Coach Richard Ashby
honored for 16-year career
Arthur Kapetanakis | February 8, 2019
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The U.S. Fed Cup team set to take on Australia is a young one, but USTA National Coach Richard Ashby is guiding an even younger group of Americans this week in Asheville. He and fellow national coach Lori Riffice were invited by U.S. Captain Kathy Rinaldi to run a Player Development camp with four talented 14-and-under girls, affording the youth an opportunity to shadow the senior team and soak up all they can from the Fed Cup experience.
Ashby, who is in his 16th year as a USTA coach, was honored by Rinaldi with a surprise presentation at Thursday’s official Fed Cup dinner, with both the U.S. and Australian teams, USTA and Tennis Australia staffers and Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer in attendance.
“The service that he has given to American tennis, there is nobody else like him,” said Rinaldi, who presented the coach with two framed photos commemorating his contributions through the years, each filled with messages from players and coaches he has influenced. ADVERTISEMENT “He epitomizes a coach, a mentor, but even a greater person.”
Since he first joined the USTA in 2003, Ashby has coached older juniors, young professionals and, since 2009, 14-and-under girls. According to Rinaldi, he has touched the lives of every Top-100 American woman, including Sloane Stephens, Amanda Anisimova, Sofia Kenin and Coco Vandeweghe.
“That’s what this sport and what coaching is all about,” Rinaldi said. “It’s about impacting people’s lives and making them better people, and that’s what this gentleman does. He makes us all better people.”
This week, Ashby is working with 14-year-olds Katrina Scott (Los Angeles), Reese Brantmeier (Whitewater, Wis.) and Sophie Williams (Charleston, S.C.) and 12-year-old Clervie Ngounoue (Washington, D.C.).
“It’s a great experience,” said Scott. “We get to see what the pros do every day, what makes them special and how we can improve.”
All four of the junior players spoke highly of Ashby, agreeing that each time they share the court with him, they learn something new.
Coach Riffice is another Ashby mentee, having been a USTA national coach for three years. “He says that after a year or so, I was released and he was no longer my mentor,” she joked. “But he’s still on the hook.”
As for Ashby, who expressed his surprise and gratitude for the honor, he is simply happy to provide this opportunity for these young players.
“They can see the best players in the world, how they train, see their level of play and definitely learn from watching them,” he said. “They have the opportunity to be around players that they see on TV and hopefully realize that, yes, they’re better than them, but they don’t do things in a way that these kids can’t do. And this is hopefully inspiring them.”
No doubt Ashby is inspiring these young women, too.