The Week in Charleston: Recalling Our Best Moments
By: Nick McCarvel
Championship Sunday always brings about world-class WTA tennis in Charleston, but with it also arrives thoughts of, “Wait! That all happened so fast!”
The same goes for the 2018 edition of the Volvo Car Open, which has whizzed by in a blur of on-court action, special events away from it and inspiring storylines along the way.
Here, we recount a few of our favorites as we set up for a memorable last day of play on Daniel Island.
Storms in the area meant nearly no play on Saturday afternoon, pushing both singles semifinals and one of two doubles semis to Sunday. For the first time in the tournament's 18 years on Daniel Island would both the semis and final be played on one day. Kiki Bertens and Julia Goerges will meet for the title, neither having won here before.
Bethanie’s Emotional Return
Bethanie Mattek-Sands has been doubles champion here before and is a former world No. 1 in doubles, but a slip at Wimbledon last year meant a horrific knee injury, and she only returned to competition last month in Miami. But it was here in Charleston that she got her first win after nearly nine months away, tearing up while being given a standing ovation after she and partner Andrea Sestini Hlavackova won their first match on Court 3. They’d fall short in the quarterfinals.
Charleston as a Breakthrough
Who’s the next big star in women’s tennis? It’s always a question we ask ourselves in Charleston, and 2018 may have provided some answers. For the second straight year Hungarian teen Fanny Stollar qualified and then made the third round, still just 19 years old. Kristyna Pliskova continued her slow climb up the WTA rankings with a shocker over No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova, advancing to the quarterfinals. And American Kristie Ahn stunned Sam Stosur in her opener before being edged out by Goerges in a third-set tiebreak.
Daria Kasatkina won her first title here at age 19 a year ago and said she had no idea what to expect as defending champ. In the end, she fell in the quarterfinals to Goerges, but said the week was full of pressure and also positives – and that she learned how to deal with the stress of great expectations. She also had a fair bit of fun, she said, and is “excited to come back for many, many years.”
A Good Week Overall
Not every player can walk away a winner. It was a great week for a handful of other players, too. Madison Keys made the semifinals here for the first time in three years; Anastasija Sevastova did so for a first time ever. Katarina Srebotnik was back into the doubles final for the first time since winning it way back in 2008 - 10 years ago. It was a good week for Alize Cornet, as well, the No. 14 seed winning three matches and upsetting No. 1 seed Caroline Garcia on her way to the quarterfinals.
Shelby’s TV Debut, Players in the Community
Off the court due to an injury of her own, local native Shelby Rogers took a star turn on Tennis Channel as a roving correspondent and contributor at the TC Live desk, proving to be adept at being on screen – as though we expected anything else. Players also made their way into the community: Pera visited U.S. service members at Joint Base Charleston; a group of players stopped by MUSC Children’s Hospital to spend time with young patients there; and Johanna Konta and Naomi Osaka played a little makeshift tennis atop The Dewberry – with Charleston views all around them.
Oh, and We Had Some Fun, Too...