It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than a decade since the City of Charleston snagged the “Best Tennis Town” honors in a nationwide search.
Charleston topped Atlanta and Richmond in 2010 to win top honors. At the time, Charleston tallied more than 13,000 players, with more than 7,500 playing in USTA league events. The city had more than 580 courts, including numerous at world-class resorts and hosted the Family Circle Cup, which has since morphed into the Credit One Charleston Open.
Today, Charleston continues to be a tennis boomtown with the revamped Credit One Stadium, home to the Charleston Open and the growing LTP venue in Mount Pleasant that just played host to an ITF event that offered $100,000 in prize money.
Just as importantly, the Charleston area became a producer of professional talent, headed by 29-year-old veteran and Daniel Island native Shelby Rogers. The latest to add her name to the list is Emma Navarro who recently chose professional tennis over an ultra-impressive two-year NCAA career that included a singles championship in 2021.
The 21-year-old Navarro made her professional debut in the LTP $100K tournament, which was held June 27 through July 3 in Mount Pleasant. In addition to Navarro, the field also included up-and-coming notables Katarina Jokic, Sophie Chang, Dalanya Hewitt, Ellie Douglas and Sarah Hamner.
Navarro was the No. 7 seed in the Mount Pleasant event and opened play with her first professional victory, a 6-4, 6-3 decision over American Hanna Chang, who entered at No. 269 in the world.
However, the Navarro express was sidelined in the second round when Canadian Carol Zhao posted a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Navarro. Zhao went on to win the Mount Pleasant championship with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Himeno Sakatsume of Japan. Sakatsume qualified for the Mount Pleasant main draw from the qualifiers’ bracket.
Navarro didn’t waste any time immersing herself in the ITF tournament. She’s in Amstelveen, Netherlands this week to play in a $60,000 clay-court event.
While the LTP tourney in Mount Pleasant was her first as a professional, Navarro has played in numerous WTA events while keeping her amateur status. In April, Navarro upset World No. 56 Madison Brengle in a first-round match at the Credit One Charleston Open before losing to eventual finalist Ons Jabeur.
Navarro began this week ranked No. 253 on the WTA Tour, hitting a career high of No. 194 in March. Navarro has a 61-53 record in pro events, including a 6-6 mark this season. She won her first main-draw match in a WTA Tour event last year at the Credit One Charleston Open with victory over Renata Zarazua.
While Navarro was heading across the pond, the 29-year-old Rogers concluded her European season with an appearance at Wimbledon. Rogers dropped a first-round match to Petra Martic of Croatia by a 6-2, 7-6 (5) decision.
Rogers entered Wimbledon with a World No. 39 ranking. She is 12-14 on the season and has collected $482,414 in prize money this year.