The two New York based teams in the WTT Pro League presented by GEICO are consolidating their efforts for the 2011 season, League officials have announced. As part of the agreement, the New York Sportimes, based in New York City, will bring two of their home matches to the SEFCU Arena in Albany, N.Y., during the WTT season this July. The Sportimes will play their remaining five home matches at Sportime Stadium at Randall’s Island in New York City, the new $19 million facility that Sportime Clubs opened in July 2009, now also home to the John McEnroe Tennis Academy.
The New York Buzz franchise, which has played their matches in Albany and previously in Schenectady over the past 16 WTT seasons, competed in the WTT Pro League from 1995 to 2010.
Sportimes’ owner Claude Okin also announced that the USTA Eastern Section has signed on as the host sponsor of the Sportimes as part of a cooperative marketing effort to support USTA programs in the Metro and Northern regions of the Section. The partnership will also launch a new player drive around the WTT season and every New York Sportimes match night will promote USTA programs, with emphasis on 10-and-Under tennis and Junior TeamTennis.
Sportime Clubs, parent company of the New York Sportimes, and operator of 13 tennis and sports clubs across New York state, owns a 16-court tennis, fitness and swim club in Schenectady, and has been a major sponsor for the Buzz over the past several seasons. “This move was a natural progression for our franchise and for our company,” said Sportime CEO Okin. “We want the NY Sportimes to gain the support of all tennis fans across the state and Nitty Singh (owner of the Buzz) was the reason we came to the Capital Region to start with. I can’t wait to work with Nitty and with all the great folks of the USTA Metro and Northern Regions to share the buzz of WTT action between two of the state’s great tennis playing cities and their surrounding communities.”
Jeff Williams, recently elected president of USTA Eastern Section, explained, “The Section’s support of our WTT franchise will be dramatically elevated in 2011 and I couldn’t be more excited. WTT is a great community tennis event and definitely the perfect platform to highlight USTA programs and to meet our mission of growing the game. With the USTA itself now a partner in the League, we wanted to see whether we couldn’t be the first Section of the USTA to step it up as a major sponsor of our franchise.“
Singh will remain involved as the local promoter and event director for the two Sportimes matches in Albany. Singh, who has promoted tennis events in the area since 1982 and who guided the Buzz to the 2008 WTT title, said she wanted to refocus her efforts on two big events rather than operation of a year-round franchise.
“We’re taking the fan and sponsor experience to a higher level with two fantastic nights of World TeamTennis action,” said Singh. “It’s a Grand Slam tennis experience. We will have big names coming to Albany each night, and our most loyal fans will follow the team back and forth from New York City. It will be a great new era for World TeamTennis in the Capital Region.”
Dates and players for the WTT season, including the two Albany matches, will be determined over the next several weeks. The Sportimes start building their lineup on Tuesday, Feb. 15, at the WTT Marquee Player Draft. Teams are finalized on Tuesday, March 15 at the WTT Roster Player Draft. The 2011 schedule, which will include matches in 10 markets this July, is expected to be released in early March.
The 2011 regular season runs July 4-21, with the top two teams in both the Western and Eastern Conferences advancing to the WTT Conference Championships on July 22. The WTT Finals presented by GEICO will be on Sunday, July 24.