Krysten Shepherd, Shannon Aiken, Cathy Jones, Sarah Ashworth, Carolyn Macfie, Jernine Ali, Stacey Schulhofer, Susie Manley and Jennie West will represent Western North Carolina at the USTA Nationals Finals, Oct. 17, in Arizona.

Local WNC’s Asheville Women’s Tennis Team qualified for the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Nationals.

Over 300,000 players competed this season in USTA’s leagues, and every player is rated by skill level ranging from 2.5 to 5.0. The WNC’s Asheville Women’s Tennis Team from Asheville Racquet Club won its USTA 18+ division with a 4.0 rating locally, which led to winning the state tournament followed by Sectionals in Rome, Georgia, in July in the sweltering heat.

Notable was WNC’s team roster for Sectionals. Instead of having 14 team members, nine women played six matches in three days. The WNC Ladies prevailed against teams from Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana.

“The smaller roster was a benefit, and I believed every player could win. We built on every match,” said Team Captain Susie Manley.

Manley’s team is diverse. An engineer, a professional kayaker, a nurse, a construction contractor, a physician, a mom, a mortgage broker, a physical therapist, a pharmaceutical rep, a horticulturist, a CPA, and a retired financial controller make up the group.

“We only have one team player in her 30s, and everyone else is over 40. Some of our players had never picked up a tennis racquet until seven to eight years ago, and other players grew up with a racquet,“ said Manley

“The warmup playlist is essential,” added Manley, recalling the songs “Like That” by Memphis Bleek and Queen’s “We Are the Champions” that could be heard courtside.

Halfway through Sectionals, the other teams told WNC, “You’re the team to beat.”

“We had a strategy going into every match and everybody peaked at the right time,” Manley said. “We are a bunch of ladies that are friends first, like getting together, have a great time, and play tennis.”

The National Finals will be held on Oct. 17 in Phoenix, Arizona, and televised on ESPN.

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