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September 21 • 01:12
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Open fans enjoying tennis' day in the sun

August 21, 2011
Professional tennis players James Blake and Ryan Sweeting were just hitting balls on a practice court Saturday in anticipation of their upcoming opening matches this week at the Winston-Salem Open, but they still drew a crowd of spectators.

Kyle Scott, 14, of Greensboro, was watching intently, and then got his hat autographed by both American players when they took a break.

"Hopefully I can see how the players play and how they put points together and see how I can put that in my matches," Kyle said.

Shawn Ricks of Winston-Salem had her hat autographed by Blake. She's a tennis player but appreciated things other than his game.

"He's awesome; he's so handsome," she said. "Did you see his abs? … He took his shirt off. I thought I was going to pass out."

Ricks was laughing and joking, but more seriously, she also sees tennis as a vehicle to help others.

She's one of the instructors who offers free lessons for low-income youths through the Kimberly Park Tennis Club, and they plan to bring some of their players so they can draw inspiration from this week's tournament. The tournament gave the club some free tickets, and she's thrilled the tournament is in Winston-Salem.

"Living here we should be the first people that support it," she said. "I'm so happy, I'm like a schoolgirl."

Harold Moore and wife Barbara Godley were in the stands pulling for Andrew Carter, a University of Louisville tennis player from Greensboro, in his qualifying match against Australian professional player Carsten Ball.

They were disappointed that Carter lost, but Moore, who teaches tennis privately and through tennis schools to about 200 youths a year, said the tournament is huge for the area.

"If we can have this tournament become successful and coming year after year, it could be the biggest event Winston-Salem has," he said.

Moore and Godley will both be working as volunteers at the tournament today.

For folks who want to come enjoy the day, Godley offered some advice she heeded herself under Saturday's blistering sun in spectator seats that offer no shade.

"Be sure to bring a hat, bring some sunscreen, bring some sunglasses," she said. "Some people say to wear shorts, but for me, I find that I fare better and stay a little cooler if I have long pants on. Then the sun can't shine directly on your skin."

Bring money for lemonade, Moore advises. "The lemonade is delicious," he said.

She hopes the tournament will have a positive influence long after it's gone.

"We're hoping this will get more people interested in tennis across the city," Godley said. "I've seen the interest in tennis wane over the last five, six, seven years, and maybe this will be a good boost for it."

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