Qualifying Draw Preview
By: Nicholas McCarvel
A pair of twin sisters lead the qualifying draw at the 2013 Family Circle Cup in Charleston, with play getting underway in a competitive field that includes rising stars Eugenie Bouchard, Mallory Burdette, Caroline Garcia and Ashleigh Barty – joining siblings Karolina and Krystina Pliskova for a shot at the main draw.
Qualifying play commences Saturday and continues Sunday and Monday. Main draw starts Monday as well, with first-round matches being contested.
The Pliskovas, from the Czech Republic, are the top two seeds in qualifying ahead of Australian Anastasia Rodionova, former Wimbledon semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, American doubles star Vania King, Spaniard Estrella Cabeza Candela, China’s Zhang Shuai and Teliana Pereira of Brazil.
Local fans and tennis aficionados around the world will have their eyes on the youngsters, including the 19-year-old Canadian Bouchard, who won the Wimbledon girls title less than a year ago and is her nation’s hope for a the future.
Former Stanford standout Burdette, 22, who made the third round at the US Open in 2012 and has risen over 400 spots in the rankings since last summer, leads the American effort in qualifying, which also includes King, Irina Falconi, Jessica Pegula, Chiara Scholl, 2011 US Open girls winner Grace Min, Alison Riske, 38-year-old veteran Jill Craybas and wild card Vicky Duval, the 17-year-old who wowed at the US Open last summer against Kim Clijsters.
Other wild cards include local talents Hayley Carter, 17, and 20-year-old Shelby Rogers, who has made her rounds on the challenger circuit over the last two years. Sixteen-year-old Louisa Chirico was also granted a wild card.
Eight spots are up for grabs at the Family Circle Cup, which has a jam-packed main draw field that includes defending champion Serena Williams, 2011 winner Caroline Wozniacki, breakout star Sloane Stephens, former winners Venus Williams (2004), Sabine Lisicki (2009), Sam Stosur (2010) as well as wild cards Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Andrea Petkovic and Taylor Townsend, the former world No. 1 junior player.
Petkovic, a former world No. 9, made her return from two months away because of a knee injury earlier this month at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Last week at the Sony Open in Miami she won two main-draw matches for the first time in 2013.
In qualifying, Frenchwoman Garcia is seen as one of the best hopes for her country while Barty, an Australian, is just 16 and made a run to the women’s doubles final at the Australian Open in January with countrywoman Casey Dellacqua.
Veterans Lucic-Baroni and Sesil Karatantcheva are ones to watch, as well, joined by Argentine Paula Ormaechea and hard-hitting Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal. Tour jouneywomen Yuliya Beygelzimer, Akgul Amanmuradova and Catalina Castano round out the field.
Twenty-one-year-old Karolina Pliskova, the top seed, won her maiden WTA Tour title in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month, beating Mattek-Sands in a dramatic final. She has shot up to No. 92 in the world.