Hockey, anyone? Fed Cup's Shelby Rogers huge Lightning fan
I presumed I had covered every significant phase of the Shelby Rogers story, from her Charleston, S.C., upbringing to her injury-ravaged 2015 season to her dramatic run to the '16 French Open quarterfinals.
So I turned off my tape recorder, closed my notebook and extended a hand to thank this 24-year-old Fed Cup team member for her time.
Her response stunned me. "I'm surprised you didn't ask me about the Lightning."
"I love the Lightning."
Re-cue the recorder.
"We just lost Bish and I love (Ben) Bishop," Rogers said of the Lightning's former all-star goaltender. "I love (Steven) Stamkos. Brayden Point just came up, he's doing super well. But it's just fun following the team, you know? I like something a little different."
Who could've known a home-schooled kid from Charleston, who spends most the hockey season globe-trotting from one WTA tournament to another, would have any interest in the bay area's hockey team?
Turns out, Rogers -- currently the world's 48th-ranked women's singles player -- trained for about eight months at Bradenton's IMG Academy when she was younger, and became a regular attender of Lightning games. These days, her Twitter bio contains a "go Bolts" icon.
Last year, she was even social-media captain for a game. Her aspiration was to possibly catch a playoff contest during the week of Fed Cup preparation at Saddlebrook, but...oh well.
"I've been following them," Rogers said, who begins Fed Cup play with the U.S. team Saturday against the Czech Republic in a world group semifinal. "Great season last year. This one's a little disappointing; we had some of our good players out.
"But I love hockey, it's my favorite sport after tennis."