Tennis legend and Mylan WTT co-founder Billy Jean King, pictured, plans to attend the opening match between the Springfield Lasers and the Philadelphia Freedoms. The match on Sunday, Jul. 6, 2014, will begin at 7 p.m. at the Mediacom Tennis Stadium in the Cooper Tennis Complex, 2231 E. Pythian, Springfield. King is owner of the visiting team. The Lasers enter the season as the defending Western Conference Champions.
The highlight of the season comes Sunday, Jul. 13, when Lasers marquee player James Blake faces longtime friend and rival Andy Roddick. Blake, 34, was the No. 1 American and No. 4 world player in 2006, placing him just behind Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Nikolay Davydenko. Blake is known for his powerful forehand, his speed on the court and his incredible comeback after breaking his neck in May 2004. Now returning for his eighth season of Mylan WTT, his first with the Springfield Lasers, Blake plays two Springfield Lasers home matches: Saturday, July 12 and Sunday, July 13.
All four Lasers roster members enter the season fresh from Wimbledon, where Anna-Lena Groenefeld advanced to the quarterfinal in womenís singles, and Jean-Julien Rojer made it to the third round in menís doubles. Last month, Groenefeld and Rojer teamed up to win the championship in mixed doubles at the French Open. UPDATE: Rojer, 32, from Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, is NOT, returning for his second season with the Lasers due to a back injury, a loss since he helped lead the Lasers to the Mylan WTT 2013 Western Conference Championship, and was named Mylan WTT Male MVP in 2013. Replacing him will be doubles specialist Ross Hutchins. UPDATE: Liga Dekemijere, 31, from Riga, Latvia will replace Groenefeld who suffered a hip injury at Wimbledon.
Lasers player Michael Russell also appeared in menís singles at Wimbledon. Russell, 35, from Detroit was the oldest American to finish 2013 in the ATP Top 100 for the fifth year in a row. He is returning to Mylan WTT for the first time since 2009, when he was named WTT Male Rookie of the Year.
2013 Mylan WTT Female Rookie of the Year Alisa Kleybanova announced June 27 that she would not be able to return to the Lasers roster this year, due to a shoulder injury which became apparent at Wimbledon. Kleybanova helped lead the Springfield Lasers to the 2013 Mylan WTT Western Conference Championship. Olga Govortsova, 26, from Minsk, Belarus, replaces Kleybanova on the Lasers roster. Govortsova is currently ranked No. 105 in singles, No. 87 in doubles, and appeared in singles at Wimbledon.
San Diego marquee player and former No. 5 Daniela Hantuchova also makes an appearance in Springfield on Thursday, Jul. 17.
The 2014 Springfield Lasers opponents are:
- Sun., July 6 - Philadelphia Freedoms
- Mon., July 7 - Texas Wild
- Sat., July 12 - Texas Wild (Featuring Blake-SPR)
- Sun., July 13 - Austin Aces (Featuring BlakeĖSPR and Roddick-AUS)
- Thu., July 17 - San Diego (Featuring D. Hantuchova- SD)
- Fri., July 18 - Washington Kastles
- Wed., July 23 - Boston Lobsters
For tickets go here.