Recap of Aviators Opening Weekend
The Aviators opened their season on Sunday with a win! On a nearly perfect evening before a capacity crowd at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, the San Diego Aviators opened the 43rd season of World TeamTennis Presented by GEICO with a convincing 21-12 over the visiting Springfield Lasers.
After Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Marcin Matkowski opened the match with a 5-2 victory over Abigail Spears and Daniel Nestor in Mixed Doubles, Vania King, a former Wimbledon and US Open doubles champion, put the Lasers in front with a 5-1 win in Women’s Singles over Naomi Broady of the Aviators.
With San Diego trailing 7-6, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., native Taylor Fritz teamed with Marcin Matkowski for a thrilling 5-4 victory for the Aviators in Men’s Doubles over Daniel Nestor and Miomir Kecmanovic. The win tied the match at 11-11.
The Aviators then took complete control of the match as Groenefeld and Broady dropped only a single game in a 5-1 win over Spears and King to give San Diego a 16-12 lead heading into the final set.
Fritz, who slammed a 145-mph serve earlier in the evening, delighted the home crowd with a dominating victory in Men’s Singles as he powered his way to a 5-0 win over Kecmanovic in 12 minutes.
“The atmosphere here at La Costa is amazing. It’s great to have the support of your hometown,” Fritz said as he celebrated the victory with his teammates. “I always play better with my family and friends in the audience, just like at Indian Wells.”
When asked about his 145-mph service earlier in the match, the 20-year-old Fritz responded,
“That’s the best my serve ever felt.”
On Monday evening, the Aviators battled in their second match of the season against the Philadelphia Freedoms but came up short of a win. It was a battle of the Taylors on Monday when local hero and current World No. 65 Taylor Fritz made his second and final appearance for the Aviators as they faced the Philadelphia Freedoms, featuring an undefeated Taylor Townsend.
Both teams looked confident coming off separate opening night wins, with the Aviators having overtaken the Lasers with a decisive 21-12 win, and the Freedoms overpowering the 2017 WTT champion Orange County Breakers on their home turf in Newport Beach.
Following their powerful performance on opening night, Coach John Lloyd chose to kick the match off with Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Marcin Matkowski in mixed doubles, taking on Townsend and Fabrice Martin. The teams battled the entire set, and though the Aviators won one more point in the set than their opponents, the Freedoms ultimately took the set in a 9-point tiebreaker.
Though they trailed the Freedoms as they entered the third set, a comeback looked promising when Taylor Fritz and Matkowski captured men’s doubles at 5-2 over Martin and Kevin King to cut the Freedoms’ advantage to 12-10. The two teams thrilled the crowd with astounding overheads, sky-high rescue lobs, mind-boggling angles at net, and sheer power.
In another tight battle that resulted in a set-deciding tie-breaker, Groenefeld and Naomi Broady met Townsend and Groenefeld’s WTA tour doubles partner, Raquel Atawo for the women’s doubles set. From the first point, Groenefeld’s and Atawo’s familiarity with each other’s game was evident, and one often seemed to anticipate the other’s shots. The Aviators team was consistently strong and was the only one to log an ace, but again the Freedoms prevailed with a 5-4 victory. In all, Townsend was impressive in the matchup, winning all three sets she played for her team for a second night in a row.
With palpable excitement in the stands, Aviators announcer Joe Cipriano introduced Taylor Fritz on court to play the final set, men’s singles, against the Freedoms’ King. With the match score at 17-14 as they entered the set, Fritz had the opportunity to secure the match for the Aviators if he held King to just one game. Fritz served brilliantly; logging serves regularly in the high 130 mph-range, even tying his high speed of 145 mph from the previous evening’s match. He posted two aces, topped King in both first and second serve percentage and, as in the mixed doubles opening set, won more individual points than King. Still, with power shots, an early break, and some groundstrokes that looked destined to sail long somehow finding the baseline, Kevin King shocked Rancho Santa Fe native Fritz 5-3 in the set to seal the victory for Philadelphia.
The Aviators are now headed to Springfield, Mo. for a second matchup this Wednesday, July 18 at 5 p.m. PDT/ 7 p.m. CDT to attempt to double down on their opening night win over the Springfield Lasers and take their season record to 2-1. Be sure to follow all the Aviators matches on this four-game road trip on WTT.tv.