Two teams that haven’t had a shot at World TeamTennis final for years have finally made it back. The Springfield Lasers of Missouri earned their way to a title match by beating the San Diego Aviators 25-18. It will be the first time since 2014 that the Lasers will be playing for the King trophy. The dominant Philadelphia Freedoms, with a 12-2 record, will host the Lasers on August 5 at 2pm at the Daskalakis Athletic Center on the Drexel University Campus. Philadelphia’s last appearance in the WTT Championship Final was in 2006. Springfield went on a tear after starting the year with two major losses against the San Diego Aviators and the Orange County Breakers- the two teams that faced off in last years’ finale.
In their last seven matches, the Lasers won six times; a feat owed to the effort of Abigail Spears and Vania King. This women’s doubles partnership have been in consistent winning form this past week. They have surpassed the San Diego Aviators to become the 2nd best doubles team by winning percentage. Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Naomi Broady, a frighteningly strong duo by themselves, dropped their set against the streaking doubles unit of King and Spears on Thursday. With more help from Miomir Kecmanovic and his victory over Marcus Willis, and the new team of Kecmanovic and Marcelo Demoliner besting Willis and Marcin Matkowski, the Lasers kept enough momentum to win the match against the Aviators- the WTT’s 2016 championship team.
SALE OF THE CENTURY?!
Morning: Get traded to @SGFLasers on the last day of the season
Evening: Do this.
— World TeamTennis (@WorldTeamTennis) August 3, 2018
Marcelo Demoliner hopped right into the action after he got traded away in accordance to a trade Orange County Breakers made to the Lasers. Around the day before the match, it was announced that Daniel Nestor was dealt away from the Springfield Lasers and claimed by the Orange County Breakers, who also got the Lasers’ 2nd round pick in next year’s WTT preseason draft. The Lasers would also claim the Breakers’ 3rd round pick. The live-streamed WTT draft is done much like a schoolyard pickup game; though a team can choose a couple players to be protected, everyone else on circuit who has filed a commitment to play in WTT is a free agent. Around the week of the Indian Wells Masters in the spring, the coaches and owners of WTT teams assemble to make their picks and chat with their rivals to offer trades.
Case For The WTT Award Winning Philadelphia Freedoms
The Philadelphia Freedoms have played a brilliant 2018 campaign that saw their team win 12 of 14 matches. Having much to lose, the Freedoms wound up benching Fabrice Martin in the men’s doubles set against Neal Skupski and Dennis Novikov of the victorious New York Empire. Coach Craig Kardon, the winner of the WTT Coach Of The Year award, said Martin had concerns with aggravating his tendon when he gets in a lowered stance. Instead of defaulting the set, the coach told me he chose to have Martin sit, even though Martin said he could play. Kevin King played on-court at a disadvantage, against the Empire (though it is allowed, the doubles alley would still be in play, and the Empire took advantage to win the set 5-0).
The Freedoms’ Taylor Townsend won the WTT award for Most Valuable Women’s Player, which nets her a $7,500 bonus. She won her singles set against Empire rising star Francoise Abanda, 5-1. Townsend and Raquel Atawo did lose their doubles set against Abanda and WTT Rookie Woman of the Year Award Winner Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, 5-1. This feat for Martinez Sanchez was only bright spot for New York’s team that repeated their feat of winning only one out of 6 home games that they did in 2016.
For his effort in men’s singles and mixed doubles, Marcin Matkowski of the San Diego Aviators was named the WTT Male MVP; the Freedoms’ Kevin King was named Male Rookie of the Year.