Two years ago, Ann Martin Skelly couldn't escape the outside courts at Porter-Gaud's on-campus tennis complex. No one was surprised. She was only a seventh-grader.
Skelly's tennis stock has soared since then. She's not only the top girls player on campus, she's the best in the area.
The Porter-Gaud freshman is The Post and Courier's 2013 Lowcountry player of the year after leading the Cyclones to a third straight SCISA Class AAA state final. She is joined on the All-Lowcountry first team by teammates Grace Robards and Carlyle Williams. Robards is a junior while Williams is a senior.
Also on the first team are seniors Kristen Farmer of Berkeley, and Liza Arruda and Caroline Yodice of Bishop England, along with eighth-grader Lauren Quinn. Skelly, Robards and Arruda are repeaters from 2012.
Bishop England's Kristin Fleming repeats as coach of the year after directing the Bishops to their third straight SCHSL Class AA state title.
At 14 years old, Skelly has traveled the world. But now she literally plays high school tennis in the shadows of her family's West Ashley home. "I've lived quite a few places," she admits.
"I was born in Roanoke, Va., lived in Moscow and in London. Then we moved here to downtown, then to behind the tennis courts."
It's not unusual to see Skelly's mother and father, Kelly and Martin, and the family dog make an impromptu arrival from behind the tennis courts to watch Porter-Gaud play matches at the Albemarle Road complex.
Skelly spends considerable time during holidays and summers at the family's Kiawah Island home. It was during one of the summers at Kiawah that she started taking tennis lessons from College of Charleston coach Angelo Anastopoulo at the age of 4. Anastopoulo still coaches Skelly.
Skelly played soccer, softball and basketball in elementary school, which wasn't that long ago. That changed in the seventh grade when she joined the tennis team. She landed a starting berth at No. 6 that year and played her matches on the outside courts where only parents generally watched. She won a match against Hilton Head Prep in the state final to help the Cyclones win the 2011 state championship.
It wasn't long before Skelly's left-handed game landed her on the main bank of courts, where she played No. 3 as an eighth-grader while making the All-Lowcountry team.
"I've been playing tennis a lot more than I used to. I work out harder," she said. "My goal is to play college tennis somewhere."
First-year Porter-Gaud head coach Charlotte Hartsock said Skelly has the talent and skills to achieve her goal."
"She works hard all year round and has developed an all-court game with no gaps. She can volley as well as play from the baseline. Her concentration and work ethic are going to take her a long way."
Reach James Beck at email@example.com.
Ann Martin Skelly, freshman, Porter-Gaud
Grace Robards, junior, Porter-Gaud
Carlyle Williams, senior, Porter-Gaud
Liza Arruda, senior, Bishop England
Caroline Yodice, senior, Bishop England
Lauren Quinn, eighth grade, Bishop England
Kristen Farmer, senior, Berkeley
Player of the Year: Ann Martin Skelly
Coach of the Year: Kristin Fleming, Bishop England
Corey Caulder, junior, Palmetto Christian
Linsey Yarbrough, freshman, Ashley Hall
Katherine Lyman, seventh grade, Wando
Cameryn Deames, freshman, Bishop England
Gabrielle Dacuba, sophomore, Bishop England
Lexi Steichen, sophomore, Porter-Gaud
Madison McNeil, senior, Porter-Gaud
ASHLEY HALL: Gyles Laney, Ana-lei Kalawe, Tiffany Dye, McCrae Nistad
PINEWOOD PREP: Hayleigh Dodge, Sara Cochis, Sara Banks Tapp, Hannah Rodgers
WANDO: Emily Kuester, Alex Hickey, Foster Kirkpatrick
ASHLEY RIDGE: Bella Lawrence, Savanna Lawrence
BERKELEY: Elliott Huxford, Jill Funk
BISHOP ENGLAND: Hannah Simpson, Drue Ranson
STRATFORD: Chrisia Class, Anastasia Rivers
WEST ASHLEY: Alese Brown, Teresa Linker
ACADEMIC MAGNET: Mary-Geer Kirkland
CHARLESTON MATH AND SCIENCE: Nicole Brogan
COLLETON COUNTY: Megan Mitchell
COLLETON PREP: Shelly McDonald
GOOSE CREEK: Hayley Marchant
HANAHAN: Amelia McCulloch
HOLLY HILL ACADEMY: Christi O'Connell
JAMES ISLAND: Rhealyn Dinkins
PALMETTO CHRISTIAN: Katie Quinn
PORTER-GAUD: Rebecca Kahn
SUMMERVILLE: Caroline Green
WOODLAND: Courtney Simmons