Tennis - American Reilly Opelka says he wishes he could have been a basketball player as compared to a tennis player. Opelka, who is 6ft 11in tall and who counts his serve as his big weapon says, “Yes, I wish I had played basketball.
One hundred per cent. Those guys have a life. The league minimum is five million [dollars] a year. And you get to stay in the States, fly private, big planes. It’s life”. Speaking about his tall frame and big sized feet, Opelka says, "I was 6ft 11in already, but then I put on a lot of weight.
It was just natural, maturing. I finished 2016 30lb heavier and I think that’s where the foot problem started. With more weight, my body had to adjust. The biggest issue is flying. Obviously I have to fly Business class, but once I’m in Europe or somewhere where I have a three-hour flight where they don’t have a full-on Business class, that’s where I struggle.
I’ve got off planes before with my back completely locked”. Speaking about the Challenger tournaments on the tour, Opelka says, "They’re not the nicest tournaments. They’re an absolute grind. You’re playing in the middle of nowhere.
I played a Challenger last year in Panama were after the first round they ran out of balls and switched to a different ball. There was no locker room. There were no showers at the courts and there was no air-conditioning. It was the most beat-up court you could find.
I definitely paid my dues on the Challenger tour last year”. Opelka feels he plays his best tennis in the United States as he likes having his family and friends around, “It’s just nice having my family and friends around.
For example, in New York, the tournament was actually held in Long Island, but I was in the city every night, enjoying good food. It was also Fashion Week, which is something that appeals to me, so I was finishing my matches and then going into the city. I tend to play my best when I have a good life off the court at the tournaments”.