Coco Vandeweghe hammered a go-for-broke return that caught the again line to earn the New York Empire victory over the Chicago Smash on Sunday within the World Team Tennis (WTT) ultimate that got here all the way down to a winner-takes-all final level. The 9 workforce, three-week WTT occasion at West Virginia’s Greenbrier Resort went so long as it may and a bit extra.
With 5 units unable to resolve a champion, the competition continued into Extended Play after which a first-to-seven tremendous tiebreak that in the end got here all the way down to the final level. Tied 6-6 with Chicago’s Sloane Stevens serving for the title, Vandeweghe blasted a forehand return that was challenged however to no avail because the shot narrowly clipped the again of the baseline to present the Empire a 21-20 win.
Social distancing and different COVID-19 security protocols have been forgotten as Vandeweghe and doubles associate Nicole Melichar have been mobbed by Empire workforce mates together with Jack Sock and Belgium’s four-time Grand Slam winner Kim Clijsters, who was sidelined by an belly damage and didn’t play within the ultimate.
“To see the best players going after it, toe-to-toe, it’s wonderful,” mentioned Empire coach Luke Jensen. “Last year, we were one swing away, and this time the swing went in. We’re very fortunate to be in this position.”
The Empire, who misplaced final season’s ultimate in opposition to the Springfield Lasers, seemed motivated early on successful each the lads’s and combined doubles to take a 10-6 lead going into the singles. But that 4 level benefit was shortly erased with 18-year-old American Brandon Nakashima bageling Sock 5-Zero and Stevens, sporting a Black Lives Matter singlet, stopping Vandeweghe 5-Three to push Chicago in entrance 16-13 going into the ladies’s doubles.
Needing solely to carry serve to safe the title, Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard and Bethanie Mattek-Sands have been unable to close the door on Vandeweghe and Melichar who received in a tiebreak to ship the ultimate to Extended Play.
The Empire held serve and broke the Smash to depart the rating stage at 20-20, sending it to a 13-point tremendous tiebreak.
With the title slipping away the Smash went to their bench bringing in Stevens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, instead of Bouchard to associate with Mattek-Sands.
Stevens produced some huge factors together with an ace to stage at 6-6 however may solely watch as Vandeweghe’s successful shot hit the road.
“The second (Vandeweghe) hit it and I didn’t hear an ‘out’ call, I was thrilled,” Melichar mentioned. “But then the fact (the Smash) were challenging it, all of a sudden, we were like, ‘Oh no, oh no, oh no.’
“It was just pure joy after that. It was incredible.”