Local adult tennis is in full bloom this weekend on Daniel Island.

That is, until the rain hit around midday on Saturday at Family Circle Tennis Center.

"We got a lot more matches played than I thought we would," FCTC operations director Rob Eppelsheimer said.

The Holiday Classic presented by Wally Burbage Allstate has the largest number of participants for an adult tournament in the state for a second straight year. This 12th annual event at FCTC has 277 participants.

That's one thing that makes Eppelsheimer and others proud of the event even on a rainy day. Another is that the Holiday Classic has raised an overall $175,000 for charity. The MUSC Hollings Cancer Center was the recipient for the tournament's first few years, while the recipient is now the MUSC Children's Hospital.

"The donations and entries keep growing. Seeing these numbers grow gives us a good feeling," Eppelsheimer said. "About 80 to 85 percent of the players are local. That's a lot."

Eppelsheimer said Wally Burbage Allstate has been the tournament's sponsor from the start.

Burbage, who usually participates in the tournament, was pleased a few years ago when the Holiday Classic's fund-raising enabled MUSC to establish a cancer treatment room at MUSC’s Hollings Cancer Center. The treatment room was named in memory of the deceased Dr. John von Lehe, a longtime friend and former wrestling teammate of Burbage's at The Citadel.


Charleston area juniors Allie Gretkowski and Lara Schneider walked off with the girls 16 doubles title in the prestigious Eddie Herr International tennis tournament in Bradenton, Fla., on Saturday morning.

The two full-time members of the Randy Pate Academy at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant posted a convincing 6-1, 6-1 win over the sixth-seeded team of Mary Grace Armistead of Hilton Head Island and DJ Bennett of Belleview, Fla., in the championship match.

The 15-year-old Gretkowski and 16-year-old Schneider were seeded second. They didn't drop a set in their four wins, including a quarterfinal victory over Charleston product Sophie Williams and her partner.

Schneider also was a quarterfinalist in singles, while Gretkowski made the round of 16.

Naturally, Gretkowski and Schneider were thrilled with their doubles accomplishment.

"It's a big win for both of us," said the 5-10 Gretkowski. "We've been playing well, but I didn't think the final would be that easy. We played really well in the final."

For Schneider, "It really hasn't sunk in yet."

But the two longtime friends and doubles partners weren't completely surprised by their success.

"We played well, but we have been playing together for a while," Schneider said. "We've been friends for a long time."

Gretkowski and Schneider now will move over to Plantation, Fla., for the Orange Bowl International. But maybe fortunately for the girls 16 doubles field there, Gretkowski and Schneider will not be playing together at the Orange Bowl. Gretkowski committed to another partner earlier.

Both Gretkowski and Schneider are in the Orange Bowl girls 16 main draw.


Berkeley's Abby Cotuna won four straight matches before losing on Wednesday to Spartanburg's Maggie Cubitt in the championship match of the SCHSL Class AAAA-AAAAA state girls tennis singles tournament.

Just a sophomore, Cotuna has blossomed into one of the state's top junior girls players.

Summerville's Paige Reynolds and Sullivan Long also competed in the AAAA-AAAAA tournament.

In the Class A-AA-AAA tournament, Bishop England sophomore Lilly Woods defeated teammate Jenna Santa Lucia in the consolation final. Woods and Lucia led the Bishops to an eighth consecutive state team title in November.

Woods lost to eventual champion Elise Mills of Mid-Carolina in the quarterfinals of the singles main draw, duplicating a matchup of the two players' meeting in the 2017 Class AAA state team final.

Academic Magnet's Mina Schaafsma also participated in the Class A-AA-AAA singles tournament.


-- Mount Pleasant resident Lizl Kotz was a semifinalist in this past week's National Women's 40 Singles Hard-Court Championships at La Jolla, Calif.

-- Ashley Hall junior Emma Navarro had the misfortune of drawing No. 2 seed Qinwin Zheng in the opening round of this past week's ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr International Junior Championship in Bradenton, Fla. Navarro entered the tournament ranked as the No. 1 girls 18 player nationally.

"She'll bounce back," Navarro coach Peter Ayers said about his player's loss, looking ahead to this coming week's Grade A Junior ITF Orange Bowl International Championships in Plantation. Navarro has climbed to No. 672 in the WTA Tour world rankings.

Zheng will play in Sunday's Eddie Herr singles championship match.

-- Sophie Williams also is scheduled to play in the girls 16 Orange Bowl.

-- At least four American players who have participated in ITF U.S. women's pro circuit tournaments at LTP Tennis during the last two years are currently ranked among the world's top 100 players. Former University of Virginia All-American Danielle Collins, the 2017 LTP $60K runner-up, leads the group with a No. 35 ranking. That's the fourth-best ranking among American women.

Sofia Kenin has moved up to 52nd, while 2017 LTP $60K winner/2018 runner-up Madison Brengle is 89th and 2018 LTP $80K champion Taylor Townsend is No. 91.

-- Shelby Rogers is training in California with her coach, Marc Lucero, while looking ahead to rejoining the WTA Tour in 2019 after sitting out the last nine months with a knee injury. Rogers spent part of November training in Jamaica, according to her Facebook page.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his latest columns on the Grand Slams at ubitennis.net/author/james-beck.