The historic Forest Hills Stadium at the West Side Tennis Club hosted the opening night ceremony, which launched the Empire’s first season as part of Mylan World TeamTennis against the Washington Kastles.
The six-time defending champion Kastles made their entrance onto the court first. Coached by Murphy Jensen, team members include Madison Brengle, Martina Hingis, Denis Kudla, Leander Paes and Anastasia Rodionova.
The crowd went wild as the home team emerged onto the court. The team is usually coached by Patrick McEnroe, but since he was finishing up his work at the Rogers Cup, the team was coached by Katrina Adams, CEO and president of the USTA.
The team consisted of Maria Irigoyen, Christina McHale, Guido Pella, Neal Skupski and Taylor Townsend.
In Mylan World TeamTennis, each set is played to five games. The first event was men's doubles, a very close match the Kastles won 5-4.
In the second event, women's doubles, Washington won its second set, 5-2. However a big turn around came for the Empire when Pella won his men's singles match against Kudla, 5-2, in the third event.
“It’s hard to make friends in tennis because your team member one day can be your opponent the next,” Pella told Amy Lawrence of CBS Sports at halftime. “But today, I love being with New York Empire and am hoping our team does well.”
Coming out of halftime, the Kastles enjoyed a narrow 12-11 lead, but extended it when the Empire fell to Washington in mixed doubles, 5-2.
In the closing event of women’s singles, McHale might have underestimated her opponent Brengle, who championed the set. Forest Hills Stadium cheered for McHale, who tried her best to raise the total score, but having just played in mixed doubles might have been tiring out.
When Adams called two timeouts during the final event, McHale downed Gatorade and tried to summon a last bit of determination, but Brengle won the set 5-2, giving the Kastles a 22-15 victory.
Mylan World TeamTennis was co-founded by former professional tennis star Billie Jean King, who was honored during a ceremony before the matches got underway.
She, along with her competitor and friend Virginia Wade, a professional British tennis player, both made speeches and welcomed guests to the first event.
Mylan World TeamTennis events will be going on until the finals on August 26 at Forest Hills Stadium. Find tickets and more information at nyempiretennis.com.