Rogers hoping third trip Down Under brings success

Photo by Christophe Saidi ¬ Daniel Island's Shelby Rogers won her French Open debut, defeating Irena Pavlovic 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday.

Shelby Rogers is hoping her third trip to the Down Under region of the world makes a sharp turn toward success as she prepares to play this coming week in the main draw of the Australian Open for the first time.

The draw wasn’t entirely unkind to the Charleston touring tennis professional in that she upset Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-4, 7-6 (5), this past summer in Montreal. Of course, 21-year-old Aussie Tomljanovic will be looking for revenge against Rogers in the first round in front of the home crowd in Melbourne.

Rogers’ match against the 64th-ranked Tomljanovic will not be played before Tuesday (Monday, Charleston time, since Melbourne is 16 hours ahead of Charleston).

This trip Down Under so far hasn’t been kind to Rogers. She opened two weeks ago in the main draw in Auckland, New Zealand, by allowing a 6-1, 4-0 lead to evaporate against Lauren Davis. Rogers then moved over to Sydney, Australia, and suffered a 6-1, 6-4 first-round qualifying loss to 88th-ranked Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine.

The two losses dropped Rogers’ three-year record in New Zealand and Australia to 2-6. Hopefully, new coach Marc Lucero of California will be able to help Rogers turn things around in the year’s first Grand Slam.

Rogers appears to be having a great time in Australia. Her Facebook page displays the front sports page of Friday’s “The Age” newspaper dominated by a photo of Rogers and Australian player Olivia Rogowska with a large snake wrapped around their shoulders. Rogers Facebooks: “Look who made the Aussie newspaper . . . and little insert pic of Rafa . . . shouldn’t it be the other way around? Haha . . . having a blast down unda so far!”

Now ranked 75th in the world, the 22-year-old’s popularity also is rising back home in Charleston. Rogers’ Facebook page shows Rogers as the cover story/photo of the winter 2015 edition of Charleston Home + Design magazine.

Porter-Gaud appears to once again be a contender for the SCISA Class AAA boys state title after having its string of five straight championship match appearances broken last spring.

The Cyclones, as usual, are loaded with young experienced players to complement freshman Brant Fenno and junior Cross Tolliver, both of whom should be among the area’s top players. Sophomore Malone Vingi also has the game to make a serious move up the Cyclones’ ladder in the loss of 2014 No. 1 Seth Pinosky to graduation.

Porter-Gaud’s path to a possible state title appears to be smoother this year with the switch to Class AA by perennial AAA powerhouse/2014 state champion Hilton Head Prep as well as state runner-up Hilton Head Christian.

The Cyclones won seven state championships during Tom Higgins’ 11 years as head coach before he turned over the reins to Jonathan Barth last year.

In addition to eighth-grade star Jacob Jahn, Wando returns senior Andrew DaCosta. “We will have a very strong lineup,” veteran Wando coach Winde Ellenberg proclaims.

Making the outlook for Wando brighter will be Robert DaCosta, who is switching back to tennis from track for his senior year. The Warriors probably should be the strongest High School League team in the area, even though Summerville still has Adam Elliget back for a fourth run at All-Lowcountry honors.

Fenno and Jahn are the other All-Lowcountry performers returning.

Coach Kristin Fleming Arnold appears to be in a rebuilding mode at Bishop England after losing All-Lowcountry star Lukas Zalesky and standout Noah Stiepel to graduation.

Ronnie DuPre’s West Ashley team should be strong again with the return of the Anastopoulo brothers, senior Ted and freshman Stratas. The sons of College of Charleston women’s coach Angelo Anastopoulo helped West Ashley post a 13-2 regular-season record in 2014, with both losses coming to Region 7-AAAA champion Wando.

The Championships at Legend Oaks Plantation, a Level 2 USTA-sanctioned adult tournament that again this year will benefit “The Ark” of Summerville, is scheduled to begin either Jan. 29 or 30. Registration is available online at tennislink.usta.com/tournaments, using tournament No. 700006215. The entry deadline is next Sunday.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.