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Pro Media & News

Quotebook: Inside the press room ahead of the 2022 Bille Jean King Cup Qualifier

April 14, 2022

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Top-level women's tennis has come to the Blue Ridge Mountains for the third time, but this one's special. For obvious reasons, sportsmanship and camaraderie has been the theme of the week so far at the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier between the U.S. and Ukraine from the tennis court to the media room dais, at this, the World Cup of women's tennis, where the hosts have done all they can to make their guests feel at home.

 

Read moreU.S., Ukraine teams and captains touch down in Asheville for Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier

 

Before play officially gets underway on Friday, hear from the players and captains in their own words.

"It's been a dream of mine, and a lot of others, too, to play for your country. It's an amazing feeling to be here playing for Team USA. That's from since I was a little girl." - Shelby Rogers

 

"We are proud that we are Ukrainians, [that] we have this chance to compete for our country right now, especially at this period. We going to give it [our] all." - Katarina Zavatska 


"It's beyond explainable and imaginable. It's tough to explain how we feel ... It's like we live in two different realities. Here we are. Of course, we have to continue to support our families. But, sometimes just like having food, I'm thinking about my grandpa and aunt who are in a bomb shelter now. How I can even have a cup of tea right now? My family is underground. I have goosebumps when I even talk about it." - Ukraine captain Olga Savchuk

"Every day, it's tough. There is not one day that we don't think about it. I talk about me. Every day I'm calling to my parents, my family, to ask them if they're alive. It seems like very tough, rude, but it's true. This is the reality right now ... but on the other side, we just have to live. For example, me, what I can do is to play tournaments, to earn money, to send this to my family to help them because nobody has a job right now there in my family. Everybody is just home. They have nothing to do to earn. They help also other people. For the moment, we live it like this and I try to do my best here to focus every day on tennis court as much as I can and help my way like this.

 

"The first week, it was tough to do anything. Surrounded by people who listen to music, who laugh, who live, who talk — it was impossible. I understand people have to live, but...

 

"Second week, I understood that I have to do something ... Every day, a simple practice, I feel like I do something good. I need to feel also this, that I'm going somewhere.

 

"Day by day for me, the court was the only place where I could live my life because there was a ball, there was a racquet, and I just have to hit it and not think about it. It's the most amazing thing, what a chance to play tennis and to be on the court, to be able to do something like that, to be tight, to worry on the court, or be nervous on the court … When I'm getting a bit maybe like stressed on the court or something, I'm thinking about, ‘Why would I be stressed?’ There is so much more going on, so it's just a tennis match, it's just a tennis ball." - Katarina Zavatska

"I'm so grateful to be here. The group of girls I get to be here with, they're amazing. We've been having so much fun. I'm so excited to just go out, cheer, whatever happens. I'm so excited." - Asia Muhammad

 

Read more: Krawczyk, Muhammad adding fresh enthusiasm in Asheville

 

“When you look at tennis, we're really a true family. We come together when things are tough. We've always come together. I think it's quite incredible. We’re opponents on the court, but we're allies and friends off the court. We really do care for each other and we pull together when times get tough.” -U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi

 

Read moreBillie Jean King to attend U.S. and Ukraine Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier, donate $50,000 to Ukraine relief 

"We're not feeling that we're playing against them this weekend, we are feeling that we are playing with them this weekend." - Lyudmyla Kichenok

 

"For Ukraine, for U.S., for good cause." - Nadiia Kichenok

 

"I think it's totally different environment than what we're used to. Every week ... we're competing against each other whether we're from the same country or not. That can be stressful in a way. This is a nice break. It's pressure, but it's a different kind of pressure we all like, because we never really get a chance to do that this much. To me, I love it. I think it's so much fun to come together as a team. You connect in different ways, whether it's strategy, thinking about how they think about the match, versus how you think about the match. Having Kathy here, different coaches, not just your coaches. I think it's a very different atmosphere. But I enjoy the change for this week." - Jessica Pegula 

 

"I usually don't leave my hotel room when I'm at a tournament by myself. When I'm with the team, this atmosphere, it makes things a lot of fun." - Alison Riske

"It's a very emotional situation for sure. We're so happy to welcome them here ... At the same time, we're all coming together to try to play the best tennis that we can and put on a show and enjoy the crowd. We've exchanged friendships and handshakes and smiles this week, but I think this weekend is going to be about tennis for all of us." - Shelby Rogers

 

"The impact that these players have on the next generation is quite remarkable. They probably don't even realize what it means. When we bring our junior Billie Jean King Cup teams in, for them to be able to spend time and to be able to speak with these players, it gives them a sense of belief in themselves, it gives them a sense of belonging. These girls are absolutely incredible with the young players. That's how we grow the sport. To be here in Asheville and to have a tie like this in a community like Asheville is really inspiring, just impacts everybody at the grassroots. That's what it's all about." - U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi

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