The Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship is the official name, following in the footsteps of the Junior Family Circle Cup and Smash Cup. But regardless of the name, the Family Circle Tennis Center event has quite an impressive past.
The elite junior event starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday and awards its girls 18 winner a wild card into next month's Family Circle Cup qualifying tournament has a strong field.
In fact, top-seeded Varvara Flink is possibly the higest-rated player ever to appear in the event. The Orange Bowl junior girls champion, Flink is the No. 2 junior girls player in the ITF world rankings and owns a 432 WTA Tour ranking.
Having just turned 17 in December, the 5-9 Ukraine resident currently trains at the Metropolia Tier One Tennis Academy in Coral Gables, Fla., after receiving a one-year scholarship to the academy by winning the Metropolia Orange Bowl.
The No. 2 seed is Kaitlyn McCarthy of Cary, N.C., currently ranked No. 3 among U.S. girls 18 players, while USTA No. 12 Terri Fleming of Alpharetta, Ga., is the third seed.
Past girls 18 winners of the Family Circle junior event include in-state product Mallory Cecil, who won the event in 2008, then two months later captured the NCAA singles and team championships with Duke. Alison Riske (2009) is now ranked 46th in the world, and climbing.
Of course, local product Shelby Rogers marched through the 2010 Family Circle junior tournament and now is ranked 119th in the world. Rogers has won berths directly into the main draws of the French Open and U.S. Open in 2013. She lost in Thursday's round of 16 of the $100,000 Dow Corning tournament in Midland, Mich.
Columbia's Hayley Carter captured the last two girls 18 championships at Family Circle, then set records for titles won at Belton's Palmetto Championships. She's now playing for the University of North Carolina.
But none arrived at the Family Circle complex as highly regarded as Flink. Fresh from playing in the Junior Australian Open, Flink is excited about having an opportunity to compete for the Family Circle qualifying tournament wild card. Her goal is simply to be the No. 1 player in the women's game. That's why she's playing here. "Winning the wild card means a lot of to me," she said Friday.
Like the Orange Bowl, the Family Circle event will be played on clay at several sites, with Family Circle Tennis Center as the base site. Competition will be held in both boys and girls in 8-and-under through 18-and-under, and also will feature doubles. A total of 528 players sought entry into the tournament. Draws were limited to 32 players.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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