Shelby Rogers' run in Volvo Car Open ends after "gutsy" battle

Charleston's Shelby Rogers was eliminated from the Volvo Car Open Friday after a hard-fought battle with Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. (Daren Stoltzfus/WCIV)

It didn't go as planned for the local tennis star, but there's still plenty of hometown glory to go around for Shelby Rogers. Her run in this year's Volvo Car Open came to an end Friday night in the quarterfinals.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia beat Rogers in three sets Friday in the Volvo Car Open. The 35-year-old Lucic-Baroni, the oldest player left in the draw, rallied after a tough first set to win 6-7(7), 6-1, 6-1 and spoil the day for all those fans.

"It was beautiful in a way," said Lucic-Baroni, who had never been past the round of 16 at Charleston. "It was difficult playing against the crowd, because Shelby is from here. It's normal. It's always tough, but I felt they were very respectful. They were cheering for their home girl, and it's totally normal."

It was a week locals had been waiting for, seeing a local athlete make it to the big game. Many fans were nervous for Friday’s match.

“It’s like watching my daughter play tennis, where you’re nervous and you want her to win and do their best and you scream and yell because they forgot a good shot,” said Barbara Chan, a volunteer and spectator. “But yeah, that’s what it’s like being here, it’s awesome.”

Cheering for Rogers at this year’s event was different change of pace for enthusiasts who attend the event every year. It was the first time Cheryln Monroe saw Rogers play in person.

“I only come to the champions package, so every year when I get here she’s already gone so this is my first time seeing her in person,” Monroe said. “But every time she’s on TV, I’m a tennis fanatic so I watch for her.”

After losing the first-set tiebreaker, the hard-hitting Lucic-Baroni refused to fold and shut down Rogers in the final two sets. Rogers did not manage to get to a break opportunity and was broken five times in a row in a match that lasted two hours, 13 minutes.

"I was just trying to fight for every point," Rogers said. "I wish I could have kept it up."

Rogers served more than a powerful hand. The former ball girl competed in the same stadium where her aspirations were born, a powerful message for youth.

“Just to grow up loving tennis and be a ball girl and love it so much and to come this far, and for everybody rooting for you, it puts on a lot of pressure,” said tennis fan Michelle Jacques.

“It’s wonderful, the little girls and boys who are out there now, they’re seeing what’s possible for them,” said Monroe. “They’re saying to themselves, she did it, we can do it too.”

There was not a fairweather fan in sight. They proved win or lose, there’s always love for the Lowcountry local.

“We already love her so I don’t know how much better it can get,” said Jacques.

“Sad, but it’s a learning experience,” said Chan. “I know she’ll do great the next time she plays.”

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