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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, June 19, 2020

 
Bryan brothers

Kim Clijsters, Sloane Stephens, Milos Raonic and the Bryan brothers will play World TeamTennis' 2020 season set for The Greenbrier, Five facts to prepare you for WTT's 45th season.

Photo credit: World TeamTennis

World TeamTennis reimagines West Virginia as tennis heaven this summer.

The 45th season of World TeamTennis will be contested at The Greenbrier “America’s Resort” in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.

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WTT says each player will play the entire three-week regular season, scheduled for July 12-30th, with the WTT Semifinals set for August 1st and WTT Final to follow August 2nd.

Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters, Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, US Open champ Sloane Stephens, Milos Raonic, Monica Puig, Frances Tiafoe, Genie Bouchard and twins Mike and Bob Bryan are among the stars signing on for the season.

WTT gives players who have been idle for month’s during the sport’s shutdown serious competition in advance of the Western & Southern Open and US Open, which will be staged in succession at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center starting in August.

Broadcast partners CBS and ESPN receive much-needed daily content in a sports-starved world and tennis fans can see tennis morning, noon and night with each match either televised or live streamed.



Unlike the Western & Southern Open and US Open, which will not permit fans or media, WTT will allow limited fans while practicing social media. Fans will be temperature tested before entering the Greenbrier grounds and again before being permitted inside the stadium, however as of now fans will not be required to wear masks.

“Right now, we don’t have a requirement for the fans to wear a mask when they come into the stadium, but they will be recommended, and they will be available if people would like them,” WTT CEO Carlos Silva said. “We think having the matches outside, according to everything we hear from the CDC, say that outside is always better than inside.

“The majority of matches, weather permitting, will all be outside. If we have perfect weather, 100 percent of the matches will be outside. With the TV schedule that we’ve set up, we do have an indoor backup that is about 100 yards from the outdoor stadium. We will limit fans even more, there will be half as many fans, only about 200-250 fans, permitted into the indoor facility.”

The Vegas Rollers will feature 2017 Wimbledon semifinalist Sam Querrey and the Bryan Brothers.

Two-time NCAA singles champion Danielle Collins (Virginia in 2014, 2016) will play for Orlando and two-time NCAA singles champion Steve Johnson (with USC in 2011-2012) will lead the Orange County Breakers.

Two-time Australian Open quarterfinalist Tennys Sandgren will play for the Orlando Storm while doubles specialists Rajeev Ram (Chicago Smash), 2019 WTT Finals MVP Robert Lindstedt (Springfield Lasers) and Skupski brothers Neal (New York Empire) and Ken Skupski (Orlando) return this season.

The San Diego Aviators will boast three past Grand Slam doubles champions in Coco Vandeweghe (2018 US Open), Ryan Harrison (2017 French Open) and Nicole Melichar (2018 Wimbledon).

WTT CEO Carlos Silva and twins Mike and Bob Bryan, who have played WTT every season of their pro careers, conducted a Zoom call with the media on Wednesday to preview the 2020 season.

Five takeaways from World TeamTennis’ plans to stage its entire season at the Greenbrier.


Nearly Non-Stop Play 

World TeamTennis’ schedule will include at least three matches per day at Center Court at Creekside, The Greenbrier’s outdoor stadium.

There will be tennis played morning, afternoon and night—rain or shine—with matches televised and streamed live.

"West Virginia and The Greenbrier has said that we can bring fans to the stadium," Silva said. "We are going to do that in a very conscious and safe way with social distancing. It will be limited just like restaurants are limited, they'll be limited to 25 percent or so of the stadium.

"That is exciting. I think as we go through this, there is going to be a lot of matches every single day, a match at 10, a match at 2 and a match at 7 all broadcast, all with the top players in the world and, if you are a fan, it is like tennis heaven."


Safety Protocol

  • Players, staff and guests will have their temperatures checked upon arrival at the Greenbrier. Anyone whose temperature exceeds 100.4 degrees will not be permitted on the grounds.
  • Fans do not need to be a Greenbrier guest to buy a WTT ticket, but fans will be tested both on entry to the resort and again before entering the stadium.
  • All players and staff will be subject to daily temperature tests before being permitted inside the stadium.
  • Anyone—players, staff or fans—whose temperature exceeds 100.4 degrees will be denied entry to the stadium.
  • About 500 fans will be permitted in the outdoor stadium that seats 2,500. Current plans call for every other row in the stadium to be blocked off to ensure social distancing.

Spring Season

Some players view this 45th season of WTT as arguably the league’s most important as it will serve as the springboard for the US Open in New York.

“Everyone is going to be training hard. People are really going to use these three weeks to springboard themselves into the US Open,” Bob Bryan said. “People will be playing matches and doing sprints on the golf course. I think it is going to be an incredible training ground, you will see players treating it like a pre-season to get themselves back in shape.”

The Bryan brothers also believe no travel will mean higher-quality matches because players will be well-rested and eager.

“The level of play is going to be better than it ever has because we are in one spot,” Bob Bryan said. “Mike spoke about the travel, sometimes it is 4 a.m. wakeup calls, two or three Southwest flights and your scrambling to get to the stadium two hours before the match.

"This makes it hard to always play your best because you are a little fatigued. Everyone is going to be fresh and hungry, while being able to show the work they have been putting in during the pandemic.”

Care Commitment

What happens if a player contracts coronavirus during the season and is forced to withdraw?

WTT vows it will still pay players full regular-season salary in the event they get sick and cannot complete the season.

Earlier this week, the AP reported WTT planned to pay players a prorated share of their salary in the event they contracted the virus and were forced out of the season. That policy is revised.

Silva says the WTT will pay players full regular-season salaries and take care of them should they contract the virus.

“The players are the life blood of World TeamTennis,” Silva said. “We’ve tried to take care of the players during this hard time. We sent some money to the players earlier this year as a gift just to help some of the players with rent or anything that they might need… “If somebody during the season for some reason tested positive or got sick on the fifth day, the eighth day, the tenth day of the season, etc., and they needed to be pulled out, they’re still going to be paid their regular season prize money so that they’ll be taken care of.

“If anyone tests positive and they need to be put in a hotel room or they need to wait 14 days to get back on a flight, we are going to take care of all of those players to make sure that they are safe, that they are taken care of, and that there is no hit on them. We appreciate that they are all a part of World TeamTennis and that they’re coming to make the season happen. We can’t have the season without the players, so we have to thank them and take care of them.”



Doubles Duty

If a singles starter goes down with illness or injury at any point, depth will be a big factor.

The Bryan brothers say they’ll be ready for singles play in case of emergency.

“Whenever we have had team tennis in the past, we always had that one local guy on the bench just in case someone went down,” Bob Bryan said. “Mike and I are the extras guys already, so if Sam pulls a hamstring I can jump in and play singles. I think I could fake it (playing singles) for five games.”


 

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