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New York Empire Sets Roster at 2019 World TeamTennis

Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning to Host Home Matches for World TeamTennis Franchise


NEW YORK (March 12, 2019)
– The New York Empire presented by Citi and head coach Luke Jensen today announced its player roster and new venue for the upcoming 2019 World TeamTennis (WTT) season. The fourth-year WTT franchise will play its home matches at Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning, a world-class facility in the Bronx, and the flagship home to New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL).

At the WTT draft in Indian Wells, Calif., the Empire protected 6-foot-10 ace specialist, John Isner. The 2018 Wimbledon semifinalist will play his eighth season of WTT and third with the Empire. He’s currently the No. 9 ranked player in the world and is second all-time in aces served on any surface.

Holding the first pick of this season’s WTT draft, the Empire chose Kirsten Flipkens, from Belgium, who will make her return to the Empire roster after sitting out the 2018 WTT season. Flipkens, a former World No. 13 and Wimbledon semifinalist, is no stranger to team tennis as she’s played a remarkable 16 years of Fed Cup action for her native country. This will be her second season playing in WTT.

With the Empire’s second-round pick, the team selected 20-year-old American Ulises Blanch. A former world No. 2 ranked junior, Blanch won his first career ATP Challenger Tour title in Perugia, Italy in 2018, not dropping a single set en route to victory. The 6’3” Blanch, who was a semifinalist in Boys’ Singles at Wimbledon in 2016, will bring a fresh, youthful look to the Empire’s men’s singles position.

Neal Skupski, the current No. 34 ranked doubles player, is returning to the Empire for his fourth consecutive season and will again serve as the team’s doubles specialist. In 2018, Skupski played 110 games of men’s doubles and 114 games of mixed doubles, serving up 26 aces along the way.

WTA Tour veteran, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, achieved a career-high doubles ranking of No. 4 in the world in 2010 and has won 18 tour doubles titles and five in singles. After being named WTT’s Female Rookie of the Year in 2018, Martinez Sanchez returns as a member of the team’s successful mixed doubles pairing with Skupski.

“We wanted to pick a team of players who could play in this format, which is fast, furious and pressure-packed,” said Jensen. “We wanted to protect our veteran players and we did that with Flip. When you get the highest ranked WTA player available, you’ve got an anchor. To fill the rest of the roster with successful, veteran tour players and then to go young with Ulises is just really exciting. He’s got a lot of firepower and he will learn from our other veteran players.”

With both new and familiar faces on the roster, the Empire is moving to a new home this summer. In June 2015, the $26.5 million Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning opened its doors in the heart of the Bronx. The Cary Leeds Center provides more than 6,000 hours of free tennis court time annually to the community’s under resourced youth. Last year more than 15,000 players walked through its doors for play and programming.

“We are delighted to work with New York Empire of WTT to provide aspirational experiences for our juniors, bring in a dynamic event for the community to enjoy and utilize the world-class Victor Kiam Stadium at the Cary Leeds Center,” said George Guimaraes, NYJTL CEO & President.

The New York Empire will kick off the 2019 schedule with five home matches during the season’s first eight days, hosting the San Diego Aviators on opening day, Sunday, July 14. The Empire face expansion franchise, the Vegas Rollers, on July 16 ahead of the Orange County (Calif.) Breakers on July 18 and Washington (D.C.) Kastles on July 19. The first homestand comes to a close on July 21 against the second of two new WTT teams, the Orlando Storm.

The Empire’s home slate closes out with matches on Monday, July 29 against the Springfield (Mo.) Lasers and Tuesday, July 30 when the Philadelphia Freedoms visit.

New York Empire Schedule (home matches in bold)

Date

Sunday, July 14
Tuesday, July 16
Wednesday, July 17
Thursday, July 18
Friday, July 19
Saturday, July 20
Sunday, July 21
Tuesday, July 23
Wednesday, July 24
Thursday, July 25
Saturday, July 27
Monday, July 29
Tuesday, July 30
Wednesday, July 31

Opponent

San Diego Aviators
Vegas Rollers
at Springfield (Mo.) Lasers
Orange County (Calif.) Breakers
Washington (D.C.) Kastles
at Washington (D.C.) Kastles
Orlando Storm
at Vegas Rollers
at Orange County (Calif.) Breakers
at San Diego Aviators
at Orlando Storm
Springfield (Mo.) Lasers
Philadelphia Freedoms
at Philadelphia Freedoms

New York Empire Roster (Franchise Players in bold)

Name
Ulises Blanch
John Isner
Kirsten Flipkens
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez
Neal Skupski

WTT Season

1st
9th
2nd
2nd
5th

Nationality

USA
USA
BEL
ESP
GBR

It promises to be an animated affair when the Empire face the Washington Kastles during a home-and-home match series on Friday, July 20 and Saturday, July 21 as New York Head Coach Luke Jensen will face his brother, Murphy, the longtime coach of the Kastles. During their playing days, the Jensens displayed their popular brand of “Rock and Roll Tennis” on their way to a world No. 6 ranking and multiple ATP doubles titles.

New York Empire tickets will start as low as $10 for children age 16-and-under, and $25 for adults. The New York Empire offers both reserved box seats and general admission seating, along with hospitality packages, which include food and beverage service. A limited number of VIP tables are also available.

Season tickets and hospitality packages are available now by emailing info@nyempiretennis.com or calling the New York Empire office at (844) 5-EMPIRE (844-536-7473). Individual match tickets will go on-sale this spring.

 

For more information on the New York Empire, visit www.NYEmpireTennis.com. For more information on World TeamTennis, visit www.WTT.com.

Follow the New York Empire on Instagram: instagram.com/NYEmpireTennis; Twitter: twitter.com/NYEmpireTennis; and like on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NYEmpireTennis

For more information on World TeamTennis, visit www.WTT.com.

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About New York Empire:

The New York Empire presented by Citi competes in the World TeamTennis League. WTT is in its 44th season as the innovative leader in professional team tennis competition. Team matches consist of five sets, with one set each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. One point is awarded for each game won and overall match scoring is cumulative. The Presenting Sponsor of the New York Empire is Citi. Official Sponsors include Bloomberg, Empire BlueCross BlueShield HealthPlus, Deborah Slaner Larkin, NYU Langone Health and USTA Eastern.

 

About Citi:

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube:www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://blog.citigroup.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/citi | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi

About World TeamTennis (WTT)

World TeamTennis showcases the best in professional tennis with the innovative team format co-founded by Billie Jean 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. WTT will kick off its 44th season in July 2019. Learn more about the history and league champions of World TeamTennis on the history page.

 

About NYJTL:

The mission of New York Junior Tennis & Learning is to develop the character of young people through tennis and education for a lifetime of success on and off the court.  Since 1971, NYJTL has changed lives through tennis, education, healthy living, and character development programs.  Today, it is the largest youth tennis and education non-profit in the nation, reaching more than 85,000 K-12 New York City youth.

NYJTL celebrates the diversity of the children who participate in every program, providing 3,000,000 hours of year-round programming that serves youth from all five boroughs.  During the critical summer months, NYJTL operates in 39 community tennis sites.  All NYJTL Community Tennis and Afterschool programs are offered at no cost to its participants.

 

New York Empire Media Contacts:

Chris Madigan, BZA PR on behalf of New York Empire: chrism@bzapr.com; 203.918.1652

Colin Bradley, BZA PR on behalf of New York Empire: colinb@bzapr.com; 860.490.2710

NYJTL Players Compete in the Tie Break Tens Challenger USA at the BNP Paribas Open

Not even the snowstorm in the early morning hours of March 4, 2019 could stop the finalists of the Tie Break Tens Challenger USA from getting to their destination– the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. Cancelled flights, early trains to the Philadelphia airport, and Los Angeles rush hour traffic proved only to be mere inconveniences. On March 5 the players woke up to a clear, bright morning.

At 9 AM, the players arrived at the BNP Paribas Open, also known as Tennis Paradise. Soon after, Keisha, Imani, Deliala, and Alani stepped onto Court 2 of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, outfitted in brand new Winners of the Tie Break Tens Challenger Finals arrive at the BNP Paribas OpenFILA tennis apparel, including skirts, tanks, polos, and shoes. Shawn, Romero, Christian and Charlie, also in their new FILA apparel, ran drills to acclimate to the outdoor court, situated in the Coachella Valley. The Tie Break Tens Challenger was set to begin.

After two hours and 10 round-robin matches, Deliala Friedman and Charlie Robertson proved triumphant as the winners of the 2019 Tie Break Tens Challenger USA! Their victories were sealed by a trophy presentation from Cy Dofitas, US Grassroots and Promotions Manager of Wilson Racquet Sports. But the trip of a lifetime wasn’t over yet.

Winners of the Tie Break Tens Challenger arrive at the BNP Paribas Openreceive their trophies, presented by Wilson

The players spent the day living like the pros, dining in the VIP Players Lounge and watching the BNP Paribas Open qualifiers. During the afternoon, the players got exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to the Wilson Tennis photo shoot with Serena Williams and Roger Federer. On behalf of Wilson, each player was gifted a Clash Racket, their newest edition that utilizes revolutionary racket technology. Keisha said of the experience, “My heart lifted when we were able to play on [grass courts] to try out our new rackets. We even got a hello from the one and only Roger Federer and saw little Olympia playing on the grass.”

Finalist of the Tie Break Tens Challenger, Romero, tests out his new Wilson Clash RacketBack at the Tennis Garden, a brief bout of rain threatened to end the evening early, but the skies cleared in time for Tie Break Tens Inaugural Eisenhower Cup, headlined by eight of the world’s top Mens players including Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka. As the tournament began, the kids got their 15 minutes of fame as their interview with an announcer was broadcast to the stadium’s nearly 8,000 spectators. Cary Leeds Center Director of Tennis Liezel Huber and Tournament Director Mark Oljaca also basked in the limelight when the Tie Break Tens Challenger sponsorship video broadcast on the big screen as well.


Both the Cary Leeds Center and NYJTL would like to extend the most grateful thank you to Tie Break Tens, the team at FILA including Lauren Mallon, Senior Global Marketing Manager, and Wilson Tennis for their incredible generosity in organizing this opportunity for our players. As Keisha described it, “It really is Tennis Paradise.”

NYJTL x AD LOVE Draw for Love Challenge Winner Announced!

 

NYJTL and AD LOVE would like to announce Conor from the Bronx as the winner of the Draw for Love Challenge! Conor got to see his design go from crayon on paper to a high quality screenprint. The design has been screen printed on a 100% medium-weight ring-spun cotton dark grey long sleeve tee. All profits from the sale of the t-shirt benefit NYJTL’s transformative tennis and education programs.

Get yours here.

 
NYJTL and AD LOVE, a grassroots tennis apparel company,  partnered for the NYJTL x AD LOVE Draw for Love Challenge! Over 1,000 participants in the ACES Afterschool Program submitted drawings featuring elements of New York City, love, and of course, tennis. After much deliberation, Conor’s design stood out above the others based on the inclusion of the three elements and his artistic execution.

The T-Shirt Design Challenge gave students a chance to not only to express themselves creatively, but to see their design benefit the entire under-resourced population that participates in NYJTL programs. Arts and design are increasingly being adopted into traditional STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in order to stimulate innovation. Research conducted by Michigan State University suggests that children involved in arts programs used their artistic skills “such as analogies, playing, intuition and imagination to solve complex problems.”   The challenge presented an opportunity to foster a child’s artistic expression for the benefit of their peers and their community, with the hope that these children will continue to apply creativity and innovation to other areas of academia and their future career paths.

NYJTL’s 3rd Annual Performing Arts Showcase Celebrates Creativity and Artistic Achievement

In a flurry of brightly colored tulle tutus and striking face paint, 350 students from 27 schools in New York City performed their way across the stage for the “Step Into the Spotlight: ACES Artists Take Center Stage” Visual Arts Showcase. Held at the Milton C. Bassin Performing Arts Center at CUNY York College on Tuesday, June 11, the showcase brought participants of NYJTL’s ACES Afterschool Program together to celebrate their artistic achievements.

Student perform at NYJTL's 30th Annual Visual Arts Showcase

The visual arts showcase gave children an opportunity to proudly present their creativity to their friends and family through performance art and a visual art gallery, curated by Melissa Vega, Site Director at M.S. 378X/Icahn 2. The venue also holds a deeper significance: the bright lights of the stage at CUNY York College illuminate the path to higher education .Student perform at NYJTL's 30th Annual Visual Arts Showcase

“This event doesn’t only allow us to showcase the immense talent housed within our ACES programs, but it also gives us ability the to put into practice the emphasis we place on character year-round. This annual event allows us to reiterate to those who join us that tennis is who we are, but it isn’t all we are,” said Ryan Mitchell, NYJTL Program Manager.

Student perform at NYJTL's 30th Annual Visual Arts ShowcaseThe ACES Afterschool program uses tennis as an avenue to teach children the life skills necessary for success later on in life, though it doesn’t stop there. Activity specialists also offer instruction in everything from art and dance to robotics and cooking in order to develop character and ignite a passion for learning in children that goes beyond the classroom.

See Our Students In Action!

Visual Art Gallery Contest

NYJTL and Universal Tennis Present the #MyUTRImpact Video Submission Campaign

Submit your #MyUTRImpact video and win the UTR Award!

NYJTL and Universal Tennis have partnered for the 30th Annual NYJTL Mayor’s Cup to bring you a fun way to tell a story about how tennis has changed your life!

Here’s how you can submit your #MyUTRImpact story! Follow these steps:
1. Download the Greenfly app to your phone.
2. Use code “UTRMayorsCup” to sign up.
3. Record your video on your phone say your name, UTR and how tennis has impacted your life.
4. Upload the video to the Greenfly app by pressing on “send videos or photos anytime”
5. In the “Add a description” area, write your  name, UTR, your  Instagram handle and/or Twitter handle and #MyUTRImpact
6. Then press “send”!

Video Requirements Submit your #MyUTRImpact video to be featured during the NYJTL Mayor's Cup!
Player Full Name
Player UTR
Player Age
Tell us how tennis has impacted your life, what does tennis mean to you.
Ex: Hi, my name is John Smith, I’m 15 years old and I’m a UTR 8.50. Tennis has had a big impact on my life because…”

Approval 
1. Videos will be submitted to Greenfly. Team UTR will review and approve videos before they are made public, making sure that every video shines a positive light on both NYJTL and UTR.
2. Videos will be shared on @MyUTR Twitter, Instagram Facebook using the hashtag #MyUTRImpact, @NYJTL will monitor social platforms and re-post these videos on their social channels.
3. Approved videos will be shared to NYJTL and MyUTR YouTube channels

Winners Announced at Final Awards Show!