A doubles wild card for Shelby Rogers? Why not?
Judging by the way the 17-year-old Daniel Island girl played Friday night in her introduction to the WTA Tour, one might be in order for next year's Family Circle Cup doubles draw.
Rogers played brilliantly in a doubles exhibition in front of a big post-Melanie Oudin crowd and actually outplayed her partner, fan favorite Patty Schnyder, as well as the semifinal doubles team of Ekaterina Makarova and Marie-Eve Pelletier.
When the Rogers-Schnyder team found its chemistry, the duo surprisingly overpowered Makarova and Pelletier, 8-4, as Rogers did much more than her part.
Rogers appeared to have the best serve, best overhead and best forehand -- all prerequisites for success in doubles on the WTA Tour. Check out Liezel Huber, Nadia Petrova, Rennae Stubbs, Lisa Raymond and Bethanie Mattek-Sands if you doubt those qualities equal doubles success on the women's tour.
Rogers nailed a 112-mph service winner out wide and smashed a ton of overheads, some of them tough ones. Her cross-court service return from the deuce side was tailor-made for doubles.
Even Rogers was impressed by her performance. "I played pretty well last night," she admitted Saturday while taking a break from practice with coach Bryan Minton. "Patty and I played well together after the first game."
The performance far exceeded her expectations.
"Shelby stepped up to the plate," Minton said. "Family Circle did a great job keeping Shelby involved all week, but Shelby also did a great job."
Friday night's outing and a win in a singles exhibition on Monday evening against Caroline Wozniacki's doubles partner, Malou Ejdesgaard, were the perfect medicine for a quick recovery for Rogers from a disappointing loss to Christina McHale in the first round of the Family Circle qualifying tournament.
Rogers' game looks good enough to belong to a doubles specialist on the WTA Tour. Such a career might be worth considering while her singles game matures. Remember Samantha Stosur? The Aussie once was considered possibly the best doubles player. Now she's the 11th-ranked singles player in the world.
Meanwhile, Rogers is headed to Dothan, Ala., where she has received a wild card into the main singles draw of a $50,000 ITF challenger that starts Tuesday. She plans to put her name in the hat for the doubles draw as well.
"Boom Boom Sam"
Who said drop shots couldn't be dangerous?
With Vera Zvonareva and an ankle injury smashing Wozniacki's chances, how does this year's final look? Competitive, but no flash.
But, hey, if you want to see maybe the best serve in women's tennis outside of Serena Williams, you might want to be in the stadium today.
Watch out! Stosur has her serve working. Even on clay, that could be bad news for Zvonareva. That's because when Stosur hits the big one, it's like boom, point is over.
The 26-year-old former doubles specialist is one of the most athletic players on the WTA Tour. "Boom Boom Sam" may be ready to hit the big stage with her big serve and big forehand.
Not large at 5-7, 143 pounds, Stosur probably has about as much muscle as almost any player on the tour. Take a look at her biceps.
But Zvonareva is no amateur. She's about as cagey as they come. She appears to be on top of her game again, and maybe ready to wipe out memories of her last two Family Circle Cups.
Normally, I would pick a favorite, but I don't have a clue about this one.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org. James Beck's columns on pro tennis are available at http://ricerca.quotidianonet.ilsole24ore.com/articoli/ubitennis.shtml?keyword=beckStosur.