las vegas

Las Vegas, Orlando Are New World TeamTennis Franchises

World TeamTennis is growing to a league of eight teams for its upcoming 44th season after the league announced expansion franchises in Las Vegas and Orlando will begin play in July.

WTT jointly announced its 59-match regular season – seven home matches and seven away matches for each team – in 2019 will run from July 14-31. The 2019 WTT playoffs, to be hosted by Orleans Arena (at the Orleans Hotel and Casino) in Las Vegas, begin with the league’s semifinals on Aug. 2 and conclude with the WTT Finals on Aug. 3. To view the entire 2019 day-by-day schedule, click HERE.

“The addition of two new franchises in Las Vegas and Orlando signifies the continued growth of World TeamTennis and the embracement of the league’s exciting fan-friendly team format,” WTT CEO Carlos Silva said. “We look forward to many of the top players in the world creating new rivalries, and renewing old ones, as they compete for the King Trophy during the 2019 season.”

Orlando’s team name will be the Orlando Storm and it will play its home matches at the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Campus in Lake Nona, Fla. The Orlando Storm will be coached by Scott Lipsky – a 2011 French Open mixed doubles champion and winner of 16 ATP doubles titles – with Jocelyn Davie serving as the General Manager.

Las Vegas’ team will be known as the Vegas Rollers, and it has secured the Orleans Arena as its home venue. The Vegas Rollers will be coached by Tim Blenkiron – a 1997 NCAA Division I Doubles national champion at UNLV and coach for WTA player Asia Muhammad – with Sally Dewhurst serving as the General Manager.

Orlando and Vegas will begin to fill out their squads at the WTT Draft on March 12 in Indian Wells, Calif.

“The addition of two new teams in two strong markets is a positive move for WTT for 2019 and for the future,” WTT co-founder Billie Jean King said. “This expansion is not only good for the league, it also is another indication of the importance of bringing our brand of tennis to new audiences and our commitment to growing the sport at all levels.”

WTT introduced professional team tennis to the world in 1974, with Billie Jean King famously serving as its co-founder. The new teams in Orlando and Las Vegas join the league’s existing franchises – New York Empire, Orange County Breakers, Philadelphia Freedoms, San Diego Aviators, Springfield Lasers and Washington Kastles – for play in July 2019.

Among the notable 2019 WTT season-opening matches on July 14, Springfield will open up defense of its 2018 WTT title at home against Philadelphia in a rematch of the 2018 WTT Finals, while Orlando and Vegas play each other in Lake Nona, Fla.

Among the schedule highlights in the 2019 WTT season are the following marquee and rival matchups:

 Springfield Lasers and Philadelphia Freedoms play each other at Springfield (Missouri) July 14 and at Philadelphia later in the month in a pair of 2018 WTT Finals rematches.
 Expansion teams Orlando Storm and Vegas Rollers square off at Orlando on July 14 and at Vegas on July 30.
 New York Empire and Washington Kastles play a home-and-home series on the consecutive nights – at New York July 19 and at Washington on July 20.
 2017 WTT Finals foes Orange County Breakers and San Diego Aviators continue their Southern California rivalry in Newport Beach, Calif. on July 20 and in Carlsbad, Calif. on July 26.
 Orange County Breakers and Springfield Lasers – WTT’s last two champions – face off in Newport Beach on July 22 and at Springfield July 30.

WTT completed its 2018 season on Aug. 5 as the Springfield Lasers, WTT’s longest-running franchise, defeated the Philadelphia Freedoms in the WTT Finals at Drexel University in Philadelphia to capture the King Trophy and its first WTT championship in its 23-year history.

In 2018, each of WTT’s teams incorporated select tennis stars from the ATP and WTA tours – including seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and 13-year WTT veteran Venus Williams, 2019 Australian Open and 2018 U.S. Open women’s singles champion Naomi Osaka, 2017 U.S. Open women’s champion Sloane Stephens, and twins Bob and Mike Bryan, the most decorated doubles team in tennis history.

WTT is one of five active U.S. pro sports leagues which has been in operation for over 40 years, along with the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. For more information on World TeamTennis, please visit www.wtt.com.

About “World TeamTennis” (WTT)
World TeamTennis showcases the best in professional tennis with the innovative team format co-founded by Billie Jean King in the 1970s. Recognized as the leader in professional team tennis competition, WTT features many of the world’s best players competing annually for the King Trophy, the League’s championship trophy named after King. Since the League’s debut, virtually every major champion of the Open era has played WTT, including Andre Agassi, Venus and Serena Williams, Pete Sampras, Stefanie Graf, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Bob and Mike Bryan, Martina Hingis, Maria Sharapova, Lindsay Davenport, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Naomi Osaka. Owned by innovator Fred Luddy, entrepreneur Eric Davidson and tennis icon Billie Jean King, WTT’s 44th season plays from July 14 to July 31, with the league semifinals set for Aug. 2 and the finals Aug. 3. Learn more about the history and league champions of World TeamTennis on the history page.

Agassi’s Challenger Loss

Twelve years ago on November 16, 1997, Andre Agassi finished his first step towards his comeback from the depths of tennis – and as his new book OPEN revealed – the depths of his life. As excerpted from the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com), Agassi returned to the minor league Challenger circuit to try and resurrect his game, Andre Agassi was surprisingly defeated by No. 202-ranked Christian Vinck of Germany 6-2, 7-5 in final of the Luxor Challenger in Las Vegas, Nevada  “I have my goals long-term, and this week was assisting me to getting there,” said the former No. 1 ranked Agassi, whose ranking dropped to No. 141 after a dismal stretch of play over 18 months. “I can’t start questioning the big picture because of this. It’s ridiculous. That’s what the press’ job is. For me, it’s just to go one at a time.”

In OPEN, Agassi revealed that depression lead him to taking the drug crystal meth for much of the 1997 season.

To purchase OPEN, click HERE.

Agassi’s Upcoming Book Continues To Stir The World Of Tennis

Andre Agassi’s much-talked about auto-biography OPEN is available starting November 9. Over the past two weeks, the sports world has been rocked when excerpts from the book have leaked out, where Agassi admits crystal meth drug use (and not being prosecuted by the ATP Tour for testing positive for the drug) that his famed flowing hair was actually a hair-piece and abusive behavior from his father. Many tennis celebrities from Boris Becker to Martina Navratilova and many great champions have commented on Agassi’s book revelations. I wanted to get another perspective on this from another part of the tennis world. For this I interviewed Levar Harper-Griffith, a former top American junior, to provide perspective on the situation from those lower-ranked players in professional tennis. Harper Griffith once served as a practice partner for Agassi and the U.S. Davis Cup team during a 2000 match against Zimbabwe in Harare. Click here to buy Open – The Andre Agassi biography.

Question 1: Andre Agassi admitted earlier this week to using a drug called crystal meth. What do you think are the consequences for tennis in general and the ATP Tour?

First I’d like to say that Andre has always been one of my personal heroes for what he’s accomplished on and off the court. More so his work with his school in Las Vegas he has been a real inspiration to me personally of what people can do to give back and affect real positive change in peoples lives. That being said I think Andre coming out and admitting that he tested positive and the ATP did nothing, sends a bad message to the other players on tour that have tested positive and received punishment for those positive tests. I quite clearly shows preferential treatment in a situation that affects all of the players and the game itself.

Question 2: Agassi wrote a letter to the ATP Tour saying that he drank his assistant’s drink which was spiked with crystal meth. The ATP bought it or do you think they covered it up? If you think they covered it up then why would they do that?

Well whether they bought it or not or covered it up I couldn’t tell you. But for whatever reason it didn’t come out and that’s the big problem. There have been guys in recent past that have used similar reasons for positive tests and at least it was made public and the players had to prove their innocence to a degree. If it was covered up, which I would have no proof of, it’s obvious that Andre has been an absolute titan within the sport and it would hurt the sports image, similar to what baseball and track and field have had to go through in recent years. The dynamic of an athlete testing positive has a far greater affect in tennis because it is an individual sport and there is a lot at stake. Having the big name players at certain events and promoting the game has been at the forefront of rule changes in recent past. Making sure the top players play the top events. Having a player of Andre’s stature not be able to compete has a huge impact on the game as a whole. The sport relies on these big personalities at these events for a number of reasons.

Question 3: If the ATP decided to cover it up and the players who got caught using doping. Then aren’t they the victim of discrimination?

Sadly. if it’s not a clear case of discrimination it must be quite close, which is the dangerous part. I hate to say it, but now all the other players that tested positive have a real reason to ask the question why? Why was my offense made public and not his? Why was my reputation tarnished and not his? And if the tour was willing not to make Agassi’s case public. who knows who else might have tested positive and it never came out. The ATP might have to answer some tough questions in the months to come.

Question 4: What do you think of Agassi’s confessions?

I commend him for coming clean about his story and his struggles. I’m sure there were other players that have had success and failures that haven’t had the courage to come out and be as honest as he is willing to be. Since his resurgence to the top levels of the game he has always been a positive role model and I believe that being honest with yourself and the people around you is part of that. These are lessons that a lot of people can take from this both good and bad.

Question 5: I have been reading the forums and comments of blogs and some fans are literally screaming that he should be stripped of his titles. What are your thoughts on that?

I personally don’t think he should be stripped of any titles. It was in the past and we had the mechanisms in place to punish those who tested and they weren’t followed through. So to punish Agassi after the fact would be an immature way for the ATP to save face on a mistake that may or may not have been made in judgment.