The New York Empire (NYE) are the 2020 World TeamTennis (WTT) champions, defeating the Chicago Smash (CHI) yesterday in a comeback victory that went down to the wire, 21-20 (6), to lift the King Trophy for the first time in franchise history.
Coming into the finals without Kim Clijsters, a stalwart for New York during the regular season, the Empire raced out to a 10-6 lead after picking up victories in Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles.
Set 1 (Men’s Doubles) : N. Skupski/J. Sock (NYE) def. B. Nakashima/R. Ram (CHI) 5-2
Jack Sock and Neal Skupski kicked things off for the Empire and got New York off to a good start, defeating Brandon Nakashima and Rajeev Ram of the Chicago Smash 5-2, breaking Ram’s serve both times in the set.
Set 2 (Mixed Doubles): J.Sock/C. Vandeweghe (NYE) def. B. Mattek-Sands/R. Ram (CHI) 5-4
Sock stayed on the court and teamed with Coco Vandeweghe to take the Mixed Doubles set also, 5-4 over Ram and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, this year’s WTT Regular season Female MVP.
Set 3 (Men’s Singles): B. Nakashima (CHI) def. J. Sock (NYE) 5-0
It was in the third set that the Smash led their charge back. American teenager Nakashima returned to the court and defeated Sock 5-0 in Men’s Singles to turn the tide and hand Chicago the overall match lead, 11-10.
Set 4 (Women’s Singles): S. Stephens (CHI) def. C. Vandeweghe (NYE) 5-3
Sloane Stephens came up next and extended the lead for the Smash. She won her Women’s Singles set over Vandeweghe 5-3 to give Chicago a 16-13 overall lead heading into the final set.
Here, the drama ensued.
Set 5 (Women’s Doubles): N. Melichar/C. Vandeweghe (NYE) def. E. Bouchard/B. Mattek-Sands (CHI) 5-4
Trailing in the overall score, Vandeweghe and Nicole Melichar teamed up in Women’s Doubles to defeat Mattek-Sands and Eugenie Bouchard 5-4 to keep the Empire alive. Because the Empire won the final set of regular play but were still trailing in the overall score, the match went to Extended Play. The Smash had to win just one more game to be crowned the 2020 World TeamTennis champions.
Extended Play (Women’s Doubles): N. Melichar/C. Vandeweghe (NYE) def. E. Bouchard/ B. Mattek-Sands (CHI) 2-0
But that proved to be a tough feat, with the Melichar/Vandeweghe duo winning two more games against Bouchard/Mattek-Sands to tie the overall match score at 20-20, sending the match to a Super Tiebreaker, where the first team to 7 points would win the title.
Super Tiebreaker (Women’s Doubles): N. Melichar/C. Vandeweghe (NYE) def. B. Mattek-Sands/ S. Stephens 1-0 (7-6)
Preceding the Super Tiebreaker, the Smash made the move to substitute Stephens in for Bouchard to play alongside Mattek-Sands.
Similar to the match as a whole, the tiebreaker was back and forth, with both teams holding the lead.
Down 5-6 in the Super Tiebreaker, Stephens hit an ace up the tee serving to Vandeweghe to level the tiebreak score at 6-6. The very next point would decide the winner of the 2020 World TeamTennis season.
Stephens would remain serving, serving again on the ad side to Vandeweghe. Stephens again directed her serve to the Vandeweghe forehand. But Coco got contact on it this time and ripped a forehand return down the line as Mattek-Sands was moving to poach. No out call was made, but with the ball super close to the baseline, both teams waited for the replay to show if the ball was in or out. The replay showed the ball to barely catch the line, by less than an inch, crowning the New York Empire as the World TeamTennis champions of the unique and historic 2020 season.
Coco Vandeweghe and Jack Sock were named the Female and Male WTT Championship MVP’s, respectively. For Sock, he picks up his second World TeamTennis title, having won as a member of the Springfield Lasers back in 2018.
For the New York Empire, they win their first WTT title in franchise history, avenging their loss in the finals last year to the Springfield Lasers. And along with their first King Trophy, the Empire also take home $1 million in prize money.
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