The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette correct all errors of fact. If you see an error in this article, please call the city desk at 843-706-8139. Corrections and clarifications will appear in this space.
Web sites may link directly to search results and individual articles without permission.
Up to one paragraph of text may be included from an article as long as full attribution is given and the attribution links back to the full article.
To republish more than one paragraph of text, please contact us for permission.
One look at Alison Riske's schedule provides a dose of reality that being a professional athlete is more than glamour and attention.
It takes work. And a lot of it.
Riske, a professional women's tennis player, begins her day with a two-hour trip to the tennis court for the first of two or three hitting sessions. She spends the next hour working on her agility and footwork. Following a brief break for lunch, she returns to the court for more practice and then concludes her evenings with a trip to the gym.
And those are her days off.
"I'm in the real world now," Riske said. "If you want to win, this is what it takes."
As a 21-year-old Hilton Head Island resident, that's all she wants to do -- win every time she steps onto the court.
Riske refrains from setting goals, substituting her simply-put mind-set for elaborate childhood dreams. She rarely even peeks at her ranking, which climbed 104 spots in the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) last year, her first full season as a professional. Through four main draw women's tournaments in 2011, Riske stands at No. 119.
She is winless in those four tournaments, but she hasn't exactly been fortunate in her draws. Three of her four first-round opponents are ranked in the top 50.
She hopes for better luck this weekend. Riske will be in Charleston for the qualifying draw of the Family Circle Cup. In a 32-player bracket, Riske must finish among the top eight to qualify for Daniel Island's annual event.
Riske has spent the better part of the week training with her sister, Sarah, on Hilton Head Island.
"I only get to come back very rarely it seems," Riske said. "But I love it every time I'm able to come back."
She returns with greater expectations after an impressive rookie season. Riske won three consecutive tournaments in Europe last October, part of a 16-match win streak that spanned nearly four weeks. And now she believes she's prepared to win more.
"I learned a lot of things -- the biggest thing I understood is the level of intensity that needs to be brought to every match," Riske said. "I think realizing that was huge for me."
It was a portion of a highlight-filled year that gave Riske a brief taste of what her career could include. She played -- and nearly beat -- Maria Sharapova in the semifinals of the WTA's Aegon Classic in Alabama. Later that month, she made her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon.
"Obviously it's every player's goal to play in the Grand Slams, and I'd be lying if that isn't at the top of my list," Riske said. "I'd love to go back again this year."
Family Circle Cup
What: Qualifying draw
Where: Family Circle Tennis Center, Charleston
Main draw qualifiers: 8
More information: Draws will be available at 6 p.m. today at familycirclecup.com