World's best players live the Dream, revive TeamTennis in Sacramento
Court is back in session next week in Citrus Heights, where the Sacramento region’s new World TeamTennis squad, the California Dream, will welcome some of the sport’s best players during its inaugural season.
Bob and Mike Bryan (aka the Bryan brothers), who are ranked No. 1 in the world in men’s doubles, will be among the stars serving things up for the local team this summer at Sunrise MarketPlace's Dream Stadium. The matches will mark the return of TeamTennis to the area after the departure of the popular, six-time league champion Sacramento Capitals to Las Vegas in 2013.
The California Dream is debuting in Sacramento on Monday, July 13, after three seasons in the Lone Star State as the Texas Wild. Team co-owner Jeff Launius says he expects the supercharged atmosphere of Capitals matches—for which Sacramento’s tennis fans were famous around the league—to carry over to the new franchise.
“This was always a tough place to come and play and get a victory,” says Launius, who frequently visited Sacramento with the Wild and, in the team’s prior incarnation, the Kansas City Explorers. “The fans were extremely passionate and excited to root for their team. They were knowledgeable, and I was always very impressed.”
World TeamTennis began play in 1974, co-founded and led by tennis great Billie Jean King. Each team features a rotation of two men and two women, who face off in matches consisting of five sets: men’s and women’s singles, and men’s, women’s and mixed doubles. Teams are awarded a point for each game won during the sets.
Since first coming to Sacramento in 1986, World TeamTennis has brought icons like John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova to compete in the city. Former women’s No. 1 (and 2014 Tennis Hall of Fame inductee) Lindsay Davenport led the Capitals to the first two of its four consecutive league titles from 1997 to 2000, followed by another championship with the team in 2007.
The team’s success earned it a loyal following among Sacramento sports-goers, with the raucous environment at venues like the original Arco Arena, Gold River Racquet Club and the Dream’s current 2,400-seat home at Sunrise MarketPlace making devotees out of even the most casual tennis viewers. (The Capitals were dissolved in 2014 after fraud charges were brought against owner Deepal Wannakuwatte, who relocated the team to Las Vegas before it was disbanded. Wannakuwatte, who was convicted late last year, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $108 million in restitution.)
TeamTennis’ local revival this year with the California Dream, meanwhile, will give fans plenty of reasons to cheer on July 23, when the Bryan brothers arrive in town. They’ll play three matches with the Dream in total, including two on the road: July 25 in Boston and July 26 in Philadelphia.
The 37-year-old twins, who have paired for 106 men’s doubles titles (including multiple wins at all four Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold in 2012) and more than 900 match victories overall, are the all-time winningest doubles combo in tennis history. They will join Dream teammates like Jarmila Gajdošová (currently ranked No. 53 in the world), two-time French Open doubles winner Anabel Medina Garrigues, and TeamTennis rookies Neal Skupski and Tennys Sandgren.
In addition to the matches, the team plans promotions like Family Fun Nights on July 14 and 21 (featuring four general admission grandstand tickets, hot dogs and soft drinks for $60) and Citrus Heights Night (offering $10 tickets for Citrus Heights residents and workers). Attendees can park for free in the lot around the stadium on the north end of Sunrise Mall, and Launius adds that players will sign autographs for kids after each match.
On the road, the Dream will play against former Grand Slam champions like Andy Roddick (who will be playing for the Austin Aces) and Martina Hingis (who is part of the Washington Kastles team).
The regular season concludes July 29 with Fan Appreciation Night at Dream Stadium, which will feature prize giveaways throughout the evening. The Western Conference title match follows on July 30, with the TeamTennis championship to be decided Aug. 2.
“Every team in the Western Conference is extremely strong,” Launius says, referring to fellow conference teams like the Austin Aces, San Diego Aviators and Springfield Lasers. “I think you’re going to see some close matches come down to the wire, which is great for the fans. Here at home, we hope the passion comes back.”
$20-$55. Dream Stadium at Sunrise MarketPlace. Sunrise Blvd. at Greenback Lane (in the Sunrise Mall parking lot). 967-6000. californiadreamtennis.com