It’s mid-July, and my internship with the USTA Middle States is in full swing. Since beginning on May 30th, I have written several articles about local events and tournaments, worked at those events and tournaments, and I’ve conducted a handful of interviews, one of which being particularly important! I’ve got two longer, feature-type articles in the works, and am hoping to have those posted on the Middle States blog by the end of the summer.
The first two events I worked were the Middle States Sectional Qualifying Tournament, and a day at the ResortQuest Pro Women’s Open. At the Sectional, players competed for a spot in the US Open National Qualifying Tournament, where they would then compete for a place in the qualifying draw of the US Open in New York. I worked the final day, so I got to see the championship matches for men’s singles, women’s singles, and mixed doubles. It was fantastic tennis, and I wish the victors the best of luck in the next round. The ResortQuest Pro Women’s Open is one of three USTA Pro Circuit events held by Middle States. This tournament was held at Sea Colony Tennis Resort down in Bethany Beach, Delaware. I was there for our USTA Member Appreciation Day, and got to see the semi-final matches. These events were both held back in the beginning of June, and we had not had any big events since then…until now. It’s World TeamTennis time!
World TeamTennis was co-founded by Billie Jean King in 1974. There are eight teams across the nation: Philadelphia Freedoms, New York Sportimes, Kansas City Explorers, Springfield Lasers, Orange County Breakers, Sacramento Capitals, Washington Kastles, and Boston Lobsters. Each team features about five or six players from different tennis backgrounds and levels, but usually each team has at least one legend, one current star, and one rising star. Each match features a new and different headline player. Matches are a little different from what you normally see on tour. They’re played in sets, but it’s not a “best three of five”-type deal. Instead, a match is won based on total number of games won in the individual sets. The sets are scored as the first to five games by two, and each game is scored as the first player to four points, with no ad scoring.
The WTT season isn’t that long; the Freedoms only have seven home matches in a span of about two and a half weeks. They’re held at the Pavilion at Villanova University, which is a pretty good venue for something like WTT. Tonight was the third match I worked, and it was definitely awesome, for several reasons!
Middle States sets up an information table and two 36-foot kid courts in the back of the Pavilion. Each night, kids, specifically kids 10 and younger, are invited to come hit around at the courts and learn from the pros from local clubs who host the little hit-arounds. Tonight, we were finished setting up about an hour early, so I was hitting around with my fellow intern Drew, and our supervisors Michael and Kate. A bit later, four guys from the Villanova football team came by and asked if they could play, too. Of course we said they could! It was obvious they weren’t trained in tennis, but they knew enough to keep the ball in play. They were so entertaining and fun to watch. There is surely no age limit on fun! They even took a picture with me afterward:
Next to the Middle States set-up was a table with representatives from Philadelphia’s MLS team, the Union, and a few of their players. They had some little giveaways, information, and the players were signing autographs and taking pictures. I don’t know a whole lot about soccer, but I still thought it would be neat to have autographs and a picture from players Brian Carroll and Chase Harrison. When I went up to their table and handed my phone to a Union rep to take the picture, Chase noticed the VT emblem on my phone case. “Hey, VT!” he said. “Yeah, I go there!” “Dude, no way! Hokies!” At this point, I was ecstatic; as many of y’all know, I love meeting Hokies anywhere and everywhere. Chase said he played soccer at VT when he was in college! He graduated in 2005, though, so he was there way before I was even thinking about college. I think I might go to a Union game one day, just to see a fellow Hokie play! Who wants to go with me?
|Brian Carroll, me, Chase Harrison|
|Hokies throwin’ it up!|
Tonight’s headline players were world-class doubles pair Bob and Mike Bryan for the Kansas City Explorers. They held a press conference before the match, and Drew, Kate, and I went for the last five or ten minutes of it. Those two guys are incredible on the court together. They’re just on the same brain wave or something…unbelievable.
There are three more home matches for the Freedoms, and I’ll be at two of them. I can’t wait to see the match this Friday, which will feature legends John McEnroe and Martina Hingis for the New York Sportimes! But still…let’s go, Freedoms!
|Me with Freedoms mascot, Spirit, from Saturday’s match|