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Tradition, training and technology take Fed Cup tennis from Asheville to the world

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We're just hours from a sports showdown that puts Asheville in the women's tennis spotlight. The first Fed Cup match between teams USA and Australia is Saturday afternoon. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

We're just hours from a sports showdown that puts Asheville in the women's tennis spotlight. The first Fed Cup match between teams USA and Australia is Saturday afternoon.

The competition played at the U.S. Cellular Center will be broadcast around the globe.

Friday was a busy day in downtown Asheville.

The tradition: The ceremonial draw for pairings between the two teams.

The training: Players getting ready for a chance to advance in what is considered the most important tournament between national teams in women's tennis.

But those are not the only preparations critical to successful Fed Cup play in Asheville.

The tournament goes from local to global beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday. And that takes technology.

"This is the center of the tennis world, arguably, for the weekend, for women's tennis for sure," said Jeff Ryan, senior director of team events for the U.S. Tennis Association.

Ryan's overall responsibility is making sure everything on site goes smoothly. He is well aware of what else is going on around him.

"A significant part of the set up today relates to the television production," Ryan said.

There's a five-camera setup -- four stationary and one hand-held. Everything was being fine-tuned, made ready for the first serve.

The crew in the production truck was not only making sure all things technical were in order, but also going over the Saturday head-to-head matchups. All of what they do runs out the door through a single cable, a satellite truck on Hiawassee Street, beamed into space, then down to the Tennis Channel on the West Coast.

"The announcers for the domestic broadcast will actually be sitting in a studio in Los Angeles, on very comfortable couches, arguably in warmer weather than we have," Ryan said.

But there's also a world feed, delivered clean for tennis broadcasters of many languages for fans everywhere.

"Asheville's definitely being shown around the world this weekend," Ryan said. "I can say that without hesitation. There's a dozen, maybe 15 countries outside of Australia and the United States."

Saturday's matches are sold out, but some tickets are still left for Sunday. Those are available here at the box office. If you can't make it down in person, you catch all the Fed Cup action live on My 40 beginning at 1 p.m.

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