Members of One Love Tennis were in Asheville on Saturday to watch Fed Cup matches.
The Fed Cup is the biggest tournament between national teams in women's tennis.
One Love Tennis founder Lenny Simpson said he knew the trip would be memorable for the kids, but it turned out to be more.
“We were told that we would have some participation in the opening ceremonies,” said Simpson. “Maybe eight or 10 kids. They ended up using 33 of our kids. It was incredible.“
Amarvia Newkirk of Wilmington was one of those chosen, and she escorted her favorite player, Serena Williams, onto the court.
“It felt good,” Newkirk said of walking out with Willliams. “At the same time, nervous for me because I had never been on a tennis court live with professional tennis players. It felt exciting and it felt good.”
Williams gave Newkirk a small flag as a memento during the few minutes they were able to spend together.
“She said she liked my hair because when she was young, she used to wear beads,” said Newkirk. “She was playing around with my hair.”
Abigail Dilonado walked on the court with Coco Vandeweghe.
“When I was there and I figured out that I was going to walk out with Coco, I was a bit nervous and excited,” Dilonado said.
One Love Tennis is a year-round program for at-risk youth that provides tennis instruction and academic support in an environment that builds self-esteem, character and life skills, regardless of socioeconomic background, color or creed.
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