World Team Tennis, Battle of the Brits conclude in thrilling fashion

  • Matt Trollope

New York Empire defeated Chicago Smash to win the 2020 World Team Tennis season in a nail-biting finish at West Virginia’s Greenbrier Resort.

It was not the only mixed-team competition to conclude over the weekend; the Battle of the Brits event in London ended in similarly tense style with the British Bulldogs overcoming the Andy Murray-led Union Jacks.

Meanwhile, at the Mouratoglou Academy on the French Riviera, Alexander Zverev claimed the second Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) for men while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was crowned champion in the inaugural women’s event.

These exhibition events wrapped up as professional tennis resumed, and indicated who may flourish as the sport makes its official return after a five-month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

WTT goes down to the wire

In West Virginia, former world No.9 CoCo Vandeweghe demonstrated her impressive form with two wins from three outings in Sunday’s final – as well as the championship-winning shot.

After teaming with Jack Sock to win the mixed doubles set, Vandeweghe fell short in her singles set against Sloane Stephens before returning to the court with Nicole Melichar for the women’s doubles set.

She hit a return winner off Stephens’ serve which just clipped the line – handing the Empire a 21-20 victory over the Smash and sending the team into a frenzy.

“We had great chemistry from the word go, Nicole and I,” Vandeweghe said.

“She picked me up when I was down, and I did the same with her. We kept our momentum going in the playoffs and kept fighting for it.”

Vandeweghe played the women’s singles set in place of the injured Kim Clijsters, who until an abdominal problem had been dominant at The Greenbrier in winning six of her seven singles sets.

Bulldogs over Jacks in Battle of the Brits

The Battle of the Brits came down to a final mixed doubles match, with Harriet Dart and Joe Sailsbury beating Heather Watson and Jamie Murray 6-4 6-2.

That result delivered the British Bulldogs a 63-56 win over the Union Jacks, who had come within two points of the Bulldogs after Andy Murray and Naomi Broady defeated Kyle Edmund and Emma Raducanu in the penultimate match. 

“It was amazing. I can’t believe after all this tennis that we’ve had this week that it came down to the last match of the week. It was so much fun,” Salisbury said.

“It’s so great to have all the best British players, men and women, all together, out here supporting each other, playing against each other.

Harriet Dart (L) and Joe Salisbury in action during the final mixed doubles match at the Battle of the Brits in London. (Getty Images)

“It’s good practice. If you can play in these conditions, you can play in anything.”

UTS winners crowned

Pavlyuchenkova, attaining an extraordinary level of tennis during the event, ultimately won the UTS women’s title with victory over Alize Cornet, before Zverev beat Felix Auger-Aliassime in a battle of young guns.

Both finals came down to sudden death after players split the four 10-minute quarters.