FLORENCE, S.C. – Maryland native Sophie Chang is no stranger to the McLeod for Health Florence Open.

She said that she has competed in the USTA Pro Circuit Women’s Tournament the past few years and finds it to be a compelling week of competition.

F or many young professionals from around the world , $25,000 of prize money on the line

“It’s a very unique tournament,” Chang said. “Everyone here is so friendly. There have been a lot of people that have worked to put this tournament together, like Jade [Perkins with the Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau], and those friendly faces and friends that I have made really just set this tournament apart.”

Chang began playing tennis at age 3 and has continued to grow in the sport. She has moved up the leaderboard in the world this year with one singles title in Orlando, Florida, and a doubles title in Charlottesville, Virginia. She ranks No. 338 in singles and No. 155 in doubles, according to the International Tennis Federation.

Chang said the most difficult part of the sport is the combination of mental focus and physical skill that it takes to compete.

“One of the things that makes tennis so difficult is the fact that there are so many different components to it,” Chang said. “You have to develop all these different parts of your game. Some days, you might be feeling good about one part of your game, but you have to work on the other parts.”

Chang will begin her competition today in both women’s singles and doubles.

“It’s always really exciting to get out there,” Chang said. “It’s also really nerve-wracking as well. It’s getting down to the last part of the year, so I’m just looking to start out this last group of tournaments the best I can and enjoy it.”

Qualifying started Sunday. Main-draw matches began Tuesday afternoon.

Source: The Associated Press

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