Lara Schneider

Charleston's 16-year-old Lara Schneider is confident and looking forward to the Volvo Car Open Wild Card Event that starts on Thursday at Family Circle Tennis Center.

Schneider is well aware that five wins could stake her or any of the other 31 players in the draw to a spot in the VCO qualifying tournament on March 30-31.

The tournament is using the Universal Tennis Rating format for seeding and entries.

Schneider will get an early start in the tournament. The Randy Pate Tennis Center player is scheduled for an 8:30 a.m. opening match on Thursday against 18-year-old Naina Nait Omar of Seneca, who played in last fall's LTP $25K ITF at LTP Tennis in Mount Pleasant.

"I think I have a good chance to do well," said Scheider, a talented baseliner who hasn't made a college commitment so far. "It will be a great experience getting to play with some great players."

Schneider is fresh from teaming with fellow Pate Academy player Allie Gretkowski to win a National Level 2 doubles title in Key Biscayne, Fla. But Gretkowski had committed to an ITF tournament in Costa Rico and is not playing in the VCO Wild Card Event.

"Allie and I are very pleased with our results lately. We are undefeated at the moment," Schneider said. "There is no doubles in the UTR tournament."

Three other local juniors are entered in the UTR event. Anna Ross plays at 12:30 p.m. on the first day, while Sophie Williams and Abby Cotuna both are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. matches on Thursday

Two rounds will be played on Friday, with the semifinals and final slated for Saturday.

Reach James Beck at

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