Empire State of Mind in Mountain State as @NYEmpireTennis Advance to @WorldTeamTennis Final
The New York Empire advanced to the World Team Tennis final at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia with a 22-18 win over the top-seeded Philadelphia Freedoms this afternoon.
Jack Sock and Neal Skupski broke serve and started New York off with a 2 game lead after beating Fabrice Martin and Taylor Fritz, 5-3. They never relinquished that lead. Coco Vandeweghe played Sofia Kenin close in a 5-4 loss and frankly, did her job by minimizing the effectiveness of the Freedoms most potent weapon.
The big turning point of the affair came when Sock and Vandeweghe posted a 5-1 mixed doubles win over Taylor Townsend and Fabrice Martin/Taylor Fritz. Fritz was inserted into the match after the Freedoms were down 4-0. Vandeweghe teamed up with Nicole Melichar against Townsend and Caroline Dolehide. Philadelphia scrapped to a 5-3 win to keep hope alive. In the final set, Taylor Fritz needed a miracle comeback against Sock to turn the match for Philadelphia. Fritz challenged Sock all the way to the tiebreak, which Sock won 5-3 to seal the victory for his team.
—S. Fogleman in White Sulphur Springs, WV
|Defending Champions Keys, Medvedev Lead 2020 Western & Southern Open Singles Fields|
CINCINNATI (JULY 29, 2020) – Ten former champions headline the players on the initial singles entry lists for the 2020 Western & Southern Open that will be held Aug. 20-28 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.
The initial entries include both defending champions: Daniil Medvedev for the ATP Tour and Madison Keys for the WTA.
Former men’s champions who have entered the ATP Masters 1000 also include the top two players in the ATP Rankings – No. 1 Novak Djokovic (2018 winner) and No. 2 Rafael Nadal (2011) – along with Grigor Dimitrov (2017) and Marin Cilic (2016).
Two-time champion Serena Williams (2014-15) will join Keys, Kiki Bertens (2018), Garbiñe Muguruza (2017) and Karolina Pliskova (2016) as past WTA champions in the Premier 5 field.
The women’s field includes five Major champions in Williams, Muguruza, Sofia Kenin, Petra Kvitova and Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2019 W&S Open runner-up. Three men’s entrants – Cilic, Djokovic and Nadal – are past Major winners.
The women’s field, which features 39 of the top 53 players in the WTA Rankings, includes seven players aged 21-or-under. Sixteen-year-old Coco Gauff will make her Western & Southern Open debut and will be joined by fellow teens Amanda Anisimova (18) and Iga Swiatek (19) to join a youth movement that also includes 20-year-old Dayana Yastremska. Kenin, a 2019 Western & Southern Open semifinalist who won the 2020 Australian Open, leads a group of 21-year-olds that includes Elena Rybakina and Marketa Vondrousova.
Forty of the top 43 ranked ATP players have entered on the men’s side. One teenager, 19-year-old Felix Auger Aliassime, leads five men aged 21-or-under in the field. Four of the entrants from the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings are under the age of 25: No. 5 Medvedev (24), No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas (21), No. 7 Alexander Zverev (23) and No. 8 Matteo Berrettini (24). The top eight seeds in both draws will receive first round byes. Twelve players will be added to each field through a two-round qualifying event that will be held Aug. 20-21. The deadline for players to enter the qualifying event is Aug. 3. Four men and five women will be awarded wild card entries into the main draw singles fields.
|Main draw play for the Western & Southern Open will begin on Aug. 22. Both singles finals will be held on Friday, Aug. 28, with the WTA final taking place at 2 p.m., and the ATP Tour’s at 4 p.m.|
Further details for the 2020 tournament will be announced in the coming weeks, and all aspects of the event are subject to change.
ORLANDO STORM CLOSE IN ON PLAYOFF BERTH WITH IMPRESSIVE VICTORY AGAINST SAN DIEGO AVIATORS, 19-15
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.V. (July 27, 2020) – The Orlando Storm moved one step closer to clinching a coveted four-team World TeamTennis playoff spot with a 19-15 victory over the San Diego Aviators on Monday night on Center Court at Creekside Stadium – The Greenbrier “America’s Resort.”
The Storm improved to 8-4 and remained in sole possession of third place behind league leading Philadelphia (9-2) and Chicago (9-3), while the Aviators fell to 3-9 and in last place in the WTT standings in this the final week of the WTT regular season.
The Storm jumped out to a commanding 15-5 lead after the first three sets, getting wins in Mixed Doubles (Ken Skupski/Jessica Pegula), Women’s Singles (Pegula) and Men’s Singles (Tennys Sandgren). Former WTT Male MVP Ryan Harrison of the Aviators battled Sandgren shot-for-shot from the baseline in a tight singles affair that saw Sandgren come out on top, 5-3.
One of the bright spots of the night for the Aviators was the doubles play of Christina McHale and the newest Aviator Kveta Peschke, who beat Pegula and Darija Jurak, 5-1, in Women’s Doubles. Just before Sunday night’s WTT trade deadline, Peschke – a former world No. 1 doubles player – and Sabine Lisicki were traded from the New York Empire to San Diego for Coco Vandeweghe and Nicole Melichar.
Harrison and Jonny O’Mara took out Sandgren and Skupski in Men’s Doubles, 5-2, in the final set to make the score 18-15. That sent the match into Extended Play where Skupksi held serve in doubles for the win.
ORLANDO STORM PLAYER KEN SKUPSKI: “I think the difficulty with this year with COVID was that everyone came into the tournament differently. You really have to take your time and figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are. I think if we keep playing the way we have been then we’ll have a good shot to win it all.”
Orlando Storm defeats SAN DIEGO AVIATORS, 19-15 (EP)
Mixed Doubles: Ken Skupski/Jessica Pegula (Storm) def. Jonny O’Mara/Christina McHale, 5-2
Women’s Singles: Pegula (Storm) def. Kveta Peschke (Aviators), 5-0
Men’s Singles: Tennys Sandgren (Storm) def. Ryan Harrison (Lasers), 5-3
Women’s Doubles: McHale/Peschke (Aviators) def. Pegula/Darija Jurak (Storm), 5-1
Men’s Doubles: O’Mara/Harrison (Aviators) def. Skupski/Sandgren (Storm), 5-2
Extended Play: 1-0 Storm. With Orlando leading 18-15, Skupski held his doubles serve to end the match.
—S. Pratt, WTT
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
How’s Your Lockdown? Women’s Tennis Returns This Weekend as @AjlaTom @AnisimovaAmanda @Riske4rewards & Danielle Collins Chat Up @MyUTR Pro Match Series on @TennisChannel
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
With so much more than sports going on in the world right now, today’s UTR Pro Match Series press conference on Zoom was a little lighter than most. It was as if people were genuinely thrilled to talk to other people for a change. Who knew, right?
The UTR Pro Series returns for the women’s event this Friday through Sunday from a private court in West Palm Beach, Florida and will be broadcast on Tennis Channel. Danielle Collins, Amanda Anisimova, Alison Riske and Ajla Tomljanovic will compete in an environment that Tournament Director Stephen Amritraj said is filled with “excessive precautions,” including no fans, no ball kids, no ball sharing and nothing but a chair umpire.
Tennis Channel’s Steve Weissman served as moderator and kept the question and answers fast-paced.
These players, they’re just like us!
Amanda Anisimova, the youngest of the four competitors, accidentally muted herself. I was surprised by this unenforced error by the teen, since my daughter knows her way around Zoom like the sixth-grade hallway at her school.
Anisimova tried to lower her personal expectations in this first dry run of a tournament in months. “I’ve still been training but I’m not going to be anywhere close to my best game. I really missed (competition) so I’m not going to care how I play or my A- game,” she said. So, naturally, expect her to bring her A-game this weekend.
Danielle Collins is making good Indian food and completed one hell of a “bomb” bread pudding during the lockdown. The world #51, Collins says she missed “just competing the most, and aside from that the travel. Getting to see so many parts of the world. I enjoy going to different locations after my tennis tournaments and taking a little vacation. And really, just getting out of the house. The competitive side doesn’t go away just because you’re away from the tour.” And, she added, she misses “the money, too.” She gave a “50/50” chance that the tour would formally resume in 2020 and revealed that she’s been hitting with college players home for the summer.
Ajla Tomljanivic was the only player who had a birthday during the lockdown and she wasn’t terribly impressed. She was the third in her family to celebrate such a birthday. “It was a little bit of a letdown,” she said. “The first (family birthday) was great and it went downhill from there. Mine was the third one. I was a little bit let down but I got my cake.”
As for the weekend tournament, “it’s the closest thing we can get to competing nowadays. With all of the safety protocols, I feel comfortable going in,” she said. “My body started to hurt because I wasn’t doing anything so I started hitting with my dad and boyfriend (Matteo Berretini). Now (Berretini) found someone better to hit with!”
Alison Riske is always in good spirits when talking to almost anyone, and today was no exception. She divulged that she “could lose (herself) online for hours” researching interior design and has enjoyed being around the house over the last couple of months. On the subject of player support for lower tier competitors coming from the titans of the sport, she demurred. “It can be a tough ask to force something upon a player and have to make that decision of forfeiting X amount to help someone, like top 500 players. A great initiative, but a tough ask,” she admitted, before adding that it might be more palatable for “a player to donate where they want.”
On that same question, Anisimova was equally equivocal. “Those in the top 100 are way more privileged,” she said. “I can see both sides, but I think the initiative is very nice.”
The schedules for the first two days of the three day event are listed below.
Let’s all give a big hand to the return of women’s tennis!