World TeamTennis (WTT) has announced that Orlando will be awarded one of two expansion franchises as the league grows to eight teams for the 2019 season. The Orlando Storm and the Vegas Rollers will debut as WTT begins its 44th season this July.
The Orlando Storm will play its home matches at the USTA National Campus near Lake Nona. Jocelyn Davie will serve as the Orlando Storm’s inaugural general manager and the team will be coached by former ATP Tour player Scott Lipsky.
"We could not be more excited to have the Orlando Storm call the USTA National Campus home. Since we opened our doors we have looked at ways to bring new fans and players to the Campus and introduce them to the sport of tennis,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive of the USTA National Campus. “Showcasing World TeamTennis is a great vehicle to do just that. Orlando fans really support their local teams and we are looking forward to building that same type of fan base at the Campus.”
Both the Storm and the Rollers filled out their squads at the WTT Draft on March 12 in Indian Wells, Calif. Orlando picked up franchise player Madison Keys, a 2017 U.S. Open finalist who’s been ranked as high as No. 7 in the world WTA rankings.
The Storm members include Whitney Osuigwe, Ken Skupski (acquired from New York Empire), Darija Jurak and Evan King
The WTT season consists of seven home matches and seven away matches for each team and will run from July 14-31. The Storm will open the season at home against Las Vegas on July 14; the final home match is July 27 against the New York Empire.
The WTT playoffs begin in Las Vegas with the league’s semifinals on Aug. 2, and the 2019 season concludes with the WTT Finals on Aug. 3 (see 2019 Orlando Storm schedule below).
“With the success that the USTA National Campus has had in Lake Nona the past two years, it made perfect sense for World TeamTennis to expand to the Orlando area,” said WTT CEO Carlos Silva. “Orlando is a great sports city, and we are excited to bring our high-level brand of professional team tennis to this growing market.”
WTT introduced professional team tennis to the world in 1974, with Billie Jean King famously serving as its co-founder. The new teams in Orlando and Las Vegas join the league’s existing franchises – New York Empire, Orange County Breakers, Philadelphia Freedoms, San Diego Aviators, Springfield Lasers and Washington Kastles – for play in July 2019.
“The addition of two new teams in two strong markets is a positive move for WTT for 2019 and for the future,” said King. “This expansion is not only good for the league, it also is another indication of the importance of bringing our brand of tennis to new audiences and our commitment to growing the sport at all levels.”
In 2018, each of WTT’s teams incorporated select tennis stars from the ATP and WTA tours – including seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and 13-year WTT veteran Venus Williams, 2019 Australian Open and 2018 US Open women’s singles champion Naomi Osaka, 2017 US Open women’s champ Sloane Stephens, and twins Bob and Mike Bryan, the most decorated doubles team in tennis history.
World TeamTennis has showcased the best in professional tennis with the innovative team format co-founded by King in the 1970s. Recognized as the leader in professional team tennis competition, WTT features many of the world's best players competing annually for the King Trophy, the League's championship trophy named after 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, Martina Hingis, Maria Sharapova, Lindsay Davenport, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Naomi Osaka.