More than 1,000 spectators are expected to attend the United Community Bank Mountain Challenge being held on July 27 at the Cedar Creek Racquet Club in Cashiers. It is hosted by the Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce and newly formed nonprofit organization Mountain Youth Charities.
“It will be an exciting exhibition of extraordinary talents for a great cause,” said Stephanie Edwards, executive director of the Cashiers Chamber and member of the Mountain Challenge Host Committee.
Two local tennis players will have the chance to face off in a pro-am doubles match against Roddick and Courier as part of the event as well.
The match was envisioned as an innovative fundraiser for Mountain Youth Charities, with a goal of raising $200,000 to bolster youth programs. A grant pool will be established to support existing organizations that serve youth, as well as offer seed money to help new youth programs get off the ground.
“It’s a beautiful corner of the world here in the southern Blue Ridge. However, there is another side to these mountains,” said Marcia Shawler, president of Mountain Youth Charities. “About one-third of children in southern Jackson County live below the poverty line, and over half of the students here are at risk of not graduating from high school.”
Mountain Youth Charities plans to use a portion of the money raised to hire a youth programs director to coordinate and facilitate the various projects. The ultimate goal is to establish a Boys and Girls Club in Cashiers.
“Cashiers is a very generous area — people who live here year-round or are second homeowners support many of the causes here,” McKee said. “The hospital, humane society, churches, schools and youth organizations don’t get adequate funding, and our citizens will, and do, step up to the plate.”
For Roddick, who is a seasonal resident in Cashiers, the charity exhibition match was a way to give back to the community where he has a second-home and fulfill his personal passion for helping youth.
Roddick established the Andy Roddick Foundation more than a decade ago to help inspire and empower disadvantaged kids through sports-based mentoring. Now that he is retired as a tennis pro at the age of 30, he is plowing his time and energy into the mission of helping children who don’t have the same opportunities he did growing up.
“It seemed like a natural extension to offer this exhibition to the Cashiers area to assist with youth needs here locally,” he said.
When setting up the Mountain Challenge, Roddick called up his friend and colleague Courier to see if he would like to compete for a good cause.
“Jim and I are great friends. I asked him if he would be interested in coming to the mountains for a visit, and he told me he’d love to,” Roddick said. “He’s looking forward to playing a few rounds of golf and is excited about the tennis match. He has a special place in his heart for kids like I do.”
Besides the three-set match between Roddick and Courier and the doubles match against two local tennis players, there will also be a competition between top-ranked junior players Thai Kwiatkowski of Charlotte and Korey Lovett of Brevard.
McKee said donors are still being solicited.
“Everyone wants to see Mountain Youth Charities become a great start-up for this area. Through this event and loyal participation between parents, teachers and mentors, we will have a sustainable program for the children of our area,” McKee said.
Want to go?
The United Community Bank Mountain Challenge will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 27, at the Cedar Creek Racquet Club in Cashiers.
There will be three matches, with the main event featuring an exhibition between American tennis legends Andy Roddick and Jim Courier. A gala dinner will be on Friday, July 26, hosted by the Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley. There will also be a youth tennis clinic and VIP breakfast on Saturday morning held by Roddick and Courier.
For details and tickets, go to www.cashiers.com or 828.743.3411.