Gauff, Riske Thrill Next Generation
At Fed Cup Kids' Clinic
Victoria Chiesa | February 4, 2020
EVERETT, Wash. — Despite rainy weather and gray skies outside, nothing could dampen the spirits inside the Columbia Athletic Club on Tuesday night, as Coco Gauff and Alison Riske took time out from their preparations for this weekend's Fed Cup Qualifier against Latvia to help host a Net Generation kids' clinic in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Everett.
The players were joined by U.S. Fed Cup captain Kathy Rinaldi, coach Lisa Raymond, a former world No. 1 and 11-time Grand Slam champion in women's and mixed doubles, and the women's varsity tennis team from the nearby University of Washington for a fun-filled evening of forehands and backhands—and plenty of selfies—with 300 young tennis players from the local area.
"This is how we all grew up, starting as kids and working our way up," Rinaldi said. ADVERTISEMENT "To be able to give back and come here, see the excitement and these wonderful young kids—and all the ones dressed up in red, white and blue—it means a lot to all of us."
Riske added: “If we can inspire even one child out of a group then we have done our job. I know what it was like when I was a child, and to have someone come out who has been there and done that, it was everything. To be here today was huge, and to see the turnout is remarkable."
The participants were especially eager to snap selfies and trade groundstrokes with Gauff, and the 15-year-old rising star was happy to oblige over the course of the 30-minute appearance.
“It’s a little bit weird, and I am still getting used to it,” Gauff said with a laugh. “Some of them are older than my brothers, some of them are older than me.
"I can’t even say it’s 'Kids’ Day,' because I am a kid. I am sure a lot of them, if we lived in the same place, I would probably be friends with them.”
A victory over the visiting Latvians, led by former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and 2018 US Open semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova, will earn Team USA a spot in April's Fed Cup Finals in Budapest, where the U.S. would compete for a 19th Fed Cup title.
Gauff, who will celebrate her 16th birthday next month, is in Washington state for the first time to make her senior Fed Cup debut, where she and Riske make up a star-studded American team that also includes Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, Serena Williams and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
"They're great role models, in every aspect," Rinaldi said. "Everything they do, for sports, for women and men, boys and girls, you have to really respect.
"I hope the kids get inspired to dream big, to follow their passion, whether it's tennis or anything else. They [can] see that dreams do come true."