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High Schoolers Face Women Veterans in Charleston

April 8, 2019 10:04 AM

Story and photos by Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern

Chloe Beck
Chloe Beck stretches for a shot at the Volvo Car Open, while she and Emma Navarro plan strategy versus Andreja Kolpac and Lucie Hradecka.
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CHARLESTON, SC -- Chloe Beck expressed disappointment after a Volvo Car Open straight-set loss to the some of the best doubles players in the world.

Most of it was because her partner, Emma Navarro, scampered after their match to get ready for … yes, her high school prom.

“I want you to mention that she isn’t here for the interview,” Beck said and pointed her finger for effect. “She left because tonight is her prom.”

Charleston is Navarro’s hometown and she attends Ashley Hall.

It’s hard to give a mild tongue-lashing to a best friend, considering what most other teenagers were doing on a sunny spring afternoon. Navarro, who is a few weeks shy of her 18th birthday, and 17-year-old Beck spent the day doing battle with Andreja Kelpac and Lucie Hradecka, ranked No. 19 and No. 21 in the world respectively in women’s doubles.

The Southern teenagers had already one WTA Premier-level main draw victory, knocking off former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and Darija Jurak 1-6, 6-3, 13-11.

But, last Friday, in a match contested on the intimate Althea Gibson Clubcourt – named for the famous South Carolinian – the junior girls showed all-court power and finesse at the net. But, the two 33-year-olds, Kalpac/Hradecka, displayed more accuracy and experience, winning 6-3, 6-2.

Asked if they felt over-powered, Beck replied, “No. Going in we expected to see balls with more heat. That wasn’t the problem. It was more dealing with their placement. They hit some many winners near the lines.

“Their experience was the key. They knew when to pick off volleys. It was like cross-court groundstroke, cross-court groundstroke, then poach and put away. It wasn’t like the girls we often play who just rally crosscourt.”

“I know Emma is going to get balls back because she’s very athletic and a great baseline player. My goal is to do my best with my volleys.”

There are many juniors around the South and the USA who might have the same string of compliments about Beck, of Watkinsville, GA, and Navarro. The duo has teamed up for years on the USTA junior circuit, winning at least three national championships (including the two Easter Bowls) over the last few years.

It was just last weekend when they took won the Girls’ 18s at the Adidas Easter Bowl, with Navarro also winning the singles. Two years ago, they also won the doubles title in the Girls’ 16s and Navarro won singles. Beck had two titles in the 2017 ITF International Grass Courts (singles and doubles with Navarro). Also, in the 2017 Girls’ 18s National Clay Courts, Navarro won singles and they won doubles. But, their most notable achievement came here last year when they won the $15,000 USTA Pro circuit doubles crown.

Composure and sportsmanship have always anchored their play. Beck won the USTA Southern Ozaki/Hastings Sportsmanship Award in 2016 and Navarro was cited in 2018.

“I think there have been moments where I thought I’d lose it but I’ve worked to control myself. I’m a work in progress. Emma never seems rattled, always has the best sportsmanship,” Beck said. “Yes, I think our behavior has helped our results.”

Family has been an important building block for both players. Navarro ‘s father, Ben, bought this tournament last year and also owns the Live to Play Tennis Club where his children train. He built his fortune based on founding the Sherman Financial Group.

The family of Michael and Debra Beck was awarded the 2018 Mickey McNulty Family of the Year by USTA Southern. Beck added, “My family is a tennis family. We’re at the tennis courts all the time. My mon was an assistant coach at UGA and my dad is a coach, too.”

The Navarro/Beck team has already got its future planned: Both are signed to play college tennis at Duke in the fall.

 

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