The Philly Freedoms are the top seed entering this weekend’s playoffs, but the New York Empire have had their number before. Despite the 7-7 record, the Empire handed the Freedoms their first loss of the season, 25-17, a little over two weeks ago and have thwarted the Freedoms chances at a championship title in years past. In that match, Kim Clijsters held off Sonia Kenin, 5-3 and Jack Sock was victorious over Taylor Fritz, 5-3. Today, Clijsters is not scheduled to play and Coco Vandegwhe will need to step up and handle Kenin, the 2020 women’s Australian Open single champion. Sock and Neal Skupski will battle Philadelphia’s Fabrice Martin and Taylor Townsend in mixed doubles. Townsend will pair with Caroline Dolehide against Vandegwhe and Nicole Melichar in women’s doubles.
I’ll predict .an Empire win based on the doubles strength added by the Empire late last week in Vandegwhe and Melichar. It was a great addition to the team not just to hel the Empire to make the playoffs, but to pay dividends in the playoffs as well .Let’s face it: Doubles is even more important than singles in World Team Tennis. The play of Sock and Neal Skupski has been outstanding and Vandegwhe and Melichar are clearly vibing together. Vandegwhe and Sock may have the hardest time defeating their singles rivals, but Taylor Fritz is a known commodity to Jack Sock and I predict he wins the men’s singles set as well.
The @OrlandoStormWTT End @PhillyFreedoms Win Streak in Early @WorldTeamTennis Saturday Action
The Philadelphia Freedoms rode a six match win streak into Saturday morning, and with 2020 Australian Open women’s singles champion Sofia Kenin on the roster, there was little reason to the think that the streak would not extend further. The Orlando Storm found themselves in a tight race to remain in the World Team Tennis top tier, as the top four teams in the league will contest the semifinals and final next weekend.
What followed was a blowout by WTT standards. So many sets in this competition end with a tiebreak that it was surprising to not see a 5-4 result on the scorecard today, where the Storm dominated the Freedom, 23-13.
Tennys Sandgren and Ken Skupski bageled Donald Young and Fabrice Martin to take a big 5-0 lead in men’s doubles. Jessica Pegula stepped up to the plate in route to a breezy 5-2 victory over Kenin and you had the feeling that it was going to be a good day for the Storm. Pegula followed up her singles win with a doubles victory with Darija Jurak. The pair beat Taylor Townsend and Caroline Dolehide, 5-3. Sandgren finished off the Freedoms with a 5-3 victory over Taylor Fritz and the rout was over. Pegula was selected as the “Chosen” Player of the Match for her efforts, although Sandgren must have been a close second for the nod.
The Storm badly needed to win today and their record now improves to 6-4. With the victory, the Storm maintain a one-half match lead over the Vegas Rollers and one full match lead on the Washington Kastles, who are currently outside of the playoff bubble.
Orlando will open tomorrow’s WTT action as well, taking on the 2019 league champion Springfield Lasers in a must-win match for Springfield.