09 April 2013

Final thoughts on the Family Circle Cup

Me, standing on BJK Stadium after the finals
I've been back for 36 hours and have finally unpacked from my fantastic eight days in Charleston for the Family Circle Cup.

Attending a new tournament in an unfamiliar city is always a thrill for me, as I love exploring new places. I chose the Family Circle Cup as my springtime tournament months ago and at the time the only players who'd been announced were Venus and Stosur. As time passed the field got better and better, and combined with southern hospitality and warm weather my time in Charleston was amazing.

Here are my highlights from the 2013 Family Circle Cup.

Venus vs Serena XXIV
Despite it being a bit of a dud to most fans, I was ecstatic to be able to see Serena vs Venus, part XXIV. I was just beyond excited to be able to see them walk onto court together (well not side by side, but one after another), and hear their amazing list of tennis accomplishments read out  one after another. They only had a few great rallies, but it was surreal to watch what could be their final match against each other on the WTA Tour. Chills.
Game, set, match Serena Williams

Venus, Serena, Venus, Serena
Friday's schedule was truly Williams Day at the FCC. Rains washed out most of the play on Thursday, so that meant the 3rd round and quarterfinals were going to be squeezed in the next day, and which players led the charge on Billie Jean King Stadium? Venus and Serena. They played consecutive matches, one after another so there were four straight matches featuring the Williams Sisters. Anyone who knows much about my tennis preferences will know that THIS WAS AMAZING!!
Serena during the WTA All-Access Hour

WTA All-Access Hour 
I was crazy nervous to go to the All-Access Hour and be seated at a table with the top eight seeds but what an amazing experience it was. I did actually ask a few questions to Serena, Venus and Wozniacki and enjoyed how relaxed they mostly were. I found Venus very lovely (as expected) and Serena was in good spirits; Stosur talks so fast and she's very honest, but I found Caro's answers very stock standard. I thought Lucie Safarova was very sweet and the only thing that I recall from Sloane's interview was that she loves Cracker Barrel and really wants to be out the US right now.  

Jelena Jankovic in press
We laughed so hard. What an entertainer! From her smiles and laughter to her walking into the press conference asking if anyone wanted to fight her, she was brilliant in press all week long. And how lucky we were that she kept winning (please keep winning JJ - tennis needs you). JJ certainly can ramble on but she is generous with her answers, is not afraid to make fun of herself or her team and she just exudes personality. After a rough few years, I'm going to hope that JJ is really back - she says she cares about the game so I believe that will translate into better results. She certainly looked great on the court, and is pure entertainment both off and on!

The young guns
Monica Puig, after her loss to Venus
I was able to watch and be in press with many of the WTA's young up and comers, including Mallory Burdette, Monica Puig, Caroline Garcia and Sloane Stephens. I was most impressed with Garcia's game and Burdette's down-to-earthness. Sloane was very guarded in both the WTA All-Access and in her post-match presser and her loss to Mattek-Sands was not even a surprise. I was much more impressed with the honesty and composure of Burdette and Puig. I look forward to following them more closely, as well as Madison Keys, whose game is amazing.

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