Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1982-1983 Dallas Stars

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World Team Tennis (1982-1983)

Born: 1981 – Team Tennis expansion franchise.
Died: Postseason 1983 – The Stars cease operations.

Arena: Reunion Arena

Team Colors: Navy & White

Owner: Robert Dunn

 

A largely forgotten two-year entry in Team Tennis.  You won’t find much, if anything, that’s survived into the internet era about these Dallas Stars, who played the 1982 and 1983 seasons of Team Tennis at Reunion Arena.

The 1982 Stars roster was headlined by South African (and former Texas Longhorn NCAA champion) Kevin Curren.  Curren would go on to win the Men’s Doubles championship at the U.S. Open in the summer of 1982, paired with his college doubles partner and Stars teammate Steve Denton.  Of the pair, Curren was the more distinguished singles player, peaking at a world #5 ranking in 1985.

The other two members of the Stars’ 1982 four-player co-ed roster were doubles specialists Anne Smith and Sharon Walsh.  The Stars won the league title in 1982, defeating the Phoenix Sunsets in the playoff final.

No information is available about the 1983 team.

The Stars folded quietly after their second campaign in 1983.

 

 

==Links==

World Team Tennis Media Guides

World Team Tennis Programs

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The other

Written by andycrossley

March 24th, 2014 at 10:08 pm

1982 Phoenix Sunsets

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World Team Tennis (1982)

Born: 1981 – Team Tennis expansion franchise.
Died: Postseason 1982 – The Sunsets cease operations.

Arena: Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Team Colors: Burgundy & White

Owner: Jock Miller

 

The Phoenix Sunsets existed for one year (well, actually, one month) in Billie Jean King’s Team Tennis league in the summer of 1982.  The Team Tennis format called for four-person teams (two men, two women).   A match consisted of five sets – one each for men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles.  The entire league season took place in the month of July 1982, during which time the Sunsets hosted a few matches at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, including the league-wide playoffs.

The Sunsets roster consisted of veteran tour pros Tom Gullikson, Ann Kiyomura, Andy Pattison and Pam Teeguarden.

Pattison, who served the dual role of Player-Coach, previously played for the defunct Phoenix Racquets (1975-1978) of the 1970′s version of World Team Tennis, which was a much grander and more ambitious operation than the 1980′s re-boot of the league.  (Both the Racquets and the rest of the original league folded in November 1978 after years of steep financial losses).

The Sunsets finished the 1982 season as runners-up to the Dallas Stars.

The Sunsets did not return for the 1983 season.  World Team Tennis took a third crack at Phoenix in 1992 with the formation of the Phoenix Smash (1992-1994), who lasted for three seasons and featuredJimmy Connors.

 

==Links==

World Team Tennis Media Guides

World Team Tennis Programs

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Written by andycrossley

March 24th, 2014 at 9:20 pm

1981-1982 Oakland Breakers

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World Team Tennis (1981-1982)

Born: 1981 – WTT founding franchise.
Died: Postseason 1982 – The Breakers cease operations.

Arena: Oakland Coliseum

Team Colors: Blue & Green

Owner: Bill Schoen

 

The Oakland Breakers were one of four original franchises in the low-key, California-only relaunch of World Team Tennis in 1981.  The original World Team Tennis, founded in part by superstar Billie Jean King, existed from 1974 to 1978 and included a Bay Area franchise known as the “Golden Gaters”.  The Breakers, like the Gaters before them, made their home at the Oakland Coliseum.

The original league played 44-game, four-month long summer seasons and succeeded in luring many of the top players of the era, especially on the women’s side.  In addition to King, the original World Team Tennis signed Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong, Ilie Nastase and Martina Navratilova among others.  But the league collapsed under its own weight in late 1978.

King and her then-husband Larry King re-booted the league in 1981 on a modest footing.  The season was only three weeks long and the four participating clubs were all in California.  In addition to Oakland, there were Team Tennis franchises in Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Diego.  King served as player-coach of the Oakland Breakers and was the league’s only household name, other than Navratilova, who played for the Los Angeles Strings.  Other members of the 1981 Breakers included Fritz Buehning,Phil Dent andAnn Kiyomura.

The Breakers returned in 1982 with an entirely new cast of characters.  King departed and was supposed to be replaced by her former mixed doubles partner from the 1970 French Open, South African Bob Hewitt.  But Hewitt left the team shortly before the season and was replaced by Larry Stefanki.  The all-new Breakers players for 1982 included Leslie Allen, Rosie Casals and Peter Rennert.

The team folded after the 1982 season.  Oakland got a new World Team Tennis franchise in 1985 – the Oakland Aces – but that team would also last only two money-losing summers at the Coliseum before going out of business.  World Team Tennis remains active enters its 34th season in 2014.

Bob Hewitt, intended to be the Breakers star attraction in 1982, had his plaque removed  from the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012 in the wake of a Boston Globe article that alleged Hewitt sexually assaulted and harassed numerous young girls from the 1970′s through the 1990′s.  The disgraced former champion currently faces a rape trial in South Africa scheduled to start in May 2014.

 

==Links==

World Team Tennis Media Guides

World Team Tennis Programs

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Written by andycrossley

March 16th, 2014 at 1:24 am

1982-1983 Houston Astro-Knots

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World Team Tennis (1982-1983)

Born: 1982 – WTT expansion franchise.
Died: Postseason 1983 – The Astro-Knots cease operations.

Venue: Woodlands Inn & County Club

Team Colors: Blue & Grey

OwnerGeorge Liddy

 

The Houston Astro-Knots were a short-lived franchise during the early 1980′s re-boot of World Team Tennis.  The club was owned by long-time tennis promoter George Liddy, who also promoted the $100,000 Avon Tennis Championships of Houston, which were staged at the Houston Summit in the early 1980′s.

World Team Tennis originally launched in 1974 with huge ambitions.  Co-e d teams played 44-game season over the course of four months, with top players departing periodically to play in Wimbledon or the U.S. Open.  Games were scheduled at massive NBA and NHL arenas although crowds hovered in the low thousands and sometimes worse.  Houston had one of the original franchises in 1974.  The Houston E-Z Riders featured Aussie star John Newcombe and played at the Sam Houston Coliseum, but folded after just one year.  By 1978 the league’s investors were out of hope and World Team Tennis went out of business that fall.

Founder and frontwoman Billie Jean King helped re-launch a much more modest version of World Team Tennis in 1981.  Rosters were reduced to four players (two men, two women) and the season scaled back to twelve matches over a three-week period each summer.  Although a handful of teams continued to rent out giant buildings such as the Oakland Coliseum and Dallas’ Reunion Arena, most of the new generation owner did what Astro-Knots backer George Liddy did and set up shop at a country club

During the 1982 season the Astro-Knots four-person co-ed team consisted of John Austin, Rosalyn Fairbank, Bruce Nichols and Wendy White.  John Austin is the brother of Tracy Austin, the teen superstar who held the World No. 1 ranking in 1980 at age 18.  Billie Jean King’s long-time mixed doubles partner Owen Davidson of Australia served as the Astro-Knots coach.

The Astro-Knots returned for a second season in 1983, but vanished shortly thereafter.  World Team Tennis returned to Houston in 2005 with the Houston Wranglers (2005-2007) who stayed for three seasons.

 

==In Memoriam==

Astro-Knots owner George Liddy passed away on March 21, 2007 at age 78.

 

 

==Links==

World Team Tennis Media Guides

World Team Tennis Programs

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Written by andycrossley

March 15th, 2014 at 11:52 pm

May 17, 1974 Baltimore Banners vs. Philadelphia Freedoms

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Baltimore Banners vs. Philadelphia Freedoms
May 17, 1974
Baltimore Civic Center
Attendance: ?

World Team Tennis Programs
56 pages

 

Rare program from the very early days of World Team Tennis.  The league was only about two weeks old when the Philadelphia Freedoms traveled to Maryland to play the Baltimore Banners at the Civic Center.  The match featured two of the league’s premier attractions: league founder and Freedoms player-coach Billie Jean King (pictured on the cover of the evening’s program) and Jimmy Connors of the Banners, who was one of the biggest male stars to sign with the co-ed league.

The league was so young at this point that it was still using a problematic match format.  The original concept of World Team Tennis was for each contest to consist of two sets of men’s singles, two sets of women’s singles, and two sets of mixed doubles.  Each game won was worth a single point.  So, hypothetically, if one team would all six sets by a score of 6 games to 4, they would win the match 36-24.  The trouble with this format was that early season games were dragging on for more than four hours in some cases.   World Team Tennis scrambled to fix the format early in the 1974 inaugural season, abruptly dropping the six-set format in favor of five-set contests that involved a single set each of men & women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.  The league still uses the five-set format today in 2014.

King’s early season appearance was the feature attraction on the Banners’ 22-game home schedule for 1974.  The league itself was in the news and still something of a novelty, Connors was newly arrived in Baltimore, and King was only eight months removed from her 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” takedown of Bobby Riggs that made her the biggest female sporting attraction in North America.

The Freedoms were the best team in World Team Tennis coming in with a 6-0 record.  And the match was something of an ass whipping.  Jimmy Connors’ singles match against Philadelphia’s Brian Fairlie was the only set that the Banners managed to win en route to a 34-20 defeat.

World Team Tennis struggled financially from the outset and lost six of its sixteen franchises after the 1974 season, including the Banners and the Freedoms who both went out of business after just one season of play.

 

==Downloads==

May 1974 Baltimore Banners Newsletter

May 17, 1974 Baltimore Banners Roster

May 17, 1974 Philadelphia Freedoms Roster

 

==Links==

Baltimore Banners Home Page

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