By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
CALABASAS, Calif. – 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," held March 22 in conjunction with the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas, Calif.
Cuoco, 28, teamed with her newlywed husband, tennis pro Ryan Sweeting, in an exhibition – which featured mini-matches and shot skills – before the featured semifinal match at the $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures event between UCLA junior Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and No. 6-seeded Mate Pavic of Croatia, which unseeded Giron eventually won, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Cuoco and her husband played with Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center pros Brady Heite, Natasha Mucci, Ahmad Shiraz and Jonas Wallgard for 20 minutes, while tournament 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 said she wasn’t expecting as much of a workout. "That was like a Wayne Bryan workout with all the running around,” said the TV star, who trained as a junior under the Bryan brothers' father.
“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 intimidates opponents,” said Sweeting, who lost to Roberto Marcora in the opening round of the Calabasas Futures, his first tournament in a year following a back injury. In 2010, Sweeting lost in the singles final to Marinko Matosevic of Australia in the Calabasas Challenger 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, 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.”
Cuoco and Sweeting – who were married on New Year’s Eve – met after a World TeamTennis match in Dallas in August.
“I was playing for the Sacramento Capitals, and the Bryans played for Dallas,” Sweeting said. “I flew from Dallas to meeting Kaley in L.A., 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.”