World TeamTennis (1992-1994)
Born: 1992 – WTT expansion franchise.
Died: February 7, 1995 – The Smash franchise is returned to the league.
Arena: America West Arena (9,000)
Team Colors: Black, Purple & Teal
Owner: Jerry Colangelo
The Phoenix Smash were a top franchise in World TeamTennis for three summers from 1992 to 1994. WTT features 4-person teams (two men, two women), a unique scoring system, and a laid-back atmosphere that encourages fans to cheer and yell. The league is now in its second incarnation. A bigger budget version went under during the 1970′s, but a scaled back league was revived in 1981 and is currently in its fourth decade of play. Tennis legend Billie Jean King has been TeamTennis’ driving force since the original league debuted in 1974.
The Smash were owned by the Colangelo family, owners of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. At this time, the Colangelo’s were in the midst of assembling a small menagerie of second-tier pro sports franchises to fill summer dates at the newly opened American West Arena. Besides the Smah, the Colangelo’s also launched the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League in 1992 and would add the Arizona Sandsharks of the Continental Indoor Soccer League a year later.
During the first season in 1992 the Smash featured a typically anonymous TeamTennis roster of pro tour journeymen, such as the immortal Dinky Van Rensburg. But thanks to the pro sports expertise and infrastructure of the Colangelo family, the Smash established a new attendance record for the 13-year old TeamTennis league with announced average crowds of 3,823 per game.
In December 1992 the Smash added a big name, signing 39-year old American superstar Jimmy Connors. In July 1993, the Smash hosted the Los Angeles Strings at America West Arena. The Strings featured Bjorn Borg and the big attraction was the first set of competitive tennis between Connors and Borg since the 1981 U.S. Open. The match drew a league record crowd of 7,693 fans.
Connors returned to the Smash for the 1994 season as well. The Smash led the World Team Tennis in attendance in 1994 for the third consecutive season.
In early February 1995 the Colangelo’s gave up on the Smash after three seasons, citing the high operating costs of staging matches in an NBA arena. They sold the franchise back to World TeamTennis management for an undisclosed sum. This marked the end of the team, as TeamTennis was unable to find a new buyer and the Phoenix club was eventually deleted from the league’s 1995 schedule.
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