May 26, 2017

New York Empire Adds Kirsten Flipkens, Guido Pella and Maria Sanchez to Roster; Announces 2017 Schedule

NEW YORK (March 15, 2017) — The New York Empire presented by Citi announced its 2017 Mylan World TeamTennis (WTT) schedule and final player roster for the upcoming season that will be played on Court 17 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

 

The New York Empire traded away its first-round draft pick for future considerations and took Kirsten Flipkens, from Belgium, in the second round. She is making her WTT debut this season. A former World No. 13 and Wimbledon semifinalist, Flipkens is no stranger to team tennis as she’s played a remarkable 13 years of Fed Cup action for her native country.

 

“I’m really looking forward to playing at the National Tennis Center this summer as part of the New York Empire,” said Flipkens. “I’ve been playing team tennis for quite some time but this summer will be really special. I’ve always heard how much fun World TeamTennis is for the players and strategizing with Gigi is an incredible opportunity for me.”

 

General Manager Michele Cope and Head Coach Gigi Fernandez then selected Maria Sanchez and Guido Pella, respectively. Sanchez, a four-time All-America player at the University of Southern California, is entering her fourth season of WTT and holds one WTA doubles title. Pella will return for his second season with the New York Empire after playing his WTT rookie season with the team last year. Pella was an integral part of the 2016 Argentinian Davis Cup Champion team and was an Olympian at the 2016 Rio Games.

 

“I am really excited to have been selected by the New York Empire in the WTT Draft.  I love New York City, and there are few venues in all of tennis that can compare with the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center,” said Sanchez. “I can’t wait to join my teammates this summer and experience the energy and atmosphere on Court 17 as we look to compete for a league championship.”

 

“I had the greatest experience last season playing for the New York Empire and know this summer will be no different,” said Pella. “There is nothing like the energy and electricity you feel when playing in front of a New York crowd.”

 

Flipkens, Pella and Sanchez join previously announced New York Empire marquee players Genie Bouchard, Mardy Fish and John Isner.

 

The team’s schedule is book-ended with significant home stands. The New York Empire will host the Philadelphia Freedoms twice and Orange County (Calif.) Breakers within the first five days of the season and closes the season with home matches against the Breakers, San Diego Aviators, Washington Kastles and Springfield Lasers.

 

When the New York Empire host Philadelphia, Freedoms players Sloane Stephens and Donald Young will appear. Exact dates for Stephens’ and Young’s visits are yet to be determined.

 

New York Empire Schedule (home matches in bold)

 

Date                                                 Time                    Opponent

Sunday, July 16                              5:00 p.m.           Philadelphia

Monday, July 17                             TBD                     at Philadelphia

Tuesday, July 18                             TBD                     at Washington (D.C.)

Wednesday, July 19                     7:00 p.m.           Philadelphia

Thursday, July 20                          7:00 p.m.           Orange County (Calif.)

Saturday, July 22                           TBD                     at Orange County (Calif.)

Sunday, July 23                              TBD                     at San Diego

Tuesday, July 25                             TBD                     at Philadelphia

Wednesday, July 26                      TBD                     at Washington (D.C.)

Thursday, July 27                          7:00 p.m.           Orange County (Calif.)

Friday, July 28                                7:00 p.m.           San Diego

Sunday, July 30                              TBD                     Washington (D.C.)

Monday, July 31                            7:00 p.m.           Springfield (Mo.)

Wednesday, August 2                   TBD                     at Springfield (Mo.)

 

For more information:www.NYEmpireTennis.com

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Billie Jean King Sells Majority Stake in World TeamTennis

Billie Jean King and New York City Mayor Bloomberg at 2010 Women’s Sports Foundation’s Annual Salute to women’s sports

INDIAN WELLS, CA (March 13, 2017)Mylan World TeamTennis (WTT) announced today that the league’s co-founder and sports icon Billie Jean King sold her majority ownership of the world-renowned sports organization to Mark Ein, founder and owner of the Washington Kastles, and Fred Luddy, owner of the San Diego Aviators. King will retain a minority stake in WTT and continue as the majority owner of the Philadelphia Freedoms franchise. Mark Ein will become Chairman of WTT and Ilana Kloss will remain in her position as CEO and Commissioner through 2017.

The new ownership group will leverage their entrepreneurial success and experience building two of the WTT’s leading franchises to create compelling growth opportunities for the league and its partners. Ein and Luddy plan to invest in the league’s platform and expand franchises nationally, bringing great tennis to fans and audiences in key major markets across the country. As a part of the transaction, LionTree Partners, the merchant banking arm of LionTree LLC, has invested in WTT alongside Ein and Luddy. LionTree will assist in attracting new franchise owners, consummating new media partnerships and forming new league sponsorship relationships.

“After 42 seasons of World TeamTennis, Ilana (Kloss) and I feel this is the time to pass the baton to Mark Ein and Fred Luddy, and entrust the legacy of WTT as an innovative force in tennis to them and their team,” said King. “I will continue to be part of the league as a minority owner and as the owner of the Philadelphia Freedoms, and I am confident the league will continue to grow and prosper under Mark and Fred’s leadership.”

“Owning and building the Kastles has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. The success we have enjoyed on and off the court will provide a template for how we can grow WTT across America with other like-minded owners that love tennis, want to make a profound impact in their communities and have the same opportunity of a lifetime that we have enjoyed. Succeeding a pioneer like Billie Jean King is an incredible honor and Fred and I are committed to significantly growing and building WTT 2.0 to thrill a new era of fans,” said Mark Ein.

Ein, founder and CEO of Venturehouse Group, LLC, a successful investor, company builder and philanthropist, founded the Washington Kastles in February of 2008.  The Kastles have captured a league-leading six WTT championships, including five consecutively from 2011-2015, and have become a well-established sports franchise in the greater Washington, D.C. market with a significant fan base.  Luddy, who founded the enterprise cloud company ServiceNow (NYSE:NOW) and serves as a Board Member, became the majority owner of the San Diego Aviators in 2015 and led the franchise to its first championship in 2016. Combined, Ein and Luddy have captured a total of seven championships over the past nine seasons.

“This is such a fabulous product, some of the best men and women players in the world forming a team combined with a forward-thinking scoring system and high energy atmosphere, the opportunity for growth is phenomenal,” said Fred Luddy. “We look forward to building on this wonderful legacy.”

“We’re excited to participate in such a distinctive sports opportunity,” said Aryeh B. Bourkoff, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LionTree LLC. “WTT has an innovative and engaging approach to professional tennis that has the ability to appeal to a broad set of fans across media platforms. We’re looking forward to working with Mark, Fred, Billie Jean King and the team, leveraging our capabilities to move WTT into new markets and develop attractive partnerships.”

Mylan WTT is the fifth longest-running major professional sports league in the United States, trailing only the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL in longevity. Founded in 1974 on King’s philosophy of gender equality, the league has showcased tennis’ greatest stars sharing the stage for WTT’s team-oriented play for over four decades. Names such as Chris Evert, Rod Laver, Martina Navratilova, Jimmy Connors and King highlighted the league’s early years, with other greats such as Andre Agassi, Lindsay Davenport, Andy Roddick, Serena Williams, Pete Sampras, Venus Williams and Martina Hingis participating in more recent seasons.

The league has also been recognized for showcasing and introducing pioneering elements to professional tennis including the service clock, instant replay, cumulative and no-ad scoring, on-court coaching and timeouts, teams featuring men and women in equal roles, Extended Play and Supertiebreakers, multi-colored courts and player names on the back of their shirts.

The 2017 season of Mylan WTT presented by GEICO, which runs July 16 – August 5 in six U.S. markets, continues the tradition of presenting world-class talent with a player lineup that includes Venus Williams, Hingis, Roddick, Bob and Mike Bryan, Sloane Stephens, John Isner, Jack Sock, Mardy Fish and Eugenie Bouchard. By the time the league completes its 42nd season with the Mylan WTT Finals on August 5, more than 900 professional tennis players from across the world will have competed in WTT action. Team lineups will be finalized at the Mylan WTT Roster Draft on Tuesday, March 14 in Indian Wells, Calif.

The agreement includes the Mylan WTT Recreational League which provides grassroots outreach and support in the league’s team communities throughout the year. Since the WTT Recreational League started in 1985, more than 1 million tennis players of all ages and abilities have participated in Mylan WTT Rec League events and grassroots programs featuring the WTT team format. Mylan WTT Rec Leagues have been played in more than 1,000 venues, including parks, schools, military bases and tennis facilities throughout the U.S. The Mylan WTT Recreational League is involved in more than 40 grassroots events annually, including Mylan WTT National Qualifiers and Nationals for adult league players, the WTT Junior Nationals invitational event for ages 14-18, and the Tennis on Campus program which uses the WTT format for sectional and national college sport club competitions. Aligning with the professional Mylan WTT team markets, the Rec League has also introduced 12 & Under TeamTennis Circuits, youth PlayDays and clinics, and high school recognition programs. Over the past decade, WTT and team franchises have distributed more than 300,000 free junior racquets at matches, PlayDays and other special events.

LionTree Advisors and Latham & Watkins served as advisors to Mark Ein for the transaction.

For more information on Mylan WTT, visit www.WTT.com.

 

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NY Empire Special Events: Billie Jean King/Virginia Wade Ceremony, LGBTQ Pride Night, More Announced

 

 

 

Billie Jean King/Virginia Wade Ceremony, LGBTQ Pride Night, Salute To Strong Women Highlight New York Empire Special Events Schedule

Six-Match Home Slate For Inaugural Mylan World TeamTennis Season At Historic Forest Hills Stadium At The West Side Tennis Club Opens July 31

 

NEW YORK, July 12, 2016—An opening-night celebration of all-time tennis greats Billie Jean King and Virginia Wade, LGBTQ Pride Night, Salute to Strong Women and International Night are among the special events on the inaugural New York Empire presented by Citi schedule, July 31 through August 12. The Mylan World TeamTennis squad, coached by Patrick McEnroe, will compete in six home matches at historic Forest Hills Stadium at The West Side Tennis Club.

 

The highlights of each event night include:

  • Sunday, July 31, US Open and WTT Champions King and Wade join the Empire in a pre-match Opening Night Ceremony to launch the team’s inaugural season as it takes on the five-time defending champion Washington Kastles. It is also USTA Eastern night with special discounts for members.
  • Monday, August 1, Former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and the Philadelphia Freedoms visit.
  • Wednesday, August 3, LGBTQ Pride Night, a celebration of this community’s important role in New York City and Mylan WTT, in partnership with Athlete Ally (www.athleteally.com) and The LGBT Community Center of NYC when the Empire take on the Springfield Lasers. The Stonewall Chorale will sing the National Anthem.
  • Tuesday, August 9, Former World No. 1 and Marquee Player Andy Roddick joins the Empire in his first appearance ever at Forest Hills Stadium in a rematch with the Kastles.
  • Thursday, August 11, King heads Salute to Strong Women, a panel discussion with women who make New York great, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, athletes, business and philanthropic leaders and representatives from Barnard College and the Girl Scouts of Greater New York sharing their stories for an inspiring evening prior to the Empire’s matchup with the Orange County Breakers.
  • Friday, August 12, International Night, in which the Empire and fans will celebrate Queens, the team’s home town and the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world, as they battle the San Diego Aviators in the final home match of the season. In addition, fans can participate in clinics in several languages, including Russian, Japanese, Spanish and English, prior to the matches.

 

“Each of our special event dates are celebrations of some of the things that make New York and tennis so great,” said Empire General Manager, Colleen Hopkins. “They also serve as a thank you to fans who have expressed so much support for the inaugural New York Empire season.”

 

In addition to marquee player Roddick, the Empire’s full season roster also includes New Jersey resident Christina McHale, whose epic second-round matchup with Serena Williams was one of the highlights of the fortnight at Wimbledon. Rounding out the Empire roster are Guido Pella of Argentina and doubles specialists María Irigoyen, also of Argentina, and Oliver Marach of Austria.

 

Tickets for all home matches are on sale online at www.nyempiretennis.com. VIP ticket packages are also on sale and include Courtside Tables, Front Row Baseline Boxes and Premium Baseline Individual Tickets. VIP packages include access to full food and beverage service, hospitality opportunities with our players and coach, and much more. For full pricing details, general information, or to place an order, email Brian Healey at brian@nyempiretennis.com or call (844) 5-EMPIRE (844-536-7473).

 

Fans can follow the team at www.NYEmpireTennis.com and on Twitter (@nyempiretennis) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/NYEmpireTennis).

 

About the New York Empire

The New York Empire presented by Citi will play their first season at Forest Hills Stadium at The West Side Tennis Club. The restored facility will be configured to seat 2,500 for six home matches from July 31 through August 13. Patrick McEnroe will serve as the coach of the Empire, former US Open champion Andy Roddick will be a marquee player on the team, and New Jersey native and one of the top American women, Christina McHale headlines the roster. The Empire roster also features Guido Pella of Argentina, and doubles specialists María Irigoyen also of Argentina and Oliver Marach of Austria. The stadium hosted the US Open Tennis Championships a total of 60 times, first from 1915 to 1920, and then again from 1924 to 1977. In addition, the finals of the Davis Cup were held at the club 10 times, more than any other venue. Currently, the stadium is also used as a music venue for concerts. Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, and Mumford & Sons headline the 2016 Forest Hills Stadium summer concert series.

 

About Mylan World TeamTennis

The New York Empire is one of six Mylan World TeamTennis teams that will compete in the innovative professional team tennis league for the King Trophy, the championship trophy named after co-founder Billie Jean King. For more information on Mylan WTT, visit www.WTT.com.

 

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Billie Jean King, Mary Carillo Represent Tennis at Women’s Sports Foundation Awards

Mary Carillio

Mary Carillo

By Andrew Jones

(October 16, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – Despite the absence of the Williams sisters, Sloane Stephens, and Jamie Hampton to name a few, tennis was still represented at the 34th annual “Women in Sports” Awards, presented by the Women’s Sports Foundation Wednesday evening down on Wall Street. Billie Jean King and Mary Carillo were in attendance, as well as ESPN Wimbledon and U.S. Open host Hannah Storm. King founded the Women’s Sports Foundation back in 1974.

A slew of great women’s athletes, including Olympic legends Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes, Missy Franklin, Aimee Mullins and Nastia Liukin, along with greats such as Nancy Lieberman and Annika Sorenstam attended the event, graced the event, which was hosted by the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Carillo, the ubiquitous commentator, announcer, and reporter for a myriad of sports outside of tennis, shared her thoughts about the lack of media attention the tournaments outside of the Grand Slams receive nowadays.

“It’s amazing to me, when I first started covering tennis 35 years ago, there were a lot of people in the press room that I knew,” Carillo said. “And the newspaper business has changed so much, that’s the fact. There are people who are paying their own way to blog and to tweet. More and more magazines are just taking AP stories, they are just taking wire services stories. A lot of people who cover tennis well, they beg to go to Wimbledon, and they have to pay their way over, where they have to rent a house for two weeks. It has been very, very difficult.”

Carillo also shared thoughts on how tennis’ sponsors and the focus on the four Slams have diminished the prestige of other great events around the world, as well as the confusion of the WTA’s Premier 5/Mandatory structure in comparison to the ATP’s simple Masters 1000 series.

“There’s all kinds of names,” she said. “It killed me when the Italian, the Canadian Open, the German Open, these were national championships, and all of a sudden, we got rid of that name. Don’t call it the Italian Open anymore, now it’s the so-so, the (BNL D’Italia). And you’re like, ‘Wait a minute!’ Sometimes we marginalize the events by adding names like Premier. And you’re thinking what does that mean? Does that strictly relate to the prize money offered. So I agree with you that it could be confusing.”

Despite Serena Williams‘ tremendous year, the Sportswoman of the Year award went to the teenage swimming sensation Franklin, who is also a big tennis fan and participated at the 2012 Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day event.

Andrew Jones is a freelance sports, political, and music journalist. He is also the founder and publisher of The Whole Delivery (twd4u.com). Follow him on twitter @sluggahjells.

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Say “No” to Best of Three

By Dave Seminara

Why is it that tennis writers and former players always seem to be agitating for changes that would result in less tennis being played in the pro ranks? For years, we’ve been hearing that the Davis Cup shouldn’t be an annual event, and that tennis’s offseason should be longer. Now during the first week of this year’s U.S. Open, the buzz was all about reducing the men’s matches from best of 5 to best of 3 in majors.

 

Ben Rothenberg made a best-of-3 pitch in the New York Times’ U.S. Open Preview issue, ESPN tennis analyst’s Darren Cahill and Patrick McEnroe said that the idea was getting some traction and merited further discussion and Billie Jean King wrote a piece for The Huffington Post arguing the same point.

 

I’m a tennis fanatic and I live for dramatic five setters. While Cahill and others have said that the Olympics best of three until the final format proved that best of three could be as compelling as the best of five majors, I had the opposite experience. For me, the Olympics felt no different than a Masters 1000 series tournament like Toronto, Cincinnati and the rest.

 

King maintains that the men should play less in order to avoid injuries like the one that’s kept Rafael Nadal out of action this summer. But there are scores of current and former players that continued to win into their 30’s under the best of 5 format- Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall, Roger Federer, Andre Agassi- and some athletes from every sport will sustain injuries no matter how many sets they play.

 

Rothenberg’s primary justification for paring back the length of men’s matches is the notion that the player who is leading at the end of 3 sets nearly always wins the match. He cited a statistic indicating that the player leading after the first three sets won 90% of matches in the last five years, but this year’s Open certainly bucked that trend.

 

There was a total of 23 five setters, with 10 players coming from 2 sets to love down to win in the first four days, tied for the second most in the Open era, and only 4 behind the all time record set at the 2002 Australian Open. Of the 23 five setters, the player who was winning at the end of the 3rd set won on only six occasions.

 

If the final had been straight sets win for Andy Murray, just imagine all the drama we would have missed out on. The match was full of plot twists, and despite the fact that it lasted almost five hours, the crowd didn’t want it to end. After Murray won the first two sets, the crowd seemed to shift allegiance to Djokovic-because they wanted more tennis- and then shifted back to Murray in the 5th.

 

One could argue that this year’s draw has been the exception, not the rule, but consider how different tennis history would be if the men had been playing best of three in the majors during the Open era. Roger Federer wouldn’t have a career slam, because at Roland Garros in 2009, his one win there, he would have lost to Tommy Haas in the Round of 16. And he wouldn’t have regained the #1 ranking, breaking Pete Sampras’s record for weeks in the top spot, because he was down two sets to love in the 3rd round of Wimbledon this year against Julien Benneteau.

 

Then again, he would have won the 2009 U.S. Open over Juan Martin Del Potro and could have fared better in other majors, like the 1999 Wimbledon, the 2011 U.S. Open, and the 2002 and 2005 Australian Opens.

 

In a best of three set world, Rafael Nadal would have lost to Robin Haase in the 2nd round at Wimbledon in 2010, rather than winning the title; Novak Djokovic wouldn’t have won this year’s Australian Open or the 2011 U.S. Open; and McEnroe would have a career slam, having beaten Lendl in the final of the ’84 French, rather than blowing a two set to love lead, but he wouldn’t have won Wimbledon or the U.S. Open in 1980.

 

Neither Michael Chang nor Boris Becker would have won majors at 17, and Becker wouldn’t have won Wimbledon or the U.S. Open in 1989. The point here is twofold: first, it isn’t that uncommon for players who are trailing at the end of three sets to win the match and then go on to win the tournament, and second, the better player is more likely to prevail in best of five set encounters. For obvious reasons, fans want to see Rafael Nada late in the final, not Robin Haase; Roger Federer not Julien Benneateau. If the men’s game switched to best of 3 sets now, it would also make it difficult to compare records from one era to another.

 

But the most important reason for keeping the best of five format is that five set matches test a player’s mental and physical strength in a way that three setters don’t. All of the most dramatic men’s matches I’ve seen in my lifetime- Federer-Nadal in the final of Wimbledon in 2008, Federer- Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009, Borg-McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1980, Lendl-McEnroe at the ’84 French, Connors-Krickstein at the ’91 U.S. Open, Isner- Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, and McEnroe-Becker at the Davis Cup in ’87- were five setters.

 

Yes, five setters are tough on the body, but at most majors, the players have a day off in between most of their matches. And, let’s face it; watching guys overcome cramps and other injuries to win is high theater. Who could forget watching Pete Sampras gut out a win over Alex Corretja at the U.S. Open in ’96 after throwing up in the plants at the back of the court?

 

Tennis writers often suggest making dramatic changes to the sport, but I love tennis too much to advocate any changes that would result in less tennis. As far as I’m concerned, the sport is just fine the way it is.

 

 

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