© 2023 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Fed Cup Gets Kids On The Courts

The Fed Cup women’s tennis tournament is in back in Asheville this weekend with the U-S taking on Australia.  The first match is Saturday, but action has been happening all week with events and activities designed to get kids interested in tennis.  BPR’s Helen Chickering stopped in on a Fed Cup tennis clinic at the U.S. Cellular Center.

“The longest side of the rectangle is called the sidelines in tennis; the short side is called the baseline.”

Welcome to geometry class, Fed Cup Style.  The teacher is Shelby Rhyne, a United States Tennis Association volunteer from Rockingham County, North Carolina.  This classroom setting is pretty dreamy, courtside seats at the U.S. Cellular Center.  The Australian women’s tennis team is on the court.  

“This is part of the Fed Cup experience,” says Rhyne, “We have fourth graders from Buncombe County schools here today, they are playing tennis downstairs, and as one of other stations they get to come up and see one of the teams practicing.  We watched the Australian teams practicing. A lot of these kids have not played tennis before, so we talked about the court, the sponsors and what players are doing.”

Downstairs in the Exhibition Hall, it’s like a giant tennis dance party.  Music is blasting and the floor is filled with students who are playing games and learning how to hit the ball over the net.  Fourth grader William Bass is trying to hit the ball and avoid a collision with a classmate.

“What have you learned about tennis today?

That’s its fun!” says Bass.

And that’s music to the ears of U.S. women’s team captain Kathy Rinaldi, who stopped by with the team to hang out and play tennis with the kids.

“You know we’re very fortunate to be professional tennis players, um to do what we do, the sport has been great to us, it’s important for players to give back and inspire, remember when we were that age, and we were inspired too.”

“Can you see the back of their shirts?”

Back on the court,  volunteer Shelby Rhyne is inspiring a new class...  For BPR News, I’m Helen Chickering.

From the USTA:

World No. 17 Madison Keys, No. 23 Danielle Collins, No. 37 Sofia Kenin and doubles No. 13 Nicole Melichar will represent the U.S. in the 2019 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group First Round vs. Australia February 9-10 at the U.S. Cellular Center, the first site to host consecutive Fed Cup ties in the U.S. in 12 years.

In the year since the U.S. defeated the Netherlands in the 2018 Fed Cup First Round at the U.S. Cellular Center last February, tennis participation in Asheville has grown on multiple levels, especially among youth. The impact on tennis in the area since then includes:

  • A 12-percent overall increase in USTA League participation.
  • A 20-percent increase in annual pass-holders and a 90-percent increase in junior (youth) play at Aston Park Tennis Center, Asheville’s flagship public tennis facility.
  • Increases of 62 percent among juniors and 34 percent among adults participating in July’s Asheville Open Tennis Championships, the longest-running USTA tournament in North Carolina.


Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.