USTA South Carolina has a new face. Jonathon Braden takes his new job with a passion.

Walking off of the court on Hilton Head Island this fall after losing in the 18-plus Combo 7.5 state semifinals, Braden was the first person to greet me. The 2008 University of Missouri graduate pulled a reverse on me. He was asking the questions.

A native of Mason City, Iowa, where he played high school tennis, football and basketball, Braden has reported on education for newspapers in Columbia, Mo., and Omaha, Neb. Yes, he was beaming about Mizzou football on Friday.

Braden has been on the job for a couple months as the new coordinator of public relations and sales/sponsorships for USTA SC. He was in Charleston this weekend for the statewide association's annual meeting at Wild Dunes.

"I really like what I'm doing," he said Friday. That includes constant posts on the website, and keeping up with things like league tennis.

A 4.5 player himself whose father played college tennis, Braden recognizes the impact league tennis has on the sport in South Carolina, as illustrated by the more than 4,000 people who participate in the local Lowcountry Tennis Association.


Charleston's Brian Burke, George Clonts and Deanna Vroman played on a 10.0 mixed doubles team based out of Hilton Head Island that two weeks ago captured a national 18-and-over championship in Arizona. Burke and team captain Tammy Zawacki of Hilton Head won the No. 3 doubles match in the final in a 2-1 win over Northern California.

The 2014 NTRP league tennis ratings were released last Monday. Senior spring league teams already are forming, while 18-plus teams will begin registrations on Dec. 16.

Diane Barker was named the recipient of the Slew Hester Southern tennis player of the year award, while the St. George Youth Tennis League was selected as the Southern's National Junior Tennis League chapter of the year. The Tennis on Campus Southern leader of the year award winner was Kyle Ann Christian of the College of Charleston.

In the recent Southern Senior Clay Court Closed Even Years Championships at Kiawah Island, former Citadel star player/coach Ben Varn posted a 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 left the I'On Club as head pro to take the same position at the Country Club of Louisiana in Baton Rogue.

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.

Bishop England senior Caroline Yodice gained a measure of revenge in the recent 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. BE senior No. 1 Liza Arruda won the third-place match.

Lowcountry Youth Tennis Association after-schools coordinator John Farrelly reports that more than 120 students participated in the newly formed LYTA's joint Tennis Showcase with the Charleston County School District held recently at Charleston Tennis Center. The LYTA will hold its initial tournament on Feb. 22 at Family Circle Tennis Center.

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