Tennis is an individual sport, especially for singles players, who for the most part are left to their own devices to figure out a way to defeat their opponents. There are no coaches on the sidelines and no teammates to help lift spirits when things are not going well.
But for some of the top players in the game all that changes in July during the World TeamTennis season, which draws some of the top players — seasoned veterans and rising stars of the men’s and women’s tour — for the 14-match schedule.
For 19-year-old Eugenie Bouchard, who recently competed in her first two Grand Slam main-draw events, it will be a nice change when she takes the court in Irving for the Texas Wild.
The Texas Wild relocated to Irving from Kansas City during the off-season and makes its home debut at 7:30 Wednesday against the Washington Kastles at the Four Seasons Resort and Club at Las Colinas.
“It was fun to be playing World TeamTennis again after four years,” said Bouchard, who played for the Kansas City team in 2009. “It’s very different playing for a team. You don’t get that at all on the tour because it’s such an individual game. It’s fun to experience this side of it.”
The fast-paced, up-tempo style of TeamTennis also makes it fun for the fans. The abbreviated scoring system helps keep fans’ attention. Matches are made up of women’s singles, men’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. Each set is a first-to-five-games format, and the match is decided by which team wins the most games overall. The scoring system puts a lot of pressure on the players to get off to a fast start.
“It’s definitely different,” said Bouchard, who reached the third round in her first Wimbledon appearance two weeks ago. “There’s no time to get into the match and that’s tough. It’s kind of a challenge. But I’m playing singles and women’s doubles, so it’s good preparation for the hard-court season.”
Bouchard said the Texas heat is also good preparation for the hard-court season. Last year, she played at the Texas Tennis Open in August, so the heat was no surprise. But she said it does take some getting used to.
“It was a shock; it’s tough,” said Bouchard, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 56 this week. “We just had our first practice [Tuesday afternoon.] But it will help prepare for the rest of the summer. Washington, D.C., is always hot. And this will be my first U.S. Open main draw this summer. I’ve been able to play on center courts at both the French Open and at Wimbledon, so it’s been a great experience. I just want to continue to play well.”
For more information or for tickets, go to texaswildtennis.com or call 917-823-9453.
The Texas Wild
Mike and Bob Bryan
(Tip: look for the wristband to tell them apart.)
Alex Bogomolov Jr.
Coach: Brent Haygarth
Formerly the Kansas City Explorers.
Six-time World TeamTennis champions and the team to beat in the division. ... A member of World TeamTennis for 27 years. Marquee players: Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey. ... Led by Southlake resident Mark Knowles, in his 12th season with the team. Also features rising junior star Taylor Townsend (finalist at the Wimbledon Junior Championships last week). Other roster players include Ryan Sweeting, Megan Moulton-Levy and NCAA champion Nicole Gibbs. Coached by Wayne Bryan, father of Bob and Mike Bryan.
Orange County Breakers
Eleventh season in WTT. ... Finished No. 1 in the Western Conference regular-season standings last year, but lost to Sacramento in the WTT Finals Weekend. ... Marquee players: Coco Vandeweghe and 2011 NCAA champion Steve Johnson. Other roster players include Treat Huey, Maria Elena Camerin and Liga Dekmeijere. Coached by Trevor Kroneman.
Member of World TeamTennis since 1996. Finished 4-10 last season. ... Marquee player: Andy Roddick. Also featuring Vania King and Rik De Voest with Alisa Kleybanova and Jean-Julien Rojer, the regular doubles partner of the Texas Wild’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi. Coached by John-Laffnie de Jager.
Two-time defending World TeamTennis champions are loaded again, even with the loss of Venus Williams (back injury). ... Won their 34rd consecutive match Tuesday night against the Boston Lobsters to surpass the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ record for the longest all-time winning streak in team sports. Marquee players: Five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis, who will be induced into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this weekend and will miss this trip to Texas. Others: Bobby Reynolds, in his fourth season with the team, Kevin Anderson and doubles specialist Leander Paes. ... Also featuring Anastasia Rodionova, Raquel Kops-Jones and Alla Kudryavtseva. Coached by Murphy Jenson.
New York Sportimes
Marquee player: John McEnroe. Featuring Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Robert Kendrick, along with Kveta Peschke, Abigail Spears and Jesse Witten. Coached by Claude Okin. ... Feature match of the season will have McEnroe playing the Texas Wild’s Jim Courier on July 22 in New York. The match will honor WTT co-founder Billie Jean King, celebrating the upcoming 40th anniversary of her “Battle of the Sexes” victory over Bobby Riggs.
Looking to make the playoffs for the third consecutive season. ... Marquee player: Mark Philippoussis. Featuring Jill Craybas and doubles standout Eric Butorac, along with Katalin Marosi and Amir Weintraub. Coached by Bud Schultz.
Owned by Billie Jean King. Marquee player: doubles star Liezel Huber. Also featuring Samuel Groth, Jordan Kerr and Maria Sanchez. Coached by Josh Cohen.