The jury is still out on Shelby Rogers as a touring professional tennis player. She could be in the top 50 by year's end, or she could be struggling in the 100s.
Rogers has the potential to make another move in the world rankings before this year ends. Although Rogers missed a golden opportunity for an upset of 12th-ranked Flavia Pennetta in the second round of the U.S. Open, Rogers almost certainly will learn from the erratic and loose groundstrokes that sneaked into her game in clutch moments of that match. Those mistakes, most of them when she appeared to be a little off balance or out of synch with her footwork, decided the match.
Rogers appears to be capable of playing with and defeating almost anyone in the women's game. She can strike in lightning-like fashion with her powerful groundstrokes and serve. It's just a matter of improving on her consistency and improving her footwork on short balls.
At some point, Rogers might start looking at the future. Not right now, of course. She's just 21 years old.
I remember Chris Evert and Lindsay Davenport and others as players. They were great. But they weren't exceptional in the interview room, just tennis players.
Shelby Rogers probably never will catch up with their court performances or even their success in the broadcast booth. But Rogers is a natural in interviews, although she fought back tears in the Family Circle Cup interview room a couple of years ago after a disheartening defeat.
Since then, Rogers has demonstrated enormous potential in interviews. I've been in on literally thousands of interviews over the years that included some of the top men and women in most of the major sports, but the last 18 months or so I've also listened to dozens of interview clips from Rogers. Quite simply, Rogers may be one of the best or most articulate interviewees I've heard.
Having grown up attending a private school in downtown Charleston (First Baptist Church School) before leaving for online schooling in high school to concentrate more on tennis, Rogers has developed communication skills that are exceptional. Not only is she articulate, she's bright and clever in her interviews from around the world.
The only trouble is most of the interviews were brief one-on-one episodes that produced clips to be e-mailed to her hometown media. The real press room is still waiting for her arrival.
But if Rogers can continue her charge up the rankings from her currently projected top 80 spot, regular visits to the press room might not be far away. When that happens and Rogers' communication skills are exposed to the world, Chrissie and Lindsay might have a new challenger.
Charleston's Ellie Halbauer fell to No. 8-seeded Maia Lumsden of Great Britain, 6-3, 6-4, in the first round of the U.S. Open's junior qualifying tournament on Friday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Halbauer has been training with the USTA in Boca Raton, Fla., for the past six months.
After a year off, the Charleston Pro Tennis League will make its return to the area tennis scene next Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Seabrook Island Racquet Club. The event is free.
The 31st annual Alan Fleming Senior Tournament on Oct. 1-5 at Seabrook Island will feature a USTA Category I Gold Ball National Championship for mixed doubles in the 40s, 50s and 60s age groups.
The USTA and the tennis industry will sponsor four USTA Free Tennis Play Events in Charleston as part of Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play in September during National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The events will be held Sept. 5 at St. Andrew's from 5:30-8 p.m., Sept. 7 at Creekside Tennis and Swim from 1-4 p.m., Sept. 21 at Maybank Tennis Center from 1-3 p.m. and Sept. 27 at Charleston Tennis Center from 9 a.m.-noon.
The Hugs for Harper Tennis Tournament will kick off next Friday at 6 p.m. with a dinner and auction at Founder's Hall at Charles Towne Landing before taking to the courts at Farmfield Avenue's Charleston Tennis Center the next day for round-robin tournament play. Contact Amanda Mahaffey (843-792-3321 or firstname.lastname@example.org), Jamie Drolet (843-607-0857) or city tennis manager Peggy Bohne (843-766-7401).
Reach James Beck at email@example.com. See his latest columns on Wimbledon and Grand Slam Tennis at www.ubitennis.com/english/tag/james-beck.
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