WTT: Ex-Buzz player Stephens returns to face Sportimes
Sloane Stephens was a wide-eyed 16-year-old, grateful for an opportunity to face one of her idols, Venus Williams, when Stephens played for the New York Buzz of World TeamTennis in 2009.
She’s still a teenager, but will return to the Capital Region as the headliner this time.
Stephens, fresh off a Australian Open semifinal loss to No. 1 Victoria Azarenka that propelled her to No. 17 in the world, will play for the Philadelphia Freedoms against the New York Sportimes at Hudson Valley Community College in July.
The Sportimes, who merged with the Buzz in 2011 and split their home matches between the Capital Region and New York, will also play a home match against former world No. 1 Andy Roddick and the Springfield Lasers.
Roddick, who is retired, played WTT matches against New York in Schenectady’s Central Park in 2002 and 2003.
Stephens, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is the daughter of the late John Stephens, the former New England Patriots running back who died in a car crash in September 2009, just months after his daughter played for the Buzz.
She’ll turn 20 on March 20.
Stephens was considered one of the top U.S. prospects that year, and, although she still hasn’t reached a WTA tour final, she had a breakthrough performance at the Australian Open, defeating another of her idols, Serena Williams, in the quarterfinals before losing to Azarenka in straight sets.
In the 2009 WTT matches for the Buzz, she defeated Venus Williams in singles and was on the mixed doubles team that defeated a dup that included Martina Navratilova five nights later at UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena.
Roddick will be playing his seventh WTT season, and first since 2010.
“I first played World TeamTennis when I was just starting out and have played throughout my career ,so I’m excited to be back,” Roddick in a WTT release. “I’ve always liked the competition and the fan energy. I love being on a team and am looking forward to playing for the Springfield Lasers this July.”
The Sportimes did not draft a marquee player in the WTT draft.
The full rosters will be completed on March 12, and dates for matches will be announced the week of March 4.
Nitty Singh, who will be the WTT general manager for matches played at HVCC, said the Sportimes will play more of their seven home matches in Troy than in New York.
Other marquee players who will participate in WTT this year include Bob and Mike Bryan (Texas), Mark Philippoussis (Boston), Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey (Sacramento) and Venus Williams (Washington).