photo #2-- Alice KeeneyVolvo Car Open.jpg
(Photo credit: Alice Keeney/Volvo Car Open)

Joel Drucker: Legends and Civilians Gather for Meredith Tennis Activity

“I should play more,” said Rachel McGirr, the Manhattan-based media buyer.

“Me too,” said her brother, Max Barsuc, also a Manhattan-based media buyer.

“That’s a good shot,” said Tennis Channel analyst, Hall of Famer Tracy Austin.

“Well done,” said another Hall of Famer, Virginia Wade.

“That’s got to be the luckiest shot I’ve ever seen – well, at least this morning,” said six-time Grand Slam doubles champion Rennae Stubbs.

Such was the scene Saturday at the Family Circle Tennis Center, site of the Volvo Car Open. Just east of the Althea Gibson Club Court, several dozen men and women were gathered hours prior to the afternoon’s singles semis. Later they’d be entertained in a suite run by Meredith Corporation, the group that owns such publications as Family Circle, Shape, and Eating Well. Meredith also was responsible for the creation of the Family Circle Tennis Center, which besides tennis hosts concerts and other cultural events.

The clinic was all part of a festive weekend hosted by Meredith, a chance to showcase the company’s longstanding affinity with tennis – Family Circle was the tournament’s inaugural sponsor back in 1973 – and connect approximately 250 sponsors, advertisers and clients with both the tennis and Charleston’s broad spectrum of culture and cuisine. Friday night it kicked off at the Gibbes Museum with a grand fete featuring Charleston chefs Sarah Adams, Emily Hahn and Amalia Scatena, as well as a lively discussion on tennis featuring Wade, Stubbs and Tennis Channel commentators Mary Carillo and Sloane Stephens.

As the clinic continued, aided by a flock of the venue’s instructors, it was possible to witness tennis’ evolution strictly through the three forehands struck by the trio of legends. Here was Wade, her Continental grip dialed in solidly, thoroughly adept at the elegant transition game that carried her to three Grand Slam singles titles – all on low-bouncing grass. Then, Austin, supremely disciplined at the Eastern grip that helped drive the ball repeatedly and concussively on the way to winning two US Open singles titles on the firm hard courts of Flushing Meadows. Finally, Stubbs, a practitioner of the contemporary game, locked in and able to crack lively topspin forehands with her semi-Western grip.

(photo credit: Alice Keeney/Volvo Car Open)

“They really don’t miss much at all,” said one participant.

“Why should they?” asked another. “They’ve seen it all.”

For the recreational players, keen to see how their tools matched against the greats, it was at once edifying, sobering and enjoyable. It was time next to enjoy a great combination of activities: to watch tennis after playing it.

(photo credit: Alice Keeney/Volvo Car Open)

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