Shelby Rogers is back in the wild-card business. The 21-year-old Daniel Island product has been awarded a wild card directly into the main draw of the mega 96-draw tournament starting Wednesday at Indian Wells, Calif.
That's especially good since she hasn't lost her initial match in any tournament since last summer's U.S. Open. If Rogers can keep her streak alive in the desert, she would net enough WTA Tour ranking points to probably push her world ranking (currently No. 117) inside the top 110 players in the women's game.
Rogers has won seven straight opening matches in tournaments, whether main draw or qualifying. But after the first round, things have been kind of shaky for Rogers since last September when she was crowned champion of a $75,000 tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. She hasn't won a second-round match since Albuquerque.
The trend continued this past week in Alcapulco when Rogers won her first-round qualifying match, then lost to young Allie Kiick in three sets the next round.
Of course, things could be much worse for Rogers . . . like the start of the 2013 season when she lost her first six matches, wrapping up the winless streak with a first-round qualifying loss at the Family Circle Cup.
Rogers rebounded from last year's disastrous start by defeating Kiick in the final of the $50,000 Charlottesville, Va., event and claiming a wild card into the main draw of the French Open. She then won the $50,000 ITF event in Lexington, Ky., to earn a wild card into the U.S. Open. She went directly to Las Vegas after winning Albuquerque and suffered a season-ending injury there in the second round.
Rogers in Cup?
The big question is whether Rogers will be awarded a wild card into the Family Circle Cup main draw. She has played in three Family Circle qualifying tournaments with one win and was awarded a main draw wild card in 2011.
Fellow former Family Circle Cup junior champion Alison Riske has moved up the world rankings rapidly in the last year and is now ranked 46th in the world. That's easily good enough for direct entry into next month's main draw.
Riske also went straight into the main draw in 2011 when she was ranked 118th, joining 2003 junior cup champion Shadisha Robinson as junior Family Circle winners to earn their way into the main draw on Daniel Island. Robinson advanced through the qualifying tournament in 2003.
In 2010 while ranked No. 188, Riske was awarded a wild card into Family Circle's main draw. Based on that information, Rogers could be in line for a main draw wild card into her hometown tournament.
P-G has reloaded
Porter-Gaud obviously has reloaded and has a head start on the race to a possible second straight SCISA Class AAA boys tennis state title. Scoring a 6-3 win over perennial state finalist Hilton Head Prep last Tuesday was a major first step for the Cyclones and new head coach Jonathan Barth.
The depth of the Cyclones' returning quartet of senior Seth Pinosky, eighth-grader Brant Fenno, sophomore Cross Tolliver and senior Foster Moe spaced out in the singles lineup, complimented by new young starters Connor Craigie and Malone Vingi, will be difficult to beat in SCISA's six-singles, three-doubles format.
Porter-Gaud also blitzed Palmetto Christian, 8-1, and will not play another regular-season match until March 10 when perennial SCHSL Class AA power Waccamaw visits Albemarle Point.
Charleston Tennis Center will hold its annual St. Patrick's Day mixed doubles round robin on March 16 from 2-5 p.m. The tournament is open to the public. Contact Charleston Tennis Center (766-7401).
The Tri-County Elementary and Middle School Tennis League has grown to 133 teams this season (15 more than last year), according to league coordinator Peggy Bohne of the City of Charleston Recreation Department, which organizes the league every spring. Kindergarteners through eighth-graders compete in the league, which has three divisions. League play will start March 10. Contact Charleston Tennis Center.
The inner-city Courting Kids program will continue its spring season next Saturday at the Alan Fleming Tennis Center on John's Island from 10-11:30 a.m. and at the downtown Jack Adams Tennis Center from 1-2:30 p.m. A new Hispanic session also has been added on John's Island that will include 25 juniors from 7-16 years old. The Courting Kids program is coordinated by Charleston Tennis Center's Delores Jackson (766-7401).
Reach James Beck at email@example.com. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.