Shelby Rogers may be closer to the major headlines of women's professional tennis than the casual observer might realize.
It could happen quickly, almost any week. That reality became very clear a few weeks ago when on the same weekend Madison Keys and CoCo Vanderwege won WTA Tour tournaments.
Rogers has been there, so close to moving up the WTA ladder to a position where qualifying tournaments aren't the most important things on her immediate schedule. It wasn't long ago that Keys and Vanderwege were looking for the big breaks that came their way when Keys won the $710,000 Eastbourne Aegon event and Vandewege came through qualifying to win a $250,000 tournament in the Netherlands.
Keys is now ranked 30th in the world and Vandewege has climbed to 51st. Even Alison Riske is in the top 50 at No. 44.
These are all players that not very long ago might have been mentioned in the same breath with Rogers on the topic of promising young American players.
Rogers, ranked 169th after reaching a career-high No. 109 in March, is still looking for her breakthrough. But at 21 years old and four years into her career as a touring pro, the Daniel Island product may be ready to make her move. It's almost bound to happen sooner or later. She has served her apprenticeship years, learning the tricks of the trade, and gaining maturity and confidence.
Rogers has won four of her last six matches, going back to Wimbledon qualifying where she won her first two matches. She followed that up by winning two more matches in a $100,000 ITF event in Contrexeville, France. And now she is starting a qualifying event as the No. 3 seed on Sunday for the $250,000 red-clay tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria.
After Austria, she will return and train for a couple of weeks at Family Circle Tennis Center's MWTennis Academy.
Rogers will then attempt to earn a wild card into a second straight U.S. Open by competing in the USTA's U.S. Open wild card series at Sacramento and Carson, Calif., and Lexington, Ky.
MWTennis Academy replaced the Instinctive Tennis Academy at Family Circle Tennis Center on July 1, and CEO Jeff Wilson and COO Bryan Minton are excited after a week on the job. "A lot of things are not changing . . . just additions," former Atlanta area pro Wilson said Saturday.
Former Maria Sharapova coach Michael Joyce also has moved to Charleston and will serve as the director of MWTennis' pro division.
Wilson and Minton are concentrating on a team concept from a coaching standpoint where everyone teaches the same methods. "We're establishing a culture at MWTennis. We want the program to be known for its quality and culture," Wilson said.
Branding is an important part of the change. "MWTennis players will be easy to identify at tournaments. They will be wearing our shirts and caps," Wilson said.
The MWTennis logo will feature its mascot, a wolf.
Maybank Tennis Center's cabana project for its clay courts is moving along. Ike Smith of the fund-raising committee reported that the fund-raising drive has been successful.
"We are pleased to report that we have sufficient monies in hand to put shade on courts 9/10 and 11/12 and will start the installation in the near future. The city has ordered the structures, and the installation design is in hand. We should have protection from the hot sun before too much summertime passes by," Smith said.
Donations are still being accepted at Maybank Tennis Center or online at www.charleston-sc.gov to fund a similar cabana for court 13.
-- The Lowcountry Youth Tennis Association and Trident Academy were among the 46 community tennis and education organizations receiving grants from USTA Serves, which is the charitable foundation of the USTA. USTA Serves awarded a total of $429,000 in grants nationwide.
-- Charleston Tennis Center will hold the Charleston Junior Hardcourt Championship on July 18-20. Registration is available online at www.sctennis.com (tournament ID 700044814).
-- Downtown tennis players should have a brand-new six-court complex available before the end of the year. The old Stadium Courts, now named the Jack Adams Tennis Center, were the city's original public courts, located adjacent to The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium. The cement courts are scheduled to be completely replaced with asphalt ones. New fencing also is planned. Several of the courts will still back up to the football stadium as has been the tradition for many decades.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com. See his latest columns on the French Open and Grand Slam Tennis at www.ubitennis.com/english.
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