Emma Navarro

LTP's Emma Navarro

Emma Navarro is preparing to start her sophomore year at Ashley Hall next month. She's looking forward to helping the Panthers possibly win a second straight state championship.

But the South's No. 1 junior girls tennis player is looking several years into the future.

Navarro has committed to play tennis for Duke.

"I knew Duke was the right school for me," she said Saturday morning in giving her reason for the early commitment.

"I visited Duke and it's a beautiful campus. The sports facilities are really, really nice. I like the whole campus and I like the coach (Jamie Ashworth).

"My Dad liked it as much as I did."

Her dad is Benjamin Navarro, owner of Mount Pleasant's LTP Tennis and Swim Club, founder and CEO of Sherman Financial Group, and founder of Meeting Street Academy.

Emma's coach at LTP is Peter Ayers, a former All-American and four-time Atlantic Coast Conference singles champion for Duke.

In women's tennis, Duke won the 2009 NCAA championship and has advanced to the NCAA playoffs 20 consecutive seasons under Ashworth.

Navarro is fresh from winning two singles qualifying matches in the current $25,000 U.S. Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Auburn, Ala. She teamed with partner Chloe Beck to advance to the quarterfinals in doubles.

She is now on a week's vacation with her family before heading to Memphis for the girls 18 national clay courts. But she isn't leaving her tennis racket behind.

"We'll still play every day," the 16-year-old said. "My sister (high-ranking junior Meggie) and my coach and his family are coming."

Charleston rules

With MWTennis Academy's Allie Gretkowski taking over the current Southern No. 1 ranking in girls 14, Charleston area players now hold three of the four No. 1 spots in the South in regulation-court junior girls rankings. Of course, Emma Navarro holds the top spot in both 16-and-under and 18-and-under.

Jared Pratt is still No. 1 in the South in boys 18.

Talking about tennis families, not only is Navarro the top-ranked girls 16 and 18 player in the South, little sister Meggie is ranked No. 5 in girls 14 in the South.

And Max Smith is No. 6 in the South in boys 14, while little brother Jake Smith is No. 9 in boys 12.

Other top 10 Southern rankings for local players include No. 7 for Saige Severance in girls 12 and No. 10 for Alice Otis in girls 12.

Also, local newcomer Anna Ross added to the area's title number in the recent Southern Closed Hard-Court Championships by winning the girls 16 doubles crown in Little Rock, Ark.

Ross, who will be a junior at Wando in the fall, moved here with her family from Chicago just to train at the Randy Pate Academy at LTP Tennis. Brothers Eddie and Michael also train at LTP, while dad Ed commutes back and forth from Chicago.

Kat Lyman also joined this year's Southern Championships' runner-up list by making it to the girls 18 doubles final.

Rogers' Wimbledon draw

Shelby Rogers' draw for Wimbledon isn't perfect, but it isn't a bad one for a player ranked 70th in the world. Drawing 25-year-old Californian Julia Boserup for her first match is about as close to a lucky draw as Rogers could get.

Not that the 5-11 Boserup isn't capable of scoring a few wins at Winbledon, she is ranked 80th in the world. That's thanks in part to five victories at Wimbledon 2016 in qualifying and the main draw before losing in the round of 32.

The winner of the Rogers-Boserup match will get either No. 32 seed Lucie Safarova or 48th-ranked Oceane Dodin of France in the second round. Top-ranked Angelique Kerber is the likely foe for whoever makes it to the round of 32 in that section of the draw.

LTP Pro program

LTP Tennis' newly started pro training program is already having success. U.S. Women's Pro Circuit doubles sensation Emina Bektas has joined the program full-time when she isn't out on the circuit winning doubles titles.

Bektas was a doubles champion in May's $60K LTP Charleston tournament and has won a half-dozen doubles titles this year on the Pro Circuit, including Saturday's final at Auburn, while climbing to No. 149 in the world in doubles. A 24-year-old, she is the University of Michigan's all-time wins leader in singles.

The LTP $60K also featured Francoise Abanda of Canada, who just advanced through qualifying at Wimbledon into the main draw.

LTP will serve as host to another U.S. Women's Pro Circuit tournament Sept. 25-Oct. 1, this one a $15,000 event.

Local Notes

  • MWTennis CEO Jeff Wilson reports that Emily Elliott, Reilly Wilson and Kerim Hyatt all earned main draw wild cards into this fall's Lexington ITF tournament by making it to the finals of last weekend's S.C. Closed Hard Court Championships.
  • Pine Forest Country Club tennis director Andy Steingold is beaming these days about finally winning a national singles title. Steingold claimed his title in the 32-draw men's 65 division at the Atlanta Senior Invitational.
  • This year's sixth annual Hugs for Harper "celebration of courage, strength and hope" dinner and auction are scheduled for Sept. 15 at Founders Hall at Charles Towne Landing. Contact Emma Blitch (blitch@musc.edu).

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com