For Ukrainian tennis, Asheville is the latest sanctuary

ASHEVILLE – For the past six-and-a-half weeks, the only thing offering 22-year-old Ukrainian Katarina Zavatska a respite from thinking about the terrifying circumstances of her home country has been focusing on hitting the fuzzy yellow ball in front of her.

Zavatska, ranked the No. 201 tennis player in the world, was born in Lutsk, Ukraine, where much of her extended family remain. Her dad was scheduled to join her at her apartment in France beginning Feb. 24 and subsequently accompany her to tournaments, but Russia’s bombings began that day.

Ever since, the lives of Zavatska and countless other Ukrainians have become a hellish cycle of daily phone calls back home to confirm the safety and whereabouts of their loved ones, updates from reporters on the ground while trying to continue with the routines of their much more stable lives.

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