NEW YORK EMPIRE WEATHERS THE ORLANDO STORM, WINS 23-18
NEW YORK (July 21, 2019) – The New York Empire presented by Citi weathered the Orlando Storm and won its fourth match of the season, 23-18, tonight at Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in The Bronx. The Empire improves to 4-3 while the Storm falls to 2-5.
Leading 2-0 before nearly an hour rain delay, the Empire’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Neal Skupski looked as if they’d roll through yet another mixed-doubles opponent, but across the net was a familiar face as Skupski was looking down the serve of his older brother Ken, a member of the Storm. While Orlando made a run at the set, the Empire duo continued its mixed doubles dominance and took the set, 5-2.
Kirsten Flipkens joined Empire teammate Martinez Sanchez for the women’s doubles set in what turned out to be a back-and-forth, point-for-point exchange with the Storms’ Darija Jurak and Whitney Osuigwe. Facing set point at deuce leading, 4-3, the Empire snuck past the Storm to win the set, 5-3.
The third set featured New York’s Ulises Blanch and Orlando’s Evan King and the two did not disappoint with thunderous serves and scoring quick points. King outlasted Blanch to win the men’s singles set, 5-3, and cut into the Empire’s overall match lead, leaving the Storm facing a 13-10 deficit heading into the final two sets.
Flipkens returned to the court for New York to face Orlando’s 17-year-old phenom, Osuigwe, and while it initially looked like the Empire’s crafty veteran was going to run away with the set, the youngster wasn’t about to give up. Jumping out to a 3-1 lead after Osuigwe broke Flipkens’ serve forcing a tiebreaker with the set knotted at 4-4, Flipkens won the tiebreaker, 5-3, and the overall set, 5-4.
The final set of the match featured men’s doubles and like every other set in the match, the two teams pushed each other to the limits as serves reached 134 mph with the scoreboard eventually reading, 4-4, to force the second tiebreaker of the night. The Storm brought the lightning and the Empire replied with the thunder to escape the tiebreaker, 5-4, and win its fourth match of the season, 23-18.
|Orlando Storm at New York Empire – Box Score|
|New York Empire||5||5||3||5||5||23|
Mixed Doubles: N. Skupski/Martinez Sanchez (NYE) def. Osuigwe/K. Skupski (ORL), 5-2
Women’s Doubles: Flipkens/Martinez Sanchez (NYE) def. Jurak/Osuigwe (ORL), 5-3
Men’s Singles: King (ORL) def. Blanch (NYE), 5-3
Women’s Singles: Flipkens (NYE) def. Osuigwe (ORL), 5-4
Men’s Doubles: Blanch/N. Skupski (NYE) def. Evan King/K. Skupski (ORL), 5-4
The Empire begins its west swing on Tuesday, July 23 facing the Vegas Rollers, followed by matches against the Orange County (Calif.) Breakers on Wednesday and San Diego Aviators on Thursday, July 24 and 25, respectively.