Saturday, May 9, 2020

Opelka Wins UTR Pro Match Series; Sign Up for Monday's USTA Player Development Learning Series Webinar Featuring Billie Jean King

Reilly Opelka won the first event featuring ATP Top 100 players today at the UTR Pro Match Series at a private court in West Palm Beach Florida, beating Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 4-3(2), 2-4, 4-2 in the final match. Opelka had lost to Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in his third and final round robin match earlier today 4-2, 1-4, 4-2, but when Hurkacz did not close out Opelka in straight sets and Kecmanovic defeated Tommy Paul 3-4(6), 4-1, 4-1, it was Opelka and Kecmanovic who advanced to the final. Hurkacz actually finished tied with Opelka for the best overall record of the two-day event at 3-1, after he defeated Paul 4-1, 0-4, 4-1. His only loss was to Kecmanovic 4-3(2), 4-0 on Friday. Paul went 0-3.

In the final, moved up a day due to the forecast for bad weather on Sunday, Opelka saved two break points in the opening game and Kecmanovic, the 2016 ITF World Junior Champion, saved three break points in the fourth game, with both holding serve by winning the deciding point in those games. Opelka got an early mini-break in the tiebreaker, then earned another to take the lead.

In the second set, five quick games went to the server, but after leading 40-30, Opelka lost the next point and the deciding point, allowing Kecmanovic to pull even.

The third set started as the second set had, with four straight holds and no deciding points, but Opelka went up 40-0 with Kecmanovic serving at 2-2, and with the 20-year-old Serb unable to get any first serves in, Opelka cashed in on his second break point to go up 3-2. Looking fatigued after four matches in two days, Opelka, ranked 39 to Kecmanovic's 47, closed out the match on his second match point.

Although yesterday I watched some of the matches on Tennis Channel, I watched today's final on my local Fox Sports Network, quite by accident. I assume it's good that this tennis, one of the few live sporting events to be broadcast in nearly two months, is carried on stations that wouldn't normally show tennis. But the advertising was all public service announcements and promotions for Detroit baseball, hockey and basketball, which are not likely to resume any time soon. I worry that failure to attract regular advertising dollars for this event is not a good omen for tennis when it does return to quasi-normal scheduling. I'll be interested to see if the women's version of this event in two weeks has similar issues in attracting advertising.

For more on today's event and links to an on-demand replay of the final, see tennis.com.
The USTA Player Development Learning Series will feature Billie Jean King in Monday's webinar entitled "The Future of Great Female Tennis Coaches and Players."  Register for the webinar, which will begin at 3 pm EDT, here.  The other webinar participants are listed above.