Charleston’s Shelby Rogers has climbed during the past year from “nowhere” to No. 113 among the world’s top women’s tennis players after missing an entire year with knee surgery.
The 27-year-old is currently at a standstill in her career, not because of her physicality but, of course, due to coronavirus and worldwide athletic suspensions.
“I’m still training and getting stronger the best I can,” Rogers reported on Friday. “I’m obviously very sad not to be playing because I felt my game was progressing well . . . happy to be healthy though and will do my best to stay in shape for when we do get to play.
“(I am) hoping everyone stays safe and makes the best decisions for the future.”
Of course, nothing is anticipated happening on the WTA Tour until at least the grass-court season and Wimbledon. With the French Open already postponed until September, Wimbledon officials report that they are monitoring the situation closely.
Rogers, like most of the world’s elite athletes, can only wait and hope.
Local tennis activity
With almost everything already canceled or suspended, there isn’t a great deal of activity in the local tennis community during this coronavirus season. But there is still some tennis.
Take West Ashley’s Charleston Tennis Center, for instance. The courts are still open in the daytime to members by using the side gates. But the clubhouse is now closed as of 5 p.m. Friday, according to a city tennis official.
Over at LTP Mount Pleasant, activity definitely has slowed down at the Randy Pate Tennis Academy. “We are only doing private lessons … no group activities,” said namesake Randy Pate.
Private lessons at the LTP Volvo Car Open complex on Daniel Island have been discontinued, according to Patrick Hieber, the tennis director for both LTP facilities.
“We are still having individual membership play,” Hieber said. “All of our members and players have been doing a really good job with social distancing and using common sense in these challenging times.”
Hieber did confirm that “Emma (2019 world’s No. 3 junior Emma Navarro) is training.”
Will local USTA league tennis be able to complete its championship spring season? That’s the big question for the almost 4,000 players that compete in the Lowcountry Tennis Association.
But no one locally or in the state has the answer to the question.
It’s up to the governing body of tennis America, otherwise known as the U.S. Tennis Association.
USTA president/chairman Patrick J. Galbraith has set the present suspension of USTA tennis operations as through April 20. USTA league tennis falls under that umbrella as does adult and junior tournaments, Junior Team Tennis, USTA Schools programs, Tennis on Campus, Wheelchair Events and USTA Pro Circuit Events.
As of Friday, the LCTA web page stated that “South Carolina/USTA League Matches Suspended Until 3/27/2020 and Reviewed.” The USTA’s TennisLink web page that is used by all league players and captains to join and form LCTA teams, and post results states that “This Suspension is in effect thru April 20.”
High school tennis is altogether different from USTA events, whether the S.C. High School League or SCISA’S independent schools such as Porter-Gaud.
“We are not allowed to practice or play matches per SCISA,” said Porter-Gaud assistant coach Charlotte Hartsock.
Porter-Gaud head coach Jonathan Barth reported, “We are still playing tennis on Kiawah (Island where he is the director of tennis). I haven’t heard the official word on the Porter-Gaud season yet, but I’m expecting to hear soon.”
At Bishop England where the Bishops were ready to compete for a third straight SCHSL state title, coach Kristin Fleming Arnold said, “We aren’t allowed to practice since school is canceled. It doesn’t look good for tennis or school to reopen.”
Philip Simmons coach Richard Schulz, whose loaded Iron Horses were a virtual shoo-in to win another state title, always puts things into context:
“Regretfully every email is stronger about not practicing with kids … not going into the field house … not this, not doing that.
“No school wants to be the one that did something wrong. I had three matches (scheduled) this week (that were cancelled). And on Saturday, it was (going to be) my best vs. Hilton Head – Coy Simon vs. Hilton Head’s No. 1.”
Of course, Schulz has maybe the best group of players ever assembled on one South Carolina high school tennis team.
As for me, I am fine. I would love to be practicing a couple of times a week with the 3.5 18-plus team I captain, but at the present time I am not practicing. I am still riding my bike 1-3 miles most afternoons with my little black dachshund Rafa aboard in his handlebar basket, and then executing my nightly floor exercises of 525 repetitions.
I also often take a few minutes to work on my strokes on my Billie Jean King Eye Machine on my back porch, just in case we are able to complete this league tennis season or at least are able to compete in a mixed doubles season.