Local volunteers give back at the Fed Cup for the love of the game

 All 105 local Fed Cup volunteers are honored as News 13's Persons of the Week. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

It takes a network of volunteers behind the scenes to help stage the Fed Cup, one of the biggest sporting events Asheville has hosted in years. We salute all 105 passionate local tennis ambassadors as our Persons of the Week.

"It's obvious this means so much to the city, right from day one with the ticket sales, with the outreach, with the volunteers," Team USA Captain Kathy Rinaldi said earlier this week at the Net Generation Clinic at the U.S. Cellular Center for Buncombe County students.

On paper, tennis is a mostly individual sport, but at an event like Fed Cup, you really need a team.

"Here we go, ready?" volunteer Rick Brown told kids at the clinic, making them all feel like stars. "Easy slugger!"

"Here we go, come up to the net. Bam!" he told a boy.

It's pretty hard to imagine what this session would be like without Brown.

"This is a formative time," he said of the kids. "If you can get them locked into the game, it's going to help us put together a great USA team."

Throughout Fed Cup, volunteers give back to help promote the sport. The USTA relies on volunteers for everything, from the US Open to local league tournaments. One hundred and seventy people put in applications to volunteer for the Fed Cup, so dozens had to be turned away.

"We are the people that make things happen," said retired teacher Suzanne Brown.

She taught for 30 years in Buncombe County and believes tennis can lead to fitness for life.

"Because they can do it for the rest of their lives, and they will never have to sit on a bench," Suzanne said. "They can get out and be active."

Volunteer coordinator Jeff Joyce said they're the lifeblood of the Fed Cup.

"Wonderful lovers of the sport of tennis, and we're tickled that Asheville has come out so strong with volunteers," Joyce said.

USA Captain Kathy Rinaldi has a roster of talented stars, including Venus and Serena Williams, but she knows it also takes off-court players to pull off the event.

"And again that goes back to the Asheville support in the community and the outreach. It's been incredible, so we thank you on behalf of the Fed Cup team," Rinaldi said.

Amidst all that racket made with so many rackets, the voices of volunteers cut through the noise.

"They have so many options, we want to get them into tennis," Brown said of the kids who participated in the clinic.

Good tennis players always take advantage of a chance to serve.

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