Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship begins Friday

Two-time Dunlop champion Ellie Halbauer has decided not to compete for a record third straight girls 18 title at Family Circle Tennis Center. She will be playing in a $25,000 ITF tournament in Mexico this weekend. (File/Paul Zoeller/Staff)

The Dunlop Junior Tennis Championship is scheduled to begin Friday at Family Circle Tennis Center with a field packed with highly rated players.

But this year’s Dunlop tournament will not offer a wild card to its girls 18 champion into the singles qualifying draw for the upcoming WTA Tour tournament, now named the Volvo Car Open.

Also, two-time Dunlop champion Ellie Halbauer has decided not to compete for a record third straight girls 18 title. Halbauer, who grew up at Family Circle Tennis Center and is now ranked No. 421 in the world, will be playing in a $25,000 ITF tournament in Mexico this weekend.

The Volvo qualifying tournament wild card will now be awarded to the singles runner-up in the inaugural Shape Invitational women’s collegiate event that is scheduled to be held March 1-3 at Family Circle Tennis Center. The Shape singles champion will receive a wild card straight into the Volvo Car Open main draw, while the Shape doubles champions will receive wild cards into the Volvo doubles main doubles draw.

Past Dunlop tournaments have been plagued by bad weather, but tournament director Rob Eppelsheimer said, “The weather looks chilly, but everything is a go ... doubles will start Friday at 4:30 p.m. and all singles will start Saturday morning.”

The Dunlop finals are scheduled for Sunday. Four Hundred juniors registered for the various boys and girls age categories and 320 were selected to compete. The tournament will be held at Family Circle, the Daniel Island Club, Wild Dunes, LTP Tennis and the Mount Pleasant Rec Whipple Road complex.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his latest columns on Grand Slam Tennis at ubitennis.net