What impact will the changing of the guard at Family Circle Tennis Center and the Volvo Car Open to an all-local management have on Charleston tennis?
When the deal closed last Wednesday on Ben Navarro's acquisition of the Volvo Car Open and all operations at Family Circle Tennis Center, Navarro said, "This is going to be great for junior tennis and tennis in Charleston."
That's almost a given, considering the impact Navarro's LTP Tennis complex in Mount Pleasant already has had on local tennis at all levels, especially national class juniors as well as juniors who dream about achieving such a high level of competitiveness. LTP Tennis has become a jewel for national junior tournaments and women's pro circuit events.
Of course, you probably won't notice many changes in the short term at the Volvo Car Open. The long line of Volvos on display will still be shiny and lucrative. And on the court, what could go wrong with a tournament that has Grand Slam champions such as Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens in its lineup, along with at least one local player in the main draw, junior star Emma Navarro. Maybe two, if Shelby Rogers bounces back successfully from her knee injury.
I'm already excited, along with probably most of the local tennis community.
But in a merger of this magnitude, there could be many questions to be answered.
What will be the impact of LTP Tennis' Randy Pate Academy and FCTC's MWTennis Academy working under the same umbrella?
Will the area land even more tournaments such as LTP Tennis' $80K U.S. Women's Pro Circuit event? Maybe even a men's pro circuit event? Or maybe a junior Volvo Car Open? The old Junior Family Circle Cup is missed.
What about another Davis Cup or Fed Cup tie?
The area now has two great facilities under one management. That can be nothing but good news for local tennis fans.
And don't forget to toss in the proposed new 32-court clay court facility out on Hwy. 17 North. Just think what six indoor clay courts could do for the tournaments at LTP Tennis on a rainy day or even the Volvo Car Open qualifying tournament on a rainy weekend.
Of course, Randy Pate is all for the Mount Pleasant Racquet Club and its proposed six indoor courts. Rainy days can play havoc with an intense session of academy training.
DELORES JACKSON DAY
Charleston's intra-city Courting Kids program has thrived for 27 years under the direction of founder/director Delores Jackson.
Jackson has officially retired from that position, and Saturday a large group of alumni from the program and local dignitaries, including former City of Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley and current Mayor John Tecklenburg, were on hand for an emotional celebration for Jackson at the downtown Jack Adams Tennis Center.
Mayor Tecklenburg proclaimed Saturday as "Delores Jackson Day in Charleston." A banner also was unfurled renaming the nationally recognized kids program as the Delores Jackson Courting Kids Program.
CPTL IN SPOTLIGHT
The Charleston Pro Tennis League was in the spotlight on Friday night at Family Circle Tennis Center, playing before a large crowd of local league tennis fans and participants.
Phil Whitesell's CPTL group put on a lively show for the Lowcountry Tennis Association's annual party, especially on the Althea Gibson Club Court. There was plenty of barbecue and roasted chicken to keep the merry crowd just that way.
Former Clemson player Sam Edwards won the Club Court battle in a 24-point tiebreaker that kept the LCTA crowd entertained. Edwards' LCTA team lost the match to Whitesell's HSI team.
The next CPTL session will be held at the I'On Club on Friday, Oct. 5.
LOCAL JUNIORS SHINE
South Carolina's juniors don't have to take a back seat to Georgia any longer at the Southern Cup, thanks largely to the Charleston area and the Randy Pate Academy, which combined to fill eight of the 18 spots on the S.C. team
The S.C. team won the competition for the first time in 25 years last weekend in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Huntley Allen, Coy Simon, Anna Ross, Lara Schneider, Allie Gretkowski and Meggie Navarro represented LTP, while MWTennis' Max Smith and Wild Dunes' Alice Otis also played on the team that included three boys and three girls from each of the 14s, 16s and 18s age groups.
Bishop England and Oceanside Collegiate appear to be the teams to beat in local girls high school tennis this fall. Coach Phil Whitesell's OCA team demonstrated its power on Saturday morning in the BE Invitational with a 6-0 romp past a strong and deep Wando team that had lost only to Bishop England.
"They have a great team," second-year Wando coach Megan Hinton said about OCA, which advanced to Sunday morning's tournament final.
It's nice that Bishop England and Oceanside are in different classes, with BE in Class AAA going for an eighth consecutive state championship and Class AA OCA hoping to win a state title in its first year of eligibility for the playoffs.
-- Brenda Carter captained the USTA's women's 70 Althea Gibson Cup team to a second-place finish in the Super Seniors world team championships this past week in Umag, Croatia.
-- There are still a few months before 2019 kicks in, but Emma Navarro already is planning a January trip to Australia to play in the Junior Australian Open.
-- Hopefully, Shelby Rogers will be ready to compete on the WTA Tour by the start of 2019. The latest word on Shelby is that the knee that underwent surgery earlier this year is looking healthy again. That was the word from Steven Goldstein at the U.S. Open. Goldstein worked the Tennis Channel broadcast of this summer's National Girls 18 Clay Courts from LTP Tennis with Rogers.
-- Former Rogers coach Bryan Minton has left the staff at MWTennis Academy. Minton has been one of the area's leading pros for more than a decade.
-- Huntley Allen and his dad, Randy Pate, flew into Los Angeles this weekend to start official visits for Huntley to Pepperdine and Southern Methodist.