Palmetto State Racket

Month: April, 2014

Overcoming surgeries and falls, 75 and older Rock Hill team keeps playing and living

by Jonathon Braden

Dan and Don

Rock Hill’s Dan Cotter, 74 (left) and Don Mole, 87

ROCK HILL, S.C. – At 74, Dan Cotter is older than 94 percent of everyone who lived in South Carolina in 2010.

He is also just two years shy of the average life expectancy for males born in the U.S.

On the USTA South Carolina league team that Cotter captains, though, his age brings him a welcome distinction: youngest on the team.

Cotter plays on an adult 75 and over squad with players ages 74 to 87. (He can play on the team because he turns 75 later this year.)

The players, like most 70-somethings and 80-somethings, have had health scares and illnesses and surgeries. They have spent months, sometimes years, away from the game, either rehabbing or resting their bodies.

But Cotter and his teammates have always returned to physical activity. They haven’t let anything, including cancer, back surgery or torn rotator cuffs, keep them from active lives. And they have found tennis, a lifelong sport, the most enjoyable way to stay fit.

“Everybody this age has physical issues,” Cotter said. “They don’t stand around and feel sorry for themselves … They do this in spite of what’s wrong.”

Cotter and his teammates also do it well.

Thursday through Saturday, Cotter’s team will compete for a USTA South Carolina State League Championship on Hilton Head Island. The adult 75 and over championship will feature 17 teams from across the state.

South Carolina is the only state in the nine-state USTA Southern Section that offers formal league play and state championships for its 75 and older players. South Carolina has offered the 75 and over leagues and state championships since the early 2000s, said Bonnie Sue Duncan, state league coordinator for this weekend’s championships.

Seeing players in their 70s and 80s still hustling on court reminds Duncan what tennis is all about. “It is a lifelong sport,” she said.

Tennis has been a lifelong activity for most of Cotter’s team.

He played recreationally as a kid growing up in Oklahoma. About 30 years ago, he started playing USTA league tennis.

It hasn’t always been easy put-aways, though.

In the late 1990s, Cotter went to the doctor complaining about lower back pain.

The doctor told him he would need back surgery because nerves were clogging in his lower back. But first, the doctor told him, he would need quadruple bypass surgery.

Cotter also has had prostate cancer. His shoulders are both bone-on-bone. And he can’t control his left middle finger.

No big deal, he said. “I got all that behind me.”

He also has had to manage his pain and his playing frequency as he’s aged.

Last fall, during a different USTA SC State League Championship, Cotter played four matches in three days, a lot of tennis for any player, but especially a lot for a 74-year-old.

For the next couple days, Cotter could barely get out of bed without piercing pain.

A couple months later, he received an injection of a mixture of steroid and cortisone. He receives the injection a couple times a year.

Despite the pain, Cotter isn’t talking about stopping. Sitting in the Rock Hill Tennis Center, where he plays three times a week with 32 other guys, Cotter smiles often and speaks with pride about his team possibly winning a state league championship and competing in future USTA leagues.

Twice, Cotter has taken adult league tennis teams to USTA National Championships.

“He is the total coordinator,” said Kim Ozmon, tennis coordinator for the City of Rock Hill.

Cotter’s teammate Joe White has had setbacks as well, but White also plans to keep playing as long as he can.

“Tennis is a part of my physical, mental and emotional health plan,” White said.

The way White see it, at 78, he has two options: “I either play tennis every day, or sit on my butt and get fat and old and die younger than I should.”

He has pursued option one, playing tennis.

White plays at least five times a week for a couple hours each time.

He grew up playing a few sports, including tennis, and played football at Wake Forest University.

At Wake Forest, he weighed 168 pounds and could eat whatever he wanted.

Years later, after he got married and he and his wife had a few children, White weighed 220 pounds.

He had to get moving again.

But he liked to run only when he had a ball in his hand, and he had never enjoyed walking to walk.

So he became more serious about tennis. He started playing a couple times a week, mostly on weekends. He also played in the occasional tournament.

“If you sit around and eat and don’t have some type of physical plan,” White said, “then you’re going to die young.”

Playing tennis, he said, is how he plans to live as long as his late parents, who were 96 when they died. Playing tennis is also how White plans to stay mentally alert and healthy. (His late parents had dementia when they died.)

He also plans to live another 20 years by staying off of ladders. Four years ago, White was on an eight-foot ladder, putting away an old sign in his garage, when he fell.

He broke his collarbone; his right shoulder popped out of the socket; and his rotator cuff was detached in three places.

White spent four hours in surgery, and another nine months enduring rehab and pain. But these days, he again has full range of motion.

He said the old injury is why “my serve is 15 miles per hour and my overhead is ugly.”

At the 75 and over championships, White and others might not leave with a championship sign. The 75 and older group can get competitive in South Carolina, with retiree havens such as Hilton Head Island.

But Cotter and White still will be back on the tennis court next week, working on their forehands and backhands, extending their tennis careers – and their lives – with each swing.

Palmetto State Freshman Clean Up Conference Awards; Other Postseason Awards

by Jonathon Braden

A year ago, the trio of Adam Steryous, Ansley Speaks and Hayley Carter were dominating juniors across South Carolina and beyond. This spring, they continued their strong play at the collegiate level, and their peers and coaches noticed.

All three former South Carolina juniors earned conference awards as their collegiate regular seasons ended earlier this month.

ADAM STERYOUS

Steryous, who plays at Furman University in Greenville, was named the Southern Conference Men’s Tennis Freshman of the Year. The league’s head coaches voted on the award, and they were not allowed to vote for their own student-athletes.

From the Furman news release:

Steryous becomes just the third Paladin, and the first since Eric Ward in 2001, to be named the league’s Freshman of the Year.  After starting the season at the No. 3 singles spot, Steryous moved up to the No. 2 position and ultimately took over Furman’s No. 1 singles slot where he posted a record of 7-5.  Originally from Taylors, S.C., Steryous went 14-7 overall this spring and was 7-2 in league play.

Steryous also earned an even bigger honor for his play this year: all-conference first team.

ANSLEY SPEAKS

Not to be outdone by a Furman men’s tennis player, Speaks, of Simpsonville, garnered an even more illustrious award: 2014 Southern Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Year. She also was named the Southern Conference Women’s Tennis Freshman of the Year.

From Furman:

Speaks went 15-5 in singles competition for the Paladins, including a 7-1 mark at No. 1 singles in conference play.  Thirteen of her 15 victories came in straight sets this spring.  Speaks, who becomes the ninth different female from Furman to earn the Player of the Year Award, is the first since Monica Arguello in 2011. Arguello was also the last Paladin player to win the Freshman of the Year Award in 2008.

Speaks’ coach had another OK year, too. Longtime Furman coach Debbie Southern was named the Southern Conference Coach of the Year.

Southern, who is in her 30th year at the helm of the Paladin program, was named the Coach of the Year by her peers after guiding the Paladins to a 16-5 finish in the regular season.  Furman went 9-0 in conference play to earn the top seed in this week’s Southern Conference Tournament.  Four of Southern’s players earned postseason awards this season.  This marks the 14th time Southern has won the award.

HAYLEY CARTER

Although Carter left the Palmetto State for that one school in Chapel Hill, we’re happy to still claim her, especially after the freshman year she had. Carter was named the ACC Women’s Tennis Freshman of the Year. She became the first North Carolina Tar Heel to receive the honor.

From UNC:

Carter, from Hilton Head, S.C., is ranked No. 5 nationally with a 41-6 overall singles record. She went 12-1 in ACC play and 20-2 in dual matches playing all spring on court No. 2.

She also was voted to the nine-player All-ACC first team by the league’s 15 head coaches.

UNC’s No. 1 player is also the country’s No. 1 player, Jamie Loeb. Loeb is also Carter’s doubles partner. From UNC, “Loeb and Carter also make up the No. 3 doubles tandem in the country with a 30-3 overall mark. They went 9-0 against the ACC and are a perfect 16-0 in dual matches.”

Not a bad freshman year for Carter, either, we’d say. She’s also pretty good at Twinterviews.

CLEMSON COACH RECEIVES HONOR

Clemson’s Nancy Harris was a freshman years ago, and her tennis wisdom has only increased since then. This spring, Harris was named ACC Coach of the Year.

From Orange and White:

Clemson’s Nancy Harris has been honored as the ACC’s Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year and Yana Koroleva, Beatrice Gumulya and Romy Koelzer earned All-ACC honors.

The awards are selected by the conference’s 15 head coaches. Clemson finished the regular season 20-5 overall and tied for the ACC regular season championship with a 12-2 mark in conference matches.

It is the first career ACC Coach of the Year honor for Harris, who joins Andy Johnston (1983, 1985, 1986, 1993) as Clemson’s head women’s tennis coaches to claim the award.

Check out the slick images of the Clemson award winners here.

The Garnet and Black also earned their share of postseason awards.

From USC women’s tennis:

Junior Elixane Lechemia from the No. 28-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team became just the fifth Gamecock in school history to earn All-SEC First Team accolades, the league office announced Wednesday.

“Eli has been our most improved player since arriving in January of 2013,” head coachKevin Epley said. “She has had some rough patches but has tirelessly pressed forward. We couldn’t be happier how she finished the regular season. She is definitely getting attention within the conference. Still, she has not hit her ceiling and we look for her to continue to improve into next year.”

USC men’s tennis:

South Carolina junior Andrew Adams (Laurel, Md./Laurel Springs) earned a spot on the All-SEC Second Team for the second-consecutive season, and Andrew Schafer (Hilton Head Island, S.C./Hilton Head Prep) was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team, the league announced today. In voting by the league’s coaches, Adams became the first Gamecock to repeat All-SEC honors since Diego Cubas in 2009 and 2010 and just the fourth Gamecock to do it since South Carolina joined the conference for the 1992 season.

“This is recognition well deserved for both players,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “They’ve been two of the more important spots on our team. Andrew Adams stepped into the No. 1 position and delivered signature wins to lead the team late in the season. Andrew Schafer’s win percentage as a freshman is a tremendous accomplishment.”

P.S. Thanks to a former USTA South Carolina staffer and current USTA Southern staffer for the headline.

Weekend Wrap-Up: Tennis in The State, Serena talking S.C., and college tennis

by Jonathon Braden

Good morning, and happy day after Easter to all who celebrate!

While we were busy either playing tennis or observing the holiday, a lot of tennis was being played all over the South.

  • The SEC Men’s Tennis Tournament concluded in Nashville. Non-spoiler alert: USC did not win the tournament, but the team that eliminated USC did win the SEC Men’s Tennis Tournament. Find out who that team was here. The USC men now await the NCAA Tournament field announcement on April 29.
  • The USC women also came up short; they fell to top-seeded Alabama. See the entire SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament bracket here.
  • The Clemson men and women will be in action later this week during the ACC Tournament.

On this Boston Marathon day, make sure to read about the Van der Meer tennis instructor who will be running his 39th Boston Marathon today.

And, if you like good news, especially make time to read about Catherine and McKenna Savoca of Heathwood Hall hosting FREE tennis clinics. That’s what we at the USTA call growing the game.

From the great story in The State newspaper:

As students at Heathwood Hall, sisters Catherine and McKenna Savoca are required to take part in community service work every semester.

But instead of taking the usual route of getting involved in an established program, the sisters hatched a plan to pair their school requirement with their love of tennis.

The result is “What A Racket” – a grassroots series of clinics the Savocas put on free for kids who never have picked up a racquet before.

A more familiar tennis name to us, Serena Williams, talked about our state again.

From Fitness:

Is it hard to stick to the diet when you’re traveling?

I love Southern food. I don’t try to eat healthy when I’m in South Carolina for the Family Circle Cup tournament. I eat shrimp and grits with butter on top, fried chicken, and, oh, do I eat the fried hush puppies! And the banana pudding — mmm, mmm, mmm! I let myself go that whole week and then another week after that.

Check out the complete interview here.

Enjoy your Monday!

Traveling the world, and still favoring Hilton Head Island

by Jonathon Braden

Alison Riske, the No. 47-ranked women’s tennis player in the world, has experienced countless new cities and experiences while traveling the world for her job.

One of her favorite spots, though, is a destination she got to know years before she was winning matches at Wimbledon: Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Alison Riske competing at the Family Circle Cup last week on Daniel Island, S.C.  (Family Circle Cup/Alice Keeney)

Alison Riske competing at the 2014 Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island, S.C. (Family Circle Cup/Alice Keeney)

Riske loves enjoying clear skies and 70-degree weather no matter the month she visits. She cherishes walking the ocean whenever she can. For the handful of hours she’s not sleeping, playing tennis or training, she also proudly indulges in another important exercise: eating on Hilton Head Island.

“I do a lot of eating,” she said. “That’s my main concern.”

Riske, who used to train on Hilton Head Island full-time, recently returned to her former residence. She stayed and trained on Hilton Head Island for a few days before heading north to Daniel Island, S.C., for the Family Circle Cup.

If you missed her on Hilton Head Island, experience what she did and try out her dining favorites.

She prefers Watusi for its steaming cups of coffee, “funky” chair upholstery and frozen yogurt. She loves Vine, a newer Italian spot in the Coligny Plaza. Order the oysters, she recommends. And if you’re in a hurry, you cannot go wrong with the chicken burrito from Fiesta Fresh, Riske said.

Riske said confidence in her game has led to more success at Majors. In March, she played at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island, S.C.  (Family Circle Cup/Alice Keeney)

Riske said confidence in her game has led to more success at Majors. In March, she played at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island, S.C. (Family Circle Cup/Alice Keeney)

“(Hilton Head) has so many places to explore,” she said.

She first explored Hilton Head Island while in high school, around 2004.

Her sister, Sarah Riske, a former all-SEC tennis player and touring professional, was training there. Alison Riske came to visit but decided to stay. (Her family had shown its love of Hilton Head Island years earlier, purchasing a condominium near Sea Pines.)

In 2004, Riske’s first year on Hilton Head Island, she played all over: Long Cove Club, Sea Pines, Palmetto Bluff and Indigo Run.

Around 2005, she started training full-time at Van der Meer Tennis. While training there, Riske made significant decisions and progress. She decided to turn pro in 2008, two weeks before she was going to start classes at Vanderbilt University.

By the time she left Van der Meer in 2009, her ranking was in the low 200s, up from 895 in 2008. “Mrs. Van der Meer was always wonderful to me and she still is,” Riske said.

Riske now trains with Marc Lucero near Los Angeles. Lucero is a former USTA Player Development coach. With Lucero, Riske wants to continue improving her already impressive results.

Last year at Wimbledon, she won her first matches at a Grand Slam, reaching the round of 32. She continued the good times in New York. At last year’s U.S. Open, Riske defeated two seeded opponents, including 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, before losing in the round of 16.

The difference, Riske said, has been confidence. “I just believe I belong where I am,” she said.

Where she is now, outside Los Angeles, is thousands of miles from Hilton Head Island. But Riske will always an affinity for the tennis capital.

“If my family is in Pittsburgh then that’s home,” she said. “If my family is on Hilton Head, then that’s my home.”

Weekend Wrap-Up: USTA Tennis On Campus Nationals, Clemson, USC

by Jonathon Braden

What a weekend for tennis in South Carolina. Not only did we have perfect weather throughout the state for the recreational types, including yours truly, there were plenty of tennis matches to watch, or occasionally check on if you were watching Bubba win his second green jacket.

Let’s start with last weekend’s best tennis event: 2014 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championships. The event, which took place in Surprise, Ariz., brought together the 64 best collegiate club tennis teams across the country for one weekend to determine the national champion.

It’s sort of like the NCAA’s March Madness, but without the cheating allegations, big-time money and TV deals. Students at the USTA’s Tennis On Campus National Championships also probably have more fun, too.

Representing the Palmetto State was the club team from the state’s flagship university, University of South Carolina. The Gamecocks represented the state well. They finished 13th at the national invitational. Well done, Gamecocks!

Read more about the Gamecock club team in this USTA South Carolina Twinterview.

Sticking with USC, the men’s tennis team had a winning road trip. They blanked Murray State, fell to Kentucky but came back and beat Vanderbilt on Sunday to finish the road trip 2-1.

Below, Josh Goffi, USC men’s tennis coach, on Sunday’s effort against Vanderbilt. In a word, pumped.

We kicked and scrapped our way through that match with unwavering determination. These guys are true warriors, and we’ve been waiting to see this kind of tenacity from them all year. Today, with our backs against the wall, we brought it.

Next up for the USC men, the SEC Men’s Tennis Tournament in Nashville, which starts Wednesday.

The USC women’s tennis team split their matches against Kentucky and Vanderbilt over the weekend. The women battled against No. 5 Vanderbilt on Sunday, though, falling 2-4.

Hear USC coach Kevin Epley describe the close contest.

The SEC tournament is also next up for the women; they’re playing in Missouri’s Columbia, Columbia, Mo.

Clemson had a busy tennis weekend as well. The men fell in a couple tough contests against the schools near Tobacco Road.

But the losses take little away from the strong season the Tigers have enjoyed. They’re 18-7, including 5-5 in ACC play. They also came excruciatingly close to knocking off No. 4 Virginia earlier this month.

The Clemson men next head to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech on Friday.

The No.15 Clemson women, like the USC women, split their weekend matches, too, including a 4-3 loss to No. 16 Miami on Sunday.

Next for the Clemson women? Even better competition: No. 1 Duke and No. 3 North Carolina. Fun times for coach Nancy Harris and the Tigers.

Below, hear what Harris had to say about the Miami match:

And we can’t forget about South Carolina’s favorite tennis player, Shelby Rogers. She’s in the news again this week as the No. 1 seed in Dothan.

Good luck to the collegiate teams, Shelby and you during your matches this week.

What’d we miss?

From Charleston to the WTA Tour, Shelby Rogers is ready for more success

by Jonathon Braden

In 2009, Shelby Rogers was a 16-year-old girl caught between practical thinking and her childhood dream.

Rogers, who grew up in Charleston and started playing tennis at age 4, was deciding whether to continue her tennis career as an amateur or turn pro. She eventually settled on the latter, becoming the first junior tennis player from Charleston to turn professional.

“I just felt like I would always regret it if I didn’t try,” Rogers said.

Shelby Rogers pumps her fist to celebrate a big point against Daniela Hantuchova on March 31 at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston. (USTA South Carolina.)

Shelby Rogers pumps her fist to celebrate a big point against Daniela Hantuchova on March 31 at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston. (USTA South Carolina.)

She has struggled, like most teenagers competing in professional sports. But five years later, Rogers, now 21, has experienced success on the Women’s Tennis Association tour and is set to continue that in 2014.

On March 31, she achieved her highest singles ranking yet, at No. 109. Earlier last month, she earned one of the biggest wins of her career, beating Petra Cetkovska, No. 90 in the world at the time, in straight sets.

Last year, Rogers also won her first match in a Grand Slam main draw, advancing to the second round of the French Open.

“Being the first person to (turn pro) is exciting but at the same time, it’s a little nerve-racking,” Rogers said. “Right now, I have no regrets… I’m really happy I did make that choice.”

The decision looks better because Rogers has worked to improve every day, said Bryan Minton, Rogers’ former coach in Charleston.

Minton coached Rogers from age 6 to 17 at the Family Circle Tennis Center. When she was 17, Rogers left to train at the USTA National Center in Boca Raton, Fla.
Even when she was in middle school and high school, Minton said, Rogers’ work ethic stood out.

When some kids reach high school, they might miss a Friday practice because they go to a football game with some friends. Soon, the kids are skipping Saturday practices because of sleepovers, and weeks later, something else comes up, and the kids are missing weeks at a time.

That never happened with Rogers, Minton said.

“She knew she wanted to be a tennis player. She knew it was going to take sacrifice,” he said. “Obviously she’s talented, and she’s also very willing to work on the things she’s not good at to make herself better.”

Lately, Rogers has focused on getting in better shape.

She always ran sprints or ran on the treadmill, Minton said, but conditioning was never something Rogers enjoyed nor did she want to work at it for long periods of time.
These days, though, Rogers works with Pat Etcheberry, the well-known trainer who has worked with numerous tennis greats, such as Pete Sampras, Justine Henin and Jim Courier.

On a recent day, Minton said, just one part of Rogers’ workout with Etcheberry was 60 50-yard sprints.

How she views fitness also has changed, Minton said; Rogers loves getting in better shape.

Rogers said her improved fitness level has given her more confidence on the court.

“Everybody is superhuman almost,” Rogers said of her peers. “These girls won’t miss a ball, and you have to get to a point where you’re confident you can stay out there.”

She’s also has had more success because she has learned how to play against the world’s top players.

Better fitness and more confidence has let Rogers compete better against players like Hantuchova. (USTA South Carolina photo.)

A focus on fitness and more confidence has let Rogers compete better against players like Hantuchova. (USTA South Carolina photo.)

She hits with more topspin than she used to, which gives her more room for error on her shots. She also tries to better pick when to hit big and go for winners.

Rogers looked much improved earlier this week at the Family Circle Cup, her hometown tournament.

In first-round play, Rogers outplayed world-No. 32 Daniela Hantuchova for much of the match on Stadium Court. Rogers served for the first set and twice served for the second set but was unable to close either set. Hantuchova won in straight sets, 7-5, 7-5.

After the match, Rogers said that although she wished she would have won the match, she was glad to show family and friends how much she has improved. An emotional Rogers also promised to keep working.

“I try to treat it just like any other match, but in reality it’s not,” she said. “I’m just really blessed that I get to play here and be a part of such an incredible event.”

Rogers, Riske share love of tennis and S.C. at Family Circle Cup

by Jonathon Braden

They are two of the top-110 ranked women tennis players in the world. Both play as part of a generation striving to succeed Serena and Venus as the best American women tennis players.

Alison Riske and Shelby Rogers also have another thing in common: their love of South Carolina.

Riske and Rogers have both called the Palmetto State home for lengthy stretches during their respective careers. They have trained here and also had fun here, exploring the beaches and trails of Charleston and Hilton Head Island.

They also make it back as frequently as their 12-month playing schedules allow. This week, they’ve returned for the 42nd annual Family Circle Cup.

“The site is so fan-friendly,” Riske said. “And the fans themselves are awesome.”

Rogers, though, can claim longer tenure.

Shelby Rogers savors every chance she gets to play in her hometown of Charleston. On Monday, she played Daniela Hantuchova on Billie Jean King Stadium Court at the Family Circle Cup. USTA SC photo.

Shelby Rogers savors every chance she gets to play in her hometown of Charleston. On Monday, she played Daniela Hantuchova on Billie Jean King Stadium Court at the Family Circle Cup. (USTA South Carolina photo.)

She grew up in Mount Pleasant until her family moved to Daniel Island. At 6 years old, Rogers started playing at the Family Circle Tennis Center, the host site of the Family Circle Cup. Her playing time eventually became training time, and Rogers turned pro at 17. A year later, she left the Charleston center to train full-time at the USTA Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla.

Charleston, however, is still very much home. When she plays in the Family Circle Cup, Rogers stays at home, sleeps in the same bed she slept in years ago and lets her mother cook her fine Southern cuisine.

Her drive to the Family Circle Tennis Center: five minutes.

“It’s been so nice being home,” Rogers said.

(She did not get a home-court draw, though. Rogers played 12th-seeded Daniela Hantuchova, who’s ranked No. 32 in the world, in the first round.)

Riske, No. 48 in Monday’s rankings, grew up in Pittsburgh but was introduced to Hilton Head Island while in high school. Riske’s sister, Sarah, a former All-SEC player at Vanderbilt University and touring professional, was training on Hilton Head Island at the time, around 2004.

Alison Riske loved the consistent warm weather and the deluge of things to do, such as biking the paths or walking the ocean.

She had a place to stay as well; her family already owned a condominium near Sea Pines.

In 2005, Riske decided to train full-time with Van Der Meer Tennis on Hilton Head Island. She stayed there for about four years.

“Mrs. Van der Meer was always wonderful to me and she still is,” Riske said.

Eventually, Riske’s parents fell in love with South Carolina as well. They bought a condominium near Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. Riske, after playing in Miami last week, stayed at the family condo before coming to Charleston.

“Pittsburgh and Hilton Head are my two homes,” Riske said. “If my family is in Pittsburgh, then that’s home. If my family is in Hilton Head, then that’s my home.”

This week, both Rogers and Riske will add new memories to their South Carolina reservoir. They’ll also appreciate another opportunity to play in front of family and friends.

“It’s a really special thing,” Rogers said of playing at home. “We never dreamed that I would get so far.”

Looking Ahead: FCC, USC, BB&T

by Jonathon Braden

Starting today, we’ll be taking an occasional look into the future for you. The “Looking Ahead” feature will help you plan your weekends of tennis. Or, should you have other, less exciting projects in mind, the feature will remind you of what you should be doing.

And what better day to start looking ahead than today, with South Carolina’s finest tournament, the Family Circle Cup, in full swing. The field for the 42nd annual Family Circle Cup is packed, with six former champions, including Serena Williams, who will be going for her fourth FCC title. Go here if you’re looking for tickets.

Go here to read what it’s like prepping for the largest women’s only tennis tournament in the world.

Also, check out a photo of the Family Circle Cup special section in The Post and Courier.

Can’t make it to Charleston next week? Watch the tournament on your computer.

Serves and Volleys

USTA Southern had a big player announcement this week about the BB&T Atlanta Open, which takes place in July in downtown Atlanta.

Playing this weekend? Remember Lauren Stewart’s “10-Minute Tennis Tip.”

Enjoy!