The Hugs for Harper Tennis Tournament is making a difference. In just two years, the volunteer-based event has donated more than $100,000 to help fund pediatric cancer research at the MUSC Children’s Hospital’s Darby Research Institute.
The tournament, which is named in memory of pediatric soft-tissue cancer victim Harper Drolet, has been held the last two years at Kiawah Island. Through the efforts of the tournament, a dinner auction and corporate sponsors, the event raised $58,644 last September.
This year’s tournament will move to Charleston Tennis Center and be played on Sept. 6. The Hugs for Harper auction and dinner will be held at Charles Towne Landing’s Founders Hall the night before the tournament.
The goal of the endowment is to provide funds to pay for a full-time research scientist annually as part of the overall purpose of raising money to provide grants and to help in the search for a cure for soft-tissue cell cancer.
Barkers Down Under
South Carolina USTA adaptive tennis committee chairs Diane and Jack Barker departed Saturday for an Athletes Without Limits-sponsored 10-day trip to Australia with a group of special athletes with intellectual disabilities who will play their own tournament during the Australian Open. The finals of the special athletes event will be played on the same day as the women’s final.
The group also will visit Banella where the special athletes will compete on Australian grass against players from Australia, according to Diane Barker, the No. 5 women’s 55 player in the world.
Shelby Rogers has been performing on a win-first-match, lose-second-match formula during her last month of tournament play after returning to tournament play following a three-month injury layoff.
The trend started in the Australian Open Wild-Card Playoffs in Atlanta before Christmas, then continued in the qualifying tournament for New Zealand’s $250,000 Auckland WTA event where she followed up an impressive win over Julia Cohen of the United States in the first round with a one-sided loss to a little-known player in the second round.
In last weekend’s Australian Open qualifying tournament Down Under, the 21-year-old Rogers opened with a win, but fell in straight sets to fellow American Madison Brengle in the second round. Rogers is currently ranked 125th in the world.
Junior Cup set
The Family Circle Cup junior tournament, officially known as the Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship, is scheduled for Feb. 15-16. Competition in boys and girls 10-18 age groups will be offered, with round-robin play for eight-and-under. Registration online at tennislink.usta.com is available using tournament number 704140614 by Feb. 9. The girls 18 champion will receive a wild card into the Family Circle Cup’s qualifying tournament.
Little Mo results
Ten juniors from Family Circle Tennis Center’s academy participated in the prestigious Little Mo International in West Palm Beach, Fla., in December. Jake Smith finished fourth in the eight-and-under division, while his brother Max Smith took fourth in the 11-and-under class.
Max Smith also won the tournament’s Maureen Connelly Brinker Sportsmanship Award and had his picture taken with touring pro Shelby Rogers, who won the national Maureen Connelly Brinker Award for sportsmanship in 2010 and now trains at the USTA training center in Boca Raton, Fla. William Ross was a semifinalist in mixed doubles 10-and-under, while Allie Gretkowski was a finalist in 10-and-under mixed with Mateo Janicijevi.
The Little Mo is the only tournament that allows 10-and-under players to compete with regular balls, and in their year and in mixed doubles.
The Tri-County Elementary and Middle School League will hold its final coaches meeting next Sunday at 3 p.m. at Charleston Tennis Center. The league also is looking for volunteer coaches. Contact Charleston Tennis Center (766-7401).
The Jack Adams Tennis Center, adjacent to The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium, is scheduled to undergo a facelift this year. Construction to rebuild the six-court facility is expected to start this summer.
Adults and youth 11-and-over can apply now for the Family Circle Cup ball crew. Practice will begin next Saturday from 1-3 p.m. A parent orientation will be held at 1 p.m. next Saturday. Volunteer positions can be applied for online at familycirclecup.com or at Family Circle Tennis Center.
The College of Charleston’s annual Alumni Tennis Match will be held next Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Cougars’ Patriots Point complex.
Charleston Tennis Center will hold its annual Valentine’s Day mixed doubles round robin on Feb. 9 from 2-5 p.m.
The City of Charleston’s spring Courting Kids program is scheduled to start on March 1, 10-11:30 a.m. at the Alan Fleming complex on Johns Island and 1-2 p.m. at the downtown Jack Adams Tennis Center.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.