Hayes newest local junior star

Photo providedThird-place finisher Carri Hayes of Mount Pleasant performs in the USTA’s Girls 12 National Clay Court Championships.

Charleston is loaded with junior tennis stars these days. And another star is on the horizon.

Carri Hayes returned from Boca Raton, Fla., with a third-place award from the USTA’s Girls 12 National Clay Court Championships. Although she has been playing tennis only four years, she is the state’s highest nationally ranked girls 12 player at No. 22 (16 in singles seeding).

She also owns a No. 2 Southern ranking.

“I was a little surprised since I was the 17th seed,” she admitted about her recent success.

But not her coach, Martin Zumpft. “She showed signs of success a few weeks before, winning a girls 12 National Selection tournament during the same week as (2016) Belton,” pointed out Zumpft, who runs an academy at Wild Dunes Resort.

“Carri is a great competitor, very strong willed, and a very good athlete with a huge forehand to complement her already solid all-around game. She loves playing tennis and competing.”

Ready to start her second year of online schooling in a few weeks, Hayes also will move up to the girls 14 division on the court. She turns 13 in September.

“I love to hit the ball hard,” said the 4-10 Mount Pleasant player, who was the girls 12 singles runner-up and a doubles champion at Belton in 2015.

Her dad, Cliff, got her started in tennis on a neighborhood court in Mount Pleasant when she was 8 years old.

“I noticed she had real good hand-eye coordination, and she could really run and hit the ball hard,” Cliff Hayes said.

Southern No. 1 Jared Pratt had another sparkling showing in the national boys 16 clay courts in Delray Beach, Fla. A third-place singles finish pushed his national ranking to fifth.

The Bishop England standout scored a one-sided victory over Academic Magnet star Sam Kavarana in the round of 16. Kavarana is now ranked 81st in the nation.

In Hayes, Whitley Pate (No. 25) and Maggie Navarro (No. 71), the Charleston area has the three highest-ranked South Carolina players in national girls 12.

National girls 16 doubles champion Emma Navarro owns the state’s highest ranking in national girls 16 (No. 33 combined).

Brant Fenno has changed his game to take more advantage of his left-handed strokes, and the latest results were positive. He did not drop a set in his first four matches in the boys 16 clay court nationals in Delray Beach, Fla., while advancing to the round of 16.

Fenno also was named Day 4 boys 16 “Player of the Day.” His national ranking jumped to No. 111 after the nationals.

“He has been working hard this spring to add a heavy rolling ball back into his standard repertoire of flat power,” said Edward Fenno, Brant’s father. “While it has taken him a while (and a ‘step back’ in the rankings) to find his range on the shot and to adjust to the new mix of strategies, it seems to be clicking pretty well now.”

After taking a year off from high school tennis to concentrate on his game, the three-time All-Lowcountry player plans to rejoin the Porter-Gaud team as a junior this school year.

Hard-hitting Evan Wen is the new No. 1 boys 12 player in the nation after winning last week’s National Clay Courts at LTP Tennis.

ESPN tennis analyst/former French Open runner-up Mary Joe Fernandez, married to noted IMG sports agent Tony Godsick (Roger Federer’s agent), was reported seen at the local national tournament. The couple’s son, Nicholas Godsick, lost in the round of 64 to No. 4 seed Phillip Deaton of Seattle.

Charleston’s Shelby Rogers is playing this summer for the San Diego Aviators of World Team Tennis. The James Blake/Ryan Harrison-led team will open its season on Sunday evening in Carlsbad, Calif., at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa against the Orange County Breakers.

Rogers has moved up to No. 52 in the world. After dropping opening round matches the last two weeks at Washington and Montreal, she is hoping to snap a five-match losing streak since advancing to the quarterfinals of the French Open when she plays in the tournaments in Cincinnati and New Haven leading up to the U.S Open.

Charleston area player Cindy Babb won the women’s 65 national grass court singles championship. Babb also teamed with Pam Simmons of Charleston to take a bronze ball in doubles.

Captain Heidi Strenck’s 18-plus women’s 2.5 team from the Daniel Island Club was runner-up in the Southern Championships in Mobile, Ala.

St. Andrew’s Parks and Playground will hold its Back To School Challenger Aug. 19-21. The registration deadline is Aug. 14 (tournament No. 700026516). Contact tournament director Phil Burke (843-345-2895 or fillup@standrewsparks.com).

The Lowcountry Junior Team Tennis program sent 10 teams to the recent state tournament in Florence. Summerville’s 18U team made the finals. League director April Gift reports that 513 kids participated in the Lowcountry league in 2016.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his latest columns on Wimbledon and Grand Slam tennis at ubitennis.net/blog/author/james-beck