Whether tennis is your passion or you simply enjoy watching a spirited match, this year’s Volvo Car Open has a must-see lineup of players sure to impress. The 2018 field is as strong as ever with two Grand Slam singles champions, several established names and a few stars on the rise.
These women will gather at the Family Circle Tennis Center from March 31 to April 8 ready to show they have what it takes to put it all on line to take home the Volvo Car Open title.
Here’s a look at some of the players to watch at this year’s Volvo Car Open:
At just 20 years old, Russian Daria Kasatkina is the defending Volvo Car Open champion. Kasatkina remains one of the most versatile and fun-to-watch players in the game, never afraid to chip, slice, loop or bunt her way through a rally – a game style that works particularly well on clay, her favorite surface.
Hometown player Shelby Rogers is back again this year. Rogers grew up in Mount Pleasant and was a ball girl at the Volvo Car Open. Now she takes the court as a player to watch. She was a quarterfinalist at the 2017 Volvo Car Open, and a finalist in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
The 2016 champion Sloane Stephens came to Charleston last year as a commentator for the Tennis Channel, still hobbling around with a foot injury that forced her to sit out for the previous six months. This year, though, she’s recovered and taking her place on the court as a new Grand Slam champion.
Keep your eye on Petra Kvitova, who is making her debut at the Volvo Car Open. The two-time Wimbledon champion and former world No. 2 is left-handed and plays a merciless baseline game. Earlier this season she won back-to-back titles in St. Petersburg and Doha to bring her trophy count to 22.
Another first-time Volvo Car Open participant is 23-year-old Bernarda Pera. A relative unknown to start the year, the 123rd-ranked Pera stormed to the Australian Open third round as a qualifier, upsetting No. 9 seed Johanna Konta en route.
Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia made her top 10 debut at the end of the season when she caught fire, becoming the first player to win both Wuhan and Beijing. Her hot streak helped her earn a debut appearance at the WTA Finals in Singapore. She has a dynamic game - and isn’t afraid to venture into the net.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands returned to the tour this spring after a terrible knee injury last summer at Wimbledon. She and Lucie Safarova have 11 doubles titles together, including at last year’s Volvo Car Open and five Grand Slams, most recently the French Open last spring. They go by the name “Team Bucie.” Check out their social handles to watch hilarious video skits they film while on the road.
Longtime Volvo Car Open favorite, and the 2015 Charleston finalist, Madison Keys returns in April. Keys hits the ball as hard as anyone on tour, and in 2017 captured her third career title in Stanford. Keys reached the finals of this year’s US Open, losing to friend and fellow American, Stephens. She’s coached by one of the game’s all-time greats: Lindsay Davenport.
CiCi Bellis, who grew up in the Bay Area, is making her Charleston debut having cracked the top 40 last year. The 18-year-old lets little get past her. This former junior world No. 1 made the quarterfinals in Doha earlier this year. She was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year and has already proven her staying power on tour in 2018.