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Springfield, MO — The King Trophy remains in Springfield another year as the Springfield Lasers celebrate their reign as back-to-back World TeamTennis champions.
The Lasers defeated the New York Empire, 20-19, in the 44th WTT championship Saturday, Aug. 3, in Las Vegas, Nev. The audience included World TeamTennis co-founder and International Tennis Hall of Famer Billie Jean King, who helped present her namesake trophy to the Lasers.
This is the Lasers’ second consecutive championship win. Springfield won its first King Trophy in 2018, after 23 years in the league and four previous trips to the championship final.
The Lasers were behind for most of the match, entering the final set, men’s doubles, down by two points. Springfield’s Robert Lindstedt and Evan Song, drafted just the day before to replace injured Enrique Lopez Perez, rallied to beat New York’s Neal Skupski and Ulises Blanch, 5-2.
Song, a Las Vegas native who spent the WTT season with the Vegas Rollers, clinched the title on his serve, in front of his family, friends and the Rollers’ home audience, who all cheered loudly for the Lasers at the playoff and the final.
“Being from Vegas and winning in an event like this, it’s just a dream for me,” said Song. “It was an incredible atmosphere. I think I turned some of them (the fans) into Springfield fans.”
The Lasers won just two sets in the finals match, and Lindstedt was at the heart of Springfield’s success, dominating in men’s doubles and mixed doubles (5-2) with the Lasers’ Abigail Spears, at both the playoff the night before and the final. Lindstedt was named the 2019 World TeamTennis Finals Most Valuable Player presented by Forevermark. He received a one-carat Forevermark diamond.
“It means I did something right. Proof that I achieved something,” Lindstedt said lightheartedly of the award. “We maybe took our foot off the gas a little bit (in the last game). Evan came up with a big point. It was great.”
Spears and Olga Govortsova fell short in women’s doubles (5-4) and Govortsova in women’s singles (5-3). But it was thanks, in part, to Govortsova that the Lasers even appeared in the final match. Her 5-4 fifth set women’s singles win in the WTT playoff match sealed the Lasers’ 21-19 victory over San Diego, sending the Lasers to the championship.
The Lasers completed the regular WTT season 11-5, entering the playoffs as the No. 2 seed behind No. 1 Philadelphia Freedoms, which New York beat in the playoffs (24-18). The Lasers had a perfect 7-0 undefeated season at home.
Spears was the only team member who played the whole season with the Lasers. She was also the only player who played in both 2018 and 2019 championship matches.
Miomir Kecmanovic, the hero and MVP of the 2018 Championship, played four matches at home before returning to the tennis tour. In August, after beating No. 6 ranked Alexander Zverev in Cincinnati, Kecmanovic broke into the Top 50-ranked players in the world.
Anna Blinkova and Jean-Julien Rojer spent 10 matches with the Lasers before exiting, as scheduled, to appear at the Citi Open tournament in Washington DC (Blinkova returned to the team and sat on the bench during the playoff and final.) They were replaced by Govortsova and Lindstedt, respectively. Lindstedt, a longtime friend and competitor with Rojer, Facetimed with Rojer throughout the award ceremony. Rojer’s face appears on a smart phone in many photos from the celebration.
Lopez Perez spent the entire regular season with the Lasers, but injured his thumb while holding a door for his teammates in Springfield, just before the team departed for the playoffs. He sat on the bench while Song played in his place.
Missouri State women’s tennis coach and former University of Missouri player Mallory Weber and Southwest Baptist University tennis player Sherif Abohabaga served as alternates with the Lasers, but did not travel with the team. Both were standout players at the college level.
The Springfield Lasers are planning a hometown championship celebration Aug. 29, 6-8 p.m. at Cooper Tennis Complex. The celebration includes a rededication of the newly-renovated Courts 1-6 at Cooper, followed by a party, music, cake, photo ops with the King Trophy, door prizes and merchandise. While the team members are committed to appear in tournaments around the world, longtime Coach John-Laffnie “JL” de Jager plans to attend, arriving from the US Open in New York, where he expects to reunite with most of the 2019 team.
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. 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 and their second in 2019, 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).