Wednesday and Thursday at the Family Circle Cup were meaty days, packed with matches on multiple courts and tennis mirth. On Wednesday, the Charleston Young Professionals hosted a happy hour with Ketel One and live music from local cover band Two 3 Ways. The Grand Lawn is a tiny ritzy tent city of respite from the sun and the matches, and it’s where many parties and events are held. Basically, the grass is greener over there.
The Wii Tennis tournament that started at the Kickin’ Chicken several weeks ago had its final matches right next to the main stadium, at a luxury gaming trailer parked on the walkway. College-aged guys battled it out with their controllers and after many quick rounds, Morgan Hallman was victorious. He was hilariously decked out in John McEnroe-inspired attire with the requisite headband and mop of hair. Hallman won a trip to New York, two tennis racquets, and a bunch of Cup merch as well as tickets. He jumped for joy after smoking a cigarette and said he was most excited about seeing his idol in person at the Game. Set. Rock. event on Saturday night.
A gaggle of girls strolled around decked out in their fashiony tribute to tennis star Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who is know for her Lady Gaga-like expressions of individuality on the court. She was fined once at the U.S. Open for wearing a cowboy hat during a match. Her outfits have been chronicled in many publications but her iconic look starts with the knee socks and basketball shoes. From there, it could involve cleavage (there is a famous shot of a ball boy a bit mesmerized by this look on her), a bowler hat, tiny running shorts, or leopard-print prints.
Wednesday’s night matches on center court featured one of Daniel Island’s own, Shelby Rogers, playing doubles with tennis vet Patty Schnyder. They barely lost their match after a tie-break duel at the end. Rogers was once a ball girl on the very court she played on, handing Jennifer Capriati flowers after her win some 10 years ago. There was a small but emotional ceremony after the match for Schnyder, who is retiring after having played at the Cup for the last 15 years.
Thursday had the top players trying to advance to the quarterfinals. World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki had a tough fight against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova that ended up being one of the tournament’s most exciting matches so far. There was a lot of grunting and racquet-throwing going on as well as some negative self-talk in her native tongue from Wozniacki’s opponent but the stakes were high.
Typically, watching doubles is not as interesting as watching singles. Being on a team reduces the stress somewhat so there are fewer meltdowns and less drama for the spectators to feast on. Thursday’s nights center court doubles match was full of excitement though, partly because of the Bethanie’s star quality, but mostly from the quality of play. The American team of Mattek-Sands and Shaughnessy won the match after more than two hours of intense play. The crowd roared when Bethanie put away another overhead smash, hitting the ball so it bounced high into the stands. These women are like gladiators with nice legs and fancy racquets.