Charleston Diaries 2015: Catching Up With Madison Brengle and Parting Thoughts

To say that Madison Brengle is having the best season of her career would be putting it mildly. The 25-year-old is at a career-high ranking of No. 43, up over 100 spots from this time last year. In the Road to Singapore rankings, she’s up to No. 21.

She made her splash in Australia, making it to the Round of 16 in Brisbane as a Qualifier, the final of Hobart as a Qualifier and the Round of 16 of the Australian Open.

“While I was there it was pretty hectic,” she said of her time Down Under. “After I got home, everything went back to normal really fast.

“I practice in the mornings–not too early–then I’ll do a light fitness afterwards. Then I like to play sets and points in the afternoon, and then I normally go to Pure Barre in the evening. I’m obsessed with Pure Barre. It’s the best workout, your muscles just shake.”

Brengle turned pro when she was 17 years old. She spent a year with the USTA before transferring to Bradenton, where she’s remained ever since. She loves it there–she’s five minutes from the beach and has access to great practice partners and coaches. Having fun is very important to her–though she’s only 25, she’s been at this nearly her whole life.

“My mom got me into tennis,” she said. “She’s a coach up in Deleware. I think I started to play when I was like two. I started obviously quite young–she always tells me that it was my own choice to play, but I give her a hard time about it.”

In 2014, after years of dealing with nagging injuries and a lack of form and fitness, everything started to fall into place for Brengle. She won two Challengers in the summer and qualified for a WTA event in Linz in the fall.

“From Wimby on I started playing well week in, week out,” she said. “When it started to click I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to accomplish on court. Having those wins in the Challengers, and then having my first mains-draw win at a Slam at the U.S. Open, it started to all build up, and then in Australia I was able to play those good matches consistently.”

Now Brengle’s won two main draws at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, a tournament where she was previously winless. In her next match she faces defending champion Andrea Petkovic, whom she upset in the first round of the Australian Open.

We’ll have to wait and see whether she can keep the good times going.


Unfortunately, this will be my last dispatch from Charleston. With the schedule shift this year the Masters is in the way, and I need to get back to my work-from-home sportswritering life. It’s been so fun to be back on the tennis beat for a few days, though–reinvigorating, really.

Here are a few more impressions from the tournament:

  • I had never heard of Sara Sorribes Tormo before, but the 18-year-old Spaniard has made quite an impact on the green clay, qualifying and then taking out Pavs (who retired down a set and a break) and local favorite Shelby Rogers.


    She was incredibly emotional after her big win on Billie Jean King court, and despite the language barrier she was very charming in press. She has a lot of personality. We also learned that she models her game off of David Ferrer and Sara Errani. She knows Ferrer well, as they practice at the same club in Valencia, and she will face Errani in the third round here at Charleston.

    A couple of quotes from her post-match press conferene:

    “I’m really happy. It’s biggest win of my career, and I don’t know, it’s an amazing feeling, and that’s it.”

    “This morning I was like not–I was not nervous. That’s strange because normally when you play in that court, in big court, you should be nervous. But I was, you know, I wanted to play, I wanted to go out and do my game, and now I’m so happy. I can’t imagine, you know, it’s so good.”

  • I wrote about Danka Kovinic after her first-round victory over Christina McHale, and now she has topped the biggest win of her career with a defeat of Belinda Bencic. Next she plays her idol, JJ.

    The big-serving Montenegran was pumped in press today:

    “You know, I never felt better in my life. I think I played the best tennis here. I’m really enjoying.”

    “That was one of my inspirations today to beat Bencic because I was practicing all my life to play with Jelena. I was really like looking forward to play with her and I’m so happy that I have a chance to play tomorrow.”

    “I cannot say it’s unexpectable, because I think I know how much I can, and I play really good on the clay. I feel so confident. That’s my favorite surface.”

  • Overall, today was an awful day for the seeds at the Family Circle Cup. Most notably, Eugenie Bouchard and Sloane Stephens crashed out.

    Bouchard is completely lost right now–my guess is that it’s just going to take her a while to physically adjust to the training she’s doing with Sumyk. Hopefully she’ll still be able to mentally find herself once she does. Stephens is still on the upswing, I believe, she just ran into an incredibly in-form Mona Barthel today. That’s always dangerous.

    Beyond that, No. 2 seed Ekaterina Makarova won and then withdrew with a stomach problem, former champion Sam Stosur lost in three sets to Lara Arruabarrena and, of course, Bencic fell. Ouch.

  • Lindsay is an author, a filmmaker, a long-winded blogger, and a huge tennis fan.

    One Response

    1. Dan
      Dan April 9, 2015 at 9:12 pm |

      I love that even Brengle refers to winning “Challengers,” by which she means something like “$50K ITF tournaments.” Wouldn’t it be great if the WTA and ATP synchronized their naming of tournament levels? The ATP, after decades of struggling (remember the Grand Prix series?), has a sensible structure. Premier? Mandatory? 5? Perhaps it’s so the WTA can avoid the silliness of having both a “Masters 1000” and a “Masters 900” class of tournaments, along with nice round numbers like the “WTA 470” or the good ol’ “WTA 280.”

      It seems that everything the ATP and WTA do are geared towards making things more palatable for the dreaded “casual fan,” but some of the WTA names confuse even someone like me (who spent the afternoon watching streams of 15-year-olds playing at the Easter Bowl, just to out my level of tennis fanaticism).

      Anyway, great to have these dispatches back from you (and the long-lost JJ in Houston!)!

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