No U.S. Open has ever been more personal to Charleston.

The area that hopes to be named America's Best Tennis Town on Labor Day at the U.S. Open and the Lowcountry also has its own home-grown entry in this year's main draw.

Charleston has moved onto center stage at the U.S. Open. It all starts Thursday at noon with the U.S. Open draw party on ESPN2.

You'll need to listen carefully for the name of Daniel Island's own Shelby Rogers to learn Rogers' opponent in the first round of the U.S. Open. About the only thing certain is that Rogers won't draw top-ranked Serena Williams since Serena has withdrawn due to a foot injury.

Then on Labor Day, the area will wait patiently to learn if Charleston gathered enough votes to earn the Best Tennis Town recognition over Atlanta and Richmond, Va.

"With Charleston as one of the top three towns and to have one of its own in the U.S. Open main draw, it's a fantastic time for tennis in Charleston," said Bryan Minton, Rogers' longtime coach.

Rogers and Minton are scheduled to make the trip to New York on Thursday. "Shelby will get a feel for the place, and it's just enough time to be comfortable," Minton said. "Whatever happens will be good."

Rogers' venture onto the main stage of Grand Slam tennis is the result of an incredible seven-match sweep of the 18-and-under Girls National Championships in San Diego that ended last Sunday with a U.S. Open main draw wild card-clinching victory in the final.

In the aftermath of her conquest of San Diego, Rogers has been awarded the USTA's Maureen Connolly Brinker Outstanding Junior Girl Award for 2010. Previous winners of the 42-year-old award include Chris Evert, Tracy Austin and Lindsay Davenport.

Cooper essay winner

Porter-Gaud junior Mi'Kola Cooper will take part in Arthur Ashe Kids' Day at the U.S. Open next weekend as one of 10 regional winners of this year's Arthur Ashe Essay contest. Cooper, a member of last fall's All-Lowcountry high school team, will travel to New York on Friday with her mother.

"We do this (essay) every year, and this year they asked what was Arthur Ashe's greatest accomplishment. I decided it was as a humanitarian because of the way he helped people out of the kindness of his heart," said Cooper, a product of Charleston's inner-city Courting Kids program.

Fenno South's No. 1

Young Brant Fenno isn't to be outdone by all of the pro tour players coming out of the old Players Club, now named "LTP Tennis." He is currently ranked No. 1 in the South in 10-and-under boys. "Since there are no final year-end southern rankings in the 10s, and no national tournaments in the 10s, this is the highest ranking that he can possibly achieve at this age," reports local attorney Edward Fenno, the proud father of the top-ranked player.

Ryan Young update

Charleston's Ryan Young hasn't given up on his pro tennis aspirations, despite a six-month setback from injury last year. He used the time off from tennis' satellite circuit to return to Clemson and complete his degree in sports management.

Young was en route by train from Washington, D.C., to New Haven, Conn., hoping to gain entry to a qualifying tournament for the ATP Tour's Pilot Pen tournament when I reached him on Friday. The former Clemson standout is based in the Washington area where his former college coach, Chuck Kriese, is running a tennis club in College Park, Md.

"I'm getting back to where I was before the injury," said the 25-year-old left-hander, who spent four months earlier this year in Indonesia, Korea and Malaysia. "I feel good and focused. I'm working hard and know that good things are coming."

Young and former Clemson teammate Nathan Thompson are starting a ministry called "Learning 2 Serve." Young said, "We'll put on a clinic for children in the cities we play tournaments in, combining our true passion to give back to the community and children. As a Christian you serve. As a tennis player you serve . . . two types of serving."

Local notes

--Fall USTA league tennis leagues are now forming. The deadline for having the minimum number of players registered that is needed to fill all positions for a league match is Sept. 7.

--Registration also is open until next Sunday for participation in the USTA's Southern Flex League. The season will begin Sept. 5 and run through Nov. 7. Competition will be in men's & women's singles (2.5, 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0), men's doubles (3.0 and 3.5) and women's doubles (2.5, 3.0 and 3.5). Contact Vickie Nash (761-6097 or nashvm@yahoo).

--The new owners of the former Players Club plan to show off their newly renovated LTP Tennis complex to the public next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with free tennis and meet-the-pros along, with refreshments from noon to 2 p.m. LTP Tennis has nine clay courts and seven hard courts.

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