Cepelova's solo act earns respect

During the best week of her pro career at the Family Circle Cup, there was something a little sad about Jana Cepelova.

"I'm here by myself," the 20-year-old Slovakian said more than once during her post-match news conferences. Her coach had returned home after Celepova's tournament in Miami last month, and there was no family with her on site at Daniel Island.

That made her run to the Family Circle Cup final, where she lost to No. 14 seed Andrea Petkovic 7-5, 6-2 on Sunday, all the more astounding. At No. 78, Cepelova is the lowest-ranked player ever to make the final in the 42-year history of the Family Circle Cup.

Now, after upsetting world No. 1 Serena Williams on Tuesday and following up with two more wins over top-35 players, Celepova will crack the WTA Tour's top 50 to go with a check for $64,000, almost as much as she'd won all year.

Not bad for a player who had to search out her own warmup partners this week and has no clothing contract.

"I was super impressed," Petkovic said. "I couldn't believe what was happening, because I think in the first three or four rounds, I didn't even realize she was alone here. I didn't realize she had no coach, and then I think yesterday or two days ago was the first time where I realized she was totally by herself, and I don't know how she did it."

Cepelova said she did consult with her coach via Skype during the tournament. But she was forced to rely on her own instincts during matches, and to eat room service meals at night.

"Sometimes, actually, it's not that bad," Petkovic said. "You have nobody that you can get angry at. You only have yourself, so you just keep the negative emotions inside of you because you can't let it out on anybody else."

Petkovic was even more impressed that Cepelova did not suffer a letdown after her 6-4, 6-4 win over Williams.

"I've been in those situations," she said. "You have a letdown because so many people start messaging you, and everybody is writing about it, everybody is in awe. And then keeping the momentum and playing that well and winning another three or four matches is absolutely amazing."

Cepelova did have some fans in her player's box Sunday at Billie Jean King Stadium Court, the host family of fellow player Karolina Pliskova.

"I'm going to go to dinner with them tonight to celebrate," Cepelova said.

A crowd of 7,790 for Sunday's final boosted the total to 87,997 for the week. That's the Family Circle Cup's best since 2011, and its best without a Saturday night session since 2008. The tournament had an extra Saturday night session for three years from 2010-2012.

A sparkling week of weather was balanced out by the loss of world No. 1 Serena Williams in her opening match Tuesday night. Sunday's final was played in cool, drizzly conditions.

"Losing Serena definitely hurts us from a marketing standpoint, from a ticket sales standpoint," tournament director Bob Moran said. "We're about 85 or 90 percent sold before the tournament starts, so it hurts the walk-up more than anything else.

"But we've got to start building for the future at some point, and I think we had a really good start this week with some good young players emerging. We saw the next generation this week - Eugenie Bouchard, Sloane Stephens, great stories like Jana Cepelova and Belinda Bencic . I like what the future holds, and we have to start building toward the future now."

In 14 years on Daniel Island, the Family Circle Cup has now drawn 1,241,790 spectators, an average of 88,699 per year.

Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova won the doubles title with a 7-6, 6-2 win over sisters Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan of Taipei.

It was their third title as a doubles team and second this year.

"We are good friends," Medina Garrigues said. "We are having fun always and communicating very well, and we're willing to work and improve our game."