Just because Fritz Nau now teaches tennis in South Florida doesn't mean his impact on local tennis isn't still being felt.
Nau moved his junior tennis academy around Charleston before finally leaving the old Players Club and the area a couple of years ago. But the names of the star players who once attended his academy continue to shine in Charleston tennis news.
Shelby Rogers, of course, is the big name.
But Caroline Thornton hasn't done badly. She's starting her sophomore year at Auburn on a full tennis scholarship after an outstanding freshman season.
Of course, in its heyday, the former Players Club (now LTP Tennis) junior academy included many other junior stars, several of whom are on current college rosters.
And now Alex Martin is taking her game to the University of Texas. The two-time Belton girls 18 singles champion verbally committed to Texas coach Patty Fendick-McCain on Thursday. Fendick-McCain, a former NCAA champion and Australian Open doubles titlist with Mary Joe Fernandez, probably is the main reason Martin plans to spend the next four years in Austin, Texas.
"She's a great coach," Martin said. "I met her in San Diego at the National Hard Courts. I called her Thursday morning and committed."
Martin is a 5-8 18-year-old who currently trains under Jimmy Mendieta at Wachesaw Plantation in Murrells Inlet. She has been online-schooled since her freshman year. Her younger sister, Catherine, is a sophomore at Wando where she plays No. 2 on a team that is seeking its seventh straight Class AAAA state title.
"I'm really excited about college," Martin said. "I visited most of the ACC and SEC schools, but I had no idea where I was going."
That is, until Martin met Fendick-McCain while competing in the national juniors where Martin won one match in the main draw.
Martin said she will compete mostly in $10,000 pro events until next year when she heads off to Texas. Looking ahead to national signing day, she plans to visit Austin to take in the Longhorns' Nov. 13 football game against Oklahoma State.
Las Vegas bound
Charleston Pro Tennis League co-founder Chris Henderson will be connected to two local men's teams that will leave this week for Las Vegas in search of a fourth league tennis national championship in nine years. Henderson plays for Brian Burke's team and is the non-playing captain for his own team. Both teams will begin play Friday in different men's open flights, then play twice on Saturday in hopes of qualifying for next Sunday's semifinals.
The local teams won their three national championships at the 5.5 level, the last one coming in 2007.
Hunter Specialties Inc. of Summerville and the LCTA are sponsoring both teams' trips to the nationals where they will compete at the Darling Tennis Center, which was recently acquired by men's tour standout Sam Querrey.
Burke's team (Southern Burke) includes veterans Charly Rasheed, Will Bull and Nicholas Gaffos along with Burke, Henderson and singles ace Or Dekel.
The team Henderson captains (Southern Hendy) is made up of Toby Simpson, Chip Hand, Matt Hane, Seth Rose, Robert Lake, Martin Zumpft and Ellerbe Dargan.
A team from Greenville also will compete in the men's open national championships.
The big party
The Lowcountry Tennis Association celebrated Charleston's Best Tennis Town in America recognition Friday night at Family Circle Tennis Center with a crowd of about 1,500 that also got to watch the popular Charleston Pro Tennis League in action.
The CPTL will take next Friday off while many of its stars participate in the nationals in Las Vegas. The league will resume its Friday night schedule on Oct. 15 at Wild Dunes. The league's four-team playoffs will begin Oct. 22 at LTP Tennis, followed by the CPTL championship on Oct. 29 at the I'On Club.
Rogers suffers losses
Shelby Rogers has experienced a dream year for a 17-year-old tennis player. But on the heels of playing in the main draw of the U.S. Open and barely missing a first-round upset of women's tour veteran Shuai Peng, Rogers dropped her next two singles matches.
Currently ranked 340th in the world, Rogers suffered three-set first-round losses to No. 393 Jelena Pandzic in a $75,000 event in Albuquerque, N.M., and to 229th-ranked Lindsay Lee-Waters in a $50,000 tournament in Las Vegas.
Rogers, who will turn 18 in 10 days, may play in a $25,000 event in Rock Hill later this month.
--The Wando girls team, which owns regular season wins over SCISA powers Porter-Gaud and Ashley Hall, will attempt to make it two straight over Ashley Hall on Wednesday at Charleston Tennis Center. Wando's Clair Larkin and Catherine Martin dropped the Nos. 1 and 2 singles to Ashley Hall's Patricia Kirkland and Narni Summerall last week, but the Warriors used the depth of Melanie Allen and Samantha Shuster at Nos. 4 and 5 to post a 4-3 victory.
--Summerville-based men's tour player Robbye Poole reached the final and quarterfinals the last two weeks in two $10,000 satellite tournaments in California.
--Local juniors Meghan Blevins, Patricia Kirkland and Ashby Bland all stood out in the recent Southern Junior Cup competition, formerly the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup event, in Lupton City, Tenn. Blevins, Kirkland and Bland each went 4-0 in singles. Overall, Blevins was 6-0 in girls 18, Kirkland 6-1 in girls 18 and Bland 5-3 in girls 12. Matt Mendez also competed in boys 16.
--Monday is the deadline for entering the Oct. 15-18 Kiawah Island Junior Clay Court Championships, a USTA-Southern Level 3 tournament for singles and National Level 5 for doubles. Contact pro Jonathan Barth at email@example.com.
--Another Battle of James Island is scheduled for Oct. 30 at the Country Club of Charleston, Maybank Tennis Center and Charleston Tennis Center. The event, which will include competition in men's and women's doubles as well as mixed doubles, will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude with a 12:30 p.m. covered dish social and exhibition. Contact tennis director Lee Brockman at firstname.lastname@example.org
--The 27th annual Alan Fleming Senior Open Clay Court State Championship will be held Wednesday through Sunday at the Seabrook Island Racquet Club. The event's 44 different brackets include singles, doubles and mixed doubles in age categories from 40-80. Contact Mike Kiser at the Racquet Club (768-7543) or event co-chairs Judy and Guy Gimson (768-2549).
--The I'On Club will hold its eighth annual Ace Breast Cancer tournament Friday-Sunday. Registration is available at www.acebreastcancertennis.org.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.
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