Twelve years ago, Shelby Rogers was a ballgirl at the inaugural Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.
On Saturday, as a 20-year-old ranked as the 132nd best women’s tennis player on the planet, she was back at Family Circle Tennis Center signing autographs. City councilman Gary White later read a proclamation from Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. proclaiming Aug. 17 as “Shelby Rogers Day in the City of Charleston” during an on-court presentation.
Shelby said it all when she told a crowd under threatening skies, “This is a big honor.” Her mother and stepfather were present along with long-time coach Bryan Minton. She then showed off some of her big strokes in a doubles exhibition on the Althea Gibson Club Court.
Rogers has won two $50,000 U.S. Pro Circuit tournaments in less than four months while earning wild cards into both the French Open and U.S. Open main draws. She is now headed to New York where the U.S. Open will begin Aug. 26.
She isn’t concerned about who might be her first-round opponent when the draw is made next Thursday. She knows she has to beat everyone to win the U.S. Open.
Of course, that’s a tall order. But not that much taller than the distance Shelby Rogers has covered since that spring day in 2001 when as an eight-year-old she presented flowers to newly crowned Family Circle Cup champion Jennifer Capriati.
St. Andrew’s Parks and Playground tennis director Phil Burke has come up with a novel plan to showcase a grass court at next Saturday’s 9 a.m.-noon Lowcountry Tennis Festival. The St. Andrew’s staff plans to line off and construct the court on one of the baseball fields at the complex so that participants in the free-to-the-public event on Playground Road can get the Wimbledon feel. That’s a great idea.
New Citadel tennis coach Chuck Kriese of Clemson fame is planning to bring out what he calls “The Court Veterans” to help grow new life in the Bulldogs’ program. Former Clemson coach Kriese said former Furman legendary coach Paul Scarpa has agreed to be a volunteer coach, while ex-Eastern Kentucky coach Tom Higgins, better known locally for his seven state championship teams at Porter-Gaud, said he “will help Chuck out.” Two of Higgins’ former players at Porter-Gaud will be part of The Citadel tennis program: senior Elliott Sperr as team captain and walk-on freshman Connor Grady.
The Charleston Rated Adult Championship will be held next Friday-Sunday at Charleston Tennis Center. Competition will be in 2.5-4.5 in singles and doubles. Registration is available at tennislink.usta.com/tournaments (#700009913). Contact Charleston Tennis Center (766-7401).
St. Andrew’s 10-and-under tournament (online #700101913) is scheduled to start next Saturday.
Local tennis umpire Meg Farrelly will be working matches at the U.S. Open after officiating the current pro stop in Cincinnati.
Family Circle Cup general manager Bob Moran, who is also headed to the Big Apple, spent time at the sparkling complex in Mason, Ohio, where the WTA and ATP tours are wrapping up play with Sunday’s finals. Moran, who was in Cincinnati to recruit players for next year’s Family Circle, was shocked by Marion Bartoli’s retirement announcement while he was there. “Someone told me Bartoli had retired. I thought she had retired from her match, not tennis,” Moran said Saturday.
Registrations will start Monday for the Lowcountry Tennis Association’s unofficial fall league tennis season. Registration is also open for the 18-plus adult singles league 2.5-4.5 through Tennis-Link. Teams must have three players registered by Sept. 2. Contact Elizabeth Forney (345-6027).
Reach James Beck at email@example.com.