
Singles: Healey d. Smith 6-0, 6-0. Bridges d. Mickler 6-0, 6-0. Sechrist d. Leatherwood 6-0, 6-0. Evans d. Coates 6-0, 6-0. Alexander won by default.   Doubles: Jenkins/Eaddy d. Rids/Excimiano 6-0, 6-0.

Records: James Island 3-2. Goose Creek 0-1. Next: James Island at West Ashley today.


(03/22/16)  WEST OF: Athlete of the Week: Stratas Anastopoulo
Sophomore Stratas Anastopoulo is serving Up a storm

West Ashley sophomore tennis player Stratas Anastopoulo has been serving up a storm in his first few matches. The season has only just begun, and he is already 2-0 in his singles matches. So far in his high school tennis career, he has accumulated 45 singles match wins.

“If he continues on the current pace, he will graduate in 2018 as West Ashley High’s all-time leader in singles victories,” says boys’ tennis coach Ronnie DuPre.

Anastopoulo’s strength is playing singles matches and part of the reason he does so well is his outstanding serve. Anastopoulo admits he has a good serve, but he also acknowledged that it’s something he has spent the last six years perfecting. “I watch YouTube videos on how others compete, and I take their strategies and use them in my games,” he says.

In addition to spending time his free time researching ways to improve his game, Anastopoulo spends two hours a day, five days a week practicing with his team. “Stratas has a great attitude and work ethic,” says DuPre. Anastopoulo claims his greatest tennis achievement was reaching the second round of the State Tournament last season.

That great work ethic has proven instrumental to his success in many ways. He recently recovered from an injury, a torn ligament in his hand that caused him to delay his exceptional progress. “I wasn’t able to play during practice, and I was out for half of the season,” Anastopoulo says. “[I want to] thank my coaches and teammates for motivating me after my injury.” The motivation from his teammates helped him to employ his motto “give 100 percent in everything” and come back swinging this season.

“He is an outstanding player and student,” says DuPre. In the classroom Anastopoulo works hard to stay focused and apply his motto to his schoolwork. Outside of school, he does whatever he can to stay active and stay in top physical condition for his tennis matches.

Most of Anastopoulo’s hobbies involve working out, playing sports, and just being active in general. When he’s not playing tennis, he enjoys playing basketball as a competitive sport. He says both sports fit his aggressive offensive style.

After high school, he plans to pursue his hobbies in a more professional manner. He would like to play tennis in college, hopefully for Coastal Carolina. He plans to earn his Bachelor’s degree and then become a professional fitness trainer.


(03/21/16)  JEFF HARTSELL: Women’s tennis rides ‘coattails’ of men? No way, says Volvo Car Open director
Forty-four years after the Family Circle Cup — known now as the Volvo Car Open — was founded on Hilton Head Island, the world’s top women’s tennis players find themselves still fighting a “Battle of the Sexes” that seems more suited to the 1970s.

The latest chapter unfolded Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., one of the top events in professional tennis for both men and women. There, tournament director Raymond Moore said that female players are “lucky” and “ride on the coattails of the men.”

“In my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA, because they ride on the coattails of the men,” Moore said. “They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky. If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.”

Bob Moran, who runs the Volvo Car Open as tournament director, was incredulous, as were some of the game’s top stars and commentators.

“Extremely disappointing, especially with one of the premier women’s only events about to kick off in Charleston,” Moran said Monday. “In this day and age, it’s very disappointing to have something like that come from one of our leaders in the business.”

Moore’s comments are sure to be a hot topic at the Volvo Car Open, which is set for April 2-10 on Daniel Island. Dating back to 1973, the tournament holds a special place in the history of women’s tennis — the first women-only event to offer $100,000 in prize money, and the first to be broadcast on national TV. In 2012, after the event moved from Hilton Head to Charleston, stadium court was named for tennis pioneer Billie Jean King.

Hours after Moore’s remarks, world No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 8 Victoria Azarenka played in the women’s final at Indian Wells, with Azarenka taking a 6-4, 6-4 victory. After the match, both players expressed their dismay over Moore’s comments.

“I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that,” said Williams, who won the Family Circle Cup three times. “I think (her sister) Venus, myself, a number of players — if I could tell you every day how many people say they don’t watch tennis unless they’re watching myself or my sister — I couldn’t even bring up that number. So I don’t think that is a very accurate statement.”

“I think there is a lot of women out there who are very exciting to watch. I think there are a lot of men out there who are exciting to watch. I think it definitely goes both ways.”

Said Azarenka, “I think it’s our duty to keep just working hard through whatever comments there is. We’ve got to rise above that.”

Billie Jean King herself weighed in on Twitter.

“He is wrong on so many levels,” King wrote. “Every player, especially the top players, contribute to our success.”

Tennis great Martina Navratilova, who won the Family Circle Cup four times, said women players may boycott Indian Wells in the future.

“It was really disheartening to see Ray Moore offer the extremely prejudiced and very old-fashioned statements regarding women tennis players,’ she said. “We have made it this far on our own, without help from male players, and will continue to do so in the future. It would be hard to imagine any women to want to go and play at Indian Wells if Moore stays as the tournament director.”

Moran noted that last year’s U.S. Open women’s final, between Serena Williams and Flavia Pennetta, sold out before the men’s final for the first time in tournament history. Serena was going for the final leg of the Grand Slam.

“No one can ever say that the women are riding on the men’s coattails,” he said. “What we can say is that tennis is cyclical. We’ve had times when great players like Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova have great rivalries, just like you have today with Nadal and Djokovic and Federer in the mens’ game. Right now, we have the greatest player ever in women’s tennis right in front of us in Serena Williams.

“Facts are facts, and as Serena pointed out, last year’s women’s final was the first to sell out at the U.S. Open. That speaks volumes.”

Moore made matters worse by saying that the WTA has a “handful” of “very attractive prospects that can assume the mantle” in players such as Gabrine Muguruza and Gene Bouchard.

“They have a lot of very attractive players,” said Moore, who later apologized for his remarks.

Commentator Patrick McEnroe worked the men’s final Sunday at Indian Wells, and called for Moore to resign.

“That was completely unacceptable, I’m absolutely livid,” McEnroe said.

In a statement released Monday, WTA CEO Steve Simon said:

“As the Tournament Director of one of the preeminent events in professional tennis, the comments made by Raymond Moore were extremely disappointing and alarming. The WTA stands on its own and was founded on the principles of equality and empowerment. I am proud of all the strong athletes on the WTA who put in hard work and sacrifice every single day. Tennis as a whole is enriched by the contributions and accomplishments of every player, both female and male.”


(03/18/16)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
ACADEMIC MAGNET 5, BISHOP ENGLAND 1
Singles: Kavanara d. Pratt 2-6, 6-4, 10-7. Jahn d. Dacuba 6-2, 6-2. Navarro d. Privett 6-0, 6-0. Pandey d. Warren 6-0, 6-4. Meyer (BE) d. Kasouf 6-0, 6-0.   Doubles: Moss/Pi d. Rentas/Flathman 6-1, 6-4.

HANAHAN 6, PINEWOOD PREP 0
Singles: Nash d. Holoubek 6-1, 6-2. Hyatt d. Torres 6-1, 6-1. Jones d. McConnell 6-0, 6-2. Upshaw d. Mann 6-2, 6-0. Ramey d. Tazewell 6-0, 6-0.   Doubles: Varg/Briggs d. Price/Gregor ret.

Records: Hanahan 4-0. Next: Hanahan at Beaufort Tuesday.

SUMMERVILLE 6, ASHLEY RIDGE 1
Singles: Long d. Rabon 6-0, 6-0. Wills d. Morris 6-0, 6-0. De Araoz d. Prince 6-0, 6-0. Hazel d. Leo 6-1, 6-2. Reynolds d. Moehling 6-0, 6-0.   Doubles: De Araoz/Reynolds d. Rabon/Morris 8-1. Nixon/Daley (AR) d. McGinnis/Edwards 6-2, 7-6 (7).

Records: Summerville 7-1 (1-0). Ashley Ridge 1-2 (0-1). Next: Summerville hosts Bishop England Tuesday. Ashley Ridge hosts Colleton County Tuesday.


(03/18/16)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
BERKELEY 6, CANE BAY 0
Singles: J. Giannelli d. Howell 6-1, 6-2. S. Giannelli d. Buttery 6-4, 6-1. Huxford d. Hicks 6-4, 6-1. Livingston d. Craven 6-0, 6-3. Bell d. Welch 7-6 (7-4), 6-0.   Doubles: Bowers/Baggett d. Turner/Bishop 7-6 (7-3), 6-0.

Records: Berkeley 3-1. Next: Berkeley hosts Beaufort today.

SUMMERVILLE 5, BEAUFORT 2
Singles: Angus (B) d. Long 6-2, 6-2. Wills d. Louw 6-0, 6-2. De Araoz d. Schartz 6-0, 6-1. Hazel d. Olin 6-2, 6-1. Reynolds d. Patterson 6-2, 6-3.   Doubles: Long/Wills d. Angus/Louw 8-7 (4). Hoogenbom/Neimond (B) d. Lewis/McGinnis 6-1, 6-3.

Records: Summerville 6-1. Beaufort 4-3. Next: Summerville at Ashley Ridge today. Beaufort at Berkeley today.


(03/16/16)  GOOSE CREEK GAZETTE: Knights 3-0 in tennis
Stratford’s boys tennis team will enter region play with an unblemished record.

The Knights blanked Fort Dorchester 7-0 on March 15, improving to 3-0.

In singles, Jeffrey Wong (0, 1), Garett Sides (2, 1), Parker Hoffman (0, 1), Jordan Smith (1, 1) and Anthony Yeung (2, 3) won against Fort Dorchester.

In doubles, Zach Crawford and Quincy Moorer were winners along with Hamilton Payne and Garrett Lind.

Stratford is set to begin region play on Tuesday, March 22 at Cane Bay before hosting Wando on March 24.


(03/15/16)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
PORTER-GAUD 7, HILTON HEAD PREP 2
Singles: Ferrara (HH) d. Tolliver 6-3, 6-1. Snyder d. Fried 6-4, 5-7, 10-4. Vinzi d. Sturgis 6-2, 3-6, 10-7. Lin (HH) d. Kammerer 6-4, 7-6 (12-10). Craigie d. Perez 6-0, 6-2. Harvin d. Heyckiewizz 7-5, 6-4.  Doubles: Tolliver/Kammerer d. Ferrara/Fried 8-5. Snyder/Craigie d. Sturgis/Lin 9-7. Vinzi/Harvin d. Perez/Heyckiewizz 8-5.

Records: Porter-Gaud 5-0. Next: Porter-Gaud hosts Hilton Head Christian next Tuesday.

SUMMERVILLE 6, WEST ASHLEY 0
Singles: Long d. Duarte 6-1, 6-2. Wills d. Anastopoulo 6-1, 6-0. De Aroaz d. Foster 6-1, 6-0. Hazel d. Goss 6-1, 6-0. Lewis d. Wood 6-0, 6-1.   Doubles: Edwards/McGinnis d. Dowd/Cruz 6-3, 3-6, 11-9.

Records: Summerville 5-1. West Ashley 2-1.


(03/13/16)  MWTennis having major impact on local schools
MWTennis Academy is having a huge impact on local junior tennis. And in the process, high school programs such as Hanahan, Academic Magnet and Bishop England are thriving.

Hanahan’s surprise advance to the third round of the 2015 SCHSL Class AAA state playoffs may be just the beginning for coach Glenn Cobb’s young team.

Chad Nash has joined forces with fellow sophomore Kerim Hyatt to possibly make the Hawks a legitimate title contender. Freshmen Mark Jones and Bradley Upshaw also train alongside teammates Hyatt and Nash at Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis. Hanahan plays at 2015 state runner-up Hilton Head on Tuesday.

MW’s Jacob Jahn, Sam Kavarana and Vinod Pandey, and LTP Tennis’ Navarro brothers (Earl and Owen) give Academic Magnet a fighting chance against defending Class AA state champion Bishop England.

Of course, the Bishops have Southern No. 1 boys 16 Jared Pratt leading the way again. Pratt is just back from a week of competing in the USTA national spring team championships in Mobile, Ala., going 8-0 in singles and doubles, and has climbed to 15th nationally in 16-and-under less than three years after undergoing curved-spine surgery.

MWTennis CEO Jeff Wilson, who is the other half of the MW branding along with former Shelby Rogers coach Bryan Minton, points out that Pratt is an excellent 112-30 in singles in the last 12 months.

Coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s BE team lost three of the seven players that carried the Bishops to last season’s state title, but Pratt is still supported by the likes of sophomores Lleyton Dacuba and Brian Privett, both MW participants.

MWTennis is home to 213 juniors weekly. Twenty-two of them participate in the academy’s full-time high performance schools program. These 22 train both their scholastic minds and tennis talent on-site at Family Circle Tennis Center. The online schooling is supported on-site by one full-time teacher and two tutors.

“I am very pleasantly surprised by MW’s sustained level of growth,” said Wilson, a former touring professional coach who also has served as an assistant women’s coach at both Georgia Tech and Duke.

Wilson credits much of MWTennis’ success to the positive team-based culture exhibited by the academy’s players at tournaments all over the country. “A lot of people are noticing how our players conduct themselves and interact with other players at tournaments,” he said.

“People are relocating their families (to Daniel Island). It’s very humbling. Five players from North Carolina are moving to Daniel Island just to train at MW.

“Eleven players from North Carolina (not as a group) will be training with us March 28- April 1. We’re packed. . . . we’re now looking into boarding players. We’ve been here two years, and this is happening. It’s fun to see. I thought something special could happen at Family Circle Tennis Center.”
Wave rising

Coach David Long continues to keep Summerville on an upward trend. The Green Wave are expected to challenge Bluffton for Region 8-AAAA supremacy.

“We had early success, going 2-1 in a Wilmington, N.C., preseason tourney, and then knocking off James Island and Wando,” Long said. “We will be challenged by a tough non-region schedule by the likes of BE, Academic Magnet and Hanahan.

“We return our top four players led by Coker (College) commit and four-year starter Walker Long and sophomore Stephen Wills. We also have added foreign exchange student Fernando De Araoz to the singles lineup.”
Local notes

Coach Mike Baker’s women’s team at Charleston Southern hasn’t missed a step since winning the Big South Conference title last spring. The Bucs are off to a 7-0 start after scoring an impressive 5-2 win over Michigan State on Friday, and have a home match against Tulsa on Monday.

The fifth annual Legend Oaks “Gives Back” tennis tournament has raised $4,000 to support Summerville’s ARK - Alzheimer’s Family Support Services.

Mount Pleasant Recreation Department head pro Clay Maynor is looking for part-time instructors and volunteers for Mount Pleasant’s junior program. Contact Maynor at cmaynor@tompsc.com or 843-856-2162.

The Volvo Car Open has partnered with SunTrust to offer 15-and-under kids free tickets all week in general admission for the April 2-10 WTA Tour event. Any junior who receives complimentary admission is also eligible for a free clinic with MWTennis.

Former South Carolina standout Meghan Blevins is now teaching tennis at Wild Dunes.

Wando falters

Wando was expected to continue its success of the last two seasons, but in each of those two seasons the Warriors have lost an All-Lowcountry performer. Talented Jacob Jahn sat out the 2015 season as an eighth-grader, then switched to Academic Magnet for this season.

Scotty Cameron came aboard for the 2015 season, making Wando followers forget Jahn to some extent. But veteran Wando coach Winde Ellenberg now confirms that Cameron isn’t playing for the Warriors this season.

So, Wando has lost to Summerville, Porter-Gaud and Academic Magnet.


(03/11/16)  Prep Zone: Boys Tennis
PORTER-GAUD 5, WANDO 1
Singles: Tolliver d. Browder 6-4, 1-6, 10-3. Snyder d. Kirk 6-2, 6-2. Vingi d. Redding 6-3, 6-2. Kammerer d. Shaw 6-7, 6-2, 10-4. Bumgarner (W) d. Craigie 6-2, 6-2.  Doubles: Tolliver/Snyder d. Browder/Redding 8-2. Did not finish due to darkness.

WEST ASHLEY 4, FORT DORCHESTER 2
Singles: Duarte d. LaVerne 6-0, 6-0. Anastopoulo d. Varnger 6-0, 6-0. Foster d. Ompusunggo 6-1, 6-3. Ho (FD) d. Goss 7-5, 6-3. Cruz d. Hamby 6-0, 6-0.  Doubles: Westbrook/Tauer (FD) d. Wood/Dowd 6-7, 6-1, 10-7.

Records: West Ashley 2-0. Next: West Ashley hosts Summerville Monday.


(03/04/16)  Inaugural Collegiate Tennis Tournament to be Held at Family Circle Tennis Center
Family Circle Tennis Center announced that it would host the inaugural SHAPE Magazine Invitational at its facility March 1st – 3rd, 2016. The tournament is a one-of-a-kind event that will connect female American student-athletes who aspire to play professional tennis after college.

The winners of the SHAPE Magazine Invitational, in both singles and doubles, will receive Wild Cards into the main draw of the Volvo Car Open, April 4 – 10, 2016. In addition, the singles finalist will receive a Wild Card into the qualifying round of the Volvo Car Open, April 2 – 3, 2016.

“The SHAPE Magazine Invitational provides an incredible opportunity for American women in college tennis to play at one of the biggest tournaments on the WTA Tour, the Volvo Car Open,” said Stephen Amritraj, USTA National Collegiate Coach. “This event is the latest example of showcasing college tennis as a pathway to the pros, and providing a tournament that we hope will be a staple on the calendar.”

To be eligible to compete in the SHAPE Magazine Invitational, an athlete must be affiliated with a NCAA school, either as a current player, past player (within the last three semesters), or with a signed letter of intent or verbal agreement for Fall 2016.

“We have worked with the USTA Collegiate Directors to secure a strong player field for March’s tournament,” said Rob Eppelsheimer, Family Circle Tennis Center Tennis Operations Director. “The purpose of this event is for junior tennis players to have an opportunity to compete at the next level, and for current college players to understand the world of professional tennis. For athletes to be guaranteed three matches in a competitive tournament is an enticing prospect.”

“SHAPE’s core mission is to empower women to achieve their personal goals,” explains Tim O’Connor, SHAPE Publisher. “We are honored to be able to provide a platform that will positively impact the future of young female athletes".

The player field has representation from athletes across the Southeast’s top universities, including Georgia, Alabama, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, South Carolina, Duke and College of Charleston, among others.

The tournament’s singles will consist of a round robin format with players divided into four groups. The winner of each group will advance to the semifinals. Group play will consist of two out of three sets, with a match tiebreak for the third set. Semifinals and finals will consist of two out of three sets.

The doubles format will consist of single elimination. Group play will consist of two out of three sets with a match tiebreak for the third set

About the SHAPE Magazine Invitational:
The SHAPE Magazine Invitational is a one-of-a-kind event that helps identify young American female student-athletes who aspire to play professional tennis after their collegiate career is completed. The tournament aligns with the USTA in its stated mission to promote college tennis as a pathway to a career as a playing professional on the WTA tour. The tournament will feature a field consisting of junior, college and professional tennis players.


(03/03/16)  Vanderbilt’s Frances Altick wins entry into Volvo Car Open
A month ago, Vanderbilt senior Frances Altick hadn’t even given a thought to possibly playing in the WTA Tour’s Volvo Car Open, and she had never heard of the first-year Shape Magazine Invitational.

Her tennis career at the time was just a few months from completion, hopefully with a second straight national team championship with Vanderbilt. Altick’s tennis career may still end in a few months, but not before playing in the main singles draw of the Volvo Car Open as a result of her 6-2, 6-4 win over Duke’s Kaitlyn McCarthy in Thursday’s final of the Shape Invitational at Family Circle Tennis Center.

The University of South Carolina doubles team of Hadley Berg and Paige Cline earned a wild card into the main doubles draw of the Volvo tournament with a 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (3) win over USC teammate Caroline Dailey and ex-Georgia player Lauren Herring. McCarthy earned a wild card into the Volvo qualifying tournament as the singles runner-up.

“After I won the first set, I said ‘I’m only a set away’,” said the 5-2 Altick, who was still around for the final only due to the misfortune of Duke’s Beatrice Capra rolling an ankle during a victory over Altick a day earlier.

The lucky loser, or “Lucky winner” as Altick would say, wasn’t home free yet. “Then I got down 4-2 in the second set, and I was a little disappointed with myself. I made a couple of loose errors.”

Committing loose errors is not something this tenacious, but patient fighter with extraordinary footwork and movement does often. She is the ultimate clay-court player, one fully capable of making some noise in the Volvo Car Open, simply because of those traits. She also hits a mean groundstroke from either side when an opportunity presents itself, especially passing shots down the line.

“Then I got back to 4-4, and I got excited again.” That’s when McCarthy delivered three double faults while dropping her service at love. After two hours of battling windy, chilly conditions, Altick served at double match point.

“I was so nervous. I was thinking about the wild card,” said Altick, a native of Monroe, La., who was surrounded by her mother, grandmother and a horde of happy family members after the match. She has three aunts and a grandfather who reside in Charleston.

McCarthy, who had missed out on chances to earn wild cards into the Family Circle Cup qualifying event in losses to Ellie Halbauer in the final of the Family Circle Cup’s junior tournament the last two years, saved one match point on a volley winner before nailing a loose forehand wide to end the match.

“I knew I was going to try (to win the tournament), but I knew it would be hard” was Altick’s feeling at the start of the tournament.


(03/02/16)  Altick, McCarthy advance to Shape Invitational finals
Vanderbilt senior Frances Altick lost, got a lucky break and then won, while Duke freshman Kaitlyn McCarthy was a winner all the way as the two college standouts secured wild cards into at least the qualifying tournament for next month’s Volvo Car Open on Wednesday by advancing to the final of the Shape Invitational at Family Circle Tennis Center.

The two players will battle for the real prize, a wild card into the WTA Tour tournament’s main draw, on Thursday at 11 a.m. The loser will get the tournament’s qualifying wild card.

Duke senior Beatrice Capra, who defeated Altick in a third-set tiebreaker round-robin match earlier in the day, rolled an ankle and was unable to play in the semifinals. Therefore, Altick took Capra’s place, and then out-lasted former Georgia All-American Lauren Herring, 7-5, 3-6, 1-0 (7).

The patience paid off in the semifinals for McCarthy, who defeated online high schooler Makenna Jones of Greenville, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

For McCarthy, the spot in at least the Volvo Car qualifying event was due. McCarthy was runner-up to Ellie Halbauer the last two years in the Family Circle Cup’s junior tournament.

“The third time is the charm,” McCarthy said. “I’m excited to play for a main draw wild card. Just knowing that I’m coming back no matter what happens tomorrow, is amazing.”

The doubles final is scheduled for Thursday, with the South Carolina team of Hadley Berg/Paige Cline taking on Herring and South Carolina’s Caroline Dailey for a berth in the main doubles draw of the Volvo Car Open.

Shape Invitational
Family Circle Tennis Center
Singles Semifinals
Frances Altick (Vanderbilt) def. Lauren Herring (Georgia), 7-5, 3-6, 1-0 (7); Kaitlyn McCarthy (Duke) def. Makenna Jones (Alabama), 7-6 (4), 6-2.

Round Robin
Beatrice Capra (Duke) def. Altick, 6-1, 6-7 (4), 1-0 (6); McCarthy def. Liza Fieldsend (CofC), 1-6, 6-2, 1-0 (10); Herring def. Jacqueline Pelletier (St. Mary’s), 7-6 (5), 6-2; Paige Cline (South Carolina) def. Sydney Campbell (Vanderbilt), 7-5, 4-6, 1-0 (7).

Doubles Semifinals
Herring (Georgia)/Caroline Dailey (South Carolina) def. Capra/McCarthy, injury walkover; Hadley Berg/Paige Cline (South Carolina) def. Altick/Campbell, 9-8 (4).


(03/01/16) MOUNT PLEASANT MAGAZINE: Having a Ball: Volunteers at the Volvo Car Open
The annual women’s tennis tournament on Daniel Island, the Volvo Car Open – formerly the Family Circle Cup – is an incredible showcase of pro tennis players at the peak of their careers, and it’s a big event in the Charleston area every year. But it wouldn’t be the same without the 500 people who volunteer their time and energy every year to make it run.

Of those 500 volunteers, around 200 make up the ball crew, which consists mainly of teens and kids who spend the tournament on the courts with the players, making sure they have balls for serving. But don’t be deceived: Even though it sounds like an easy job, the ball crew goes through a rigorous program of training to earn the right to be on the court during the matches. They work hard.

“We’ve been told that we’re one of the better ball crews on the circuit,” said Felicia Sperr, Ball Crew Shift Leader at the Volvo Car Open.

Felicia returns this April as one of the trainers and leaders of the ball crew. She’s in her 16th year of volunteering with the tournament, which she called a fun event all around.

Sophie Estoppey, 15, agreed.

“I just love it,” said Sophie, who, as an avid tennis player herself, enjoys the educational aspect of being on the ball crew. “It’s fascinating to see how the professionals play, the techniques they use. There are players from all over the world, and you can see their different styles.”

This will be Sophie’s third year on the ball crew, which makes her a veteran. What are her highlights of her time on the crew?

“I did ball crew for Venus Williams, which was really awesome,” she said.

The main goal of the ball crew is to “make the players’ lives easier so they can concentrate on the game,” as Sophie put it. To make that happen, the crew goes through tryouts before embarking on a rigorous training for six Saturdays prior to the tournament, two hours per day. They work on skills such as rolling tennis balls up and down the court, tossing the balls to the players during a match and even things like how to properly hold an umbrella to shade a player when it’s hot. The crew also gets to actively practice their skills during actual matches, either between veteran ball crew members or for the College of Charleston.

When the tournament begins, volunteers are placed where they’re needed on the court and are rotated in and out frequently, especially when the temperature rises. With up to eight courts in use at a time and six people per court, they need a big crew from which to draw.

On the ball crew, there’s one place you really want to be, and that’s on the net, said Sophie, who has held that position for the past couple years.

“If you’re the net person, you’re really responsible,” said Felicia. “You have to get the balls from one end of the court to the other person, rolling them during the tie breaker. The net people need to have a ball in their hand, and the balls are switched every two points.”

Being on the ball crew is a prestigious position, she said, and a lot of kids will make it their goal to get there. Being close to the action is what it’s all about. Unsurprisingly, many ball crews members play tennis themselves, and all of them love the sport. That can mean they get a little star-struck when working with high-profile competitors such as Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber. During their training, they learn the rules of etiquette concerning how to approach the players. Volunteers aren’t allowed to ask for autographs when they are in uniform.

“Everybody’s on their ps and qs,” said Felicia. “They don’t bother the players.”

Sophie agreed that it can be tough to act professionally the whole time, but she said it’s worth it.

“As ball crew, we gain something more than just a signature. We get to be on the court with them,” she commented.

She would encourage anyone thinking about trying out for the ball crew to go for it – as long as they love tennis.

“You watch a lot of tennis throughout the day. It’s different when you’re watching from the stands. It’s a whole new experience,” she said.

Sophie will be meeting up with old friends on the ball crew this April, and her sister Olivia, 12, will be returning for her second year, too.

What kind of person would be a good fit for the ball crew?

“Somebody who’s focused and polite,” said Felicia. “You don’t necessarily need to be athletic or play tennis.”

You can start at age 10 if you play tennis or age 12 if you don’t because you wouldn’t be as familiar with the game. While the ball crew consists of mostly kids and teens, adults are welcome to try out as well. Felicia said they’ve had volunteers up to the age of 60.

To learn more or to apply for the ball crew, visit www.VolvoCarOpen.com and click on Volunteer, or call Danny Hayes at 850-980-1308.

The Volvo Car Open will take place from April 2 through April 10 on Daniel Island. Visit http://www.volvocaropen.com/ for information and tickets.


About the Volvo Car Open

The Family Circle Cup is now the Volvo Car Open. Volvo Car, USA reached an agreement last year with the Meredith Corporation, the media company that owns popular magazine titles including Family Circle, Shape and Better Homes and Gardens, to become the title sponsor of the tennis tournament.

The new sponsorship and name change, which was announced in August, came a few months after the news that the Swedish automaker plans to open its first American plant in South Carolina. The plant will be located in northwestern Berkeley County near Ridgeville and is expected to create 2,000 jobs within the next decade.

Volvo Car, USA has a three-year contract for the title sponsorship of the Women’s Tennis Association premier event. Nothing else about the women’s only tennis tournament, which began in 1973 and has been held on Daniel Island since 2001, is expected to change.


(03/01/16)  Greenville’s Jones leads pursuit of Volvo Car Open wild card
MaKenna Jones of Greenville is at least one step ahead of everyone else in the 12-player singles field in the Shape Invitational chasing a wild card into the main draw of next month’s Volvo Car Open.

The daughter of two former touring tennis professionals, the 18-year-old was the only player to win two matches on Tuesday in round-robin play on the clay at Family Circle Tennis Center to advance to the semifinals where she will be two wins away from securing the Volvo Open singles wild card.

University of Alabama-bound Jones eked out a pair of tiebreaker wins over Vanderbilt’s Sydney Campbell, 6-4, 3-6, 1-0 (6), and South Carolina freshman Paige Cline, 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (3), as Jones’ mother, former world’s top 50 Tami Whitlinger-Jones, watched.

The winners of three 10 a.m. Wednesday matches, pitting former Georgia star Lauren Herring against St. Mary’s Jacqueline Pelletier, Duke’s Beatrice Capra against Vanderbilt’s Frances Altick, and the College of Charleston’s Liza Fieldsend against Duke freshman Kaitlyn McCarthy, will join Jones in the 2 p.m. semifinals.

SINGLES: Lauren Herring (Georgia) def. Katherine Schofield (CofC), 6-0, 6-4; Beatrice Capra (Duke) def. Chloe Gullickson (Virginia), 6-0, 6-3; Liza Fieldsend (CofC) def. Caroline Dailey (USC), 6-0, 6-2; McKenna Jones (Alabama) def. Sydney Campbell (Vanderbilt), 6-4, 3-6, 1-0 (6); Jacqueline Pelletier (St. Mary’s) def. Schofield, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 1-0 (7); Frances Altick (Vanderbilt) def. Gullickson, 6-1, 6-4; Kaitlyn McCarthy (Duke) def. Dailey, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 1-0 (2); Jones def. Paige Cline (USC), 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (3).


(02/27/16)  A first step to the Volvo Car Open
The Volvo Car Open is still more than a month away, but a fairly significant step is about to be taken toward this long-running women’s tournament being played for the first time with a name other than the Family Circle Cup.

A wild card directly into the main draw of the Volvo Car Open is a pretty valuable prize. That’s why many eyes will be focused on the inaugural Shape Invitational Tuesday through Thursday at Family Circle Tennis Center. Attendance is free.

Twelve talented collegians are scheduled to compete in the Americans-only event. Four three-player groups will play round-robins on Tuesday, with the winner of each flight advancing to Wednesday’s semifinals.

Californians Hadley Berg and Page Cline, and Floridian Caroline Dailey will represent 37th-ranked South Carolina. Junior No. 1 Liza Feldsend of New Braunfels, Texas, will represent College of Charleston.

Duke’s Beatrice Capra and Kaithlyn McCarthy will be difficult to turn back, along with Southern No. 1/Alabama-bound McKenna Jones of Greenville and LSU-bound Raveena Kingsley among others.

The singles champion and doubles winners will receive wild cards into the Volvo Car main draws.
College update

Coach Mike Baker’s defending Big South women’s champion Charleston Southern team (2-0) will open its conference season on Tuesday against Radford at home. The Bucs’ roster includes senior standout Mi’Kola Cooper of Porter-Gaud and sophomore Kristen Farmer, a former Berkeley star who, like Cooper, was an All-Lowcountry performer.

The College of Charleston women are off to a 5-3 start, but coach Angelo Anastopoulo’s team won’t open Colonial Athletic Conference play until next Friday at Hofstra. Coach Jay Bruner’s C of C men (5-3) also have not played a CAA match.

The Citadel men entered the weekend with a 7-9 record, which is a big improvement for coach Chuck Kriese’s club over last season’s initial 2-30 season under the former Clemson coach. The Bulldogs’ singles starters include Charleston product Jackson Pride, who attended the Baylor (Tenn.) School, as well as doubles starter Connor Grady of Porter-Gaud.

Bailey Shelbourne of Summerville and freshman Jeff Jones from last season’s Class AA champion Bishop England team also are on the Bulldogs’ roster, along with two other players from the state.
Raptors rising

Academic Magnet has three starters back from last year’s 8-5 boys team, but it may be difficult for sophomores Michael Pi and Brandon Kassous, and Ardy Bahadori to break into the Raptors’ starting singles lineup this season.

The reason? First-year boys coach Andrea Langley has five highly touted newcomers. No wonder, she says, “I’m super excited” about the Raptors’ prospects for possibly challenging defending Class AA state champion Bishop England for local AA supremacy.

Jacob Jahn, only a freshman and one of the state’s top players, leads the way for the Raptors after making All-Lowcountry as a seventh-grader at Wando two years ago. He sat out last season while concentrating on junior tennis.

Freshman Vinod Pandey started on a 2015 Wando team that was Lower State Class AAAA runner-up. Then there’s the Navarro brothers, sophomore Earl and senior Owen, as well as talented sophomore Sam Kavarana. That’s five new faces.

Of course, Bishop England has the South’s top-rated 16-and-under player in Jared Pratt, along with talented sophomore Lleyton Dacuba and big-serving junior Brian Privett. Both Dacuba and Privett won key singles matches during the Bishops’ victories in the 2015 state semifinals and final.

Also, Wando isn’t exactly hurting with All-Lowcountry senior Scotty Cameron back, but the Warriors did lose the solid DaCosta brothers (Andrew and Robert) to graduation after last spring’s 14-2-1 success.
Don’t count out P-G

Although defending SCISA Class AAA state champion Porter-Gaud lost three-time All-Lowcountry Brant Fenno to online schooling for at least his sophomore year, don’t count the Cyclones out. Porter-Gaud has No. 1 Cross Tolliver back for his senior year, supported by hard-hitting junior Malone Vingi and an outstanding group of veteran young players such as sophomores Manning Snyder and Connor Craigie, and junior Jack Kammerer.

The Cyclones still have the luxury of playing in a weakened region in the departure of perennial power Hilton Head Prep and usually solid Hilton Head Christian from Class AAA.


(02/21/16)  Charleston’s Rogers falls to Schiavone in Rio Open final
Charleston touring tennis professional Shelby Rogers left Rio de Janeiro feeling better about her game than when she arrived in Brazil.

Even before suffering a 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 loss to 35-year-old former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in Sunday’s final of the $250,000 Rio Open, Rogers said, “I came in with pretty high expectations and I’ve gone above and beyond that.”

After the 1 hour, 47-minute clay-court struggle in the second appearance of her career in a WTA Tour final, Rogers said, “It was definitely one of the best weeks of my life. I hope I can come back next year.”

Rogers, a 23-year-old who should climb from her No. 131 ranking to a spot near the top 100 as a result of her play in Rio, appeared headed for her initial WTA Tour title after Schiavone double-faulted away the first game of the second set. But that’s just when the tide changed in favor of Schiavone.

Rogers faced, and lost, her first break point in the next game as service problems suddenly found a place in her game.

Rogers, whose payday as the runner-up was $21,400, won only nine of 22 service points in the second set and one of nine second-service points in the final set. Meanwhile, Schiavone yielded just two points on her serve in the third set.

“It was a very tough match and I want to congratulate Rogers. She is a young player and she grew a lot in the circuit,” said Schiavone, who used the win to vault from a No. 132 ranking into the top 100.


(02/20/16)  Rogers advances to Rio Open final
Charleston’s Shelby Rogers appears to be definitely on the way back to the top 100 in women’s tennis after charging into her second career WTA Tour final on Saturday with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over unseeded Romanian wild card Sorana Cirstea in the $250,000 Rio Open.

Rogers isn’t in the top 100 yet, but she is projected to advance approximately 25 spots from her current world’s No. 131 ranking on the basis of her fourth straight win in Rio. Her career high ranking is 70th.

The Charleston 23-year-old almost surely would advance into the top 100 again if she managed to upend 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in Sunday’s final in Rio de Janeiro. Of course, the Rio surface is clay, which is Schiavone’s game.

Currently ranked No. 132, Schiavone is a former world’s No. 4 player. The 35-year-old Italian polished off Petra Martic of Croatia, 6-3, 6-3, in Saturday’s other semifinal.

“I don’t feel any pressure at all (facing Schiavone),” Rogers said. “She’s a great player. She’s very experienced. She is going to be at the top of her game. I have nothing to lose. I am going to go out and try to do what I’ve been doing all week, and enjoy the moment.”

Rogers came up with a service break in the ninth game of the second set against former world’s No. 21 Cirstea, who had held a 40-30 lead before having to hit a pair of second serves. Rogers then served out the match at 40-15.

“It was very hot today and she (Cirstea) hits the ball very hard. She hit a lot of winners. I knew I was going to have to weather the storm,” said Rogers, who already has earned a $21,400 paycheck in Rio.

“These type of moments are definitely confidence builders . . . when you win several matches in a row. But also fighting through some tough moments also builds your confidence and being able to close out matches like today are where I get my confidence.”

Rogers, whose only other final was in another $250,000 event in Bad Gastein, Austria, in 2014, served only 50 percent for the match against Cirstea, but won 22 points on the 35 first serves she put into play. She also saved 10 of 13 break points.


(02/18/16)  Sloane Stephens, Eugenie Bouchard to play in Volvo Car Open
Sloane Stephens and Eugenie Bouchard have committed to play in the Volvo Car Open set for April 2-10 on Daniel Island, tournament officials announced Thursday.

The women’s tennis tournament formerly called the Family Circle Cup previously announced that Angelique Kerber, Venus Williams, Belinda Bencic, Lucie Safarova, Madison Keys and Andrea Petkovic have entered the WTA premier tournament.

The 22-year-old Stephens and 21-year-old Bouchard have both played in Charleston before. This year will mark Stephens’ sixth appearance in the field and Bouchard’s fourth.

“Sloane and Genie are the next generation of tennis stars — two young players to watch,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open Tournament Manager. “Our fans have watched them compete in Charleston and have been rooting them on since their teenage years. You can be assured these talented ladies will have successful careers for many years to come.”

Stephens, ranked World No. 24, won her second WTA title at the ASB Classic in Aukland last month. The 2015 season proved to be a successful one for Stephens. She won the first WTA title of her career in August of 2015 at the Citi Open. In addition to her win in Washington D.C., she made the semifinals in Strasbourg and Eastbourne, the quarterfinals in Miami and Seoul and the fourth round in Paris, at the French Open.

Bouchard recently reached the Hobart finals in January. Last year, she made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and the fourth round of the U.S. Open. The 2014 season was a historic one for Bouchard, marked with semifinals appearances at the Australian Open and French Open, as well as her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon. The Canadian also won her first WTA title at Nurnberg. Bouchard made the quarterfinals of the Family Circle Cup in 2013 and the semifinals in 2014.



(02/16/16)  Rogers pulls upset in Rio opener
Charleston touring professional Shelby Rogers upset No. 8 seed Andrea Mitu of Romania, 6-2, 6-2, in the first round of the $226,500 Rio Open clay court tournament on Monday.

It was only the only American victory of the day.


(02/15/16)  Tennis standouts win Dunlop Juniors titles
Need to find this article!!!


(02/15/16)  Town of Mt. Pleasant: MP Tennis Complex in Running to Win "Best Tennis Club" in S.C.
The Volvo Car Open with support from USTA South Carolina is hosting a friendly competition to crown the "2016 Best Tennis Club in South Carolina." This award aims to recognize the tennis club in the Palmetto State that members, fans or players deem worthy of this title.

Thirteen South Carolina clubs are battling it out for a chance to win the opportunity to host a group of members in an exclusive hospitality suite during the 2016 Volvo Car Open in Charleston, as well as state bragging rights as the "2016 Best Tennis Club in South Carolina".

Mount Pleasant Tennis Complex, which includes 12 hard tennis courts, three clay tennis courts, and eight Quick Start courts is competing for the title. The tennis complex hosts junior and adult tournaments, camps, private lessons from MPRD Tennis Pros, and is home to USTA and CALTA league teams.
 
Jane Fluet, MP Tennis Complex member for 10 years, says there’s no better place to play. “Great staff, the courts are well maintained, and they accommodate all players and league play equally - what more can you ask for?”

Another member, Dawn Overstreet-Milton, loves that the tennis center is located in the heart of Mount Pleasant. “We have by far the best prices of any other club”.

Help support your local club! To vote for your Mount Pleasant Recreation Tennis Complex visit http://www.volvocaropen.com/besttennisclubsc/.

Clubs in the running to win the “Best Tennis Club in South Carolina
Cayce Tennis & Fitness
Charleston Tennis Center
Greenwood Country Club
Kroc Tennis Center
Legend Oaks Tennis Club
Maybank Tennis Center
Mt. Pleasant Tennis Complex – Whipple Road
Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center
Pine Forest Country Club
Rockbridge Club
Rock Hill Tennis Center
Seabrook Island Racquet Club
Wexford Plantation
For additional information, contact Robert Eppelsheimer at (843)-849-3121.



(02/13/15)  Charleston area is a hotbed for ranked tennis juniors
The Charleston area is the state’s hottest hotbed for junior tennis, thanks mainly to excellent junior programs such as the ones at Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy, Mount Pleasant’s LTP Tennis and others.

Bishop England’s boys and girls, Wando’s girls and Porter-Gaud’s boys were the chief beneficiaries of the junior training programs as each won a state title in 2015.

In the final state junior rankings for 2015, area boys and girls held down a combined 55 of the top 20 positions for the state’s boys and girls 12, 14, 16 and 18 age divisions. Girls 12 led the way with 10 players ranked in the state’s top 20, while boys 12 had nine top 20 players and boys 16 with seven in the top 10.

The area even had one year-end top-ranked Southern player, Allie Gretkowski in girls 12, as well as a No. 2 in boys 16 standout Jared Pratt, who has now moved up to No. 1 in the current Southern rankings.

Led by Gretkowski, five local players were ranked among the Southern’s top 50 girls 12 players. Maggie Navarro (5), Sophie Williams (22), Carri Hayes (30) and Shianna Guo (47) were the others.

Emma Navarro was rated 18th in both girls 14 and 16, and 37th in girls 18 in the South. Lara Schneider (24), Gretkowski (42) and Kat Lyman (49) also were ranked in the top 50 in girls 14.

Jacob Jahn (35) and Brant Fenno (42) joined Pratt in the top 50 in boys 16, while Reilly Wilson (40 in boys 14), Mitchell Deames (29 in boys 12), Mark Militzer (20 in boys 18) and Scotty Cameron (41 in boys 18) also landed Southern top 50 year-end rankings.

Pratt, only a sophomore, is hoping to lead Bishop England to a second straight Class AA state title. But Academic Magnet may challenge the Bishops as Jahn, Sam Kavarana and Earl Navarro (ranked, respectively, 2, 4 and 10 in S.C. boys 16) all appear set to play for Academic Magnet, along with Vinod Pandey (12 in S.C. boys 14).

Fenno goes online

Porter-Gaud is sure to feel the effects of losing three-time All-Lowcountry performer Brant Fenno to online schooling for the spring semester of his sophomore year. Fenno has played on two state championship teams and has been the Cyclones’ most valuable player the last two seasons.

“Brant is doing it (online schooling) so he can play tennis twice a day,” said Edward Fenno, Brant’s father. “He is either playing tennis, lifting weights or studying.

“He enjoyed playing high school tennis, and I expect he’ll be back at Porter-Gaud in the fall. We certainly hope them (Porter-Gaud) well this season.”

A 6-1 left-hander who won the SCISA singles title two years ago, Fenno trains at MWTennis, LTP Tennis and at Creekside Tennis and Swim.

State rankings

The Charleston area had two juniors to gain No. 1 state rankings for 2015 with Maggie Navarro in girls 12 and Pratt in boys 16, and six No. 2-ranked players: Scotty Cameron (boys 18), Jahn (boys 16), Reilly Wilson (boys 14), Mitchell Deames (boys 12), Lauren Quinn (girls 16), Lara Schneider (girls 14) and Sophie Williams (girls 12).

The boys 16 group appeared to be the strongest in the state rankings with seven top 10 players as Pratt and Jahn were followed by Kavarana (4), Fenno (5), Chad Nash (6), Coy Simon (8), Earl Navarro (10) and Kerim Hyatt (14).

Other top 20 state

Boys 18: Cameron Kirkwood (12) and Alex Amble (17). Boys 14: Alan Waters (5), Luke Prendergast (6), Joseph Smith (7), Pandey (12) and Zachary Dacuba (16). Boys 12: Jacob Michael Smith (5), David Rasheed (7), William Ethan Baly (8), Lucas Acevedo (9), David Nawabi (10), Matthew Baty (12), John Sutterlin (18) and Otto Sewell (19).

In girls 18, Jenna Vroman (6), Elena Schneider (8), Juliana Hannah Goehner (10), Emily Katherine Lively (12) and Tyler Kirk (13). Girls 16: Kat Lyman (3), Camryn Deames (7), Emma Smith (11), Lily Conant (13), Eileen Rickert (16) and Kirk (20).

Girls 14: Lyman (4), Allie Gretkowski (7), Shianna Guo (13), Rebecca Spratt (14), Emma Smith (17) and Emily Loring (20). Girls 12: Gretkowski (3), Saige Severance (4), Guo (7), Logan Voeks (8), Gigi Hinson (11), Sydney Severance (13), Mattie Dermody (15) and Alice Otis (16).


(02/11/16)  Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship begins Friday
The Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship is scheduled to begin Friday at Family Circle Tennis Center with a field packed with highly rated players.

But this year’s Dunlop tournament will not offer a wild card to its girls 18 champion into the singles qualifying draw for the upcoming WTA Tour tournament, now named the Volvo Car Open.

Also, two-time Dunlop champion Ellie Halbauer has decided not to compete for a record third straight girls 18 title. Halbauer, who grew up at Family Circle Tennis Center and is now ranked No. 421 in the world, will be playing in a $25,000 ITF tournament in Mexico this weekend.

The Volvo qualifying tournament wild card will now be awarded to the singles runner-up in the inaugural Shape Invitational women’s collegiate event that is scheduled to be held March 1-3 at Family Circle Tennis Center. The Shape singles champion will receive a wild card straight into the Volvo Car Open main draw, while the Shape doubles champions will receive wild cards into the Volvo doubles main doubles draw.

Past Dunlop tournaments have been plagued by bad weather, but tournament director Rob Eppelsheimer said, “The weather looks chilly, but everything is a go ... doubles will start Friday at 4:30 p.m. and all singles will start Saturday morning.”

The Dunlop finals are scheduled for Sunday. Four Hundred juniors registered for the various boys and girls age categories and 320 were selected to compete. The tournament will be held at Family Circle, the Daniel Island Club, Wild Dunes, LTP Tennis and the Mount Pleasant Rec Whipple Road complex.


(02/10/16) DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: PHILIP BOWMAN: Bishop England plans to build tennis courts on its Daniel Island campus
Tennis anyone?

At Bishop England High School, the question is more like, “Tennis, anywhere?”

That’s because Bishop England, home to one of the top tennis programs in the Palmetto State with 10 boys’ state titles under its belt and 19 girls’ titles, doesn’t have a tennis facility. The school moved from its Calhoun Street campus in downtown Charleston to Daniel Island in time for the 1998 academic year and since then, the BE tennis teams have held court at the Family Circle Tennis Center, the Daniel Island Country Club, Snee Farm Country Club, LTP, Creekside, the Mount Pleasant Tennis Complex on Whipple Road, and the Farmfield tennis facility in West Ashley.

Hopefully, with the proposed Monsignor John L. Manning Tennis Center, the eighth location will be enough -- and end the Bishops’ nomadic ways.

The school has proposed a five-court, lighted facility that will be located adjacent to Father Kelly Field, the school’s baseball facility. The tennis complex will also be used for the school’s physical education classes.

“It’s just so hard to find a play and to practice,” Bishop England athletic director Paul Runey said. “We have to be able to block off six or seven courts a day for two to three hours at a time. That’s getting tougher and tougher to do. A few years ago, Charleston was named the top tennis town in the country, and that was for a reason. Today, you have so many people playing tennis and there aren’t enough courts. That’s the problem.

Runey said the school, which is beginning a $400,000 fund-raising project, hopes to have the courts in place in time for the 2016-17 academic year. But Runey pointed out the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, which oversees the school, has a policy that a project such as this must have 100 percent funding pledged with 50 percent of the pledges in the bank.

That, ultimately, will dictate when the Bishops can have home court advantage.

The fund raising committee reported the project is 25 percent “of the way there.”

There are many ways to contribute, including a sponsorship package that begins at $500 and tops out at $35,000. The $35,000 is what it costs to be a court sponsor, with naming rights.

Runey said three of the five courts have been accounted for with a combined $105,000. Runey said the only sports facilities that were included in the school’s masterplan were the football stadium, named after Jack Cantey and the basketball court, named after the Rev. Joseph L. O’Brien, both BE icons. The school has added a track and field facility, baseball and softball diamonds and sundry practice fields in its nearly two decades on Daniel Island.

Kristen Fleming Arnold, who coaches both the boys’ and girls’ teams, said there is no place like home.

“It means everything to the program,” she said of the proposed courts. “We have the Fall BE Invitational, and it would be nice to have our own courts to host our own tournament. It would help with the logistics of the program.”

For more information, contact Runey at pruney@behs.com, Fleming at kristen@eastcoastap.com or Alumni Relations Director Kelly Duffy at kduffy@behs.com


(02/10/16)  Jeff Hartsell: Past champs Jankovic, Lisicki and Stosur enter Volvo Car Open
Past champions Jelena Jankovic, Sabine Lisicki and Samantha Stosur have entered the field for the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island, bringing to six the number of former champs entered in the WTA event formerly known as the Family Circle Cup.

That trio joins former winners Venus Williams, Andrea Petkovic and defending champ Angelique Kerber in the tournament, which is set for April 2-10.

“As former champions of our tournament, Jelena, Sam and Sabine have acquired a large fan following in Charleston,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open tournament manager. “Combined, this year will mark 29 tournaments in Charleston for these three talented ladies. We are so lucky.”

Jankovic, currently ranked No. 19 in the world, has won 15 WTA singles titles, including the 2007 Family Circle Cup. The former World No. 1 has made 12 previous appearances in Charleston, with a 21-10 record and a finals appearance in 2013.

“I love playing tennis in Charleston and on the green clay,” said Jankovic. “I won it there in 2007, was a finalist and now I’m ready to win again.”

Stosur, No. 27, has made nine previous appearances in Charleston and holds a 13-8 record with a 2010 title and a semifinal run in 2012. Stosur has won eight WTA singles titles, including two in 2015. The former U.S. Open champion finished the season in the top 30 for the seventh year in a row.

“It’s no secret that I enjoy visiting and playing tennis in Charleston,” said Stosur. “I have developed great relationships with the tournament staff and fans over the years. I’ve already booked reservations at a number of my favorite Charleston restaurants, and a few new ones, too.”

Lisicki has made five previous appearances in Charleston and holds a 12-4 record, including her 2009 title. She has won four WTA singles titles and is ranked No. 32.

“I’ll always think fondly of playing in Charleston since it’s where I won my first WTA title,” said Lisicki. “I enjoy coming back each year, seeing the fans and exploring the city.”

Tickets for the 2016 Volvo Car Open are now on sale. For more information on tickets, call 800-677-2293 or visit http://www.volvocaropen.com. Patrons can purchase single session tickets, or choose from a variety of ticket and travel packages.


(02/10/16)  WCIV-TV: 3 more past champs sign on to 2016 Volvo Cars Open
Jelena Jankovic, the 2007 Family Circle Cup champion, Sabine Lisicki, the 2009 Family Circle Cup champion and Samantha Stosur, the 2010 Family Circle Cup champion, will all return to Charleston for the inaugural Volvo Car Open, April 2nd - 10th, 2016, on Daniel Island, S.C.

The three former champions join fellow champs Venus Williams (2004), Andrea Petkovic (2014) and Angelique Kerber (2015) in the world-class player field forming for the 2016 tournament.

"As former champions of our tournament, Jelena, Sam and Sabine have acquired a large fan following in Charleston," said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open Tournament Manger. "Combined, this year will mark 29 tournaments in Charleston for these three talented ladies. We are so lucky!"

Jankovic, currently ranked World No. 19, has won 15 WTA singles titles, three of which she captured last season in Nanchang, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. She also reached the finals in Indian Wells and the semifinals in Cincinnati in 2015. The former World No. 1 has made twelve previous appearances in Charleston, and holds a 21-10 win/loss record. She was a finalist in the 2013 Family Circle Cup.

"I love playing tennis in Charleston and on the green clay," Jankovic said. "I won it there in 2007, was a finalist and now I'm ready to win again! I'm also excited to host the Lisette L Montreal Ladies Day lunch with my mom, Snezana, on Tuesday, April 5."

World No. 27, Stosur has made nine previous appearances in Charleston and holds a 13-8 win/loss record. After winning the tournament in 2010, she made the semifinals in 2012. Stosur has won eight WTA singles titles and 24 WTA doubles titles. During 2015, she won in both Strasbourg and Bad Gastein. The former US Open champion finished the season in the top 30 for the seventh year in a row.

"It's no secret that I enjoy visiting and playing tennis in Charleston," Stosur said. "I have developed great relationships with the tournament staff and fans over the years. I've already booked reservations at a number of my favorite Charleston restaurants, and a few new ones, too!"

Lisicki has made five previous appearances in Charleston and holds a 12-4 win/loss record. She has won four WTA singles titles and four WTA doubles finals. In 2015, she reached the semifinals in Indian Wells and Birmingham and the quarterfinals in Miami. The World No. 32 was a finalist at Wimbledon in 2013.

"I'll always think fondly of playing in Charleston since it's where I won my first WTA title," Lisicki said. "I enjoy coming back each year, seeing the fans and exploring the city."

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


(02/09/16)  Kiawah’s Barth receives Southern’s top award
Kiawah Island tennis director Roy Barth has received just about every award imaginable in state and Southern tennis circles. His latest award is the 2015 Jacobs Bowl, which is the highest award presented by USTA Southern.

The Jacobs Bowl, which was presented to Barth during Southern’s annual meeting in Atlanta, honors a volunteer who has exhibited outstanding service to USTA Southern.

Barth has been Kiawah’s only director of tennis, arriving in 1976. He now teaches at the Roy Barth Tennis Center.

A San Diego native, former top 50 touring pro and former All-American at UCLA, Barth has been named to the state and Southern tennis halls of fame. He has served as the chairman of the USTA’s Davis Cup committee.

Rogers aims high

Touring professional tennis players usually have only a few peak years. The likes of Roger Federer and the William sisters are among the exceptions. Life on the tour not only can be expensive financially, but also on the body.

Charleston’s Shelby Rogers is 23 years old these days and is ranked No. 154 in the world. She probably realizes she might never be a top echelon player, say top 20.

But Rogers wants to get back where her game took her in September 2014. No. 70 in the world isn’t a bad place to be. Direct entry into the Grand Slam events is a big deal to young tennis players.

Rogers sees a brighter 2016 as she appears to be recovered from injuries that handicapped her much of last summer and fall.

Her goal for the spring: “Get my ranking back up while staying healthy . . . To get into the slams this summer.”

Rogers skipped this month’s Australian Open qualifying in favor of playing a pair of $25,000 tournaments in Florida as the top seed. After a second-round finish at Daytona Beach, she was a semifinalist at Wesley Chapel.

Rogers will participate this coming week in the $100,000 U.S. Pro Circuit event in Midland, Mich., along with Lowcountry connections Samantha Crawford and Jessica Pegula. The 107th-ranked Crawford should be seeded. Pegula played in Saturday’s singles semifinals and doubles final in a $50,000 event in Hawaii.

Halbauer uncertain

Family Circle Tennis Center’s prestigious Dunlop Junior Championship is only a couple of weeks away, but two-time champion Ellie Halbauer still doesn’t know if she’ll return to compete for a record third title and the wild card into the Volvo Cars Open qualifying tournament that goes to the Junior Cup girls 18 champion.

“It’s not up to me. It’s up to my coach,” Halbauer responded Friday when asked if she would play in the Dunlop event, which will be held Feb. 12-14.

Still just 18 years old, Halbauer was in Sunrise, Fla., on Saturday where she was in the semifinals of a $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event. Currently ranked No. 476 in the world, she could climb above her career-high 412 on Monday.

Triangle of switches

Andy Steingold has made the switch from one Summerville area private club to another as the director of tennis at Pine Forest Country Club. Steingold has spent the last nine years directing Legend Oaks’ highly successful tennis program.

Former longtime Pine Forest tennis director Larry Klingenberg, who once taught at Nick Bollettieri’s Academy, is now Pinewood Prep’s tennis director. Bryant McKee, who earlier coached at Summerville and Pinewood Prep, has moved in as Legend Oaks’ tennis director.

“I am excited and looking forward to being at the helm of one of the finest tennis facilities in the state,” said Steingold, who was named state player of the year in 2013.

Local notes

Tyler Davis, who coached Wando’s girls to a Class AAAA state runner-up season in 2011 after serving as head coach at both Presbyterian College and Limestone College, has joined city head pro Davy Hairston’s teaching staff at Charleston Tennis Center. The Farmfield Avenue facility is making a huge move in live-ball drills and training sessions for adults, particularly on Saturday mornings and most weeknights. Davis also has served as a pro at Park West and Mount Pleasant Rec.

Lowcountry product Anderson Scarpa came up with a key win at No. 4 singles for Mercer in an opening-day 4-3 upset of No. 64 Clemson. It was Mercer’s first-ever win over an Atlantic Coast Conference team. Scarpa is a senior from Sullivan’s Island.

Former area pro Matt Hane, currently the head pro at the Country Club of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, will be inducted into the George Washington University tennis hall of fame in February.

The Lowcountry Youth Tennis Association has used a $1,200 grant from the USTA to install blended 10-and-under competition lines on courts on John’s Island at St. John’s High School and Haut Gap Middle School.


(02/08/16)  CHRISTINA ELMORE: Judge considering whether to dismiss ReVille victim lawsuits against Citadel officials
A federal judge is pondering whether to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed against Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa, an attorney for the school and others accused of enabling serial molester Louis “Skip” ReVille to further victimize children by “covering up” prior allegations of sexual abuse.

Named defendants in both federal suits are Rosa; Jennifer Garrott, a former director at a now-defunct summer camp where ReVille served as a counselor; school attorney Mark Brandenburg; and Joseph Trez, a former executive assistant to Rosa.

They each are accused of covering up a 2007 complaint concerning sexually inappropriate behavior by ReVille with multiple children, and failing to implement policies that called for the termination of any camp counselor caught alone with a minor behind closed doors.

The defendants sought the dismissals in December by filing motions for summary judgment in the cases, which were brought in 2014 by two ReVille victims identified in court documents only as John Doe A of North Carolina and John Doe 4 of Dorchester County.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel heard arguments from attorneys on both sides Thursday. The judge concluded the hearing without disclosing when his decision would be made.

ReVille previously served as John Doe 4’s swimming coach, according to court documents. The once “happy child” was preyed upon by ReVille up until his arrest in 2011, the documents said.

ReVille coached John Doe A in tennis in 2008, according to court documents. Both children were assaulted away from the Citadel grounds and after ReVille no longer worked for the school, court documents state.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants were still culpable as they failed to take steps to stop ReVille before John Doe A and John Doe 4 crossed his path.

“From 2007-2011, the Defendants chose to conceal ReVille’s sexual misconduct with children and ReVille’s work around children. The Citadel knew, or should have known, that its silence and efforts to conceal the abuse by ReVille misrepresented that ReVille was equipped to work with and around children,” a civil complaint filed by John Doe A stated.

Up for discussion during Thursday’s hearing were allegations of a “state-created danger” and “supervisory liability” by the defendants.

Gergel’s thoughts on the matter were influenced by a 4th Circuit appellate panel ruling in a similar cases brought by another ReVille victim, John Doe 2, as well as the mother of victim John Doe 3.

In that case, the appellate court found that Rosa’s conduct regarding ReVille amounted to inaction, not action, and failed to rise to a level needed to prove state-created danger. Gergel agreed.

“The 4th Circuit did not ignore what it characterized as bad decisions,” Gergel said. “Notwithstanding that, there’s not a constitutional claim here.”

The supervisory liability claim, too, lacked legal ground, Gergel said, considering ReVille was no longer under the defendants’ supervision when John Doe A and John Doe 4 were assaulted.


(02/05/16)  Shelby Rogers advances to semifinals in Michigan
Charleston touring tennis professional Shelby Rogers scored a 6-1, 7-6 (4) victory over Japan’s Mayo Hibi on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the $100,000 ITF tournament in Midland, Mich.

Rogers, ranked 151st in the world, will oppose her doubles partner, 112th-ranked Naomi Broady of Great Britain, in Saturday’s semifinals. Broady upset No. 1 seed Madison Brengle in the quarterfinals.


(01/25/16)  Charleston Regional business Journal: Volvo Car Open Signs New Premier Sponsor
The Volvo Car Open has partnered with a new premier sponsor Lisette L Montréal for the April 2 – 10 Daniel Island, SC tennis tournament which is part of the Family Circle event series of programs. This is the first time the Canadian-based apparel company has sponsored a tennis tournament.

For more than a decade, Lisette L Montréal has been designing women’s pants with a purpose: crafting the perfect fit for women of all body types, shape and size. The pants are designed to create a slim fit by a built-in tummy control with flaterie panel and contoured waistband. The pants are sold online, as well as in fine boutiques across Canada, United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Lisette L Montreal will support the 2016 Volvo Car Open’s Official Player Party and Ladies Day. In addition, they will sell merchandise from a week-long pop-up shop during the tournament.

“We are so excited to add the Lisette L Montreal brand to our event,” said Bob Moran, Volvo Car Open Tournament Director and General Manger. “They are truly a world-class international brand that will speak directly to our largely female audience. This program is not just about branding, but creatively reaching our fans through a unique pop-up shop on-site and sponsoring Ladies Day, while also entertaining our players at the Lisette L Montreal Player Party. We are clearly excited with this new partnership.”

As part of their on-site promotion, Lisette L Montreal will give away a free pair of pants every half hour throughout the entire week of the event. Any fan that tries on a pair of Lisette pants at their Volvo Car Open pop-up shop or at Anne’s Downtown will be entered to win a pair of pants.

“We are absolutely thrilled to participate in the 2016 Volvo Car Open,” said Lisette Limoges, Lisette L Montréal Founder and Creative Director. “We are such fans of these incredible athletes and the city of Charleston and are honored to be working alongside Volvo. We are beyond excited to share our latest collection with the fans, players and city of Charleston!”

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


(01/16/16)  Family Circle starting American collegiate event
The Family Circle Cup was the very heart and soul that carried the area to America’s Best Tennis Town honors a decade after its move to Charleston 16 years ago. It’s a new day now that the tournament has been renamed the Volvo Cars Open.

But Family Circle Tennis Center still stands as the centerpiece of Lowcountry tennis, with its world-class Volvo Car Stadium sitting just below I-526 on Daniel Island.

Family Circle Tennis Center has added a special new tournament to its lineup as it gears up for its first Volvo Cars Open on April 2-10. The women’s Americans-only collegiate Shape Invitational will be held March 1-3, with the winner receiving a wild card into the main draw of the Volvo Cars Open and the runner-up getting a wild card into the Volvo Cars qualifying tournament.

Those perks were enough incentives to convince 2015 national collegiate champion Jamie Loeb (of North Carolina) to commit to the 16-player Shape event, even though she is now a full-time touring professional currently ranked No. 398 in the world. The wild card into the Volvo Cars Open looks pretty good.

The Shape Magazine event’s doubles champions also will receive wild cards into the Volvo Cars main doubles draw.

Other Shape commitments have come from such standouts as Georgia’s Lauren Herring, Duke’s Kaitlyn McCarthy (2014 Dunlop Junior runner-up), Southern No. 1 Makenna Jones of Greenville and headed for the University of Alabama and Duke’s Beatrice Capra (2010 U.S. Open third round ranked as high as No. 201 in the world).

In creating a collegiate Americans-only tournament, Family Circle Tennis Center is aligning itself with the USTA in a mission to make college tennis a gateway to professional tennis.
Halbauer going for 3?

Don’t forget, Family Circle Tennis Center’s Dunlop Junior Cup is right around the corner, Feb. 12-14. Two-time defending champion Ellie Halbauer said Saturday she hasn’t decided yet if she will return to Charleston for an attempt at becoming the first three-time champion of the Junior Cup.

Halbauer, who practically grew up at Family Circle Tennis Center, is a 17-year-old currently ranked No. 476 in the world. She hasn’t turned pro and is thinking about college online, but she said, “Hopefully, this will be my breakout year.”

On another note out of the Family Circle facility, its rapidly growing MWTennis Academy now has two top-ranked Southern juniors, Allie Gretkowski in girls 12 and Jared Pratt in boys 16.

The entire Bishop England singles lineup (Jenna Vroman, Camryn Deames, Gabrielle Dacuba, Emily Elliott and Crista Vroman) that carried the Bishops to a fifth straight Class AA state girls title is enrolled in MWTennis’ after-school high performance academy.
Farmfield turning 40

Charleston Tennis Center is planning a 40th anniversary celebration for April 15-17 at the 15-court Farmfield Avenue complex. Pro Davy Hairston is planning a round robin tournament as well as free clinics for kids and adults, along with a party atmosphere for the entire weekend.

Hairston also has the wheels rolling on a tri-county high school recreation league. The coed format will be three singles and one doubles, with rosters due by Feb. 19.

Matches are planned for 4 p.m. on weekdays for high school students who are not part of the higher level high school teams. Teams in the recreation league will select their own team names and not be called by their schools’ names due to High School League rules.
Local notes

Andy Steingold has made the switch from one Summerville area private club to another as he becomes the director of tennis at Pine Forest Country Club. Steingold has spent the last nine years directing Legend Oaks’ highly successful tennis program.

Summerville’s excellent Doty Park tennis complex will hold its fourth annual Tennis Social and Oyster Roast on Feb. 6. Participants are scheduled to hit the tennis courts at 4 p.m., followed by the oyster roast. A chili cook-off also will be part of the festivities. Contact Doty Park pro Nancy Sumersett (843-270-1017 or nsumersett@gmail.com) for more information.

The city of Charleston’s Courting Kids winter program will start on Feb. 28 at Jack Adams Tennis Center and the Alan Fleming Tennis Complex on Johns Island. Contact Peggy Bohne (843-766-7401) at Charleston Tennis Center.

The Tri-County Elementary and Middle School League is now in the planning stage for another season. Coaches meetings are scheduled for Monday (5 p.m.), Friday (4 p.m.) and Jan. 24 (3 p.m.) at the Farmfield tennis complex. Schools planning to participate in this spring’s league should be represented at one of the meetings.


(01/16/16)  CofC women’s tennis opens season with win
The start of the spring season was a rousing success for the College of Charleston women’s tennis team, which knocked off the Appalachian State Mountaineers (0-2) by a score of 6-1.

The Cougars started the meeting off by sweeping ASU in doubles play, with Sarah Jane Jones and Sarah Zschunke getting the first win with a 6-2 victory in the third flight. Katherine Schofield and Mara Argyriou finished up soon after in the second flight with a 6-3 win, followed by Liza Fieldsend and Rachel McNeely pulling off a hard-fought 7-6 win in flight number one.

In singles play, Argyriou achieved the most dominant victory for CofC, doing away with ASU’s Heidi Swope by a score of 6-1, 6-0. Her doubles partner Schofield beat out Melissa Machado as well in the second flight, getting the 6-2, 6-3 win to keep the duo undefeated.

Not to be outdone, Fieldsend and McNeely each scored victories in the first and fourth flights, with scores of 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 and 6-2, 6-4 respectively. Senior Brooke McAmis appeared in her first singles action of the year after battling injury in the fall, drawing the 6-0, 7-5 win over Mackenzie LaSure in the third flight.


(01/06/16)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Philip Bowman: What were the top local sports stories of 2015?
It was a monumental year in sports in The Daniel Island News readership area. What are your top sports stories from 2015? Here’s one man’s opinion.

Family Circle Cup becomes Volvo Cars Open

In late summer, the Meredith Corporation announced a new partnership with Volvo Cars of North America for the Family Circle Cup, the most prestigious women’s-only tennis tournament in the world. In conjunction with Volvo Car’s first American plant in South Carolina’s Berkeley County, the carmaker became the title sponsor for the Family Circle Cup, changing its name to the Volvo Cars Open. The tournament began in 1973 in Hilton Head and is one of the top events on the WTA circuit. The tourney’s alumni include a who’s who including Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Steffi Graf, Gabriela Sabatini, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati, Venus Williams, Justine Henin and Serena Williams. “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.” The Volvo Cars Open will take place April 2 – 10.

Bishop England girls’ tennis nets 20th title

The Bishop England girls’ tennis team capped the 2015 season with a 4-3 victory over Christ Church in the Class AA-A state championship. It was the Bishops’ fifth straight state title and 20th overall – a state record. “It’s a great team accomplishment,” coach Kristin Fleming Arnold said. “To win 20 state championships, including the last five in a row, is extremely impressive. The girls have something to celebrate, something to be proud of.” The Bishops’ strong singles play was the difference. At No. 1 singles, Jenna Vroman beat Lauren Allen 6-0, 6-2 while teammate Camryn Deames beat Day Nuckolls 6-4, 6-2 in No. 2 play. In No. 3 singles, the Bishops’ Gabrielle Dacuba topped Nila Veerabagu, 7-5, 6-2. In No. 4 singles, the Bishops’ Emily Elliott beat Anna Thompson 6-2, 6-7 (12-10).

Angelique Kerber wins her first Family Circle Cup title

Angeliqe Kerber won her first Family Circle Cup title and she did it in under pressure. In the championship against Madison Keys, she won the first set 6-2, but dropped the second set 6-4. Keyes led the third set 4-1, but Kerber rallied to win her first FCC title with a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 victory. “It’s unbelievable,” Kerber said. “To win here after the really difficult weeks I had, I’m feeling great. Last year I had four finals and I didn’t win any of them, so it’s great that I actually won this one today. It’s just been a great week for me here. Everybody is so nice, and I’m really happy about my game.” The win in Charleston was Kerber’s fourth WTA title, and second at the Premier level - she also won Paris [Indoors] in 2012. Her other two came at Copenhagen in 2012 and Linz in 2013.


(01/03/16)  USTA training center Opens arms to young pros
Up-and-coming young American touring pros are a hot commodity these days. The USTA training center at Boca Raton, Fla., has opened its doors to bud-ding stars such as Samantha Crawford and Jessica Pegula, and their coaches.

Crawford and Pegula were among the most successful women outside of the world's top 100 in 2015, and they called Charleston their home away from home most of last year.

But South Florida is calling them and their coach, former Maria Sharapova coach, Michael Joyce.

"We still love Charleston, but Sam and Jessie have family in Florida. They are the only players I coach, so I'll probably move to Florida, too," Joyce said last week from Los Angeles where he was pre-paring to leave for Australia to join Crawford and Pegula.

"We'll be back in Charleston for the Family Circle Cup (now Volvo Cars Open)."

Joyce served as MWTennis Academy's pro tennis division director when the academy opened in July 2014 at Family Circle Tennis Center. Longtime Joyce protégé Pegula didn't want to switch coaches, so she moved to Charleston as well. Crawford also came along.

"I'm not affiliated with MWTennis (anymore)," Joyce pronounced on Tuesday.

With Martin Blackman replacing Patrick McEnroe as the USTA's head of player development last year, the USTA started allowing private coaches such as Joyce to work with their players on site at the Chris Evert Academy, which houses the USTA training center in Boca Raton.

"They (USTA) are encouraging pros to work with the girls," Joyce said. "Kathy Rinaldi (USTA national women's coach) invited us to come over, and they accepted us with open arms."

Other than the Williams sisters, Sloane Stephens and Shelby Rogers, Joyce said "14 or 15 girls ranked in the top 300” trained for about a month in November and December at the Boca Raton facility.

Crawford and Pegula had exceptional years as both climbed to positions among the top 155 players in the world in 2015 (Crawford from No. 293 to 142 and Pegula from 775 to 155).

Crawford already has won two qualifying matches (including a straight-set win over 59th-ranked, 2010 Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova) and needs only one more win to advance into the main draw of the ongoing million-dollar event in Brisbane, Australia. She earlier earned a wild card into the main draw of the upcoming Australian Open, a second straight such achievement in the majors. Pegula will attempt to qualify for the Australian Open.

Charleston native Shelby Rogers, who now trains out of Los Angeles, is bypassing the trip to Australia. The No. 151st ranked Rogers is scheduled to play several $25,000 challenger events in Florida in January. "I'm feeling great and (my) body feels strong. I just want to come back slow and do it the right way;" said Rogers, who dropped off the tour late in the year to recover from injuries.

LCTA debate looms

A debate is almost certain to take center stage at Tuesday's 6 p.m. local league tennis captains meeting at the main Charleston County Library on Calhoun Street. The captains are scheduled to take part in a non-binding vote by the Low-country Tennis Association on whether the state's largest association should be broken up into two separate local organizations, one including teams from West Ashley and the Summerville area, with the other group representing Mount Pleasant and Daniel Island.

The most controversial element in the vote appears to be the long rush-hour late-afternoon trips from West Ashley to the Summerville area that often require West Ashley teams to play five-position matches at four-court facilities.

"As a West Ashley captain, driving to Mount Pleasant is easier than Summerville. Also, if teams have only four courts, then one of the matches (positions) should be played at. the opposing teams' courts," Shannon Drayton states on the LCTA Facebook page.

This also has been my opinion for many years. The travel to somewhat rural locations in the Summerville region is already a significant disadvantage for any Charleston team, even without the bur-den of having to split a team between two sites due to the host team having only four on-site courts.

Other West Ashley captains protest that West Ashley and Mount Pleasant/Daniel Is-land teams should alternate making the trips to the Summerville area. Of course, that wouldn't appear to be possible if the LCTA is split into two separate organizations.

One player even suggested on Facebook that West Ashley captains might start moving their teams to Mount Pleasant to avoid the Summerville area trip and court dilemma.

EDITOR'S NOTE:
I will attended the annual captain's meeting, as always, and I voted to maintain the LCTA as one entity.  The vote was 114-42 to maintain one league!  Mike Saia

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