ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) – This weekend, Team USA’s and Team Ukraine’s national tennis teams will meet at the Billie Jean King Cup in Asheville, South Carolina.
Representing your country is a dream many athletes aspire to do.
“We feel like it’s always an honor to play for your country,” said Jessica Pegula, USA tennis player.
With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, Ukrainian athletes said they are constantly filled with concern, thinking about their families.
“What I can do is play tournaments to earn money, to send this to my family to help them because nobody has a job right now in my family,” Ukrainian tennis player Katarina Zavatska said.
During an interview on Tuesday, members of the Ukraine national team explained how they use the court as an escape, too.
“The court is the only place right now where we don’t think,” Ukraine tennis coach Olga Savchuk said.
Yet, they also shared how reality sinks in when they step off the court.
“It is very tough. Every day is tough. Every day I am going to my parents asking if they are alive,” Zavatska said.
On Friday and Saturday, April 15 and 16, Team USA and Ukraine will band together.
“We are really a true family and we come together when things are tough,” Team USA head coach Kathy Rinaldi said
While athletes from the two countries gear up to compete against each other, they said they are focusing on a larger goal – uniting as one.
“We are opponents on the court but we are allies and friends off the court and we really do care about each other and we pull together when things get tough,” Rinaldi said.
The Ukrainian team said they are hoping the weekend will send some hope back home.
“Maybe our match, our tie, will give something to our people to get their mind off of. I mean, it’s probably impossible, but at least we can hope,” Savchuk said.
According to the US Tennis Association, 10 percent of the event’s ticket revenue will be donated to the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund by Global Giving.
For more information about the event, click here.
To learn about how you can donate to help people in Ukraine, click here.