Bobby Reynolds already owns one dubious distinction. He wasn't about to let a disappointing one overshadow it Monday night.
After becoming the last remaining American male at this year's Wimbledon, Reynolds made sure not to lose the positive momentum in the first round of the Fifth Third Bank Tennis Championships.
Despite a game effort by Toshihide Matsui, Reynolds won 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the second round at UK's Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.
The experience was different during Reynolds' run three weeks ago at the All England Club, he said:
”To hold the title of being the last American, it's good and bad,“ said Reynolds, who bowed out to Feliciano Lopez in the third round. ”I was really happy with my success, but obviously that's not as well as the U.S. would have hoped to go in Wimbledon.“
Reynolds was only hoping for a third-round appearance coming into the tournament, but that quickly changed when he found out he was last American male standing.
”Obviously when you're the last one in, everybody is like, "Hey, it's all on your shoulders.' It's extra pressure,“ Reynolds said. ”But I felt like my match against Lopez, I played well. I felt like I could have possibly gone another round or two.“
Even now, a lot of people outside the inner realm of the tennis world probably haven't heard much of Reynolds. He is ranked 92nd in the ATP Tour rankings but has climbed as high as 77th.
He was even ranked the No. 1 singles player while at Vanderbilt, where he led the Commodores to the NCAA finals in 2003.
Reynolds doesn't haven't any ATP Tour titles, but he has five Challenger Series titles and hopes to add another at this week's tournament.
But the recognition, or lack thereof, is unfair for a player of Reynolds' talent, longtime coach David Drew said.
”One thing that is frustrating for me is all you see and hear about is James Blake and Andy Roddick when we have a bunch of great young Americans,“ said Drew, director and head pro at Atlanta's Universal Tennis Academy, in a telephone interview. ”If (Reynolds) was in baseball, somebody of his caliber would be the top player on his team, he'd be an All-Star.“
Drew admits the Americans definitely have struggled lately. But to not recognize a player who is one of the top 10 in the nation, according to Drew, is unheard of.
”There's not a better grinder out there on tour,“ Drew said.
But for other people to know it, Reynolds likely will have to continue making a splash in big tournaments, especially Grand Slam events.
And at 26, Reynolds is at a pivotal point in his tennis career. Many, including Reynolds, say the next year could become a tipping point.
Win an ATP Tour event, and suddenly Reynolds becomes a household name. Struggle on the Tour, where he holds a career 16-37 record, and he most likely becomes your average run-of-the-mill professional.
Fair assessment? Probably not. But it's a situation Reynolds faces given the current publicity of American tennis.
”It's tough,“ Reynold said. ”Week in and week out you have to put in good tournaments each week you play.“
To rise to that elite level, which Drew said Reynolds can do, only takes a few shots in each match.
”To make that jump, the changes are very subtle,“ Drew said. ”To get three or four more extra points in a match is what makes a difference in the rankings.“
And so would winning the Fifth Third tournament.
Reynolds will try to advance at 7 p.m. Wednesday when he faces two-time defending NCAA singles champion Somdev Devvarman.
At Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex
($50,000 men, $50,000 women)
Singles main draw
Dudi Sela (1), Israel, def. Rylan Rizza, 7-5, 6-4; Somdev Devvarman, India, def. Jamie Baker, Great Britain, 7-5, 6-2; Amer Delic (5) def. Ricardo Hocevar, Brazil, 4-6, 7-6 (1) 6-4; Bryan Koniecko def. Brendan Evans (7), 6-2, 6-7 (8), 6-3.
Bobby Reynolds (2) def. Toshihide Matsui, Japan, 6-4, 6-4; Rajeev Ram def. Alberto Francis, 6-4, 6-2.
Harel Levy, Israel, and Jim Thomas, United States def. Bruno Agostinelli, Canada, and Bradley Cox, 6-4, 6-2.
Victor Estrella, Dominican Republic, and Santiago Gonzalez, Mexico, def. Somdev Devvarman, India, and Rylan Rizza, 6-2, 2-6, 10-6.
Sanchai Ratiwatana and Sonchat Ratiwatana, Thailand, def. Marcus Fugate and Bryan Koniecko, 6-3, 6-1.
Stephen Bass and Todd Paul def. Brian Battistone and James Ludlow, 5-7, 6-0, 10-8.
Lindsay Lee-Waters (2) def. Allie Will, 6-4, 6-4; Kristy Frilling def. Robin Stephenson (6), 6-3, 4-6, 6-0; Christina McHale (7) def. Alexandra Anghelescu, 7-5, 6-2; Maureen Diaz def. Sloane Stephens, 0-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Neha Uberoi (3) def. McCall Jones, 6-4, 6-3; Tiya Rolle, def. Lena Litvak (5), 2-6, 6-1, 6-2; Kristi Miller, def. Liga Dekmeijere (8), Latvia, 6-2, 6-0; Jennifer Elie (4) def. Theresa Logar, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
10 a.m.—Lindsay Lee Waters vs. Kristy Frilling; Neha Uberoi vs. Tiya Rolle; Jennifer Elie vs. Christina McHale; Maureen Diaz vs. Kristi Miller.
Singles main draw
10 a.m.—Sharon Fichman, Canada, vs. Chin-Wei Chan (7), Taipei; Approx. 11:30 a.m.—Petra Rampre, Slovakia, vs. Junri Namigata (3), Japan; Julia Cohen vs. Varvara Lepchenko (2); Kelly Liggan, Ireland, vs. I-Hsuan Hwang, Taipei; Kai-Chen Chang, Taipei, vs. Kimberly Couts; Mary Gambale vs. Alexandra Mueller.
Stadium Court 2, 7 p.m.—Melanie Oudin (8), vs. Maria Fernanda Alves, Brazil.
Court 6, not before 1 p.m.—Colin EbelthiTE Australia, vs. Andrea Stoppini, Italy.
Court 3, not before 6 p.m.—Meritt Emery and Tiffany Welcher vs. Neha Uberoi and Shikha Uberoi, India; not before 9 p.m.—Kristian Pless, Denmark, and Dudi Sela, Israel, vs. Alessandro Da Col, Italy, and Andrea Stoppini, Italy.
Court 7, not before 1 p.m.—Hilary Barte United States, and Jennifer Elie, United States, vs. Carly Gullickson, United States, and Nicole Kriz, Australia.
Singles main draw
Stadium Court 1, not before 1 p.m.—Robert Kendrick (3) vs. Santiago Gonzalez, Mexico; followed by—Tylr De Heart vs. Kevin Kim (8); 7 p.m.—Scoville Jenkins vs. Xavier Malisse, Belgium; followed by—Jamie Baker, Great Britain, and Brendan Evans vs. Alberto Francis and Kevin Kim.
Stadium Court 2, not before 1 p.m.— Michael Yani vs. Chase Buchanan; followed by—Nick Lindahl, Australia, vs. Noam Okun, Israel.
Court 3, approx. 1 p.m.—Kumiko Iijima, Japan, vs. Alexis Prousis; followed by—Harel Levy (6), Israel, vs. Rhyne Williams; not before 7 p.m.—Erik Chvojka, Canada, vs. Justin O'Neal.
Court 3, not before 8 p.m.—Olivier Charroin, France, and Erik Chvojka, Canada, vs. Noam Okun, Israel, and Amir Weintraub, Israel.
Court 7, not before 1 p.m.—Victor Estrella, Dominican Republic, vs. Kristian Pless, Denmark; not before 3 p.m.—Brad Pomeroy and Jose Statham, New Zealand, vs. Stephen Bass and Todd Paul.