Volvo Car Open Stars Find a Home Away from Home
By: Nicholas McCarvel
The stars of the WTA Tour travel the globe on a weekly basis, but it's not often that they come to a community like Charleston for the Volvo Car Open.
While the world's best tennis players speak highly of the Southern food and hospitality around the greater Charleston area, a few of them have grown greater bonds with local families by staying with them during the tournament.
A year ago, South African Chanelle Scheepers even chose her Charleston connection to be the officiant at her wedding.
This year, 2010 winner Sam Stosur, 2009 champion Sabine Lisicki (pictured above) and rising American star Varvara Lepchenko are all staying at local homes, away from hustle and bustle of the hotel life.
"I always try to stay at apartments or houses whenever I can," said Lisicki, the No. 15 seed. "I know people in Charleston. It's great to have the opportunity to be in a place that feels like home for a little bit."
While Lisicki is staying on Daniel Island in a house near the tournament site, it's Stosur who is staying at a home in downtown Charleston.
"It's fantastic to be able to stay in a house and be able to cook your own breakfast and walk to all the restaurants in Charleston," said Stosur, the No. 3 seed here. "I really like that aspect of being able to do that this week. They're not even here this week and so they've given us their keys and obviously trust us quite well."
Stosur laughed at that last comment, as did Lisicki when asked about her cooking skills, which she said are improving.
"I enjoy cooking a lot. That's one the things I miss the most when I'm on the road because you always have to go out to eat," Lisicki said. "When I'm able to cook, I just feel good. It's fun to cook and I can make anything I want... whatever comes to mind!"
Monday the German said it was a simple lunch: grilled chicken and a Greek salad.
"It's so much more relaxed," Lisicki added. "Usually you're stressed out going from here to there to practice. Here, you can have your usual routine at home which I really like."
Lepchenko has been staying with the same family for seven years now and always enjoys coming back, even if they don't stay in touch year-round.
"We don't really communicate that much while I'm on the road, but when I come back it's like we've seen each other just yesterday," Lepchenko said, smiling. "It's nice to have someone that you already know and you're so close with. We're just good friends. Having a family like that supporting you is a great boost."
Lisicki said for her the boost comes by being able to be around her own family, as well.
"The most important part for me is to have my family around and feel comfortable," said the former champ.
And do they make for a good cheering section?
"Yeah!" Lepchenko said after her win. "Today they came with their kids... and grandkids. There were a lot of them!"