Carolyn Schopp, 31, is the wife of WGR Radio sportscaster Mike Schopp. Lately, her name is becoming as well known in Western New York tennis circles as Mike's has been in local radio broadcasting.
Schopp recently won two well-played matches in the Marsh Cup (the competition among Buffalo, Toronto, Rochester and Syracuse) and reached the semifinals of the National 30-over Women's Grass Court Championships at Forest Hills in Queens.
Schopp has been one of the area's finest singles players since moving to Buffalo several years ago. She works as a lawyer at Fisher-Price.
Even though she plays quite a bit of singles in practice and has been in local doubles tournaments the past few years, she has not played in many singles tournaments.
A 5.0 player, she plays and practices singles frequently with Andy Cohn, a locally rated 5.0 player and a frequent doubles partner of Schopp, both in mixed and in men's doubles.
"I have greatly enjoyed playing singles in the Marsh Cup the past three years [going undefeated in singles in six matches]," Schopp said.
Schopp and her husband were scheduled to go on vacation recently, but had to cancel for personal reasons. Rather than stay home, Schopp looked on the Internet to see if there were any tournaments in which she could compete. She decided to enter the National Grass Court Championships in Forest Hills and reached the semifinals before losing, 6-3, 6-2, to the eventual winner, Patricia Zerdan, a former Southern Methodist player, whom Schopp had defeated when she was playing for Baylor.
"I knew that Zerdan was going to be tough because she has still been playing regularly in tournaments. I had one day to practice on the grass courts and wished that I could have had a little bit more time to get acclimated to the bounce of grass," Schopp said.
Many local players aren't aware that Schopp was an excellent junior player and was ranked highly in the East for many years.
Schopp started playing tennis in her hometown of Cornwall, 60 miles from New York City, as an 8-year-old. The former Carolyn McGrath became one of the top eight Eastern junior players in the 12-, 14-, and 16-year-old divisions, rising to No. 4 in the East in the 18-under division.
"During my freshman and sophomore years in high school I was fortunate to train at the Rick Macci Academy in Florida," Schopp said. "I was able to play against some of the top junior players in the world. I returned to Cornwall for my junior and senior years, where I was coached by all-time U.S. great, Ron Holmberg. He is responsible for shaping my game into what it is today."
Playing in many national junior tournaments, she was in the same draws as Lindsay Davenport, Mary Pierce and Chanda Rubin.
"Fortunately, I never had to play any of those players," Schopp said, smiling.
At Baylor, Schopp played No. 1 singles in her senior year. She defeated two players ranked in the top 30 (Zerdan was one) and two others who were ranked in the top 80 in Division I. However, her collegiate highlight was being on a doubles team that defeated the University of Texas' No. 1 team, which was ranked ninth in the United States.
After Baylor she attended and graduated from American University Law School and moved to Buffalo.
She has more than held her own in Men's Open doubles tournaments. She and Cohn won the Men's Open Doubles at the prestigious Buffalo Tennis & Squash Club's Invitational two years ago and are regarded as the area's top mixed doubles team.
Jenny Schneider, a close friend and Schopp's regular women's doubles partner, entered the Muny Open men's doubles draw and made it to the semifinals.
Schopp has strong volleying and net skills. She has a great blend of power and touch, and a wide variety of shots. Her topspin lob is the best in the area. She has no weaknesses and is able to adjust her game to almost any situation.
"In a match situation she is extremely mentally strong," Cohn said. "If Plan A doesn't work she always has Plan B ready. If she loses the first set she moves her play up a notch. She enjoys a challenge and loves to compete."
Schopp has entered the Muny Open Women's Singles and could face Michelle Mitchell in the finals. Mitchell is a University of Pennsylvania star who was formerly ranked No. 1 in the United States in the Girl's 14-under division. This could be one of the most interesting and entertaining matches in the women's division in many years.