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Meet Young American Reilly Opelka


ATLANTA – Almost everyone looks up to Reilly Opelka. The 18-year-old American tennis player is an astonishing 6 feet and 11 inches tall.

That’s an inch bigger than John Isner, the three-time defending champion of the BB&T Atlanta Open. 

But Opelka said he, at least figuratively, still looks up to Isner, who has been at the top of the U.S. men’s tennis squad for the past four years.

“John has the best serve in the world. He takes the racket out of your hand,” Opelka said. “He’s one of the best competitors, which is the thing I admire most about him. The guy competes so hard.”

As a wild card, the young phenomenon earned his first ATP World Tour singles win in Atlanta. And he hasn’t stopped. 

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Getting to Know Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka


ATLANTA – Just 20 years old, Yoshihito Nishioka is maturing quickly.

The Japanese tennis player used to be temperamental on the tennis court, even smashing his rackets.

But that changed at this year’s Wimbledon Championships.

Defeating Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan, Frederico Ferreira Silva of Portugal and Quentin Halys of France, Nishioka fought his way through qualifying to the main draw.

He lost in the first round to Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky, but the experience had a profound effect.

“Before, I was very emotional, throwing rackets and getting frustrated. But I’ve been more calm since Wimbledon,” he said. 

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Can Swimming Make John Isner Better at Tennis?


ATLANTA – Mind your body – and your body won’t mind.

That is how many tennis players and other professional athletes now are extending their careers.

“We’re just taking care of our bodies better, and science is showing us and technology is giving us better ways of seeing where the body is being broken down and how can we fix it,” said three-time Olympic champion Brooke Bennett. “We’re just a lot smarter, in all sports.”

The distance swimming icon attended the BB&T Atlanta Open, greeting tennis fans at an exhibit commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Olympic Games in Atlanta.

She also met top-ranked American men’s tennis player John Isner. All 6 feet and 10 inches of him.

“I just felt so short,” she laughed after the pair posed for a photograph.

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Kyrgios Rekindling Passion for Tennis 


ATLANTA – Nick Kyrgios just wants to have fun.

Making his debut at the BB&T Atlanta Open, the young Australian, as notorious as he is talented, is seeking his second ATP World Tour title.

But he also is looking for something else: the joy that originally inspired him to pick up a tennis racket.

“I’m just really trying to get back to the basics, just trying to enjoy it, just find the reason I started playing, just to go out there and compete,” Kyrgios said.

“I’m just trying to get better,” he said. “I’m trying to find myself. And, hopefully, I can continue to have good results.”

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Fernandez Inspires Next Generation of Tennis Players


ATLANTA – Nervous and a bit shy, the little girl didn’t know what to do. This was her very first time holding a tennis racket.

But one day she could be a 17-time Grand Slam doubles champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist – just like Gigi Fernández.

Fernández saw the girl was struggling. So she walked around the net, reached down to the youth’s hand and showed her how to swing and hit the tennis ball.

After a few attempts, the girl succeeded, sending the ball over the net and to the other side of the tennis court.

A big smile lit her face. Fernández raised her arm, the girl reached up, giggling, and the pair shared a high-five celebration.

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John Isner Getting His Groove Back



ATLANTA – John Isner never expected he’d become the flagbearer for American men’s tennis.

The winner of 10 ATP World Tour singles titles, he’s now vying for his fourth consecutive BB&T Atlanta Open trophy.

“I did not know I wanted to play pro tennis until my junior year at Georgia,” he said. “I told myself that if I ever at any point got in the top 50 in the world, I’d be really proud of that. I’ve far surpassed that. I’ve surprised myself. 

“I’ve been ranked pretty high for a long time now. I know I can, at the very least, maintain that. And I still believe I can get better, even at 31 now.”

While growing up and early on as a student at the University of Georgia, Isner wanted to be a sportscaster.

“Then I realized I was pretty good at tennis,” he smiled. “It worked out.”

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The Mind of a Champion



ATLANTA – On the tennis court – or judo mat – a positive mental attitude is the difference between winning and losing.

“When it comes down to it, obviously skill is paramount in any sport and preparation. But once you have the skill and you’ve done the preparation, then ultimately what makes the difference is the mind,” said retired judo competitor Jimmy Pedro, Olympic Games bronze medal winner in 1996 in Atlanta and 2004 in Athens.

Pedro now coaches Kayla Harrison, who made history at the 2012 Olympics in London as the first American, man or woman, to win a gold judo medal.

“On the mat or on the tennis court, it really comes down to a battle of wills,” he said. “Are you willing and able to go to that place where that other person is not? Are you willing to push the pace? Can you dig deep?”

The BB&T Atlanta Open tennis tournament is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Olympics in Atlanta. Tennis fans can talk and take pictures with athletes and see rare memorabilia in a special exhibit.

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