WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va.—Nine days in and the Philadelphia Freedoms are leading the pack as the 45th season of World TeamTennis heads into Week 2. It's not a huge surprise given Philadelphia's absolutely stacked roster.
"We've got a lot of players on our team, so every day not everyone plays but we've been really good with just switching it around," Taylor Fritz says. "And no one really has an ego about who should play, who shouldn't play."
The Freedoms have the highest-ranked male in World No. 24 Fritz, the highest-ranked female in World No. 4 Kenin and the 2018 MVP in Taylor Townsend as well as Donald Young, Fabrice Martin and Caroline Dolehide.
Fritz and Kenin with Townsend during their win over Springfield on Monday. (Ryan Loco)
With a 5-1 record, they're tied for first place with Chicago Smash, a team they will face for the first time on Tuesday at 3 p.m. on Tennis Channel. Philadelphia's only loss came against New York last Wednesday when both Kenin and Fritz lost their singles sets.
"Everyone brings their own unique things for the game," Kenin says. "We have two lefties which is really good. Townsend is really good at the net, she’s got great hands with Dolehide. Fritz has a really big serve. Martin is a great doubles payer. We have a mixture of everything."
Philadelphia team owner Billie Jean King personally reached out to Kenin to recruit her, and though King is not at The Greenbrier this month she keeps in constant touch with the team via FaceTime. Virtual connection is something all of the players are very used to after a four-month shutdown.
Coming out of quarantine, Kenin and Fritz emerged as two of the fittest and freshest.
"The last like two months I've just been training a lot and practicing a lot," Fritz says. "The only thing I was really missing was playing matches and playing these pressure points. That's one of the main reasons why I wanted to come here and play WTT because I thought just being in these pressure situations would just get me ready for the main tour once it starts up again. I'm playing well."
Against Kruger on Monday, Fritz hit two serves over 140 mph, including on match point. (Ryan Loco)
"Well" might be an understatement.
Like Fritz, Kenin put in the work during the shutdown and is eager for competition as the reopening of the tour looms in August.
"Of course, it's tough with this virus but I just tried to keep myself motivated," Kenin says. "I just practiced every day non-stop. I just did fitness and tried to keep myself in the best shape possible."
Both Kenin and Fritz will look to continue to pick up more matches—and wins—as Philadelphia seeks its first King Trophy since 2006 after falling short in the final last year.
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