World TeamTennis Announces 2020 Schedule and Launches New Expansion Franchise in Chicago
WTT’s 45th Regular Season Features Nine Teams – Including New Chicago Franchise – and 63 Matches Over 19 Consecutive Days from July 12-30
RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. (February 10, 2020) – World TeamTennis announced its 2020 schedule today ahead of its 45th season, adding the Chicago Smash to the premier team tennis series. The WTT regular season calendar will showcase nine teams and 63 matches over 19 consecutive days from July 12-30.
WTT’s complete regular season schedule can be found by visiting the league’s official website, WTT.com.
“After what was undoubtedly the league’s most successful season by many metrics, World TeamTennis continues its positive growth in 2020 with additional expansion for our 45th season,” WTT CEO Carlos Silva said. “In announcing our season schedule, as well as player signings, earlier than in past years, there is an entirely new groundswell of excitement from fans of our nine teams, and for team tennis as a whole, during this time of year.”
Chicago is World TeamTennis’ third expansion franchise in the past year. The addition of the Orlando Storm and Vegas Rollers grew WTT from six to eight teams in 2019. Last season also saw the creation of a four-team WTT playoff, which will return in 2020 to the Orleans Arena at The Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, home to the Vegas Rollers, for the second consecutive year with WTT’s semifinals set for Aug. 1 and the WTT Final on Aug. 2.
Though WTT’s 2020 regular season broadcast schedule will be announced at a later date, select World TeamTennis matches will be aired on CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network and streamed online at ESPN+ and WTT.com, the league’s official website.
In 2020, WTT is increasing its prize money to a record $5 million and an added $1 million awarded in WTT Playoffs compensation, including a $500,000 bonus to the team hoisting the King Trophy on Aug. 2.
Among the four matchups on WTT’s Opening Night on July 12, the 2018 and 2019 WTT champion Springfield (Mo.) Lasers begin their quest for a three-peat in hosting the Vegas Rollers. Also, the New York Empire, which advanced to the WTT Final for the first time in its four-year history in 2019, play on the road at the Washington (D.C.) Kastles.
The next two nights pit Springfield in a home-and-home series against its new geographic rival, the Chicago Smash. The Lasers host Chicago on July 13 before the teams reunite for the Smash‘s home debut at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Credit Union 1 Arena on July 14.
The 2020 WTT season will see two of its longtime rivalries – Orange County Breakers-San Diego Aviators and Philadelphia Freedoms-Washington Kastles – play three times.
WTT’s Southern California rivalry renews on Opening Night as Orange County drives down Interstate 5 to play San Diego at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif. The teams reverse course the next night, July 13, and compete at Breakers Stadium in Newport Beach, Calif. Orange County also hosts San Diego on July 28. The Breakers beat the Aviators in the 2017 WTT Final a year after the Aviators downed the Breakers in the 2016 WTT Final.
Philadelphia and Washington play three times in six days. Washington, six-time WTT champions in seven years from 2009-2015, hosts the Freedoms on July 15 before 2019 WTT regular season champion and 2018 WTT runner-up Philadelphia entertains the Kastles in its 2020 home opener at Drexel University the next night. The teams meet up one last time at Kastles Stadium on July 20.
Highlighted matchups (match and broadcast times TBA) for the 2020 World TeamTennis season include:
- Orange County Breakers vs. San Diego Aviators, July 12-13. The Aviators host their Southern California rival on WTT’s Opening Night, then the teams immediately reconvene at Breakers Stadium the next day.
- Vegas Rollers at New York Empire, July 14. The Empire open their home schedule hoping for a return to the WTT Playoffs.
- Philadelphia Freedoms vs. Washington Kastles, July 15-16. The East Coast rivals’ home-and-home series begins in Washington D.C., then moves north for the Freedoms’ 2020 home opener.
- Chicago Smash at New York Empire, July 17. The first matchup between the teams in WTT’s two largest markets.
- Philadelphia Freedoms at New York Empire, July 19. Rematch of the WTT’s top two Eastern Conference teams in 2019, who also met in the 2019 WTT semifinals.
- Springfield Lasers at Vegas Rollers, July 20. The Lasers return to Orleans Arena for the first time after winning the 2019 WTT championship there.
- Springfield Lasers at San Diego Aviators, July 22-23. Meetings of WTT’s top two Western Conference teams in 2019, who also met in the 2019 WTT semifinals.
- New York Empire at Springfield Lasers, July 25. The only rematch of the 2019 WTT Final within the 2020 WTT regular season.
- Chicago Smash at Orlando Storm, July 28. The Eastern Conference’s newest franchises play for the third time in eight days at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Fla.
- Springfield Lasers at Philadelphia Freedoms, July 29. The only rematch of the 2018 WTT Final within the 2020 WTT regular season.
World TeamTennis has announced expansion to its ninth city, marking a return to the Windy City with the addition of the Chicago Smash for the 2020 season.
The Smash will play seven home matches during the league’s 45th season this summer at the Credit Union 1 Arena (previously known as UIC Pavilion) on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Chicago native and Sloane Stephens’ coach Kamau Murray of XS Tennis on the South Side of Chicago has been named the Smash’s head coach. The team will be run by General Manager Jocelyn Davie, who spent last season launching the WTT’s expansion team in Orlando, Fla.; the Orlando Storm.
The Smash will make their WTT debut July 13 on the road against new Midwest rival and two-time defending WTT Champion Springfield Lasers. The Smash will host its first home match the following evening, July 14, as it welcomes the Lasers to Credit Union 1 Arena.
“Chicago is one of the greatest sports towns in the country and has a huge tennis community,” said Chicago Smash General Manager Jocelyn Davie, who grew up in Chicago. “The city is a great fit for World TeamTennis and I am thrilled to be bringing professional tennis back to my hometown.”
Murray led Stephens to the 2017 US Open singles title. “It’s something we’ve wanted to do for some time because we feel like Chicago is the perfect place for a World TeamTennis expansion team,” Murray said. “You saw it during Laver Cup, Chicago’s tennis loving community came out in huge numbers and supported that team event. We expect them to do the same this July.”
A former top 3-ranked player in the world, Stephens will play select matches for the Smash this summer. The team has also signed Chicago native and current ATP World Tour player Evan King, a former University of Michigan All-American.
“Chicago is an amazing sports city and in a way it’s become one of my second homes,” Stephens said. “I can’t wait to play for the Chicago Smash this summer alongside my teammates and my coach Kamau Murray who has very deep ties to the city Chicago. I hope to inspire the kids of Chicago and to help the community.”
Chicago was named one of the league’s eight charter franchises in 1973 and the Chicago Aces played their matches at the Lakeshore Racquet Club in Chicago in the leagues’ inaugural 1974 season. The franchise was later rebranded as the Chicago Fyre in 1983. That year, league co-founder Billie Jean King led the franchise to its only league championship defeating the Los Angeles Strings in the WTT Championship. For 20-plus years Chicago was an integral stop on the women’s WTA Virginia Slims Tour, as well as the ATP Tour on the men’s side. In 2018, Chicago hosted the second edition of the popular Laver Cup team competition. For many years, WTT’s main offices were headquartered in Chicago.
“We feel like Chicago is an important market for World TeamTennis and are excited to debut the new Smash franchise as our ninth team,” WTT CEO Carlos Silva said. “With the team tennis format on the rise, and World TeamTennis at the forefront of its growing popularity, we look forward to returning to one of our original host franchise cities in a tennis-rich area like Chicago.”
Chicago is World TeamTennis’ third expansion franchise in the past year. The addition of the Orlando Storm and Vegas Rollers grew WTT from six to eight teams in 2019, also expanding to a four-team playoff in Las Vegas.
The WTT Playoffs return to Orleans Arena at The Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, home to the Vegas Rollers, for the second consecutive year with the WTT’s semifinals set for July 31 and the WTT Final hitting the court on Aug. 1. In 2020, WTT is increasing its prize money to a record $5 million and an added $1 million awarded in WTT Playoffs compensation, including a $500,000 bonus to the team that hoists the King Trophy on Aug. 1.
Last season featured several new broadcast media partnerships that helped net a television audience of more than two million viewers led by exclusive broadcast partner CBS Sports. ESPN+ provided online streaming viewership, as did video-sharing technology platform Dailymotion, which is available internationally in 24 countries and delivers over 250 million unique monthly users.
2020 CHICAGO SMASH SCHEDULE
All Chicago home matches will be played at Credit Union 1 Arena (previously known as UIC Pavilion) on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago:
July 13: Chicago at Springfield
July 14: Springfield at Chicago
July 15: San Diego at Chicago
July 16: Orange County at Chicago
July 17: Chicago at New York
July 18: Philadelphia at Chicago
July 20: Chicago at New York
July 21: Chicago at Orlando
July 22: Washington at Chicago
July 23: Chicago at Philadelphia
July 25: Orlando at Chicago
July 26: New York at Chicago
July 28: Chicago at Orlando
July 30: Chicago at Philadelphia