The World Team Tennis (WTT) Pro League returned to Sunrise Mall July 8 for the first home match of the 2011 season. The Sacramento Capitals played in front of a sold-out crowd.
This year’s team includes world class players Mardy Fish, Vania King, Mark Knowles, Dusan Vemic, Christina Fusano, Nick Monroe and Sacramento’s own Yasmin Schnack. Wayne Bryan coaches the team.
The Sacramento Capitals have now been part of the WTT for 26 years. Along with the growth of tennis all around the country, fan support has grown over the years. This year, nine teams make up the 2011 WTT Pro League season, sponsored by GEICO. The short season runs from July 4 to July 24.
Friday night, the New York Sportimes came to town to challenge the Sacramento Capitals. The New York team is coached by Fritz Buehning and their player roster included Martina Hingis, John McEnroe, Katie O Brien, Travis Parrott, Jesse Witten, Alex Bogdanovic and Greg Jones.
Only four players from each team compete in a match. Hingis, O Brien, Parrott and Witten started for the Sportimes. Knowles, Vemic, Fusano and Schnack started for the Capitals.
The match against the New York Sportimes began with Sacramento Capital’s Dusan Vemic versus Sportimes’ Jesse Witten for the Men’s Singles match. Each player showed their skills on the court.
Witten took the lead at one game to zero and after going up 2-1, he took the last three games and ended up winning the match five games to one.
The Women’s Singles was the second event, and pitted Yasmin Schnack against past Wimbledon winner Martina Hingis. Schnack had a loud and enthusiastic following in the stands. Fans carried signs saying “Schnack Attack” and others.
Like a baseball manager going out to calm a pitcher down, Coach Wayne Bryan got up from the bench area to talk to Schnack and issue some pointers. The veteran Hingis, however, disposed of Schnack 5-1.
Each game counts as one point and after the Women’s Singles, the Sportimes were up 10 points to 2. Rally cries from the stands were heard as the match went on. Crowd participation is encouraged during games and many in the crowd supported their team all evening long.
WTT does a lot to keep fans in the game including soliciting support by giving away Capitals merchandise. T-shirts and other equipment were thrown into the audience during breaks.
In addition, vendors were set up to sell food, drinks and tennis merchandise for the event. Activities and play areas for kids were set up and a live band played beforehand and performed the national anthem. DJ music was even played over the PA system, getting some fans to dance in the stands.
The next event was Mixed Doubles with New York’s Martina Hingis and Travis Parrott going up against Yasmin Schnack and Mark Knowles. The Sportimes took an early 2-0 lead and things started to look bleak for the Capitals. At this stage, the team score was 12-2.
Each game became more tense for Capitals fans until Schnack and Knowles took the next point, making the score 12-3. Fans hoped a rally was on.
Chants of “Let’s go Caps!” ensued.
Hingis and Parrott did not oblige and took the next three points to win the Mixed Doubles match 5-1.
This brought the team score to 15-3 in New York’s favor.
At half time, Coach Bryan hit balls to the ball kids as they lined up on the court opposite the coach. Coach Bryan had a microphone with him so he could give the kids some instruction. They each had to return the ball and go to the back of the line. After each child had a chance, he repeated the drill. This time they each had a chance to hit two balls back. This went on until three ball kids remained and had to hit the ball back six times in a row. Coach Bryan made them run from one side of the court to the other. The kids, as well as the fans, enjoyed half time.
Spectator, Ida Lancaster and her husband brought their two grandsons to the match. “We have a good time every time we attend the games,” said Lancaster. “The players show good sportsmanship and are a good example for the kids.”
After the short break, Christina Fusano teamed up with Yasmin Schnack for Women’s Doubles. They went up against Martina Hingis and Katie O Brien. This time the Capitals began to put some heat on the Sportimes.
Fusano and Schnack took a 4-0 lead, making the team score 15-7. The Capitals were on a roll. New York took the next point but Fusano and Schnack got the Women’s Doubles victory.
The Men’s Doubles was the last event of the evening. Sportimes players Travis Parrott and Jesse Witten faced Mark Knowles and Dusan Vemic. Knowles and Vemic took the first point of the final match and made things look interesting. The Capitals continued their rally until they took a 4-0 lead.
Parrott and Witten then got on a roll of their own and tied the match 4-4 before winning the last point.
The final score was New York 21, Sacramento 12.
Following the match, the first 100 kids were allowed to get player autographs from players and coaches.
Even with the Capitals loss, they continue to win the appreciation of fans. Many fans have followed the Capitals as they’ve moved from the Sunrise Mall to Roseville’s Galleria and back. The team is very involved in the community and has given over a million dollars back to the community throughout the time they’ve been in Sacramento.
Sacramento and the Capitals continue to enjoy a wonderful partnership that has brought six WTT championships to Sacramento. The ultimate winners are the fans as they continue to support their team.
For ticket prices and the match schedule, log on to the Capitals website for more information.