Make room, Orlando! A Storm is coming. World TeamTennis announced their expansion just ahead of their draft in March, adding two teams for the 2019 season: the Orlando Storm and the Vegas Rollers.
World TeamTennis, co-founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, is a professional tennis league that showcases some of the best professional tennis players around. It is the only professional league that heralds equal importance in roles of both men and women on a single team.
The league features some of tennis’ biggest stars like you’ve never seen them before. The innovative format is much different than any other tournament. Every match comprises of a set of men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles, in any order!
The scoring differs from what you may see on TV, too. Each set is to five, and each game is won by only four points. The biggest difference is not the way the game is scored but the atmosphere of the matches. Fans are encouraged to be vocal throughout the match about great play, and music is often played between games to fire up the crowd!
The Storm will face off against seven other teams in the league throughout the month-long season: New York Empire, Orange County Breakers, Philadelphia Freedoms, San Diego Aviators, Springfield Lasers, Vegas Rollers, and Washington Kastles.
The USTA National Campus in Lake Nona will be the home of WTT’s new franchise team, the Orlando Storm. The stadium will host some of tennis’ hottest stars throughout the season in July. Orlando’s new team is bound to strike excitement in the area with its roster.
Lake Nona resident Madison Keys joins the Storm with the accomplishment of making history in World TeamTennis as the youngest player ever to compete in WTT in 2009 at 14 years, 5 months. Keys is currently ranked #17 in the world in women’s singles and is the #3 ranked American.
The young American turned pro on her 14th birthday, becoming one of the youngest players to win a WTA Tour level match a few short months later in April 2009, the youngest since Martina Hingis in 1994. Later that year, playing her first season of WTT, she won her first set against then-world No. 2 Serena Williams. She saw her first major breakthrough in 2015 when she made the semifinals of the Australian Open as a teenager; she has since gone on to make the finals of the 2017 US Open and recently the quarterfinals at this year’s French Open.
Keys will join the Storm at the USTA National Campus:
Wednesday, July 17
Thursday, July 18
Wednesday, July 24
Friday, July 26
Saturday, July 27
Brit Ken Skupski also joins the roster for the Storm. A Louisiana State University standout, Skupski was an NCAA Doubles finalist in 2005 and two-time Southeastern Conference Coaches Indoor Champion (where he remains the only player to win back-to-back titles). Ken currently holds five ATP Doubles titles, two of which were won with brother Neal Skupski, who he will face throughout the WTT season against the Empire.
Florida native and former world No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe will also hit the court with the Storm this summer. The 2017 ITF Junior World Champion and Junior French Open Champion made her WTA main-draw debut in 2018 in Miami and claimed her first WTA win in her home state this year at the Miami Open at just 16 years old.
Although he hails from Chicago, Evan King will be right at home with the Orlando Storm since he trains at the USTA National Campus. King, 27, graduated from the University of Michigan, where he holds the record for most combined career men’s singles and doubles wins. He was also a three-time ITA All-American (’11-’13), two-time Big Ten Athlete of the Year (’12, ’13), and a four-time All-Big Ten (’10-’13). King holds 28 ITF titles, six from singles.
Darija Jurak will bring some doubles expertise on the women’s side. Currently ranked No. 36 in doubles in the world, Jurak holds five WTA and 39 ITF doubles titles. Jurak also has the cherished experience of winning a WTT Championship, which she accomplished in 2016 with the San Diego Aviators.
Spanish star Feliciano Lopez will complete the lineup for Orlando. The lefty has a career-high singles ranking of 12 and currently holds six ATP singles titles and eight doubles titles. Lopez, who turned pro nearly 22 years ago, became the tournament director of the Madrid Open this year, a tournament he played for 17 years in a row. Lopez holds six career singles titles and four doubles titles, including a French Open Doubles title in 2016 with Marc Lopez.
Lopez will join the Storm at the USTA National Campus:
Sunday, July 14
Monday, July 15
Wednesday, July 17
Thursday, July 18
You can learn more about the Orlando Storm team members, their schedules, purchase tickets, and sign up for their newsletter by going to their website at www.orlandostorm.com.
Article by Jocelyn Davie