Shelby Rogers earned a wild card into the 2013 French Open by capturing the women's Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, and she will make her debut at Roland Garros when the tournament gets underway May 26. Rogers took the challenge with 88 points after winning the Charlottesville, Va., title and reaching the quarterfinals in Dothan, Ala.
After capturing the title in Charlottesville, Rogers, who trains at the USTA National Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., is currently ranked a career-high No. 190. In her career, she has claimed one additional singles title on the USTA Pro Circuit, in 2012, when she beat US Open junior girls’ champion Samantha Crawford in the final of the $50,000 event in Yakima, Wash.
Rogers recently participated in a conference call with media after earning the French Open wild card. Here are highlights from the call:
Q. Can you talk a little bit about your run through the three tournaments? How you were able to get things together and pull this off?
Shelby Rogers: Going into Dothan, I lost six matches this year. I hadn't won a round since November of last year or something. I was just trying to get some confidence back, get some matches, get some clay-court tennis in. I thankfully carried the moment over into Charlottesville. I was playing solid tennis. I was confident with what I was doing. Unfortunately, I had to play one of my friends I think every round at that tournament, so that was a little bit tough, playing the Americans. But all the cards fell in my favor that week. I came out with the title.
Going into Indian Harbour Beach, I lost second round there, but it was a tough situation at the end because I was just kind of waiting for people to lose because I was at the top of the points. I was just hoping somebody wouldn't take the title that week and pass me. At the same time, I wanted my friends to do well there. So hopefully I'm never in that situation again. But I got the wild card in the end, and I'm really happy about it.
Q. Historically how comfortable are you on clay? Have you played on European red clay before?
Shelby Rogers: I grew up on green clay in the States. I grew up in Charleston, S.C. I was pretty much taught on the green clay. I've only played two tournaments on red clay before. I played one ITF junior event there, which I won the singles and doubles, so that was a pretty special week in Costa Rica. I played in Acapulco earlier this year and lost first-round qualifying there. I feel pretty comfortable on the clay. I'm confident in my game and my movement right now. I'm just hoping for the best. I'm ready for a good experience in France.
Q. Have you been to Paris before?
Shelby Rogers: No, I haven't. This will be my first time.
Q. What's the first thing you're going to want to do?
Shelby Rogers: I think I have to go to the Eiffel Tower, right? A couple other sites, I guess. Maybe see the city a little bit. Hopefully stay on the red clay as long as I can.
Q. What do you contribute all the success you've had in the last three weeks to? Has there been a change in your game, coaching, anything like that, other than just hard work?
Shelby Rogers: I honestly haven't changed a thing. I had a rough start to the year. I had a lot of tough matches against good players. I felt like I was right there in each one of them. I guess just sticking with it, keep believing in yourself, not giving up is the hardest part. When you're in a slump, you can get a little frustrated, want to not work as hard, stop what you've been doing to get you where you're at. I just kept believing in the process, and I knew it was going to come, but maybe not so soon. Maybe not for a French Open wild card. But you have to keep working hard every day, and something good's bound to happen.
Q. Are you currently working with someone in particular at the USTA?
Shelby Rogers: My main coach is Sylvain Guichard. He's a French guy who works here in Boca with the USTA.
Q. One of the USTA coaches will be with you in Paris?
Shelby Rogers: Unfortunately, Sylvain will not be able to go this year. But I think two or three of the other USTA coaches will be over there. They do a great job with the whole Player Development. Everybody knows all the players' games. They can all help me out. All the coaches are great, so I'll be in good hands.
Q. What about your switch to training with the USTA from training at Family Circle in Charleston? Was that a big boost for you?
Shelby Rogers: I guess it's been a couple years now since I made that decision. It was probably one of the hardest decisions of my life, leaving my family and everyone at home, the coach I'd been with since I was 7. But there just weren't any players to train with in Charleston. I had a good set-up, with coaching and fitness and stuff like that. But moving to Boca, you have world-class players every day to practice against, a nice gym, fitness trainers. Everything is right at your fingertips. I think it was a good move and something that I needed to do. It definitely helped my game. The results show that, I think.
Q. What are your thoughts on this particular process of deciding a wild card?
Shelby Rogers: I think it's a great way of picking a wild-card recipient. It shows a little bit more the player who can be consistent with results instead of just having one good weekend or one good week. You really have to prove yourself over three weeks, which I think is a great process. You have to be mentally tough. You have to bring your game throughout the whole three weeks. I mean, it's the same players, but you just have to win the most matches. Ultimately, yeah, I think it's a better way. I'm for it. I like it.
Q. Who do you get to train with and see on a regular basis down in Boca?
Shelby Rogers: We have Madison Keys, Grace Min, Jamie Hampton, Taylor Townsend, Sam Crawford, Sachia Vickery. I hope I didn't leave anyone out. That would be bad.
Q. Have you noticed in the last couple of years whether or not the tenor or intensity has changed [in Boca Raton]? There is a lot of recent success coming from players down there.
Shelby Rogers: Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, we're constantly getting better as a team. The USTA is making a lot of improvements down here. Everybody's working really hard. We give 100 percent every day. All the girls are putting themselves out there. Like I said, we help each other every single day we're here training. We encourage each other, push each other, because we want to be the best we can be. I think it's really neat that we have a lot more girls training down here now. Before there were just a few. We were spread out all over the U.S. It's nice to be able to train with them and play matches because, like I said, in Charleston, I had nobody to hit with. I had good coaches, resources, but nobody to play against. So it's really important to have a good group around you and people to play with.