On Thursday evening in Washington, chants of “Bobby! Bobby! Bobby!” erupted through Kastles Stadium at the Smith Center. The arena swirled with emotion and tears filled faces of the "Refuse To Lose" contingent. One of their own bid his final farewell.
Just a minute earlier, Bobby Reynolds fittingly served out the final point to clinch the fourth straight Eastern Conference Championship for the Washington Kastles. With a young family and a future on his mind, Reynolds announced that he was retiring from professional tennis on what he declared his Centre Court.
“The last five years of playing for the Kastles, each one of my teammates and the city of DC has meant so much to me. You could see then when I got choked up trying to get through my speech,” Reynolds tells tennis.com “To have my parents there, who have done a lot for me, was special. Not everyone gets that opportunity after playing for so long.
“I told Mark Ein at the beginning of the year that this would likely be my last year of Mylan WTT. While I’ve asked for a wild card to play qualies at the US Open, I have no control over it. It’s why he put on the ceremony for me.”
Described by Ein as the heart and soul of the team, Reynolds has resonated with fans in DC since debuting four years ago. Reynolds wasn’t familiar with the different franchises but was eager to play after returning earlier in 2010 from a lengthy wrist injury layoff. He drew on his NCAA tennis experience at Vanderbilt and went on to earn Mylan WTT Male Rookie of the Year honors.
“I played a couple tournaments here and there but when you come back from injury, you may only play a match or two, and then lose. I was approached about playing TeamTennis and said you could play 14 matches and work back into tennis,” reflects Reynolds. “When that opportunity presented itself, I was like, ‘why not?’ I loved the team atmosphere and the format. I went to college for three years and it was the greatest feeling, being part of a team. There’s a plan for everything - a reason that I’ve been fortunate to play for Mark the past five years.”
For many years, Reynolds was dubbed the Kastles’ ‘closer’ after being placed in the final set of the lineup. In 2014, Jensen switched gears, calling on Reynolds to lead off the team. The strategy worked, as Reynolds finished the regular season ranked second in men’s singles.
“Both roles fell into my lap. There weren’t too many matches where I had to make a comeback. I’d have to find my way through and hold my serve,” says Reynolds. “This year, I’ve been the starter. I have so much emotion when I play at home. I’ve just tried to get the team off to a good start. I’ve enjoyed that role this year.”
Today, Reynolds hopes to guide his team into the Mylan WTT record books. The Kastles are aiming to become just the second team in league history to win four consecutive King Trophies. Washington takes on the Springfield Lasers in a rematch of the 2013 title match, but this time around, Springfield has the home crowd on their side.
“It’s a great opportunity for us. Springfield is really tough,” Reynolds says. “We already played them once here and lost, and then beat them at home. Every part of their lineup is tough. We know that going in and we’ll be ready to go. We’re hoping we can win four in a row.”
As he finishes writing his chapter as a professional tennis player, Reynolds is excited for what’s next. The 32-year-old is putting his family first and also plans on completing his business degree at Vanderbilt, despite the commute that it will involve.
“I figure I’m going back for my senior year so maybe I’ll join a fraternity or hit up the bars! I really don’t know,” jokes Reynolds. “Getting back into the books and writing papers and taking tests is going to be a whole new chapter. Tennis has been so great to me but the traveling schedule is so grueling when you have a family. I can’t imagine getting out of tennis entirely. Maybe I’ll look at college coaching. We’ll see what opportunities open up.”