Photo: Peter Power / Tennis Canada
On July 12, the 45th edition of the World Team Tennis event kicked off at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. The longstanding team competition, which is the brainchild of the legendary Billie Jean King, is composed of nine teams, each representing a city in the United States.
While the matches normally take place in various cities, organizers were forced to adjust this year in order to limit the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, West Virgina’s Greenbrier was selected to house the 63 matches of the World Team Tennis regular season, which are being stages over the course of three weeks, ending on July 30. The four best teams at the end of the season will qualify for the playoffs at the start of August.
After eight completed matches, Genie Bouchard and the Chicago Smash find themselves in second place thanks to a record of six wins and two losses, trailing only the Philadelphia Freedom who have just one loss to their name. Bouchard, who is mainly competing in women’s doubles alongside former doubles World No. 1 Bethanie Mattek-Sands, has earned significant success since the start of the competition. Among all of the women’s doubles teams, the Canadian-American duo holds the league’s best win percentage with 68% of games won (36-17), making up a record of six wins and two losses.
After having lost their first match of the season, Bouchard and Mattek-Sands went on an impressive five-match winning streak. They then suffered a second loss, but have since handily won their last two matches.
More success in singles
On two occasions, Chicago Smash coach Kamau Murray called upon Bouchard to sub in for teammate Sloane Stephens, the team’s delegate for the women’s singles. Currently ranked No. 332, Bouchard notched a 5-4 win over former Australian Open semi-finalist Danielle Collins, overcoming a a 1-3 game deficit in the match started by Stephens.
In her second singles nomination, the Montreal native quickly took a 3-0 lead against Olga Govortsova and finished the job by taking the match 5-1 over American teenager Catherine McNally, who was called to step in by the opposing coach to replace Govortsova.
In the Chicago Smash’s most recent victory over the Springfield Lasers, Bouchard was named payer of the match.
“I am very proud of my team and the way that we were able to rebound despite dropping a few sets today,” said Bouchard. “We had just suffered a tough loss yesterday, but we were all ready to fight hard today. We have a very strong team spirit and this has helped us tremendously – as much as we are intense when we are on the court, we are also having a lot of fun off the court.”
The former World No. 5 is playing in her fifth World Team Tennis season. The Chicago Smash will have to play six more matches by July 30 and hopes to retain its place among the top four teams to reach the final rounds.
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About World Team Tennis
World Team Tennis is a mixed professional tennis league disputed in teams. Founded in 1973, it takes place in the United States during the summer season, usually following Wimbledon. ATP and WTA athletes take a short break of a few weeks from competing in professional tournaments to take part in World Team Tennis.
Each match consists of five sets, with one set each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. Before each match, coaches decide the order in which the sets will be disputed. Every player on a team usually takes part in at least one of the five sets.
Matches are played without advantage scoring, meaning the point played at deuce decided the game. The first team to win five games wins the set and a tiebreak of nine points is played out at 4-4. A point is attributed for each game won, so all points are imporant and contribute to the final score. If after five sets, the two teams have the same number of points, a “super tiebreak” is played to declare a winner.