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Springfield-Greene County Park Board News

Posted on: July 10, 2019

Springfield Lasers team arriving straight from Wimbledon

Lasers19_AnnaBlinkova

Springfield, MO — The Springfield Lasers Pro Tennis team arrives in Springfield straight from Wimbledon for Sunday’s World TeamTennis season opener at Cooper Tennis Complex, 2331 E. Pythian Ave.

Despite their name, the members of the team are not from Springfield. They’re each internationally-ranked tennis professionals who spend the rest of the year on the tournament circuit, including Wimbledon, where three current team members appeared this month.

The Lasers open the WTT season in Springfield Sunday, July 14, facing the Philadelphia Freedoms, whom they beat 19-18 at the 2018 WTT Finals. The Lasers take the court as the defending champions of the World TeamTennis league, having brought home the WTT King Trophy last summer for the first time in the team’s 23-year history.

ABOUT THE TEAM

This year’s team features 2018 team star Miomir “Misha” Kecmanovic as a franchise player, appearing in Springfield July 14, 16, 17 and 18. Kecmanovic, 19, clinched the winning point in the Lasers’ 2018 championship match against Philadelphia, later named WTT Championship MVP. A rising young Serbian player, he turned pro in 2017, broke into the Top 100 in March, and is currently ranked No. 67. This summer, he made it to the finals at the Antalya Open, and reached Round 2 at both the French Open and Wimbledon.

The roster also includes returning crowd favorite, American Abigail Spears, 37, who helped take the team to the 2018 championship match with solid doubles play. Spears won her first Grand Slam title in 2017 with a mixed doubles crown at Australian Open (w/Cabal.) She has earned 21 WTA doubles titles, most recently in 2018 in Nottingham (w/Rosolska), and is currently ranked No. 30 in doubles. She appeared in quarterfinals this year at Doha, Miami, Prague and Straasbourg. This summer she appeared in Round 3 at both the French Open and Wimbledon. Spears, the only American on the team, has family in the Ozarks who cheer her on at home matches.

Anna Blinkova, a 20-year-old from Russia,  makes her WTT debut this summer. Blinkova had an incredible month in May, earning three ITF World Tour titles: a W100 doubles title at Trnava, Slovakia (w/Knoll), where she also reached the finals in singles; a W80 doubles title at Cagnes-sur-Mer (w/Knoll); and a W60 doubles title in Weisbaden (w/Kickmeyer), where she also reached the semifinals in singles. She broke into the Top 100 in singles in 2018, and doubles just this year, and is currently at her career-high ranking of No. 84 in singles, No. 75 in doubles. Blinkova appeared in Round 3 at both the French Open and Wimbledon this summer, stopping in between to appear in the doubles semifinals at Ilkley.

Enrique “Kiki” Lopez Perez, 27, also makes his WTT debut this season. From Madrid, Spain, Perez reached a career-high rank of No. 135 in April. This year, he made it to the doubles final in Bangkok, the singles final in Zhuhai, and the doubles semi-finals in Lyon.

Returning to the team is Olga Govorstova, 30, from Belarus. Govortsova appeared with the Springfield Lasers in 2014, becoming a fan favorite dubbed “The Flying O,” and helping take the team to the WTT Finals. She has eight WTA Doubles titles and an additional nine ITF titles, including an ITF World Tour W100 doubles title at Midland, Mich., in February (w/Savinykh) and a W25 singles title in Darmstadt in June, the same month she appeared in the singles final in Stuttgart. Govortsova is scheduled to appear in the last five matches, including July 30 and 31 at home.

No. 19-ranked doubles specialist Joe Salisbury, 27, from London, England, has withdrawn from the Springfield Lasers WTT season due to an injury sustain at Wimbledon. His exit follows a history-making Round 3 men’s doubles match Monday, where Salisbury appeared in Wimbledon’s first-ever fifth set tiebreaker, reflecting a new rule implemented to keep tied matches from continuing for hours on end. Salisbury’s replacement will be announced as soon as possible.

Popular Lasers Coach John-Laffnie “JL” De Jager, from South Africa, returns to Springfield this summer for his 13th season coaching the Lasers, and his 20th year with WTT.

ABOUT THE SEASON

Lasers grandstand, box, season tickets and VIP packages are now available at Cooper Tennis Complex, 2331 E. Pythian St., or call Paul Nahon, Lasers General Manager, at 417-837-5800. Tickets are also available online at SpringfieldLasers.com . Grandstand tickets are $10-$15.

Home dates include:

Sun., July 14 Season opener Philadelphia at Springfield, featuring Miomir Kecmanovic

Tues., July 16 Kids’ Night Orlando at Springfield, featuring Miomir Kecmanovic and Feliciano Lopez, early start at 6 p.m., gates and Kids’ Night activities begin at 4:30

Wed., July 17 New York at Springfield, featuring Miomir Kecmanovic

Thurs., July 18 Washington at Springfield, featuring Miomir Kecmanovic

Wed., July 24 San Diego at Springfield

Tues., July 30 Orange County at Springfield

Wed., July 31 Las Vegas at Springfield

All matches begin at 7 p.m., with gates opening at 5:30, except July 16, when the match begins at 6, gates open at 4:30. All home matches (except July 16) are broadcast locally live on Mediacom MC22/85-5. Home and away matches are live-streamed at WTT.tv and CBS Sports Network, check WTT.com/schedule for details.

ABOUT WORLD TEAMTENNIS

World TeamTennis showcases the best in professional tennis with eight teams in major markets competing in the innovative team format for the King Trophy, the League’s championship trophy named after tennis icon and founder Billie Jean King. Since the League's debut, virtually every major champion of the Open era has played WTT, including Andre Agassi, Venus and Serena Williams, Pete Sampras, Stefanie Graf, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Bob and Mike Bryan, Sloane Stephens, Martina Hingis, Maria Sharapova, Lindsay Davenport, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Naomi Osaka. Owned by innovator Fred Luddy and entrepreneur Eric Davidson, WTT's 44th season plays from July 14 to July 31, with the league semifinals set for Aug. 2 and the finals Aug. 3. CBS Sports is the official television broadcast partner of WTT. WTT is one of five active U.S. pro sports leagues which has been in operation for more than 40 years, along with the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. Learn more at WTT.com.

 ABOUT THE LASERS

The Springfield Lasers were established in 1996 by the late Harry Cooper, who gifted the team to the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. The Lasers are now one of the oldest teams in  WTT, managed by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board and playing home matches at Cooper Tennis Complex. The Lasers won their first WTT Championship in 2018, after making it to the WTT finals in 2014, 2013, 2009, 2001 and 1999.

For more information on Springfield Lasers, visit SpringfieldLasers.com, or look for Springfield Lasers on Facebook or @SGFLasers on Twitter and Instagram

For media inquiries, contact Jenny Fillmer Edwards, Public Relations for the Springfield Lasers and Public Information Administrator for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, at 417-224-5510 (mobile).

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