2018

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

Winner: 2018 USTA South Carolina Media Excellence Award

Archive:
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(12/29/18)  A phone call delivers 2018′s most memorable moment
It’s been a year to remember for Charleston tennis.

The tennis happening I will remember most from 2018 was the day I picked up my home telephone and Ben Navarro was on the other end.

“You had better sit down,” he said.

I told Ben I already was sitting in my office, so I was ready for whatever he was about to tell me on that late September morning.

“I’m buying the Volvo Car Open,” an excited Navarro continued.

Having the original Family Circle Cup move here from Hilton Head Island almost two decades earlier was huge for Charleston tennis, but to have the Volvo Car Open owned by a local resident rivaled the most significant tennis event for the area in the nearly half-century I have been writing about tennis for this newspaper.

I won’t even try to list all of the outstanding accomplishments by our juniors in 2018. There were just so many great achievements, so many I am sure I would overlook someone.

So, juniors, seniors and the 18-plus crowd, you make up the Best Tennis Town in America, and maybe the world.

If you need more convincing, consider that the Charleston area currently has a total of six different No. 1-ranked juniors in Southern and U.S. rankings, five of them in the South’s six 14s through 18s boys and girls age groups.

Of course, you can’t forget U.S. No. 1 Emma Navarro’s big day in the July sun at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant. That day, she won singles and doubles titles in the National Girls 18 Clay Courts with local native Shelby Rogers and the Tennis Channel broadcasting the event to the world of tennis.

What a day. That was one for the ages, one unduplicated and one that will be difficult for anyone to achieve in future years.

Who would have dreamed that could happen to a local junior, especially on the player’s home courts.

ROSS, SCHNEIDER, WILLIAMS ALL RANKED NO. 1 IN SOUTH

The Charleston area now has three top-ranked Southern girls. Anna Ross is No. 1 in girls 18, and Lara Schneider is No. 1 in girls 16 in the South.

Sophie Williams has aged up to girls 16 and is competing in 18-and-under in the USTA’s current Winter Nationals in Orlando, Fla., but she is still No. 1 in the South in girls 14.

This is an even more amazing achievement by local juniors since Navarro is still ranked No. 1 nationally in girls 18 but isn’t playing a full Southern/national schedule currently and has slipped to No. 2 in the South in girls 18 in the current rankings.

To further demonstrate the strength of local junior girls, Emma Charney is ranked No. 3 in the South in girls 16. And then there’s Allie Gretkowski, who is ranked No. 7 in the South in girls 16, and Alice Otis is No. 4 in the South in girls 14.

Navarro and Ross already have committed to two outstanding Southern college tennis/academic universities, Duke and Vanderbilt, respectively.

Just 16 and a high school junior attending classes online, Schneider hasn’t committed to a college, but she is leaning toward a pair.

“Georgia or UNC are my favorites,” she said.

The No. 1 ranking should help Schneider make her hope come true, as well as the recent girls 16 doubles title with Gretkowski in the Eddie Herr International.

“I’m very happy ... I’ve never been No. 1 before. I was No. 2 in 12s,” Schneider said from Orlando, Fla., where she is competing in the Winter Nationals.

Tennis runs in the Schneider family. Lara’s brother (Alexander) played tennis for St. Joseph’s University, and her sister (Elena) is on the George Washington University women’s team.

“Lara got into tennis because for years she was dragged around to watch her two older siblings who also play tennis. She is my most athletic child,” said her father, Ken Schneider.

Ross, Schneider, Gretkowski and Callie Billman also are competing in girls 18 in the Winter Nationals, while Charney, Whitley Pate and Shianna Guo are in the 16s.

SMITH, SIMON NO. 1s

In boys, Max Smith and Coy Simon also are currently No. 1-ranked Southern players in 16s and 18s, respectively. Smith is competing in 16s in Orlando, while Simon and current Southern boys 18 No. 2 Huntley Allen are in 18s along with Chad Nash.

That makes a total of four local girls and boys owning the four No. 1 rankings in the South in 16s and 18s.

SMITHS TO PSHS

Speaking of Max Smith, he was part of the state tennis family of the year in 2016, and now he has been recognized as the state’s most improved junior boy. Still just a sophomore, Smith is headed for a new venture in high school tennis.

Almost single-handedly, Smith will make Philip Simmons High School a serious contender in the spring in Class AA SCHSL tennis. According to his mother, the South’s No. 1 boys 16 performer will get help at Philip Simmons from his brother Jake Smith (No. 7 in S.C. boys 14), just a seventh-grader.

Talented Carson Baker (No. 5 in S.C. boys 14) and Mitchell Deames (No. 9 in S.C. boys 16) also have been confirmed by their parents to be headed for Philip Simmons. These four LTP Scholars participants alone are almost enough for a strong starting lineup in any classification.

Max Smith already has one SCHSL state team title after starring on a Hanahan championship team as an eighth-grader.

Of course, Ross was the state junior girls player of the year, Alice Otis was the most improved state junior girl, and Simon and Allen shared state junior boys player of the year honors. Simon and Allen are committed to the University of Tennessee and Southern Methodist, respectively.

NAVARRO AUSSIE BOUND

Emma Navarro is skipping the Winter Nationals and will head to Australia next weekend. The Junior Australian Open is her main interest Down Under.

But Navarro also is scheduled to play in the ITF Grade 1 AGL Loy Yang Traralgon International in Australia to prepare for the Junior Australian Open.

Navarro’s singles (semifinals) success in the internationally loaded ITF girls 18 Junior Orange Bowl enabled Navarro to improve her ITF world junior ranking to No. 46. A good run in the points-heavy Junior Australian would be a big boost for Navarro’s ITF ranking, especially significant since she ran into eventual champion Xiyu Wang of China in the opening round of the Junior U.S. Open.


(12/27/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: BARRY QUINN: 70 and over league players
This email announces that team registrations for the 2019 LCTA 55+ and 70+ leagues will begin Friday November 30 and end Friday December 28.

Once the captain has created a team in TennisLink, he/she needs to provide each of the players with the team number so they can register to play. The player's registration fee is $12.

In order to be included in the schedule, the team must be created in TennisLink by midnight on December 28 and the team must have at least six players on the roster by that time in order to fill a complete line-up for a team match. Additional players may be added to the team after that date, but at least six players must be on the roster for a team to be included in the schedule.

Denis Tsukalas, is our new captain for the men's 70 + 3.0 team. Here's the number 7041415028. If you're interested, please join by December 28th that's the deadline. We play Wednesday mornings at 9 a.m.

Rip and Tom are trying to get together a 70s 3.5 team.


(12/26/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Year in Review: Squabble over tennis courts
Some Summerville residents remain unsatisfied with the town’s decision to ban a local tennis instructor from teaching tennis lessons at Doty Park. James Martin was banned from Doty Park in July after more than a year of conflicts and disagreements between Martin and the town over the use of tennis courts at Doty Park.

In addition to multiple clashes with the town’s tennis pro, Nancy Summersett, Martin failed to provide a completed volunteer application, in which the volunteer consents to a background check.

Parents of Martin’s former students and some community activists joined together to protest the ban. Their efforts were lead by Louis Smith, executive director of the Community Resource Center.

Protests continued and supporters of Martin spoke out at town council meetings. In December the town council passed a resolution supporting the town staff’s ban on Martin.


(12/21/18)  USTA SC: Save the NEW 2019 Annual Meeting Date
We heard you!
The *new* dates for the 2019 Annual Meeting will be December 6-8, 2019.

If you haven't taken our survey, please let us know how we did.

Take this survey!


(12/21/18)  Oceanside Collegiate's Kay Lyman heads All-Lowcountry girls’ tennis team
Kat Lyman
Kay Lyman said she had never even considered the possibility of being named The Post and Courier’s All-Lowcountry Player of the Year for girls tennis.

“I have known the persons every year who were named player of the year, but I didn’t even think about it,” said 17-year-old Oceanside Collegiate Academy senior, who was a teammate of 2015 player of the year Lily Conant’s at Wando.

Surprise!

Lyman skipped high school tennis in 2016 and 2017 while training for junior tennis, but returned to high school competition just in time to play for an outstanding Oceanside team that advanced all the way to last month’s Class AA state final. She went undefeated during the 2018 season while winning player of the year honors.

“I am honored. It’s really cool to win it for my school. I worked hard all year. I am just real glad I played this year. It was so much fun. I would have regretted not playing,” she said.

Lyman is joined on the All-Lowcountry team by seniors Eleanor Campbell of Bishop England, Rebecca Spratt of Ashley Hall, Abby Sinclaire of Wando and Emma Smith of Oceanside; and sophomores Lily Woods of Bishop England and Abby Cotuna of Berkeley. Smith, Woods and Cotuna are repeaters from 2017.

Mary Gastley, who guided Ashley Hall to the SCISA Class AAA state title, and Megan Hinton, who directed Wando to the SCHSL Class AAAAA final, are the coaches of the year.

While she was missing from high school tennis, Lyman continued to improve her game while training with Jeff Wilson at MWTennis Academy. Two years ago, she won the girls 16 singles title in the Southern Closed Clay Courts in Little Rock, Ark.

“That was my biggest title. I had been favored to win Belton that year, but I lost in the final. But then I won Southern ... I learned a lot from Belton. I won Belton singles last year and doubles twice,” she said.

Lyman felt fortunate as a senior to be able to attend OCA where athletics play a pivotal role.

“I was able to play high school tennis and still train with my coach, Jeff Wilson,” she said.

“I took two years to get really focused on aspects of my tennis game, and this year I decided I wanted to play (high school tennis) again. It’s my last year, and I wanted to experience the aspect of team atmosphere before I got to college,” she said.

Phil Whitesell, Lyman’s coach at OCA, said: “It was great being able to coach a player of Kat’s caliber. I’m hoping the best for her while playing for the Naval Academy.”

Because of tennis, Lyman is headed to the U.S. Naval Academy to join Navy’s women’s tennis team and to study in the field of cyber operations security. She sees all of that as her future, all because of tennis.

“I was recruited by mostly Southern schools ... South Carolina, Tennessee, Tulane and Furman. But I visited campus there (at Navy) and I could see myself there,” she said. “I was looking for something that would set me up afterwards in my career, and that was something the Naval Academy would do.”

After four years at Annapolis, she will have a five-year Navy commitment.

Lyman started tennis when she was about eight years old while her family was living in New Hampshire.

“That was indoors, but I didn’t really get into it (tennis) until I moved here when I was 12 years old in sixth grade,” she said. “I played all different sports before that back in New Hampshire ... soccer, basketball, track. I played them all up until I moved here.

“I kind of had a choice whether to play soccer that my dad (Mark Lyman) played in college. Tennis was different. I was able to control everything,” added Lyman, whose mother Elizabeth is a 4.5 league tennis player.

Lyman has no plans to try pro tennis. She just wants to focus on her career.

All-Lowcountry Girls Tennis
Kat Lyman - Senior, Oceanside Collegiate
Eleanor Campbell - Senior, Bishop England
Rebecca Spratt - Senior, Ashley Hall
Abby Sinclaire - Senior, Wando
Emma Smith - Senior, Oceanside Collegiate
Lily Woods - Sophomore, Bishop England
Abby Cotuna - Sophomore, Berkeley

Coaches of the year: Mary Gastley, Ashley Hall (SCISA); Megan Hinton, Wando (SCHSL)

Honorable Mention
Ashley Hall: Kayla Kirkland, Lorna Milani, Ella Gray Settle, Marissa Dye, Jane Goldstein, Adelaide Harper
Wando: Kelsey Sinclaire, Lily Zimmermann, Grace McKellar, Ellie Zimmermann, Emma Chadwick, Adelia Phillips
Bishop England: Jenna Santa Lucia, McKenzie Penton, Izzy Woods, Crista Vroman, Lauren Ferrara
Oceanside Collegiate: Jill Morse, Emily Loring, Caroline Lively, Elise Smith, Gracen Harris
Summerville: Paige Reynolds, Sullivan Long, Lizzie Naval, Hannah McKee
Philip Simmons: Sydney Mimms, Maddy Bolig, Olivia DeMarco, Ansley Cohen
Porter-Gaud: Eliza Dieck, Piper Brown, McKenzie Davis, Ananya Chag
Academic Magnet: Mina Schaafsma, Aileen Shi, Caroline Young
Ashley Ridge: Arianna Brim, Katelyn Schmedeke, Caroline Jacky
Fort Dorchester: Serene Cheung, Andrea Bolivar, Temperance Sanders
James Island: Paige Godwin, Lexi Strange, Kaya McDonough
Pinewood Prep: Jessica Osborne, Ellie Rogers, Abbey Martichenko
Stratford: Celeste Class-Rodriguez, Aubrey Eudy, Elizabeth Sivertsen
Berkeley: Shelby McCutchen, Logan Ponce
Colleton Prep: Rianna Bailey, Meredith Ware
Palmetto Christian: Emily Shaw, Gabi Noce
West Ashley: Madison Clayton, Katie Lowe
Cane Bay: Madison Miller
Goose Creek: Sofia Bermego
Colleton County: E.K. Bell.


(12/21/18)  LCTA: Lowcountry Tennis Association Newsletter  - December 2018
Happy holidays to you, your family, and friends. We hope 2018 has been a great year for everyone. Best wishes for a Happy New Year also!

Important Dates

Last Day for team creation is December 28. Register your team now! Your team must have the required number of players on December 28.

The Annual and Captains Meeting will be held Thursday, January 3rd from 6-8P at the Daniel Island Club. The address is 600 Island Park Drive, Daniel Island, SC. Plan to attend to get your Captain's Gift and an update on the 2019 LCTA season.

Wild cards will be announced the day after SC State registration ends beginning with the 2019 Spring season.  This will give LCTA an opportunity to announce the playoff format sooner than previous years.

Players must be on the roster before the last 2 regularly scheduled matches if you plan to have them play in the local playoffs, state Championships and other Championships. Dee has more information below.

Ratings came out in late November. For LCTA, 2,042 ratings were unchanged, 263 moved up, and 138 moved down. Congratulations to everyone for a great season.

The latest numbers from USTA indicate that LCTA is the 7th Largest Local League in the United States. For the 2018 league season, LCTA had 3,436 unique players and 13,470 individual registrations. LCTA came in ahead of Dallas, Houston, Charlotte, and Richmond to name a few leagues. Once again a great job by the players, Captains, and Coordinators.
Newsletter Items from Dee Mack

2019 Flight Coordinator Dinner was held at Mrs. Rose's Fine Foods and Cocktails on Wednesday, December 5th. We celebrated Steve Wilson for his (4) years of service to our LCTA membership as Local League Coordinator. We celebrated Susan Mock for her (25) years of service to our LCTA membership. We celebrated and bid farewell to Flight Coordinators, Natalie Baker, Charly Vaughn, Lisa Deidrick, Mark and Allison Pickhardt and April Gift. We welcomed incoming Flight Coordinators Steve Speer, Jen McCool, Sarah Pitts, Christine Bozigar, Bo McNinch, Angela Geraci, Darlene Fischer, Andrea Weinstein, Louann Kelly, Denyse "Neyse" Barkley and Shirley Godfrey-Jackson. Thank you to everyone for their service to our LCTA membership!

We are always looking for volunteers! If you or anyone you know might be interested, please contact Dee Mack at 843-568-0391.
Here are the USTA Southern Regulations updates for 2019 - This is important information - Please read!

Southern regulation: 1.04B(5) Sections may have a USTA Certified Referee or Umpire on the Championship Committee at Sectional and lower level championship events.

USTA SC will update the State regulations.

Southern regulation: 2.05E Automatic appeals for 60 and 65 and over players will be granted unless the player's year-end rating exceeds the clearly above level mark. Players whose appeals are granted will continue to receive "A" ratings and be subject to Dynamic Disqualification on TennisLink.

Player qualifications: Players cannot have advanced to a National team, have (3) years of play, the player must have a year-end rating with a "C" and this will only apply to 4.5 and below level players only.

Local Playoff Glossary Definition is removed: Local playoffs are championships, not part of the local season.

A player must have played the number of matches they need to qualify for any championship league before they can play local playoffs. Local league playoff matches no longer count for qualification for advancement to State and higher.

Sanctioned NTRP tournaments will count towards your rating. For players that only play Mixed or Tournaments, those players will receive an "M" or "T" exclusive rating. Players with an "M" or "T" rating must self-rate to play in USTA Adult League if their previous computer "C" rating has expired.

After (3) Adult League matches, everyone has a calculated rating.

Update on Local Championships
Elisabeth Pickelsimer's name was misspelled previously.

The 65 & over 7.0 Local Champion was captained by Elisabeth Pickelsimer.
They played out of Charleston Tennis Center.

18 & over LCTA Singles Local Champions:
3.5 Men - St. Andrews - Stuart Hill
2.5 Women - Mt. Pleasant - Kristen Steele
3.0 Women - Dunes West - Trudy Billings
3.5 Women - Family Circle - Lisa Brantley

40 & over LCTA Singles Local Champions:
3.5 Women - Family Circle - Lisa Brantley


(12/17/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Council passes resolution supporting ban of James Martin from Doty Park
Supporters of James Martin, a tennis instructor banned from teaching lessons at Doty Park, have said their effort to reinstate Martin is not over despite the Summerville Town Council’s passing of a resolution supporting the ban.

Surrounded by his former students, their parents and community activists including Louis Smith, founder of the Community Resource Center, Martin stood near the podium during the time allotted for public comment in the town council meeting on Dec. 13.

Felicia Whetsell spoke on behalf of the Tennis Development from the Heart tennis program that Martin leads at Doty Park.

“Because of Mr. James Martin’s tennis program, my son, a senior at Summerville High School, is going into his third year on the Summerville varsity tennis team,” Whetsell said. “That would not have been possible without this tennis program that (James Martin) runs for free.”

Whetsell asked the council not to say that the tennis program isn’t successful.

“It is extremely successful,” Whetsell said. “It is a free program; it doesn’t cost the town a dime. ...Change your minds, lift the ban, do the right thing.”

Shautaw Wilson said her child also goes to Summerville High and took lessons with Martin.

“As a single mom, we cannot afford to pay the town (for lessons),” Wilson said. “It’s not fair to us as single parents. We are taxpayers. We get up and go to work every morning to pay taxes and other bills. You’re trying to punish (Martin), but you’re really punishing us.”

According to Rev. Henry Gregory, with Baum Temple AME Zion Church in Summerville, he hasn’t seen the town offer any alternative programs for the children since the tennis program stopped when Martin was banned from using the courts at Doty Park.

“This is the first place that I’ve ever been that this many black people even try to play tennis, I’ve never seen this before and it’s because of families and cousins and people,” Gregory said. “Are you saying that Summerville doesn’t support the opportunity to keep these children motivated?”

Gregory said “it’s unethical” for the council to tell children to go to the courts on Laurel Street to play, instead of Doty, which is located in the neighborhood where they live.

“It’s wrong, it’s unethical and it needs to change,” Gregory said.

The Resolution

The resolution, three pages long, supports the action taken by the town administrator and town staff on the James Martin matter. Council read it aloud before voting.

In the resolution, the town presented a timeline of events leading up to the decision to ban Martin from teaching tennis lessons at Doty Park. According to the town, Martin began his program in April 2016 with the direction that his program could utilize two courts 5-7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday at Doty Park.

The resolution states that soon after starting the program, Martin was “creating difficulties with other scheduled tennis programs.” It also states that Martin failed to provide a completed volunteer application, in which the volunteer consents to a background check.

According to the town, Martin sent “intimidating and threatening” emails to town staff regarding the rules set about times/days available for his lessons.

Conflicts continued on and off throughout 2017 as Martin clashed with the town’s paid tennis pro, Nancy Summersett.

In July Town Administrator Colin Martin issued James Martin a Notice of Trespass, disallowing James Martin from entering Doty Park.

Smith and other supporters of James Martin have been protesting the ban since July. Smith was arrested at one such protest and later convicted of disorderly conduct and fined $250. Supporters of James Martin held prayer circles, spoke out at several town council meetings and sought advice from the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, all in an effort to have the ban removed.

The town hired a neutral, third-party attorney to oversee a mediation hearing between the town and Mr. Martin. The town offered for Martin to teach tennis lessons at Saul Alexander Park located on Laurel Street. Martin refused the offer, and parents of his former students said the distance was too far for children to walk for lessons.

Town Council input

Council members voted 5-2 to approve the resolution, with Councilwoman Christine Czarnik and Mayor Wiley Johnson against.

Czarnik said while she does support town staff’s decision, she doesn’t favor a resolution.

“What I don’t support is a resolution that is much more of a public reprimand of an individual citizen than it is an affirmation of decisions of staff,” she said. “All this thing needed was the last paragraph.”

Councilman Bob Jackson said it’s important these notes be made public.

“For several months now I have publicly been called a racists and the town has been noted as being racists,” Jackson said. “The public needs to know what the facts are that the town made the decisions on.”

Mayor Wiley Johnson said he thinks “it’s a sorry day that we pass a resolution against an individual.”

“I would love to get in the middle of this but I can’t,” Johnson said. “I think I can solve it but again, I’m not allowed to.”

Councilman Bill McIntosh said he knows “there are a lot of tough feelings and emotions around this issue.” He said the facts set forth in the resolution are “100 percent accurate.”

He said James Martin “allowed his own ego to get in the way of working with town staff and “it’s very unfortunate.”

Johnson summed up his opinion during his mayor’s remark’s.

“You still have a voice on any of these issues and it’s at the ballot box,” Johnson said.

Since the meeting

A day after the resolution passed Smith said supporters are going to continue protesting the ban on James Martin.

He said he was surprised that the town “doubled down on not giving an inch to the black parents who were pleading to keep their children off the streets.”

Smith said the town showed “a total blatant disregard to their plight.” He said the town should form a committee lead by an elected official to find a solution.

“We can continue to protest, we have many ways of protesting and everything is on the table,” Smith said. “We are going to continue, we are going to continue until justice is served, until Mr. Martin is reinstated back at Doty Field.”

COMMENTS:

Mark Fuller
One of the factors that came-up (as it has before) was Mr. Martin's refusal to fill out a "Volunteer Application" and perform the accompanying Criminal Background Check. Yet the Criminal Background Check is treated as the Elephant in the room and it has never been properly addressed. With many recent instances of improper acts (teacher in a North Charleston school, local Youth Worker at a Church), I would like to see that data. It makes or breaks the validity in some respects. Before it is shouted down, yes, Volunteers working in Youth Programs should have Criminal Background Checks.

Gary LaPrade
We have made it easier to do the wrong thing than the right thing ( it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission) let's encourage healthy/ safe programs for ALL our children!

Mark Fuller
The Volunteer application speaks to safety by performing Background checks. People are saying it is wrong to ask for this info. However, organizations such as the Boy Scouts perform these checks. Let's be rhetorical. If you were the parent of an abused child and the person had a History, would you feel the Town was negligent by not performing these checks? Now, this is not specifically addressed to anyone and simply addresses the policies.


(12/17/18)  TENNIS MAGAZINE: 50 Years, 50 Heroes: 2000, Kurt Kamperman
For our sixth annual Heroes Issue, we’ve selected passages from the last 50 years of Tennis Magazine and TENNIS.com—starting in 1969 and ending in 2018—to highlight 50 worthy heroes. Each passage acknowledges the person as they were then; each subsequent story catches up with the person, or highlights their impact, as they are now. It is best summed up with a quote from the great Arthur Ashe, that was featured on the cover of the November/December issue of this magazine in 2015: “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”

In an industry mired in petty politics, Kamperman keeps the peace among the game’s major players, so that all are working toward the same goal: the advancement of the sport. –Tennis Magazine / March 2000

There are few aspects of tennis that Kurt Kamperman hasn’t had his hands on. A former player and coach at Youngstown State in his native Ohio, Kamperman has served as tournament director for the Family Circle Cup, has helped design world-class tennis facilities and has consulted with clubs, resorts and tennis companies in an effort to boost revenue. He was president of the Tennis Industry Association, president of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association and is a member of the Professional Tennis Registry.

But for the last 15 years, Kamperman has turned his attention to the USTA—and in particular, recreational tennis. As Chief Executive of the USTA National Campus, he oversees the sprawling, 100-court facility that attracts top-level professionals, college players and is open to the public. He contributed his experience to the wildly successful Net Generation junior program, led by Craig Morris, the Chief Executive of Community Tennis. He also watches over USTA-U, the governing body’s initiative to raise and unify coaching and educational standards around the country.

How does Kamperman do it all? He looks around and does a lot of listening, often parking far from his office so that he is forced to walk by players coming and going at all hours of the day and night.

“Take the time to learn the trade and not just try to learn the tricks of the trade,” he says. “There are a lot of people who are passionate about a field and they sometimes think they can get a cliff notes version of it. If you try that, you’re short-changing yourself and the people you work with.”


(12/17/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: BARRY QUINN: League Season Approaching
Dear Pine Forest Membership,
 
As league season approaches I know you are working hard to put your teams together. Together with Pine Forest Management we are here to help our team captains in assembling the USTA teams. We are offering a Seasonal League Pass. The cost will be $100 per person for the league season and allows that person access to the Pine Forest tennis facility including team matches, practices, and socials that may be held for that league season only. If you need any assistance putting together your teams I am always available to help. Please contact me with any questions.
 
Barry, Director of Tennis
C: (864) 414-6836


(12/16/18)  Beck column: LTP-FCTC based Pate Tennis Academy aiming for a world-class image
Now that the Randy Pate Tennis Academy has expanded to Family Circle Tennis Center, what’s next? Just what does Pate want to see in his rapidly growing academy that was headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., before moving to Mount Pleasant’s LTP Tennis approximately 30 months ago?

“We want to make this a world-class development academy,” Pate said. “We wanted to have a path from beginner to college. We now have every step along the way to college tennis. If a five-year-old wants to play college tennis, they can get aboard.”

With Jeff Wilson’s MWTennis Academy shifting from FCTC to Wild Dunes Resort, Pate has moved the developmental segment of the Randy Pate Academy to the Daniel Island home of the Volvo Car Open. All of this was the result of LTP owner Ben Navarro adding Family Circle Tennis Center and the VCO to his tennis empire nearly three months ago.

Expanding his academy to FCTC was the logical move for Pate once the Daniel Island facility was taken over by Navarro. LTP Tennis was bursting at the seams trying to accommodate a strong adult environment while becoming an ever-growing junior training facility and a major player in the USTA’s network of ITF women’s pro circuit tournaments and national junior events.

Navarro’s acquisition of FCTC made Pate’s goal more achievable.
Budding world-class juniors such as local residents Emma Navarro, Anna Ross, Allie Gretkowski, Lara Schneider and others will continue to train at LTP Tennis along with the herd of other junior tennis standouts whose aim is to prepare for college tennis.

“We have a waiting list at LTP,” Pate said, noting that his academy has only 50 slots for juniors at LTP.

“We probably have 60 kids at FCTC. We’re making sure that adults have plenty of courts at FCTC.”

Numerous outstanding juniors have “moved in” to reside and train here. That might change some as Pate said, “Most of our players at the beginning came from other places, but now we are getting our own players from the Charleston area.”

One of these is 13-year-old Carson Baker, who is back at the academy. His dad, former FCTC pro/Charleston Southern University women’s coach Mike Baker, had recently spent time serving as a pro at Hilton Head Island while Carson trained there.

“Mike Baker is running development for us at FCTC,” Pate said.

Counting himself, Pate has 16 pros running the expanded academy that uses 16 courts at LTP and 12 at FCTC.

“We are pretty excited about what we can do now. It’s a lot of fun.”

The academy already has a pro division that includes two of the top 500 players in the world rankings, No. 329 Ellie Halbauer and No. 419 Emina Bektas. And then there’s No. 670 WTA Tour-ranked Emma Navarro, who is still almost two years from entering Duke University.

Several other touring pros are expected to land at the academy in the coming months. All that’s missing is a return by Shelby Rogers as she attempts a comeback from injury on the WTA Tour.

A full season

The local USTA tennis league appears to be in a hurry to start next spring’s championship season. If the bad weather during the summer, the fall downpour of rain and even more recent cold wave and rainstorms caused scheduling problems for some league tennis players, the push to start playing the spring season in the middle of winter isn’t being greeted enthusiastically.

I don’t know many league players, young or old, who enjoy playing league matches in freezing or near-freezing weather. You can’t blame them. It’s just no fun to play in freezing weather.

The spring leagues are currently in team-forming registration mode through Dec. 28 as league officials expect play to begin in early January.

Of course, league tennis may be the last thing on most adult players’ minds around the Christmas holidays.
 
As a longtime captain, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to get some players registered in December. They ask, “Isn’t this the spring season?” Also, I hope the 3.5 men’s league will consider not scheduling the start of the season on Monday, Jan. 7. That’s the date of the college football national championship game.

The reality is that although the local tennis season is much longer than in some locations, it’s still a bit tight to comfortably accommodate spring, mixed, combo and fall leagues.

If we could all shift to a warmer climate to play league tennis from Thanksgiving until late February , then return to Charleston for the rest of the year, we could play all four of the basic leagues in relative comfort, other than maybe some of the 6 p.m. mixed doubles matches in late June or the ladies’ 6 p.m. combo matches in the heat of summer.

Nighttime matches are wonderful most of the year, so we’re all lucky to be able to play league tennis comfortably almost year-around.

Local notes

Local juniors Huntley Allen and Coy Simon were runners-up in boys 18 doubles in the recent National Indoor Championships in Overland Park, Kan.

Next spring’s ITF women’s pro circuit tournament at LTP Tennis has increased its purse to become a $100K ITF tournament when it’s held April 29-May 5.


(12/14/18)  USTA SC: Community Tennis News: Volume 38
2019 Grants 
Make sure to develop your grants strategy for 2019. More than $100,000 in grants were invested in South Carolina in 2018. Contact USTA SC to learn more here.

2018 Tennis on Campus
USC Beats Furman for State Title / Clemson named Southern Club of Year

University of South Carolina TOC team captured the title for 2nd straight year

Furman University finished second in the tourney.

Clemson University players won the sportsmanship award for the 2nd straight year at the state tourney. The team was named 2018 Southern Club of the Year!

For more State Championship photos, click here.

To watch the finals match, click here.

Annual Meeting Spotlight
The 2018 USTA SC Annual Meeting was held Dec. 7-9, on Hilton Head Island. Several CTA leaders were honored for their contributions to tennis in South Carolina. Public Tennis Inc., won the honors for CTA of the Year. Click here for a list of all the winners.


(12/13/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: All-region honors announced
Summerville area teams continue to rake in the post season honors.

Summerville’s Paige Reynolds has been named the Region Player of the Year for Girls Tennis. Joining her on the team are teammates Sullivan Long and Lizzie Naval. Others on the all-region team are Ashley Ridge’s Katelyn Schmedeke and Arianna Brim, West Ashley’s Katie Lowe and Madison Clayton and Fort Dorchester’s Andrea Bolivar.

Sean McCawley of Ashley Ridge has been named the Region Coach of the Year for Girls Tennis.


(12/06/18)  Charleston’s Volvo Car Open adds French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko, No. 12 Elise Mertens

The Volvo Car Open has added 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and No. 12-ranked Elise Mertens to the field for the WTA tournament set for March 30-April 7 next year on Daniel Island.

Ostapenko was a 2017 finalist at the Volvo Car Open, and Mertens will be making her Charleston debut. The field for the 2019 VCO now includes seven of the world’s top 25 tennis players, including Caroline Wozniacki, Sloane Stephens, Kiki Bertens, Julia Goerges and Madison Keys.

“Both Jelena and Elise are welcome additions to our 2019 field,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open tournament manager. “Jelena had a fantastic run the first time she played in Charleston, and with Elise’s sensational season, we’re really looking forward to watching their talents on display come April.”

Currently ranked World No. 22, Ostapenko kicked off her 2018 season by making the finals of the Miami Open, a WTA premier mandatory event. With her success in Miami, she achieved a career-high ranking of No. 5. From there, the 21-year-old reached the semifinals in Wimbledon and the quarterfinals in Stuttgart, Rome and Eastbourne.

In her Volvo Car Open debut, Ostapenko reached the Charleston finals, losing to Daria Kasatkina in the first all-teen WTA final in nine years. Immediately following her success in Charleston, she captured her first Grand Slam title at the 2017 French Open. She became the first Latvian player to win a Grand Slam tournament and the first unseeded women’s champion at the French Open since 1933.

“I fought my way to the Volvo Car Open finals in 2017 and didn’t get the title I wanted, so I’m eager to return and give it all I’ve got,” said Ostapenko.

The 23-year-old Mertens won three titles in 2018 and reached the fourth round in the French Open and US Open and the semifinals of the Australian Open this year, her best Grand Slam finish to date.

The Belgian qualified for the WTA Elite Trophy tournament for the first time in her career. Mertens held a 14-2 record on clay this season, losing only twice on the surface, both times to No. 1 Simona Halep.

“I had an incredible season and I am already looking forward to playing again next year and adding the Volvo Car Open to my 2019 schedule,” said Mertens. “I’ve only heard great things about the tournament and I am excited to explore Charleston and meet new fans.”

Three players in the Volvo Car Open’s current field are also Grand Slam champions, including Wozniacki (Australian Open), Stephens (U.S. Open) and Ostapenko (French Open).


(12/05/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Racquets for Recovery celebrate record-breaking year
Summerville showed their generosity once again this year at the annual Racquets for Recovery event, where over $36,000 was raised in support of the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center. In its 14th year, event organizers also saw a record number of players participate in the Level 2 tennis tournament: over 200 players of all levels.

The entire donation of $36,011.03 has been donated to the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center’s Comprehensive Breast Care Program. The Racquets for Recovery Fund at Hollings helps not only Patient Support Services, which will help breast cancer patients with their day-to-day lives, but also with such items as mastectomy bras and wigs. The Survivors’ Fit Club was also created with the help of the event’s funding. The 14 years of this tennis charity event the Ladies Tennis Association has donated over $340,000. to local recovering breast cancer patients.

The entire Pine Forest Tennis Community will look forward to celebrating its 15th Anniversary on Nov. 1-3, 2019.


(12/01/18)  Holiday Classic tennis tournament shines; local girls win Eddie Herr doubles

Local adult tennis is in full bloom this weekend on Daniel Island.

That is, until the rain hit around midday on Saturday at Family Circle Tennis Center.

“We got a lot more matches played than I thought we would,” FCTC operations director Rob Eppelsheimer said.

Local adult tennis is in full bloom this weekend on Daniel Island.

That is, until the rain hit around midday on Saturday at Family Circle Tennis Center.

“We got a lot more matches played than I thought we would,” FCTC operations director Rob Eppelsheimer said.

Burbage, who usually participates in the tournament, was pleased a few years ago when the Holiday Classic’s fund-raising enabled MUSC to establish a cancer treatment room at MUSC’s Hollings Cancer Center. The treatment room was named in memory of the deceased Dr. John von Lehe, a longtime friend and former wrestling teammate of Burbage’s at The Citadel.

LOCALS WIN HERR DOUBLES

Charleston area juniors Allie Gretkowski and Lara Schneider walked off with the girls 16 doubles title in the prestigious Eddie Herr International tennis tournament in Bradenton, Fla., on Saturday morning.

The two full-time members of the Randy Pate Academy at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant posted a convincing 6-1, 6-1 win over the sixth-seeded team of Mary Grace Armistead of Hilton Head Island and DJ Bennett of Belleview, Fla., in the championship match.

The 15-year-old Gretkowski and 16-year-old Schneider were seeded second. They didn’t drop a set in their four wins, including a quarterfinal victory over Charleston product Sophie Williams and her partner.

Schneider also was a quarterfinalist in singles, while Gretkowski made the round of 16.

Naturally, Gretkowski and Schneider were thrilled with their doubles accomplishment.

“It’s a big win for both of us,” said the 5-10 Gretkowski. “We’ve been playing well, but I didn’t think the final would be that easy. We played really well in the final.”

For Schneider, “It really hasn’t sunk in yet.”

But the two longtime friends and doubles partners weren’t completely surprised by their success.

“We played well, but we have been playing together for a while,” Schneider said. “We’ve been friends for a long time.”

Gretkowski and Schneider now will move over to Plantation, Fla., for the Orange Bowl International. But maybe fortunately for the girls 16 doubles field there, Gretkowski and Schneider will not be playing together at the Orange Bowl. Gretkowski committed to another partner earlier.

Both Gretkowski and Schneider are in the Orange Bowl girls 16 main draw.

COTUNA SCHSL FINALIST

Berkeley’s Abby Cotuna won four straight matches before losing on Wednesday to Spartanburg’s Maggie Cubitt in the championship match of the SCHSL Class AAAA-AAAAA state girls tennis singles tournament.

Just a sophomore, Cotuna has blossomed into one of the state’s top junior girls players.

Summerville’s Paige Reynolds and Sullivan Long also competed in the AAAA-AAAAA tournament.

In the Class A-AA-AAA tournament, Bishop England sophomore Lilly Woods defeated teammate Jenna Santa Lucia in the consolation final. Woods and Lucia led the Bishops to an eighth consecutive state team title in November.

Woods lost to eventual champion Elise Mills of Mid-Carolina in the quarterfinals of the singles main draw, duplicating a matchup of the two players’ meeting in the 2017 Class AAA state team final.

Academic Magnet’s Mina Schaafsma also participated in the Class A-AA-AAA singles tournament.

NOTES

-- Mount Pleasant resident Lizl Kotz was a semifinalist in this past week’s National Women’s 40 Singles Hard-Court Championships at La Jolla, Calif.

-- Ashley Hall junior Emma Navarro had the misfortune of drawing No. 2 seed Qinwin Zheng in the opening round of this past week’s ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr International Junior Championship in Bradenton, Fla. Navarro entered the tournament ranked as the No. 1 girls 18 player nationally.

“She’ll bounce back,” Navarro coach Peter Ayers said about his player’s loss, looking ahead to this coming week’s Grade A Junior ITF Orange Bowl International Championships in Plantation. Navarro has climbed to No. 672 in the WTA Tour world rankings.

Zheng will play in Sunday’s Eddie Herr singles championship match.

-- Sophie Williams also is scheduled to play in the girls 16 Orange Bowl.

-- At least four American players who have participated in ITF U.S. women’s pro circuit tournaments at LTP Tennis during the last two years are currently ranked among the world’s top 100 players. Former University of Virginia All-American Danielle Collins, the 2017 LTP $60K runner-up, leads the group with a No. 35 ranking. That’s the fourth-best ranking among American women.

Sofia Kenin has moved up to 52nd, while 2017 LTP $60K winner/2018 runner-up Madison Brengle is 89th and 2018 LTP $80K champion Taylor Townsend is No. 91.

-- Shelby Rogers is training in California with her coach, Marc Lucero, while looking ahead to rejoining the WTA Tour in 2019 after sitting out the last nine months with a knee injury. Rogers spent part of November training in Jamaica, according to her Facebook page.


(11/29/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: BARRY QUINN: Box Ladders
I wanted to give you an update on the box ladder.  A group of 3,4 or 5 teams will be placed in a box.  Teams will play each other and the team with the best record will move up a box while the team at the bottom will move down.  Tie breakers will be head to head, Sets won, sets lost then games lost.  Each team will be responsible for setting up the matches each week.  Today is the last day to sign up.  I will be sending out the boxes Saturday evening to get started next week.  Thanks for all the responses and support.


(11/28/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Daniel Island's Chad Nash to play tennis for Furman
Furman men’s tennis head coach Kelly Jones recently announced the signing of Chad Nash of Daniel Island, S.C.

“We are very excited to add Chad Nash to our team in the fall of 2019,” said Jones.  “We anticipate Chad to be a major contributor.  He’s a very good tennis player and excellent student and a perfect fit for our family at Furman.”

Nash, who is ranked among the top 40 in the USTA Southern Region, competes for Hanahan High School and trains under Ben Simon at the Randy Pate Tennis Academy.  A three-time All-State and All-Low Country selection, he won the state singles championship in 2018, earning the South Carolina State Sportsmanship Award for the tournament.  Nash helped Hanahan to the state team title in 2016 and 2017 and was voted team MVP in both 2016 and 2017.  Most recently, he reached the finals of the Atlanta ITF in doubles, and he boasts a UTR of 11.3 in singles and 12.2 in doubles. 

A member of the National Honor Society, Nash has volunteered with several organizations during his time as a high school student, such as “feeding the homeless” programs, Special Olympics, and the S.C. Tennis Foundation and Service Club, where elite players help in community events and mentor younger, upcoming tennis athletes.

The Paladins open the 2019 spring season on January 22 when Furman plays host to South Carolina State at 3 p.m. at the Mickel Tennis Center.


(11/20/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: HEATH ELLISON: Businessman Ben Navarro goes 'back to school' for DI Speaker Series event
Ben Navarro has dipped his toes into several ventures, but is best known as a businessman and philanthropist. The entrepreneur’s career began in the finance market, took him to Citicorp and Goldman Sachs, before he began Sherman Financial Group, the business that would make him a billionaire. The company pulls an estimated $3 billion in revenue and employs over 2,000 people internationally. Navarro recently acquired ownership of Charleston Tennis LLC, which oversees operations of the Family Circle Tennis Center, Volvo Car Stadium and the Volvo Car Open.

But, instead of the wealth of business experience he could impart to young entrepreneurs, he focused on his successful education endeavors at the Daniel Island Speaker Series event on Wednesday, November 7. Navarro founded the Meeting Street Academy in 2008, and the school has branched out into campuses in Spartanburg and North Charleston.

At the event, Navarro informed his attentive audience that the school operates differently than the usual district institute. Meeting Street Academy has attempted to provide students from impoverished communities with the same education that privileged youths receive by teaching them side-by-side.

“We found a way, with the same number of staff, to teach to each group of kids, the lower kids, the medium kids, and the higher kids,” said Navarro. “And it wasn’t a dumbed down curriculum. It was just a different and more concentrated approach.”

The methodology that Navarro described was based on a scale: the greater help children need, the smaller the student-teacher ratio is. This gives more specialized attention to children that need it, and Navarro swears by the results.

“I saw kids that were energized and excited about learning,” he said. “The same kids that I had seen weeks before or months before looking around, not interested, trying to do anything other than their work, because they knew they couldn’t do it.”

Additionally, Meeting Street Academy attempts to reach kids earlier, by giving them the tools to succeed in elementary school before they go to middle and high schools. Navarro mentioned that some area high schools have a majority of AP students failing their AP exams.

“You look at these numbers and there are a lot of folks in the status quo who say ‘how do we fix this problem? We send more people to Academic Magnet.’ We don’t have to prepare them,” he said.

Navarro believes that the education students receive prior to high school is the best way to prepare them for high school and beyond.

The two Meeting Street Elementary Schools in North Charleston are considered public-private schools. Students in the same zip code as the education facility can enroll in it.

“We have an enrollment zone just like everyone else,” Navarro explained. “The district sets our enrollment zone. We take all comers, all kids who come to that school from that neighborhood. The district funds the portion that they would normally fund anyway for a school like this and we put a layer on top to do some of the things that are important to us.”

Sarah Campbell, principal of Meeting Street Elementary at Brentwood in North Charleston, attended the speaker series event and was invited by Navarro to address the audience about some of the unique aspects of her school.

“The things we do aren’t crazy different,” said Campbell. “Just some things we know that kids and families need. For example, every Friday, every kid at our school gets a brand new book, so they can build their own home library.”

Campbell’s school also provides an extended day program that gives students the opportunity to get involved in the arts, the humanities, and clubs.

“The heroes of this story are Sarah and people like Sarah,” said Navarro.

After concluding his remarks, Navarro participated in a Q&A from the audience. One participant inquired about what the plan was for students once they leave Meeting Street Academy.

“Our private school’s been around for about 10 years and we’ve been able to place every one of those kids in amazing schools,” Navarro claimed. He remains hopeful that students in Meeting Street’s public-private schools will also be successful.

One attendee asked how the schools were scaled, considering they can only take 1,200 students among the three campuses and there are thousands of students in Charleston County School District.

“The only way I know to fix a problem is to start somewhere,” Navarro responded. “Put a stake in the ground and say ‘I know we can do better as a community.’”

He added that one of the most painful parts of the job is turning down applications when the school rosters are full.

For more information on the Meeting Street Schools, visit www.meetingstreetschools.org.


(11/17/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: BARRY QUINN: Adult Clinics
I will be starting new weekly Adult clinics starting Saturday. 
 
Every Saturday at 10-11 am - Stroke of the week Clinic- This clinic will be focused on one swing of the tennis game.  Cost for the clinic is 15 per person.
 
Monday evening 6-7:30  Co-ed Clinic.  Open to  all no matter what level.  This is a fast paced clinic used to get your heart rate up.  Very little instruction just a great work out.  Cost is 20 per person.

Tuesday 6-7 Beginners Clinic- This is for those of you that are wanting to learn about tennis for the First time.  This clinic is to get you playing as fast possible.  Cost is 15 per person

Also if you are going to take part in the doubles ladder i need to know by tomorrow morning so I can get the format and start date out.


(11/17/18)  Local tennis star Emma Navarro plans a busy holiday season
The holiday season is going to be a very busy one for 17-year-old Ashley Hall junior Emma Navarro.

As if she hasn’t already had a great fall season despite last month’s abdominal strain injury, Navarro vaulted into the No. 1 national ranking for girls 18 again in October.

Navarro will leave after Thanksgiving to compete in the Nov. 26-Dec. 2 Eddie Herr International Junior Championships at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. It’s a Grade 1 Junior ITF event.

She then will move over to Plantation, Fla., to compete in the Orange Bowl’s Grade A Junior ITF, which is scheduled to start on Dec. 3.

In January, Navarro will head to Australia to compete in the Junior Australian Open.

If all of that isn’t enough to keep Navarro occupied, she has just been selected by the Southern Tennis Association as the winner of this year’s Ozaki-Hastings Junior Sportsmanship Award. She is scheduled to receive the award at the Jan. 19 Southern meeting in Atlanta, but she likely will be in Australia at that time.

The sportsmanship award couldn’t go to a more deserving recipient.

If you’ve watched Navarro in some of the big local competitions such as the national clay courts, the $80K U.S. Women’s Pro Circuit and other pro circuit events held at LTP Tennis,  you’ve never seen Navarro demonstrate anything other than good sportsmanship while never throwing rackets, never hitting balls against the fence in disappointment and always being courteous to the line crew and her opponent.

Making Navarro even happier, her regular doubles partner, nationally sixth-ranked Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., and Beck’s family have been named recipients of the Southern’s Mickey McNulty Family of the Year Award. Beck also won the 2016 Ozaki-Hastings Junior Sportsmanship Award.

Along with all of this latest news, Navarro won five straight matches en route to the quarterfinals of a $25K pro circuit event in Lawrence, Kan. After going through qualifying, Navarro scored a first-round victory over left-hander Gabriela Talaba, the winner of  the recent $25K Pro Circuit tournament at LTP Tennis.

When the points from the Kansas tournament are entered, Navarro is expected to advance from No. 763 in the WTA Tour world rankings to around 700.

LCTA COMBO SUCCESS

 The Lowcountry Tennis Association had a successful combo season that produced  two state championship teams and six other finalists. Captain Mike Cladakis’ men’s 40-plus 8.5 team out of Mount Pleasant Rec and Elyssa Snelgrove’s women’s 40-plus 5.5 team from Family Circle Tennis Center won state titles.

The local state finalists were: Ben Fleming’s men’s 18-plus 7.5 team from St. Andrew’s, Cladakis’ men’s 18-plus 8.5 team from Mount Pleasant Rec, Frank Cuoco’s men’s 40-plus 8.5 team from I’On, Sherry Ferguson’s women’s 40-plus 6.5 team from Maybank Tennis Center, Allison Pickhardt’s women’s 40-plus 8.5 team from Family Circle, and Sue Verner’s women’s 55-plus 6.5 team from the Daniel Island Club.

LOCAL NOTES

-- Former Bishop England star Jared Pratt has been named the boys winner of the Southern’s

 DeWitt Redgrave III Junior Achievement Award. Pratt, the No. 1-ranked boys 18 player nationally at the start of 2018, is currently a freshman on the University of Wisconsin’s tennis team.

-- Charleston’s Anna Ross has jumped up to No. 27 in the girls 18 national rankings. Sophie Williams has a No. 3 ranking in girls 14, although she has now moved up to girls 16.

-- Jessie Pegula, who resided locally and trained at Family Circle Tennis Center a couple years ago, made the semifinals in singles and won doubles with American Maegan Manasse in the $125K Oracle Challenge in Houston. Pegula has climbed to No. 125 in the world in singles, and still climbing in time possibly for a direct entry into the Australian Open.

-- There has been no word from Shelby Rogers about when she will rejoin the WTA Tour from her knee injury or the result of her planned appeal to the WTA Tour to protect her ranking. Rogers hasn’t played a WTA Tour match since hurting her knee on March 7 during the Indian Wells tournament when she was ranked 78th. Without the ranking protection, Rogers is currently ranked No. 776 in the world.

-- It’s too bad that last week’s SCHSL state singles tournament had to be called off due to the recent rains. “Postponed until after Thanksgiving” is the current word on the competition.

-- Area clubs are once again giving local juniors the chance to stay home and play the junior circuit. It may not be the nationals or the Orange Bowl, but these tournaments are great opportunities for players who may not be headed to the pro ranks or major college tennis. Registration for each of the three tournaments listed below is available online for boys and girls ages 10-and-under through 18-and-under at tennislink.usta.com.

-- Sunday (today) is the deadline to enter next weekend’s annual Charleston Thanksgiving Junior  Classic (Southern L5, tournament number 700045918)  at Charleston Tennis Center. Contact tournament director Peggy Bohne (843-766-7401).

-- The Snee Farm S.C. L4 (tournament number 700119718) is scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 2. Contact tournament director Richard Shy (843-345-8338). Registration is available through Nov. 27.

-- The S.C. State Open Junior Holiday Championships (Southern L4, 700017518) will be held Dec. 14-16 at The Citadel, with Kiawah pro Jonathan Barth serving as tournament director (843-568-1468). Registration is available online through Dec. 9.


(11/11/18) Bishop England seizes 8th straight girls tennis title

Bishop England was so dominant in capturing its eighth straight girls tennis state championship on Saturday at Lexington Tennis Center that the Bishops (23-0) yielded a total of only 11 games in singles and doubles.

Upper State champion Chapman entered the match unbeaten, but absorbed a 7-0 defeat by the Bishops in the Class AAA state final.

The Charleston area’s other two state girls tennis finalists, Wando and Oceanside Collegiate, suffered 4-3 losses on Saturday in Lexington. Spartanburg defeated Wando in the Class AAAAA final, and Christ Church edged Oceanside for the Class AA title.

Bishop England 7, Chapman 0

“It was a very exciting year,” BE coach Kristin Fleming Arnold said after keeping her state finals record unblemished at 14-0.

“The girls worked hard to get back to the state championship. You can’t expect it to be 7-0, but it was a state championship and we knew we had to play hard.

“Chapman was a good team. They fought hard, but our girls were ready to play.”

For Arnold, it was her 14th overall state title, four as a BE player, two coaching the BE boys and eight with the girls. The Bishops now own a state-best 23 state girls tennis titles.

Freshman  Izzy Woods was the first person off the court for the Bishops after yielding just one game at No. 5 singles in winning her first state championship. The win improved the 12-year-old’s record to 18-2.

Lily Woods, Izzy’s sophomore sister, was even more dominant at No. 2 singles, winning both sets at love to finish the season 22-0 and take her fourth state title, matching the title total of No. 2 doubles winner Crista Vroman.

“I am so excited,” Lily Woods said. “I am a sophomore and winning four is really good, and hopefully we can win my junior and senior years.”

Was she surprised by the ease with which the Bishops won another state title?

“We had the mindset that they were going to be the best team we’ve ever played,” Lily added.

Saturday was the last match for BE seniors Eleanor Campbell and Vroman. Campbell, the Bishops’ No. 1 player, plans to sign a commitment on Thursday to walk on at the College of Charleston to play tennis for the Cougars.

“This was a perfect year,” said Campbell said, who played on three BE state championship teams. “It’s amazing . . . to end on top is something special. It was really nice to win this way.”

SINGLES: Eleanor Campbell (BE) def. Elizabeth Williams, 6-1, 6-2; Lily Woods (BE) def. Alex Kinlaw, 6-0, 6-0; Jenna Santa Lucia (BE) def. Molly Foxworth, 6-2, 6-0; MacKenzie Penton (BE) def. Juliana Coates, 6-2, 6-0; Izzy Woods (BE) def. Madeline Willliams, 6-0, 6-1.

DOUBLES: Campbell/L. Woods (BE) def. E. Williams/Kinlaw, 8-2; Crista Vroman/Lauren Ferrara (BE) def.  Sarah Margaret Reid/Angela Maksimon, 8-1

Spartanburg 4, Wando 3

Wando was two points away, but Spartanburg prevailed in both doubles matches and walked off with a 4-3 victory over the Warriors (22-5) in the girls Class AAAAA state championship match.

“We were up 3-1 (team score), and No. 2 doubles and No. 3 singles both went to tiebreakers. We lost both, and had to play No. 1 doubles,” Wando coach Megan Hinton said, sizing up the match.

After being down 9-8 in the No. 2 doubles tiebreaker, Wando’s Emma Chadwick and Adelia Phillips won the point to tie it at 9-9, but then lost the next two points to suffer a 6-3, 1-6, 11-9 loss.

With the team match tied at 3-3, that meant the Sinclaire sisters, senior Abby and sophomore Kelsey, had to win at No. 1 doubles if Wando was to bring home the top prize. But senior Maggie Cubitt, the 34th-ranked girls 18 player in the nation, was on the other side of the net with her Spartanburg partner, Elizabeth Yex, and the Spartanburg pair won easily, 6-0, 6-1, to send Wando home in defeat.

Abby Sinclaire won at No. 2 singles, Grace McKellar  took No. 4  singles and Ellie Zimmermann came through at No. 5 singles to put the Warriors in position to win the match. But Carlee Mason outlasted freshman Lily Zimmermann at No. 3 singles, 6-1, 2-6, 10-2, to keep the match alive.

Then came the double trouble.

“I feel as though No. 2 doubles could have gone either way . . . we knew No. 1 doubles would be very tough competition,” Minton said.

Cubitt wasted little time at No. 1 singles, cruising to a 6-0, 6-0 win over Kelsey Sinclaire.

SINGLES: Maggie Cubitt (S) def. Kelsey Sinclaire, 6-0, 6-0; Abby Sinclaire (W) def. Elizabeth Yex,  6-3, 6-0; Carlee Mason (S) def. Lily Zimmermann, 6-1, 2-6, 10-2; Grace McKellar (W) def. Dawaysia Crocker, 6-2, 6-3; Ellie Zimmermann (W) def. Grace Till, 6-1, 6-1.

DOUBLES: Cubitt/Yex (S) def. Sinclaire/Sinclaire, 6-0, 6-1;  Eliza Hull/Payton O’Sheilds (S) def. Emma Chadwick/Adelia Phillips, 6-3, 1-6, 11-9.

Christ Church 4, Oceanside Collegiate 3

Christ Church Episcopal School won its third straight state title with a 4-3 win over Lower State champion Oceanside Collegiate in the Class AA state final.

For Oceanside (10-3), it was a disappointing end to the tennis program’s first season of  being eligible for the state playoff s.

The Landsharks’ top three players, seniors Kat Lyman, Emma Smith and Jill Morse, all have received college tennis commitments, but only Lyman and Morse won their singles matches as Christ Church took a 3-2 advantage into doubles.

Veteran Christ Church coach Sherry Adams surprised Oceanside coach Phil Whitesell by playing both doubles after singles. Christ Church then split its top two players, senior No. 1 Day Nuckolls and No. 2 freshman Annie Jennings, for doubles, putting Nuckolls at No. 2 and Jennings at No. 1 doubles, according to Whitesell.

Lyman, who had scored a 6-1, 6-4 win over Nuckolls at No. 1 singles, also won at No. 1 doubles with Morse, but Christ Church took No. 2 doubles to win the state championship.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t win,” Lyman said. “It was very controversial before we played our No. 1 and No. 2 doubles with their lineup, but it was definitely our match (to win).”

After Oceanside’s Smith lost at No. 2 singles, Christ Church had a match point in singles, but Morse saved the team match point at No. 3 to send the match to doubles

For Christ Church, whose only loss this season was to Bishop England, Saturday’s results were  old hat. The Cavaliers stayed in Bishop England’s rearview mirror in state titles with their 16th girls state championship. The title was Adams’ ninth in 13 years as coach at the Greenville school.


(11/08/18) Lowcountry Tennis Association Newsletter – November 2018
Important Dates

2019 USTA Spring League Registration will begin Monday, December 3rd 2018.
Registration will remain open until Friday, December 28th 2018. The registration opening date may change depending on the release of the 2018 end of the year ratings. Age groups that will open Monday, December 3rd are 18 & over, 40 & over, 55 & over, and 70 & over.
Captains have your teams registered early so everyone gets to play. Requirements for your team roster by Friday, December 28th 2018 at midnight are:
18 & over & 40 & over 2.5 - 5 players
18 & over & 40 & over 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 - 8 players
55 & over & 70 & over - 6 players

Annual and Captains meeting - Thursday, January 3rd 2019 from 6:00 to 8:00pm at the Daniel Island Club, 600 Island Park Drive, Charleston, SC 29492.
Interest in Saturday 55 & Over Women's 3.0 Flight

There is an interest in creating a Saturday 55 and over 3.0 Women's Flight. Potential players must either be 55 or will turn 55 in 2019. If there are any teams from the already established Friday Flight; contact your 55 and over Flight Coordinator. Only three at level players are needed to start a team and there can be an "unlimited" number of below level players on the team roster. 
 
Any interested players, contact Ms. Susan Gaddy, (susang5601@gmail.com), Jim Royce (jroyce@comcast.net) or William Snead (wllmsnd@gmail.com).

Survey Says...     
Here's what you told us were the main reasons for playing League tennis in the Lowcountry:
107 Social/Fun
98 Fitness
96 Competition
48 Camaraderie
38 Meeting People
23 Advancement to Championships
7 Play with Family

We want to hear from everyone! If you haven't taken the LCTA Survey, click here to let us know how we're doing!

Lowcountry Youth Tennis Association (LYTA)
LYTA is in the process of nominating new members to the Board.  For more information, go to www.lytatennis.org to learn about the organization.  If you are interesting in being nominated, contact either Steve Wilson,(srw924@gmail.com) or Ron Charron (ronhcharron@bellsouth.net). 
 
Congratulations!
Congratulations to our LCTA Combo Champions and all of our Combo teams for a great Combo season!
 
2018 LCTA Combo Championship Teams

Men 18 & Over
6.5 - Brickyard Smart Aces, Captain Brian Boss
7.5 - St. Andrews Furies, Captain Ben Fleming - FINALIST at State
8.5 - MPR Dark Side 8.5 Combo, Captain Mike Cladakis - FINALIST at State
9.5 - MPR Playing for HHI, Captain Will Smith

Men 40 & Over
6.5 - Park West Racq City, Captain Kenyon Rump
7.5 - FCTC Trash Talkers, Captain Rhett Price
8.5 - MPR Dark Side, Captain Mike Cladakis - WINNER at State
8.5 - I 'On Mansionites, Captain Frank Cuoco - FINALIST at State
 
Men 55 & Over
6.5 - Betty Ford Clinic of Crowfield, Captain Jim Royce
7.5 - Daniel Island Club, Captain Hank Adorno
 
Women 18 & Over
5.5 - Legend Oaks Slice Girls, Captain Nise Lowell
6.5 - St. Andrews Smash Girls, Captain Christine Bozigar
7.5 - Maybank Mojitos, Captain Jill Garnot
8.5 - LTP Closers, Captain Charlotte Gerber
 
Women 40 & Over
5.5 - Family Circle Tough Love, Captain Elyssa Snelgrove - WINNER at State
6.5 - Maybank's Moody Crewe, Captain Sherry Ferguson - FINALIST at State
7.5 - Family Circle Victorious Secret, Captain Christina Leigl
8.5 - Family Circle Victorious Secret, Captain Allison Pickhardt - FINALIST at State
 
Women 55 & Over
6.5 - Daniel Island Club, A Winning Combo, Captain Sue Verner - FINALIST at State
7.5 - MPR Sweet Spots, Captain Becky Williamson
8.5 - LTP Party at the Net, Captain Pat Boyd



(11/06/18)  Oceanside cruises into Class AA girls state tennis championship match with 6-1 win over Philip Simmons

Talk about a relaxed coach at a Lower State girls tennis final.

Meet Phil Whitesell, the former College of Charleston men’s coach who now coaches the Oceanside Collegiate Academy girls team.

Well, actually, Whitesell wasn’t quite as relaxed as his top two players, seniors Kat Lyman and Emma Smith. They were given the day off on Tuesday for the Class AA girls tennis Lower State championship match at Philip Simmons’ sparkling new complex near Cainhoy.

Luckily, Oceanside took a 6-1 victory over Philip Simmons. It was the third one-sided win this season for Oceanside over the Iron Horses, so it’s not surprising Whitesell was relaxed.

But coach Richard Schulz’s “kiddie corps” from Philip Simmons might not be taken so lightly in future seasons. Philip Simmons’ singles lineup was made up of three seventh-graders, one eighth-grader and one freshman.

Now, it’s on to Saturday’s noon state championship match at Cayce Tennis Center for the Landsharks against Upper State titlist Christ Church Episcopal of Greenville. And you better believe Lyman and Smith won’t be relaxed. And neither will Whitesell.

Christ Church has won the last two state titles and owns a total of 15 state girls tennis titles. Christ Church posted a 6-0 victory over Greenville rival St. Joseph’s in the Upper State final.

In the absence of Lyman and Smith from the court, Arkansas State-bound senior Jill Morse played No. 1 for the Landsharks and posted a 6-0, 6-0 win over Philip Simmons eighth-grader Sydney Mimms.

“We’re definitely a little nervous about playing Christ Church,” Morse admitted at courtside. “It was a fun match. I train with the girl (Mimms) I played today at LTP, so it was fun.”

Regular No. 4 Emily Loring played No. 2 for the Landsharks and posted a 6-3, 6-3 win over freshman Maddy Bolig.

“I’m very proud of the girls and how hard they worked to get here,” Whitesell said. “We’re looking forward to a great match on Saturday.”

OCA 6, PHILIP SIMMONS 1

SINGLES: Jill Morse (O) def. Sydney Mimms, 6-0, 6-0; Emily Loring (O) def. Maddy Bolig, 6-4, 6-3; Caroline Lively (O) def. Olivia DeMarco, 7-6 (2), 6-1; Elise Smith (O) def. Ansley Cohen, 6-2, 4-6, 10-2; Gracen Harris (O) def. Autumn Fort, 6-1, 6-0.   DOUBLES: Mimms/Bolig (P) def. Harris/Grace Madison, 5-2; Ashton Loring/Grace Berchtold (O) def. Lola Downie/Katelyn Shrouds, 8-0.


(11/06/18)  Wando, Bishop England reach girls tennis state championships; Oceanside-Philip Simmons postponed until Tuesday
Wando gave local girls high school tennis a big boost on Monday in Lexington with a 4-3 victory over defending state champion River Bluff in the Class AAAAA Lower State final.

Bishop England also won the Class AAA Lower State title, and Oceanside Collegiate is heavily favored to win the Class AA Lower State crown on Tuesday.

Coach Megan Hinton’s Wando team (22-4) had suffered a loss by the same score to River Bluff a year ago, and the Lexington team had almost everyone back. The match went to the wire again Monday night, but the Warriors reversed things in doubles this time by sweeping both doubles to advance to Saturday’s 10 a.m. state final at Cayce Tennis Center against the Upper State Spartanburg-Blythewood winner.

Senior Abby Sinclaire won at No. 2 singles, and Grace McKellar won at No. 4 singles. And with the Warriors’ Emma Chadwick and Adelia Phillips ahead 6-2, 5-2 at No. 2 doubles, the River Bluff coach pulled his No. 2 doubles team off the court, with the forfeited position deadlocking the match at 3.

The Sinclaire sisters, Abby and sophomore Kelsey, then finished off a 6-2, 6-4 win at No. 1 doubles to give Wando the title.

“His (River Bluff coach) girl was being loud and arguing, so he pulled off their No. 2 doubles . . . it was almost over,” Hinton said. “So then the match was 3-3 and we won No. 1 doubles to seal the deal.”

Expected to arrive back in Mount Pleasant around 11 p.m., Hinton and her Warriors were just happy they will be “off for election day.”

WANDO 4, RIVER BLUFF 3
SINGLES: Liyin Zhu (RB) def. Kelsey Sinclaire, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 10-7; Abby Sinclaire (W) def. Claire Floyd, 6-2, 6-2; Victoria Votion (RB) def. Lily Zimmermann, 6-3, 6-4; Grace McKellar (W) def. Kiana Thatcher, 6-2, 6-0; Shelby Byers (RB) def. Ellie Zimmermann, 6-1, 6-4.   DOUBLES: Sinclaire/Sinclaire (W) def. Zhu/Riley Mitchell, 6-2, 6-2; Adelia Phillips/Emma Chadwick (W) def. Votion/Julian Leitszey, 6-2, 5-2, ret.

BE 5, WACCAMAW 0

Unbeaten Bishop England had to beat the rain and a stubborn Waccamaw team on Monday to keep alive the Bishops’ hopes for an eighth straight girls tennis state title.

But in the end, it was the same old story for coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s BE team (22-0), another one-sided score line, this time 5-0 in the Lower State Class AAA final.

The match marked the third straight shutout victory in the current playoffs for the Bishops, as well as the third consecutive Lower State final shutout of Waccamaw.

The rain came in the middle of the match that started at the BE hard courts and finished on the nearby Daniel Island Club’s clay courts.

Next up for the Bishops will be Saturday’s noon Class AAA state final at Cayce Tennis Center against the Chapman-Union County Upper State winner.

“We are excited to be back in another state final. It’s a new opponent (BE defeated Mid-Carolina in the last two state finals), so we have to come out ready to play. We can’t take anything for granted,” Fleming Arnold said.

Sophomore No. 2 Lily Woods clinched the victory for the Bishops, with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Waccamaw’s Aa Flowers. Waccamaw then conceded No. 1 to BE senior Eleanor Campbell, and the No. 2 doubles match was halted.

“I played well today. It was a tough match,” said Woods, who will be going for her fourth state title on Saturday. “We’ve been playing well as a team.”

Seventh-grader Izzy Woods, Lily’s younger sister, also won a tight match at No. 5 singles 7-6 (4), 6-4, and Jenna Santa Lucia and MacKenzie Penton also won at Nos. 3 and 4 singles, respectively.

“Waccamaw was a good team. They have good depth, so even though we had beaten them twice in the regular season we couldn’t count on it being the same today,” added 10th-year coach Fleming, who already owns 13 state titles for BE (four as a player, two as boys coach and seven as girls coach).

SINGLES: Eleanor Campbell (BE) def. Gigi Bohan, 5-2, ret.; Lily Woods (BE) def. Aa Flowers, 6-4, 6-4; Jenna Santa Lucia (BE) def. Addison Flowers, 6-0, 6-1; MacKenzie Penton (BE) def. Caroline Brothers, 6-2, 6-1; Izzy Woods (BE) def. Kate Drosier, 7-6 (4), 6-4.

OCEANSIDE RAINED OUT
The Oceanside Collegiate Class AA Lower State girls final against Phillip Simmons was rained out on Monday. The match was rescheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Phillips Simmons courts.


(11/03/18)  Sister sets hold key for Wando High School’s tennis title hopes
Two pairs of sisters equal four. Just the number of individual wins Wando High School needs on Monday to advance to the state final.

If it’s that easy, the Warriors have it covered. Wando has two sets of sisters in its starting five singles lineup. That’s indeed unique. The Sinclaires, sophomore Kelsey and senior Abby, and the Zimmermanns, freshman Lily and junior Ellie, have been making scorecard watchers do a double-take during the Warriors’ 21-4 season.

The Sinclaire sisters almost made it work last season, both winning their singles matches before dropping the decisive doubles match in a third-set tiebreaker in a 4-3 loss to eventual Class AAAAA state champion River Bluff. They’ll have the help of both Zimmermanns on Monday in Lexington in a rematch with River Bluff.

Kelsey Sinclaire has improved so much since last season that she has vaulted over her older sister from No. 2 into the No. 1 singles position for the Warriors.

“Kelsey played more tournaments over the summer and won our challenge match,” Abby Sinclaire said. “We’ve played together for a long time. We practice together, and after a team practice if we think we need more we come home and hit a little more. Kelsey is very aggressive, and if she gets a short ball, she’ll come in and put it away.”

Of course, there are other advantages to having a sister on the same team. “I get a ride home,” 15-year-old Kelsey said.

And then when one sister gets down, the other one is there to pick her up.

“Abby is consistent, and she hits with a lot of topspin, which makes it hard for the other team to hit her high-kicking balls,” said the 5-4 Kelsey, who played the recent ITF Junior tournament at Lexington and has her eyes on college tennis. “There is more pressure for me now playing No. 1. The level of competition is higher and a lot more competitive.”

Abby, 5-9, doesn’t expect to play college tennis. But she’s highly motivated for Monday. “Last year, (River Bluff) beat us at home, so this time we are more motivated to beat them at their home,” she said.

The Sinclaires have a background in tennis. Their mother, the former Kelly Bodell, played on the College of Charleston’s 1983 NAIA national championship team with current Ashley Hall coach Mary Gastley. The coach of that C of C team was Billy Silcox, the grandfather of Wando doubles specialist Adelia Phillips.

Lily Zimmermann is in her first season on the Wando varsity, but the 14-year-old is already the Warriors’ No. 3 player. “I played a lot over the summer,” said 5-3 Lily, who started playing tennis at age 4.

“My backhand slice is the best part of my game, but I started playing more aggressively recently.”

Like the Sinclaires, the Zimmermanns enjoy playing together.

“We practice a lot together and I really enjoy playing on the team with Ellie,” said Lily, who wouldn’t mind playing college tennis if it fits into her plans to go to medical school.

Ellie Zimmermann moved up to the singles lineup this season at No. 5 after playing doubles for the Warriors last year, including the loss to River Bluff. “I like tennis because you can play it at an early age and you can play it your whole life. It’s a really fun sport,” Ellie said.

The Zimmermanns, like the Sinclaires, have four girls in their family. “Ellie and Lily have two sisters, 9 and 11, and hopefully they will play tennis for Wando when they are old enough,” said their father, Andy Zimmermann.

“Ellie tried out for Wando as a seventh-grader two weeks after we moved here (from Aiken). She played JV her seventh- and eighth-grade years and made varsity her freshman year. Tryouts at Wando are always extremely competitive,” Andy Zimmermann said. “Those early years featured state finalist and state champion teams with Lily Conant, Lauren Quinn, Kat Lyman, etc.”

Second-year Wando coach Megan Hinton enjoys having the sisters on her team.

“They work well together and help to make our team stronger,” Hinton said. “The competition between them is always fun to watch.”

BE EYES 8TH STRAIGHT

Bishop England appears to be on the threshold of an eighth consecutive state championship. Coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s BE girls (21-0) will be at home on Daniel Island Monday afternoon to entertain old rival Waccamaw in the Class AAA Lower State final.

The Bishops scored 4-2 and 6-1 wins over Waccamaw in the regular season. Waccamaw posted a 6-0 win over 2017 state finalist Academic Magnet in the semifinals, while BE powered past Georgetown 6-0.

Chapman and Union County will meet in the Upper State final, with the winner advancing to Saturday’s noon state final at Cayce Tennis Center.

OCA SEEKS 1ST TITLE

SCHSL playoff newcomer Oceanside Collegiate (9-2) will take on Phillip Simmons at 4 p.m. on Monday at the Phillip Simmons courts in the girls Class AA Lower State final. Oceanside, coached by former College of Charleston coach Phil Whitesell, has become a powerhouse in its first year of eligibility for the playoffs. The Landsharks shut out Phillip Simmons in a pair of regular-season matches.

The Upper State final will pit perennial champion Christ Church against St. Joseph’s in a battle of Greenville rivals. Saturday’s state final also is slated for noon at Cayce.

LOCAL NOTES

-- Lleyton Dacuba, a star on Bishop England’s 2018 boys state championship team, has joined the Queens University tennis team, while current Oceanside standout Emma Smith has committed to the University of the South, Sewanee, and teammate Jill Morse has committed to Arkansas State.

-- Emma Navarro has recovered from the abdominal strain that sidelined her for Ashley Hall’s drive to the SCISA Class AAA state championship. The Ashley Hall junior is in Lawrence, Kan., this weekend to compete in an ITF $25K women’s pro circuit tournament.

-- Former Porter-Gaud standout Matt Hane and ex-Kiawah pro Brandon Blankenbaker were runners-up on Saturday in the ITF Young Seniors individual men’s 35 world doubles championship match in Miami. Team captain Hane and Blankenbaker also helped the USTA men’s 35 ITF Young Seniors Italia Cup team take sixth place in world team competition.

-- Allie Gretkowski and her partner turned back Anna Ross and Lara Schneider on Saturday to advance to the doubles final of the ITF juniors in Lexington. Ross also made the singles semifinals. A week earlier at the Atlanta Junior ITF, Ross teamed with Gretkowski to capture the doubles title, while Huntley Allen and Chad Nash were boys doubles runners-up.


(10/31/18)  MOULTRIE NEWS: Wando tennis advances
Wando shut out Summerville 6-0 in the Class AAAAA tennis state quarterfinals Wednesday in Mount Pleasant.

The top-seeded Warriors will host the winner of River Bluff and Socastee, both top seeds as well, in the state semifinals Monday in Mount Pleasant.

Wando sophomore Kelsey Sinclaire had little trouble at No. 1 singles, putting away Paige Reynolds, 6-0, 6-2. Wando didn’t lose more than three games in any set in the top three singles matches. Abby Sinclaire defeated Sullivan Long, 6-1, 6-3, and Lily Zimmerman topped Lizzie Naval 6-2, 6-2.

Grace McKellar pulled out a 7-5 win over Hannah McKee in the opening set at No. 4 singles. McKellar rebounded for a 2-6 loss in the second set with a 10-7 win in the deciding third set. Ellie Zimmerman closed out the Warriors perfect single run with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Annalise Pagan at No. 5 singles.

Emma Chadwick and Adelia Philips teamed up for a 6-0, 6-1 win over Gwen Rast and Dylan Zoeller at No. 2 singles.

Wando has yet to drop a match yet this postseason, winning 6-0 through the first three rounds of the playoffs

(10/31/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Volvo Car Open 2018 champion and finalist to return to DI
The top two 2018 Volvo Car Open players recently announced they will be returning to compete in the 2019 event, to be held March 30 – April 7 on Daniel Island. Kiki Bertens, 2018 VCO champion, and finalist Julia Goerges join World No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, World No. 8 Sloane Stephens and World No. 19 Madison Keys in the current VCO player field. The 2019 Volvo Car Open now features four of the WTA’s top 10 players in its field.

“Kiki and Julia are not only our 2018 champion and finalist, but also two of the most talented and gracious players on the tour,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open tournament manager. “With the addition of Kiki and Julia into our field, we now have four top 10 players in contention for the Charleston title next April. We’re looking forward to the exciting rounds of competition to come!”

The 26-year-old Bertens is currently ranked World No. 10. The Dutchwoman had the best season of her career this year, picking up titles in Charleston, Cincinnati and Seoul. She also reached the final in Madrid and quarterfinals in Montreal, Wimbledon and Nurnberg. Bertens defeated 10 players ranked in the WTA’s top 10, contributing to her best ranking to date.

“I’m proud of my season,” said Bertens. “I worked hard this year and after my win in Charleston my tennis results really picked up. I’m looking forward to defending my title next April and playing in front of a great group of fans again.”

Bertens will compete in Charleston for the fourth time in 2019. She holds an 8-2 win/loss record on the green clay.

Goerges, ranked World No. 9, kicked off her 2018 season with a win in Auckland. From there, she reached the final in Charleston, the semifinals in St. Petersburg, Wimbledon and New Haven and the quarterfinals in Doha, Birmingham and Moscow. Her success in Wimbledon marked the first time the 29-year-old German made a semifinal of a Grand Slam tournament.

“I’m excited to come back to Charleston for the Volvo Car Open,” said Goerges. “I was disappointed I didn’t win the title, and am looking forward to another chance at the championship in 2019. Last year was my first time playing the tournament in a few years and it was great to be back!”

Goerges has previously played the Volvo Car Open five times. She holds a 9-5 win/loss record.

After competing against one another in the 2018 Volvo Car Open final, Bertens and Goerges met again this season in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, where Goerges defeated Bertens 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

The 2019 Volvo Car Open player field includes three past champions, Bertens (’18), Stephens (’16) and Wozniacki (’11) as well as two past finalists, Goerges (’18) and Keys (’15).

The nine day Volvo Car Open is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America and attracts an average of 90,000 attendees and more than 100 of the top singles and doubles tennis players.

Patrons have the option to choose from individual tickets, ticket packages and travel packages. Ticket prices range from $25 for an individual session to $540 for an all-inclusive weeklong package with complimentary access into a private hospitality suite. The Volvo Car Open also offers packages that include premium seats, ticket savings and membership into the tournament’s Ace Club.

The Ace Club is a program for package holders that provides amenities and benefits during the tournament, including private bag storage, invitations to the “Selection Party,” a tournament poster, incentive membership cards and much more. In addition, members have the option to opt-in for Ace Lounge access, a hospitality location providing first-class amenities, such as entertainment, air-conditioning, elevated food options and more.


(10/21/18)  Ashley Hall plays just one point Sunday to finish off SCISA Class AAA state tennis championship
Mary Gastley couldn’t have been prouder of her Ashley Hall girls tennis team on Sunday.

The Panthers held four match points. They only needed to win one point, and senior Rebecca Spratt and junior Lorna Milani played it perfectly. Milani put her first serve into play, and on the fourth shot of the point a weak return came back, allowing Spratt to hit a forehand volley for a clean winner.

Just like that, Ashley Hall (14-6) completed its 32nd season with Gastley as head coach by securing its fifth SCISA Class AAA state championship in the last 12 years with a 5-3 victory over Trinity-Byrnes of Darlington, the 2017 SCISA Class AA champion that had not lost in two years and had beaten Ashley Hall in the regular season.

A two-hour trip to Sumter on Sunday morning to play just one point was forgotten. “It was well worth the trip,” Gastley said. “I’d do it again tomorrow if I had to.”

The one point was all that Ashley Hall needed to complete a match that was halted by rain on Saturday. The point by Spratt and Milani put the finishing touches on the state title with a 6-1, 7-6 (2) win at No. 1 doubles over Trinity-Byrnes’ sister team of McKenzie and Haley Davis.

“It felt good to end my high school career with the winning shot,” Spratt said.

On Saturday, Ashley Hall was up 4-3 in the team match and the Spratt/Milani pair held four match points at 6-2 in the No. 1 doubles match when the rain started at Sumter’s Palmetto Tennis Center, forcing the one-day break in play.

Ashley Hall and Trinity-Brynes split the six singles matches, 3-3. Ashley Hall sophomore Marissa Dye and junior Adelaide Harper won No. 3 doubles for the 4-3 team advantage.

Milani took the No. 3 singles match, while Dye and freshman Jane Goldstein won Nos. 5 and 6 singles for the Panthers, who were playing in their ninth state final in 12 years.

ASHLEY HALL 5, TRINITY-BYRNES 3
SINGLES: McKenzie Davis (TB) def. Rebecca Spratt, 6-3, 6-4; Haley Davis (TB) def. Kayla Kirkland, 6-2, 6-0; Lorna Milani (AH) def. Schipman Johnston, 6-0, 6-2; Maggie Murrell (TB) def. Ella Gray Settle, 6-3, 6-1; Marissa Dye (AH) def. Claire Peebles, 6-1, 6-3; Jane Goldstein (AH) def. Morgan Banner, 6-1, 6-2.

DOUBLES: Spratt/Milani (AH) def. Davis/Davis, 6-1, 7-6 (2); Johnston/Murrell (TB) led Kirkland/Settle, 5-7, 6-0, 7-1, when match ended; Adelaide Harper/Dye (AH) def. Peebles/Banner, 6-1, 6-3.


(10/20/18)  Local tennis juniors stocking college rosters; USTA SC Award Winners
There often is a payback for playing junior and high school tennis, and attending tennis academies, especially in Charleston.

Every tennis scholarship helps the family budget. As the father of a daughter who played four years of college tennis at Converse College, I can attest to the benefits of college tennis scholarships.

Right now, there are at least 16 juniors who reside locally who have committed to college tennis programs, going off to college for the first time this fall or making the trip within the next two years.

We all know the current freshmen group of boys. Bishop England graduate Jared Pratt is already at Wisconsin, while Academic Magnet product Sam Kavarana is at Davidson and former Hanahan star Kerim Hyatt at Tennessee-Chattanooga. Of course, there’s Porter-Gaud graduate Brant Fenno, who has delayed his college career at Wake Forest until at least the spring of 2019, due to rehabilitation from surgery.

By this time next year, former Academic Magnet standout Jacob Jahn plans to be at Clemson, while Hanahan standout Reilly Wilson is scheduled to be at the U.S. Naval Academy, Huntley Allen and Eddie Ross at Southern Methodist University, while former Hanahan stars Chad Nash and Coy Simon are committed to being at Furman and Tennessee, respectively.

And don’t forget the large group of girls. Porter-Gaud graduate Alex Hildell is a freshman at Wofford. Oceanside Collegiate senior Kat Lyman plans to join the Naval Academy tennis program in 2019, while junior star Anna Ross has committed to Vanderbilt for 2019. Former Bishop England standout Emily Elliott is bound for Western Carolina, while Callie Billman is headed for Tennessee-Chattanooga next fall.

And two years from now, current Porter-Gaud sophomore Emma Navarro plans to be a member of the Duke tennis team.

In addition to these 16 locals, Oceanside senior Jill Morse has been offered a full scholarship to Arkansas State and is visiting there this weekend.

Of course, there will be other local juniors joining these 17 players in committing to college tennis programs, especially by 2020.

HIGH SCHOOL PLAYOFFS

The nearly three-week long SCHSL girls tennis state playoffs are scheduled to begin on Wednesday for Classes AAA, AAAA and AAAAA. Class AA will start on Monday, Oct. 29.

The state finals are set for Nov. 10 at Cayce Tennis Center.

In Class AAAAA, Region 7 regular-season champion Wando will entertain Sumter on Wednesday, while Region 8 winner Summerville will be at home against No. 4 James Island. No. 2 seeds Berkeley and Ashley Ridge also will open at home, Berkeley against No. 3 West Ashley and Ashley Ridge against No. 3 Stratford.

In Class AAA, Bishop England will begin its quest for an eighth consecutive state championship at home on Wednesday against an unnamed foe. No. 3 seed Academic Magnet has moved up to AAA from AA where the Raptors were state runners-up last fall and will travel to an unnamed site on Wednesday.

Oceanside Collegiate is the top team in Region 6-AA and is expected to challenge for the state title in its first year of eligibility for the SCHSL state playoffs.

HALBAUER BACK AT LTP

Ellie Halbauer grew up on the local clay courts, and now as a 21-year-old, she is returning to LTP Tennis to train for the pro circuit, where she is No. 335 in the world in the WTA rankings.

“I will just be in and out if I have a free week,” Halbauer said.

After a runner-up finish in the LTP $25K recently, Halbauer suffered an injury and had to pull out of the Florence $25K, but she plans to return to the U.S. Women’s Pro Circuit to compete in the Oct. 29 $80K in Tyler, Texas.

“I have met with her and her parents and she will train with us. We will help her (in) becoming the best player she can be,” said Patrick Heiber, the LTP tournament director and Randy Pate Academy official. “Ellie has been really nice in the days she has trained with us and is a great example to our younger students.”

STATE AWARDS
Local tennis has had another great year, with a large number of award winners selected from the Charleston area.

Lizl Kotz was named the adult female player of the year; Coy Simon and Huntley Allen shared the junior boys player of the year; Maxwell Smith was named the most improved junior boy; Alice Otis was picked as the most improved junior girl of the year; Ross was selected as the junior girls player of the year; Pratt won the Wilton McKinney Award; Mike Saia won the media excellence award for www.LowcountryTennis.com; Family Circle Tennis Center was named the member facility of the year; and the Alan Fleming Senior Open was selected as the adult tournament of the year.

PINE FOREST EVENT

The Pine Forest Country Club’s Ladies Tennis Association will stage another Racquets For Recovery “Taking a Hard Swing at Breast Cancer” tournament on Nov. 2-4.

The men’s and women’s event will be trying to break its overall donation of $300,000, with the proceeds benefitting the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.

The registration deadline for the all-doubles event will be Oct. 28. Registration is available online with the tournament number (700090118).

NOTES
-- The ITF Young Seniors World Team Championships will begin on Sunday in Miami with Kotz on the women’s 40 Young Cup team, and Matt Hane serving as playing captain of the men’s 35 Italia Cup team. Former Kiawah pro Brandon Blakenbaker also is a member of the four-player Italia Cup team.

-- The 2018 Tennis on Campus State Championship is scheduled for Nov. 10-11 at Charleston Tennis Center.


(10/20/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Meet Ben Navarro. He bid for NFL team, owns Volvo Car Open and is changing schools.
Ben Navarro bounds onto the stage to a standing ovation, family dog Major Tom scampering at his feet.

Navarro, an energetic and youthful 55, is dressed in black shorts and black T-shirt, as if he had just come from the tennis court — which he had, to watch his daughter Emma, a nationally ranked junior player.

Speaking to employees of his Meeting Street Schools last summer, Navarro launches into a story about Emma, who at one point had struggled to meet the high expectations placed on her young tennis career.

“We had said things to her like, ‘You are such a great athlete,’ ” Navarro told the audience. “Things like, ‘You always win the matches you are supposed to win. You are so consistent, you always do well in the big tournaments.’

“Well, you tell me — if you are a 12-year-old walking out on the court, what do you have to gain? All you can do is disappoint. What do you have to lose? Everything.”

The lesson, according to Navarro: A “growth mindset” that says “you are not holding onto something; you are going and getting something … I came from nothing and nowhere, and I’ve got nothing to lose.”

Navarro, who moved his Sherman Financial Group to Charleston in 2004, has put those words to work in his bid this year to buy the NFL’s Carolina Panthers; in his recent purchase of the Volvo Car Open tennis tournament; and in his work with Meeting Street Schools, the nonprofit network of public/private partnership schools he founded in 2008.

With his influence in Charleston on the increase, the media-shy Navarro recently spoke to The Post and Courier in his first major interview, discussing his bid for the Panthers, his hopes for the Volvo Car Open, his work with Meeting Street Schools and his family’s life in Charleston.

“When the Panthers thing came around, I became a bit more high profile,” said Navarro. “And I get it. People have a right to know because the Panthers are a public entity that matters to a lot of people.

“That for me was the hardest part of the process, and it’s not so much about being publicity shy. I don’t believe in self-promotion, or that you do things in life because someone else will think more of you.

“I have to live up to my standards and the standards of my family. And if I do that, I think I’m doing OK.”
Bid for the Panthers

It’s difficult to avoid publicity when attempting to become an owner of an NFL team. There are only 32 of them, and owners include some of the country’s richest men, with egos to match: Jerry Jones of the Cowboys, Robert Kraft of the Patriots, Dan Snyder of the Redskins.

Navarro’s family background — his father, Frank, was a college football coach at Princeton University, among other schools, with a deep interest in business — played a role in his decision to bid for the Panthers when Jerry Richardson decided to sell the team. Richardson, a Wofford graduate who owned the Panthers for 23 years, put the franchise up for sale after he was linked to allegations of sexual harassment.

“I grew up on the sidelines,” said Navarro, who was a lineman and wrestler at Princeton (N.J.) High School while his dad coached at the university. “I played football and there are many things I love about the sport. And the fact that the team was here in the Carolinas, I felt like it needed the right steward and I thought I could be that person.

“I thought it would be a pretty fun project, and I like new challenges.”

Navarro said he worked “pretty intensely” on the bid for four or five months. At one point, Navarro reportedly reached out to former NFL great Peyton Manning about joining his ownership group. Eventually, the team was sold for $2.2 billion to David A. Tepper, a billionaire hedge fund owner.

The bid for the Panthers brought new scrutiny to Navarro’s Sherman Financial Group, which he founded in 1997. The business describes itself as a “market leader in originating credit cards and purchasing and servicing distressed consumer debt,” and employs more than 1,500 people in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

The company was expected to earn more than $2 billion in revenue in 2016, according to its website. In 2014, Sherman Financial paid $175,000 and agreed to drop lawsuits seeking to recoup about 400 bad loans in a legal settlement with the state of New York. Most of Sherman Financial Group’s revenue reportedly comes from Credit One Bank, a fast-rising issuer of credit cards that it owns.

Navarro said he had no regrets about the bid to buy the Panthers.

“Any good business person will tell you that their career has been defined as much by the deals they didn’t do as the deals they did do,” he said. “And I had every opportunity to get that deal done. It just wasn’t on terms that I could get comfortable with at the end.

“For me, it just came down to my resources and time going into one thing versus being able to have a much more diverse set of activities. That’s a big, big, big commitment, and ultimately I think it ended up in the right hands. But I have absolutely no remorse and no ill will toward working on it. It was a really enjoyable experience.”
Wall Street dream

Football was a big deal at the Navarro house when Ben was growing up. His father played offensive guard for a national championship team at Maryland and coached at four different schools. The family (Ben has six brothers and a sister) moved from Williamstown, Mass. (Williams College) to New York (Columbia University) to Crawfordsville, Ind. (Wabash College) to Princeton.

Frank Navarro was a coach of enough renown that famed painter Norman Rockwell chose him as the model for his painting “The Recruit.” The 1966 painting depicts a coach, whistle hanging from his neck, with his arm around an imposing football player.

But there was more discussed around the family dinner table than football. Frank and his wife, Jill, ran the household with a firm hand that encouraged hard work with a focus on the business world.

“He talked a lot more about business and the people he admired than he did about football,” said Ben Navarro, whose great-grandparents immigrated from Italy, entering the U.S. through Ellis Island. “And it was discipline combined with work ethic.

“He never came to one of my sporting events, on purpose, because he wanted the focus of the house to be on creating entrepreneurs and kids who could take advantage of what this amazing country has to offer.”

That’s one reason all eight Navarro kids paid their own way through college. At the University of Rhode Island, Navarro devised a way to make money selling advertising on discount VIP cards. He had 10,000 of them printed and distributed them to students.

The card helped pay for Navarro’s final two years at Rhode Island and helped him land his first job, at Chemical Bank in New York. Inspired by an older brother, Navarro dreamed from age 13 of working in finance on Wall Street.

“I’d go visit my brother in the city,” he said. “I didn’t know exactly what I was seeing, but the energy was palpable. I thought it was awesome and a place I probably ought to be.”

When an offer to join the training class at Chemical Bank at a salary of $25,000 a year arrived in the mailbox at his house in Westerly, R.I., Navarro was so happy he ran down the street and jumped off a dock into the ocean, fully clothed.

His Wall Street career was underway. He met his wife, Kelly, at Chemical Bank and eventually moved to Goldman Sachs in the heady days of the 1980s. Future Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin had an office across the floor; future U.S Sen. and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine was down the hall; current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sat right next to him.

“It was an amazing group of people,” Navarro said. “And to have access to that and see how those folks thought about things, that was a really big deal for me.”

Navarro put that experience to work in 1988 at Citicorp as co-head of mortgage sales and trading, becoming one of the top producers on Wall Street. In 1997, he decided to branch out on his own with Sherman Financial, named for the family dog, a golden Labrador named Sherman.

After 9/11, Navarro decided to move Sherman Financial out of New York. Kelly, a Virginia graduate and a banker herself, had been involved in the financing of Charleston Place, so they were familiar with the city.

The family moved to Charleston in 2004, bringing 18 other Sherman Financial families along. The Navarros eventually settled into a house on Broad Street, within biking distance of Sherman Financial’s office on Meeting Street.
Miracle on Meeting Street

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley likes to walk downtown, his path sometimes taking him by Hazel Parker Playground on East Bay Street. Sometimes he’d see a family playing tennis on the court there.

It was Ben and Kelly and their four kids.

“Ben is so unpretentious in everything,” said Riley. “I see him walking down the street or riding his bike, and he just looks like every working person.”

That might be true if every working person was into marathons and triathlons, miles-long bike rides to Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach, yoga sessions at Charleston Power Yoga, regular tennis matches and nightly walks. Navarro said he loves “epic physical challenges because they take you out of your comfort zone.”

The offices at Sherman Financial, where Navarro is often dressed in shorts and loafers, are equipped with a fully stocked workout room and salad bar for employees. The family has season tickets to College of Charleston basketball games and can occasionally be seen at Citadel football games. Navarro’s parents, both in their 80s, spend about three months of the year in Charleston.

“We love Charleston,” Ben Navarro said. “It felt like home for us after only a week. It’s an unbelievably great place to raise a family, and the people have been incredibly welcoming. And we feel like we’ve been able to find a role in the community that’s meaningful.”

One of those roles is with Meeting Street Schools, a private-public partnership founded by Navarro after the Charleston County School District reached out to him for help with failing schools. The nonprofit now includes Meeting Street Academy in downtown Charleston, and Meeting Street@Brentwood and Meeting Street@Burns in North Charleston. A fourth school, Meeting Street Academy-Spartanburg, opened in 2012 and became part of Spartanburg District 7 last year.

The schools could represent a new model of public education for low-income and minority students, with features such as two teachers per classroom, an extended school day and school year, and in-house therapists and social workers.

“A word I say a lot, and that I believe in so much, is ‘opportunity’,” Navarro said in discussing the schools. “That has driven a lot of my beliefs, and that’s what this country is about. Everyone should have an opportunity; not a guarantee, but an opportunity — and a fair one — to be successful.”

Some critics say the schools are a step toward privatization, or that they cannot be easily replicated. But rising test scores have persuaded many others, including NAACP President Dot Scott, an initial skeptic.

“It’s a miracle on Meeting Street, that’s what I call it,” said Scott. “Ben proved me wrong, absolutely wrong … When I visited the school, I was blown away to see the makeup of the school. Where these kids come from, folks think they won’t be successful because they haven’t had the resources of kids who are privileged.

“But not only are these kids succeeding, they are sailing.”

Navarro’s purchase of the Volvo Car Open, as well the operations of the Family Circle Tennis Center and Volvo Car Stadium, widens his footprint in Charleston. A local owner for the venerable tournament, which has been in South Carolina for 46 years and on Daniel Island since 2001, is important, Riley said.

“When I read about it in the paper, I was thrilled,” Riley said. “It’s just a perfect fit for the tournament and for Ben.”

Navarro, who also owns the Live to Play Tennis Club in Mount Pleasant, hopes to boost junior tennis in Charleston, as well as enhance the Volvo Car Open, the largest women-only pro tournament in North America. He also wants to bring more “world-class musical performances” to the stadium.

“I decided it made sense for somebody in the area to own it and to be a steward,” Navarro said. “The timing was right when the opportunity came along. I’m excited for our junior programs, for combining them in a way that makes sense for (the Family Circle program) as well as ours at LTP. I also want to have a program for young aspiring pros who are coming up through the ranks.

“We are going to invest in terms of bringing top players in, and we are going to measure ourselves by the player and fan experience. We want to do more to engage the city and to create more of a festival atmosphere at the tournament.”

Riley, for one, said Charleston is fortunate to have Navarro as one of its increasingly prominent citizens.

“He’s very creative, always seeking excellence and is not a status quo guy,” Riley said. “What we have in Ben is a great treasure.”


(10/19/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Doty Park Tennis Court struggle continues
More than a dozen people attended Summerville’s town council meeting Thursday night to voice support for James Martin, a local tennis instructor who was banned from providing free tennis lessons at Doty Park. The group held a prayer circle before the meeting and four people addressed the council during time allotted for public comments.

Felicia Whetsell said the town should lift the ban on Martin and allow him to continue teaching tennis lessons to the young people who live in the neighborhood surrounding Doty Park.

She said recent mediation between the town and Martin was “just for show” to make it “look like they were working with us.” And the only option to come out of the mediation was for Martin to continue lessons at the Saul Alexander tennis courts on Laurel Street.

Whetsell said the courts on Laurel Street are “substandard” because there are cracks all over the court.

Louis Smith, standing near Whetsell at the podium, held up two photographs of cracks in the tennis court.

Whetsell said her son is in his senior year and she wants him to continue taking lessons with Martin at the Doty Park courts.

At one point, during her address to council members, Whetsell paused because she said Town Administrator Colin Martin laughed and councilman Bill McIntosh was snacking.

“These people on the council are laughing, like it’s a joke,” Whetsell said.

“I certainly don’t think it’s a joke and I take it very seriously and hopefully in the future things will change,” Mayor Wiley Johnson said. “We’ll see if we can’t work this out, it’s going to take some time.”

“We will keep on coming until it’s changed sir,” Whetsell said.

Johnson thanked her for her comments.

Sarah Redmond also addressed the council on the topic of Martin’s ban. She expressed concern over the distance from Doty Park to Saul Alexander on Laurel Street, about a mile away.

“They can’t be shoved off to substandard courts that are not in an area that is safe to walk to,” Redmond said.

She said it would “scare the daylights out of me” to have her own children walk across Central Avenue for lessons at Saul Alexander.

Another issue is underlying the tennis courts struggle, made clear from comments between James Martin supporters and Mayor Johnson. Many of the supporters are urging council members, including Johnson, to take action, yet Johnson said they can’t because it was Town Administrator Colin Martin who issued the no trespass warning against James Martin.

“I’m not pleased with the situation, I think it could be solved,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he urged Colin Martin to put up signs at Doty Park that clearly stated the tennis court rules, he said some signs were put up but not specific to the tennis court etiquette.

Johnson said since before he was elected the town has been restricting the powers of his mayoral office, making it difficult for him to have an impact on issues like this one.

“It is in the hands of the town administrator, director of parks and recreation and the tennis pro,” Johnson said.

Town Administrator Colin Martin said there are no plans for further action.

"As far as I know James Martin has not taken any steps to resolve the matter except to engage Mr. Louis Smith to protest the matter openly,” Colin Martin said in an email. “That step has been counterproductive to resolution. The children are welcome to play on any of the Town’s courts. We invite the children and their families to enjoy them. Our extended offers remain on the table to have Mr. Martin’s program get back in motion. His refusal signals to me that, to Mr. Martin, it is not about the children."


(10/16/18)  USTA SC: South Carolina Tennis Players, Volunteers, Coaches Honored by USTA SC
Tennis coaches, players and volunteers from across the state will be honored for their tennis achievements later this year by the United States Tennis Association of South Carolina.

In all, 24 people and organizations will receive USTA South Carolina 2018 awards at the organization’s annual meeting on Hilton Head Island in December.

The 2018 USTA South Carolina annual award recipients:
 USTA SC Annual Award
 Honoree
 Adaptive Tennis Volunteer of the Year Dave Andes, Chapin
 Adult Female Player of the Year
 Lizl Kotz, Mount Pleasant
 Adult Male Player of the Year Al Cannon, Greenville
 Adult Tournament of the Year Alan Fleming Senior Open Clay Court State Championships, Johns Island
 Coach of the Year
 Mike McCuen, Greenville
 Cam Littlejohn Community Service Award Carol Alan, Sumter
 Community Tennis Association of the Year Public Tennis, Inc., Bluffton
 Jim Russell Junior Tournament of the Year The South Carolina Closed Clay Courts, Greenville
 John Newcomb Pro of the Year
 Kevin Jackson, Camden
 Junior Team Tennis Volunteer of the Year
 Sonja Broderick, Greenville
 Junior Boy Player of the Year Coy Simon, Charleston and Huntley Allen­, Daniel Island
 Junior Girl Player of the Year Anna Ross, Charleston
 Most Improved Junior Boy Maxwell Smith, Charleston
 Kimberly Hampton Most Improved Junior Girl
 Alice Otis, Charleston
 Helen Jeter League Volunteer of the Year Bonnie Sue Duncan, Greer
 Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Boy Earle Russell, Greenville
 Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Girl
 Anna Greer, Spartanburg
 Media Excellence Award (more info)
 Mike Saia, Charleston (www.LowcountryTennis.com)
 Member Facility of the Year Family Circle Tennis Center, Daniel Island
 Pete Conklin Official of the Year David and Susie Honeycutt, Myrtle Beach
 Sponsor of the Year
 McCall Farms, Florence
 Tennis Family of the Year The Smit Family, Fort Mill
 Wilton McKinney Award
 Jared Pratt, Daniel Island

Editor's Note (self serving): 
I also received the USTA SC Media Award in 2010 for my work in helping bring the "Best Tennis Town in America" title to Charleston that year. I proudly join James Beck of the Post and Courier and Ann Green of The Greenville News as two-time winners.

In addition, I won the USTA Southern Section's 2010 Marc Kaplan Media Excellence Award, also for my promotion garnering the "Best Tennis Town in America" title for Charleston, SC.


(10/16/18)  P&C: DAVID SHELTON: SC high school playoffs heating up with golf, tennis under way; volleyball getting close
The high school sports scene picks up steam this time of year with many local teams already in the playoffs and others getting ready to start.

The SCISA girls tennis tournament opened Tuesday and the finals will be Saturday in Sumter. Ashley Hall earned an automatic bye to the semifinals.


(10/16/18)  DERREK ASBERRY: 2018 Volvo Car Open finalists Kiki Bertens, Julia Goerges returning to Charleston
Just six months ago, Kiki Bertens hoisted the 2018 Volvo Car Open trophy high above her head and accepted the keys to her new SUV.

Meanwhile, runner-up Julia Goerges gracefully congratulated the champion on her win in the WTA Tour event held in Charleston.

Both top 10 players committed Tuesday to return for the 2019 tournament to be played March 30-April 7.

It was a big year for Bertens, who currently is the No. 10 ranked Women’s Tennis Association player in the world.

In addition to her win in Charleston, the 26-year-old had WTA title wins in Cincinnati and Seoul, South Korea. She has defeated 10 players ranked in the top 10 this year.

“After my win in Charleston, my tennis results really picked up,” Bertens said. “I’m looking forward to defending my title next April and playing in front of a great group of fans again.”

Goerges will be looking to capture her first Volvo title. A native of Germany, Goerges is ranked No. 9 in the world after winning a WTA tournament in New Zealand and playing deep into tournaments in Birmingham, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, Fla.

The highlight of Goerges’ year was reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon. There, she beat Gertens in the quarterfinals before falling to Serena Williams.

With the 2019 season just a few months away, Goerges says she is ready for what the year will bring, including another shot at Volvo.

“I was disappointed I didn’t win the title and am looking forward to another chance at the championship,” she said.

The two tennis stars are the latest to commit to the Volvo Car Open.

Last month, fan favorite Madison Keys, the No. 18 player in the world, committed to her seventh consecutive trip to Daniel Island.

And a week before she signed on, Caroline Wozniacki, who’s ranked No. 2 overall, and No. 8 Sloane Stephens, also announced their plans to attend.


(10/10/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: MONICA KREBER: Taking a stroke against cancer; local tennis player and cancer advocate shares her journey
Kelley Johnson, an avid tennis player, had wanted to get involved in a charitable tennis tournament for a long time.

She found a cause to support when two of her good friends were diagnosed with breast cancer. Johnson became part of the founding group of what is now a well-known annual Lowcountry charity event that benefits breast cancer: Racquets for Recovery.

What she did not know was the 2017 tournament would get personal when she herself faced breast cancer.

Johnson has lived in Summerville for 18 years – five of which were spent living abroad. She now lives in beautiful home in the historic district.

Johnson regularly received an annual mammogram and in July 2017 received a callback to do a follow up mammogram.

Johnson said they found something in that second mammogram that led to an ultrasound and then a biopsy that took place two months later and then it was determined Johnson had Stage 1 breast cancer. Johnson said her choices were to either get a lumpectomy and do radiation, or do a mastectomy with no radiation.

She was 52 years old at the time of her diagnosis. Johnson opted to do a double mastectomy to decrease the chances of another breast cancer emerging. It wasn’t an easy decision.

“I had friends who had had them, I’ve had friends who have just done the lumpectomy and radiation, I’ve had friends who are younger than me, older than me…sadly, I know a lot of people who’ve had breast cancer – we all do,” she said. “And so I had a lot of people to talk to.”

Johnson talked it over with those friends, her husband, Henry, and her doctors to get a second opinion, and did research on her own as well.

“I was only 52 at the time of my diagnosis and so I didn’t want to think about…doing mammograms again every year and being worried again every year and just having it always hanging over our head,” she said.

Johnson had the double mastectomy in September 2017 and then reconstruction surgery three and half weeks later, from which she had difficulties with recovery involving pain and mobility issues, so she had another reconstruction surgery in February that she said helped a lot.

Fast forward to present day and Johnson is pretty much back to normal; she is back to playing tennis, doing Pilates and walking her giant 7-year-old black lab, Otis.

There are certain areas of her life that are still affected by cancer – Johnson said her upper body strength is one of them.

“Just little adjustments, but…very happy with my decision overall,” she said. “And I was very lucky in that the type of cancer that I had, and doing the double mastectomy, I did not have to do chemo or radiation.”

Johnson is on a daily preventative breast cancer drug called Tamoxifen – she said most women go on it after going through breast cancer.

Her experience taught her how important it is for women to get their annual mammogram, however, she also pointed out how critical it was that she attended her follow up mammogram appointment; Johnson said she had been on vacation when a nurse from the doctor’s office called saying they wanted to schedule her for the second mammogram.

“I was kind of like, ‘Really…I’ve got to go do this again?’” she said, adding, “I could’ve said ‘no’ – also, my insurance did not cover for that second mammogram; I had to pay $250.”

Johnson said a lot of women might not have been able to afford that second mammogram, even if they did have insurance, and a lot of women might not have gone for it just because of the inconvenience – “and I could’ve been that woman,” she said, adding, “You don’t want to be a pessimist but you also have to be very careful, I think…and the technology is so amazing that they can find things even when they’re small.”

Johnson has two children, Charles and Grace, who are away at college in Canada. In addition to Otis the family also has a cat named Lucy.

Johnson is very active in volunteer work; she serves on the town’s bicycle and pedestrian committee and tutors with Reading Partners, a national one-on-one reading program, and she tutors at Hunley Park Elementary. She also volunteers with One80 Place, a homeless shelter in downtown Charleston.

She is also very active with Racquets for Recovery.
Racquets for Recovery

Johnson is co-chair of Racquets for Recovery, an annual tennis tournament that raises money for breast cancer awareness. All proceeds benefit the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. The tournament is in its 13th year and is held in Pine Forest – it hosted by the Pine Forest Ladies Association.

The event is a three-day USTA sanctioned Level 2 tournament. The tennis community has had so many women with breast cancer, Johnson said, and that is why they started the event all those years ago.

It is just ironic that Johnson herself is now a survivor of the disease.

“I was in between surgeries when we had Racquets for Recovery last year so I wasn’t able to be as active in the organization of it, but I went to it and I watched people play tennis,” she said, “and it was definitely more moving than it had ever been before.”

The tournament lasts a weekend. This year’s event is Nov. 2-4; last year drew 180 players and made up the biggest tournament yet – they raised more than $30,000.

Johnson said the money raised feeds directly into breast cancer patients’ needs such as wigs, mastectomy bras, taxi rides to chemotherapy treatments – items that most insurance programs typically will not cover. Registration for the tournament is open until Oct. 28. Go to https://www.usta.com/en/home.html to register.

Johnson said the tournament has garnered participants from across the state; participants get a goodie bag as well as dinner that Friday night, lunch and dinner Saturday and then lunch Sunday.

The tournament features beginner players to advanced players – and Johnson is going to be back on the court this year.

“I’m so excited to be back playing tennis – it was kind of like the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
Moving forward

Johnson advises other women to keep up with their regular mammograms, and if they do find themselves facing a similar situation: get a second opinion, talk to lots of people who have been through it before, use resources available – Johnson suggested breastcancer.org as an online resource.

It is a very scary thing, Johnson said, but in her case, she immediately had a group of women for support.

“Definitely having those women as a resource was important, but then the understanding and the support afterwards was incredible,” she said.

Johnson also said she received a lot of support from her husband.

“My husband an absolute huge, wonderful, 100-percent support through all this,” she said.


(10/10/18)  WALTERBORO PRESS AND STANDARD: CINDY CROSBY: Ware honored on Senior Night for Lady Hawk Tennis
The Lady Hawks split games last week earning a 7-2 win over Colleton County High School Thursday Oct. 4 and taking a 6-3 loss to Palmetto Christian at home. Colleton Prep was defeated 6-3 in a junior varsity match against Orangeburg Prep Wednesday Oct. 3.

Senior Meredith Ware was honored during a pre-game ceremony held prior to the win over Colleton County. Ware has played in the No. 1 slot and served as captain since her eighth-grade season. She was named All-Lowcountry Tennis and Most Valuable Player each of the past five years. She was selected All-Region in her 8-10th grade years and was named SCISA IV-AA Player of the Year for 2017.

“The girls played well against OP, but couldn’t pull out the team win,” said Coach Becky Hooker. “Rianna and Becca were strong in both their matches, and Gracie played a close, tough match as well that could have gone either way. We earned the win against CCHS on Senior Night, with everyone winning their singles matches. We were then able to let our younger players get some valuable match experience in doubles, and I was proud of all their efforts.

“We also recognized Meredith Ware in her last home match,” said Hooker. “She has been on the CPA tennis team for seven years and has been a great representative for CPA on the tennis court and a leader for the program. She will definitely be missed next year — both on and off the court.”

“We have our final match next week and look to finish out our regular season strong and begin preparing for playoffs,” said Hooker.

Colleton Prep 3, Palmetto Christian 6 – Oct. 1
Singles
Meredith Ware (CP) def Emily Shaw (PCA) 6-2, 6-1
Gabi Noce (PCA) def Rianna Bailey (CPA) 6-4, 7-6 (2)
Becca Martin (CPA) def Ellaree Eates (PCA) 6-4, 4-6, 10-7
Avery Jimenez (PCA) def Sidney Bailey (CPA) 6-4, 6-4
Morgan Kammer (PCA) def Kaylee Spears (CPA) 6-0, 6-0
Abigail Norman (PCA) def Gracie Bishop(CPA) 6-0, 6-1
Doubles
Ware/ Bailey (CPA) def Shaw/ Noce (PCA) 9-7
Eates/ Jimenez (PCA) def Martin/ S Bailey (CPA) 8-4
Kammer / Norman (PCA) def Bishop/ Spears (CPA) 8-1

Colleton Prep 3, Orangeburg Prep 6 – Oct. 3
Singles
Rianna Bailey (CPA) def Cate Williams (OP) 6-4, 6-1
Becca Martin (CPA) def JoAnna Hinds (OP) 6-2, 6-0
Natalia Judge (OP) def Sidney Bailey (CPA) 6-1, 6-1
Paige Hewitt (OP) def Kaylee Spears (CPA) 6-3, 6-1
Chrysanthe Green (OP) def Gracie Bishop (CPA) 6-4, 3-6, 10-5
Lane Inabinett (OP) def Anne Hatcher White (CPA) 6-0, 6-0
Doubles
Martin/ R Bailey (CPA) def Williams/ Hinds (OP) 8-1
Judge / Hewitt (OP) def Spears / S Bailey (CPA) 8-3
Inabinett/ Green (OP) def White / Bishop (CPA) 8-1

Colleton Prep 7, Colleton County High 2 – Oct. 4
Singles
#1 Meredith Ware (CPA) def Megan Dewitt (CCHS) 6-1, 6-1
#2 Riana Bailey (CPA) def Emma Kate Bell (CCHS) 6-1, 6-0
#3 Becca Martin (CPA) def Abigail Lee (CCHS) 6-0, 6-4
#4 Sidney Bailey (CPA) def Kendall Bell (CCHS) 6-2, 6-2
#5 Kaylee Spears (CPA) def Rush Blackshear (CCHS) 6-3, 6-4
#6 Gracie Bishop (CPA) def Lo’vea Goodwin (CCHS) 6-0, 6-0
Doubles
#1 Ware/ Martin (CPA) def Dewitt / Lee (CCHS) 8-3
#2 E. Bell / Cooper Corbett def Bishop/ Ann Hatcher White (CPA) 8-7 (2)
#3 Jasmine Williams/ Zahara Ellison (CCHS) def Makayla Odum/ Reese Carelock (CPA) 8-1


(10/06/18)  These tennis matches are battle of willpower and perseverance
I have to admit it. I love my LA Dodgers, always did even when they were in Brooklyn.

They are one of my passions. I watch most of the Dodgers’ televised games, including the ones that end at 2 a.m. in our time zone.

But in reality, a tennis player might run and hit more in one game than a baseball player runs and swings in an entire nine-inning game. And, of course, women’s pro tennis players might play as many as 30-39 games in one match.

At the lower levels of professional tennis such as the International Tennis Federation $25K U.S. Women’s Pro Circuit finishing up at LTP Tennis this weekend, there might even be a greater differential over baseball in favor of the players involved in the Mount Pleasant tournament. These young women are fighting for their tennis lives, and in so doing almost every match turns out to be a battle of willpower and perseverance.

In short, this is women’s tennis at its best, even if the competition might at times involve a couple of players no one has ever heard of. Of course that wasn’t the case on Saturday in what might be called the “Match of All-Time” for local women’s tennis, and that’s not an exaggeration.

Long-time local tennis followers will cherish the moment in Charleston tennis history. Saturday’s LTP semifinal between hometown star junior Emma Navarro and former local junior Ellie Halbauer brought back memories of other special events in local tennis.

Navarro, the current queen of local tennis, was facing Halbauer, the player expected to follow in Shelby Rogers’ footsteps into big-time tennis. She still might. And anyone who watched Halbauer play on Saturday probably would agree. Halbauer played that well in her 7-6 (2), 6-2 win over Navarro.

“I was nervous,” Halbauer said. “Mentally, I felt a little more pressure since we both grew up in the same place and I was the older player.

“This was like me playing Shelby (Rogers) . . . the pressure would be on Shelby.”

There was the time back in the 1980s when Andre Agassi showed up at Creekside Tennis and Swim for a $10K satellite event as an unknown kid. What a treasure that became for those few fans in attendance.

Who would have ever thought that this young kid with the long hair named Agassi would become an all-time great of the game?

Who knows what the future might hold for these women who played at LTP this past week. A Serena-like player might even be in the making, or an Jelena Ostapenko.

LYMAN, NASH COMMIT

Oceanside Collegiate Academy standout Kat Lyman is headed for Annapolis. The 17-year-old senior has verbally committed to play tennis for the Naval Academy.

Lyman is in Charlotte this weekend to compete in a Junior ITF tournament as she prepares for her next step in tennis, college. Lyman is one of the top juniors in the South. Two years ago, she won the girls 16 singles crown in the Southern Closed Championships.

Meanwhile, Chad Nash has verbally committed to play for Furman. Nash trains at the Randy Pate Tennis Academy full-time. Nash said he likely will not play high school tennis next spring. He has played tennis the last three years for Hanahan, starring on two Class AAA state championship teams as well as being a co-champion of the High School League’s Class AA-AAA state singles tournament last spring.

Nash won a summer collegiate circuit ITF event at Furman this summer, and that week played an important role in his selection of the Paladins.

Both Lyman and Nash have confirmed that they will sign their letter-of-intents with Navy and Furman, respectively, during the early NCAA signing period.

CARTER WORLD SEMIS

Brenda Carter made a big run in the ITF Super Seniors World Individual Championships held recently in Umag, Croatia. She advanced to the quarterfinals in women’s 70 singles before losing to former pro tour player/top seed Ellie Krocke of the Netherlands, 7-5, 7-5.

Carter then teamed up with Krocke to also advance to the doubles semifinals.

COTUNA SPARKLES

Abby Cotuna is another up and coming young star of local tennis. She plays high school tennis for Berkeley and resides in that area, but makes the trip to LTP Tennis to participate as a full-time member of Randy Pate’s academy.

“Abby is having an outstanding sophomore season,” said Berkeley coach Joe Harnage about his star player, who was a member of the All-Lowcountry team last fall.

“She is currently 15-0 including four wins at a preseason tournament in Florence. We are anxious to see her repeating her successes in the upcoming state singles tournament.”

Pate has been impressed by Cotuna’s work ethics and expects her to make a move up through the ranks of junior senior.

HIGH SCHOOL PLAYOFFS

The SCISA state girls playoffs are just a week away. With Emma Navarro joining Rebecca Spratt at the top of the Ashley Hall lineup, the Panthers will be heavy favorites to replace Porter-Gaud as the Class AAA state titlist.

The SCISA playoffs will run Oct. 15-20.

The High School League playoffs also are coming up, with Nov. 10 set for the state championships.

The SCHSL singles tournament is scheduled for Nov. 12-13.


(09/28/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: October 2018 Newsletter
Racquets for Recovery
14th Annual - November 2-4, 2018

"Taking a Hard Swing at Breast Cancer"
 
MEN'S, WOMEN'S & MIXED DOUBLES TOURNAMENT
Help us break our overall donation of $300,000
 
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 2 - Sanctioned Men's, Women's and Mixed Doubles
(no singles, but new 50+ division). 
$65 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 10/28 - Tournament ID #700090118
 
 
Friday Night Cookout
Players & Guests - November 2th 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 Night Celebration
Catering by Bob's Viddles
Enjoy Music, Camaraderie and the Silent Auction
Free to tournament participants. $15.00 minimum donation for guests and general public.
RSVP to racquetsforrecovery@gmail.com before 10/30
 
Can you help? Consider a sponsorship opportunity, donate goods or services, volunteer or simply donate to the cause by honoring or remembering a loved one. We need help with registration, decorating, auction monitors, set-up and clean-up, and court sweeping.
 
Contact - Shirley Hunter at racquetsforrecovery@gmail.com or (843) 200-3815 for more information.
For auction donations, please contact Jean Craig at jean.craig@mobilexusa.com or (843)-513-5661.
Visit our Facebook page - facebook.com/racquetsforrecovery
 
Donation to: MUSC Foundation Hollings Cancer Center and mail to: Racquets for Recovery - 500 Hawthorne Ave., Summerville, SC 29483.

Pine Forest and neighboring communities will be invaded by Pink Flamingos!
To celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to support the MUSC Hollings Breast Cancer Center "Racquets for Recovery" watch for a friendly flock of flamingos to bring endless delight to you and your neighbors.
Of course, all donations are entirely voluntary. NO donations will be required in order to have your flamingos removed. If you are flocked, complete instructions will be included in this perfectly harmless pink and passionate fundraiser for "local" recovering breast cancer patients.

Barry Quinn, Tennis Director


(09/26/18)  DERREK ASBERRY: Madison Keys will return to Charleston to compete in 2019 Volvo Car Open
Fan favorite Madison Keys will play in the 2019 Volvo Car Open, joining Grand Slam champions Sloane Stephens and Caroline Wozniacki in the high-profile all-women’s tennis tournament on Daniel Island.

“I love playing the Volvo Car Open,” Keys said in a statement on Wednesday. “The fans are truly amazing and I have great memories from the tournament.”

Ranked No. 18 in the world, Keys is coming off one of the most successful runs in her career. She reached the semifinals in the U.S. Open and French Open, and the quarterfinals in the Australian Open.

This will be the seventh consecutive year that Keys, 23,  competes on the green clay on Daniel Island. Though she’s never won the tournament, Keys was a finalist in 2015 and a quarterfinalist in 2013.

“Her spirit on-and-off the court is contagious, and our fans have had the chance to watch her talents grow these last few years,” Volvo Car Open tournament manager Eleanor Adams said. “We’re thrilled to welcome this tennis standout back.”

Keys is equally excited about coming back to Charleston because of her success at the event so early in her career.

“I reached one of my first finals there. “I always look forward to coming back,” she said.

The Volvo Car Open will be March 30 through April 7. It averages 90,000 attendees each year, making it the largest North American tournament in women’s tennis.

Wozniacki and Stephens, ranked Nos. 2 and 9, respectively, announced last week that they would also be returning to Charleston.

Both are also riding impressive waves, with Wozniacki winning the Australian Open in January and Stephens winning the U.S. Open last September.


(09/26/18)  THE DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: New owner announced for Daniel Island-based Charleston Tennis LLC
Ben Navarro, the CEO of Charleston-based Sherman Financial Group and the founder of education non-profit Meeting Street Schools, has acquired the sanction of the WTA Volvo Car Open along with the operations of the Family Circle Tennis Center and Volvo Car Stadium.

With this change, Charleston Tennis LLC will now become a locally-owned and operated organization. The entity was previously owned by Moorad Sports Partners and Meredith Corporation.

“I look forward to building on the current tournament tradition that is already 47 years in the making with the Volvo Car Open,” said Navarro. “Bob Moran and his team have created a tennis legacy in Charleston with the event and its facilities. Our goal is to continue to grow the tournament’s impact, promote junior tennis in Charleston, and make the sport more accessible for all. Personally, Charleston Tennis LLC’s mission of giving back and making a positive influence on our community align with my family’s values and beliefs.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Ben over the last year through his commitment to growing tennis here in Charleston. His club LTP Tennis has hosted numerous ITF and junior tournaments culminating with the US Girls Clay Court National Championship, held this past July,” said Bob Moran, president of Charleston Tennis LLC. “I’m blown away with not only Ben’s commitment to tennis, but his love for this community. His work with Meeting Street Schools is truly inspiring. Our team is excited to get started building towards the 2019 Volvo Car Open and working with Ben and his team to create an even bigger and better experience for our players, fans and partners. With this commitment and investment to build world-class experiences by our new owner, and the support of our title sponsor, Volvo Car USA, we will continue to remain a vibrant part of the Charleston community for years to come.”

The VCO is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America. The international event attracts players and fans from across the globe and reaches more than 20 million fans worldwide via The Tennis Channel and international broadcast partners. The Family Circle Tennis Center is a public tennis facility with 20 championship courts and a 10,200-seat stadium. The center is a year-round facility with daily adult and junior tennis programing, including an on-site, full-time tennis academy. In addition, the stadium hosts an annual concert series and a broad range of programs and events.

The VCO contributes a direct impact of $30 million into the local economy each year through visitors, hotels, restaurants, travel and tourism. Indirectly, the tournament generates billions of impressions through its international broadcast, press coverage and ad campaign, all collectively promoting the Lowcountry domestically and abroad.

Steve Simon, WTA CEO and Chairman stated, “Rooted in the WTA’s rich history as one of the very first tournaments in 1973, it is a pleasure to see both the tradition and growth of this event continue. We are delighted to welcome Ben’s ownership to the Volvo Car Open and look forward to the positive impact this will have on the continued success of one of the premier women’s tennis events in the world.”

Navarro is also the owner of LTP Tennis Club in Mount Pleasant, S.C. He and his wife are avid tennis fans and their four children play the sport.

“The opportunity to partner with someone so passionate about tennis and our community is a perfect fit,” added Moran.

The 2019 Volvo Car Open will take place March 30 – April 7. The tournament will continue to be operated by Charleston Tennis, LLC. Daily procedures and current staff will not be affected by the acquisition.


(09/26/18)  CHARLESTON REGIONAL BUSINESS JOURNAL: Navarro acquires Volvo Car Open, tennis center operations
Ben Navarro, CEO of the Charleston-based Sherman Financial Group and founder of the nonprofit Meeting Street Schools, has acquired Charleston Tennis LLC, the operator of the Family Circle Tennis Center and Volvo Car Stadium.

Volvo Car Stadium, on Daniel Island, is host of the Volvo Car Open, the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America.

Volvo Car Stadium is host of the Volvo Car open, the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America. (Photo/File)
Volvo Car Stadium is host of the Volvo Car open, the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America. (Photo/File)
Charleston Tennis was previously owned by media company Meredith Corp. and Moorad Sports Partners. Navarro also owns LTP Tennis Club in Mount Pleasant.

Volvo Cars will retain the naming rights to the stadium and the tournament, according to a spokeswoman for Charleston Tennis. The sponsorship and naming rights were one of the incentives offered by South Carolina to recruit Volvo to the state.

“I’m blown away with not only Ben’s commitment to tennis, but his love for this community,” Bob Moran, president of Charleston Tennis LLC, said in a news release. “His work with Meeting Street Schools is truly inspiring. Our team is excited to get started building towards the 2019 Volvo Car Open and working with Ben and his team to create an even bigger and better experience for our players, fans and partners.”

The Family Circle Tennis Center remains under the ownership of the city of Charleston. Navarro acquired the operations of the facility and the sanction of the Women's Tennis Association for the tournament. Daily procedures and current staff will not be affected by the acquisition, according to the news release.

“I look forward to building on the current tournament tradition that is already 47 years in the making with the Volvo Car Open,” Navarro said. “Bob Moran and his team have created a tennis legacy in Charleston with the event and its facilities. Our goal is to continue to grow the tournament’s impact, promote junior tennis in Charleston and make the sport more accessible for all.”

Earlier this year, Navarro put in a bid to purchase the Carolina Panthers NFL franchise. He was considered one of two front-runners but lost out to David Tepper, who was a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.


(09/25/18)  WALTERBORO PRESS AND STANDARD: CINDY CROSBY: Lady Hawk Tennis shuts out Eagles
The Colleton Prep tennis team split matches last week shutting out Lowcountry Prep (9-0) and suffering the first loss of the season against Palmetto Christian (8-1). The Lady Hawks are now 6-1 on the season.

“Several of the courts against Palmetto Christian were close, especially Becca and Sidney in singles and our No. 1 doubles,” said Coach Becky Hooker. “Meredith brought home our only individual win in this match. I was really proud of her, as there were some off-court distractions going on with her match. She was able to let it go and play really well, which is not always easy to do.

“Lack of practice from the hurricane days may have hurt us a little, but I am sure the other team had the same issue, so we can’t really say it affected the outcome of the matches that much,” said Hooker. “We play them again later in the season and I look forward to the rematch. I think our girls will be ready. Against Lowcountry Prep, all our girls were pretty much in control the entire match. I am proud of all their effort both in matches and practice.”

Colleton Prep was scheduled to host Orangeburg Prep Monday Sept. 24 and travel to John Paul Tuesday Sept. 25 and to Beaufort Academy Thursday Sept. 27.

Colleton Prep 1 vs. Palmetto Christian Academy 8, Sept. 17
Singles
Meredith Ware (CP) def Emily Shaw (PCA) 6-2, 6-0
Gabi Noce (PCA) def Rianna Bailey (CPA) 7-6(3), 6-2
Ellaree Eates (PCA) def Becca Martin (CPA) 6-3, 4-6, 10-8
Avery Jimenez (PCA) def Sidney Bailey (CPA) 1-6, 6-4, 10-7
Morgan Kammer (PCA) def Kaylee Spears (CPA) 6-1, 6-0
Abigail Norman (PCA) def Gracie Bishop(CPA) 6-0, 6-1
Doubles
Shaw/ Noce (PCA) def Ware/ Bailey (CPA) 8-6
Eates/ Jimenez (PCA) def Martin/ S Bailey (CPA) 8-4
Kammer / Norman (PCA) def Bishop/ Spears (CPA) 8-2

Colleton Prep 9 vs. Lowcountry Prep 0, Sept. 19
Singles
Meredith Ware (CPA) def Kaitlin Bellune (LP) 5-0, retired
Rianna Bailey (CPA) def Riley Moore (LP) 6-3, 6-2
Becca Martin (CPA) def Reynolds Tiller (LP) 6-1, 6-1
Sidney Bailey (CPA) def Trinity Tinson (LP) 6-3, 6-0
Kaylee Spears (CPA) def Izzy Thurlow (LP) 6-1, 6-0
Gracie Bishop (CPA) def Sofia Elliott (LP) 6-0, 6-0
Doubles
Ware / Martin (CPA) def Bellune / Tiller (LP) 8-2
R Bailey/ S Bailey (CPA) def Moore / Tinson (LP) default
Spears / Bishop (CPA) def Thurlow / Elliott (LP) 8-0


(09/22/18)  Volvo Car Open may not change much in short term under new owner Ben Navarro
What impact will the changing of the guard at Family Circle Tennis Center and the Volvo Car Open to an all-local management have on Charleston tennis?

When the deal closed last Wednesday on Ben Navarro’s acquisition of the Volvo Car Open and all operations at Family Circle Tennis Center, Navarro said, “This is going to be great for junior tennis and tennis in Charleston.”

That’s almost a given, considering the impact Navarro’s LTP Tennis complex in Mount Pleasant already has had on local tennis at all levels, especially national class juniors as well as juniors who dream about achieving such a high level of competitiveness. LTP Tennis has become a jewel for national junior tournaments and women’s pro circuit events.

Of course, you probably won’t notice many changes in the short term at the Volvo Car Open. The long line of Volvos on display will still be shiny and lucrative. And on the court, what could go wrong with a tournament that has Grand Slam champions such as Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens in its lineup, along with at least one local player in the main draw, junior star Emma Navarro. Maybe two, if Shelby Rogers bounces back successfully from her knee injury.

I’m already excited, along with probably most of the local tennis community.

But in a merger of this magnitude, there could be many questions to be answered.

What will be the impact of LTP Tennis’ Randy Pate Academy and FCTC’s MWTennis Academy working under the same umbrella?

Will the area land even more tournaments such as LTP Tennis’ $80K U.S. Women’s Pro Circuit event? Maybe even a men’s pro circuit event? Or maybe a junior Volvo Car Open? The old Junior Family Circle Cup is missed.

What about another Davis Cup or Fed Cup tie?

The area now has two great facilities under one management. That can be nothing but good news for local tennis fans.

And don’t forget to toss in the proposed new 32-court clay court facility out on Hwy. 17 North. Just think what six indoor clay courts could do for the tournaments at LTP Tennis on a rainy day or even the Volvo Car Open qualifying tournament on a rainy weekend.

Of course, Randy Pate is all for the Mount Pleasant Racquet Club and its proposed six indoor courts. Rainy days can play havoc with an intense session of academy training.

DELORES JACKSON DAY

Charleston’s intra-city Courting Kids program has thrived for 27 years under the direction of founder/director Delores Jackson.

Jackson has officially retired from that position, and Saturday a large group of alumni from the program and local dignitaries, including former City of Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley and current Mayor John Tecklenburg, were on hand for an emotional celebration for Jackson at the downtown Jack Adams Tennis Center.

Mayor Tecklenburg proclaimed Saturday as “Delores Jackson Day in Charleston.” A banner also was unfurled renaming the nationally recognized kids program as the Delores Jackson Courting Kids Program.

CPTL IN SPOTLIGHT

The Charleston Pro Tennis League was in the spotlight on Friday night at Family Circle Tennis Center, playing before a large crowd of local league tennis fans and participants.

Phil Whitesell’s CPTL group put on a lively show for the Lowcountry Tennis Association’s annual party, especially on the Althea Gibson Club Court. There was plenty of barbecue and roasted chicken to keep the merry crowd just that way.

Former Clemson player Sam Edwards won the Club Court battle in a 24-point tiebreaker that kept the LCTA crowd entertained. Edwards’ LCTA team lost the match to Whitesell’s HSI team.

The next CPTL session will be held at the I’On Club on Friday, Oct. 5.

LOCAL JUNIORS SHINE

South Carolina’s juniors don’t have to take a back seat to Georgia any longer at the Southern Cup, thanks largely to the Charleston area and the Randy Pate Academy, which combined to fill eight of the 18 spots on the S.C. team

The S.C. team won the competition for the first time in 25 years last weekend in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Huntley Allen, Coy Simon, Anna Ross, Lara Schneider, Allie Gretkowski and Meggie Navarro represented LTP, while MWTennis’ Max Smith and Wild Dunes’ Alice Otis also played on the team that included three boys and three girls from each of the 14s, 16s and 18s age groups.

BE INVITATIONAL

Bishop England and Oceanside Collegiate appear to be the teams to beat in local girls high school tennis this fall. Coach Phil Whitesell’s OCA team demonstrated its power on Saturday morning in the BE Invitational with a 6-0 romp past a strong and deep Wando team that had lost only to Bishop England.

“They have a great team,” second-year Wando coach Megan Hinton said about OCA, which advanced to Sunday morning’s tournament final.

It’s nice that Bishop England and Oceanside are in different classes, with BE in Class AAA going for an eighth consecutive state championship and Class AA OCA hoping to win a state title in its first year of eligibility for the playoffs.

LOCAL NOTES

-- Brenda Carter captained the USTA’s women’s 70 Althea Gibson Cup team to a second-place finish in the Super Seniors world team championships this past week in Umag, Croatia.

-- There are still a few months before 2019 kicks in, but Emma Navarro already is planning a January trip to Australia to play in the Junior Australian Open.

-- Hopefully, Shelby Rogers will be ready to compete on the WTA Tour by the start of 2019. The latest word on Shelby is that the knee that underwent surgery earlier this year is looking healthy again. That was the word from Steven Goldstein at the U.S. Open. Goldstein worked the Tennis Channel broadcast of this summer’s National Girls 18 Clay Courts from LTP Tennis with Rogers.

-- Former Rogers coach Bryan Minton has left the staff at MWTennis Academy. Minton has been one of the area’s leading pros for more than a decade.

-- Huntley Allen and his dad, Randy Pate, flew into Los Angeles this weekend to start official visits for Huntley to Pepperdine and Southern Methodist.


(09/21/18)  Charleston's Emma Navarro wins junior tennis event in Montreal
If playing in the final of a big international junior tennis tournament isn’t pressure enough, what about facing your friend and longtime doubles partner in that situation.

Emma Navarro handled that scenario superbly on Friday in Montreal in a Junior ITF Grade 2 under-18 world ranking tournament while scoring a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga.

“Emma played great the entire tournament,” said Peter Ayers, Navarro’s coach.

Navarro, whose father Ben Navarro purchased the Volvo Car Open WTA event on Daniel Island earlier this week, is currently ranked 105th in the world in the ITF junior rankings, and should move up approximately 50 places as a result of her singles title and doubles runner-up finish with Beck in Montreal.

“Playing against my doubles partner and one of my closest friends is never easy,” Navarro said. “Obviously I wanted to win, but that wasn’t as important as how I wanted to play.

“We both fought really hard and it was a great match, so congrats to Chloe on a great tournament and I’m super excited to have played so well,” the 17-year-old Ashley Hall junior added.

Two of Navarro’s last three singles losses came against current or former world No. 1 juniors, the last one in the Junior U.S. Open against eventual champ and current world’s No. 1 junior Xiyu Wang of China.

Ayers was caught in the middle on Friday since he also  coaches Beck when both players are competing in a tournament at a distant site.

“When we’re on the road together, we think of ourselves as a team,” Ayers said by phone. “We came up with a plan for how to handle the day which basically amounted to sticking with the same routines from every other day.

“My message to the girls was if you truly care about each other, the best thing you can do for each other is compete with everything you’ve got. In the end we’re just trying to get a little better every day.”


(09/20/18)  MOULTRIE NEWS: FRANKIE MANSFIELD: Charleston Tennis LLC acquired: Transitions to locally owned and operated
Ben Navarro, the CEO of Charleston-based Sherman Financial Group and the founder of education non-profit Meeting Street Schools, has acquired the sanction of the WTA Volvo Car Open along with the operations of the Family Circle Tennis Center and Volvo Car Stadium. With this change, Charleston Tennis LLC will now become a locally-owned and operated organization.

“I look forward to building on the current tournament tradition that is already 47 years in the making with the Volvo Car Open,” said Navarro. “Bob Moran and his team have created a tennis legacy in Charleston with the event and its facilities. Our goal is to continue to grow the tournament’s impact, promote junior tennis in Charleston, and make the sport more accessible for all. Personally, Charleston Tennis LLC’s mission of giving back and making a positive influence on our community align with my family’s values and beliefs.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Ben over the last year through his commitment to growing tennis here in Charleston. His club LTP Tennis has hosted numerous ITF and junior tournaments culminating with the US Girls Clay Court National Championship, held this past July,” said Bob Moran, President of Charleston Tennis LLC. “I’m blown away with not only Ben’s commitment to tennis, but his love for this community. His work with Meeting Street Schools is truly inspiring. Our team is excited to get started building towards the 2019 Volvo Car Open and working with Ben and his team to create an even bigger and better experience for our players, fans and partners. With this commitment and investment to build world-class experiences by our new owner, and the support of our title sponsor, Volvo Car USA, we will continue to remain a vibrant part of the Charleston community for years to come.”

The Volvo Car Open is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America. The international event attracts players and fans from across the globe and reaches more than 20 million fans worldwide via The Tennis Channel and international broadcast partners. The Family Circle Tennis Center is a public tennis facility with 20 championship courts and a 10,200-seat stadium. The center is a year-round facility with daily adult and junior tennis programing, including an on-site, full-time tennis academy. In addition, the stadium hosts an annual concert series and a broad range of programs and events.

The Volvo Car Open contributes a direct impact of 30 million dollars into the local economy each year through visitors, hotels, restaurants, travel and tourism. Indirectly, the tournament generates billions of impressions through its international broadcast, press coverage and ad campaign, all collectively promoting the Lowcountry domestically and abroad. The tournament is responsible for housing all players, officials, out-of-town staff and domestic and international TV production crews. More than 2,500 room nights the week of the Volvo Car Open are booked for staffing alone. This does not account for the tournament’s average of 90,000 attendees, in which 50 percent are from out of town and who will shop, dine and take in attractions while attending the event.

Steve Simon, WTA CEO and Chairman stated, “Rooted in the WTA’s rich history as one of the very first tournaments in 1973, it is a pleasure to see both the tradition and growth of this event continue. We are delighted to welcome Ben’s ownership to the Volvo Car Open and look forward to the positive impact this will have on the continued success of one of the premier women’s tennis events in the world.”

In conjunction with Tennis Channel and WTA Media, the Volvo Car Open is showcased from the first ball struck in main draw competition to the last ball played in finals, throughout the U.S. and 174 international partners. The tournament receives more than 100 hours of tennis; live from Charleston, broadcast across the globe to millions of fans.

Navarro is also the owner of LTP Tennis Club in Mount Pleasant, S.C. He and his wife are avid tennis fans and their four children play the sport.

“The opportunity to partner with someone so passionate about tennis and our community is a perfect fit,” said Moran.

The 2019 Volvo Car Open will take place March 30 – April 7. The tournament will continue to be operated by Charleston Tennis, LLC. Daily procedures and current staff will not be affected by the acquisition.


(09/20/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: JENNA-LEY HARRISON: U.S. Open proposal for local high school sweethearts gains national attention
When Dommonique Salley felt a surprise tap on her shoulder earlier this month, she never expected to turn around and see her boyfriend, whom she thought was overseas, standing before her with a grin.

Since last fall Antwaun Snipe, a senior airman, has been stationed in Korea, serving with the United States Air Force; and he wasn’t due back home until November, according to Salley.

Over Labor Day weekend, the 25-year-old Goose Creek native, who works as an emergency room administrator at Trident Medical Center, had been visiting the Big Apple, attending the annual U.S. Open tennis tournament.

Salley said the American Red Cross and U.S. Tennis Association had invited her to represent Snipe for a special veterans-related video. The short clip, which featured Snipe and also honored past and present service members, was scheduled to air in the stadium during a friendly match among veterans the morning of Sept. 3; and Salley, too, would get the chance to participate.

“(Antwaun) called me and told me…he had the opportunity and privilege to make a video to show before the game congratulating the vets for his service; and that I would go in his stay to watch the video,” Salley said.

But as she watched Snipe speak on the big screen—her prince charming made his way onto the court. Dressed in military blues, he clandestinely carried with him his heart on his sleeve and a diamond ring, ready to seal the deal.

“I was just ready to get it over with—ready for it to happen,” he said. “I wasn’t too nervous. I was just like, ‘It’s game time.’”

Still in shock over the memory, Salley relayed the details of the most romantic moment of her life.

“As I’m watching the video, something else happened,” Salley said.

Snipe’s tap on her shoulder turned her around and nearly rendered her speechless.

“The very words that came out of my mouth were, ‘How did you get here?’ That was the first thing I was trying to figure out,” she said.

Salley covered her mouth in disbelief, and happy tears flowed from her eyes.

“All I could do was just cry because I was in shock,” she said.

While the romantic moment took Salley’s breath away, she still memorized Snipe’s special speech—his pledge to a lifelong commitment to her the most important line in her mind.

“I remember him saying how he wants to spend forever with me,” she said.

According to Snipe, he kept the public proposal a secret from the couple’s friends and family since the opportunity first presented itself in August. He said his former station manager reached out to him about the USTA and Red Cross search for a U.S. airman, in Korea or Japan, interested in asking his girlfriend to marry him. Not long after applying, Snipe said he received word he’d been chosen.

He and Salley have been dating since they were teens at Goose Creek High School—he a junior and Salley a senior. While they shared a couple classes, it was their strong personal faith walks that kept them close over the years and spurred them to talk marriage, especially during the months after Snipe shipped overseas.

“Our spirituality is what’s brought us together, and what’s kept us together,” Salley said.

But the knee-drop and diamond were just the start to the magical day, which was later shared on the Today Show during the Kathie Lee and Hoda segment. The couple was also treated to breakfast and an unforgettable view of Serena Williams’ swing, as the tennis star moved across the court yards away from them.

Salley and Snipe closed out their unique holiday weekend with a New York City tour and returned home to the Lowcountry earlier this week.

While they were forced Thursday to again part ways—Snipe headed back to the other side of the world—they said they’re looking forward to saying their vows at a local ceremony on June 29.


(09/20/18)  PAUL BOWERS: Charleston teacher (Burke H.S. tennis coach) used grades to pressure student into sex, lawsuit claims
A math teacher at Burke High School coerced one of her students into performing sexual acts by threatening to dock his grade, according to a lawsuit filed in Charleston County circuit court Thursday.

The teacher, Jennifer Danielle Olajire-Aro, 27, of Devlin Road on Johns Island, was arrested in December 2017 and charged with one count of sexual battery with a student 16 or 17 years of age, according to court records. She taught pre-calculus and algebra and worked as a tennis coach at Burke and had no prior criminal record. The criminal court case is still pending.

The student was 17 at the time of the arrest, according to paperwork Olajire-Aro filed with the State Board of Education to surrender her educator certificate in January.

In the civil lawsuit filed Thursday, the student and his parent — identified only as John and Mary Doe — accuse the Charleston County School District of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They are seeking a jury trial and a judgment for actual and compensatory damages, including medical and health care expenses.

A school district spokesman said the district did not have a response and had not yet been served with regards to the lawsuit. The district is currently facing a firestorm of criticism for its handling of an unrelated case involving a former employee at Dunston Primary in North Charleston who allegedly accessed child pornography on a school-issued laptop computer.

“Defendant CCSD, who has a history of employees engaging in romantic relationships with students, committing sexual acts on students, storing and viewing pornography on CCSD issued computers, and the like, failed to properly inform or train Aro on the policies and failed to properly supervise Aro to ensure she was not in violation of said policies,” the lawsuit states.

In August 2017, while the student was enrolled in Aro’s math class, she began flirting with him and having conversations about sex with him before, during and after class, according to the lawsuit. The complaint goes on to say that she “encouraged and coerced” John Doe to engage in sexual intercourse with her at the school, in her personal vehicle, at her home and, on at least one occasion, in the presence of her 10-month-old baby. She also sent him inappropriate messages via phone and a social media text application, according to the complaint.

“Each time Plaintiff John Doe would dismiss Aro’s advances and requests to perform sexual intercourse with her, Aro would remind Plaintiff John Doe that she alone controlled what grade he would receive in her class,” the lawsuit states. The student said he began skipping math class to avoid his peers after the teacher made “public, direct and obvious advances.”

In December 2017, after the student resisted her sexual advances, Aro “acted on her threat and changed Plaintiff John Doe’s math grade from a 98 to an 89,” according to the lawsuit. The student told his mother about the alleged multiple instances of sexual intercourse after his final grade had been entered for the fall 2017 semester. Aro was arrested on Dec. 19, three days before school let out for the winter holiday.

“Where the safety, protection, and well-being of our students is paramount, acts such as these and others by employees under the direct supervision of the CCSD are outrageous, and must be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable. If the district won’t fix the problem, the courts will,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney, Mark A. Peper.


(09/20/18)  USTA SOUTHERN: 40 & Over League Survey; Southern HOF Names Smith, Ditty, Hatfield
SURVEY: We Need Your Input on 40 & Over League Format
The Southern Adult League Committee is asking for input to make an informed decision on the Adult 40 & Over league championship format, currently 2 singles, 3 doubles.

2019 Southern Class: Hall of Fame Inductees
Gordon A. Smith, Julie Ditty and Mary Hatfield


Julie Ditty
Here is a little known but telling fact about Julie Ditty: She played high school tennis – in the second grade!
From then on, her accomplishments grew with her. The Kentucky resident would go on to success at the high school, college and professional levels, finishing with a top WTA ranking of No. 89 in singles and No. 65 in doubles and earning the honor of representing her country on the U.S. Fed Cup team.

Former No. 4 player Mary Joe Fernández, who coached Ditty as Fed Cup captain, was among the advocates supporting her nomination to the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame.

Before she was a high-school star at Ashland’s Russell High School, Ditty was ranked No. 1 in the country in girls’ 14s singles. She also was No. 1 in girls’ 16s doubles and 21-and-under in women’s amateur singles. She won 12 national juniors doubles championships plus another in singles.

In high school, the three-time state champion was named Kentucky High School Female Athlete of the Year.

Ditty starred for four years with the Vanderbilt women’s tennis team, leading the squad to the school’s first-ever national championship appearance in 2001. Her 114 singles wins is second-best in Vanderbilt history. Awarded with the 1999 Tennessee Amateur Athlete of the Year and the Vanderbilt University Female Athlete of the Year, she had 31 wins in 1999, the best single-season mark for a Commodore. An All-American in 1999-2001, she was named to the Academic All-SEC team and earned a bachelor of science degree in early childhood education. In 2009, Ditty was honored with entry into the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame.

Geoff MacDonald, who coached her at Vanderbilt, wrote a first-person report when Ditty competed in a doubles match versus Serena and Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2010. “She was the first great junior player that I recruited to Vanderbilt,” MacDonald recalled. “With Julie, I also felt a pride in her for raising the level of her game in her senior year and leading a young team to the national championships.”

Starting in 1999, Ditty began a pro career that would land her a record 39 singles and doubles crowns on the USTA Pro Circuit, more than any other player. In 2005 and 2006, she racked up 12 doubles titles, then had her most successful tournament at the 2008 $75,000 Albuquerque event, where she won both singles and doubles.

She won four singles titles in USTA Southern: Raleigh, Hilton Head Island and Georgia’s Sea Island and Lawrenceville, where she was runner-up twice.

Also, in 2008, she competed in the main draws of Wimbledon and the Australian and French Opens.

One of Ditty’s top accomplishments was being named to the 2009 U.S. Fed Cup team. She teamed with Liezel Huber, winning the clinching doubles match 6-2, 6-3 to defeat Argentina and send the U.S. into the semifinals.
Ditty has remained in the world of tennis after her retirement from active play. Her positions have included Middle Tennessee State University women’s assistant coach, Vanderbilt University women’s tennis volunteer coach, tennis pro at the Louisville Tennis Club and Director of Tennis at the Bellefonte Country Club in Ashland.

Currently, she is the Director of Tennis at Idle Hour Country Club in Lexington. She serves as a USTA Kentucky Board member and Athlete Advisory Council Rep to the United States Olympic Committee. Additionally, she volunteers as the USTA Vice Chair of the USTA Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Olympic Team Events Committee. She was inducted into the USTA Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame in 2008.

“Her extensive career as a player, teacher, volunteer and role model makes her an obvious candidate for this honor. As a player, Julie has a long list of accomplishments throughout the state, region and nation,” noted USTA Kentucky Executive Director Jason Miller. “In addition, Julie is a dedicated teacher, coach and volunteer. She provides countless hours of instruction, support and leadership to USTA Kentucky and the Louisville tennis community year-round.”

There is no doubt that Ditty is among the best players to ever come out of the Bluegrass State.

Julie Ditty, Kentucky, 2019
    World ranking of No. 89 in singles and No. 65 in
    Won deciding doubles match in U.S. Fed Cup quarterfinals in 2009
    Holds record with 39 singles and doubles crowns on the USTA Pro Circuit
    Inducted into the USTA Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame in 2008 and into the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009
    Her 114 singles wins is second-best in Vanderbilt history
    Named All-American while at Vanderbilt in 1999-2001
    Awarded with the 1999 Tennessee Amateur Athlete of the Year and the Vanderbilt University Female Athlete of the Year


Gordon Smith
Leading the USTA as Volunteer and Executive

The pinnacle of Gordon Smith’s leadership at the top of the USTA national staff may be the complete transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, including two roofed stadiums. As USTA Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, Smith also oversaw the construction of 100 courts and the nation’s largest and most advanced tennis facility at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. However, the many building blocks that led him on an outstanding career in tennis were in place decades earlier.

A native of Brevard, N.C., Smith grew up in Rome, Ga., honing his game by playing on some courts that didn’t have fences. By the time he attended Darlington School, he was on the path to be state high school champion and the top ranked junior in the State in singles and doubles.

His next step to tennis glory led to the University of Georgia, where he played under legendary coach and 1981 Southern Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Dan Magill. During Smith’s four years at UGA, from 1972-75, the Bulldogs were four-time SEC champions. He served as captain and was a two-time All-SEC selection. As a senior, he also captured the conference #1 doubles title with current UGA coach Manny Diaz.

Smith stayed at the University and earned his Juris Doctorate with honors from the Georgia Law School. His accomplishments at, and beyond, UGA were showcased in 2014 when he received the Bill Hartman Award, which recognizes former University of Georgia student-athletes who have demonstrated excellence in their profession and/or in service to others for 20 or more years of superior performance after graduation.

While working as an attorney in Atlanta, Smith rose to senior partner of King & Spalding, which was cited as one of the top 50 law firms in the world. Former USTA Southern President Mike McNulty noted in his nomination of Smith that he was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, recognized in multiple editions of “The Best Lawyers in America,” and named in a variety of listings including Who’s Who Legal, Chambers and Partners, and Georgia Super Lawyers, among others.

Smith kept his hand in the game and volunteered at USTA Southern for two decades, receiving the Jacobs Bowl as the Southern Section’s outstanding volunteer in 1995. He served as USTA Southern’s counsel for many years and served on multiple committees before rising through positions on the Board of Directors. In 2003, Smith was elected President of the Southern Section. He also served multiple terms as a Trustee of the Southern Tennis Foundation.

Smith’s recognition soon ranged far beyond the South as he volunteered on USTA committees, including the Budget, Compensation, Public Affairs and Strategic Planning Committees. He served as Chair of the Constitution and Rules Committee and as Vice Chair of the Grievance Committee. He became a Director at Large on the USTA Board of Directors and served three years as Vice President. He also served on the USTA Tennis and Education Foundation.

He was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2010, the Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012, the Rome -Floyd (Ga.) County Sports Hall of Fame and was named a Darlington School Distinguished Alumnus in 2011.

In November 2007, Smith dove into full-time service to tennis when he accepted the post of USTA Executive Director and COO. His title of COO was elevated to CEO in early 2018.

McNulty wrote, “He has overseen the introduction and roll out of the USTA’s historic Net Generation and 10 and Under Tennis initiatives and has been at the helm for the unprecedented growth of the US Open, which has posted increasing annual attendance and revenue.” McNulty also cited the building of the USTA National Campus and the establishment of two ATP tournaments in Southern states (the BB&T Atlanta Open and the Winston-Salem Open) as extraordinary achievements.

Recent improvements to the fan-friendly atmosphere of the US Open have been roundly lauded by visitors and the media. Most notable among these USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center improvements were adding a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium and a second retractable cover over the newly rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium. Among the other instant favorites are the new Grandstand, Court 17, expanded walkways and improved dining choices.

Not all of Smith’s leadership has been about tennis courts. During his continuing tenure, the USTA has worked tirelessly to promote diversity on and off the court. Also, in an effort to expand the reach of the sport, there has been an increased focus on programs that attract juniors and young adults.

USTA Southern Executive Director John Callen noted that Smith touched so many aspects of greatness, he was an excellent player, tireless talented volunteer, outstanding lawyer, thoughtful leader, and a great family man.
In her support letter for Smith’s nomination, 2017 Southern Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Pat Devoto wrote, “In his life as a community volunteer, no one has served in more varied posts or with more distinction than Gordon.”
There are many throughout the South who couldn’t agree more.
Gordon A. Smith, Georgia, 2019

    Accepted the post of USTA Executive Director and COO (which was later elevated to CEO)
    Led the transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, including two roofed stadiums
    Oversaw the construction of the nation’s largest tennis facility at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla.
    Served as USTA Director at Large on the USTA Board of Directors and three years as Vice President
    Four-time SEC champion while playing for the University of Georgia, from 1972-75, served as captain and was a two-time All-SEC selection
    Awarded the Jacobs Bowl as the USTA Southern outstanding volunteer and elected USTA Southern President & CEO in 2003
    Inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2010, the Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Rome -Floyd (Ga.) County Sports Hall of Fame


Mary Hatfield
Exacting Professional & Volunteer

Mary Hatfield has come full circle. She started in the USTA family as a volunteer, moved into the office as a staffer, and is now back giving her time as a committee chairman.

In all those roles – paid and unpaid – Hatfield excelled as a consummate professional.

Beginning in her local community, Hatfield made contributions on the state, sectional and national levels.

A resident of McDonough, Ga., Hatfield spent the early part of her career in the classroom, teaching in middle school. Away from school, her volunteer energy was concentrated in developing the Macon Tennis Association’s (MTA) presence in the community. She was instrumental in focusing the MTA and other community tennis associations (CTA) on delivering a variety of tennis program. Also, she encouraged USTA Southern to mentor CTAs.

She was the recipient of three MTA awards: the Fred Hill Community Service Award, the Official of the Year Award and one accolade that is named for her ¬– the Mary Hatfield Spirit of Tennis Award. The Macon Convention and Visitors Bureau recognized her with two awards: the Macon Believer Award and the VIP Award.

Randy Stephens, a former USTA Southern President & CEO and 2014 Southern Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, spoke about Hatfield’s contribution to their community: “Mary was the first paid employee of the Macon Tennis Association.  I believe she was paid $100 a week, which meant she made about 10 cents an hour!  She professionalized the way community tennis associations should be run – a true trailblazer for CTAs across the country.  Mary’s contributions to the growth of tennis in Macon were tremendous and we will always be grateful to her.  Being inducted into the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame is an honor well deserved.”

Tapped to help on a statewide basis, she served on five USTA Georgia committees, chairing the USTA Adult League and Community Development committees. She served on the Board of Directors for six years, rising to President and Secretary.

In a 2014 interview, Hatfield told this story about running a junior tournament: “I remember getting reamed out by a father because we ran out of parmesan cheese. It was kind of funny because it must’ve been in the latter ’90s because he was going to send a letter to the president of the Georgia Tennis Association. I handed him my card so he would have my address … since I was the president. Then, for weeks afterwards, every time I turned around somebody was bringing me these little packages of parmesan cheese as a joke.”

Hatfield was honored with five USTA Georgia awards: Ruth Lay Award, Community Service Award, Tournament Director of the Year, League Coordinator of the Year and Educational Merit Award.

USTA Southern also relied on her expertise. She was named to the USTA Southern Board of Directors as a Delegate at Large. She was the chair of the State Presidents and Community Development committees, and also served on the USTA Adult League Committee. She is the recipient of the section’s Jacobs Bowl (its highest honor), Gerrie Rothwell and Educational Merit awards.

On the national level, Hatfield was honored with the USTA Eve Kraft Community Service Award. She has served as Community Development Chairman, along with being a member of the Junior Recreation Committee.

For 11 years, Hatfield worked in the USTA Southern junior department with Bill Ozaki and Sandy Hastings, completing a troika of veteran Southern junior experts. She retired in 2013. Originally, she was tasked with overseeing the use of TennisLink in the section. Recounting the hiring process, Hatfield said the USTA Southern Executive Board wanted Executive Director & COO John Callen  “to hire somebody that would be helping our people with [TennisLink] customers, etc. and the committee told him to go find somebody. Two weeks later he called me.”

Later she was assigned to promote a program that was one of her great passions: Junior Team Tennis.

Hatfield is now hard at work again, once more as a volunteer. Based on her years of heading the program, she chaired the USTA Georgia Junior Team Tennis Committee before being named to the similar position as the USTA Southern Junior Team Tennis Committee Chairman and the Grants Subcommittee Chair. Currently she volunteers on Georgia’s Adult League Committee.

She noted, “I enjoy playing [USTA] League tennis. Since retiring I’ve served as captain of two or three teams a season. Of all the awards, the greatest accomplishment to me is the friends I’ve had the opportunity to make.

In his nomination of Hatfield, Hastings wrote, “Off court, both professionally and personally, Mary sought to live a life of high standards and, as a result of that, in working with her, you too were held to that high standard. She was not content in achieving at a lower standard and would not settle for those who worked with her to do so either. When you sat down to discuss an issue with Mary, through her personal understanding of how to correctly address a situation and how it should be handled, you came away more knowledgeable and a better person. Her continual efforts in encouraging you to properly manage the multitude and variety of situations propelled each of us who worked with her to a higher professional level.”

Hastings’ tribute echoes many who worked with Hatfield throughout her tennis career.

Mary Hatfield, Georgia, 2019
    Honored with the USTA Eve Kraft Community Service Award
    Recipient of the USTA Southern Jacobs Bowl (its highest honor), Gerrie Rothwell and Educational Merit awards
    Honored with five USTA Georgia awards: Ruth Lay Award, Community Service Award, Tournament Director of the Year, League Coordinator of the Year and Educational Merit Award
    Developed the Macon Tennis Association’s presence in the community, an example of an outstanding local organization for other CTAs in the country
    Named to the USTA Southern Board of Directors as a Delegate at Large
    Chaired the USTA Southern Junior Team Tennis Committee Chairman, USTA Southern Grants Subcommittee and the USTA Georgia Junior Team Tennis Committee
    For 11 years, Hatfield worked in the USTA Southern junior department as the Manager of Junior Team Tennis & TennisLink


2019 Southern Top-Level Junior Tournaments
For 2019, USTA has reclassified junior tournament levels on a national basis.

This revision changes the levels for USTA Southern tournaments. What was a Southern level 1 is now a level 3A. What was a Southern level 1A  is now a level 4. Southern level 2 tournaments are now level 5.

More tournaments will be added at a later date


(09/20/18)  Tennis Life:  STEPHANIE MYLES: Charleston WTA under new ownership
The Volvo Car Open is now locally owned, as Charleston native Ben Navarro has bought the tournament.

Cue … nearly every other tournament envying the event for having a local billionaire who serendipitously happens to be a huge tennis supporter.

Formerly the Family Circle Cup, it is the oldest women-only event on Tour.

Since 2017, Moorad Sports Partners held majority ownership. The other 30 per cent remained with Meredith Corp. (which bought Family Circle magazine – and the tournament – in 2005).

Navarro also owns a tennis club. Daughter Emma, 17, won a Grade 2 ITF junior event in Montreal this week.


(09/19/18)  WCSC-TV: Live 5 News:  Billionaire Ben Navarro buys the Volvo Car Open
Charleston billionaire Ben Navarro, who made headlines earlier this year when he was a finalist to buy the Carolina Panthers, made a different big purchase on Wednesday, taking over the Volvo Car Open tennis tournament on Daniel Island.

Navarro, who's the CEO of Sherman Financial Group and has founded the non-profit Meeting Street Schools in the Lowcountry, also takes over operations of the Family Circle Tennis Center and Volvo Car Stadium with his purchase of Charleston Tennis LLC. That group will now become a locally-owned and operated organization.

“I look forward to building on the current tournament tradition that is already 47 years in the making with the Volvo Car Open,” Navarro said in a statement. “Bob Moran and his team have created a tennis legacy in Charleston with the event and its facilities. Our goal is to continue to grow the tournament’s impact, promote junior tennis in Charleston, and make the sport more accessible for all. Personally, Charleston Tennis LLC’s mission of giving back and making a positive influence on our community align with my family’s values and beliefs.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Ben over the last year through his commitment to growing tennis here in Charleston. His club LTP Tennis has hosted numerous ITF and junior tournaments culminating with the US Girls Clay Court National Championship, held this past July,” said Bob Moran, President of Charleston Tennis LLC said in a statement. “I’m blown away with not only Ben’s commitment to tennis, but his love for this community. His work with Meeting Street Schools is truly inspiring. Our team is excited to get started building towards the 2019 Volvo Car Open and working with Ben and his team to create an even bigger and better experience for our players, fans and partners. With this commitment and investment to build world-class experiences by our new owner, and the support of our title sponsor, Volvo Car USA, we will continue to remain a vibrant part of the Charleston community for years to come.”

Steve Simon, WTA CEO and Chairman stated, “Rooted in the WTA’s rich history as one of the very first tournaments in 1973, it is a pleasure to see both the tradition and growth of this event continue. We are delighted to welcome Ben’s ownership to the Volvo Car Open and look forward to the positive impact this will have on the continued success of one of the premier women’s tennis events in the world.”

Navarro is also the owner of LTP Tennis Club in Mount Pleasant, S.C. He and his wife are avid tennis fans and their four children play the sport.

“The opportunity to partner with someone so passionate about tennis and our community is a perfect fit,” said Moran.?


(09/19/18)  WCBD-TV: Count On 2 News: Charleston businessman Ben Navarro buys Volvo Car Open
Ben Navarro, the CEO of Charleston-based Sherman Financial Group and the founder of education non-profit Meeting Street Schools, has acquired the sanction of the WTA Volvo Car Open along with the operations of the Family Circle Tennis Center and Volvo Car Stadium.

The news release states that with this change, Charleston Tennis LLC will now become a locally-owned and operated organization.

“I look forward to building on the current tournament tradition that is already 47 years in the making with the Volvo Car Open,” said Navarro. “Bob Moran and his team have created a tennis legacy in Charleston with the event and its facilities. Our goal is to continue to grow the tournament’s impact, promote junior tennis in Charleston, and make the sport more accessible for all. Personally, Charleston Tennis LLC’s mission of giving back and making a positive influence on our community align with my family’s values and beliefs.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Ben over the last year through his commitment to growing tennis here in Charleston. His club LTP Tennis has hosted numerous ITF and junior tournaments culminating with the US Girls Clay Court National Championship, held this past July,” said Bob Moran, President of Charleston Tennis LLC. “I’m blown away with not only Ben’s commitment to tennis, but his love for this community. His work with Meeting Street Schools is truly inspiring. Our team is excited to get started building towards the 2019 Volvo Car Open and working with Ben and his team to create an even bigger and better experience for our players, fans and partners. With this commitment and investment to build world-class experiences by our new owner, and the support of our title sponsor, Volvo Car USA, we will continue to remain a vibrant part of the Charleston community for years to come.”

The Volvo Car Open is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America. The international event attracts players and fans from across the globe and reaches more than 20 million fans worldwide via The Tennis Channel and international broadcast partners, according to officials.

The Family Circle Tennis Center is a public tennis facility with 20 championship courts and a 10,200-seat stadium. The center is a year-round facility with daily adult and junior tennis programing, including an on-site, full-time tennis academy. In addition, the stadium hosts an annual concert series and a broad range of programs and events.

The Volvo Car Open contributes a direct impact of 30 million dollars into the local economy each year through visitors, hotels, restaurants, travel and tourism. Indirectly, the tournament generates billions of impressions through its international broadcast, press coverage and ad campaign, all collectively promoting the Lowcountry domestically and abroad.

The tournament is responsible for housing all players, officials, out-of-town staff and domestic and international TV production crews, according to officials. More than 2,500 room nights the week of the Volvo Car Open are booked for staffing alone. This does not account for the tournament’s average of 90,000 attendees, in which 50 percent are from out of town and who will shop, dine and take in attractions while attending the event.

Steve Simon, WTA CEO and Chairman stated, “Rooted in the WTA’s rich history as one of the very first tournaments in 1973, it is a pleasure to see both the tradition and growth of this event continue. We are delighted to welcome Ben’s ownership to the Volvo Car Open and look forward to the positive impact this will have on the continued success of one of the premier women’s tennis events in the world.”

In conjunction with Tennis Channel and WTA Media, the Volvo Car Open is showcased from the first ball struck in main draw competition to the last ball played in finals, throughout the U.S. and 174 international partners, according to the news release.

 The tournament receives more than 100 hours of tennis; live from Charleston, broadcast across the globe to millions of fans.

Navarro is also the owner of LTP Tennis Club in Mount Pleasant, S.C. He and his wife are avid tennis fans and their four children play the sport.

“The opportunity to partner with someone so passionate about tennis and our community is a perfect fit,” said Moran.

The 2019 Volvo Car Open will take place March 30 – April 7. The tournament will continue to be operated by Charleston Tennis, LLC. Daily procedures and current staff will not be affected by the acquisition.


(09/19/18)  WCIV-TV ABC 4: Charleston's Ben Navarro buys Family Circle Tennis Center, rights to Volvo Car Open
Controlling stake has changed hands with Charleston's most high-profile professional sporting event, as well as one of its most sought-after outdoor event venues.

Ben Navarro, CEO of Charleston's Sherman Financial Group and founder of education non-profit Meeting Street Schools, has acquired Charleston Tennis LLC, and thus control of the Volvo Car Open, plus the Volvo Car Stadium and Family Circle Tennis Center, according to a press release Wednesday.

The move places the tournament and the facility under local ownership.

“I look forward to building on the current tournament tradition that is already 47 years in the making with the Volvo Car Open,” said Navarro. "Our goal is to continue to grow the tournament’s impact, promote junior tennis in Charleston, and make the sport more accessible for all. "

Navarro, whose net worth is estimated in the billions, was rumored last year to have placed a bid to purchase the Carolina Panthers NFL team.

Navarro is also the owner of LTP Tennis Club in Mount Pleasant. He and his wife are avid tennis fans and their four children play the sport, according to a press release.

The Volvo Car Open is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America, attracting players and fans from across the world in addition to millions of television viewers.

The Family Circle Tennis Center is a public tennis facility with 20 championship courts, plus the 10,200-seat Volvo Car Stadium, hosting athletic and entertainment events year-round.

The 2019 Volvo Car Open will take place March 30–April 7. The tournament will continue to be operated by Charleston Tennis, LLC. Daily procedures and current staff will not be affected by the acquisition.

The Tennis Channel, a branch of ABC News 4 ownership group Sinclair Broadcasting, will continue televising the tournament.


(09/19/18)  VOLVO CAR OPEN PRESS RELEASE: Charleston Tennis LLC acquired – transitions to locally owned and operated
Ben Navarro, the CEO of Charleston-based Sherman Financial Group and the founder of education non-profit Meeting Street Schools, has acquired the sanction of the WTA Volvo Car Open along with the operations of the Family Circle Tennis Center and Volvo Car Stadium. With this change, Charleston Tennis LLC will now become a locally-owned and operated organization.

“I look forward to building on the current tournament tradition that is already 47 years in the making with the Volvo Car Open,” said Navarro. “Bob Moran and his team have created a tennis legacy in Charleston with the event and its facilities. Our goal is to continue to grow the tournament’s impact, promote junior tennis in Charleston, and make the sport more accessible for all. Personally, Charleston Tennis LLC’s mission of giving back and making a positive influence on our community align with my family’s values and beliefs.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Ben over the last year through his commitment to growing tennis here in Charleston. His club LTP Tennis has hosted numerous ITF and junior tournaments culminating with the US Girls Clay Court National Championship, held this past July,” said Bob Moran, President of Charleston Tennis LLC. “I’m blown away with not only Ben’s commitment to tennis, but his love for this community. His work with Meeting Street Schools is truly inspiring. Our team is excited to get started building towards the 2019 Volvo Car Open and working with Ben and his team to create an even bigger and better experience for our players, fans and partners. With this commitment and investment to build world-class experiences by our new owner, and the support of our title sponsor, Volvo Car USA, we will continue to remain a vibrant part of the Charleston community for years to come.”

The Volvo Car Open is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America. The international event attracts players and fans from across the globe and reaches more than 20 million fans worldwide via The Tennis Channel and international broadcast partners. The Family Circle Tennis Center is a public tennis facility with 20 championship courts and a 10,200-seat stadium. The center is a year-round facility with daily adult and junior tennis programing, including an on-site, full-time tennis academy. In addition, the stadium hosts an annual concert series and a broad range of programs and events.

The Volvo Car Open contributes a direct impact of 30 million dollars into the local economy each year through visitors, hotels, restaurants, travel and tourism. Indirectly, the tournament generates billions of impressions through its international broadcast, press coverage and ad campaign, all collectively promoting the Lowcountry domestically and abroad. The tournament is responsible for housing all players, officials, out-of-town staff and domestic and international TV production crews. More than 2,500 room nights the week of the Volvo Car Open are booked for staffing alone. This does not account for the tournament’s average of 90,000 attendees, in which 50 percent are from out of town and who will shop, dine and take in attractions while attending the event.

Steve Simon, WTA CEO and Chairman stated, “Rooted in the WTA’s rich history as one of the very first tournaments in 1973, it is a pleasure to see both the tradition and growth of this event continue. We are delighted to welcome Ben’s ownership to the Volvo Car Open and look forward to the positive impact this will have on the continued success of one of the premier women’s tennis events in the world.”

In conjunction with Tennis Channel and WTA Media, the Volvo Car Open is showcased from the first ball struck in main draw competition to the last ball played in finals, throughout the U.S. and 174 international partners. The tournament receives more than 100 hours of tennis; live from Charleston, broadcast across the globe to millions of fans.

Navarro is also the owner of LTP Tennis Club in Mount Pleasant, S.C. He and his wife are avid tennis fans and their four children play the sport.

“The opportunity to partner with someone so passionate about tennis and our community is a perfect fit,” said Moran.

The 2019 Volvo Car Open will take place March 30 – April 7. The tournament will continue to be operated by Charleston Tennis, LLC. Daily procedures and current staff will not be affected by the acquisition.


(09/19/18)  Charleston billionaire Ben Navarro buys Volvo Car Open women’s tennis event
Charleston billionaire Ben Navarro has taken over the Volvo Car Open.

The businessman and philanthropist bought the 46-year-old WTA Tour event, along with the operations of Family Circle Tennis Center and Volvo Car Stadium. The deal was completed Wednesday with Navarro’s purchase of 100 percent of Charleston Tennis LLC, converting it to a locally owned and operated organization.

California-based sports and media-focused investment firm Moorad Sports Partners had owned 70 percent of Charleston Tennis LLC, with Meredith Corp. owning the other 30 percent.

“I’m buying out Meredith and Charleston Tennis LLC,” said Navarro, who declined to divulge the cost of the deal. “Bob Moran will still run the tournament.” Moran is the longtime tournament director.

According to a spokesman for the acquisition, Navarro “will have 100 percent ownership ... no additional or existing partners.”

The entity taking over Charleston Tennis LLC is Beemok Sports LLC. The transaction will not change any day-to-day operations at the world-class Daniel Island complex, according to the spokesman.

Navarro is the 55-year-old CEO/founder of Charleston-based Sherman Financial Group and the founder of education nonprofit Meeting Street Schools.

He also owns the Live To Play Tennis Club on Mathis Ferry Road in Mount Pleasant, which has been the site of two USTA national junior tennis championships, as well as five International Tennis Federation women’s pro circuit tournaments, including next month’s LTP $25K event.

“I look forward to building on the current tournament tradition that is already 47 years in the making with the (2019) Volvo Car Open,” Navarro said. “Bob Moran and his team have created a tennis legacy in Charleston with the event and its facilities. Our goal is to continue to grow the tournament’s impact, promote junior tennis in Charleston and make the sport more accessible for all.

“Personally, Charleston Tennis LLC’s mission of giving back and making a positive influence on our community align with my family’s values and beliefs.”

All four children of Ben and Kelly Navarro have been/or are currently involved in tennis, led by nationally No. 2-ranked junior girls player Emma Navarro, who has committed to Duke and was a doubles semifinalist in the recent Junior U.S. Open. She is a junior at Ashley Hall School.

Coincidentally, Emma Navarro earned a wild card into the main draw of another of her dad’s tournaments, the 2019 Volvo Car Open, by winning the singles title in this summer’s National Girls 18 Clay Courts Championships at LTP Tennis.

Younger sister Meggie also is a highly ranked junior player, while former Academic Magnet standout Earl Navarro is a freshman at Duke, and oldest son Owen attends New York University.

Earlier this year, Ben Navarro was a finalist in the bidding to purchase the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers. Navarro’s father, Frank Navarro, served as the head football coach at Princeton and Columbia universities.

Moran looks forward to the VCO being a locally operated tournament.

“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Ben over the last year through his commitment to growing tennis here in Charleston,” said Moran, president of Charleston Tennis LLC.

“His club LTP Tennis has hosted numerous ITF and junior tournaments culminating with the U.S. Girls Clay Courts National Championships, held this past July. I’m blown away with not only Ben’s commitment to tennis, but his love for this community. His work with Meeting Street Schools is truly inspiring.

“Our team is excited to get started building towards the 2019 Volvo Car Open and working with Ben and his team to create an even bigger and better experience for our players, fans and partners. With this commitment and investment to build world-class experiences by our new owner, and the support of our title sponsor, Volvo Car USA, we will continue to remain a vibrant part of the Charleston community for years to come.

“The opportunity to partner with someone so passionate about tennis and our community is a perfect fit,” added Moran.

WTA Tour CEO/chairman Steve Simon endorsed the new VCO ownership by Navarro.

“Rooted in the WTA’s rich history as one of the very first tournaments in 1973, it is a pleasure to see both the tradition and growth of this event continue,” Simon said.

“We are delighted to welcome Ben’s ownership to the Volvo Car Open and look forward to the positive impact this will have on the continued success of one of the premier women’s tennis events in the world.”

The city of Charleston built Family Circle Tennis Center and the 10,200-seat stadium now called Volvo Car Stadium for the Family Circle Cup’s move to Daniel Island from Hilton Head Island in 2001. The city originally leased the complex to Family Circle Magazine for 15 years. The lease has been renewed until 2029.

Charleston Tennis LLC was formed by Meredith more than a decade ago to handle all operations at FCTC. Meredith Corp. purchased Family Circle Magazine in 2005, a deal that included the WTA tournament.

The Moorad group acquired 70 percent of Charleston Tennis LLC from Meredith on July 1, 2017 for $9.1 million, which included $600,000 up front and $8.5 million spread over eight years. Meredith retained a 30 percent stake in Charleston Tennis LLC at the time.

The VCO is the largest women’s only tournament in North America. The tournament contributes a direct impact of $30 million into the local economy each year through visitors, hotels, restaurants, travel and tourism.

The tournament is telecast around the world by the Tennis Channel. The 2019 Volvo Car Open will take place March 30-April 7.

Sherman Financial has offices on Madison Avenue in New York City and on Meeting Street in Charleston. More than 90 percent of Sherman’s revenue reportedly comes from subsidiary Credit One Bank, one of the nation’s largest credit card issuers.


(09/18/18)  2018 Charleston Professional Tennis League (CPTL)
The purpose of CPTL is to create a competitive environment for high-level tennis players and to promote local tennis while providing high-quality community support and entertainment.  We are very excited to enter into our 15th season with the Charleston Professional Tennis League.  CPTL is a Non-Profit Organization.  Remember all of our events are free to the public!

Team Rosters:

Hunter Specialties, Inc.
Owners: Jimmy and Brenda Hunter
Players:
KB Kabelo Maleka
Phil Whitesell
Mark Brodie
Patrick Hieber
Chris Mullins
Daron Browder

Atlantic Shield
Owner: Erik and Julie Loesch
Players:
Chris Peek
Sandy Franz
Michael Schrecter
Alon Faiman
Eric Claggett
Erik Loesch

LCTA
Owner: Steve Wilson
Players:
Sam Edwards
Ryan Kahn
Cadill Maharaj
Ellerbe Dargan
James Elliget
Charlie Holt

Seabrook Club
Owner: Mark Mogul
Players:
Brent Lett
Rohan Wadehra
Shalin Shah
Brain Burke
Toby Kederer
David Bradshaw


(09/18/18)  DERREK ASBERRY: Sloane Stephens, Caroline Wozniacki commit to 2019 Volvo Car Open
Two of the biggest stars in professional tennis will return to Charleston next year to compete in the annual, Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island.

Grand Slam champions Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens committed this week to the Lowcountry tournament, following a celebratory year for each of the two athletes.

The event is scheduled for March 30 through April 9.

“I’m excited to return to Charleston next year for the tournament,” Wozniacki said in a statement. “I always enjoy playing there and look forward to competing in front of the great crowds again. The fans make the tournament feel so special.”

Ranked No. 2 in the world behind Simona Halep, Wozniacki won the Australian Open in January by defeating Halep in straight sets. And Stephens, ranked No. 9, won the U.S. Open last September in similar fashion.

The two have also enjoyed success at the Volvo Car Open.

Wozniacki has competed five times, and won the whole thing in 2011 – a year before Serena Williams repeated as Volvo champion.

Stephens has competed in Charleston six times and won the tournament in 2016. Just a few months later, she withdrew from the U.S. Open due to a foot injury that sidelined her for the next 11 months.

The 2019 tournament will be her first in the Holy City since capturing the gold.

“I’ve been disappointed that injuries have kept me from competing in the Volvo Car Open the last two years,” she said, adding that Charleston is “one of my favorite cities.”

Stephens and Wozniacki have never faced off at Volvo. But they have played each other seven times in their careers, dating back to 2011.

The Denmark native has gotten the better of Stephens, a Floridian, six of those times, though they’ve split the last two matches.

Eleanor Adams, the Volvo tournament manager, said it’s exciting to have such high profile players already commit to the tournament so far in advance.

“Both Caroline and Sloane have had sensational seasons, and already having two Grand Slam champions in our field takes our competition to the next level,” she said. “We know our fans are in for a very special week in 2019.”


(09/18/18)  Post & Courier Letter to the Editor: Bruce L. Pepchinski: Call it out
A Sept. 11 Associated Press article was an unfortunate defense of the tennis establishment and the International Tennis Federation: Snobbery and umpires who are always right does not bring order or fairness to the game.

All competitive sports are fraught with fierce emotion, and why not? Bad behavior is not to be condoned, but the game doesn’t need petty rules that are rarely enforced and umpires who act like demagogues. Perhaps the chair umpire was right as far as the rule book goes, but it certainly appeared he was being obtuse, petty and dictatorial, which is counter to the concept of a judge.

He pushed Serena Williams’ buttons. She reacted badly, the judge failed to assess the emotion before it escalated. Two egregiously emotional personalities played into the hands of the winner. The umpire should have known better.

A winner and a loser emerged, but the umpire was the deciding factor as opposed to the quality of play.

Bruce L. Pepchinski
Sound View Drive, Mount Pleasant


COMMENTS:
Rocky Dee
MY LAST WORD TO THE CHAMP.
Serena, you are 36, recently had a baby, and you're one of the most prolific winners in tennis. That's no excuse for being a sore loser and having a temper tantrum. Howling "SEEEXXXISSSM!" made zero sense, since your opponent was a woman, too. Not to mention, you already know there have been male tennis champs who received the same penalty.

Try to play out your last competitive years in style and grace; then pass the baton on to the next group of young women to follow. You cannot play Top-Game forever. There are other things in life to do.


(09/13/18)  Volvo Car Open anticipating improvements in 2019
The Volvo Car Open, the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America, will host its 47th event March 30 through April 7, 2019 on Daniel Island in Charleston.

The highly anticipated competition features the best in women’s professional tennis, welcoming more than 100 of the top tennis players in the world to the Lowcountry. The nine-day tournament showcases a singles draw of 56 players, a qualifying draw of 32 players and a doubles draw of 16 players. In addition, the event boasts an average attendance of 90,000.

Tickets for the 2019 Volvo Car Open went on sale Friday, Sept. 14 at 9 a.m.

Patrons have the option to choose from individual tickets, ticket packages and travel packages. Ticket prices range from $25 for an individual session to $540 for an all-inclusive weeklong package with complimentary access into a private hospitality suite. The Volvo Car Open also offers packages that include premium seats, ticket savings and membership into the tournament’s Ace Club.

The Ace Club is a program for package holders that provides unparalleled amenities and benefits during the tournament, including private bag storage, invitations to the “Selection Party”, a tournament poster, incentive membership cards and much more. In addition, members have the option to opt-in for Ace Lounge access, an exclusive hospitality location providing first-class amenities like live entertainment, air-conditioning, elevated food options and more.

“Each year, our goal as a tournament is to improve our attendee experience and deliver a world-class event,” said Bob Moran, Volvo Car Open tournament director. “We are confident that our 2019 tournament will provide another outstanding occasion for our guests. We're excited about our emerging player field, along with the enhancements we’re making on-site with hospitality, technology and activities. Add all this in with the backdrop of Charleston and the Volvo Car Open is an unforgettable experience for tennis fans from around the world.”

During the tournament this year, attendees sitting in the box and terrace levels will be able to purchase food and drinks for in-stadium delivery via the Volvo Car Open app. In addition, attendees can download the free app to stay up-to-date on the schedule and order of play, follow their favorite player, view statistics and top stories, participate in trivia to win fun prizes, interact with other attendees and much more.

The Invesco Series QQQ, a competitive tennis circuit featuring legendary male tennis icons and world-renowned champions, will also return to the Volvo Car Stadium. The event occurs the night of Saturday, April 6th and will include four champions playing two semifinal matches, with the winners meeting in a championship. The format is meant to be entertaining for fans with players calling their own scores and interacting with the crowds.


(09/11/18)  WALTERBORO PRESS AND STANDARD: CINDY CROSBY: CPA Tennis takes two
The Colleton Prep Lady Hawk tennis team earned wins over Beaufort Academy (5-4) and Barnwell High School (5-1) in last week’s action. The team remains undefeated at 5-0 this season.

“During the Beaufort match, I was especially proud of Sidney Bailey, who lost her singles match in a close tiebreaker,” said Coach Becky Hooker. “She was able to put it behind her and go right back out and play doubles to help bring home the team win. Meredith Ware, Riana Bailey and Becca Martin continue to play very good tennis and lead the team.

“During our match against Barnwell, both Kaylee Spears and Sidney Bailey got off to a slow start but were able to find their rhythm and close out their matches easily,” said Hooker. “It is good to see them work to find solutions when they aren’t winning points and turn it around. Reese Carelock was able to play her first doubles match, along with Anne Hatcher White, and get some good experience as well.”

CPA vs. Beaufort Academy, 5-4
(Sept. 4, home)
Singles
Meredith Ware (CPA) def. Mary Alden-Cooper (BA) 6-1, 6-0
Riana Bailey (CPA) def. Caroline Moss (BA) 6-0, 6-0
Becca Martin (CPA) def. Ansleigh Pingree (BA) 6-2, 6-2
Leigh Gray (BA) def. Sidney Bailey (CPA) 6-1, 3-6, 10-7
Brycen Ambrose (BA) def Kaylee Spears (CPA) 6-2, 6-3
Anna Daubert (BA) def Gracie Bishop (CPA) 7-5, 6-2
Doubles
M. Ware/ R. Bailey (CPA) def M Cooper/ C Moss (BA) 8-0
B Martin / S Bailey (CPA) def A Pingree/ L Gray (BA) 8-3
B Ambrose / A Daubert (BA) def K Spears/ G Bishop (CPA) 8-6

CPA vs. Barnwell High School, 5-1 (Sept. 5, away)
Singles
Meredith Ware (CPA) def C Green (BHS) 6-1, 6-1
Riana Bailey (CPA) def Lexi Thomason (BHS) 6-0, 6-0
Becca Martin (CPA) def Crissa Thomason (BHS) 6-1, 6-1
Sidney Bailey (CPA) def Emaleigh Henderson (BHS) 6-4, 6-0
Kaylee Spears (CPA) def Logan Hutton (BHS) 6-3, 6-0
Doubles
Cynthia Smalls / Destiny Marshall (BHS) def Anne Hatcher White/ Reese Carelock (CPA) 6-1, 6-4


(09/11/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: CLOSINGS
All closings are for 9/12/18
Tennis courts: All matches and practices must be done by 10:00 am to prepare tennis courts for damaging winds.


(09/11/18)  LCTA Newsletter: September
We wish each of you, your family, your friends and all things important in your life, safe passage through the storm.

Fall League Registration Extended - Fall League Registration is being extended to Friday, September 21, due to the Hurricane Florence evacuation.

Thank You Players!
You and your guests are invited to an appreciation party by the Lowcountry Tennis Association.
Friday, September 21 at 6 p.m.
Family Circle Tennis Center
161 Seven Farms Drive, Charleston SC 29492
Watch your favorite local professionals play tennis and enjoy BBQ with all the trimmings, soft drinks and adult beverages.

We'd like your thoughts.
LCTA is conducting a survey about how LCTA is doing, how we are serving your needs, and other topics. Please click here to let us know how we're doing!
Charleston Professional Tennis League

Come out and support the Charleston Professional Tennis League. Click here to see the schedule.

Fall League Registration Details
Please be sure to have (8) eligible players on your team before registration ends.
You are allowed (4) below level players on your roster. If you believe you need additional players, you will need to complete a waiver request form. The form will need to be submitted to Dee Mack. Click here to view the LCTA website.
For Fall 2018, the total team default rule will not be enforced. However, teams are encouraged to play all positions in all of their matches.
For Fall 2018, the two-week deadline will not be enforced. However, teams are strongly encouraged to play all matches in the schedule by the end of the season.

The updated LCTA Adult League Regulations can be found on the LCTA website. lctatennis.org

Got Suggestions?
Just click and suggest away!
http://www.lctatennis.org/suggestions.html

Thanks, Steve Wilson
LCTA President  / srw924@gmail.com


(09/08/18)  Unpredictable Osaka was real against Serena
NEW YORK -- What about unpredictable Naomi Osaka? Almost no one expected Osaka to defeat Serena Williams in Saturday’s U.S. Open women’s final.

But the same player who practically gave up while in total control of a round of 16 match at the Volvo Car Open against Julia Goerges demonstrated her extraordinary talent this time in a 6-2, 6-4 win over Williams.

That gave the 20-year-old Osaka the two biggest checks in U.S. women’s tennis. After the big one she picked up with the Indian Wells, Calif., title, Osaka walked off the court with a check for $3.8 million after upending Serena. That was the real Naomi Osaka.

At the VCO, a different Osaka told her coach during the match that she didn’t want to be there.

It was hot that day out on the Althea Gibson Court at Family Circle Tennis Center, but Saturday was a perfect cool for Osaka as she used quickness and control of her big game to give Japan its first Grand Slam singles title.

NAVARRO-BECK FALLS

Emma Navarro and Chloe Beck ran out of miracles on Saturday in the doubles semifinals of the Junior U.S. Open at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

They needed a miracle playing the Venus and Serena Williams of junior tennis. Although not sisters, 6-2 Dalayna Hewitt of Pepper Pike, Ohio, and shorter, but powerful Hailey Baptiste of Washington, D.C., were forces to be reckoned with because of their size, power and athletic ability.

Beck and Navarro played well and were tied at 3-3 in the first set and ahead 3-2 in the second set before the Hewitt/Baptiste team broke away each time for a 6-4, 6-3 victory, winning 16 of the last 17 points of the match.

It’s no joke that Hewitt could set up at the net on deuce service points and not move, but reach out to the center line to put away winning volleys on returns off Baptiste’s well-placed serves. And Hewitt’s service speed may be close to Serena’s.

Navarro had faced nothing but stacked draws since July when she won the U.S. girls 18 clay court singles championship and then doubles title with Beck. In the hard court nationals that followed, as a mere 17th seed Navarro drew former world’s No. 1 junior and eventual champion Whitney Osuigwe in the round of 32.

Navarro was unseeded in both singles and doubles in the Junior U.S. Open, and drew the No. 3 seed in singles in the first round. That player, China’s Xiyu Wang, played in Saturday’s singles semifinals.

The Navarro-Beck team defeated a No. 6 seeded team in the second round that included Clara Burel from France. Burel is in Sunday’s Junior U.S. Open singles final.

But this time, Hewitt and Baptiste were too strong for the Duke-bound team of Beck and Navarro.

THREE SCHSL TITLES?

It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to expect Charleston area high school teams to sweep three of the four SCHSL girls tennis state titles this fall. Plus, at least one SCISA crown.

Bishop England looks like a shoo-in in Class AAA to win an eighth consecutive state title for coach Kristin Fleming Arnold. The Bishops have all six of their top players back in Eleanor Campbell, Lily Woods, Jenna Santa Lucia, Jenna Santa Lucia, Mackenzie Penton and Crista Vroman. Also, they have another Woods standout, Izzy Woods, aboard.

The Bishops are gearing up for a pair of big events in the next two weeks. Powerful, unbeaten Wando is set to entertain the unbeaten Bishops on Sept. 19, and then two days later the Bishops will hold the annual BE Invitational, which should answer many of the other questions for local girls teams for the fall.

Wando is led by two sets of sisters, the Sinclaires (Kelsey and Abby) and Zimmermans (Lily and Ellie), and a host of other outstanding players. The Warriors went 18-3 last season and advanced all the way to the Lower State Class AAAAA final before being stopped by River Bluff.

Then, there’s upcoming Oceanside Collegiate Academy, which is eligible for the time for the SCHSL playoffs. The Landsharks have super senior Kat Lyman and a strong supporting staff as they prepare for a test on Tuesday at Charleston Tennis Center against Ashley Hall.

If Emma Navarro is back from her strong showing at the Junior U.S. Open to join solid senior Rebecca Spratt, coach Mary Gastley’s Ashley Hall outfit should be ready for the test.

Ashley Hall might be a safe bet to win SCISA Class AAA, with defending champion Porter-Gaud suffering from the loss of talented freshman Sophie Williams to junior tennis and Alex Hildell to the Wofford tennis program.

Oceanside looks like a strong contender to win Class AA state honors in its first year of eligibility. Academic Magnet has moved up to Class AAA after losing to Christ Church in two straight Class AA state finals.

CPTL IS BACK

Oceanside coach Phil Whitesell also has been busy with the Charleston Pro Tennis League, which opened its season on Friday night before a good crowd at the I’On Club. The CPTL will move over to Wild Dunes next Saturday for a 2 p.m. program.

The CPTL has been a hit in the Charleston area for nearly two decades, and has been making a strong comeback under the leadership of former College of Charleston men’s coach Whitesell.

LOCAL NOTES

Local juniors Coy Simon and Huntley Allen teamed up recently to take the doubles title in an ITF Intercollegiate Tennis Association summer circuit event at Wake Forest.

Delores Jackson has retired as director of the nationally recognized City of Charleston’s Courting Kids program. Mi’Kola Cooper, one of Jackson’s former students from the program and an ex-Charleston Southern University standout, has taken over as the new director of Courting Kids.


(09/07/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: MISC
Canton Easterling was wondering how much interest there was in a 69+ 3.0 and 3.5 leagues. He is wanting to play and form a team.  We will need someone to step up and be a captain.  Please email me back on interest level. Below is the email from the league coordinator.

Barry

Greetings Captains,
The 69+ fall league for 3.0 and 3.5 flights will be played on Monday mornings at 9:00AM.  I know the previous days of play conflicted with the 65+ league currently in progress.  There will be very little overlap of the leagues.  The 69+ will begin the first or second Monday in October... depending on the number of teams.  The 65+ will end the second week of October.
 
Registration for the 69+ league will continue until September 17.  Snee Farm has already registered a team.  If you have any questions, give me a call or reply to this email.
 
Jim Royce
LCTA Senior Coordinator
(843) 870-3523


(09/07/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: Reminder: Tennis & Football
Life is Good!! The entire tennis community is invited to come out and watch the US Open Ladies Final and Your Favorite Football Team

Complimentary Pizza, Wings & Salad Saturday at 3:30 PM Complimentary Pizza, Wings, Salad & Dessert
Buy a square and win $$ or a Registration to Racquets for Recovery & IT'S FREE!
Can't be there in person and want to take a chance - betting board is in the pro-shop! $5 per square.
Hosted by The Ladies Tennis Association


(09/07/18)  USTA SC: Community Tennis News: Volume 36
Don't Forget to Register for 2018 Community Development Workshop
Friday, Sept. 21, 2018
Cayce Tennis Center
8:30 am - 4:15 pm
Classroom & On-Court

Door Prizes Include:
Pair of tickets to a 2019 VCO day session
Pair of tickets to a 2019 VCO night session
Net Generation Swag
USTA Swag

USTA South Carolina JV State Invitational GIRLS
Junior Varsity Girls Invitational
October 12-14, 2018, at the Cayce Tennis Center. The inaugural JV Girls Invitational is sanctioned by the South Carolina High School League and is open to SC schools.

USTA/USPTA SC Coaches Workshop
Saturday September 29, 2018 at Wexford Plantation. 9 am - 2:30 pm.
Deadline to guarantee shirt: Friday September 21, 2018
Click here to register. For more information, contact PJ Fulmer.

Post a Job ... Find a Job
If you have a cool tennis job to post, email Emily Russell at USTA SC.
If you're looking for a cool tennis job, click here.
If you're wondering ... all tennis jobs are cool!

Thank you from your Community Tennis Team:

On behalf of our South Carolina Community Tennis Team -- Pamela Banks, Cameron Sebnick, PJ Fulmer, Rashawn Nelson and me --  I would like to thank you for all you continue to do in your local communities to grow the game of tennis. Because of your work, there are adults and kids playing tennis for the first time. The year is nearly over, and we still have many more tennis communities to create. Join us as we welcome new players to find themselves in the game.

Cheers, Sheryl

Sheryl McAlister, Associate Executive Director
USTA South Carolina | 18 Woodcross Drive, Columbia, SC 29212 / mcalister@sctennis.com


(09/05/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Letter to the Editor: Doty Park tension founded in council's power grab
To the Editor:

I read with great distress the unfolding events at Doty Park tennis courts.

This story is unnecessarily spiraling out of control into unnecessary and unwanted racial tensions. It begins with the town administrator’s unwillingness to seek reasonable compromise to allow a black tennis instructor who gives minority neighborhood kids free lessons on the courts.

Those courts were reserved by the town’s own tennis pro (why are we using our tax dollars to pay a tennis pro?) apparently to restrict the instructor’s access to the courts. Instead, the town administrator issued a “no trespass” notice to the instructor.

That has now escalated into the arrest of Lewis Smith, who has taken up the cause, alleging discrimination.

Where are our elected officials as this confrontation unfolds? The mayor has been prevented from offering advice and direction to the town administrator after Councilman Bill McIntosh convinced a majority on the town council to prohibit such advice and to censure the mayor when he asked the town administrator to do his job and remove a car from a public ditch.

Thus emboldened, the town administrator is now proposing a major property tax increase for next year. It is time voters demand the council restore the balance of powers among the policy and administrative branches of our town government that existed before Mayor Wiley Johnson’s election.

Peter Gorman, Summerville


(09/05/18)  WALTERBORO PRESS AND STANDARD: CINDY CROSBY: CPA Tennis earns 6-0 shut out over Colleton County
The Colleton Prep Tennis team went 2-0 last week, earning a 5-1 win over Barnwell High School and a 6-0 shut-out victory over Colleton County High School.

“I didn’t feel as though the girls were as focused against Barnwell High School as they were in their first match,” said Coach Becky Hooker. “They did what they needed to do, but I think they are capable of playing much better. We had a few distractions that gave us a late start, so I’m not sure if that had something to do with it, but all in all, we were once again the more consistent and experienced team. Makayla Odum played in her first varsity match, and although she and Gracie lost their doubles, I was very proud of them. They worked through some nerves and inexperience to have a stronger second set.

“Against Colleton County, we came out much more focused than they did in their match earlier in the week,” said Hooker. “I was very pleased with their play. Meredith and Becca were really being aggressive and going for their shots, which will serve them well as we prepare to play Beaufort Academy next week. Riana had a very competitive match at No. 2 and was able to make her shots when she needed to for the win. Kaylee and Sidney both played very consistent tennis and kept the ball in play well. Gracie and Ann Hatcher played well together at doubles, giving Ann Hatcher her first-ever varsity win. Gracie has really stepped up this week helping the younger players. I am proud of how the girls are coming together as a team.”

Colleton Prep was scheduled to host Beaufort Academy on Tuesday Sept. 4 and travel to Barnwell High School on Wednesday Sept. 5.

CPA – 5, Barnwell High School – 1 (8/27/18)
Singles
#1 Meredith Ware (CPA) def. Caroline Greene (BHS) 6-0, 6-0
#2 Riana Bailey (CPA) def. Lexi Thomason (BHS) 6-1, 6-2
#3 Becca Martin (CPA) def Crissa Thomason (BHS) 6-2, 6-2
#4 Sidney Bailey (CPA) def Emaleigh Henderson (BHS) 6-3, 6-3
#5 Kaylee Spears (CPA) def Logan Hutto (BHS) 6-0, 6-1
Doubles
#2 Cynthia SMalls/ Destiny Marshall (BHS) def Gracie Bishop/ Makayla Odum 6-0, 6-3

CPA – 6, Colleton County – 0
CPA at CHHS Girls’ Tennis (8/29/18)
Singles
#1 Meredith Ware (CPA) def Emma Kate Bell (CCHS) 6-0, 6-0
#2 Riana Bailey (CPA) def Megan Dewitt (CCHS) 7-5, 6-2
#3 Becca Martin (CPA) def Kendall Bell (CCHS) 6-2, 6-0
#4 Sidney Bailey (CPA) def Abigail Lee (CCHS) 6-1, 6-4
#5 Kaylee Spears (CPA) def Rush Blackshear (CCHS) 6-2, 6-3
Doubles
#2 Gracie Bishop/ Ann Hatcher White (CPA) def Lov’ea Goodwin / Cooper Corbett 6-4, 6-3


(09/05/18)  WALTERBORO PRESS AND STANDARD: CINDY CROSBY: CCHS Tennis loses heart breaker to Wade Hampton
The Colleton County Girls tennis team lost a heart-breaker to Wade Hampton last Thursday night in Hampton losing 4 courts to 3.

Singles:
Alexis DeLoach (WH) def Emma Kate Bell (CC) 6-3, 6-3
Megan DeWitt (CC) def Leah Tuten (WH) 6-0, 6-1
Izabelle Rauhof (WH) def Kendall Bell (CC) 6-4, 5-7, 10-8
Abigail Lee (CC) def Allie Evans (WH) 6-1, 6-4
Skyler Holland (WH) def Rush Blackshear (CC) 6-2, 6-2
Doubles:
E. K. Bell/Megan DeWitt (CC) def Alexis DeLoach/Leah Tuten (WH) 1-6, 6-1, 10-5
Shaniqua Henry/Jania Smalls (WH) def Lov’ea Goodwin/Cooper Corbett 7-5, 6-1


(09/04/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: Barry Quinn: US OPEN Party
-    FROM OUR PINE FOREST LTA. 
LET’S SHOW UP AND ENJOY A GREAT MATCH WITH GREAT PEOPLE.

SAVE THE DATE!  US OPEN PARTY - Saturday, September 8th - 3:30
FREE TO ALL TENNIS PLAYERS & SIGNIFICANT OTHERS - Hosted by your LTA!
 
Watch the US Open Women's Final
Buy a $5 square for a chance at $500 in prize money.

All attendees will be entered for a free registration to Racquets for Recovery.
PIZZA, WINGS, SALAD, DESSERTS - CASH BAR
RSVP @ PRO SHOP or racquetsforrecovery@gmail.com

Also, do not forget about the Habitat for Humanity tournament coming up soon.   
https://www.active.com/summerville-sc/racquet-sports/tennis-tournaments/habitat-for-humanity-tennis-classic-sta-75-pt-sc-l4-2018

Barry Quinn


(09/01/18)  DERREK ASBERRY: Pickleball growth in Charleston area reignites call for more courts
As most of the group said their farewells and left the basketball courts off Royall Road, Rich Williams couldn’t resist sticking around for one more game of two-on-two.

But the Columbia resident wasn’t shooting hoops; he was playing pickleball.

His job as a project manager for a construction company keeps him on the road all the time. But Williams never forgets to bring his odd-shaped paddle.

Dripping sweat from the intense match, he said there’s a community of pickleball players everywhere he travels, with the local stop being one of his favorites.

“The sport is exploding,” Williams said. “Every year, more people are gravitating toward it.”

The facts back him up. The USA Pickleball Association estimates there are roughly 3 million players, a huge increase since the USAPA was founded in 2005.

Pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated ball, similar to a Wiffle Ball, over a net. A pickleball court would be about half the size of a regulation tennis court.

The growth of the sport in recent years has shown up in Charleston, so much so that players are asking Mount Pleasant to provide official pickleball courts.

Charleston County alone has nearly 500 players, said Mary Kennerty, a professional coach who was recently certified to teach the sport.

Kennerty keeps a mailing list to update players on places where they can play. Pretty much any public basketball or tennis court, ranging from downtown Charleston to Hanahan, is a good option.

Of the 500 players on the list, about 35 of them meet at the Royall Road location every week.

“It’s a leisure sport that provides a good workout, and I think that’s why people are drawn to it so much,” Kennerty said.

The basketball and tennis courts work well, but it would be more ideal if Mount Pleasant and other local municipalities invested in official pickleball courts. That way, each sport can have its own facilities without infringing on others, Kennerty said.

The group is crossing their fingers that a plan announced two years ago will come to fruition. Mount Pleasant is looking to bring a large park to Rifle Range Road that would include about a dozen pickleball courts. There hasn’t been any recent movement on that.

However, Kennerty said a separate project that will bring four pickleball courts to Mount Pleasant will likely reach completion by next summer.

That’s good news for local players, said Scott Manetta, the creator of pickleSTRONG. A member of the local group, Manetta launched the clothing brand after falling in love with the sport less than two years ago.

He said once he got involved, he wanted the world to know that pickleball knows no age or particular demographics.

We play with everyone from 20 to 90,” he said. “I wanted something to reflect what pickleball players are. We’re strong, passionate and competitive. And it takes dedication and skill just like any other sport.”

Kennerty will begin conducting clinics in October through the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department. For information, call 843-442-7430.


(08/30/18)  Pittston Dispatch: My Corner, Your Corner: TONY CALLAIO: Whether you like it or not, winter’s coming
As I sit at my desk pondering what to write this week, I can’t help but think we’re in a transition period.

We’re going from baseball to football season, long sunny days to shorter days and longer shadows, active community playgrounds to filled school playgrounds.

Even though we’re experiencing some hot summer-like days, the nights are going to cool off and, soon enough, you’ll need a sweater or sweat jacket to take the chill away.

The frequent rainstorms week after week will fade and you’ll only need to cut the grass one a week.

The sunsets from now until winter are spectacular. I really enjoy being at home when that bright, orange glow fills my windows.

The professional tennis world invades New York City for the last Grand Slam of the year — the U.S. Open. The Open splits Labor Day weekend and I’ve always said the first week in New York is like walking in a sauna and the second week is more fall like.

Tennis has always been a big part of my life from watching it after high school and cheering on players like Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and others, to learning to play, to competing and later in life, actually working at a world class tournament over the last 12 years each spring.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of the biggest names in tennis as I went from watching the Family Circle Cup tournament to working at it.

I had the chance to go to the Open this past week but, because of work and scheduling, didn’t make it. I’ve made a lot of friends on the women’s tour and would have loved to have seen a few friendly faces while on the grounds.

There was one other thing that stopped me. I had season tickets to the Open for 20 years and 20 years of driving to Flushing, NY and back, fighting the traffic and paying the tolls – I’m over it.

There’s a big difference in shooting a pro tennis match while sitting on the court than watching a game from the nosebleed section.


(08/30/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: September 2018 Newsletter
RACQUETS FOR RECOVERY - NOVEMBER 2-4, 2018
WE NEED YOUR HELP! The Pine Forest Ladies Tennis Association will host the 14th annual Racquets for Recovery Tennis Tournament, Flocking for Funds Campaign and Silent Auction to benefit local recovering breast cancer patients.
If interested in a sponsorship opportunity or want to help, please contact Shirley Hunter at racquetsforrecovery@gmail.com.

From the Tennis Shop
 
LTA NEWS
The Ladies Tennis Association Invites
ALL Tennis players to a FREE EVENT!
 
Sept. 8th - 3:30 - Members Lounge

Watch the US Open Women's Final, with pizza, wings, salad & cash bar.

Door Prize - Racquets for Recovery Entry Fee
Buy a square for a chance at $500 prize money!
RSVP - Thursday, Sept. 6th - racquetsforrecovery@gmail.com or sign up at pro shop.


(08/28/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: SAVE THE DATE!  US OPEN PARTY
FROM OUR PINE FOREST LTA.  LETS SHOW UP AND ENJOY A GREAT MATCH WITH GREAT PEOPLE.

SAVE THE DATE!  US OPEN PARTY - Saturday, September 8th - 3:30
FREE TO ALL TENNIS PLAYERS & SIGNIFICANT OTHER - Hosted by your LTA!
 
Watch the US Open Women's Final
 Buy a $5 square for a chance at $500 in prize money.
All attendees will be entered for a free registration to Racquets for Recovery.
PIZZA, WINGS, SALAD, DESSERTS - CASH BAR
RSVP @ PRO SHOP or racquetsforrecovery@gmail.com
 
Save the Date!  November 2-4, 2018
SPONSOR DEADLINE APPROACHING - SEPTEMBER 1ST
SPONSOR SHEETS - AVAILABLE AT PRO SHOP


(08/27/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: Barry Quinn: Congrats tp our 8.0 mixed doubles team!
First off let me extend a BIG congratulations to all the members on our 8.0 mixed doubles team captained by Pascale.  They have qualified for the state championships in Florence, S.C.  on Sept. 7-8.  Great job by those that were on this team and we wish you all the best of luck at STATE!!!!

Second the pump house is down and I will not be able to water the courts until the problem is fixed. As soon as the pump house is in working order again I will get the watering system back online. 


(08/26/18)   MOULTRIE NEWS: FRANKIE MANSFIELD: Creekside Court Crushers compete at Southern Sectionals
The Creekside Court Crushers competed at the USTA 3.5 40+ Southern Sectionals last month in Mobile, Ala.

The Court Crushers won their early matches against Arkansas, Tennessee, and Georgia but lost in the finals against North Carolina in a third-set tiebreak.

Creekside Court Crushers team members include: coach Anca Dumitreacu, Cassy Andrus, Kim Wray, Allie Wurzel, Captain Crystal Daniel, Lou Ann Kelly, Jennifer Yarbrough, Kerrie Scott, Christy Jervey, Jill DeFord, Alicia Timko, Sara Dorociak, Kim Johnson, Deirdre McMurtry and Cacky Rivers.


(08/25/18)  Fenno temporarily sidelined by chest surgery
Porter-Gaud standout Brant Fenno is not going off to Wake Forest this fall, after all, to play tennis for the national champion Deacons.

The 18-year-old Porter-Gaud graduate is in a holding pattern, due to a congenital chest wall abnormality known as pectus excavatum, which causes the chest to have a sunken appearance. The chest deformity resulted in Fenno undergoing surgery in early June in Orlando, Fla., and remaining hospitalized for a week.

The five-time All-Lowcountry tennis player is making big strides in recovery and conditioning, but he said he’s not ready to join the Deacons just yet.

Wake Forest officials have given Fenno permission to defer until next spring but are willing to let him defer until the fall of 2019, if necessary, according to Edward Fenno, Brant’s father.

The chest disorder had been affecting Fenno’s breathing and heart, according to the family. In Orlando, Fenno underwent the Nuss Procedure that included the insertion of a titanium rod into the 6-2 left-hander’s chest area to “weave between the ribs,” Fenno said.

Of course, Fenno led the Cyclones to four SCISA Class AAA state championships. Fenno was one of three men’s tennis recruits Wake Forest signed for this year’s freshman class.

BARKER COMES UP SHORT

Age usually has a way of equalizing athletic abilities. But not always.

Charleston’s Diane Barker played in the International Tennis Federation’s women’s 60 world singles final on Friday in Germany. But a former Grand Slam doubles champion who also once was ranked 11th in the world in singles was on the other side of the net. Rankings won out this time as Regina Marsikova of Czechoslovakia posted a 6-3, 6-1 win over Barker.

Barker had been a small college national champion while playing at the College of Charleston, but Marsikova played a different league about four decades ago when she was winning the French Open doubles title with American Pam Teeguarden. At the time, Marsikova also was starting a three-year run to the singles semifinals at the French Open.

Marsikova defeated the likes of Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Evonne Goolagong, Tracy Austin and Virginia Wade when she was in her prime. Only an auto accident in 1981 (the year she was ranked 11th in the world) that resulted in a fatality appeared to stand in the way of Marsikova and far greater success. As a result of the accident, Marsikova wasn’t allowed to leave the Eastern Bloc until 1985.

In Germany this past week in the world senior individual championships, the No. 2 seeded Barker got an unlucky break when Marsikova was given a wild card into the event as the No. 7 seed.

A week earlier, Barker helped the USTA’s Alice Marble Cup women’s 60 team take second place in world team competition. The Americans were going for a fifth straight world title.

TENNIS CHANNEL EXPERTISE

One of the people involved in the planned 32 clay courts complex Mount Pleasant Racquet Club is former Tennis Channel executive John Harris, who now resides on Daniel Island.

“I have been working on the (Mount Pleasant) project the last few months, working on sponsorships,” Harris said. “Sponsorships, advertising and sales . . . that’s what I did for the Tennis Channel (for nine years until early 2017). We’re looking at sponsorship naming rights for the whole (Mount Pleasant) facility.

“The interest here is extremely high. There are a lot of people who want to get involved. We’re well positioned for the growth in the Charleston area.”

Local tennis shop owner Derrick Williams is the CEO of the Mount Pleasant Racquet Club project that is located approximately 10 miles north of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge and includes a planned six indoor clay courts.

WILLIAMS DOUBLES CHAMP

Sophie Williams, an All-Lowcountry player in 2017 as an eighth-grader for SCISA state champion Porter-Gaud, walked off with a USTA gold ball on Saturday at the USTA national campus in Orlando, Fla., by winning the girls 16 doubles title in the sixth annual USTA National Doubles Championships with partner Kate Sharabura of Atlanta.

The No. 2-seeded team of Williams and Sharabura scored a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3) win over the top-seeded team of Sophia Fornaris of Pinecrest, Fla., and Mia Kintiroglou of Livingston, N.J., in the final of the 32-draw doubles-only tournament played on clay.

Williams, who has only recently moved up to girls 16, is still ranked No. 4 nationally in 14s after being ranked No. 2 earlier this month. She is not attending Porter-Gaud this fall while concentrating on her national ranking at the USTA national campus and also with Wild Dunes pro Martin Zumpft.

At the USTA academy, she said she also has earned a wild card into LTP Tennis’ late September $25K USTA women’s pro circuit event.

Local academy players Max Smith and Ashe Ray made the semifinals in boys 16 doubles in Orlando.

LOCAL NOTES

-- Matthew Hane, Barker’s son, won the singles title at the national men’s 35 Grass Court championships in Philadelphia last weekend. Hane also teamed up with former Kiawah pro Brandon Blankenbarker to win their sixth national doubles title. For Hane, that’s 23 nationals played with 22 gold balls

-- Hanahan standout Chad Nash won a second Intercollegiate Tennis Association summer circuit singles title recently at Raleigh, N.C. Nash, who also won at Furman earlier this summer, is nearing a decision on college as he begins his senior year.

-- Emma Navarro will head to New York for the Junior U.S. Open this coming week where play is scheduled to begin next weekend. Navarro has dropped back one spot to No. 2 in the U.S. girls 18 rankings as national 18s hard court champion Whitney Osuigwe has vaulted into the No. 1 slot. Chloe Beck, Navarro’s doubles partner and part-time Randy Pate Academy player, is now ranked No. 8 in girls 18 nationally. Navarro and Beck are expected to team up in New York.

-- Kat Lyman, one of the South’s top juniors, is the new No. 1 player for Oceanside Collegiate Academy. The big-hitting Lyman’s addition means that the Landsharks should be a strong candidate to upend perennial power Christ Church for this year’s Class AA girls state championship.

-- Delores Jackson has retired as director of the nationally recognized City of Charleston’s Courting Kids program. Mi’Kola Cooper, one of Jackson’s former students from the program and an ex-Charleston Southern University standout, has taken over as the new director of Courting Kids.


(08/24/18)  Andrew Miller: Tennis, college ball and minor league franchises deliver live sports to Charleston
While some might consider Charleston and the Lowcountry a mid-major sports market, it doesn’t mean the area can’t deliver plenty of value for your money. Charleston has its share of professional sports with three minor league franchises: Charleston RiverDogs (baseball), South Carolina Stingrays (ice hockey) and the Charleston Battery (soccer).

The Lowcountry also boasts three NCAA Division I athletic programs and the Volvo Car Open, which is not only the longest tenured stop on the Women’s Tennis Tour but tends to draw some of the top name’s in women’s tennis year in and year out.

Volvo Open more than just a tennis tournament
While, the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island is designated as a third-tier “Premier” event on the WTA Tour, it usually draws an A-list field. The top names in women’s tennis such as Serena Williams and Venus Williams have played in the event along with rising stars Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys.

But the Volvo Open is more than just a tennis tournament, it’s an event. It’s a place to see and be seen. The food, the music, the shopping make the week-long tournament a must-attend experience even for the casual tennis fan.

Kiki Bertens won the 2018 tournament. The 2019 Volvo Car Open is set for March 30 to April 7.


(08/24/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Top-notch tennis centers pull great players
A knee injury kept Charleston’s Shelby Rogers out of the Volvo Car Open this year, but it didn’t stop her from extolling the virtues of her hometown tournament.

“The players are really spoiled when they come here and the city helps with that,” said Rogers, who acted as a “reporter” for the WTA Tour event in April. “It’s so beautiful and the food is great. I definitely give it praise wherever I go, but so does everybody else.”

Charleston’s rep as a tennis town continues to grow.
If you want to play where the pros play ...

Then the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island is the place. The City of Charleston public facility features green clay courts and hard courts, and hourly rates range from $10 to $15 per hour for non-members.

The Family Circle Tennis Center has been host to the Volvo Car Open (formerly the Family Circle Cup) since 2001, and players such as Serena and Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova have trod these courts.

Shelby Rogers served as a ballperson at the Family Circle Cup during her junior tennis days, and some of the state’s best up-and-comers train here.
If you want to bring the kids ...

The Mount Pleasant Tennis Complex on Whipple Road has a playground for kids ages 5-12 at the center of a layout that includes 12 hard courts, three clay courts and eight Quick Start courts for young players.

Ball-machine rentals and racket-stringing services are available.
If you are into league tennis ...

Head over to the Charleston Tennis Center in West Ashley.

The city of Charleston facility has 15 lighted hard courts and, along with the Maybank facility, hosts USTA, Charleston Area Ladies Tennis Association and tri-county elementary and middle school events.

About 5,000 people play USTA league tennis in Charleston, and this is the center of the action.

Group and individual lessons are available at both locations. Hourly fees or annual memberships available.

More tennis spots:

Maybank Tennis Center

The James Island facility underwent a major renovation in 2012. The city of Charleston facility has six hard courts and three clay courts. Hourly fees or annual memberships available.

Arthur B. Schirmer Jr. Tennis Center

The Bees Landing Recreational Center has six lighted courts.

LTP Tennis

The Mount Pleasant club is a private membership-based facility that also features paddle tennis courts.

And more

Among other area tennis centers that host USTA league events are I’On, Doty Park, Legend Oaks, Park West, Creekside Tennis and Swim, Collins Park, Legend Oaks, Ashborough East, Dunes West, Snee Farm, Wild Dunes, Daniel Island Club, Brickyard Plantation, Seabrook, Kiawah, Walterboro, Crowfield, St. Andrew’s, Pine Forest Country Club and others.


(08/21/18)  Huge tennis complex with indoor courts planned for Mount Pleasant
A large tennis complex that will include 32 clay courts, indoor courts, a pro shop, restaurants and retail shops fronting Highway 17 is on the drawing board for Mount Pleasant.

Derrick Williams, owner of the Centre Court Tennis Pro Shop in Mount Pleasant, said he’s ready to close on the property that will be the site of the Mount Pleasant Racquet Club.

The 15-acre site is located on Highway 17 North, approximately 10 miles from the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. The property known as the Cain Bryan Tract at 3236 Highway 17N is listed as under contract with a price of $6.624 million.

Williams said finding the right location at an affordable price in Mount Pleasant was not easy.

“But we were very fortunate after a long period of time to find an ideal piece of property on 17 North up near Park West,” he said.

“That was over a year ago. When we investigated, we found out that it was heirs property. It belonged to a lot of families. When we dug a little deeper with our real estate agent we found that there were 137 living heirs. They all had to agree to sell it. Everything worked out where we now have the property under contract.”

Williams said he expects to close the deal within two months. He said the cost for the entire complex will “be in the $20 million range.”

“Mount Pleasant is growing very, very quickly. They are very passionate about tennis over here,” said Williams, a former tennis instructor with Peter Burwash International. “There are a lot of times where teams and individuals can’t find courts to play on. With the growth in Mount Pleasant and the growth in tennis, we have no issues.”

Williams said the complex will include a clubhouse with a restaurant, a fitness facility and locker rooms along with a pro shop. He also has plans for a minimum of 12 pickle ball courts on the property. He said retail shops and restaurants are planned for the part of the property fronting Highway 17.

Williams, who lives on Daniel Island, grew up in Boston and played tennis and football at Slippery Rock (Pa.) University.

“I was stringing rackets in Newport, R.I., when I was 15 years old,” Williams said. “I have been around tennis all of my life.

“I managed recreation facilities and resorts in Hawaii, New York, Virginia and Seattle. My background is in facilities, management and operations for recreational facilities.”

Williams served as the City of Charleston’s director of special facilities from 1987-93.

Andy Steingold, formerly the tennis director at Pine Forest Country Club and the Legend Oaks Golf Club, both near Summerville, is the executive director for the Mount Pleasant Racquet Club and will be in charge of daily operations.

“I wouldn’t have left Pine Forest for just any project,” said Steingold, a Summerville resident. “The reason I left was because this will be the most exciting thing to happen to Charleston tennis since the Family Circle Cup moved here (in 2001).”

The Mount Pleasant Racquet Club project, already marked with a sign on Highway 17, is offering memberships on its website at www.mtpracquetclub.com.


(08/15/18)  USTA SC:  Community Tennis News
Deadline Approaches to Nominate Stars
Saturday, September 1, 2018, is the deadline to nominate your tennis favorites from around the state.

Time to Register!!
CD Workshop
JV Invitational
Coaches Workshop

SC Community Development Workshop
 Friday, September 21, 2018, from 9 am until 4 pm in Columbia. This meeting is mandatory for all CTAs applying for CGPG grants. Community partners welcome.
Click here to register. Early registration discounts available.
Online payment available.

Junior Varsity Girls Invitational
October 12-14, 2018, at the Cayce Tennis Center. The inaugural JV Girls Invitational is sanctioned by the South Carolina High School League and is open to SC schools.
For more information or to register your team, click here.

USTA/USPTA SC Coaches Workshop
Saturday September 29, 2018 at Wexford Plantation. 9 am - 2:30 pm.
Deadline to guarantee shirt: Friday September 21, 2018
Click here to register. For more information, contact PJ Fulmer.

Summer Awesome Athletes
Hannah Ellis from Greenville's KROC Center
(July Awesome Athlete)

Bryce Bachour from Greenville's Wade Hampton High School
(August Awesome Athlete)

Emily Patterson from Greenville
(August Awesome Athlete)

$1 Tennis Racquets
Tennis Warehouse is cleaning out and has hundreds of used demo racquets that need good homes. TW is happy to donate the racquets but needs to charge $1 per racquet for shipping & handling. If you're interested, please contact your favorite USTA SC staff member.

Way to go, Domino!
Domino Boulware (far right) introduces tennis to Norway.

Thank you from your Community Tennis Team:

On behalf of our South Carolina Community Tennis Team -- Pamela Banks, Cameron Sebnick, PJ Fulmer, Rashawn Nelson and me --  I would like to thank you for all you continue to do in your local communities to grow the game of tennis. Because of your work, there are adults and kids playing tennis for the first time. The year is half over, and we still have many more tennis communities to create. Join us as we welcome new players to find themselves in the game.

Cheers,Sheryl
   
Sheryl McAlister
Associate Executive Director, USTA South Carolina
18 Woodcross Drive, Columbia, SC 29212 / mcalister@sctennis.com


(08/14/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Demonstration planned Wednesday as heated debate continues over use of Doty Park tennis courts
A hot-button issue over how the town should utilize the Doty Park tennis courts isn't over, after the town banned a local tennis coach from giving free lessons on the property.

Prior to the town banning him from giving pro-bono instruction, Summerville resident James Martin had given lessons at the park for years. In May the town went a step further and put him on trespass notice for not obeying the town's rules and procedures for the courts, according to the town.

The Journal Scene first reported on the matter in July.

But James Martin' supporters - many of whom are upset about the way the town has handled the issue - are ready to publicly demonstrate and a peaceful protest has been planned for Wednesday.

"I don't like the way (the town) treated (James) Martin," said Louis Smith, head of the Community Resource Center.

Smith has been a longtime minority advocate, and anyone he said he thinks has been wronged.

With Town Councilman Aaron Brown's help, James Martin started giving free lessons in 2016 through the program Tennis Development from the Heart, which primarily attracted children from low-income families in neighborhoods surrounding Doty Park.

"As all of us recall, Doty Park was the hub for the minority community," Smith said.

The town has offered for Martin to instead utilize its Saul Alexander Park tennis courts, about a mile from Doty Park.

"He was offered alternative means to teach tennis lessons and he refused to accept these alternatives," stated Town Administrator Colin Martin in an email Tuesday to the Journal Scene.

But Smith said he thinks Doty Park is more easily accessible for children than Saul Alexander, especially for youth without access to a car and who need to walk or bike to free lessons.

But the issue is bigger than town officials, Smith said, and there's now a need for community involvement.

"This has transcended Mr. (Colin) Martin," Smith said. "The (tennis courts') current rules really hamper this community, especially the minority kids."

Smith said earlier this month he and several community members gathered to discuss, and hopefully work out, the issue. Both Colin Martin and James Martin were invited to the meeting, but only James Martin attended, Smith said. Also, in the last week, Smith said he tried reaching out to Colin Martin, calling him multiple times without a response.

The issue primarily centers on years of scheduling conflicts over the courts. James Martin claimed the town reserves the courts just to keep him out.

And Smith agreed, as he walked throughout the park around 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, pointing out reserve signs on courts where no lessons were actually taking place.

However at the time, of the park's six courts only two were reserved. But neither sign listed a time frame for the duration of the reservation, which Smith said could confuse children wishing to play for fun, for free. Smith said through the signage, the town is creating an unwelcoming "culture" for children.

"After a while, it gets in your head, 'Don't go to Doty field,'" Smith said. "(Let's say) I'm 12 years old; I come out here to play tennis, and I go on this (reserved) court, because I don't read or I don't look at things because I'm a kid, OK, as opposed to going on that (unreserved) court, but this (reserved) court - nobody's on it. Can you explain that to me? I'm not trying to be melodramatic here...but to me, something is wrong."

However, Colin Martin said via email that the town allows employees to reserve as many courts as they need for league play and tournaments, even if that means reserving all six courts at once.

"Town staff has the ability to reserve all courts," he said.

Since James Martin is no longer permitted on the property, in addition to private lessons, the town also now offers lessons for frees.

According to a previously published Journal Scene article, James Martin was notified via a town letter dated April 2017 that “outside tennis instruction would no longer be permitted at Doty Park.” The letter cited “numerous scheduling conflicts” between his program and the towns.

James Martin was then placed on trespass notice when the town said he refused to move from a reserved court when asked, and used foul language with a tennis league captain, among other individuals at Doty Park.

"(He) was given a 'no trespass' letter for his continued confrontive and belligerent behavior when he could not use whatever courts he wanted, whenever he wanted them," Martin stated in the email. "The confrontations were with the town’s tennis professional and with other league team captains. He refused to leave courts that had previously been reserved by other teams. This behavior lasted off and on for several years... . His behavior often was punctuated with rudeness and foul language."

James Martin has denied the accusations about his heated behavior.

In addition to calling for community support of James Martin and awareness about the need to review the park rules, Smith said he's requesting for Colin Martin to resign.

"For this behavior that Colin Martin has presented to us, the minority community, he lacks a lot of credibility and he should resign," Smith said. "When you have signs saying that only the town can have private instructions on a public court and have an instructor there collecting for her salary, this sounds a bit contradictory and downright illegal."

While Colin Martin did not respond to the Smith's resignation comment, he did explain why the town's tennis pro, Nancy Summerset is allowed to do what she does.

As a town employee, Summerset has permission to give private lessons on the town-owned courts and is the only one who can do so, according to Colin Martin. He said via email that for fiscal year 2018, Town Council members adopted an annual operating budget including a revenue line item of $27,974 for "Tennis Complex Revenue." That total includes funds generated by tennis lessons, clinics, camps, leagues, tournaments, etc.

Summerset has declined to comment on the matter.

Mayor Wiley Johnson has said he wants to work with other town leaders to find a solution that doesn't involve banning people from the park.

Wednesday's demonstration is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Doty Park, located at 320 North Laurel Street.

 
COMMENTS:
Tricia Fisher
If the Mayor wants to work with people on this issue, why did he hang up on me, UNWILLING to listen to the truth?

Anthony Moore
Yea the peaceful protesters were using profanity and caused the free lessons that were planned for this evening to be cancelled. So be proud of yourselves you helped take away from more kids from learning, exercising and playing among each other.

Louis Smith
Great job Anthony MOORE!!! WE ARE WORKING TO GET 100S INSTEAD OF CHOSEN FEW!!! BTW WHAT CURSE WORD DID WE USED. IT SEEMS THAT YOU GUYS NEED A LESSON IN DEMOCRACY. WHEN YOU GUYS CALLED THE COPS ON US. THEY SAID WE WERE DOING NOTHING WRONG. SO IT SEEMS YOUR NARRATIVE LACKS MERIT!!! PLEASE KEEP SHOWING YOUR WHITE PRIVILEGE.

Anthony Moore
Louis Smith I don’t bother to listen to the race baiting speech you were spewing I just was told that you were using profanity and that’s why the lessons were cancelled. Which by the way I went to two weeks ago and there were all kinds of kids of all colors playing happily together but good job making sure that got ruined for them last night. I’ll be honest I don’t know the complete ins and outs of this situation but I do know that every single dang thing doesn’t always have to do with race. But I do know that if a person is so inclined you can “make” everything into a race thing. That’s all the time I have for this subject have a great day.

Louis Smith
Anthony Moore


(08/13/18)  LCTA Newsletter: July
Important Dates
August 17 - Team Registration closes for 65 & over, 75 & over and Singles Leagues. Teams must have the required number of players for a viable team by August 17.

August 17 - Fall (FUN) League opens. This is the time of year we start work on next year's teams. Along with 18 & over, the age groups are 39 & over, 54 & over, and 69 & over. Registration for this league closes September 14. Fall (FUN) league does not count for ratings and is a great time for everyone to play in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Player Party
The CPTL - LCTA Player party is being scheduled for late September or October. We are working on the dates and will put notices on Facebook and www.lctatennis.org when scheduled. It is a fun, all-inclusive opportunity for LCTA to say thanks to all our players. The food and beverages are complimentary. The Charleston Professional Tennis League has great players. This is a wonderful opportunity to see up close, professional tennis.

LCTA Annual and Captains Meeting
January 3, 2019 - LCTA Annual and Captains meeting. The preliminary schedule is for 6:00 p.m. at Daniel Island Club. Make your plans to attend. This is an important meeting as the updated national, sectional, state, and local regulations are presented.

40 & Over Format
The survey of the 40 & over Captains results are in and counted. By a large majority, the vote was to play 2 singles and 3 doubles for 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0 leagues. 2.5 will continue to play 1 singles and 2 doubles. The 4.5+ will continue to play 2 singles and 3 doubles. These formats will be started in the fall. Thanks to the Captains for letting us know your preference and to Pat and Dee for organizing the survey.

Fall League Registration
The Adult Local League Committee approved regulation changes for FALL LEAGUE ONLY that relaxes the 2 week time to make up matches and waived enforcement of the team default regulation (FALL ONLY).

2018 LCTA Mixed Doubles Champions
Congratulations to the 2018 LCTA Mixed Doubles Champions. Good luck to each of you at the USTA-SC Championships.
18 & Over
6.0--St. Andrews--Christine Bozigar
7.0--Mt. Pleasant--Jane Eckhardt
8.0--Mt. Pleasant--Mike Cledakis
9.0--St. Andrews--Steve Howell

40 & Over
6.0--Family Circle--Deana Cumbie
7.0--Family Circle--Maureen Eimers
8.0--Family Circle--Allison Pickhardt
9.0--Family Circle--Maria Elliot

55 & Over
6.0--Del Webb--Roland Ouellet
7.0--Charleston Tennis Center--Elisabeth Pickleshimer
8.0--Maybank--Bob Pieffer

65 & Over
7.0--Charleston Tennis Center--Elisabeth Pickeshimer


(08/11/18)  Bishop England girls tennis still team to beat
Academic Magnet has moved up to Class AAA after making two straight appearances in the Class AA state finals, but Bishop England’s girls shouldn’t be too worried.

Although the local Class AAA region has become more competitive for the Bishops with the addition of long-time BE rival Waccamaw as well as Georgetown, Manning and Academic Magnet to go with Hanahan, coach Kristin Fleming Arnold’s BE team doesn’t take a back seat to anyone in high school tennis these days.

The Bishops will be seeking their eighth consecutive state championship this fall.

Bishop England is loaded once again as Fleming Arnold looks forward to her 10th season coaching the girls team.

“We have our top five returning: Eleanor Campbell, Lily Woods, Jenna Santa Lucia, Mackenzie Penton and Crista Vroman, and new player Izzy Wods,” Fleming Arnold reports.

The Bishops polished off Mid-Carolina, 5-2, last November to close out 2017 with a 17-2 record and a seventh straight state title.

Fleming Arnold is 13-0 in state finals, including four as a player for the Bishops and two coaching the defending state champion BE boys.

The Bishops have won a state-best 22 girls tennis state titles.

OCA TAKES OVER AA

Oceanside Collegiate Academy is now eligible to compete in the High School League playoffs and should take Academic Magnet’s place in another Class AA state final. With a strong lineup returning from last season, it’s no surprise that OCA coach Phil Whitesell said, “I feel good about our chances.”

Newcomer Philip Simmons, coached by Richard Schultz, should be Oceanside’s toughest opponent in the Region 6-AA race.

Wando is expected to make a run for the Class AAAAA state title after being stopped in last year’s Lower State final in a 4-3 loss to River Bluff. The Warriors started five underclassmen in that loss, led by the Sinclaire sisters, now senior Abby and sophomore Kelsey.

Berkeley should be the top Class AAAA team locally with sophomore standout Abby Cotuna still around. Cotuna was an All-Lowcountry performer as a freshman.

Defending Class AAA SCISA champion Porter-Gaud lost a pair of All-Lowcountry players, freshman sensation Sophie Williams to online schooling and Wofford freshman Alex Hildell, but coach Charlotte Hartsock is excited about her young team. “We have some new young players and we have a good balanced team,” Hartsock said. “Sophie is No. 3 in the country. Not many of those around.”

Ashley Hall now goes one better, with national No. 1 Emma Navarro along with senior standout Rebecca Spratt. Coach Mary Gastley’s team looks like a good choice to reign supreme in SCISA tennis.

NAVARRO U.S. NO. 1

It might have been too much to expect a second straight national championship from 17-year-old Emma Navarro. But as a consolation prize, the Duke-bound Ashley Hall junior is now living the dream of being the No. 1 junior girls player in the nation.

Despite losing in the round of 32 singles in the Girls 18 U.S. National Hard Courts in San Diego, Navarro won five straight consolation matches before losing in the consolation semifinals to fifth seed Caty McNally of Cincinnati.

Navarro was rewarded for her girls 18 national clay court singles and doubles titles when the latest USTA national rankings were released on Wednesday. On the same day the new rankings came out, Navarro faced 2017 French Open Junior champion Whitney Osuigwe, currently No. 2 in the world and U.S. junior rankings, in San Diego.

No. 2 seed Osuigwe, a 16-year-old pro, posted a 6-3, 6-4 win over the 17th-seeded Navarro, although Navarro served at 3-4 and 4-4 in both sets but lost service both times after being up 40-15 in the first set and 30-0 in the second set.

If Navarro had survived against Osuigwe, her opponent in the round of 16 would have been doubles partner Chloe Beck. But Osuigwe also eliminated Beck in the round of 16, and then Osuigwe and partner Caty McNally defeated the Navarro/Beck team in the quarterfinals.

Locals Allie Gretkowski and Anna Ross each finished 5-2 in singles in San Diego, Gretkowski losing in the second round of girls 16 and then winning four straight consolation matches, while Ross lost in the third round of girls 18, then won three consolation matches.

Sophie Williams lost in round three girls 16 singles and won a pair of consolation matches.

In Kalmazoo, Mich., in the boys 16 and 18 national hard courts, Jared Pratt made the third round of singles in 18s, while the Coy Simon/Huntley Allen team made it to the fourth round of doubles. Both Simon and Allen made the third round of singles, and Allen won three consolation matches for a 5-2 singles record.

Max Smith advanced to the boys 16 quarterfinals in doubles with Ashe Ray.

LOCAL NOTES

-- Charleston’s Diane Barker is in Ulm, Germany, to begin competition in the ITF Seniors World Team Championships for the USTA’s Alice Marble women’s 60 team. The U.S. team has won the Marble Cup the last four years. The World Individual Championships will be held the following week in Ulm, starting next weekend. “Draws will be made today. Play starts tomorrow,” Barker reported on Saturday from Germany.

-- The Creekside Court Crushers from Creekside Tennis and Swim in Mount Pleasant won the state women’s 40 3.5 championship, then went all the way to the final of the Southerns in Mobile, Ala., against a team from North Carolina before falling in the decisive match in a third-set tiebreaker. Crystal Daniel served as captain of the Creekside team.


(08/03/18)  USTA SC: Community Tennis News: Volume 34
Registration Now Open  for 2018 Junior Varsity State Championship

For Your Information

Nominate Your Tennis Faves: Recognize individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to tennis during the year. Award winners are announced in the fall on www.sctennis.com and presented each December at the USTA South Carolina Annual Meeting. Please take a moment to recognize your tennis favorites in South Carolina. It takes just five minutes to nominate a deserving person or organization. Click here to nominate.

USTA SC in the News:
South Strand News: Pawley's Island Teen Serves Tennis Across County
 Check out Domino Boulware on YouTube hosting Family Tennis Night

SC Community Development Workshop: Friday, September 21, 2018, from 9 am until 4 pm in Columbia. This meeting is mandatory for all CTAs applying for CGPG grants.

South Carolina Tennis on Campus State Tournament: November 10-11, 2018, at the Charleston Tennis Center.

Kids Helping Kids
Gabriella Martin and friends from the Plantersville tennis program. (Photo by South Strand News)

Net Generation Fun
Lowcountry Youth Tennis Association and USTA SC served up Net Generation at the Charleston Caribfest.

SC Player Wins NJTL Essay Contest!
Congratulations to Makayla Cobbs, from Reevesville, SC, who was named a 2018 State NJTL Essay Contest Winner.  USTA Southern has offered Makayla and one chaperone an an all-expense paid trip to the Winston-Salem Open Aug. 18-20. Makayla has played tennis since 2010 with Barbara Jones, the CTA/NJTL leader in St. George.

The USTA/National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) network is a nationwide group of more than 600 non-profit youth development organizations that provide free or low-cost tennis, education and life skills programming to more than 250,000 children each year.

NJTL develops the character of young people by emphasizing the ideals and life of co-founder Arthur Ashe.  While NJTLs vary in size and programming, this growing network shares a commitment to positive youth development, the importance of education and tennis as a lifetime sport.
   
USTA SC Position Open: Director of Adult Programs
USTA South Carolina is currently accepting applications for Director of Adult Programs. This full-time position reports to the Executive Director of USTA SC and is based in Columbia. The Director of Adult Programs will promote and develop the growth of tennis by directing all aspects of the Adult Programs menu: Leagues, Social Tennis Programs, Tennis Apprentice Programs and other play opportunities.

This individual will work with the Local League Coordinators, facilities, and other tennis providers to create new and innovative opportunities for adult play while enhancing and expanding established programs. To learn more or apply, click here.

Thank you from your Community Tennis Team:

On behalf of our South Carolina Community Tennis Team -- Pamela Banks, Cameron Sebnick, PJ Fulmer, Rashawn Nelson and me --  I would like to thank you for all you continue to do in your local communities to grow the game of tennis. Because of your work, there are adults and kids playing tennis for the first time. The year is half over, and we still have many more tennis communities to create. Join us as we welcome new players to find themselves in the game.

Cheers,
Sheryl

Sheryl McAlister
Associate Executive Director, USTA South Carolina
18 Woodcross Drive, Columbia, SC 29212 / mcalister@sctennis.com


(08/02/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: LETTER: Accusations against Summerville tennis pro unfounded
To say that I was appalled at the two-page spread (July 25, Journal Scene) vilifying Nancy Sumersett would not begin to describe my reaction.

I have known and worked with Nancy for many years. I have assisted her with a few tournaments and have found that not only is she an excellent tennis pro with vast knowledge of how to teach, but incredibly kind and patient with even the most difficult child, regardless of their race, religion or color.

That she was not even interviewed is the poorest form of journalism. You owe Nancy a public apology and an explanation of why she was libeled in your paper.

Susan Mock
Summerville


(07/31/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: To the Editor: LETTER: Town tennis pro works tirelessly and is no racist
Shame on you Summerville Journal Scene.

I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointed I was when I read your recent article re: the Doty tennis program. (“Tempers flare after man banned from giving free tennis lessons,” July 25)

I have known Nancy Sumersett for more than 10 years and she is one of the kindest, sweetest and professional people I have ever known. She works tirelessly for the tennis program at Doty Park and has made it what it is today.

She treats all she works with the same, regardless of race. Nancy doesn’t have a racist bone in her body. And for you to suggest otherwise based on two people’s opinions is poor lopsided journalism.

Nancy is the tennis pro at Doty Park and does an excellent job of managing the use of the courts. All of us who play there have to abide by the rules. All of us.

The next time you want to print an article attacking someone, how about getting your facts straight.

Suzanne Brown
Summerville


(07/31/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: LETTER: It's not racism to call out bad behavior on tennis court
Many of us of all colors and races, were offended after reading your Doty Park story (“Tempers flare after man banned from giving free tennis lessons,” July 25)

Racism? Really? This is just about bad behavior. Period. It has nothing to do with bigotry.

There is a large group of us that can attest to many incidents where Mr. Martin, himself, displayed inappropriate, unprofessional conduct toward players and especially Nancy Sumersett.

“Problems for years”? The only “problem” is Mr. Martin. And the only person “jealous of someone’s notoriety” is Mr. Martin himself.

That story is full of nothing but allegations and falsehoods. I’m the “captain” Mr. Martin had the “verbal confrontation” with in May and your reporter got a very, very watered down version.

Maybe your reporter should have attempted to talk to me too? But more importantly, that one-sided story doesn’t begin to portray the Nancy Sumersett we all know and respect with any accuracy or truth.

Nancy has been instructing kids and adults for years as an employee of the town. She is a joyful, caring, giving, Christian pillar of our community who is respected by all her students and peers, who consist of all races —African Americans, Hispanics, Caucasians, Indians and more.

You took the word of a disgruntled player and semi “instructor” and his cohort, who burned his bridges with his bad behavior and is now making a desperate attempt to garner attention with the racism card. Pitiful.

Lorel Morris
Summerville


(07/31/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: LETTER: Tennis pro is someone the town can be proud of
It is with great pleasure that I can say Nancy Sumersett is a Head Tennis Pro the town of Summerville can be proud of.

Her agenda is to encourage children, and adults alike, to become active in the game of tennis.

Her love of tennis reflects in the enthusiasm of her instruction and extent to which she will do whatever is necessary for all to play.

Pauline Collier
Summerville


(07/31/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: LETTER: Tennis lessons include learning to follow the rules
I am writing to express my disappointment in your article written about Doty Park tennis and Nancy Sumersett.

I have known Nancy since 2012 through various lessons for myself, gatherings at Doty and being a former USTA captain. The accusations against Nancy are completely incorrect.

I met James in late 2012. We used to practice together but we both moved in different directions with our tennis games. On numerous occasions as the captain I had to ask James to move courts as Nancy would assign us which courts to play our matches on. James was always very belligerent about moving and only chose to move once when I asked.

It is hard to play a match on Courts 1 and 2 due to the noise of the kids at the playground area. It is a tennis courtesy and he is aware of that as he plays matches as well.

My biggest disappointment is the race card used. That couldn’t be further from the truth about Nancy or the rest of us who have known her and interacted with her nor is it the case for any of us.

When we have people visiting from other tennis centers, we want to have a friendly and welcoming place to play. We always wait until 6 p.m. to get on the courts as that is our appointed time.

When James has been out there we have been patient, but he goes late often with the kids and parents, and insists that we play on another court even though we have been given the assigned courts by Nancy.

He swore at me once and really upset the visiting players. Since moving on from being captain, I am thankful that I did not have to interact with James any longer as he made it very stressful. If a person is rude that is just a rude person regardless of their race, religion, sex, etc.

The fact that you did not speak to any of us who know Nancy and how it really has gone at Doty since James started his program is not balanced journalism.

There is room for all to play if rules are adhered to and tennis etiquette is followed. That is what the kids need to learn as well, not just the game.

Maia Emery
Summerville


(07/28/18)  Rogers ‘a little jealous’ of not having local nationals
It was good to see Shelby Rogers back home last Sunday, even if she wasn’t swinging a racket.

She was greeted by hugs and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies from her fans who remembered Shelby from nearly a decade earlier during her days at the then Players Club.

Rogers was living something of a dream, returning home with the Tennis Channel to broadcast a new Charleston junior star playing in a national championship match at LTP Tennis. Rogers admitted she was a little envious of 17-year-old Emma Navarro being able to play for a national championship on her home courts in front of her family and friends.

“I wish I could take a little credit, but she (Navarro) has put in the hours on the court,” Rogers told her TV audience.

“Now, I’m actually a little bit jealous, because when I was coming through in juniors, I didn’t have this (a national championship) in my hometown. It is really awesome.”

The current year has been a struggle for Rogers. She hasn’t played a WTA Tour match in nearly five months.

Rogers’ 26th year has been relatively quiet as far as tennis is concerned. She has played a total of two singles matches since turning 25 on Oct. 13 of last year. Of course, she played in the decisive doubles match in the Americans’ victory over Belarus in last November’s Fed Cup final.

She has been unlucky with injuries, suffering one in each of her two singles matches in 2018.

She suffered a right arm pronator injury in her first-round loss in the Australian Open against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, then probably the first serious injury of her career in her first-round loss at Indian Wells in March to Caroline Dolehide. The left knee injury eventually required surgery.

As for her return to the tour, Rogers was non-committal sitting at the Tennis Channel desk before last Sunday’s title match. She wore a brace on her injured knee.

She is hoping to return to the tour later this year, but nothing appears to be firm at this point in her recovery. She was ranked 78th at the time of the knee injury but is currently ranked No. 223 in the world.

“I am happy to be back in my hometown and to be a part of this amazing event,” Rogers told her Tennis Channel audience.

Rogers is hoping to have her ranking protected by sitting out at least six months and appealing to the tour. Otherwise, her ranking would be many hundred spots below her current rank when she returns to the tour.

EMMA’S AMAZING FEAT

Navarro accomplished a remarkable feat last Sunday when she won the singles and doubles titles in the USTA National Girls 18 Clay Courts Championships. The performance has to go down as one of the best ever for a Charleston area athlete.

Non-tennis fans/players might have a difficult time fully recognizing what Navarro accomplished. She won a pair of national championships without really being pushed by a field that included many of the nation’s top junior girls. Navarro won 13 consecutive matches in singles and doubles. That’s 26 straight sets without dropping a set.

Navarro yielded a total of only 27 games in her seven singles matches.

As a result of her success, Navarro has climbed to the No. 2 spot in the national girls 18 rankings.

The hundreds of fans who watched Navarro play all week or just in the semifinals or finals appreciated what she accomplished. They will be Emma fans for life, just as Rogers’ fans will always be fans of the area’s first true big-time women’s tennis player.

Navarro will have a shot at winning a wild card into the main draw of the U.S. open when she plays in the U.S. Girls 18 Hard Courts starting next weekend in San Diego. That’s a tournament that Rogers used to jump-start her professional career in 2010 by winning and earning the tournament’s wild card into the U.S. Open.

Navarro has a wild card into the Junior U.S. Open starting Sept. 2 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.

For most of the past week, Navarro has had her very own billboard displayed alongside I-26 for everyone entering Charleston to see. The digital billboard located at the Cosgrove Avenue exit on the East bound I-26 was scheduled to be taken down on Saturday.

The congratulatory billboard was due to the effort of St. Andrew’s Playground league tennis player Mike Nixon, who happens to work for Meadors Design Services of Azalea Drive.

“We decided to put up the billboard for Emma to recognize the fantastic achievement of one of our local players. Through this, she has earned herself a spot at the Volvo Cup Open next year, a major event on the WTA tour, which gives the event another local participant,” Nixon said.

“Add to this that her family does a lot for the youth in our community through the Meeting Street Academy made it a no-brainer to us. Several of us at Meadors are active USTA league players and understand just how much hard work, dedication and skill go in to achieving what she accomplished.”

NOTES

-- The girls high school tennis season is only about a month away, but defending SCISA champion Porter-Gaud already has lost a big one. Sophie Williams, an aggressive left-hander who led the Cyclones to a state title last year as an eighth-grader, has decided to get more serious about her tennis game and switch to online schooling. Williams is currently the fourth-ranked girls 14 player in the nation.

-- Hanahan standout Chad Nash won an Intercollegiate Tennis Association summer circuit singles title last weekend at Furman University.


(07/28/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: It Sucks You're Leaving Andy!
It’s Party Time!

Wishing Andy the Very Best!!
It sucks you're leaving..................

Come wish Andy farewell and good luck in his new endeavor.

LET'S HAVE SOME FUN!
Sat., August 11, 6pm-until…
Pine Forest Club House
Enjoy BBQ/Chicken Dinner - Includes Tea and Dessert

Music/Karoake by the Drew's
and lots of fun with friends!

$10 PF Members
$15 Non-Members
EVERYONE IS WELCOME!!

RSVP - by Sunday, August 5th - twaddill214@hotmail.com
Hosted by the Pine Forest Ladies Tennis Association


(07/23/18)  LCTA Newsletter: July
As surely as mixed turns into combo, Combo season is up and running. I've heard lots of players say this is their favorite season! "Y'all have fun ya' hear."

Important Dates
65 & 75 Registration opens July 20. Six eligible players must be on the roster by August 17. Play will be 3 doubles, men, women, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 9.0. The 75 & over will be invited to the SC State Invitational. State Championships for 65 & 75 are scheduled for Hilton Head Island, November 3 -5.

Singles Registration opens July 20; each team must have at least 3 eligible players registered by August 17. SC State Championships are scheduled for Nov. 10 - 12 in Aiken
SC Mixed Doubles Championships are scheduled for Sept. 7 - 10 in Florence.
SC Combo Championships are scheduled for October 18 - 22 at Hilton Head Island.

Mary Goins Announces Departure
After a 25-year tenure with USTA-SC, Mary Goins has announced her departure. Mary has been our friend and supporter throughout the years. All of us in LCTA will miss her.

USTA-SC will fill Mary's position. The Director of Leagues position will now be located in Columbia. If any of you are interested, let one of us know and we can put you in contact with USTA South Carolina.

NOTES
Dee Mack is bringing new enthusiasm, energy , coordinators and training to LCTA. All of you will certainly enjoy working with Dee on LCTA League issues.

CAPTAINS - a reminder, team captains have the responsibility to reach out to the opposing captain in advance of the match to confirm match location and time. We've had some instances where this didn't happen and teams went to the wrong courts.

Also, the consequence of a team default (majority matches not played) are severe for the team that does not have the necessary players / teams. We encourage Captains to work together to keep team defaults from occurring. A thought - before you record a team default, (yes, you are within the regulations) if the situation was reversed, what would I like the other captain to do.

Thanks,
Steve Wilson, LCTA President   srw924@gmail.com


(07/27/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB: August 2018 Newsletter
Best of Luck to you, Andy

The Club appreciates all of Andy's contributions and efforts given to our Pine Forest tennis family and wish him success in his future endeavor.
Welcome Barry Quinn

It is our pleasure to welcome Mr. Barry Quinn to our Pine Forest tennis family. Barry will step in and occupy Andy's position as Director of Tennis as of Saturday, August 11th.

Beyond his collegiate playing career he coached both the Men's and Ladies teams at his alma mater (North Greenville). During his coaching tenure he led the Men's team to consecutive National Championships. Barry not only has passion for people and the game of tennis he also brings extensive experience in clay court maintenance.   Joined by his wife (Christy) and daughter (Riley) he is enthusiastically looking forward to providing our club with new looks and maintaining a first class facility.

RACQUETS FOR RECOVERY - NOVEMBER 2-4, 2018
WE NEED YOUR HELP! The Pine Forest Ladies Tennis Association will host the 14th annual Racquets for Recovery Tennis Tournament, Flocking for Funds Campaign and Silent Auction to benefit local recovering breast cancer patients.
If interested in a sponsorship opportunity or want to help, please contact Shirley Hunter at racquetsforrecovery@gmail.com.

From the Tennis Shop


Wishing Andy the Very Best!
It stinks you're leaving..........
Come wish Andy farewell and good luck in his new endeavor.
Saturday, August 11, 6pm-until
LET'S HAVE SOME FUN!
Pine Forest Clubhouse
Enjoy BBQ/ Chicken dinner- includes tea and dessert
Music/Karaoke by the Drew's and lots of fun with friends!
$10 PF members
$15 Non-members
EVERYONE IS WELCOME!!

RSVP - by Sunday, August 5th - twaddill214@hotmail.com
Hosted by the Pine Forest Ladies Tennis Association

2018 Summer Camp Schedule
The Club at Pine Forest will host one more Junior Sports Camps for the summer. Camp will consist of:
    1 1/2 hours of tennis instruction
    1 1/2 hours of golf instruction and
    1 1/2 hours of recreational swimming.

Lunch, snacks and refreshments will be provided each day. Children 6-14 years old are eligible to participate. Camp will have a limited number of space to sign up. The camp will run from Monday to Thursday. Camp starts promptly at 9am and runs until 2pm.

Camp dates are as follows:
August 6
$165 for Pine Forest Members
$195 for non-members
10% Discount for second child or signing up for multiple weeks
 
CAMP WILL FILL UP FAST!! SIGN UP NOW!!
 
LTA NEWS
All tennis players and guest are invited to these upcoming events hosted by the Pine Forest Ladies Tennis Association
 
Farewell Party For Andy Steingold
Saturday, August 11th 6 p.m. until ?
Say it ain't so............Andy has to go! Join us for a BBQ/Chicken dinner and music by The Drew's as we say goodbye and good luck on his new adventure.
$10 for Pine Forest members and $15 for non-members
RSVP by Sunday, 8/5 - twaddill214@hotmail.com
     
US Open Social - Saturday, September 8th
 Watch the Ladies Finals, Food, Fun and Prizes! More details to follow.


(07/27/18)  USTA SC:  Community Tennis News
Cam Littlejohn   1950-2018
"Cam will be missed. In law, because he's one of those people who you can really trust. And in the tennis community as someone who cares."
 -- Bob Masella, Legal Counsel (USTA SC)

Junior Team Tennis Championships
235 Participants
34 Teams
Camden, SC


Thanks for a Great JTT Championship Weekend!!!!!
Tournament Director and Manager of JTT, Rashawn Nelson, thanked all the players, JTT coordinators, volunteers, parents and the Camden community for a successful Junior Team Tennis Championship weekend.

Nelson particularly noted:
The City of Camden
The Tennis Center of Camden, Director of Tennis Paola Maoli
Camden Country Club Director of Tennis Kevin Jackson

Volunteers
Joyce Harrison
Nancy Powell
Mehdi El-Kheddiwi
Mia El-Kheddiwi
April Gift
Irma Brooks

USTA SC Staff
Emily Russell
PJ Fulmer
Cameron Sebnick

We look forward to seeing you all next season! For a list of winners and more photographs, see below:

Congratulations to the 2018 Junior Team Tennis State Champions!
(Runners-up are listed in parentheses)

*These teams will go on to represent South Carolina in the USTA Southern Section Championships in Rome, Georgia.
**SC team with automatic wildcard to Section Championships

10U Intermediate
*Maybank Islanders  - Charleston
(Creekside Court Crushers)

12U Intermediate
*Camden HITT Squad –Camden
(Summerville Ballers)

12U Advanced
*Brookstone Pirates and Mermaids - Greenville
(FTC Warriors)

14U Intermediate
*The No Names - Lexington
(St. Andrews Aces)

18U Intermediate
*Bluffton Badkatz - Bluffton
(**Saluda Shoals Slammers)

18U Girls
Summerville Wave – Charleston
(Wildwood Woodcreek)

18U Boys
Creekside Court Crushers - Charleston
(Brookstone)

Congratulations to the Sportsmanship Awards Winners
10U Intermediate: Owen Tuohy and Fallon Higgins
12U Intermediate: Graham Anderson and Taylor Kingsley
12U Advanced: James Herbert and Mary Ellington
14U Intermediate: Neo James and Pai Godwin
18U Intermediate: Alex Swetnam and Margaret Zendzian
18U Girls: Katelyn Schmedeke
18U Boys: Duncan Hogg
 
Thank you to all who participated in the #SCJTTCHAMPS18 2018 Social Media Scavenger Hunt! Congratulations to the following teams for winning the Spirit Contest!

1st Place: Creekside Crushers
2nd Place: Summerville Ballers
Honorable mention: Saluda Shoals Slammers

USTA SC Position Open: Director of Adult Programs
USTA South Carolina is currently accepting applications for Director of Adult Programs. This full-time position reports to the Executive Director of USTA SC and is based in Columbia. The Director of Adult Programs will promote and develop the growth of tennis by directing all aspects of the Adult Programs menu: Leagues, Social Tennis Programs, Tennis Apprentice Programs and other play opportunities.

This individual will work with the Local League Coordinators, facilities, and other tennis providers to create new and innovative opportunities for adult play while enhancing and expanding established programs.

Mark your Calendar
SC Community Development Workshop: Friday, September 21, 2018, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. in Columbia. This meeting is mandatory for all CTAs applying for CGPG grants.

Junior Varsity Girls Tournament: October 12-14, 2018, at Cayce Tennis Center. Registration opens soon.

South Carolina Tennis on Campus State Tournament: November 10-11, 2018, at the Charleston Tennis Center.

Thank you for your partnership

On behalf of our South Carolina Community Tennis Team -- Pamela Banks, Cameron Sebnick, PJ Fulmer, Rashawn Nelson and me --  I would like to thank you for all you continue to do in your local communities to grow the game of tennis. Because of your work, there are adults and kids playing tennis for the first time. The year is half over, and we still have many more tennis communities to create. Join us as we welcome new players to find themselves in the game.

Cheers,
Sheryl McAlister

Associate Executive Director, USTA South Carolina
18 Woodcross Drive, Columbia, SC 29212 / mcalister@sctennis.com


(07/25/18)  SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: By Rickey Ciapha: Several upset after man banned from giving free tennis lessons at Doty Park
The Town of Summerville has banned a tennis instructor from providing free lessons at the Doty Park tennis courts after town officials said the instructor refused to adhere to the town’s rules and procedures.

James Martin, a Summerville resident, started offering free tennis lessons to underprivileged youth at Doty Park in 2016 through his Tennis Development from the Heart program. In April 2017, town officials notified Martin via a letter that “outside tennis instruction would no longer be permitted at Doty Park.”

The town cited “numerous scheduling conflicts” between Martin’s program and those scheduled with the town’s tennis professional Nancy Sumersett.

Nancy Summerset deferred comments to Parks and Recreation Manager Doyle Best.

At a June 2017 town council meeting, in response to the letter, Martin spoke about the tennis conflicts. When recently contacted by The Journal Scene, Martin said Summerville Mayor Wiley Johnson told the two groups to share the courts. Johnson said he would have to revisit the recordings of what occurred at the meeting. But June 2017 meeting minutes state that Johnson “turned the issue over to the Town Administrator and Parks and Recreation Director.”

When contacted by The Journal Scene on Friday, Johnson said he doesn’t want to see anyone banned from the tennis courts and plans to meet with the town administrator and parks and recreation manager soon.

“I know this thing is still not over,” Johnson said.

There were a handful of clashes between Martin’s program and the town’s. Recently on May 29, 2018, Martin and members of his group occupied a tennis court at Doty. A team captain from the town’s United States Tennis Association team told Martin the courts were reserved for the town’s use.

Martin suggested the captain use another unreserved court that was not being used, which led to a verbal altercation. The town claimed Martin used “foul language” toward the captain. Martin said he did not use foul language before “everyone left the park” and there were “five of us having a conversation.”

The incident prompted Town Administrator Colin Martin to send a letter on July 12, 2018 to James Martin informing him he was placed on trespass notice and prohibited from returning to Doty Park.

The town also placed signs on the tennis court entrances that read “private instruction is only permitted by Town of Summerville tennis staff at any Town facility.”

Parents of children in James Martin’s program complained about the meaning of the signs. Best said those rules have always been in place.

“The new signs that have been put up aren’t necessarily new rules or new procedures,” Best said.

Best, who applauded Martin’s service to the town for the past two years, said Martin refused to follow procedures set in place by the town. Those procedures mainly involved “scheduling conflicts” between Martin and Summerville’s Head Teaching Pro Nancy Sumersett.

Problems for years

Since Martin’s camp began in 2016, he and Sumersett have clashed several times over court reservations. Currently, Doty Park tennis courts are available for use if they’re not reserved for the town.

As a town employee, Sumersett reserves the courts whenever there’s league play, summer camp, or she’s offering group tennis clinics.

Junior tennis clinics are $10 per clinic, per person. Tennis camp fees are $110.

James Martin said that Nancy Sumersett would reserve more courts than she needed at a time to intentionally keep him and program participants from using them. At times, she would reserve five courts at a time for practice, according to Martin’s letter to Mayor Wiley Johnson on April 17, 2018. Martin said there were instances where Sumersett would reserve courts that wound up not being occupied by the town’s tennis league players at all.

“This issue has been the town has allowed their town pro to overuse her power,” Martin said. “She has been making it difficult for the courts to be available. She reserves courts when they’re not being used.”

Martin pointed to other moments where Sumersett would cut off court lights on him and his camp.

“I’ve been having issues since I started this program,” Martin said.

Best, who said he didn’t want to get into “finger-pointing,” stated simply there were “scheduling conflicts.”

“Our procedures are the courts are open for recreational play unless they’re in use by a scheduled program…there could have been times when the courts were reserved (by Nancy Sumersett) for the teams and they weren’t able to be there.”

Race Issue?

Councilman Aaron Brown started the Tennis Development from the Heart program with help from Janitors for Jesus, which is based between two local churches — Baum Temple AME Zion and Brownsville Community Church of God in 2016.

Brown solicited Martin — both of whom are black — to lead the program for underprivileged young people who could not afford tennis lessons. It was an alternative to running the streets.

In total, the group has welcomed 75 children ages 5 to 17. Martin said his group has helped bolster the number of black children on tennis teams at local high schools.

Councilmember Aaron Brown did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

In the program’s first two years, Martin said, 13 children went on to play for their school teams at Summerville, Cane Bay and Goose Creek.

“Initially, none of the majority black schools in the (Lowcountry) in South Carolina have tennis teams because the kids don’t know how to play,” Martin said. “In the first two years…five or six (program participants) have been in the starting lineup for the schools.”

Community Activist Louis Smith said, from his perspective, the town was attempting to prevent minority children from accessing the Doty Park courts.

“They don’t allow minority children to play on the park…I want to say this loud and clear to the Summerville Recreation Department, we will stand up for our children. The Jim Crow era is over,” Smith posted on his Facebook page July 19.

Martin agreed, stating the town is conveying a message that “if you’re black and you’re not paying…we’re not going to allow someone else out there to teach you this game.”

Summerville resident Holly Jacks, who’s white, also instructs Junior Team Tennis at the Doty courts. She said she’s had no difficulty dealing with Summerset and concluded Summerset gives Martin trouble because he’s black. She also said Summerset has been “overly aggressive” in monitoring the tennis courts with white and black tennis players.

“While I cannot seem to comprehend the immense trouble that James has received from Nancy and the town of Summerville for doing almost the same thing as I have been, I can only come to the conclusion that the answer lies simply in the difference of the color of our skin,” Jacks wrote in a letter to the Town of Summerville.

Jacks told The Journal Scene that she also thought Summerset could be jealous of Martin’s notoriety.

“There might be other factors at play,” Jacks said.

Doyle Best said claims of racism could not be further from the truth.

“The purpose of our department is to provide recreational opportunity for all ages and all races. There’s no discrimination going on, on the basis of color, age, and gender such as that.”

Councilman Aaron Brown said at the July 12, 2018, council meeting that Martin’s program was discontinued because Martin refused to follow the rules.

“I initiated that program a little over a year ago with some churches in the Brownsville community to diversify tennis instruction. We worked with parks and rec and we found a way to make this work,” Brown said. “Everything is a matter of the rules. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you have to follow the rules. The problem we had with James Martin is he is not going to follow the rules laid out by the town.”

In April 2017, James Martin was offered the opportunity to extend his tennis program at the Saul Alexander Playground about a mile from Doty Park. Saul Alexander has two tennis courts. Martin refused because he said there was limited parking and the town told him he didn’t have “exclusive rights” to the courts.

Since April, the town said Martin has “chosen to harass town staff with threats of calling the police (and) threats of filing an ‘ethics complaint’ with the State of South Carolina,” per the July 12, 2018 letter sent to James Martin. The town referred to the May 29, 2018, instance where Martin “refused to vacate courts reserved by town staff.”

Martin said there was no May 29 match posted on the USTA website. The organization is the national league through which communities operate tennis leagues. Therefore, he said he felt the the team captain was simply trying to “kick them off the court” on the evening of May 29.

“We didn’t move,” Martin said.

Free Tennis

Pam Green, whose son been in the program for two years, spoke at the July 12, 2018, council meeting. She expressed frustration with Martin’s program being discontinued.

Town council explained Martin’s situation, and assured her she could teach her son tennis lessons.

In response to discontinuing Martin’s tennis program, the town started offering free tennis lessons through Nancy Sumersett.

Clinics will run Wednesdays from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for children ages 6-14.

“Our goal is not to penalize any children or anyone who wants to participate in our programs,” Doyle Best told The Journal Scene. “We know there’s a need for that. We had over 30 children sign up and play for us.”

Editor's Note: Councilmember Aaron Brown did not respond to requests for comment for this story. Nancy Summerset deferred comments to Parks and Recreation Manager Doyle Best.


(07/22/18)  Navarro claims singles title, teams with Beck for doubles title at USTA National Girls 18 Clay Courts Championships
Sunday was a special day for the Navarro family of Charleston.

The tennis club Ben Navarro owns, LTP Tennis, capped off an almost perfect eight-day stand serving as host for the first time of the USTA National Girls 18 Clay Courts Championships.

And 17-year-old daughter Emma Navarro put on a double clinic, one in the morning to claim the national singles title and a main draw wild card into next spring’s Volvo Car Open, and another in the afternoon to waltz off with the national doubles title with longtime partner Chloe Beck.

Really, it was a clinic all week for Navarro in singles, winning seven consecutive straight-set matches, and in doubles for the Duke-bound Navarro/Beck team in rolling over six straight opponents without dropping a set.

Peter Ayers, Navarro’s coach, put the whole day in a nutshell when he said, “They were pretty flawless in doubles.”

With an overflow crowd in attendance, and the Tennis Channel and Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers courtside for a live telecast of the singles final, fifth seed Navarro nearly posted a first-set shutout, taking a 5-0 lead before 17-year-old opponent Chelsea Kung of Fort Worth, Texas, called for the trainer to work on a hand blister. Navarro’s level appeared to drop slightly for two games before she took control again to finish off a 6-2, 6-2 win over sixth seed Kung.

In doubles, it really was a perfect display by the top-seeded Beck/Navarro team as they totally dominated with their aggressive play while taking a 6-0, 6-0 win over Carly Briggs from Calhoun, Ga., and Alana Wolfberg from Orlando, Fla.

“Maybe she was a little nervous,” Navarro said about the normally consistent Kung, who couldn’t seem to find the handle on Navarro’s mixed assortment of strokes and serves. “Being in front, I just tried to stay steady. I didn’t go for too much, because she was really nervous. I knew if I kept shots deep, I had a good chance of beating her.”

Navarro didn’t mind playing six matches over the last two days of the tournament, which was backed up by an all-day rain washout on Friday. “Tournaments are fun, but they are actually easier than practices. When I’m not playing tournaments, I’m playing six or seven hours a day,” she said.

She was thrilled to see such a large turnout. “It was awesome . . . so many people out here,” she said. “I am very excited to come out here and win two gold balls in front of my friends and family.”

Kung wasn’t at her best after playing two long three-set matches on Saturday.

“I don’t think I played amazing today,” she said. “My physical condition was the biggest problem.”

After losing the first game of the second set, Navarro won four straight tight games for a stranglehold on the match.

In doubles, Beck played brilliantly all over the court, while Navarro hammered groundstrokes.

“I was really fired up,” Beck said about winning her second USTA gold ball playing with Navarro. “I’m always comfortable playing doubles with Emma. We understand each other’s games well.”


(07/22/18)  Emma Navarro advances to Clay Courts final
Emma Navarro is one win away from a main draw berth in next spring’s Volvo Car Open.

Would she take it?

“Yes!”

The win has to come in Sunday’s final of the USTA National Girls 18 Clay Courts Championships at LTP Tennis. After six consecutive straight-set singles wins, she needs one more victory, however long it takes Sunday to earn the VCO wild card.

There’s more. Sunday could be a USTA double gold ball day for the Ashley Hall junior.

Saturday was a 4-win day for the 17-year-old as she won quarterfinal and semifinal singles and doubles matches. Of course, she needed fellow Duke-bound partner Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., to pull off the trick in doubles in a tournament that was completely washed out on Friday.

But the big jewel on the line is Sunday’s 10:30 a.m. Tennis Channel- televised singles final. Gold balls and VCO wild cards will be forgotten when fifth seed Navarro steps on the court to take on energetic sixth seed Chelsea Kung of Fort Worth, Texas, for the singles crown.

The doubles final will follow.

“I am very excited for this opportunity on my home club courts,” Navarro said after she and Beck had advanced into the doubles final.

After a little bit of a struggle on Saturday morning, Navarro rallied from 3-1 down in both sets to take a 6-4, 6-3 win over ninth seed Briana Crowley of Battle Ground, Ind., in the quarterfinals.

There was no suspense in the national semifinals for Navarro and her legion of local fans.

The semifinal was over almost before it got started, or so it seemed, during Navarro’s 6-0, 6-0 romp over 15-year-old Hibah Shaikh of Teaneck, N.J.

Navarro simply overpowered Shaikh, who obviously was feeling the effects from having to go to three tiebreakers to win in the quarters earlier in the day.

“I thought I served really well,” Navarro said. “She didn’t serve great, so it was easy to attack her serve. She gave me a lot of time. I could load and rip the ball.”

Navarro was relieved to get off to a good start finally. She trailed 3-1 in both sets of her quarterfinal match, and 2-0 and 3-0 in her sets in the round of 16, and 2-0 in the round of 32.

“I was determined to get off to a good start after my last three matches in a row,” Navarro said.

Against Shaikh’s softer strokes, Navarro went on the offensive from the start, holding service in the first game after falling behind 0-30. She then broke her opponent at 15-40 for a 2-0 lead, and the rout was on.

In the quarterfinals against Crowley’s powerful serves and forehand, Navarro won the last five games of the match and the last two games of the first set.

“It was a little tough coming off of a rainy day. I didn’t hit at all yesterday (Friday), and I got down 3-1 both sets,” she said.

Kung had a long day, having to play under heavy pressure to win the last two games after going to 5-5 in the third set before turning back 17th seed Angelica Blake of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.

Blake had surprised top seed Abigail Forbes of Raleigh 6-4, 6-1, in the quarterfinals.

The Beck/Navarro team took little time to defeat Fiona Crawley of San Antonio and Jaedan Brown of Granger, Ind., 4-1, 5-3, in the doubles quarterfinals, using an abbreviated format.

But the doubles semifinals took everything the Beck/Navarro team had late in the day Saturday, especially in the first set of a 5-4 (7), 4-0 win for the top-seeded team over quick Gianna Pielet of El Paso, Texas, and Carmen Corley of Albuquerque, N.M.

Beck and Navarro will go for their second gold ball as a team in the final against 11th seeded Carly Briggs of Calhoun, Ga., and Alana Wolfberg of Orlando, Fla.


(07/21/18)  Rainout forces busy Saturday at USTA National Girls 18 Clay Courts
Thanks to a complete washout on Friday, Saturday could be a very long day for four of the last eight players in the singles draw of the USTA National Girls 18 Clay Courts Championships.

All four quarterfinal matches are scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant, and the four survivors will advance to the semifinals, which are scheduled for later in the day (12:30 p.m.) at LTP.

Of course, everything depends on the weather. The clay courts at Wild Dunes and Family Circle Tennis Center were completely inundated by rain on Friday and play on those courts was ruled out early in the day.

Charleston’s Emma Navarro and Alana Wolfberg of Orlando, Fla., would end up playing three matches on Saturday if they survive the early-morning singles quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals. The third match would be in the doubles quarterfinals in the afternoon.

Navarro, the fifth seed, is scheduled to take on No. 9 Briana Crowley of Battle Ground, Ind., in the singles quarterfinals. Top seed Abigail Forbes of Raleigh is the only other top four seed left in singles.

Navarro also is part of the top-seeded doubles team. Navarro and Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., are scheduled to take on Jaedan Brown of Granger, Ind., and Fiona Crawley of San Antonio, Texas, in the doubles quarterfinals.

Randy Pate Academy player Peyton Pesavento will team up with Angel Carney of Dallas, Ga., to oppose Carmen Corley of Albuquerque, N.M., and

Gianna Pielet of El Paso, Texas, in the doubles quarterfinals.

Saturday’s Matches/SINGLES QUARTERFINALS
All four matches scheduled for 8 a.m. at LTP Tennis
Emma Navarro (5), Charleston, vs. Briana Crowley (9), Battle Ground, Ind.
Abigail Forbes (1), Raleigh, N.C., vs. Angelica Blake (17), Boca Raton, Fla.
Chelsea Kung (6), Fort Worth, Texas, vs. Alana Wolfberg (12), Orlando, Fla.
Hibah Shaikh (17), Teaneck, N.J., vs. Neha Velaqa (33), Colmar, Pa.


(07/19/18)  Emma Navarro outlasts Freeman, rain at USTA National Clay Courts
A lot was on the line. Emma Navarro had soared early, but now she was under extreme pressure.

As a crowd of about 100 supporters watched in a steady rain on Thursday, the 17-year-old Ashley Hall junior was as calm as she might be while on a walk with her dog Major.

With the threat of possibly having to continue the match another day due to the midday rain, Navarro made good on the 18th point of a tiebreaker and the fourth match point to score a 6-2, 7-6 (8) victory over talented left-hander Page Freeman of Ashland, Mass., and book a spot in the quarterfinals of the USTA’s National Girls 18 Clay Courts Championships at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant.

“It’s great to be able to play a national quarterfinal match at my home club . . . and with Major there. I hear him jingling,” she said.

“That calms me down,” added the tournament’s fifth seed.

“My outward appearance is different than my inward. I just try to focus on the next point. I don’t think about what has happened, but what can happen.

“It was nice to have so many people pulling for me.”

For nine straight games after losing the first two games of the match, Navarro played phenomenal tennis. She was in the zone of her best tennis, speeding toward the finish line with a set and a 3-0 lead.

But then the rain started falling, changing the ball, court conditions and match. All of a sudden, the zone switched sides. Freeman, a 17th seed and 2019 Notre Dame recruit, virtually took over the match with her long, left-handed one-handed backhand.

“She was down and could go for bigger shots. She got better and better.”

Soon, Freeman held a 5-4 edge in the set, but Navarro fought back and finally got into the tiebreaker.

“The ball was big, slower and wet. It was hard to get her (Freeman) deep,” Navarro said.

The two players went back and forth until Navarro won the last two points on errors by Freeman as Navarro took some of the pace off of the ball and pinned her opponent on the baseline with high-kicking bloopers near the baseline.

What did Navarro feel when she saw Freeman’s last backhand sail into the net to end the match?

“I was relieved,” she said. “I was worried a little that they might call the match, but the chair umpire wanted to finish. It was getting a little slippery out there.”

Navarro is scheduled to take on ninth seed Briana Crowley of Battle Ground, Ind., in Friday morning’s quarterfinals.

Navarro is the highest seed left in the tournament after No. 1 Abigail Forbes of Raleigh.

Forbes advanced to a quarterfinal meeting with talented 17th seed Angelica Blake of Boca Raton, Fla., by posting a 6-3, 6-4 win over Rosie Garcia Gross of New York. Blake posted a 6-2, 6-2 win over 17th seed Kylie Collins of Savannah.

Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., the 16th seed and Navarro’s doubles partner, suffered a 7-6 (5), 7-5 loss to sixth seed Chelsea Kung of Fort Worth, Texas.

Slade Coetzee, a College of Charleston recruit for 2019 from Miami Beach, was eliminated from the main draw in a 6-1, 6-3 loss to 12th seed Alana Wolfberg of Orlando, Fla.

The top-seeded Beck/Navarro doubles team earned a berth in the doubles quarterfinals with a 4-1, 4-1 win over Ayshe Can of Weston, Fla., and Karly Friedland of Hollywood, Fla.

Local 14-year-old Allie Gretkowski and partner Jenna Thompson of Charlotte lost in the doubles round of 16, but Randy Pate Academy player Peyton Pesavento advanced to the doubles quarterfinals with Angel Carney of Dallas, Ga.


(07/19/18)  ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Town offers free tennis clinics
Children age 6-14 are invited to take part in free tennis clinics beginning July 18.

From experienced players looking to improve for league or tournament play to beginners wanting to learn more about the sport, all skill levels are welcome and encouraged to participate in the clinics at Summerville’s Doty Park.

“I’m very excited to offer this program for our community’s youth,” Town of Summerville Tennis Pro Nancy Sumersett said.

“I’ve played tennis since I was 10-years-old. It provides kids with a chance to stay active, improve confidence, and a sense of accomplishment.”

The free clinic will be held every Wednesday from 5-6:30 p.m. Future dates and times are subject to change. Players are asked to wear tennis shoes and a hat, bring water or a sports drink, and a racquet. Town staff will have limited racquets available for use.

For more information about the Town of Summerville’s tennis program, visit https://www.summervillesc.gov/tennis or contact the Parks and Recreation office at 843-851-5211.


(07/19/18) ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Junior tennis teams play at state championships
A trio of United States Tennis Association (USTA) junior teams from Summerville won their division to earn their ticket to USTA Junior Team Tennis South Carolina Championships.

The Summerville Ballers 12U, Summerville Breakers 14U and Summerville 18U teams advanced to compete with other division winners from across the state in the state championship tournament July 13-15 at the Tennis Center of Camden.

“Summerville junior tennis teams had an incredible showing this weekend in Camden competing against the best junior tennis teams in the state,” Summerville Breakers co-captain Susie Wimberly said. “All players and their families enjoyed a hot, but exciting, weekend of tennis.”

Led by captain Josh Byrd, the Summerville 18U Girls team won its division to claim a state championship. Players on the team are Arianna Brim, Sulli Long, Lizzie Naval, Hannah McKee and Katlyn Schmedeke.

Led by captains Holly Jacks and Shannon Hatcher, the Summerville Ballers 12U Mixed team placed second. Players for the team are Madison Cleveland, Carter Hatcher, Audrey Jacks, Sally Clarke Wimberly, Ellery Woods, Nicholas Christov, Kyle McSparron, Adelaide Miller and Greyson Kane.

Led by captains Susie Wimberly and Jun Naval, the Summerville Breakers 14U Mixed team placed fourth. Players for the team are Anna Dale, Alex Hylton, Abby Oberman, Edward Naval, Megan Schmedeke, William Wimberly, Becca Martin, Kenzie Moten, Sam DiMuzio and Rahi Gajjar.

The USTA Junior Team Tennis Fall Season begins Sept. 30. For more information visit www.southcarolina.usta.com.


(07/18/18)  MOULTRIE NEWS: FRANKIE MANSFIELD: Emma Navarro swings through fourth round of National Clay Court Championships
Emma Navarro could sense it midway through the second set.

The sun was beginning to gleam through the clouds and the heat index was rising near triple digits. The match was entering its second hour and her opponent, who’d fought valiantly thus far, was wearing weak. It was time to finish her.

Navarro earned 11 of the final 12 points in a 6-4, 6-4 win over Emma Jackson of La Grange Park, Ill. in the fourth round of the USTA Girls 18 National Clay Court Championships Wednesday in Mount Pleasant.

Emma Navarro could sense it midway through the second set.

The sun was beginning to gleam through the clouds and the heat index was rising near triple digits. The match was entering its second hour and her opponent, who’d fought valiantly thus far, was wearing weak. It was time to finish her.

Navarro earned 11 of the final 12 points in a 6-4, 6-4 win over Emma Jackson of La Grange Park, Ill. in the fourth round of the USTA Girls 18 National Clay Court Championships Wednesday in Mount Pleasant.

Navarro entered Thursday on a 24-game winning streak, having shut out her first two opponents, 6-0, 6-0, in straight sets. Jackson, Illinois’ top-ranked sophomore, ended the run in the opening game, challenging with a powerful serve usually followed by a strong forehand. Jackson led 2-3 and later pulled even at 4-4 before succumbing to Navarro’s mixture of quickness and soft placement.

“I usually like to work the points and stay in for longer but she had a big serve and liked to rip the next ball after that, which made it tough,” Navarro said. “If I could get past those first two shots, though, I usually had a good chance.”

Jackson built a quick 3-1 lead in the second set. Navarro, though, battled back from a 40-15 deficit to win the fifth game and then climbed out of a 40-0 hole in the sixth to even the set, 3-3. Jackson won the next game but was forced to call for a medical timeout immediately after to cope with overheating.

“A lot of players train in the heat. I do a lot of fitness work outside and I’m on the court six hours a day, so that definitely helps and I’m used to this heat,” Navarro said. “I could tell she was starting to pull off a little bit and I took advantage of that, started to be more aggressive.”

Navarro controlled the tempo late, working all areas of the court and seemingly growing stronger as the points began to stack up consecutively. Jackson struggled to answer, arriving late in some spots and sending returns into the net.

“Points start getting shorter ... and you can feel their energy dropping,” Navarro said. “I tried not to give her a chance to breathe and I think that did it.”

Freeman, Navarro’s next opponent, is a Notre Dame commit and the third-ranked senior in Massachusetts. The No. 17 seed is ranked 42nd nationally, while Navarro, seeded second, is positioned second in the nation’s junior class. Freeman advanced with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 win yesterday followed by a 6-4, 7-6 win on Wednesday.

Also out of LTP Tennis, 33rd-seeded Anna Ross fell, 6-1, 6-1, to No. 17 seed Kylie Collins on Wednesday morning.

Navarro and Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga. will face Winslow Huth (Tenn.) and Chidimma Okpara (Va.) in the round of 32 of doubles play later Wednesday afternoon. Mount Pleasant’s Allie Gretkowski is also still alive in doubles with her partner Jenna Thompson of Charlotte, N.C. Gretkowski and Thompson will face Kiana and Maria Rizzolo of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. on Wednesday.


(07/18/18)  Doubles partners Navarro, Beck lead local charge at National Clay Courts

The halfway point, the singles round of 16, finally has arrived for junior tennis' USTA Girls 18 National Clay Courts Championships, just in time to stay ahead of the rains.

And doubles partners Emma Navarro and Chloe Beck along with College of Charleston 2019 recruit Slade Coetzee give the tournament a distinctive Charleston look.

UCLA- bound top seed Abigail Forbes of Raleigh, N.C., led the other survivors of Day 4 on Wednesday at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant, but No. 2 seed Andrea Cerdan of Bloomfield, N.J., was upset by unseeded Alexandra Yepifanova of Aventura, Fla., 6-2, 6-1.


Navarro's 24-game winning streak in the tournament came to a quick halt, but the fifth seed and product of LTP Tennis pulled her game together late in each set to nail down a 6-4, 6-4 victory over hard-hitting 17th seed Emma Jackson of LaGrange Park, Ill.

And Beck, the 16th seed from Watkinsville, Ga., and part-time Randy Pate Academy player, got her game clicking just in time to rally to win the first set and then dominated the second set with her collection of serve-and-volley, drop shot and lobs perfection for a 7-5, 6-0 conquest of 17th seed Sophia Hatton of Syracuse, N.Y.

However, 33rd seed Anna Ross of Pate Academy suffered a 6-1, 6-1 loss to talented young17th seed Kylie Collins of Savannah.

The big surprise of the day came from 33rd seed Coetzee, a 5-5 standout from Miami Beach, Fla., as she out-fought fourth seed Fiona Crawley of San Antonio, Texas, to claim a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 victory.

"I think the heat got to her," Navarro said about Jackson. "I didn't play great, but she played well.

"She had a big serve and she was hitting big shots, making me fall backward."

Jackson's sizzling passing shots down the lines and to the corners kept Navarro off the net much of the match. Navarro backed off a bit and turned to a more passive game, and the move paid off.

In the end, the Ashley Hall junior was popping big shots and Hatton was having trouble keeping balls on the court.

Navarro will take on 17th seed Page Freeman of Ashland, Mass., at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday in the round of 16. All eight round of 16 singles matches will be played on Thursday at LTP Tennis, starting at 8 a.m.

Beck, who finished off her rain-interrupted round of 64 match from Tuesday early Wednesday morning, suffered from cramping symptoms late in the first set, and received a visit from the trainer before rallying to win the last three games of the set.

"I felt like I was going to cramp, but I didn't," she said. "I managed to get through it with Gatorade and water."

About her second-set tactics that included three winning serve-and-volley volleys and one drop shot for the four points in a love third game, Beck said, "I love to come to the net, but it's hard to come in in singles. I'm very comfortable at the net."

Beck will play sixth seed Chelsea Kung of Fort Worth, Texas, in the round of 16 at 8 a.m.

Coetzee said she "had to stay aggressive and calm, just waiting for one ball" in her upset of Crawley. "She was very good," said the C of C recruit, who will face No. 12 Alana Wolfberg of Orlando, Fla., in an 8 a.m. round of 16 match.

Forbes, a 17-year-old high school junior bound for UCLA in 2019, used her flashy aggressive, athletic style of play to conquer 17th seed Zoe Howard of Chevy Chase, Md., 6-4, 6-1.

"I think I am getting a little better and more use to the heat," said the online-schooled 5-8 Forbes, who once considered training at LTP Tennis. "The Lowcountry is a little more humid than Raleigh."


(07/18/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: KATE MAAS: DI families: Meet the Wilsons!
The milder temperatures of spring - and the Volvo Car Open - may have come and gone, but the game of tennis is in full swing year-round at the Family Circle Tennis Center, especially at the MW Tennis Academy.

The Daniel Island News recently sat down with the academy’s owner, Jeff Wilson, his wife Kim, who is the health and fitness coach at the academy, and son Reilly, 17, and daughter Susie Jane, 15. Both children, a rising high school senior and sophomore respectively, attend the academy’s co-operative online academic program, part of a rigorous, comprehensive training program readying them for the competitive college tennis circuit. Youngest son, Liam, 7, is a rising second grader at Daniel Island School who shares his family’s passion for - and ability on - the tennis court.

Q: Where are you from originally? How did you meet?

Jeff Wilson (JW): I’m from San Jose, California.

Kim Wilson (KW): I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia.

JW: We just celebrated 19 years of marriage last month. We met at Georgia Tech where I was coaching tennis and Kim was fundraising for the college’s athletic department. Prior to that I had been working for IMG Sports Academy, where I was responsible for player recruitment and sports psychology in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Q: What brought you to Daniel Island? How long have you lived here?

JW: We moved to Daniel Island about four years ago. Of all the places I’ve been in the world, I can honestly say that the Charleston area, especially Daniel Island, is my favorite.

As a coach on the tennis tour, I was traveling 35-40 weeks every year; I was ready to spend more time with my family. Kim and I both wanted to find the right place to raise our children, so I leveraged the traveling piece of my job to look for the best places to raise a family. After coming to the Family Circle Cup and Volvo Car Open four years in a row, I realized that Daniel Island was the perfect place for us to live. Just driving around the island, seeing all the bikes everywhere – without locks on them! That said so much about how safe the community was.

KW: When the kids and I were able to come up for the FCC tournament one year to meet Jeff, I thought how wonderful this island is. It’s so perfect, so pretty. We knew we had to get here.

JW: I approached the team at the Family Circle Tennis Center about working there so that I could move my family to Daniel Island. They were very supportive.

Q: What’s the biggest draw for you about the community?

Daniel Island has that small town feeling I was looking for. For instance, I can just pick up the phone and call my personal banker at SunTrust. I love going into Publix and knowing people’s names. We have accessibility to every resource here: the dermatologist, the barber, the dentist…life on Daniel Island is perfect!

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out?

Reilly Wilson (RW): The tennis center.

Susie Jane Wilson (SJW): We play tennis as much as we can, probably 20 hours every week.

JW: The kids’ lifestyle is built around the center from a school and training perspective. One of MW Tennis Academy’s missions was to create a club atmosphere where kids could be productive in a safe environment whether playing tennis, doing schoolwork or just having fun at a game of Pickleball.

RW: Other than the center, I like to go to the beach, like Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s. And fishing with my friends at Toomer Creek.

SJW: I like to spend time with my friends, either going to Pierce Park Pool or Scott Park Pool.

We also like to go shopping downtown!

JW: Kim and I play golf, here on Daniel Island and other places. We also do a lot of ‘stay-cations,’ largely because we do so much traveling for tournaments. This weekend we’re heading up to Virginia. We do sometimes go to Asheville, North Carolina for a week where we love to get out on the river and Pinehurst, also in North Carolina, where we have family - and Kim and I get to play a little golf.

What are some of your favorite restaurants, on and off Daniel Island?

SJW: I love going to Fire, an Asian street grill downtown that’s got really good Chinese food.

RW: Henry’s Jazz & Seafood

JW: And, of course, we love Hall’s - we do a lot of business with them at the center. There’s also Fleet Landing and 5Church. The list just goes on and on. Here on Daniel Island, Sermet’s is great. Marat, the bartender there, used to work for us at MW Tennis Academy.

We also love Dragon Palace.

Do you have any special traditions?

KW: Because we are so spread out for so much of the year, we try to take advantage of the holidays, like attending mass, participating in egg hunts at Easter and watching fireworks on the 4th of July. We try to take advantage of all the local things here on DI as much as possible, like looking at all the beautiful holiday lights or going to concerts at Smythe Park.

JW: It’s important to do special things as a family to build life-long memories that the kids will always have.

Do you plan to stay here on Daniel Island?

JW: Reilly is getting ready to attend the Naval Academy next year, where he’ll continue to play tennis competitively. Susie Jane will be heading off to college in a few years as well. We will probably downsize. We’d like to stay right in this neighborhood, if possible.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

KW: We’re all very competitive, so we live by a philosophy that in order to have a really happy life you have to be a problem solver. As a family, we talk about the best way to a solve the problem at hand all the time; We try to live in the solution as much as possible.

JW: Tennis is all about life skills - assessing and adjusting to every new situation, while staying as calm and composed as possible.

Do you prefer to cook at home or eat out?

KW: It’s a combination of both. I usually make grilled chicken, asparagus and brown rice. My kids think my cooking is bland but I call it ‘fuel.’ I’m very conscious about cooking nutritious meals, especially since I take care of the health and fitness of all the young players at the academy. Jeff firmly believes in the importance of off-court conditioning. With my passion for fitness, it was a natural fit for me to become a trainer at the Academy.

If you could describe life on Daniel Island in three words, what would they be?

Liam Wilson: One awesome island!


(07/17/18)  Navarro, Ross advance at rain-delayed National Clay Court Championships
A shutout is one thing in tennis, but yielding just eight points against another seeded player in the USTA Girls 18 National Clay Courts Championships is another.

But that's what local standout Emma Navarro did Tuesday in posting a 6-0, 6-0 third-round victory over Callie Creath of Austin, Texas. Navarro, the tournament's fifth seed, is now working on a string of 24 straight games won in the Clay Courts at her dad's complex on Mathis Ferry Road, otherwise known as LTP Tennis.

And then there's another LTP-based standout that sparkled in the third round. Anna Ross "wowed" the dozens of college coaches watching on the stadium court as she eliminated the tournament's seventh seed, Sonia Tartakovsky of New York City, with an almost epic rally in the third set.

Tall and powerful, Ross blew a 4-0 lead in the third set and fell behind 5-4. She then demonstrated her talent and competitiveness by winning the last three games, two of them on her serve and huge forehand and the other on a service break for 6-5 after being down 40-0 to complete a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 victory over the consistent Tartakovsky before a late afternoon rain shower stopped play.

But, of course, Ross should be good. Her dad Ed played college tennis for Southern Methodist University (her uncle John also played for SMU) and their dad John Ross, Anna's grandfather, played tennis for Duke.

"There's a long line of tennis players in the family," said Anna, the No. 2 girls 18 player in the South.

The 16-year-old Ross had beaten Tartakovsky a couple of months earlier in straight sets at a lower level national tournament in Rome, Ga.

"I think I slowed down and went on defense," Ross said about losing her 4-0 lead in the third set. "At 4-5, I realized the situation I was in."

She then released the cannons she has in her game, and her smaller opponent didn't have an answer for them.

Navarro definitely was happy with the way she played against Creath. "I had played her several times," Navarro said. "I think I can work on my second serve, but other than that I was pretty solid."

Navarro also flashed her share of power. "I used to wait until I got a super short ball to go for it, but now I'm going for it more, going for it earlier, but not too big," the Ashley Hall junior said.

Navarro faces a battle of "Emmas" in the next round, going against 17th-seeded Emma Jackson of LaGrange Park, Ill.

Peyton Pesavento, another Randy Pate Academy player who is bound for Wake Forest, couldn't keep up with talented Savannah product Kylie Collins. Collins finished a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Pesavento just before the rain came.

Collins will be Ross' opponent in the round of 32.

Chloe Beck, the 16th seed and a part-time Pate Academy player from Watkinsville, Ga., was one game from advancing to the round of 32 when rain halted play with Beck holding a 6-1, 5-1 lead over No. 33 Rhea Shrivastava of Skillman, N.J.

Pate Academy player Callie Billman was rained out and will play her third-round match on Wednesday.

"We will focus on main draw singles at LTP due to the forecast and play as much consolations as possible at other sites," said tournament director Patrick Heiber about the Wednesday schedule.

Top-seeded Abigail Forbes of Raleigh advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Vanessa Streng of Duluth, Ga., at Family Circle Tennis Center. No. 2 seed Andrea Cerdan also advanced along with strong contenders (No. 4) Fiona Crawley of San Antonio, Texas, and Angelica Blake of Baton Rouge, La.

The doubles team of local 14-year-old Allie Gretkowski and Jenna Thompson of Charlotte is still alive in the tournament and in the third round.


(07/16/18)  Navarro cruises in opening match at USTA Girls 18 National Clay Courts Championship
The first game went to deuce four times, then Jamilah Snells committed an error and double-faulted in a game she had led 40-15.

That probably was the last moment of suspense in fifth-seeded Emma Navarro's 6-0, 6-0 opening match win over Snells in the USTA Girls 18 National Clay Courts Championships on Monday at LTP Tennis.

Navarro used her experience, consistency and improved power game to win easily over the talented and aggressive, but erratic, 15-year-old Snells from Miramar, Fla.

"I thought I served really well, which was a great weapon for me," the 17-year-old Navarro said. "I didn't lose many points on my serve. I was able to step up and finish the point after my serves."

Navarro's improvement in strength and fitness was obvious. "I'm hitting a heavier forehand now, but still being aggressive. I'm a lot fitter and stronger," she said.

Snells repeatedly went for winners, but most of those balls sailed off the court. "She was ripping the first ball," Navarro said.

Navarro couldn't be happier that her father, LTP Tennis owner Ben Navarro, and Pate Academy's Randy Pate convinced the USTA to bring the Girls 18 National Clay Courts to the Charleston area.

"I'm very happy here. Charleston is a lot nicer than Memphis (the site of last year's 18s)," she said.

She is even better prepared for the heat."I've got used to the heat and become tougher in it by playing more in the heat to get better," the 5-7 Ashley Hall junior said.

Navarro will face 33rd seed Callie Creath of Austin, Texas, in Tuesday's third round. Creath already has notched a pair of victories in the singles draw.

Randy Pate Academy standouts Anna Ross, Peyton Pesavento and Callie Billman all posted their second straight one-sided victories in the clay courts.

Ross, a No. 33 seed and the second-ranked girls 18 player in the South, powered past Colette Beaujolais of North Vancouver, B.C., 6-0, 6-0, while fellow 33 seed Pesavento took a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Ashley Vielma of Fort Collins, Colo., and Billman was a 6-1, 6-0 upset winner over No. 33 seed Catherine Broerman of Scottsdale, Ariz.

MWTennis Academy's Allie Gretkowski, Kat Lyman and Elizabeth Truluck all fell in the round of 128, as did incoming College of Charleston freshman Lily LaBiche, a No. 17 seed from New Orleans. Gretkowski, a 14-year-old, won the first set and took the second set to a tiebreaker before losing to 33rd-seeded Maryam Ahmad of Albertson, N.Y., 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1.

Top seed Abigail Forbes of Raleigh rolled past Jeanna Sloan of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., 6-0, 6-0. No. 2 seed Andrea Cerdan of Bloomfield, N.J., also advanced.

Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., the 16th seed who trains part-time at LTP Tennis, also advanced to the third round in singles with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Karly Friedland of Hollywood, Fla.

The top-seeded doubles team of Navarro and Beck advanced to the third round with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Ayana Kit of Silver Spring, Md., and Gibson Thomas of Mt. Vernon, N.Y.

NOTE: Sunday's singles final will be televised live by the Tennis Channel, with injured Charleston touring pro tennis star Shelby Rogers working the broadcast.


(07/15/18)  Local tennis players fare well at national clay courts
Tennis players with Charleston connections had a great day on Sunday in the first round of the USTA National Girls 18 Clay Courts Championships. They went 6-0 in singles.

That only leaves seven more rounds.

To put the 256-player singles draw into perspective, more matches were played on Sunday than are played in an entire 64-player draw professional tournament such as the Volvo Car Open. And then there’s also the 128-draw doubles competition.

Local juniors Anna Ross, Allie Gretkowski and Kat Lyman all won in straight sets, while other local academy players Callie Billman, Peyton Pesavento and Elizabeth Truluck also advanced in straight sets to Monday’s second round.

Gretkowski, a 14-year-old, is playing in the girls 18 nationals rather than the national 16s in Memphis, Tenn., because she was given a wild card into the 18s. And the talented 5-9 player showed that she belonged by winning in singles and doubles.

“I played well, hitting the ball well and serving at a high percentage,” Gretkowski said.

She upended Lauren Ferg of Eagan, Minn., 6-1, 6-3 in an early morning singles match, then came back to team with 16-year-old Jenna Thompson of Charlotte for a straight-set win in doubles.

Gretkowski and Thompson are regular partners, having teamed together to win the Winter Nationals in Rome, Ga.

Ross, a 33rd seed in singles, used her big serve and forehand to power past Madison Rippa of South Lake, Texas, 6-1, 6-0.

“I played steady,” said Ross, who is ranked second in the South in girls 18. “I feel good about the way I played.”

But Ross and Elise Mills of Prosperity fell in doubles, losing a third-set tiebreaker 10-7 after recovering from a 9-4 deficit to close to 9-7.

Lyman posted a 6-3, 6-1 win over Alara Hollyfield of Tampa, Fla.

Pesavento, a 33rd seed from Advance, N.C., who trains at LTP’s Randy Pate Academy and is headed for Wake Forest, scored a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Allison Stewart of Midland, Texas, while LTP’s Billman advanced with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Kennedy May of Lincoln, R.I. Truluck, a Myrtle Beach product who plays out of Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy, took a 6-4, 6-4 win over Georgia Ryan of Rye, N.Y.

LTP star Emma Navarro, the tournament’s fifth singles seed, had a bye on Sunday and will play a second-round match on Monday at 9:30 a.m. at LTP Tennis against aggressive, hard-hitting 15-year-old Jamilah Snells of Miramar, Fla.

The top-seeded doubles team of Navarro and Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., will begin doubles play in a second-round match at 6:45 p.m. Monday, also at LTP Tennis.

Singles top seed Abigail Forbes of Raleigh has a second-round match against Jenna Sloan of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., at 8 a.m. Monday at Family Circle Tennis Center.


(07/14/18)  Navarro looking strong heading into Clay Courts Championships
Charleston's Emma Navarro is the No. 5 seed in the National Girls 18 Clay Courts Championships that are scheduled to start Sunday at Mount Pleasant's LTP Tennis and several other clay court sites in the area.

Navarro and the rest of the top 32 seeds all have first-round byes. Abigail Forbes of Raleigh, N.C., is the tournament's No. 1 seed.

Anna Ross, who trains out of LTP's Randy Pate Academy alongside Navarro, is a 33rd seed. She is scheduled to begin play at 8 a.m. on Sunday at LTP. Ross is the No. 2 girls 18 player in the South.

This is the first year of a three-year agreement with the USTA for LTP Tennis to serve as the tournament host. Matches also will be played at Family Circle Tennis Center. Other sites include Wild Dunes and the Daniel Island Club.

The singles winner will receive a wild card into the main draw of the 2019 Volvo Car Open as well as a diamond tennis bracelet.

The tournament activities kicked off on Saturday afternoon with a coaches forum/players party at Wild Dunes.

Allie Gretkowski, a talented 14-year-old who trains at FCTC's MWTennis Academy, received one of the eight wild cards into the National Clay Courts and will open play Sunday at noon at Wild Dunes.

Some of the players to watch, other than Forbes, Navarro and Ross, are: No. 2 seed Andrea Cerdan of Bloomfield, N.J.; No. 3 Michelle Sorokko of Little Neck, N.Y.; No. 4 seed Fiona Crawley of San Antonio, Texas; No. 16 seed Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga.; and No. 17 Angelica Blake of Baton Rouge, La..

College of Charleston recruit Lily LaBiche of New Orleans also is a No. 17 seed, while No. 33 seed Peyton Pesavento trains at LTP Tennis and is bound for Wake Forest.

NATIONAL CLAY COURTS FACTS

    The National Girls 18 Clay Courts scheduled for LTP Tennis will start at 8 a.m. Sunday.
    LTP Tennis is located on Mathis Ferry Road in Mt. Pleasant. Admission is free.
    256 player draw, 224 participants (72 alternates). No qualifying tournament.
    Matches will be played at both LTP and FCTC and other local sites.


(07/14/18)  Local young seniors join Barker, Carter on international cup scene
International senior stars Diane Barker and Brenda Carter have new company with Charleston connections on the International Tennis Federation's USTA world senior championship cup teams.

One newcomer is Barker's son Matt Hane, a former Porter-Gaud standout.

Another is Mount Pleasant resident Lizl Kotz, the current No. 1 women's 40 player in the nation who won the recent National Women's 40 Clay Courts. Kotz has been named to the USTA's four-player women's 40 Young Cup team.

Brandon Blakenbarker, Hane's doubles partner and a pro at Kiawah Island until just recently, also is listed on the 2018 ITF Young Seniors World Championship rosters. Hane and Blakenbarker are part of the four-player men's 35 Italia Cup team.

The ITF team competition will be held in Miami in October, followed by the world individual championships.

"I was hoping Matt and I would be selected since we were ranked No. 1 in the nation last year in doubles," said Blakenbarker from Sag Park Village in The Hamptons where he is now serving as head pro at Mashashimuet Park.

"But being this was our first year in the 35s we weren't really sure how the selection process would be done."

The Blakenbarker/Hane team has won five national titles, including two this year.

Hane can be found these days at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond where he is the head pro. After serving as the pro at the I'On Club, Hane was a club pro in Baton Rouge, La., before moving to Virginia.

"It feels great to make the world team," said Hane, currently the USTA's No. 2-ranked men's 35 player. "It's been a goal of mine for a few years now so I'm glad to make it now that I'm old enough at 35. So all in all, including mother/son tournaments I believe that's 22 nationals played with 20 gold balls, one silver and one bronze (12 golds in mother/son, five in doubles and three in singles)."

Kotz also is pleased to be selected to one of the international cup teams for the first time.

"I knew when I put my name in to be considered, it wasn't out of the question for me to be selected since I had a couple of good national results last year," said Kotz, a 42-year-old native of Johannesburg, South Africa, and a former Indiana University star.

"That being said, every time I go to a national or team event, I am amazed at the depth of great players. Many of them have experience and confidence from playing on the tour at a younger age. I feel fortunate and excited to be invited to this event and be around a lot of great tennis."

Mainwhile, Barker and Carter stay busy representing women's 60 and 70 USTA cup teams, Barker in 60s and Carter in 70s.

INTERSECTIONAL CHAMPS

Local coach Randy Pate and juniors Anna Ross, Carri Hayes and Whitley Pate played major roles in the recent USTA National Intersectional Championships, leading the Southern Section's 14s and 16s teams to a rare sweep of the competition. Each team was made up of four boys and four girls.

Ross, the South's No. 2 girls 18 player, helped the Southern 16-and-under team win the national team championship in Shreveport, La.

Randy Pate coached the Southern's 14-and-under team to a national title in Auburn, Ala. The namesake of the Randy Pate Academy and his daughter, Whitley Pate, and Hayes played prominent roles in the championship.

Hayes scored a three-set victory over the USTA Winter Nationals singles champion. Pate and her mixed doubles partner won the decisive match against the Southern California team to break a 4-4 match deadlock and give the Southern team the national 14s title.

"Bill Ozaki, the head of USTA Southern, said the South has never swept the 14s and 16s before," Randy Pate reported.

The 18-and-under competition will be held in late July after the various National Clay Courts, with local stars Jared Pratt and Emma Navarro leading the Southern teams. The girls competition will be held in Claremont, Calif., and the boys in Urbana, Ill.

MW JUNIORS SHINE

MWTennis Academy CEO Jeff Wilson has been smiling about the results of a group of his junior academy players in the ongoing men's and women's $30K Mid-Atlantic Clay Court Championships in Midlothian, Va.

"It was a good experience for our players," Wilson said. "Max Smith is 15 years old, but he got a singles win over a player from Notre Dame and a doubles win with Kerim Hyatt over players from Ohio State."

Hyatt went 3-0 in men's qualifying to advance to the singles main draw and also teamed with Smith to win three men's doubles qualifying matches to make that main draw as well. Smith won two qualifying singles matches.

Allie Gretkowski, who turned 14 just four months ago, flashed her potential by winning two women's main draw singles matches to make the round of 16 against the older players as she prepared for her wild card appearance in the USTA's Girls 18 National Clay Courts that start on Sunday (today) at LTP Tennis.

Reilly Wilson, Jeff Wilson's son, won a pair of qualifying matches in singles in the Richmond area event. The MWTennis group also included Elle Bredeman and Mattie Dermody. LTP's Kat Lyman made the round of 32 in women's singles.

LOCAL NOTES

    Rising local star Coy Simon has climbed to No. 1 in the South in boys 18, while Porter-Gaud freshman Sophie Williams remains No. 1 in girls 14.
    Ellie Halbauer is at it again on the European pro circuit. The 21-year-old former Charleston junior made the semifinals of a $25K pro circuit tournament last weekend in Aschaffenburg, Germany.


(07/13/18)  USTA SC: Community Tennis News: Volume 32
State Championships
Come out this weekend to the Junior Team Tennis Championships in Camden. To learn more, go to sctennis.com.

Tennis Channel to Broadcast Girls' National Clay Court Tourney July 22
he 2018 USTA Girls' 18 National Clay Court Championships will be held July 15-22, in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Hosted by LTP Tennis Club, the event features more than 200 players and 100 college coaches.

Kids Helping Kids
Ducky Steward (right) developed a program to encourage other junior tennis players to give back to their community through service projects. The first project SERVE collected food for the hungry. SERVE will collect school supplies at this weekend's JTT championships.

SPUD Tournament this Weekend in Belton:
The 9th annual SPUD championships will be held July 13-14 in Belton.

The USTA South Carolina Annual Awards
Recognize individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to tennis during the year. Award winners are announced in the fall on www.sctennis.com and presented each December at the USTA South Carolina Annual Meeting. Please take a moment to recognize your tennis favorites in South Carolina. It takes just five minutes to nominate a deserving person or organization.

SC Community Development Workshop
Will be held Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, from 9 am until 4 pm in Columbia. This meeting is mandatory for all CTAs applying for CGPG grants.

Tennis on Campus:
Five South Carolina colleges currently participate in Tennis on Campus -- Clemson University, University of South Carolina, Furman, College of Charleston and Presbyterian College.  To form a club tennis team at your college and be eligible to play this year, please contact Sheryl at USTA SC.

TOC Tournament:
The 2018 South Carolina Tennis on Campus tournament will be held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10-11, 2018, at the Charleston Tennis Center.

Thank you for your partnership.
On behalf of our South Carolina Community Development team -- Pamela Banks, Cameron Sebnick and me --  I would like to thank you for all you continue to do in your local communities to grow the game of tennis. Because of your work, there are adults and kids playing tennis for the first time. The year is half over, and we still have many more tennis communities to create. Join us as we welcome new players to find themselves in the game.

Cheers, Sheryl
Sheryl McAlister
Director of Community Development
USTA South Carolina
18 Woodcross Drive, Columbia, SC 29212 / mcalister@sctennis.com


(07/13/18)  Ross prepares for National Clay Courts Championships in Mount Pleasant
A change of scenery. That's all Anna Ross' big game needed.

From Chicago's cold doldrums of winter skies and frozen weather to the bright skies of Mount Pleasant's sunny Live To Play Tennis complex was the answer.

Two years after the move, Ross is still in love with LTP and Charleston.

"Here, we play outdoors, 24/7," she said on Thursday at LTP's Randy Pate Academy after finishing a long drill under the bright afternoon sun.

Ross is just 16 years old, but she is preparing to play as a seeded player in the USTA's National Girls 18 Clay Courts Championships that are set to start early Sunday morning at LTP. The tournament also will use courts at Family Circle Tennis Center.

Ross' father still runs a business in Chicago, but Charleston is now his home base from travel. "He's back and forth, but he's here now mostly, four or five days a week," she said.

Her mom is a stay-at-home mom. "She does everything for us. She's the best mom in the world."

Brothers Eddie (18) and Michael (14) also train at the Pate Academy.

Everything is rosy. Anna is fresh from bringing home the girls 18 doubles title and singles runner-up trophy from the recent Southern Closed Championships in Mobile, Ala. She is ranked second in the South in girls 18 and fifth in girls 16.

"I didn't think I would come this far. I never would have imagined the spot I am in now," she said.

But how nice it would be to wear a national clay court crown, and claim the wild card berth that goes with the title into the main draw of next spring's Volvo Car Open.

The trip all started with younger brother Michael's participation in 2016 in the National Boys 12 Clay Courts Championships at LTP. "That's how we found out about the academy. I didn't come," Anna said.

She had never heard of the Pate Academy, which had just relocated from Winston-Salem, N.C. But how quickly that would change.

"My mom really liked the coaches, the scenery and the atmosphere down here. So, we came here a week after the clay courts. We talked to the academy and we really loved it. It was unbelievable how welcoming everybody was. We moved down here and tried it out for a semester. We just fell in love with it," Anna said.

There was no going back.

"It's very cold in Chicago. Very different. So, three-fourths of the year we play indoors. Here at the academy, I'm playing maybe four and a half or five hours a day. With fitness, that would be six hours. In Chicago, we would do three to four hours a day in the summer and only two hours a day (the rest of the year)," she said.

She attended Wando High School the first year, then switched to online schooling.

What are Ross' chances in the nationals?

"There are a lot of good players out here. I just learned today (Thursday) that I was going to be seeded (33rd), which was unbelievable. I didn't think that was going to happen," she said.

"But I am not going to take anything away from myself. If I go out there and do my best and I happen to play my best tennis ever, there's really no limit. As long as I push myself and I'm giving 100 percent, I think I have a very good chance in this tournament. I'm going in it with a winning mindset."

Ross is one of four Pate Academy players who are seeded in the nationals. Emma Navarro is the No. 5 seed, and part-time academy player and Navarro doubles partner Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., is seeded 16th. Peyton Pesavento also is a 33rd seed. Incoming College of Charleston freshman Lily LaBiche of New Orleans is seeded 17th.

Four other local academy players are in the main draw: Callie Billman and Kat Lyman from the Pate Academy; and Allie Gretkowski and Elizabeth Truluck from MWTennis Academy.


(07/11/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: The 'Slice Girls' carve out their place in tennis history
Sports Illustrated called them the Slice Girls in a Feb. 2, 1998 story because of the way the two young women cut up opponents on the tennis court in the Australian Open.

Like the Spice Girls, who were on top of the music world at the time, Serena and Venus Williams had star power. However, unlike the Brit pop girl group, the Williams sisters had staying power.

And now, 20 years after Venus, then 17, beat 16-year-old Serena in the second round in Melbourne, it should be a summer to savor. We’re not getting any younger, and neither are the Williams sisters, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

But let’s just sit back and enjoy the summer. We will never see the headliners this generation has produced. The talent, the personalities and accomplishments have been more colorful than a pair of Bud Collins’ trousers.

Serena Williams is the greatest female tennis player ever, although Steffi Graf might have an argument. Williams is 36 and a mother now, so her priorities have changed. But what a run she’s had.

She’s the best ever in the big events with 23 Grand Slam titles in the open era. She is the only tennis player in history (male or female) to claim at least six titles in three of the four majors.

And then there’s older sister Venus. She’s won seven Grand Slam titles, which is good enough for eighth place on the open era list. She would be higher on the list if not for Serena. They have batt
led in nine Grand Slam finals with Serena owning a 7-2 record.

On the men’s side, there’s the Big Three: Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.

No other trio in the sport’s history has been as dominant. Combined, they have won 45 of the last 53 last majors heading into this weekend’s finale at Wimbledon.

Federer, who arrived at the top after winning Wimbledon in 2003, is the best ever. He’s No. 1 on the list of all-time greats with 20 Grand Slam titles, including this year’s Australian Open.

And then there’s the King of Clay, Nadal. He’s No. 2 on the all-time list with 17 Grand Slam titles despite some injuries that slowed him a few years ago. His win in Paris last month was his 11th championship on the red clay of Roland Garros.

And then there’s the third best player of his generation, Djokovic, who just happens to be the fourth greatest player in the open era. All he’s done is fashion 12 Grand Slam titles, which places him in the upper stratosphere of greatness. True, Pete Sampras had more Grand Slam titles with 14, but he was average at best on clay.

Imagine the drama at the All England Club this weekend if Serena can capture her eighth Grand Slam title on grass in a tournament marked with major upsets. And what if Nadal and Federer serve it up in the Wimbledon finals?

It could happen.

Or better yet, it could happen in New York when the U.S. Open gets underway on Aug. 27.

Stay tuned. And in the meantime, savor the summer.


(07/11/18)  Local tennis pro's Eye Coach tech has Billie Jean King endorsement
Billie Jean King doesn't put her name on just anything. The U.S. Open's Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is a testament to her greatness.

That's why it's worth watching and following the story of Billie Jean King's Eye Coach.

"Everything in one’s game starts there," King said Monday night from Wimbledon.

"There" is the point of contact. And that's what the Eye Coach has been all about in its creation by local tennis pro Lenny Schloss.

The Eye Coach is a revolutionary product whose "point of contact" concept has stood the tests in the games of greats such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

King was sold on the product six years ago when she first met Schloss at the Family Circle Tennis Center during the 2012 finals of World Team Tennis. Schloss was a pro at the Daniel Island complex at the time.

"The Eye Coach’s point of contact training is the same thing that I emphasized throughout my career," King said. "That's how I won 39 Grand Slams."

That's also why she put her name on the Eye Coach.

"I had never done this before, but tennis needs this breakthrough and this foundational training is an answer to an age old problem . . . really keeping your eye on the ball," she said.

"Here’s the secret. You follow the ball to the point of contact. That’s tracking. Then you condition your brain to stop your head from shifting too early. This is what the Eye Coach does."

Schloss and the Eye Coach have been part of the training at the Randy Pate Academy at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant for only about six months, but the results have been rather amazing.

"Thirty percent of all the players in the South in the top five of boys and girls 16 and 18 are from this one academy, not the state of South Carolina but just this one academy," Schloss said about the Eye Coach's impact on Randy Pate Academy players.

"Billie Jean has not put her name on anything in tennis except the U.S. Open. This is the only thing now that she is really invested in," said Schloss, a former All-American at the University of Tennessee and former men's pro tour player.

"Two months later (after King's introduction to the Eye Coach), she said, 'Put my name on it. That's a device that would be for everybody. We need to get it into the home. Let's put this into every school in the country'."

That's how Billie Jean's partnership with Schloss and the Eye Coach started.

"Lots of people have good ideas. The difference with Lenny is that he also puts his heart and soul into everything he does. He knows that tennis needs something more and has dedicated his life to making this happen," King said.

"We’ve sold in 41 countries, but our major emphasis has been the U.S. It’s purchased for use both at home and on the court and by individual players and coaches. It works equally well for both, and has an added value of increasing the amount of cardio training players can receive, instead of picking up balls.

"We need players developing a better base so they can improve more rapidly and then stay in the game. Beyond that, we have huge goals in helping in schools, with under-privileged children, under developed countries and with those who are challenged in various ways," King added.

The Eye Coach is a battery-less non-electrical device that helps teach players to put the sweet spot of a racket on the ball and complete the follow through before lifting the head and eyes to follow the ball's flight. It is compact enough to be used in the home or in a garage or on a back porch.

"The main goal is to help coaches get out of the brain what they put in so they won't have to repeat the lesson 17 times," Schloss said. "We want the kids to be able to learn faster and to practice at home."


(07/09/18)  WCIV-TV/ABC 4: Convicted child molester Skip ReVille files motion to reconsider his 50-year sentence
Confessed child molester Louis "Skip" ReVille, who was sentenced to 50 years for sexually assaulting and molesting 22 young boys across the Lowcountry, wants his sentence to be reconsidered.

ReVille wants to be moved out of protective custody at the South Carolina Department of Corrections and into a prison mental health facility in order to enroll in a sex offender program and sexually violent predator program.

That's according to a "reconsideration of sentencing" motion his attorney Tommy Thomas filed with the court on April 30.

He is requesting a hearing on the matter.

ReVille's sentence began June 13, 2012. He is set to be released in 2054.

The 38-year-old former principal, teacher and coach was involved in at least 15 organizations, groups, clubs or schools where he gained access to his victims. This included running the summer sports camp at The Citadel and serving as principal at Coastal Christian Prep in Mt. Pleasant.

In his motion, ReVille believes the 50-year sentence is “excessive due to the fact that it will not allow him to receive any type of sex offender treatment while he is housed at a secure facility.”

ReVille wants to enter a secure mental health facility located on the grounds of the S.C. Department of Corrections.

ReVille most recently made headlines for suing the state prison system for alleged mistreatment in the restricted protective custody.

An evaluation by psychiatrist Dr. Selman Watson, of Columbia, included in the motion, states that ReVille is "very remorseful" and has written apology letters to the parents of his victims.

Watson met with ReVille on five separate occasions and gave the opinion that ReVille would benefit from the sex offender program, according to the motion.

Watson’s evaluation was included in the motion. It delves into ReVille's childhood and how he came to be a sexual predator to young boys.

It reveals the first sexual incident that got the attention of authorities was when ReVille was 15 years old, not yet living in the Lowcountry.

A parent alerted the police after her young son was told to remove his clothing in a “truth or dare” game at a karate class ReVille was teaching.

Based on ReVille's admission, police interviewed him and recommended he pursue counseling.

According to the evaluation, ReVille had a difficult childhood, which included beatings from his stepbrother.

There was also an encounter in third grade where a substitute teacher asked him to take off his shirt when he was helping wash paint brushes, ReVille told Watson.

ReVille's first sexual contact was in fourth grade with his best male friend who was in fifth grade and attended another school, according to the report.

The two mimicked sex acts seen in a sex education pamphlet the friend showed him and it went on for a year, the report states.

ReVille said he began to regularly fantasize sexually starting in sixth grade.

When he was 15, ReVille admitted that he was aroused by the naked boy at the karate class and began looking at images of naked boys at home, according to the report.

He called the arousal an “addiction.”

According to the report, ReVille attended The Citadel on a tennis scholarship.

The summer of his senior year, “was said to be his undoing,” Watson writes. “Pre-pubescent and post-pubescent boys descended on The Citadel campus to attend sports camp.”

ReVille said at that time, he would invite the boys to his room so they could see his cellphone and he would have pizza and movies available “to make the time more enjoyable.”

This progressed into having the boys watch pornography and commit sex acts.

ReVille was put in charge of the entire summer program, according to the report. Once he graduated, he took a teaching position at Pinewood Prepatory in Summerville.

He disclosed to Watson that he had direct physical contact with a boy who happened to be the son of his landlord.

The boy helped him move from Charleston to Summerville and ReVille allowed the boy to drive his car on a back road for the thrill of it, according to the report.

ReVille told Watson that he built “bonds” with his male victims because he felt he wanted to fill a father role he felt he was never provided. He tapped into needs like acceptance, affection and affirmation in his victims.

The Citadel contacted him in 2007 about reports of abuse, the report states. That's when ReVille “stopped grooming” boys for eight months while he began to meet with a pastor, he said.

ReVille was then introduced to a woman whom he would later marry.

He said he was terminated at Pinewood Prep for not being a good fit in the English department, according to the evaluation.

He became the principal at Coastal Christian Prep School in Mt. Pleasant.

ReVille told Watson that he continued his sexual involvement with young boys during that time, at his home, when his wife would leave on work commitments, according to the report.

He resigned from the school and church when charges about sexual abuse came to light, he said.

He went to police where he turned himself in, according to the report, right after his wife delivered triplets.

ReVille told Watson there was never any penetration with his victims and he has written letters of apology to the parents of his victims.

ReVille states that he not only wants to enter a sexual offender treatment program, he also wants to create a program for sex offenders like himself to be rehabilitated, according to the report.

“He had devoted a lot of time to learning about treatment for sex offenders as a way to give back to his community,” the report states.

Watson did not observe any psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar or personality disorder nor uncover any drug or alcohol use or dependency, according to the report.

It remains unclear when the motion to move to a mental health facility will be heard, or decided upon.

According to the motion, a previous motion for reconsideration of sentence was filed with the court on June 22, 2012, a little over a week after he was sentenced, and remains unheard.


(07/07/18)  Welcome Home!: Special Olympics USA Games: Tennis results
Competition Wraps Up / Final events happening today

Today is the final day of competition for several sports. Powerlifting, Tennis and Swimming wrap up today.

Highlights:
- Team SC Tennis wrapped up competition and they are bringing home some hardware! Here's the rundown:
- Mixed Doubles - Anna Stewart and William Dennington - 4th; Chris Arnott and Giri Raja - Gold
- Unified Doubles - Erin and Nadene Coats - Gold; Matthew Legon and Carl Rapp - Participation; Alyssa Bacher and Susan Simmons - Gold
Traditional Doubles - Kristin Locatelli and Maya Perry Skinner - Silver
Singles -- Alyssa Bacher -Gold; Chris Arnott - Gold; Giri Raja - Silver; Erin Coats -4th; Maya Perry Skinner - Bronze; Kristin Locatelli - 4th; Anna Stewart - Gold; William Dennington - 4th and Matthew Legon - Participation

That's a wrap! What a great week of competition and great coverage by ESPN! There were definitely some great highlights and if you tuned in you saw some familiar faces (ESPN loves SC athletes). Be sure to catch the final recap show on Sunday where they'll go through all of the inspirational stories from the week and show highlights from Closing Ceremony.

Sun. - July 8 2 p.m. - Special Olympics USA Games on ABC
Recap of Games and highlights from Closing Ceremony


(07/02/18)  Pine Forest Country Club: July Newsletter
From the Tennis Shop

2018 Summer Camp Schedule
The Club at Pine Forest will host five Junior Sports Camps during the summer. Each camp will consist of:

    1 1/2 hours of tennis instruction
    1 1/2 hours of golf instruction and
    1 1/2 hours of recreational swimming.

Lunch, snacks and refreshments will be provided each day. Children 6-14 years old are eligible to participate. Each camp will have a limited number of space to sign up. All camps will run from Monday to Thursday. Camp starts promptly at 9am and runs until 2pm.

Camp dates are as follows:
July 9, July 23, August 6

$165 for Pine Forest Members
$195 for non-members
10% Discount for second child or signing up for multiple weeks
 
CAMP WILL FILL UP FAST!! SIGN UP NOW!!

Management Contacts
Marty Mikesell - Owner/Operator ext 111
Andrea Thomas - Club Manager ext 102
Andy Steingold - Tennis Director ext 110


(06/30/18)  LTP players set pace in Southern rankings
What are the odds of players from one club taking six of the 20 top five spots among boys and girls 16 and 18 players in the USTA's Southern Section rankings? That's 30 percent of the spots.

To put this into perspective, no Southern state other than South Carolina even holds six of the top five rankings. Yet, five players from LTP Tennis' Randy Pate Academy in Mount Pleasant hold six of S.C.'s eight top five rankings in the boys and girls 16s and 18s Southern rankings.

That's more than the combined total of seven of the other eight Southern Section states.

Only Georgia with five of the 20 top five rankings in 16-and-under and 18-and-under is even close to the total of this lone club on Mathis Ferry Road known as LTP Tennis.

The LTP Six group is led by Anna Ross, who holds a pair of the top five rankings, third in both 16s and 18s. Ross moved to the I'On community in Mount Pleasant from Chicago with her family last year. Her father still works in Chicago.

Emma Navarro is ranked fourth in girls 18, while Lara Schneider is fifth in girls 16. Coy Simon and Huntley Allen, both sons of LTP pros, are ranked second and fifth in boys 18.

The only other South Carolina players ranked among the top five in 16s or 18s are from Hilton Head Island (Madison Dillon, No. 5 in girls 18) and Spartanburg (Phillip Jordan, No. 4 in boys 18).

Why is LTP such a hot spot for junior tennis? Of course, the club held an $80K USTA women's pro circuit event less than two months ago, and this year's U.S. girls 18 clay court national championships will be held at LTP in a couple of weeks.

The girls 18 nationals also will use the Family Circle Tennis Center courts, with the winner earning a main draw wild card into the 2019 Volvo Car Open.

How did LTP land so many high quality juniors? The Randy Pate Academy probably is the primary reason. Or maybe it's Charleston itself.

As Randy Pate said, "It doesn't take a lot to talk someone into coming to Charleston."

EYE COACH PAYS OFF

There also may be another reason for the rise of LTP juniors. Billie Jean King's Eye Coach program has moved into the LTP complex, along with its founder, former tour player Lenny Schloss.

Just ask Randy Pate about the Eye Coach, and what it has meant to the participants in his academy.

"We have seen a giant spike in our (tournament) results in the last six months since Lenny (Schloss) and the Eye Coach have been a part of the team here," Pate said.

The lone Southern Closed championship winner this time around from LTP Tennis was Huntley Allen in boys 18. Allen apparently benefitted greatly from having an Eye Coach available to help him in hot, humid and sometimes wet Mobile, Ala.

"Huntley was one of the kids when he played in the finals of Southern that while the other kids (from other teams) were sitting over there in the bleachers, we were in a covered area working on the Eye Coach getting warmed up for the final," Pate said about his son (Allen).

"Huntley hit on them (Eye Coach) every day at Southerns. Every rainy day this year he's been in the barn (at LTP) working on the Eye Coach."

Just what is the Eye Coach, which is hailed by Billie Jean King's company as "the world's best assistant coach." Schloss, who resides in Mount Pleasant, is the president of Billie Jean's Eye Coach operations and a former pro at Family Circle Tennis Center.

Basically, the Eye Coach is a small "point of contact" focused machine (no battery or electricity) that helps teach players to put the sweet spot of a racket on the ball and complete the follow through before lifting the head and eyes to follow the ball's flight.

You're seen Roger Federer do this automatically for much of the last two decades.

P-G'S WILLIAMS NO. 1

Porter-Gaud freshman Sophie Williams actually leads all local players in the Southern rankings as the South's No. 1 girls 14 player.

The local area has five other players ranked among the top 15 in girls 14. Alice Otis is fifth in girls 14, followed by Allie Gretkowski at No. 7 (also 15th in girls 16), Whitley Pate No. 12, Meggie Navarro No. 13 and Mattie Dermody No. 15.

MWTennis Academy's Max Smith is sixth in Southern boys 16, while younger brother Jake Smith is ranked sixth in boys 12. The Charneys (Emma 10th in girls 18 and Piper 13th in girls 12) are a pair of highly ranked sisters from Prospect, Ky., who now live on Daniel Island and train at LTP Tennis while their father works back home in Kentucky.

Jared Pratt, who held the national boys 18 No. 1 ranking in May, has dropped to 12th in the South in boys 18 as he prepares to head for the University of Wisconsin to play tennis. Jacob Jahn is rated 15th in Southern boys 18 and Ashe Ray is 10th in boys 16.

Pratt recently advanced to the final round of qualifying for a $25K pro circuit event in Winston-Salem, N.C., while former Southern No. 1 Emma Navarro was a qualifying finalist in a $25K in Baton Rouge, La.

HEAT PLAYS ROLE

The heat played a major role in Lara Schneider's bid to win a Southern Closed girls 16 title in Little Rock, Ark., a couple of weeks ago.

"Lara had to play Whitley (Pate) in the quarterfinals," said Whitley's dad, Randy Pate. "They had like a three-hour battle, and Lara won, but then had to go to the hospital and pull out of the tournament."

As a result, Schneider didn't get to play in the semifinals or in the third-place match.

"It was very hot, and she (Lara) had a four and one-half hour long match spread over eight hours because of bad weather in the round of 16," said Sofia Aksentijevich, a Charleston area doctor and Lara's mother. "The next day, she started feeling ill in the quarterfinals but was amazingly able to pull that off despite being diagnosed that evening with the beginning of a heat stroke in the local emergency room. She was not medically cleared to play."


(06/29/18)  USTA SC: Community Tennis News: Volume 31
This and that...
 
College Scholarship Deadline Tomorrow! The South Carolina Tennis Patrons Foundation offers four scholarships to incoming college freshmen. The deadline to apply is June 30, 2018. Click here to learn more.

SPUD Travel Grant Deadline Today! The 9th annual SPUD championships will be held July 13-14 in Belton. A limited number of travel grants are available for the 2018 SPUD (Special Populations Unified Doubles). To learn more, click here.

The USTA South Carolina Annual Awards: Recognize individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to tennis during the year. Award winners are announced in the fall on www.sctennis.com and presented each December at the USTA South Carolina Annual Meeting. Please take a moment to recognize your tennis favorites in South Carolina. It takes just five minutes to nominate a deserving person or organization.

SC Community Development Workshop: Will be held Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, from 9 am until 4 pm in Columbia. This meeting is mandatory for all CTAs applying for CGPG grants.

Tennis on Campus: Five South Carolina colleges currently participate in Tennis on Campus -- Clemson University, University of South Carolina, Furman, College of Charleston and Presbyterian College.  To form a club tennis team at your college and be eligible to play this year, please contact Sheryl  at USTA SC. To learn more about Tennis on Campus, visit us here.

TOC Tournament: The 2018 South Carolina Tennis on Campus tournament will be held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10-11, 2018, at the Charleston Tennis Center.

More than $70,000 in grant dollars has been invested so far this year in tennis communities throughout South Carolina. To learn more about other grants available through USTA South Carolina, USTA Southern and USTA National, see below.

USTA Summer Tennis Stars
Blair Floyd, from St. George, was a SC Tennis Patrons Foundation award recipient

June's Awesome Athletes are:
Soren Spina (above) from Charleston & Meera Rogers from Columbia.


(06/27/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Walking away…
By: Heath Ellison

Breast cancer survivors celebrate at a previous Race for the Cure event on Daniel Island. The popular race is moving to North Charleston’s Riverfront Park in 2018, after being held on Daniel Island for 16 years.

Since 2002, South Carolina’s chapter of nonprofit Susan G. Komen used Daniel Island as the site for its successful Race for the Cure. The mission of the race and its organization, as many know, is to raise money for breast cancer research. And, while they’ve seen great returns during their 16-year stay on the island, the local chapter will move the event to North Charleston this September.

“We loved being on Daniel Island and really appreciate them supporting our race all this time, and allowing us to be part of their community,” said Komen South Carolina Director of Marketing and Communications Lisa Jones. “We’re trying to change it up a little bit and Riverfront Park has invited us to move over there, so we just made the decision to make a good positive move.”

“With being in the venue we’re going to be in, everything’s much closer together,” Jones added.

The location change will accompany another alteration to the Race for the Cure, specifically the “race” part.

“We’ve taken it to a different format of being a walk - a community walk - instead of a timed run,” said Jones. “If you want to run, you can, but it’s more of a walk–and-talk.”

According to Jones, the folks at Komen chose this option because they realized many people were walking instead of running at the event.

“We just kind of listened to our constituents and that’s just what we heard from them,” she said. “We’ve got data to show that most people were walkers and not runners.”

Former Daniel Island resident and one-time Race for the Cure Chairwoman Colleen Carlucci is disappointed to see the event leave the island.

“I’m happy for North Charleston. I think it will be a lovely race, but I think Daniel Island and the Volvo Tennis Stadium did such a nice job making it a big celebration,” said Carlucci.

Although the race is a loss for Daniel Island, the Property Owners’ Association understood the relocation.

“The leadership of the Family Circle Tennis Center, previous host site for the run, along with the POA, felt that the diminishing size of the race over the last several years coupled with the significant logistical concerns including traffic and parking impact, predicated a need for the race to find a new home,” said Communications Director for the DI Development Company Julie Dombrowski. “The Family Circle Tennis Center continues to be a sponsor of the Komen Race.”

The 2018 Race for the Cure, to be held on September 22, will also be the cheapest race in recent times, charging walkers and runners $25 to enter, in honor of Komen South Carolina’s 25th anniversary. For more information on this year’s event, visit www.komenlowcountry.org.


(06/20/18)  ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Youngsters hone their tennis skills
Two Green Wave coaches teamed up to provide instruction at the inaugural Summervill High School Tennis Camp June 11-15.

High School Boys Tennis coach Jesse Gladis, a certified PTR Professional, and Green Wave Girls Tennis coach David Long founded the camp for athletes who will be in grades four through nine next school year. For a registration fee of $100 the athletes received three hours of tennis instruction and activities a day at Blanton Courts behind SHS. Funds raised through registration go toward costs of operating the camp and the Green Wave Tennis programs.

The camp is designed for athletes of all skill levels. Campers learned how to develop better serves, forehand, backhands and volleys as well as tennis strategies that could help them in matches. The camp also serves as a way for the coaches to introduce young players to Green Wave Tennis and the facility where some of them may compete when they reach high school.

The Wave Boys Tennis team recently wrapped up its 2018 season with a loss in the second round of the state playoffs. Summerville finished the season with an 18-7 record and as the Region 7-AAAAA runner-up.

The Wave Girls finished their season with a 14-9 record in the fall after being eliminated from the playoffs in the second round. That team placed third in the region.


(06/16/18)  LTP's Huntley Allen brings home Southern title; Pratt eyes national hard-court championships
Local juniors picked up one singles and one doubles title on Saturday in the Southern Closed Junior Tennis Championships. Both came in 18s in Mobile, Ala.

The hero of the week is Huntley Allen, the 17-year-old son of LTP Tennis' Randy Pate Academy namesake Randy Pate. Allen captured the boys 18 Southern singles title with a victory over Sean Presson of Knoxville, Tenn., in a rainy final.

"We saw these results coming due to his work ethic and constant improvements in practice," LTP Tennis coach Patrick Heiber said about Allen, one of the first two graduates of the LTP Scholars school.

Local juniors picked up one singles and one doubles title on Saturday in the Southern Closed Junior Tennis Championships. Both came in 18s in Mobile, Ala.

The hero of the week is Huntley Allen, the 17-year-old son of LTP Tennis' Randy Pate Academy namesake Randy Pate. Allen captured the boys 18 Southern singles title with a victory over Sean Presson of Knoxville, Tenn., in a rainy final.

"We saw these results coming due to his work ethic and constant improvements in practice," LTP Tennis coach Patrick Heiber said about Allen, one of the first two graduates of the LTP Scholars school.

Anna Ross, who moved here from Chicago with her family a year ago to train at LTP, walked off with the girls 18 doubles crown. She also was a girls 18 singles finalist in Mobile.

Goose Creek's William Baly, another LTP player, was a finalist in Southern boys 14 in Macon, Ga.

MWTennis Academy's Max Smith made the singles semifinals in boys 16 in Little Rock, Ark., and was third. LTP's Lara Schneider made the girls 16 semifinals.

Jacob Jahn was a quarterfinalist in boys 18, while MWTennis' Elle Bredemann was a quarterfinalist in girls 14. Alice Otis was a doubles finalist in girls 14.

Coy Simon fell in the boys 18 consolation singles final on Saturday in a third-set tiebreaker.

Whitley Pate and Logan Voeks both lost in the consolation singles semifinals, Pate in girls 16 and Voeks in girls 14.

Pratt aims high

As local junior star Jared Pratt maps his way to a college tennis career at the University of Wisconsin, he is playing a string of pro circuit events. But the goal is Kalamazoo, Mich., in early August for the national hard-court championships.

Pratt was the No. 1 boys 18 player in the nation until last month, so he is a top candidate to pick up the wild card into the main draw of the U.S. Open that goes to the boys 18 singles winner in Kalamazoo.

The tough competition Pratt is playing against on the pro circuit can only help him in his quest of playing in the U.S. Open. After all, the Bishop England graduate didn't dream of being the No. 1 junior boy in the nation, but there it was on his list of achievements at the end of 2017.

Pratt is currently playing in a $25K event in Winston-Salem, N.C., and won his first-round qualifying match on Saturday in three sets.

"He has the $25K and maybe another one or two $25Ks, then National Team, and then Kalamazoo," said Chip Hand, Pratt's coach.

Schuster out West

Talking about former local juniors now playing college tennis, who is playing the greatest distance away from home? Remember the name Samantha Schuster?

Schuster is heading into her senior year at Concordia University at Irvine, Calif. She played on Wando's state runner-up team in 2010, but didn't participate in high school tennis after that while concentrating on junior tennis. She won two Belton doubles titles along the way.

How did Schuster end up at Concordia where she played No. 1 doubles and No. 4 singles this past spring? Chip Hand had a "hand" in Schuster's move to the other side of the country. He was Schuster's coach.

Hand was the doubles partner of Jonathan Sanchez in juniors and college at Brigham Young where Hand was an All-American. Sanchez is now the men's and women's tennis coach at Concordia, located six miles from the Pacific Ocean between Los Angeles and San Diego.

"I've known him since we were 12 ... roommates and doubles partners in college ... played doubles together in 14s as well," Hand said about Sanchez.

And, "Yes, I helped her (Schuster) go there for tennis and school."

Patricia Schuster explained her daughter's decision to attend Concordia: "She had a hard time choosing schools. Ultimately came down to Concordia and San Diego State.

"But in the end it has been a good balance for her. She was head captain as a sophomore, freshman year she was rookie of the year, and junior year she won the coaches award. Chip Hand was a great mentor and coach for her over the years."

Gretkowski 'good'

Local 14-year-old Allie Gretkowski has registered for the July 15-22 USTA girls 18 National Clay Court Championships at LTP Tennis. That's a tall order for a youngster, but don't forget that Florida native Cori "Coco" Gauff was only 14 years and 2 months old last weekend when she won the Junior French Open girls title. And, of course, 25 years ago Martina Hingis won a junior Grand Slam at age 12.

Gretkowski already has demonstrated tennis ability far beyond her years. In her first pro event, the 5-9 teenager fought through qualifying to advance into the main draw of last fall's $15K U.S. Women's Pro Circuit tournament at LTP Tennis.

"She is going to be good," said Jeff Wilson, the CEO of Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy. "(Allie's) work ethic, attitude, accountability and athleticism are off the charts."

Gretkowski skipped the just completed Southern Closed Championships to play qualifying (but lost) for the Sumter $80K pro circuit event where LTP $80K champion Taylor Townsend is in another main draw Sunday final.

Belton success

Many of the state's top juniors passed up the recent Palmetto Championships at Belton, but the champions always will own the title of "Belton Champion." That still means something in junior tennis circles.

Three local juniors won Belton singles titles. University of Tennessee-Chattanooga bound Kerim Hyatt led the way by winning the boys 18 title over Hanahan teammate Chad Nash.

Former Hanahan teammate Max Smith also came through by capturing the boys 16 Belton crown.

Anna Ross took the top honor in the girls division by bringing home the 18-and-under girls championship with a win over Elizabeth Truluck.

Other Belton runners-up included Carson Baker in boys 14, Sawyer Severance in boys 12, Whitley Pate in girls 16 and Elle Bredemann in girls 14. That means the Charleston area had representatives in seven of the eight regulation court Belton singles finals.

Eight of the area's nine finalists train at either LTP Tennis or MWTennis - Hyatt, Smith, Truluck and Bredemann at MW; and Nash, Ross, Severance and Pate at LTP. The only exception is Carson Baker, who trains with his father, Charleston Southern women's coach Mike Baker.

Notes

- Former local junior Matt Hane won his second straight men's 35 national indoors singles title recently in Maine. He also teamed with Kiawah Island pro Brandon Blankenbaker to reach the doubles final.

- Just-turned 17 junior star Emma Navarro lost in the first round of main draw singles and doubles last week in the Sumter $25K women's pro circuit event. She is starting play in qualifying this weekend in another $25K in Baton Rouge, La., with the national 18 clay courts coming up next month at her dad's LTP complex in Mount Pleasant, and the national girls 18 hard courts in San Diego in August where a berth in the main draw of the U.S. Open will be at stake.

- The City of Charleston Junior Hard-Court Championships are scheduled for July 6-8 at the city's Farmfield Avenue tennis center. The entry deadline is July 1. Registration is available online (tournament No. 700028518). Contact Peggy Bohne (843-766-7401 or bohne@charleston-sc.gov).


(06/15/18)  USTA SC: Community Tennis News: Volume 30
Nominate Your Favorites in SC Tennis
 
The USTA South Carolina Annual Awards recognize individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to tennis during the year. Award winners are announced in the fall on www.sctennis.com and presented each December at the USTA South Carolina Annual Meeting.
 
Please take a moment to recognize your tennis favorites in South Carolina. It takes just five minutes to nominate a deserving person or organization.

College Scholarships Available
 
The South Carolina Tennis Patrons Foundation offers four scholarships to incoming college freshmen. The deadline to apply is June 30, 2018.

Net Generation in South Carolina!

Net Generation player and parent registration is now open. If you have not yet entered your programs as a provider, now is the time to do so. If you have not yet registered as a volunteer, you can do that here as well. Visit www.netgeneration.com to update your programs. For a step-by-step tutorial on how to register and add programs.

Tennis on Campus State Tournament Set

There are five South Carolina colleges currently participating in Tennis on Campus in 2018 -- Clemson University, University of South Carolina, Furman, College of Charleston and Presbyterian College.

The 2018 South Carolina Tennis on Campus tournament will be held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10-11, 2018, at the Charleston Tennis Center. To form a club tennis team at your college and be eligible to play this year, please contact Sheryl  at USTA SC. To learn more about Tennis on Campus,


(06/14/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Sports Briefs: Tennis news
DIS tennis team nets championship victories

The Daniel Island School junior high school division 1 tennis team was a double winner in the Charleston City School League this year. They tied for first place in the top division in the league, and then continued on to win the division 1 playoff tournament. Out of 17 divisions with up to 10 teams in each division this Daniel Island team came out in first place.

DI teen scores SC High School tennis singles’ title

Daniel Island resident Chad Nash, who plays tennis for Hanahan High School, has added a distinguished championship title to his growing tennis resume. Nash was named co-champion of the South Carolina High School League’s Class AAA-AA-A state boys’ tennis singles playoffs. He shares the coveted first place title with Timothy Pitts of Southside Christian. The competition took place in mid-May. Chad, a junior who takes online courses at Laurel Springs, also earned the Sportsman’s Award at the event, which was held at the Cayce Tennis Center.

He has trained extensively at Randy Pate Academy and has a busy summer ahead with regional and national tennis tournaments. According to his father, Tim Nash, Chad is also in the midst of the college recruiting process and will be talking with many school coaches in the coming months.


(06/09/18)  DAVID SHELTON: Lowcountry High School Athletes of the Year
BOYS TENNIS

Player of the Year
Jared Pratt, Bishop England

For the second time in his four seasons with the Bishops, Pratt wins this honor after leading Bishop England to a second state championship. Pratt went unbeaten in his senior season at Bishop England. He also was the No. 1 boys 18 player in the nation in the final USTA national rankings for 2017. He started playing for the Bishops in the 2015 season after being schooled online as an eighth-grader while recovering from the curved-spine condition scoliosis. Pratt has been named to the third annual USTA Junior Leadership Team. He stood out academically at Bishop England as a member of the National Honor Society and will attend the University of Wisconsin in the fall and play tennis for the Big Ten's Badgers.

All-Lowcountry
Jared Pratt, Bishop England
Brant Fenno, Porter-Gaud
Sam Kavarana, Academic Magnet
Reilly Wilson, Hanahan
Kerim Hyatt, Hanahan
Chad Nash, Hanahan

Honorable Mention
Academic Magnet:
Earl Navarro, Cameron Dawson, Michael Pi, Vinod Pandey, Timothy Wilson, Andrew Demetre

Ashley Ridge:
Hampton Plyler, Ben Price;

Berkeley:
James Giannelli, Joshua Giannelli, Stephen Jones

Bishop England: Lleyton Dacuba, Zach Dacuba, Harrison Estey, Brenden Smith, Lukas Gosselein, Rafe Flathman

Cane Bay:
Don Keys

Charleston Collegiate:
Ducky Steward

Fort Dorchester:
Philip Nguyen, Will Shoppe

Goose Creek:
Mateo Coleman, Revis Mickler

Hanahan:
Mark Jones

James Island:
Brendan Healey, James Evans

Oceanside Collegiate:
Stanley Waters, Matthew Kirk, Mitchell Davies, Bradley Upshaw

Palmetto Christian:
Henry Hyden, Justice Galt, JP Biggerstaff

Phillip Simmons:
J.D. Sutterlin, Zade Hyatt, Chase Roberts

Pinewood Prep:
Ben Diffley, Grayson Mann, Canon McConnell, Noah Garcia

Porter-Gaud:
Manning Snyder, Alex des Francs, Lucas Acevedo, Harris Stripling, Andrew Harvin

Stratford:
Anthony Yeung, Teague McCracken

Summerville:
Stephen Wills, Taylor Reynolds, Thomas McGinnis, Rahi Gajjar, Chris Edwards

Wando:
Alex Shaw, Will Bumgarner, Jack Johnson, Palmer Smyth, Nick Heindel, Harry Shuman, Cameron Davies

West Ashley:
Ozzie Duarte, Stratas Anastopoulo

Coach of the Year
Steve Percy, Academic Magnet


(06/05/18)  LCTA Newsletter: June
Important Dates
Combo Deadline for 3 at level partnerships is June 8. If you haven't gotten your team together, don't hesitate.

Team registration for 65 & over & 75 & over opens July 16.

State Championships
Congratulations to the SC State Champions and Finalists. Our teams advancing to SC State Championships did a great job this year!

2018 State Champions
Age     Gender     Rating     Team                Captain    
70        Men          3.5           Family Circle   George Keane
70        Women    3.0           CTC                 Kay Sawyer
55        Women    3.0           D. Island          Nancy Brodsky
55        Women    3.5           Snee Farm       Ann Fink
40        Women    3.5           Creekside        Crystal Daniel
18        Men          3.5           Maybank         Ron Inabinett
18        Men          4.0           Maybank        William Workman
18        Men          4.5           Mt. P Rec       Kevin Warzynski
18        Women    4.5            LTP                Allison Pickhardt

2018 State Finalists
Age     Gender     Rating     Team                     Captain
40       Women     3.0          Mt. Pleasant         Virginie Murphy
40       Women     4.0          Daniel Island         Bettina Routh
40       Men           4.0         Family Circle         Gary Snyder
18       Men           3.0         CTC                      Ryan Robinson
18       Men           4.5         I'ON                       John Bumgarner

LCTA APPOINTS NEW BOARD MEMBERS 
Congratulations to April Gift and Steve Speer, recently appointed to the LCTA Board of Directors.  Both April and Steve have demonstrated their commitment to tennis in the Low Country.  They are a welcome addition to the LCTA Board.
GENERAL UPDATES 

40 & over Format
There has been discussion about the format (1 singles / 4 doubles for 3.0 - 4.0) LCTA played in the Spring. 40 & over Captains - be on the lookout for another survey in the near future. The format is under discussion at State and Sectional so it is possible they could change the format.

Flex League
Players, if you are interested in forming / playing in a Flex League, contact April Gift (agift0810@gmail.com).

USTA South Carolina Appoints Jennifer Gregg as new Executive Director
Jennifer brings 22 years of USTA knowledge and experience, coupled with the Certified Association Executive designation from the American Society of Association Executives...read more

USTA SOUTH CAROLINA APPOINTS JENNIFER GREGG AS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Jennifer brings 22 years of USTA knowledge and experience, coupled with the Certified Association Executive designation from the American Society of Association Executives.

NOTE FROM STEVE WILSON

It has been a VERY busy Spring. Starting the first week of April, LCTA staffed the USTA Tent at the Volvo Car Open. Special thanks to Bill Ennis for his tireless work and to all the volunteers that gave out 1,800 backup battery kits. Great job was done by all. The hard work of the volunteers gives LCTA a very positive image.

Up next were two weeks of playoffs. Rain the second evening created a challenge. The coordinators, Captains, and players made the playoffs successful. As mentioned above, the teams that advanced performed well at State.

I was fortunate enough to work as Staff at the 18 & Over League State Championships. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. One great benefit was getting to know the teams. It was delightful see how LCTA teams supported each other - Mt. Pleasant Rec. women cheering for Maybank men for example.

I am pleased to announce (again) that Dee Mack will be taking over as Local League Coordinator effective July 1. Dee has been preparing for the transition since fall 2017. She is ready to go. Dee brings fresh energy and ideas to the League.

My 4+ years have been a positive experience for me and I hope for LCTA. We've had our ups and downs; the ups are way more common. Working with each of you has been a treat. I will remain as LCTA Board President. I take away many new friends that I would not have gotten to know had I not served as Local League Coordinator.

Thanks everyone for a great experience!


(06/04/18)  ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Town offering summer tennis camps
The Town of Summerville will host weekly tennis camps throughout the summer.

Camps are held at the Doty Park Tennis Facility (320 North Laurel Street) and are offered for half days. Camps are open to all levels ages 5-18.

Registration is available at www.summervillesc.gov/tennis. Tennis camp fees are $110. A $50 deposit is required.

Campers are required to bring a tennis racket, drink (water or Gatorade, carbonated drinks will not be permitted on the court), tennis shoes or running shoes, shorts or tennis skirt, a hat and two towels.

Campers will participate in drills and games, focusing on fundamentals, basics for beginners and strategy, placement and shot execution for intermediate and advanced players. A tournament will be played at the close of each camp.

For further information, contact Nancy Sumersett at 843-270-1017.


(06/04/18)  USTA SC: Community Tennis News: Volume 29
$70,000  Invested in SC's Tennis Communities

USTA South Carolina is proud to announce that approximately $70,000 in grant money has been invested in South Carolina's communities so far this year. We have seen a record number of grant applicants, and competition is fierce for both USTA South Carolina grants as well as Southern grants. In addition, 11 locations have applied for a USTA Facilities Grant.

Check out the links below to determine if your grant strategy aligns with the USTA offerings. In addition, with the increased competition for limited funds, the best applications get the most attention. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance to you. We can offer limited editing assistance as well as other advice. Consider using a grant writer if you have access to one. If you have a few extra dollars in your budget for grant writing assistance, please let us know and we can connect you with someone who can help.

Thanks to all of you have applied. Keep applying! And congratulations to all of you who have received grant dollars so far. Thanks for all you're doing to build new tennis communities across South Carolina.


High School Boys' Tennis

Team Winners
5A Champion:  Spartanburg. Runner-up: Wando
4A Champion: Hilton Head. Runner-up: South Aiken
3A Champion: Bishop England. Runner-up: Clinton
2A Champion: Academic Magnet. Runner-up: St. Joseph's

All-State Teams
5A/4A
Co-Champions:  Bryce Keim: Spartanburg. Matthew Oliver: Hilton Head
Co-third place:  Ashe Ray: Spartanburg. Sean Nguyen: Irmo
Co-consolation:  Davis Phillips: Hilton Head. Will Cubitt: Spartanburg
 
Alphabetically
Cahill, John: Myrtle Beach
Dorsey, Brolin: TL Hanna
Jona, Anish: Wilson
Kamieniecki, Sebastian: Riverside
Khulordava, Nick: TL Hanna
Smith, Jason: Byrnes
 
3A/2A/1A
Co-Champions:  Chad Nash: Hanahan. Timothy Pitts: Southside Christian
Co-third place: Lleyton Dacuba: Bishop England. Nicholas Loudermilk: St. Joseph's
Consolation: Isaac McMillian: Clinton
   
Alphabetically:
Armstrong, Maclean:  St. Joseph's
Beckler, Liam: May River
Brichzin, Moritz: Newberry
Oliver, Hayes: Powdersville
Philpot, Ric: Christ Church
Russell, Sam: Christ Church
Waldron, Ike: Clinton
 
*Tournament play was called after the second rain Tuesday. Co-winners were declared in 4 of the 5 matches that were still on the court.
 
Sportsmanship Awards:
5A/4A:  Davis Phillips: Hilton Head
3A/2A/1A:  Chad Nash: Hanahan

Thank you for your partnership

On behalf of our South Carolina Community Development team -- Pamela Banks, Cameron Sebnick and me --  I would like to thank you for all you continue to do in your local communities to grow the game of tennis. Because of your work, there are adults and kids playing tennis for the first time. And as one adult beginner told us, thanks for getting me off the couch.

We have much to do in 2018 and many more tennis communities to create. Join us as we welcome new players to find themselves in the game.

Warmest regards,
Sheryl

Sheryl McAlister
Director of Community Development
USTA South Carolina
18 Woodcross Drive
Columbia, SC 29212


(06/02/18)  Pratt honored by USTA; Rogers out at least 4 more months
Jared Pratt is more than just the player who was ranked as the No. 1 junior tennis player in the country for 2017. He also is a leader on and off the court.

The Bishop England standout was selected for the third annual USTA Junior Leadership Team. He was nominated by the USTA Southern Section for his excellence in tennis and in the community as one of America's finest junior tennis players who exhibit leadership, sportsmanship and character on and off the court.

Lew Brewer, the USTA's director of junior competition, called Pratt and the other members of the Leadership Team "our future leaders."

Pratt, now 18 and preparing to graduate from Bishop England, lost his No. 1 U.S. boys 18 ranking on May 23 after concentrating on his high school and college tennis careers in 2018 rather than the junior circuit. He led Bishop England to a second state championship in four years and is now headed for a college tennis career at the University of Wisconsin.

All of that came after recovering from surgery as a 13-year-old to correct the curved-spine condition scoliosis.

"It's just a reflection of the hard work that comes from juggling tennis and community service through NHS (National Honor Society)," said Pratt, who in addition to being a NHS member is a South Carolina Palmetto Fellow.

"Tennis has become more than just competition for me," he said. "Somehow, a sport so focused on individual success is able to promote uncharacteristic team growth and camaraderie. Tennis has taught me that competition is much bigger than just one match between myself and my opponent."

Rogers' knee surgery

The knee injury that has sidelined Shelby Rogers from the WTA Tour for nearly three months has turned out to be a career-defining process for the 25-year-old from Daniel Island.

Rogers doesn't know how long her career will be put on hold.

"I don't have a really clear answer, I'm sorry. But it's going to be a while, four (more) months at least," Rogers said on Friday. "So a protected ranking will come into play."

A player can apply for a protected ranking when the player is out of competition for a minimum of six months. Rogers was ranked 78th in the world on March 7 when she suffered a left knee injury in a first-round loss to Caroline Dolehide at the Indian Wells, Calif., WTA Tour tournament.

She is currently ranked 118th in the world. Without competing all summer through the U.S. Open, Rogers' ranking is projected to drop nearly 250 more places. She was ranked a career-high No. 48 in January 2017.

Rogers underwent surgery on her left knee last month at New York's Hospital for Special Services. The surgery was performed by noted sports medicine orthopedic surgeon Dr. Riley J. Williams, a specialist in knee, shoulder and elbow surgery.

Rogers is rehabilitating the knee in California. She trains with California-based touring coach Marc Lucero.

"I'm doing well in physical therapy and everything is right on track," Rogers said. "Just taking it day by day and enjoying my time away from the game as much as I can."

Navarro sparkles

Emma Navarro turned 17 years old just a couple of weeks ago, and Friday she was playing in the semifinals of the 54th Astrid Bowl in Charleroi, Belgium. A rising junior at Ashley Hall, Navarro suffered a close loss to world's No. 7 junior Alexa Noel of the United States in the semifinals of the 48-draw ITF Junior Grade 1 clay court tournament.

Navarro defeated world's No. 14 junior Yuki Naito of Japan in the quarterfinals. Navarro also teamed with Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., to make the quarterfinals in doubles.

Beck, who lost early at Charleroi, was the 14th seed in the qualifying tournament for the current Junior French Open, but lost in the first round.

Notes

-- Five players who played in last month's women's $80K tournament at LTP Tennis participated in the main draw of the current French Open. LTP champ Taylor Townsend, French qualifier Caroline Dolehide and Mariana Duque-Marino made the second round, while 2017 LTP champ Madison Brengle and French qualifier Grace Min also made the main draw in Paris. Four of the five are Americans while Duque-Marino is from Colombia. LTP semifinalist Iga Swiatek of Poland is competing in the Junior French Open.

-- The Lowcountry Tennis Association might have had its best spring state championship season ever this year. Nine local teams won state titles: Family Circle Tennis Center 3.5 men's 70 (captained by George Keane); Charleston Tennis Center 3.0 women's 70 (Kay Sawyer); Daniel Island Club 3.0 women's 55 (Nancy Brodsky); Snee Farm 3.5 women's 55 (Ann Fink); Mount Pleasant Rec 3.5 women's 40 (Crystal Daniel); Maybank 3.5 men's 18 (Ron Inabinett); Maybank 4.0 men's 18 (William Workman); Mount Pleasant Rec 4.5 men's 18 (Kevin Warzynski); and LTP 4.5 women's 18 (Allison Pickhardt).


(05/31/18)  ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Roberts honored by Intercollegiate Tennis Association
Summerville’s Joel Roberts has moved from center court to the sidelines.

Roberts, who received many accolades as a tennis player at Pinewood Prep and then Presbyterian College, is now trying his hand at coaching. After graduating from Presbyterian with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with minors in secondary education and athletic coaching, he accepted a position this school year as a graduate assistant coach for the Wingate University men’s and women’s tennis teams.

“Wingate University is very similar to Presbyterian College,” Roberts said. “They are both pretty small and the campuses are set up very similar. I love the small, family atmosphere at Wingate just like Presbyterian. I am pursuing my master’s degree in Sport Management so Wingate offers that degree and it worked out that I could become the graduate assistant of both the men's and women's tennis teams.”

For Roberts, coaching has been a rewarding experience.

“I love coaching,” he said. “I still miss competing with my teammates, but coaching has taught me a lot and I love seeing our players be successful. I really enjoy working on areas of the game in practice and then watching our players execute what we have worked on in matches.”

Roberts helped both Wingate tennis programs have successful seasons and his contributions to the program didn’t go unnoticed. In his first year with Wingate, Roberts was named the Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year for men’s and women’s tennis by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

"I'm very happy to see Joel be recognized for all the hard work he puts into helping both programs," Wingate Tennis Head Coach Michael Cabana said. "He is very deserving of this honor. His dedication to each team was a huge help to me and the players this season."

Roberts helped the Wingate Men win both the SAC regular season championship and tournament title and rise to the ranking of sixth in the ITA national poll, the highest ranking in program history. The Bulldogs went 20-6 overall and 9-1 in league play, picking up a 5-0 victory over No. 13 USC Aiken in the NCAA Tournament opener.

Roberts also helped lead the Wingate Women to a 21-5 season with a 10-0 mark in league play. This year the team earned the number two seed in the NCAA Southeast Regional, hosted the regionals for the first time in program history and picked up its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. The Wingate Women were ranked as high as 12th nationally. The team will enter next season riding a 69-match SAC winning streak.

This year saw Wingate have the SAC Player of the Year in men's and women's tennis, with Daniel Belsito becoming the third Bulldog to win the honor on the men's side and Michela Verpelli giving the 'Dogs their first SAC Women's Tennis Player of the Year since 1990.

As an athlete, Roberts helped the Presbyterian College Men's Tennis team capture two Big South Regular Season championships and its first Big South Tournament Championship. Roberts finished his career fifth in PC’s Division 1 history in doubles wins with 52 and ranked just outside the Top 10 in career singles wins with 31. Roberts was a team captain in 2017.

As a Pinewood Panther, Roberts rose to the ranking of sixth among the top college prospects in South Carolina. From his seventh-grade to 12th grade years, he played at the No. 1 or No. 2 spot for Pinewood. He earned the Panthers’ Most Outstanding Player award in 2012 and collected All-Region and All-State honors in 2010 and 2011. Also a standout on the baseball diamond, he helped Pinewood to a state baseball title in 2012.


(05/19/18)  School league attracts more than 2,000 kids
Where can you find more than 2,000 kids playing tennis in the same week?

Oh, you haven't heard about the Tri-County Elementary and Middle School Tennis League. That's where 2,150 kids played on a total of 132 teams the last couple of months.

The eye-popping numbers caught the eye of the national USTA.

"What they're doing here with this school program is absolutely incredible," was the way Elliott Pettit, the USTA's national director of its school tennis program, described the program that city tennis manager Peggy Bohne started in the 1980s at Charleston Tennis Center.

"I'm here to take a look and see one of the great programs that people around the country are running," Pettit said on his recent visit. "The program is incredibly organized.

"Peggy has participants from the very beginning coming back as parents. You can see what an impact it has with the other programs in the area. That's why I'm here. I'm here to learn and see what they are doing here. They are some of the best in the business."

Not bad for a league that Bohne said "started about 35 years ago with seven teams."

Pamela Banks, the school tennis coordinator for USTA SC based in Columbia, also was on hand to see just what makes this particular Elementary and Middle School League work like clockwork while attracting so many kids from kindergarten to eighth grade.

"I think this program is wonderful," said Banks, a Belton native who started playing tennis at age 35 after playing college basketball, softball and soccer for Southern Wesleyan College in Central.

"It's a relaxed environment and the kids learn how to be friendly with each other. Sportsmanship is No. 1, and the competition is adequate. But the lifelong friendship that they are developing is awesome."

The program has spawned participation far outside of the city to other areas of Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties.

"I want as many children as possible outside in the fresh air getting some exercise and enjoying themselves playing tennis. My main goal is that they keep playing at whatever level that they choose," Bohne said.

The program isn't necessarily geared toward kids who have a tennis background, although many of them later become involved in USTA adult league tennis. At least two former participants in the school league are making a career out of tennis work.

One of Banks' co-workers (Rashawn Nelson) actually came through the program. Bohne pointed out that current St. Andrew's Recreation Department tennis director Phil Burke also came through the local Elementary and Middle School League.

"Phil Burke started in this league at C.E. Williams Middle School and Rashawn Nelson started playing tennis when his PE teacher asked him to play on the tennis team for Laing Middle School," Bohne said.

HALBAUER ON ROLL

Former Charleston junior Ellie Halbauer is still on an ITF Women's Pro Circuit roll.

After winning $15K singles and doubles titles in Tunisia prior to playing in the Volvo Car Open qualifying event, the 20-year-old Halbauer traveled to Antalya, Turkey, where she won a pair of $15K singles titles. That's a rare three singles titles in just a couple of months.

On Saturday, Halbauer lost in a first-round qualifying match for the WTA Tour's $250,000 tournament in Nurnberg, Germany.

JAMES ISLAND COACH STEPPING DOWN

John Eppelsheimer is retiring from coaching tennis at James Island High School.

The 1982 graduate of Lander University has spent the last 10 years at James Island and has been in coaching for 25 years.

"I've had a great time doing it, but I felt like 25 years was long enough. I'm ready to do something else," he said.

Eppelsheimer is the brother of Family Circle Tennis Center operations director Rob Eppelsheimer, and the husband of Wando High School principal Sherry Eppelsheimer.

The Eppelsheimer brothers grew up in Pittsburgh next to a 21-court tennis complex. It's no surprise that both followed tennis through college careers (Rob at the College of Charleston) and into tennis jobs.

John Eppelsheimer is currently working on a master's degree in administration. "I am retiring from coaching, not school," he said. He plans to go into administration in a few years.

Two of his boys tennis teams at Greenwood High School won state titles (1992 and 1994).

LOCAL NOTES

The women's 55 "Double Trouble" team from Snee Farm captained by Ann Fink recently won the 3.5 state championship at Hilton Head Island.

James Island senior Brendan Healey has been selected as Region 7-AAAAA player of the year for the third straight year. Healey is headed for Clemson's Honors Program, according to coach John Eppelsheimer.

Alice Otis recently took the girls 14 singles and doubles titles at the Southern Level 1A championships at Hilton Head Island. The 13-year-old is currently ranked fourth in the Southern Section where Porter-Gaud standout left-hander Sophie Williams is the No. 1-ranked player and Allie Gretkowski is ranked third.

The Tri-County Elementary and Middle School Tennis League will hold its awards presentations on Monday at 4 p.m. at Charleston Tennis Center. Yellow Ball league champions are Daniel Island1 and Christ Our King Stella Maris Crusaders (tie, Div. 1), Rollings Middle School A (Div. 2), Ashley Hall 7/8 Bailey (Div. 3), Mason Prep Knights (Div. 5), and Mount Pleasant Academy, Mason Prep 1 and Porter-Gaud Cyclones (3-way tie, Div. 4).

Green Dot winners were James Island Elementary Green (Div. 6), Sullivan's Island Green Ballers (Div. 7), and Ashley Hall fifth grade Gastley (Div. 8). The Orange Ball winners were Belle Hall -- Belle Hally (Div. 9), James Island Elementary Red (Div. 10), Harbor View Racqueteers (Div. 11), Stiles Point Gold Dolphins (Div. 12), and Carolina Voyager Tennis 1 and Charleston Catholic Blue Saints (tie, Div. 13)


(05/17/18)  BERKELEY INDEPENDENT: RICKEY DENNIS: Berkeley tennis player named North-South all-star, competes at state championships
Berkeley's tennis coach set two goals for his No. 1 player this season: go to the state championships and compete in the North-South all-star match.

James Giannelli will accomplish both. The senior Stag was tabbed for the all-star matchup slated for May 19 in Myrtle Beach shortly after he competed in the Class 5A-4A state championships where he notched one victory in the consolation bracket.

"It's a culmination of all the hard work," Coach Charles Sweeney said of his star player. "You're talking about five years worth of work. He accomplished both of the goals. I couldn't be more proud."

The all-star roster, released by the South Carolina Coaches Association, features the top senior tennis players in Class 4A from the upper and lower parts of the state. It allots players a weekend getaway at the beach to bond and compete against their counterparts.

Giannelli, who's been in Berkeley's tennis program since middle school, ended his senior season 11-2. Sweeney leaned on him to mentor inexperienced players.

While he had opportunities to play college tennis, he opted to coach after he graduates.

Berkeley went 9-7 overall this spring in boys tennis. The program boasts about 20 players, many of whom are first-timers. Nonetheless, the program has a history of star players. Giannelli being selected for the all-star squad sheds more light on the group and will inspire other players.

"It's a big deal," Sweeney said. "It gives [other players] something to look forward to. We've had a lineage of really good number one players. It gives [other players] something to shoot for."


(05/17/18)  CHARLESTON CITY PAPER: Remembering former City Paper photographer Nancy Santos
A tiny woman with a big camera

We received the sad news yesterday that on Tues. May 15, Nancy Santos, City Paper's former staff photographer, passed away. She was 58.

Santos worked at the paper from May 2000 until October 2006. And like every CP photographer, Santos' assignment were as varied as the stories we told, but she became well respected for her beautiful photo essays including her 2004 "A Gullah Tale." The essay documented the Gullah/Geechee community's cultural heritage in stunning images like that of Eugene Seabrook shrimping on the Folly River and Ce Ce Williams hand-knitting a shrimp casting, and showcased her knack for disarming her subjects, a quality that became a hallmark of her work.

"Nancy was this bundle of talent. She upped the game and she stamped the paper with her eye," remembers former CP editor Stephanie Barna who adds that Santos had a natural aptitude for putting her subjects at ease. "She was so good at connecting with people." CP even created a darkroom to allow Santos to do her work. "We limited ourselves to one bathroom so she could have a dark room because she was so good at processing. She would bring out her first contacts and keep manipulating her art."

One of Santos best friends was Andrea Haseley, CP's original Art Director. Haseley just spent this April living with Santos while visiting Charleston, so we asked her to share a few words about her dear friend:

After leaving the Charleston City Paper as the founding Art Director (and the paper’s studio photographer) in 1999, I pursued my graphic design freelance career. Since the paper took off like wildfire, Noel, Blair, and Stephanie were in need for more talented people — especially a full-time photographer — and that’s when they hired Nancy Santos. As soon as I met her we instantly became friends. We had so much in common. I lived in Park Circle and Nancy said she wanted to leave downtown and move out to North Charleston. I immediately started to look for “for sale” signs and before I knew it she bought a house there. Since she only lived one street away we were now neighbors.

Nancy moved to Park Circle with her curly haired daughter Catherine, who stole my heart the first time I met her. Catherine was a spunky kid with an imagination beyond her years. Nancy recognized her creative energy and encouraged Catherine to apply to the North Charleston School of the Arts. Catherine was accepted to SOA and Nancy was so proud of her daughter and so happy she was on a path to maybe one day have a career in the arts like herself. Catherine then attended and graduated from Savannah College of Art & Design and now resides in Seattle, Wash.

Nancy was a gifted photographer. I hired her for professional photography for some of my clients. She took pictures for Spoleto USA, Family Circle Cup (now the Volvo Cup), Charleston Day School, Madra Rua, Vickerys Bar & Grill and Gene’s Haufbrau. It was a blast to work with Nancy. She made my job so much easier by providing spectacular pictures.

Nancy traveled a lot by herself and with her photog friend Ron Ross. One of Nancy’s trips was to Romania where she captured the stark countryside and gypsy culture. One of my favorite shots was “The Lady of Perpetual Laundry,” of a wrinkled-faced, elderly woman praying over her laundry she had just washed. The gypsy woman prayed with clasped hands, hoping that her laundry would be clean.

Nancy and I went to Burning Man in 2002. We got the courage to attend this crazy art festival in the middle of a pre-historic lake bed in the Nevada desert. We both wanted to see the art, sculptures, and art cars. When Stephanie Barna heard we were going, she asked Nancy to take a lot of photos so the City Paper could publish another one of Nancy’s photo essays. Nancy shot a lot of film — yes film. No digital camera back then. When we got back home Stephanie looked at the contact sheet and realized a lot of the photos could not be printed due to nudity and sexual content. Only those who have been to Burning Man know what I am talking about. Nancy and I stuck out like sore thumbs at Burning Man. Almost everyone there was naked or close to it. But not us S.C. girls! We tried to blend in with mis-matched clothes and goofy hats. It was pathetic but we were in it together. One of our biggest thrills was riding the cuddle fish art car and walking through the Pink Pussy Palace which had one-way mirrors. So many times we looked at each other and said “did you just SEE THAT?”

I can continue with many more stories and fond memories. But what I’d really like to say is those who knew Nancy were very fortunate. Our lives were touched graciously by this tiny, Irish, beautiful, blue-eyed, blonde woman who took amazing photographs, had a zesty sense of humor and loved a cup of tea. However, I can say this, she was not the BEST driver!

Cheers to Santos! Long live my beautiful friend forever in my heart.

There is no memorial planned at this time.


(05/15/18)  Hanahan High School's Nash wins SCHSL boys singles tennis title
Hanahan junior Chad Nash was crowned co-champion of the SCHSL Class AAA-AA-A state boys tennis singles championship on Tuesday at Cayce Tennis Center. Nash also won the tournament's sportsman award.

Nash scored a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Bishop England senior Lleyton Dacuba in the semifinals. Tim Pitts of Greenville's Southside Christian won the other semifinal, but rain halted the Nash/Pitts final with Nash holding a 2-0 lead.

The match was not continued. The two finalists were offered options for a makeup, but both Nash and Pitts opted to be crowned co-champions.

The semifinal match was a big turnaround for Nash, who had lost to Dacuba in the regular season. Nash won four matches in the singles competition without dropping a set.

Nash currently trains at the Randy Pate Academy at LTP Tennis.

"This is two years in a row with Hanahan being singles champion," said Hanahan coach Glenn Cobb, whose team lost to eventual state champion Bishop England in the Lower State Class AAA final last week.

Nash's Hanahan teammate, Reilly Wilson, won the singles title in 2017, but did not compete this week in the state singles competition.


(05/15/18)  GLEN SMITH, ROBERT BEHRE AND JENNIFER BERRY HAAWES: Renowned firm that designed Wando River bridge has ties to previous span collapses
The firm that designed the problem-plagued Wando River bridge is known for its work on some of the nation’s most breathtaking spans and for two destructive collapses that drew scorn and threatened lives.

In a bizarre episode, the bridge closed briefly in 2002 when an open-bed truck carrying cylinders of highly flammable gas slammed into a Charleston police car, creating a fiery spectacle that halted play at the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament. No one suffered a serious injury and the bridge was relatively unscathed.


(05/13/18)  Spartanburg defends state tennis title with win over Wando
Wando's brilliant season came to an end Saturday in a crushing 6-0 loss to defending state champion Spartanburg in the Class AAAAA boys tennis state final at Cayce Tennis Center.

"We had a great season,"11th-year Wando coach  Winde Ellenberg said after her first trip to the state championship match with the Warriors (18-3). "We played well,"

But, then, junior circuit player-heavy Spartanburg (16-0) was super good. "They were very strong. They only have two seniors, and the others are sophomores." Spartanburg defeated West Florence, 7-0, in last year's final.

Wando could not push the Vikings to a third set at any position. Senior Bryce Keim posted a 6-1, 6-0 win over Wando junior Alex Shaw at No. 1 singles, and  strong sophomore Ashe Ray posted a 6-2, 6-2 win over Wando junior Will Bumgarner at No. 2. Ray entered the match fresh from a runner-up boys 16 singles finish in the Southern Level 1A championships last weekend in Mobile, Ala.

The Vikings were loaded with talent from top to bottom.

But the Warriors should be contenders again next year, losing only No. 4 Palmer Smyth among their singles starters.

"I had high hopes," Ellenberg said. "I knew West Florence was going to be our challenge (in the Lower State semifinals).  We lost to them (West Florence) last year in the playoffs . . . dropped two of three in third-set tie breakers. And the boys were determined this year to win and they did, tie breakers and all.

"Mentally the boys were ready this year and they had a lot of passion/drive. Something that hasn't been present in all players in the past," Ellenberg added.

SPARTANBURG 6, WANO 0
Singles: Bryce Keim (S) def. Alex Shaw, 6-1, 6-0; Ashe Ray (S) def. Will Bumgarner, 6-2, 6-2; Jackson Pye (S) def. Jack Johnson, 6-1, 6-1; Will Cubitt (S) def. Palmer Smyth, 7-5, 6-0;  Rushil Patel (S) def. Nick Heindel , 6-3, 6-3.   Doubles: Mac Morehead/Jack Coleman (S) def. Harry Shuman/Cameron Davies, 6-4, 6-4.  


(05/13/18)  Academic Magnet brings home another state tennis crown
It was the “Sam and Earl” show on Saturday for Academic Magnet in the Class AA boys tennis state championship match.

The dynamic pair of seniors Sam Kavarana and Earl Navarro led the Raptors (12-2) to their second state title in three years with a 5-2 victory over St. Joseph’s Catholic School of Greenville at Cayce Tennis Center.

After winning their singles matches in straight sets, Kavarana and Navarro teamed up in No. 1 doubles to deliver again.

Otherwise, the match was decided by a pair of third-set tiebreakers, 14-12 by Magnet senior Michael Pi at No. 4 singles, and 10-8 by the Raptors’ No. 2 doubles team of senior Andrew Demetre and junior Vinod Pandey.

“It feels awesome (to win a second state title). I am so proud of the team and our coach (Steve Percy) who did such a wonderful job,” said Kavarana, whose next stop will be college tennis at Davidson.

And for Navarro, “I’m not going to play college tennis, so this was my super bowl. It was super.”

Navarro plans to attend Duke, which also is the choice of his highly ranked sister, Emma Navarro.

Kavarana posted a 6-1, 6-3 win over St. Joseph’s Nick

Loudermilk, while Navarro scored a 7-6, 6-4 victory over Brandon Hodge.

Kavarana and Navarro then scored a 6-1, 6-1 win over

Loudermilk and Hodge in

No. 1 doubles.

Of course, a key link was first-year coach Percy, an assistant football coach who took over the tennis team this spring.

“It was a great win for Academic Magnet tennis, especially our seniors,” Percy said. “They are a great group of five players that will be sorely missed next year when we make the move to AAA. I was lucky to be a part of such a fantastic season that culminated with the state title.”

ACADEMIC MAGNET 5, ST. JOSEPH’S 2
Singles: Sam Kavarana (AM) def. Nick Loudermilk, 6-1, 6-3; Earl Navarro (AM) def. Brandon Hodge, 7-6, 6-4; Maclean Armstrong (SJ) def. Cameron Dawson , 7-6, 7-5; Michael Pi (AM) def. Matthew Jaques, 2-6, 6-4, 14-12; Mack Self (SJ) def. Timothy Wilson , 6-1, 7-5.   Doubles: Kavarana/Navarro (AM) def. Loudermilk/Hodge, 6-1, 6-1; Vinod Pandey /Andrew Demetre (AM) def. Collin Maides/Patrick Reese, 7-6, 6-7, 10-8.


(05/13/18)  Bishop England boys capture state tennis championship
What a year for the Bishop England boys tennis team.

“New courts, a perfect season and a state championship,” as coach Kristin Fleming Arnold said. “It’s been a very good year.”

It’s a new high for a Bishop England boys program that has won two state championships in the last four years. The Bishops (16-0) topped off the perfection on Saturday at Cayce Tennis Center with an overwhelming 6-0 triumph over Clinton’s Red Devils in the Class AAA state final.

While depth and doubles took the Bishops to the state final with Wednesday’s 4-3 Lower State upending of two-time defending state champion Hanahan on BE’s flashy new courts, the key on Saturday was that the Bishops were simply too good for the Upper State champions. The supremacy started with the nation’s No. 1 junior boys tennis player, senior Jared Pratt.

University of Wisconsin-bound Pratt closed out a spectacular high school career doing what he’s almost always been able to do since entering Bishop England as a freshman following surgery a year earlier for the curved-spine condition Scoliosis. And that’s win. He immediately led the Bishops to a state title his freshman year.

Of course, Fleming Arnold has had nothing but success at her alma mater where she was not only a tennis star, but also a standout in soccer and basketball. Saturday’s state title was her 13th overall in tennis, counting four as a player, seven consecutive as the BE girls coach and two boys titles.

Pratt was happy to end his career with a state title. “It feels pretty good. My first undefeated season (as a team),” Pratt said after his 6-0, 6-1 win over Clinton’s Isaac MacMillan at No. 1 singles.

The BE ace pronounced himself ready for college. “Absolutely. I’m been ready for college for awhile,” he said.

Playing beside Pratt in singles and with him in doubles was special to Lleyton Dacuba. “Jared is a good friend. He’s fun to play doubles with,” said the older of the two Dacuba brother on the team.

“Jared’s humble about it (his national ranking). He doesn’t brag about his stats at school.”

Lleyton Dacuba was happy he scored a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Clinton’s Ike Waldron at No. 2, and he also was excited that his sophomore brother Zach came up with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Clinton’s Tyler Trevino at No. 3.

“I was a little under the weather. It’s hot here,” said Queens University-bound Lleyton Dacuba, who played No. 3 on the 2015 state championship team.

BISHOP ENGLAND 6, CLINTON 0
Singles: Jared Pratt (BE) def. Isaac MacMillan, 6-0, 6-1 ; Lleyton Dacuba (BE) def. Ike Waldron, 6-4, 6-4; Zach Dacuba (BE) def. Tyler Trevino, 6-3, 6-2; Lukas Gosselein (BE) def. Conner Donley, 6-1, 6-1 ; Brenden Smith (BE) def. Anders Orr, 6-1, 6-0.   Doubles: Harrison Estey/Rafe Flatchman (BE) def. Alexander Windsoe/Kyler Simmons, 6-1, 6-2.


(05/12/18)  MOULTRIE NEWS: Local tennis teams win big

Mount Pleasant Recreation Department’s Serve ‘N Sip tennis team continued its undefeated season by winning the Lowcountry Tennis Association/USTA 3.0 18-and-over championship earlier this month.

Serve ‘N Sip will represent the LCTA at the USTA state championships later this month.

Team members include: (pictured) Renee Priadka, Peg Houk, Jody Yeh, Christy Landeo, Bambi Magraw, Katie Seamon Third - Sarah Simmonite, Lynn Schnapp, Heidi Richter and Heather Williams.

Creekside tennis wins state

The Creekside Tennis and Swim Club tennis team won the USTA South Carolina 40-and-over 3.5 women’s championship earlier this month in Florence.

Creekside will next compete in the USTA sectional championship in Mobile, Ala. in June.

Team members include: (pictured) Anca Dumitrescu, Christy Jervey, Alicia Timko, Cacky Rivers, Lou Ann Kelly, Cassy Andrus, Deirdre Mcmurtry, Jennifer Yarbrough, Allie Wurzel, Kim Johnson, Kerrie Scott, Crystal Daniel, Kim Wray, Sara Dorociak and Jill Deford (not pictured).


(05/11/18)  Academic Magnet's Sam Kavarana: No. 1 tennis player and concert pianist
Sam Kavarana is a busy young man.

He attends one of the most difficult high schools in the country, plays high school tennis and trains at MWTennis Academy on Daniel Island. He also has a heavy schedule of Southern and national tennis tournaments where he's ranked 45th in the South.

Then, there's the piano side of the Academic Magnet senior. He's a concert pianist and has won numerous awards in piano competitions, including first place in the state auditions in 2015.

"I try to practice piano an hour a day, but that's hard to do," said the 5-8 senior whose father, Dr. Minoo Kavarana, is a pediatric heart surgeon. "I take (piano) lessons once a week for an hour and a half."
+2
piano

Academic Magnet senior Sam Kavarana excels at tennis and as a pianist. Provided 

Kavarana will attend Davidson next year as a member of the tennis team. He isn't sure if the piano will remain a priority.

"That depends on if I have the time," he said.

Why did Kavarana select Davidson when he had many scholarship offers in tennis? "I visited up there in September and really liked the coach and the team, and the campus. By that point, I was down to probably two schools," he said.

Just how busy is Kavarana? This is how his mother, Zarin, describes her son's schedule.

"Sam plays tennis Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at MW from 4-6 p.m., sometimes until 7 for lessons," she said.

"On Sunday, he plays a practice match. A lot of weekends we're traveling for tournaments."

And piano?

"He goes to his piano teacher (Marina Agrest) every Tuesday but he practices almost an hour at home every day, less during exam time. He's done nine APs in his four years at Magnet, five this year," she said.

"He wants to do pre-med. I don't know if he will have time for piano with playing tennis for a D1 school and taking pre-med classes. He'll play the piano when he has time I guess."

Kavarana resides in Mount Pleasant with his family. He has two younger sisters. "One swims and the other one plays tennis," Sam said.

Meanwhile, Kavarana is getting ready to close out his high school career for Academic Magnet (11-2) with Saturday's noon Class AA state high school championship match against Greenville's St. Joseph's Catholic at Cayce Tennis Center.

Kavarana plays No. 1 for the Raptors this year. He played No. 2 on the 2016 Academic Magnet team that went unbeaten and won the state title.

"I took last year off from (high school tennis)," he said. "I just wanted a break. I wanted to focus more on regular tennis and I was still making college decisions."

Academic Magnet is just one of three local teams that will be playing in Saturday's state boys tennis finals at Cayce Tennis Center.

Wando (18-2) will take on Spartanburg for the Class AAAAA title at 10 a.m., while Bishop England (15-0) will face Clinton at noon in the Class AAA final.


(05/11/18)  Shelby Rogers, Deshaun Watson, Summerville legend John McKissick highlight CHARLEYS Awards
The Charleston's Tennis Ambassador Award went to WTA touring pro Shelby Rogers, a former ballgirl at the Family Circle Cup.


(05/11/18)  DAVID SLADE: Mount Pleasant's flood control rules cost Old Village a tennis court
A small but popular recreation spot in the Old Village Historic District will soon have fewer free public tennis courts because of new rules intended to limit stormwater flooding in the surrounding area.

"Why don't they just change the rules?" said Marvin Dawson, 69, who has been playing tennis on the courts at Banks and Ferry streets for most of his life. "To me, that's the obvious solution."

The rules, which were recently expanded throughout the Old Village area, say that no more than 40 percent of a property may be covered by impervious surfaces, which can increase flooding from stormwater runoff.

“Clearly, the more impervious surface you put on the ground, the less places water can go," said Mount Pleasant Assistant Town Administrator Christiane Farrell while discussing the regulations in December.

An impervious surface could be a roof, a paved driveway or — in the issue at hand — a tennis court. The rules apply to new construction but also reconstruction, which complicated the town's plans to rebuild its three-court tennis facility.

Recreation Director Steve Gergick said the courts need to be rebuilt, not just resurfaced. Currently, one of the three courts is closed.

“They’re in terrible condition," he said.

Gergick said that to rebuild the courts, the town has no choice but to put two new courts where there are currently three, because of the impervious surface rules.

“The town does not want to impose a rule on residents that we don’t adhere to ourselves," he said.

The reconstruction will cost just under $400,000, half of which is coming from a grant from the U.S. Land, Water and Conservation Fund.

At the same time, the town plans to expand a large tennis complex on Whipple Road, but that's in a different part of town. And that tennis complex charges fees to play.

“For people in the Old Village who are used to walking over and playing tennis, that’s not an answer," Gergick said. “Obviously a lot of people don’t want there to be two courts (there), they want to keep three."

He said a construction contract for the two new courts should be awarded this summer.

"If you ask me, they should put four (courts) here," Dawson said. "It should definitely be more than two."


(05/10/18)  USTA SC: Community Tennis News: Volume 28
Scholarship $$$ Available through June
The South Carolina Tennis Patrons Foundation Scholarships are available, and the application period is open until late June, 2018. Awards will be made for the Lucy Garvin scholarship, the Jim Russell scholarship, the Randall G. Heffron scholarship and the Foster Family scholarship. Criteria for the $2,000 scholarships include:
*    Academic achievement
*    Character and sportsmanship
*    Extracurricular activities and community service
*    Notable tennis achievements
*    Applicant Essay, "The Impact of Tennis on My Life"
Applications must be received by June 30.

High School Tournament
The boys high school tennis team finals will be held this Saturday, May 12, 2018, at Cayce Tennis & Fitness Center. The singles competition is set for Monday and Tuesday at Cayce.

USTA SC Fabulous Volunteer
LYTA President Bob Stevens & Dunston Elementary Volunteer of the Year Deborah Myers
Tyra Johnson was named Lambs Elementary tennis Coach of the Year

SC Loves Net Generation
April Gift sets a high bar as a JTT coordinator in the SC Lowcountry. Patrick Hieber is LTP pro and tournament director.

Pamela's Monthly Tablet Delivery!
Peggy Bohne,  Charleston Tennis Center
Jesse Gladdis, Gregg Middle School
Renee Wilbur, C.E. Williams Middle School

Thank you for your partnership

On behalf of our South Carolina Community Development team -- Pamela Banks, Cameron Sebnick and me --  I would like to thank you for all you continue to do in your local communities to grow the game of tennis. Because of your work, there are adults and kids playing tennis for the first time. And as one adult beginner told us, thanks for getting me off the couch.

We have much to do in 2018 and many more tennis communities to create. Join us as we welcome new players to find themselves in the game.

Warmest regards,
Sheryl

Sheryl McAlister
Director of Community Development
USTA South Carolina
18 Woodcross Drive
Columbia, SC 29212
mcalister@sctennis.com


(05/09/18)  Bishop England wins Lower State tennis championship
This Class AAA Lower State boys tennis championship match had almost the perfect script, coming down to a third-set tiebreaker at No. 1 doubles and the nation's No. 1 junior boy for 2017 coming up with a mighty smash at the net to end it.

Jared Pratt's smash at the net gave unbeaten Bishop England a come-from-behind 4-3 win over two-time defending state champion Hanahan on Wednesday at the Bishops' sparkling new complex on Daniel Island. Pratt will attempt to end his high profile career on a winning note in Saturday's noon state championship match at Cayce Tennis Center.

The Bishops (15-0) had beaten Hanahan (8-4) twice by one-sided scores in the regular season, but coach Glenn Cobb changed his lineup up and moved 2017 Class AA-AAA state singles champion Reilly Wilson into the No. 2 position ahead of Chad Nash.

The Hawks got the results they wanted with the switch, with both juniors, Wilson and Nash, winning in singles along with junior Mark Jones to give Hanahan a 3-2 lead after singles. Pratt scored a 6-2, 6-1 win at No. 1 singles over Hanahan left-hander Kerim Hyatt, and Brandan Smith won singles for the Bishops.

As expected, BE's No. 2 doubles team of Lukas Gosselein and Rafe Flathman won easily to deadlock the match.

That put everything on the line in the No. 1 doubles match pitting BE seniors Pratt and Lleyton Dacuba against Hyatt and Nash. Cobb said he had wanted to play Wilson in doubles also, but that Wilson wasn't feeling well after his singles match in the grueling heat.

Hyatt and Nash rallied after losing the first set to take the second set and then moved to a 4-2 advantage in the tiebreaker that would decide the Lower state championship. But two double faults then cost the Hawks dearly as the Bishops took triple match point, and Pratt delivered the goods on the first one with the smash on a return off of a Dacuba serve for the decisive  6-1, 3-6, 10-5 victory.

"My goal was just to get into No. 1 doubles," Hanahan coach Glenn Cobb said. "At 4-2 in the tiebreaker we missed on a second serve return. We would have been up 5-2 and serving with the momentum."

BE coach Kristin Fleming Arnold "expected it to be a tough match." She pointed to a 6-3, 6-4  loss at No. 4  singles by Harrison Estey to the Hawks' Mark Jones as one surprise. Estey had defeated Jones in the regular season.

"When we lost that one, I knew we would go to No. 1 doubles," Fleming said.

One of the keys for the Bishops in the tiebreaker, Fleming said, was a decision for Pratt and Dacuba to both stay back. "We needed to play two back against them in the tiebreaker. They (Hanahan) were confident and they had the momentum. We just needed something to change  it up."

BISHOP ENGLAND 4, HANAHAN 3
SINGLES: Jared Pratt (BE) def. Kerim Hyatt, 6-2, 6-1; Reilly Wilson (H) def. Lleyton Dacuba, 6-1, 6-1; Chad Nash (H) def. Zach Dacuba, 6-3, 6-1; Mark Jones (H) def. Harrison Estey, 6-3, 6-4; Brandan Smith (BE) def. Tony Vong, 6-0, 6-0.   DOUBLES: Pratt/L. Dacuba (BE) def. Hyatt/Nash, 6-1, 3-6, 10-5; Lukas Gosselein/Rafe Flathman (BE) def. Ethan Wood/Zach Senlerilli, 6-0, 6-1.


(05/09/18)  ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: PREP SPORTS: Girls tennis player award goes to Abby Cotuna
Abby Cotuna just completed her freshman year as one of the state’s top female tennis players.

The Stags’ No. 1 player was named the Class AAAA girls tennis player of the year by the South Carolina Coaches Association of Women's Sports and also earned a Class AAAA/AAAAA all-state nod for her regular and post season efforts. Cotuna earned third place in the state singles championship after ousting players from Dreher, Blythewood and AC Flora.

She tallied a combined record of 27-3 in the season that included singles, doubles and postseason matches and lead Berkeley to 12-6 overall.

Berkeley Head Coach Joe Harnage said Cotuna has raised the bar for Berkeley tennis.

"I've been in this a long time and never had anybody recognized for [the player of the year] honor,” Harnage said after Cotuna was recognized as the top girls tennis player among the state's 4A and 5A schools. "Having somebody so noteworthy, its good publicity for the school and team…we’re real exited about next year. We're getting a whole 'nother wave of players."


(05/09/18)  ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: PREP SPORTS: Wills named Boys Tennis Player of the Year
It’s cliché, but true; Stephen Wills aced it!

The Summerville senior had an 18-4 record entering the final two matches of the regular season, both Region 7-AAAAA matches. With that pair of matches still looming, Wills was a leading candidate for the 2018 Region 7 Player of the Year honor. Regardless of whether he will receive that honor, he is the Summerville Communications Boys Tennis Player of the Year.

“Stephen has been a blessing to the Summerville Tennis Program,” Green Wave coach Jesse Gladis said. “His drive has developed him into one of the best competitors to come out of the program and he has pushed teammates to have some of the best years of their lives on court as well.”

Wills, who has signed to play for Coker College next school year, is a six-time varsity letterman and four-year starter for the Green Wave with a career record of 64-10. He led the team in wins in 2015 and was the 2017 Green Wave MVP, an award he just may win again this year. Wills is a three-time all-region player likely to receive that honor a fourth time and was nominated, but as of press time not yet accepted, for the North-South All-star Weekend.

“He's just a fabulous kid,” Gladis said. “He works extremely hard and has a huge heart. He doesn't want to disappoint his coach, parents, teachers or classmates. I've been so proud of him this year for overcoming some of the personal goals I think that he even thought were out of reach.”


(05/09/18)  Academic Magnet heading to state tennis championship
Academic Magnet's boys tennis team is headed to the Class AA state championship match after scoring a 6-0 win over young local rival Philip Simmons on Wednesday afternoon at the Raptors' home courts in North Charleston.

Seniors Sam Kavarana and Earl Navarro, both members of the unbeaten 2016 Magnet team that won the AA state title, led the way for the Raptors (11-2), yielding only five games between them at Nos. 1 and 2 singles against J.D. Sutterlin and  Zade Hyatt .

Cameron Dawson, Vinod Pandey and Michael Pi dropped a combined three games in wrapping up the Lower State title with easy wins at Nos. 3-5.

First-year Academic Magnet coach Steve Percy couldn't have been more pleased with his team's success so far this season.

"I am really proud of our players.  When they asked me to coach this season after previous coach Andrea Langley decided to step down, I was more than willing," said Percy, who doubles as an assistant football coach and math teacher. "I knew they were a great bunch of kids and that they had the potential to make it all the way to state.  Look at us now, here we are.

"They put in a lot of hard work over the course of the season," Percy added.

 "It is tough being a student-athlete at any high school and that is magnified when you are a student at Academic Magnet. For instance, we are currently in the midst of AP Exams and these kids are giving their time and effort to win a Lower State title. They barely had time to celebrate the win today before having to head home to prepare for tomorrow's exams."

The Raptors will play either Southside Christian or St. Joseph's Catholic on Saturday at noon in the Class AA state final at Cayce Tennis Center. St. Joseph's, the top seed in the Upper State, eliminated defending champion and perennial power Christ Church in the second round of the playoffs.

Academic Magnet 6, Philip Simmons 0
SINGLES: Sam Kavarana (AM) def. J.D Sutterlin, 6-0, 6-2; Earl Navarro (AM) def. Zade Hyatt, 6-2, 6-1. Cameron Dawson (AM) def. Chase Roberts, 6-0, 6-1; Vinod Pandey (AM) def. Keith Lemcke, 6-2, 6-0; Michael Pi (AM)  def. Henry McDonald, 6-0, 6-0;   DOUBLES: Timothy Wilson/Andrew Demetre (AM) def. Gus Musmanno/Lawson Tosh, 8-0.


(05/09/18)  GENE Sapakoff: Always Mother’s Day: College of Charleston pitcher gets 'laser-like' focus from tennis star mom
College of Charleston pitcher Carter Love was there every step of the way, part of a championship-winning team — before he was born.

That’s right, his mother, Susan Love won one of her North Carolina state tennis titles while pregnant with Carter.

So when Cougars head coach Chad Holbrook says Love’s All-American-caliber senior year is “as good a season as I’ve been around for a pitcher in my 24 years of coaching” …

And when Holbrook mentions that he was around big-leaguers Andrew Miller and Matt Harvey at North Carolina and legendary College World Series ace Michael Roth at South Carolina …

Well, add an asterisk.

Those guys didn’t have Love’s head start.

Competitive lessons from mom clearly paid off.

Susan Love: four U.S. Tennis Association national championships, North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame, over 50 state titles, member of the Southern Conference 25th anniversary team for her shiny stint at Appalachian State.

Carter Love: 7-0 after winning in relief Tuesday night against The Citadel, four saves, .196 opponent batting average, 53 strikeouts and only seven walks in 53 innings pitched this season.

The Cougars' ultimate ironman has been the best player for a College of Charleston team that is 33-16 going into a Wednesday night game against South Carolina at the minor league Columbia Fireflies’ Spirit Communications Park (7 p.m.).

“Carter has been incredible,” Holbrook said. “His numbers stack up against anybody’s. It’s very difficult to have a perfect season when it comes to pitching, especially with all the situations I put him in. But, boy, he’s been as close to perfect as he could be.”

That’s only part of it.

Holbrook says Love’s work ethic is unmatched. The dugout enthusiasm is infectious. Coaches love that team-first attitude.

“A coach’s dream,” Holbrook said.

Thanks, mom.

As a kid, Carter and his older brother Chris watched Susan Love play a lot of tennis. They also watched her train and marveled at her “laser-like focus.” After a while, there were so many titles the family rarely discussed tennis prowess.

“Like my mom would come home from Houston or some place and say ‘Oh, I just won the indoor national championship.’” said Carter, 22. “Me and my brother would just look at each other and think, ‘not a big deal; she does that all the time.’ But it obviously is a huge deal.”
NCAA Regional statement

Monte Lee, the former College of Charleston head coach now at Clemson, recruited Love out of Charlotte’s Ardrey Kell High School. The 6-6, 225-pound right-hander quickly pitched his way into the mix on a good team. He went 10 straight appearances without allowing an earned run.

And what a way to end a freshman year: Love earned a win and a save two days apart in wins over Auburn at the NCAA Tournament’s Tallahassee Regional.

Susan Love wasn’t surprised.

Any similarities to her approach on the court and Carter’s approach on the mound was purely obvious.

“Carter is so focused and has been from an early age,” Susan Love said. “It’s kind of like we both know when it’s game-time, we get out there and compete. People say how different I am off the court but when it’s ‘game on’ you better come at me with your best stuff because we’re here to play.”

The Cougars appreciate Love’s durability: 23 appearances, five more than anyone else on the team, with stints ranging from one inning to six Tuesday night. Love wants the ball almost every game and credits College of Charleston’s sports medicine folks. Zach Adams, an associate athletic trainer, and Sara Steckman, an athletic training student, work with him a lot. Dr. John Graham, the team physician, did arthroscopic surgery on Love’s labrum after the fall of his junior year.
Career plans

Despite the stats and 6-6 frame, major league scouts aren’t exactly buzzing. Love’s fastball rarely tops 92 mph as he relies on a deft change of speeds. He will throw a breaking ball or change-up in any count.

The MLB Draft is coming up (June 4-6) but only one team has asked Love to fill out a pre-draft questionnaire.

“A lot of times professional baseball gets caught up in radar guns and forgets about pitchability,” Holbrook said. “His pitchability is off the charts. I don’t know where he’ll go in the draft; I don’t know if he’ll go. But he’ll make a scout look awfully smart if someone has the courage to draft him.”

If not, Love is a Finance major interning at a Lowcountry real estate investment firm that has already offered him a job.

The Loves — Carter’s dad Mike, a salesman with a division of International Paper who is an excellent golfer, his brother Chris, in the medical field in Charlotte, and his mom, still playing and teaching tennis — are taking in as many of Carter’s games as possible.

Senior years don’t get much more fun.

“I have seen him throw with confidence and I don’t get nervous as much as I did when he first started pitching,” Susan Love said. “But he loves to come in during pressure situations so it gets pretty intense.”

Then again, Carter Love was born with sports pressure experience.


(05/08/18)  Tennis rivals Bishop England, Hanahan meet again for Lower State title
Local tennis fans will have a double helping of Lower State championships pitting local teams on Wednesday. And also a single dose of brand new courts.

Bishop England (14-0) will break in its new tennis complex of five sparkling blue courts located by the school on Daniel Island with a Class AAA Lower State boys tennis championship matchup against who else but old rival Hanahan.

Hanahan is the two-time defending state champion, but has lost twice to the Bishops this season, along with a loss to Academic Magnet. The Hawks had been working on a 30-match winning streak prior to losing to the Bishops early in the season.

While Bishop England was scoring a 6-0 win over May River on the road on Monday, Hanahan was taking a 4-2 win over homestanding Gibert.

The Class AA Lower State final will pit Academic Magnet (10-2) against newcomer Philip Simmons at the Raptors' complex in North Charleston. The match will start between 4:30 and 5 p.m.

Coach Steve Percy's Magnet team already owns a pair of 6-0 victories over Philip Simmons this season. The Raptors' only losses were to Bishop England.

The winners of the AA and AAA Lower State finals will advance to Cayce Tennis Center in the Columbia area to play in the state championship matches at noon on Saturday.

Wando already has won its spot in the Class AAAAA state final against Spartanburg at noon on Saturday at Cayce.


(05/07/18)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis:
Academic Magnet 6, Williston-Elko 0
SINGLES: Sam Kavarana def. Austin Smith, 6-0, 6-0; Cameron Dawson def. Tyran Parker, 6-1, 6-0; Vinod Pandey def. Blake Ryneer, 6-0, 6-0; Michael Pi def. Xavier Finney, 6-0, 6-0; Timothy Wilson def. Jonathan Maxwell, 6-0, 6-0.   DOUBLES: Jack McFee/Andrew Demetre def. Joseph Failing/Johnny Dunbar, 8-1.

Philip Simmons 6, Hannah Pamplico 0
SINGLES: Sutterlin def. Jones 6-2, 6-0; Hyatt def. Hudson 6-1, 6-2; Motolla def. Mims 6-4, 6-1; Roberts def. Poston 6-1, 6-1; Lemcke def. Cooper 6-2, 6-0.   DOUBLES: McDonald/Tosh def. Miller/Moore 8-0.


(05/06/18)  Wando faces road test in tennis playoffs; Bishop England, Hanahan also on the road
Region 7 champion Wando will face its first major test in the playoffs on Monday afternoon when the Warriors (17-2) travel to the Columbia area to take on perennial power Lexington in a battle of top seeds in the Class AAAAA Lower State boys tennis final.

The Warriors, the last Region 7 team remaining in the playoffs, eliminated one top seed last Thursday when they dealt West Florence a 4-2 loss. But veteran Wando coach Winde Ellenberg expects Lexington to be a stiffer challenge.

"Lexington is a strong, deep team," Ellenberg said. "It's going to be a battle, but we have a good chance."

Wando will depend heavily on a pair of sophomores, Alex Shaw and Will Bumgarner, at the top of the lineup. "Will is a fighter. Alex just needs to be consistent at No. 1 and stay positive," Ellenberg said.

Both region champion Bishop England (13-0) and region second-place Hanahan have to hit the road on Monday for Class AAA Lower State semifinals before a likely head-to-head showdown between the two teams in Wednesday's Lower State final.

Coach Kristin Arnold Fleming's Bishop England team, led by 2017 U.S. No. 1 junior Jared Pratt and fellow senior Lleyton Dacuba, will travel to the Bluffton area for a 4 p.m. match on Monday against May River. During the regular season, May River lost to a Beaufort team that the Bishops defeated 5-1.

The Kerim Hyatt, Chad Nash and Reilly Wilson-led Hawks of Hanahan should be heavy favorites when they visit Gilbert on Monday afternoon. Hanahan is the two-time defending Class AAA state champion.

Class AA is shaping up to be another local showdown in Wednesday's Lower State final. First, however, newcomer Philip Simmons and Academic Magnet have to take care of business on Monday afternoon in the Lower State semifinals.

Magnet, with a strong top two players in seniors Sam Kavarana and Earl Navarro, will be at home as a strong favorite against Williston-Elko. A young Philip Simmons team will play either Marion or Hannah-Pamplico on Monday.


(05/06/18)  Townsend cruises past defending champion Brengle to win $80K Charleston LTP tournament
Taylor Townsend produced a spectacular finish on Sunday at LTP Tennis to turn an already successful USTA French Open Wild Card segment of the U.S. Women's Pro Circuit into something very special for the former world's No. 1 junior.

How does it feel to be the singles champion of the $80K Charleston LTP tournament and headed to Europe $12,161 richer with a career-high ranking around 70th in the world?

"I'm super excited," Townsend proclaimed. "I don't really look up the rankings and that stuff. My coach does all of that. I don't worry about the rankings."

Townsend had just scored a 6-0, 6-4 victory over top seed and defending champion Madison Brengle in the LTP final before an appreciative overflow crowd.

A 22-year-old from Atlanta, Townsend had already wrapped up the main draw wild card into the French Open before coming to Charleston, but now she also probably has wrapped up direct entry berths into the Wimbledon and the U.S. Open main draws.

And it's all because of this clay-court circuit, where Townsend is at her powerful and explosive best with her amazing twisting and spinning left-handed shots. Having made the round of 32 at Roland Garros in 2014 in her first of what will be five straight spring trips to Paris, Townsend might be a player to be reckoned with on the red clay of Roland Garros.

During this pro circuit segment of four tournaments, Townsend went semifinal-champion-semifinal-champion while winning a total of $30,529 and earning a more important 401 WTA Tour ranking points. She started the circuit in Indian Harbour, Fla., four weeks ago ranked outside of the top 100.

"It will really help out," Townsend said about her first-place check at LTP and upcoming big payoff for just making the French Open main draw. "It (money) goes so quick, trust me."

And don't forget Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Just making the main draw of all three Grand Slam events is worth almost $100,000.

Sunday's first set looked like a blowout on paper, but that's only because Townsend seemed to win every big point. The match started off with a lengthy rally that Townsend, of course, won. The first three games could have gone either way.

Brengle also just as easily could have been up 4-1 instead of down 5-0 when Brengle tried to stay in the first set in the sixth game but committed four straight errors after being up 30-15 in the game.

"We had quite a few deuces and ads (in the first few games), but I knew it was going to be a tough match," Townsend said. "I wasn't taking anything for granted. I just tried to fight through it and stay focused and not overplay.

"Your emotions are high since you're in the final, and I just wanted to do the same thing I had been doing all week."

The second set appeared to be headed the same way as Townsend continued winning the key points for a 4-1 lead. Brengle turned to a passive game and threw Townsend off a bit to stage a rally to 4-4. Brengle held a break point against Townsend's potential booming serves in the ninth game. But when Townsend got the ad back on her side, she boomed an ace to move ahead 5-4.

A possible "no call" on the baseline on the third point of the decisive 10th game went against Brengle, and the 28-year-old pro from Dover, Del., didn't recover.

"I think she changed a little bit. She started coming forward and she started mixing up the pace more," Townsend said about Brengle's rally. "And I started making some mistakes. I started trying to end some of the key points too early.

"Once it got to 4-4, I just tried to be focused. I knew I needed to hold my serve. I was missing a lot of first serves. So I just decided to go after it (the ace that gave her a 5-4 lead)."


(05/05/18)  Top seeds Brengle, Townsend to play for LTP title
Madison Brengle and Taylor Townsend simply were too strong for the rest of the $80K Charleston LTP U.S. Women's Pro Circuit tennis tournament.

Never was that more evident than in Saturday's semifinals at LTP Tennis.

These top two seeds and top 100 players were dominant, playing the level of tennis you would see on WTA Tour stops such as at nearby Family Circle Tennis Center in the Volvo Car Open.

Top seed Brengle lost the first game, then won the next 11 and had two match points for a love second set before finishing off the once red-hot 16-year-old qualifier Iga Swiatek of Poland 6-1, 6-1. Swiatek had won 17 of her last 18 matches going into the semifinals.

Second seed Taylor Townsend had similar success against 20-year-old qualifier Katerina Stewart of Miami, breaking out of a 4-2 deficit by winning eight consecutive games en route to a 6-4, 6-1 victory.

On Sunday at 10 a.m., Brengle and Townsend will collide. They will be playing for a $12,161 first prize.

If both players play the way they played in Saturday's sunshine and heat, the final should be a memorable one. It's open to the public free of charge.

Brengle, with her smarts and power at her command along with her relentlessness and super conditioning, and Townsend, with her enormous power and awesome left-handed forehand deliveries, played superb tennis in the semifinals.

"I just tried to get the ball back into play," said Brengle, a 28-year-old from Dover, Del., who is everywhere all the time at the tournament. She's never still at the tournament, whether before or after her matches, always walking the grounds and surveying her competition.

And, oh yes, Brengle is the defending champion.

"I sure hope I'll be back next year," she said. "I like it here very much. I stay with a family on Daniel Island, and that's what I look forward to. Every match I get to play here is a bonus."

At one point in the third game of the second set, Swiatek double-faulted three straight times. Brengle never lost her focus. "I try to play one point at a time and I don't keep up with every point," she said. "I just tried to get the ball back into play every time."

Swiatek's drop shots worked early, but then Brengle started anticipating them. "She has a good drop shot, but as long as I can anticipate it and get an extra step or two, I've got a chance.

"She (Swiatek) started well, but two or three tough games at the beginning might have given me a little momentum. Then I started the second set well and I got the momentum again. But she's a very good player . . . a fantastic young talent."

When Townsend fell behind 4-2 at the start of her match, she simply stepped up her game from the passive style of play she had played a day earlier against world's No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe. And when Townsend flipped the switch, the 22-year-old from Atlanta turned into a human dynamo with her quickness, power and brutal left-handed forehands, especially ones down the line on the deuce side that barely cleared the net and hugged the sideline.

"That shot has been giving me trouble, but it connected today," Townsend said. "Yesterday I thought I was a little too passive, so I decided to change up and go for it. I just keep doing the same thing and play my game, and keep building on it.

"I just have to play my game tomorrow. I've played Madison in (World) Team Tennis, but never in a real match."

The No. 1-seeded team of Chilean Alexa Guarachi and Erin Routliffe of New Zealand took the $4,460 doubles first prize by winning the last five points in a third-set tiebreaker to claim a 6-1, 3-6, 10-5 win over the American team of Allie Kiick and Louisa Chirico. Guarachi also won the LTP doubles title last spring with Emina Bektas.


(05/05/18)  LTP competitors would be too athletic for players of earlier era
Try comparing today's women's tennis players with the women of the 1970s. Yes, the Billie Jean King and Chris Evert era.

It's like comparing senior tennis to former college players who are still in their prime.

Then, of course, there was King, who played a different game than other women of the 70s era.

Martina Navratilova was even better at such an aggressive game of serve-and-volley tennis. Other women players of the 1970s simply weren't ready for it.

Brian Earley, the U.S. Open tournament director, spent a couple of days at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant during the $80K Charleston U.S. Women's Pro Circuit tournament. Impressed by the caliber of play by the players in the LTP tournament, Earley suggested I write a story comparing the likes of King and Evert with the women or juniors competing on today's high U.S. Women's Pro Circuit such as the tournament at Live To Play Tennis (LTP Tennis).

It's not even close, and Billie Jean and Chrissie would be on the losing end.

Today's U.S. Women's Pro Circuit players are so much stronger in their athleticism and power games than players of the 1970s.

These players who have competed at LTP Tennis for the last week probably hit the ball as hard as anyone on the women's tour. And some of them aren't that inconsistent.

They're good. Once Serena Williams is out of the picture, these girls can compete with anyone on a given day.

They can match Madison Keys in sheer power. The difference is that Keys and the top tier of the women's game generally are more mature players and have more confidence because they've been there.

Take 16-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland, for instance. She fits the "on a given day" description perfectly.

It's too bad that Emma Navarro just happened to be on the other side of the net last Wednesday when Swiatek started her main draw play. The Polish teenager was ready to show just how good she is, and Navarro just happened to be the object that day.

The results (6-0, 6-2) likely would have been similar against many other players in the field. But, of course, not Madison Brengle, who dominated Swiatek in Saturday's semifinals 6-1, 6-1.

Yet, the tournament's third seed, 95th-ranked Mariana Duque-Marino, and veteran pro Irina Falconi collected just 10 games between them against Swiatek. She is a player to watch despite her one-sided loss to Brengle.

It's not even fair to compare the players of the 70s with the current crop of athletic young players.

LTP BEST-KEPT SECRET

LTP Tennis might be one of tennis' best-kept secrets. And the $80K event ending up on Sunday is definitely one of the best buys in all of tennis.

Ben Navarro's scenic complex on Mathis Ferry Road opened its doors to the public to watch the tournament free of charge.

The tennis club has excellent facilities and amenities. Even the portable bathrooms out under the shade trees aren't the norm for portable bathrooms. They make you feel as if you're in a luxury hotel.

A covered dining area under the trees with neat tables and chairs await fans, who can purchase a specialty wood-fired oven pizza from the food truck just a few steps from the dining area.

Then there are the covered seating areas for fans to watch tennis on two different courts. This has been a real bonus in these recent sunny days.

A fan could get spoiled watching tennis at LTP.

Yet, fans haven't been overcrowded thus far during the tournament.

Only a few local fans were in attendance in the spring of 1986 when a 15-year-old named Andre Agassi showed up at Creekside Tennis and Swim for a $10,000 satellite tournament that was one of his early matches in an almost legendary career.

Fans attending matches at LTP this week already have seen possibly another player of the ages, just-turned 16 years old world's No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe. And now a top 100 final battle between Nos. 1 and 2 seeds Madison Brengle and Taylor Townsend awaits fans in Sunday's 10 a.m. final.

NOTES

-- Local players fared well in the Southern Level 1A Championships in Mobile, Ala., last weekend. From LTP Tennis, Coy Simon won the boys 18 singles title, while Simon and Huntley Allen made the doubles final. Lara Schneider won the girls 16 singles crown and the Schneider/Emma Charney team was a finalist in doubles

-- From MWTennis, Max Smith teamed with Ashe Ray to win the boys 16 doubles title in Mobile. Max also took third place in 16 singles, while younger brother Jake Smith was a finalist in boys 14 doubles. Ray was a boys 16 singles finalist.

-- Bishop England senior Lleyton Dacuba has signed to play tennis for Queens College in Charlotte. Former College of Charleston assistant men's/women's coach Billy Boykin directs the Queens program.

-- Bishop England dedicated its new tennis courts last Sunday. It's a sparkling facility with blue courts.

-- The eighth annual Haygood/Grady Memorial Tennis Championship is scheduled for May 18-20 at Kiawah Island Resort. The tournament is USTA-sanctioned. Dinner and a silent auction will take place on May 19. Proceeds of the tournament and auction will be contributed in honor of Prinella Haygood and Linwood Grady to Roper St. Francis Cancer Care and an education trust for Prinella's two sons. New for 2018 is a celebration of the life of Michelle Nemeth by supporting the Lonon Foundation. Contact Kiawah pro Jonathan Barth at Jonathan_barth@kiawahresort.com.


(05/04/18)  Brengle, Townsend on possible LTP collision course
World's top 100 players Madison Brengle and Taylor Townsend appear to be on a collision course for a Sunday meeting in the $80K Charleston LTP U.S. Women's Pro Circuit tennis tournament at LTP Tennis.

But red-hot 16-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland aims to break into the American circle of players that also includes surprising Katerina Stewart in Saturday's semifinals.

Brengle and Townsend both were pushed in Friday's quarterfinals, while qualifiers Swiatek and Stewart yielded a total of only 10 games between them. Swiatek and Stewart will split up on Saturday, Swiatek taking on Brengle in the first match after the 10 a.m. doubles final and Stewart facing Townsend in the day's last match.

Brengle, the top seed, ranked 97th and the defending champion, seems to have found a second home at LTP. But Allie Kiick, the daughter of former Miami Dolphins football great Jim Kiick, came within a couple of lucky breaks of upending the relentless Brengle before suffering a 7-6 (2), 7-5 defeat.

The smallish 22-year-old Kiick played aggressive tennis all match as the two players tried to match each other's amazing shot-making antics. Kiick showed no signs of being sidelined for more than three years with knee and medical problems.

Every time it seemed Brengle was in trouble, the 28-year-old from Dover, Del., who has been ranked as high as 40th in the world, buckled down, gritted her teeth and hit another scorching backhand. But what Brengle does best is change gears and play smart tennis.

Townsend, a powerful 22-year-old lefty from Atlanta, had her hands full with just-turned 16-year-old Whitney Osuigwe, the No. 1 junior in the world. Both players resorted to moon-balling in the third set after splitting a pair of one-sided sets, but Townsend's high-kickers were more effective with their left-handed twist as second seed Townsend prevailed 6-0, 1-6, 7-5.

The super-quick and talented Osuigwe jumped out to a 40-0 lead serving the final game of the match, but four deuces later the junior from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., committed a pair of errors to end the match.

"I just try to get better every day," the 85th-ranked Townsend said. "I'm glad I was able to find a way to win. It was tough conditions, a little wind and the sun. I just keep doing what my coach (Donald Young Sr.) tells me to do."

The athletic, hard-hitting Swiatek has quite a streak going after scoring a 6-3, 6-1 upset of No. 8 seed Irina Falconi in the quarterfinals.

With three qualifying round wins and three main draw victories here, the 5-7 hitting wonder has won 17 of her last 18 matches. Falconi put up a tough fight in the first set against Swiatek before yielding to the heat and the teenager's power and quickness

"I played great," Swiatek said. "We had long points. But I am feeling great and no pressure."

She will turn 17 later this month and plans to play the Junior French Open later this spring.

Stewart, a 20-year-old native of Miami, Fla., upended No. 7 seed Jamie Loeb 7-6 (5), 6-0, in the quarterfinals. Stewart hasn't dropped a set in three main draw victories after three wins in qualifying.

The doubles final will pit Chilean Alexa Guarachi and New Zealand's Erin Routliffe against Americans Kiick and Louisa Chirico.

Friday's Results

Singles
Katerina Stewart (USA) d. (7) Jamie Loeb (USA) 7-6(5), 6-0; (1) Madison Brengle (USA) d. Allie Kiick (USA) 7-6(2), 7-5; (2) Taylor Townsend (USA) d. Whitney Osuigwe (USA) 6-0, 1-6, 7-5; Iga Swiatek (POL) d. (8) Irina Falconi (USA) 6-3, 6-1

Doubles
(1) Alexa Guarachi (CHI)/Erin Routliffe (NZL) d. (3) Jessica Pegula (USA/Maria Sanchez (USA) 4-6, 6-2 (11-9); Louisa Chirico (USA)/Kiick (USA) d. Anna Danilana (KAZ)/Ingrid Neel (USA) 7-6(2), 6-3

Saturday's Schedule
Stadium Court   10 a.m.
Doubles Championship
(1) Guarachi/Routliffe vs. Chirico/Kiick

Singles Semifinals (following doubles)
(1) Brengle vs. Swiatek
Stewart vs. (2) Townsend


(05/03/18)  Porter-Gaud captures 4th straight boys tennis state title
Porter-Gaud’s senior-dominated team wasted little time in capturing the Cyclones’ fourth consecutive SCISA Class AAA boys state championship and 18th in the last 24 years on Thursday in Columbia with a 5-0 romp past Cardinal Newman’s outmanned Cardinals.

The match marked the second straight year the Cyclones defeated the Cardinals by a 5-0 score in the state final.

Porter-Gaud (13-5) wrapped up the victory without needing the results of one of its four senior starters for the second straight time. This time, it was Andrew Harvin who was still on the court at No. 5 singles when another state championship was clinched, owning a 6-4, 1-4 lead against Victor Camps.

In the semifinals, it was senior No. 1 Brant Fenno, who didn’t get to collect a victory in a 5-0 win over Hammond School.

But this conquest for the Cyclones was a huge team victory for coach Jonathan Barth’s team.

“It was a great win today,” Barth said. “It was a special win for the seniors to win their fourth state championship. I am proud of their effort this season. Their hard work has paid off.”

Fenno, a hard-hitting left-hander bound for Wake Forest’s tennis program, finished quickly this time without giving up a game to Cardinal Newman’s Andrei Bolshakov.

Seniors Manning Snyder and Alex des Francs also won easily at Nos. 2 and 3, yielding four games between them.

Seventh-grader Lucas Acevedo and freshman Harris Stripling wrapped up the victory for the Cyclones at Nos. 4 and 6.

“I’m proud of our team, the way everyone was focused on a hot day,” said Fenno, who still finished with four state titles although he skipped his sophomore season of tennis.

“I was on my game today, and I was ready for him,” he said about his opponent.

“He was a good player, but he was young, a sophomore. I feel good going out with a win like this, all of the seniors winning.”

PORTER-GAUD 5, CARDINAL NEWMAN 0
Singles: Brant Fenno (PG) def. Andrei Bolshakov, 6-0, 6-0; Manning Snyder (PG) def. Matthew Michalska, 6-2, 6-0; Alex des Francs (PG) def. Thomas Liebenow, 6-1, 6-1; Lucas Acevedo (PG) def. Andrew Abramson, 6-1, 6-2; Harris Stripling (PG) def. Miguel Sy, 6-1, 6-0.


(05/03/18)  Swiatek knocks off third seed in Charleston LTP $80K
Polish 16-year-old Iga Swiatek looks for real with a 16-1 record in her last three tournaments.

One day after the aggressive, hard-hitting qualifier breezed by local standout Emma Navarro, Swiatek upended the third seed and world’s 95th-ranked player, Mariana Duque-Marino of Columbia, 6-4, 6-2, in Thursday’s round of 16 of the Charleston LTP $80K U.S. Women’s Pro Circuit tennis tournament at LTP Tennis.

“She was tired. She was making mistakes today, but she’s a very experienced player,” Swiatek said about Duque-Marino, who had beaten Swiatek last week at Charlottesville, Va. That was the only loss in Swiatek’s last 17 matches.

In the doubles quarterfinals, world’s 63rd-ranked doubles player Maria Sanchez was too active and successful at the net playing with partner Jessie Pegula to allow 16-year-olds Navarro and Chloe Beck to pull off an upset of the third-seeded team. Americans Sanchez and hard-hitting former local resident Pegula scored a 6-4, 6-1 win.

But don’t overlook No. 2 seed Taylor Townsend in singles. The Atlanta product is on a roll through the four-tournament circuit with a semifinal-title-semifinal showing before LTP. And now she’s in the quarterfinals here after polishing off Risa Ozaki of Japan, 6-0, 6-3, in the round of 16.

Townsend is a powerful left-hander who will be appearing in her fifth straight French Open main draw after wrapping up the circuit’s wild-card competition last week. And the world’s 85th-ranked player certainly looks capable of adding another title to her record before heading off to Europe.

“I thought I played well,” she said. Even in the heat. I’m from Atlanta, so I’m used to the heat.”

Townsend worked Ozaki around the court with her wicked left-handed shots. And when it came time to win the point, she had more than enough power and spin to get the job done.

“I like clay. I’m just trying to take one match at a time,” she said.

And don’t forget about top seed and defending champion Madison Brengle, who had a tough match against talented left-hander Ashley Kratzer of Newport Beach, Calif., before pulling out a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 win in one of three round of 16 three-set matches that lasted more than two hours in the hot sun.

Then, there’s the world’s No. 1 junior, 16-year-old Whitney Osuigwe, who also marched into the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (5), 6-0 victory over talented, flat-ball pounding 19-year-old Canadian Katherine Sebov.

“I took control of the points in the second set. She hit some really good balls, but I think she just got tired,” Osuigwe said.

Seventh seed Jamie Loeb of Ossining, N.Y., outlasted Pegula, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.

In key quarterfinal matches on Friday, the 97th-ranked Brengle will oppose 22-year-old Allie Kiick at 10 a.m. Kiick is the daughter of former Miami Dolphins great Jim Kiick.

In probably the best matchup of the quarters, Townsend will take on Osuegwe in the second stadium court match.

The tournament is free and open to the public.

Thursday’s Results (Round of 16)

Singles: Madison Brengle d. Ashley Kratzer 5-7, 6-4, 6-3; Allie Kiick d. A. Kalinina 6-2, 7-5; Iga Swiatek d. M. Duque-Marino 6-4, 6-2; Irina Falconi d. Grace Min 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-0; Jamie Loeb d. Jessica Pegula 2-6, 6-4, 7-5; Katerina Stewart d. Nicole Gibbs 6-0, 6-1; Whitney Osuigwe d. Katherine Sebov 7-6(5); 6-0; Taylor Townsend d. Risa Ozaki 6-0, 6-3.


(05/02/18)  Snyder continues success on Porter-Gaud's tennis team
Manning Snyder is Mr. Dependable for the Porter-Gaud boys tennis team.

He's been on the Porter-Gaud team for six years, always ready to help the Cyclones continue their rich tradition. He's never been No. 1, but he's always ready to fill in at the top spot when Wake Forest-bound Brant Fenno is unavailable.

Snyder didn't make the starting six that first year as a seventh grader, but he's been in the lineup ever since. He has played No. 2 the last three years after starting out at No. 6 as an eighth grader.

He'll be at No. 2 again on Thursday when the Cyclones attempt to win their fourth consecutive SCISA Class AAA state title. Cardinal Newman will be the opponent this time in a 4 p.m. match at the Hammond School courts in Columbia.

"I've gone through it all. This senior class is a special one . . . a great core," Manning said after the Cyclones' 5-0 romp past Hammond School in Monday's SCISA semifinals. "I started kindergarten at Porter-Gaud. I've been here 13 years."

What will he remember most as he prepares to leave his tennis career behind and go off to New York University, even the Paris NYU version the first year?

"The people," the slim 6-1 senior said.

"Higgins has been here the whole time," Snyder said, referring to former long-time head coach Tom Higgins, who as usual was there on Monday handing out the match balls. "I love him . . . he's a good role model."

Snyder, who resides in the nearby Crescent community just a few hundred yards from the Porter-Gaud complex at Albemarle Point, finally tried a different sport than tennis this year. "I was on the basketball team, a bench warmer, giving high-fives and giving out water bottles," he said.

It now comes down to his last match as the Cyclones (12-5) seek their 18th state title in the last 24 years and coach Jonathan Barth goes for his fourth straight championship.

Snyder will be one of four seniors in the starting lineup playing their last match. Alex Des Francs, Andrew Harvin  and Fenno are the others.


(05/02/18)  Tennis juniors make a slam at pro tournament
Transitioning from college tennis and juniors to even the lowest level of professional tennis is a difficult task.

Local junior standout Emma Navarro ran straight into that obstacle on Wednesday at LTP Tennis.

But world's No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe ran through it in the opening singles round of the Charleston LTP $80K U.S. Women's Pro Circuit tournament.

Of course, in baseball terminology, this tournament would rank in the high minor leagues of pro tennis. Five of the players that started the tournament competed in the main draw of the recent Volvo Car Open, and top two seeds Madison Brengle and Taylor Townsend have earned spots in the main draw of the upcoming French Open.

Fifth seed Kristie Ahn is one of the players who played in the VCO main draw, but the LTP  tournament's fifth seed was no match for Osuigwe. A 16-year-old from Bradenton, Fla., and the IMG Tennis Academy, Osuigwe was in charge all the way in a 6-1, 6-1 win.

Navarro, the No. 1 junior girl in the South for 2017, ran into the rocket launcher of red-hot 16-year-old qualifier Iga Swiatek of Poland in a 6-0, 6-2 loss.

It was one of those days when Swiatek looked like a world-beater, virtually throwing a perfect game in the first set as everything the powerful teenager hit seemed to sizzle just inside or on the lines. But then, Swiatek already has won a $25K event at Pelham, Ala., on the pro circuit.

Navarro and partner Chloe Beck will play a quarterfinal doubles match in late afternoon on Thursday against the No. 3 seeds, former local resident Jessie Pegula and U.S. player Maria Sanchez.

Osuigwe already is proving that she's the real deal with a brilliant all-court, power, speed and finesse game that her father Desmond Osuigwe taught her at the IMG Academy.

Her goal? "I want to win all four (Grand) Slams and be the No. 1 player in the world," said the slender 5-6 player who won last year's Junior French Open.

As far as winning her first pro title (she was a finalist in a $25K), she said, "I don't have any expectations. I just want to keep developing my game."

Osuigwe said she turned down an invitation to play in the recent VCO qualifying tournament because she had already used up her three allotted wild cards. "I'm looking forward to next year's tournament though," she promised.

World's No. 85 and second seed Taylor Townsend scored a 6-3, 6-2 win over Jaqueline Cristian of Romania. After already having wrapped up the circuit's French Open main draw wild card, Townsend is playing here just to improve her game.

"I'm still trying to get my ranking as high as I can," the hard-hitting left-hander said about her current career-high ranking. "My goal is the top 50. I just take one match at a time and I don't get ahead of myself.

"I just tried to stay focused, because I know she (Cristian) is a good player and I just had to keep doing what I was doing and stick to my game."

Third seed Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia, the tournament's third member of the top 100 after jumping up to No. 95 in the world by winning last week's $80K event at Charlottesville, Va.,  kept her winning streak alive with 6-3, 6-1 first-round win over talented American left-hander Francesca Di Lorenzo, who played in the VCO's main draw.

Seven of the tournament's eight seeded players remain alive going into Thursday's round of 16. In key Thursdsay matchups, Brengle will take on American Ashley Kratzer (third stadium court match), Townsend will oppose Risa Ozaki of Japan (a third match on court), Duque-Mario will play Swiatek in a repeat of last week's win in Charlottesville (10 a.m.), Osuigwe will face Canadian Katherine Sebov (10 a.m.), Pegula will go against No. 7 Jamie Loeb (a second match), and good friends No. 8 Irina Falconi and Grace Min will battle it out (10 a.m. )

NOTE

At the LTP Kids Day on Wednesday, 25 elementary school kids from Meeting Street Academy were introduced to tennis. Three courts were designated with the Net Generation set up. Lenny Schloss (CEO of the Billy Jean Eye Coach) and tour player Jessie Pegula helped the kids get started.


(05/01/18)  Navarro, Beck advance at U.S. Women's Pro Circuit event at LTP Tennis
Mark round one doubles up for the Duke girls.

Duke-bound 16-year-olds Emma Navarro and Chloe Beck gave pros Kayla Day and Jacqueline Adina Cristian the college treatment on Tuesday in the opening round of doubles in the $80K Charleston U.S. Women’s Pro Circuit tennis tournament at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant.

Local standout Navarro and Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., played like college girls in out-maneuvering and out-playing 2016 Junior U.S. Open singles champion Day of Santa Barbara, Calif., and 19-year-old Romanian Cristian, 6-1, 6-3.

“The match was closer than the score,” Navarro said after teaming with Beck for their fifth straight win in doubles before a good crowd at the club Navarro’s father Ben Navarro owns. The Beck/Navarro team won the doubles title in last fall’s LTP $15K pro circuit event.

Beck countered: “I feel like we didn’t take the match too seriously. When we relax we play great.”

Beck’s quick hands, and quickness and aggressiveness at the net kept the opposing team guessing while Navarro’s overall solid play of going for shots yet repeatedly delivering decisive lobs appeared to frustrate the Day/Cristian pair.

On Wednesday, Navarro will begin singles play against qualifier Iga Swiatek of Poland in the second match on the stadium court where play will begin at 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, No. 1 seed and defending champion Madison Brengle survived a small scare to escape the first round in singles, and former local resident JessiePegula put on an impressive display of power, surviving a first-set tiebreaker and then cruising through a love second set in a 7-6 (4), 6-0, win over Day.

“I was steady, but still aggressive,” said the wild card Pegula, who has been ranked as high as No. 123 in the world. “There were a couple of close games in the second set, but I thought I kept my focus.

“I think I was putting pressure on her with my deep shots, and she made some errors.”

Pegula is still on the rebound from more than a year and a half layoff due to hip surgery.

Against the left-handed Day, Pegula looked like a player capable of winning the singles title at LTP.

Currently ranked 97th, Brengle had little trouble in the love first set, then held off the solid baseline game of American Usue Arconada for a 6-0, 7-5 victory. Playing as if she could make a run at the upcoming French Open, the 28-year-old Brengle now has a day off in singles.

Brengle out-hit her opponent in the first set with her aggressiveness and strong ground strokes, mainly with sizzling backhands, then played a little more defensively in the second set as Arconada fought back from 5-3 down to even the set at 5-5.

Navarro will be followed on the stadium court by world’s No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe. In other first-round matches on Wednesday, reigning Junior Wimbledon champion Claire Liu will play the third match on court three, and 85th-ranked second seed Taylor Townsend will play the third match on court nine against Cristian.


(05/01/18)  Main draw kicks off at Charleston LTP $80K
The USTA’s French Open Wild Card competition has officially ended, but 85th-ranked Taylor Townsend is still the No. 2 seed in the Charleston $80K U.S. Women’s Pro Circuit tennis tournament that will get underway with its main draw on Tuesday at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant.

Townsend, the highest-ranked player in the tournament, wrapped up the French Open main draw wild card with a semifinal finish in last week’s $80K event at Charlottesville, Va. It will be the hard-hitting left-hander’s fifth consecutive main draw appearance at Roland Garros.

But at LTP Tennis, 22-year-old Chicago native Townsend will have to play second fiddle to defending champion and top seed Madison Brengle.

Brengle, a 28-year-old from Dover, Del., who was ranked 40th in the world three years ago and made the third round at Wimbledon in 2017, will play her first-round match at LTP on Tuesday against Usue Maitane Arconada of the United States in the second match on the stadium court where play is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Brengle, currently ranked 97th, has a direct entry into the French Open main draw.

At the same time on a different court, 2016 Junior U.S. Open winner Kayla Day of Santa Barbara, Calif., will play a first-round match against former Charleston resident Jessie Pegula, a wild card who has been ranked as high as No. 123 in the world.

Local favorite Emma Navarro, the top-ranked Southern junior girl in 2017, will team up with fellow 16-year-old Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., in a doubles match in the last match on the stadium court. Day and Jaqueline Adina Christian of Romania will be the opposition.

The Beck/Navarro team won the doubles title in last fall’s $15K U.S. Pro Circuit tournament at LTP. Also, current world’s No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe of Florida and 2017 Junior Wimbledon champion Claire Liu of Thousand Oaks, Calif., will be in action in doubles late in the afternoon on different courts. LTP participants Brengle, Townsend, Liu, Kristie Ahn and Francesca DiLorenzo all played in the main draw of the recent Volvo Car Open.

Beck and Layne Sleeth, both of whom made the LTP qualifying draw after playing in the LTP wild card tournament, were eliminated in the second round of qualifying on Monday.

Monday’s Qualifying Results

Singles: Camilla Rosatello d. Chloe Beck 6-4, 1-6, 6-3; Alexa Guarachi d. Jada Robinson 6-4, 6-2; Paula Cristina Goncalves d. Safiya Carrington 6-4, 6-1; Chanelle Van Nguyen d. Amanda Rodgers 6-0, 6-3; Katerina Stewart d. Maria Lourdes Carle 6-2, 6-1; Anastasia Nefedova d. Layne Sleeth 1-6, 6-1, 6-2; Shilin Xu d. Petra Januskova 7-6(4), 6-1; Iga Swiatek d. Anna Danilina 6-1, 6-2.

Former Charleston junior Ellie Halbauer won the singles title in a $15K ITF Pro Circuit tournament in Turkey on Sunday.


(04/30/18)  Porter-Gaud boys blank Hammond 5-0 in SCISA Class AAA tennis semifinals
Porter-Gaud's senior-dominated lineup was playing so well on Monday that the Cyclones didn't even need a win from No. 1 ace Brant Fenno in the SCISA Class AAA boys tennis state semifinals.

Nos. 2-6 Manning Snyder, Alex Des Francs, Lucas Acevedo, Andrew Harvin and Harris Stripling yielded a total of just six games in carrying the Cyclones (12-5) to a 5-0 romp past Columbia's Hammond School (4-7). Of those five players, only seventh-grader Acevedo and freshman Stripling are not seniors.

Coach Jonathan Barth's team will be seeking a fourth consecutive state title later in the week against the winner of the Pinewood Prep/Cardinal Newman semifinal match.

Fenno, an aggressive 6-2 senior left-hander, was ahead of unbeaten Hammond senior William Lynch 6-3, 2-1 when Des Francs earned the decisive fifth point for the Cyclones with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Hammond's Benjamin Gardner at No. 3 singles.

Fenno immediately walked to the net and stopped the match to the dismay of his opponent.

"I've got to get use to college tennis," he said about the college standard of stopping all matches once a team is declared the winner.

Fenno has signed to play for top-ranked Wake Forest.

"Wake Forest is No. 1, and they won the ACC title on Sunday. It's great," he said. "The team (P-G) is playing so well, I didn't have to finish."

PORTER-GAUD 5, HAMMOND 0
SINGLES: Manning Snyder (PG) def. Julian Owens, 6-1, 6-0; Alex Des Francs (PG) def. Benjamin Gardner, 6-1, 6-3; Lucas Acevedo (PG) def. David Estefano, 6-0, 6-0; Andrew Harvin (PG) def. Ryan Asbill, 6-0, 6-0; Harris Stripling (PG) def. David Johns, 6-0, 6-1.

SCHSL PLAYOFFS

Region 7 champion Wando (15-2) will begin play on Tuesday in the Class AAAAA SCHSL state playoffs against Dutch Fork at the Warriors' home courts in Mount Pleasant. Coach Winde Ellenberg's No. 1 seeded Wando team had a first-round bye last week.

Summerville, the Region 7 runner-up, will take its 18-7 record against Socastee at the Green Wave's courts, while Region 7 No. 3 seed James Island will visit No. 1 seed Lexington.

In Class AAA, two-time defending state champion Hanahan will entertain Battery Creek. Unbeaten Bishop England has a first-round bye in the AAA playoffs.


(04/29/18)  Madison Brengle set to defend title in Charleston LTP $80K
Defending champion Madison Brengle is back in Mount Pleasant preparing for the Charleston $80,000 U.S. Women’s Pro Circuit tennis tournament that begins its main draw on Tuesday.

As the world’s 80th-ranked player, Brengle doesn’t have to worry about things such as qualifying here or even earning a wild card into the French Open main draw. She is already set for the Roland Garros main draw.

The 28-year-old Brengle, who practiced Sunday at LTP Tennis, made the trip here because she enjoyed participating in last year’s tournament. One of her teachers from her elementary school days in Dover, Del., came out to see her win last year’s title at LTP.

Of course, LTP Tennis puts on a first-class event that participating players rave about.

Meanwhile, some of the best young talents in the women’s game have to worry about just getting into the LTP main draw. Sixteen-year-olds such as Chloe Beck and Layne Sleeth even had to play earlier this month in a wild card event just to make it into the qualifying tournament for the LTP $80K.

But both Beck and Sleeth won their opening round matches in the 32-draw qualifying tournament on Sunday. That’s still two wins away from the main draw.

Beck, a Martinsville, Ga., product who is scheduled to play with local standout Emma Navarro in the doubles main draw, scored a 6-3, 6-1 victory over hard-hitting but erratic Erin Routliffe of New Zealand. Beck will face qualifying top seed Camilla Rosatello of Italy in Monday’s second round of qualifying.

Sleeth, a young Canadian who won the local wild card tournament and has been ranked as high as 30th in the world ITF junior rankings, moved into the second round of qualifying with a 6-2, 6-1 win over LTP academy player Anna Ross.

The LTP tournament is the last leg of four U.S. Women’s Pro Circuit events that make up the USTA’s French Open Wild Card segment.

Sunday’s Qualifying Results

Singles: Camilla Rosatello d. Alana Smith 7-5, 6-1; Chloe Beck d. Erin Routliffe 6-3, 6-1; Jada Robinson d. Kariann Pierre-Louis 2-6, 6-4, 6-2; Alexa Guarachi d. Ashley Weinhold 6-1, 6-4; Paula Cristina Goncalves d. Mari Osaka 2-6, 6-2, 3-2, ret.; Safiya Carrington d. Akilah James 6-4, 6-3; Chanelle Van Nguyen d. Catherine Leduc 6-1, 6-1; Amanda Rodgers d. Julia Elbaba 7-6(11), 7-5; Katerina Stewart d. Ingrid Neel 6-4, 6-3; Maria Lourdes Carle d. Rasheeda McAdoo 4-6, 6-1, 6-4; Layne Sleeth d. Anna Ross 6-2, 6-1; Anastasia Nefedova d. Nadja Gilchrist 7-5, 6-1; Shilin Xu d. Stephanie Nemtsova 6-0, 6-2; Petra Januskova d. Ronit Yurovsky 6-4, 1-1, ret.; Anna Danilina d. Ellie Douglas 6-1, 2-0, ret.; Iga Swiatek d. Brynn Boren 6-3, 6-3.

P-G opens defense

Porter-Gaud’s boys (11-3) will begin their bid for a fourth consecutive SCISA Class AAA state tennis championship on Monday in a home match against Columbia’s Hammond School.

The winner of that match is scheduled to oppose the survivor of a match between Cardinal Newman and visiting Pinewood Prep for the state championship on Friday.

“I don’t know much about Hammond,”Porter-Gaud coach Jonathan Barth said.

Only four schools are participating in this year’s Class AAA playoffs. Class AAA usually has had six or eight schools participating in the state playoffs.

“I am not sure why there aren’t more teams in the playoffs,” Barth said.

In the four-team Class AA SCISA playoffs, Hilton Head Prep will play at home on Monday against Spartanburg Day, while Christian Academy will host Hilton Head Christian.

In Class A, Charleston Collegiate will visit Beaufort Academy to decide the state championship on a date to be determined.


(04/27/18)  ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Green Wave Tennis notches playoff victory
The Summerville Boys Tennis Team (18-7) opened the playoffs April 26 with a 4-1 victory over Irmo.

“I don’t even think I have words to describe how fun that tennis match was,” Summerville coach Jesse Gladis said. “I’m so proud of these guys tonight. And honestly, I don’t think they could have done it without the cheering from 13 of their other teammates and the incredible parents, grandparents, and the rest of the Green Wave family who showed up. This was one of those matches that we were able to feed off the crowd, for sure. I’ve been involved in some really incredible matches. Right now, I have to put this one at the top of them.”

The No. 1 singles match was a true battle that Irmo’s Sean Nguyen won 6-4, 6-3 over Summerville’s Stephen Wills.

“Nguyen is one of the best in the state and Wills played him stroke for stroke, ”Gladis said. “The player who kept the ball deepest stayed on the offensive and won most of the points. The first set was up and down for both players. Stephen got down 1-4 in the second, and then rattled a few games off before falling 3-6.”

But Summerville claimed the other singles courts.

Taylor Reynolds won 2-6, 6-4 (7).

“Taylor had the match of his life,” Gladis said. “Winning only two of the first 11 games, and down 0-3 in the second set, Taylor came and told me, ‘I’ve come back from worse, Coach.’ We talked a bit, and he found new life rattling off the next six of seven games to win the set 6-4. The points were amazing. Each player took shot after aggressive shot. The tie-break was up and down, but Reynolds dug deep and brought home a big W for the wave.”

Thomas McGinnis won 6-2, 6-4 and Chris Edwards won 6-2, 7-6 (7).

“Edwards and McGinnis had their hands full tonight as well,” Gladis said. “After winning their first sets easily, their opponents changed their games a bit and put pressure on us. I’m so proud of how both of them handled themselves. They were receptive to our discussions on changeovers and played without showing their nerves, which I can’t say of myself.”

Rahi Gajjar won 6-0, 6-0.

“Rahi was on today,” Gladis said. “His match score looked very lopsided, and Gajjar earned it. His strokes were solid and he found (his opponent’s) weakness and exploited it. He had two big aces in the match that kept the momentum going his way.”

The Green Wave was scheduled to host Socastee May 1 for the second round. If Summerville advances, it will travel to the winner of the Lexington/James Island match for the third scheduled for May 3.

The other pair of Dorchester Two Boys Tennis teams didn’t fare as well. Ashley Ridge, which placed fifth in Region 7-AAAAA this season, was eliminated from the playoffs with a loss to West Florence April 26. Fort Dorchester, which placed sixth in the region, was eliminated with a loss to Lexington.


(04/27/18)  USTA SC: Community Tennis News: Volume 27
Great pics!
2018 Randall Heffron Sportsmanship Award Winners: Briana Bird and James Giannelli are pictured with Meg Farrelly  and Robin Heffron.

Philip Simmons High School hosted a Family Tennis Tournament as a fundraiser. The fundraiser was the idea of No-Cut Tennis Coach Richard Schulz.

USTA SC News, Programs & Grants

Tennis Apprentice
Grab a few friends and learn to play tennis in a non-threatening environment. Free racquet, USTA membership, on-court instruction and more.
Learn more.

USTA Women's Pro-Circuit Event
A free event April 29-May 6 at LTP in Charleston. For more information, contact tournament director Patrick Hieber.

2018 Southern Senior Cup (May 31-June 3, 2018)
The Southern Senior Cup is a tournament in which nine southern states (Southern Section) compete against each other in five age divisions. To learn more, visit sctennis.com.

2018 Junior Varsity Girls State Championship (October 12-14, 2018)
USTA South Carolina will host the Junior Varsity Girls State Championship at Cayce Tennis & Fitness Center in October. More details to come on sctennis.com and Community Tennis News.

USTA South Carolina Local Marketing Grant
Promote your USTA programs with a marketing grant made possible by USTA SC. Application deadline May 5, 2018.

Thank you for your partnership

On behalf of our South Carolina Community Development team -- Pamela Banks, Cameron Sebnick and me --  I would like to thank you for all you continue to do in your local communities to grow the game of tennis. Because of your work, there are adults and kids playing tennis for the first time. And as one adult beginner told us, thanks for getting me off the couch.

We have much to do in 2018 and many more tennis communities to create. Join us as we welcome new players to find themselves in the game.

Warmest regards,
Sheryl

Sheryl McAlister
Director of Community Development
USTA South Carolina
18 Woodcross Drive
Columbia, SC 29212
mcalister@sctennis.com


(04/27/18)  Woorons denies Hartsock’s bid for NSWTA title repeat
"I think she missed four balls . . . maybe five," Porter-Gaud girls tennis coach Charlotte Hartsock said as she described her opponent's play.

That in a nutshell was the true picture of  former WTA Tour professional Sophie Woorons' 6-0, 6-1 romp past Hartsock on Friday at Mount Pleasant's LTP Tennis in the women's 45 final of the National Senior Women's Tennis Association Championships/Anne Geier Cup. Hartsock was the defending champion and No. 2 seed.

The talented 5-4 Woorons, a former All-American at Clemson, put it this way: "I had a game plan and I stuck with it. If I didn't I was going to be in trouble.

"I played well, solid and executed my plan with discipline."

A former City of Charleston champion and former local resident, the top-seeded Woorons was a picture of perfection against Hartsock as she played aggressive tennis when she wasn't drop-shoting Hartsock.

Woorons entered the NSWTA clay court with one purpose in mind: To improve her chances of being selected to the USTA's international Young Seniors women's 45 cup team.

Did the 44-year-old native of France succeed? "I think so," she said, and pointed out that she intended to play in the national indoors next month in Lexington, Ky., to further improve her chances of making a  Young Seniors international cup team for a third time.

After picking up the singles and doubles championship trophies, Woorons was getting ready to leave town for Hilton Head Island to see her 12-year-old son, Noah Johnston, compete in a national 12-and-under tournament. Woorons' mother has been with Noah at Hilton Head, while her father has been running Sophie's 12-court Brookstone Tennis Club in Anderson this week.

Woorons teamed with Carolina Blouin of Augusta, Ga., to win the 45-and-over doubles title.

OTHER CHAMPIONS
65 singles: Lilian Peltz-Petow, Sarasota, Fla.
75 singles: Grace Woo, Pittsford, N.Y.
35 doubles: Lizl Kotz, Mount Pleasant, and Elizabeth Maynor, Mount Pleasant
55 doubles: Ligia Bottinelli, Ocoee, Fla., and Abbi Neuthaler, Chappaqua, N.Y.
65 doubles: Dale McColskey, Tallahassee, Fla., and Wendy McColskey, Durham, N.C.
75 doubles: Burnette Herrick, Tarboro, N.C., and Dorothy Wasser, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

LOCAL NOTE

Bishop England will dedicate its new tennis complex at the school on Daniel Island on Sunday at 3 p.m.


(04/27/18)  Tinkey to take over as head pro as Charleston Tennis Center
Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy is infiltrating the West Ashley tennis scene.

The City of Charleston Recreation Department has formed a relationship with MWTennis that makes the academy and co-founder/CEO Jeff Wilson the new tennis instructional partner for Charleston Tennis Center.

The plan will go into action on Tuesday when local city resident/former local junior Jamey Tinkey takes over as head pro at Charleston Tennis Center as part of the partnership with MWTennis. The Farmfield Avenue complex has been without a head pro since last August when former local junior star Davey Hairston left the Charleston job for a position in Macon, Ga.

"Once we completed the contract with the city to run all of the (on-court) tennis services at Farmfield, the first thing I did was to hire Jamey to run the tennis programs over there," Wilson said Friday night.

 "Jamey had worked for us before, and he was the perfect fit for the job. Jamey is very professional and knowledgeable."

City of Charleston Recreation Services superintendent Stella Fruit said, "We are delighted to welcome Jeff Wilson and MW Tennis Academy to the Charleston Tennis Center.  This is a very exciting time for the programming at the Charleston Tennis Center."

Wilson will team up with Tinkey for a "meet and greet" session at Charleston Tennis Center on May 20 at 4 p.m.

"MW is excited to partner with the city of Charleston and the Charleston Tennis Center and deliver quality tennis instruction and programming to members of the community. This is an incredible opportunity to serve the city of Charleston, and we are thrilled to have Jamey Tinkey on board," Wilson said.

Tinkey, 33, is the son of former Wild Dunes Racquet Club director of tennis Mike Tinkey.

MWTennis was formed in 2012 by Wilson and local pro Bryan Minton, and opened its academy at Family Circle Tennis Center in 2014. The academy has blossomed into one of the top teaching academies in the South.


(04/26/18)  Pine Forest Country Club: 2018 Summer Camp Schedule
The Club at Pine Forest will host five Junior Sports Camps during the summer. Each camp will consist of:
1 1/2 hours of tennis instruction
1 1/2 hours of golf instruction and
1 1/2 hours of recreational swimming.

Lunch, snacks and refreshments will be provided each day. Children 6-14 years old are eligible to participate. Each camp will have a limited number of space to sign up. All camps will run from Monday to Thursday. Camp starts promptly at 9am and runs until 2pm.

Camp dates:
June 11, June 25, July 9, July 23, August 6

$165 for Pine Forest Members
$195 for non-members
10% Discount for second child or signing up for multiple weeks
 
CAMP WILL FILL UP FAST!!


(04/25/18)  Kotz takes win at Senior WTA Championship
Lizl Kotz of Mount Pleasant opened defense of her women's 35 singles crown in the National Senior Women's Tennis Association Championships/Anne Geier Cup Wednesday at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Tabatha Waddill of Summerville.

Kotz, a former University of Indiana All-American originally from South Africa, is currently ranked fourth nationally in women's 35. She needs only two more victories to repeat as champion of the Anne Geier Cup clay court tournament.

Kotz next plays 32nd-ranked Lynn Vosloo of Waxhaw, N.C., on Thursday morning in the round-robin competition. Vosloo posted a 6-2, 6-3 upset of Jessica Van Der Mije, a former University of North Carolina All-American who resides locally.

Van Der Mije, currently ranked 19th nationally, was runner-up to Kotz in last year's tournament, and the two local stars are scheduled to square off in the third/last round of the women's 35 division.

The tournament also has competition in the 45-75 age categories.

SCHSL PLAYOFFS START

Wando (15-2) is one of the No. 1 seeds in the Class AAAAA SCHSL state boys tennis playoffs that are scheduled to start a three-week run on Thursday. Coach Winde Ellenberg's Wando team went unbeaten in Region 7 play while winning a 13th consecutive region title.

Wando has a first-round bye and will play the Dutch Fork/Carolina Forest winner at home on Tuesday.

Region 7 runner-up Summerville (17-7, 12-2) will open play at home on Thursday against Irmo, a No. 4 seed. James Island will visit South Florence in a battle of No. 3 seeds.

Fourth seed West Ashley will travel to No. 2 River Bluff, No. 5 seed Ashley Ridge will be on the road at No. 1 West Florence, and No. 6 Fort Dorchester will go to No. 1 Lexington.

In Class AAAA, No. 3 Berkeley will visit No. 2 Wilson on Thursday.

The AA and AAA state playoffs will begin next week.

NOTES

-- Bishop England standout Jared Pratt won three matches before losing in the final round of qualifying in a $15,000 U.S. Men's Pro Circuit tournament in Vero Beach, Fla., earlier in the week.

-- Academic Magnet, which has lost only to Bishop England, is looking more and more like a potential Class AA state champion after upsetting two-time defending Class AAA state titlist Hanahan, 4-3, on Tuesday. Football coach Steve Percy has taken over the Raptors' talented   tennis team that is led by seniors Sam Kavarana and Earl Navarro. Both sat out last season after leading Magnet to a state title in 2016.


(04/24/18)  BERKELEY INDEPENDENT: RICKEY CIAPHA DENNIS JR: Berkeley boys tennis 'looking up'
The Berkeley boys tennis team has less than ten players last year. This season, the group started the spring with 25 guys.

Tennis coach Charles Sweeney said that is one of the first indicators of growth and success.

“I was hoping we were going to get a pretty good crowd out here,” Sweeney said. “Going from having nine players on a team and 25 at the beginning, obviously that’s a huge change. All of the kids that came out here came voluntarily. They wanted to play…we’ve had some moments [when] it’s clear that we’ve never been a court before this season. But we’ve had some moments where they’re hitting great shots, making the right plays. I can deal with them making mistakes because we’re learning as we go. Having 20 something kids out here – in terms of building a program – it starts with numbers.”

For Sweeney, high school tennis at Berkeley isn’t as much about having talent than it is about recruiting players who work hard.

“None of them had much experience. But the potential was there,” Sweeney said about the team. “They actually listened. They’re learning on the fly.”

Talent, however, does make the experience a bit better. And this year’s team is more skilled than last year’s.

The squad started the season 3-6, but Sweeney expected a rough start with matches against Beaufort, Hilton Head and Summerville.

“Our hardest matches were at the beginning. I didn’t want more than five losses…going in, I knew we would take our lumps…as long as we hung in there, I think its reasonable for us to go 7-0 the rest of the season.”

“We should end up 9-6. That was the goal the whole time.”

The team’s two seniors in the top seven include James Giannelli and Robbie Fleming who plays doubles. Brothers James and Josh Giannelli returned this year as the No. 1 and 2 players. Their most valuable assets are mentoring less-experienced players. James, a senior, is good enough to play college ball but has decided to coach tennis instead.

“Their attitude has been fantastic this year,” Sweeney said. “They’re helping the teammates get better. They’re giving them pointers. Having 21 players on a tennis team is not the easiest thing to do. I’ve entrusted them with hitting three or four players and developing their skills and pointing out things that they notice. They’ve really taken on a leadership role.”

Stephen Jones joins the team for his first season after playing soccer last year.

“He’s got a good natural stroke. As long as he keeps playing and practicing, and get more court time, he’s going to be really good,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney says the group expects post-season play. He anticipates the tennis team will continue to thrive in seasons to come.

“I think its definitely looking up,” he said. “Last year, it was moments of struggle in terms of what we had on the court…this year, we’re going to the playoffs and we’re going to take business there. We’re going to take care of my matches. All I ask of my kids is they play hard.”


(04/23/18)  ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Swamp Foxes, Green Wave preparing for tennis playoffs
Ashley Ridge defeated Stratford 4-2 April 17 to clinch a spot in the Class AAAAA Boys Tennis playoffs.

Hampton Plyler earned a 6-2, 6-4 victory on the No. 1 Singles court for Ashley Ridge. Daniel Schmedeke battled for a 6-4, 4-6 (11-9) victory on the No. 3 court while Ryan Daley won the No. 5 court 6-4, 6-4.

However, Stratford’s Anthony Yeung defeated Ben Price 6-3, 4-6 (10-4) in No. 2 Singles while Quincy Moorer earned the Knights a 6-3, 6-2 victory in No. 4 Singles.

The Swamp Fox Doubles Team of Noah Moehling and Cole Sheldon clinched the team victory for Ashley Ridge with a 6-4, 6-4 win.

Ashley Ridge also earned two wins over Fort Dorchester last week. The Swamp Foxes will open the playoffs April 26.

Summerville will likely enter the playoffs as the region’s No. 2 seed after it earned a key victory over James Island April 19. The Green Wave topped the Trojans 5-1 to secure a home playoff match in the first round.

“Tonight was an incredible night to be a tennis fan,” Summerville coach Jesse Gladis said. “Win or lose, all the kids gave everything out on court. The match came down to 2- and 3-singles. Both teams were pumping each other up every opportunity they had.”

Summerville’s Taylor Reynolds and Thomas McGinnis both dropped their first sets, but remained confident in their games to rally and come out on top. Gladis said seventh-grader Spicer Pagan also played a great match on the No. 5 singles court.

“He was a little nervous right away because of the magnitude of the match,” Gladis said. “He got over that quickly and gave us a solid performance.”

Summerville’s first-round match is tentatively scheduled for 4:30 p.m. April 26 at Blanton Courts.


(04/22/18)  Busy 12 days start Wednesday at LTP
The 12 consecutive days of wall-to-wall national senior championship and U.S. Women's Pro Circuit tennis will arrive again on Wednesday at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant.

The National Senior Women's Tennis Association Championships/Anne Geier Cup will kick off on Wednesday and run into next weekend when the qualifying tournament for the Women's Pro Circuit's $80,000 tournament starts.

The main draw of the LTP pro event will follow on April 30 on the heels of the qualifying tournament. The LTP $80K is the headliner, of course, with its role in the USTA French Open Wild Card series of four tournaments. A main draw berth in the French Open could be on the line at the French wild card series finale at LTP.

Five players who played in the main draw of the recent Volvo Car Open are on the entry list for the LTP tournament, including defending champion Madison Brengle as well as VCO round of 16 player Fanny Stollar.

Another seven players listed on the LTP main draw/qualifying list played in the VCO's qualifying tournament. Reigning Junior Wimbledon champion Claire Liu and 2016 Junior U.S. Open titlist Kayla Day are among those players. Both played in last year's LTP tournament.

Also, current world's No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe is on the acceptance list.

"The field looks very strong right now with a cut off ranking for the main draw at 200 and for qualifying at 280," tournament director Patrick Heiber said.

How is LTP able to put on such a lengthy showcase of tennis for a second straight April? "Thankfully we have a strong team at LTP making all that possible," Heiber said.

Anne Geier Cup

Local standout Lizl Kotz will be back to defend her women's 35 crown in the NSWTA Anne Geier Cup, along with 2017 runner-up Jessica Zaganczyk Van Der Mije. Porter-Gaud girls coach Charlotte Hartsock walked off with the 45-and-over crown a year ago, but she is the second seed this time behind 44-year-old former Charleston pro Sophie Woorons, who was a singles and doubles All-American at Clemson and a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference's 50th anniversary team.

These women are joined by a group of other local standouts, including high-ranking international senior Brenda Carter in doubles.

"We have entries from 14 states and Canada. We have full draws for 35, 45, 55, 65 and 75 singles and doubles," said local tournament official Cindy Babb.

Hawks' streak snapped

Last Monday's Bishop England-Hanahan meeting was just the beginning of what should be headed for an exciting three-match series that ends with the Class AAA Lower State championship match for the second straight year.

Hanahan marched through unscathed last spring, but the shoe may be on the other foot this time. The Bishops snapped two-time defending state champion Hanahan's 30-match winning streak last Monday with a 5-1 victory at Collins Park. Coach Kristin Fleming Arnold's BE team is unbeaten this time.

But the only meeting that will really mean a great deal should be the one in the playoffs. The only heavy favorites among the two teams' top four singles players appear to be the Bishops' 2017 No. 1-ranked national boys 18 player Jared Pratt at No. 1 and the Hawks' 2017 Lowcountry player of the year Reilly Wilson at No. 3. The next two BE-Hanahan meetings could be much closer, possibly even going to the tie-breaking No. 1 doubles match.

"We lost two players from last year, and they gained one. They are deeper this year," Hanahan coach Glenn Cobb said after his first loss as the Hawks' coach.

Coy Simon, who played No. 3 for Hanahan last season, is now a sophomore at Oceanside Collegiate Academy, while high school rules dictated that young Max Smith couldn't rejoin the Hawks again this year.

Meanwhile, the Bishops added sophomore Harrison Estey, who against the Hawks' previously unbeaten Mark Jones scored a key victory last Monday at No. 4 singles in a third-set tiebreaker.

The next BE-Hanahan meeting is scheduled for Thursday at Snee Farm Country Club.

Wando scores big

One of the biggest surprises in high school tennis this season was Wando's 4-2 win last week over SCISA powerhouse Porter-Gaud. The win signals that coach Winde Ellenberg may have her best Wando team in several years, one that could fare well in the upcoming SCHSL state playoffs.

Wando already has wrapped up the Region (7-AAAAA) title for the 13th straight year.

"We all were super excited," Ellenberg said. "It’s just a great match in general."

The Warriors had suffered a 5-1 loss to Porter-Gaud earlier in the season.

Porter-Gaud will be a solid favorite to win a fourth straight SCISA Class AAA state title when the playoffs begin on April 30.

Local Notes

Layne Sleeth, a 16-year-old Canadian who trains at LTP's Randy Pate Academy, claimed the local wild card berth in the LTP $80K qualifying event last week by upending Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga.

Diane Barker won the women's 60 singles title last week in the national women's clay courts championships in Naples, Fla. Lizl Kotz was runner-up in women's 40 singles and Brenda Carter was runner-up in women's 70 singles.

Bishop England is scheduled to dedicate its new tennis courts next Sunday (April 29).

Summerville's Legend Oaks complex is in the midst of its month-long initiative to invite area tennis facilities to collect and donate used tennis rackets for the needy. The rackets will be donated to the Professional Tennis Registry Foundation for use in its "Racquet Roundup" program.


(04/16/18)  MOULTRIE NEWS: Pickleball tournament this weekend
Pickleball has been steadily growing in Mount Pleasant and the surrounding area that includes Charleston, North Charleston, James and Johns Island, Hanahan, Goose Creek, and Summerville. A "Pickleball Update Email" to keep players informed about playing sites, days, times, tournaments, and other related topics had less than 50 on the email distribution list in November 2016 and it's now approaching 400.

As more people become "Picklers" the Town of Mount Pleasant is trying to find ways to keep up with the demand for more facilities and sub-divisions due to homeowner association requests by residents are beginning to add pickleball court lines to their existing tennis courts.

To accommodate the pickleball community the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department has organized the Pickleball Paddle Battle Tournament on April 21 and 22 to be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day at the Park West gym. There will be six PB courts set up for indoor play.

Details
Entry: $20/person & $40/team (24 team limit)

Registration Dates: March 15th and closes at 5 p.m. on April 16th

How to Register: At the Tennis Center, Jones Center, Darby Bldg., & Park West or online at MtPleasantRec.com/Register (318400-01 & 318400-02)

Teams selected on a first come, first serve basis

Draws: Posted Thursday, April 19th at 5 p.m.

Format: 24 Doubles Teams (48 total players) divided into three groups of 8 teams each day (men's & women's). Each team will play every other team in their group.

Scoring: Games to 11 points, win by 1 point. Winners determined by win/loss record - top team in each group. Tiebreaker: Head to Head

Questions?
Call the Tennis Center at (843) 856-2162


(04/13/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: At Volvo Car Open, a glimpse of pressures the players face on WTA Tour
Naomi Osaka sat courtside at the Volvo Car Open, a towel over her head and her coach crouched at her feet.

“It’s so depressing,” said Osaka, one of the fastest rising stars on the WTA Tour.

On social media, life on the WTA Tour looks glamorous.

The Twitter feeds of top women’s tennis players are a series of similar scenes: Photogenic venues, player parties, practice sessions, tantalizing dinner plates, selfies with celebrities.

But another slice of tour life was on display at the recent Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island, won by Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands last Sunday.

As the tournament unfolded on the green clay of the Family Circle Tennis Center, the pressures that can pile up on WTA Tour players were on full display. Few players are immune, from veterans who’ve ranked in the world’s top five to young rising stars who’ve just cashed $1 million checks.

“We know that this tennis life probably also has some tough parts,” said German veteran Julia Goerges, who lost to Bertens in the final.
'Don't want to be here'

At no point were those pressures more evident than during Goerges’ third-round match with the 20-year-old Osaka.

The Japanese-born Osaka entered the Volvo Car Open on a high, having run through Maria Sharapova and No. 1-ranked Simona Halep on the way to her first WTA Tour title at Indian Wells, pocketing $1.34 million for her efforts.

She and fellow Indian Wells finalist Daria Kastkina shared a private jet from California to Miami for the next tournament, where Osaka knocked off WTA legend Serena Williams. In Charleston, she happily did a photo shoot on the aircraft carrier Yorktown with British star Johanna Konta.

But a mere three weeks after her Indian Wells triumph, Osaka was in tears during her match with Goerges, telling her coach, “I don’t want to be here.”

The coach did what he could to pump up Osaka, telling her, “You want to be the best player in the world, this is when you prove it. You’re playing against the No. 13 player in the world, show her the respect. You can beat her at 75 percent.”

It was to no avail, as Goerges won by 7-6, 6-3. Afterwards, Osaka tried to explain what she was feeling.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” she said. “But like, kind of depressed, like it comes in waves … It kind of started yesterday. I just woke up and I was really depressed, and I don’t know why.”
Defending champ

Osaka wasn’t the only one at Daniel Island who had trouble handling success. Defending Volvo Car Open champ Daria Kasatkina seemed taken aback by all the photos of her on the grounds, including the huge poster hanging outside stadium court.

“First off all, of course, (I’m) learning how to deal with this pressure,” the 20-year-old Russian said after a 6-4, 6-3 loss to Goerges in the quarterfinals. “Because it’s really tough. Yeah, I felt it on myself. And I think this is a very, very important experience, which I am happy to get here in Charleston. Actually, a lot of experience I’m getting in Charleston.”

That experience had to do with being the face of a tournament, and with being a defending champion.

“It’s really awkward, to turn your head everywhere and your face is around,” Kasatkina said. “I mean, not every tournament is doing this, honestly. It’s very nice, but at the same time, it puts a little bit of pressure on you. Everybody is asking you if I saw this big picture on the stadium.

“Like, I think everybody saw it in the city.”
'Where no one cares'

On the other end of the spectrum was 24-year-old Genie Bouchard of Canada, who sneaked into the field after some late withdrawals.

Bouchard was ranked as high as No. 5 in the world in 2014, when she won her lone WTA Tour singles title and made the semifinals in two Grand Slam events. Since then, her ranking has plummeted to its current No. 111. She’s better known now for swimsuit photos and suing the U.S. Tennis Association.

On Daniel Island, Bouchard lost to Sara Errani in the first round, then talked openly about the pressures of trying to find her game again.

“I feel good and sometimes I have no idea what’s going on,” Bouchard said. “But I think the most important thing is just to keep going … It’s tough training for two weeks, playing a match, losing and training for two weeks, playing a match, losing.

“It’s a tough cycle to be in, because you feel more nervous and extra pressure for that match, especially (when) you’re on center court and it’s a big tournament. So I want to play some smaller tournaments, and just get matches where no one’s there, no one cares and just grind.”

And that’s the grind of the WTA Tour. Someone always cares, even if it’s just the player herself. And for every winner who holds up a trophy on Sunday, there’s many more players just trying to figure it out.


(04/12/18)  BERKELEY INDEPENDENT: RICKEY CIAPHA DENNIS JR: Boys tennis beats Palmetto Christian
The Berkeley boys beat Palmetto Christian on Wednesday in a home match at Cane Bay.

The Stags clinched four of five singles matches, and the No. 2 doubles match.

Berkeley sits at 4-6 with five matches left in the season.

James Giannelli (B) d. Hyden 6-3, 6-0
Jo. Giannelli (B) d. Biggerstaff 6-0, 6-0
Huxford (B) d. Galt 6-4, 6-4
Velasquez (PCA) d. Jones 6-3, 6-4
Dorn (B) d. Dybowski 6-3, 6-1
Ellison/Fleming (B) d. Frampton/Song 6-2, 6-1


(04/11/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Katie Eastabrook: 'Different abilities, not disabilities'
Every Sunday at the Family Circle Tennis Center, a group of excited athletes from the Special Olympics South Carolina “Area 6” adaptive tennis program join dedicated volunteer coaches to learn about all aspects of the game, including how to play.

“We have athletes with all different kinds of levels,” explained Coach Patty McFarland. “We try to teach them every step, while also working on sportsmanship and different things like that. We try to get them where they can actually function and do tennis on their own. We have some athletes that can actually play on a lower level.”

While they may not be professionals, these athletes are just like any other athlete, in that they work as hard as they can, added McFarland, whose daughter Kylie participates in the adaptive tennis program.

“They want to do their best,” said McFarland. “They try hard. While they may not be a big pro player, they try their best. That’s what we want, is for them to enjoy themselves and learn the sport.”

For athlete Alyssa Balchar, who will be competing in Special Olympics National Games in Seattle, Washington in the beginning of July, being a part of the adaptive tennis program “means everything” to her.

“It allows me to help me move around and understand that everything doesn’t have to be so perfect,” said Balchar after the Special Olympics adaptive tennis demonstration at the Volvo Car Open on Wednesday, April 4. “You just let the ball go and if it happens, it happens. I made some friends and met some great coaches. It has given me a lot of confidence.”

Ten-year Special Olympic veteran Darryl Malone, who previously served as an Athlete Representative on the Special Olympics South Carolina Board of Directors, emphasized how grateful he is to be active within the organization and its programs.

“I just finished a semester on the committee board,” said Malone, after the demonstration at the Volvo Car Open last week. “I’m also a global messenger. I’m so grateful to be doing a lot of things within the Special Olympics…I’m so thankful that I have family that can see what tennis is all about and means to me.”

From talking with Malone briefly, his love for the sport is obvious. In 2014, he and his doubles partner, Stevie Betros, took fourth place in the National Special Olympic Games in New Jersey.

“That was pretty great,” said Malone. “I did some pretty good scoring. I had some pretty good shots.”

Perhaps most important to the athletes, added Balchar, is for others to see that they are like everyone else.

“We don’t have disabilities,” said Balchar. “We have different abilities…We do things the same as everyone else. I have multiple disabilities and even though they get to me, I just have to accept, for me that’s who I am. It takes time.”

Ann Austin, program administrator for Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Charities, the philanthropic arm of the WTA, stressed how significant events like the Special Olympics demonstration at the VCO are to their organization.

“Our mission is to be involved in the communities that our tournaments are in from week to week,” said Austin after the demonstration concluded. “What is important to our tournaments is important to us. We want to support any community initiatives at each tournament that we go to.”

For more information about Special Olympics South Carolina, to find an area adaptive tennis program or to view a full list of sports offered, visit www.so-sc.org.


(04/11/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Philip Bowman: DI's Drew Bobey honored with 'Sylvia Huskey Spirit Award' during VCO
She’s played tennis, coached tennis and served as a tennis volunteer. Ask 18-year-old Drew Bobey of Daniel Island what she does in her spare time, and she just might mention tennis.

The Bishop England senior has played on two state championship teams, coached rising tennis players from age 4 to adults and served on the ball crew of the Volvo Car Open for 12 of the 17 years it has been played on Daniel Island.

Her dedication paid dividends last week when she was honored during a ceremony when officials presented her with a “Sylvia Huskey Spirit Award” on the Billie Jean King Court of the Volvo Car Open Stadium.

The award is given in honor of Huskey, who passed away two years ago and had ties to the tennis tournament and Dragon Boat of Charleston. Huskey was a cancer survivor who was a co-chairperson of the VCO ball crew. She also was involved in other community events.

The award is given to a member of the ball crew who demonstrates leadership, consistent dedication, motivation and a positive attitude on and off the court and also serves the community.

“That was a huge honor,” Bobey said. “It was really amazing. This was my 12th year as a volunteer with the ball kids. I have served as a ball person and a court monitor. I’ve loved every moment of it.”

Bobey has been playing tennis since she was 4 years old, and one of her biggest tennis memories is playing on two state championship teams at BE. While most players and fans focus on the individual aspect of tennis, she relishes the team aspect.

“I love playing for a team,” says Bobey, who also competes in some of the local and regional tourneys. “It’s really, really fun working together, and I get super excited when that last match (at the state tournament) nears completion and we get to celebrate because that is something we have worked together to achieve.”

Bobey, who is ranked No. 24 in the state in the 18-year-old classification, coaches tennis at the I’On Club in Mount Pleasant. She gives pointers to students to help them refine their serve and sharpen their tennis strokes. She also shares her love for the sport, which includes serving on the ball crew.

The ball crew volunteers are a very important part of the Volvo Car Open. Players and officials rely on the crew to keep the flow of the match going. Volunteers have to go through rigorous training and practice in order to be the very best when matches begin. You know you are doing a good job when you are hardly noticed on court.

Bobey enjoys watching and working with the professionals on the WTA Tour. One of her favorite players is Bethanie Mattek-Sands, a player who interacts and inspires the young volunteers.

Bobey's free time is tennis. School is first, and she has the grades to prove it with a 4.3 GPA on Bishop England’s weighted scale. She’s in many organizations including the Senior Board and the Ambassador’s Club, which is a group that helps ease the transition for new students at Bishop England. She also is the president and founder of the BE Marine and Biology Club.

She plans to matriculate to Providence, R.I. and attend Johnson & Wales University, where she will play tennis. While many think of food when J&W is mentioned, only 12 percent of the classes on the Providence campus involve culinary careers. Need proof? She’s planning a career in biology or business.

“At first, I didn’t think I wanted to go there because it gets too cold in the North,” Bobey said. “But I fell in love with the campus, the coaches and the team.”

Two other VCO ball crew members also earned a “Sylvia Huskey Spirit Award” at last week’s VCO: Morgan Roddy and Ava Kusmider.


(04/11/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Philip Bowman: Kiki crushes it!
Dutch player Kiki Bertens takes home the VCO championship trophy and her fifth WTA title

If Kiki Bertens keeps it up, she just might be known as the Ernie Banks of the WTA tour.

Banks, of course, is a baseball Hall of Famer who was known for his talent -- and for his love of the game. He loved it so much he said, “Let’s play two.”

Sunday, Bertens did just that at the Volvo Car Open Stadium after rain wiped out most of Saturday’s play. She had the tennis day of her life to become the first Dutch woman to win the Volvo Car Open. It was Berten’s fifth WTA title as she bid to improve her world No. 27 ranking.

The 12th-seeded Bertens won a grueling semifinal against No. 5 seed Madison Keys on Sunday morning and later on in the day, she lifted the championship trophy to the sky after disposing of German Julia Goerges 6-2, 6-1, in a match that didn’t even last an hour.

She worked hard for her money, but it was well worth it. She collected a $137,125 paycheck and Volvo officials threw in an SUV for her to drive for the next two years.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Bertens said. “I think I cannot really realize it yet, but I’m just so happy and proud. It’s a great start of the clay-court season, and yeah, hopefully still more to come, but this one I have already and I’m really happy with that.”

Bertens’ victory over Keys took a lot of energy and even more mettle. The match lasted almost three hours and Bertens survived.

“Actually, I was just like so happy that I could finish that match with the win, and also on court I was already thinking like oh, if I win I have to play another match,” Bertens said. “But I was just not focusing about that, just trying to get the win. And it gives you so much energy. So before the final I was just like, OK, just go out there and give all the energy you have left, you’re going to put it in there, and then we’ll just see, and yeah, it went pretty well.”

The double duty also took a toll on the German Goerges.

Goerges advanced to the championship with a 7-6, 6-3 victory over Anastasija Sevastova in a match that began Saturday but was postponed midway through the first set when the sky opened up.

“I think (the) semifinal today took a lot of mental effort from my side,” Goerges said. “I think one hour and 45 (minutes) wasn’t really quite enough to recover and be as well as I want to be prepared for a final.”

“I wasn’t, yeah, really able to play every point as tough as I did in the semis,” Goerges added. “That’s how it is. I’m still proud of what I have achieved here and how far I’ve been going after my first round, and that’s, yeah, it’s a good ending to a U. S. series and I’m ready to go home.”

Alla Kudryavtseva and Katarina Srebotnik won the doubles championship with a 6-3, 6-3 decision over Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Kudryavtseva and Srebotnik also had double duty Sunday. They defeated Kateryna Bondarenko and Aleksandra Krunic earlier in the day to advance.


(04/08/18)  The Volvo Car Open final no one saw coming
This was a Volvo Car Open final that no one probably could have predicted the way it played out.

It almost goes back to the days when the tournament was known as the Family Circle Cup and was played at Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island. Clay ruled in those days.

Kiki Bertens is ranked 27th in the world and has been a journeyman player much of her 11 years on the WTA Tour. And she is the 2018 Volvo Car Open champion.

Of course, this is still clay. Anything can happen.

Bertens is the consummate clay-courter who plays big.  She was able to deliver solid  well-placed serves and deep high-kicking ground strokes that kept fifth seed Julia Goerges on the defensive.

When Goerges tried to go big, she over-hit or hit loosely far too many times to avoid what happened on this cold Sunday afternoon. A 6-2, 6-1 loss for Goerges was the result.

Who would have believed this result after seeing the wonderful and consistently powerful tennis that the 29-year-old German had displayed most of the week? But Bertens was always there with her clay-court skills.

Of course, Sunday wasn't a typical final.  Goerges had completed her semifinal match against Anastasija Sevastova that started on Saturday just a couple of hours before taking the court against Bertens. Goerges wasn't ready, and it showed.

But give Bertens credit. She had played a tough three-setter against Madison Keys at mid-morning. The new champ didn't play on Saturday, but she had played another tough three-setter on Friday night when her hip was hurting.

And yet, the 26-year-old from the Netherlands came out on the court in late-afternoon cold and played like she was on fire.

The once amazingly consistent Goerges suddenly turned erratic, trying to beat Bertens to the first big shot of rallies. Bertens won that battle time after time, getting control of the rallies and preventing Goerges from being able to dictate play as she had been doing all week.

Because Bertens always seemed to be on the offensive and in charge of the point with her serves and deep ground strokes, Goerges' returns too often had little pace or were too short to regain control of the rallies. Or even worse, Goerges banged her big forehands everywhere but between the singles lines.

There were times when it looked like Goerges might make things interesting. There was the Bertens shot that looked long on the baseline that could have broken Bertens and cut her lead to 4-3 in the first set, with Goerges up to serve next. That one went uncalled and Bertens imposed her will and won the game for 5-2.

Then, there was the simple little shot by Bertens at 2-0 in the second set that just made it over the net and bounced up high. Any junior could have put that one away, but Goerges tried a tricky drop volley that ended up in the net. A couple points later, Bertens was sitting on a 3-0 lead. Fans were getting ready to head for the exits.

That's the way the final played out.

Sunday was all about the final of the tournament. But the longest and probably coldest final day in the 46-year history of the tournament didn't satisfy everyone.

The fans wanted Madison Keys. And she nearly made it. The second of two tiebreakers stood at 5-5 before Keys committed a pair of errors to end the match.

Bertens played great tennis in that one, too. But she doesn't have nearly as many fans on Daniel Island as Keys.

By a 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5) score in two hours and 42 minutes of ice box weather, Bertens became the long-shot finalist in the Volvo Car Open.

Things had looked rosy for Goerges after she had finished off Anastasija Sevastova in the semifinals with some excellent play.

But Bertens struck again in the cold against Goerges, and only the future will tell just how endeared VCO fans will become with the new champion of Daniel Island. Then again, this might be the result that launches the talented Bertens toward women's tennis' top tier list of stars.


(04/08/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Kiki Bertens wins trophy, and a new car, at Volvo Car Open
Shortly after winning the Volvo Car Open on Sunday, Kiki Bertens was presented with a cell phone and a dilemma as a curious crowd watched on stadium court on Daniel Island.

What kind of Volvo XC40 would she like to drive for the next two years?

"It was like, it went so fast," Bertens said with a laugh. "Oh, what do I want?"

For the record, Bertens chose a white, R-design version of the compact SUV, just one of the perks that comes with the biggest WTA Tour singles title of the 26-year-old Dutchwoman's career.

Bertens, seeded 12th, worked hard for her new Volvo and the $137,125 winner's check. On a cool, breezy Sunday on Daniel Island, she survived a tough three-set semifinal against No. 7 seed Madison Keys in a match postponed from Saturday, then rolled through No. 5 Julia Goerges 6-2, 6-1, in the final.

For the week, Bertens lost only one set in five matches while winning her fifth WTA Tour singles title, becoming the first Dutch player to win the title in Charleston.

"I know I can play good on clay," said Bertens, who made the semifinals of the French Open in 2016 and is ranked No. 27 in the world. "But it was just a great feeling. I think in the final Julia didn't play her best, but I was just trying to play aggressive where I could, just to hit some balls in the court when she was making some errors."

She joins a list of champions in this tournament that includes greats such as Serena and Venus Williams, Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.

"It's just unbelievable," Bertens said. "I think I cannot really realize it yet, but I'm just so happy and proud, I think, of myself."

Goerges, a 29-year-old German ranked No. 13, had less than two hours of rest between the final and the completion of her 7-6, 6-3 semifinal win over No. 8 seed Anastasija Sevastova. The match was postponed by rain at 4-4 in the first set on Saturday.

"The semifinal today took a lot of mental effort from my side," said Goerges, who has five career WTA Tour titles. "I think one hour and 45 wasn't really quite enough to recover and be as well as I want to be prepared for a final.

"But I also have to give (Bertens) credit, because she played very solid. She didn't give a lot of mistakes."

Bertens' toughest match of the week came earlier Sunday in her semifinal match against Keys, postponed from Saturday by rain. Keys saved two match points and served for the victory twice but couldn't nail it down as Bertens held on to win 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5) in 2 hours, 42 minutes.

"It was a really tough match," Bertens said. "I think it was good tennis. It was tough because when we started it was really cold, so it was really different conditions than the rest of the week."

Keys, who loves playing in Charleston and has been here for six straight years, vowed to continue her quest to win the VCO. She made the finals in 2015, losing to Angelique Kerber.

"Always a good time in Charleston. I'll be back," Keys posted on Twitter.

Sevastova's fifth appearance in the VCO was her best as she made the semis for the first time.

"The tournament is great. Everything is great here," the 27-year-old from Latvia said. "I really like playing here. The center court is amazing. The food and hospitality of the tournament is great. We got to drive Volvo, (which) was also nice.

"Yeah, it's easier when you know that there's the last tournament in U.S., it's like that. It's easier to play it and you are like happy to go home, but you are still happy playing this tournament. Either way, I would not be playing this tournament if I would not like it. I would just go home after Miami."

• Alla Kudryavtseva and Katarina Srebotnik won the VCO doubles title 6-3, 6-3, over Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez.

• The Volvo Car Open drew 7,816 fans for Sunday's semifinals and finals, boosting the total attendance to 88,716 for the tournament.


(04/08/18) AP/PETE IACOBELLI: ESPN: Kiki Bertens beats Julia Goerges to win Volvo Car Open title
Kiki Bertens felt fortunate to escape a tough semifinal match with a victory Sunday morning. She wasn't going to let things get so tight later on in the biggest match of her career.

Bertens of the Netherlands overpowered Germany's Julia Goerges to cap a long, chilly Sunday at the Volvo Car Open with a 6-2, 6-1 victory for her fifth career WTA title and third of the past 11 months. Bertens made it to the final by outlasting American Madison Keys as the WTA's first clay-court event of the season had to double up on play after rain Saturday washed out most of the semifinals.

Bertens was nearly ousted by Keys, saving a match point in the third set before prevailing in tiebreaker, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5). Preparing for Goerges several hours later, Bertens thought, "OK, you could already have lost this morning, so just give everything and try to go for it," she said. "And yeah, now I'm here with the trophy."

Perhaps the most important one of the 26-year-old's career.

Bertens, ranked 27th in the world, had won titles last May in Nuremberg, Germany and the Swiss Open against fields not nearly as loaded with top players as here. Bertens had gone 0-15 against top-20 opponents in 2018 entering Sunday before defeating Keys (ranked 14th) and Goerges (ranked 13th) in the space of about eight hours.

"I'm just so happy and proud, I think, of myself," Bertens said. "It's a great start of the clay court season, and yeah, hopefully still more to come."

Goerges figured to be the fresher finalist, needing only about 25 minutes to finish off her semi with Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova, which was tied at 4-all in the opening set Saturday before the rain came.

But it was Bertens, ranked 27th in the world, who showed fire and drive on center court in the finals. She broke Goerges' serve twice to take a 3-1 lead and never let up.

When Goerges sailed her shot long on match point, Bertens threw her racquet in the air and held her arms up high in celebration of her latest title.

Bertens had in Nuremberg, Germany, last May and the Swiss Open in Gstaad last July. But she had a slow start to 2018 with only four match wins before winning all six of her matches here.

Bertens, 26, put things away early as she broke Goerges' serve three times to win the opening set 6-2. Bertens had a run of seven straight games before Goerges, urged on by the crowd that may not have wanted to see the tournament end, took a game to delay the celebration.

Among Bertens' prizes was two-year use of one of Volvo's luxury cars. The manufacturer is constructing a new auto plant about 25 miles west of Charleston. She got to design her new vehicle on court during the trophy presentation.

"It went so fast," Bertens said about the selection. "It was like, `Oh, what do I want? Can I still change it?' No, but it was really fun."

Goerges, who had played crisply most of the week, figured to be the fresher finalist after finishing her semifinal win over Sevastova. But Goerges was beset by uncharacteristic errors that seemed to give Bertens more energy.

"I think that semifinal took a lot of mental effort out of me," Goerges said.

In the fourth game, Goerges reached the net in plenty of time for a simple drop shot with Bertens back by the baseline but pushed the shot into to the cord on the way to losing her serve.

Down 5-2 and serving, Goerges double faulted twice in a row to get broken a final time in the set.

Goerges thought she had done well all week finding answers when pressed by opponents. She came up empty against Bertens, however.

"But at the end what's counting is that you find a solution to get, yeah, to get going and to get playing well," Goerges said.


(04/08/18)  WomenWhoServe: Kiki Bertens plays five sets in one day and wins Volvo Car Open
It was a crazy tennis day on Daniel Island. Yesterday's rain-out caused both doubles semifinals to be played today, all of one singles semifinal, and most of another one.

The first singles semifinal played today featured 12th seed Kiki Bertens and Madison Keys, and it was a wild ride indeed. Bertens won the first set, then held two match points in the second. On her second match point, she had what appeared to be an easy passing shot to take the title, but she didn't pass, and Keys was able to win the point easily. Keys went on to win that set.

To add to the drama, Bertens' hip--which she injured on Thursday--was bothering her throughout the  match. And the match went on and on--for over two hours and and forty-two minutes. In the third set, Keys held a match point. Bertens saved it, and went on to win a tiebreak, putting her into the final.

Meanwhile, the match between Julia Goerges and Anastasija Sevastova was stopped at 4-all in the first set on Friday. They resumed play late this afternoon, and Goerges won the match in straight sets.

Goerges had a wobble in her second round match against Kristie Ahn, but after that, she pretty much cruised through the draw, using her killer serve and her estimable forehand. So this evening, she had to play someone who had labored under duress for close to three hours today, and who was carrying an injury. It didn't take a lot of imagination to believe that the German would most likely hold the trophy.

But that's not what happened. Goerges came out flat, and was unable to find her game at all. Bertens, on the other hand, appeared as fresh as can be, and made quick work of her opponent, defeating her 6-2, 6-1 in under an hour. Bertens is a very fine clay court player, but this was nevertheless a stunning turn of events.

Later, in a press conference, Goerges said that her semifinal had drained her of mental energy, and that her performance "obviously wasn't the way I was planning to play and the way it should have been happening." She also said that Bertens made few mistakes and made her work for every point. "...she's a hell of a player, and for me it's great--if I have to lose to someone, I want to lose to her today."

Bertens said that the day of rest helped her hip, but then it was tight when she woke up this morning. But, she said, the more she played, the warmer her hip became, and she was able to cope.

During the trophy ceremony, three Volvos were driven onto the court. The winner of the Volvo Car Open gets a Volvo to drive for two years. While Bertens was still holding her trophy, she was invited to use the Volvo app to design her car, which she did.

Bertens is the first player from Netherlands to win in Charleston.

Meanwhile, Alla Kudryavtseva and Katarina Srebotnik won the doubles title, defeating Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Srebotnik last won the doubles championship in Charleston ten years ago, when she and Ai Sugiyama defeated Edina Gallovits-Hall and Olga Govortsova.


(04/08/18)  WomenWhoServe: Kiki or Julia? Volvo Car Open final is coming up
A bit later today, 12th seed Kiki Bertens of Netherlands will compete against 5th seed Julia Goerges of Germany for the singles championship of the 2018 Volvo Car Open.

It's a tough day for both competitors. Bertens' hip locked on her during her match on Thursday. Fortunately, a good pull from the trainer put her back on the court in pretty good shape. Yesterday, she and Goerges were at 4-all in the first set of their semifinal when the bad weather came; eventually, all play was canceled for the day. This may have worked in Bertens' favor because it gave her another day to work on injury recovery.

The Dutchwoman was on the schedule first today, and she defeated 7th seed Madison Keys in a real seesaw match in which Bertens held two match points in the second set. But she was unable to convert them. Keys held two match points in the third set, but also failed to convert them. The two-hour and 42-minute match was a toss-up right until the last moment, when Bertens won the third set tiebreak. Her 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 victory put her into the biggest final of her career.

It should be noted, however, that the 12th seed was somewhat bothered by her hip during this match.

Goerges, for her part, defeated 8th seed Anastasija Sevastova 7-6, 6-3 in today's delayed semifinal. Aside from struggling in her second round match against Kristie Ahn, the German has been spot-on throughout her campaign in Charleston. Goerges is attempting to become the fifth German to win the tournament; past winners were Steffi Graf, Sabine Lisicki, Andrea Petkovic, and Angie Kerber.

This is the first time since Lisicki's victory in 2009 that two western Europeans have vied for the championship.


(04/08/18)  WomenWhoServe: Rained out at 4-all, Goerges and Sevastova resume semifinal play today
It isn't easy, for players or spectators, to have a match stop two-thirds into the first set, but it does happen, and it happened today in Charleston when the rain came during the Volvo Car Open's first singles semifinal match.

Julia Goerges and Anastasija Sevastova were locked at 4-all after Goerges caught up from a slow start to the match. All play for the day was eventually suspended, so the match will resume this afternoon.

This is the first time that either player has reached the semifinals of the event.

The other semifinal, which will be played this morning, features Madison Keys and Kiki Bertens. Bertens sustained a hip injury in her Friday night quarterfinal, so the delay in play could be helpful to her. Keys was a finalist in 2015, when Angie Kerber won the tournament.


(04/08/18)  TENNIS: John Berkok: Bertens' marathon Sunday in Charleston bodes well for Roland Garros
Rain wreaked havoc on the Volvo Car Open's Saturday schedule, pushing the majority of semifinal action to Sunday. Facing the prospect of playing back-to-back matches for the title, it was Kiki Bertens who rose to the challenge, coming away from Charleston with the biggest title of her career.

While most of Julia Goerges’ semifinal match against Anastasija Sevastova was rescheduled—it was stopped at 4-all first set—the entirety of Bertens’ semifinal against Madison Keys was pushed to Sunday, and it was a marathon. For two hours and 43 minutes, the two slugged it out on the green clay. And after surviving match point while down 5-4 in the third set, Bertens escaped, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5).

“I got a little bit nervous closing it out in the second set,” Bertens would say afterwards.

“But I just kept on going, kept on fighting, even when I was match point down.”

Goerges, meanwhile, completed a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Sevastova to join Bertens in the final.

The two had played just once before, with Bertens edging Goerges in a third set tie-break at another clay court event, in Nurnberg, in 2016, but their second meeting couldn’t have been more different.

The No. 12-seeded Bertens cruised past the No. 5-seeded Goerges in 58 minutes, 6-2, 6-1.

“Julia didn’t play her best, but still, I was just trying to play aggressive where I could, just to hit some balls in the court when she was playing and making some errors,” Bertens said after the final.

“She’s a hell of a player,” Goerges said. “If I have to lose to a player, I’m happy to lose to her today.”

Bertens came away from Charleston with the first Premier-level title of her career.

“It’s just unbelievable,” she said. “I cannot really realize it yet, but I’m just so happy and proud of myself. It’s a great start to the clay court season, and hopefully there’s still more to come.”

The Dutchwoman could be a big threat at Roland Garros this year. Not only have all five of her career WTA titles come on clay, but the best Grand Slam result of her career did as well—she made the semifinals of the French Open in 2016. All three of her career Top 10 wins have come on clay, too.

“I know I can play well on clay,” she added, “but this was just a great feeling.”

The doubles final was also among a jam-packed Sunday schedule, with Alla Kudryavtseva and Katarina Srebotnik beating Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez for the title, 6-3, 6-3.


(04/07/18)  AP/WCIV-TV: ABC News 4:  Rain postpones Volvo Car Open semifinals
It will be a jam-packed finish for the Volvo Car Open on Sunday after Saturday's semifinals were postponed because of rain.

Organizers called a halt to a soggy Saturday after several weather delays. No. 5 seeded Julia Goerges of Germany and Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, the eighth seed, began their opening set and were tied at 4-all when the match was postponed.

The schedule Sunday calls for American Madison Keys, seeded seventh, to play No. 12 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands at 10:30 a.m., followed by the conclusion of the Goerges-Sevastova match.

After a doubles finals, the semifinal winners will compete for the title at the WTA's first clay-court event of the season.

All four of the semifinalists are playing for their first Volvo Car Open title.


(04/07/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Rain pushes Volvo Car Open semifinals to Sunday
The 2018 Volvo Car Open champion will have to work overtime on Sunday.

Rain storms interrupted the tournament's semifinals on Saturday at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island, forcing VCO officials to double up on the semifinals and championship match on Sunday's schedule.

No. 7 seed Madison Keys and No 12 Kiki Bertens will play their semifinal match at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on stadium court. No. 5 Julia Goerges and No. 8 Anastasija Sevastova, tied at 4-4 in the first set when the rains came Saturday, will finish their match following Keys-Bertens.

The doubles final will be the third match on stadium court, followed by the singles final.

"It's going to be a tough match," Bertens said of her semifinal with Keys. "(She) is hitting the ball so hard. I have to defend a lot,and play aggressive where I can, and then we'll see how that goes."

Bertens, a 26-year-old from the Netherlands, injured her hip during her 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 14 Alize Cornet on Friday.

"The treatment was good," she said after that match. "It got locked a little bit, so I needed the trainer to just release it a little bit. Of course, I was still a little bit struggling after that. But I'm just going to recover now and go back in again, and hopefully it will be fine."

Keys and Bertens have met only once before, with Bertens winning in straight sets on clay at the French Open in 2016.

Sevastova, a 27-year-old from Latvia, jumped to a 3-1 lead in her semifinal Saturday against Goerges, who fought back for 4-4 when rain stopped the match. Sevastova defeated Goerges, a 29-year-old from Germany, last month on hardcourts at Indian Wells.

All four semifinalists have won titles on the WTA Tour. Goerges and Bertens have four titles each, Keys has won three times and Sevastova has two wins.

At 10:30 a.m. on the Althea Gibson Club Court, the doubles semifinal between the teams of Kateryna Bonarenko/Aleksandra Krunic and Alla Kurdryavtseva/Katarina Srebotnik will be played. Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez teamed to defeat Mihaela Buzarnescu and Heather Watson, 6-4, 6-0, in Saturday's semifinal.

The PowerShares Series, featuring Michael Chang, Andy Roddick, Mark Philippoussis and Tommy Haas, has been postponed from Saturday night to 8 a.m. Sunday.

The Volvo Car Open is offering full refunds to all ticket buyers for the PowerShares Series, which will happen automatically through point of purchase. Fans can attend the Powershares Series matches for free on Sunday.


(04/07/18)  Volvo Car Open continues to make progress
The Volvo Car Open keeps getting better.

Now in its 46th year, the tournament doesn't look anything like it did back in the 1970s at Hilton Head Island.

Sea Pines Plantation was nice.
Daniel Island is even nicer.

But there was a certain atmosphere about Sea Pines back then that made it really a special place to go every April.

Meanwhile, Family Circle Tennis Center continues to blossom along with the tournament that once had its name.

Volvo has made this tournament even more special, and the Tennis Channel is coming along for the ride. It's a great setup and marriage, a great tournament.

This year's field was a little on the lightweight side in terms of participants, especially after U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens withdrew. Exciting young Catherine Bellis also pulled out just before the tournament started. And even Shelby Rogers wasn't around.

Then the seeds started falling: One, two, three.

But when you walk through the gates and around the grounds, you would never know that Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki are not here. The place is excited.

A tingle of electricity is in the air.

It all carries over to Volvo Car Stadium where the fans are excited and into the matches. Attendance is good.

As Varvara Lepchenko said early in the week, "The people are so nice and everyone comes to the tournament, and are tennis fans."
Tennis like life

Tennis is such a complex game. Everyone who plays or watches realizes this.

The game can be completely unpredictable, much like life.

And the personalities involved are even less predictable.

Sometimes, it's only safe to count on the Roger Federers. And, of course, there aren't many of them.

One day, you think a player is great and headed for stardom. The next day, the player decides she doesn't want to be on the court any longer and appears to give up.

In this case, it's bright, young Naomi Osaka when she was up 4-1 against Julia Goerges in the round of 16. Osaka probably lost some fans that day, because many fans may never completely embrace her as a star of the game again. She will have to earn the fans' trust.

Yet, she has superstar talent at her command.
A fearless Goerges

And now, it's Goerges who looks as if she may transition to star status very soon. She looked every bit the face of the game a day after her victory over Osaka.

Goerges did everything well, serving huge and repeatedly hitting the spots, consistently powering flawless ground strokes, delivering precise drop shots and volleying like Martina Navratilova once did.

Goerges was fearless. At 29 years old, she apparently had discovered her game.

And then there she was on Saturday looking vulnerable in the early moments of her rain-stopped VCO semifinal match against Anastasija Sevastova. Of course, that's kind of normal in tennis. Even the great Federer can struggle at the start of matches.

A little later, Goerges might have been saying, "thank goodness for the rain."

She now has time to recharge her superstar dreams and game before resuming play on Sunday.


(04/07/18)  WomenWhoServe: Julia Goerges defeats defending champion in Volvo Car Open quarterfinals
A somewhat flat and off-beat Daria Kasatkina showed up for the first quarterfinal of the day at the Volvo Car Open, only to face an in-form and aggressive Julia Goerges. Kasatkina, seeded 3rd at the tournament, was the defending champion. Goerges, the 5th seed, used her excellent serve and her forehand, especially her forehand passing shot, to get by Kasatkina, 6-4, 6-3. The two women are very good friends. Kasatkina also lost to Goerges in the final of last year's Kremlin Cup.

In tomorrow's semifinals, Goerges will face off against 8th seed Anastasija Sevastova, who defeated Kristyna Pliskova, 6-4, 6-0.

The other semifinal will feature 12th seed Kiki Bertens and 7th seed Madison Keys. Bertens defeated 14th seed Alize Cornet 6-2, 7-5 in the night match. In last night's feature match, Cornet upset top seed Caroline Garcia. Bertens sustained a hip injury during tonight's match. Her hip got locked, she said, but it was obviously much improved after a trainer gave her leg a good pull.

Keys had to do some work in her quarterfinal against Bernarda Pera, but defeated her 6-2, 6-7, 7-5.

Mihaela Buzarnescu and Heather Watson defeated Raquel Atawo and Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the daytime doubles quarterfinal. In the night session, Kateryna Bondarenko and Alex Krunic defeated Nadia Kichenok and Anastasia Rodionova 6-3, 6-3.


(04/07/18)  WomenWhoServe: What they said this week at the Volvo Car Open
“I hate losing. That’s why I don’t play board games.”?
Alex Krunic

“…I was joking, like, 'hey, want to be my coach?' And she was like, 'yeah, sure!' And I was 'really, really?' Like, that’s actually how it went.”
Kristie Ahn, on how Shenay Perry came to be her coach

“It’s tough training for two weeks, playing a match, playing and training for two weeks, playing a match, losing, and it’s a tough cycle to be in because you feel more nervous and extra pressure for that match, especially you’re on center court and it’s a big tournament, or maybe you get a wild card.”
Genie Bouchard

“There are many things that you can do in your life. So you start to think about that, and sometimes it’s worse to think abou that. But it’s coming. So you have to be ready to combine, and even when you will stop, what you will do. So the day comes."
Sara Errani, on looking ahead

So can you just talk through that second set, how you were able to stay composed and what do you think the secret was to getting it done it straight sets.
“I feel like you’re making fun of me.”
Naomi Osaka

“And she’s a lefty and I am lefty. I play always bad against lefties. The serve is different, and I’m not used to it.”
Kristyna Pliskova

“…I mean, when you’re ranked 900, it’s not their pride of like, ‘yes my daughter is playing professional tennis, but she’s ranked 900.”
Kristie Ahn

“I love downtown, those little restaurants, those are really cute. It’s more European, I feel like.”
Fanny Stollar

“And it’s not a goal to like everyone, but I think it’s nice if you can deal with everyone.”
Julia Goerges

“It was already 10 p.m., so I just went home. Yeah, I had dinner and I went to sleep. That’s it. I was not able to go to the nightclub and celebrate my win.”
Daria Kasatkina

“The first set, the court seemed so small because, I mean, I’ve never played on a stadium this big.”
Bernarda Pera

On your Instagram account, I saw you were hitting the soccer ball around. Is that in your future, a soccer career for you??

“Did you watch the video?”
Madison Keys

“But the match starts with yourself, and that’s what I can control.”
Julia Goerges

“It’s very nice, but at the same time, it’s, yeah, put a little bit of pressure on you because everybody is asking you if I saw this big picture on the stadium. Like, I think everybody saw it in the city.”
Daria Kasatkina

“Every week we’re on the clay is a week we’re closer to grass.”
Ash Barty

“So it’s not easy, but I think it’s just sport and it’s just coach, so he can do whatever he wants. And he gets better offer, then he can go. It’s like, not marriage.” Kristyna Pliskova


(04/06/18)  Pittston Dispatch: Tony Callaio: My Corner, Your Corner: What would like be without twists and turns?
Over the last 11 years, I’ve had the privilege to work at the Family Circle Cup women’s professional tennis tournament in Charleston, South Carolina. For the last three years, the Cup has taken on Volvo as a new sponsor.

Volvo built its first United States vehicle assembly plant in the Charleston area and wanted to be more visible in the community, so it bought the rights to the Family Circle Cup, renaming it the Volvo Car Open. The event is housed at the same venue on Daniel Island.

Having the chance to work at a first-class tournament with some of the world’s best female tennis players has been a joy.

Imagine working at a venue involving your favorite sport. It would be like working at the Indy 500 or the Daytona 500 if you like motorsports. Or how about working at Yankee Stadium if baseball is your thing? Maybe you’re a big soap opera fan and you got the chance to work on the set of General Hospital.

You get the idea. I’ve been involved in the game of tennis since I was 19 years old when I would watch the Family Circle Cup Tournament on TV in the spring when it was held at Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

My first thoughts were it looked super warm and tropical there and, after each rough winter for me, that place looked like heaven. My second thought was about the game itself. Women like Chris Evert, Billy Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Yvonne Goolagong and others were on top of their game playing on a clay court. A clay court? Only rich people played tennis on a clay court.

Little did a naïve 19-year-old know that one day he’d be working for that very same tennis tournament. Over the years, Venus and Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova have replaced Evert, King and Navratilova in the game. And the game is bigger than ever.

I’ve had the chance to work with, photograph, write about and hang out with some impressive people over the 11 years. One of my biggest thrills was to work side-by-side with legendary broadcaster and Pulitzer Prize writer, the late Bud Collins. I was assigned to work with him for an entire week. He was an amazing guy and I have had a long-standing friendship with his wife Anita.

The game is getting faster, the equipment is getting better, the women are getting stronger and gone are the days when a player retired or was considered over the hill by the age of 30. This past week, a doubles specialist who has been on the tour for more than half her life was playing competitive tennis at the age of 42.

It seems most players have a team of sorts. They have fitness coaches, dietitians, strength coaches, sports psychologists, hitting partners and, of course, a coach. All of this extends a career.

Even though tennis isn’t a big sport in Greater Pittston, it is around the world. The men’s and women’s pro tours have stops all around the globe and it’s big business.

If you’re not involved in a sport such as tennis, you’re missing the boat. You get great exercise, you’re out in the sun during the summer months and, if you can find a public park, it’s free to play and you can play for many, many years or as long as your body will allow.


(04/06/18)  ANDREW MILLER: Volvo Car Open Notes: Bernarda Pera makes strong impression
In a day or two, when Bernarda Pera has a chance to reflect on her week at the Volvo Car Open, she knows that she’ll look back on her time in the Lowcountry with fondness.

Pera, ranked No. 101 in the world, advanced to her first WTA Tour quarterfinals, played on a stadium court and even won over some fans during a two-hour, 14-minute match against crowd favorite Madison Keys Friday afternoon.

But after dropping a hard-fought 6-2, 7-6(5), 7-5 match to the seventh-seeded Keys, Pera could only dwell on how she felt immediately after a match she felt like she should have won.

“I feel terrible right now,” Pera said. “Before the tournament if somebody had said you’ll lose to Madison Keys in the quarterfinals, 7-5 in the third, I would have said I’ll take it. But right now, it’s just that I had my chances and I feel like I didn’t do enough.”

Pera, 23, has spent most of her young professional career in Europe playing on the second-tier ITF women’s circuit.

At the Grand Slam events, she has to go through the qualifying event to make the main draw. She made her Grand Slam debut earlier this year at the Australian Open, winning two matches and earning her biggest payday of $108,102.

The Croatian-born American, who lives in New Jersey when she’s not training in Florida, admitted she was a bit intimidated by her surroundings when she first stepped onto Billie Jean King Stadium Court early Friday afternoon to take on Keys – a player she’d never face during her career.

“The first set the court seemed so small because I’ve never played in a stadium this big,” Pera said. “It took me a little while to get used to all the people and how big the stadium is. I think played better in the second and third sets.”

By the end of the match, with Pera battling Keys for every point, she had won over many converts.

"It's nice to get some support," Pera said. "I really liked it. It was nice. Madison is very popular."

Pera hopes that the momentum she built in the Lowcountry will carry over to the rest of the clay court season. She plans to return to Europe and play in tournaments in Stuttgart, Prague, Rome, Madrid and the French Open.

“I’m doing all the big tournaments,” Pera said. “I love playing on clay and I think this another confidence boost for me after Australia.”

With her two victories this week and an additional $18,387 in her pocket, Pera should crack the WTA’s top 100 for the first time in her pro career.

“I knew it was going to happen, but I’m a little relieved,” Pera said. “I have to set new goals. I think top 50 is the next goal for sure.”

Her opponent on Friday has no doubt, Pera will get there.

“I have no doubt that she’ll be doing better and better as the season goes on,” Keys said.
Don’t quit your day job

There’s little doubt that Madison Keys is a superb athlete.

As the 23rd-ranked player in the world, Keys is a world-class athlete. However, she might want to stick with tennis.

Keys posted on her Instagram account her attempt at dribbling a soccer ball. It didn’t go well.

When asked about her soccer talent after the win over Bernarda Pera Friday, she quipped, “Did you see the video? So, I think you can answer that question. It’s not a talent of mine.”

If Keys could play another sport, she said football would be her first choice.

“I feel like I could be a pretty good quarterback,” Keys said.

Watch out, Tom Brady.
Weather update

VCO officials said Friday that storms forecast for Saturday afternoon could alter the schedule, including Saturday night's Invesco Legends event featuring Michael Chang, Andy Roddick and others.

The priority will be finishing the women's semifinals on Saturday, meaning the Invesco Legends event could move to Sunday night. Full refunds are available for those who cannot attend the event on Sunday.
Chang still competing

It’s been 15 years since Michael Chang has played regularly on the ATP circuit, but that doesn’t mean he’s lost his competitive edge.

Chang, 46, still plays competitively on the Invesco Legends series. Chang along with Andy Roddrick, Tommy Haas and Mark Philippoussis will take Billie Jean King Stadium Court Saturday night in the Legends Charleston event.

“I don’t think any tennis player ever gets tired of the thrill,” Chang said. “Playing and performing is always easy to get up for. It’s something I enjoy very much still to this day.”

Chang and his wife – former touring pro Amber Lui – have three children.


(04/06/18)  Goerges dominates defending champion Kasatkina to move on to Volvo Car Open semifinals
Julia Goerges keeps rolling.

On Friday in the Volvo Car Open quarterfinals, Goerges dominated defending champion Daria Kasatkina with all-around consistent power to earn her spot in the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-3 victory. Goerges will face eighth seed Anastasija Sevastova on Saturday.

Seventh seed and crowd favorite Madison Keys made it a little harder on herself. But with her back to the wall in the decisive set, the 2015 VCO runner-up hit winners while rallying from a 4-2 deficit to claim a 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 win over American left-hander Bernarda Pera.

Keys' opponent in the semifinals will be 12th seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, who came up with breaks in the first five service games of 14th seed Alize Cornet of France and scored a 6-2, 7-5 victory under the lights.

Goerges, a 29-year-old German who is playing some of the best tennis of her career, dealt out huge blows throughout the 77-minute match in Volvo Car Stadium. She belted nine aces and a bucket load of service winners, while all the time powering deep, punishing ground strokes that Kasatkina often couldn't handle.

Goerges won 32 of 38 first-serve points as she consistently hit first serves in the 108-110 mph range.

And then, Goerges had the audacity to deliver several winning drop shots and some excellent crisp backhand volleys that Kasatkina couldn't make a play on. Goerges defeated her Russian opponent and friend for the third straight time.

The third-seeded Kasatkina left the court wiping her eyes with her face covered. And she wasn't crying over having to give up the new Volvo that came with the VCO crown a year ago.

"They give it to me for only for one year," Kasatkina said. "I was really upset after the match ... I was unable to hold my tears back."

Goerges dropped her serve in the third game of the match, but broke right back. Kasatkina held service for 4-4, but that was it for the first set as Goerges came up with a service break in the 10th game.

Kasatkina double-faulted away the long sixth game of the second set, and Goerges served out the match by hitting three aces in her last two service games. Goerges hit a clean forehand cross-court winner at 40-15 to end the match.

The win was special, but still a little sad for Goerges.

"If it's your friend and you beat someone who you really like, it's always tough," said Goerges, the only 2018 tournament champion (Auckland, New Zealand) on the tour left in the VCO. "I was prepared to battle it out today, because I know Daria is a very good player in general but especially on clay. She has a lot of height on the ball.

"The balls are pretty heavy to the racket, and I just made sure that I had to move well, to prepare well and be ready for the ball(s) when they meet my racket. I think that's what I've done pretty good, that I was very patient, waiting for my chances," said Goerges, a quarterfinalist here in 2011 who is making her first appearance here since 2014.

What about the serve?

"I served pretty big today. If you have good service games, you can put more pressure on the return games," Goerges said.

Kasatkina agreed.

"She was playing really well, and her serve was working very good today. She was better today than me, so well deserved."

Keys sailed through the first set against Pera, but allowed her 101st-ranked opponent to stick around with her twisting, net-hugging ground strokes that caught Keys flat-footed a few times. Pera's forehand down the line was especially effective.

Keys had double match point in the 12th game of the second set, but Pera still managed to hold service to force the tiebreaker. Pera won the last three points of the tiebreaker after being down 5-4 to Keys to even the match.

When Keys' coach, former WTA star Lindsay Davenport, came on the court, she got her player's attention.

"She just said, 'I don't care what happens, just show me that you want it.' And that was really all that I had to focus on, and I think that brought my level up," Keys said.

"I think I started playing to win instead of just seeing if she would start to miss. I really just tried to hang in there."

Yet when Pera broke Keys with one of her windup forehands to the forehand corner for a 4-2 lead in the third set, an upset appeared to be in the making.

Just about that time, Keys' big strokes and serve woke up to even the set at 4-4. Keys held service for 5-5, but Pera appeared ready to force another tiebreaker with a 40-15 edge in the 11th game.

Four straight errors by Pera gave Keys a 6-5 lead, and then Keys easily held service at 40-15 to close out the match.

In the third quarterfinal of the day, Sevastova held service to close out the first set and didn't lose another game as she scored a 6-4, 6-0 win over unseeded giant-killer Kristyna Pliskova, who defeated two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova in the second round.

Pliskova, the twin sister of world's top 10 standout Karolina Pliskova, saw her string of three straight wins, her best of the season, end as she appeared to run out of energy in the second set.

Sevastova's clay-court game and court coverage were more than her tall, hard-hitting Czech opponent could handle.


(04/06/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Volvo Car Open's final four is set: Keys vs. Bertens, Goerges vs. Sevastova
The Volvo Car Open will not have a repeat champion this year.

No. 5 seed Julia Goerges eliminated defending champ Daria Kastkina by 6-4, 6-3 in Friday's first quarterfinal match at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island.

Crowd favorite Madison Keys advanced to the semifinals as well, surviving a tough 2-hour and 14 minute battle with Bernarda Pera.

Keys, the No. 7 will face No. 12 Kiki Bertens in the semis. Bertens eliminated No. 14 Alize Cornet, 6-2, 7-5, in Thursday's late match.

Goerges, a 29-year-old German ranked No. 13 on the WTA Tour, will face No. 17 Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, a 6-4, 6-0 winner over Kristyna Pliskova, in Saturday's semifinals.

Goerges has won five WTA singles titles in her career, including a win over Caroline Wozniacki in the finals at Auckland earlier this year. This is her best performance in five appearances in Charleston.

Unable to defend her VCO crown, the 20-year-old Kasatkina was emotional at match's end.

"I was really upset after the match," the Russian said. "So yeah, I was not able to hold my tears after the match. So I just went to yeah, it's tough, but I'm happy that I have this experience now, and I went through this and I'm pretty sure next time is going to be much easier."

Keys did not have it easy against fellow American Pera, a 23-year-old ranked No. 101 in the world.

Keys, ranked No. 14 and seeded seventh here, was cruising along after winning the first set 6-2, but Pera took the second set in a tie breaker. Keys finally finished off Pera, who is ranked No. 101 in the world, 7-5, in the third set.

"I had to be proud of what I did on the court today," said Keys, a finalist at the U.S. Open last year. "And I knew if I didn't leave it all out there, I would have been really mad at myself later."

VCO officials said storms forecast for Saturday afternoon could impact Saturday's schedule, including the Invesco Legends men's event set for Saturday night.

The priority will be completing the women's semifinals, which means the Invesco Legends event could be moved to Sunday night.


(04/06/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Volvo Car Open: What to know for Friday's quarterfinals
Getting ready for Friday's quarterfinal action at the Volvo Car Open at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island:

Thursday's headlines

• Top-seeded Caroline Garcia was eliminated in a three-set battle by French countrywoman Alize Cornet, leaving No. 3 seed and defending champ Daria Kasatkina as the highest seed remaining in the draw.
 
• No. 7 seed Madison Keys is the top American left in the field, and she faces fellow American Bernarda Pera in the quarters.

Friday's top matches

• By rankings, Friday's opening faceoff between No. 13 Julia Goerges and No. 12 Daria Kasatkina could be the match of the tournament. The two are good friends, to boot.

• Americans Pera and Keys are the second match on stadium court, with Cornet facing No. 12 seed Kiki Bertens in the featured night match.

Suntrust Onup Night

• Prizes are on the line during the ever popular ball toss during Friday's night session.

Getting In

Gates open at 10 a.m. for the day session, and at 5 p.m. for the night matches. Kids 16 and under get in free.


(04/06/18)  WCIV-TV/ Live 5 News: Top seed Garcia falls, Kasatkina advances at Volvo Car Open
Top-seeded Caroline Garcia lost 12 of the last 17 games to fall to French countrywoman Alize Cornet at the Volvo Car Open on Thursday night.

Garcia, ranked seventh in the world, had a strong opening match Tuesday at the WTA's first clay-court tournament of the season, and she expected to keep that going against Cornet, who entered the week ranked 37th. But Cornet broke serve twice each in the second and third sets to beat Garcia for the second straight time with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory and move into the tournament quarterfinals.

Garcia had won the first three times the French players had met, including in a round of 16 match at Roland Garros in the French Open last year.

Cornet reached the semifinals here 10 years ago. "I have some great memories from this tournament," she said. "And I'm having an amazing week. I want the journey to keep going as much as possible."

Earlier Thursday, defending champion Daria Kasatkina of Russia, No. 5 Julia Goerges of Germany and seventh-seeded American Madison Keys moved into the quarterfinals with straight-set victories.

Kasatkina, the third seed, moved through with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Romania's Irina-Camilia Begu, the 13th seed. Goerges topped 10th-seeded Naomi Osaka of Japan 7-6 (4), 6-3. Keys, the U.S. Open runner-up last September, beat Italy's Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-3.

Kastakina said she felt more relaxed on the green clay at the Family Circle Tennis Center than she did in opening play Tuesday.

"Nobody told me it's so difficult to come and defend a title. So I have to get used to it," said Kasatkina, ranked 12th in the world.

Keys needed three sets Wednesday night to take her opening match. She was much more focused in defeating Giorgi. Keys win sets up an all-U.S. quarterfinal against Bernarda Pera, who ousted Italian veteran Sara Errani 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Keys says she feels her first two matches have given her confidence, no matter whom she's facing. "I feel like I have pretty good momentum," said Keys, ranked 14th in singles. "I think I served really well today. There was a lot of things that I did well, so I think if I just focus on what I was doing well and what I need to do, then I'm not really concerned about who's on the other side."

Kristyna Pliskova, who entered ranked 77th in the world, knocked off her second straight seeded player in as many days. Pliskova, the twin sister of top-10 player Karolina Pliskova, had beaten Czech Republic countrywoman and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the No. 2 seed, on Wednesday night. Kristyna Pliskova topped No. 16 seed Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 on Thursday.

No. 8 seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia beat No. 9 Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-3, 6-4, and No. 12 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands defeated Hungarian qualifier Fanny Stollar 6-2, 6-4.


(04/05/18)  WomenWhoServe: Goerges knocks out Osaka and advances to Charleston quarterfinals
Volvo Car Open 5th seed Julia Goerges of Germany strengthened her Charleston campaign this morning with a straight set win over 10th seed Naomi Osaka. The first set was hard-fought by both opponents, and Goerges finished it with a 7-4 tiebreak. Goerges, one of the best servers on the tour, hit eight aces, and finished with first- and second serve win percentages of 71 and 58, respectively. Georges, who used both her serve and her game's signature variety to out wit Osaka, hit 27 winners and made 20 unforced errors.

After the match, Osaka revealed that yesterday morning, she woke up feeling "very depressed, but I don't know why." Osaka said "it comes in waves." One can assume that the stress of having won Indian Wells and achieving tennis stardom may have the young Japanese player somewhat overwhelmed, and also, that she may be quite mentally tired.

Meanwhile, 8th seed Anastaija Sevastova made a second consecutive quarterfinal run by defeating 9th seed Ash Barty 6-3, 6-4, and defending champion and 3rd seed Daria Kasatkina defeated 13th seed Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2, 6-1.

Speaking with the press after her match, Kasatkina--who had a difficult time in her opening match--talked about her mixed feelings regarding being the defending champion. "Nobody told me it's so difficult to come and defend a title," she said. Asked what it feels like to look at the stadium and see her face on it, she replied: "It's awkward....It's very nice, but at the same time, it's, yeah, put a little bit of pressure on you because everybody is asking you if I saw this big picture on the stadium. Like I think everybody saw it in the city...."

7th seed Madison Keys, who was the runner-up in 2015, defeated Camila Giorgi in straight sets, and Bernarda Pera defeated wild card Sara Errani 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. The left-handed, Croatian-born Pera, who plays for the USA, is ranked number 101 in the world. Pera was a lucky loser at the 2018 Australian Open, where she upset 9th-seeded Johanna Konta in the second round.


(04/05/18)  WomenWhoServe: Top seed Caroline Garcia upset by Alize Cornet at Volvo Car Open
Top seed Caroline Garcia was taken out of the Volvo Car Open in the third round tonight in Charleston when an inspired Alize Cornet used all of the guile, athleticism and fight that she possesses, but that we don't always get to see, given her challenges in the mental toughness department. When Cornet does get into that zone, she becomes a one-woman tennis extravaganza, and she was in full flight tonight against her friend and countrywoman.

Midway through the first set, Cornet took control, and it appeared she was headed toward taking it, but Garcia grabbed control back and won the set 7-5. I'm sure many fans thought that the top seed would then wrap things up, but Cornet (whom a colleague referred to as "a human headache") was just getting started. When she got to 5-0 in the second set, it was clear that her momentum was still with her.

She won that set 6-1, then broke Garcia to begin the third set. ?Garcia broke back, and--the way this script usually goes is that "things get put right." Cornet would have none of it, and broke Garcia right back. Finally, she wore the top seed down, and even though Garcia managed to hold at 3-5, Cornet didn't waver in winning the set 6-4 and advancing to the quarterfinals.

Cornet's forehand was on fire tonight, and for a good part of the match, Garcia couldn't seem to stay away from it. Garcia also did herself no favors by making repeated errors throughout the match.

Ten years ago, when Cornet was only 18, she came to Charleston to what was then the Family Circle Cup, and impressed fans with her athleticism and fighting spirit. She leapt and finessed her way to the semifinals, in which she lost a very respectable match to eventual champion Serena Williams.

7th seed Madison Keys also advanced to the quarterfinals of the Volvo Car Open today when she defeated Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-3 this afternoon. Keys was a finalist at the event in 2015.

Also winning this afternoon was 12th seed Kiki Bertens, who defeated an injured Fanny Stollar in straight sets. And Kristyna Pliskova, who upset 2nd seed Petra Kvitova yesterday, defeated two-time finalist Elena Vesnina 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

The first match tomorrow will feature close friends Julia Goerges, seeded 5th, and defending champion and 3rd seed Daria Kasatkina. In her press conference today, Goerges described the young Russian as one of her best friends on the tour. Goerges defeated Kasatkina last year in the Kremlin Cup final.

Here is the quarterfinal singles draw:
Alize Cornet (14) vs. Kiki Bertens (12)
Bernarda Pera vs. Madison Keys (7)
Julia Goerges (5) vs. Daria Kasatkina (3)
Anastaija Sevastova (8) vs. Kristyna Pliskova


(04/05/18)  WCBD-TV/Count On 2 News: Volvo Car Open Thursday night update
http://www.counton2.com/sports/local-sports/volvo-car-open-thursday-night-update/1103738019

A huge upset Thursday night as Alize Cornet upset the no.1 seed, Caroline Garcia. That match was very close in the first and final set, but Cornet dominated the second one. Cornet upset Garcia by taking the final set 6-4.

Other big winners on Thursday included:
Madison Keys, Bernarda Pera, Daria Kasatkina, Julia Georges, Anastasija Sevastova, Kristyna Pliskova


(04/05/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Volvo Car Open Notes: Hanahan's Reilly Wilson hitting partner to the stars
Reilly Wilson motioned to defending Volvo Car Open champion Daria Kasatkina, asking her which way she wanted him to hit the serve — down the middle or out wide to the corner?

Wilson, a 17-year-old who plays for Hanahan High School, dialed up a few serves down the T on command, then hit some into the corner as Kasatkina prepared for her opening match on Tuesday.

Over the last few years, Wilson has found a part-time job as hitting partner to the stars at the Volvo Car Open, hitting with such players as Sloane Stephens, Angelique Kerber and Genie Bouchard.

It's a job that comes with some pressure — WTA Tour stars have little time to waste, and a hitting partner must be up to their standards and able to provide a good workout.

"I used to feel pretty nervous about it," said Wilson, who is home-schooled and trains at the Family Circle Tennis Center. "But I've gotten to a place where I can maintain and hit at their level. It's just a lot of fun."

Wilson first hit with Stephens in 2016, and was her hitting partner of choice as she won the Volvo Car Open that year.

"I was really nervous for that one," he said. "I thought I did well, well enough for her to ask for me back. I was able to sit in her box and watch her win the tournament, which was really cool."

The practice session with Kerber, a former No. 1 who won the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016, was particularly memorable.

"She was really impressive," said Wilson, whose father Jeff is a tennis coach. "Twenty minutes in, I told my dad I was going to throw up. She just didn't miss, and ripped the ball."

Wilson doesn't get paid for his efforts, although Kayla Day threw him a tip the other day. On Tuesday, he went through four hitting sessions with VCO players, though he had been scheduled for seven.

Some players ask him for a certain look in preparation for a particular opponent.

"Bouchard played Sara Errani, so she told me to really slow down the second serve like Errani would," Wilson said. "And she wanted me to just loop balls back like Errani does. So you are trying to mimic match play."

Of course, the experience has helped Wilson with his own tennis. Wilson was the Post and Courier's All-Lowcountry player of the year last year after helping Hanahan to a second straight state title. He plans to play college tennis at Navy.

"I love tennis so much," he said, "so anytime I can hit with Grand Slam champions, it's amazing."

How would he do in a real match against them?

"These girls are unbelievable," he said. "On a good day, I could play some good matches, I think. On their good day, they'd wipe the floor with me."

Poster Girl

The Volvo Car Open champion is traditionally featured on a huge poster hanging outside stadium court on Daniel Island. It's so big that motorists on I-526 can see who won the previous year.

For defending VCO champ Daria Kasatkina, the whole thing is strange.

"It's really awkward to turn your head everywhere and your face is around," she said. "I mean, not every tournament is doing this, honestly. It's very nice, but at the same time, it puts a little bit of pressure on you.

"Everybody is asking you if I saw this big picture on the stadium. Like, I think everybody saw it in the city. It's really nice; I like it, actually."

Friendly rivals

Kasatkina and No. 5 seed Julia Goerges will meet in Friday's quarterfinals. The two are good friends, even though the 29-year-old Goerges has a few years on Kasatkina, 20.

They met when Goerges first played Kasatkina, maybe 17 at the time. Goerges told Daria at the net that she was bound for the top 20 and a good career.

"I just like the way she's presenting herself," said Goerges, "the way she is as a human being. We know that this tennis life has some tough parts. And it's not a goal to like everyone, but it's nice if you can deal with everyone.

"I think she's one of the best friends I would call on tour for me, because she's a very open-minded girl."

Goerges has won three of five matches with Kasatkina.


(04/05/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Triumph, tears at Volvo Car Open as Daria Kasatkina cruises, Naomi Osaka loses
Daria Kasatkina said she felt like she was "flying." Naomi Osaka looked like she had been crying.

The pair of rising stars on the WTA Tour, both 20 years old, shared a private jet to Miami last month after Osaka beat Kasatkina in the finals at Indian Wells.

But on Thursday, they found themselves in much different places after the third round of the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island.

Kasatkina, the defending VCO champ, cruised into the quarterfinals with a straight set victory, as did top American seed Madison Keys.

"I think I was almost flying," Kasatkina said after a 6-2, 6-1 rout of No. 13 seed Irina-Camelia Begu.

Osaka confessed to being "depressed" after a 7-6, 6-3 loss to No. 5 seed Julia Georges of Germany.

Top-seeded Caroline Garcia could empathize with Osaka after she was eliminated by fellow Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in Thursday's late match. The No. 14 seed Cornet won by 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.

Osaka has had quite the rocket ride to fame in recent weeks, beating the likes of Maria Sharapova, No. 1 Simona Halep and legend Serena Williams.

She upset five-time major champ Sharapova and three other Grand Slam finalists without dropping a set en route to her first WTA Tour title at Indian Wells, where she cashed a check for $1.34 million, and pushed her ranking to a high of No. 19.

All of that seemed to catch up with her Thursday. Osaka appeared near tears on her cart ride back to the players' clubhouse, and later confirmed that she's had a difficult time this week.

"What I felt today was a new feeling, though," said Osaka, the daughter of a Haitian father and Japanese mother who moved to the U.S. to train when she was three. "Like, what I felt today I've never felt it before."

Osaka then found a word for what she felt: "Depressed."

"I don't know how to explain it, but like kind of depressed, but like it comes in waves," she said. "... Like yesterday, I just woke up and I was really depressed, but I don't know why."

Having played three straight tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami and Charleston, Osaka is ready for a break and a chance to come to grips with her new place in the game.

"Nothing," she said when asked what she wants to do next.

Georges, a 29-year-old German veteran who is ranked No. 13, knows what Osaka was feeling.

Down 5-3, Goerges held for 6-6 with an ace and three service winners, then won the tiebreak with her fourth ace.

"I saw that her body language changed in the second set," Goerges said of Osaka. "She was, I think, a little bit frustrated that she couldn't take the opportunities she had in the first set, and she really let me back in."

Kasatkina and Keys, a finalist at the U.S. Open last year, had little trouble in their stadium court matches.

"I'm really happy about it because I was really stretched in my first match," Kastkina said. "But I hope this pressure disappears.

"... Nobody told me it was so difficult to come and defend a title. So I have to get used to it."

No. 8 Anastasija Sevastova topped No. 9 Ashleigh Barty, 6-3, 6-4 to make the quarters, and No. 12 Kiki Bertens got past qualifier Fanny Stollar by 6-2, 6-4.

Friday's Quarterfinals
11 a.m. on Stadium Court
No. 5 Julia Goerges vs. No. 3 Daria Kasatkina
Bernarda Pera vs. No. 7 Madison Keys
No. 8 Anastasija Sevastova vs. Kristyna Pliskova

Not before 7 p.m.
No. 14 Alize Cornet vs. No. 12 Kiki Bertens


(04/05/18)  BASELINE: Goerges thrives on pressure when playing cornhole
All week long, WTA players have been experiencing Charleston's unique culture firsthand—from the food, to the green clay, and now, a local-favorite game.

Star players Petra Kvitova, Anastasija Sevastova, Julia Goerges and Caroline Garcia all tried out cornhole.

The most enthusiastic convert to the game was Goerges, who, after her first time playing, said, "I love it. It's great!"

"Come on! I love pressure," she said after making a big throw.

Goerges also made the semifinals of the Volvo Car Open, having beaten defending champion Daria Kasatkina on Friday, 6-4, 6-3.
 
Kvitova and Garcia were eliminated in the second and third rounds respectively, and Sevastova beat Kristyna Pliskova on Friday to secure her spot in the semifinals. 


(04/05/18)  BASELINE: Zach Cohen: Southern Charm's Shep Rose on tennis fandom & TV stardom
Shep Rose, the star of Bravo's Southern Charm and RelationShep, has always had a love for tennis. (Getty Images)

With this week's Volvo Car Open taking place in Charleston, it was only right to get in touch with one of the city's most familiar faces: Shep Rose.

Shep is the star of Bravo's reality television show Southern Charm, along with its spinoff, RelationShep. Southern Charm follows a very interesting group of friends in Charleston—along with the drama that invariably follows them. RelationShep, meanwhile, is a reality series that documents Shep's quest for "true love."

Why did Shep get his own show? It's quite simple, really: he's hilarious. Shep is probably the most camera-friendly person on Southern Charm, as he takes pride in being the life of the party and always speaks his mind on any number of topics.

That includes the world of sports, which Shep is well versed in. Before tonight's premiere of the fifth season of Southern Charm, we caught up with the Hilton Head Island, S.C. native to discuss tennis, life in Charleston and the latest we can expect on Southern Charm.

The Volvo Car Open is currently taking place in Charleston, which has a long history with tennis. What's your history with the game?

I know all about it because it used to be the Family Circle Cup in Hilton Head Island, where I grew up. I went to it every year, and then it moved to Charleston. I have great memories of watching that tournament.

My mom is a huge tennis player—she plays every Tuesday and Thursday, or used to—and I grew up playing tennis. We would go watch the tournament with some of my best friends. This is when Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Mary Joe Fernandez were winning, players like that. And I grew up with Ramsey Smith, Stan Smith's son. I'm really good friends with the Smith family. They're great people and a big Hilton Head family.

Do you have some pairs of Stan Smiths?

Yeah. I'm actually playing in a golf tournament next week in Hilton Head, a Pro-Am, and Stan is going to be there, which I am happy to hear. I mean, he thinks I'm an outrageous human being—which I am. But his kids are super well behaved and really good people.

So you're the bad influence on them?

No, no, no.

Ramsey is actually the head tennis coach at Duke—did you two play often?

One time I was doing tryouts for the Hilton Head tennis team, and I was, typically, being an idiot—I was like 13. I was trying to hit every ball ball over the fence instead of over the net. Ramsey was making fun of me, and I turned around and a ball from the ball machine hit me right in the side of the head. To this day, Ramsey says it still might be one of the funniest things he's ever seen. He might have peed his pants laughing.

Who are some of your favorite pros right now?

I am such a big fan of the best to ever play, Roger Federer. I'm such a big fan of Fed's that I wanted to not like Rafa, but what a gentleman and gracious winner Rafa is—how can you not like him, too? He's just a pitbull.

I'm also a big Agassi fan from way back in the day. When he was 12 or 13, with the long hair and hating the rules, that's exactly what I was like—minus the long hair. He was a rebel. I was like, "hell yeah." I read this article that Agassi said how much he admired Rafa, saying he's never seen a player as relentless or play harder.

But Federer, man. How can you not love the beauty in his game? But yeah, I really follow tennis quite avidly.

You went to the University of Georgia. Are you a big fan of John Isner?

Of course. I hung out with his younger brother one time in Charleston and he was a real trip man. They're all like big guys, and this was maybe 10 years ago or so, but we spent the night out and chased girls around. We really had some laughs.

I've never met John, but I'm a huge fan of his. Any Georgia Bulldog is a friend of mine, for sure.

What do you think fans should check out if they're ever in Charleston?

The tournament is in Daniel Island, which is a little off the beaten trail, but it's got its own little community and it's fun. But I mean, I love it out here. I'm almost hesitant to tout it because I don't want it to get too crowded. And then, of course downtown Charleston, how can you beat that? The shopping, the food, just everything. There's a reason it's been the number one city in the United States for the past five years in Conde Nast, which is a pretty big honor.

It's just a great city. I say to go downtown to King Street to shop, eat and have fun. And then if you're at the beach, there's great bars and restaurants, and it's a very cool attitude here. I don't think it's very hard to find a good time here.

Then there’s your bar, the Palace Hotel.

The Palace Hotel is so great, so chill, like a good chill vibe and that's off the beaten path, you know? That's why I'm involved in it and like it so much, because it's not right in the white hot light of where everybody is.

My other bar, the Commodore, is live music that's gets going around like 9:00 or 10:00 and that's just a hell of a lot of fun. And then my other bar, The Alley, is like a bowling and sports bar. It's a great time.

Last but not least: is there anything fans should be expecting on this season of Southern Charm?

This season, everybody is breaking up with each other, right? I'm single, which I know people think is sad, but it's great to have more co-conspirators. And Thomas has his new girlfriend, which really causes fireworks in the group just because everybody's so intertwined at this point that it's just kind of like a butterfly effect.

But I'm just trying to honestly stay out of it this season a bit, because last season I got into trouble for being just a dummy. I sort of realized that, and I moved out to the beach and got a house out here. I got a bicycle, so I'm just trying to ride that around and keep a smile on my face, you know?

And what about Thomas Ravenel's famous dinner parties, can we expect one of those this season?

I don't know, man. You're going to have to watch. I guarantee you won't be disappointed in some of the volatile situations that occur. It's just kind of outrageous. I mean, you never know what you're going to get with this crowd, but it's always something. It's funny because like, just add wine and alcohol to the group and watch. There's always something.


(04/05/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Volvo Car Open: What you need to know Thursday
Getting ready for Thursday's third-round action at the Volvo Car Open at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island:

Wednesday's headlines

• There was some wreckage on stadium court on Wednesday, as No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova and No. 6 Johanna Konta were upset. Kvitova lost for the first time to a fellow Czech player (Kristyna Pliskova), and Konta was knocked out by qualifier Fanny Stollar.

• The top American left in the field, No. 7 seed Madison Keys, needed three sets for a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Spain's Lara Arruabarrena.

Thursday's top matches

• Seeded players go at it on stadium court as No. 5 Julia Goerges faces No. 10 Naomi Osaka, followed by No. 13 Irina-Camelia Begu vs. No. 3 Daria Kasatkina, the defending champion. Top-seeded Caroline Garcia takes on her French countrywoman, No. 14 Alize Cornet, in the 7 p.m. featured match.

• Not to be overlooked on Althea Gibson Club Court is a battle between No. 8 Anastasija Sevastova and No. 9 Ashleigh Barty at 11 a.m.

Military Appreciation Night

• Complimentary admission for active duty and retired military members, including families, for the night session.

Getting In

• Gates open at 10 a.m. for the day session, and at 5 p.m. for the night matches. Free admission for kids 16 and under.


(04/04/18)  WomenWhoServe: 16 women left in Charleston
Of the sixteen remaining singles players in Charleston, eleven are seeded. There are also three unseeded players, one wild card, and one qualifier in the mix.

There are two players from the USA, two from France, and two from Russia.

There is only one former champion (Daria Kasatkina, 2017) left, and there's also a two-time runner-up (Elena Vesnina, 2011 and 2016).

Here is the third round draw:
Caroline Garcia (1) vs. Alize Cornet (14)
Kiki Bertens (12) vs. Fanny Stollar (Q)
Bernarda Pera vs. Sara Errani (WC)
Camila Giorgi vs. Madison Keys (7)
Julia Goerges (5) vs. Naomi Osaka (10)
Irina-Camelia Begu (13) vs. Daria Kasatkina (3)
Anastasija Sevastova (8) vs. Ashleigh Barty (9)
Elena Vesnina (16) vs. Kristyna Pliskova


(04/04/18)  ANDREW MILLER:  Kristyna Pliskova upsets No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova Wednesday at Volvo Car Open
Kristyna Pliskova dropped the first set then came roaring back to win 12 of the next 16 games to upset second-seeded and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 Wednesday morning in the Volvo Car Open.

Kvitova is the No. 10 ranked player in the world, while Pliskova is ranked No. 77 coming into the tournament.

After upsetting 2010 Volvo Car Open champion Sam Stosur Tuesday in straight sets, American Kristie Ahn couldn’t recapture the magic Wednesday morning, falling to fifth-seeded Julia Goerges, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6.

Naomi Osaka continues her hot play after the India Wells tournament with a 6-3, 7-6 win over Germany’s Laura Siegemund. Italy’s Camila Giorgi upset No. 11 seed Daria Gavrilova, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.

In other matches, Anastasija Sevastova defeated qualifier Caroline Dolehide, 7-5, 6-7 6-1; No. 14 seed Alize Cornet beat Polona Hercog, 6-2, 6-3; Kiki Bertens stopped Aleksandra Krunic, 6-4, 6-2; American Bernarda Pera defeated Dayana Yastremska, 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 and 13th-seed Irina-Camelia Begu beat Claire Liu, 6-4, 6-2.


(04/04/18)  Rebekah Bradford: Try trivia for this triple whammy of a weekend
When the stars align, and the Cooper River Bridge Run, the Flowertown Festival and the finals of the Volvo Car Open all happen over one weekend, it's the local equivalent of a Super Moon. There's just more of everything. Our current Head2Head trivia champ, Don Warren, is going up against a newcomer to Charleston, Johnathan Bell, who played up his ignorance of local events in an entertaining way.
Questions

1. Which community organization founded the Flowertown Festival in Summerville in 1972?
2. What is the name of the 16-acre park and sculpture garden in the heart of Summerville?
3. What was the first year of the tennis tournament that is currently known as the Volvo Car Open?
4. Where does the Volvo Car Open take place?
5. Which singles player won the tournament last year?
6. What was the first year of the Bridge Run?
7. Which talk show host participated in the 1994 Bridge Run under a pseudonym?
8. What competitive category debuted in the 2006 race?
9. What was new about the 2006 race?
10. Which famous actor ran the Bridge Run in 1996?

Don's answers

1. The Red Cross.
2. Azalea Park.
3. 2006.
4. Daniel Island.
5. Spotlova?
6. 1985.
7. Warren Pepper.
8. Wheelchair.
9. It was the first time over the Ravenel.
10. Bill Murray.

Johnathan Bell's answers

1. The Charleston Arborist Organization spreading awareness of plants and flowers.
2. Sunny Teddy Park for the giant teddy bear that sits there.
3. 1867. It was a sport brought over from England.
4. The Mitsubishi Dealership. Everyone thinks they're competitors, but really they're friends.
5. James Cameron.
6. 1402. Early settlers were running from the local natives.
7. Drew Carey under the pseudonym "Fast Lightning."
8. Bill Murray.
9. The 4-legged race.
10. 3-legged dogs were allowed to race because they're people, too.

Conclusion

It was probably inevitable that Warren, who's lived here for years, would win a locally themed Head2Head, but Bell added some humor to this week's competition. Enjoy the jam-packed weekend everyone!

Correct answers

1. YMCA
2. Azalea Park
3. 1973
4. Daniel Island
5. Daria Kasatkina
6. 1978
7. Oprah Winfrey
8. Wheelchair
9. Ravenel Bridge
10. Bill Murray


(04/04/18)  WCIV-TV/ABC News 4: A day of tennis upsets at Volvo Car Open: Pliskova beats Kvitova & Stollar beats Konta
http://abcnews4.com/news/local/a-day-of-tennis-upsets-at-volvo-car-stadium-as-pliskova-beat-kvitova-and-stollar-beat-kont

It was a day of tennis upsets at Volvo Car Open as Karolina Pliskova beats Petra Kvitova and Fanny Stollar beat Johanna Konta in Daniel Island Wednesday.

Full results from Wednesday, April 4

Singles - Second Round
K. Pliskova (CZE) d [2] P. Kvitova (CZE) 16 61 63
[5] J. Goerges (GER) d K. Ahn (USA) 26 64 76(1)
[Q] F. Stollar (HUN) d [6] J. Konta (GBR) 63 64
[7] M. Keys (USA) d L. Arruabarrena (ESP) 61 36 63
[8] A. Sevastova (LAT) d [Q] C. Dolehide (USA) 75 67(5) 61
[9] A. Barty (AUS) d T. Maria (GER) 46 63 62
[10] N. Osaka (JPN) d L. Siegemund (GER) 63 76(8)
C. Giorgi (ITA) d [11] D. Gavrilova (AUS) 62 26 63
[12] K. Bertens (NED) d A. Krunic (SRB) 64 62
[13] I. Begu (ROU) d [Q] C. Liu (USA) 64 62
[14] A. Cornet (FRA) d P. Hercog (SLO) 62 63
[WC] S. Errani (ITA) d [15] M. Buzarnescu (ROU) 36 76(5) 62
[16] E. Vesnina (RUS) d T. Townsend (USA) 64 61
B. Pera (USA) d [LL] D. Yastremska (UKR) 76(4) 16 64

Doubles - First Round
K. Bondarenko (UKR) / A. Krunic (SRB) d [4] B. Krejcikova (CZE) / K. Siniakova (CZE) 62 16 10-5
M. Buzarnescu (ROU) / H. Watson (GBR) d [WC] M. Doi (JPN) / C. Mchale (USA) 36 63 10-8

ORDER OF PLAY - THURSDAY, APRIL 5
Starts at 11 a.m.

[5] J. Goerges (GER) vs [10] N. Osaka (JPN)
[13] I. Begu (ROU) vs [3] D. Kasatkina (RUS)
C. Giorgi (ITA) vs [7] M. Keys (USA)
[12] K. Bertens (NED) vs [Q] F. Stollar (HUN)

Not Before 7 p.m.
[1] C. Garcia (FRA) vs [14] A. Cornet (FRA)
A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs [2] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / A. Sestini Hlavackova (CZE)

ALTHEA GIBSON CLUB COURT start 11:00 am
[8] A. Sevastova (LAT) vs [9] A. Barty (AUS)

Not Before 12 p.m.
B. Pera (USA) vs [WC] S. Errani (ITA)
[16] E. Vesnina (RUS) vs K. Pliskova (CZE)
[3] A. Klepac (SLO) / M. Martínez Sánchez (ESP) vs [WC] L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / S. Errani (ITA)


(04/04/18)  BRENDA RINDGE: Bridge Run, Volvo Finals, Flowertown Festival: A user's guide to Charleston's busiest weekend
No one in the Charleston area should have the nerve to complain of boredom this weekend.

Hundreds of thousands of folks will be in town to attend the many events that are planned.

Here's what you need to know if you want to join — or avoid — the crowds:

Volvo Car Open

No mob: More than 90,000 people are attending the Volvo Car Open tennis tournament on Daniel Island. Its championship semi-finals start Saturday morning — just about as the first bridge run finisher busts the tape. Now don't choke, that won't mean gridlock. The 90,000 figure is a total for the tournament, which started last Saturday. Only about 10,000 are expected to turn out for the semis.

Tickets: You're out of luck for the box seats — they were sold out well in advance. Other prices vary, but a terrace seat for an adult for the semi-finals is $80.

No prob: The tournament, now in its 18th year on the island, is an orderly run operation. Traffic back-ups and lines are to be expected but won't make you rant. Refreshments and food are sold onsite and not allowed in. Backpacks and bags will be screened. Nice touches abound, like water taxi service, bike racks near the front gate and the Volvo Car Open app to track play.

Mind your manners: Cellphones must be turned off near matches in progress and spectators must remain in their seats while a match is in play. A polite quiet is de rigueur while the ball is bouncing. Tennis is nothing if not courtly.

Cool stuff: The open is the only professional tennis tournament in the world played on green clay, or rubico. That means the ball hops quicker and spins more than it would on red clay. If you're not up to hopping around, The Tennis Channel covers every volley of the main draw. For more information, go to www.volvocaropen.com.


(04/04/18)  Kristyna Pliskova tops Petra Kvitova at the Volvo Car Open on Wednesday
It was literally a contest of Czech left-handers, and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova wasn't ready for it on Wednesday in the second round of the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island.

The lesser-known, lesser-feared of the Pliskova twins, Kristyna, was more ready on this day than Kvitova, although it might not have appeared that way when Kvitova waltzed through the first set. The last two sets were all Pliskova in a 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 upset of the tournament's No. 2 seed.

And then, there was Fanny Stollar.

Stollar, a qualifier, has shaken things up again in the VCO main draw. The hard-hitting 19-year-old Hungarian has advanced to the tournament's round of 16 for a second straight year.

Stollar did it this time with an impressive 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 6 seed Johanna Konta as the Volvo Car Stadium crowd must have wondered what's next. The match never really got tight as Stollar easily outplayed her No. 219 world ranking.

Konta's stay was brief this time. She was the No. 2 seed a year ago, but withdrew with an injury.

Crowd favorite Madison Keys gave the night crowd a treat as the spell of upsets in the stadium ended, but not before 2016 runner-up Keys was pushed to a third set. Keys, the seventh seed, pulled out her big serve and follow-up blistering ground strokes to hold off Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to earn her spot among the final 16 against Italian Camila Giorgi.

In the battle of Czech left-handers, Pliskova looked out of place on clay in the first set, and Kvitova returned the favor the rest of the match. The serve warmed up for the 6-0 Pliskova in the second set, and she even out-rallied the 10th-ranked Kvitova quite often. Kvitova also tossed in nine double faults.

It was the second top 10 win of the year for the 77th-ranked Pliskova, who came to Charleston with only four wins on the year. Kvitova leads the WTA Tour with six wins this year against top 10 players.

"The match is big for me, but I am not surprised," said Pliskova, who said she received tips from her 2016 U.S. Open runner-up sister, Karolina, on how to play Kvitova on clay. "I'm not really surprised because I know how I can play."

But she isn't exactly expecting to win the tournament. Indeed, "I would be surprised if I won the tournament."

Pliskova will draw 16th seed Elena Vesnina of Russia in Thursday's round of 16, and she plans to ask her sister how to play 2011 VCO finalist Vesnina for the first time in singles.

"I think she (Karolina) has played her, so she will give me some advice. But the key for me is serve and to play aggressive," Pliskova said.

What was the difference against Kvitova? "The first set was horrible and that's the biggest difference, and of course she missed a couple of times, and I just played aggressive more," Pliskova said.

Stollar was just happy to keep her success going at the VCO. "I honestly can't tell you what it is," she said. "I just feel pretty good here and relaxed and you're just enjoying it here."

She had no superstitions about her good luck in Charleston. "Just in Charleston, I'm just really relaxed. I'm just going to do the same thing every day."

Playing without a coach these days, how did Stollar upend the highly regarded Konta? "I think I pushed my game to her and I stayed really aggressive. I could push her back behind the baseline," Stollar said.

Naomi Osaka is making things look easy this week with her awesome power. Just like Jennifer Brady in Osaka's first-round win, Laua Siegemund made a good run at the tournament's 10th seed.

But the 20-year-old from her name sake Osaka, Japan, just had too many weapons for the plunky drop-shooting Siegemund, who wore a large support on her right knee. Osaka is just too good, too quick and too strong for most of the women in this year's VCO.

If it comes down to a service game, count on Osaka to impose her will and strength on the ball in Serena fashion, like at match point in her 6-3, 7-6 (8) win over Siegemund.

Siegemund wasted four set points in the second set. The first one came against Osaka's serve in the 10th game, and Siegemund had two more against Osaka's serve in the 12th game. Osaka got out of all three with huge serves.

Another Siegemund set point came in the tiebreaker, which Osaka ended on the 18th point, of course, with an ace.

Osaka will face fifth seed Julia Goerges of Germany in the round of 16.

A sleeper in the crowd of 16 is 2011 French Open runner-up Sara Errani, probably the most true clay-courter in the tournament. A wild card, the 5-5 Italian upended 15th seed Mihaela Buzarnscu of Romania, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, out on the Althea Gibson Club Court. She will face American Bernarda Pera in the round of 16.

Another player to watch is Ashleigh Barty of Australia, the ninth seed who has come out of nowhere the last couple of years to move up to 18th in the world. Barty is a master of the one-hand backhand and wonderful backhand slice that she used to conquer Tatjana Maria of Germany, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, on an outside court.

If you're looking for another possible upset, a good place to watch might be defending champion Daria Kasatkina's Thursday match against tall, hard-hitting Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, the 13th-seed who overpowered reigning Junior French Open champion Claire Liu, 6-4, 6-2, in the second round.


(04/04/18)  ANDREW MILLER: Life has been a blur for Naomi Osaka since Indian Wells title
Two years ago, Naomi Osaka took her first tentative steps onto the world tennis stage when she cracked the Top-50 rankings on the WTA circuit and was named Newcomer of the Year.

But the 20-year-old has taken her fame to another level since capturing the her first WTA title at Indian Wells two weeks ago.

Osaka, who was born in Japan, but lives in Florida, followed that up by ousting Serena Williams last week in the opening round of the Miami Open.

Since her victory at Indian Wells, Osaka, who defeated Germany’s Laura Siegemund, 6-3, 7-6 Wednesday morning at the Volvo Car Open, said her life has been a blur.

“I feel like these past few weeks have flown by since Indian Wells,” Osaka said. “Everything has gone by so fast, and I feel like I’m just mentally a little bit tired. I think that’s something I need to learn how to fix.”

Osaka, the tournament’s 10th-seed this week, said she’s hoping to take a break from the circuit in the near future, but doesn’t want to halt the momentum she has generated over the past few weeks.

“I’ve been playing these tournaments back-to-back, and for sure I’ve played more matches this year than last year at this point,” Osaka said. “I want to take a break, but I also want to keep playing these tournaments and doing well. So, just balancing that has been the hardest for me.”

With winning comes expectations and pressure, but that’s OK with Osaka.

“I’m a person that always puts pressure on myself,” Osaka said. “I feel like that run at Indian Wells I was just focused more on match-by-match and point-by-point. So I try not to think too much about what’s going on the outside and just like to try and internalize and think what I can do better.”

As good as Osaka played at Indian Wells, she feels that her best tennis is still ahead of her this season.

“I don’t think that was the best I can play,” Osaka said. “I feel there’s a lot of things that I can improve on and every day I’m trying to get better at something.”

Wheelchair tennis gets visit from pro

Taylor Wingate and Nick Burham thought it was going to be another routine exhibition for wheelchair tennis.

Wingate and Burham, who are both members of the Carolina Rolling Rackets wheelchair tennis team based out of Rock Hill, got a surprised celebrity player on the court Wednesday afternoon.

Netherlands native Kiki Bertens, who dispatched Aleksandra Krunic, 6-4, 6-2, decided to join Wingate and Burham for a quick game. The Netherlands is one of the leading countries for wheelchair tennis. Esther Mary Vergeer, a native of Woerden, Netherlands, was the world’s No. 1 player for nearly 14 years, winning 48 Grand Slam titles and seven Paralympic championships over a two-decade career. Dutch wheelchair tennis player Diede De Groot recently captured the world’s No. 1 spot.

“In the Netherlands, it’s a really big sport,” said Bertens, the 12th-seed at this weeks’ tournament. “Esther is a legend of the sport and Diede has taken over as the No. 1 player in the world, so it’s a big deal in the Netherlands. I think this a great for tennis because there was so many wheelchair tournaments now around the world. The more people that are involved in the sport, the better. It shows you that there are no limitations if you want to play tennis.”

Wingate, who is from Rock Hill, said having Bertens take time from the tournament to take part in the exhibition was a surprise.

“I don’t think either one of us was expecting one of the players to come out here and hit with us,” said Wingate, who started playing wheelchair tennis about four years ago. “It was a lot of fun and I’m glad I was able to give her some of my best shots.”

Burham, who is from Monroe, N.C., picked up the sport about seven years ago and was Bertens’ doubles partner during the exhibition.

“It was a thrill to hit with Kiki,” Burham said. “I love the individual aspect of the sport. I tried wheelchair basketball and it was great, but I love the individual challenge of tennis and that one-on-one match-up with the person across the net from you.”

Advantage Omar

Actor Omar Benson Miller hasn’t been in the Lowcountry long, but it already feels like home.

Miller, who is best known for his role on HBO’s Ballers, also has a show on the Tennis Channel called Advantage Omar. Miller’s show explores the wide range of cultural experiences unique to major Grand Slam cities around the world.

Miller rode his bike downtown on The Battery, but the 6-6 Los Angeles native has spent most of his time exploring all the various eating options that has made Charleston famous. Miller has stopped by Little Jack’s Tavern and Saltwater Cowboys on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant.

“There are a lot of great places to eat here,” Miller said. “I’m glad Charleston is flat because I’ve been walking around downtown just to burn off all the calories from the past couple of days.”

Barbecue is on the menu for Thursday.

Attendance watch

The nice weather this week and the upsets on Tuesday has helped attendance at this year’s Volvo Car Open.

Attendance was up from a year ago at this point. The Volvo Car Open reported attendance of 6,605 for Wednesday’s day session.

Overall, 39,704 have been on hand through the first five days. That’s up from last year’s total of 38,699 at the same point in 2017.


(04/04/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: ELIZABETH BUSH: Shelby Rogers earns Volvo Car Open’s first ‘Player Who Makes a Difference’ Award
Shelby Rogers may not be able to win on the court during this week’s Volvo Car Open, as an injury is keeping her sidelined for the tournament, but she is still going home with a new title. Rogers, a hometown favorite in the Holy City who grew up crafting her tennis skills on local courts, was awarded the VCO’s first ever “Player Who Makes a Difference Award” at the South Carolina Junior Tennis Foundation Gala at the Daniel Island Club on Monday, April 2.

As a slideshow of photos documenting Rogers’ tennis career played on a screen for the audience, from her early days as a ball girl in the Volvo Car Open (formerly the Family Circle Cup) to her recent victories on the WTA Tour, VCO Tournament Director Bob Moran set the stage for Rogers’ selection.

“Everyone here knows about Shelby the ball girl,” said Moran. “…Shelby winning multiple Belton titles. Shelby winning the U.S. Hardcourts and getting that wonderful opportunity in the U.S. Open, and then Shelby having that unbelievable success on the WTA Tour. She has inspired that next generation of both young women and young men in Charleston who just want to be Shelby. It’s a great thing.”

Rogers, now 25, played in her very first Volvo Car Open at age 14, after earning a wild card entry to the qualifying rounds. She went pro in 2010 and is currently ranked No. 86 in the world. But it was Rogers’ success off the courts that prompted Moran and VCO Tournament Manager Eleanor Adams to consider her for the inaugural “Player Who Makes a Difference” honor.

“We know about Shelby’s attributes on the court, but not many of you…know all the things that Shelby does off the court,” continued Moran. “And that’s where she makes a difference.”

Moran recounted the time an injured Rogers flew to Asheville, North Carolina to support her Fed Cup team even though she couldn’t play. The time she helped with a special program for kids while taking part in the BNP Paribus Open at Indian Wells. And the accolades she is receiving from tournament representatives all over the world.

“I talked to my (fellow) tennis tournament directors from around the globe and they all say, ‘Your girl from Charleston…’ And I say, yeah, we’re very proud of our girl from Charleston. They all have the same thought – if we need something and they ask Shelby, she never says no. Ever…And that’s not just in Charleston. That’s in Austria. Germany. That’s in Indian Wells…Shelby is truly a player who makes a difference.”

Moran then directed Rogers to come up the stage and open a gift as part of her award.

“This is beautiful!” said Rogers, after opening the package to find a necklace inside. “Amazing.”

Tennis Channel Analyst, French Open champion, and Emmy Award winner Mary Carillo was also one of the speakers at the gala and provided her own insights on Rogers.

“I always thought Shelby was very special,” said Carillo to the audience. “From the first time that she had that great run at the French Open a couple of years ago. That’s when I first started paying attention to her.”

Carillo then recalled the memorable moment when Marion Bartoli conducted an emotional on-court interview with Rogers after her historic quarterfinals win in Roland Garros (the victory made Rogers the ninth player outside the Top 100 to advance to the French Open quarterfinals since 1983, according to the WTA).

“She’s doing the on-court interview and she asked you…sort of a benign question, but you burst into tears,” Carillo said, addressing Rogers. “…Everyone was weeping uncontrollably because we were just so happy for you because you are in fact a great American. So, I salute you and I congratulate you!”

After accepting her award, Rogers took part in a question and answer session with Carillo, sharing stories about her tennis career thus far. Carillo asked her about her stepfather, Jim Gabrish, a former Citadel football All-American.

“You kind of had to teach him about tennis etiquette,” Carillo told Rogers.

“It wasn’t bad,” responded Roger, smiling. “He would just cheer in between points, during the points. I remember in junior tournaments I would carry the igloo coolers onto the courts…so I could stay hydrated. And I would win a match and come off the court and walk to go stretch and all of a sudden this ice water bath comes down over me like it’s a football game!”

Rogers also shared the pride she felt at being part of the winning Fed Cup team in November 2017.

“It was unbelievable. First of all, I have to say playing for your country gives you a very different feeling…You’re not just playing for yourself, which is a big deal, but now you have your whole country, your whole team there, supporting you, and you’re all fighting for the same thing, which is a really cool feeling.”

The gala held Monday night in Rogers’ honor also had another purpose – to raise awareness about the South Carolina Junior Tennis Foundation (SCJTF), a non-profit organization founded by Jeff Wilson of MW Tennis Academy that empowers youth to achieve their college dreams through tennis. To kick off the event, Rep. Nancy Mace read a proclamation by the S.C. House of Representatives that commended the SCJTF for the work they put forth to “ensure a bright future for our state’s children.” A video then played detailing the foundation and its mission. Featured on the piece was Dalton Capobianco, one of the foundation’s beneficiaries who is now going on to play tennis at State University of New York at Oneonta.

“In short, when that story is able to happen it’s such a combination of so many factors,” said Wilson, after the video ended. “And (Dalton) said it best. He said ‘If I can do it, anyone can do it.’ We are searching for these types of situations, where we can help take young people, make sure their academics are good, and get them to a place where they can take next steps in life.”

Rogers later praised the SCJTF, Capobianco and Wilson for their efforts to motivate and inspire athletes to pursue their dreams – something she hopes to continue to do through her role at the VCO and beyond.

“It’s different being on site for the first time and not be competing in the tournament,” said Rogers, who will also be working as a correspondent for The Tennis Channel at the VCO this week. “…It gives me a lot of perspective, while recovering from my injury, but also I get to see the little kids on site…and seeing them come up to me and say ‘we love watching you, we play tennis because of you’ – that’s a big reason why I play…to inspire others…It’s a really cool platform that I have and I hope to use that as best I can.”


(04/04/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: ELIZABETH BUSH: Courting Kids to the Game of Tennis!
‘Tennis in the City’ event an ace for local youth

Seven-year-old Nyla stepped up the net, armed with a racket and fierce determination.

Volunteer Ana-lei Kalawe, a local tennis player and high school junior, tossed a ball in Nyla’s direction and the youngster power hit it back over the net.

“It felt good!” exclaimed Nyla, who served up a beaming smile and a double fist bump after making the shot. “I wanted to join the tennis Olympics!”

And that is exactly the type of reaction organizers of the “Tennis in the City” event on April 2 at the Jack Adams Tennis Center were hoping for. The program, a 15-year tradition, is held in conjunction with Volvo Car Open tournament week for inner city youth. It brings together WTA tennis players, local tennis pros, as well as high school and college teams to introduce the game of tennis to local kids.

SunTrust Bank is a sponsor of the popular event, which serves over 100 youth each year. SunTrust Vice President Omar Ramberan explained what he likes most about the program.

“It’s the kids,” he said. “And playing with the College of Charleston and also playing with the pros. Just seeing their faces light up and be able to hit around. It’s a great experience.”

Joining the festivities were Charleston City Councilmen James Lewis and Kevin Shealy.

“The best thing about it is we’ve got a lot of young people here who are willing to learn to play tennis…and that is great!” said Lewis.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to have a healthy experience,” added Shealy, referencing the program’s tie to the Volvo Car Open. “And it brings great things to our economy here in Charleston to have these events and I just appreciate all of the work that everybody has done.”

Before the kids were dispatched to the courts to play, a few local high school students who have taken part in the City of Charleston’s tennis programs shared their thoughts with participants on the benefits of the sport on their lives.

“Tennis is a great sport because it helps you with your tennis etiquette and it helps you become a better person because you know good sportsmanship and how to be kind to other people,” said Mathew Ogiba. “And you make a lot of new friends!” said Lewis.

“Tennis has pretty much taught me how to be independent,” added Ana-lei Kalawe. “And that it doesn’t really matter what people think. I am really grateful to have found tennis and I am glad it’s part of my life.”

“I’ve been playing tennis for about 11 years,” said Tyzell Richardson. “Tennis has done a lot of great things for me – I got a free trip to Winston-Salem for the Arthur Ashe essay competition…And I get to hit with a few professional tennis players at the Volvo Car Open. I love playing tennis!”

Professional players Nicole Melichar and Kayla Day, who are both taking part in this year’s VCO action, were also on hand to work with youth during the event.

“I think it’s really good to get all the kids out here, whether they pursue tennis or not,” said Melichar. “It’s great to just have them exercising and staying in sports, being healthy…I find that when kids do sports they seem to tend to stay more focused on what’s important. I think it just sets up a really good foundation for life – just wanting to be outside, be with other people, meeting people, and I think you’re gonna find some really cool friends through sports.”

“I think it’s so fun,” added Day. “It’s a great thing for the community to be able to do these types of events. It gets the kids on the tennis courts, which is always good!”

During the drills, which were broken down by age group, Melichar, Day and other volunteers worked with kids on their shots.

“Drop that racket head!” shouted an enthusiastic Hollie Connolly, a Charleston Tennis Center coach, as she helped a group of elementary school students. “There you go!”

And the youngsters moved in formation through a line to the net.

“Good one!” said Connolly, after a little girl named Molly returned a shot.

In the end, the participants seemed pumped for more – a definite “mission accomplished” for organizers.

“I liked it,” said Virginia, 6. “I liked hitting the ball!”

“The best part is that it’s not too intense,” added Kevaughn Williams, 13. “It’s not serious, just having a good time.”

“It’s pretty fun,” noted Lauryn Clark, 15.

But for Nyla, it might just turn out to be a little bit more.

“I sort of got a good feeling about it!”


(04/04/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: ELIZABETH BUSH: VCO Chief of Officials Tamma Klassen shares insights from the court
She is close enough to hear the gritty skid of a tennis shoe across the clay. Close enough to hear a 100 mph serve cutting through the air. Close enough to hear the words a player utters under her breath when she misses a shot. And close enough to feel the emotion of a hard-fought point when it’s all on the line.

Meet Tamma Klassen, chief of officials for the Volvo Car Open and a veteran line umpire in the world of professional tennis. Klassen, who just wrapped up an officiating stint at the Miami Open, arrived in Charleston last week to begin her duties at the VCO, where she handles recruitment of officials, processes applications, and oversees logistics for a team of 59 umpires. The Daniel Island News spoke to Klassen by phone at her home in Holly Springs, N.C. before she left for the Holy City.

“It’s got a great vibe,” said Klassen of the Charleston tournament, emphasizing the word “great.” “It’s a beautiful setting - and line umpires love to work there…The people you’re working with are outstanding. And the crowds who come are tennis lovers and there is a lot of positive energy on that site, truly enhanced by the wonderful staff that they hire. It’s the staff that is the real nuts and bolts.”

Klassen should know. In her 35 years as a line umpire working on the professional tennis circuit, at events for the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), she has built an impressive resume of court experience. She’s worked at four Olympic games and dozens of Grand Slam events (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open). In the late 1990s, she was among a select group invited to participate in the very first ITF school for chiefs of officials. Varying levels of badges - bronze, silver and gold - are awarded based on an annual review of work rate and performance. Klassen has earned the gold.

In addition to her work at the VCO, she is also currently chief of officials for an ATP event in Newport, Rhode Island (Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open) and a combined WTA/ATP tourney in Cincinnati (Western & Southern Open). Klassen also serves on the technical advisor team at Wimbledon.

“I worked as a line umpire for many years there,” she said, of her time at the London event. “And they asked me to be part of this technical advisor team. Our role is to coach and assist the line umpires in terms of their techniques to increase their success on the court. There are seven of us from all over the world. I’ll be going back this year to be part of that program.”

Aside from global travels, there are many other perks of the job when it comes to officiating, added Klassen, but there are a few in particular that stand out. First and foremost, it’s the people, she said.

“We’re a very eclectic group and we come from lots of different backgrounds and got into tennis officiating in lots of different ways. And so I think people really enjoy the folks they’re working with.”

“People who want to be officials are people who love tennis,” continued Klassen, whose husband is also a line umpire and is part of her Charleston team. “It’s very exciting to be on court with the top players in the world…And I know people feel by being able to be in a position like that they are able to give back. Giving back to the sport is something that I think every single person out there is wanting to do.”

But to do the job well requires a tremendous amount of skill and training. Klassen has been a chief of officials for almost 20 years now and has served in the role in Charleston for 12 years. She is certified as a line umpire, the person placed on various lines of the court to call a ball in or out.

“They are the ones who will be making that indication,” said Klassen of the line umpires. “And they also will be involved in calling a foot fault on a baseline for example...That person is also involved with the ball changes.”

At the Volvo Car Open, chair umpires take on a more active role.

“Clay is a unique surface in that there will be ball mark inspections,” she said. “The chair umpire sometimes will come down from the chair and go out to a mark to take a look up close to see whether or not a mark is touching a line. And that is done only on clay.”

Overall, the job of officiating is one that requires undivided attention.

“I think the most challenging part of being a line umpire is maintaining a high level of concentration throughout an entire rotation,” added Klassen.

The maximum amount of time umpires stay on the court at the VCO is one hour, she continued, and then a shift change takes place.

“You can imagine there are lots of factors, whether they be weather, or a crowd, or intensity of play...For us to be our best we have to be absolutely 100 percent focused and have 100 percent concentration on what we’re doing…That’s where you really see the difference between very experienced line umpires and new umpires – it’s that consistency of maintaining concentration.”

An off-court referee, completely separate from chair and line umpires, helps rule if needed on the laws of tennis, added Klassen. There is typically one referee designated per tournament.

“If indeed a player were to question something that occurred on court that they felt was not following the law, the rules of tennis, and they didn’t feel that the chair umpire was interpreting correctly, they could call for the referee to come and make a ruling. A player cannot call a referee on whether something was in or out.”

As those who have watched pro tennis matches know, there is not always agreement between a player and an umpire on a ball’s landing position on the court. But in keeping with the true etiquette of the sport, Klassen keeps those interactions to herself – choosing to focus instead on the thrill of the experience while serving in the job she loves.

“We have a front row seat,” she said. “There is no question about that… I have had a lot of wonderful opportunities along the way.”

Now that’s a good call indeed.


(04/04/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: DEBORAH BAILEY: The Volvo Car Open serves up more than good tennis matches!
Food trucks, unique shops and, of course, all things tennis lined the promenade of the Volvo Car Stadium last Saturday and Sunday for the Volvo Car Open’s Family Weekend, the official start of the tournament.

Many tennis lovers started their day with a warm smile and a gourmet latte from Biz Foxworth and her locally-owned Brown Fox Coffee truck.

“I love meeting folks from all over the country and giving them a friendly Charleston welcome,” she said.

Mid-day spectators lunched at “BkeD Street Bakery”, which served up grilled cheese sandwiches with pesto, or local favorite “Verde” for lighter fare.

Tennis fans looking for good old-fashioned Lowcountry food could start with “Crave’s” famous mac-n-cheese. “Braised in the South” put an unusual spin on Southern fare with down-home favorites like “Tatchos,” tacos made with tater tots or brisket tacos featuring meat marinated in cola.

The longest line of Saturday’s VCO Family Day lunch hour appeared to be at the “Bac’n Me Crazy” truck. Here, pork lovers sampled savory selections like “bacon-on-a-stick” and fudgy, salty bacon brownies.

“I had the Big Bacon Burger and it was unbelievable!” said tennis and bacon enthusiast Riley Woolridge.

Daniel Island School third grader Hayden Wilmot said she ate two Kona Ices, one Zeus Greek salad and a cotton candy from “T & T Kettle Korn.” Her favorite? “Kona Ice, of course!”

Hayden’s mother Kristina disagreed with a smile, saying the best icy treat on a sunny Charleston day is always the raspberry lime flavor from the “King the Pops” cart.

While the kids burned off that extra sugar at the jump castles, many adults visited the bar carts for champagne or cocktails. The family-friendly Blue Moon Beer Garden provided tables and a shady spot to sit and take a break.

But not all of the fun was served up on a plate. Shoppers strolled the promenade for tennis-related items like rackets and gear, as well as many other unique wares.

“Sales have been fantastic this year,” said Johnathan Nation who runs the “Your Serve Tennis Store” near the entrance to the stadium. “Especially items with the VCO logo.”

“This is such an enjoyable, well-run event,” said Haley Keisler, owner of Hermosa Jewelry, who has sold her handmade jewelry at the VCO for the past four years. “I have a local store in Mount Pleasant and it’s just such a great place to promote my business to both locals and tourists.”

Daniel Island resident Ken Bailey waited while his new racket was strung on-site. “I haven’t played in a few years and this event inspired me to get back in the game... And bring my kids!” he added, “Tennis is the perfect family game.”


(04/04/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: ELIZABETH BUSH AND KATIE EASTABROOK: Girl Power!
The top seven seeds in the Volvo Car Open gathered for All-Access Media Hour at the Daniel Island Club on Monday and were clearly ready to talk tennis. But most of these elite players from around the world also reported that they are aware of the challenges facing women of every profession, walk of life and country.

CNN and other news outlets have dubbed 2018 as “The Year of the Woman,” with CNN noting in an article on their website that women are “more engaged, energized and resolute than ever. Issues that were long ignored are finally coming to the surface, and women are beginning to speak up and use their voices and influence to demand real change.”

We asked the VCO’s top seeded players to comment on the “Year of the Woman” designation and give us their reaction to the momentous movement from their perspective as professional female athletes.

“I think it’s really great that women are having such an amazing year and are having such an impact…on the entire world right now,” added World No. 14 Madison Keys, who works with Fearlessly Girl, a movement that is empowering young women. “Being a female athlete, I think there have been a lot of amazing women who have won tournaments this year. There are a lot of inspiring stories. I think it will continue to be the year of the woman.”

“Everyone is feministic now more with the ‘me, too’ (movement) and all these things,” stated Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova, who is currently ranked No. 16 in the world. “I think that WTA and ATP work good together. I think tennis is not only a men’s sport. There are some great athletes in tennis all around.”

“I think it’s a very important movement,” added World No. 22 Johanna Konta of Great Britain. “We make up half of the world’s population, maybe even a bit more. I think it’s a great time to be a part of it. We are very lucky in women’s tennis to have predecessors such as Billy Jean King, who really blazed quite an impressive trail on really getting things moving in the right direction for our sport. We definitely have a lot to live up to with what she was able to do for us and the women alongside her. I think overall, I feel really excited and very privileged to be a part of this sport. Women’s tennis, I think, is quite an impressive sport to be a part of.”

For reigning VCO Champion Daria Kasatkina of Russia, who is in town to defend her title, focusing attention on female accomplishments through designations like “Year of the Woman” is a worthy endeavor.

“It’s important especially for us, the professional athletes, because now we’re playing on the same level,” Daria Kasatkina. “I think it’s good because we’re all the same. We’re all still trying. We’re working hard. It means a lot and it’s very important.”

Germany’s Julia Goerges, the fourth seed in the VCO, wasn’t aware of the “Year of the Woman” title, but thinks the focus should not necessarily be on a specific gender but on how you live your life.

“I think it is about enjoying your life in general,” she said. “I think we shouldn’t say 2018 is this year, 2019 is that year. I think it’s about the way you live your life. I think every year can be a very good one. I think we should appreciate it that we can all be here, be healthy and enjoying our lives and the passion that we are doing…I think it’s important to enjoy any year you are living because you never know when it’s going to end.”

In professional women’s tennis, the pay disparity is less so than in other sports, but there is a separation that persists. Though, according to Keys, positive changes are being made.

“I think there’s been some improvement with pay disparity,” said Keys. “In the Middle East this year, the tournament directors offered to pay equal to what the men were getting paid. There’s definitely movement in the right direction, but I think as far as being paid equally…there’s still such a big gap. It’s not just a female tennis issue. I think it’s in general across the board we really need to work on equal pay for women.”

Konta echoed Keys’ sentiments and emphasized the need for an ongoing effort to eliminate the difference in pay between the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). She is hopeful that one day it will no longer be a topic of conversation as all players, regardless of gender, are celebrated solely for performances on the courts.

“I think it’s important to continue to strive for the stigma to be released from equal pay,” said Konta. “I think women’s tennis needs to be recognized on its own merit and almost move on from that subject. We prove our worth through our viewers, through the hours that we spend on court, through the magnificent matches that we put on, tournaments after tournaments and the slams. I think we’ll move forward a lot quicker if we stop comparing and start celebrating each player, regardless of gender, for what they bring to the sport.”

Although 2017 and the beginning of 2018 have seen their fair share of obstacles, there is no denying that women across all backgrounds are feeling empowered. Though, according to French professional women’s tennis player Carolina Garcia, women have always been powerful—it just took a push for others to see it, too.

“It’s important,” said Caroline Garcia, the VCO’s top ranked player. “It’s good to see that the power of woman is more recognized now. We have always been doing the same as men. …It’s not like we are more powerful. Everyone is similar. We just need to respect each other. It doesn’t really matter from which side we are and where we are from. Just respect everyone.”


(04/04/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: VCO Face-Off! Fan Vs. Player
When it comes to professional tennis, both fans and players are certainly passionate about the sport! But who serves up the most correct answers to questions about the Volvo Car Open and its presence in Charleston? At last Saturday’s VCO Draw Party at Dockery’s on Daniel Island, we put fan Jim Ryan and VCO player Christina Mchale (World No. 86 - USA) to the test. Check out the results of the first Daniel Island News Fan Vs. Player Face-off below!

QUESTIONS:
1. What was the name of the tournament before it became the Volvo Car Open?
2. Where did the tournament originate?
3. What year did it move to Daniel Island?
4. Who was the very first winner of the Family Circle Cup?
5. What did she earn for winning that event and why was it significant?
6. The 2017 VCO champion – Daria Kasatkina – hails from what country?
7. What is the total purse for the 2018 VCO?
8. What weather event impacted the Family Circle Cup in 2006, causing play to be delayed?
9. Who won the first car ever awarded to a VCO champion?
10. Who is the top seeded player taking part in this year’s VCO?
11. What is the size (number of players) for the singles draw?

Tennis Player Christina McHale’s answers (correct answers marked in bold)
Score: 8-3

1. Family Circle Cup
2. Hilton Head
3. 2001
4. Jennifer Capriati
5. $188,000
6. Russia
7. $700,000
8. Tornado
9. Sloane Stephens
10. Caroline Garcia
11. 56

Fan Jim Ryan’s answers (correct answers marked in bold)
Score: 4-7

1. Family Circle Cup
2. Hilton Head
3. 2001
4. Billy Jean King
5. $10,000
6. Czech
7. 1.1 million
8. Snow
9. Serena Williams
10. Sloane Stephens
11. 64

CORRECT ANSWERS
1. Family Circle Cup.
2. Hilton Head
3. 2001
4. Rosie Casals. Jennifer Capriati won the first championship played on Daniel Island and Billy Jean King never won the tournament, but Chris Evert won it a record 8 times!
5.Casals received a check for $30,000, which was the largest prize money payout awarded to a woman that year.
6. Russia
7. $800,000
8. A tornado!
9. Sloane Stephens
10. World No. 7 Caroline Garcia (France)
11. 64 is the size of the draw but there are 8 Byes, therefore only 56 players in the draw. We accepted both answers as correct. Both fan and player received correct responses.


(04/04/18) WCSC-TV/LIVE 5 NEWS: #2 Kvitova upset, Keys advances at Volvo Car Open
http://www.live5news.com/story/37883575/2-kvitova-upset-keys-advances-at-volvo-car-open

Kristyna Pliskova rallied from a set down to knock out two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova at the WTA's Volvo Car Open on Wednesday.

Kvitova of the Czech Republic won six of the first seven games to take the opening set before countrywoman Pliskova came back for a 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory to advance to the round of 16 in the WTA's first clay-court event of the season.

Kvitova had won 24 straight matches against Czech players before Pliskova's victory.

Pliskova, ranked 77th, is the identical twin of top-10 player Karolina Pliskova, a former world No. 1.

Kristyna got some sisterly advice from Karolina on facing the two-time Grand Slam winner.

"It really helped because she knows her better than me," said Kristyna Pliskova.

The change, Pliskova said, came when she began to get her serve in the final two sets.

"First set was horrible and that's the biggest difference," she said.

No. 6 seed Johanna Konta of Australia also lost, falling in straight sets to Hungary's Fanny Stollar 6-3, 6-4.

Stollar said she was able to dictate points most of the match against Konta. "I think I pushed my game to her and I stayed really aggressive," said Stollar, who entered the week ranked 219th in singles.

Madison Keys, the U.S. Open runner up last year, needed three sets to take down Lara Arruabarrena of Spain 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. Keys, at No. 7, is the highest seeded American left in the tournament.

No. 5 seed Julia Georges of Germany topped American Kristie Ahn 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1), No. 8 Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia defeated Caroline Dolehide of the United States in three sets, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-1, No. 9 seed Australian Ashleigh Barty ousted Tatjana Maria 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and No. 10 seed Naomi Osaka of Japan defeated Laura Siegemund of Germany 6-3, 7-6 (8).

Other seeded winners were No. 12 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, No. 13 Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania and No. 14 Alize Cornet of France.

No. 11 seed Daria Gavrilova of Australia lost in three sets to Italy's Camila Giorgi.


(04/04/18)  WCSC-TV/LIVE 5 NEWS: Top seed Garcia, defending champ Kasatkina win at Volvo Car Open
http://www.live5news.com/story/37874975/top-seed-garcia-defending-champ-kasatkina-win-at-volvo-car-open

Top-seeded Caroline Garcia of France defeated Varvara Lepchenko of the United States 6-2, 6-3 in her first match at the WTA’s Volvo Car Open on Tuesday.

Garcia broke Lepchenko three times in the opening set to take control in her first clay-court match of the season.

No. 3 seeded Daria Kasatkina, who won here last year, needed three sets before beating Christina McHale of the United States 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. Kasatkina is the only past champion left in the field after Andrea Petkovic and Sam Stosur lost earlier Tuesday.

Other seeded players winning were No. 9 Ashleigh Barty of Australia, No. 13 Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania and No. 16 Elena Vesnina of Russia.

Barty topped American Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-2, Begu defeated Georgina Garcia Perez of Spain 6-3, 6-4 and Vesnina defeated American Madison Brengle 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.

Kristie Ahn of the United States defeated Stosur, who won the 2011 U.S. Open title, 6-2, 6-4.

Garcia said she worked hard after the Miami Open to prepare for the clay-court event and was happy with her performance against Lepchenko.

“But as we have French Open, like of course we like this season,” Garcia said. “But I don’t know if I’m a clay court person or not. I just enjoy it as much as I enjoy hard court.”

Garcia, ranked seventh in the world, had a breakout season in 2017 with titles in consecutive weeks in China at Wuhan and Beijing.


(04/04/18) DOWN THE TEE: Naomi Osaka’s Excellent Clay Adventure
Naomi Osaka didn’t get much attention during last year's Volvo Car Open. This year she’s in the crosshairs. But as much as her rise in the rankings and her first-ever title from Indian Wells precede her, Osaka is still a study on clay.

“Well in 2016 I would have said it was good because I did okay at the French,” Osaka said yesterday, when asked how she was on clay. “Last year I wouldn’t say that. I literally don’t think I won any matches on clay except for here. And this year I’m just trying to like start new and be ready for the longer points and stuff, and yeah, just to enjoy it.”

    Naomi Osaka’s Clay-court Results, 2017
    Charleston — lost in third round to Shelby Rogers
    Stuttgart — won 3 rounds of qualification, then lost first round to Johanna Konta.
    Rome — lost first round to Laura Siegemund
    Strasbourg — lost first round to Carla Suarez Navarro
    Roland Garros — lost first round to Qualifier Alison Van Uytvanck

Today the number ten seed fought past Laura Siegemund, last year’s Volvo Car Open semifinalist, 6-4, 7-6(8). At least the 20-year-old avenged her loss to the German from the first round at Rome last year. But the match was tough. Siegemund is a tricky player with a wicked slice backhand, an unnerving way of disguising her shots and a frequent user of drop shots.

“I would say just being prepared for anything that could happen,” Osaka said about Siegemund’s style. “Like if she’s hitting a forehand, she might hit it cross court. She might hit it down the line. She might hit a drop shot. I don’t know. Her backhand, too, she really hits a good backhand down the line … so just be prepared for anything that could happen."

For as lighthearted, funny and shy she appears Osaka puts pressure on herself.

“I always expect a lot,” Osaka said.

During the second set she went through a range of emotions that displeased her, some attributable to her recent tournament schedule. She’s played more of them this year than last.

“I actually don’t think I was composed at all in the second set,” she said. “I feel like my emotions were going everywhere at once. I was just really upset at myself because I always set out with an image of how I want to play and what I’m going to do to play like that. But this match didn’t go that way.”

Pliskova v. Kvitova

Petra Kvitova, in her first appearance at Volvo Car Open, lost unexpectedly to fellow Czech Republic player Kristyna Pliskova 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 today. Kvitova was seeded third. Photo credit Leslie Billman tennisclix.com.

Reverting back to teen-age tactics, remembering that Osaka is 20, she took time between points in that set after Siegemund had thrown in her own stall tactic.

“And as for the taking time thing I only took time after she took time because I was really salty,” she said. “That was kind of [a] child issue on my part. I mean it worked out in the end. Hopefully I won’t have to do that again.”

If the match had gone to three, all bets would’ve been off. Siegemund had several set points, during the tiebreak. If it wasn’t for Osaka’s serve, which is one of her assets, the match might have gone the distance. “Honestly I think I only won the second set because it went to a tiebreak,” Osaka concluded. 

Mental exhaustion can throw off any player, no matter their rank. But Osaka’s career is in its nascence and adjustments to clay or hard or grass courts could be the least of her worries.

"I was just a little bit stressed out, and I feel like these past [weeks] since Indian Wells everything has gone by so fast,” she began. “For sure I’ve played more matches this year than last year at this point. And like I want to take a break, but I also want to keep playing these tournaments and do well. So just balancing, that has been the hardest for me.”

Nonetheless Osaka has matured on clay. She saved game points with her serve, during the opening game. She admitted that it pulled her through the tiebreak. And her rise in rankings — from 68 at the end of 2017 to her current 21 — reflects strong performances.

“Probably not,” she began, when asked if she would’ve won today's second set last year. “I don’t think I would have felt the confidence that I feel right now. So last year I probably would have made some mistakes in important times, which I didn’t do this time.”

Julia Georges, the tournament fifth seed, is next for Osaka.

“Well I’ve practiced with her in Wimbledon last year and she’s really good, like she has a really good serve,” she began. “If she steps the points over. So I’m just really thinking of it as a challenge, and I’m just going to have a really positive mindset."


(04/04/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Volvo Car Open: What to know for Wednesday
Getting set for Wednesday's action at the Volvo Car Open at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island:

Tuesday's headlines

• Defending champion Daria Kasatkina is the only former Volvo Car open winner left in the field, outlasting American Christina McHale by 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

• Top-seeded Caroline Garcia cruised in her opening match by 6-2, 6-3 over American Varvara Lephenko.

• American Kristie Ahn scored one of the biggest wins of her career, taking out 2010 champ Sam Stosur by 6-2, 6-4.

Wednesday's top matches

• Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova makes her Charleston debut against fellow Czech player Kristyna Pliskova.

• Fifth-seeded Julia Goerges takes on Ahn, and No. 6 Johanna Konta faces qualifier Fanny Stollar on stadium court.

• American Madison Keys, a finalist at the U.S. Open last year, plays Spain's Lara Arruabarrena in the featured 7 p.m. match.

Special Olympics

Local Special Olympics players will show off their skills from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., with a demonstration of wheelchair tennis set for 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Getting In

Gates open for the day session at 9 a.m., with matches starting at 10 a.m. Gates are open at 5 p.m. for the 7 p.m. night session. Kids ages 16 and under get in free.


(04/03/18)  WomenWhoServe: Defending champion Kasatkina does it the hard way in Charleston
It was the first night match of the 2018 Volvo Car Open, and defending champion Daria Kasatkina had to try out her clay court legs for the first time this season on the event's main court (specifically, the Billie Jean King court), with the crowd cheering enthusiastically for her opponent. That opponent, USA player Christina McHale, came close to sending Kasatkina home.

The Russian's game is generally one of craft and strategy, and includes her signature drop shot. But not tonight. Almost until the end, the opponents stayed on the baseline and traded groundstrokes--sometimes a lot of groundstrokes--and Kasatkina's errors made her increasingly vulnerable as the two hour and sixteen-minute match wore on. Kasatkina also had problems with her second serve, and--quite obviously to anyone who paid attention to her body language--her mentality.

Kasatkina won the first set 6-3, though she had trailed during much of it. She had little momentum going into the second, which McHale took 6-3.  Finally, though, she took control of a match that had often been dictated by her opponent. The change in Kasatkina's attitude and confidence was as dramatic in its rehabilitation as it had been in its collapse. She won the final set 6-2, breaking McHale at love in the last game.

It was, at times, painful to watch the Russian star as she wilted, then became angry with herself. But in the end, she did what the truly superior players do: She found a way to win.

Next for Kasatkina will be qualifier Claire Liu.

Also today, 2010 champion Sam Stosur was defeated by Kristie Ahn in straight sets, and top seed Caroline Garcia defeated Varvara Lepchenko in straight sets. Garcia will face either Polona Hercog or Alize Cornet in the second round.


(04/03/18)  WomenWhoServe: Upsets abound on the third day of the Volvo Car Open
Today, in Charleston, in 2nd round play, 2nd seed Petra Kvitova--making her first appearance at the Volvo Car Open--was defeated 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 by countrywoman Kristyna Pliskova, and 6th seed Johanna Konta was upset in straight sets by qualifier Fanny Stollar. Also going out was 11th seed Daria Gavrilova, who was sent home by always-dangerous Camila Giorgi.

A few seeded players had to fight hard for their victories. Kristie Ahn took 5th seed Julia Goerges to three sets, and Goerges won the match in a third set tiebreak (7-1). 8th seed Anastasija Sevastova also had to go to three sets, but defeated Caroline Dolehide 7-5, 6-7, 6-1. And Tatjana Maria took 9th seed Ash Barty to three sets.

Laura Siegemund, whose performances at the Volvo Car Open have been nothing short of stunning the past two years, chose Charleston to make her return to the tour after having to take almost a year off following a serious knee injury. Siegemund won her first round, but lost her second round to Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka. Osaka defeated Siegemund 6-3, 7-6, and the second set tiebreak (10-8) was a thrilling one.

12th seed Kiki Bertens defeated an injured Alex Krunic in straight sets, and two-time finalist Elena Vesnina, who is seeded 16th, defeated Taylor Townsend 6-4, 6-1.

Of interest tomorrow: Two Frenchwomen--top seed Caroline Garcia and 14th seed Alize Cornet--compete against one another in the featured night match. And first on the Volvo Car Stadium's Billie Jean King Court is a match I'm expecting to be exceptional: 5th seed Julia Goerges vs. 10th seed Naomi Osaka. Also, defending champion and 3rd seed Daria Kasatkina will face 13th seed Irina-Caelia Begu.


(04/03/18)  WCBD-TV/Count on 2 News: Brianne Welch: Volvo Car day 4 update
2017 Volvo Car Open champion Daria Kasatkina stayed alive after beating American Christina Mchale 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 on Tuesday night.

Along with Kasatkina, top ranked Carolina Garcia swept Varvara Lepchenko 6-2, 6-3.

The American winners from Tuesdays action included Taylor Townsend, Kristie Ahn and Claire Liu.

Other winners were Sara Errani, Lara Arruabarrena, Irinia-Cameliabegu, Tatjana Maria, Ashleigh Barty, Elena Vesnina and Krystyna Pliskova.

Doubles action concluded late Tuesday night with more matches to follow Wednesday morning.


(04/03/18)  DOWN THE TEE: College Tennis Hits the Pro Circuit
Taking the college route to professional tennis is not a well-worn path. If you’re good and you’re ready to compete, most amateurs grab the gusto and hit the trail, casting risk to the wind. However some have waited and have had success. Most recently three names come to mind: John Isner, a University of Georgia graduate, Danielle Collins, a University of Virginia graduate and Kristen Ahn, a Stanford University graduate.

Isner, who’ll be 33 in a couple weeks, has persevered since turning pro right out of college in 2007. Sunday he won his first-ever Masters 1000 singles trophy last week in Miami.

Danielle Collins awed fans and tennis with her stellar performances in Indian Wells and Miami, last month. Collins beat her idol Venus Williams in the quarterfinal of Miami; and, defeated Madison Keys in the second round. Today she’s reached her career high ranking of No. 53. A year ago it was 167.

Today Kristen Ahn blew through 2010 Volvo Car Open champion Samantha Stosur in the American’s first-ever appearance at this tournament 6-3, 6-4. Ahn’s rank: 107.

“It’s obviously a big moment just to play against someone of that caliber,” Ahn told the press. “These are the moments that you work for, and you don’t quite believe them until it’s here. I’ve taken some tough losses this year, but my hard work will eventually pay off. Kind of like Danielle.”

Ahn graduated from Stanford in 2014 two years before Collins.

“I think we’re the only two college graduates of American universities, like in the top 250 of something,” Ahn said. “So it’s really cool to see her doing so well. I’ve gotten to know her, but didn’t in college. Afterwards we played a couple times and it’s been really cool to see her jumps. And obviously she took out Venus, which was a huge ordeal because we were watching her as kids. So I think she inspires a lot of girls who have graduated.”

Shenay Perry, Ahn’s coach and former tour player, made several main draw appearances on Daniel Island.

“I’ve know her since I was like 16,” Ahn began. “She was still playing at the time. At the end of 2016 Kathy Rinaldi [Fed Cup Coach for the U.S.] called her in for a camp at the U.S.T.A. [in] Boca. We were kind of like working together on court and she was only there for a week, but stayed for another week. I was joking, like, hey, want to be my coach? She was like ‘yeah, sure!’. She’s traveled a couple of times already this year, so I’m really happy to have her here.”

Although the main stadium seating here pales in relation to ones in Indian Wells and Miami, where upwards to 17,000 can sit, this was the American’s first taste of center court tennis that was nationally televised.

“I think she was more nervous than I was,” Ahn said about Perry’s on-court coaching visit. “The first one was lightheaded, just reminders. The second was more serious. She could tell I was nervous, so it was good to have her tell me straightforward things and get off the court.”

Fellow Stanford students and grads chimed in on Twitter, not too long after her win. The hashtag “FearTheTree” started to climb.

“So our unofficial mascot is the tree for Stanford,” Ahn explained. “It’s just a tree, just a dancing tree. Our official mascot is Cardinal, the shade of red. I guess the students voted on it [the tree] years back. Stanford students. That should explain it. (laughing)”

Ahn

Kristie Ahn at her post-match press conference April 3, 2018. Photo credit Jane Voigt.

Like Collins Ahn did not consider turning pro before college, but after graduation she approached her parents with the idea. They weren’t in favor. She didn’t do well the first couple years either. She felt the absence of the support system Stanford tennis gave her in college: coaches, fitness trainers, physical trainers.

“I moved to Florida for whatever reason and had no real coach or any structure,” she said. “My parents constantly were asking me, when are you done, are you done, is this your last one, is this your last year. It’s tough. When you’re ranked 900, it’s not their pride of like, yes, my daughter is playing professional tennis. (laughs)”

Nonetheless both parents sent her texts today, after her victory.

“I think eventually I can say they’re proud of me,” she began. “I got to talk to both of them today. So, I’m excited about that."

Ahn majored in Science, Technology and Society. She wants to work in her major after the tennis sun has set.

“Last year was going to be my last year on tour,” she began. “I was going to give it three years since I graduated. I was like, this is it. It’s been good. It’s been fun. I’m ready to move on with my life.”

But as fate would have it an opportunity popped in Monterrey.

“I qualified and won a round and then another and then I also started working with my coach Shenay Perry. Things just started to roll,” she said. “So hopefully I can keep that momentum going for some more years.”

Stanford graduate and current WTA tour player Nicole Gibbs was both a singles and doubles star for Stanford Women’s Tennis. She turned pro, after accepting prize money at 2013 Wimbledon. To date she hasn’t gone past the second round of any Grand Slam. Patrick McEnroe, currently a broadcast journalist for ESPN and Tennis Channel also slugged through four year at Stanford. Lisa Raymond is a graduate of the University of Florida but is now retired from the pro tour. She won 11 Grand Slams titles: 6 in women’s doubles and 5 in mixed doubles. She reached the number-one ranking in doubles in June, 2000. Over the course of her career, she earned more than $10 million USD.  

(04/03/18)  TENNIS LIFE: STEPHANIE MYLES: Big decisions loom as Bouchard exits Charleston
A city that’s been welcoming in the past, a new surface, but unfortunately the same tough result for Genie Bouchard.

The 24-year-old Canadian was defeated by wild card Sara Errani of Italy, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, S.C Tuesday.

It was a match that featured a familiar pattern. Bouchard had some very good moments. But in the important moments, she had her worst moments.

Late in the sets, on break points, when things could have turned around, her shots failed her.

Bouchard originally was given a wild card into Charleston, which would have been her fourth of the season after free passes in Hobart, Taiwan and Indian Wells.

She ended squeezing into the final spot in the draw on her own ranking. Errani, currently ranked 16 spots higher at No. 95, lifted her own ranking too late for the entry deadline and as a former Charleston semifinalist, was given a wild card.

Clay Errani also match tough

There is a world of difference between the two players, beginning with the fact that Errani thrives on the clay, even if the Har-Tru surface used in Charleston is faster and doesn’t play the same as the real thing.

The 30-year-old Italian handled the one-directional wind a lot better with her safer topspin shots. And she identified the sharp contrast between one end of the court and the other, and thus adjusted, more quickly than Bouchard did.

Bouchard might well have been helped by the presence of a coach to come on court and offer some advice.

But Harold Solomon is history. And 2018 hitting partner/occasional coach Robbye Poole was not on hand in Charleston (From what we’ve heard, it would not be a shock if that association were over, although we have no confirmation of that).

So the struggling Canadian went it alone, with only physical trainer Scott Byrnes and mother Julie Leclair in the stands for support.

The other thing is that Errani, whose ranking was falling even before her two-month suspension last summer for a positive drug test, has played a lot of tennis since serving her suspension.

She was grinding it out from the day the ban ended last October. Errani played six tournaments and 25 matches (19 in singles – she went 14-5 – and six in doubles) before the end of the season. This was the 22nd singles match for the Italian in 2018; Bouchard has played barely half that number.

The contest was so far removed from the last meeting, four years ago at Indian Wells.

Errani was in the top 10 then. Bouchard had just arrived in the top 20 after her Australian Open semifinal and was about to go on her career-making run.

Bouchard routined Errani 6-3, 6-3.

Tuesday, Errani still looked as motivated and eager as she always has. Meanwhile, Bouchard was tense;  the footwork crucial to success in that kind of wind a casualty of those nerves.

“More matches will help me out”

Speaking to the media in Charleston afterwards, Bouchard seemed to acknowledge that accepting the wild cards wasn’t much good  – except perhaps her bank account in certain cases – if she couldn’t take advantage and win some matches. If anything, it only added to the pressure that has been a constant over the last several years.

She also acknowledged that perhaps she had put herself in some tough situations in that sense, which is a perceptive thing to say out loud, in front of the media.

Next steps

After this brief interlude on the Har-Tru, Bouchard is headed down to South America, to Bogotá, Colombia, for the first time.

That tournament, an International-level WTA event played on red clay, has just one player in the top 20 (Daria Kasatkina) and just two more in the top 60 (Magda Linette and Tatjana Maria). A last-minute wild card to a top player is unlikely because of the International-level criteria.

But after that, it’s all up in the air.

Bouchard’s statement about wanting to grind it out at smaller tournaments “where no one’s there” is made more out of necessity than of choice.

The Canadian is nearly 50 spots out of the main draws at the two big Premier clay-court events in May, Madrid and Rome. And of Tuesday, she is not even entered in the qualifying, although the deadlines have not yet passed

She would likely get into the Madrid qualifying draw and most likely the one in Rome as well (which has eight fewer spots). 

Big points to defend in May

The week of Madrid is a crucial one for Bouchard, wherever she plays.

It was nearly a year ago that she played her best tournament of the season.

Bouchard’s second round match against Maria Sharapova – not unfairly billed as a grudge match, at least on her end – was a gripping encounter. In it, Bouchard ran, and fought, and withstood (figurative) punches. She handed back some of her own, and won. She then defeated a sub-par Angelique Kerber after the world No. 2 retired down 3-6, 0-5 in the third round. She had also beaten Alizé Cornet, a tough out on any surface, in her opener.

Those 215 ranking points are looming in a month. They make up just over a third of her total. And if she doesn’t defend them, or make them up elsewhere, she would drop out of the top 150.

Even if she does – and it would take a lot to do it if she’s playing lower-level tournaments – she still would remain outside the top 100. That’s another, different, kind of pressure.

The “smaller tournament” plan

With our collective attention span being about a day, these days, it’s already been forgotten by many. But a year ago, Bouchard had shifted her strategy towards playing smaller events after losing in the first round in both Indian Wells and Miami.
She went to the smaller WTA event in Monterrey, rather than return to Charleston, and lost in the first round.

And then, in a surprise move, she dropped down to the ITF level and played the $80,000 tournament in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. (It’s a $60,000 tournament this year).

She was, despite being a wild card, the No. 1 seed.

That was a different kind of pressure, and in the end it wasn’t a solution. Bouchard clearly looked, and felt, like a fish out of water. And the pressure of being a Wimbledon finalist and being expected to win was still another kind of pressure.

After squeaking out victories against players ranked No. 601 and No. 305, Bouchard lost to Victoria Duval, an American ranked No. 896. Duval was returning from a successful fight against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Bouchard then played the smaller WTA tournament in Istanbul, Turkey that runs up against the Premier tournament in Stuttgart. And she won just four games against Jana Cepelova of Slovakia.

More American Har-Tru?

There are a few options for Bouchard this spring.

As of now, she entered (main draw only) Madrid, Rome, and in the smaller tournament in Rabat, Morocco the week of April 30.

She remains a dozen spots out of the main draw in Rabat, as of Tuesday.

Bouchard could pick up the American ITF Har-Tru circuit in Dothan, Alabama the week after Bogotá, then follow through to Charlottesville, Va. and back to Charleston for a series of three $80,000 tournaments that end in early May. (Indian Harbour Beach is the same week as Bogotá).

Same surface, not much travel, similar conditions for three weeks – everything you could ask for in terms of logistics for a player looking to get some momentum.

If she committed to that, though, she would be far better off withdrawing from Bogotá, so as not to change surfaces four times in four weeks. The deadline for Dothan has passed. For Charlottesville, it is Thursday. But getting wild cards into these events is probably not an issue.

And – a bigger conflict looms. In Indian Wells last month, Bouchard said she was very keen on playing Fed Cup in a few weeks, against Ukraine in Montreal.

That takes up the entire week of April 16 after a long flight from South America. And it only guarantees her one match, possibly two.

As Bouchard found out a year ago, those high-end ITF tournaments are extremely competitive. As well, this particular swing features the American players fighting to earn the USTA’s reciprocal wild card into the French Open (won by Amanda Anisimova last year). The fields are strong, and there is a lot at stake.

ITFs on the red clay?

On the heels of those American Har-Tru events come a pair of $100,000 ITFs on red clay in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France (week of May 7) and Trnava, Slovakia (May 14).

These tournaments are even tougher. They feature a host of players who are habitués of that circuit through the year. Many of them are very accomplished on the red clay.

Buzarnescu, Golubic, Jabeur, Kovinic, Maria, Nara, Parmentier, Vickery, Buzarnescu, Dolehide and Dodin are among the those entered.

Nürnberg, Strasbourg … or qualies?

After that, there are small warmup events in Nürnberg, Germany and Strasbourg, France the week before the French Open. At the moment, Nürnberg has the slightly weaker field.

Nürnberg was the site of Bouchard’s only WTA Tour title. It also was the place she suffered a nasty ankle sprain on the practice court a year ago.

It was a stroke of bad luck that held her back more than anyone can truly know; the setback came just as she had finally gathered some momentum in Madrid.

But … Bouchard’s ranking currently sits at No. 111, Five players could pass her this week. And with some protected rankings expected to play Roland Garros, Bouchard likely will be on the bubble in terms of having to play the qualifying, barring rare main-draw wild card awarded to a non-French player.

So, to sum up, there are plenty of places to play, in the six weeks leading up to the French Open.

It will be intriguing, and revealing to see what kind of decisions Bouchard makes about how to attack the spring season – and whether she will have a new coach by her side.

They are fairly crucial decisions, at this stage. You can only hope she gets some wise advice – and listens to it.


(04/03/18)  TENNIS: Sara Errani defeats Eugenie Bouchard in first round of Volvo Car Open
In a first-round match between former Grand Slam finalists, it was Sara Errani who prevailed in straight sets over Eugenie Bouchard, 6-4, 6-4.

The last time these two played each other was back in 2014, only months before Bouchard reached her first career major championship match at Wimbledon. She defeated the 2012 French Open runner-up in straight sets back then in Indian Wells.

The years since have had their ups and downs for both players, but in this encounter between the former members of the Top 5, it was Errani who set the tone of today’s match right away, breaking Bouchard in the first game and then consolidating to take a 2-0 lead. Bouchard held the next game, then jumped to a quick lead on Errani’s serve before breaking to level the set at two games apiece.

Bouchard’s momentum continued as she stretched her games-won streak to three. Errani then worked her way through a difficult hold, and on Bouchard’s serve, a couple of crafty backhands and huge forehands led her to another service break. From there, the two remained on serve and on set point for Errani, the Italian hit a forehand that clipped the net that Bouchard was unable to get a play on. That gave her the opener, 6-4.

Throughout the first set, Bouchard was trying to put the pressure on Errani as she consistently launched herself into her groundstrokes. However, the Canadian was unable to hit through Errani or capitalize on opportunities when Errani had to hit a second serve: Errani won 75 percent of her second serves, despite them consistently landing in the 60-plus mph range in blustery conditions.

In the second set, the two players exchanged holds before Errani got an early break again and went on to take a 3-1 lead.

Bouchard, however, got a quick hold and continued her aggressive play, as she took a 15-30 lead on Errani’s serve. She managed to break to level the set at three-all, then took a 4-3 lead.

As Errani served, Bouchard got it to 15-30, and it looked like she was on course to change the tenor of the match. However, missed opportunities by way of drop shot and volley errors gave Errani the game.

Perhaps sensing that she had her opponent in a vulnerable spot after those misses, Errani struck fast, breaking at 15. She then held easily, clinching the match on a forehand passing shot.

Errani next plays 15th-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu in the second round.


(04/03/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Volvo Car Open Notes: Petra Kvitova's comeback brings her to Charleston at last
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was due in Charleston a year ago, having been recruited hard by Volvo Car Open tournament director Bob Moran and regaled with tales of Lowcountry hospitality by fellow Czech player Lucie Safarova.

But life happens.

Kvitova, one of the most popular players among her colleagues on the WTA Tour, was injured during a home invasion in the Czech Republic in December of 2016. A knife-wielding attacker injured tendons and nerve endings in her left (and playing) hand.

She was sidelined for five months, precluding her planned trip to Charleston. A year later, she's happy to keep that commitment.

"It feels great to be here," Kvitova, 28 and seeded No. 2 at the VCO, said this week. "It was unfortunate I couldn't be last time, so I'm really happy to make the trip this time. I'm very happy I did; it's a beautiful place and very quiet."

After making her return at the French Open last year, Kvitova actually won her second tournament back, on grass in Birmingham, Great Britain. It was a popular victory.

"It was such a nice feeling to be back and see how the players were cheering for me," said Kvitova, who won at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014. "They cried in the locker room when I played, so it was very emotional for everyone. In the time I was off, it meant a lot, what I was hearing from them."

This season, Kviotva put together a 14-match win streak that included tournament titles in St. Petersburg and Doha, giving her 22 WTA Tour singles titles for her career.

"Petra is one of the nicest girls on tour, and to see what happened to her was horrible," said American Madison Keys. "But to see how she has bounced back and done so well after that has been amazing. I'm definitely always rooting for her."

On Monday, Kvitova laughed as she played cornhole and kicked around a soccer ball in her bare feet.

"I'm all right, and that's what's important," she said. "My hand will never be 100 percent, but I don't worry about it. My health is good, and that's what's important."
Rooftop tennis

VCO players Johanna Konta and Naomi Osaki took part in a photo shoot atop the Dewberry Hotel in downtown Charleston on Monday, batting balls back and forth on a makeshift court with one of the best views in the Lowcountry.

The photos and video will be used in a promotional campaign.

Shelby Rogers honored

Charleston's Shelby Rogers, sitting out this year's Volvo Car Open with a knee injury, was honored at the S.C. Junior Tennis Foundation gala on Monday.

Rogers received the first "Player Who Makes a Difference Award" and conducted an on-stage interview with Tennis Channel's Mary Carillo. Rogers also is working as a Tennis Channel reporter this week.
Tennis in the City

American Nicole Melichar was among the players who helped conduct a youth clinic Monday at the Jack Adams Tennis Center in downtown Charleston. The "Tennis in the City" event has been held every year since 2003.


(04/03/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: American Kristie Ahn overcomes nerves, 2010 champ Sam Stosur at Volvo Car Open
It was the fist bump that never happened.

Young American Kristie Ahn, attempting to close out an upset of 2010 champion Sam Stosur at the Volvo Car Open, called her coach, Shenay Perry, to courtside. As Perry wrapped up her advice, she stuck out her fist.

"Don't leave me hanging," she said to Ahn, who did just that.

By the time Ahn had extended her fist, Perry had turned away. "She hates me," Ahn said into a Tennis Channel camera.

It was one of the few mistakes Ahn made on Tuesday, as she pulled out a 6-2, 6-4 upset of Stosur, the 34-year-old Australian star who won the U.S. Open in 2011 by defeating Serena Williams in the final.

Ahn's victory put her into the second round on Daniel Island, and means two of the three former Volvo Car Open champions in the draw have been eliminated. Andrea Petkovic, who won in 2014, was dismissed Monday, and defending champ Daria Kasatkina plays Tuesday night.

Ahn, a 25-year-old Stanford graduate who is ranked No. 107, advanced to a second-round meeting with No. 5 seed Julia Goerges with the win over No. 57 Stosur.

A four-time All-American at Stanford, Ahn admitted to a bit of stage fright as she closed in one of the biggest wins of her young career.

"I definitely could feel it," she said. "It's obviously a big moment just to play against someone of that caliber, and it starts creeping in your head that, 'Oh, I can actually do this."

That visit from her coach, as comically as it ended, helped soothe her nerves.

"(I) wouldn't say a game changer, but she definitely just kind of put it back in perspective," Ahn said. "I have nothing to lose to start working my points and help me kind of calm my nerves."

One of the few college graduates on tour, Ahn has a degree in science technology in business from Stanford, and could be working in Silicon Valley instead of toiling away on the WTA Tour, where she's won $62,000 this year. Her parents might prefer that.

"When I graduated, I told my parents I wanted to turn pro," she said. "They weren't too elated with that."

Victories like the one over Stosur could sway the parental units.

"When you are ranked 900, it's not their pride like, 'Yes, my daughter is ranked 900,'" she said. "... But I think eventually, obviously, I can say they're proud of me."

Canada's Genie Bouchard, one a rising star herself and ranked No. 5 in the world just four years ago, brought her mom with her to Charleston. But her struggles on tour continued Tuesday with a 6-4, 6-4 loss to wild-card Sara Errani of Italy.

Bouchard's ranking is now down to No. 111, and hasn't won a main-draw match since February, with a 3-5 record this year. She said she may enter smaller tournaments just to play more matches, away from the spotlight.

"Sometimes I feel good and sometimes I'm like, I have no idea what's going on," said Bouchard, who made the semifinals here in 2014. "... It's a tough cycle to be in, because you feel more nervous and extra pressure for that match, especially when you are on center court and it's a big tournament."

Also Tuesday, Australia's Ashleigh Barty defeated American Sofia Kenin, 6-2, 6-4. American Taylor Townsend made the second round with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Great Britain's Heather Watson.

No. 16 seed Elena Vesnina needed three sets for a 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 win over American Madison Brengle; and No. 13 seed Irina-Camelia Begu beat qualifer Georgina Garcia Perez, 6-3, 6-4.

American qualifier Claire Liu is on to the second round with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Magda Linette; and Spain's Lara Arruabarrena got past Beatriz Haddad Maia, 4-6, 7-6, 1-0.  American Lauren Davis lost in straight sets to Tatjana Maria.

Wednesday's Order of Play 

Stadium Court, 10 a.m.
Julia Goerges vs. Kristie Ahn
Anastasjia Sevastova vs. Caroline Dolehide
Kristyna Pliskova vs. Petra Kvitova
Fanny Stollar vs. Johanna Konta

Not before 7 p.m.
Lara Arruabarrena vs. Madison Keys
Doi/McHale vs. Buzarnescu/Watson


(04/03/18) JEFF HARTSELL: Volvo Car Open: What You Need to Know for Tuesday
Monday's headlines

• Fourth-seeded Sloane Stephens, the reigning U.S. Open champ, withdrew from the Volvo Car Open after her hardcourt win in Miami last week.
• No. 10 seed Naomia Osaka and No. 14 Alize Cornet won on Monday, but 2014 VCO champion Andrea Petkovic was knocked out in the first round.

Tuesday's big matches

• Defending Volvo Car champ Daria Kasatkina takes the court in the featured night match (not before 7 p.m.) against American Christina McHale.

• 2010 VCO winner Samantha Storsur faces American hopeful Kristie Ahn in the second match on stadium court. Top-seeded Caroline Garcia is fourth on stadium court against American Varvara Lepchenko.
Dunlop Night

The first 2,000 fans through the gates for Tuesday's night session receive a free gift from Dunlop. In between matches, head-to-head competitions will be held on court.

Gates open at 9 a.m. for the day session, with matches starting at 10 a.m. at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island. Gates open for the night session at 5 p.m., with matches starting not before 7 p.m.


(04/03/18)  TENNIS CHANNEL: Zach Cohen: #ShelbyOnSite: Charleston is a special place for Shelby Rogers
There are bound to be some compelling stories that will unfold during this week's Volvo Car Open in Charleston, South Carolina, but it will be hard to top the one surrounding Shelby Rogers, who grew up just a short drive away from the tournament site.

Rogers, who had to withdraw from the tournament after injuring her knee during Indian Wells, learned the game and rose the U.S. tennis ranks in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, making this week's tournament a home stop on tour.

WATCH—Shelby Rogers' TenniStory:
WATCH—Shelby speaks to Daria Kasatkina in the airport:
WATCH—Shelby talks to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Tournament Manager Eleanor Adams:
WATCH—Shelby talks to Tournament Director Bob Moran:
http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2018/04/charleston-special-place-25-year-old-shelby-rogers-volvo-car-open/73087/

Rogers' history at the local event goes all the way back to when she was seven years old, when she was a ballgirl at the Family Circle Tennis Center—the venue where this tournament is played.

The 25-year-old had played Charleston each of the previous eight years. Having reached the quarterfinals in 2017—a career-best performance for her at this event—Rogers is obviously disappointed about not being able to compete in front of her family and friends this year.

Rogers easily could have sat back and sulked when finding out she wouldn't be able to play in this year's event. But that just isn't Shelby.

Instead, she is serving as a reporter for the event, chronicling her time at the Volvo Car Open as a part of the #ShelbyOnSite series for Tennis Channel. With this being her hometown, her perspective is one of a kind.


(04/02/18)  WomenWhoServe: Alex Krunic: slight of build, fleet of foot, and born to compete
Aleksandra Krunic is into the second round of the Volvo Car Open. The 25-year-old Moscow-born Serbian player defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-2, 6-2 yesterday, and will face 12th seed Kiki Bertens in the second round. The hard-hitting, fast-moving Krunic has drawn the attention of fans in the last few years, partly because of her Fed Cup exploits. On more than one occasion, she was called in to play clutch doubles in final rubbers, and she played a major role in gaining victories for her country.

Now, fans are noticing Krunic on WTA courts. Last year, she won a thrilling match against Alona Ostapenko in Cincinnati, and there’s already a little buzz about her in Charleston. Krunic is quite small for a contemporary tennis player; she’s five feet, four inches tall and of slight build, but she competes quite well because of her speed, her hard hitting, and her very fierce competitive spirit.

I spent a little time with her today because I wanted to learn more about her and about her tennis.

The young Serbian began her tennis career when she was around three years old and her father gave her a racket with a sponge ball. Apparently, it was love at first sight. Krunic told me that it was hard to find a place to learn tennis in Moscow, but she was lucky—there was an older man giving tennis lessons at a court next door her house. At age four, she picked up a real racket and hasn’t put it down since.

“I played everything when I was a kid,” Krunic said. “I was an outdoor kid. I think I was the last generation of outdoor kids.”

Krunic was especially fond of soccer when she was a child. At age seven, she entered the Spartak Tennis Club. She also likes playing basketball, and her fitness coach is an ex-basketball pro.

Asked about her notable competitiveness, Krunic chalked it up to being Serbian. “I was always competing in everything. I think it’s more of my genes. I hate losing—that’s why I don’t play board games.”

The player who most influenced Krunic was former Australian- and French Open champion Mary Pierce, whom Krunic describes as “always a lady on court—but she was a hard hitter.”

Krunic describes herself as “fast but not strong.” She’s currently working more on balance. “I’ve worked on it a few weeks now, and I think it’s already better….Sometimes I get to the ball and I get satisfied that I’m just on the ball, and I forget that I can do much more with it.”

The Serbian has also added Sarah Stone to her team. Stone has effected some changes, and now, Krunic says, “I’m practicing more, but I’m a player who doesn’t practice much. I like to be intense, to keep my intensity. I prefer to be intense for one, one and a half hours, then spend three hours on the court.”

Aside from twisting her ankles a few times (‘because of the way I move”), Krunic has sustained no injuries in her professional career. She likes to slide on grass, so she tapes her ankles during grass court season.

I asked Krunic to talk about the obviously emotional moment when she defeated Kimiko Date in the Japanese star’s last-ever tennis match. Krunic defeated Date 6-0, 6-0 in the first round in Tokyo last year. She said she received some negative comments from non-athletes who were upset that she didn’t “give” Date a game. “I think the biggest respect I could show was just to be at my top,” Krunic explained. She talked with Date about this, and—not surprisingly—Date was in total agreement with her.

Talking about Kimiko Date prompted Krunic to discuss her feelings about what might happen after she retires from professional tennis. “This is all we know, pretty much. I’m trying to be very open, and I do my things on court, I leave, and I read an learn. But this tennis bubble is all we ever knew. You never get this adrenaline feeling ever the same….All of a sudden, you’re in the normal world, you have a lot of time to think….you know what the feeling was and you can’t get it back.”

When Krunic isn’t on the court or in the gym, she likes to drive her car, spend time with her godsons, and read about psychology: “I like to find things out about myself.”

I think that fans will be glad to find things out about her, too, as they keep an eye on her already-interesting career.


(04/02/18)  WomenWhoServe: Top seeds have lots to say at Volvo Car Open All Access Hour
It was a chatty group who showed up today at the Daniel Island Club to meet with members of the tennis media. We learned a lot: Madison Keys knows how to handle online trolls, Julia Goerges enjoys doing her own taxes, Petra Kvitova is already a Charleston food afficianado, and defending champion Dasha Kasatkina does a scary good imitation of "California talk" (this, from hanging out with the WTA's Courtney Nguyen).

The players were in high spirits. Kvitova flashed her skills with a soccer ball, and Sevastova was her usual droll self. Top seed Caroline Garcia told us how nice it feels for her to change from hard court to clay. She also talked about how all players--ATP and WTA--need to respect each other. Garcia, through attending matches and being active on social media, has forged some good relationships with French football (soccer) players.

Jo Konta discussed her mindfulness practice, which is integrated into her day-to-day life. Konta is also a yoga practitioner.

Kvitova was transparent about her awkwardness on clay courts--though we did remind her that she won Madrid. Of course, because of the altitude, the Madrid court plays faster than other red clay courts. But then, we also reminded her that she has reached the semifinals at the French Open! The 2nd seed also talked about the upcoming Fed Cup tie in Germany; Germans playing on a clay court at home (Stuttgart) gives them the advantage, she said, but the Czech team will do its best.

Goerges explained to us that she is very organized in every aspect of her life, and that she likes to take as much responsibility for her life as possible, which includes doing her own taxes. Also, it turns out, she really likes numbers.

The German, like the other top seeds, said that playing on green clay is an excellent transition from hard court to red clay. "It's like a hard court with a little clay on it," she said. It's been about five years since Goerges has competed in Charleston, and she said she was very glad to return.

Goerges also talked about the difference between European and U.S. crowds. "I think, in general, they (U.S. fans) are much more into it." "Here, they are more open...they just sit there having a good time, and I like it."

The ever-thoughtful German also expressed her disappointment over the way that mobile phones have caused people to stop personally communicating with each other. We could easily have spent an entire afternoon just listening to Goerges deconstruct contemporary culture, but we all had to return to the tennis center.


(04/02/18)  WomenWhoServe: Madison Keys and FearlesslyGIRL
Madison Keys, a FearlesslyGIRL ambassador, talked about the organization and her own experience with online bullies at today's All Access Hour in Charleston. Keys said that she had become more assertive in addressing online attacks made against her.

What she has learned, she said, is that “…if you retweet it, a lot more people report them.” Also, she said, “It’s amazing how you retweet ‘em and their tweets disappear.”

"It’s really helped me to kind of find my own voice," Keys reported. "…and it’s been amazing to see how doing that has really helped, just my entire life, feeling more centered and balanced.”

FearlesslyGIRL is dedicated to inspiring girls to be kinder to themselves and each other. The organization recently reached over 7,000 in 77 schools in 22 states and provinces


(04/02/18)  WCIV-TV/ABC 4: BEN MURPHY: Shelby Rogers honored in her hometown
It has clearly been a hard month for Lowcountry native and tennis star Shelby Rogers. Dealing with injury and having to withdraw from her hometown event, The Volvo Car Open. But a girl like Shelby doesn't put her head down and pout, she impacts the tournament in other ways.

She has acted as a great ambassador for this event to those here and town and to her colleagues and competitors on tour. Tonight she was honored for her attitude and perseverance at the S.C. Junior Tennis Foundation's gala where she became the first ever recipient of the "Player Who Makes a Difference Award".
http://www.counton2.com/sports/local-sports/shelby-rogers-honored-in-her-hometown/1094749841


(04/02/18)  WCIV-TV/ABC 4: Volvo Car Open the perfect tune up for clay season
It has always been one of the most loved weeks of the year in the Lowcountry. Fans gather on Daniel Island for 8 days to watch some of the best tennis you will get in the state of South Carolina all year.

What we may not realize is that this week is a player favorite as well. It is the time of year in the professional season where the players will have to transition from hard court to a clay surface. The first move or leg in that circuit begins right here in Charleston. The largest women's only tournament in the country is played on a green clay surface that has the players ready for a couple of the major events of the season to come.
http://www.counton2.com/sports/local-sports/volvo-car-open-the-perfect-tune-up-for-clay-season/1094766605


(04/02/18)  WCIV-TV/ABC 4: CAROLINE BALCHUNAS: Volvo Car Open ball runners unsung heroes of tournament
They're the ones running back and forth on the tennis court, but they're not players. It's the ball runners who keep the pace going. It's an honor to be a ball runner, especially at big tournaments like the Volvo Car Open.

Pierre Leblanc trains the ball crew. He said the kids are exceptional.

"They have to think really fast and even for us adults, it's pretty difficult because as soon as the point is over they have to know what to do with those balls, which side it's going to go," said Leblanc. "They have to be invisible, so you should not notice that those kids are on the court."

It's not a volunteer position just anyone can fill. It's competitive. This year, there's only 97 in the ball crew, 20 of those are newcomers.

On the court and off the court, ball runners like Issy Good watch every move. It's the Wando Freshman's 7th Volvo Car Open. This year, her 11-year-old brother Sebastian is also part of the crew.

"I like give him pointers," Issy said. "I can yell at him more than I can do to other kids."

"You got to listen a lot and you don't really want to make mistakes, so you kind of have to do it right to be put into the higher courts to watch cooler matches," said Sebastian, a 5th grader.

They're both on Spring Break and could be somewhere else. But this brother sister duo is committed to the game.

"Yesterday I came home and Sebastian did too, and he was so sore. We were so sore," she said. "It's really cool actually. It's a really fun experience. You get to be here for free, you get to be up close to the match, here it's three feet away."

Sebastian said it inspires him to be a better player. Both aspire for a career in tennis, in some capacity. Charleston tennis pro Shelby Rogers trained at the Family Circle Tennis Center and participated in the ball crew program for the Volvo Car Open. Rogers made her debut in the Volvo Car Open in 2010 when she competed in its qualifying rounds. In 2017, she reached the quarterfinals of the tournament for the first time.


(04/02/18)  WCSC-TV/Live 5 News: Osaka, Gavrilova among seeds advancing at Volvo Car Open
htp://www.live5news.com/story/37864050/osaka-gavrilova-among-seeds-advancing-at-volvo-car-open

Naomi Osaka of Japan and Daria Gavrilova of Australia were among the seeded players to advance in the opening round of the WTA's Volvo Car Open on Monday.
   
Osaka, seeded No. 10, topped Jennifer Brady of the United States, 6-4, 6-4. Gavrilova defeated Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.
   
Other seeds who moved on at the Daniel Island Tennis Center were No. 12 Kiki Bertens of Netherlands, No. 14 Alize Cornet of France and No. 15 Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania.
   
Most of the top seeded players, including No. 1 seed Caroline Garcia of France, will begin play on Tuesday in the season's first clay-court event.

RESULTS - APRIL 2, 2018

Women's Singles - First Round
[10] N. Osaka (JPN) d J. Brady (USA) 64 64
[11] D. Gavrilova (AUS) d O. Jabeur (TUN) 16 64 63
[12] K. Bertens (NED) d V. Cepede Royg (PAR) 64 61
[14] A. Cornet (FRA) d K. Bondarenko (UKR) 61 62
[15] M. Buzarnescu (ROU) d [Q] V. Lapko (BLR) 64 00 Retired
V. Lepchenko (USA) d A. Petkovic (GER) 64 75
P. Hercog (SLO) d [Q] M. Zanevska (BEL) 61 64
A. Krunic (SRB) d [WC] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) 62 62
[Q] F. Stollar (HUN) d [Q] F. di Lorenzo (USA) 75 61
B. Pera (USA) d J. Cepelova (SVK) 62 62
C. Giorgi (ITA) d [Q] S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 61 64
L. Siegemund (GER) d N. Vikhlyantseva (RUS) 75 62
C. Mchale (USA) d Z. Diyas (KAZ) 64 62
[Q] C. Dolehide (USA) d J. Larsson (SWE) 57 60 64

Women's Doubles - First Round
[3] A. Klepac (SLO) / M. Martínez Sánchez (ESP) d A. Rosolska (POL) / A. Spears (USA) 61 63
[WC] L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / S. Errani (ITA) d T. Maria (GER) / K. Pliskova (CZE) 64 75

ORDER OF PLAY - TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
VOLVO CAR STADIUM start 10:00 am
S. Kenin (USA) vs [9] A. Barty (AUS)
K. Ahn (USA) vs S. Stosur (AUS)
E. Bouchard (CAN) vs [WC] S. Errani (ITA)
[1] C. Garcia (FRA) vs V. Lepchenko (USA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
C. Mchale (USA) vs [3] D. Kasatkina (RUS)
[1] G. Dabrowski (CAN) / Y. Xu (CHN) vs R. Atawo (USA) / A. Groenefeld (GER)

ALTHEA GIBSON CLUB COURT start 10:00 am
H. Watson (GBR) vs T. Townsend (USA)
[16] E. Vesnina (RUS) vs M. Brengle (USA)
L. Davis (USA) vs T. Maria (GER)
K. Siniakova (CZE) vs K. Pliskova (CZE)

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
[Q] C. Liu (USA) vs M. Linette (POL)
[13] I. Begu (ROU) vs [Q] G. Garcia Perez (ESP)
N. Melichar (USA) / K. Peschke (CZE) vs A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) / K. Srebotnik (SLO)
S. Aoyama (JPN) / Z. Yang (CHN) vs [2] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / A. Sestini Hlavackova (CZE)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
B. Haddad Maia (BRA) vs L. Arruabarrena (ESP)
M. Adamczak (AUS) / L. Kichenok (UKR) vs N. Kichenok (UKR) / An. Rodionova (AUS)


(04/02/18)  Naomi Osaka, Varvara Lepchenko among winners at Volvo Car Open
Naomi Osaka stormed her way through the first round of the Volvo Car Open on Monday with brute strength.

American Jennifer Brady tried to match the 5-11 Osaka's powerful serves and ground strokes, and succeeded for much of the match — but not as often as the 10th-seeded Osaka.

Osaka, a 20-year-old with the same last name as her birth place in Japan, prevailed 6-4, 6-4 over Brady.

With reigning U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens pulling out of the tournament Monday, Osaka might have as good a chance as anyone to walk off with the championship trophy on Sunday.

Osaka, who hit it big two weeks ago by winning the mega-tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., also won't have to worry about 2014 VCO champion Andrea Petkovic, who ran into a buzz-saw in Volvo Car Stadium in the form of Varvara Lepchenko's left-handed strokes.

From 3-4 in the first set, the 31-year-old Lepchenko won seven straight games before settling for a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Petkovic.

Lepchenko might not match Osaka in raw power, but the native of Uzbekistan may have ground strokes that sometimes are more guided between the lines than Osaka.

Osaka seemed to casually hit serves in the 115 mph range, and then released ground strokes almost in that same range without too much effort. Brady, a 22-year-old with her own power, got off to a 2-0 lead but couldn't keep pace with Osaka's force.

"It was OK, because I won. If I had lost, I probably would say it was bad," Osaka said about her play. "I am just trying to start new this year on clay. I think you have to change a little bit for clay.

"I was hitting my forehands with more spin (than usual)," added Osaka, who lost to Charleston's Shelby Rogers here in last year's round of 16 and is making only her third appearance in the main draw at Family Circle Tennis Center. "I think people who have a little bit of spin on their ball do better on clay. I don't want to drastically change how I play, but I think to do that a little is good."

Looking back to her $1.34 million payday at Indian Wells that has boosted her world ranking to No. 21, she said, "It all seems like a blur. I don't think my life has changed that much. They (her coach, etc.) bubble me in and I don't get to see what's going on outside, and I don't really want to see what's going on outside.

"I should just focus on tennis, because I am a tennis player. I don't want to dwell too much on the past. I keep moving toward the future. I don't see that much of a difference (after winning the big check). I'm not the type of person that likes to buy stuff for myself. I like to buy stuff for my mom. I feel happy when I see that other people are happy."

About the match, Osaka said, "When she went up in the first set, I thought I did well to stay calm and doing what I was doing and not really changing too much and try not to over-hit. I'm really happy with what I did, because I won. I can't really complain too much."

Lepchenko played well throughout her match against Petkovic, except during a stretch late in the match when she lost four out of five games to allow Petkovic to deadlock the second set at 5. Lepchenko then took over again and closed out the match with a love service game.

"I was able to dictate with my forehand," said Lepchenko, who is playing here for the 12th time in the last 13 years. "I played an aggressive style of tennis today. I just had a tough time closing out the match. But I managed to reset my mind."

Looking ahead to a second-round match on Tuesday against top-seeded Caroline Garcia of France in the fourth match in the stadium, Lepchenko said, "She's a good player. I'll just try to play my game. She's very competitive."

In other key matches on Monday, 11th seed Daria Gavrilova of Australia turned back Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 1-6, 6-4, 6-3; Fanny Stollar of Hungary defeated fellow qualifier Francesca DiLorenzo 7-5, 6-1; and American Christina McHale scored a 6-4, 6-2 win over Zarina Diyas.

Caroline Dolehide became the second qualifier to win on opening day with a 5-7, 6-0, 6-4 win over Johanna Larsson of Sweden; and Serbian Aleksandra Krunic, who spends much of her time on U.S. soil training at Family Circle Tennis Center, defeated wild card American doubles standout Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-2, 6-2.


(04/02/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Charleston's Shelby Rogers sees Volvo Car Open from a different angle this week
Shelby Rogers sat at a table Monday afternoon outside the Daniel Island Club, cameras pointed at her and boom mics hovering over head.

But this time, Rogers was the one asking the questions, of her fellow American on the WTA Tour, Madison Keys.

Rogers, Charleston's representative on the women's professional tennis circuit, is getting a different view of the Volvo Car Open this week, as a reporter for the Tennis Channel.

She served as a ballgirl at the Family Circle Tennis Center as a youngster, and has played in her hometown tournament every year since 2010, advancing to the quarterfinals last year.

But Rogers, 25 and ranked No. 87 in the world, had to withdraw from the Volvo Car Open with a knee injury suffered last month at Indian Wells. So instead of playing this week, she's interviewing fellow players and offering analysis on the Tennis Channel in between rehabilitation sessions for her knee.

“It's a lot of fun, but it's exhausting,” Rogers said after completing her interviews Monday. “I'm not gonna lie to you. Planning and scheduling and waiting on players, it puts it in perspective for me a little bit.”

Not being able to play in front of the hometown fans is obviously a disappointment, but Rogers is making the best of it.

“It's the first time I haven't played here in years,” she said, “and it's definitely a weird feeling. The nerves are still there, but in a different way. Being in front of the camera, I don't want to mess up, you know?

“But it's definitely a weird feeling being on the grounds and not getting ready for a match or being able to practice. I'm just trying to be positive and interact with the fans as much as I can, because they've been so supportive of me over the years.”

Rogers hurt her knee during a first-round match against Caroline Dolehide at Indian Wells. Down 3-0 in the third set, Rogers called a trainer to look at her left knee. He taped it up and she finished the match, but now has skipped Miami and Charleston.

“I'm feeling okay, just taking it one day at a time,” said Rogers, who was ranked a career-best No. 48 last year. “It will take some time to be 100 percent again. I'm doing everything I can with rehab between the camera work. I'm trying to be very diligent with that and put the time in so I can get back on court as soon as I can.”

So as much as she loves playing in Charleston, rushing back to the court was not an option.

“In the back of my mind, I wanted to play here,” she said. “But if I hurt it worse, maybe I'm out forever. I didn't want to take that risk.”

Rogers was honored Monday night at the S.C. Junior Tennis Foundation's gala, receiving the first “Player Who Makes a Difference” award. The gala included an on-stage interview with Tennis Channel's Mary Carillo.

“I'm super-excited about it,” Rogers said. “It's an honor to get such a cool award and there will be a lot of familiar faces in the audience — a nice reunion, if you will.”

As for the tournament, the withdrawal of 2016 VCO champ Sloane Stephens on Monday leaves the draw wide open. France's Caroline Garcia is the top seed.

“I think women's tennis right now is so competitive,” Rogers said. “It's tough to pick a winner. Every week there is an upset here or there. If I were to pick a winner and it was like my NCAA bracket, it's not gonna be very good.”

Meanwhile, Rogers can continue her work as an unofficial ambassador for the Volvo Car Open.

“Absolutely,” she said when asked if she's proud of her hometown tournament. “I honestly don't have to do much talking it up, because it's a player favorite already.

“The players are really spoiled when they come here and the city helps with that. It's so beautiful and the food is great. I definitely give it praise wherever I go, but so does everybody else.”


(04/02/18)  Rising star Naomi Osaka takes center stage on first day of Volvo Car Open
With U.S. Open champ Sloane Stephens withdrawing from the Volvo Car Open on Monday, the draw in the $800,000 WTA Tour event suddenly seems a lot more open.

Rising star Naomi Osaka took the first step Monday toward what would be her second WTA singles title, taking a 6-4, 6-4 victory over American Jennifer Brady at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island.

Osaka, 20 and seeded 10th, rocketed to fame with her first WTA title against a deep field at Indian Wells last month.

Stephens, seeded No. 4 here, withdrew on Monday, citing exhaustion after her victory last week in Miami. She won the Volvo Car Open in 2016.

Monday results  -  First round singles
Alize Cornet d. Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-1, 6-2
Varvara Lepchenko d. Andrea Petkovic, 6-4, 7-5
Naomi Osaka d. Jennifer Brady, 6-4, 6-4
Aleksandra Krunic d. Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-2, 6-2
Christina McHale d. Zarina Diyas, 6-4, 6-2
Daria Gavrilova d. Ons Jabeur, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3
Camilia Giorgia d. Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 6-1, 6-4
Bernarda Pera d. Jana Cepelova, 6-2, 6-2
Kiki Bertens d. Veronica Cepede Royg, 6-4, 6-1
Mihaela Buzarnescu d. Vera Lapko, 6-4, 0-0
Laura Sigemund d. Natalia Vikhylantseva, 7-5, 6-2
Fanny Stollar d. Francesca Di Lorenzo, 7-5, 6-1
Polona Hercog d. Maryna Zanevska 6-1, 6-4

Tuesday on Stadium Court  (Starts at 10 a.m.)
Sofia Kenin vs. Ashleigh Barty
Kristie Ahn vs. Samantha Stosur
Eugenie Bouchard vs. Sara Errani
Caroline Garcia vs. Varvara Lepchenko
(Not before 7 p.m.)
Christina McHale vs. Daria Kasatkina
Dabrowksi/Xu vs. Atawo/Groenfeld


(04/02/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: U.S. Open champ Sloane Stephens withdraws from Volvo Car Open
Reigning U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens has withdrawn from the Volvo Car Open after winning her sixth career WTA Tour title last week in Miami.

Stephens won the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island in 2016. She broke the news to VCO tournament director Bob Moran on Monday afternoon.

"I'm so sorry to announce I won't be playing in Charleston this week," Stephens said Monday. "My run to the title in Miami left me completely exhausted/fatigued both physically and mentally. I don't feel prepared to play my best and therefore it's in my best interest to get some rest.

"I want to thank Bob Moran and (tournament manager) Eleanor Adams for all their support. Charleston is truly one of the best events on tour. I sincerely look forward to playing (there) again many more times. I wish the best of luck to all the girls."

Moran said the withdrawal of the tournament's No. 4 seed was "disappointing."

"We actually had a good conversation with her coach and agent after she won Saturday, and she was thinking about it," Moran said. "We told her to sleep on it and see how she felt, but she's just physically exhausted."

A "lucky loser" from qualifying will take Stephens' spot in the draw.


(04/02/18)  WCBD-TV: Sloane Stephens withdraws from Volvo
Sloane Stephens announced Monday that she will not play in the 2018 Volvo Car Open.

Stephens won the Miami Open on Sunday and was scheduled to play in Charleston in the Open later this week.

She released the following statement Monday afternoon about her withdrawal.

"I'm so sorry to announce I won't be playing in Charleston this week. My run to the title in Miami left me completely exhausted/fatigued both physically and mentally. I don't feel prepared to play my best and therefore it's in my best interest to get some rest. I want to thank Bob Moran and Eleanor Adams for all their support. Charleston is truly one of the best events on tour. I sincerely look forward to playing [there] again many more times. I wish the best of luck to all the girls." Sloane Stephens


(04/02/18) TENNIS.com: Charleston is known for launching new stars into the WTA stratosphere
A few minutes after winning the Volvo Car Open last spring, Daria Kasatkina was faced with a choice most 19-year-olds can only dream of making. Namely: which of the sponsor’s complementary automobiles should she drive away with, the sleek sedan or the sturdy SUV? Kasatkina didn’t think twice.

“The big one, the SUV, I took,” the Russian said with a smile. “You know, in Slovakia [where Kasatkina trains] not the best roads, not like in USA. So I have to take a big car, a big safe car.”

Safety, steadiness, sturdiness, margin for error: those words also aptly summed up the game that Kasatkina had just used to win her first WTA title, at the Premier-level event in Charleston, S.C. In a field that featured bold-faced names like Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Madison Keys and Johanna Konta, the unseeded—and at 5'7", seemingly undersized—Kasatkina used her smooth sliding and shotmaking skills to navigate her way to the final. There she cruised past her soon-to-be-famous fellow 19-year-old, Jelena Ostapenko.

What's at Stake in Charleston/Monterrey?:

A top junior and a quarterfinalist at the 2016 Olympics, Kasatkina had long been expected to win her share of tournaments. As the 2014 Roland Garros girls’ champion, and a lifelong fan and follower of Rafael Nadal—“When I watch him, he plays with a lot of spin; I was trying to play the same”—she knew her game was well-suited to clay. She also knew how to bite a winner’s trophy, à la Rafa. But she didn’t expect to be biting her first one at such an historic, high-profile event.

“I feel I’m just sleeping and everything is not real,” Kasatkina said afterward.

At the time, two months before Ostapenko made her own breakthrough in Paris, this Charleston final could fairly be said to lack star power. Even the loyal, tennis-loving, tennis-playing fans of the Lowcountry were unlikely to be familiar with these teens from Russia and Latvia. According to Volvo Car Open tournament director Bob Moran, though, the match was right in line with what he expects and tries to achieve in Charleston.

“The future is really where we focus,” says Moran, whose recruiting trips to Wimbledon helped bring Kasatkina and Ostapenko to South Carolina. “We want star players, of course, but we pay really close attention to see who we think is next.”

But Moran also focuses on youth, rather than star power, out of necessity. During the 1970s, when it was known as the Family Circle Cup, the tournament was a signature event on the Virginia Slims tour. It began in 1973, the same year that the WTA was formed, and was held on Hilton Head Island, a new mecca for recreational players. Nationally televised, the Family Circle Cup became a symbol of tennis’ U.S. boom, and of the WTA’s pioneering success as a women’s pro sports league.

By the 1980s, though, the men’s and women’s tours had begun to join forces at ever-larger, ever-more-lucrative and often mandatory, dual-gender events. Two of the largest, in Indian Wells and Key Biscayne, would eventually take over the month of March on the pro calendar.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity,” Moran says. “The women come from two weeks in the California desert, and then two weeks of the glitz and sizzle in Miami, so it can feel like they’re taking a big deep breath when they get off the plane here. Everything kind of slows down for them in Charleston, and we put on the Southern charm.”

Along with a slower pace off the court, the Volvo Car Open—which moved to Daniel Island near Charleston in 2001—also offers a slower pace on it. Slightly quicker green clay serves as a convenient bridge from the March hard-court swing to the red clay players will face in Europe. In 2013, Serena Williams began a 22-match win streak in Charleston that ended, two months later, with her first French Open title in 11 years. In 2017, Ostapenko reached her first final of the season in Charleston, before winning Roland Garros.

While the tournament may not have the stature it did 40 years ago, it has carved out a niche as a place where fans can get a sneak a peak at coming WTA attractions. A breakout win in lower-stakes Charleston often leads to a bigger breakout down the line. In 2007, Jelena Jankovic won the title; in 2008, she reached the US Open final and became No. 1 in the world. In 2010, Sam Stosur was the champion in Charleston; the following year she was also a US Open champion. In 2014, Andrea Petkovic won Charleston; that spring she reached her first Grand Slam semifinal, at Roland Garros. Angelique Kerber won Charleston in 2015; the next year she won two major titles and rose to No. 1. In 2016, Sloane Stephens won in Charleston; in 2017, she won the US Open.

“I think players feel like they’re getting a fresh start here, and they can work on their games with less pressure and fewer distractions,” Moran says. “I remember Angie Kerber wasn’t playing well in 2015, and looked really down when she came to Charleston. But that all changed that week. She had a great time here, and she won.”

Who is playing in Charleston in 2018? Moran secured commitments from Stephens, Keys, Konta, Petra Kvitova, CiCi Bellis and Caroline Garcia, among others. Bellis, an 18-year-old Californian who had a career year in 2018, and Garcia, a 24-year-old Frenchwoman who cracked the Top 10 last year, would seem to be likely candidates for the Charleston rite of passage. Naomi Osaka will also be out there this year, and the Indian Wells champ can definitely be dangerous.

Kasatkina will also be back to defend her title. While she has yet to make a career-changing breakthrough, at 20 she has plenty of time. Her safe, patient way of constructing points may need more time to develop than, say, Ostapenko’s grip-and-rip style. She did, however, make it to the Indian Wells final, so perhaps this will be the event she puts it all together.

However long she takes to develop, if the folks in Charleston see Kasatkina following in Nadal’s footsteps and winning Roland Garros someday, they can say they saw her take a bite out of their trophy first.


(04/02/18)  WCSC-TV/Live 5 news: Women's tennis stars descend on Lowcountry for Volvo Car Open
Some of the biggest names in women's tennis are playing on Daniel Island over the next week.

Saturday marked the beginning of qualifying matches, but the Volvo Car Open runs through next Sunday April 8 at the  Family Circle Tennis Center. A few recognizable names include Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitova and Madison Keys, all ranked in the Women's Tennis Association top-20.

Lowcountry native Shelby Rogers was scheduled to participate but had to withdraw because of an injury.

The tournament is hosting special nights during the week including "Pink Out For the Cure" night on Wednesday and "Military Appreciation Night" on Thursday.

A number of ticket packages ranging from $60 to more than $500 are available here.

The tournament moved from Hilton Head to Charleston in 2001 and was renamed for Volvo in 2015.


(04/02/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Hustle, hospitality keep Volvo Car Open humming
Bob Moran is taking a meeting when his cell phone buzzes.

It's a text from Bethanie Mattek-Sands, confirming her arrival in Charleston. The next buzz is from Andrea Petkovic; she needs to be picked up at the airport that night.

The phone vibrates again, and Moran stands up from the conference table.

"I'm sorry, I really do have to take this one," Moran apologizes as he strides from the room.

That man you see hurrying across the Family Circle Tennis Center grounds, with a cell phone glued to his ear and a too-busy-to-shave beard, is Bob Moran, tournament director of the Volvo Car Open.

With the Volvo Car Open back for its 46th edition (and 18th on Daniel Island), Moran and tournament manager Eleanor Adams will be studies in perpetual motion the entire week.

But keeping the Volvo Car Open — the largest women-only tennis tournament in the world — relevant on the increasingly competitive WTA Tour is a full-time job for both.

Recruiting top players to the Volvo Car Open, a third-tier "Premier" even on the WTA Tour (below "Premier Mandatory" and "Premier Five" events), is not unlike the high-stakes recruiting world of college football and basketball.

The Volvo Car Open's place in the WTA Tour schedule, following high-profile hardcourt events at Indian Wells and Miami, also complicates matters.

Players are tempted to skip the green clay of Charleston and head to Europe to prepare for the clay-court season, leading to the French Open.

"We're not a Grand Slam or Mandatory event," Moran said. "So we have to work a little harder. Our recruiting is year-round, and the players know that. We're not just recruiting players, we're recruiting agents and coaches, too."

Long-term relationships

An example: Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, ranked No. 9, will play for the first time in Charleston this year.

"We just felt this was a perfect fit for her," Moran said of Kvitova, who is a year into a comeback from a hand injury suffered during a home invasion in 2016.

"We utilized our relationship with her agent, with some of her fellow Czech players like Lucie Safarova, with whom we have a long-standing relationship. We think Petra will have a great time and come back for many years."

Venus and Serena Williams, who have played in Charleston a combined 17 times with four titles (three for Serena), were the marquee players on Daniel Island for years.

But the tournament's investment in new talent, and Moran's keen eye for rising stars, has paid off in long-term relationships.

Sloane Stephens began playing in Charleston in 2011 when she was 18. It took her five tries to win a main-draw match here; then she won the VCO in 2016, won the U.S. Open last year and is due back on Daniel Island this year as one of tennis' top stars.

"We've nurtured players like Sloan and Madison Keys for the last five years, and those relationships are long-term," Moran said. "That's really helped us."

The Volvo Car Open made similar early investments in 2017 VCO champ Daria Kasatkina and Naomi Osaka, who have taken the WTA Tour by storm this year and are back to headline this year's field.

Caroline Garcia, the top-ranked player in the field at No. 7, recalled that the Volvo Car Open (then the Family Circle Cup) was one of her first pro events in 2012.

"I am so happy to be back to Charleston one of the first pro tournament I played!" Garcia posted on Twitter.

Tennis Channel boost

Financially, Moran said the Volvo Car Open, which has a purse of $800,000, is doing well. The tournament, which was played on Hilton Head from 1973 to 2000, has a deal to play at the Family Circle Tennis Center through 2030.

Talks about an extension of Volvo's sponsorship are on-going, Moran said. The original deal with the Swedish automaker, announced in August of 2015, was good for three years with a two-year option.

Moran said the 10-year deal the VCO signed with Tennis Channel last year has paid off in increased ticket sales this year.

"Our ticket sales are trending nicely ahead of last year," he said. "I attribute that to the deal with Tennis Channel. We are seeing the trickle-down effects of that; I've seen more than 400 new ticket-buyers from outside the tri-county area.

"There's a whole new audience that has seen us on the Tennis Channel, which true tennis fans watch. Tennis Channel brought us some 2 million viewers, where we have been stuck in a rut of 750,000 to 800,000. That's what we needed to do, and our ticket sales are in a better place."

All in all, it's a combination of hustle and hospitality that keeps the Volvo Car Open humming, said Tracy Austin, who won the tournament in 1979-80 and will cover it this week for Tennis Channel.

"It's in such a gorgeous and historic city in Charleston," Austin said. "The players really appreciate that. If you are going to spend a week of your time, you want it to be in a great place like Charleston.

"The feeling in Charleston is just about that Southern hospitality. Everybody is so friendly and welcoming, and the players love that."


(04/01/18)  Liu among three Americans qualifying for Volvo Car Open
Volvo Car Open tournament director Bob Moran was ecstatic.

"We've got a lot of Americans making the main draw," he said Sunday afternoon as he sized up the qualifying tournament survivors.

Twenty-year-old left-hander Francesca DiLorenzo had started the run of Americans in qualifying at the very start of the tournament by upsetting top-seeded Francoise Abanda, and the former Ohio State All-American kept the run alive with a main draw-clinching win in the second round.

And 6-4 Caroline Dolehide, a powerful 19-year-old, kept it going for 17-year-old Claire Liu to finish it.

Yes, three of the eight qualifying tournament berths for the VCO main draw are Americans. All three of them will have to be reckoned with when the main draw starts Monday morning.

Reigning Junior Wimbledon champion Liu might have the best chance of the trio for success in the main draw. The 5-6 teen from Thousand Oaks, Calif., probably doesn't have many peers among American women in the almost lost art of volleying a tennis ball.

It was the threat of her spectacular volleying skills and the actual carry-out of that ability that appeared to save the day for her against the nearly unflappable clay-court game of smallish 23-year-old Romanian Irina Bara in a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-2 victory for Liu. That seemed to be the only things that could force an error from Bara's almost automatic returns.

"She's a great defender. On clay, she's really tough. You always have to be ready to hit one more shot," said Liu, who became the No. 1 junior in the world last year when was runner-up at the Junior French Open and then won the junior title at Wimbledon. "She (Bara) would find ways to keep me from becoming aggressive."

About her volley tactics, Liu said, "I just try to be able to do everything. I guess against a player like her, it's hard to play the points out from the baseline. So, it's really good to have that game I can pull out when I need it."

Liu was thrilled to make the main draw. "It's amazing. I'm really excited," said Liu, whose first-round opponent in the main draw will be world's No. 66 Magda Linette of Poland, probably on Tuesday.

"This was my first try at a WTA Tour wild card, and I wasn't sure how it would go," Liu said. "It was a real tough match today, and I was happy to get the win. I just tried to keep playing my game and I think that really helped. I had a lot of chances in the second set and I kept trying to do the right thing. I had chances almost every game. It was just a lot of execution errors. I just kept trying to do the same thing and be aggressive."

DiLorenzo advanced to the main draw with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 march past Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia in the first match on the Althea Gibson Club Court on Sunday, and fifth seed Dolehide followed with a 7-6 (7), 6-3 win over No. 10 seed Misaki Doi of Japan.

Third seed Vera Lapko of Belarus snapped the Americans' winning streak on the club court with a 7-5, 6-4 win over wild card Jessie Pegula.

"She was just a big, tall aggressive girl who put a lot of pressure on me," said Pegula, a two-time qualifier here who trained at Family Circle Tennis Center three years ago.

And 2016 Junior U.S. Open champion Kayla Day of Santa Barbara, Calif., saw the biggest point of the her long match taken away when a linesperson's presence at the fence prevented Day from returning a shot at deuce in the decisive game of a 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-4 loss to tall and powerful seventh seed Georgina Garcia Perez of Spain. That gave Garcia Perez match point, much to the dismay of Day and many fans on court No. 4. Garcia Perez then took the main draw berth with an overhead.

No. 14 seed Silvia Soler-Espinosa gave Spain another spot in the main draw with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 win over American Sophie Chang.

In one of only two of the eight second-round qualifying matches that didn't include an American, power-hitting 20-year-old Fanny Stollar of Hungary pulled off a repeat of 2017 when she advanced through qualifying, then won a pair of main draw contests.

On Sunday, Stollar powered past No. 16 seed Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway 6-1, 6-4. It will be almost like qualifying again on Monday for Stollar since she will face DiLorenzo in the first round of the main draw.

The other non-U.S. player match saw No. 8 seed Maryna Zanevska of Belarus defeat ninth seed Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3.


(04/01/18)  TENNIS MAGAZINE:  Previewing the WTA action in Charleston and Monterrey
While the men begin the week by taking a few days to prepare for the Davis Cup quarterfinals, there’s no spring break for the women. The WTA’s top players slide out of the spring hard-court swing in Miami and straight into the clay season. But there is a little transition time built in. Before flying across the Atlantic to start the long slog on European dirt, they a take short flight up the coast from Florida to the green clay at Charleston’s Volvo Car Open.

Most of the top players make that flight, anyway. One big name, and one new name, have chosen to head back across the continent for the season’s last hard-court event, in Monterrey, Mexico.

Here’s a look ahead at what might be in store at both tournaments this week.

Volvo Car Open (Charleston, S.C.)
$800,000; Premier
Green clay court

“We like to look for who’s next,” Charleston tournament director Bob Moran says. He’s not kidding: Over the last decade, his event has had an uncanny knack for giving fans a sneak preview of the WTA’s future. Since 2007, Jelena Jankovic, Samantha Stosur, Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber and Sloane Stephens have all won the Volvo Car Open, and gone to either win a major, or a reach the final of one. In the 2017 Charleston final, Daria Kasatkina beat Jelena Ostapenko in what was then a battle of unknowns. Neither is unknown now.

Will anyone have a similar breakthrough this week? No. 1 seed Caroline Garcia, who made her Top 10 debut last fall but has yet to reach a Grand Slam semifinal, would be a logical candidate. But a deep run through this field isn’t a given. Stephens, Kasatkina, Petra Kvitova, 2015 finalist Madison Keys, Johanna Konta, Anastasia Sevastova, Julia Goerges and Naomi Osaka are all in Charleston. Osaka would also be a possible next-big-thing prospect, if she hadn’t just won her first title in Indian Wells, and followed it up with a win over Serena Williams in Miami.

First-round match to watch: Osaka vs. Jennifer Brady

American to watch: Caroline Dolehide. The 19-year-old nearly beat Simona Halep in Indian Wells, and has made it through qualifying in Charleston.

Abierto DNP Seguros (Monterrey, Mexico)
$250,000; International
Hard court

Garbiñe Muguruza is coming off a straight-set loss to Stephens in Miami, and she just terminated her temporary partnership with coach Conchita Martinez. Can she build some momentum at this small event, before starting on the winding, tiring road to Roland Garros? She’ll begin her Monterrey campaign against Mexican wildcard Renata Zarazua.

Also here: Magdalena Rybarikova, Monica Puig

American to watch: Danielle Collins. The suddenly famous Floridian, who beat Venus Williams to reach the semifinals in Miami, will start against Mariana Duque-Mariño. The grind begins for Collins; let's see how holds up under it.


(03/31/18)  Top seed falls at Volvo Car open qualifying tournament
Volvo Car Open qualifying tournament top seed Francoise Abanda of Canada didn't last long on the clay at Family Circle Tennis Center on Saturday.

Former Ohio State All-American Francesca DiLorenzo made quick work of the 21-year-old Abanda, who is ranked 124th in the world, with a 6-3, 6-4 win in the opening round of qualifying.

DiLorenzo is a 20-year-old left-hander who recently won the Oracle $100,000 U.S. Tennis Award. She turned professional in 2017 after two years at Ohio State and is now ranked No. 258.

It wasn't DiLorenzo's first local match. She played here in 2015 in the U.S. Women's Pro Circuit $10,000 event at LTP Tennis, defeating local standout Emma Navarro in the round of 16 of the clay court event.

It wasn't a good return to Charleston for 39-year-old Patty Schnyder as 17-year-old 2017 Junior Wimbledon champion Claire Liu of Thousand Oaks, Calif., posted a 7-6 (2), 6-4 win over Schnyder.

Schnyder, a gritty left-hander, has long been a big fan favorite at this tournament.

Kayla Day, another former Junior Grand Slam champion, almost let 35-year-old Russian Anastasia Rodionova make this event a short one for Day. But the 18-year-old Day from Santa Barbara, Calif., came alive in the third set to advance to the second round of qualifying with a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (0), 6-4 win over Rodionova.

"I was having a hard time closing today," said Day, the 2016 Junior U.S. Open champion. "The first set tiebreaker I played well, but I didn't play well in the second set tiebreaker."

Day broke service at love to deadlock the second set at 6-6, then could do no right in the tiebreaker as she quickly committed four errors against the consistent Russian, who called for a trainer after the second set.

"I got up 5-2 in the third (set), but then I struggled to close it out," said Day, who held service at 40-15 in the 10th game to close out the match.

"I think I was forcing it too much when I was ahead instead of playing it one point at a time. I played a good game at 5-4 to close it out.

"This is my first clay court match of the year and I'm happy with the way I played. I served well today. I just had some double faults."

Fanny Stollar, a 19-year-old from Hungary who was one of the stars of the 2017 VCO, seems to be doing it again. Stollar eliminated qualifying fourth seed Jil Teichmann of Switzerland, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (10).

A year ago, Stollar advanced through qualifying and then made the round of 16 of the main draw.

For former Charleston junior Ellie Halbauer, her fifth qualifying event here produced the same results. Moon-ball hitting 11th seed Irina Bara of Rhodesia fought off Halbauer's powerful ground strokes for a 6-2, 7-5 victory.

Halbauer wore large bandage on her left thigh, but she said that did not hamper her play. Her court movement was excellent, but she just had to hit a dozen or more big strokes just to win a point at times.

Fifth seed Caroline Dolehide, a 6-4 19-year-old American who defeated Shelby Rogers at Indian Wells, Calif., scored a 6-3, 7-6 (5) win over American Maria Sanchez.


(03/31/18)  TENNIS PANORAMA: U.S. Open Winner Sloane Stephens Beats Roland Garros Champion Jelena Ostapenko to Win Miami Open Title
This is the last year that the Miami Open is being held at Bey Biscayne in Crandon Park. Next year the tournament will be moving to North Miami to Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins.

“Obviously this place is pretty special to me, said the Fort Lauderdale area native. “I grew up playing tennis here. When the USTA was here, we played Orange Bowl and all sorts of tournaments here.

“I’m definitely happy that I could be the last person to win here. I have had some amazing experiences here, and I’ll definitely miss it, but I think — yeah, I just feel fortunate that I was able to do that here in South Florida with all my friends and family watching.”

Stephens’ next stop is the on the clay courts of the Volvo Cars Open in Charleston, where she plays in a few days.

“I’m really looking forward to it. Obviously I missed the last clay court season, so I’m super excited to get back out there.

“Red clay is my favorite. I haven’t been to Rome in, like, two years, so I’m looking forward to getting back there.

“Yeah, I’m just really looking forward to it. I think that I’m playing well. I’m in a good place. Hopefully I can make some dents there, as well, during the clay court season.”


(03/31/18)  Jessie Pegula back on friendly turf at Volvo Car Open
Jessie Pegula was back on her home turf Saturday at Family Circle Tennis Center.

This was where she trained nearly three years ago when she was making a move on the WTA Tour. She won six straight matches at the U.S. Open in 2015.

Then she left town, along with former Junior U.S. Open champion Samantha Crawford, who also was making a name for herself on the WTA Tour, but has fallen in the rankings the last couple of years and is currently ranked at 1,084.

Not much had been heard from Pegula since, although she did return for qualifying in 2016 but lost her first match.

Injuries always have been a problem for the big-hitting Pegula.

"I've been around a long time, but three of those five years I've been injured," she said.

This is her sixth appearance in the tournament, dating all the way back to 2011.

"I haven't played a big tournament in awhile," the daughter of Buffalo Bills/Sabres owner Terry Pegula said Saturday during the qualifying tournament for the Volvo Car Open.

She had played a weak first set, but kept veteran Grace Min worried with her powerful ground strokes. The last two sets belonged to the 24-year-old Pegula in a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win in the first round of qualifying.

One more victory on Sunday will put Pegula in the main draw of the Volvo Car Open. She will face Vera Lapko of Belarus in the second round of qualifying.

"I've made the main draw twice here. I just love playing here," said Pegula, who now trains at Boca Raton, Fla.

She even defeated French Open/Wimbledon winner Garbine Muguruza in the first round of the main draw in 2013 and advanced to the round of 16 after fighting through qualifying.

"I think sometimes my feet just stopped moving," she said about her first set against the always gritty Min. "She is really a good player. Grace is so tough. She makes you earn it and win the match. She competes so well.

"That makes it tough for me to play against her. But I was nervous when I started out. It was just hard for me at the beginning."

Once ranked as high as 123rd in the world, Pegula has seen her ranking drop to No. 434.

"I had hip surgery a year ago, but I know my game is there. I just need to stay healthy and strong mentally."

What's her goal these days? "I know I can get to the top 50," she said.

How long will she give herself to get there? "I'll give it until I can't do it anymore."

THE MAIN DRAW

The section of the main draw that everyone will be looking forward to is in the second quarter of the top half of the draw where reigning U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens is the fourth seed and power-hitting Madison Keys is the seventh seed.

This would be the match most fans would have loved to have seen in the VCO final, just as they squared off in the 2017 U.S. Open final. Stephens also won the 2016 VCO.

But the top quarter is set up for a possible all-European showdown between top-seeded Caroline Garcia of France and No. 6 seed Johanna Konta of England.

In the bottom half, defending champion Daria Kasatkina is the third seed and is in the same quarter with fifth seed Julia Goerges of Germany.

The bottom quarter has No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and No. 8 seed Anastasija Sevastova of Lativa.


(03/31/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Ready for takeoff: Naomi Osaka, Daria Kasatkina lead youth brigade at Volvo Car Open
On a recent Sunday afternoon, a pair of 20-year-olds boarded a private jet for the first time, preparing for a cross- country flight, southern California to Miami.

They were about as giddy as you'd expect a pair of 20-year-olds to be.

Naomi Osaka wondered if her fellow passenger, Daria Kasatkina, would talk to her on the flight. After all, Osaka had just beaten Kasatkina in the finals at Indian Wells for her first WTA Tour victory.

Would it be, like, awkward?

"I don't know what you're supposed to say to someone that you've not really talked to before," Osaka fretted. "So it's not like I have a certain conversation. I just think it would be really cool to talk to her.

"I'm so weird. It's so bad. Oh my God. OK."

As it turned out, the flight passed uneventfully. No post-match squabbles broke out, and Kasatkina sat a couple of rows in front of Osaka, the two speaking only in passing.

Learning the etiquette of private jets is just one part of the on-going tennis education of Osaka and Kasatkina, two breakout stars of the WTA Tour as the women's professional tennis circuit heads to Daniel Island for the Volvo Car Open this week.

Kasatkina, a 5-7 Russian, used her breakthrough victory at last year's Volvo Car Open as a springboard to what's been a brilliant 2018 season thus far. She beat four Grand Slam champions — Sloane Stephens, Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams — on the way to the Indian Wells final. She's perched just outside the top 10 at No. 11.

Osaka, a 5-11 right-hander born of a Japanese mother and Haitian father, is making her fourth appearance in Charleston. Last year, she lost to hometown favorite Shelby Rogers in the round of 16. Her road to the finals at Indian Wells included wins over Maria Sharapova, No. 5 Karolina Pliskova and No. 1-ranked Simona Halep. She's rocketed from No. 68 at the end of 2017 to No. 22.

Both players appeared several years ago on the keen radar of Volvo Car Open tournament director Bob Moran, who relishes the tournament's reputation as a launching pad for new stars.

"I remember talking to a coach who told me, 'This young girl from Japan, Osaka, is somebody you need to pay attention to,'" Moran said. "She's got a big game, and it might take her a little bit. But she's gonna be one to watch.

"So we immediately reached out to her to get her to Charleston, and it was the same story with Kasatkina."

Osaka knocked off her idol, new mom Serena Williams, last week in Miami, gushing about how cool it was to see Serena in person (and not on TV), and to shake her hand after the match.

"It was a dream come true," Osaka said from Miami this week. "I grew up watching and idolizing Serena, so it was an honor to share the court with her. To win was even more special."

Osaka, who was born in Japan but moved to Florida at age 3, is a refreshing presence in post-match press conferences. She peppers interviews with references to "Caveman Spongebob" and has been candid about her need for wheat toast for breakfast and not sourdough — definitely not sourdough.

"I'm not really sure," she said when asked where her sense of humor comes from. "My parents aren't very funny. I kind of think I got it from the internet."

Osaka is sure to have a higher profile among Charleston fans at the Volvo Car Open than she did last year, but so far has taken her new fame in stride.

"Not at all," she laughed when asked if success has changed Naomi Osaka. "I still have a long way to go on this road, and I'm just getting started."

Who knows? Maybe she'll one day have her own private jet.

5 More to Watch

1. Sloane Stephens
The 2016 VCO champ was forced to the TV booth by injury last year — then recovered to win the U.S. Open. Oh by the way, she also won at Miami on Saturday.

2. Petra Kvitova
The 2-time Wimbledon champ is making her VCO debut, part of her remarkable comeback from a hand injury suffered in a 2016 home invasion.

3. Madison Keys
The 23-year-old American made the VCO finals in 2015, and lost to Stephens in the U.S. Open finals last year.

4. CiCi Bellis
Bellis is making her Charleston debut at age 18, and was named the WTA Tour Newcomer of the Year in 2017.

5. Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Paired with Lucie Safarova to win the VCO doubles title last year, then suffered an awful knee injury at Wimbledon. The 32-year-old American is on the comeback trail.


(03/31/18) WCIV-TV/ABC 4: Volvo Car Open workers make sure tournament is a grand slam
The Volvo Car Open, a nine-day tennis tournament on Daniel Island will run from March 31-April 8.

It attracts an average of 90,000 attendees and more than 100 of the top singles and doubles tennis players.

Workers and volunteers help make sure the tournament a success.

ABC News 4 checked in at the stadium a day before the tournament's first day to see how things were shaping up.


(03/31/18)  Young prospects get shot at main draw in Volvo Car Open qualifying tournament
Claire Liu and Kayla Day are among the brightest young prospects in tennis.

At ages 17 and 18, Liu and Kay could still be playing the junior circuit, but both have moved to the next level.

They should be among the next stars of the professional game. Each has won a junior Grand Slam singles title.

But they are still in the transition stage from playing against juniors to competing against the likes of Venus Williams, Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki. Liu and Day haven't had to face any of that trio yet, but give them time.

Right now, Liu and Day are trying to deal with qualifying for WTA Tour tournaments such as next week's Volvo Car Open. The next two days will determine if they're still around for Monday's start of the VCO main draw.

"The biggest difference is they are tougher and definitely stronger. They won't go away. They won't give you free points," Liu said while comparing pros to juniors. "In juniors, some girls can be a little softer and they might go away. But in the pros, they don't."

Liu was the No. 1 junior player in the world when she won last year's Junior Wimbledon singles title after finishing as runner-up at the Junior French Open. She was the first American to win Junior Wimbledon in the last quarter century.

She turned pro at the end of 2017 and is now ranked 230th in the world.

"Going into pros, it's different. Pros are obviously better, stronger, tougher. It's just getting a lot of matches in and starting from the bottom," said Liu, a Thousand Oaks, Calif., product who played in last year's $60K U.S. Women's Pro Circuit event at LTP Tennis just before playing the Junior French Open.

Day and Liu practically grew up together in tennis training at the USTA site in Carson, Calif. Liu still trains in Carson, while Day recently switched to Orlando, Fla.

"We lived about 45 minutes apart," said Day, a Santa Barbara, Calif., native. "We've known each other since we were eight years old. I used to practice with her almost every day."

Both dealt with many of the same issues, the college issue and then transitioning away from junior tennis to the pros.

"It was really difficult," said 2016 Junior U.S. Open champion Day about her decision to turn pro. "I thought about it four months and I turned down my U.S. Open prize money (in 2016), because I thought I was going to college.

"But then I ended up turning pro. I think I made the right decision. I love the tour," added the 183rd-ranked Day who also played at LTP Tennis' pro circuit tournament last spring.

Then came the really difficult thing about turning pro: The difference in the competition.

"It was difficult (transitioning to the pros)," Day said. "It's a lot different from the juniors. You're basically traveling every week and you don't get to go home. I think that was what was hard. In the juniors I was home more. Also, the competition is obviously a lot stronger.
"I'm happy with my game now, but it's been up and down recently. It's a process and everybody goes through it. I would like to be ranked higher, but my ranking shows how good I am right now and hopefully I can be better the rest of the season," Day added.

"I definitely want to be in the top 100 by the end of the year. I would love to be breaking through at some of the Grand Slams. I really would love to just clean up a lot of things in my game and be able to compete with the best in the world in a couple of years."

The jump to women's pro tennis is much bigger these days than when Chris Evert and Tracy Austin were winning Grand Slam titles at such an early age.

"The game is completely different from when they played. The players are so strong and they're big and they have a lot of experience," Day said. "And they're able to expose all your weaknesses. In the juniors, you can get away with a lot of things."

Day and Liu have their own weapons. While Day is a left-hander, Liu is a brilliant volleyer.

"The ball has a different spin when you're a left-hander," Day said. "I think it really helps me on my serve because it moves away from my opponent differently from a right-hander's serves."

Liu concentrates on her mobility and ability to get to the net because she's only 5-6.

"I'm trying to work on everything and have an all-around game," Liu said. "I'm not as tall as some of the girls on the tour, so I have to be able to run around and take time away from them by coming to the net. I don't see not being tall as a drawback. I just have to be in position to run and get balls back and hopefully draw some errors."
 
Volvo Car Open - Saturday/Qualifying Tournament

Althea Gibson Court (Starting at 10 a.m.)
Francoise Abanda (CAN) vs. Francesca Di Lorenzo (USA)
Caroline Dolehide (USA)vs. Maria Sanchez (USA)
[WC] Jessica Pegula (USA) vs. Grace Min (USA)
[WC] Elizabeth Halbauer (USA) Vs. Irina Bara (ROU)

Court 3 (Starting at 10 a.m.)
[WC] Zoe Kruger (RSA) vs. Ulrikke Eikeri (NOR)
Arina Rodionova (AUS) vs. Sophie Chang (USA)
Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) vs. Kayla Day (USA)
Patty Schnyder (SUI) vs. Claire Liu (USA)

Court 4 (Starting at 10 a.m.)
Jil Teichmann (SUI) vs. Fanny Stollar (HUN)
Zhaoxuan Yang (CHN) vs. Misaki Doi (JPN)
Georgina Garcia Perez (ESP) vs. Greta Arn (HUN)
Sesil Karatantcheva (BUL) vs. Dayana Yastremska (UKR)

Court 5 (Starting at 10 a.m.)
Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) vs. Daniela Seguel (CHI)
[WC] Nicole Melichar (USA) vs. Sílvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP)
Vera Lapko (BLR) vs. Shuko Aoyama (JPN)
Maryna Zanevska (BEL) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN)


(03/31/18)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
WEST ASHLEY 4, ASHLEY RIDGE 2
Singles: Duarte d. Plyler 6-0, 6-1. Anastopoulo d. Morris 6-2, 6-1. Lambert d. Price 6-1, 7-5. Clontz d. Schmedeke 6-3, 6-1. Wanish (AR) d. Mines 6-2, 6-0.   Doubles: Daley/Firzlaff (AR) d. Hunter/Hassan 6-0, 6-1.

Records: West Ashley 5-4 (4-4). Next: West Ashley hosts Goose Creek April 10th.

SUMMERVILLE 6, GOOSE CREEK 0
Singles: Gajjar d. Coleman 6-2, 6-2. Dimuzio d. Mickler 6-2, 6-1. Pagan d. Williams 6-1, 6-0. Prathipati d. Bennett 6-0, 6-0. Wimberly d. Ahern 6-1, 7-5.   Doubles: Taylor/Key d. Pilger/Nevers 6-2, 6-0.

Records: Summerville 13-6 (9-1). Goose Creek 1-4 (0-4). Next: Summerville at Ashley Ridge April 11th. Goose Creek at West Ashley April 10th.


(03/30/18)  WCIV-TV/ABC News 4: Shelby Rogers out of Volvo Car Open with injury, will serve as behind-the-scenes reporter
Shelby Rogers will not be playing in her hometown tennis tournament this year. The Daniel Island native will miss the 2018 Volvo Car Open because of an injury.

Rogers will be at the tournament in a different capacity, though. Tennis Channel officials announced Wednesday Rogers will serve as a behind-the-scenes reporter for the network's coverage of the event.

"It breaks my heart I will not be able to compete in my favorite tournament," Rogers said in a statement on her Twitter account March 21. "As difficult as it is, I know this is the right choice for my body to heal and be ready to play again."

Rogers made it all the way to the fifth and quarterfinal round of the Volvo Car Open in 2017, before ultimately losing out to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia in three sets.


(03/29/18)  POST & COURIER: LIZ FOSTER: Easter weekend in Charleston means egg hunts, reggae, tennis and more
There's a little bit of everything in the mix for this weekend, from Easter celebrations to reggae, tennis balls to soccer balls and a little wrasslin' thrown in for good measure.

The Volvo Car Open kicks off this weekend and even if you don't know anything about women’s tennis, this is one of the best things going in this town. Previous champions returning this year are Sloane Stephens (2016), Samantha Stosur (2010) and Andrea Petkovic (2014). Seven players ranked in the top 15 of the Women’s Tennis Association also are in this year’s draw. The tournament, previously known as Family Circle Cup, is in its 46th year and is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America.

An additional highlight is the night of the PowerShares Series, which features legendary male players in a lighthearted and entertaining “tournament,” with two one-set semi-final matches and one final one-set match. This year’s players are Andy Roddick (former World No. 1), Mark Philippoussis (former World No. 8), Tommy Haas (former World No. 2) and Michael Chang (former World No. 2).

This opening weekend is Family Weekend and will feature magicians, jump castles, balloon artists, face painting and more. The tournament also hosts daily clinics, demonstrations, activities, a health shop and evening promotions.

WHEN: Saturday, March 31-Sunday, April 8; Family Weekend: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday; PowerShares Series: 8:30 p.m. Saturday April 7

WHERE: Volvo Car Stadium, 161 Seven Farms Drive, Daniel Island

PRICE: $10-$80 with alternative package options; PowerShares Series: $30-$75


(03/29/18)  USTA SC: Community Tennis News: Volume 26
Nominate a SC Facility for National Award

Each year, USTA recognizes facilities throughout the country to encourage the increasingly high standards for construction and/or renovation. Criteria are based on the facility as well as the programming. In addition, winners will be chosen in several different categories: Public (Small); Public (Large); Educational; Private.

South Carolina has had category winners three of the past four years. One facility will be selected as the 2018 Featured Facility and invited to attend an award ceremony at the USTA Semi-annual Meeting and Conference in New York City in September, 2018.

To download the 2018 Outstanding Facility Award application, please click here.

USTA SC News, Programs & Grants

Tennis Apprentice
Grab a few friends and learn to play tennis in a non-threatening environment. Free racquet, USTA membership, on-court instruction and more.
Learn more.

2018 Southern Senior Cup (May 31-June 3, 2018)
The Southern Senior Cup is a tournament in which nine southern states (Southern Section) compete against each other in five age divisions. To learn more, visit sctennis.com.

2018 Junior Varsity Girls State Championship (October 12-14, 2018)
USTA South Carolina will host the Junior Varsity Girls State Championship at Cayce Tennis & Fitness Center in October. More details to come on sctennis.com and Community Tennis News.

USTA South Carolina Growth & Innovation Grant
A new Growth & Innovation Grant is being offered by USTA South Carolina. Programs or ideas must be focused on growing tennis in South Carolina. Applicants must be able to describe the direct pipeline from the proposed program or idea to increasing the numbers of unique tennis players in South Carolina. Application deadline is April 15, 2018.

USTA South Carolina Local Marketing Grant
Promote your USTA programs with a marketing grant made possible by USTA SC. Application deadline May 5, 2018.

Adaptive Tennis Grant
To assist in the initiation or implementation of USTA Adaptive Tennis programs at the community level. Grant Award is $500-$2500. Application due April 9th.

USTA Goodies at the Volvo Car Open!!

Don't forget to stop by the USTA South Carolina tent next week at the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island. USTA members will receive a free gift as long as supplies last! Also, high school tennis coaches should check out the event below during VCO week.

Thank you for your partnership

On behalf of our South Carolina Community Development team -- Pamela Banks, Cameron Sebnick and me --  I would like to thank you for all you continue to do in your local communities to grow the game of tennis. Because of your work, there are adults and kids playing tennis for the first time. And as one adult beginner told us, thanks for getting me off the couch.

We have much to do in 2018 and many more tennis communities to create. Join us as we welcome new players to find themselves in the game.

Warmest regards,
Sheryl

Sheryl McAlister
Director of Community Development
USTA South Carolina
18 Woodcross Drive
Columbia, SC 29212
mcalister@sctennis.com


(03/29/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: VCO by day! VCO by night!
Did you know??

*While in town, several Volvo Car Open players visit young patients in the MUSC Children’s Hospital, the tournament’s official charity.

*VCO players engage with inner city youth interested in tennis by taking part in the “Courting Kids at Tennis in the City” program held on the Monday of tournament week! Since its inception in 2003, the event has had a profound impact on thousands of Charleston area children.

*Former Daniel Island resident Shelby Rogers, now an international touring tennis pro, will be honored at the South Carolina Junior Tennis Foundation Gala on April 5 during VCO tournament week as the first recipient of the “Player Who Makes a Difference Award.”

VCO by day!

NET GENERATION ZONE
Saturday, March 31 – Sunday, April 8
Kids of all skill levels are welcome to work on their strokes. Mini-nets and junior rackets will be available for participants as we say hello to the next generation of great tennis players.

STRIVE HEALTH SHOP
Visit the Strive Health Shop and check out the best health tips WTA players have to offer! While you’re there, be sure to leave your own health tip! Plus, there will be daily activities including stretching classes, spin classes, and free samples!

FAMILY WEEKEND
Saturday, March 31 – Sunday, April 1
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Experience two fun-filled days of balloon art, face painting, magicians, jump castles and much more. Free admission for kids 16 and under. Adults are only $10.

DRAW CEREMONY
Saturday, March 31
Dockery’s on Daniel Island
880 Island Park Drive
3 to 4 p.m.
Be the first to know the matchups of the 2018 Volvo Car Open. Take a selfie with a WTA player!

SPONSOR ROW PASSPORT
Monday, April 2 – Sunday, April 8
Pick up a Sponsor Row Passport from Guest Services. Have the sponsor logos signed by each of the corresponding sponsors and return to Guest Services for a chance to win a prize pack!

MUSC HEALTH PICKLEBALL CLINICS
Monday, April 2 – Sunday, April 8
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The game you love with a fresh new twist! Pickleball combines elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton. Beginners welcome!

SPECIAL OLYMPICS DEMONSTRATION
Wednesday, April 4
3 to 4 p.m.
Demonstration features tennis players from local Special Olympics chapters conducting tennis drills to improve skills, court work, and play.

WHEELCHAIR TENNIS DEMONSTRATION
4 to 5 p.m.
Demonstration features adult handicapped tennis players from South Carolina. With an on-court emcee, learn the rules and regulations of the sport while watching a set in action.
 
VOLVO CAR RIDE AND DRIVES
Thursday, April 5 - Sunday, April 8
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Test drive the Volvo XC60, which just won the 2018 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year™ award, the 7-passenger XC90 (the 2016 North American Truck of the Year™) and the newly launched XC40 during the tournament. Anyone that participates in a Ride and Drive will be entered to win a 2-year lease of a Volvo.

VCO by night!

HAPPY HOUR NIGHTLY
Tuesday, April 3 - Saturday, April 7
5 to 7 p.m.
Daily drink specials in the Ace Lounge, Blue Moon Beer Garden and Club Court Bar.

DUNLOP NIGHT
Tuesday, April 3
5 to 10 p.m.
Be one of the first 2,000 fans through the gate on Tuesday night and receive a gift courtesy of Dunlop. In between matches, enjoy a head-to-head competition on court.

‘PINK OUT FOR THE CURE’ NIGHT
Wednesday, April 4
5 to 10 p.m.
Presented by MUSC Health. Come dressed in pink to show your support for breast cancer awareness.

MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT
Thursday, April 5
5 to 10 p.m.
Presented by Prudential as a thank you to all the men and women who serve our country in the Armed Forces. On behalf of Prudential, the Volvo Car Open will provide active-duty and retired military, as well as their family members, complimentary admission.

SUNTRUST ONUP NIGHT
Friday, April 6
5 to 10 p.m.
Dubbed a “fan favorite,” this annual ball toss is back thanks to SunTrust. Win some great prizes during an exciting night full of great matches!


(03/29/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: STEVE FERBER:  It's time for some tennis trivia!
Think you’re a winner when it comes to tennis trivia? We invite you to test your skills! We’ll play two sets (six questions each), then throw in a tiebreaker. If you ace all 13 questions, you’re in the finals!

FIRST SET

1. DEFENDING CHAMP
Question: Can you identify the Volvo Car Open’s defending champion, Daria Kasatkina? See photos above.

2. OLYMPIC SPORT
Question: Tennis was present at the Olympic games from 1886 to 1924, but then disappeared for more than half a century. In what year did tennis officially rejoin the Olympics?
* 1988
* 1996
* 2004
* 2016

3. WILL AGE AND TREACHERY OVERCOME YOUTH AND SKILL?
Question: Twelve of the main draw’s 43 players were born in the 1980s (the rest in the 90s!). Of these four players, who is the oldest?
* Kateryna Bondarenko (Ukraine)
* Varvara Lepchenko (Uzbekistan)
* Sam Stosur (Australia)
* Elena Vesnina (Ukraine)

4. REPRESENTING YOUR COUNTRY
Question: In next week’s tournament, the United States will be well represented, with eight or more players in the main draw. Which country comes next, with five players in the main draw.
* Australia
* Czech Republic
* Germany
* Russia

5. ALL-TIME GREATS
Question: Which of these all-time greats won the Volvo Car Open (formerly, the Family Circle Cup), the most times?
* Chris Evert
* Steffi Graf
* Martina Navratilova
* Serena Williams

6. FORMER CHAMPIONS
Question: The last four Volvo Car Open Champions are, in alphabetical order (by first name), Andrea, Angelique, Daria & Sloane. What’s Andrea’s last name?
* Pierce
* Pliskova
* Petkovic
* Petra

SECOND SET

7. FAMOUS CITIES
Question: The Grand Slams of tennis are held each year in London, Melbourne, New York and Paris. Which tournament is the oldest, debuting in 1877? The next three began in 1881, 1891 and 1905.
* Australian Open - Melbourne
* French Open - Paris
* U.S. Open – New York
* Wimbledon – London
 
8. WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Question: You’ll enjoy watching these four top players next week, respectively ranked 35, 17, 54 and 24 in the world. One of these four hails from Latvia, a Baltic state that gained independence from Russia in 1991. Which one?
* Lucie Safarova
* Anastasija Sevastova
* Katerina Siniakova
* Barbara Strycova

9. GRAND SLAM CHAMPION
Question: Last year, Serena Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam tournament. Which Volvo Car Open champion did she pass (this champion had 22 Grand Slam championships).
* Margaret Court
* Chris Evert
* Steffi Graf
* Martina Navratilova

10. LEFTIES
Question: Of the 43 players currently in the main draw of the Volvo Car Open, only six are left-handed. Four of them are listed below. Which one hails from South America (she’s ranked 59th in the world)?
* Mihaela Buzarnescu
* Petra Kvitova
* Beatriz Haddad Maia
* Kristyna Pliskova

11. BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Question: Twelve years after Billie Jean King vanquished Bobby Riggs in the historic 1973 Battle of the Sexes, Martina Navratilova teamed with Pam Shriver in doubles, to defeat Riggs and his partner. Who was Riggs’ partner that day?
* Jimmy Connors
* John McEnroe
* Ilie Nastase
* Vitas Gerulaitis

12. RECENT CHAMPIONS
Question: over the last 10 years, the Volvo Car Open has been won by players from five countries: the United States (4x), Germany (3x), and what other three countries (one time each)?
* Serbia, Belgium and Russia
* Czech Republic, Russia and Romania
* Russia, Denmark and Australia
* Australia, Belgium and Czech Republic

TIEBREAKER
Question: The longest women’s match (by time) took place at a tournament in Richmond, Virginia, in 1984, when Vicki Nelson took six hours, 31 minutes to defeat Jean Hepner 6–4, 7–6 (13–11).

The match featured the longest rally in the history of professional tennis: a 643-shot rally (not a typo!). How long do you think that point took?

A) 9 minutes
B) 19 minutes
C) 29 minutes
D) 39 minutes

Answers to trivia:
1. B
2. 1988
3. Sam Stosur
4. Czech Republic
5. Chris Evert
6. Petkovic
7. Wimbledon – London
8. Anastasija Sevastova
9. Steffi Graf
10. Beatriz Haddad Maia
11. Vita Gerulaitis
12. Russia, Denmark and Australia
13. 29 minutes


(03/29/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Volvo Car Open partners with SunTrust to offer juniors 15 and under free tickets to tournament
The Volvo Car Open has continued its mission to grow the game of tennis. For the third year in a row, the WTA Premier event has partnered with SunTrust to offer juniors, 15 and under, free admission all week into the Volvo Car Open, which will be held April 1 – 9 on Daniel Island.

“We want the name Volvo Car Open to be synonymous with growing the game of tennis,” said Bob Moran, Volvo Car Open tournament director. “We value our partnership with SunTrust to offer juniors unparalleled and complimentary access to our tournament. We hope to touch the lives of thousands of youth and inspire the next generation of tennis players and fans. This is possible because of SunTrust’s commitment to our tournament. Through this program, together we’ve already provided nearly 20,000 youth access to an international, world-renowned tennis tournament.”

“This is our 10th year supporting the community through our partnership with this world-class event, and we are incredibly proud to be able to inspire the next generation to reach for their dreams,” said Mark Lattanzio, SunTrust Region President. “It’s how we live our purpose to light the way to financial well-being for our clients and communities. And it helps us share the ‘onUp’ movement to start a conversation about how financial confidence can put them on the right track to achieve their dreams.”

SunTrust will also sponsor the City of Charleston’s Tennis in the City event, an annual one-day inner-city youth tennis clinic held at the Jack Adams Tennis Center in downtown Charleston during the Volvo Car Open. Since its inception in 2003, this event has made a profound impact on thousands of local, Charleston children. This occasion brings WTA tennis players, tennis pros, as well as high school and college teams together to introduce the game of tennis to local children, in turn helping them learn basics of the game in an exciting environment.

Complimentary junior tickets can be redeemed via www.VolvoCarOpen.com, by calling 800.677.2293 or via the Box Office, located at 161 Seven Farms Drive Charleston, SC 29492.


(03/29/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: KATIE ESTABROOK: 2018 VCO to showcase top-notch tennis talents and new activities
In a matter of days, more than 100 professional women tennis players from 35 countries around the world will descend on Daniel Island for the Volvo Car Open (VCO). And as banners and billboards promoting this year’s event proclaim, “It’s all on the line.”

Whether you are a seasoned VCO veteran or this will be your first event, those putting on the show report that the 2018 rundown of talent and activities is a must-see experience. With nine of the top seeded players in the tournament currently ranked among the best 20 in the world, the Open’s 46th year overall and 18th year on the island is set to be one of the best yet.

With some 16.4 million people tuning in across the globe to watch elite athletes compete for a total purse of over $700,000, awarded in various prize amounts throughout the tournament, North America’s largest women’s only tennis tournament, formerly known as the Family Circle Cup, officially kicks off on Saturday, March 31 with the fan-favorite “Family Weekend.” Qualifying rounds begin at 10 a.m. that same day. Main draw play begins on Monday, April 2 at 10 a.m.

“Family Weekend is always a big hit,” said VCO Tournament Manager Eleanor Adams. “The kids come out and have a lot of fun. There will be face painting, dancers and a lot of other entertainment. Some people stay all day because there’s that much going on.”

“Family Weekend is built for kids,” added VCO Director and President Bob Moran. “We have all kinds of activities planned for families. From tennis clinics and great matches, we will have all types of performers and activities to keep the entire family entertained.”

Tickets for adults for Family Weekend are only $10, added Adams. Even better, throughout the week children 16 and under get free admission to the tournament thanks to a VCO partnership with SunTrust.

CHAMPION CHATTER

The top ten seeds taking part in this year’s tournament are Caroline Garcia (France, World No. 7); Petra Kvitová (Czech Republic, World No. 9); 2017 returning champion Daria Kasatkina (Russia, World No. 11); 2016 returning champion Sloane Stephens (USA, World No. 12); Julia Goerges (Germany; World No. 13); Johanna Konta (Australia, World No. 14); Madison Keys (USA; World No. 15); Anastasija Sevastova (Latvia, World No. 17); Ashleigh Barty (Australia, World No. 20) and Naomi Osaka (Japan; WTA Rank 22). In addition to Stephens and Kasatkina, past champions Andrea Petkovic (Germany, World No. 111), who won in 2014, and Samantha Stosur (Australia, World No. 45), who won in 2010, will also be returning to compete. In total, 56 players will compete in the singles draw, 32 in the qualifying rounds and 16 in the doubles showdown.

While some of these names may be unfamiliar to some, Adams emphasized that the line-up will be sure to impress.

“Daria Kasatkina, our defending champion is coming back,” said Adams. “She was the finalist at Indian Wells last Sunday, which is a huge achievement. Naomi Osaka, who just won Indian Wells last weekend will be here. They’re both like 20 and 21-years-old, which is incredible. There’s Petra Kvitová, who is a two-time Wimbledon champion. Our draw is one of strongest draws we’ve had in years, which is really exciting.”

Also strong is the roster of American players competing in this year’s Open, continued Adams. Some of these names include Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens and Catherine ‘CiCi’ Bellis.

“We’ve got some great American players coming, like Sloane Stephens who won the U.S. Open,” said Adams. “We also have Madison Keys who was the finalist against Sloane at the U.S. Open. We have CiCi Bellis, who is an up and coming 18-year-old. We’ve got Christina McHale, Madison Brengle and Lauren Davis. There’s a resurgence of U.S. players these days, which is very exciting for us. They are very personable, fun girls with a lot of different personalities. The U.S. players, I think will bring it on strong this year.”

Unfortunately, hometown favorite Shelby Rogers formally withdrew from the tournament on March 20 due to an injury that requires six to eight weeks of healing, an official statement from Rogers explained.

“It has been a very tough year for me and it breaks my heart I will not be able to compete in my favorite tournament,” said Rogers, a former Daniel Island resident who once served as a ball girl for the VCO (when it was known as the Family Circle Cup). “I absolutely love these fans and the whole city has been supportive of me since the beginning of my career. As difficult as it is, I know this is the right choice in order for my body to heal and be ready to play again. I have so many great memories here and I am looking forward to coming back to play next year.”

While she may not be playing, Rogers will be fully immersed into other aspects of the Open, added Adams.

“It’s really unfortunate, however, Shelby is not one to miss the tournament,” said Adams. “She will be here. She’s going to be out on site and will do meet and greets and sign autographs. She’s almost like a tournament ambassador because she can’t stay away. We’re grateful that she’s making the time to come and we welcome her with open arms.”

MORE THAN TENNIS ON THE MENU

As those returning to the tournament probably already know, there is much more to the VCO than really great tennis. The reason, explained Moran, is quite simply – the fans.

“We focus a lot of our efforts on the fan experience,” said Moran. “We realize that people will spend their day with us so we want to make that time memorable.”

Throughout the week from March 31 to April 8, there will be various events and opportunities to take part in the action, including old favorites like the “Doubles and Bubbles” luncheon hosted by former World No. 1, Tennis Hall-of-Famer and Tennis Channel analyst Tracy Austin, MUSC Health pickleball clinics, Special Olympics demonstrations and tennis drills, “Volvo Car Ride and Drives” where attendees can test drive the Volvo XC60, the 2018 North American Utility Vehicle of the YearTM, the 7-passenger XC90, the 2016 North American Truck of the YearTM, and the newly launched XC40. There will also be four themed nights and much more.

“There will be a lot of fun things for the entire family to do,” said Adams. “It provides for a great way for the parents to see tennis, while the kids are having fun doing other things as well…There will be some player appearances and things like that. We have entertainment in the evenings. There’s a lot going on.”

Another fan-favorite that will be back this year is the Draw Party on Saturday, March 31 at 3 p.m. For the first time, the event will take place at the new Dockery’s restaurant on Daniel Island.

“That’s a really fun, interactive way for the public to be involved,” said Adams.

The Draw Party is free to the public. Some players will be making appearances and photo opportunities will be available.

Also new to the tournament this year is the Net Generation Zone. Created as an initiative by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to get kids into the sport, the Net Generation Zone is for those ages 5 to 18 who are interested in learning more about the sport. Open all week throughout the tournament, there will be mini-nets set up, junior rackets and other equipment available for those interested in participating.

“It’s a fun way for them to learn about tennis and participate and be with other kids,” said Adams. “It’s a great way for them to be introduced to the sport. It’s fun, new and fresh. We’re excited that it will be available all week.”

Also added this year is the Strive Wellness Center, according to the 2018 fan guide. This interactive addition to the tournament will include tips on subjects spanning from physical fitness to nutrition to beauty.

WHAT’S ‘APP’ AT THE VCO?

A brand new VCO application for smart phones will also be available this year. The interactive fan guide includes features such as a match schedule, an option to “follow” your favorite player, a rewards store and more, explained Arielle Alpino, from Obviouslee Marketing, the company that handles marketing and communications for the tournament. The “Volvo Car Open” app will be available for free to download in the app store.

“There will be a part of the app where you can follow your favorite player, so if you really like Sloane Stephens, you can have a notification sent to your phone every time she is playing so you don’t miss her match,” said Alpino. “There’s also a rewards store in the app where you can do certain things on-site that you’ll be able to earn reward points. For example, if you visit one of our sponsor booths or you take a photo with the big Volvo Car Open letters, those will start earning you points. There’s also trivia questions in the app. As you earn a certain amount of points, you’ll start being applicable for rewards like a free poster or an autographed tennis ball. You can also post photos in the app and interact with other fans on the app, too.”

Additionally, for box seat holders who download the app, there will be an option to have water, beer, wine and champagne delivered right to your seat from the touch of a button, stated Adams.

Also important to the tournament is the sense of philanthropy. The players will be taking part in a variety of charitable activities, such as visits to the MUSC Children’s Hospital, the tournament’s official charity, and hosting an inner-city youth clinic via Courting Kids at Tennis in the City downtown.

To view a full schedule of events or to inquire about tickets, visit www.volvocaropen.com.

For the first year ever, the tournament is offering $10 tickets for Daniel Island residents. To access this discount, use code “ISLANDLOCAL” when buying tickets online or show your ID at the box office.

What’s new at the VCO?

NET GENERATION!
The USTA’s bold new approach to inspire the next generation of tennis players, Net Generation embraces all aspects of youth play for kids ages 5-18 and makes it easy for youngsters to develop tennis skills at their own pace and on their own terms. Mini-nets and junior rackets are available all tournament week.

VCO APP!
Keep up with your favorite players and know when they get on the courts! VCO has created an app to help inform and engage attendees at the tourney this year. Find key data on players, draws and order of plays – plus much more! Visit your phone’s app store and download the app for free (under “Volvo Car Open”).

STRIVE WELLNESS CENTER
Get in the know on all things health and wellness! Visit the Strive Wellness Center on the VCO campus to sample smoothies, try a new “lip look,” get a quick hairstyle fix, engage in a mini-workout provided by O2 Fitness, and more!


(03/29/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: PHILIP BOWMAN: Two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova to male her VCO debut
The Volvo Car Open has never lacked star power since its inception in 1973 as the Family Circle Cup.

But what makes this southern clay-court tournament special is its ability to launch the careers of players who won the event as teenagers and concluded their careers as hall-of-famers. Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis are on the short list. Hingis was the youngest of the bunch, winning in Hilton Head at age 14 in 1997. She was a two-time champ by the time she was 16.

This year’s tournament, which begins with qualifying play on Saturday, and concludes with the championship on April 8, will include some first-time performers, some who are teens. They are trying to climb the rankings ladder. This year’s tourney will also see a first-time Volvo Car Open performer who has climbed the ladder and even been to the mountain top: two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitová.

The 28-year-old native of the Czech Republic who won the Wimbledon titles in 2011 and 2014, is an aggressive baseliner with a troika of potent left-handed shots: serve, forehand and backhand.

“I’m very excited to play in the Volvo Car Open for the first time,” Kvitová said. “I’ve heard what a wonderful city Charleston is and the Volvo Car Open is a great tournament, so of course I’m looking forward to April.”

So are VCO officials.

“We have been pursuing Petra to enter Charleston for more than four years,” said Tournament Manager Eleanor Adams. “To say we are excited is an understatement! Petra’s left-handed game and serve are perfectly suited for our courts. The fans will be amazed by her talent, fierceness and gracious personality. We can hardly wait.”

Kvitová, who entered the Miami Open as the World No. 9, made off-the-court headlines in December 2016 when she was badly injured during a home invasion of her apartment in her home country. A man with a knife tried to rob her of approximately $250. The man put a knife to Kvitová’s throat. She was able to break free from the struggle but suffered deeps cuts to all five fingers on her playing hand.

Six months later, she made an emotional return to the French Open, defeating American Julia Boserup in late May.

“This match is special to me,” she told reporters after the match. “I won for the second time, if I can say.”

She lost in the second round at Roland Garros and also was eliminated in the second round at Wimbledon last summer.

Kvitová finished 2016 as the World No. 11 but fell to No. 29 at the end of last year. It marked the first time since 2010 she finished the year outside the top 20.

She’s won titles at St. Petersburg and Doha this year after claiming only one title in ’16 and ’17.

She was ranked World No. 2 in October 2011 and is climbing the ladder again. She began 2018 at No. 29 and moved up eight rungs by February after winning in St. Petersburg. Kvitová rejoined the top 10 on Feb. 19 after winning in Doha and is currently No. 9.


(03/29/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: KATIE ESTABROOK: DI businesses prepare for influx of eager fans
With over 90,000 fans, more than 100 players and thousands of support staff and other professionals from across the globe expected to flock to the Volvo Car Open next week, businesses on Daniel Island and within the surrounding greater Charleston area are hoping to feel the effects at their cash registers.

As the most recent economic impact study conducted by the tournament found, there are both direct and indirect impacts to the area’s economy during the Open, explained President and Tournament Director of the Volvo Car Open Bob Moran.

“Our last study represented over a $30 million dollar ‘direct’ impact to the greater Charleston area,” said Moran. “The ‘non-direct’ impact is reflected in the millions of impressions from our ad campaign that is nationwide along with the 16 million plus viewers from across the globe. The name recognition and intentions of visiting the Charleston area at another time of year are both things that can’t be measured.”

Historically, hotel occupancy during the week of the tournament is in the upper 80 percent, stated Perrin Lawson, deputy director for the Charleston Area and Convention Visitors Bureau. But this year, it is expected to reach in the mid 90s. It is important to note, however, that the tournament’s finals weekend coincides with the Cooper River Bridge Run.

Even with another large event happening at the same time as the Open, it is no surprise that hotel occupancy spikes. The tournament itself fills more than 2000 hotel rooms housing players, officials, staff and production, added Moran.

“We, as an event, are responsible for housing all players, officials, out of town staff, domestic TV production and international TV production,” said Moran. “All in all, we are responsible for 2500 room nights the week of our event for participants and staffing. Add on top of that all the fans that are coming from around the world, makes our footprint extremely large. All of these people will shop, dine and take in attractions while they are here.”

Specific to Daniel Island, restaurant owners and managers alike are preparing for the influx of tennis fans by setting up decorations, beefing up their staff, ordering extra inventory and more. With it being 17 years since the Open found its new home on the island, it is safe to say that many are well-versed on how to successfully prepare for such a large crowd.

“We prepare by setting up tennis nets and 5 foot tennis balls on our outside awnings to attract attention from our out of town visitors,” said Vespa Owner Gerry Haight. “We also do landscaping and mosquito spraying.”

“The start of the week is business as usual, but the latter half of the week is very busy as the matches get bigger,” said Wasabi Manager Ashley Wolcott. “To prepare, we have to make sure we are fully staffed with servers, food runners, hosts and hostesses, have enough beer, wine and liquor, as well as food and linens and all the stuff we would normally order to prepare for a special event.”

Wasabi will also have live music on April 6, the last Friday of the tournament. Visit their Facebook page, “Wasabi of Daniel Island,” for updates and information.

Although this will be the first Volvo Car Open experience for Dockery’s, the new upscale American restaurant and brewery located on Island Park Drive, from a quick chat with General Manager Paul Thompson, they are ready and excited to take on whatever the tournament brings, including the Draw Party on Saturday, March 31 at 3 p.m., a fan-favorite event where attendees pull chips to determine player match-ups in the early part of the tournament.

“We’re excited to be here and be a part of such a great week for Daniel Island and Charleston in general,” said Thompson. “Daniel Island and Mount Pleasant are big tennis towns so it should fun and enjoyable for everyone.”

Dockery’s will also feature live music on the restaurant’s patio every day while the tournament is taking place, added Thompson.

“Our patio is a great place to enjoy a nice meal and an adult beverage while taking a break from sitting in the sun all day,” said Thompson.

Also newly opened for this year’s tournament is Bin 526, a unique tapped wine bar located behind Refuel on the island. Having only been open 100 days last weekend, owner and long-time Volvo Car Open fan Mike White seemed more than ready to accommodate the plethora of people flooding the area in just a few days.

“We have the largest Starbucks in the State of South Carolina as part of our building, so we expect even larger crowds coming by just to experience how cool this place really is,” said White. “Our front patio will be open for the thirsty and the weary to rest and recharge.”

To entertain attendees, residents and players alike, throughout the week of the Open, Bin 526 will be hosting a variety of food trucks and will be offering special discounts on wine and spirits, added White. Keep an eye on their Facebook page and website for more information.

“We’re very excited to finally use our large front patio after all the cold weather we’ve had,” said White. “We’ve bulked up on more inventory so we’ll have plenty of wine to enjoy from around the world, celebrating the global nature of women’s tennis and a great field of players that Bob Moran has attracted this year.”

In addition to the various restaurants and businesses on the island that will be offering specials and entertainment throughout the week, there will also be plenty of dining and shopping opportunities on-site at the Volvo Car Open, according to the 2018 fan guide. Some of the vendors this year include the tournament merchandise tent, Baseline Boutique, Crescent Moon Children, Nectar Sunglasses, Hermosa Jewelry, Bac’n Me Crazy Food Truck, MacDaddy Food Truck, Immortal Lobster Food Truck, Braised in the South within the food court, a Blue Moon Beer Garden, King of Pops, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, among many others.

“There are several shopping destinations at the Volvo Car Open, [including] the merchandise tent, which carries the latest tennis lines available as well as logoed souvenirs, [the] Match Point Market, a four vendor-shopping zone featuring Baseline Boutique, Crescent Moon Children, Nectar Sunglasses and Hermosa Jewelry,” the description reads.

For more information or to view a full list of vendors, visit www.volvocaropen.com.


(03/29/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: PHILIP BOWMAN: Will Daria deliver again?
The 2017 Volvo Car Open championship marked the first time since 2009 that two teenagers played against each other for a WTA title. Daria Kasatkina defeated Jelena Ostapenko in a battle of 19-year olds. The 66-minute match was so entertaining that the 7,491 fans who showed up at Billie Jean King Stadium, and the rest of the tennis community, remember it quite well.

Ostapenko was the aggressor in last year’s championship, but Kasatkina offset that by playing smart and keeping her foe on the move, winning points with precision shots to the corners. She also forced Ostapenko into numerous errors with an impressive barrage of forehands and slices.

True, the players weren’t exactly unheralded as they prepped for the VCO championship that sunny Sunday morning. But they definitely weren’t household names like they are today. The Russian Kasatkina was ranked No. 11 in the world heading into the Miami Open while the Latvian Ostapenko has soared even higher, checking in at No. 5 in the world.

Kasatkina, who is set to defend her crown on Daniel Island, picked up a check for $132,380 for her week’s work in South Carolina. It was the first WTA title for the clay-court specialist who subdues foes with an impressive forehand. She was a finalist in Moscow last year, and is off to an impressive start this year, reaching the championships in Dubai and Indian Wells.

She has also reached the quarterfinals in Sydney, Doha and Beijing in ‘18. She has impressive victories over Angelique Kerber, Jelena Ostapenko, Simona Halep and Roberta Vinci.

That success can be traced back to last April in Charleston.

“Winning my first title was one of the best moments of my life,” said Kasatkina, who owns a 9-1 record in two VCO appearances. “I felt the support from the crowd in Charleston and am excited that I’ll have the opportunity to play in front of them again in 2018.”

Kasatkina joined a small sorority that includes Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis and Sabine Lisicki as teenage winners of the Volvo Car Open that began in Hilton Head as the Family Circle Cup in 1973.

More than 90,000 fans, who are expected to attend this year’s VCO, are no doubt excited the defending champ is in the field. So are tournament officials.

“Welcoming back a returning champion, especially one who won her first title here is always extra special,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open tournament manager. “Daria loves to play on our green clay courts and she was inspired by our fans support! Daria played fiercely and defeated several tough opponents this year, I know she would love to hoist our trophy again in 2018.”

Ostapenko will not play in Charleston next week. But her performance last year was just a sample of her clay-court skills. She became the first Latvian player to reach a Grand Slam championship, and she topped Simona Halep to complete the dream and win her first WTA title. She also captured the championship in Seoul last September.

 
(03/29/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: KATHERINE SMITH: Behind the scenes at the VCO: What does it really take to pull it off?
Preparing for an event the size of the Volvo Car Open is a rather difficult task. With a team of only 12 full-time employees, the tournament is a huge success each year. But what does it really take to pull off an event of this magnitude?

According to Robert (Rob) Eppelsheimer, director of Tennis Facilities and Family Circle Tennis Center Operations, although the tournament’s core staff is small, there are a number of additional people that are involved in making the Open happen, including 500 volunteers.

“Twelve of us basically handle every aspect of the event from the set up to the vendors to the players,” said Eppelsheimer. “We do have a large team of volunteers and if we didn’t have volunteers this tournament wouldn’t exist. They’re the backbone of what we do when the event is taking place. We hire in sub-contractors that come and help us. We also hire some temp labor that come in and help us with some of the heavier items to do. As a whole, we have a staff that is a well-oiled machine.”

With a crowd of over 90,000, set-up for the Open has to begin early, explained Eppelsheimer. While this is true, overall planning for the tournament happens throughout the year.

“If we’re discussing the set-up of the actual footprint that we have here, pretty much it’s year-round planning,” said Eppelsheimer. “As far as actually changing how the facility looks, that probably starts about a month out. Everything that happens is on a timeline. Certain things have to happen before others happen.”

One of the first items on the checklist takes place about 30 days out, Eppelsheimer continued – the set-up of the hard-sided, climate controlled tents throughout the center that house the players’ facilities, volunteer tent, merchandise booth and others. Following that, the HV/AC and electric for those tents are installed.

“That’s followed by the setting up of the soft sided tents which go up for a lot of the vendors,” said Eppelsheimer. “Once that happens and we have everything set up, they’re weather proofed. Then, finally, we start moving all of the furniture and whatever else we need inside the tents.”

The merchandise side, which is part of Eppelsheimer’s job during the tournament, is much more complex than one would think. Before opening weekend, various tasks have to be taken care of, he explained.

“For the main retail tent, operated by Your Serve Merchandise, a company out of Atlanta that are in their sixth year of a contract with us, things that happen prior are we have to decide on all of the t-shirt designs, the logo designs, what lines of clothing are going to be in there,” said Eppelsheimer. “Once it’s done, I call the main retail tent the ‘Disney World’ for a woman tennis player. When they go in there, there is every line of clothing they can imagine. No other brick and mortar has that. It does very well with the women’s tennis players.”

In addition to the main merchandise tent, the team also has to decide on what vendors will be in attendance at Matchpoint Market, an on-site shopping center that features four different boutiques each year, added Eppelsheimer. This year, the market will feature Baseline Boutique, Hermosa Jewelry, Crescent Moon Children’s Clothing and local company Nectar Sunglasses.

“We have Baseline Boutique…pretty much every tennis knickknack known to man will be in there,” said Eppelsheimer. “Hermosa Jewelry, who is on their fourth year with us, will be there. Crescent Moon Children’s Clothing is with us. We also, this year, have Nectar Sunglasses, which is a local company. We like to deal with local companies when at all possible.”

The tournament’s sponsors will occupy a large area of the grand lawn area known as “Sponsor Row,” explained Eppelsheimer. Sponsor tents will surround a 360-degree bar that will ultimately be the Blue Moon Garden.

“The bar will be set up with monitors for all of the courts being played, so if you want to come have a beer, drink and sit there and watch the tennis while it’s going on, you can,” he said. “These soft-sided tents are for our sponsors to activate when they’re on site. Prudential is one of our main sponsors and they always like to have someone in their tent in case someone wants to talk about the company. They hand out a lot of things like hats and fans to attract spectators to the tent. All of the sponsors do sort of the same thing.”

Aside from the various tents that must be erected prior to the event, the five play courts have to be set-up to match the Women’s Tennis Association regulations, added Eppelsheimer. To do this, the Volvo Car Open team brings in a professional contractor a month before the tournament.

“Those play courts have very tough specifications by the WTA…which oversees the event,” said Eppelsheimer. “The lines have to be such, the nets have to be a certain height, everything has to be just so.”

There are also two additional courts that will eventually house the Dunlop Sports Company demo court and the brand new Net Generation program. With the facility inaccessible to members for practice during the entirety of the tournament, these two courts give attendees, both young and old, an opportunity to play a little bit.

“Dunlop Sports Company is our racket and ball,” said Eppelsheimer. “…A lot of people will go test rackets out and their latest innovations on the demo court. This will become Net Generation, the USTA’s (United States Tennis Association) push to get young kids back in the game. It’ll be set up with mini nets and small rackets. We’ll take the back walls and put 39-foot banners up there that say ‘NetGen’ and ‘Dunlop.’ You won’t be able to miss it.”

When the gates open at 9 a.m. this Saturday, March 31 for Family Weekend, the Volvo Car Open team has one distinct mission, explained Eppelsheimer, and it is the same every year.

“We want to make sure that we are up and ready when that first customer walks through the door and that first spectator comes in,” he said. “If they want to go in the merchandise tent, we are set and ready. The courts will be ready to go. No news when the tournament happens is good news. If I get any news it’s something went wrong…Sometimes I say that I’m a fireman and am putting out small fires once the tournament starts. As a whole, my goal is to make sure there are none.”


(03/29/18)  BERKELEY INDEPENDENT: RICKEY CIAPHA DENNIS JR: Berkeley boys tennis takes loss on Wednesday
Berkeley came up short on the courts Wednesday with a 2-4 loss against Beaufort.

The Stags' James and Josh Giannelli claimed the two scores for Berkeley. Berkeley dropped 2-3 in region action and travels to Hilton Head on Thursday.

James Giannelli (Berk) d. Russell 6-1, 6-1
Jo. Giannelli (Berk) d. Gnann 6-0, 6-0
Patterson (Beau) d. Huxford 6-0, 6-2
Niemand (Beau) d. Jones 6-1, 6-2
C. Hoogenboom (Beau) d. Dorn 6-1, 6-1
I. Hoogenboom/Lindano (Beau) d. Ellison/Coxson 6-2, 6-2


(03/28/18)  WCBD-TV: The Volvo: A celebration of women
The Volvo is a pretty unique tennis tournament. It's a WTA tournament, and is all women tennis players. Some of the best of the best participate in this tournament every year.

It has always been an entirely women's tournament, so just a few weeks for the ladies to be the focus shine, and that is important to everyone involved.

Volvo Tournament Director Bob Moran said, "Professional women's tennis is the only sport where prize money is equal. It's equal prize money on the men's and the women's sides and that says a lot about what our sport is and what it means. So being able to celebrate women, we've been here for 46 years doing this event. We were around when the WTA first started, and we were around when Billie Jean King played Bobby Riggs, so we are truly a celebration of women and that's important to us."

Matches begin on Saturday and finish up Sunday April 8.
http://www.counton2.com/sports/local-sports/the-volvo-a-celebration-of-women/1086282115


(03/27/18)  MOULTRIE NEWS: FRANIKIE MANSFIELD: Volvo Car Open extends wild cards to Petkovic, Bethanie Mattek-Sands
The Volvo Car Open has extended two of its five main draw wild cards to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Andrea Petkovic. They join a deep field that includes Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitova, Madison Keys, Daria Kasatkina, Julia Goerges, Naomi Osaka and more in the Charleston, South Carolina. The Volvo Car Open will take place March 31 - April 8 at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

Mattek-Sands won the doubles title in Charleston in 2017 with Lucie Safarova. In addition, she won the doubles title in 2009 with Nadia Petrova. Last year, she suffered a severe knee injury, which included a knee dislocation and ruptured patella tendon at Wimbledon. After extensive rehabilitation, Mattek-Sands recently returned to the sport, playing her first singles match in Miami. This year will be her 13th time playing singles and ninth time playing doubles in Charleston.

Petkovic won the Charleston title in 2014. A former top 10 player, she has won six WTA singles titles. The 2018 Volvo Car Open will mark her sixth time playing the tournament, where she holds a 12-4 win/loss record.

“Both Bethanie and Andrea are huge fan favorites of our Charleston crowds, and we’re happy that we were able to extend them wild cards into our main draw,” said Bob Moran, Tournament Director. “They both have found success on our green clay, and we wish them well in our 2018 tournament.”

Three additional wild cards will be announced at a later date.


(03/27/18)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
PHILIP SIMMONS 5, PALMETTO CHRISTIAN 2
Singles: Hyden (PCA) d. Sutterlin 3-6, 6-4, 11-9. Hyatt d. Purnell 6-0, 6-1. Motolla d. Biggerstaff 6-0, 6-1. Galt (PCA) d. Roberts 6-0, 6-0. Franklin d. Velasquez 6-4, 3-6, 10-4.   Doubles: Sutterlin/Hyatt d. Hyden/Purnell 6-2, 6-3. Lemcke/McDonald d. Dybowski/Song 6-2, 6-4.

SUMMERVILLE 6, FORT DORCHESTER 0

No results listed.


(03/27/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Former champ Andrea Petkovic, Bethanie Mattek-Sands extended wild cards to Volvo Car Open
Bethanie Mattek-Sands will continue her comeback at the Volvo Car Open, and former champion Andrea Petkovic also will play in the tournament on Daniel Island next week.

The Volvo Car Open extended two of its five main-draw wild cards to the two players on Monday. They join a field that includes Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitová, Madison Keys, Daria Kasatkina, Julia Goerges and Naomi Osaka in the VCO, which runs March 31-April 8 at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

Mattek-Sands, who has twice won the doubles title in Charleston, including last year with Lucie Safarova, suffered a severe knee injury at Wimbledon last summer.

After rehabilitation of a knee dislocation and ruptured patella tendon, Mattek-Sands recently returned to the sport, playing her first singles match in Miami. This year will be her 13th time playing singles and ninth time playing doubles in Charleston.

Petkovic won the Charleston title in 2014. A former top 10 player, she has won six WTA singles titles. The 2018 Volvo Car Open will mark her sixth time playing the tournament, where she holds a 12-4 record.

“Both Bethanie and Andrea are huge fan favorites of our Charleston crowds, and we’re happy that we were able to extend them wild cards into our main draw,” said tournament director Bob Moran. “They both have found success on our green clay, and we wish them well in our 2018 tournament.”

Three additional wild cards will be announced at a later date.


(03/26/18) WCBD-TV: Channel 2 News: Volvo extends wild cards to Mattek-Sands & Petkovic
The Volvo Car Open has extended two of its five main draw wild cards to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Andrea Petkovic. They join a deep field that includes Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitová, Madison Keys, Daria Kasatkina, Julia Goerges, Naomi Osaka and more in the Charleston, South Carolina. The Volvo Car Open will take place March 31 - April 8, 2018 at the Family Circle Tennis Center. 

Mattek-Sands won the doubles title in Charleston in 2017 with Lucie Safarova. In addition, she won the doubles title in 2009 with Nadia Petrova. Last year, she suffered a severe knee injury, which included a knee dislocation and ruptured patella tendon at Wimbledon. After extensive rehabilitation, Mattek-Sands recently returned to the sport, playing her first singles match in Miami. This year will be her 13th time playing singles and ninth time playing doubles in Charleston.

Petkovic won the Charleston title in 2014. A former top 10 player, she has won six WTA singles titles. The 2018 Volvo Car Open will mark her sixth time playing the tournament, where she holds a 12-4 win/loss record.

“Both Bethanie and Andrea are huge fan favorites of our Charleston crowds, and we’re happy that we were able to extend them wild cards into our main draw,” said Bob Moran, Tournament Director. “They both have found success on our green clay, and we wish them well in our 2018 tournament.”

Three additional wild cards will be announced at a later date.


(03/24/18)  WCBD-TV/Ch. 2 News: 2018 Volvo Car Open kicks off next week
The Volvo Car Open is North America's largest women's-only tennis tournament. The 46th tournament kicks off on Saturday, March 31st at the Volvo Car Stadium (161 Seven Farms Drive) on Daniel Island.

Athletes include: 2 time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, US Open champion Sloane Stephens, and 2017 Volvo Car Open champion Daria Kasatkina.

The tournament is offering free admission to all children 16 and under. This program aims to grow the game of tennis and make the sport accessible to everyone.

Family Weekend is Saturday, March 31st- Sunday, April 1st. Adult tickets that weekend are $10. The weekend will include multiple children's activities on the stadium grounds, in addition to the tennis matches.

The Power Shares Series is a 1-night only men's event on Saturday April 7th. This will feature players Andy Roddick, Tommy Haas, and more.

To purchase tickets and see a complete schedule of events, click here.


(03/24/18)  Ailing Shelby Rogers has had significant impact on junior girls tennis in Charleston
It's absolutely mind-boggling to see the good things that have happened locally in junior girls tennis during the "Age of Shelby."

Yes, Shelby Rogers has made that much difference. Never before has the area had so many highly ranked national and Southern girls. And the boys aren't that far behind the girls' pace.

There are so many local young girls who dream of living the life of Shelby, traveling the globe as Charleston's ambassador on the world stage of women's tennis.

Exotic places and glamorous settings are the dream or fantasy world.

But there's also hard work. And Rogers has paid the price with sweat, and now injuries that have put her career in what her fans hope is a temporary holding pattern.

She has played only two matches in 2018, and now after sitting out nearly two months with a pronator injury to her right arm that occurred during January's Australian Open, Rogers is out for at least six more weeks with a left knee injury that happened at the recent Indian Wells, Calif., tournament.

By the time Rogers returns to the WTA Tour, she easily could be outside the top 100.

And then, hopefully, it's a rerun of Rogers' first trip from outside the world's top 100 to inside the top 50.

This time, the perspiration will be greater. The job will be more difficult.

But this time, Rogers knows she can get there. It's not just a dream. She can do it again.

Now, Rogers is on the sideline for the current Miami Open, and then the Volvo Car Open that begins with qualifying next weekend.

Rogers made her reason for pulling out of the VCO clear on Friday. "It's my knee," she said.

How long will she be out: "As of now six weeks."

She gave no other details, which means the closest thing on her radar might be the late-May French Open.

Due to the two apparently serious injuries, published reports had been unclear about Rogers' reason for pulling out of the VCO.

Rogers is ranked No. 81 in the world. The 165 WTA Tour rankings points she earned in last year's Miami and Charleston tournaments are scheduled to fall off the computer at the conclusion of the April 2-8 VCO, leaving her with a projected point total that would be listed outside the top 100.

She was ranked 59th in the world when the year started.

Hopefully, Shelby's world as Charleston's touring tennis professional will right itself, and a year from now she will be basking in the light of being one of the most feared players on the WTA Tour. She's only 25 years old. So there's time.

LOCALS DOMINATE STATE RANKINGS

As for the local juniors, perhaps the most obvious evidence of the impact that the "Age of Shelby" has had on local tennis is in 14-and-under girls competition. Of course, that's not to overlook the fact that the Charleston area had the nation's No. 1 junior boy for 2017 in Bishop England senior Jared Pratt and the South's No. 1 junior girl in Ashley Hall sophomore Emma Navarro.

As I listed earlier this year, the area had four girls ranked in the top 10 in the South for 2017 in girls 14 in Meggie Navarro (2), Allie Gretkowski (4), Sophie Williams (6) and Whitley Pate (8). Also, Carri Hayes was 14th.

Not even one of these five girls was ranked in the top 10 in the state rankings, due to a lack of playing a state schedule. Yet, the recently released final girls 14 state rankings for 2017 included four other local girls: Alice Otis (2), Logan Voeks (3), Saige Severance (5) and Elle Bredemann (7).

Four other local girls are ranked in the second 10 in the state 14s: Sydney Severance (11), Gigi Hinson (13), Kelsey Sinclaire (19) and Francis Drake (20).

That's a total of at least 13 really outstanding local girls 14 players.

I wish I could go into such detail on every age group, because there are so many outstanding junior boys and girls in local tennis.

For instance, the area has three of the No. 1-ranked boys in the state in Mitchell Deames (14s), Stanley Waters (16s) and Kerim Hyatt (18s), and two No. 1 girls in Shianna Guo (16s) and Callie Billman (18s).

The recognition for the most top-10 local players in any age group goes to boys 18, which had six players recognized. In addition to UT-Chattanooga-bound 2016 Lowcountry player of the year Kerim Hyatt of Hanahan, top 10 players include: Huntley Allen (2), Wake Forest-bound Brant Fenno (3) of Porter-Gaud, Eddie Ross (5), Chad Nash (6) and Jack Sequerth (9).

Boys 12 had five state top 10 locals: Carter Pate (2), Sawyer Severance (4), Henry Hyden (6), Zade Hyatt (7) and Joshua Giannelli (10).

Boys 16 had four top 10 state players: Waters, Luke Prendergast (5), Zach Dacuba (8) and Osbaldo Duarte (10). Boys 14 produced Deames and Zachary Blais (9).

In girls 12, Natasha Kavarana (6), Margaret Allen (7), Dylan Voeks (8) and Perrin Rogers (9) made the state top 10, while in girls 16 Guo led a local group of top 10ers that included Emily Elliott (6), Emma Smith (7) and Jill Morse (8).

Lauren Quinn (3) and Alex Hildell (9) followed Billman in girls 18.

LOCAL NOTES

-- Emma Navarro is in Indian Wells, Calif., this weekend to begin play in the Easter Bowl national championships. She is playing in girls 18 this year after winning the Easter Bowl's girls 16 title a year ago. She also is playing doubles with Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga.

-- Navarro now has WTA Tour world rankings of No. 1,153 in singles and No. 842 in doubles. After the Easter Bowl, the 16-year-old will be getting ready for a main draw berth in the $80,000 U.S. Women's Pro Circuit tournament slated for April 30-May 6 at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant. She also will be playing in the July 15-22 Girls 18 Clay Court Nationals at LTP Tennis.

-- Former local junior Ellie Halbauer is back training in Orlando, Fla., after playing four $15,000 women's pro circuit tournaments in a row in Tunisia. The 20-year-old was so exhausted from the ordeal that she retired during the singles quarterfinals of the last tournament. "I was a little injured from overuse, but I'm OK now," Halbauer said Friday. After taking one singles title and one doubles title in Tunisia, and one doubles runner-up there, Halbauer is hoping for a wild card into next weekend's qualifying tournament for the Volvo Car Open.


(03/23/18)  ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Patriot tennis team looking to finish strong
The Fort Dorchester Boys Tennis team nearly notched a Region 7-AAAAA win March 22.

After earning a win over non-region opponent Colleton County early this season, the Patriots hit a rough patch as they entered region play with a string of matches against some of the tougher teams in their region. Last week, Fort Dorchester was on the verge of topping West Ashley, but came up one court short.

The 4-3 loss to the Wildcats came with plenty of region matches remaining so the Patriots are looking to bolster their standing in the region in the next few weeks.

The Fort Dorchester Boys Tennis team nearly notched a Region 7-AAAAA win March 22.

After earning a win over non-region opponent Colleton County early this season, the Patriots hit a rough patch as they entered region play with a string of matches against some of the tougher teams in their region. Last week, Fort Dorchester was on the verge of topping West Ashley, but came up one court short.

The 4-3 loss to the Wildcats came with plenty of region matches remaining so the Patriots are looking to bolster their standing in the region in the next few weeks.


(03/23/18)  MOULTRIE NEWS: Registration now open for inaugural Mount Pleasant Pickleball Paddle Battle
Registration is now open for the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department’s Inaugural Pickleball Paddle Battle. This event will take place Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22 at the Park West Recreation Complex.

Pickleball, an indoor/outdoor sport, is an exciting game that blends elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. Played on a badminton-sized court, the running distance required is much less than tennis. Additionally, players use a perforated plastic whiffle ball and paddle during the low-impact sport.

After observing the enthusiasm for the sport at both the national and local level, the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department decided to host a pickleball tournament of its own.

“We see how fast pickleball is growing in our community and are excited to offer our residents the chance to play in a tournament-style setting,” said MPRD tennis coordinator Shelli Davis.

The Pickleball Paddle Battle will consist of two days of matches, with men’s pairs playing first on Saturday, April 21, and women’s pairs playing the following day, Sunday, April 22. Play will begin at 8 a.m. and end by 2 p.m.

Twenty-four doubles teams will be divided into three groups of eight teams each day. Each team will play every other team in their group, with the winners determined by their win/loss record. In the event of a tie teams will face off in a head-to-head tiebreaker.

Register for the Mount Pleasant Pickleball Paddle Battle in person at the R.L. Jones Center, G.M. Darby Building, or Park West Recreation Complex. To register online, visit MtPleasantRec.com/Register and enter registration code 318400-01 for men’s pairs and 318400-02 for women’s pairs. Entry is $40 per team.

For more information about the Mount Pleasant Pickleball Paddle Battle, please contact Davis at 843-856-2162 or sdavis@tompsc.com.


(03/22/18)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
WANDO 6, ASHlEY RIDGE 0
Singles: Smyth d. Plyer 6-0, 6-0. Botos d. Morris 6-3, 6-2. Shuman d. Price 7-5, 6-0. Brahen d. Schmedeke 6-2, 6-3. Williams d. Wanish 7-5, 7-5.   Doubles: Burgess/Daniel d. Daley/Moehling 6-1, 6-2.

Records: Wando 6-1 (6-0).

SUMMERVILLE 5, STRATFORD 1
Records: Summerville 10-6 (4-1). Next: Summerville at Bishop England Monday.

WEST ASHLEY 4, FORT DORCHESTER 3
Singles: Duarte d. Nguyen 6-2, 6-1. Anastopoulo d. Wang 6-0, 6-0. Lambert d. Carter 6-0, 6-0. Westbrook (FD) d. Clontz 6-7, 6-4, 10-8. Dashinger (FD) d. Mines 6-3, 7-6.  Doubles: Anastopoulo/Lambert d. Nguyen/Wang 6-0, 6-2. Kendrick/Samarov (FD) d. Hunter/Hassan 6-0, 6-2.

Next: West Ashley hosts Stratford Monday.


(03/21/18)  ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Green Wave tennis team notches wins
The Green Wave Boys Tennis team won four of its first five Region 7-AAAAA matches.

Summerville claimed wins over Fort Dorchester, Goose Creek, Ashley Ridge, West Ashley and non-region opponent Berkeley to carry a five-game winning streak into its match with state power Wando March 15. The streak ended with a 5-1 loss to the Warriors, but with a 10-6 record and 4-1 mark in the region Summerville remained in a good position entering play this week.

“Preseason got us ready to start our region matches,” Summerville coach Jesse Gladis said. “We still have some tough competition in the region, but I feel we are ready for it. We have a lot of growth ahead of us, but we’re playing with a lot of heart.”

All but one of Summerville’s region wins and the victory over Berkeley came by a 6-0 margin. On March 13, the Wave battled for a 4-3 win at West Ashley.

“I think West Ashley has two of the top players in the region in Ozzie Duarte and Stratus Anastopoulo,” Gladis said. “That match was just fun tennis to watch. Four of the region’s Top 8 players were on that court battling for the match.”

Summerville’s Taylor Reynolds earned a 6-4, 6-2 victory in the No. 2 Singles match and Vineel Prathipati won 6-3, 6-1 in the No. 5 Singles match. Then the Wave No. 1 Doubles team of Stephen Wills and Reynolds won 7-5, 0-6 (5) and Dontrell Whetsell and Sam Dimuzio paired up for a 6-0, 6-0 Summerville win on the No. 2 Doubles court.

“Reynolds had an amazing night on the court,” Gladis said. “He grinded out the first set and just stayed consistent, using every spot on the court he could, to win the second set. You could see his mind at work during his singles match. His serve was incredible all night as well. In doubles, Taylor and Stephen played from behind in the first set, struggled in the second and stepped up in the tie-break.”

Summerville hosted James Island Tuesday after press time. The Wave is on the road for its next five matches, traveling to Stratford March 22, Fort Dorchester March 27, Bishop England March 28, Goose Creek March 29 and Ashley Ridge April 10. The Wave will host a rematch with West Ashley at 4:15 p.m. April 12.


(03/21/18)  ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Green Wave has an active preseason
The work the Summerville Boys Tennis team put in this preseason should have it well prepared for Region 7-AAAAA play.

Coach Jesse Gladis, who took over the Green Wave tennis programs this school year after coaching at Fort Dorchester last year, made sure the Summerville Boys faced some good competition during the preseason. After knocking the rust off with a match against Bishop England, Summerville participated in the Palmetto Tennis Classic preseason tournament at Brookland Cayce High School the last week of February.

The Green Wave finished the weekend with three wins after a first round loss to Chapin, which went on to win the tournament. Summerville senior Stephen Wills was 5-0 in singles play. He and fellow senior Taylor Reynolds teamed up for doubles play and the duo had an outstanding tournament.

The Wave bounced back from the loss to Chapin to beat Dutch Fork 4-3, Darlington 5-1, and Camden 4-3.

“Our young athletes learned a lot that weekend,” Gladis said. “The tournament really helped us get into the mindset of playing some serious tennis.”

Summerville played SCISA opponent Pinewood Prep in Knightsville Feb. 28. With Wills, the Wave’s normal No. 1 singles player, out of the lineup due to injury Summerville fell 6-3 to the Panthers. In singles play, Summerville’s Chris Edwards won 6-0, 5-7 (8), Vineel Prathipati won 6-3, 6-1 and Sam Dimuzio won 6-3, 6-1 to tie the match. But Pinewood then swept the doubles courts.

“There were some incredibly intense matches played, especially when doubles started,” Gladis said. “Both team’s kids grinded out great points all afternoon. However, the Panthers’ doubles teams were better in the end. Sam stepped up and played a solid match at No. 6 singles and Edwards pulled out a great tiebreak win at No. 4 singles. Vineel played the most confident I’ve seen him all year. Although we took a loss, I saw some great things.”

Last weekend, Summerville participated in the Florence Boys Tennis Tournament at the Dr. Eddie Floyd Tennis Center. They faced stiff competition from teams such as Greensborough Day, Clover and Cannon.

“The tournament was definitely a step up in competition,” Gladis said. “We played teams that have made it deep into North Carolina state tournaments. I’m seeing a lot of growth in our mental game and I’ve seen our players work on a lot of what we have practiced early this season. Growth is happening very fast with this young team and the senior leaders are impressing me with their willingness to learn and mix up their games.”

This week, Summerville hosts its first three Region 7-AAAAA matches of the season. The Wave opened the regular season against Fort Dorchester March 5, but results were not available at deadline.

Summerville hosts Goose Creek at 4:15 p.m. March 7 and Ashley Ridge at 4:15 p.m. March 9.


(03/21/18)  BERKELEY INDEPENDENT: RICKEY CIAPHA DENNIS JR: More than tennis
Andrew Giannelli believes in miracles.

On a Thursday afternoon, his home sits on two acres of property on Old Moncks Corner road. The brick structure is hidden from view by two full tennis courts. They’re enclosed with fish nets. The concrete rests under nine wooden light poles.

Just a few moments past 3 p.m., the serenity is interrupted by several dozen children who trickle onto the property. They’re anxious for tennis. They circle around Sara Giannelli, a 19-year-old tennis stud, who will offer a few pointers.

One child decked in his blue-collar shirt heads for the racquets. Cerebral palsy forces him to walk with a limp. Andrew Giannelli points at him.

“We’re believing God to heal him,” he says.

It would not be the first time, Giannelli says. He recounts numerous instances where youth who’ve had asthma and other conditions overcame illnesses through prayer and tennis outside his Moncks Corner home.

“Safe Haven”

Andrew met his wife Cynthia in 1994. Andrew, who had a woman’s shelter and soup kitchen in Tennessee and did Christian outreach to groups across the United States and on the continent of Africa, never planned to have children.

He and his wife would have nine.

After the couple had their third child around 2004, they moved to an area in Mount Pleasant next to three tennis courts. They picked up the sport for fun, not anticipating it would form their life’s ministry.

They moved to Moncks Corner where their house was fronted by nearly an acre of open space. By that time, the children had developed a knack for the sport even without private lessons. Dad was the sole instructor and even he was no pro by any stretch of the imagination.

Nonetheless, the family of faith knew they were being called to do something greater.

“God said ‘start teaching tennis,’” Andrew said.

The Giannellis started Open Door Ministries Sports and Wellness Center, a nonprofit that gives physical, emotional and spiritual support for youth through tennis. They transformed their front yard into a tennis hub and began offering $5 tennis lessons about a year ago.

The sessions are Tuesday – Thursday between 4 and 7 p.m. Sessions are organized by age. Adults are welcome. Guests also have the option of private lessons.

Sara, a certified professional tennis registry instructor, leads the sessions. She views the courts as a place of solace.

“I think this is a safe haven for some of the kids,” Sara said. It gets them away from all the stress and things that happen in life. It’s somewhere where they can come and just feel free, have fun and make friends.”

The Giannellis are known for their skills on the court. Joshua and James are top players at Berkeley.

In 2017, South Carolina’s United States Tennis Association named the Giannelli family "tennis family of the year." The award recognizes the “family that has done the most to promote tennis in South Carolina through playing, coaching, officiating, volunteering, administrative work.”

A massive facility

The Giannellis want to do more for the community. The family owns nearly 50 acres off Highway 17 in Moncks Corner. They want to transform it into a massive recreational facility that includes 36 tennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts, and exercise space.

The facility certainly would be one-of-its-kind in the state.

Andrew said he “went in the hole” financially putting courts outside his home. But he did because he said he knew the Lord told him to do it.

The reassurance of seeing more than a dozen children at his courts makes him believe it can do even more.

He said he’s already started clearing the property. But he needs support moving forward. Those who want to give toward the Giannellis' tennis ministry can visit gofundme.com/teaching-tennis-changing-lives.

“We just know were supposed to do it,” Andrew said. “If God is telling me to, don’t worry about it. Just focus on him. He’s going to do it.”


(03/21/18)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
WEST ASHLEY 4, PINEWOOD PREP 3
Singles: Duarte d. Spakova. Anastopoulo d. G. Mann. Lambert d. Garcia. M. Mann (PP) d. Clontz. McConnell (PP) d. Mines.   Doubles: Duarte/Anastopoulo d. Spakova/Garcia. Tanner/Diffley (PP) d. Hunter/Hassan.

Next: West Ashley at Fort Dorchester today.

BISHOP ENGLAND 4, WANDO 2
Singles: L. Dacuba d. Shaw 6-2, 5-7, (10-3). Z. Dacuba d. Bumgarner 6-3, 7-5. Etsy d. Smyth 6-4, 3-6, (10-3). Gosselin d. Davies 6-0, 6-2. Heindel (W) d. Smith 7-5, 6-7(2), (10-8).   Doubles: Botos/Shuman (W) d. McLeachy/French 6-0, 6-3.

Records: Wando 5-1. Next: Wando hosts Ashley Ridge today.


(03/21/18)  Charleston's Shelby Rogers: 'Breaks my heart' to withdraw from Volvo Car Open
Charleston's Shelby Rogers withdrew from the Volvo Car Open on Wednesday, saying it "breaks my heart" to miss her hometown tennis tournament.

"It has been a very tough year for me and it breaks my heart I will not be able to compete in my favorite tournament," said Rogers, who has been dealing with an arm injury this year. "I absolutely love these fans and the whole city has been supportive of me since the beginning of my career."

Rogers, 25, had her best season on the WTA Tour last year, winning more than $700,000 and advancing to the third round in three of the four Grand Slam events.

Last year at the Volvo Car Open, she won her way into the quarterfinals on Daniel Island.

"As difficult as it is, I know this is the right choice in order for my body to heal and be ready to play again," she said. "I have so many great memories here and I am looking forward to coming back to play next year."

Rogers had a career-high ranking of No. 48 in January of 2017, and is now ranked No. 81. She's been able to play only two matches so far this year, losing in the first round of the Australian Open and at Indian Wells.

The Volvo Car Open is set for March 31-April 8 at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island.


(03/15/18) SC BUSINESS REVIEW: MIKE SWITZER: Women’s Pioneering Tennis Tournament Celebrates 45 Years in SC's Lowcountry
Spring is in the air and that means a lot of outdoor sporting events will soon be bringing an economic force to our state. Big golf tournaments in Augusta, Hilton Head, and Charlotte, for example.  But first up is one of the premier tournaments in women’s professional tennis, the one that was actually at the forefront of equal pay efforts in the sport 45 years ago.

Mike Switzer interviews Bob Moran, tournament director at the Volvo Car Open in Daniel Island, SC.
Listen: http://scpublicradio.org/post/women-s-pioneering-tennis-tournament-celebrates-45-years-scs-lowcountry


(03/15/18)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
WANDO 5, SUMMERVILLE 1
Singles: Wills (S) d. Shaw 6-2, 5-7, 10-7. Bumgarner d. Reynolds 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 10-7. Johnson d. McGinnis 6-1, 6-3. Smyth d. Gajjar 6-3, 6-1. Davies d. Edwards 6-0, 6-1.   Doubles: Brahen/Daniel d. Whetsell/Dimuzio 6-2, 6-2.

Records: Summerville 10-6 (4-1). Wando (5-0). Next: Summerville hosts James Island Tuesday. Wando hosts Goose Creek Tuesday.


(03/14/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: PowerShares Series
The PowerShares Series, a competitive tennis circuit featuring some of the ATP’s former top-ranked players, makes its way back to Charleston on Saturday, April 7th at 8:30pm at the Volvo Car Stadium. The event includes four champions playing two semifinal matches, with the winners meeting in a final. The format is meant to be entertaining for fans with players calling their own scores and interacting with the crowds.

The 2018 player field will welcome some of the biggest names ever to play the sport.
• Andy Roddick, former World No. 1 and US Open champion
• Michael Chang, former World No. 2 and French Open champion
• Tommy Haas, former World No. 2 and Olympic Silver Medalist
• Mark Philippoussis, former World No. 8 and two-time Davis Cup champion

Each legend boasts an impressive tennis career spanning several decades.

“The PowerShares Series has been an incredible opportunity for Charleston fans to watch some of the greatest men’s tennis players compete,” said Bob Moran, Volvo Car Open President. “This one-day tournament is another way for us to grow the game of tennis and showcase the entertainment aspect of the sport.”

The PowerShares Series has become an anticipated repeat event at the Volvo Car Stadium with legends like Roddick returning for his third consecutive appearance. Philippoussis won the event in 2017 and is back to defend his title.

Tickets start at $30 for terrace level seating. A limited number of box seats are still available. For more information on the tournament and ticket options, visit www.volvocaropen.com or call (800) 677-2293.

About the PowerShares Series:
The 2018 QQQ Champions Series by Invesco is a competitive tennis circuit featuring legendary tennis icons and world-renowned champions Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Andy Roddick, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Michael Chang, James Blake, Mardy Fish, Marat Safin, Mark Philippoussis, Tommy Haas, and Lleyton Hewitt. Each tournament features 4 Champions paired off in one set semi-finals and culminates with the winners meeting in a one-set championship match.


(03/14/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Volvo Car Open still in need of volunteers!
The show must go on...and it takes hundreds of people to make it happen!

The Volvo Car Open is seeking additional volunteers to serve in a variety of capacities as part of the 2018 tournament, which will be held from March 31-April 8 at the Family Circle Tennis Center and Volvo Car Stadium on Daniel Island.

Transportation drivers, golf cart drivers, and ticket office and guest services volunteers are still needed.

Having moved to the Volvo Car Stadium in 2001, the Open will celebrate its 45th anniversary this year. The many years of success that the tournament has seen is due in large part to the volunteers, explained Volunteer Coordinator Jo Cooper, a Daniel Island resident.

“They are extremely critical,” said Cooper. “The event can’t run without volunteers.”

Regardless of the area a volunteer is assigned to, the job is always a lot of fun, added Cooper, thanks to fellow volunteers and, most importantly, good tennis.

“In transportation, you might hop in a car and drive Serena Williams to her hotel,” said Cooper. “… I’ve personally driven Martina Navratilova, Venus and Serena… It’s really a way to be involved in something that is larger than yourself…I can’t wait to see my friends that I’ve been seeing every year. Some of them live in Texas and we have people from Ohio and Virginia. They come from all over. Maybe the best part is, you get some great tennis with great seats. There’s not a bad seat in this house.”

As a volunteer, one is required to work a minimum of six shifts, each shift lasting for about four to five hours, but the more hours one works, the more perks they receive, added Cooper. For the base six shifts, all volunteers receive a credential, which gets them onsite for every day session. At eight shifts, volunteers not only receive a credential, but also a free ticket for every single day, so a spouse, child or friend can tag along.

Volunteer applications are available online at http://events.trustevent.com/index.cfm?eid=2951 or you can send an email to Volunteervco@gmail.com with questions.


(03/12/18)  MOULTRIE NEWS: James Beck: Navarro, Gretkowski shine in pro circuit; Shelby Rogers out for Miami
Emma Navarro, 2017's top Southern junior girl, had a great week in Orlando, Fla., playing in a $15K pro circuit event.

The local standout won four singles matches before running into world's No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe. Navarro also teamed up with Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy 14-year-old Allie Gretkowski to make the semifinals in doubles.

But Navarro isn't likely to be playing in the VCO qualifying tournament. Navarro and regular partner Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., will be taking aim on a national championship in the Easter Bowl in Indian Wells, Calif., during the week of the VCO qualifying event.

Navarro won the girls 16 title in the 2017 Easter Bowl.

Of course, Gretkowski could be a possibility for the VCO qualifying tournament, and maybe for the LTP $80K qualifying event. At 5-9, Gretkowski plays a big game and is a player to watch in the next few years.
Rogers out

Shelby Rogers' tennis career just got complicated. It all happened on Wednesday late in a first-round loss to Caroline Dolehide at the WTA Tour tournament in Indian Wells, Calif.

Down 3-0 in the third set, Rogers called for the trainer. It was her left knee.

The trainer applied tape above and below the knee, and appeared to connect the two wraps.

Rogers played the last six games with the injury, but appeared to struggle with her movement.

On Saturday, Charleston's 25-year-old touring tennis professional said, "I will not be playing Miami."

The mega Miami Open event is scheduled to start March 20, followed on April 2 by Charleston's Volvo Car Open.

"I am still getting more opinions on the knee injury and how to move forward," Rogers said.

"I will know more next week."

Rogers already had been dealing with a right arm pronator injury that that occurred in her first-round loss at the Australian Open.

Wednesday's 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3 loss to Dolehide was Rogers' first match since January's Australian Open.

In the process, Rogers' world ranking has dropped from 59th to 78th since the start of 2018.

Rogers started the match against Dolehide looking fully recovered from the arm injury. She served well, moved well and played solid tennis until the knee problem occurred.


(03/10/18)  Halbauer is on a Tunisian roll
Ellie Halbauer was still a teenager last spring, and her future in professional tennis was looking up.

Halbauer had just beaten then 132nd-ranked Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia in a qualifying match for the LTP Tennis $60K event on the U.S. Women's Pro Circuit. Krunic is now the 47th-ranked player in the world.

Then Halbauer ran into the always determined Danielle Collins in the main draw round of 16, and won the first set before losing. A week later she was losing another three-setter to Collins in the semifinals in a $25K in Naples, Fla.

You might say the future even appeared rosy for the former Charleston junior who had climbed hundreds of places on the WTA Tour rankings list to No. 260 in the world.

That might not sound like much, until you consider that she was No. 833 in 2013 as a 15-year-old. But she usually was on the rise after that ... until last June when her left wrist started giving her problems. She had a wrist tear and was out for the year.

When Halbauer returned to the pro circuit in January, her ranking had taken a nosedive. She had to qualify for even smaller events.

Her singles ranking currently sits in the No. 668 position in the world, and doubles is at 498.

But Halbauer is still only 20 years old, and she is starting the climb again. This time, in Tunisia where she has one week left in a success-filled month-long slate of four $15K pro circuit tournaments.

On Saturday, Halbauer teamed with Julia Stamatova of Bulgaria to win the doubles title in a $15K event in Tunisia.

And Sunday (today), Halbauer is playing in the singles final in the $15K in Tunisia after upsetting top seed and former world's No. 150 Tereza Mrdeza of Croatia in three sets on Saturday. She should climb about 150 spots in the rankings.

What is she doing in Tunisia?

"I’m here in Tunisia for one more week and then I'll come back home (currently Orlando, Fla.)," Halbauer said Saturday from Tunisia. "I’m with my coach (Tom Downs). We decided to come here because we thought it would be a good place for me to get matches under my belt because I haven’t played matches in awhile.

"I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do yet with my future tournaments. It’s still up in the air what my schedule is."

Two weeks ago, Halbauer made the USTA's weekly list for American accomplishments in professional tennis around the globe by taking doubles runner-up honors in another $15K in Tunisia.

But what's next? Hopefully, her plans will include a trip back to Charleston to play in the Volvo Car Open qualifying tournament and then qualifying for the upcoming (April 30-May 6) $80K U.S. Women's Pro Circuit tournament at LTP Tennis. The LTP main draw could produce a wild card berth into the French Open main draw for some player.

Madison Brengle won the LTP $60K last spring and earned a French Open wild card that she didn't need. Brengle is now 76th in the world.

There is always a chance that Halbauer could receive a wild card into the VCO qualifying tournament the weekend before the April 2-8 VCO main draw. "I did request a wild card again this year (for the VCO) but we will see if I get it. Hopefully I’ll be back," Halbauer said.

The fact she is making a successful return to the pro circuit after sitting out the last six months of 2017 with an injury should help her land a wild card into VCO qualifying, not to mention that she grew up playing tennis at Family Circle Tennis Center and the old Players Club (now LTP Tennis).

"It will be another couple of days before we evaluate our requests," VCO tournament director Bob Moran said Saturday.

Navarro, Gretkowski shine

Emma Navarro, 2017's top Southern junior girl, had a great week in Orlando, Fla., playing in a $15K pro circuit event. She won four singles matches before running into world's No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe. Navarro also teamed up with Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy 14-year-old Allie Gretkowski to make the semifinals in doubles.

But Navarro isn't likely to be playing in the VCO qualifying tournament. Navarro and regular partner Chloe Beck of Watkinsville, Ga., will be taking aim on a national championship in the Easter Bowl in Indian Wells, Calif., during the week of the VCO qualifying event.

Navarro won the girls 16 title in the 2017 Easter Bowl.

Of course, Gretkowski could be a possibility for the VCO qualifying tournament, and maybe for the LTP $80K qualifying event. At 5-9, Gretkowski plays a big game and is a player to watch in the next few years.

Rogers out

Shelby Rogers' tennis career just got complicated. It all happened on Wednesday late in a first-round loss to Caroline Dolehide at the WTA Tour tournament in Indian Wells, Calif.

Down 3-0 in the third set, Rogers called for the trainer. It was her left knee.

The trainer applied tape above and below the knee, and appeared to connect the two wraps.

Rogers played the last six games with the injury, but appeared to struggle with her movement.

On Saturday, Charleston's 25-year-old touring tennis professional said, "I will not be playing Miami."

The mega Miami Open event is scheduled to start March 20, followed on April 2 by Charleston's Volvo Car Open.

"I am still getting more opinions on the knee injury and how to move forward," Rogers said.

"I will know more next week."

Rogers already had been dealing with a right arm pronator injury that that occurred in her first-round loss at the Australian Open.

Wednesday's 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3 loss to Dolehide was Rogers' first match since January's Australian Open.

In the process, Rogers' world ranking has dropped from 59th to 78th since the start of 2018.

Rogers started the match against Dolehide looking fully recovered from the arm injury. She served well, moved well and played solid tennis until the knee problem occurred.


(03/09/18)  PREP ZONE: Boys Tennis
JAMES ISLAND 5, STRATFORD 1
Singles: Healey d. Yeung 6-1, 6-0. Evans d. McCracken 6-1, 7-6 (7-3). James d. Hoffman 6-0, 6-0. R. Kizer d. Moorer 6-3, 6-4. Robinson (S) d. N. Kizer 7-5, 5-7, 10-6.   Doubles: Sneed/Muckenfuss d. Morrisy/Lind 6-2, 5-7, 10-6.

Records: James Island 2-0. Next: James Island at Beaufort Monday.

PORTER-GAUD 5, OCEANSIDE 1
Singles: Fenno d. Waters 7-5, 4-6, 11-9. Snyder d. Kirk 6-2, 7-6. Franc d. Blount 6-2, 6-1. Acevedo d. Williams 2-6, 7-6, (10-9). Upshaw (O) d. Harvin 6-0, 6-0. Stripling d. Granger 6-4, 5-7, (10-5).   Next: Porter-Gaud at Pinewood Prep Monday.

WANDO 6, WEST ASHLEY 0
Singles: Bumgarner d. Duarte 7-6, 4-6, 10-5. Johnson d. Anastopoulo 6-4, 6-2. Smyth d. Lambert 6-0, 6-3. Davies d. Clints 6-2, 6-1. Heindel d. Mines.   Doubles: Botos/Shuman won by forfeit.

Records: Wando (2-0). Next: Wando hosts Stratford today.


(03/08/18)  PREP ZONE: BOYS TENNIS
WANDO 6, FORT DORCHESTER 0
Singles: Bumgarner d. Nguyen 6-0, 6-0. Smyth d. Wang 6-0, 6-1. Heindel d. Carter 6-0, 6-0. Daniel d. Westbrooke 6-0, 6-1. Brahen d. Dasinger 6-1, 6-1.   Doubles: Botos/Shuman d. Samarov/Stamey 6-0, 6-0.

Records: Wando (1-0). Next: Wando hosts West Ashley today.

SUMMERVILLE 6, GOOSE CREEK 0
Singles: Wills d. Coleman 6-0, 6-0. Reynolds d. Miller 6-0, 6-0. McGinnis d. M. Williams 6-0, 6-0. Gajjar d. Ahern 6-0, 6-1. Edwards d. Pilger 6-0, 6-1.   Doubles: Whetsell/Dimuzio d. Addison/D. Williams 6-0, 6-0.

Records: Summerville 2-0 (2-0). Goose Creek 0-2 (0-2). Next: Summerville hosts Ashley Ridge Friday. Goose Creek hosts Wando Friday.


(03/07/18)  LCTA Newsletter
Happy Spring!
LCTA hopes that you all are recovering from the cold start to the year and having an enjoyable tennis season.

Important Dates
Mixed Doubles Registration is open!  
April 6 is the deadline for having 3 eligible partnerships.  Age groups are 18 & over, 40 & over, 55 & over, and 65 & over.  Combined rating level of the partnerships include 2.5, 6.0, 7.0, 8.0, 9.0 and 10.0 depending on age group.  There can be no more than 1.0 difference in the partnership.

Local Playoff Dates:
55 & over - TBD;
18 & over - 2.5, 3.5, and 4.5, April 9 - 15 at Mt. Pleasant Rec.
18 & over - 3.0 and 4.0, April 16 - 22 at Charleston Tennis Center

Dates may be moved depending on number of teams registered and weather conditions.

Wild Cards
Wild cards are not published.  We will not know the format for playoffs until wild card invitations are published.  Based on SC State registrations, the following divisions are not expected to have any wild cards statewide - 18 & over Women 2.5; Men 3.0 & 3.5; 40 & over - Women 4.0; 55 & over - Men 3.5 & 4.0.

Annual and Captains' Meeting Recap
Thank you to everyone that attended the Annual and Captains' meeting.  It was a great meeting and raised some worthwhile points.

As a result, the LCTA Board has passed a policy concerning qualifications of Board Members, and a procedure for electing appointed members. 

We will next undertake a policy on Term Limits.  We need new ideas and energy on the Board.  Term limits are helpful in providing an entry for fresh perspective.

The dreaded 7. This spring we had some divisions with 7 teams.  We know having more matches is desirable especially with large teams.  With 7 teams in a division, a single round robin has 6 matches and lasts 7 weeks (there is a bye every week); with 2 round robins there are 12 matches spread over 14 weeks.  Our time slot could not handle a 14 week schedule. 

I announced at the Annual and Captains' meeting that I was stepping down as Local League Coordinator June 30, 2018; Dee Mack will be suggested to the State Director of Leagues to be appointed as LCTA Local League Coordinator.  I am confident that suggestion will be approved.  It has been a privilege to serve as LLC. After 4 years, I feel it is time for fresh perspective.  I will continue to serve as LCTA President if elected.

Thanks everyone. Have a great spring!

We have 33 unreported matches so let's get the makeup matches played and recorded!

Thanks,
Steve Wilson
LCTA President and LLC
srw924@gmail.com


(03/06/18)  ROGER LEE: SUMMERVILLE JOURNAL SCENE: Panthers outmatch Green Wave
The Pinewood Prep Boys Tennis team is off to a good start under the guidance of first-year Panther coach Ivan Besancon.

The Panthers hosted Summerville Feb. 28 as a warm up to SCISA play and defeated the Green Wave 6-3 in an exciting match.

"The team competed really well,” Besancon said. “I am proud of the way our team spirit carried us through this match and allowed us to take the win home. I believe we will have a great season if we can put together matches like this one."

The teams split the singles courts down the middle.

Pinewood’s Artjohms Spakhov claimed a 6-2, 7-5 victory in the No. 1 singles match while Ben Diffley won 6-0, 6-1 on Court 2 and Grayson Mann won 6-1, 6-2 on Court 3. For Summerville, Chris Edwards won 6-0, 5-7 (8), Vineel Prathipati won 6-3, 6-1 and Sam Dimuzio won 6-3, 6-1.

Then Pinewood swept the doubles courts.

Spakhov and Ben Diffley teamed up for an 8-0 win in the No. 1 doubles match. Jay Diffley and McGregor Mann teamed up for an 8-6 victory in the No. 2 doubles match. Canon McConnell and Grayson Mann claimed an 8-4 victory on the No. 3 doubles court.

Pinewood opens SCISA play at 3 p.m. March 8 with a match against Palmetto Christian at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island. The Panthers host Porter-Gaud at 4 p.m. March 12 and host Ashley Ridge at 4:30 p.m. March 14.


(03/06/18)  Navarro, Gretkowski make noise at U.S. Women's Pro Circuit tennis qualifying
Two Charleston area juniors are making noise in a $15,000 U.S. Women's Pro Circuit tennis tournament going on this week at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla.

Emma Navarro, the No. 4 girls 16 player nationally, sprinted through three rounds of qualifying to earn a berth in the main draw. Navarro also advanced to the quarterfinals in doubles with Allie Gretkowski of Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy.

Navarro upended No. 6 qualifying seed Anca Craciun of Canada 6-0, 7-5 in the third round of qualifying on Tuesday to earn her berth in the main draw.

Gretkowski, ranked No. 27th nationally in girls 14, suffered a 6-0, 6-2 loss to Angelina Zhuravleva of Russia in the final round of singles qualifying, then teamed up with Navarro to gain revenge in doubles against Zhuravleva as the Gretkowski/Navarro team posted a 6-2, 6-4 win over the fourth-seeded team of Zhuravleva and American Mara Schmidt.

Rogers is back

After nearly a two-month injury layoff, Charleston's Shelby Rogers is back on the WTA Tour this week in the California desert. Rogers' first-round opponent at Indian Wells that starts on Wednesday will be 19-year-old wild card Caroline Dolehide of Illinois.

Rogers is ranked 78th in the world, while Dolehide is No. 165. Dolehide competed in last spring's LTP $80K U.S. Pro Circuit tournament. The Rogers/Dolehide winner will advance to the second round for a match against 30th seed Dominika Cibulkova.


(03/05/18)  SGB Media: Tennis Owners & Managers Conference Set For Wild Dunes in Charleston, SC In April
The fifth annual Tennis Owners & Managers (TOM) Conference will bring together tennis business owners, managers and decision-makers, with a focus on innovation, growth, business leadership and development. The conference runs from April 9 to 11, with optional specialty courses on Sunday, April 8, and day session registration available.

In addition to featured speakers such as ClubIntel co-founder Stephen Tharrett and ConantLeadership CEO Douglas R. Conant, the conference will feature unique “TOM Talk” sessions focusing on specific topics, then include roundtable discussions. Among TOM Talk presenters will be TPI performance director Dr. Sean Drake, who will discuss the importance of selling fitness with tennis, and Len Simard, a search executive who will present on staffing and hiring.

Other speakers include Kurt Kamperman and Craig Morris of the USTA, sports club marketing expert Casey Conrad, Midtown Athletic Club vice president & general manager Michael Mahoney, PHIT America founder Jim Baugh and Tennis Industry Health & Wellness Advisor Dr. Jack Groppel of Johnson & Johnson’s Human Performance Institute.

The conference will include a Manufacturer-Retailer-Technology “hub” that will feature new and innovative products, which attendees will be able to demo in on-court sessions on Monday, April 9. Manufacturers and companies taking part in the TOM also will be exhibiting in the Resource Center throughout the conference.

The on-court demos will follow an “Equipment Knowledge 101” session by retail experts Dave Emkey of Fromuth Tennis, Adam Burbary of Game-Set-Match, Sean Barkulis of ShopKeep, Josh Myers of Sea Pines Resort and Peg Connor, former manufacturer director of marketing and promotions. Products will include racquets, ball machines, backboards, “smart” technology and more. Coaching legend Nick Bollettieri will also be on-hand during the on-court demos.

“We’re excited to offer these ‘learn-try-test-demo’ sessions so facility owners and managers can learn about the latest products, innovations and technology,” said TIA executive director Jolyn de Boer. “It’s important for staff and players to understand the importance of using the right equipment.”

The tentative schedule for the nine demo courts includes a “smart court” with line-calling and coaching technology, a “smart racquet” demo court, courts to test manufacturers’ latest racquets, a POP Tennis court, a Cardio Tennis court (with CT global education director Michele Krause and MyZone president Emmett Williams) and pickleball courts.

In addition to on-court demos and educational sessions (continuing education credits are available), the TOM Conference also will include an “Innovation Challenge,” networking sessions, digital and social media discussions, recognition of Tennis Industry magazine’s Champions of Tennis winners and more. The start of the conference also coincides with the finals at the nearby Volvo Car Open women’s professional tournament on Daniel Island, SC. Visit TheTOMConference.com for more info.

The Tennis Industry Association, the not-for-profit trade association for tennis, promotes the growth and economic vitality of the business of tennis by working closely with its industry partners and in support of the USTA in their development of initiatives to increase tennis participation. Core TIA activities include producing more than 70 U.S. and global research reports annually on participation and consumer/trade research and managing the largest relational database, along with hosting annual TIA Tennis Forum, Leadership meetings and the TOM Conference at major tournaments and events.


(03/05/18)  CHARLESTON CITY PAPER: Catch Michael Chang, Andy Roddick, and more at this year's Volvo Car Open PowerShares Series
Since 1973 the Volvo Car Open (formerly known as Family Circle Cup) has held a space for professional women athletes, hosting some of the best tennis players in the world. This year, in addition to the kickass females, the Open brings back its PowerShares Series, featuring some of the best men's tennis players in the game. You can watch retired players like Andy Roddick, Tommy Haas, Michael Chang, and Mark Philippoussis.

The PowerShares Series is a competitive tennis circuit that pits some of the Association of Tennis Professionals former top-ranked players against each other. Each tournament features four champions paired off in two semi-final rounds. The winners of these semi-final rounds will then face-off against each other in an exciting final.

The four champions featured at the Charleston event are Andy Roddick, Tommy Haas, and Michael Chang, with Mark Philippoussis defending the title he won last year.

Just a reminder:

Andy Roddick is a former World No. 1 who won the 2003 U.S. Open.
Tommy Haas is a former World No. 2 and an Olympic silver medalist.
Michael Chang is a former World No. 2 and the winner of the 1989 French Open.
Mark Philippoussis is a former World No. 8 and the winner of two Davis Cups in 1999 and 2003.

The 2018 PowerShares Series returns to Charleston’s Volvo Car Stadium on Saturday, April 7th, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for terrace-level seating or $75 for box seats and are currently available online.


(03/05/18)  Roddick, Chang to headline PowerShares event at Volvo Car Stadium
The PowerShares Series starring Andy Roddick and Michael Chang return to Volvo Car Stadium on April 7 as the Saturday night entertainment during a break in Women's Tennis Association's Volvo Car Open action on Daniel Island.

Roddick, the former World No. 1 player and U.S. Open champion, and Chang, a former World No. 2 and French Open champion, are joined by Tommy Haas (former World No. 2) and Mark Philippoussis (two-time Davis Cup champion and former World No. 8).

Tickets are $30 for terrace level seating with a limited number of box seats available. For more information see www.volvocaropen.com or call 800 677-2293.

The action starts at 8:30 p.m.

The four PowerShares players compete in semifinal matches with the winners meeting in a final.

“The PowerShares Series has been an incredible opportunity for Charleston fans to watch some of the greatest men’s tennis players compete,” Bob Moran, Volvo Car Open President said. “This one-day tournament is another way for us to grow the game of tennis and showcase the entertainment aspect of the sport.”

Roddick is back for his third consecutive PowerShares visit to Daniel Island.  Philippoussis won the event in 2017.


(02/28/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Family Circle Junior Tennis Championship RESULTS
Matches played on Sunday, February 18, 2018

Boys’ 10 Singles Green- Red (Final Round)
Anthony Dry (3) (Raleigh, NC) def. Jack Green (1) (Myrtle Beach, SC) 4-1; 5-3

Boys’ 10 Singles Green- Red (Playoff)

Gavin Goode (2) (Raleigh, NC) def. Said Hernandez (4) (Hilton Head Island, SC) 5-3; 4-1

Boys’ 10 Singles Green White (Final Round)
Ashish Nadkarni (3) (Cary, NC) def. George Hyden (1) (Daniel Island, SC) 4-0; 4-0

Boys’ 10 Singles Green White (Playoff)
Luke Skillman (2) (Mount Pleasant, SC) def. Griffin Goode (Raleigh, NC) 4-1; 1-4; 1-0(5)

Boys’ 12 Singles - Red (Final Round)
Sawyer Severance (1) (Daniel Island, SC) def. Jacobus Smit (Fort Mill, SC) 6-3; 6-2

Boys’ 12 Singles - Red (Playoff)
Logan Tomovski (4) (Murrells Inlet, SC) def. Benjamin Farnham (2) (Charlotte, NC) 7-6; 6-3

Boys’ 12 Singles - White (Final Round)
Drew Hedgecoe (1) (Fayetteville, NC) def. Henry Hyden (4) (Daniel Island, SC) 6-1; 6-0

Boys’ 12 Singles - White (Playoff)
Trevor Novotny (2) (Pawleys Island, SC) def. Sam Halvorsen (3) (Charlotte, NC) 6-1; 6-0

Boys’ 14 Singles - Red (Final Round)
Jaxon Lamb (1) (Greeneville, TN) def. Joseph Boyle (Waxhaw, NC) 6-1; 6-4

Boys’ 14 Singles - Red (Playoff)
Lucas Acevedo (Daniel Island, SC) def. Kreday Chandok (Cary, NC) 7-5; 6-2

Boys’ 14 Singles - White (Final Round)
Spencer Matz (2) (Cary, NC) def. Bradley Merschman (3) (Thomasville, GA) 6-2; 6-0

Boys’ 14 Singles - White (Playoff)
Jacob Smith (1) (Daniel Island, SC) def. Rivers Cahill (4) (Conway, SC) 6-4; 6-1

Boys’ 16 Singles - Red (Final Round)
Ian Rasheed (2) (Mount Pleasant, SC) def. Luke Prendergast (4) (Mount Pleasant, SC) 7-5; 6-3

Boys’ 16 Singles - Red (Playoff)
Maxwell Smith (1) (Daniel Island, SC) def. Kaelan Van Cleeff (Charlotte, NC) 6-2; 6-1

Boys’ 16 Singles - White (Final Round)
Ryan Mangiapane (Davidson, NC) def. Samuel Jones (Clayton, NC) 6-4; 6-1

Boys’ 16 Singles - White (Playoff)
Bennett Turner (Charlotte, NC) def. Matthew Gooch (3) (Charlotte, NC) 6-4; 6-3

Boys’ 18 Singles - Red (Final Round)
Kerim Hyatt (1) (Daniel Island, SC) def. Ryohei Arai (2) (Hilton Head Island, SC) 4-6; 6-2; 1-0(10)

Boys’ 18 Singles - Red (Playoff)
Niklas vonHellens (Thomasville, GA) def. Reed Crabtree (4) (Bristol, VA) 0-6; 6-4; 1-0(7)

Boys’ 18 Singles - White (Final Round)
Reilly Wilson (2) (Daniel Island, SC) def. Mason Kolls (Greensboro, NC) 6-2; 6-1

Boys’ 18 Singles - White (Playoff)
Chad Nash (1) (Daniel Island, SC) def. Jack Sequerth (3) (Mount Pleasant, SC) 6-4; 6-1

Girls’ 10 Singles Green - Red (Final Round)
Harbour Simon (Charleston, SC) def. Mary Hannah Morrison (Myrtle Beach, SC) 4-1; 5-3

Girls’ 10 Singles Green - Red (Playoff)
Ayla Villagomez (3) (Matthews, NC) def. Emilee Ibsen (1) (Charlotte, NC) 6-2; 6-1

Girls’ 10 Singles Green - White (Final Round)
Sophia Harris (Mount Holly, NC) def. Lilly Heiden (3) (Raleigh, NC) 3-5; 4-2; 1-0(3)

Girls’ 10 Singles Green - White (Playoff)
Samantha Benton (2) (Chapel Hill, NC) def. Brooke Bibee (1) (Bluffton, SC) 4-1; 1-4; 1-0(3)

Girls’ 12 Singles - Red (Final Round)
Jill Gruber (2) (Raleigh, NC) def. Aynsley-Aimee Flowers (Murrells Inlet, SC) 6-1; 6-0

Girls’ 12 Singles - Red (Playoff)
Sehar Chandok (Cary, NC) def. Wae Man Chan (Myrtle Beach, SC) 6-2; 6-1

Girls’ 12 Singles - White (Final Round)
Eulaila Gimson (Raleigh, NC) def. Julianne Izod (1) (Apex, NC) 2-6; 6-3; 1-0(7)

Girls’ 12 Singles - White (Playoff)
Perrin Rogers (4) (Mount Pleasant, SC) def. Olivia Rose Besecker (Bluffton, SC) 6-2; 6-1

Girls’ 14 Singles - Red (Final Round)
Ella Faessler (4) (Hilton Head Island, SC) def. Natalie Bassett (3) (Bluffton, SC) 6-2; 6-2

Girls’ 14 Singles - Red (Playoff)
Carolina Williams (1) (Summerfield, NC) def. Gigi Hinson (2) (Charleston, SC) 6-4; 6-4

Girls’ 14 Singles - White (Final Round)
Jordan White (3) (Lexington, SC) def. Shreya Yalamanchili (Duluth, GA) 6-2; 6-3

Girls’ 14 Singles - White (Playoff)
Julia Price (4) (Greenville, SC) def. Mary Victoria Young (2) (Asheville, NC) /walk-over (illness)

Girls’ 16 Singles - Red (Final Round)
Jackeline Lopez (Lawrenceville, GA) def. Anna Rico (1) (Cary, NC) 6-4; 6-3

Girls’ 16 Singles - Red (Playoff)
Jill Morse (2) (Charleston, SC) def. Alice Otis (4) (Charleston, SC) 6-4; 6-4

Girls’ 16 Singles - White (Final Round)
Kendall Byers (3) (Marvin, NC) def. Merrick Sanford (Bluffton, SC) 6-0; 6-1

Girls’ 16 Singles - White (Playoff)
Madeline Towning (Chapel Hill, NC) def. Sophia Marchetta (Hilton Head Island, SC) /walk-over (illness)

Girls’ 18 Singles - Red (Final Round)
Allie Gretkowski (Mount Pleasant, SC) def. Priyachanok Sukkanha (Hilton Head Island, SC) 7-6(3); 6-0

Girls’ 18 Singles - Red (Playoff)
Elizabeth Truluck (1) (Myrtle Beach, SC) def. Tiffany Pyritz (2) (Wake Forest, NC) 6-4; 6-2

Girls’ 18 Singles - White (Final Round)
Emma Charney (Prospect, KY) def. Callie Billman (2) (Mount Pleasant, SC) 7-5; 6-3

Girls’ 18 Singles - White (Playoff)
Katherine Lyman (1) (MT Pleasant, SC) def. Emma Smith (3) (Mount Pleasant, SC) 3-6; 6-1; 1-0(1)

Boys’ 10 Doubles (Final Round)
Anthony Dry (Raleigh, NC) / Gavin Goode (2) (Raleigh, NC) def. Said Hernandez (Hilton Head Island, SC) / Evan Phillips (Hilton Head Island, SC) 6-2

Boys’ 12 Doubles (Final Round)
Sutton Severance (Daniel Island, SC) / Sawyer Severance (4) (Daniel Island, SC) def. Sam Halvorsen (Charlotte, NC) / Drew Hedgecoe (1) (Fayetteville, NC) 6-4

Boys’ 14 Doubles (Final Round)
Bradley Merschman (Thomasville, GA) / John Thompson (3) (Albany, GA) def. Jimin Jung (Cary, NC) / Jaxon Lamb (4) (Greeneville, TN) 6-2

Boys’ 16 Doubles (Final Round)
Peter Noce (Daniel Island, SC) / Maxwell Smith (Daniel Island, SC) def. George Alexander (Savannah, GA) / Thomas Mars (3) (Atlanta, GA) 6-2

Boys’ 18 Doubles (Final Round)
Kerim Hyatt (Daniel Island, SC) / Chad Nash (1) (Daniel Island, SC) def. Ryohei Arai (Hilton Head Island, SC) / Nehemiah Molla (2) (Hilton Head Island, SC) 6-0

Girls’ 10 Doubles (Final Round)
Samantha Benton (Chapel Hill, NC) / Ayla Villagomez (2) (Matthews, NC) def. Katie Godfree (Myrtle Beach, SC) / Mary Hannah Morrison (Myrtle Beach, SC) 6-2

Girls’ 12 Doubles (Final Round)
Aynsley-Aimee Flowers (Murrells Inlet, SC) / Addison Flowers (Murrells Inlet, SC) def. Jill Gruber (Raleigh, NC) / Addison Iacono (3) (Pittsboro, NC) 6-4

Girls’ 14 Doubles (Final Round)
Ella Faessler (Hilton Head Island, SC) / Carolina Williams (1) (Summerfield, NC) def. Isabella Hartung (Davidson, NC) / Ana Krstanovic (4) (Holly Springs, NC) 6-3

Girls’ 16 Doubles (Final Round)
Kendall Byers (Marvin, NC) / Jill Morse (2) (Charleston, SC) def. Karen Galush (Cary, NC) / Anna Rico (1) (Cary, NC) 6-3

Girls’ 18 Doubles (Final Round)
Allie Gretkowski (Mount Pleasant, SC) / Anna Ross (MT Pleasant, SC) def. Joy Callwood (Chapel Hill, NC) / Priyachanok Sukkanha (Hilton Head Island, SC) 6-1


(02/24/18)  Injured Rogers having a tough start to 2018
Shelby Rogers had what was her best and most satisfying year in 2017 as a touring tennis professional.

She posted earnings of more than $700,000 and advanced to the third round of three of the year's four Grand Slam events, and the second round of the other Grand Slam. Yet, perhaps her best effort was making the quarterfinals of the hometown Volvo Car Open.

But thus far 2018 is a different story. A pronator muscle injury on her right arm has sidelined Rogers until at least the mega tournament at Indian Wells, Calif., which starts in less than two weeks.

Rogers said Friday she "tore the muscle" in her first-round three-set loss to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in January in the Australian Open. That match has been Rogers' only match of 2018, and her only WTA Tour match since last October.

"I plan to play Indian Wells as my first event back," she said.

Rogers has been rehabilitating the injury while training in Florida, but planned to switch to Los Angeles this weekend.

After ending 2017 ranked 59th, she has seen her world ranking drop to No. 77. She has 230 WTA Tour points to defend by the completion of the April 2-8 Volvo Car Open. That fact puts some pressure on the 25-year-old Rogers, whose top 100 ranking could be threatened.

As it is, playing the 35-year-old Lucic-Baroni hasn't been a good luck charm for Rogers. She also suffered an abdominal muscle injury in a three-set loss to Lucic-Baroni in last April's VCO.

WILLIAMS ON RISE

Porter-Gaud eighth-grader Sophie Williams is off to a torrid start in 2018 that has lifted her girls 14 national ranking to No. 28.

Williams has won 30 straight matches in girls 14 singles and doubles while winning singles and doubles titles in two national level 2 and 3 tournaments as well as both titles in the Southern Winter Championships. The aggressive left-hander dropped only two sets along the way.

MWTennis Academy's Allie Gretkowski also is off to an impressive start and has climbed to No. 33 in the USTA national girls 14 rankings. Gretkowski won doubles titles in girls 16 in the Southern Winter Championships and a national level 2 event, was doubles runner-up in a national level 3 tournament, and was a singles semifinalist in the Southern Winter girls 16 as well as in a national level 3 event.

Gretkowski also won singles and doubles in the girls 18 division of the Family Circle Tennis Center's Southern level 3 tournament.

National No. 6 girls 16 player Emma Navarro won the girls 18 title in the Southern Winter Championships.

STEINGOLD TOPS SOUTH

Pine Forest Country Club pro Andy Steingold is celebrating his own success on the courts these days. Steingold finished the year ranked No. 1 in the final Southern men's 65 rankings.

He also was ranked 15th nationally in men's 65 late in 2017, but wasn't listed as an eligible player in the final rankings.

Pine Forest is preparing for its annual Azalea Clay Court Classic from March 23-25. Contact Steingold (andy@pineforestcountryclub.com).

LOCAL NOTES

-- Due to publication date errors in USTA South Carolina's online rankings system, correct final state rankings for 2017 remained unavailable on Saturday. State officials have been working on the problem the last two weeks.

-- Charleston Tennis Center is getting ready for the rush of hundreds of kids who participate in the area's Elementary/Middle School spring tennis league. Play is scheduled to begin on March 5. But on Friday, staff members at the Farmfield Avenue city facility watched as most of the facility's bleachers (or an estimated 300 seats) were removed. "Where will parents, subs, supporters sit?" one observer questioned. According to staff members, no one knows when the bleachers will be replaced.

-- Monday is the deadline for entering next weekend's Mount Pleasant Rec Junior S.C. level 4 tournament. Contact the tennis center (843-856-2162) or tournament director Shelli Davis (sdavis@tompsc.com).

-- An early glimpse into the local boys high school tennis battle for supremacy is scheduled for Monday at the Porter-Gaud courts at Albemarle Point when always strong SCHSL member Bishop England visits the three-time defending SCISA Class AAA state champion Cyclones. The offering could showcase a No. 1 matchup between the Bishops' University of Wisconsin-bound U.S. top-ranked junior Jared Pratt and the Cyclones' Brant Fenno, who is headed to NCAA No. 1-ranked Wake Forest. Rain is in the forecast, but still be sure to bring your sunglasses since the bleachers directly face the afternoon sun.


(02/21/18)  VALVEL International Sports Newspaper:  WTA Charleston: Daria Kasatkina set to defend her title
Strong Field

The Volvo Car Open commemorates the start of the clay season. It is the first tournament that is played on clay, though it is green clay, rather than the red clay that is played throughout Europe. As one of two Premier clay events in April, players are looking to get a headstart on finding their form on the clay with Stuttgart coming at the end of the month and then Madrid and Rome coming a few weeks before the French Open.

Caroline Garcia is the current top seed in the field followed by recently crowned Doha champion Petra Kvitova. Julia Goerges is looking to add a title on clay to her Auckland hard court title while Johanna Konta rounds out the top four seeds for now.

American headliners are former champion Sloane Stephens, former finalist Madison Keys, rising star CiCi Bellis, and Shelby Rogers. Stephens, the reigning US Open champion, is trying to find some form this year having struggled ever since capturing her maiden major title. Rogers and Stephens were a part of the Fed Cup-winning team last year.

Other top-30 players in the draw are Anastasija Sevastova, Ashleigh Barty, Barbora Strycova, Daria Gavrilova, and Kiki Bertens. Barty and Gavrilova, the number one and two Australians respectively, were just confirmed to be playing in the tournament along with Bertens. Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu and Aleksandra Krunic were the other two players who were confirmed to be taking part in Charleston along with the two Australians and Bertens.


(02/21/18)  MOULTRIE NEWS: Volvo Car Open seeking volunteers
Attention Lowcountry tennis enthusiasts, are you interested in contributing behind the scenes at one of the world's largest women's professional tennis tournaments? The 45th annual Volvo Car Open (Family Circle Cup) is seeking volunteers, whether you're a morning person or a night owl, to help around the clock with tournament preparations during the action March 31 to April 8 on Daniel Island.

The week of the event volunteers are required to attend an orientation session to receive training prior to performing their task. Each volunteer must purchase a $60 Volvo Car Open uniform which includes a shirt and hat. Each volunteer must work a minimum of six shifts (each shift is approximately four to five hours) to receive a tournament credential, a week-long meal pass and two complimentary tickets for the Power Shares event Saturday, April 7. Additional benefits are available on a sliding scale.

A tournament credential grants volunteers access to all day sessions throughout the tournament (including the finals). Volunteers who work eight shifts will receive an additional day ticket for the entire week for a family member or friend to redeem.

Departments-in-need

    Transportation - Driving the tennis players from the stadium to the hotel, airport or downtown destination
    Ticket Office - Greeting patrons/will-call
    Guest Services - Providing patrons with tournament information
    Usher - Escorts for players following nighttime play sesssions (times TBA)

"It's a great way to see some tennis, have some fun and show the hospitality that Charleston has to offer people" said tournament manager Elanor Adams. "We have volunteers that have been volunteering for 18 years or more just because they love being out here and watching the tennis."

As of now there is already 250 volunteers signed up, but there is still need for an additional 100 volunteers to fill positions.

"It's really kind of exciting to be a part of something that not everybody has the opportunity to be behind the scenes on such a large-scale event and getting to be a part of something bigger than yourself," said volunteer coordinator Jo Williams.

The Volvo Car Stadium is located at 161 Seven Farms Drive, Charleston.

Volunteer applications are available online at http://events.trustevent.com/index.cfm?eid=2951.

To sign up, visit http://www.volvocaropen.com/volunteer/adult/.

For further inquiries, contact Volvo Car Open volunteer coordinator Jo Williams at Volunteervco@gmail.com.


(02/19/18)  USTA SOUTHERN: Community Tennis News (e-newsletter)
New Growth & Innovation Grant Announced!!

A new Growth & Innovation Grant is being offered by USTA South Carolina. Programs or ideas must be focused on growing tennis in South Carolina. Applicants must be able to describe the direct pipeline from the proposed program or idea to increasing the numbers of unique tennis players in South Carolina.

The applicant will determine the amount of the grant request with a maximum grant request of $5,000. Eligible applicants include tennis providers, CTA members, USTA partners as well as USTA committees and staff.

Decisions will be made by the Growth & Innovation Committee of USTA South Carolina. All grant applicants will be notified and funding provided on or by May 1, 2018. Application deadline is April 15, 2018.

Awesome Athletes & Volunteers
Brenda Carter is a terrific volunteer in Charleston.

Coming soon...

2018 Southern Senior Cup (May 31-June 3, 2018)
The Southern Senior Cup is a tournament in which nine southern states (Southern Section) compete against each other in five age divisions. To learn more, visit sctennis.com.

2018 Junior Varsity Girls State Championship (October 12-14, 2018)
USTA South Carolina will host the Junior Varsity Girls State Championship at Cayce Tennis & Fitness Center in October. More details to come on sctennis.com and Community Tennis News.

Deadlines Approaching
for Youth Program Grants &
College Scholarships

South Carolina Tennis Patrons Foundation
Offers grants to facilitate programs that increase access to tennis for children, including those who are considered at risk in South Carolina. Deadline for submitting applications is Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Southern Tennis Foundation
Offers grants intended for organizations or programs that provide grass roots tennis in communities of all sizes. Examples include 10& under programs, Junior Team Tennis leagues, School and After School programs, NJTL, Special Populations, etc.  Matching funds are not required. Deadline for submitting applications is Friday, March 2, 2018.

The Southern Tennis Foundation will provide 10 $1,000 scholarships for 4 years to junior players going to college this Fall. This program has increased from six scholarships in 2017 to 10 in 2018. Deadline for submitting applications is Friday, March 1, 2018.

Sheryl McAlister
Director of Community Development
USTA South Carolina
18 Woodcross Drive, Columbia, SC 29212
mcalister@sctennis.com


(02/14/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: PHILIP BOWMAN: BEHS boys' tennis team gearing up for new season
The Bishop England boys’ tennis team is returning its top four players from last year, when the Bishops reached the Class AAA Lower State championship.

Coach Kristen Fleming Arnold expects the talented group to be ready when the 2018 season commences.

“We have a strong, deeper team than in the years past,” said Fleming Arnold. “All the boys all have worked very hard in the off season. We are ready.”

Senior Jared Pratt holds down the No. 1 singles position while classmate Lleyton Dacuba is the No. 2 player. Sophomore Zachary Dacuba and Harrison Est are battling for the No. 3 singles spot, while freshman Lukas Gosselin is the No. 5 singles player.

Pratt is primed for a big season. The USTA recently named Pratt as the No. 1 boys junior tennis player in the U.S.

The Bishops had another solid year in 2017, reaching the playoffs as a No. 2 seed. The Bishops received a first-round bye and then topped Brookland-Cayce and Bluffton before falling to eventual state champ Hanahan, a team powerful enough to blank Clinton, 6-0, for all the Class AAA marbles.

The coach predicts that Hanahan and Waccamaw will be the big challenges for the Bishops, who are seeking their first state title since 2015.

Fleming Arnold focuses on the present and not the playoffs as the team preps for its season opener against Wando on Feb. 20.

“We don’t focus on winning the state championship, we focus on the week and the team matches we have,” Fleming Arnold said. “We focus on the season. Each week gets the team ready and stronger for playoffs.”

Still, the Bishops always seem to be in the mix and conversation when it comes time to discuss the top programs in the state. What will it take for the Bishops to wrestle the title from Hanahan?

“It will take hard work, team work and dedication,” Fleming Arnold said. “The boys all have been working hard in the off season to accomplish this goal. We have tough match schedule to be ready for playoffs.”

The Bishops might change home venues this spring. They will play their home matches at Snee Farm in the early part of the season, but could end up at the new tennis complex on its campus: the Michael J. Runey Tennis Center, home of the Monsignor John L. Manning Tennis Courts.

“The courts should be ready middle to late March,” Fleming Arnold said. “We are ready to have courts on campus. Our courts will be hard so we continue to practice and work with the hard courts on Snee Farm.”

Fleming Arnold is a graduate of Bishop England. She played on four state championship teams back in the day. Fleming Arnold, who also coaches the girls’ team in the fall, has logged another seven state titles as a coach of the girls’ team.

(02/10/18)  Bishops, Cyclones, Hawks look like area's best
It should be pretty much the same old story in boys high school tennis this spring.

Porter-Gaud should rule SCISA Class AAA. Hanahan and Bishop England should fight it out in SCHSL Class AAA.

The spoiler could be Oceanside Collegiate, but the Landsharks still aren't eligible for postseason action. Chris Peek has taken over at Oceanside as coach and has a strong lineup at the top in U.S. 53rd-ranked boys 16 Coy Simon, who has switched from Hanahan. Stanley Waters and Luke Prendergast are other solid prospects at Oceanside.

Bishop England has everyone's No. 1 junior (Southern and USTA national) Jared Pratt and two other strong talents in the Zacuba brothers, Lleyton and Zach.

Hanahan is still loaded as the Hawks seek a third straight state title. The Hawks still have a load of outstanding players in Kerim Hyatt, Chad Nash, Reilly Wilson, Max Smith and others.

Coach Jonathan Barth's Porter-Gaud team should easily march to a fourth straight state crown, but the Cyclones may not be deep enough at the top to challenge Hanahan or Bishop England for local supremacy. The Cyclones are scheduled to play Bishop England, Oceanside and Wando all twice each, although Hanahan isn't on Porter-Gaud's current schedule.

It may not seem like spring tennis weather yet, but the Cyclones' schedule includes a Tuesday match at Wando.

Porter-Gaud has left-hander Brant Fenno back for his senior year, along with two other solid seniors in Manning Snyder and Alex Des Francs, a foreign transfer student a year ago. Talented, but smallish, seventh-grader Lucas Acevedo is a player to watch for the next six seasons.

The Cyclones are scheduled to play Bishop England on Feb. 26 at their Albemarle Point complex. That could provide a very entertaining No. 1 position duel between U.S. No. 1 junior/University of Wisconsin-bound Pratt and the Wake Forest-committed Fenno.

By the way, Pratt turned in an outstanding performance in the recent $15K pro circuit tournament at Palm Coast, Fla., by advancing through four qualifying matches in straight sets and then winning again in the first round of the main draw. He eventually lost to the tournament's No. 5 seed in the round of 16.

FARMFIELD NEEDS A PRO

Charleston Tennis Center has been without a head pro for more than six months. Yet, there is no word about when a new pro will be named to replace Davy Hairston, even though more than 40 applicants are reported to have applied for the job.

Once possibly the area's premier tennis facility outside of the resorts, the Farmfield Avenue club lost some of its life when former local junior standout Hairston left town last summer to fill a club pro position in Macon, Ga. Only 14 USTA adult league tennis teams are playing out of the City of Charleston facility this spring.

Lights are missing on some courts, while some courts have bubbles in their surfaces.

With the excessive heat the area has been under in recent summers, there is a need for some type of shade to cover the player benches. However, the courts may be too close together to allow for structures between the courts, such as those at fellow City of Charleston facility Maybank Tennis Center on James Island.

And yet the membership fees for James Island residents at Charleston Tennis Center are twice the amount James Island residents pay to play at Maybank.

LTP'S HEAVY SCHEDULE

LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant is preparing for a busy spring, summer and fall schedule. The $80K LTP Charleston women's pro circuit event is set for April 30-May 6 and likely will have some of the same players that you're seen on TV at some of the majors and some other tournaments in the last year. And no wonder, since they could be playing for a main draw wild card into the French Open.

Then there's the U.S. Girls 18 Clay Court Championships coming to town July 15-22. Again, some of the players you've seen on TV will be playing in this national championship headliner at LTP Tennis on Mathis Ferry Road. And Charleston's own Emma Navarro will be a year older and better than a year ago.

In the midst of all of that, the Anne Geier National Senior Women's Championships will return to LTP Tennis April 25-29. And don't forget that the $25K LTP Charleston women's pro circuit tournament is scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 7.

Is there anyone who doesn't think the LTP Tennis Club shouldn't be a shoo-in to be selected as the club of the year in South Carolina and the Southern Section?

LOCAL NOTES

-- Emma Navarro is playing in qualifying for a $25K pro circuit tournament this weekend in Surprise, Ariz.

-- Shelby Rogers has played only the Australian Open since the early October Hong Kong tournament when she was ranked 56th in the world. She has not won a WTA Tour match since turning 25 years old in October. As a result, her world ranking has slipped to No. 77.

-- The inner city Courting Kids program will resume on Feb. 24 at the Alan Fleming Tennis Center on John's Island (10-11:30 a.m.) and the downtown Jack Adams Tennis Center (1-2:30 p.m.). Contact Charleston Tennis Center (843-769-8258).


(02/06/18)  WCSC-TV/LIVE 5 News: World No. 10 Julia Goerges Joins Volvo Car Open Field
Germany’s Julia Goerges has committed to play the 2018 Volvo Car Open, just days after breaking into the WTA’s top 10 and reaching the semifinals in the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. Goerges already won the ASB Classic earlier this year, where she defeated now World No. 1 and Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki in the final.

She joins Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitová, Madison Keys, Daria Kasatkina, Shelby Rogers and CiCi Bellis in the Charleston, South Carolina field. The Volvo Car Open will take place March 31 - April 8, 2018 at the Family Circle Tennis Center. 

The 29-year-old’s 2017 season was highlighted with wins at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai and the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, where she beat current Volvo Car Open champion Kasatkina for the title. She also reached the finals in Washington, D.C., Bucharest and Mallorca and semifinals in Budapest and Auckland last year.

“Breaking into the top 10 has been a great accomplishment for me, and I feel that I’ve been playing some of the strongest tennis of my career recently,” said Goerges. “I’m really looking forward to returning to Charleston. It’s always a fun atmosphere there, and the level of competition is great.”

The 2018 Volvo Car Open will be the fifth time Goerges has competed in Charleston, but the first since 2014. She reached the quarterfinals of the tournament in 2011.

“The addition of Julia to our strong player field is very exciting for our tournament,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open Tournament Manager. “Her dominance on the court lately makes for the tennis matches we all love to watch. An elegant but fierce competitor, I know our fans have missed watching Julia and we are excited to welcome her back”. 

The nine-day Volvo Car Open is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America, attracting an average of 90,000 attendees and more than 100 of the top singles and doubles tennis players.


(02/05/18) LOWCOUNTRY YOUTH TENNIS ASSOCIATION: Dunston Tennis Team a Smash
The first ever Team Tennis practice at Dunston was "an overwhelming success and the kids were still talking about it the next day" says John Farrelly, School LYTA Programs Director. A big thank you goes to the parents along with Brenda, Cindy, Ron and April for coming out and assisting!


(02/01/18)  USTA SC: Community Tennis News
First day of tennis practice for Charleston's Dunstin Elementary School

Congratulations SC Honorees!!

To the St. George Youth Sports League, as well as founder and president Barbara Jones: For acceptance into the USTA Southern Pilot Program for NJTL Capacity Building. SGYSL was selected to the pilot program because of its historical excellence in developing young tennis players through a vibrant NJTL program. 

To the Mid-Carolina Tennis Association and president Kim Ozmon: For receiving the 2017 Players' Favorite Wheelchair Tennis Tournament Award from USTA National. MCTA's Rock and Roll Tournament won best overall tournament for its organization, friendliness, amenities, transportation, food and officiating. #RockOnRockHill

To Dutch Fork Middle School math teacher Fanni Simmons: For being selected as a tennis volunteer for the Net Generation court at February's Fed Cup in Asheville.

2018 Changes to Tennis Apprentice

Several enhancements have been made to the hugely successful Tennis Apprentice program, offered by USTA.

Tennis Apprentice applications must be received a minimum of 20 days prior to the anticipated start date but no later than October 15, 2018. Here is the link to the TA online application. For all approved TA sessions, USTA Southern will provide each player a free HEAD racquet to keep, marketing materials to promote the session, and bonus fees when the "Membership Request" spreadsheet is submitted to USTA Southern.

USTA South Carolina will continue to reward those groups that work directly with a South Carolina CTA to deliver this program. Additional funds are available through USTA SC when a South Carolina CTA leads or helps to coordinate a TA or TA2 program.
 
Changes for 2018

    All 2018 TA Membership Request spreadsheets must be sent to USTA Southern. Southern will upload these spreadsheets to national and will send back to local TA providers once completed.  
    Southern is offering a Tennis Apprentice Bridge Initiative. Local providers can earn up to $700 in bonus money by getting their TA (former and current) participants to play in pocket leagues (Tennis Apprentice Leagues) set up in TennisLink. (Tennis Apprentice 2 was the hybrid program offered by USTA SC in 2017. The program resulted in 75% of participants joining local leagues.)
    Participant fee has been raised to $119 (local provider can charge less).
    Providers will be invoiced for HEAD racquets if requirements are not met.
    For additional information, contact Nan or Sheryl.

100% Blended Lines Grant

The process couldn't be easier for free court lines! Complete the USTA Facility Assistance Form. Elect "36 and 60 Foot Lines" for question 4.  You will work with a USTA representative who will provide you with a concept plan, contractor specifications, and a USTA Approval Letter so you can begin your project.
 
Once your project is complete and required documentation approved, USTA National will reimburse 100% toward the investment a facility makes to line its courts. (Capped at $400/court and $4,000/facility.) Colleges are also reimbursed at 100% (capped at $4,000).

Head Coaches: Scholarships Available

Reserve your spot now for the High School Coaches Workshop & Certification brought to you by USTA and the Professional Tennis Registry.  The event will be held on Hilton Head Island in February, 2018.
 
High School Coaches Package
Thursday, February 15 (8:30 am - 5:30 pm)
& Friday, February 16 (8:30 am - 12:45 pm)
Abbreviated package for head coaches at high schools
Includes all on-court and classroom presentations

Register for the High School Coaches Workshop & Certification
11 to 17 Certification
Saturday, February 17 (9 am-5 pm)
& Sunday, February 18 (9 am-1 pm with testing)
The Symposium Schedule can be found on the website.
Register by calling 843.785.7244.
 
USTA SC High School Coach Scholarship
USTA South Carolina will offer five $100 partial scholarship reimbursements for South Carolina high school tennis coaches who want to learn from the best tennis minds in the world. Scholarship recipients will be notified before the Symposium. Contact Pamela Banks  for additional information.

Thank you for your partnership

On behalf of our South Carolina Community Development team -- Pamela Banks, Cameron Sebnick and me --  I would like to thank you for all you continue to do in your local communities to grow the game of tennis. Because of your work, there are adults and kids playing tennis for the first time. And as one adult beginner told us, thanks for getting me off the couch.

We have much to do in 2018 and many more tennis communities to create. Join us as we welcome new players to find themselves in the game.

Warmest regards,
Sheryl

Sheryl McAlister
Director of Community Development
USTA South Carolina
18 Woodcross Drive
Columbia, SC 29212
mcalister@sctennis.com


(02/01/18)  PINE FOREST COUNTRY CLUB e-NEWSLETTER: February 2018
From the Tennis Shop

Valentine's Day Social
Join us for an afternoon/evening of fun tennis!
Valentine's Day Tennis Social
Saturday, Feb 10th, 3-6pm
Followed by Karaoke with the Drews in the clubhouse until-9pm
or until the last song!
Cabana bar will be open during the social!

$5/members, $15/non-members
Includes: Tennis, Appetizers, & Prizes
Send an email to Andy to sign-up: andy@pineforestcountryclub.com.
Deadline to sign-up is Friday, February 9th at 5pm
You don't need a partner to sign-up.

Azalea Clay Court Classic

Looking for a great weekend of food,
fun, entertainment, and lots of tennis?
REGISTRATION OPEN
Azalea Clay Court Classic
Tennis Tournament
March 23-25, 2018
USTA LEVEL 2
Men's & Women's Singles - 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, Open
Men's & Women's Doubles - 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, Open
Mixed Doubles - 6.0, 7.0, 8.0, 9.0, Open
Senior (50+) Doubles for Men, Women & Mixed
 
Want to win $150?
The USTA team with the most players who enter the
Azalea tournament will win $150. Make the weekend
a fun team event at this fantastic venue!!

2018 Summer Camp Schedule
The Club at Pine Forest will host five Junior Sports Camps during the summer. Each camp will consist of:

    1 1/2 hours of tennis instruction
    1 1/2 hours of golf instruction and
    1 1/2 hours of recreational swimming.

Lunch, snacks and refreshments will be provided each day. Children 6-14 years old are eligible to participate. Each camp will have a limited number of space to sign up. All camps will run from Monday to Thursday. Camp starts promptly at 9am and runs until 2pm.

Camp dates are as follows:
June 11, June 25, July 9, July 23, August 6

$165 for Pine Forest Members
$195 for non-members
10% Discount for second child or signing up for multiple weeks
 
CAMP WILL FILL UP FAST!! SIGN UP NOW!!


LTA NEWS
 
The annual meeting was held at the home of Kelley Johnson on Sunday, January 28th where the following officers were elected for the 2018 term.
 
Shirley Hunter-President, Kelley Johnson-1st Vice President, Tabatha Waddill - 2nd Vice President, Gloria Odom, Treasurer and Jean Craig and Sally McGinnis as Co-Secretary.
 
SAVE THE DATE!  The Annual Winter Party is scheduled for Saturday, March 10th.  Plan to join us as we celebrate our Pine Forest Tennis family and recognize the 2017 Lady Captains.


(01/28/18)  Two local tennis players complete 2017 season as No. 1 juniors in South
Not long ago, Charleston tennis rated itself by how the area's juniors fared at Belton's Palmetto Championships and how the same juniors finished in the state rankings.

State recognition is still important, but this new era of local junior tennis now looks more intensely at the nine-state Southern section of the USTA as its standard for excellence in the tennis world.

Two local players have completed 2017 as the owners of the boys and girls No. 1 junior rankings in the South, while one local family can boast of having two "top 2" girls, and another family from the Charleston area has two "top four" Southern boys. These are quite unique accomplishments for local tennis, and probably firsts for the area.

Jared Pratt and Emma Navarro finished the year as the top-ranked junior boy and junior girl in the South. Pratt, of course, also earned the top junior boy ranking in the United States for 2017.

It also was a year for great tennis families from the Charleston area. Navarro's little sister, Meggie Navarro, is the No. 2 girls 14 player in the South.

"It is very gratifying to see all the hard work that goes into playing at this level pay off," said LTP Tennis owner Ben Navarro, the father of Emma and Meggie.

"Like all tennis dads, I am proud of my girls as tennis players, but much more importantly, proud of how tennis is helping them become strong, brave, young women."

The Smith boys took the cue. Brothers Max and Jake both broke into the top four in the South in their age groups, Max finishing No. 3 in 14-and-under and Jake No. 4 in 12-and-under.

"It feels great ... they worked hard for it," said Cori Smith, their mother.

The credit for such outstanding success is spread around. Pratt trains with Daniel Island pro Chip Hand, while the families are split between probably the two largest academies in the area. Naturally, the Navarro sisters train at their father's LTP Tennis Club in Mount Pleasant at Randy Pate Tennis Academy under the coaching of former Duke All-American Peter Ayers, while the fast-rising Smith juniors have made their climb to elite status under the guidance of Jeff Wilson and Bryan Minton at Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy.

"I am proud of how they (Max and Jake) have always supported one another to make each other better," their mother said. "I also believe that they were able to achieve this level of tennis because of the amazing coaching and continued support that they receive daily at the MW Academy. The fact that they have always had a place they love to go to makes them want to work their hardest every day."

The success doesn't stop with these five players or two families. The area has a brother/sister top 10 combination in No. 8 Anna Ross in girls 16 and No. 9 Michael Ross in boys 14.

And then there's the Randy Pate trio in the top 50 made up of girls 14 No. 8 Whitley Pate, boys 12 No. 36 Carter Pate and boys 16 No. 17 Huntley Allen.

Three other local players earned top 10 berths in the South's final 2017 rankings: Allie Gretkowski, No. 4 in girls 14; Sophie Williams, No. 6 in girls 14; and Coy Simon, No. 7 in boys 16.
 
Other Southern Top 50 Players

Girls 12: Saige Severance (14), Alice Otis (29), Sydney Severance (39). Girls 14: Carri Hayes (14), Mattie Dermody (23), Alice Otis (31), Elle Bredemann (42), Shianna Guo (43). Girls 16: Lara Schneider (21), Emma Navarro (34), Allie Gretkowski (46). Girls 18: Kat Lyman (18), Elizabeth Truluck (23). Boys 12: Carson Baker (12), David Nawabi (24),  Otto Sewell (29), Lucas Acevedo (37). Boys 14: Mitchell Deames (26), Ian Rasheed (39), William Baly (40), Stanley Waters (42).  Boys 16: Thomas Jahn (16), Reilly Wilson (24). Boys 18: Sam Kavarana (38), Thomas Jahn (42), Brant Fenno (46).


(01/27/18)  With lofty rankings, Kotz eyes world stage
Diane Barker and Brenda Carter may be about to have local company joining them on the international stage of senior women's tennis.

Lizl Kotz isn't a real senior. She's just 42 years old. They call her age group Young Senior.

But she's the No. 1 women's 40 player in the South and No. 2 nationally. That means she should be a candidate for the USTA's women's 40 team that will participate in this year's world senior championships.

"I am waiting to hear regarding representing USA for the world championship," Kotz said. "Diane (Barker) seems to think I’ll be selected."

Barker confirmed: "Yes, I do (expect Lizl to be selected). Those team selections come out Feb. 15."

Of course, Barker is a former world's No. 1 in senior tennis, and the current holder of the women's 60 world singles crown, who also expects her own son (Matt Hane) to be selected for the men's 35 team. Carter is a stalwart in women's 65 international competition with several world senior titles.

"After winning the Anne Geier tournament, I knew I wanted to play one or two national level tournaments to get a feel for the competition at a national level," Kotz said.

Yes, a lot of good things have happened in the last year for the native of Johannesburg, South Africa, who played college tennis for the University of Indiana and resides in the I'On neighborhood with her husband and four kids. She also owns a masters degree in physical therapy from MUSC, and earlier this month she opened up a physical therapy practice called "Lizl Kotz Performance" in Mount Pleasant's Shelmore Shopping Center.

It started when Kotz won the singles and doubles 40-plus titles in last spring's Anne Geier National Senior Women's Tennis Association's title at LTP Tennis.

Then when she needed to win only a pair of matches to capture the National Women's 40 Clay Court Championship in Naples, Fla., in October, the doors to the USTA national and Southern rankings system opened wide. One-thousand national points (300 Southern) from the Naples success put Kotz on the threshold of becoming a member of the elite of women's 40 tennis in the United States.

"The Naples tournament simply worked with my family’s schedule. All four of my kids participate in sports, and my husband and I take a couple of surf trips every year. Finding a national tournament that worked with all of our schedules was the main consideration," she said.

A trip to La Jolla, Calif., in late November for the National Hard Courts produced 500 more national points (200 Southern) on two more wins and a place in the semifinals.

Bingo.

Kotz's 500 Southern points are more than the total of the other three eligible players in the final Southern rankings combined, and her 1,520 points are second on the final 2017 national list behind a player (Dianne Lee of Austin, Texas) Kotz defeated 6-1, 6-2 in the first round in Naples.

"As for the hard court nationals in La Jolla, I have had my sights set on this tournament for a while. I grew up playing tennis on hard courts in South Africa, and it is still my favorite surface to play on," Kotz said.

"Because I learned how to move on a hard court as a youth, my movement to this day is better on hard court compared to clay. La Jolla also reminds me a lot of South Africa, so I was motivated to carve a week out of my schedule and travel to the west coast. I am very fortunate to have both sets of parents still healthy enough and willing to come take care of my children while I travel for tennis."

Kotz also played No. 1 for the S.C. team in the senior cup as well as No. 3 singles in 35s for the Southern team in the inter-sectionals in November.

"Our inter-sectional team got first place. It’s really good tennis and we felt very pleased with that win," she said.

Perhaps her most satisfying achievement was opening up her own physical therapy practice. "I am passionate about movement and how it benefits the human body. It does not discriminate and benefits people of all ages across the board."


(01/24/18)  DANIEL ISLAND NEWS: Shelby Rogers to return home to compete in the 2018 Volvo Car Open
Charleston native and former Daniel Island resident Shelby Rogers will return to her hometown to play in the 2018 Volvo Car Open. She joins Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitová, Madison Keys, Daria Kasatkina and CiCi Bellis in the field. The Volvo Car Open will take place March 31 - April 8 on Daniel Island.

The 25-year-old Rogers grew up in Charleston, where she trained at the Family Circle Tennis Center and participated in the ball crew program for the Volvo Car Open. A now infamous photo features a 7-year-old Rogers handing 2001 Charleston champion Jennifer Capriati her winning flowers as part of her official ball crew duties.

In 2010, Rogers made her debut in the Volvo Car Open tournament when she competed in its qualifying rounds. This year will mark her tenth time competing in front of her loyal, hometown crowd.

“I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to compete each year in the Volvo Car Open,” said Rogers. “The support I feel from the fans is truly incredible. I wouldn’t miss coming to Charleston and playing in this tournament for the world!”

The 2017 Volvo Car Open was a “Cinderella moment” for Rogers, where she competed in four main draw matches in the tournament – three of which were decided in three sets. It was the first time Rogers reached the quarterfinals in the tournament.

“We always enjoy having Shelby return home to compete in the Volvo Car Open,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open tournament manager. “We have had the joy of watching her grow up on our courts, and develop into a top player on the tour. After last year’s run into our quarterfinals, we could feel the energy in the stadium from Shelby’s loving Charleston fan base, and look forward to seeing the support again in April.”

This past season Rogers also reached the quarterfinals in Hobart and Strasbourg. In August, she defeated Daria Gavrilova at the U.S. Open in the longest women’s single match in the tournament’s history. The record-breaking three hours and 33 minutes featured a 90-minute final set.

The nine-day Volvo Car Open is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America, attracting an average of 90,000 attendees and more than 100 of the top singles and doubles tennis players. Formerly known as the Family Circle Cup, the event moved to Charleston in 2001 from Hilton Head Island, S.C., and will celebrate its 45th anniversary in 2018. The tournament features a singles draw of 56 players, a qualifying draw of 32 players and a doubles draw of 16 players. In conjunction with Tennis Channel and WTA Media, the Volvo Car Open is showcased from the first ball struck in main draw competition to the last ball played in finals, throughout the U.S. and 174 international partners. The tournament receives more than 100 hours of tennis; live from Charleston, broadcast across the globe to millions of fans. The tournament is operated by Charleston Tennis, LLC.

Tickets for the 2018 Volvo Car Open are available now. Patrons can choose from individual tickets, ticket packages and travel packages. Ticket prices range from $25 for an individual session to $525 for the all-inclusive weeklong package. The Volvo Car Open is providing six packages in 2018, each offering more tennis at a greater value. In addition, the PowerShares Series returns to the Volvo Car Stadium on April 7. The men’s legends event features Andy Roddick, Mark Philippoussis, Tommy Haas and one additional player to be announced at a later date.


(01/23/18)  USTA SC: Community Tennis News: Volume 21:
SC NJTLs Invited to Youth Day at Fed Cup

USTA and our friends at USTA NC have offered South Carolina NJTL participants, ages 6-12, the opportunity to attend Youth Day Powered by Net Generation during the Fed Cup in Asheville, Feb. 10-11, 2018.

The youth day clinics, which will run 10 am - 11:30 am, will be fun events both days inside the Fed Cup arena in Asheville and will be designed for kids of all ability levels. Children will be provided a goody bag, lunch and a ticket to the day's match (plus 1 chaperone/parent ticket). There is no cost for the event, and USTA will help with mileage costs for groups. All participants must be registered at this link.

For additional information, contact Andrew Waldrop or visit http://www.nctennis.com/fedcup2018.

A South Carolina NJTL is eligible to participate as long as the NJTL has completed its 2018 annual registration at https://ct.usta.com/ctanjtl/.

Calling All Head Coaches

Reserve your spot now for the High School Coaches Workshop & Certification brought to you by USTA and the Professional Tennis Registry.  The event will be held on Hilton Head Island in February, 2018.
 
High School Coaches Package
Thursday, February 15 - Friday, February 16
Fee: $179
Abbreviated package for head coaches at high schools.
 Event kicks off with the HS Coaches Panel Thursday at 8:30 am
Includes all on-court and classroom presentations
 Thursday through 5:30 pm and Friday through 12:45 pm.
 
Register for the High School Coaches Workshop & Certification
11 to 17 Certification
Saturday, February 17, 9 am-5 pm and Sunday, February 18, 9 am-1 pm with testing
$120 for PTR members and $219 for non-members
The Symposium Schedule can be found on the website.
Register by calling 843.785.7244.
 
USTA SC High School Coach Scholarship
USTA South Carolina is committed to growing the game of tennis throughout South Carolina. As part of that commitment, USTA South Carolina will offer five $100 partial scholarship reimbursements for South Carolina high school tennis coaches who want to learn from the best tennis minds in the world. Scholarship recipients will be notified before the Symposium. Contact Pamela Banks  for additional information.

Clemson's Mixon Honored for TOC Leadership
Clemson University's Luke Mixon was honored with the USTA Southern Tennis on Campus Leader of the Year Award. Mixon accepted the award at the Southern annual meeting in Atlanta in January. The TOC Sectionals will be held in Auburn, Alabama, February 21-25, 2018.

2018 Good Stuff!!
Grants!
Don't forget to plan your grants strategy for 2018.
 Click on the $$$$  to see what's available.

CTA/NJTL Annual Registration
Complete your CTA or NJTL annual registration to remain in good standing.
 Click here to access registration site.

Net Generation!
Sign up as a provider: Coaches, Teachers, Volunteers
Sign up as a No-Cut Coach through Net Generation Profile
Change a kid's life through tennis.

Oakland Tennis Center Grand Opening
Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018
Newberry, SC

SC Parks & Recreation
Get to know your Parks & Rec partners around South Carolina.
Grant $$ Available for
Young Adult Events, Leagues

USTA is offering grants to providers who want to run events and programs for 18-39 year-old-players. To apply, click here. A couple options include:
 
TEAM UP Tournaments
Run a class tournament with a fun new twist
Half-day to single-day event
Non-Elimination format (round robin, compass draw, etc.)
Pick from Fast Four, Best of 3 Tie Breaks or time matches
NTRP divisions
TennisLink required
 
Social Leagues
Expand on existing social leagues by adding new locations and different levels
4-8 week program
Organizer determines league format
Any skill level
Individual or team registration

For additional information, contact: Michael Hughes (Team UP) or
  Stacey Percival (Social Leagues).
Thank you for your partnership

On behalf of our South Carolina Community Development team -- Pamela Banks, Cameron Sebnick and me --  I would like to thank you for all you continue to do in your local communities to grow the game of tennis. Because of your work, there are adults and kids playing tennis for the first time. And as one adult beginner told us, thanks for getting me off the couch.

We have much to do in 2018 and many more tennis communities to create. Join us as we welcome new players to find themselves in the game.

Warmest regards,
Sheryl

Sheryl McAlister
Director of Community Development
USTA South Carolina
18 Woodcross Drive
Columbia, SC 29212
mcalister@sctennis.com


(01/22/18)  ABC News 4/WCIV-TV: Police searching for man accused of indecent exposure at Mount Pleasant tennis court
Mount Pleasant Police were called to the tennis courts and public playground on Whipple Road in Mount Pleasant for indecent exposure.

Police say the incident happened on Wednesday, January 17.

One of the victims was getting out of their vehicle when they noticed a man wearing a black hat and tan pants, the victim told police.

The victim told police the man was waiting for someone to look at him.

Additionally, police say the victim said they saw the man masturbating to which they yelled, "He is masturbating!".

Police say the victim said the suspect then got in his vehicle and sped off.

So far, police haven't made any arrests.


(01/19/18)  USTA SOUTHERN: SC Tennis players receive recognition at USTA Southern Annual Awards in Atlanta
The USTA Southern Section has a comprehensive awards program that annually recognizes excellence on and off the tennis court. Each year, award winners are honored at an awards ceremony held during the USTA Southern Annual Meeting in January. The nomination process is open to volunteers and staffers of USTA Southern and its nine states. Congratulations to the Giannelli family of Moncks Corner, and to Luke Mixon of Clemson.

Mickey McNulty Family of the Year
Given in memory of Judge Mickey McNulty, the award is presented annually to a family that resides in the USTA Southern Section that has been outstanding in its promotion of tennis. The winner of this award is selected by the Awards Committee. In addition, the Southern winner is then submitted for USTA National award consideration.
The Andrew & Cindy Giannelli Family; Moncks Corner, SC

Tennis On Campus Leader of the Year
Presented to leader that has made significant contributions to the USTA Tennis On Campus program on his/her campus.
Luke Mixon, Clemson University; Clemson, SC

For more information on the USTA Southern Awards program, visit: http://www.southern.usta.com/About-Us-Pages/2017_awards/.


(01/17/18) ABC 4/WCIV-TV: Charleston native, Shelby Rogers, returns to 2018 Volvo Car Open
Charleston native, Shelby Rogers has joined the player field for the 2018 Volvo Car Open.

Rogers participated in the tournament’s ball crew program before turning pro, and in 2017 she reached the quarterfinals of the tournament for the first time.

The Volvo Car Open will take place on Saturday, March 31 through Sunday, April 8 this year on Daniel Island.

The Daniel Island native will be joining Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitová, Madison Keys, Daria Kasatkina and Cici Bellis.

Growing up in Charleston, Rogers trained at the Family Circle Tennis Center and participated in the ball crew program for the Volvo Car Open.

Rogers made her debut in the Volvo Car Open in 2010 when she competed in its qualifying rounds. This year will mark her tenth time competing in front of her hometown crowd.

"I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to compete each year in the Volvo Car Open," said Rogers. "The support I feel from the fans is truly incredible. I wouldn't miss coming to Charleston and playing in this tournament for the world!"

The Volvo Car Open is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America.


(01/17/18)  JEFF HARTSELL: Charleston's Shelby Rogers will return to Volvo Car Open
Charleston's touring tennis professional is coming home, again.

Shelby Rogers will return to her hometown to play in the 2018 Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island, the tournament announced Wednesday.

Rogers, who just wrapped up play in the Australian Open, made the quarterfinals at the Volvo Car Open last year for the first time.

“I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to compete each year in the Volvo Car Open,” said Rogers. “The support I feel from the fans is truly incredible. I wouldn’t miss coming to Charleston and playing in this tournament for the world.”

Rogers, ranked No. 67 on the WTA Tour, had to withdraw from the Australian Open doubles with an arm injury, she posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

"(I) will do everything I can to rest, heal & rehab so I return to court even stronger!" she posted.

Rogers, 25, joins a field that already includes Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitová, Madison Keys, defending champion Daria Kasatkina and CiCi Bellis. The Volvo Car Open is set for March 31-April 8.

Rogers grew up in Charleston, where she trained at the Family Circle Tennis Center and participated in the ball crew program for the Volvo Car Open, then the Family Circle Cup.

In 2010, Rogers made her debut in the Volvo Car Open tournament when she competed in its qualifying rounds. This year will mark her tenth time competing in front of the hometown crowd.

"We always enjoy having Shelby return home to compete in the Volvo Car Open," said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open tournament manager. "We have had the joy of watching her grow up on our courts, and develop into a top player on the tour. After last year's run into our quarterfinals, we could feel the energy in the stadium from Shelby's loving Charleston fanbase, and look forward to seeing the support again in April."

This past season Rogers also reached the quarterfinals in Hobart and Strasbourg.

In August, Rogers defeated Daria Gavrilova at the U.S. Open in the longest women’s single match in the tournament’s history. The record-breaking three hours and 33 minutes featured a 90-minute final set.


(01/17/18) MOULTRIE NEWS: Frankie Mansfield: Charleston's Shelby Rogers to return to Volvo Car Open
Charleston’s Shelby Rogers is returning to her hometown for the 2018 Volvo Car Open.

Rogers, currently slotted 67th in the WTA rankings, turned in her best run at the Daniel Island tournament last season, reaching the quarterfinals for the first time.

“I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to compete each year in the Volvo Car Open,” Rogers said. “The support I feel from the fans is truly incredible. I wouldn’t miss coming to Charleston and playing in this tournament for the world.”

Rogers, 25, grew up in Charleston, where she trained at the Family Circle Tennis Center and participated in the ball crew program for the Volvo Car Open, which was then the Family Circle Cup. She made her debut in the tournament in 2010. This year will mark her 10th time competing in front of her hometown crowd.

She joins Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitová, Madison Keys, Daria Kasatkina and CiCi Bellis in the tournament field set to compete March 31 – April 3 at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island.

"We always enjoy having Shelby return home to compete in the Volvo Car Open," Volvo Car Open tournament manager Eleanor Adams said. "We have had the joy of watching her grow up on our courts, and develop into a top player on the tour. After last year's run into our quarterfinals, we could feel the energy in the stadium from Shelby's loving Charleston fan base, and look forward to seeing the support again in April."

Rogers competed in four main draw matches at last year’s event, three being decided in three sets. She also reached the quarterfinals in Hobart and Strasbourg last season. She most recently competed in the Australian Open this week, where she was forced to withdraw from doubles play because of an arm injury.

Rogers defeated Daria Gavrilova at the U.S. Open in August in the longest women’s single match in the tournament’s history. The record-breaking three hours and 33 minutes featured a 90-minute final set.

The nine-day Volvo Car Open is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America, attracting an average of 90,000 attendees and more than 100 of the top singles and doubles tennis players. Tickets are available now.


(01/17/18) Charleston's Shelby Rogers will return to Volvo Car Open
Charleston's touring tennis professional is coming home, again.

Shelby Rogers will return to her hometown to play in the 2018 Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island, the tournament announced Wednesday.

Rogers, who just wrapped up play in the Australian Open, made the quarterfinals at the Volvo Car Open last year for the first time.

“I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to compete each year in the Volvo Car Open,” said Rogers. “The support I feel from the fans is truly incredible. I wouldn’t miss coming to Charleston and playing in this tournament for the world!”

Rogers, ranked No. 67 on the WTA Tour, had to withdraw from the Australian Open doubles with an arm injury, she posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

"(I) will do everything I can to rest, heal & rehab so I return to court even stronger!" she posted.

Rogers, 25, joins a field that already includes Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitová, Madison Keys, defending champion Daria Kasatkina and CiCi Bellis. The Volvo Car Open is set for March 31 - April 8.

Rogers grew up in Charleston, where she trained at the Family Circle Tennis Center and participated in the ball crew program for the Volvo Car Open, then the Family Circle Cup.

In 2010, Rogers made her debut in the Volvo Car Open tournament when she competed in its qualifying rounds. This year will mark her tenth time competing in front of the hometown crowd.

"We always enjoy having Shelby return home to compete in the Volvo Car Open," said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open tournament manager. "We have had the joy of watching her grow up on our courts, and develop into a top player on the tour. After last year's run into our quarterfinals, we could feel the energy in the stadium from Shelby's loving Charleston fanbase, and look forward to seeing the support again in April."

This past season Rogers also reached the quarterfinals in Hobart and Strasbourg.

In August, Rogers defeated Daria Gavrilova at the U.S. Open in the longest women’s single match in the tournament’s history. The record-breaking three hours and 33 minutes featured a 90-minute final set.


(01/16/18) Shelby Rogers suffers first-round loss at Australian Open
Shelby Rogers' streak of five straight first-round wins in Grand Slam tennis tournaments came to a halt Tuesday at the Australian Open in a 7-6 (6), 5-7, 6-2 loss to 28th seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia.

Rogers, the Charleston touring professional ranked 67th in the world, hadn't been eliminated from singles play in the first round of a major since her loss to Sabine Lisicki at Wimbledon in 2016.

But the 35-year-old Lucic-Baroni, who had lost 12 of her 17 matches since a three-set win over Rogers in the quarterfinals of last spring's Volvo Car Open, wouldn't be denied as she ran her career record against Rogers to 3-0 in the two-hour and 18-minute match.

Rogers once again had her chances in the first round of the tournament in which she defeated current world's No. 1 Simona Halep in last year's opening round. Rogers held one set point in the first-set tiebreaker at 6-5 before losing the last three points, two of them on forehand winners by Lucic-Baroni, to drop the first set.

In the second set, Rogers went from a 4-2 lead to facing double match point with Lucic-Baroni serving with a 5-4, 40-15 lead. Rogers made an impressive rally to win that game and then the next two games to force a third set.

But Lucic-Baroni came right back to virtually ice the match by taking a 4-0 lead in the third set.

Lucic-Baroni gave Rogers ample opportunities with 10 double faults, but she also nailed 38 winners to only 21 for Rogers.

Rogers is still in the doubles draw with American partner Christina McHale. Rogers and McHale actually could have faced each other in singles in the second round with victories, but both failed to survive the first round.


(01/13/18) Simon is an all-forehand sensation
Have you ever tried serving from one side, then switched and served with the other hand?

That's no easy task. And certainly not one you can depend on in the heat of a national championship tournament.

But that is Coy Simon's tennis game. No backhand ground strokes or volleys. Just all forehands.

And when it comes time to serve, he might hit it from his right side or his left side.

"It takes a lot of practice," Simon said about his unique serving style.

That game was good enough to help win a national championship doubles match last week in the boys 16 Winter Nationals at the USTA campus in Orlando, Fla. Sure thing, LTP Tennis' Coy Simon and Keshav Chopra of Marietta, Ga., now own USTA gold balls. That's two for Chopra since he also won the singles championship.

Simon lost in the round of 32 in singles, then concentrated on doubles. Just the same, Simon closed out 2017 as the nation's 53rd-ranked boys 16 player.

"I have been working hard. I'm glad to see it paying off," he said.

Does the switching of hands frustrate his opponents? "I think it catches them off guard," he said.

Simon's dad is Ben Simon, a veteran teaching pro who is on the pro staff at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant after a stint at Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy. Ben started his son off playing and serving from both sides when Coy was 5 years old. Coy's sisters (11-year-old Breeze and 9-year-old Harbour) also play the same style as Coy.

Coy was one of the stars of Hanahan's unbeaten Class AAA state championship team last spring. He now attends Oceanside Collegiate Academy as a sophomore and intends to play tennis for the Landsharks in the spring.

"My dream is to play pro tennis," the lanky 6-1 player said.

But his father insisted, "I definitely want him to go to college." Ben Simon played on two NCAA Division II national championship tennis teams at Lander College.

Simon will turn 17 in May, and he realizes that boys 18 could be much more difficult. "Hopefully, I'll get my 18s ranking up high enough this year to qualify for the nationals at Kalamazoo (Mich.)," said Simon, who scored a win in qualifying last weekend in a $15,000 U.S. Pro Circuit tournament in Naples, Fla.

"He (Coy) also moved up to 766 in the ITF rankings. Only playing his first one at the end of September, and his UTR (Universal Tennis Rating) is now 12.17," Ben Simon said.

"It (UTR) rates every player in the world. All colleges are using that now more than tennis recruiting because it’s based on wins and losses over higher and lower UTR players all over the world, not just one country. (Roger) Federer's UTR is 16."

FINAL NATIONAL RANKINGS

Other than boys 18 national No. 1 Jared Pratt and Simon, three other local junior boys landed top 200 spots in the final 2017 USTA national rankings: Carson Baker (No. 24 in boys 12), Jacob Smith (No. 66 in boys 12) and Michael Ross (No. 89 in boys 14).

Among local girls in the final 2017 national rankings, Emma Navarro took 13th in girls 18 and 26th in girls 16. Four local girls 14 players finished in the top 100: Allie Gretkowski (21), Whitley Pate (48), Sophie Williams (68) and Carri Hayes (74).

Other national top 100 girls were: Lara Schneider (93) and Anna Ross (96) in girls 16.

WINTER NATIONALS

In the boys and girls 16 and 18 Winter Nationals in Orlando, local results in boys 18 included Jared Pratt (third in singles, quarterfinals in doubles), Jacob Jahn (R32 singles, R16 doubles) and Sam Kavarana (R32 singles, R64 doubles). Anna Ross and Lara Schneider were eliminated early in girls 16.

In Tucson, Ariz., in the boys and girls 12 and 14 Winter Nationals, Carson Baker advanced to the round of 16 in boys 12 singles, then made it to