Mylan World TeamTennis celebrates its 40th birthday this year. For more on WTT, including this season's schedule,
Billie Jean King’s signature team had a stellar 2014, capping off the regular season with a 7-4 Supertiebreak upset over the Washington Kastles. The Freedoms looked to be in pole position to take out the vaunted Kastles in the Eastern Conference Championships when disaster (quite literally) struck Liezel Huber in the back of the head; an errant ball from teammate Taylor Townsend forced Huber out of a women’s doubles set already in progress. Forced to soldier on alone, Townsend couldn’t make a miracle and the Freedoms fell, 21-16.
The talented young American will be looking for redemption in her third season of Mylan WTT; ranked at a career-high of No. 94 only a few months ago, the teenager plays a crafty game that generally gelled well with her teammates.
“We never had a dull moment,” Townsend said of the Freedoms’ dynamic. “We grew a lot closer as the season went on and now when we see each other we’re really friendly and it’s like we’re a family.”
Huber was drafted to return, but was forced to withdraw before the season due to injuries. Playing alongside Townsend for a second straight season is Brazil’s Marcelo Melo. The reigning French Open men’s doubles champion was the 2014 Mylan WTT Male MVP in his debut season, and is equally excited to return to the professional team tennis league.
“When I come here, the atmosphere is fantastic,” Melo said. “You have a lot of fun between points and games all the time, so it’s completely opposite to what you’re used to in tournaments. The ATP is more quiet, and they don’t have all the options like fans coming on court, and you don’t get to celebrate with your team right after points.”
New additions to the Freedoms equation include young American Asia Muhammad, Wimbledon women’s doubles semifinalist Abigail Spears, and Wimbledon women’s doubles quarterfinalist CoCo Vandeweghe. The three women are all in the midst of stellar seasons: Muhammad winning her first WTA title, and Spears and Vandeweghe earning career-high rankings in 2015. Vandeweghe is a five-time Mylan WTT alum who returns to the league after a one-year hiatus, and after pushing Maria Sharapova to three sets at the All England Club, is full of confidence.
“To have your teammates on the bench cheering for you and having a coach in your ear, things like that really help me excel,” Vandeweghe admits.
Holding down the fort for men’s singles will be American veteran, Robby Ginepri. Ginepri played his first season of Mylan WTT in 2004, and reached the semifinals of the US Open the following summer -- his best-ever Grand Slam men’s singles finish.
The Freedoms kick off the 2015 season on July 12 against the Springfield Lasers, a team they beat to start last season in a thrilling Supertiebreaker. How fast will Philly hit the ground running? Stay tuned to find out!