Today was the best weather in the best tennis town in America. Blue skies, no clouds, nothing but sun. Perfection.
If you’ve never been to Charleston, the Family Circle Cup or anywhere in the South, then I hope you can understand just how welcoming and friendly everyone has been – from the security guards when you enter to the volunteers at the tournament.
Besides the warm weather and the warm people another great thing about the Family Circle Cup: CLAY! This is the first tournament I’ve ever been to on clay and it’s quite an experience. It’s not like red clay, so I’ve been told, but it’s a pebbly, dusty surface that needs to be taken care of – quite often.
First the clay is swept, then the lines are brushed off and finally the clay is watered. During matches, the clay pros take care of this, but during practice the tennis pros often do it themselves (witnessed Sam Stosur doing the sweeping herself, and then she tripped over the broom when she was done – the ten or so people there clapped).
Speaking of Sam, the FCC’s defending champion was one of the many pros that hit the courts today. Sam, Sabine Lisicki, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Vania King, Julia Goerges, Shahar Peer, Marion Bartoli and more were on the practice courts, while Coco Vandeweghe, Sania Mirza and Heather Watson were among those in the first round of qualifying.
I noticed that if the pros didn’t have a fellow player to practice with or a hitting partner, a few young guys from the Family Circle Tennis Center were there to help them out. Marion and Shahar practiced with the local guys, who were pretty good too.
Loving my time so far at the Family Circle Cup, now going to enjoy Charleston! Looking forward to tomorrow.
(Photos: The Slice)