Hosts putting the ‘Family’ in tennis cup - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Hosts putting the ‘Family’ in tennis cup

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Shealy has hosted Oudin for three years. Shealy has hosted Oudin for three years.
Oudin and Shealy. Oudin and Shealy.

DANIEL ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) – Out of the hundreds of volunteers during the Family Circle Cup, only a handful are responsible for taking care of the players.

About 25 people volunteer as host families for the week, including the Shealy family of Mount Pleasant. They said Melanie Oudin, the player who spends the week in their home, has become a member of the family; she's even met them on family vacations to New York City for the women's tennis tour.

Eleanor Adams, the tournament manager, set the Shealy family up with their player.

"Trying to recruit our fabulous volunteers, we don't have to try very hard to retain because they come back year after year," she said.

Adams says they've been lucky to recruit volunteers like Jackie Shealy who is celebrating her third year as a host mom. For Shealy, that means starting each day with a drive to the stadium with Oudin in the front seat.

"I just tell her, ‘Let me know your schedule.' And usually when I know she's going to be here, I plan my schedule around her schedule," Shealy said.

Shealy says the players' schedules can be non-stop at times. That's one reason she makes sure Oudin, the right-hander from Marietta, Ga., doesn't go hungry.

"You know, I get her some salads, some protein and all so she has kind of a regimented thing that she does. Of course, I have sweets around for her and take her out to restaurants," said Shealy.

She admits that she will sneak in a few sweet treats, but at the end of the day her favorite part of being a host mom is watching Oudin play.

"I go and cheer her on while she's playing tennis, and I've gotten all my girlfriends involved now. She hears us yelling for her and I feel like she's my own child when I'm there," Shealy said. "I'm her mother, so I have to carry on line I'm her mother."

Oudin and the rest of the top female players in the world take the courts for qualifying matches. The main draw begins Monday. Shealy will be in the stands for each of Oudin's match, hoping for a trip to center court at the end of the tournament.

On average it takes about 350 volunteers to keep the Family Circle Cup running for the entire week of the tournament. 

  • Ava Wilhite

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