On a chilly evening of World TeamTennis (WTT) action at Sportime Stadium at Randall's Island, the New York Sportimes battled relentlessly against the talented Philadelphia Freedoms, but failed to capitalize on an early lead. From 12-12, the score line remained tied throughout the encounter until the Freedoms came out on top in the women’s singles and sealed the deal with a 21-19 victory. In addition to an action-packed match, the crowds had the unique opportunity of witnessing the John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg rivalry, which was received with much enthusiasm.
The competitive air of the match was already felt in the early mixed doubles match where the Freedoms team of Lisa Raymond & Nathan Healey narrowly defeated the Sportimes duo of Katie O’Brien & Travis Parrott, 5-4. To counteract this slight deficit, the Sportimes women’s doubles tandem of Martina Hingis & Katie O’Brien won their match with a 5-2 win over the Freedoms team of Beatrice Capra & Lisa Raymond to push the score to 9-7 in favor of the hometown team.
Tennis legend and Sportimes team member, John McEnroe made his first appearance of the night in the men’s doubles match, where he partnered up with Travis Parrott to take on the Freedoms team of Nathan Healey & Brendan Evans. The match was a classy display of tennis from both sides, with a lot of ducking and diving in between firing reflex volleys. Despite the vigorous fight from the Sportimes team including some of McEnroe’s stellar volleys, the Freedoms came out on top with a 5-3 win, tying the overall match score at 12-12.
After a short break in the action, crowds returned with excitement buzzing in the air as the two tennis legends, the Sportimes’ John McEnroe and Freedoms’ Bjorn Borg were welcomed to the court for men’s singles. The match was one of the classic touch strokes and cleverly constructed points that both players were known for in their prime. As if to prove that they still had the power and intensity in them, both players mixed in some whizzing winners to the crowd’s amazement. Borg even hurled in a serve at 127 mph— the fastest of the entire encounter. With the match tied at 4-4, the players were forced into a tiebreaker where McEnroe took an early break and came out on top, giving the Sportimes a 17-16 lead.
In the final match of the night, Martina Hingis of the Sportimes took on the Freedoms’ youngster, Beatrice Capra. Capra, who reached the third round of the 2010 U.S. Open and who will join the Duke University women’s tennis team next fall, was a force to be reckoned with as Hingis soon learned. The attacking game of powerful groundstrokes from the youth was too much for Hingis to handle. Capra sealed the match with a 5-2 win and handed the victory to her team.
In addition to the match of past rivalries between McEnroe and Borg, the crowd was treated to a special appearance from tennis great Billie Jean King. King is an influential spokesperson for gender equality and LGBT rights in amongst other issues, and has earned the respect for her off-court work just as much as for her on-court successes.
The New York Sportimes now stand at 6-3 overall in the 2011 World TeamTennis season, currently sitting in second place behind the Washington Kastles. They will take on the Springfield Lasers tonight at Sportime Stadium at Randall's Island to try and further their win margin in this year’s competition.
Match Results: New York Sportimes vs. Philadelphia Freedoms (July 14, 2011)
►Raymond & Healey (Freedoms) defeated O’Brien & Parrott (Sportimes) 5-4
►Hingis & O’Brien (Sportimes) defeated Capra & Raymond (Freedoms) 5-2
►Healey & Evans (Freedoms) defeated McEnroe & Parrott (Sportimes) 5-3
►McEnroe (Sportimes) defeated Borg (Freedoms) 5-4
►Capra (Freedoms) defeated Hingis (Sportimes) 5-2
Credit all photos to Kenneth B. Goldberg
Bjorn Borg makes his way onto the courts at Sportime Stadium at Randall's Island to play for the Philadelphia Freedoms
The New York Sportimes gather for a team photo prior to their match with the Philadelphia Freedoms
Legends Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe pause for a post-match photo at Sportime Stadium at Randall's Island
John McEnroe in action for the Sportimes en route to his 5-4 tie-breaker win over Bjorn Borg and the Freedoms
Even at the age of 55, Bjorn Borg was hitting in excess of 120mph on his serves
Members of the victorious Philadelphia Freedoms