World TeamTennis

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World TeamTennis
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2020 World TeamTennis season
World TeamTennis logo.png
SportTeam tennis
Founded1974
Owner(s)Fred Luddy and Eric Davidson
CEOCarlos Silva
No. of teams9
Country United States
HeadquartersRancho Santa Fe, CA, United States
Most recent
champion(s)
New York Empire
Most titlesSacramento Capitals (6)
Washington Kastles (6)
TV partner(s)USA
CBS
CBS Sports Network (also available in CAN)
ESPN
ESPN+
Tennis Channel
Facebook
Outside USA and CAN
FITE TV
TennisONE
Latin America
Claro TV
China
Youku
Official websitewww.wtt.com

World TeamTennis (WTT) is a mixed-gender professional tennis league played with a team format in the United States, which was founded in 1973.

Originally played on a no-line court, each match consists of five sets. Each set features a different configuration (men's singles, men's doubles, women's singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles). Prior to each match, coaches decide the order in which the sets will be played. Each player on a team usually plays in at least one of the five sets. Scoring is no-advantage; there is no requirement to win a game by two scores; at deuce, whoever scores the next point wins the game. The first team to reach five games wins each set. A nine-point tiebreaker is played if a set reaches four-all. One point is awarded for each game won. If necessary, extended play and a supertiebreaker are played to determine the winner of the match.

The league's season normally takes place in the summer months. Players from the ATP and WTA take a break from their tour schedules to partake in World TeamTennis.

History[edit]

First league[edit]

World Team Tennis (WTT) was founded in 1973 by Dennis Murphy, Dick Butera, Fred Barman, Jordan Kaiser, and attorney and promoter Larry King, each of whom organized and owned the various participating teams of the fledgling professional tennis league. Murphy had previously founded the World Hockey Association, and gave a number of WHA club owners preferential options on WTT franchises.

Charles "Chuck" Reichblum (now popularly known as "Dr. Knowledge"),[1] industrialist John H. Hillman III, and lawyer William "Bill" Sutton, who became the owners of the Pittsburgh Triangles, had, in 1972, founded the similar National Tennis League (NTL), a forerunner to WTT and Reichblum's brainchild. Founding members of WTT were reported to have been invited to join the NTL prior to formation of the competing WTT in 1973.[2][3]

In 1974, Billie Jean King began the first WTT season by securing the professional women tennis players, and Dr. Leonard Bloom, Arthur Ashe and Wilt Chamberlain, securing the professional men tennis players..

The league began play in May 1974, with George MacCall as Commissioner of the 16 teams, many with tennis-themed nicknames. The Eastern Division consisted of the Atlantic Section: Baltimore Banners, Boston Lobsters, New York Sets, Philadelphia Freedoms; and the Central Section: Cleveland Nets, Detroit Loves, Pittsburgh Triangles, Toronto-Buffalo Royals. The Western Division consisted of the Gulf Plains Section: Chicago Aces, Florida Flamingos, Houston E-Z Riders, Minnesota Buckskins; and the Pacific Section: Denver Racquets, Hawaii Leis, Los Angeles Strings, San Francisco Golden Gaters. In later years, teams included

The original league format included a four-colored tennis court, a 44-contest season, and teams of at least two men and two women. A match consisted of the first player or team to win five games, with a nine-point tiebreaker at four-all, and no-ad scoring in women's singles and doubles, men's singles and doubles, and mixed doubles. This made WTT the first professional sports league to grant equal status to each man and woman competing for their teams.[4]

Following the initial 1974 season several teams moved, folded, or failed to meet the financial requirements of the league, and the league also added one expansion team, the San Diego Friars. For the 1975 season World Team Tennis consisted of 10 teams, and it remained with that number of teams throughout the rest of the existence of the first league[5].

Timeline[edit]

1974–1978[edit]

WTT also held annual All-Star games for the seasons from 1975 to 1978. Marty Riessen (Cleveland) and Greer Stevens (Boston) won Most Valuable Players (MVP) honors for the inaugural all-star gala won by the East, 28–21, at the Inglewood Forum in Los Angeles. In 1976 the West All-Stars, led by Chris Evert and Betty Stöve, capped an incredible comeback when they defeated Billie Jean King and Evonne Goolagong in a super tiebreaker, 5–4, giving the West a stunning 28–27 overtime victory at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. After trailing at one stage by 24–17, the West, led by Stove and Dianne Fromholtz, won the final set plus two games in overtime to draw the West All-Stars even at 27.[8] Tom Okker (San Francisco) and Dianne Fromholtz (Los Angeles) won MVP honors that year. In the 1977 All Star Game held at the San Diego Sports Arena, Björn Borg (Cleveland-Pittsburgh) and Betty Stove (Seattle-Portland) captured MVP awards as the East bested the West, 23–18. WTT held its final All-Star event in Las Vegas in 1978.[9]

WTT was the first professional sports experience for Jerry Buss (eventual owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers and the NHL's Los Angeles Kings), and for Bob Kraft (eventual owner of the NFL's New England Patriots and MLS's New England Revolution).

Elton John, a friend of Billie Jean King, wrote the hit single "Philadelphia Freedom" as a theme song for his favorite team.[10]

The first league ended play in 1978.

Second league[edit]

The league resumed play in 1981 as TeamTennis and fluctuated between four and twelve teams. In 1992, the name was changed back to World TeamTennis (WTT). In 2005, twelve teams competed.

Billie Jean King became Commissioner and major owner of the league in 1984, following her retirement from tournament tennis competition. She retired as Commissioner in February 2001 and Ilana Kloss became the new commissioner. In March 2017, King sold WTT to venture capitalist Mark Ein and founder of ServiceNow Fred Luddy.

In 2013, World TeamTennis was re-branded Mylan World TeamTennis after Mylan, a generics and specialty pharmaceuticals company, announced a three-year agreement to serve as the title sponsor of WTT.[11]

In Jan 2019, Carlos Silva became the CEO and ushered in new deals with CBS and ESPN creating the largest ever audience for WTT on July 21 on CBS broadcast.

Many top tennis players have participated in the league over the years, including King, Rod Laver, Björn Borg, Chris Evert, John McEnroe, Evonne Goolagong, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova,[12] Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters, Martina Hingis, John Isner, Sam Querrey, Sloane Stephens, Naomi Osaka, Frances Tiafoe and many more. Connors and Goolagong were not allowed to participate in the 1974 French Open due to their associations with WTT.[13][14] Connors' exclusion from the French Open denied him the opportunity to become the first male player since Rod Laver to win all four Major singles titles in a calendar year.

1981–1991[edit]

League play resumed in 1981 as TeamTennis with four California teams, expanding to eight teams in 1982. In 1985 a recreational league for non-professionals was added, which was co-branded with the professional league.

1992–1999[edit]

In 1992, the current name World TeamTennis was restored.

2000–present[edit]

In 2000 the current logo was adopted. In 2005 & 2006 the league consisted of 12 teams and in 2007 the Hartford FoxForce ceased operations. Prior to the 2008 season, the Houston Wranglers ceased operations and the Washington Kastles joined the league. In the 2009 season, 10 teams competed: Boston, NY Buzz, NY Sportime, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Kansas City, Newport Beach, Sacramento, Springfield, and St. Louis. Sacramento won the year-end Championship six times.

Before the start of the 2011 season the New York Buzz and the New York Sportimes merged into one New York team, the Sportimes.[15] During the 2011 season the Washington Kastles completed a perfect 16–0 schedule, winning their second championship in three seasons.

In 2012, the Washington Kastles completed their second consecutive perfect season, going 16–0 for the second season in a row to become the first professional sports franchise to go two complete seasons without a loss. Their 32-match winning streak is one shy of the major professional sports record of 33 consecutive wins set by the 1971–72 Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. They began the next season with 2 wins making their streak 34 games, setting the new record.

In 2013, World TeamTennis was renamed Mylan World TeamTennis after Mylan signed a three-year deal as the title sponsor. The Kansas City Explorers relocated to Irving, Texas, and became the Texas Wild. On November 21, 2013, the Orange County Breakers were sold, relocated to Austin, Texas and renamed the Austin Aces.[16] On January 16, 2014, the New York Sportimes were sold, relocated to San Diego and renamed the San Diego Aviators.[17] On February 4, 2014, the Sacramento Capitals were relocated to Las Vegas and renamed the Las Vegas Neon.[18] On March 5, 2014 the Las Vegas Neon franchise was terminated, leaving the league with seven teams.[19]

On February 23, 2015, WTT announced that a new ownership group had taken control of the Texas Wild and moved the team to Citrus Heights, California, renaming it the California Dream.[20]

On January 13, 2016, WTT announced that the California Dream franchise had been terminated.[21] On February 17, 2016, the Boston Lobsters had ceased operations[22] and had been replaced with a new franchise called the New York Empire.[23] On March 13, 2017, Billie Jean King announced the sale of her majority share in WTT to Mark Ein, Washington Kastles founder and owner and Fred Luddy, owner of the San Diego Aviators.[24][25]

In March 2019, the league announced its expansion to eight teams for the 2019 season, with the creation of the Orlando Storm and the Vegas Rollers.[26]

On October 23, 2019, the league announced it would be awarding a record $5 million in prize money, including an additional $1 million for the postseason, during its 45th season and would be expanding again, adding two new franchises in 2020.[27]

In February 2020, the league announced its expansion to nine teams for the 2020 season with the Chicago Smash.[28]

In June 2020, WTT announced it would be the first major professional tennis league to resume operations since the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19. The league committed to play the entirety of its 45th season at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia from July 12-Aug. 2.[29]

Teams[edit]

Team City Stadium
Chicago Smash Chicago, Illinois Credit Union 1 Arena
New York Empire New York City Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning
Orange County Breakers Newport Beach, California Palisades Tennis Club
Orlando Storm Orlando, Florida USTA National Campus
Philadelphia Freedoms Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Michael J. Hagan Arena
San Diego Aviators Carlsbad, California Omni La Costa Resort and Spa
Springfield Lasers Springfield, Missouri Mediacom Stadium at Cooper Tennis Complex
Vegas Rollers Paradise, Nevada Orleans Arena
Washington Kastles Washington, D.C. Kastles Stadium at Union Market[30]

Finals[edit]

References:[31][32][33]

Year Champion Runner-up Score
1974 Denver Racquets Philadelphia Freedoms 55–45
1975 Pittsburgh Triangles San Francisco Golden Gaters 74–65
1976 New York Apples San Francisco Golden Gaters 91–57
1977 New York Apples Phoenix Racquets 55–39
1978 Los Angeles Strings Boston Lobsters 108–93
1979–1980 no tournament
1981 Los Angeles Strings regular season champion, no playoffs
1982 Dallas Stars Phoenix Sunsets 27–22
1983 Chicago Fyre Los Angeles Strings 26–20
1984 San Diego Buds Long Beach Breakers 30–13
1985 San Diego Buds St. Louis Slims 25–24
1986 San Antonio Racquets Sacramento Capitals 25–23
1987 Charlotte Heat San Antonio Racquets 25–20
1988 Charlotte Heat New Jersey Stars 27–22
1989 San Antonio Racquets Sacramento Capitals 27–25
1990 Los Angeles Strings Raleigh Edge 27–16
1991 Atlanta Thunder Los Angeles Strings 27–16
1992 Atlanta Thunder Newport Beach Dukes 30–17
1993 Wichita Advantage Newport Beach Dukes 26–23
1994 New Jersey Stars Idaho Sneakers 28–25
1995 New Jersey Stars Atlanta Thunder 28–20
1996 St. Louis Aces Delaware Smash 27–16
1997 Sacramento Capitals regular season champion, finals rained out
1998 Sacramento Capitals New York Buzz 30–13
1999 Sacramento Capitals Springfield Lasers 23–15
2000 Sacramento Capitals Delaware Smash 21–20
2001 Philadelphia Freedoms Springfield Lasers 20–18
2002 Sacramento Capitals New York Buzz 21–13
2003 Delaware Smash Sacramento Capitals 21–14
2004 Newport Beach Breakers Delaware Smash 23–17
2005 New York Sportimes Newport Beach Breakers 21–18
2006 Philadelphia Freedoms Newport Beach Breakers 21–14
2007 Sacramento Capitals New York Buzz 24–20
2008 New York Buzz Kansas City Explorers 21–18
2009 Washington Kastles Springfield Lasers 23–20
2010 Kansas City Explorers New York Sportimes 21–18
2011 Washington Kastles St. Louis Aces 23–19
2012 Washington Kastles Sacramento Capitals 20–19
2013 Washington Kastles Springfield Lasers 25–12
2014 Washington Kastles Springfield Lasers 25–13
2015 Washington Kastles Austin Aces 24–18
2016 San Diego Aviators Orange County Breakers 25–14
2017 Orange County Breakers San Diego Aviators 22–18
2018 Springfield Lasers Philadelphia Freedoms 19–18
2019 Springfield Lasers New York Empire 20–19
2020 New York Empire Chicago Smash 21–20

Results[edit]

Current WTT teams are shown in bold.

By team[edit]

# Team Titles Runner-ups Years Won
1 Sacramento Capitals 6 4 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007
2 Washington Kastles 6 0 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
3 Los Angeles Strings 3 1 1978, 1981, 1990
4 Springfield Lasers 2 5 2018, 2019
5 Orange County Breakers 2 3 2004, 2017
6 Philadelphia Freedoms 2 2 2001, 2006
7 Atlanta Thunder 2 1 1991, 1992
New Jersey Stars 2 1 1994, 1995
San Antonio Racquets 2 1 1986, 1989
10 Charlotte Heat 2 0 1987, 1988
New York Apples 2 0 1976, 1977
San Diego Buds 2 0 1984, 1985
13 Delaware Smash 1 3 2003
New York Buzz 1 3 2008
15 Kansas City Explorers 1 1 2010
New York Empire 1 1 2020
New York Sportimes 1 1 2005
San Diego Aviators 1 1 2016
St. Louis Aces 1 1 1996
20 Chicago Fyre 1 0 1983
Dallas Stars 1 0 1982
Denver Racquets 1 0 1974
Pittsburgh Triangles 1 0 1975
Wichita Advantage 1 0 1993

By city[edit]

# City Team(s) Titles Runner-ups
1 Sacramento, California Capitals 6 4
2 Washington, D.C. Kastles 6 0
3 New York City, New York Apples, Buzz, Sportimes, Empire 5 5
4 Los Angeles, California Strings 3 1
San Diego, California Buds, Aviators 3 1
6 Newport Beach, California Dukes, Breakers 2 5
Springfield, Missouri Lasers 2 5
8 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Freedoms 2 2
9 Atlanta, Georgia Thunder 2 1
Franklin Township, New Jersey Stars 2 1
San Antonio, Texas Racquets 2 1
12 Charlotte, North Carolina Heat 2 0
13 Wilmington, Delaware Smash 1 3
14 St. Louis, Missouri Slims, Aces 1 2
15 Chicago, Illinois Fyre, Smash 1 1
Kansas City, Missouri Explorers 1 1
17 Dallas, Texas Stars 1 0
Denver, Colorado Racquets 1 0
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Triangles 1 0
Wichita, Kansas Advantage 1 0

Courts[edit]

For much of World Team Tennis' history, its distinct court was an instant symbol for fans to recognize what they were watching. The iconic four color (calico) court originated in the early 1970s and was unveiled for the third season in 1976.[34] It was originally created to eliminate court lines (no-line court). Originally, the service boxes were blue and green, the baseline area brown and the doubles alleys maroon.[35] These colors were chosen to represent the different tennis court surfaces: green for grass, blue for hard, maroon for clay and brown for dirt.

The league's technicolor playing surface served as a trendsetter for the rest of the tennis world. The Indian Wells Masters has purple courts.[36]

Over time lines were introduced to WTT's courts, purple replaced the brown and they reverted to traditional solid-colored courts. But in 2006, the league returned full-time to the signature calico/checkerboard pattern.[37]

In 2019, along new CEO Carlos Silva, the league made efforts to modernize and update its look and branding and that included a switch to a deep blue playing surface and gray outer court. In partnership with DecoTurf, these colors were determined to be the best for livestreaming and television.[38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Inline citations[edit]

  1. ^ McCoy, Adrian "Person of interest: Charles Reichblum (Dr. Knowledge)", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 15, 2012. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  2. ^ AP "Plans for Pro Tennis League", The Daily Times, Salisbury, Maryland, October 5, 1972, page 20. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  3. ^ Shrum, Rick "Love Triangles: Pittsburgh adored its World Team Tennis franchise", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 10, 2000. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  4. ^ "World TeamTennis Firsts". World TeamTennis. Retrieved 2009-12-17.
  5. ^ https://wtt.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/MASTER_WTTTeamsbyyearUPDATED_082318.pdf
  6. ^ a b c "Struggling WTT Adds Three New Franchises". The San Bernardino County Sun. December 1, 1978. p. 65.
  7. ^ "WTT:Virginia Wade". World TeamTennis. Retrieved 2009-12-17. References both "Sets" and "Apples".
  8. ^ "Chrissie Evert in 1976 World Team Tennis All-Stars Match". chrisevertdotnet (Youtube). Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  9. ^ "Steve Dimitry's WTT Web Page". Steve Dimitry. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  10. ^ King, Billie Jean; Jett, Tyler (July 20, 2012). "Philadelphia Freedom: The Story behind the Song". Philly.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
  11. ^ "World TeamTennis and Mylan Announce Three-Year Collaboration". www.wtt.com. October 16, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  12. ^ "Sports People: Tennis – King Wants Navratilova to Finish Year". The New York Times. 1994-07-15.
  13. ^ John Barrett, ed. (1975). World of Tennis '75. London: Queen Anne Press. pp. 15–17. ISBN 9780362002171.
  14. ^ "Connors, Goolagong 'Can't Play'". The Palm Beach Post. May 22, 1974.
  15. ^ "New York Sportimes to Play Two WTT Matches in Albany This Summer As World Team Tennis' New York Teams Consolidate" http://www.wtt.com/page.aspx?article_id=2411
  16. ^ "Mylan World TeamTennis team relocates to Austin; Andy Roddick to star on team" http://www.austinacestennis.com/teams/article.aspx?article_id=4160
  17. ^ "Mylan World TeamTennis team headed to San Diego" http://www.sandiegoaviators.com/teams/article.aspx?article_id=4247
  18. ^ "Mylan World TeamTennis team relocates franchise to Las Vegas" http://www.lasvegasneontennis.com/teams/article.aspx?article_id=4290
  19. ^ "League Statement on Las Vegas Franchise Termination" http://www.wtt.com/page.aspx?article_id=4330
  20. ^ "Mylan World TeamTennis Returns to Sacramento Area in 2015 with California Dream". World TeamTennis. February 23, 2015. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  21. ^ "Sacramento pro tennis team folds". The Sacramento Bee. January 13, 2016.
  22. ^ "WTT Updates Status of Boston Lobsters". OurSportsCentral. February 17, 2016.
  23. ^ "Mylan WTT 2016 Season Includes NYC Return, Expanded Broadcast Coverage". OurSportsCentral. February 17, 2016.
  24. ^ "World TeamTennis co-founder Billie Jean King sells majority stake of historic league to Mark Ein and Fred Luddy". www.wtt.com. World TeamTennis. March 13, 2017.
  25. ^ Christopher Clarey (March 13, 2017). "With a Racket in One Hand, World Team Tennis Passes a Torch With the Other". The New York Times.
  26. ^ Bill Bradley (March 5, 2019). "Las Vegas gains franchise in World Team Tennis league". Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  27. ^ Baseline Staff (October 23, 2019). "WTT Adds $1 Million In Playoffs Prize Money For 2020". Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  28. ^ World TeamTennis (February 10, 2020). "New World TeamTennis Expansion Franchise Chicago Smash To Debut Summer 2020". Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  29. ^ World TeamTennis (June 1, 2020). "World TeamTennis Announces 2020 Season To Be Played At Historic Greenbrier Resort, July 12-Aug. 2". Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  30. ^ https://washingtonkastles.com/2019/07/15/2019-wtt-season-begins-tonight/?blog_id=7
  31. ^ "WTT History". World TeamTennis. Retrieved 2018-08-03.
  32. ^ "Steve Dimitry's WTT Web Page". source data for 1981-2004. tennis-reference. Archived from the original on 2005-02-22. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  33. ^ "World Team Tennis Past Champions". espn.com. ESPN. Retrieved Jun 15, 2020.
  34. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1976/04/28/archives/wtt-unveils-new-look-with-a-multicolor-court-on-nearby-courts.html
  35. ^ https://www.californiasportssurfaces.com/world-team-tennis/#:~:text=History%20of%20the%20Calico%20Court&text=Today%20the%20court%20is%20lined,green%20out%20of%20bounds%20area.
  36. ^ https://www.desertsun.com/story/sports/tennis/bnp/2015/03/19/world-team-tennis-anniversary-bnp/25021333/
  37. ^ https://www.espn.com/sports/tennis/news/story?id=2435864
  38. ^ https://sandiegoaviators.com/2019/04/02/what-to-expect-from-world-teamtennis-in-2019/

General references[edit]

External links[edit]