One of the feel-good stories of the 2012 Olympics is tennis player Varvara Lepchenko, who came to America from Uzbekistan a decade ago and now calls the Lehigh Valley home.
Lepchenko, who resided in South Whitehall and now lives in Upper Macungie, is making her Olympic debut in the 2012 games. She will play singles.
The other 2012 Olympians in women's tennis are Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Christina McHale.
Lepchenko told The Morning Call that it "means a lot" to her to be part of the games. "You feel that you're not only representing yourself, but you're representing all the people of the United States. The whole country's behind you. It's a great feeling, a great spirit."
Along with her parents, Lepchenko will count Shari Butz of South Whitehall as part of her cheering squad in London. Butz befriended Lepchenko years ago when she came to play at a tennis tournament in the region and Butz opened her home to her, said Shari's father, Lee Butz.
The women's tennis portion of the Games begins Saturday, July 28, and runs through Aug. 5. NBCOlympics.com will live stream all the singles matches. Also, BRAVO will air 56 hours of U.S. Olympic tennis from July 28-Aug. 3 from early morning until mid-afternoon on most days.
Check back with Patch for Lepchenko's playing times.
The following information was provided by the Women's Tennis Association:
Born: May 21, 1986 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Became a U.S. citizen: September 2011
Resides: Upper Macungie
Weight: 159 pounds
Plays: Left-handed/Two-handed backhand
Current tennis ranking: 41st (as of July 23, 2012).
Career Highlights: She reached the third round of Wimbleton in 2012. (She lost to defending champion Petra Kvitova). She reached the fourth round of the 2012 French open.
Trains: At the U.S. Training Center-East at the home of the U.S. Open in Flushing, N.Y.
Other: Has a Serbian Husky named Belka