The New York Empire presented by Citi are headed to the World TeamTennis Playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
On the final day of the regular season, the visiting Empire edged the Philadelphia Freedoms in dramatic fashion Wednesday night, 21-16, at Hagan Arena at Saint Joseph’s University, thanks to the late addition of U.S. Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish and WTA veteran Kirsten Flipkens.
After a quick celebratory trip back home to New York, first-year Empire head coach Luke Jensen and his team will pack their bags and depart for Las Vegas on Thursday for the WTT Playoffs. The No. 4-seeded Empire (8-6) will face No. 1 Philadelphia (11-3) for third time in four days on Friday night in the semifinals at Orleans Arena. The WTT Final will also be played at Orleans Arena on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and, like the semifinals, will be broadcast live and exclusively on CBS Sports Network.
Fish teamed with doubles specialist Neal Skupski to give the Empire a quick 5-1 lead in men’s doubles over the team of Mitchell Krueger and Fabrice Martin. The win avenged a tough 5-4 loss suffered by Fish and Skupski the previous night against the same team of Krueger-Martin.
In men’s singles, it was Fish once again as the hero, turning the tables on Krueger a night after defeat as Fish won a crucial tiebreaker, 5-4, to give the Empire a 10-5 advantage. The back-and-forth match featured long rallies and lasted just under a half hour.
Mixed doubles was next as Skupski and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez took on the team of Martin and Raquel Atawo with the Empire duo pulling out a 5-3 win for a commanding 15-8 lead.
New York next called upon Flipkens who, like Fish, was a late add to the Empire lineup. Flipkens and Martinez Sanchez never got on track, falling to the tough Freedoms doubles team of Taylor Townsend and Atawo, 5-1.
That left Flipkens to finish things off in women’s singles, and she didn’t disappoint as “Flipper” overcame an early deficit to defeat Townsend, 5-3, clinching the match and the first ever playoff appearance for the Empire.
►Men’s Doubles: Mardy Fish/Neal Skupski (NYE) def. Mitchell Krueger/Fabrice Martin (PHL), 5-1
►Men’s Singles: Fish (NYE) def. Krueger (PHL), 5-4
►Mixed Doubles: Skupski/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (NYE) def. Martin/Raquel Atawo (PHL), 5-3
►Women’s Doubles: Atawo/Taylor Townsend (PHL) def. Kirsten Flipkens/Martinez Sanchez (NYE), 5-1
►Women’s Singles: Flipkens (NYE) def. Townsend (PHL), 5-3
The Empire now finds itself into the WTT playoffs for the first time, and as the No. 4 seed, will square off against top-seeded Philadelphia for the third time this week in the semifinals on Friday evening.
The WTT Final will follow on Saturday, Aug. 3.