BY DOROTHY VAN METER

This summer will mark the 25th anniversary of the Lexington Challenger

event.  Over the last quarter century, Central Kentuckians have witnessed some amazing tennis involving men and women.  Champions of both genders have gone on to have success on the ATP and WTA tours as well as the grand slams.

Where are all those past Lexington titleists now and what are they doing?  A series of articles will look at some of them and tell their stories.

JENNIFER HOPKINS, WOMEN’S SINGLES CHAMPION, 2000

In 2000, an exotic 19 year old beauty swept through the singles draw without dropping a set.  She had appeared in Lexington the prior summer, unnoticed, and lost meekly in the first round of qualifying.

What has happened to Jenny in the last 19 years???

Jennifer was born in 1981 in Kansas City.  Her father, James Hopkins, was from a wealthy Boston family of physicians and later became  a plastic surgeon in Kansas City.  He married at the relatively late age of 47, his wife Lisa is from the Philippines.  Jenny is their only child, although she has a half brother from a previous marriage of Lisa’s.

Jennifer went to public schools until her burgeoning tennis career began to interfere, so she transferred to a private high school with a more flexible schedule.

After graduating, she ultimately decided to test the pro circuit.  On review, her career is fairly typical-grinding her way through qualifying of lower level events and then reaching the challenger level.

She gradually made her way on to the WTA tour, with moderate success.  Her highest ranking was 51.  She won one tour level doubles title and reached the singles final in one event.  She retired in 2005.

Her retirement has been busy, however.  She married popular tour player Taylor Dent in 2006 and they now have 4 children.  They have had several teaching facilities, but recently opened the state of the art Birch Racquet and Lawn Club in Keller, Texas, outside Dallas.  Taylor and his father, well known Australian pro Phil Dent, serve as the tennis instructors, while Jenny is the CEO and fitness director.

We can always hope that the Dents will return to Lexington one year with some of their pupils in tow!!!