Empire rally past Freedoms again on night two of World TeamTennis

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The New York Empire pose with Billie Jean King. (Reggie Day)

Playing for the second time in two nights, the New York Empire managed to edge out a win against the Philadelphia Freedoms — despite losing more sets than they won — on Monday evening.

After clinching Sunday’s season-opener in men’s singles thanks to John Isner, Mardy Fish delivered for the visiting team in Philadelphia on Monday, as the Empire posted another comeback victory.

In Orange County, the host Breakers won four of the five events against the visiting Springfield Lasers to earn their first win of the 2017 season.

Check out the highlights of Monday night’s Mylan WTT action.

New York Empire def. Philadelphia Freedoms, 21-20

In Mylan World TeamTennis, every game counts - and that fact was not lost on Kirsten Flipkens of the New York Empire on Monday night. With her team trailing the Philadelphia Freedoms for the second straight day, the Belgian defeated Sloane Stephens (and Taylor Townsend, who was subbed in when down 3-0) 5-1 to tie the match, and set the stage for Mardy Fish to clinch New York’s second win of the season in the final set.

“When you are down, it’s not easy to start the fourth set,” said Flipkens. “I saw the score was 15-11, and I knew I had to win by four if I wanted to break even and give Mardy [Fish] a chance in the final set. If I had won 5-4 in a tiebreak I knew it would have been very difficult for Mardy.”

Flipkens previously beat Stephens by the same score in the second set of the night a day earlier - but her place in the lineup was much more crucial on Monday night. The Empire lost the three doubles matches in tight fashion - including two tiebreaks in men’s and mixed - which kept them in touching distance at halftime.

In the final set, Fish led Donald Young by a break to start, but the latter earned it back and held serve to put the Freedoms one game away from victory at 4-3.

However, the former ATP top 10 player held his nerve in the final stages, and snatched victory to help the Empire match their entire win total from a season ago after just two matches.

Orange County Breakers def. Springfield Lasers, 23-15

On a winner-take-all point, Nicole Gibbs came up with her best tennis.

The Orange County Breakers’ and former Stanford star won an improbable rally at the close of the women’s singles tiebreak - firing off a winner of a perfectly placed drop shot from Springfield’s Francesca Schiavone - to help the home team earn its first victory of the season.

“I honestly don’t know how I got there much less the shot I hit,” Gibbs said of Schiavone’s drop shot. “I felt a little bit lucky but I’m glad that it happened. It’s always awesome to share the court with such a champion. To play against that level is really fun. We put on an entertaining set. I’m excited about how it went.”

Gibbs’ win was sandwiched between a pair of 5-2 sets for the home team in men’s and mixed doubles, as Ken Skupski posted two wins alongside Steve Johnson and Andreja Klepac, respectively. Though Schiavone and Abigail Spears got the Lasers their first set of the night out of halftime in women’s doubles, SoCal’s favorite son Johnson clinched the victory for the Breakers with a 5-2 win in men’s singles.

Up Next

On Tuesday night, New York travels to Washington for the latter’s home opener at the Smith Center at 7 pm EDT, with Wimbledon mixed doubles champion Martina Hingis joining her Kastles family alongside Frances Tiafoe. Springfield heads down the coast from Orange County to San Diego at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, beginning at 7pm PDT.

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