“No One’s Putting Anyone at Risk”: Reilly Opelka Unhappy with People Criticizing Tennis Players During Covid-19
Big-serving American Reilly Opelka has said though the pandemic has, in a way, taken away from the enjoyment of travelling to tournaments and exploring the neck of the woods, the players are glad to be back in action.
Reilly Opelka concedes to challenges of ‘bubbling up’
Speaking to tennis magazine Racquet, the 39th-ranked American said despite the changing optics around the game and the bubble experience, he doesn’t regret playing during these challenging times.
However, he did concede to challenges of ‘bubbling up’.
“You’re in a shoebox of a room. Your life is the hotel room, then to the courts, then back to the room. The beauty of our sport is being able to see and be in cool places.
Me being a kid from North Florida, originally from Michigan – not to generalize, but most people from small towns in Florida and Michigan, their experience of Italy is going to the Olive Garden,” Opelka said.
Opelka says he enjoys fruits of travelling to tournaments
“So I’m extremely grateful that I get to go to some of these places, and I’ve been really appreciative, even though I’m uncomfortable, let’s say, in Europe, and it’s different for me, I’ve grown to like it.
I have found a way to enjoy it and make the most of it,” said the 6’11” American.
He said it’s not easy getting used to a way of life where a player doesn’t enjoy the fruits of travelling to tournaments.
“And so bubbling up, being in your room, not being able to experience that, for me, it’s tough.
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Everyone’s at home, everyone’s struggling, so I don’t want to sound insensitive to people who have real problems, who’re hungry, who don’t have food, who don’t even have a small room with themselves,” Opelka said.
Opelka lauds ATP for providing safe playing environment
“That’s why I really take offense to people criticizing guys for playing tennis right now, for coming back. When they’re throwing back for the love of the game, and no one’s putting anyone at risk.
No one’s putting anyone at risk, and the 1.2% rate on it, the numbers that we’ve contained the virus to, it’s very minimal,” the American said.
He commended the ATP for riding out the lockdown challenges, enforcing rules and ensuring a safe playing environment for tennis professionals.
“The ATP has enforced it as much as possible. I don’t take well to criticizing the players right now. I think what they’re doing is remarkable, especially the top guys,” Opelka said.
The American lost in the first round of the US Open this year, going down in four sets to Belgian David Goffin.
He led by two sets to love in his first-round tie against Italian Fabio Fognini at the Australian Open this year but suffered a loss of momentum thereafter to lose in five sets.
He also exited the French Open in the first round, losing in straight sets to countrymate Jack Sock.