Photos by Sarah Mansheim
The Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic returned to White Sulphur Springs last weekend, and with it came some fresh energy.
Fans have been treated to the John McEnroe-Pete Sampras show for five years, and while they got another taste of the rivalry this year, the highlight for many, and the big-ticket draw, was the match between Venus Williams and Shelby Rogers.
Rogers, 23, was a last-minute replacement for the No. 9 Women’s Tennis Association (WTA)-ranked Madison Keys. Rogers is ranked No. 62, but put up a strong fight against superstar Williams, 36, who is ranked No. 6 in the world.
Frankly, it didn’t matter who Williams was playing on Saturday–fans were there to see her and her alone.
However, Rogers abilities kept the match interesting, with a strong serve and net game. Despite her efforts, Williams bested her in the end 2-0.
Later, on Saturday, McEnroe and Sampras took the court and McEnroe quickly began his complaint schtick, immediately griping that the stadium lights were lit in the afternoon sun.
Despite the pair’s showmanship, replete with bickering and side glances to officials, McEnroe and Sampras, the tennis professional emeritus at The Greenbrier, played some blistering tennis with the match ending 2-1 Sampras.
On Sunday, newcomer Rogers stole the show in the mixed doubles match, where she was paired with Sampras. Her backhand game, mixed with his powerful serve, won the pair 6-4, 6-4.