Fiction stranger than truth for Fifth Third star Rogers

ldannhauser@herald-leader.comJuly 24, 2013 

  • FIFTH THIRD

    When: Through Sunday

    Where: UK's Boone Tennis Center

    Wednesday: Matches begin at 11 a.m. Big Blue Night Exhibition starts at 6:30 p.m.

If you look up Shelby Rogers on Wikipedia, you'll find an interesting story.

The "free encyclopedia" website describes Rogers as a professional tennis player who is missing two of the toes on her right foot as the result of a car accident.

It also says she can squat 310 pounds and bench press 205 pounds. Oh, and don't forget the reference to her skydiving in her free time and logging more than 200 jumps.

Sounds like a great story, but ... "It's not true," Rogers said. "That is on Wikipedia, and it is not true. Hardly any of it is, actually."

The truth is, Rogers is a professional tennis player and the highest-ranked American playing in the Fifth Third Bank Championships at the University of Kentucky this week. Her career started in 2009.

The Wikipedia claims are something she constantly has to deny.

"I've been asked quite a few times about it," Rogers said. "Even at the French Open during media, it was a little bit different at the time, so it's been updated."

Apparently the page previously also included that she owned a large number of cats.

Rogers sees it as good fun.

"It's pretty funny. It says that I've done like 200 skydive jumps and can bench like 300 pounds," Rogers said. "I didn't do it, but I like it. I think it's funny."

But not everyone sees it as entertaining.

"Some reporters get really angry," Rogers said. "They're like, 'Well I have to go rewrite my whole story now' and I'm like, 'Well don't use your source as Wikipedia.'"

Pranks aside, Rogers has been rising steadily through the Women's Tennis Association rankings. Currently No. 143, Rogers breezed through her first-round match Wednesday against No. 300 Maria Alvarez Teran of Bolivia, 6-0, 6-1.

"It was a good first round. Sometimes coming to a tournament, a new venue, new courts, it can be a little bit tricky," Rogers said. "I was lucky to get away with a fairly clean match today."

Rogers has positioned herself to claim a wild-card spot in this year's U.S. Open if she can win the Fifth Third.

"That's kind of in the back of my mind. It's not something that I really focus on when I'm preparing for my matches," Rogers said. "It's another tournament really. If it works out it works out but no need to add pressure."

Rogers earned a wild card into the main draw of the French Open earlier this year through a similar USTA Challenger Tour series.

"It was incredible," Rogers said. "It was my first time playing in Europe this year and obviously my first Grand Slam win so it was really special. I don't think I'll ever forget that moment."

At the French Open, Rogers won her first-round match versus France's Irena Pavlovic 6-3, 6-4, and took a set against No. 20 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain before falling 6-3, 4-6, 4-6.

"I had a pretty good second round as well that I felt like I could have won against a top-20 player so that's really encouraging that I can play with the top girls," Rogers said.

Rogers hopes to continue her rise through the rankings, and wants to break into the top 100 by the end of the year. From there she hopes to keep climbing.

And while she climbs she is sure to keep getting asked about those missing toes.

Ex-Cat Musialek ousted

Former University of Kentucky player Alex Musialek had to battle not only a solid and seasoned player Wednesday evening, but also a bad case of nerves.

The 25-year-old wanted to give the supportive crowd a win at the Fifth Third. The crowd included many of his former teammates and coaches. Instead, he said, he played one of the worst matches he had in a long time, against Canadian Steve Diez, losing 6-0, 6-1.

"I was nervous and very excited and wanted to do well, but I did the opposite," said the native of southwest France. "I did not represent UK the way I wanted to."

Also on U.S. Open quest

On the women's side of the draw, 19-year-old Grace Min of Atlanta defeated fellow American Sanaz Marand, 6-3, 6-4.

"When she wanted to rip it, she ripped it," said Marand of Houston.

Min did not have much to say after the match but did offer that she loves Lexington's hospitality. She also said she has not been paying attention to the quest for a wild card into the U.S. Open.

Lexington is the last stop of three Challenger women's tournaments in which players earn points for that wild card.

Either she or Shelby Rogers, the highest-seeded American, will take the wild card, but only if they win the tournament and earn the maximum points.

"It's in the back of my mind, but I try not to think about it; it's just another match, another tournament," said the 20-year-old Charleston, S.C., native, who trains at the USTA National Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla. "I treat every match the same. But I am excited to be playing the feature match (on Thursday). It should be a lot of fun."

Qualifier upsets third seed

Qualifier Filip Peliwo defeated the No. 3-seed, Belgian Ruben Bemelmans, 6-3, 6-3, in the second round of the main draw. Peliwo, 19, ended last year as the No. 1 junior in the world after winning the U.S. Open Junior Championships. Bemelmans has 11 ITF Futures and Challenger singles titles.


FIFTH THIRD

When: Through Sunday

Where: UK's Boone Tennis Center

Wednesday: Matches begin at 11 a.m. Big Blue Night Exhibition starts at 6:30 p.m.

Leigh Dannhauser: (859) 231-3440.

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