On a Friday night of World TeamTennis action at the Sportime Stadium at Randall’s Island, the New York Sportimes fell just short of a victory, succumbing to the Springfield Lasers 20-17 in a nail-biting encounter. The Sportimes came back from a very slow start to take the lead in the match, but fell just short to a fighting Lasers team.
The night opened with the men’s singles encounter between Sportimes’ Jesse Witten and the Lasers’ Rik De Voest. After a powerful start from De Voest, Witten managed to settle and find his comfort zone in the match, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to lead 4-3. However, De Voest forced the match into a tie-breaker after which a mini-break handed the 5-4 win to the Lasers. Matters did not improve for the Sportimes team in the women’s doubles matchup between Sportimes’ Martina Hingis & Katie O’Brien and the Lasers’ Carly Gullickson & Lilia Osterloh. With smart plays and quick hands at the net, the Lasers’ duo had all the answers to an unsettled Sportimes team. After just a short 20 min., the team of Gullickson & Osterloh came off with a 5-1 win to give the Lasers a convincing 10-5 lead.
The mixed-doubles match welcomed tennis great John McEnroe to the court for the Sportimes. Together with Martina Hingis, the duo took on Lasers’ Rik De Voest & Carly Gullickson. With an underperforming Sportimes’ team, the crowd was treated to a little bit of the classic McEnroe antics of shouts and racket throwing. However, disappointment was mounting in the stadium, as the Sportimes’ duo was defeated 5-4, making the overall score, 15-9 in the Lasers’ favor.
The Sportimes’ player of the night, Martina Hingis revived the stadium’s atmosphere in the women’s singles with her crushing 5-0 victory over not one, but two opponents. After just 10 min. of play, the Lasers’ Osterloh found herself in a 3-0 hole, having only won two points against a fiery Hingis. Lasers’ coach John -Laffnie De Jager made a switch in the match, putting Carly Gullickson in Osterloh’s place with the hope of counteracting Hingis’s exceptional play. However, Gullickson had no better luck, as Hingis swiftly won the next two games and initiated a major comeback for the Sportimes to bring the score up to 15-14 for the Lasers.
The final match of the night, the men’s doubles, was nothing short of riveting as Sportimes’ McEnroe & Travis Parrott took on Lasers’ De Voest with Jean Anderson. Everything seemed perfect for the Sportimes’ team as McEnroe & Parrot took the lead to 3-0 in their match, giving the Sportimes an overall 17-15 lead over the Lasers. However, the perfect situation was dashed to the ground with the aggressive Lasers’ duo making an astonishing come back by winning five consecutive games to seal the match at 5-3, handing the Lasers their victory for the night.
The New York Sportimes now stand at 6-4 in this World TeamTennis season, maintaining their second place pace behind the first-place Washington Kastles. The Sportimes next two matches take place at the SEFCU Arena at the University of Albany, where they face the Kansas City Explorers on Monday, July 18th and then return for another match in Albany on Tuesday evening against the first-place Kastles. The team returns to Sportime Stadium at Randall's Island on Wednesday, July 20 where they will wrap up the 2011 season against the first-place Kastles featuring Serena Williams.
Match Results: New York Sportimes vs. Springfield Lasers (July 15, 2011)
►De Voest (Lasers) defeated Witten (Sportimes) 5-4
►Gullickson & Osterloh (Lasers) defeated Hingis & O’Brien (Sportimes) 5-1
►De Voest & Gullickson (Lasers) defeated McEnroe & Hingis (Sportimes) 5-4
►Hingis (Sportimes) defeated Osterloh/Gullickson (Lasers) 5-0
►De Voest & Anderson (Lasers) defeated McEnroe & Parrott (Sportimes) 5-3
Credit all photos to Kenneth B. Goldberg
Members of the Springfield Lasers celebrate a hard-fought road win over the New York Sportimes
Jesse Witten and John McEnroe of the Sportimes discuss strategy
Jesse Witten of the Sportimes in action against the Springfield Lasers