San Diego Aviators Beat Empire, Clinch Spot in WTT Finals

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Credit all photos to Brian Coleman

The New York Empire played its final match at Forest Hills Stadium at West Side Tennis Club on Friday night, as the San Diego Aviators came into Queens and won 24-16, clinching a spot in the Mylan World TeamTennis finals.

American Ryan Harrison got things started for the Aviators in the Men’s Singles set, breaking Marcus Willis for a 4-3 lead and then consolidating his break to win the opening set.

The Empire would dig into that lead as Christina McHale defeated Shelby Rogers 5-4 in Women’s Singles to cut the Aviators lead to one.

But the doubles play came up big for the Aviators as Darija Jurak and Raven Klaasen beat Maria Irigoyen and Neal Skupski 5-3 in Mixed Doubles, and Jurak then paired with Rogers to beat McHale and Irigoyen 5-2 to push the Aviators lead to 19-13 heading into the final set

Klaasen and Harrison then closed things out in Men’s Doubles, beating Willis and Skupski 5-3 to seal the victory and book the Aviators spot in the Mylan World TeamTennis finals.

“I wish we could’ve had a better record, but it felt good to finish today with a good singles win,” said McHale. “It’s just been a fun experience. Most of the time it’s so serious when you’re playing in a tour match, and here you have the fans cheering and getting loud like they did towards the end, so it’s really fun. It’s been a busy two weeks but a really fun two weeks”

The loss drops the Empire to 2-9. It wraps up its inaugural season on Saturday at the Springfield Lasers.

“It’s been a ton of fun,” said Empire head coach Patrick McEnroe about the New York crowd this year. “We came up a little short, it wasn’t quite the record we were looking for, but I think for year one we’ve got a few things to build off of. I love this venue, the crowds have been great, and I think it’ll serve us well going forward. Even in the matches where we were down and out, the crowd hung around and stayed till the end, so I think that’s a real positive. We’ll work hard and try to build for next year.”

San Diego Aviators def. New York Empire 24-16

Men's Singles - Ryan Harrison (Aviators) def. Marcus Willis (Empire) 5-3

Women's Singles - Christina McHale (Empire) def. Shelby Rogers (Aviators) 5-4

Mixed Doubles - Raven Klaasen\Darija Jurak (Aviators) def. Neal Skupski\Maria Irigoyen (Empire) 5-3

Women's Doubles - Shelby Rogers\Darija Jurak (Aviators) def. Maria Irigoyen\Christina McHale (Empire) 5-2

Men's Doubles - Ryan Harrison\Raven Klaasen (Aviators) def. Neal Skupski\Marcus Willis (Empire) 5-3