Asheville Fed Cup Hot Sheet: Venus and Serena practice, a Biltmore visit, more

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Here’s a quick look at Wednesday’s highlights from Fed Cup 2018 action at the US Cellular Center in downtown Asheville. The first round of the international women’s team tennis event will be held Saturday and Sunday at the center, and will feature Team USA going up against Team Netherlands. Highlights:

-Venus and Serena arrive: The highlight of Wednesday’s action was seeing Team USA members Venus and Serena Williams hit the court for a workout. They’re incredible athletes nearing the end of their tennis careers. In addition, Serena Williams just had a baby last year and the Fed Cup action is her first competition following that life milestone.

-Public draw event Friday: The official draw ceremony will be held at noon on Friday on the U.S. Cellular Center Stadium Court that is open to the public. This event will include the opportunity for fans to take photos with the Fed Cup trophy. There will also be an appearance by Fed Cup mascot Ace, and the opportunity for the community to watch the draw take place and see their favorite players. Doors will open at 11:45 a.m.

-Check here for parking and public transit info.

-The competition: Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with approximately 100 nations taking part each year. The United States leads all nations with 18 Fed Cup titles, the last coming just last year. The U.S. holds an overall 149-36 record in Fed Cup competition with a 40-6 record in home ties.

The Tennis Channel will televise this weekend’s competition in Asheville.

Play begins at 1 p.m. Saturday with two singles matches. Play continues Sunday starting at 1 p.m. with two reverse singles matches and the doubles match. A revised schedule for Sunday may take place if a team clinches in the third or fourth match.

The winner of this matchup will advance to the Fed Cup Semifinals, April 21-22.

-Team USA Coach Kathi Rinaldi offered up thoughts on the weekend competition via a USTA press release. Here are highlights:

On playing in Asheville: The players are extremely excited. They’ve never been to Asheville, so it’s always fine to play in a new place and a new arena and of course every player dreams of playing in front of a sold-out crowd, especially on a home tie. To have that support, everyone showing their colors of red, white and blue, it’s going to be amazing.

On Serena transitioning back to competitive tennis: Serena’s just coming back. She played an exhibition in January and it’s incredible. It’s a quick turnaround after having her first child. She’s very professional and she has a lot of pride for playing for her country. She’ll be ready to go.

On Lauren Davis: Lauren is an incredible player and team member. She was on our team last year and she brings a lot to the team. If called upon she’ll be ready to go. We just saw she played that incredible match at the Australian Open against world No.1 Simona Halep, a three-hour, 45-minute high-level tennis match. We’re very excited to have her on board.

On CoCo Vandeweghe: We couldn’t ask for more. We just love having Coco. She brings so much, not just her efforts ton the tennis court as you see, she leaves it all out there representing her country. But also off the court, she’s really into the team spirit, the camaraderie. She’s a lot of fun to be around. We’re thrilled.

-Team Netherlands Coach Paul Haarhuis offered up some thoughts, as well: Haarhuis didn’t sound happy, and the Asheville Citizen-Times reported that he was highly critical of the temporary tennis court set up on the arena floor. USTA officials said it wasn’t uncommon to have issues with the quality of the court, but indicated that they were minor and would be fixed by the time match play started. On Wednesday, Rinaldi was telling her team to note spots on the court that were off, and she was marking them with tape.

On playing the defending champions: It might be the biggest upset in history but we’re going for it. It’s going to be tough.Obviously it’s a tough challenge we’re facing. It’s not nice that we’re playing here. We were supposed to play at home so that doesn’t help. We’ll see, but it’s going to be a tough weekend.

-A Biltmore tour: Team USA player Lauren Davis and a mini-entourage toured the Biltmore Estate. She posted a couple of photos to her Instagram account with no comment.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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