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The professional ladies tennis tournament that is now referenced as the Volvo Car Open has called the Lowcountry home for 45 years. Due to unwavering support from both the tennis pros and tennis fans, this tournament stood the test of time as other events double faulted into history. Strong corporate support never hurt any sporting event, and the 2017 tournament is set to expand with the Tennis Channel bringing unprecedented national coverage April 3 – 9.
With the finalists from last weekend’s Miami Open set to appear in Charleston, the Volvo Car Open will once again be well represented by the sports top players. Looking back at the history for this event, formerly known as the Family Circle Cup, named after the popular magazine from longtime sponsor Meredith Corporation out of New York City. They moved the tennis tourney to Daniel Island in 2001 and built a brand new tennis stadium and tournament facility.
Then in 2016 Volvo took over as title sponsor, after announcing they will build an auto manufacturing facility in the Lowcountry. The 2016 event saw improvements after Volvo’s partnership, including daily test driving of Volvo cars for tennis patrons, and even awarding a brand new Volvo to American Sloan Stephens for winning their inaugural tourney. This bigger and bolder corporate presence paved the way for a new 8-year contract with the Tennis Channel, owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, to televise and live stream the Volvo Car Open for years to come.
The qualifying matches for the 2017 Volvo Car Open began last weekend, in what can only be described as near perfect weather. Their weekend schedule was heavy on family fun with a kids tennis clinic, autograph sessions, and the chance to see some exhibition tennis from some men’s tennis stars. In fact, the only tennis played on the stadium court Saturday included pros John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Mark Phillappoussis and James Blake. Also happening last Saturday was the official pairings for the 2017 Volvo Car Open took final shape.
The daily schedule can be found online at VolvoCarOpen.com but it’s important to remember that the tourney includes night matches too. These matches begin at 7 p.m. in the evening and offer a more realistic chance for locals to view some tennis after a regular day in the office. There are themes for each evening match including Cancer Awareness Night on Wednesday, Military Appreciation Night on Thursday and Suntrust Night on Friday. The weekend tennis schedule includes two semifinal matches on Saturday, and then the Finals on Sunday.
Johanna Konta from England is ranked number eleven by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) but she comes into Charleston with a hot hand after winning the Miami Open. There are lots of familiar names and past champions waiting to square off in singles matches and doubles match this week such as Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Sam Stosur, Caroline Wozniacki, Elena Vesnina and Andrea Petkovic. And each year also brings inspired play from younger players hoping to make a Cinderella-type run into the weekend matches.
The Ladies professional tennis at the Volvo Car Open began on April 1, the same day that the 40th Cooper River Bridge Run took place. The Bridge Run brings 40,000-runners to town, and the Volvo Car Open forecasts 90,000-tennis fans to be in attendance. So it is No April Fool’s joke to say that world-class sporting events are coming to the Lowcountry. Factoring in PGA golf at the Masters this week, and then the Heritage in Hilton Head the following week, the possibilities for viewing outdoor sports continues a while longer into Spring.
Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com