There will be no mistaking the two players in today's 9:30 a.m. singles final of the $10,000 Mount Pleasant Women's Pro Classic at the Players and Racquet Club.
Lauren Davis is a kid from Cleveland, all of 16 years old and 5-2 in height. Petra Rampre is a veteran vagabond of the wars of satellite tennis. At 30, she is nearly twice Davis' age.
Davis is hungry for the experience. Money is no big deal since she can only accept travel money.
Rampre is holding on to her tennis career by a thread that is bound to end soon. She loves the game, but this is all about money for the Slovenian. Just how much longer can she survive on the small paychecks of satellite tennis?
"I've played 10 sets of singles and eight sets of doubles already this week," Rampre said after her 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 semifinal win on Saturday over 24-year-old former LSU All-American Megan Falcon of Alameda, Calif. -- and before losing the doubles final with local favorite Shelby Rogers. "I've played 12 straight weeks, driving from tournament to tournament."
Yes, it's about the paycheck at the end of the tournament for Rampre. The No. 2 seed and 393rd-ranked player in the world, she has her eye on the $1,568 first-place check in singles. It's a big drop to the $980 second money. She already has picked up half of the $343 second-place doubles money that she split with Rogers after a 6-4, 6-2 loss to Americans Kaitlyn Christian and Caitlin Whoriskey.
But Rampre is quick to total up the sum for her week if she wins today. That would be $1,739 before Uncle Sam claims his 30 percent, leaving just $1,217. She doesn't even want to think about second-place money in singles.
"I travel by car, because I don't have enough money to fly. I have to win. It's not like an eight-hour a day job. My mind has to be there all the time to win. But this is what I chose to do," the Richmond, Va., resident said.
Rampre has a marvelous one-handed backhand that separates her from many of the younger players. Her slice is deadly. She also can hit a big ball.
But the 5-7 Rampre will need it all against the gritty tough Davis, the 2009 girls' 16 national hard-court champion and Junior French Open round of 16 participant. Davis plays out of Chris Evert's Florida academy, but is headed home to Cleveland next week to play in another $10,000 satellite event.
Davis repeatedly beat off cramps in the second set to score a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (1) nearly three-hour semifinal win over 17-year-old Nicole Gibbs of Los Angeles who grew up only a short distance from Davis in Cleveland.
"When I got up 4-1 (in the second set) I knew I had her. I knew I could finish," Davis said. Playing in only her second pro tournament, she already had survived the first scare from cramps in the fourth game of the second set, and the cramps wouldn't go away despite efforts by the trainer. Davis fell to the clay a couple of times in pain and continued to hobble around the court, dropping the next two games to hold only a 4-3 edge.
But Davis continued to pound huge forehands and backhands, and mixing in deft drop shots, wearing Gibbs into submission and mistakes. The No. 502-ranked Gibbs appeared thoroughly frustrated that she couldn't find a way to take advantage of Davis' physical liabilities.
Gibbs fought off five match points while serving the 10th and 12th games. But Gibbs played a loose tiebreaker from the start, losing the first five points as she ran her string of losing tiebreaker points to eight straight.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com.