Everyone knows what happens when world-class Charleston pro Shelby Rogers takes aim at a wild-card berth into the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament.
She aced her last two chances to gain entry into this year’s French Open and U.S. Open. In fact, it was the second time Rogers has taken advantage of a U.S. Open wild-card opportunity.
This time, the 21-year-old Daniel Island product has been awarded a shot at a wild card into the main draw of January’s Australian Open. Rogers is among the first four players selected to compete in the eight-player USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs. The event is scheduled for Dec. 20-22 at Life Time Athletic at Peachtree Corners in Norcross, Ga.
Rogers, who gained her initial Grand Slam tournament win in this year’s French Open, is currently ranked No. 126 in the world, despite being sidelined from the tour the last two months by a muscle pull in her side. She started the year ranked 217th.
The other three players already selected for the wild-card competition are 17-year-old U.S. Open flash Victoria Duval (No. 168), 2011 U.S. Open junior champion Grace Min (No. 153) and Madison Brengle (No. 150).
Rogers, who already was planning to play in January’s Australian Open qualifying tournament for a second straight year, is at the USTA training center in Boca Raton, Fla., preparing for her return to the tour
Eighteen-year-old Madison Keys won the last two women’s Australian Open wild-card events and has climbed to 38th in the world as the youngest top 40 player. Rogers competed in the wild-card playoffs in 2010, but suffered a first-round loss. A men’s Australian Open wild-card tournament also will be held at the Atlanta area site.
A special weekend
It was like old times at Family Circle Tennis Center last weekend. The All-American Training Weekend put together by Family Circle pro Bryan Minton had the feel of the early 2000s when Fritz Nau, along with Minton, ran one of the top junior training centers in the country at various Charleston sites.
An array of excellent junior talent as well as the likes of former Southern No. 1 Connor Clements and former NCAA champion Mallory Cecil put on quite a show. But the real eye-catcher was the large group of young boys and girls, 9-12 years old, who were hitting like teenagers, while being supervised by some of the top coaches in the game, including the Family Circle staff.
The little guys and girls weren’t on the small 10-and-under courts and they were slugging real tennis balls. Look for this group of young players to make a major impact in state junior circles and beyond in 2014.
The coaches working the three-day event at Family Circle included Michael Joyce, a former top 75-ranked ATP Tour player who is better known for his eight years as Maria Sharapova’s coach; Alpharetta (Ga.) Tennis Academy owner Jeff Wilson, a former coach at Georgia Tech and Duke; Wilson’s wife, Kim Wilson, a WTA certified fitness and nutrition expert who works with two top 100 players; Kevin O’Neill, an Allpharetta Academy coach who has coached top 100 players on the ATP and WTA tours; and former Clemson/current Citadel coach Chuck Kriese.
One of the highlights of last weekend’s Southern Senior Clay Court Closed Even Years Championships at Kiawah Island was former Citadel star player/coach Ben Varn’s three-set win over Mount Pleasant’s Ron Charron in the men’s 70 singles final. Other local winners included Frank Meade in men’s 80 singles and doubles; Sally Smith in women’s 50 singles and doubles; Cindy Babb in women’s 60 doubles (with Susie Peiffer) and in mixed 60 doubles (with Andy Steingold); Brandon Blakenbaker in men’s 30 singles and doubles (with Matt Hane); Tabatha Waddill in women’s 30 doubles; Jack/Diane Barker in mixed 50 doubles; and mother/son duo Diane Barker/Hane in mixed 30.
Matt Hane has left the I’On Club as head pro to take the same position at the Country Club of Louisiana in Baton Rogue where he will start work in December.
Bishop England senior Caroline Yodice gained a measure of revenge in last weekend’s SCHSL singles championships with an 8-3 win over Sydney Derrick of Waccamaw in the consolation final to finish fifth in Class AA/A. Derrick had defeated Yodice in straight sets in the Lower State final in the Bishops’ march to their third straight state title. For the second time in two weeks, BE senior No. 1 Liza Arruda was defeated by Waccamaw seventh-grader Ali DeSpain, but rebounded from the semifinal loss to win the third-place match.
Alex Santiago has signed a tennis grant with the University of San Francisco. Santiago trains under Martin Zumpft.
Pine Forest Country Club’s recent Racquets for Recovery Tennis Tournament raised $22,000 for MUSC’s Hollings Cancer Center’s comprehensive breast care program, increasing the tournament’s nine-year total to $180,000 for programs benefitting local breast cancer patients.
The application process for ball crew volunteers for next April’s Family Circle Cup has started and will continue until the 200 available spots for adults and juniors 11-and-over are filled. Applications and schedules are available at www.familycirclecup.com.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.