Family Circle Cup nearly here
It's time to get excited about women's tennis. The 40th Family Circle Cup is just two weeks away.
The women's game has taken everything anyone could toss its way, and come out on top.
Four straight first-time Grand Slam winners could have left the women's circuit looking for some stability, and a true star. Li Na, Petra Kvitova and Samantha Stosur surprised almost everyone by winning majors. But then came Victoria Azarenka in the Australian Open. The Belarussian may have staying power as the world's top player.
And suddenly, women's tennis is looking very good, considering that Venus and Serena Williams appear to be ready to play again and Maria Sharapova is hitting lines like the old days, and winning.
Sharapova and Azarenka aren't in the field for the FCC (March 31-April 8), but top 10 players Agnieszka Radwanska, Stosur, Marion Bartoli and Vera Zvonareva are, along with Venus and Serena, and former champs Jelena Jankovic, Sabine Lisicki and Nadia Petrova.
Pratt leads way
Jared Pratt led local juniors in the Southern rankings for 2011, finishing the year in the No. 5 slot in boys 12. Connor Clements was 10th in boys 18, while Brant Fenno was 17th in boys 12. Lowcountry high school girls player of the year Narni Summerall was 20th in girls 18.
In the state rankings for 2011, Pratt, Clements and Summerall all finished No. 1 in their age groups, while Margaret Navarro was No. 1 in girls 10, and Elle Halbauer was tops in girls 14.
Like old times
It was almost like old times for former North Charleston High teammates Colie Crosby and Ted Varner two weekends ago when they helped a local 8.5 senior combo team win the Southern Sectional championship in Mobile, Ala. Crosby and Varner teamed up to win one of the two doubles matches the 8.5 seniors needed to defeat Dothan, Ala., in the Southern final.
The Charleston area winners of the Family Circle Cup's Club Mixed Doubles Championships were: Venkat Ramshesh and Bianca Jardin (6.0); Billy Estes and Jana Estes (7.0); David Robinson and Teri Bachmann (8.0); and Andy Steingold and Tabatha Waddill (9.0). The local winners will advance to the April 5-6 Club Doubles Championships.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.