||Last Updated: Apr 5, 2013 - 10:16:31 AM
Charleston is still the reigning “Best Tennis Town” in America, a distinction bestowed on the Holy City by the United States Tennis Association in 2010. If that’s not enough of a reason to give this year’s Family Circle Cup a shot, there are plenty of other enticements to “get your game on” during the annual world-class tennis event on Daniel Island March 30 through April 7.
Fans, how much does the Family Circle Cup love thee? Let us count the ways. Former FCC Champions – Venus and Serena Williams, Samantha Stosur, Jelena Yankovic, and Sabine Lisicki – are scheduled to be there, along with some 85 other world-ranked players hoping to add a 2013 Charleston title to their ranks. In fact, 18 of the Top 40 players in the world will be showcasing their competitive prowess on FCC courts this year, each vying for their slice of the $795,707 prize purse.
“I look at what separates us from other events in this town, what separates us from other events in this region and in this country,” said Bob Moran, tournament director. “We’re truly international. We’re at 28 countries, and you don’t see that in the LPGA, you don’t see that in the PGA Tour. Tennis is truly international, and 28 countries is an amazing thing.”
“(It’s an) emotional competition featuring the most talented female players in the world,” added Eleanor Adams, tournament manager. “…My favorite part is when the players arrive. They all come in so happy…the younger girls are thrilled they’ve qualified for our prestigious event and the ‘veterans’ know they’ve come back to a place they can call home.”
The festivities kick off this Saturday and Sunday during the qualifying rounds with a fun-filled “Family Weekend,” presented by the Daniel Island Property Owners’ Association and sponsored by the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. Look for balloon artists, craft stations, face painting, cookie decorating, an Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday and plenty of other crowd-pleasing activities. The annual “Draw Ceremony” on Saturday, from 3 to 4 p.m. on the Grand Lawn, will give fans a rare opportunity to interact with two WTA players while selecting names to determine the order-of-play for the tournament.
“The Draw Party dictates everything,” said Moran. “…It’s completely luck of the draw. I have a dream of what matches I’d like to see all the way through and that’s the one time I know I can’t do anything about it! It’s truly fan-friendly.”
Come Monday, when main tournament play officially begins, the action is expected to spill onto Seven Farms Drive in front of the Family Circle Stadium, when students from Charleston County Schools, as well as some out-of-state districts, will literally hit the street in a friendly Junior Team Tennis competition. That same day, fans are invited to hear behind-the-scenes perspectives from the world’s top doubles players at the “Winning in Doubles Luncheon” presented by Salonpas.
Gamecock fans will rule the roost on Tuesday evening, when “The Road into the Future Has No Limits” will be presented by the University of South Carolina. Look for two matches on stadium court – a singles shake down with rising American tennis star Sloane Stephens (ranked 16 in the world) followed by a doubles competition featuring the USC top ranked doubles’ team, who earned a wild card into the tournament. The event will be televised internationally.
“This is a great opportunity for these girls,” added Moran. “But also a great opportunity for the (USC) program. People are going to see this all across the country and the world.”
Expanded television coverage is another huge new feature for the 2013 FCC event, which will go from 14 hours in years past to close to 70 hours. According to Moran, every match in stadium court and every match on the Althea Gibson Club Court will be covered for the first time ever, and will be distributed to 142 countries.
“Our international television coverage this year is not only worth noting from previous events, but it is record-breaking,” added Adams. “Coverage from Daniel Island will be increased from eight matches to 33 this year, and between broadcast and online content we will showcase over 100 hours of tennis from Daniel Island to the world.”
Wednesday is Military Night at the Cup and will showcase the contributions made by members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Thanks to presenting sponsor Prudential, active military members and their families have an opportunity to receive complimentary tickets (about 1,000 have been distributed so far).
“Everything we do that night is about the military,” said Moran. “And where we are right now with sequestration and everything, they need a little pick me up.”
On Thursday, expect things to get a bit more colorful as the FCC and Skirt! Magazine present “Pink Out Night for the Cure” in support of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Lowcountry. The Medical University of South Carolina is underwriting a number of tickets for breast cancer survivors. All FCC volunteers, grounds personnel, umpires and other staffers will be wearing pink for the occasion. Moran is encouraging players to join in the fun as well. In addition, for every fan who walks through the gates in pink that evening, FCC and MUSC will donate one dollar back to the Komen Foundation.
SunTrust Night, to be held on Friday, will feature some adventuresome on-court activities, such as a chance for fans to serve from the third tier of the stadium onto center court. Moran commended SunTrust’s support of the tournament.
“They give great gifts to players and they sponsor our player party,” he said. “They are just an awesome partner because of that. They really get behind everything and create so many fun things.”
Nightly “happy hours” featuring live music promise to keep the festivities going between day and evening sessions. A “Street Party Kick-off to the Semifinals” will take place on Saturday, April 6 to jumpstart the final showdown battle for the FCC crown and also to celebrate the arrival of Cooper River Bridge Run participants to the Cup. Another not-to-be-missed fan event earlier in the week is the exhibition match slated for April 1 featuring Venus Williams and her clothing line “EleVen.” The match will take place on the Althea Gibson Club Court from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and will be played with a host from the Tennis Channel, a writer from Sports Illustrated and four local women.
“I am excited to showcase my 2013 EleVen collection to the fans at the Family Circle Cup, and what better way than on the court where players can look good and play well!” said Williams, who debuted her original clothing line of classic tennis dresses and sportswear in 2007.
“Venus is known for making the tennis court her fashion runway,” added Adams. “…(She) has never played on a court here other than stadium court, so this will be fun!”
Another arriving this year for the first time is new tournament emcee Andrew Krasny, who will fill the role Murphy Jensen has held in years past.
“To receive an invitation from a tennis tournament with such a rich and vibrant history is an outrageous honor,” said Krasny, a well-known television producer, writer, and host. “I can’t wait to experience Daniel Island, some good old-fashion Southern hospitality, great food and of course, the true tennis FANS!”
With much to look forward to for both players and fans, the 2013 Cup is sure to score big points for all who take part. And with the world watching in record numbers, Adams is hopeful for a winning experience across the board.
“A ‘dream’ FCC for me would be warm, sunny days, cool evenings, injury-free competition and a sold out stadium!”
For a complete list of all of the FCC 2013 activities, visit the website www.familycirclecup.com.
TOP TEN THINGS to do at the 2013 CUP! by Bob Moran, FCC Tournament Director
1. Just being here!
2. Family Weekend, including the Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday
3. Kids Day Monday!
4. Official Draw Party (help us make the Draw for the tournament).
5. Opening night Tuesday night -- “The Road to the Future Has No Limits presented by the University of South Carolina.” Come out and see young American Sloane Stephens in her opening singles match followed by a USC Women’s Doubles Team as they compete against the pros!
6. Happy Hour is always a fan favorite. Great Live music every night from 4:00pm – 6:00pm in the Racquet Club.
7. Wine and Craft Beer tastings every day.
8. Come out and support the military on Wednesday night for “Military Night” presented by Prudential Financial.
9. Thursday night join us for a “Pink Out.” Anyone who wears pink on Thursday night we will be donating $1.00 back to the Komen Foundation. So come out and help us make a difference.
10. Semi-Final Saturday “Bridge Run Party.” Go run the Bridge Run and then come back to Daniel Island and celebrate!!
2012 – 87,972
2011 – 94,241
2010 – 95,767
2009 – 87,786
2008 – 90,437
2007 – 91,899
2006 – 92,375
2005 – 92,350
2004 – 91,410
2003 – 81,389