Belton's Palmetto Championships once was the "must" event to play for every junior tournament player in the state. That's no longer the case. There's not even a "Belton Week" now, just a Belton weekend.
The long trip to the northwest corner of the state for the state's lone Southern qualifying event never did really seem practical. And now that Belton has moved in on "exam time" for many schools, especially private schools such as Porter-Gaud, there is no longer a real push to travel to Belton.
But Belton remains a top junior event, although it probably now plays second fiddle to the Family Circle Cup's Dunlop Junior.
Players still count Belton titles, especially if you're the only Charleston area junior to win a singles title. That's Brant Fenno, who spent most of Memorial Day weekend studying for his exams in an Anderson hotel room. The soon-to-be Porter-Gaud freshman managed to squeeze in five tennis matches that weekend, including a 6-4, 6-3 win over fellow Charleston player Coy Simon in Belton's boys 14 singles final.
Fenno now has three Belton singles crowns, including a 10-and-under in 2010 and a 12s in 2012. So, why not 14s in 2014?
He didn't play Belton last year due to the conflict with exams, and missed doubles this time (he won the 10s doubles four years ago) because of the exams.
No one else from the Charleston area managed to win a singles crown, although the area produced two other singles runners-up - Palmetto Christian's Luke Prendergast in boys 12 and 2013 Lowcountry girls player of the year Ann Martin Skelly of Porter-Gaud in 16-and-under.
Young faces update
Typical of the "Belton Fallout" was Jacob Jahn traveling with his father to Virginia Beach, Va., on Memorial Day weekend to compete as the top seed and finish as a quarterfinalist in a national boys 14 tournament, while his sister, Ali Jahn, played in Belton's 12-and-under draw.
As a 5-0, 100-pound seventh-grader at Mount Pleasant's Cario Middle School this school year while also starring for the Wando High School team, Jahn was a semifinalist in the SCHSL's Class AAAA-AA state singles tournament. He also is ranked third in the South. Ali Jahn was a sixth-grader at Cario Middle, but has concentrated more on volleyball even though she is ranked in the top 70 in the South in girls 12 tennis.
With young stars such as Fenno, Jacob Jahn, Prendergast and Skelly expected to be playing several more seasons, the future of local high school tennis appears to be bright.
Shelby Rogers snapped her eight-match losing streak on Saturday while playing in the qualifying tournament for the $710,000 Aegon Classic grass-court event in Birmingham, England. Rogers posted a 6-4, 6-4 win over 255th-ranked Tara Moore of England to advance to Sunday's second round. Another win will send the 12th-seeded Rogers into the main draw.
Mount Pleasant Rec's 3.5 men, captained by Sam Derrick, and the Darcy Mason-captained 3.0 women from St. Andrew's were the only 18-plus teams to bring home state league tennis championships this spring. Four local teams finished as state runners-up: Christiane Jones' 3.5 women from Family Circle Tennis Center, Dave Williams' 4.5 men from Family Circle Tennis Center, Alice Kryder's 4.5 women from LTP Tennis and Amy White's 5.0 women.
Charleston Tennis Center's national championship women's 55-plus 7.0 team, captained by Elisabeth Pickelsimer and Beth Renken, will be honored prior to the Charleston Riverdogs' June 21 game.
Local junior Jonathan Edwards, who is bound for the University of Connecticut on a tennis grant, won the Malloy Evans Memorial Sportsmanship Award at Belton.
Daniel Island School, coached by David Deames, repeated as the overall winning team in this spring's Tri-County Elementary and Middle School League that was made up of 133 teams and more than 1,100 players. Harborview Elementary and Jennie Moore Elementary each had eight teams in the league, and Stiles Point Elementary had 70 children participating in the league.
League tennis' combo doubles season has opened registrations. Teams have through June 27 to form teams with a minimum number of three eligible pairings needed to fill all positions for a match.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com. See his latest columns on the French Open and Grand Slam Tennis at
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