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Sports Last Updated: Aug 21, 2013 - 9:26:14 AM

DI's Shelby Rogers nets Top 15 rank in U.S. women's tennis
By Elizabeth Bush
Aug 21, 2013 - 9:23:47 AM

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Not only is Shelby Rogers now ranked in the Top 15 of U.S. women, but she also recently reached a career high rank of 132 in the world.

When 20 year-old Shelby Rogers prepares to return a shot over the net, she knows exactly where she wants it to go, and how much power she will need to get it there. The Daniel Island resident puts that same philosophy into play when plotting the direction of her highly successful tennis career.
Not only is Rogers now ranked in the Top 15 of U.S. women, but she also recently reached a career high rank of 132 in the world. Just for a little perspective on her trajectory, three short years ago she was ranked 921, as she prepared to play in the 2010 Family Circle Cup, her first WTA Tour event. Since then, the rising tennis star has notched three pro singles titles. In 2012, she took the top prize at a USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Yakima, Washington. This year, she scored two Grand Slam opportunities after winning championships in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Lexington, Kentucky. The Charlottesville win earned her a wild card entry into the French Open (she made it to the second round) and Lexington resulted in a coveted main draw wild card for the U.S. Open next month. To top it all off, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley invited Rogers back to her hometown courts at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Saturday, August 17, to commemorate the first “Shelby Rogers Day” in the city. We caught up with Shelby to ask her a few questions about her life as a busy pro tennis player.

Q: The last time we spoke (2010) you were preparing to play in your first Family Circle Cup after earning a wild card entry as the Junior SMASH Cup champion. So much has happened in your career since then. You’ve had some incredible successes. What have the last three years been like for you?
My goal from the very beginning was to get into the Top 100 as soon as I could. That gets you in all the Slams, that gets you in the big tournaments. So I was just trying to get my ranking up. I took a few titles in a couple 50,000s and my goal for this year was to play in all the Slams, so playing in the U.S. Open will complete that goal for the year, which I’m pretty excited about! I’ve been traveling everywhere. I went to Australia for the first time this year, and I went to New Zealand, which was really cool. So the traveling has definitely expanded quite a bit. I think that’s the biggest change. Adjusting to the full schedule and literally traveling all over the world. That’s probably the coolest thing.
And I’ve been staying healthy, which I wasn’t so fortunate with in the very beginning. I had a bunch of injuries at the beginning and I couldn’t play a full year really. For the past year plus, I’ve been pretty good. Little injuries here and there, but nothing really is stopping me from playing for an extended period of time.
My first title was Yakima, Washington, last summer (2012). The second one was earlier this year in Charlottesville, which was in the playoffs for the French Open…Then my third title was in Lexington to win me the wild card for the Open. So I have three pro singles titles, and I won one doubles title in Denver last year. Some pretty good results!
Q: You’ve made incredible strides in your world pro ranking over the last few years, going from 921 in 2010 to 132 today. What are your thoughts as you celebrate this career high rank?
It feels really nice. My goal was Top 100, so I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I’m closer than I’ve ever been so it’s a pretty good feeling! It’s nice because we have a really good group of American girls that are coming up and it’s nice to be a part of that and be one that kind of stands out. We have a lot of talented girls and we all help each other out, but obviously we all want to beat each other and be the best. It’s nice to be part of that group but also be one of the top ones now.
Q: It also must be exciting to see some dollars added to your career prize money. You’re now at a career total of $156,289, with just over $80,000 earned for this year alone. How does that feel?
It was tough starting out because in the lower tournaments you actually make nothing, you actually lose money. But now, getting the Slams and the prize money is increasing every year now, and they’re really trying to get more sponsors and make the tournaments bigger and help us out, so that’s just a bonus.  
Q:  What’s it like to be able to come home to Daniel Island?
I live in Boca Raton, Florida, now. I’m training at the USTA Center down there, but the last time I was here was for Family Circle in April. It’s always nice to come home and see my family. My parents actually made it over to France to watch me in the Open, but they don’t get to see me play too much. But this is where I grew up. All my friends, family…this is where I started tennis. It always has a special place in my heart. It’s refreshing when I come back…Just feeling all the support and everyone that’s behind me, watching what I do, and just behind me 100 percent, it gives me a little boost to go out and work harder. It really makes everything I’ve done so far worth it. To hang out with the kids and see how they’re working hard, and to see how I inspire them, it’s really important to me. More than anything I would say. It’s the biggest part.
Q: What was your reaction when you learned that Mayor Riley was proclaiming August 17 as “Shelby Rogers Day” in the City of Charleston?
To be honest, when I was first told that I was going to have a day in Charleston, I thought “me”? I don’t deserve this. It’s crazy. I was a little bit shocked, but I gladly embrace it. And it’s very cool to be here. I can’t believe it to be honest.
Q7: When it comes to goals, you’ve achieved so many already, but what’s your hope for the rest of this year? How do you want to finish out 2013?
Top 100 for my ranking goal and then from there, Top 50, Top 20. You’ve got to keep raising the bar! But I think my main purpose and my main drive for playing is to inspire other people, inspire kids and be a really good role model. So that’s probably more important to me, what I can do with my talents instead of just playing for myself. I want to look at the big picture. It can be kind of a selfish sport and I don’t want to be like that. A lot of people don’t know a lot about what we do and how fun it can be.

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