Photo by Cynthia Lum / For the USTA
Kaley Cuoco, star of the hit TV show “The Big Bang Theory”, showed flashes of the form that made her a competitive USTA junior player during the Kaley Cuoco & Friends Exhibition on Saturday night at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center.
Cuoco, 28, teamed with her newlywed husband and professional player Ryan Sweeting in an exhibition—which featured mini-matches and shot skills–before the featured semifinal match at the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas, a USTA $15,000 Pro Circuit Futures event.
In Sunday’s final of the event, it will be UCLA junior Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks facing former Michigan University star Jason Jung in an all-Southern California final. The unseeded Giron beat No. 6-seeded Mate Pavic of Croatia, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, in Saturday night’s featured semifinal match. In the other semifinal, it was the No. 3-seeded Jung taking out former USC star Daniel Nguyen, 7-5, 6-2.
In the doubles final that will open up play on Sunday at 12 noon, the top-seeded team of Sekou Bangoura and Evan King will take on Dennis Novikov and Connor Smith. All four players are from the U.S. and played college tennis.
Before the final singles semifinal match between Giron and Pavic, Cuoco and her husband played with Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center pros Brady Heite, Natasha Mucci, Ahmad Shiraz and Jonas Wallgard for 20 minutes while Top Seed Director Steve McAvoy handled the commentary over the public address system.
“Ryan gave me a lot of pointers yesterday,” Cuoco said. “Actually I have been practicing for about three weeks. I thought I was going to want to kill him, but he was very sweet about it. My game is still deep down there somewhere.”
Cuoco hit strong forehands and backhands during the exhibition, “but I wasn’t expecting this much of a workout. That was like a Wayne Bryan workout with all the running around.”
“I remember watching her train,” said Mucci, a tennis instructor at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center. “She looks fantastic, like she has been playing a little tennis lately.”
“Her key is she intimates opponents,” said Sweeting, who lost to Roberto Marcora, the No. 4 seed from Italy, 6-1, 6-2, in the opening round. In 2010 Sweeting lost in the singles final to Marinko Matosevic of Australia in the Calabasas Challengers final. “Kaley understands the trajectory of the ball now, rather than just hitting it.”
Cuoco and Sweeting were introduced last summer by mutual friend Mike Bryan. Kaley and Mike were friends during their youth tennis days, where both trained at the Cabrillo Racquet Club under Wayne and Kathy Bryan.
“I grew up with the Bryans (Mike and Bob) and we have been in each other’s lives forever,” Cuoco said. “I remember Wayne saying my sons are going to be the No. 1 doubles players in the world when they were only 10, and that’s exactly what they did.”
“I was playing for the Sacramento Capitals and the Bryans played for Dallas,” Sweeting said. “”I flew from Dallas to meeting Kaley in LA and I haven’t left. I sold my house in Fort Lauderdale two weeks after I met her.”
“I knew Ryan had to be a good guy if Mike was friends with him,” Cuoco said. “Mike thinks he’s a good matchmaker, however his wife Lucille had a lot to do with it. I think they are fighting to this day about who actually introduced us.”
“The Big Bang Theory” was recently renewed for another three years on CBS, and Cuoco couldn’t be happier. “It feels amazing and I can’t believe it,” Cuoco said. “I feel very lucky to be a part of something so incredible.”
Saturday’s Singles Semifinals Scores
Marcos Giron, U.S., def. Mate Pavic, Croatia (6), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
Jason Jung, U.S. (3), def. Daniel Nguyen, U.S., 7-5, 6-2
Saturday’s Doubles Semifinal Score
Sekou Bangoura/Evan King, U.S. (1), def. Fabian Matthews/Kyle McMorrow, U.S. (4), 6-4, 6-2
Past Calabasas finalists:
Year Singles Winner Singles Runner-up
2013: Sanam Singh (IND) def. Bradley Klahn (US)
2012: Tennys Sandgren (USA) def. Daniel Kosakowski (US)
2010: Marinko Matosevic (AUS) def. Ryan Sweeting (US)
2009: Donald Young (US) def. Michael Russell (US)
2008: Vince Spadea (US) def. Sam Warburg (US)
2007: Robert Kendrick (US) def. Donald Young (US)
2006: Mark Philippoussis (AUS) def. Amer Delic (US)
2005: Brian Vahaly (US) def. Denis Gremelmayr (GER)
2004: Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Alex Bogomolov Jr. (US)
2003: Jerome Golmard (FRA) def. Lars Burgsmuller (GER)
2002: Michael Chang (USA) def. Cecil Mamiit (PHI)
2001: Andre Sa (BRA) def. Michael Russell (USA)