Identical twin sisters Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic topped the 2012 WTT Roster Player Draft on Tuesday when the 19-year-olds were selected with the top overall pick by the Philadelphia Freedoms. Players from 11 countries were chosen in Tuesday’s Roster Draft as teams completed their lineups for the League’s 37th season, which runs July 9-28.
In a special Roster Exempt Player Draft held before the start of the Roster Draft, the Sacramento Capitals picked up American Coco Vandeweghe who will play a limited season for the 6-time WTT Champions.
The players added today join an all-star lineup of players selected in last month’s Marquee Draft including Serena Williams (Washington Kastles), Venus Williams (Washington Kastles), John McEnroe (New York Sportimes), Martina Hingis (New York Sportimes), Lindsay Davenport (Orange County Breakers), John Isner (Boston Lobsters), Mardy Fish (Sacramento Capitals), Mark Philippoussis (Philadelphia Freedoms), Bob and Mike Bryan (Kansas City Explorers), and James Blake (Philadelphia Freedoms).
Each of the eight teams in the WTT Pro League presented by GEICO will play a total of 14 matches during the three-week regular season, July 9-28. The top two teams from both the Western and Eastern Conferences advance to the WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO, Sept. 14-16, in Charleston, S.C. Teams in the Western Conference are the Kansas City Explorers, Orange County Breakers, Sacramento Capitals and Springfield Lasers. Teams in the Eastern Conference are the Boston Lobsters, New York Sportimes, Philadelphia Freedoms and Washington Kastles.
The WTT Pro League was co-founded by Billie Jean King in the early 1970s. Each team has a coach, two male and two female players who play singles, doubles and mixed doubles matches.
Check out the complete 2012 WTT Team Lineups. For details on the complete draft results and the 2012 schedule, visit www.WTT.com.
Here’s a team-by-team recap of the 2012 WTT Roster Draft.
After drafting top-ranked American Mardy Fish in the Marquee Player Draft, the Sacramento Capitals used their first round roster draft pick to protect WTT veteran Mark Knowles, who’s played all 11 of his WTT seasons in Sacramento. The Capitals added another doubles great and 2011 WTT Rookie of the Year Jean-Julien Rojer to the lineup in the second round and American Asia Muhammed in the third. Rounding out their picks with their fourth round selection, the Capitals protected Yasmin Schnack whose success in women’s doubles helped the team advance to the Western Conference final in 2011.
ORANGE COUNTY BREAKERS:
With WTT veteran Lindsay Davenport leading their team this season after her selection in last month’s Marquee Draft, the Orange County Breakers have added a strong supporting cast in today’s Roster Player Draft. In round one, the Breakers took Anna-lena Groenefeld, an 11-time doubles champion from Germany. For their second and third round picks, Orange County added John-Patrick Smith, a former University of Tennessee standout, and Travis Parrott, who will play his sixth season in the League, to complete their roster. Together, Davenport, Groenefeld, Smith and Parrott could prove to be a significant contender for the Western Conference title.
KANSAS CITY EXPLORERS:
After retaining the Bryan Brothers in last month’s Marquee Player Draft, the Kansas City Explorers made a strong showing today selecting some of the top players available in the Roster Player Draft. With their first round pick, the Explorers took Chanel Simmonds, an on-the-rise South African who will make her WTT debut in July. In the second round, Kansas City scored Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, a top-ranked doubles player from Pakistan. To fill out their roster, the Explorers added Nick Monroe in the third round and Tetiana Luzhanska in the fourth. Monroe played one WTT season for the Springfield Lasers in 2006 and Luzhanska will make her WTT debut in 2012.
This season, the Springfield Lasers have fielded a strong team of new names, with only one player having played WTT in the past. With their first-round pick, the Lasers took Timea Babos, a rising Hungarian, who reached a career-high ranking in singles (No. 68) at the end of last month. Round two allowed Springfield to pick up former University of Southern California standout Maria Sanchez who played WTT last season. For their third and fourth round selections, the Lasers chose Amir Weintraub, a top-ranking Israeli player, and former NCAA Champion Devin Britton. Both Weintraub and Britton will be playing their first WTT season this July.
This season, the Boston Lobsters are determined to return to the Eastern Conference championship match again this summer, and they started their campaign by protecting three players in today’s draft. After retaining John Isner in the Marquee Draft, Boston used their first three picks to protect Jan-Michael Gambill, Eric Butorac and Irina Falconi, all fan favorites and returning members from last year’s team. With their round four selection, the Lobsters picked up American veteran Carly Gullickson.
NEW YORK SPORTIMES:
In the first three rounds of the draft, the New York Sportimes protected Robert Kendrick, Jesse Witten and Ashley Harkleroad, respectively. The trio of returning Sportimes stars will join former world No. 1s John McEnroe and Martina Hingis, who were drafted as marquee players last month.
With the No. 1 overall pick, the Philadelphia Freedoms drafted Karolina Pliskova, a rising Czech star, to set the tone for their 2012 roster. In the following round, the Freedoms were able to add Karolina’s identical twin sister, Kristyna Pliskova, through a strategic doubles protection draft choice. The sisters have quickly moved up the WTA rankings and will be playing their first WTT season. In the third round, the Freedoms added Luka Gregorc of Slovenia and doubles standout Jordan Kerr from Australia. The roster players drafted today will join marquees Mark Philippoussis and James Blake for the Freedoms this July.
With a championship title to defend, the Washington Kastles went with what worked to create their unprecedented and undefeated title run in 2011 and brought back the core of their team for 2012. After protecting their rights to Serena and Venus Williams in the February Marquee Player Draft, the Kastles rounded out their roster with Arina Rodionova, the 2011 Female Rookie of the Year; Leander Paes, the 2011 WTT Male MVP; Bobby Reynolds, a former WTT Rookie of the Year and leading singles players; and Anastasia Rodionova, Arina’s sister, who’s currently ranked No. 101 in women’s singles and No. 22 in doubles on the WTA Tour.
2012 WTT Roster Player Draft
Roster Exempt Draft Selections (Roster Exempt players play a limited season)
Sacramento Capitals: Coco Vandeweghe
2012 WTT Roster Draft – March 13, 2012
1. PHILADELPHIA: Karolina Pliskova
2. SPRINGFIELD: Timea Babos
3. ORANGE COUNTY: Anna-lena Groenefeld
4. NEW YORK: Robert Kendrick (protection)
5. KANSAS CITY: Chanel Simmonds
6. BOSTON: Jan-Michael Gambill (protection)
7. SACRAMENTO: Mark Knowles (protection)
8. WASHINGTON: Arina Rodionova (protection)
1. PHILADELPHIA: Kristyna Pliskova
2. SPRINGFIELD: Maria Sanchez
3. ORANGE COUNTY: John-Patrick Smith
4. NEW YORK: Jesse Witten (protection)
5. KANSAS CITY: Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi
6. BOSTON: Eric Butorac (protection)
7. SACRAMENTO: Jean-Julien Rojer
8. WASHINGTON: Leander Paes (protection)
1. PHILADELPHIA: Luka Gregorc
2. SPRINGFIELD: Amir Weintraub
3. ORANGE COUNTY: Travis Parrott
4. NEW YORK: Ashley Harkleroad (protection)
5. KANSAS CITY: Nick Monroe
6. BOSTON: Irina Falconi (protection)
7. SACRAMENTO: Asia Muhammed
8. WASHINGTON: Bobby Reynolds (protection)
1. PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Kerr
2. SPRINGFIELD: Devin Britton
3. ORANGE COUNTY: PASS
4. NEW YORK: PASS
5. KANSAS CITY: Tetiana Luzhanska
6. BOSTON: Carly Gullickson
7. SACRAMENTO: Yasmin Schnack (protection)
8. WASHINGTON: Anastasia Rodionova (doubles protection)
2012 WTT TEAM ROSTERS (including Marquee & Roster players):
Boston Lobsters: John Isner, Jan-Michael Gambill, Eric Butorac, Irina Falconi and Carly Gullickson. Coach: Bud Schultz
Kansas City Explorers: Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Chanel Simmonds, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, Nick Monroe, Tetiana Luzhanska. Coach: Brent Haygarth
New York Sportimes: John McEnroe, Martina Hingis, Robert Kendrick, Jesse Witten, Ashley Harkleroad. Coach: Chuck Adams
Orange County Breakers: Lindsay Davenport, Anna-lena Groenefeld, John-Patrick Smith, Travis Parrott. Coach: Trevor Kronemann
Philadelphia Freedoms: James Blake, Mark Philippoussis, Karolina Pliskova, Kristyna Pliskova, Luka Gregorc, Jordan Kerr. Coach: Josh Cohen
Sacramento Capitals: Mardy Fish, Coco Vandeweghe, Mark Knowles, Jean-Julien Rojer, Asia Muhammed, Yasmin Schnack. Coach: Wayne Bryan
Springfield Lasers: Timea Babos, Maria Sanchez, Amir Weintraub, Devin Britton. Coach: John-Laffnie de Jager
Washington Kastles: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Arina Rodionova, Anastasia Rodionova, Leander Paes and Bobby Reynolds. Coach: Murphy Jensen