An Inside Peek at the World TeamTennis Player Draft for the Boston Lobsters
If you had the chance to put together a professional tennis team comprised of the best players around the world, who would you choose?
This is the exact question that the Boston Lobsters Owner, Bahar Uttam, and Coach Bud Schultz faced when they recently picked players in the 2012 World TeamTennis (WTT) draft.
WTT features the biggest tennis names in the world, both retired and current, playing each other in an innovative co-ed team format that offers exciting possibilities for players and fans. Each team is comprised of two men, two women and a coach. Team matches consist of five sets, with one set each of men’s and women’s singles, and men’s, women’s and mixed doubles.
The league was co-founded by Billie Jean King in the 1970s and has featured almost every major champion of the Open era over the past 36 seasons.
There are a total of two drafts. The first draft is specifically for the marquee players; the ones that are most sought after and only play during specific, predetermined matches. The second draft is when teams pick their roster players that will play with the team throughout the season.
The WTT league negotiates the players’ contracts and sends each team a spreadsheet which includes head shots, bios, when the marquee players are available and additional information about each player, including associated costs.
The first draft takes place in late winter, after the Australian Open. Similar to other professional sports drafts, the team that clinched first place in the league picks last, and the team that placed last, picks their players first.
From there, teams can either choose to protect certain players or pick new ones. The Boston Lobsters have both protected and chosen new players each year. This is the fifth season Jan-Michael Gambill has been protected as their first round draft pick and the third season the Lobsters have protected John Isner in the marquee player draft. This season, Isner and Gambill will be joined by fellow marquee players Martina Hingis, Lindsey Davenport and Robby Ginepri.
“When choosing players, I trust our coach Bud Schultz to put together a winning team that will work well together, but also with our guests, communities and sponsors,” said Uttam.
The second draft occurs a few weeks after the marquee players are chosen. Once the professional players’ schedules are set, the coaches and owners of each team are able to see which players are available and make their second draft picks. With the approval of the WTT league, teams are able to trade players while they are being chosen. Team lineups are then finalized with the exception that additional players can be added prior to the start of the season.
The Philadelphia Freedoms, Springfield Lasers, Orange County Breakers, New York Sportimes, Kansas City Explorers, Sacramento Capitals and the Washington Kastles join the Boston Lobsters to make up the WTT league.
The 2012 WTT league begins July 9th and runs through July 28th. The Joan Norton Stadium at the Ferncroft Country Club in Middleton, MA is the home stadium for the Boston Lobsters. The top two teams from both the Western and Eastern Conference advance to the WTT Finals Weekend, Sept. 14th through the 16th, at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, SC.
For more information about the Boston Lobsters and WTT, visit www.bostonlobsters.net.