Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Tennis’ Category

1985-1994 San Antonio Racquets

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San Antonio RacquetsWorld TeamTennis (1985-1994)

Born: 1985 – WTT expansion franchise.
Died: Postseason 1994 – The Racquets cease operations.

Venue: McFarlin Tennis Center

Team Colors: Grey & Warm Red

Owner: Leo Rose

 

The San Antonio Racquets were a long-standing club in World TeamTennis, the summer time co-ed tennis league headed by Billie Jean King.  The Racquets won two league championships (1986 and 1989) during their ten-year run in the league.

Top players included Australian Kim Warwick, a 1980 Australian Open singles finalist, and American Sammy Giammalva.  Warwick was the league’s Male MVP in 1986 and 1987.  Giammalva earned the same honor for the 1991 season.

The San Antonio Racquets folded following the 1994 season.

Racquets principal backer Leo Rose was a former owner of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team.

 

==Links==

World Team Tennis Media Guides

World Team Tennis Programs

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Written by andycrossley

May 18th, 2014 at 5:48 pm

2014 Las Vegas Neon

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Las Vegas NeonWorld TeamTennis (2014)

Born: February 4, 2014 – The Sacramento Capitals relocate to Las Vegas.
Died: March 5, 2014 – World TeamTennis terminates the Neon franchise.

Venue: Darling Tennis Center

Team Colors:

Owner: Deepal Wannakuwatte

 

The brief 30-day lifespan of the Las Vegas Neon was an embarrassing footnote in the long history of World TeamTennis.  The niche co-ed tennis league lost its oldest franchise in February 2014 when the Sacramento Capitals moved to Las Vegas after 28 seasons in Northern California.  Although the Capitals endured nearly three decades in the turbulent, high turnover league, the team’s last few seasons were anything but stable, with persistent ownership, financial and venue problems.  The team’s last owner in Sacramento was Deepal Wannakuwatte, a medical supply company owner who took over the Capitals in 2011.  Wannakuwatte announced the move to Las Vegas on February 4, 2014, citing the Capitals stadium woes as the primary reason for the move.  The Capitals played the 2013 season in a shopping mall parking lot.

Barely three weeks after announcing the move to Vegas, Deepal Wannakuwatte was arrested on charges of running a decade-long $150 million Ponzi scheme.  World TeamTennis revoked and disbanded the Las Vegas Neon franchise on March 5th, 2014, one month and one day after the club was introduced.  Wannakuwatte plead guilty to fraud charges in May 2014 and is awaiting sentencing, which is expected to be upwards of 20 years  prison.

 

==Links==

World TeamTennis Media Guides

World TeamTennis Programs

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Written by andycrossley

May 13th, 2014 at 1:52 pm

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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Phoenix SunsetsWorld 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 tennis  team 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