|Photo by Daniel Ward|
World number 7 Eugenie Bouchard leads the field in 2015 Family Circle Cup competition, which begins on Saturday, April 4, when qualifying starts. The Canadian wild card was a semifinalist last year, and a quarterfinalist in 2013.
Seeded second is Ekaterina Makarova, who has not played in Charleston in five years. Defending champion Andrea Petkovic is seeded third, and Sara Errani is seeded fourth.
The bad news is that Lucie Safarova (who would have been seeded third) withdrew today because of a back injury. Safarova was the runner-up in 2012 and won the doubles twice with two different partners.
The Family Circle Cup, the world's largest women's-only tennis tournament, is also the only tournament played on green clay. Historically, green clay was considered a surface that provides faster play than red clay. Last year, however, Jelena Jankovic--discussing the playing speeds of several venues--said she thought that some of the European red clay courts now play faster than the Charleston court.
One of my favorite things about Charleston is the crowd. They love women's tennis. These are the fans who stood in the heat for two hours to watch Belinda Bencic and Elina Svitolina fight it out for a spot in last year's third round. These are fans who will stand in the heat for any length of time to watch a doubles match. And these are the fans who went crazy cheering when Vera Zvonareva brought forth the greatest racket destruction moment in the history of women's tennis in 2010.
This is also the crowd that gave rock star status to Patty Schnyder for many years. Schnyder never won the tournament, but was the runner-up twice. The first time, in 2002, the unseeded German mowed down all of the important players--Amelie Mauresmo, Mary Pierce, Serena Williams, and top seed Jennifer Capriati--but then lost to Iva Majoli in the final. In 2006, Schnyder took out defending champion Justine Henin in the semifinals, but lost to Nadia Petrova in the final.
It was a sad moment when Schnyder played her last Family Circle Cup match in 2011 and said goodbye in an emotional farewell ceremony. The beloved Swiss had played in Charleston for 15 consecutive years, and it was in Charleston that she ruled.
The 2015 draw will be held on Saturday, April 4 on the Grand Lawn. Four former champions will be competing: Andrea Petkovic (2014), Sam Stosur (2010), Sabine Lisicki (2009), and Jelena Jankovic (2007).