One can only imagine all of the senseless height and basketball jokes 17-year-old, 6-foot-10 Reilly Opelka has heard throughout the years like, “Maybe, you should try basketball. You wouldn’t have to jump to dunk.” Well, there are a lot of tall basketball players, and very few can boast of winning anything as prestigious as the Wimbledon Championship.
The story of Opelka’s Wimbledon run is one of David and Goliath, certainly not based on looks. Four of his six opponents were ranked inside the Top 15, according to the International Tennis Federation. Even after losing to him, they, now, rest inside the Top 10. Opelka, on the other hand, went in to the tourney unseeded.
With every match, the former Indian Trails Middle School student got better, and, what should’ve been easy wins for those top players turned into devastating upsets. They couldn’t match his serve. In a post-interview, Opelka told Wimbledon’s Laura Lambert that playing doubles allowed him to work on his serve and return game for singles. In doubles competition, he didn’t do too bad either, losing in the final with Akira Santillan.
Upon hearing all the good news from the other side of the world, the Palm Coast Tennis center has invited the community to sign a customized sign to Opelka, up to 7 p.m. Monday night, and they plan to present it to him and his parents when his calendar allows.
BY THE NUMBERS: Opelka recorded 74 aces in six games (avg. 12.3), nailing at least 15 in four of those matches.
DID YOU KNOW? In the very first round of the tournament, Reilly Opelka faced early elimination, when his opponent needed just one point to win the match. Opelka survived to win the final set 13-11, and he would go on to make history.