July 29th, 2020

Orlando Storm Clinch Playoff Berth in 2020 WTT Season

Pro Tennis

The Orlando Storm are headed to the 2020 World TeamTennis playoffs after a 23-21 win over the New York Empire, the team’s sixth consecutive win. 

The Storm punched their ticket to the postseason and improved their record to 9-4 with Tuesday’s victory, ensuring that they will make the second-year franchise’s first trip to playoffs as no worse than the No. 3 seed.

There was plenty of buzz around Tuesday’s match due to New York’s new women’s doubles team of CoCo Vandeweghe and Nicole Melichar, who were acquired from the San Diego Aviators on Sunday night, right before the league’s trade deadline. The duo entered Tuesday with a 64% win rate of games together, a league-high. 

As expected, the match was intense and close throughout, featuring four tiebreaker sets. The mixed doubles first set saw the two teams exchanging breaks before the Empire’s Jack Sock and Coco Vandeweghe dominated the tiebreaker with the Storm’s Ken Skupski and Jessica Pegula, 5-0, to take a one-game lead.

Pegula would battle back in the next set, landing a 5-2 win for the Storm in the women’s singles thanks to a break on a double fault by Vandeweghe on the deciding point. The up-and-downs didn’t stop there, as Sock fought back in the men’s singles with a victory over the Storm’s Tennys Sandgren in a tiebreaker to pull the Empire within a game, 13-12.

The fourth set brought on the highly-anticipated women’s doubles, featuring New York’s Vandeweghe and Melichar squaring off with Orlando’s Pegula and Darija Jurak. Pegula and Jurak would win the seesaw battle in a tiebreaker, 5-4. The women’s doubles victory gave Orlando an 18-16 edge with only the men’s doubles remaining, where the Storm’s Sandgren and Ken Skupski took on the Empire’s Sock and Skupski’s younger brother, Neal Skupski. New York forced extended play by winning a critical tiebreaker, but Orlando’s Sandgren would hold serve in extended play, dashing New York’s comeback hopes. 

“The team was awesome tonight,” said Sandgren after the Storm’s victory. “The girls played fantastic. Everyone wanted to do their best tonight and try and get that playoff spot. People showed up and played well.”

The Empire dropped to 6-6 with the loss, tied with the Washington Kastles for the final remaining playoff spot.

Final: Orlando Storm def. New York Empire 23-21
Mixed Doubles: Jack Sock/Coco Vandeweghe (Empire) def. Ken Skupski/Jessica Pegula (Storm), 5-4
Women’s Singles: Pegula (Storm) def. Vandeweghe (Empire), 5-2
Men’s Singles: Sock (Empire) def. Tennys Sandgren (Storm), 5-4
Women’s Doubles: Pegula/Darija Jurak (Storm) def. Vandeweghe/Nicole Melichar (Empire), 5-4
Men’s Doubles: Sock/N. Skupski (Empire) def. K. Skupski/Sandgren (Storm), 5-4
Extended Play:  K. Skupski/Sandgren (Storm) def. Sock/N. Skupski, 1-0

Check out some of the highlights below:


July 30th Update: The Storm wrapped up their regular season on Thursday with a 25-15 victory over the Washington Kastles and clinched the No. 2 seed in the WTT playoffs.

Orlando will host the No. 3 seed Chicago Smash on Saturday, August 1 at 5:00 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network. The home team gets to determine the order of set play.

For more info on the Orlando Storm, visit orlandostorm.com, and for WTT league info go to wtt.com.

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