In the end, it all came together for gregarious Andrea Petkovic.
The celebratory fist pumps and accompanying "C'mon!" shouts made it to Sunday.
The daughter of former University of South Carolina tennis player Zoran Petkovic shed her (Clemson) orange semifinals outfit and wore Gamecocks black for the Family Circle Cup final.
The crowd loved her victory dance after a 7-5, 6-2 conquest of No. 78-ranked Jana Cepelova.
Petkovic then endeared herself to Charleston by thanking volunteers and fans.
The 26-year-old German is all about persistence, a former top-10 player who battled back from injuries and self-doubt to win her third WTA title, this one as a No. 14 seed. Petkovic had a blast in Charleston, and planned to continue on the way home to Darmstadt.
"I'm going to have Champagne," Petkovic said, "and I don't even drink Champagne. But I'm just going to have it for the heck of it on the airplane. I'm going to get drunk. I never get drunk on the airplane, but that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to walk around and dance with the cabin attendants."
Andrea Petkovic is so much fun.
But the tournament would have been more fun with a slightly stronger field.
It's not the fault of Family Circle Cup staffers who work year-round to maintain ties with top players, recruit first-time entrants and scout the best young talent for wild card invitations.
It's the WTA, still struggling with its application of sound schedule management. International flavor is great for growth of the sport, but there still are too many weeks - 16, including Family Circle Cup week - with more than one tournament at the same time.
Poor WTA management
Charleston prize money is more than Monterrey ($710,000 to $250,000), and the 32-player field in Mexico isn't as deep as the Family Circle's. But Monterrey had four players ranked in the top 25 (No. 12 Flavia Pennetta, No. 13 Ana Ivanovic, No. 14 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 25 Kirsten Flipkens).
The Family Circle Cup had seven players ranked in the top 25, but could have used a few more.
Charleston and Monterrey in the same week is like an Atlanta Braves split-squad game in July.
Cepelova was a great story this week. The 20-year-old Slovakian came to the tournament without family or a coach, upset No. 1-ranked (but tired) Serena Williams on Tuesday night, beat two other seeded players (No. 13 Elena Vesnina and No. 12 Daniela Hantuchova) and reached the final.
Ole Miss vs. Akron
But Family Circle Cup fans were spoiled by Serena Williams' titles in 2012 and 2013. Ideally, a story like Cepelova's runs its course in the quarterfinals.
Once in the semifinals, she met Belinda Bencic, only 17 and the No. 140-ranked player in the world. A college basketball matchup of the No. 78 and No. 140 teams in USA Today's current Sagarin computer ranking is Ole Miss vs. Akron.
An apples and blueberries comparison?
Well, here's one for you: Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan and Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain won the Family Circle Cup doubles title Sunday. Shvedova (No. 55) and Medina Garrigues (No. 111) are collectively ranked higher in singles than semifinalists Cepelova and Bencic.
"In Spain I will celebrate," Medina Garrigues said. "It's a good place to celebrate."
Cepelova hoped to celebrate briefly before moving on to Quebec City for Slovakia's Fed Cup competition against Canada. She certainly left Daniel Island with much more confidence than she brought.
A self-described "fighter," Cepelova had a set point in the first set against Petkovic.
A Slovakian flag appeared in the stands.
Then Cepelova and her 85-mph serve hit the wall.
"(Sunday) was no pressure for me," Cepelova said. "She's the better player."
Fans want pressure. More pressure than the WTA is slicing up.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.
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