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.
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“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
Residence: Mike: Wesley Chapel, Fla.; Bob: Sunny Isles Beach, Fla.
Birthplace: Camarillo, Calif.
Birthdate: April 29, 1978
Height: Mike: 6-3; Bob: 6-4
Plays: Mike: Right-handed; Bob: Left-handed.
(Tip: look for the wristband to tell them apart.)
WTT season: 11th
Career highlights: Won their 91st career doubles title and 15th career Grand Slam men’s doubles title at Wimbledon last week. They have won the past four Grand Slam men’s doubles titles and were the Olympic gold medalists at the London Games. They have finished the year-end doubles rankings at No. 1 eight times. .. Ranked No. 1 in doubles (May 2013). In 2007 Helped the U.S. win its first Davis Cup championship since 1995. ... Mike captured the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon in 2012 with Lisa Raymond. Bob won 2010 U.S. Open and 2009 French Open mixed doubles titles with Liezel Huber.
Residence: New York, N.Y.
Birthplace: Sanford, Fla.
Birthdate: Aug. 17, 1970
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
WTT Season: Third
Career highlights: Will play July 22 for the Texas Wild. Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005. Won four Grand Slam singles titles (Australian Open in 1992-93 and French Open, 1991-92 ). Upon reaching Wimbledon final in 1993, became first male player since Rod Laver to reach singles finals in all four Grand Slams (also reached U.S. Open final in 1991). Played on two Davis Cup-winning teams (1992 in Fort Worth, 1995 in Russia), compiling 17-10 record. Currently serves as the captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team.
Alex Bogomolov Jr.
Residence: Boca Raton, Fla.
Birthdate: April 24, 1983
WTT season: 3rd
Career highlights: Will play his third WTT season. Previously played with the New York Sportimes in 2006 and the Philadelphia Freedoms in 2008. Has career wins over James Blake, Tommy Haas, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nikolay Davydenko. Voted ATP’s Most Improved Player in 2011 after rising 132 spots in the rankings and posting 27 tour-level wins. ... Won first ATP doubles title at Atlanta in 2011. Career-high rankings of No. 33 in singles (Oct. 2011) and No. 62 in doubles (April 2012). Currently ranked No. 81 in singles.
Residence: Westmount, Canada
Birthplace: Westmount, Canada
Birthdate: Feb. 25, 1994
WTT season: Second
Career highlights: Reached the third round in her first Wimbledon appearance two weeks ago, including a victory over former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic. Made her WTT debut in 2009 for Kansas City. Reached a career-high ranking in both singles and doubles this year — No. 58 in singles and No. 168 in doubles. Made Top 100 debut in April 2013 after reaching quarterfinals in Charleston, W.Va. Won three junior Grand Slams — 2012 Wimbledon girls singles, 2011 and 2012 Wimbledon girls doubles.
Residence: Lahore, Pakistan
Birthplace: Lahore, Pakistan
Birthdate: March 17, 1980
Plays: Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
WTT season: Second
Career highlights: Will play his second consecutive WTT season with the Texas Wild (formerly the Kansas City Explorers). Currently ranked No. 11 in doubles. Has a career-high ranking of No. 8 (June 2011). Won his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 team title at Miami with partner Jean-Julien Rojer in March. He has won eight career doubles titles on the ATP World Tour. Gained recognition as part of the Indo-Pak Express doubles team (with Rohan Bopanna) and for his humanitarian efforts off the court. Started a charity — Stop War Start Tennis — which is dedicated to helping victims of landmines and other weapons of war to resume an active lifestyle (www.stopwarstarttennis.org).
Residence: Zagreb, Croatia
Birthplace: Zagreb, Croatia
Birthdate: April 5, 1984
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
WTT Season: First
Career highlights: The doubles specialist makes her WTT debut this season. Currently ranked No. 39 in the WTA doubles rankings. In 2013, reached the finals of Oeiras, the semifinals of Stuttgart and Sydney and the quarterfinals of Doha with partner Katalin Marosi. Reached the third round of Wimbledon women’s doubles this month with Tamarine Tanasugarn, her best finish at a Grand Slam tournament.
Coach: Brent Haygarth
Birthplace: Durban, South Africa
Birthdate: Dec. 27, 1967
WTT Season: 14th
Career highlights: This will be his 14th season in the league and his seventh as coach (2007-12 with Kansas City). Haygarth is a pro at The Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving. While on the ATP Tour, Haygarth won eight doubles titles and reached a career high doubles ranking of No. 40 in the world. Played in Mylan WTT for seven years, including stints with Kansas City (1993, 2001), Springfield (1998), Schenectady (2000) and Delaware (2002).
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.