December 12th, 2014

Friday Tennis Blog: Opelka Breaks Out and Up; Thurs. IPTL Results

Friday Blog
Eddie Herr Boys’ 18s champion Reilly Opelka (right) and runner-up Michael Mmoh (Left)

Eddie Herr Boys’ 18s champion Reilly Opelka (right) and runner-up Michael Mmoh (Left)

YOU CAN’T TEACH 6-FOOT-10 — Reilly Opelka looks like John Isner after growing six inches over the past 1-1/2 years — so now he’s playing like him. The 17-year-old Palm Coast, Fla., native, who stands at 6-foot-10, powered his way to the Eddie Herr title last week by playing first-strike tennis and crushing the net, and says his new mindset is paying dividends. “I’ve been playing tennis since I was like, 7, and no one really coached me…expecting that I would be 6-foot-10,” he says. “You have to play a completely different game style. I’m trying to make points as short as possible. Any time I can take a cut at the ball, go for it…I’m a lot stronger and understanding my game a little more — figuring out how I need to play, because, obviously, I wasn’t always 6-10.” Competing at the Orange Bowl this week, Opelka is trying to match Andy Roddick (1999) as the only American to sweep the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl 18s titles in the same year. The unseeded Opelka on Wednesday upset No. 4 seed Yunseong Chung 6-3, 6-4. Check out the draws here.

roddick wimbledonRODDICK RECEIVES WIMBLEDON CLUB KEYS — American tennis fans agonized with Andy Roddick when he lost Wimbledon finals to Roger Federer in 2004, 2005 and 2009, never during his career holding aloft the champion’s trophy at the All England Club. Last week Wimbledon officials reached out to Roddick by giving him the official Wimbledon tie, marking his honorary membership to the club, usually reserved only for Wimbledon winners. “I was really humbled,” Roddick told the Tennis Podcast while competing on the PowerShares tour in London. “To go there the other day and go to members parts (of the club) that I had never been to before was very surreal. Taking my wife there and showing her where we walked out and everything was a really cool experience for me.” Tim Henman took Roddick and wife Brooklyn Decker for tea with Wimbledon Chairman Philip Brook at the club. “I know Tim mentioned I have to learn how to tie it,” Roddick said, “and he’s accurate.”

wta womenWTA PAYDAY — In the battle between the popularity of men’s and women’s pro tennis, the women sent the men to the canvas this week with the announcement that they signed a $525 million media rights deal, the largest in the history of women’s sports. WTA tournaments will more than double what they previously received from television revenue. “This is a very clear signal to the market about the value of women’s sports for media partners and for brands and sponsors,” said WTA Chairman Stacey Allaster. Now all WTA matches will be covered by the partnership between the WTA and England’s Perform Group, the multi-media right company producing the coverage. ESPN and Tennis Channel have the rights to WTA matches through 2016, but Allaster believes it will be a network bidding war for rights in 2017 and beyond.

WTA Stars Dictate Wins in IPTL Play Thursday in Dubai

IPTL league play moved to Dubai on Thursday for the last three matches of the circuit, where the WTA women led their respective teams to wins.

The Micromax Indian Aces shored-up their No. 1 league standing with a 28-24 win over the last place DBS Singapore Slammers. Ana Ivanovic had a much-needed 6-5 win for the Aces over Daniela Hantuchova, with her teammates Gael Monfils losing to Tomas Berdych 8-4 in an overtime set.

“As a team we get our energy from the bench and keep each other charged up,” Ivanovic said. “It’s fun! The serve and volley towards the end was for [teammate] Pete [Sampras]!”

In the other match the second-place UAE Royals edged the Manila Mavericks 26-25. Caroline Wozniacki bailed her team out with a 6-2 win over Kirsten Flipkens in the women’s singles as the Royals lost the legends singles (Mark Philippoussis d. Goran Ivanisevic 6-5), men’s singles (Jo-Wolfried Tsonga d. Novak Djokovic 6-5), and mixed doubles (Daniel Nestor/Flipkens d. Nenad Zimonjic/Kristina Mladenovic 6-4). But in the final men’s doubles the team of Zimonjic/Marin Cilic pulled it out of the fire for the Royals, beating Nestor/Tsonga 6-5 for a 26-25 team win.

“The team spirit that we get to feel that we saw today is something that we don’t get to experience much on the tour,” Djokovic said. “This is a good opportunity for us off-season to get to know each other better, to hang out, have some fun, to spend some time, still practice and play some good tennis.”

The league continues play on Friday with the Manila Mavericks vs. the Micromax Indian Aces, and the DBS Singapore Slammers vs. the UAE Royals.

They Said It

“My opponent was 85, just a kid. I made him run.”
— 87-year-old Jim Heaney, winner of the 85-89-age tennis division at the Florida State Senior Games, speaking to the Ft. Myers News-Press

roddick-retirement“Frankly speaking, I hope it is James Blake. That next person should connect the dots between generations and really reach out, kind of tap into the knowledge base that we have here in this country.”
Andy Roddick on the vacant head of USTA Professional Development position, speaking on a media call to promote the 2015 PowerShares Series tennis tour

“My only problem with Serena is that I’m tired of losing to her.”
Caroline Wozniacki in a letter to Sports Illustrated, stating her friend should be named Sportswoman of the Year

Tennis on TV This Weekend

(times EST, subject to change)

TV multi colorFriday
7am — International Professional Tennis League (live), Pay Per View
10:30am — International Professional Tennis League (live), Pay Per View

7am — International Professional Tennis League Finals (live), Pay Per View
10:30am — International Professional Tennis League Finals (live), Pay Per View