Find Out Who Isner, Karlovic, Opelka & Humbert Struggled To Ace In New York
John Isner, Ivo Karlovic and Reilly Opelka are three of the biggest servers in the history of tennis. 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Ugo Humbert serves well, too. But the quartet faced a different returning challenge on Monday before starting the New York Open.
Members of the New York Riptide, a professional lacrosse team that competes at the same venue as this ATP 250 tournament, jumped on court with the ATP Tour stars to see if they could catch the monstrous deliveries. And to their credit, Tyson Bomberry, Connor Kelly and Jake Fox were able to do so, even when the players ramped up the velocity and kick on their serve.
Everyone then switched roles, with the tennis players attempting to catch the lacrosse players’ serves.
“That was actually very fun. I said earlier that they are much better at tennis than we are lacrosse. They were serving to us and they actually served very well in my opinion,” Isner said. “All of us as lacrosse players leave a lot to be desired out there, I could say. We could catch it pretty well, but our passes were not accurate at all. Those guys are extremely tough. I love watching it on TV. Those guys put their bodies on the line every single time they go out there, so lacrosse is a fantastic sport to watch.”
Opelka, the defending champion at the New York Open, watched 38 Isner aces whiz by him in last year’s semi-finals. The 22-year-old tried a new approach on Monday, seeing if he could catch his countryman’s serve with a lacrosse stick.
“I like to think my serve is difficult to return even with a tennis racquet in your hand, but throw a lacrosse stick in Reilly’s hand and he was having a little bit of trouble,” Isner said. “I wasn’t cranking it up. I was cranking it up against the professional players, and that was a lot of fun.”
“It is always fun. It’s interesting. I never did this before and I didn’t know at all how it is,” Karlovic said. “It is really fun, I liked it a lot.”
In Humbert’s case, lacrosse was more than just something he had never played.
“I don’t know the sport, in France we don’t have it,” said Humbert, who will play Jack Sock or Marcos Giron. “I enjoyed to be with those guys, it was good. I was having some fun before my first match. It’s always great for my mind.”