W hat a schedule! An unprecedented 15 straight home matches, consuming the entire month of March.
Veteran College of Charleston women's coach Angelo Anastopoulo calls the venture "a really fun schedule." So, it's easy to understand why the congenial coach is smiling even more than usual as the Cougars enter their first season in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The short trip over to the Patriots Point tennis complex where the Cougars rarely lose looks better and better as cold weather sets in across much of the nation. After all, the Cougars are 92-20 at home over the past seven years.
But this January and February could test the Cougars. They open the season on Jan. 18 with a three-day road trip to South Carolina, Davidson and Wake Forest. They also will take on defending CAA champion William and Mary in Columbia in February.
"The conference shift has allowed us to play some teams we wouldn't normally play, which is great. We play 19 home matches and will see a lot of really good programs (including Notre Dame, North Carolina, Southern Miss and Tulane at home in March)."
The Cougars will face only five CAA opponents (W&M, at home against Hofstra and Towson, and visits to Wilmington and James Madison) in the regular season as they attempt to continue the success they have enjoyed in the Southern Conference in recent years. Anastopoulo has led his team to seven straight 20-win seasons and five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
Victoria Duval took advantage of first-game service breaks in both sets and loose groundstrokes on big points by Daniel Island 21-year-old Shelby Rogers to score a 6-4, 7-5 victory on Saturday in the semifinals of the USTA's women's Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs in Norcross, Ga.
Rogers, ranked No. 125 in the world, had several chances to break back in the first set after dropping service in the first game of the match, but Duval's sizzling two-handed backhands proved to be just consistent enough to hold the top-seeded Rogers at bay.
Spratt hopes to start
Former Porter-Gaud star Thomas Spratt expects to be in the doubles lineup and is hoping to break into the singles starting lineup for the University of Pennsylvania as a freshman. The 2013 Lowcountry player of the year feels confident about his game after being introduced to the college game in both singles and doubles in several tournaments during the fall season.
Most of his doubles have been with fellow freshman and former junior doubles partner Marshall Sharp of Memphis.
While college tennis teams in the South often begin their regular seasons in January, cold-weather schools such as Philadelphia-based Penn usually start their outdoor seasons a month or two later. Penn will play its early-season matches indoors.
Registration for the Lowcountry Tennis Association's spring league season is currently in its final stages. Team registrations will end Friday at midnight when only teams whose rosters include the minimum number of players required to fill all positions for a league match will be eligible for league play. Men's and women's night leagues will play matches the same day and time as in the fall season, although the men's 40-plus league's matches will be played on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. or Saturdays at 1 p.m.
The annual captain's meeting for the local league tennis league will be held Monday at 6 p.m. at the Charleston County main library on Calhoun Street.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com.
See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.