Gamecocks seek rare repeat victory in series

USC offensive tackle Jarriel King of North Charleston and the Gamecocks look for a second straight win over Clemson today.

Just when tennis appears to be settling down for the holiday season, the drums of Daniel Island's Family Circle Cup are beating. Tickets for the 2012 WTA Tour event are already on sale.

And this year, the Cup is offering an incentive to purchase tickets early. Patrons purchasing tickets prior to Jan. 2 will be entered in the tournament's "VIP for a day" sweepstakes.

The Grand Prize VIP Experience includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility as well as lunch in the player dining area, a VIP gift bag that includes an autographed T-shirt, an upgrade for two to box seats, pre-match coin-toss, a photo opportunity with players prior to a stadium match, valet parking and Terrace Club access. And don't forget about entering the stadium through the player tunnel. The winner will be announced Jan. 2.

"Our VIP for a day contest is the most exciting opportunity we've ever offered to our fans, providing unprecedented access to players and areas that are traditionally off limits to spectators," ticket coordinator Margaret Shaw said.

Weekly winners will be announced every Friday through the end of December. Weekly prizes will include a pre-match coin-toss on stadium court during the Cup and a photo opportunity with the players.

Tickets are available at familycirclecup.com, Ticketmaster charge-by-phone (800-745-3000) and at Ticketmaster.com. They are also available at any local Publix location offering Ticketmaster services, as well as in person at the event's box office located on the second floor of the Family Circle Tennis Center Clubhouse, and from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at (800) 677-2293 or (843) 856-7900.

How close was that?

The USTA's league tennis tiebreaker system is unique. It encourages teams to beat opponents as badly as possible. Entire seasons can depend on one game that doesn't even figure in a team's wins and losses.

The tiebreaker format normally breaks regular season and playoff won-lost deadlocks through the criteria of individual wins, individual losses, sets lost and games lost. It doesn't occur often, but what happens when all of those tiebreakers are exhausted? State league officials said they had never seen it happen before last weekend at Wild Dunes in the men's 4.0 state singles league championships. When it was all over, a Lowcountry Tennis Association team captained by Neal Webb was tied with an up-state team in all of the round-robin categories, including 70 games lost each.

After huddling up to decide which team would advance to the state final, tournament officials came to the conclusion that head-to-head meetings should break the deadlock. Naturally, that made Webb's St. Andrew's team happy since it had defeated the up-state team in round-robin play. However, St. Andrew's lost in the state final.

While the head-to-head meeting was the correct conclusion, most captains would agree that such meetings should be the first -- not the last -- tiebreaker criteria after team wins and losses.

Notes

--James Island's Pammy Pry has been named Region 7-AAAA girls tennis coach of the year. The all-region team is made up of Wando's Catherine Martin, Melanie Allen and Alex Klein; James Island's Rhealyn Dinkins and Maelee Dinkins; Stratford's Lauran Hudson and Kaitlyn Holley; and West Ashley's Alex Gilliard and Alaina Gilliard.

--New league tennis NTRP ratings are scheduled to be released on Monday.

--Registration for league tennis' official spring championship season will begin Dec. 5.

--Liza Arruda, the Bishop England sophomore who led the Bishops to the Class AA state girls title, was a semifinalist in the recent AA-A state singles tournament, which was won by Waccamaw junior Tolley Rice.

--The Pine Forest Ladies Tennis Association donated $18,000 to the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Racquets for Recovery Fund in proceeds from the seventh annual Racquets for Recovery breast cancer tournament held at Pine Forest Country Club earlier this month. The association has contributed a total of $142,000 for local breast cancer patients since 2005.

--Former Oregon captain Arron Spencer is a new assistant coach for the reigning Southern Conference champion College of Charleston men's and women's teams. A 2007 graduate, he was ranked as high as ninth nationally in ITA doubles and played on Oregon's 2004 NCAA tournament team.

--Former C of C head coach and current assistant Billy Silcox recently was presented with the College's Alumni Award of Honor.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.