The Latest: Nadal goes for 19th career Grand Slam title

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, celebrates after defeating Matteo Berrettini, of Italy, in the men's singles semifinals of the U.S. Open tennis championships Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in New York.

NEW YORK — Star power still makes a huge difference, even on the big stage of the U.S. Open.

As an example, empty seats were plentiful Friday afternoon when red-hot Daniil Medvedev took down Grigor Dimitrov.

But when Rafael Nadal arrived for the second men’s semifinal against relatively unknown Matteo Berrettini, it was time to tighten up the seating. Most of the empty seats that already had been paid for suddenly disappeared in gigantic Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The tournament went from the frenzied atmosphere of young Americans Coco Gauff, Caty McNally and Taylor Townsend to realizing that the old-timers, or all-timers in reality, might be playing on borrowed time. Even Serena Williams, soon to be 38.

Nadal saved one day and will get another chance in Sunday’s men’s final. But Williams couldn’t save her day on Saturday before a packed stadium of wildly cheering supporters.

Then there was 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu, who has plenty of time to set records and win fans of her own after overcoming Williams’ rally from 5-1 down in the second set as Serena failed again in her attempt to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title in a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Andreescu.

Just as Serena might have made 2018 champion Naomi Osaka’s career by losing last year’s U.S. Open final, the same might be said for Andreescu. Only time will tell. Who knows? Andreescu might join the all-timers one day.

By the time another Grand Slam season gets underway in January in Australia, the tennis world might be turned upside down. Novak Djokovic’s early departure and 38-year-old Roger Federer’s and Stan Wawrinka’s losses in the next round, along with the early collapse of all of the super women’s stars was a shock for American tennis.

The young stars such as Medvedev, Berrettini, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime among the men, and even Osaka, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Simona Halep and Ashleigh Barty from the women’s side aren’t likely to evolve into all-time stars in the status of Serena, Roger Federer and Nadal.

That’s not a knock against today’s young players, it’s just the reality that players such as Serena, Federer and Nadal are players for the ages, just like Rod Laver was.

Yet, it might be difficult for the fan bases of the all-timers to switch to the sometimes unpredictable new group.

Charneys, Otis sparkle

Talk about winners. Not only are the Charney sisters from Mount Pleasant’s Randy Pate Academy still the No. 1-ranked girls 14 and 16 players in the South, 14-year-old Piper Charney recently teamed up with another local junior, Alice Otis, to live up to their No. 1 seeding for the tournament to bring home the girls 14 national doubles championship.

Charney and Otis accomplished the feat in late August in the nationals at the USTA national campus in Orlando, Fla. Big sister Emma Charney, 16, made the 16-and-under semifinals with Carrie Beckman of Louisville, Ky.

Otis also won the singles title last weekend in a Southern Level 1A tournament in Columbus, Ga.

Earlier in August, Piper Charney also took third place in singles in the national girls 14 hard courts in Rome, Ga., as well as teamed with Macy Hitchcock of Eaton, Ohio, to make the doubles final.

Indoor courts, anyone?

It’s been a little more than a year now since Derrick Williams announced plans for a huge new clay court complex off U.S. Hwy. 17 North in Mount Pleasant. Even six indoor clay courts.

There is finally an update on the project. The planned Mount Pleasant Racquet Club has scheduled an open house for next Thursday evening.

There’s not much on the site yet, but guests will be offered a virtual tour of the complex that is planning to include 24 lighted outdoor clay courts to go along with the indoor complex and 12 pickleball courts.

Williams’ group has announced that the new center will be affiliated with Tennis Hall of Fame/ESPN analyst Cliff Drysdale Management. CEO Don Henderson will attend the open house.

Williams is a former tennis instructor with Peter Burwash International. In addition to the Mount Pleasant Racquet Club project, he owns the Centre Court Tennis Pro Shop off Shelmore Boulevard in Mount Pleasant.

The new complex will include more than 600,000 square feet of facilities with food service, a pool, social function areas and more. Pre-construction work has started on the facility, according to Williams. The 15-acre site is located approximately 10 miles north of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

Remember LTP ITFs

Name a prominent young American women’s professional tennis star, and the odds are that their route to prominence went through LTP Tennis and one or more of its many ITF women’s circuit tournaments.

Just for starters, try out Gauff, Townsend, Whitney Osuigwe, McNally, Sofia Kenin, Lauren Davis, Jessica Pegula, Danielle Collins, Caroline Dolehide, Ajla Tomljanovic, Iga Swiatek and Aleksandra Krunic. All 12 were in the U.S. Open’s singles main draw, and all came through LTP events in the last three years.

Another of the LTP ITF tournaments is scheduled for Sept. 30 through Oct. 6. The fall ITF at LTP Tennis hasn’t been as prominent as the spring version’s $80K and $100K have been the last three years. That’s because the fall ITF has been $15K and $25K events.

The one coming up in about three weeks is a $60K event. That means that many of the players will be listed among the world’s top 300.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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