Charleston is suddenly a hotbed for World TeamTennis. The area even has its own WTT player.
Brendan Evans, who worked at Kiawah Island and was a volunteer assistant coach at The Citadel the last two seasons, is the top male singles player for the Philadelphia Freedoms.
Evans, whose mother Eileen Evans lives in Charleston, hopes he'll be in town later this month when the World TeamTennis Finals Weekend is played July 22-24 at the Family Circle Tennis Center.
Two teams from each of the WTT's two divisions will advance to Charleston.
It will be an uphill battle for Evans and his teammates after the Freedoms opened their 14-match WTT season with six straight losses.
The Freedoms, in the midst of a streak of 11 matches in 13 days, play the New York Sportimes led by John McEnroe and Martina Hingis today at 7 p.m. The match will be televised live on the Tennis Channel and the Charleston Tennis Center will hold a free WTT Wine & Watch Party from 6-10 p.m.
"Billie Jean (King) owns our team," Evans said last week from Philadelphia. "She wants the league to be fast. We get a 90-second break every four games ... it's constantly going."
Evans has one singles victory in a Grand Slam tournament to his credit and has been ranked as high as No. 117 in the world.
He's a 6-2, 25-year-old who turned pro in 2004 and has played mostly the challenger and satellite circuits. Prior to joining the Freedoms, he hadn't played a competitive match in nine months due to a back injury.
He is a native of Pontiac, Mich., and trained at Florida's Saddlebrook Resort. He held No. 1 USTA rankings in boys 14, 16 and 18, and in 2004 was the No. 2 junior in the world. He owns three junior Grand Slam doubles titles (Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open), while playing the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. He even defeated Juan Martin del Potro on the challenger circuit. Evans' only Grand Slam tournament main draw win came last year at Wimbledon after advancing through qualifying.
Evans, whose career has been hampered by injuries, plans to give up competitive tennis and attend the University of Virginia in the fall.
"I don't think I could hold up on the tour," he said.
Evans was pleasantly surprised by his early WTT play when he won his first two singles matches and two of his first three doubles matches with partner Nathan Healey. Evans displayed his huge serve and overhead shot on the Tennis Channel last Wednesday night in a victory over Washington singles ace Bobby Reynolds and also in his doubles win with Healey over Reynolds and Grand Slam doubles legend Leander Paes.
"I was really pumped up. I knew I would have to serve well to compete with those guys (Reynolds and Paes). I served a lot better than I had been serving," said Evans, who uncorked the second-fastest serve (to Andy Roddick) at Wimbledon in 2004. "My serve is the biggest part of my game."
World TeamTennis Finals Weekend
WHEN: July 22 (7 p.m.); July 23 (5 p.m.); July 24 (4:45 p.m.)
WHERE: Family Circle Tennis Center
TICKETS: Available at (800) 677-2293 or online at familycirclecup.com/wtt.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.