Tournament Wrap: Nine Memorable Moments from the Cup
By: Nicholas McCarvel
For the 14th year, the Family Circle Cup was held on Daniel Island in Charleston and perhaps coincidentally, the 14th seed walked away its winner, Andrea Petkovic coming through a loaded draw that was littered with upsets.
Before Andrea won the biggest title of her career, Charleston experienced a week full of action. We run down the best story lines - from Jana Cepelova’s Cinderella run to an iconic photoshoot on a harbor dock.
Sloane and Madison’s Memorable Photoshoot
The day before the Family Circle Cup got underway, up-and-coming American stars Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys took to a dock on Waterfront Park on the edge of Charleston Harbor for an iconic photoshoot - and a little on-the-pier tennis, too. Stephens and Keys traded strokes on the dock with the gorgeous Charleston setting behind them, posing for pictures and news cameras to help usher in the 2014 Cup.
With two-time defending champion Serena Williams leading the charge, the field at the 2014 Family Circle Cup had an #Unmatched field. The Cup employed a social media campaign that caught fire with fans and players alike, utilizing the #Unmatched, #WellServed and #MakeARacket hashtags with the help of former champions Jelena Jankovic, Venus Williams, Sabine Lisicki, Sam Stosur and more. The top eight seeds also posed for photos with the hashtags at the WTA All Access Hour early in the week.
World No. 1 and top seed Williams hadn’t lost at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston since 2007, winning here in 2008, 2012 and 2013 (and not playing 2009-2011), but had that streak of 15 matches snapped by unheralded Jana Cepelova in her opener in round two. Williams fell 6-4, 6-4 to the world No. 78, saying after her match that she felt exhausted after her seventh career title in Miami last week.
Fans #WellServed throughout the week
It’s hard to find a better fan experience in tennis - or in the South. Over 88,000 fans flocked through the gates of the Family Circle Cup Tennis Center during the week of the tournament, in part for incredible food, world-class tennis, daily happy hours and activations including Military Appreciation Night, Pink Out Night for the Cure, Suntrust Night as well as live music and more.
Once the upsets started, they didn’t seem to stop. Serena’s loss on Tuesday night was the biggest of them all, the world No. 1 and three-time Cup winner losing to No. 78 Cepelova. The Slovakian would make a run to the final - following up her massive upset with a career-best week. Stephens, Lisicki and Stosur would also all fall before the quarterfinals, the top eight seeds unable to avoid the upset bug that made its way around Charleston.
Here Come the Young Guns
While the upsets roared, it was Generation Next that was causing much of the stir, with 20-year-old Cepelova leading the charge. For the first time in over five years there were three semifinalists at a WTA event under the age of 21 as Cepelova was joined by Genie Bouchard and Belinda Bencic in the final four. Those two players have both been tapped as potential Grand Slam winners, Bencic winning two junior majors last year and Bouchard launching herself into the top 20 with a run to the Australian Open semifinals in January.
Petkovic’s Local Connection
The German resident may have been born in Bosnia and plays for Germany, but "Petko" has quite the South Carolina connection: her dad played tennis for the Gamecocks. Zoran Petkovic was a standout player at USC in the early 80s, playing as the No. 1 seed for the team and now owns the 18th-best record at the school all-time. Petkovic embraced her dad's roots, saying she was happy to win her biggest WTA title in the Palmetto State and donning a USC sweatshirt after her win.
Medina Garrigues/Shvedova on the Rise
Can two established players be on the rise well into their respective careers? They can if they’ve just teamed up in doubles. Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova are two names that have been around in tennis circles for years, but they joined forces in doubles just a few months ago and are reaping the benefits from it. They won their fourth title together in Charleston, taking down sisters Hao-Ching and Yung-Jan Chan in the final. Along the way, Medina Garrgiues/Shvedova won two tight match tiebreaks, including an upset of the No. 3 seeds Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears in the semifinals.
Petkovic Comes Out on Top
She’s been a well-liked personality on the tennis circuit for years, but after injury took ahold of Petkovic’s career, the former world No. 9 fell as low as 182 and had to slowly work her way back to the top. Coming into Charleston as the world No. 40, the 26-year-old made her biggest leap yet by winning her biggest-ever title, beating Lisicki, Safarova, Bouchard and then Cepelova to move her record to 8-0 in Charleston (she withdrew from her third-round match last year, meaning it doesn’t count as a loss). The German was giddy after her win, thanking the Charleston crowd, laughing with reporters in press and posing for photos in Waterfront Park, completing what was the best week of her career.
What a week! We can't wait to do it all over again and see our world's best fans April 4-12, 2015.