WTT Celebrates 30th Anniversary With Tennis' Top Stars
Photo By Susan Mullane By Tennis Week
From Wimbledon to Wilmington — that's the trip that two Wimbledon champions will be making this summer. The 2005 Wimbledon champion Venus Williams will take to the World TeamTennis courts this season as a member of the Delaware Smash.
The 14th-seeded Williams, who defeated Lindsay Davenport 4-6, 7-6(4), 9-7 in the longest ladies' singles final in Wimbledon history, will play three WTT matches this month.
The WTT Pro League presented by Advanta runs July 4-24th in 12 U.S. markets. Williams opens her WTT campaign on July 20th as the New York Sportimes visit the Smash in Wilmington, Del. She and the Smash then hit the road, making visits in Mamaroneck, N.Y., on July 21st and Sacramento, Calif., on July 23rd.
Joining Williams on the Smash is Liezel Huber who teamed with Cara Black on Sunday to win the Wimbledon doubles championship. It was the first Grand Slam title for Huber and the first ever win for a South African in the Wimbledon women's doubles tournament.
Wimbledon singles finalists Lindsay Davenport and Andy Roddick are among the other big names playing WTT. Davenport will play for the Springfield Lasers on July 19th in Springfield and July 20th in Houston. Roddick returns to the St. Louis Aces for a home match on July 16th against Newport Beach.
Instant replay has been the talk of tennis for months, but on July 5th in Boston, it becomes a reality in the World TeamTennis Pro League presented by Advanta. While the pro tours and the U.S. Open are planning to give instant replay a look later this year, it will be another in a long line of WTT firsts when instant replay is introduced to pro tennis competition with the WTT Coaches Challenge.
The technology, provided by Hawk-Eye, will be featured at selected regular season WTT Pro League matches as well as the WTT Finals. Among the players who will experience instant replay in their WTT matches this summer are John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams, Martina Hingis, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Anna Kournikova, Patrick Rafter, James Blake, Boris Becker and the Bryan Brothers.
The most anticipated instant replay match — July 14 in Mamaroneck, N.Y., when McEnroe faces off against Becker and the WTT Coaches Challenge.
This year marks the 30th season of WTT Pro League action and the League will celebrate the big occasion in style, including a reunion for past and present WTT players during the U.S. Open. Some of the League's teams are also celebrating anniversaries. The Sacramento Capitals hit the big 2-0! this summer and will commemorate the occasion with a retro night featuring throwback player jerseys and return visits from former Caps.
Springfield and Delaware celebrate their 10th anniversaries while the Philadelphia Freedoms mark their 5th. Highlights of 30th season: Introduction of instant replay (WTT Coaches Challenge); first time ever in pro tennis competition; debuts on July 5th in Boston when the Lobsters host the Kansas City Explorers.
Steffi Graf returns to tennis; she is making her WTT debut and playing pro tennis for the first time since 1999 — one match on July 12th in Houston when the Wranglers host the Sacramento Capitals (Anna Kournikova).
Three WTT regular season matches and the WTT Finals will be featured on ESPN2 this summer. A WTT Match of the Week will air at 8 p.m. Pacific for three consecutive Saturdays beginning July 9th.
The featured matches will include some big showdowns including Steffi Graf and the Houston Wranglers vs. the Anna Kournikova-led Sacramento Capitals, John McEnroe vs. Boris Becker and the first-ever singles match between Martina Hingis and Martina Navratilova. With more than 40 hours of television programming planned on ESPN2, The Tennis Channel, InDemand and several regional cable networks, WTT will reach more than 120 million homes during the 2005 season.
All ESPN2 matches include instant replay and Mary Carillo and Luke Jensen will be the commentating team. For air dates, please visit WTT.com