Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Reynolds' hot summer: Centre Court, White House

   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Bobby Reynolds had two unforgettable experiences this summer.
   On June 28, the 31-year-old journeyman professional from Marietta, Ga., played top-ranked Novak Djokovic on Centre Court at Wimbledon. Eleven days later, President Barack Obama honored Reynolds and the rest of the Washington Kastles at the White House for their 2012 World TeamTennis title.
Bobby Reynolds, playing with an injured
right wrist, fell to No. 2 seed Tim Smyczek
in the second round of the Sacramento
Challenger. Photos by Paul Bauman
   Reynolds, a Wimbledon qualifier, lost to Djokovic 7-6 (2), 6-3, 6-1 in the second round but was thrilled by the experience.
   "You grow up watching obviously on TV all the guys who go out on Centre Court," Reynolds said today after losing to No. 2 seed Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla., 6-2, 6-4 in the second round of the $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger at the Natomas Racquet Club. "To have those emotions running through you before, during and after is a neat thing. It's definitely a lifetime experience for me, and to play the No. 1 guy in the world and see what it's like, there's a reason he's No. 1.
   "There really weren't any flaws that I felt I could exploit. I did everything I could on my serve just to stay in it. I spent a lot of energy obviously in the first set. He took it up a notch or two, and that's the difference."
  Reynolds admitted that he had a strong case of nerves before the match.
  "If you don't have butterflies going out before a match like that, I think there's something wrong," he said. "Walking out, you feel like your heart is beating a thousand miles a minute."  
   Reynolds, who's listed at 6 feet (1.83 meters) but appears two or three inches shorter, was the last American man left in singles at Wimbledon. Former top-five player James Blake and qualifier Denis Kudla had lost earlier in the day. It was the first time in 101 years that no U.S. man reached the third round at Wimbledon.
   Blake, who won the last year's Sacramento Challenger, retired from tennis after losing to 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) Ivo Karlovic in the first round of the U.S. Open. Kudla, seeded first this year in Sacramento, lost to Daniel Cox of Great Britain in the first round.
   Reynolds also was elated to visit the White House, even though he's a Republican and was unable to chat with Obama during the team's 10- or 15-minute visit.
Smyczek, serving to Reynolds, advanced
to Friday's quarterfinals.
   "That was an unbelievable experience to meet President Obama in the Oval Office," said Reynolds, the 2012 WTT Male MVP. "It's something a lot of people are never able to do."   
   Reynolds and his teammates didn't know they were going to the White House until that afternoon. Team owner Mark Ein told the players in the morning only to bring nice clothes to work.
   "You never know with him," Reynolds said. "He has so many things up his sleeve and so many contacts that you didn't know."
   Two nights later, the host Texas Wild ended the Kastles' 34-match winning streak, one of the longest in North American professional sports history, spanning two-plus seasons. 
   Reynolds, ranked No. 142 after reaching a career-high No. 63 in 2009, endured another dose of adversity today. The right-hander, a Sacramento semifinalist last year and quarterfinalist in 2011, was treated for a right wrist injury early in the second set against Smyczek.
   "I did something in the warmup," said Reynolds, who's scheduled to play in the first round of doubles with countryman Rajeev Ram today. "(The trainer) thinks it might be the tendon. I felt it on most of the forehands I hit. We'll see how it is."         
   Reynolds declined to use the injury as an excuse, though.
Samuel Groth, who owns the world's
fastest serve, celebrates after beating
Peter Polansky in 2 hours, 30 minutes.
   "It kind of played in the back of my mind more than anything," he said. "He played well. He makes you play a lot of balls, makes you go for more than you want to go for. Right when you think you're in control of the point, he neutralizes the point well. Kudos to him. He played really well."
   Also advancing to Friday's quarterfinals were eighth-seeded Donald Young of Atlanta and Australians Matt Reid and Samuel Groth.
   Young, who won the 2008 title in the final Sacramento Challenger at the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club and last week's $50,000 Napa Valley Challenger, dispatched James McGee of Ireland 6-2, 6-3.
   McGee stunned American Ryan Harrison, who reached No. 43 in the world last year at 20 years old, in the first round of the $100,000 Aptos Challenger in August after trailing 5-1 in the third set.
   Reid ousted Cox 6-4, 6-3.
   Groth outlasted Peter Polansky of Canada 6-7 (6), 7-6 (7), 6-3 in 2 hours, 30 minutes as the temperature reached 82 degrees (27.8 Celsius). Groth, 6-foot-4 (1.94 meters) and 210 pounds (95.3 kilograms), blasted a record 163.4-mph (263-kph) serve in last year's Busan (South Korea) Challenger.
   Polansky had upset sixth-seeded Alex Kuznetsov, a two-time Sacramento semifinalist, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) in 2 hours, 21 minutes in the first round. The match was played on Tuesday morning before the temperature climbed to a high of 80 degrees (26.7 Celsius).
   The other four quarterfinalists will be determined Thursday.
   Doubles defending champions Tennys Sandgren and Rhyne Williams, seeded third, lost to wild cards Jarmere Jenkins and Young 6-3, 6-2 in the first round in an all-American encounter.
   As a senior at the NCAA championships in May, Jenkins led Virginia to its first tennis team title, reached the singles final and won the doubles crown with Mac Styslinger.
   Following are the singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule:

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