The @NewYorkEmpireTennis Just Took A Big Step Forward to @WorldTeamTennis Playoffs With Solid Victory
In a match with obvious World Team Tennis playoff implications, the New York Empire took a huge step forward today, easily defeating the Washington Kastles 25-15. Both teams entered the match with matching 5-5 records. New York was propelled to an early lead when Neal Skupski and Kveta Pescke took the mixed doubles set, 5-2.
Two days ago, Empire coach Luke Jensen pulled a struggling Sabine Lisicki and replaced her mid-set with Kim Clijsters, who promptly won the set. Today, Lisicki needed no such reinforcements, and it was Kim Clijsters serving as her biggest cheerleader as Lisicki easily managed Venus Williams, 5-3. Clijsters planted a big mom hug on her German teammate after the victory.
Jack Sock and Neal Skupski posted another 5-2 doubles win over Tommy Paul and Marcelo Arevola and the rout was brewing. Lisicki returned with Kveta Peschke to once again vex Venus, who paired with Arina Rodionova in the Empire’s 5-4 women’s doubles win. Jack Sock closed out the match with a 5-4 victory over Tommy Paul. Lisicki was selected as the Chosen Player of the Match.
The results of the match were particularly poignant for both teams: the Empire seized undisputed ground for the final of four playoff spots, while the Kastles, at 5-6, most likely need to win out in order to qualify. I’m sure the folks at CBS are pulling for a Williams appearance in next Sunday’s final. That ratings bonanza is a tall order at the moment.
—S. Fogleman in the Mountaineer State