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By Tennis Now | Monday, March 2, 2020

 
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“It’s a good way to showcase WTT,” Mike Bryan said of the celebrity all-star game. “Sellout crowd. Energy was off the charts. Every one of the players is in a great mood." 

Photo credit: World TeamTennis

World TeamTennis threw an all-star party celebrating both arrivals and farewells.

And it rocked the house.

TN Interview: WTT CEO Carlos Silva

The dawn of a new era arrived Sunday intersecting with the spirited farewell tour of tennis’ greatest doubles duo.

Team Bryan Brothers defeated Team Sharapova, 22-13, in the inaugural WTT Celebrity All-Star Match before a sellout crowd of 2,500 at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California.

Team Bryan Brothers captured the first WTT All-Star Champions Trophy and fittingly twins Bob and Mike Bryan were named the WTT Celebrity All-Star Match co-MVPs presented by Barefoot Hard Seltzers.

This honor comes exactly one week after the 41-year-old twins won their record-extending 119th ATP Tour doubles title at the Delray Beach Open. The Bryan brothers previously announced 2020 would be their last year together on the ATP Tour. The Bryan brothers have committed to playing a full 2020 WTT season with the Vegas Rollers in July.

“It’s a good way to showcase WTT,” Mike Bryan said. “Sellout crowd. Energy was off the charts. Every one of the players is in a great mood.

"We’ve decided to play a full WTT season, and it’s our first time doing that since our first year, 22 years ago. WTT is a big deal to us. It’s our last season and we want to enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun.”

The WTT Celebrity All-Star Match featured four players from WTT’s Vegas Rollers: the Bryan brothers, Sam Querrey and Monica Puig, a pair of San Diego Aviators in Ryan Harrison and Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. native Coco Vandeweghe, 2018 WTT Female MVP Taylor Townsend of the Philadelphia Freedoms, the Orlando Storm’s Madison Keys and player/coach Mardy Fish of the New York Empire.

Maria Sharapova
Photo credit: World TeamTennis

WTT’s match format was employed: one set (first to five games) each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles.

“Today is the beginning of a new tradition in World TeamTennis. The WTT Celebrity All-Star Match is here to stay,” WTT CEO Carlos Silva said. “The match is a great way to extend our season and celebrate many of WTT’s world-class players. All of our players were fully engaged with our All-Star vision, and we thank them all for captivating our sellout crowd with such high-quality, entertaining tennis.”

Making her first appearance at a tennis event since her retirement from the WTA Tour was announced on Wednesday, two-time WTT champion and five-time Grand Slam champ Maria Sharapova was on the bench to coach Team Sharapova with Fish.

Novak Djokovic
Photo credit: World TeamTennis

Sharapova is scheduled to play two matches with the Orange County (Calif.) Breakers in the 2020 WTT season: July 28th vs. the San Diego Aviators and July 29th vs. the New York Empire.

“I’ve been part of World TeamTennis ever since I was a little girl. It was really the event that gave me the experience that I needed at that age,” said Sharapova, who won WTT titles with the Breakers in 2004 and 2017. “I remember, leaving WTT, I went on to win a smaller WTA event and it was the beginning of my career. I’ve played World TeamTennis on this court, so good memories to be back here.

“So many reflections this past week. I still very much love the game. It’s never an easy time to step away from something that you love. Every athlete, you have to say I’m finished at one point and it came for me this week.”

Team Bryan Brothers got off to a flying start on the home court of WTT’s San Diego Aviators as Townsend, arguably WTT’s best women’s doubles player, and Keys, ranked No. 13 in the world, quickly dispatched Vandeweghe and Puig, 5-0, in women’s doubles.

With Team Bryan Brothers leading 2-1 in the second set (mixed doubles), coach James Blake surprisingly substituted in musician Redfoo (the LMFAO singer who popularized the “Party Rock Anthem”) for Mike Bryan. Redfoo partnered with Townsend and closed out the ensuing game with a volley to increase Team Bryan Brothers’ overall lead to 8-1. Redfoo played one more game before Mike Bryan re-entered and propelled Team Bryan Brothers to a 5-3 set win over Harrison and Vandeweghe.

The third set, women’s singles, saw Keys jump out to a 3-1 lead over Puig, the 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist in women’s singles at Rio, before giving way to substitute Townsend to finish off the set, 5-3, and increase Team Bryan Brothers’ lead to 15-6.

Maria Sharapova
Photo credit: World TeamTennis

Harrison attempted to begin Team Sharapova’s rally in men’s singles as he built a 3-1 lead over Querrey before Coach Blake, a 10-year WTT veteran and 2016 WTT champion with the San Diego Aviators, substituted himself in for Querrey. Harrison won the next game and then gave way to Fish.

The dueling coaches completed the set, with Blake cutting the deficit to 4-2 before Fish held serve to capture Team Sharapova’s lone set win, 5-2.

The Bryan brothers carried over the momentum and match sharpness displayed in securing their 119th ATP Tour doubles title at the Delray Beach Open a week ago, closing out the All-Star match with a 5-2 victory over Harrison and Fish.

 

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