Vera Zvonareva has come to Charleston in need of a title. Could this be the place? A two-time finalist at the Family Circle Cup (2008/2010), Vera takes on Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele today. Voegele is a qualifier on a tear. This match could be an upset in the making.
FamilyCircleCup.com Straw Poll Results
2,168 votes cast (67 % reporting)
- Lisicki, Sabine 595
- Williams, Serena 568
- Radwanska, Aga 449
- Stosur, Samantha 175
- Goerges, Julia 128
- Jankovic, Jelena 121
- Bartoli, Marion 67
- Zvonareva, Vera 65
The Family Circle Cup Straw Poll is still too close to call as of 7:00 a.m.
At first, we were mystified that Sabine Lisicki was a close second to Serena Williams in FamilyCircleCup.com’s “I’m excited to watch this top 8 seed…” poll. Then, yesterday, Lisicki took a small but significant lead over Serena Williams.
It turns out that there’s a Karl Rove in the mix, better known as the Twitter account of @TeamSabine. The group garnered Lisicki’s camp a couple of hundred votes in the last few days. Based on our exit polling demonstrating the SuperPAC influence of @TeamSabine, Tennis East Coast is close to projecting that Sabine Lisicki will win the South Carolina Straw Poll at FamilyCircleCup.com when all the votes are counted.
The most interesting race is for last place, as Marion Bartoli, the only player to defeat world #1 Viktoria Azarenka this year, pulled two votes ahead of former world #2 Vera Zvonareva for the 7th spot.
The WTA South Carolina Primary is Sunday, April 8.
Seven of the women playing today in the Sony Ericsson Sweet 16 are headed to Charleston next week for the Family Circle Cup. Of the Charleston top seeds, only Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic and Julia Goerges have been eliminated from contention in Miami. Zvonareva looked terrible in a career-low loss to Muguruza-Blanco and Jankovic lost to Mona Barthel last week after having been bounced from Indian Wells two weeks earlier by Jamie Hampton. At least Julia Goerges doesn’t have to hang her head low after suffering defeat from Kim Clijsters in Key Biscayne. Based on their most recent past performances, we’re definitely not picking Bepa or Jelena in our Family Circle Cup bracket.
It’s early, but I’d look for a Sony Ericsson semi-finalist to win it all in Charleston. Too often the winner (or finalist) of a two-week tournament is too weakened to make another run to raise a second consecutive trophy.
Sam Stosur, Marion Bartoli and Agnieszka Radwanska should all be able to make deep runs at Charleston given their recent play. Our wild card will be Yanina Wickmayer. She’s had her ups and downs of late, but it is good to see her playing in the second week of a tournament for the first time in a long time. Besides, she could put those 470 WTA points for the winner to the best use of all the contenders.
The main draw selection show for Family Circle Cup will be covered at this site and tweeted @TennisEastCoast next Saturday from 3:00 p.m. EDT on the Grand Lawn of the Family Circle Tennis Center.
Tennis Maryland is pleased to announce that we’ll be providing on-site coverage of the first half of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina from March 31-April 3, 2012. We’ll be there for all 36 qualifying matches and the first two days of main draw play. If there’s a player you’d like to see featured, speak up now. The draw ceremony will also be covered next Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, Anna Chakvetadze, Romina Oprandi and Bethanie Mattek-Sands have withdrawn from the tournament due to injuries. Chakvetadze was also forced to throw in the towel at Indian Wells and Miami due to back pain and Oprandi previously took a pass in Miami with a right knee injury. Mattek-Sands announced her intention to withdraw on Twitter last week due to a “hip/back injury”.
In the case of Mattek-Sands, she was a Tennis Maryland interview waiting to happen. Alas, it will not. She was even set to take part in a charity auction whereby one lucky bidder would practice with her, lunch with her, toss the coin at her first match and walk off with a signed racquet. All proceeds were to benefit MUSC Children’s Hospital in Charleston. There’s been no word yet on whether Mattek-Sands will be replaced by another WTA player in the charity auction.
The withdrawals don’t exactly weaken the field. 16 of the top 35 players in the world remain in the draw, including notable top 20s Agnieszka Radwanska (#4), Sam Stosur (#5), Marion Bartoli (#7), Vera Zvonareva (#10), Serena Williams (#11), Sabine Lisicki (#13), Jelena Jankovic (#15) and Julia Georges (#17).
The grandmother of women’s tennis tournaments begins in just ten days time. The Family Circle Cup is not only the longest running tennis event with the same sponsor, it is also the first women’s professional tennis tournament to have offered $100,000 in prize money.
East Coast tennis fans have been fortunate to have such an event for forty years. So much has changed in that time (Virginia Slims, anyone?), but the Family Circle Cup is still the premier women’s event on the East Coast.
The Family Circle Cup’s stadium on Hilton Head Island was the very first tennis stadium that I ever saw, way back in 1989. Since 2001, the Cup has resided on Daniel Island in the City of Charleston.
The qualifying draw was expanded from 32 to 48 for 2012, with 12 women qualifying for the main draw.
That means a very exciting first weekend, with 24 saturday matches and 12 on Sunday. Also on Saturday, the main draw will be selected from the grounds of the tournament. It will be open to the public and held during a match day, which is unusual and very welcome news to fans.
Agnieszka Radwanska is expected to be the top seed. 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur, Grand Slam Queens Serena and Venus Williams, and former world #2 Vera Zvonareva headline a very competitive main draw. Venus was the recipient of a wild card as was Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Three wild cards remain for the main draw.
On the qualifying side, Americans Sloane Stephens, Jill Craybas, Julia Cohen, Coco Vandeweghe, Jamie Hampton, Varvara Lepchenko and Alison Riske are expected to compete. Riske, who lives in Hilton Head, should be a crowd favorite. We can’t say she’ll be a bigger crowd favorite than 16 year-old Hayley Carter from South Carolina, who nabbed the first qualifying wild card. Five more qualifying wild cards are up for grabs.
You can check out the entire field in this handy police-style photo array compliments of the Family Circle Cup. Click on the Family Circle Cup logo at the top of this article to purchase tickets.
We’re pleased to introduce Annabel, Tennis Maryland’s newest contributor. Annabel has been a tennis fan since she attended the Rogers Cup ATP event in Montreal, Canada on her first birthday in 2009, watching Novak Djokovic win on Court Banque National and Andy Roddick prosper at Stade Uniprix.
She followed that experience with a debutante appearance at Legg Mason Kid’s Day in 2010 and a return visit to Montreal, this time for the WTA event.
Around this time, Annabel’s mom put her tennis foot down and declared that Annabel ought never to be seated in the front row at a pro match for reasons involving the child prodigy’s then-inability to keep quiet. Imagine!
Thereafter, Annabel’s involvement in the game has exclusively involved tournament Kid’s Days (Washington, Newport, CitiOpen), annual pilgrimages to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Wii Grand Slam play and on-court Quikstart instruction. She even took a lesson from Sebastien Decoud last summer.
Though she’ll only be contributing on a part-time basis, you can expect full-court coverage from this li’l Jimmy Olsen. Her first product review will appear on the site tomorrow.
When the year started, we were very, very bullish on Bepa Zvonareva. Though rarely mentioned, Zvonareva trained briefly in Maryland during the infancy of the Tennis Center at College Park.
Her 2010 summer run saw her make the finals at Wimbledon, Montreal, New York and Beijing. She had a 28-8 second half in 2010, and with Kim Clijster’s injuries, Vera moved into the #2 spot behind Caroline Wozniacki.
2011 saw her reach the Semis in Melbourne, and grab singles titles in Doha and Baku. She had a chance to reclaim the #2 ranking before losing to Agnieszka Radwanska earlier today in the Tokyo final.
There’s a feeling around the tennis world that her chances to grab a major title are shrinking, especially with the re-emergence of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
To make matters worse, Petra Kvitova, Li Na, Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur were all ranked below Zvonareva and yet all managed to grab grand slam titles in the last 16 months.
Zvonareva’s play has been consistent. She’s had trouble breaking through against Wozniacki but has proven she can do it. She hit a wall in losing to US Open Champion Sam Stosur in the Quarterfinals at New York.
There comes a time when that consistency has to pay off. We believe that she will be in prime contention for Beijing and the WTA Championships. We still think that would mean less to her than holding the women’s singles trophy aloft at Melbourne Park next January.
We expect nothing less than a Slampionship title for Bepa in ’12. She’s earned it. Now it’s time to take it.