2012 World TeamTennis Preview: Springfield Lasers
2011 Record: 4-10 (5th in the West)
Owners: John Cooper and Springfield-Greene County Park Board
Key Additions: Timea Babos, Devin Britton, Maria Sanchez, Amir Weintraub
Key Losses: Carly Gullickson-Eagle, Rik De Voest
Head Coach: John-Laffnie de Jager
The Springfield Lasers perennially battle for the Western Conference title, so their unspectacular 2011 season was a surprise to many fans. After finishing last in the Western Conference, the Lasers have overhauled their roster to add some youth. With three rookies and one second-year player, the experience will have to come from head coach John-Laffnie (J.L.) de Jager. De Jager has won WTT Coach of the Year honors in three of the past five seasons, so he certainly has the ability to bring this untested squad together for a run at the playoffs.
The Lasers will boast two very young and talented players—Timea Babos and American Maria Sanchez. Babos, 19, is ranked No. 69 in WTA singles and has won a combined 18 ITF titles in singles and doubles. Babos is very young, but she is a physically strong and ferocious player. Sanchez is a two-time ITA All-American in both singles and doubles. After finishing her collegiate career at USC in 2011, Sanchez joined the WTA, where she has already reached the Top 150 in women’s doubles. Sanchez is also a very strong singles player, giving the Lasers and Coach de Jager a number of options. Sanchez and Babos need to get the Lasers off to a quick start, as Babos will miss the final week of the season when she goes to the Olympics to compete for Hungary.
For the men, 21-year-old Devin Britton won’t have much trouble getting accustomed to team tennis. He played at Ole Miss, where he became the youngest player and only the third freshman in history to win a singles NCAA championship in 2009. Amir Weintraub of Israel will play alongside Britton. He is currently ranked No. 185 in ATP singles rankings.
Coach de Jager is one of the top coaches in WTT history and is also the current coach of the South African Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams, so he knows how to motivate and lead a team. That will be beneficial for this group of rookies in a tough Western Conference. They will need some big contributions from their women to give them an edge in the West.
Timea Babos (Photo by Fred & Susan Mullane/Camerawork USA)