By Jane Voigt
Daniel Island, April 5, 2014 — None is over 30. They haven’t played each other anywhere. And one will crack the top 100 for the first time in her career, if you can even say that, because Belinda Bencic just turned 17.
Belinda Bencic, Qualifier
But the mood here on Daniel Island is upbeat. Gone are Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, and Sara Errani, the number 1, 2, and 3 seeded players. The highest seed in today’s semifinals is Eugenie Bouchard at No. 6, followed by Andrea Petkovic at No. 14. Amongst the four women, girls, players … they have won 2 career WTA titles. Both by Petkovic, the elder stateswoman of our quartet.
Family Circle Cup is the largest women’s-only Premier tournament in the world. It has deep roots in the sandy soil of South Carolina, first at Hilton Head Island then here on Daniel Island.
No. 14 Seed
osie Casals won it first in 1973, earning $100,000, before the WTA Tour officially formed back then. Tomorrow’s champion will pocket $795,707. They need the money to pay their coaches, trainers, and physios, those in their entourages that care for them 24/7. Rosie Casals didn’t have an entourage. She practiced with her opponents, like Billie Jean King. They didn’t have hitting partners. When they ailed they called a doctor, rested, and stretched.
Can you imagine the fitness routines of Jana Cepelova, Belinda Bencic, Eugenie Bouchard, or Andrea Petkovic … the four women poised for today’s semifinals? Common knowledge tells us they spend more time in the gym than on court hitting tennis balls. You can bet your portfolio that Casals, King and Evert hit thousands more balls than pumped pounds of iron.
Have we come a long way baby?
Jana Cepelova, No. 78
The answer will depend on the age of those answering. The ones that have been around a court or two will lament the loss of serve-and-volley play. The newbies will be psyched about how hard they hit the ball. DID YOU SEE THAT!!
It’s all good.
Belinda Bencic and 20-year-old Jana Cepelova — the first semifinal of the day — say their favorite movie is “The Hangover.” So much for finer films.
Bencic is Swiss. The last teen from Switzerland to win the title here was Martina Hingis in 1997; she was 17. Bencic is the youngest since Hingis.
Eugenie Bouchard No. 6 Seed
Cepelova’s parents built her, and her brother, a tennis facility in their hometown of Kosice, Slovakia, when they discovered her love for the game. Her idol is Martina Hingis, who has not really retired because she won her first WTA Tour title in Miami last week, her first since 2007. Can an idol be active? Why not … We’ve come a long way baby.
Cepelova started the week by ousting one of the greatest players of all time, Serena Williams. It wasn’t a fluke win, either. She defeated two more seeds in the next two rounds, the last one, Daniela Hantuchova, is a friend and countrywoman. Guess Cepelova’s desires for glory outpace their friendship, which they should given her place in the game.
Bear down. Grit your teeth. Get some sponsors. Win the match. Smile for the cameras.
It’s all good.
(Photo credits Leslie Billman tennisclix.com)