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WTT holds 2001 draft

by WTT Press Release
April 11, 2001 - World TeamTennis (WTT)

WTT holds 2001 draft

WTT Press Release

CHICAGO - All nine franchises in the DuPont World TeamTennis (WTT) Professional League rounded out their team rosters at the Roster Player Draft held this morning at League Headquarters in Chicago. American standout Andy Roddick, doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi, 2000 Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Dokic, three-time League MVP Brian MacPhie and 2000 Australian Open doubles champions Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs were the draft's top picks.

Today's draft follows the WTT Marquee Player Draft, which was held April 4 and assigned the League's top players, including Anna Kournikova, Jan-Michael Gambill, Serena Williams, Monica Seles and tennis legends Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova.

The 2001 WTT Pro League will be played July 9-29 with the season-ending Championships slated for late August.

" Once again I'm very pleased with the talent level in the League this year, " said WTT CEO/Commissioner Ilana Kloss. "We made a conscious effort in the off-season to recruit some of the top player's in the men's game, so the addition of Jan-Michael Gambill, Roddick, Mark Knowles and Bhupathi, and the return of veterans like Connors, MacPhie and Rick Leach will be great for League play. Couple that with the likes of Seles, Kournikova, Williams and younger players like Dokic and Lucic, and this could easily be one the most competitive seasons in WTT history."

Although the four-time WTT League Champs lost veteran Richey Reneberg to retirement at the end of last season, the Capitals landed Hall of Famer Jana Novotna shortly following last week's Marquee Draft. To start today's Roster Draft, Sacramento protected third year veteran Elena Likhovtseva, the leader of the women's attack for the Capitals. They then signed-on doubles expert Mark Knowles who plays on the ATP Tour with 3-time League MVP Brian MacPhie, who they decided to protect with their third selection. Knowles and MacPhie are currently the #2 ranked doubles team on the ATP Tour with back-to-back semifinal appearances at Indian Wells and Miami. The Capitals rounded out their draft by taking Canadian Maureen Drake in the fourth round.

With their first pick, Delaware took Jelena Dokic, the 18-year-old Australian who stormed into the semifinal round at last summer's Wimbledon Championships. The Smash then decided to secure the nucleus of their 2000 Eastern Conference champion team by protecting the rights to 2000 League MVP Mariaan de Swardt and veteran Mike Sell. Delaware then opted for six-year WTT veteran John-Laffnie de Jager, who returns to the League after a stint with the K.C. Explorers in 1999. In last week's Marquee Draft, the Smash protected the rights to Serena Williams.

After protecting the rights to tennis legend Martina Navratilova in last week's Marquee Player Draft, the Buzz grabbed Jana Nejedly, Justin Bower and Jill Craybas with their first three picks. Nejedly, a 26-year-old from Toronto, is the #1 ranked singles player in Canada. Bower plays on the Davis Cup team for South Africa and Craybas helped lead the University of Florida to an undefeated season and the national championship in 1996. New York then selected doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi with their final pick in the draft. Bhupathi has recorded 17 career doubles titles, including both the French Open and Wimbledon in 1999 with partner Leander Paes.

Hartford began by taking Sonya Jeyaseelan, a 25-year-old player from Toronto. Last season, Jeyaseelan captured her first career doubles title on the WTA Tour with a victory in Strasbourg. The FOXFORCE then turned their attention to the crowd-pleasing duo of Luke and Murphy Jensen with their next two selections. To end their draft day, Hartford picked Mirjana Lucic, who battled into the semifinal round at Wimbledon in 1999. She also captured the 1998 Australian Open doubles crown with Martina Hingis. They will join teammate Monica Seles on the FOXFORCE roster this summer.

The Lasers turned their attention to a League rookie with the selection of David Wheaton in the first round. Wheaton has captured 3 career singles titles on the ATP Tour, including the prestigious Grand Slam Cup in Munich in 1991, and teamed with Hamptons' player/owner Patrick McEnroe that same year to reach the finals at the Australian Open. With their next two picks the Lasers selected 3-year WTT veteran Katie Schlukebir and 19-year-old Russian player Anastasia Myskina, who captured her first career singles title on the WTA Tour at Palermo in 1999. Springfield finished the day by protecting 8-year WTT veteran David MacPherson. MacPherson teamed with Grant Stafford last season to form the League's #1 ranked doubles tandem.

A week after taking Jimmy Connors in the Marquee Draft, Philadelphia selected hometown favorite Lisa Raymond of Norristown, Pa., and her longtime doubles partner Rennae Stubbs with their first two picks. The tandem is currently ranked #4 and #5 respectively on the WTA Tour, capturing titles this season in Tokyo and Scottsdale. In the third round, Philadelphia secured another Norristown native in David DiLucia and rounded out their draft by taking Don Johnson from Bethlehem, Pa. Johnson has captured 16 doubles titles on the ATP Tour, five last season, including the Tour Doubles Championships with Piet Norval in Bangalore, India.

After passing on a Marquee player last week, the Explorers selected Jessica Steck, a 22-year-old player from South Africa who played for the Capitals in 1999. Kansas City then decided to protect the rights to Jeff Coetzee, who played all but four games for the Explorers in men's singles and teamed with Alistair Hunt to finish ranked #2 in men's doubles last season. With their final picks, the Explorers took two League veterans in Tara Snyder and Brent Haygarth.

After securing Jan-Michael Gambill in last week's Marquee Draft, the Hamptons protected Jonathan Stark and Tina Krizan from last season's squad. In round three, New York took Katarina Srebotnick, a 20-year-old player from Slovenia. Srebotnick, currently ranked #34 in doubles on the WTA Tour, partners with Krizan throughout the WTA season, and in 2000 they captured the title at the Estoril Open. The Hamptons concluded their draft by protecting the rights to player/owner Patrick McEnroe.

The Aces continued their youth movement this spring by selecting American standout Andy Roddick in the first round. Roddick, who defeated Pete Sampras at the Ericsson Open in Miami a few weeks ago, returns for his second straight season of WTT. Last year he played for Idaho and finished with the best singles record in the League with a mark of 65-45. St. Louis then turned to 5-year WTT veteran Rick Leach, who returns to the Aces for the first time since 1998. Manon Bollegraf will also be a familiar face to WTT fans, as she joins the Aces this year after a run with the Delaware Smash in 1997. In the last two rounds, St. Louis selected Allison Bradshaw and doubles specialist Jared Palmer, currently ranked #42 in doubles on the ATP Tour.

Billie Jean King and Larry King originated World TeamTennis and its unique gender-equity team concept in the early 70s'. The format features teams comprised of two men, two women and a coach. Each match consists of five sets, with one set each of men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles.

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