Anna Maria Gardiner and Caroline Sloop were fifth graders when they met on the Ascot neighborhood tennis courts. Their friendship has taken them many places since, but rarely away from the courts.
Gardiner and Sloop have participated in countless lessons and clinics together. They both played for Dutch Fork High the past six years, including last fall when they helped the girls team win the 4A state championship.
Earlier this month, Gardiner and Sloop also earned another honor together. They were awarded $2,000 scholarships from the South Carolina Tennis Patrons Foundation, the charitable arm of USTA South Carolina.
Sloop and Gardiner, along with Rachel Berkey, a recent graduate of Myrtle Beach High, received the scholarships for their academic and tennis achievements. They had to submit applications and essays titled, “The Impact of Tennis on My Life.”
“We’re thrilled to honor these student-athletes who are great people on- and off-the-court,” said David Honeycutt, chairman of the foundation’s scholarship committee. “As these individuals progress through college, we know they’ll continue to represent our state and our tennis community well.”
Gardiner said, it’s hard to believe the role tennis has played in her friendship with Sloop.
“It’s crazy ... that a sport can lead you to finding a best friend,” said Gardiner, who’ll stay close with Sloop as both will attend USC this fall.
TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS IN MIDLANDS
Three area teams will compete at a regional USTA championship this weekend in Lexington County. Eric Jackson’s 18-and-under Lexington team, Robby Aull’s 14-and-under Columbia team and Wendy Kingsley’s 10-and-under Camden team all will compete at the USTA Southern Junior Team Tennis Section Championships.
The event starts on Friday and will be held at two Lexington County tennis facilities: the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center and the Lexington County Tennis Complex.
More than 500 players from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee will compete at the championships in four age divisions: 10-and-under , 12-and-under, 14-and-under and 18-and-under. The champions in the 14-and-under and 18-and-under levels will have the opportunity to advance to the USTA Junior Team Tennis National Championships, which will be held at the same Lexington County sites in October.
Admission is free and matches conclude on Sunday.
For information about Junior Team Tennis opportunities in the Midlands, email Rashawn Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write “The State newspaper” in the subject line and your child will be eligible for a tennis prize.
Braden works for the South Carolina office of the U.S. Tennis Association. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 803-781-2574.