By Rachel Vinson
The two tournaments that I had attended before coming to the Family Circle Cup were the US Open and the Sony Ericsson Open.Â Â Both tournaments are attractive for similar reasons:Â their location in large fast-paced cities, (New York City and Miami respectively) and the large and occasionallyÂ rowdy fans that are passionate about tennis. I found the Family Circle Cup, a womenâ€™s premier event, to be the exact opposite of those two tournaments, but in many ways, more enjoyable.
Daniel Island, where the Family Circle Cup is located, is in one of the most unique areas in the United States called the Low Country, a geographic region along South Carolinaâ€™s coast that is renowned for its historic cities and natural beauty.Â Â And when you step on the grounds of the tournament the vibe that you immediately get can can be summed up with two words:Â Southern Hospitality.Â Â Everything about this tournament is charming, from the warmth and kindness of fellow fans, to the palm trees and down-home country food.
On my last day at the Family Circle Cup, I talked to several people, fans and media,Â about Â what they felt makes this tournament so special, and every person I talked to commented on two things:Â the intimacy of the tournament and the great access that they have to players.Â Â To be fair, all tournaments generally try and give the fans great access, but what makes this different is that you donâ€™t have to battle large crowds to watch Caroline Wozniacki or Sam Stosur practice, nor do you have to almost come to blows to get autograph or a picture with them.Â Itâ€™s all very calm, cordial, and southern.
The Stadium Court which Caroline Wozniacki described as â€œcozyâ€ does not seem like it could fit the 10,200 people that the website states, because all the seats are very close to the court and have an amazing view.
The other main stadium is the Althea Gibson Court which holds 2,500 fans and is located right next to the 10,000 sq ft clubhouse that acts as the players lounge during the tournament.
It really is a gorgeous venue that delivers great tennis in a quaint and comfy environment.
Because I stayed an additional day after leaving the tournament, I let fans who are local residents direct me to attractions that showcase Charleston the best, and the two places that kept popping up in conversation, were Folly Beach, and The Battery.
The Battery is a landmark on the waterfront that is famous for its antebellum mansions, and also includes a park, which during the Civil War was a place to store artillery, most of which is still present.Â The colorful mansions and waterfront view are breathtaking.
And if you are a history buff and need a more in depth knowledge of the landmark, you can hop on a horse and carriage tour, which Sam Stosur said she had done in the past and was looking forward to doing again before she left.
After leaving The Battery, I headed to Folly Beach referred to by the locals as the â€œEdge of America.â€Â The beaches close to Charleston are not necessarily tourist attractions, however when I visited, there were plenty of people trying to get a tan.
The surfing here is supposed to be some of the best on the East Coast and they host several surfing events throughout the year.
And there is also a beautiful pier that you can walk along, where many local residents go fishing.
I really enjoyed my time at the Family Circle Cup and in Charleston.Â It was a relaxing and peaceful experience that also featured amazing tennis, and I am already looking forward to coming back in the near future.