Catalina Castano scored an upset Saturday when she defeated top seed Chanelle Scheepers 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the first round qualifying play of the Family Circle Cup.
Castano's victory came on Court No. 3, which is in the shadow of the Family Circle Cup Stadium. It was just three years ago that Castano battled eventual champ Nadia Petrova in a quarterfinal match in the main stadium. Castano lost, but seemed destined for stardom. But a foot injury slowed her and made her question whether tennis was her true calling.
"That was a good year," The Colombian said. "I was 34th (at one point) that year. After last year, I was a little injured and tried to play but I wasn't 100 percent. I lost a little of my confidence and I wasn't sure I wanted to play. I stayed away a little while from tennis and then I realized I wanted to play."
She's still not 100 percent due to a foot injury, but she's giving it 100 percent mentally. She rallied Saturday against the South African, who was the No. 1 seed.
"It was a really interesting match for me since it was the first match since my injury," said Castano, now No. 204 in the world. "The first set, I was a little off. I missed some important points. In the second set, I started playing more aggressive."
She remembers her impressive performance in Charleston. "When you do well in a tournament, you feel good every time you come back. This place, I have good memories here."
Castano was a regular at the Grand Slam events, but plays in qualifiers now.
"It's tough to do that, but sometimes you have to humble yourself to get better."
American Madison Brengle started playing tennis at the tender age of 2, which is young even for an athlete who makes a living off the sport.
"You have to ask my mom about that, about why I started at such an early age" said Brengle, who defeated fellow American Gail Brodsky 6-4, 6-2 in a qualifying match. "It was her choice. She'd always ask my brother who is three years older than me, 'David, do you want to play tennis?' and I'd always shadow my mom. She thought it was a joke at first and then realized, 'Hey, she's pretty good.' "
Brengle is a native of Delaware who was the No. 4-ranked junior player in 2007. She prefers to play on grass, but spent last summer in Europe working on her clay-court game. She played in low-tier challengers and became more comfortable on the surface.
"It was tough for me last summer," Brengle said. "But it's paying off for me, now. I feel comfortable."
Brengle still needs a victory today to advance to the main draw. "My goal is to go as far as I can. Every match will be tough. Everyone is so good. I just have to take it one day at a time."
The Williams sister act at Family Circle Cup is on hiatus this year since Serena will miss the tournament with a leg injury.
But there is a sister act. Zuzanna Kucova and Kristina Kucova played in the qualifier Saturday. Kristine pulled out a 6-4, 6-2 win to remain alive in her bid for a spot in the main draw.
Delightful weather, sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s, plus some outstanding talent attracted 5,243 to Saturday's session. That set a record for the opening day of qualifying in Charleston. The old record was 5,083 fans in 2005.
Last year's crowd for the first day of qualifying play was a disappointing 3,766 fans.
Last year's total attendance was 90,437. The best Family Circle attendance in Charleston is 92,375 set in 2005.