World Team Tennis? Whatís that?
Venus Williams will be here? Are you kidding?
That conversation is a little late, but two weeks ago it was relevant.
No kidding, people said they didnít know Venus Williams was in town.
What a shame.
All of those people who missed the WTT Finals Weekend really missed one of the highlights of Charleston tennis for this decade or any decade. Thatís including Davis Cup, Family Circle Cup and Fed Cup.
In my book, Venus Williamsí performance the last two days of the WTT Finals was the most exciting on-court event that has happened in Charleston tennis, even better than Andy Roddickís world-record serve in Davis Cup.
You had to be there to feel the atmosphere and to understand what Iím talking about. Venusí performances might have been my favorite and most exciting moments in five different decades of local tennis.
They were moments that generated pressure enough to make seasoned players crumble. But not Venus. She stood all alone, carrying the Washington Kastlesí 30-match winning streak and league championship hopes on her back.
It was do or die for the Kastles ó or Venus. And there is nothing like team pressure. Ask Ashley Harkleroad or Coco Vandeweghe how it felt to have the weight of their teams on their shoulders. Or even Venus.
Weíve seen Venus win a Family Circle Cup singles title and many Grand Slam titles. But we had never seen Venus as excited and motivated as she was when she rallied to defeat Vandeweghe to give the Kastles their second straight WTT title, and 32nd consecutive victory.
But many local tennis players were participating in tournaments at Florence and other sites, and didnít have the chance to see this chapter of Venus Williamsí tennis career.
Whether the WTT Finals will return to Family Circle Tennis Center, no one is saying. ďWeíll determine (if WTT returns to Charleston) in discussions the next couple of months. We hope it would be a long-term agreement rather than year-by-year,Ē WTT commissioner Ilana Kloss said.
Kloss liked the September timing. ďThis is much better than the heat in July,Ē she said, comparing this yearís excellent weather with that of 2011.
Meanwhile, Family Circle officials are non-commital. Itís all about money, and fans are the primary criteria in this area.
Just under 4,500 people attended this yearís three-day WTT Finals. Family Circle general manager Bob Moran had set 2,000 per session or a total of 6,000 as a goal.
In this Olympic year, two weekends ago was the only time available on the grand prix calendar to hold the WTT Finals. The WTT event has been the second-most prestigious annual happening on the state tennis scene, behind only the Family Circle Cup.
Yet, the tennis community was strung out two weekends ago. Tennis canít control football, but it should be able to coordinate its own sport.
The WTT Finals are a great event for Charleston tennis, with the potential for individual crowds in the 4,000-5,000 range. As Kloss said, it will take time. It also will take a more coordinated effort by the WTT and the promoters as well as by Charleston and state tennis communities, and the local department of tourism.
If for some reason Charleston misses out on future WTT Finals, some other site likely would jump at the opportunity to serve as the annual eventís host. Winston-Salem?
Winston-Salem isnít in Charlestonís league in tennis, but the North Carolina city has made great strides in serving as the host for Davis Cup ties, not to mention capturing a spot on the menís ATP Tour.
Alexander Santiago was one of three boys 16 players to represent the state in the recent Southern Junior Cup team competition in Chattanooga Tenn. South Carolina came in third among the nine teams. Santiago won three of his four singles matches.
Brenda Carter went 5-2 in singles and doubles to lead the U.S. womenís 65 team to a runner-up finish in the recent Kitty Godfree Cup world team championships in Umag, Croatia. Carter, ranked ninth in world 65 singles, also was a semifinalist in the world individual championships.
A 9.0 adult mixed doubles team from IíOn, captained by Amy White, won a state title at the recent state mixed doubles championships in Florence, while the Kathy Peebles-captained 8.0 senior team from Pine Forest Country Club also brought home a title.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.
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