BECK COLUMN: World Team Tennis likely not here this year
World Team Tennis' Finals Weekend was a grand addition to local tennis the last two summers, but it appears to be doubtful that the event will return to Family Circle Tennis Center in 2013.
“I'm pretty confident that the WTT won't be back (this year),” is the way Family Circle Cup general manager Bob Moran sizes up the immediate future relationship between the WTT and Daniel Island's Family Circle Tennis Center. “I think they (WTT) are going back to the same idea as before (Charleston) with one of their teams serving as host.”
World Team Tennis commissioner Ilana Kloss hedged when questioned about the site of this summer's Finals Weekend. “Hopefully before the end of the month we'll make a decision,” Kloss said.
“We are leaning toward returning to (the middle of) the summer. We tried September last year because of the Olympics.”
When the WTT Finals Weekend was held here in 2011 in late July, teams came directly to Charleston at the end of the WTT's regular season. The scheduling allowed little time to locally promote the four Finals Weekend teams.
The Finals Weekend last September was held nearly two months after the WTT ended its regular season in late July.
“It's not an easy decision,” Kloss said. “We are taking into consideration five or six things to base our determination on ... TV, the teams, a home-team site (such as the WTT used before coming here in 2011), having a continuous season.”
No FCC exhibition
The stars of the past won't shine this April on the Family Circle Cup's semifinal Saturday night. The exhibition match featuring the likes of John McEnroe, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova will not be held this year, according to Moran.
“I think we'll take a year off with the exhibition match,” Moran said.
The primary reason for the change from the last three years is the fact the Family Circle semifinals are scheduled to be played the same day (April 6) as the Cooper River Bridge Run. Family Circle is moving its starting time that day from the usual 11 a.m. slot to 1 p.m., which means the tournament schedule could run into the early evening hours.
Rogers down under
Daniel Island's Shelby Rogers has spent much of the past week back home after playing in the qualifying tournament for the Australian Open and in qualifying for a $235,000 event in New Zealand. The 20-year-old, currently ranked 209th in the world, suffered close first-round losses in both tournaments, but should gain points to keep her goal of hitting the world's top 100 in 2013 alive.
“If you don't play, you don't get points,” Rogers said before returning to the USTA training center in Boca Raton, Fla.
To what does Rogers attribute her rise of approximately 200 places in the world rankings in the last six months? “Being healthy and being able to train regularly. Before that I had injuries that hindered me,” she said.
Rogers' next tournament will be in early February in a $100,000 indoor event in Midlands, Mich. She also plans to apply for entry into the Family Circle Cup.
Local junior standout Connor Clements is attending NAIA member Gwinnett College near Atlanta on a tennis scholarship after being recruited by the likes of South Carolina, LSU, Alabama and Illinois.
The former top-ranked Southern junior (No. 3 at the end of 2012) is using the small college located in Lawrenceville, Ga., where Clements' family resided before moving to Charleston to transition from virtual high school. He plans to transfer to an NCAA Division I power for his last two years of college as he continues his road to possibly one day becoming a touring pro.
Volunteer applications are now available online at familycirclecup.com for the 375 volunteers (adults and kids 11-and-over) needed for the March 30-April 7 Family Circle Cup, including 200 for the ball crew. The first meeting is scheduled for Feb. 9.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.