World Number Ones and Top American Talent Highlights 2011 World TeamTennis Draft Selections
It won’t be difficult to find a player in the World TeamTennis (WTT) Pro League presented by GEICO this summer who has spent time at the top of the world rankings. Ten current or former world number one players highlighted the 2011 World TeamTennis Marquee Draft held on Feb. 15th. World number one-ranked Kim Clijsters and the top-ranked doubles team of Bob & Mike Bryan, who all recently won titles at the 2011 Australian Open, are returning to the League in 2011. Clijsters will return to the New York Sportimes lineup, while the Bryan Brothers will play for the defending WTT Champion Kansas City Explorers for the seventh consecutive season.
The WTT Pro League, presented by GEICO and co-founded by Billie Jean King, is a professional sports league featuring three generations of tennis stars playing in a co-ed team format. The 2011 WTT Pro League begins July 4, concluding with the WTT Finals on July 24. With more than 765 professional tour singles and doubles titles among them, including 122 Grand Slam championships and six Olympic gold medals, the marquee player field for the 2011 season is an all-star lineup.
Tennis legend Pete Sampras returns to the WTT Pro League for the first time since 2007 after the Newport Beach Breakers picked up the 14-time Grand Slam singles champion with the overall number one selection.
A quartet of current U.S. stars was selected during the WTT draft on Feb. 15. The Philadelphia Freedoms drafted Melanie Oudin with their first pick, the second overall selection in the Draft. This will be the first season of World TeamTennis action for Oudin. Mardy Fish is heading west to the Sacramento Capitals, John Isner returns to the Boston Lobsters and the Washington Kastles drafted Sam Querrey.
Joining Querrey on the Kastles roster are two former world number one players, Serena Williams and Venus Williams, while Isner’s Boston teammate will be James Blake.
Martina Hingis, a former world number one in singles and doubles, returns to the New York Sportimes to once again play for the team she helped lead to the WTT title in 2005. Hingis spent the 2010 season with the Albany-based New York Buzz, who consolidated with the Sportimes on Monday. Hingis will join Clijsters and team captain John McEnroe on the star-studded Sportimes roster. The Sportimes will play five home matches at Sportime Stadium at Randall’s Island in New York City, and will bring two of their home matches to SEFCU Arena in Albany, N.Y., during the WTT season this July. One of the matches in Albany will feature Clijsters, and the other will showcase the Bryans and their Explorers’ teammates taking on the Sportimes.
St. Louis selected a trio of popular players, bringing back 2010 WTT Female MVP Lindsay Davenport and Anna Kournikova, and adding Australian star Mark Philippoussis to the lineup for his first WTT season.
Dates for the Marquee Player appearances will be announced when the League schedule is released in March. Team lineups will be finalized at the WTT Roster Draft on March 15. Marquee players typically play a limited schedule while roster players play the full season. Additional marquee players could be added prior
to the start of the season.
WTT Pro League Marquee Player Draft Selections (in Draft order):
1. Newport Beach Breakers: Pete Sampras
2. Philadelphia Freedoms: Melanie Oudin
3. Sacramento Capitals: Mardy Fish
4. St. Louis Aces: Lindsay Davenport (first round protection), Anna Kournikova (second round protection), Mark Philippoussis (selected in third round)
5. Washington Kastles: Serena Williams (first round protection), Venus Williams (second round protection), Sam Querrey (selected in first round via trade with Springfield Lasers for draft order and consideration)
6. Boston Lobsters: James Blake (first round protection), John Isner (second round protection)
7. Springfield Lasers: No selection (traded draft position to Washington for visit pick and consideration)
8. New York Sportimes: John McEnroe (first round protection), Kim Clijsters (second round selection), Martina Hingis (third round draft selection)
9. Kansas City Explorers: Bob & Mike Bryan (first round protection)
Marquee Player Matches
Boston Lobsters: James Blake and John Isner (one home match each). Visiting players are Anna Kournikova (St. Louis Aces); Melanie Oudin (Philadelphia Freedoms) and Mark Philippoussis (St. Louis Aces)
Kansas City Explorers: Bob & Mike Bryan (two home matches); visiting player is Mark Philippoussis (St. Louis Aces)
New York Sportimes: John McEnroe (two home matches); Kim Clijsters (one home match in NYC and one home match in Albany); Martina Hingis (matches to be determined); visiting players are Anna Kournikova (St. Louis Aces) and the Bryan Brothers (Kansas City Explorers—The Bryans will play their match in Albany)
Newport Beach Breakers: Pete Sampras (one home match); visiting players are Sam Querrey (Washington Kastles) and the Bryan Brothers (Kansas City Explorers)
Philadelphia Freedoms: Melanie Oudin (one home match); visiting players are Venus Williams (Washington Kastles); John McEnroe (New York Sportimes) and the Bryan Brothers (Kansas City Explorers)
Sacramento Capitals: Mardy Fish (one home match); visiting player is Serena Williams (Washington Kastles)
Springfield Lasers: Visiting player is Melanie Oudin (Philadelphia Freedoms)
St. Louis Aces: Lindsay Davenport (number of matches home/road to be determined), Anna Kournikova (one home match) and Mark Philippoussis (one home match)
Washington Kastles: Serena Williams (one home match); Venus Williams (one home match) and Sam Querrey (match to be determined); visiting players are John McEnroe (New York Sportimes) and Anna Kournikova (St. Louis Aces)
New York Sportimes to Play Two Home Matches in Albany This Summer as Part of WTT
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.”
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.