Daniel Island's Shelby Rogers has been quietly climbing up the WTA Tour's rankings since early summer — all the way to her current perch at No. 215 in the world. If leaping almost 200 places in the rankings in less than six months isn't enough, consider the fact that Rogers has scored a pair of wins over top 100 players in that time.
Now 20 years old, Rogers has been training at the USTA's training center in Boca Raton, Fla., for approximately 18 months. She had previously trained at Family Circle Tennis Center.
Her big breakthrough came in July when she won the $7,315 first prize in a $50,000 International Tennis Federation event in Yakima, Wash. After winning five straight matches and 70 ranking points in Yakima, she won her next two matches in another $50,000 event to reach the quarterfinals in Lexington, Ky.
The next big result for Rogers came in late September when she advanced to the final of a $50,000 Las Vegas ITF tournament before suffering a three-set loss to 19-year-old American Lauren Davis. That netted Rogers 50 ranking points.
Ironically, Rogers scored a straight-set win a month later over the current 92nd-ranked Davis in a first-round match at New Braunfels, Texas. Rogers is fresh off of another straight-set victory over a top 100 player, 93rd-ranked Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan, in a $75,000 event in Phoenix.
Rogers' world ranking also received a boost when she earned 40 points for winning one match in the U.S. Open qualifying tournament.
The tennis tour has slowed down for the holidays for Rogers. Despite her rapid climb in the rankings, Rogers' ranking wasn't high enough to claim a berth in the USTA's Australian Open wild-card playoffs that are set for next weekend in Atlanta. The eight American women selected were Mallory Burdette (No. 144), Julia Cohen (115), Irina Falconi (152), Alexa Glatch (124), Madison Keys (137), Bethanie Mattek-Sands (169), Maria Sanchez (127) and Alison Riske (182). Rogers was invited to the event in 2010.
It's Coach Young
Just call him Coach Young.
Yes, former Charleston junior star Ryan Young is now a college tennis coach. The former Clemson All-American landed a position as an assistant coach at Michigan State.
Young is already on the job in East Lansing, Mich. After twice undergoing shoulder surgery, the 28-year-old left-hander has given up on his dreams of making a living playing professional tennis — at least, for now. He landed the job at Michigan State with the aid of a recommendation from former Clemson coach Chuck Kriese. Young's mother, Toni, is the head pro at Maybank Tennis Center.
Kiawah Island pro Brandon Blankenbaker and I'On pro Matt Hane, who hold the men's 30 national grass-court championship, recently teamed up to capture the men's 30 Southern Closed Clay Court title at Kiawah Island. Blankenbaker also won the Southern men's 30 singles crown.
The Pine Forest Ladies Tennis Association is playing a major role in helping local breast cancer patients in their recovery. The association's annual Racquets for Recovery tournament has raised $158,000 for the Racquets for Recovery Fund at the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center in the last eight years, including $16,000 from last month's benefit tournament at Pine Forest Country Club in Summerville.
Registration for spring league tennis will begin today and continue through Jan. 11 when eligible teams will be required to have rosters that include the minimum number of players needed to fill all positions for a league match.
In college signings, 2011 Lowcountry girls player of the year Narni Summerall of Ashley Hall is headed to Dartmouth, while 2012 Lowcountry boys player of the year Thomas Spratt of Porter-Gaud has signed with the University of Pennsylvania.
Berkeley's Kristen Farmer and Elliott Huxford, James Island's Rhealyn Dinkins, and Hanahan's Amelia McCulloch were named to the All-Region 8-AAA girls tennis team.
After leading Bishop England's girls to back-to-back Class AA state titles, Kristin Fleming is also taking over as head coach of the Bishops' boys team. Frank DiNardo coached the boys team last spring, while Fleming served as an assistant.
Two local teams were finalists in last weekend's Southern Section Super Senior Championships in Columbus, Ga. A 3.5 men's 60 team from Family Circle Tennis Center captained by Bob Peiffer and a 3.5 women's 70 team from the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department captained by Penny Gorby advanced to the finals, where both suffered 2-1 setbacks. A 4.5 women's 60 team captained by Maureen O'Berg and a 4.0 women's 70 team captained by Margo Heyd also competed.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.