Palm Coast resident Reilly Opelka won the U.S. Tennis Association clay court national championship for 14-year-old boys players.
Palm Coast has a national champion ... and he’s 13 years old.
Reilly Opelka competed in the USTA National Boys’ 14 Clay Court Championships, an eight-day tournament that took place from July 17 to July 22, in Fort Lauderdale.
The tournament draws 128 of the country’s best young tennis players.
Opelka, who was seeded 16th heading into the tournament, defeated No. 8-seeded Cameron Klinger on two straight sets, 6-2 and 6-3, in the finals.
Michael Sell, a national coach for USTA, has been coaching Opelka for a little more than a year. Sell said Opelka’s national title is a testament to his dedication.
“For (Reilly) to win this clay courts (tournament) certainly shows how hard he has been working and how well he had to play through the (tournament) to win the title,” Sell said.
Sell said Opelka has succeeded on clay of late, but sees hard courts as Opelka’s better surface in the coming years.
“It’s pretty rare to succeed in (both clay and hard courts) so he’s doing a darn good job,” Sell said.
Opelka’s serve was on point during the tournament, Sell said, adding that he also controlled the baseline.
“The thing about Reilly is he is a student of the game,” Sell added. “He has a long-term vision for the game.
“For him, it’s building his game and, not only to win now, but to win later.”
Opelka trains full-time at the USTA Player Development Traning Center, in Boca Raton. He was one of 14 boys and girls accepted into the 2010-2011 class.
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