College Park, Md—There’s something about Washington D.C. that brings out the best in Bobby Reynolds.
Just a month after leading the World Team Tennis D.C. Kastles to their first-ever 16-0 season, Reynolds is back in the nation’s capital this weekend vying for a spot in the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. With a strong 6-3, 7-5 win over former University of Tennessee All-American Rhyne Williams in the semifinals of the USTA U.S. Open Wild Card Playoffs, Reynolds finds himself just one win away from winning the wild card tournament and entry into the U.S. Open main draw.
“I joke that this is more of a hometown for me than when I’m playing in Atlanta,” said Reynolds, of Acworth, Ga., wearing his 16-0 Kastles championship T-shirt. “I wish we could play World Team Tennis all year around. I love everything about it. You could lose 5-0 and your team still wins and everyone’s happy.”
The top-seeded Reynolds is the oldest player in the draw by far at age 29. The seven other men’s players consisted of three 20-year-olds, two who are 19 and two age 18. Reynolds will meet 19-year-old Daniel Kosakowski in the 1 p.m. best-of-five set final on Sunday with the winner getting that main draw spot into the Open.
“I’m really just trying to keep up with these younger guys,” said Reynolds, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the first round of the 2005 U.S. Open and had played in three other main draw Opens. “‘It’s great to be in the final. Daniel’s a tough up-and-coming player. These young guys just have so much power. You think you hit a good shot and then they come back right back at you.”
Kosakowski, the one-and-done former UCLA Bruin from Huntington Park, Calif., who is currently ranked No. 398 in the world rankings, beat local favorite Denis Kudla, the tournament’s No. 2 seeded player from Arlington, Va., 6-2, 6-3.
“This is a great chance and a good opportunity for me,” said Kosakowski, who also beat Kudla at the L.A. ATP event the Farmers Classic in the final round of qualifying in a much closer straight-set match just three weeks ago. “I’m serving well and have had a great summer. I’m just so happy to be here and to get the invite.”
It was a pro-Kudla crowd except for Kosakowski’s father, sister and brother-in-law. Ironically, Kosakowski’s sister Sylvia or Downey, Calif., just one day before lost in the U.S. Open National Playoffs second round at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale in New Haven, Conn., falling to Robin Anderson, 6-3, 6-2.
“Yeah, she was out here trying to qualify for the Open so she drove down today to watch,” said Daniel of his sister, who played collegiately at Pepperdine. “It’s great to have them all here to support me.”
On the women’s side, defending champion Beatrice Capra, who won this event last year in Boca Raton and then went on to win two rounds in the main draw at the U.S. Open, beat her World Team Tennis Philadelphia Freedom doubles partner Julia Cohen, 6-4, 6-4.
“It was really hot out there,” said Capra, who beat Cohen 6-1, 6-1 at a pro event on clay in Raleigh, N.C., earlier this year. “That was one of the toughest matches I’ve played in a long time. I knew that Julia is such a great competitor out there and I never expected her to make a mistake. I knew I had to win the match today. She wasn’t going to give me anything.”
Capra will face the tournament’s youngest player 16-year-old Madison Keys in Sunday’s 11 a.m. final. Keys, the No. 7 seeded player from Boca Raton, Fla., defeated No. 3 Gail Brodsky of Brooklyn, N.Y., 7-5, 7-6 (7).
Keys, being watched closely Saturday by her USTA coach Adam Peterson, won the only meeting between the two finalists, taking last year’s USTA National Hardcourt 18s Round of 16 match, 6-2, 6-4, over Capra just a week before Capra won this event in Boca.
“I used to train with Madison down at Evert’s so I know her game pretty well,” said Capra, of Ellicott City, Md., who like Kudla had the majority of crowd support Saturday.
Beatrice Capra (5), Ellicott City, Md., def. Julia Cohen (1), Philadelphia, Pa., 6-4, 6-4
Madison Keys (7), Boca Raton, Fla., def. Gail Brodsky (3), Brooklyn, N.Y., 7-5, 7-6 (7)
Daniel Kosakowski (3), Huntington Park, Calif., def. Denis Kudla (2), Arlington, Va., 6-2, 6-3
Bobby Reynolds (1), Acworth, Ga., def. Rhyne Williams (5), Knoxville, Tenn., 6-3, 7-5
Sunday’s Finals Schedule
Stadium Court, 11 a.m.
Beatrice Capra (5), Ellicott City, Md. vs. Madison Keys (7), Boca Raton, Fla.
Not before 1 p.m.
Bobby Reynolds (1), Acworth, Ga., vs. Daniel Kosakowski (3), Huntington Park, Calif.
Note: Men’s final is best three out of five sets. (Steve Pratt)