From Florida to New York, Palm Coast native Reilly Opelka is about to play on one of tennis’ biggest stages.
Opelka will take on Francis Tiafoe, of Maryland, on Monday as the promising American tennis juniors during an exhibition at the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden, in New York. The event is part of the World Tennis Day celebration throughout the U.S.
The two 16-year-olds will square off prior to the two main feature matches: Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray, in singles; and Bob and Mike Bryan vs. 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 racket, 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, who hails from Palm Coast, currently trains at the USTA Regional Training Center, in Boca Raton. He has long been a U.S. junior prospect but has garnered greater attention of late.
He has shot up to 6 feet, 8 inches. That accompanies his booming serve. Results have followed, too.
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, Tiafoe won 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.
For more, go to worldtennisday.com.