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Florida Tennis Briefs: Opelka at BNP Paribas Showdown, MatchDay, More

February 25, 2014 08:20 AM
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Reilly Opelka (photo: Ron Angle)
Palm Coast's Reilly Opelka to Appear on National Tennis Stage

Palm Coast native Reilly Opelka, who now trains at the USTA Regional Training Center in Boca Raton, and Maryland's Francis Tiafoe have been announced as the promising American tennis juniors who will take to the national stage during an exhibition at the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden on March 3, 2014, as part of the World Tennis Day celebration in the U.S.

The two 16-year-olds will play an exhibition match prior to the two main feature matches -- Novak Djokovic squaring off against Andy Murray in singles, and Bob and Mike Bryan taking on John and Patrick McEnroe in doubles.

"We are very happy to have Francis and Reilly playing at the BNP Paribas Showdown this year," said Jerry Solomon, president of StarGames, Inc. "So much of our mission with World Tennis Day is to encourage young players to pick up a racquet, so it's important to have the opportunity to showcase junior players who are on their way to a future in the pro game. And it provides these young players an invaluable experience to compete in an arena like Madison Square Garden."

Opelka has long been a U.S. junior prospect, but has garnered greater attention of late as his height has shot up to 6-foot-8 with a booming serve, and results have followed. Last year he logged third-round showings at the Orange Bowl and Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships, as well as the US Open junior tournament. His opponent Tiafoe is currently the No. 8-ranked junior player in the world, last year winning the Orange Bowl to join a list of former champions including Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Andy Roddick and Roger Federer.
 
World Tennis Day on March 3 is the international effort to get kids excited and active in tennis. It is a celebration of tennis around the world that includes professional tennis matches in New York City, Hong Kong and London, and more than 1,000 Play Events in March across the U.S.

This will be the fourth time juniors have been included in the BNP Paribas Showdown.

Previous junior matches:

2008 -- Denis Kudla vs. Junior Ore
2009 -- Florida's 15-year-old Sloane Stephens vs. Gail Brodsky
2010 -- Nicole Gibbs vs. Florida's 14-year-old Sachia Vickery

Several of those players have gone on to continued success. Stephens is currently ranked No. 18 in the world and broke onto the pro scene in 2013 with a run to the Australian Open semifinals. Kudla has reached a pair of ATP quarterfinals in his career, and broke into the Top 100 for the first time late in 2013. Gibbs has won back-to-back NCAA individual championships while playing at Stanford. Vickery last year won the USTA National Junior Championships, and at the US Open in the women's main draw as a wildcard defeated former Wimbledon semifinalist Mirjana Lucic.

For more info go to www.WorldTennisDay.com.

Bryan Brothers, Cilic Win 2014 Delray Beach Titles

Bryan_brothers_whiteCroatian Marin Cilic won the longest singles final in tournament history, and the Bryan brothers lifted their third career trophy when the Delray Beach Open by The Venetian Las Vegas came to its conclusion on Sunday in Delray Beach, Fla.

Winners in 2010-09, Florida residents Bob and Mike Bryan added a third trophy to their cabinet after the top seeds eased past the unseeded Czech/Russian duo of Frantisek Cermak/Mikhail Elgin in the final 6-2, 6-3.

Bob Bryan: "[100 titles] is our next big goal," said Bob Bryan after claiming the duo's 94th of their career and first of 2014. "We're very happy to kick start the year here in Delray. Get that first of the season, get that confidence flowing and take it into the next couple of Masters 1000s. It's been a few years since we won the Miami tournament, so we want to put in a good showing there."

After the win they were congratulated by long-time friend and former golf great Jack Nicklaus.

"[Nicklaus] is a good friend," Mike Bryan said. "He's been to watch us at Wimbledon a few times. He loves tennis. Bob won his tournament last year. He's a great, great guy to know. We're huge fans of him. It was good to see him in the front row."

Cilic was appearing in his third consecutive final after winning Zagreb and finishing runner-up at Rotterdam. At three hours and eight minutes, it was the longest final in tournament history, defeating South African Kevin Anderson 7-6(6), 6-7(7), 6-4.

"It wasn't easy for my nerves, for Goran's nerves especially," said Cilic, referring to coach Goran Ivanisevic who watched from the stands. "In the final some nerves can get into your body and you have to deal with it in the end. Luckily I found a way."

It was Anderson's fourth consecutive defeat in an ATP final since winning the Delray Beach trophy in 2012.

Gator Women Featured Friday on ESPN3, USTA College MatchDay

USTA_College_MatchDay_graphicUSTA College MatchDay will cover the women's Texas A&M at Florida match on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 from Gainesville, Fla., delivered live on the web on ESPN3.

Upcoming Florida College MatchDay broadcasts:

Feb. 28 -- Texas A&M at Florida (women)
March 23 -- Florida at Alabama (women)
April 5 -- Bethune Cookman at Florida A&M (men)

College MatchDay is a weekly series highlighting marquee team matches featuring the best programs, players and coaches around the country. In addition to the ESPN3 coverage, eight College MatchDays will feature a 53-foot, interactive Fan Experience trailer on site, where fans can engage in a number of activities before and during the match.
 
"College tennis is such amazing and exciting competition, and College MatchDay is a way to shine a light on schools, teams, players and coaches," said Virgil Christian, the USTA's director of collegiate tennis. "We hope that College MatchDay can change the landscape of viewing college tennis both in person and at home."
 
Every MatchDay that will be delivered on ESPN3 will follow a unique, experimental format, as proposed by an advisory group of NCAA Division I athletic directors: all six singles matches will be played first, best of three tiebreak sets, with each singles match worth one point toward the team total (four points are required to win the team match). Once one team reaches four points and clinches the match, the remaining matches will not be completed.

In the case of a 3-3 tie after the singles matches, three doubles matches -- played using 10-point super tiebreakers -- will be used to determine the winner in what amounts to college tennis' version of "overtime." The team that wins two of the three doubles matches wins the team match. All MatchDay dual matches will count toward each team's win-loss record both overall and, if applicable, in conference. For MatchDays that will not be delivered on ESPN3, the participating teams will not be held to the same, experimental format.
 
For more info go to www.usta.com.
 
 

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