July 18, 2011
By Jon Cooper
There’s no substitute for experience.
Kevin King learned that lesson and believes it will pay off when he takes the court at Racquet Club of the South this afternoon in his first doubles match at the 2011 Atlanta Tennis Championships.
King will be teaming up with former University of Georgia star Drake Bernstein to take on the team of Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram, who are the world’s 26th-ranked team, the ATC’s top-seed, and the tournament’s defending champions.
The match should be easier to handle since King has already gotten a taste of the ATC experience on Saturday night, when he played in a singles qualifying match against Chile’s Nicolas Massu.
Having an idea of what kind of atmosphere he’s stepping is something he didn’t have Saturday, despite having played on those same courts before.
“I’m sure it will help. I’ve played on the court before, but it definitely doesn’t compare to what it was like Saturday,” said the senior from Peachtree City. “This was a big stadium, bigger crowd, it was definitely a different experience. I’m sure it will help bringing that experience into the match tomorrow.”
Also helping will be having a partner of the caliber of Drake Bernstein, co-captain of the University of Georgia’s team this past season.
While both are accomplished doubles players, playing doubles together is something they haven’t done since juniors. But King feels that recent practices have them ready to go
“Over this past week we’ve been able to play some together,” he said. “Just getting out on the court and getting comfortable with each other has helped a lot.”
Fan support also should help.
King said he felt it Saturday against Massu, when he nearly turned the qualifiers on its ear, taking the first set, serving for the match in the second then pushing the former ninth-ranked player in the world to the limit in the third set, eventually falling, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
“I definitely felt there were a lot of people in the crowd on my side,” he said. “I felt that the crowd was definitely enjoying the tennis and it was just nice that the two of us could give them a good match to watch. They started maybe pulling for me a little bit at the end but there were definitely fans just cheering good tennis.”
King, who has played tennis at a high level before — he and teammate Juan Spir reached the NCAA Semifinals – but this is the highest level he’s ever played. Regardless, his outlook going in, new partner or not, hasn’t changed.
“We know we’re going to have to go out and play well to compete but I think that’s going to help us,” he said. “We don’t have too much margin for error so we’re going to go out and be focused and play as well as we can.”
For more information on the Atlanta Tennis Championship, visit www.atlantatennischampionships.com/TournamentInformation/Tournament_Schedule/