New York Empire Brings Back Core of Last Season's Roster; Announces 2018 Schedule
NEW YORK - The New York Empire presented by Citi today announced its 2018 World TeamTennis presented by GEICO schedule and final player roster for the upcoming season. The New York Empire will return to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., playing its first match on Sunday, July 15. The regular season concludes on Thursday, August 2 with the WTT Finals on Sunday, August 5.
The New York Empire brings back the core of its roster from last season, in which the team secured its first-ever top-3 finish. Led by second-year head coach and International Tennis Hall of Famer Gigi Fernandez, the roster is boosted by the return of Franchise players Genie Bouchard, Mardy Fish and John Isner as well as doubles specialist Neal Skupski.
Bouchard, 24, returns for her second season of New York Empire tennis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Montreal, Quebec native made her Empire debut last July, defeating the Orange County Breakers' Yanina Wickmayer in women's singles action. Bouchard is an accomplished professional on the WTA tour, reaching the Wimbledon final, Australian Open semifinals and French Open semifinals in 2014.
Fish, 36, returns for his eighth WTT season after helping lead the franchise to within one spot of a WTT Finals appearance in 2017. The Los Angeles resident, who won six ATP World Tour singles titles during his career, will appear in home matches on July 23, July 25 and July 26.
The 6-foot-10 ace specialist, Isner, will play his eighth consecutive season of WTT and will appear in the season-opening match against the Washington Kastles on July 15. The former University of Georgia All-American is currently the No. 18 ranked player in the world and is fourth all-time in aces served in the ATP.
Skupski, who returns for his third consecutive season with the New York Empire, will serve as the team's doubles specialist in the 2018 season. In 2017, Skupski played 122 games of men's doubles and 97 games of mixed doubles, serving up 25 aces along the way.
The remainder of the New York Empire roster was completed during Tuesday's WTT Draft, held in Indian Wells, Calif. General Manager Michele Cope used the franchise's three draft picks to select Tatjana Maria, Dennis Novikov and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.
Maria, selected with the Empire's first pick in the draft, is a 30-year-old German currently ranked No. 56 in the world in singles on the WTA Tour. Maria has won two doubles titles on the WTA Tour and has played for Germany's Fed Cup team. She has advanced to at least the second round in each of the four Grand Slam events, with her best result a third-round appearance at Wimbledon in 2015.
With the second pick, the Empire selected Dennis Novikov, a former UCLA All-American who spent the 2016 WTT season with the Orange County Breakers. Novikov, 24, was born in Moscow, Russia, and grew up in San Jose, Calif. In January, Novikov upset former world No. 5 Kei Nishikori at the $125,000 ATP Oracle Challenger in Newport Beach, Calif., and last month, he won his 11th ITF professional singles title by winning the Morelos Challenger in Mexico.
Filling out the roster, the Empire selected Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. The 35-year-old WTA Tour veteran has won 18 tour doubles titles and five in singles. She achieved a career-high doubles ranking of No. 4 in the world in 2010.
"We feel like we had a great draft," said Empire head coach Gigi Fernandez. "We have a diverse team now with an American, a German and a Spaniard joining our Franchise players John, Genie and Mardy, and Neal Skupski rounding out our full-time player roster. We can't wait for the season to start and our team will bring an exciting brand of tennis to New York once again this summer."
The New York Empire will kick off the 2018 schedule with a home-and-away series with the Washington Kastles on July 15 and July 16. Further highlights of the 2018 schedule include a visit from the defending King Trophy winners Orange County Breakers on Thursday, July 26 and two home matches against the Philadelphia Freedoms.
New York Empire Schedule (home matches in bold)
Date Time Opponent
Sunday, July 15 TBD Washington (D.C.)
Monday, July 16 TBD at Washington (D.C.)
Wednesday, July 18 TBD Philadelphia
Thursday, July 19 TBD at Springfield (Mo.)
Friday, July 20 TBD San Diego
Sunday, July 22 TBD at Washington (D.C.)
Monday, July 23 TBD Washington (D.C.)
Wednesday, July 25 TBD Springfield (Mo.)
Thursday, July 26 TBD Orange County (Calif.)
Saturday, July 28 TBD at Springfield (Mo.)
Sunday, July 29 TBD at Orange County (Calif.)
Monday, July 30 TBD at San Diego
Wednesday, August 1 TBD at Philadelphia
Thursday, August 2 TBD Philadelphia
New York Empire Roster (Franchise Players in bold)
Name WTT Season Nationality
Eugenie Bouchard 4th CAN
Mardy Fish 8th USA
John Isner 8th USA
Tatjana Maria 1st GER
Dennis Novikov 2nd USA
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 1st ESP
Neal Skupski 4th GBR
Tickets will go on-sale later this month and start as low as $10 for children age 16-and-under, and $25 for adults. The New York Empire offers both reserved box seats and general admission seating, along with hospitality packages, which include food and beverage service and the opportunity to meet the team. A limited number of Play with the Pros spots are also available.
New York Empire tickets can be purchased by visiting www.NYEmpireTennis.com or calling the New York Empire office at 844-5-EMPIRE (844-536-7473). The 2018 WTT regular season will take place from July 15 - August 2 with the No. 1-seeded team hosting the championship match for the King Trophy on August 5.
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