DANIEL ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - This year's Family Circle Cup marks 15 years on Daniel Island. The annual tournament draws record numbers of fans into the 80,000 range over the past five years.
The historic record was set back in 2010 when nearly 96,000 turned out over the week. Since moving the tournament to the island from Hilton Head 15 years ago, fan turnout has continued to grow. Many traveling from around the world and country to check out the tournament, some for the very first time.
"It's her birthday so we thought we'd come for her birthday," Kathy Nickel, whose daughter had a birthday today, said. "Plus we both play."
Whether you're new to the tournament or a veteran, there are plenty of things to check out during the week long Family Circle Cup.
Local fans and from around the world piled through the gates today to get some good food and take in a day of tennis.
"We just come every year, and hang out, and just do all the things," Helen Pecka, of San Diego, California, said. "Eat, play and have a great time."
"My parents are really big tennis fans, so I come here yearly with my family," Carrlee Propes, of Daniel Island, said. "It's just kind of a thing that we do."
The lower seeded females typically play first. Daniel Island native, Shelby Rogers, took the court Monday with a fair share of her own fans there to cheer her on. They said the tournament has positively grown since relocating here in 2000.
"It's only getting better every year," Holly Wheeler, a family friend, said. "The players are awesome, the competition is wonderful, and it's such a nice venue for everybody."
The venue offers a different experience for the players as well. Playing on a clay court as opposed to hard or grass courts. Some even say Charleston has been the spot where their season has turned around.
"I've always like the feel of it here," Genie Bouchard, the number one seed for the tournament, said. "I like the courts, so I'm happy to be back."
"Charleston sort of was my breakthrough here in the last season," Andrea Petkovic, the 2014 Family Circle Cup Champion, said. "Everything just came together."
"To have it right here on Daniel Island, when I'm living down the street is just a very cool thing," Propes added.
Fifteen years later and the crowds are still coming out here to Daniel Island. Many said they can't imagine having the tournament somewhere else other than here. They said it really brings something great to the island and greater Charleston area.