Charleston tennis obviously is in a league all of its own.
The recent U.S. Women’s Pro Circuit event at LTP Tennis made that even more obvious. It’s a great time to be a fan of tennis in Charleston.
It wasn’t as much that Emma Navarro and Allie Gretkowski both won key matches as the way the two local teens performed.
We haven’t heard the last of these two players. Of course, Navarro and Gretkowski are only two players in a herd of outstanding local junior girls.
Navarro will be headed off to Duke in three years. There is even a chance that both Navarro and her LTP Pro-winning doubles partner Chloe Beck could end up at Duke. Both are 16. According to her mother, Beck also is considering Vanderbilt, Pepperdine and her hometown University of Georgia, along with Duke.
And Gretkowski is still “a young 14 years old” as her dad, Steve Gretkowski, said. She just turned 14 a couple of months ago, is already 5-9 or 5-10, plays like a college player and has unlimited potential.
Gretkowski had never played in a pro tournament before the LTP event. She won three qualifying matches to advance to the main draw. She lost, but went on to another $15K event at Hilton Head Island last week and collected another qualifying win. Just a little while ago, Gretkowski was playing girls 12.
It’s not too early for both Navarro and Gretkowski to dream.
BOYS ARE TALENTED
Don’t forget the local guys. There’s a ton of outstanding local junior boys. They may not be headed to professional tennis, but they should make their mark on college tennis.
Of course, the boys are led by the South’s No. 1 junior boy, Jared Pratt. He will join the University of Wisconsin’s tennis program next school year.
The other outstanding local boys include Academic Magnet senior Sam Kavarana, who is bound for Davidson. Mark Militzer is already at Georgetown University.
Porter-Gaud senior Brant Fenno, a rangy left-hander who might have the most potential of any local junior boy, has several offers from strong tennis programs, according to his father, but has not committed.
Jacob Jahn, who along with Kavarana was leading Academic Magnet to an unbeaten season and a state championship in 2016, has decided to switch to home schooling for his junior year. Jahn plans to join the Clemson tennis program when he finishes high school.
Hanahan has at least a quartet of stars who should play major college tennis. First, they are aiming to remain unbeaten for a third straight year while winning a third consecutive state title.
Senior Kerim Hyatt, juniors Chad Nash and Reilly Wilson are outstanding players. And don’t forget sophomore Max Smith. Forehand-from-both sides sophomore Coy Simon decided not to return to Hanahan. Hyatt and Wilson are the last two Lowcountry players of the year.
Hyatt plans to visit Tennessee-Chattanooga the next three days and is leaning toward a major in mechanical engineering at Chattanooga, while Nash and Wilson both visited the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., this weekend.
P-G FACES BIG MATCH
A big match is looming for Tuesday in high school tennis when Porter-Gaud, the area’s top girls team, battles quickly rising Oceanside Collegiate at the Cyclones’ Albemarle Point complex.
Coach Charlotte Wilson’s Porter-Gaud team is 14-3. Two of the losses, one against Wando and another to Oceanside in a tournament, came when No. 1 Sophie Williams didn’t play.
Porter-Gaud also owns a 4-2 win over Wando and a 6-2 victory over Oceanside when eighth-grader Williams was in the lineup.
When the SCISA Class AAA state playoffs begin on Oct. 16, Porter-Gaud will be a heavy favorite to upend defending champion Ashley Hall. The Cyclones own 7-2 and 6-3 wins over Ashley Hall.
— Two Lowcountry Tennis Association teams won titles at last weekend’s mixed doubles state championships at Hilton Head Island. Mike Cladakis’ 18-plus 9.0 team out of Mount Pleasant Rec took one title, while the independent Bob and Susie Peiffer-captained 65-plus 8.0 team won the other title. In 55-plus, two Maybank Tennis Center teams were runners-up, a 7.0 team captained by Doug Holmes and an 8.0 team captained by the Peiffers.
— Brant Fenno has earned a world ITF junior tennis ranking by winning three qualifying matches and then upsetting players from Brazil and England to reach the round of 16 in an ITF Grade 5 tournament in Austin, Texas. The English player had upset the No. 1 seed. Fenno and his partner also reached the round of 16 in doubles.
— LTP Tennis owner Ben Navarro has confirmed that next spring’s U.S. Women’s Pro Circuit event at LTP will have an $80,000 purse, up $20,000 over this past spring’s pro tournament. Jerry Albrikes, who has been the tennis director at LTP for the last decade, has returned to the Northeast to teach tennis.
— LTP put on a great show for local tennis fans, including putting up a stylish white canopy cover over cushioned chairs placed on tiered levels. The cover was well received by fans in a week of almost constant midday heat.