Barker looking forward to competing in 60s

Diane Barker

Almost everyone at some point feels the pain that can accompany aging, including the seniors who travel the world and win what seems like an endless number of championships. Even the Diane Barkers of senior tennis.

Barker competed in the ITF’s women’s 55 world team championships last month in Helsinki, Finland. The former College of Charleston All-American helped the USTA team finish third.

The owner of seven world singles titles and the recent women’s 55 national clay court champion, Barker didn’t stick around this past week to compete in the world individual championships. She suffered a pair of injuries in Helsinki. “I pulled both calf muscles, one week apart from each other,” Barker said.

“But ... I was not planning on staying for the individuals because my body cannot take the hard courts for two weeks straight.”

Thus, at 58 years old, Barker is looking forward to moving up to the life of a 60-and-over senior tennis player. “I move up to the 60s next year and can’t wait to get to the next age group,” she said.

While most everyone else wishes that the clock turned the other way, senior tennis players look forward to “aging up.”

There are many super tennis families in the area, including the Navarro clan of LTP Tennis and Swim owner Ben Navarro. Of course, Emma, Maggie and Earl Navarro are amazing. Maggie is ranked No. 3 in the South in girls 12, Emma is No. 8 in girls 16 (No. 16 in girls 18) and Earl is 42nd in the South in boys 16. Even older brother Owen played tennis for State AA champion Academic Magnet.

Another LTP family also is making great strides in tennis. Four Severances own Southern rankings in 12-and-under.

As their mother, Ashley Severance, said, “My husband (Matt) and I have four children who all play tennis. Sydney (turned 12 in May), Saige (turned 11 in May), Sawyer (9) and Sutton (8). They all four play up in the 12s division.”

Saige is the leader. Ranked 25th in the USTA’s nine-state Southern Section, she teamed with Whitney Pate to win the girls 12 doubles title in the recent Southern hard courts as well as lost to Pate in quarterfinals in singles.

Sydney is 74th in Southern girls 12, Sawyer is No. 147 in boys 12 and Sutton is No. 259 in boys 12.

“Our oldest, Sydney has battled injuries for the past year that have kept her from playing tennis eight months of the year,” Ashley Severance said. “Saige has about two more years left to play in 12s, which is exciting. Sawyer was No. 1 in 10s as a 7-year-old ... so we moved him up to 12s when he turned 8 ... similar story with his younger brother Sutton.”

The Charleston area currently has what must be a record nine players among the top 40 players (or eight of the top 30) in the Southern girls 12 rankings: Maggie Navarro (3), Allie Gretkowski (6), Carri Hayes (8), Whitney Pate (13), Sophie Williams (15), Mattie Dermody (24), Saige Severance (25), Logan Voeks (30) and Gigi Hinson (40).

Boys 16-and-under is a close second with eight players in the top 50: Jared Pratt (1), Jacob Jahn (16), Sam Kavarana (18), Brant Fenno (32), Coy Simon (41), Earl Navarro (42), Huntley Allen (45) and Chad Nash (46).

Pratt also has moved up to No. 16 in Southern boys 18 and No. 12 in national boys 16.

While online-schooled girls 16 Southern hard-court singles champion Kat Lyman, just a sophomore, said she will not play high school tennis this fall for defending SCHSL Class AAAA girls state champion Wando, Porter-Gaud’s SCISA Class AAA state boys champions are regaining the talent of three-time All-Lowcountry junior Brant Fenno, who left Porter-Gaud last school year to concentrate on tennis training.

Summerville’s Pine Forest Country Club has scheduled a “Wimbledon White” attire tennis event for next Saturday from 6-9 p.m. No partner is needed to register for the food/fun/tennis evening, although a fee is required. Contact tennis director Andy Steingold (andy@pineforestcountryclub.com).

The City of Charleston Junior Hard-Court Championships are scheduled for July 15-17 at Charleston Tennis Center. The entry deadline is July 11. Registration is available online at USTA.com (team number 700044816).

September will be a busy month for local tennis. The Shape Invitational women’s collegiate event is switching from March to Sept. 22-24 to avoid the conflict the tournament had with the regular college season when Family Circle Tennis Center held its inaugural Shape event in March. Also, LTP Tennis will stage its second women’s U.S. Pro Circuit satellite tournament Sept. 26-Oct. 2, this time a $15,000 event.

Don’t forget that LTP Tennis will hold Charleston’s first USTA national championship junior tournament in just two weeks (July 17-23) when the National Boys 12 Clay Court Championships move into the area. The Country Club of Charleston and the Daniel Island Club also will serve as hosts in the early rounds.

Just wondering if Sam Querry has been watching Coastal Carolina baseball.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.