The Family Circle Cup is only two weeks away. Everyone knows that Maria Sharapova likely will miss the big event on Daniel Island again, and that Serena and Venus Williams are the headliners committed to the $795,000 WTA Tour tournament, the main draw for which begins on April 1.
But questions still remain. What is the condition of 2010 champion Samantha Stosur's right calf after she withdrew from Indian Wells' quarterfinals? That's a good question since top-ranked Serena Williams and clay-court specialist Sara Errani are the only other top 10 players slated to be in Charleston.
Also, how is 2009 champion Sabine Lisicki recovering from the viral illness that sidelined her at Indian Wells?
But for local tennis fans, the big question may be whether the Family Circle Cup will award 20-year-old Daniel Island product Shelby Rogers a wild card into the tournament's main draw.
Rogers is holding her own on the WTA Tour. Although she has suffered losses in her last five matches, her ranking has remained near her career-best (No. 207). She is currently ranked 219th in the world.
When reached Saturday, Rogers was just hoping to get into the Family Circle's qualifying tournament. She is currently at Innisbrook, Fla., preparing for Tuesday's start of a $25,000 challenger at the Florida resort.
Ten in top 100
Most of the players ranked below top three Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Sharapova in the top 10 aren't household names. But to Americans, that might change in the near future.
The Williams sisters may be getting company soon as American headliners. Eight other Americans now occupy places among the world's top 100. Six of the other eight women are among the entries in the Family Circle Cup.
Talented, young Sloane Stephens is probably the brightest U.S. hope other than Serena and Venus. After Stephens' sterling play in the Australian Open, she is ranked 17th in the world.
Probably the least known of the entire group of Americans in the top 100 is 26-year-old Varvara Lepchenko, a 5-11 left-hander from Allentown, Pa., by way of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She is ranked 26th.
The other Americans in the top 100 currently headed for Charleston are Christina McHale (48), Jamie Hampton (64), Madison Keys (77) and Melanie Oudin (85). Lauren Davis, who played in a $10,000 satellite event at the then Players Club a couple years ago, is the only U.S. player ranked high enough (72) to go straight into the Family Circle main draw who isn't slated to play on Daniel Island. Coco Vandeweghe (99) is the 10th U.S. player ranked in the top 100, but isn't listed for Family Circle's main draw.
Barker No. 1 again
Former College of Charleston star Diane Barker is the No. 1 player in the world in her age group once again. Barker competes in women's 55 these days, and the latest ITF world rankings show the I'On pro at the top of the list.
Barker e-mailed Saturday that she has arrived in Antalya, Turkey, to represent the United States in the women's 55 senior world team championships that will begin there on Monday.
Earlier this month, Barker won another national title, the women's 55 U.S. closed clay court championship in Houston.
Fellow Charleston senior Brenda Carter is ranked 10th in the world in women's 65, but she outdid Barker in Houston. Carter not only won the women's 65 national crown in singles, she duplicated the feat in doubles.
HIGH SCHOOL REPORT
Defending SCISA Class AAA state boys champion Porter-Gaud is off to another fast start behind University of Pennsylvania-bound senior Thomas Spratt. The Cyclones are 5-0, blanking Bishop England and First Baptist twice each while scoring a 7-2 win over High School League Class AA perennial power Waccamaw.
Porter-Gaud's early test will come Tuesday and Wednesday when 2012 state runner-up Hilton Head Christian and 2010-11 state champion Hilton Head Prep visit the Cyclones' Albemarle Road athletic complex. The two Hilton Head schools already own victories over Pinewood Prep, which is playing this season without two-time All-Lowcountry star Adam Elliget, who has opted for home-schooling.
-- Senior stars Diane Barker, Brenda Carter and Susie Peiffer, along with S.C. Tennis Patrons Foundation chairman Ron Charron are among the early owners of South Carolina's new “Play Tennis” license plate. The license plates can be purchased online at www.scdmvonline.com or through the local DMV offices.
-- I'On tennis director Matt Hane (Diane Barker's son) and Kiawah Island pro Brandon Blankenbaker won the men's 30 hard court nationals last weekend in Austin, Texas.
-- The College of Charleston's club team captured the USTA's Tennis on Campus Southern championship recently in Auburn, Ala., with a 24-23 win over LSU. Club teams are made up of a minimum of two male and two female players. The C of C team earned a berth in the April 11-13 national championships in Surprise, Ariz.
-- State top-ranked boys 18 Matthew Mendez gets to work personally with former world's No. 1 Ivan Lendl each month as a member of Lendl's International Junior Tennis Academy on Hilton Head Island.
-- College of Charleston's women's team has lost former Lowcountry player of the year Jamie Harrell for the season to a shoulder injury.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.
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