When the 2013 season of Mylan World TeamTennis began, the Texas Wild team seemed like long shots for the King Trophy. In their first year since rebranding from the Kansas City Explorers, the Wild went into the 2013 season with a new venue in Irving, Texas and new line-up featuring players relatively new to Mylan WTT.
One of those newly added members, Alex Bogomolov Jr., is playing his third season with the pro league, but his first since 2008. Speaking with him ahead of his match against the New York Sportimes on Randall’s Island Monday evening, it was clear he was happy to be back.
“It was the right timing, and I kind of missed the team atmosphere; that’s what Mylan WTT brings. So many other players unfortunately don’t get a chance to play and experience this. It’s a shame that it’s only three weeks because all of the guys I’ve spoken to and the girls – they really like this atmosphere.”
The Texas Wild have made their debut season count, clinching a spot in the playoffs as the No. 2 team in the Western Conference, with the third best winning record among all eight teams. Bogomolov credits his team’s chemistry as the key to their regular season success.
“I don’t know how I would feel on a different team but this team that we have, we have gotten to like each other really well, and built some friendships outside the court, and we support each other.”
Bogomolov also looks to his team’s competitive fire as the driving force behind their continued momentum.
“We take it seriously; we don’t like losing by any means. Our goal was always to do the best that we can and to win. That’s what everyone had in common, and that’s why it was easy for us to all get along.”
A day after clinching their first win of the season, the Wild shook up the league in a big way when they put an emphatic end to the Washington Kastles’ history-making winning streak. Facing a team that had won their last 34 matches, Bogomolov upended top 30 star Kevin Anderson in men’s singles en route to a 23-18 team victory.
“That was the first real experience where we really bonded as a team. That was big for us to get that confidence and to believe each other that we could compete with the best of the teams out here…for us, it opened up our eyes to see what we could accomplish together as a group.”
During the season, the Florida-based Russian has become a standout at Texas’ matches, both on the court and from the bench cheering on his teammates. Called “a character” by Texas teammate Eugenie Bouchard, Bogomolov was unabashed about his enthusiasm.
“I have energy, I like to show my emotion, I like to let everyone know that I’m there regardless if I’m on the bench or if I’m playing. I want them to feel that, for those three hours on the court, they’re going to get the best of me.”
Coming into the Mylan WTT Western Conference Championship, Bogomolov believes he’s improved physically and mentally thanks to the WTT format and hopes to use this season as a springboard into the summer hard court tournaments on the ATP World Tour.
“You have to use it as an advantage going into the summer. All the points that you play under this format are so important. Your focus has to be on the top level in order not to give any free points away. You’re so focused on that part of the game, and this definitely helps the mental part of tennis. We’ve also been working off the court in the gym. You can really use the team aspect to do that, to work in the gym and to get ready for the summer and for the heat.”
Bogomolov and Texas will take on the Springfield Lasers for a spot in the Mylan WTT Finals presented by GEICO. The two teams played only once during the regular season with the Lasers taking that encounter. While the Wild have been taking the season one match at a time, Bogomolov’s goals are more long-term and truly capture the spirit of Mylan WTT.
“We had a short time to learn about each other, but I think we’ve done pretty well. I just hope that we can finish the season on a strong note, keep in touch, stay friends, and then next year do it all over again, even better!”