The Family Circle Cup lowered its prize money by 30 percent, but the April 10-18 event still has the makings of being one of the top drawing cards for elite players in the tournament's 10-year reign on Daniel Island.
With Samantha Stosur's run to the semifinals at Indian Wells, the Cup should now have five top 10 players on its entry list when the next WTA Tour rankings are released. The field's current top 10ers are No. 1 Serena Williams, Indian Wells finalists Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic, and Victoria Azarenka.
Added star power comes from one-time world No. 1 Maria Sharapova, defending champion Sabine Lisicki and former champion Nadia Petrova as well as 2008 runner-up Vera Zvonareva, Marion Bartoli, two-time Cup finalist Patty Schnyder and young American star Melanie Oudin.
When tournament officials lowered the purse to $700,000 in November from the 2009 total of $1 million, they felt that the tournament's relationship with top players remained very strong as evidenced by its current player list.
--The tournament will debut a free Citizens of the World event to celebrate diversity and make the tournament accessible to all citizens on the evening of the opening day of the main draw, Monday, April 12. The 4:30-7 p.m. event will feature autograph sessions for tour players as well as a pro tennis exhibition, and many other events such as clinics, live music and appearances by cast members of the hit Lifetime show Army Wives.
Rogers fares well
Smash Junior Cup champion Shelby Rogers advanced to the semifinals of a tournament in Ponte Vedra, Fla., while attempting to earn a wild-card into the qualifying tournament for this spring's WTA Tour event in Ponte Vedra. The 17-year-old Daniel Island girl then won two matches to qualify for a $25,000 ITF Challenger in Fort Walton, Fla., before losing in the second round of the main draw.
Rogers should climb into the 700s from the 900s in the world rankings when the points from two victories over top 400 players in the Fort Walton event are added to the WTA Tour's computer rankings, according to Rogers' coach, Bryan Minton. Rogers' next competition will come in the Family Circle Cup qualifying tournament April 10-11 as she attempts to qualify for the tournament's main draw.
Pinewood Prep looks like it may challenge for second-best in SCISA Class AAA boys tennis after scoring a 5-4 win over 2008 state champion Hilton Head Prep, which has played in the last three state finals. That's despite the fact that Hilton Head Prep won the top three positions behind young star Jared Woodson's win at No. 1.
"Their top three (Woodson, Mo Hookaylo and Nicky Kunz) are better, and our bottom three (seventh-grader Adam Elliget, junior William Wert and freshman Davis Craig) are better," veteran Pinewood Prep coach Heinz Maurer said.
But both Pinewood Prep and Hilton Head Prep could play second fiddle to fellow Region 3 member and defending state champion Porter-Gaud, which posted a 5-2 win over perennial High School League power Waccamaw last week.
Pinewood Prep, now 6-0, will get its shot at Porter-Gaud's super-deep team Wednesday at the Pinewood courts. With the addition of freshman Joel Roberts from Summerville High at No. 3, the Panthers appear to be improved over a year ago when they fell to Hilton Head Prep in the state quarterfinals. Juniors JT Elliget and Jacob Cumbie hold down the top two positions for the Panthers.
Hammond looks like the top team from the Columbia area. Pinewood already has scored a 6-3 win over Hammond, so Region 3 probably owns the state's top three teams.
C of C club team advances
A club team from the College of Charleston, led by former Pinewood star Trey Bessent, has qualified for the club tennis nationals April 17-18 in Surprise, Ariz., by finishing second in the recent Southern Sectional to host team Auburn.
The C of C club coed team will be represented by 11 players at the nationals. The team will stage an adult mixed doubles fundraiser next Saturday at Mount Pleasant's Players and Racquet Club to raise money for the trip to the nationals. The event is scheduled for 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Contact Bessent (803-857-9814) or club team president Chelsea Borgeson (847-542-1682) for details.
--Charleston Tennis Center's "Hugs For Harper" benefit on April 2 from 6-8 p.m. to aid nine-year-old Harper Drolet, the daughter of longtime Farmfield member Jamie Drolet. Harper has a rare form of cancer and has undergone reconstructive surgery on her foot and has to learn how to walk all over again while receiving aggressive chemotherapy treatment. Contact pro Fredrik Andersson (email@example.com) or call Charleston Tennis Center (766-7401). Door prizes include tickets to the Family Circle final.
--Another Battle of James Island is set April 10 at the Country Club of Charleston, Maybank Tennis Center and Charleston Tennis Center. Play will begin at all three locations at 8:30 a.m. To register, contact CCC tennis director Lee Brockman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
--Diane Fishburne was named to the U.S. women's 50 Maria Bueno Cup team that will compete in the 30th ITF Seniors World Team Championships March 29-April 3 on red clay in Mexico City. The Professional Tennis Registry also named Fishburne the female player of the decade at the PTR Symposium in February.
--Kiawah Island tennis director Roy Barth has joined the board of directors of the PTR as treasurer. Barth is a former pro tour world's top 50 player.
--Former Palmetto Christian and Bishop England star John Karle was named Carolinas Conference men's player of the week while playing for Anderson University under former I'On Club pro Joey Eskridge.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com.
James Beck's columns on pro tennis are available at