Pro tennis returns to North Texas this week with the RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas serving up some emerging talent, and one player who has played at the elite level of the ATP and hopes to again.
American Mardy Fish, who reached a career-high ATP ranking of No. 7 in 2011, announced this week on Twitter that he will make his return to the ATP Tour at Indian Wells next month.
Fish, 33, has not played since 2013 because of physical and psychological challenges related to a heart condition, according to Tennis.com, which first reported Fish’s comeback Thursday.
In preparation for his return, Fish will pair with his former coach, Mark Knowles, in doubles next week at the tournament, formerly known as the Challenger of Dallas, at T Bar M Racquet Club.
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The RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas is a USTA men’s Challenger-level indoor event that begins with qualifying Saturday. The main draw is Monday through Feb 7.
With Fish and Knowles headlining the doubles field, American Tim Smyczek will be competing in singles — his first match since his five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in the second round of the Australian Open.
Smyczek, a Milwaukee native who moved to Florida to pursue a tennis career, hit 64 winners and came within one game of upsetting the No. 3-ranked Nadal.
But the match made headlines, not just because of the near-upset, but because of Smyczek’s sportsmanship.
With Nadal serving for the match, ahead by 6-5, 30-love in the fifth set, a fan hollered during the toss of his first serve and the serve sailed long. With the crowd booing loudly, Smyczek caught the attention of the chair umpire and held up two fingers, giving Nadal both of his serving opportunities. Nadal gave Smyczek a thumbs-up and a wave, and members of Nadal’s team stood to applaud.
Nadal went on to win 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-5, but later in a news conference the Spaniard said: “What he did at the end of the fifth is just amazing. He’s a great example, what he did today.”
In addition to Smyczek, the Dallas field will also include No. 51-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, No. 67 Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia and No. 74 Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic.
Also entered is three-time Tennis Championships of Dallas doubles champion Rajeev Ram, two-time Dallas singles champion Ryan Sweeting, 2013 singles champion Rhyne Williams as well as Ryan Harrison, Denis Kudla, Robby Ginepri and Michael Russell.
Tickets are available by calling 972-385-3631 or online at TicketWeb.com.
Rusty Hall, 817-390-7816