NEW YORK EMPIRE CLAIMS FIRST WIN OF 2019 SEASON
NEW YORK (July 16, 2019) – The New York Empire claimed its first win of the young World TeamTennis season with a 24-16 victory over the Vegas Rollers tonight at Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in The Bronx.
Empire Head Coach Luke Jensen reworked his recipe starting tonight’s match with the mixed doubles team of Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Neal Skupski on the court facing the Rollers’ duo of Asia Muhammad and Matt Reid, and it was just the right level of spice. Martinez Sanchez and Skupski dominated the set and jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead.
The Empire’s Kirsten Flipkens joined Martinez Sanchez during the hotly contested women’s doubles second set and outlasted Vegas’s Harriet Dart and Muhammad by a score of 5-3.
Ulises Blanch made his Empire debut in the third set facing the Rollers’ 6’11”, power-serving Reilly Opelka. It’s not often the 6’3” Blanch is looking up at his opponent but the 20-year-old former world No. 2 ranked junior never backed down, pushing Opelka to the nine-point tiebreaker only to lose the set, 5-4.
Flipkens escaped the women’s singles set, 5-3, setting up her Empire teammates, Blanch and Skupski, for the final set of the evening with a 19-12 lead.
The final set turned out to be a championship bout one normally sees in Las Vegas as both teams were throwing knockout punches to steal games from each other before the second tiebreaker of the night ensued. The Rollers, down 4-1 in the tiebreaker, substituted LMAFO’s Redfoo for Reid but the Empire duo proved to be too much winning the tiebreaker on the next point, 5-1, and the final set of the night, 5-4, claiming the team’s first win of the season.
|Vegas Rollers at New York Empire – Box Score|
|New York Empire||5||5||4||5||5||24|
Mixed Doubles: Skupski/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (NYE) def. Reid/Muhammad (VEG), 5-1
Women’s Doubles: Flipkens/Martinez Sanchez (NYE) def. Dart/Muhammad (VEG), 5-3
Men’s Singles: Opelka (VEG) def. Blanch (NYE), 5-4
Women’s Singles: Flipkens (NYE) def. Dart (VEG), 5-3
Men’s Doubles: Blanch/Skupski (NYE) def. Reid/Opelka/Redfoo (VEG), 5-4
The Empire travel to Springfield, Mo. to take on the Lasers Wednesday evening and close out the week with home matches at Cary Leeds Center on Thursday, July 18 and Friday, July 19. Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open Champion, will compete in the July 18 match against the Orange County (Calif.) Breakers and seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams will compete as part of the visiting Washington Kastles on July 19.