BECK COLUMN: One glance makes a WTT fan forever
Just one look. Thatís all World Team Tennis co-founder Billie Jean King wants from tennis fans.
She figures if fans see her brainchild up close one time, theyíll be fans forever of the WTTís fast-paced format.
Thereís a great opportunity for that glimpse into the world of World Team Tennis at todayís 3:30 p.m. WTT championship match at Family Circle Tennis Center.
High school girls tennis is near the halfway point, and perennial powers Porter-Gaud, Ashley Hall and Bishop England still have their eyes on championship seasons.
Of course, in the case of Porter-Gaud and Ashley Hall, both canít win the Class AAA SCISA state title that Porter-Gaud captured last fall. Also, thereís the spoiler from the southern tip of the state ó 2011 state runner-up Hilton Head Prep with its young team from the islandís prestigious tennis academies.
Hilton Head Prep already owns a 6-3 win over Porter-Gaud, but Cyclones coach Brian Burke needs to look no further back than last year when they were swept by Hilton Head in the regular season only to gain revenge in the state final.
Porter-Gaud will play Pinewood Prep twice, and Ashley Hall and Hilton Head Prep once each in a 13-day period starting Thursday.
There has been at least one surprise: Pinewood Prepís win over Ashley Hall.
Nevertheless, veteran Ashley Hall coach Mary Gastley isnít down in the dumps about that one. Returning Lowcountry player of the year Narni Summerall was out sick that day.
Summerallís absence at the top of the lineup didnít just force Gastley to find a new No. 6 player; it pushed everyone up a notch. And in high school tennis, thereís usually a vast difference between playing the Nos. 1 and 2 positions, and sometimes even a greater difference between Nos. 2 and 3 or maybe 5 and 6, etc.
Porter-Gaud and Ashley Hall entered this weekendís Bishop England tournament with 3-1 and 4-1 records, respectively. Pinewood Prep is 7-2, with one loss to Hilton Head Prep and another one to Cardinal Newman when Pinewood was missing two of its top four players.
Defending High School League Class AA state champ Bishop England was 7-2 (5-0 Region 6-AA) going into the weekend, with losses to Porter-Gaud and Irmo.
Brenda Carter is currently in Croatia representing the United States in the International Tennis Federationís 65-and-over world team championships and the world individual championships.
Womenís 55 world champion Diane Barker and her son, Matt Hane, were in New York Labor Day weekend to be honored for their ďgolden slamĒ accomplishment in the USTAís national mother/son competition. They combined for titles on hard and clay courts, and indoors. Barker is currently out of competition with a foot injury.
Hane, the IíOn head pro, and Kiawah Island pro Brandon Blakenbaker recently teamed up to win the 30-and-over national grass courts in Philadelphia.
Pinewood Prep coach Bryant McKee is excited about his after-school program that has 60 kids participating.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.