August 3rd, 2020

Orlando Storm Fall to Chicago Smash in World TeamTennis Semifinals

Pro Tennis

The Orlando Storm wrapped up its 2020 World TeamTennis season on Saturday with a 24-13 loss to the first-year franchise Chicago Smash in the semifinals. 

Riding a 7-match winning streak to send them into the semifinals at The Greenbrier in West Virginia, Orlando’s juggernaut of Ken Skupski and Tennys Sandgren – the WTT’s top men’s doubles duo – went ahead 1-0 in the first set but it was all Smash from that point on. Chicago’s 18-year-old rookie Brandon Nakashima teamed with Rajeev Ram to win the opening men’s doubles 5-1.

After a short weather delay, Jessica Pegula, who entered the semifinal with a six-match win streak and 8-1 overall in WTT singles, served up a win for the Storm in the women’s singles matchup with a 5-4 victory over 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens. Pegula and Stephens went toe to toe with Stephens breaking Pegula for a 3-games-to-2 lead – but the first year WTT player responded with back-to-back games to cut Orlando’s deficit to 8-5 overall. In the 9-point set tiebreaker, Pegula served to 2-0 lead, took a 3-1 advantage, then served out as Orlando won the set 5-4.

Chicago’s Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Ram pairing won three of the first four points in the mixed doubles against the Storm’s Sandgren and Pegula. Despite Pegula’s serves to keep Orlando close, the 2020 WTT Female MVP Mattek-Sands slammed the door at set point for a 5-3 win. Mattek-Sands remained on the court for the women’s doubles with Genie Bouchard to face Orlando’s tandem of Pegula and seventh-year WTT veteran Darija Jurak. When it looked like the Storm had the edge as Chicago fell behind 2-1 and 3-2, the Smash finished off the game by winning three consecutive points to take the set 5-3.

In men’s singles, Chicago’s Nakashima jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead against Orlando’s Sandgren, who averted the shutout by holding serve to pull within 4-1. However, Nakashima – who dropped both matches 5-4 to Sandgren during the regular season – served out for a 5-1 win and a championship match-clinching 24-13 victory for the Smash.

Final: Chicago Smash def. Orlando Storm 24-13
Men’s Doubles: Rajeev Ram/Brandon Nakashima (Smash) def. Tennys Sandgren/Ken Skupski (Storm), 5-1
Women’s Singles: Jessica Pegula (Storm) def. Sloane Stephens (Smash), 5-4
Mixed Doubles: Ram/Bethanie Mattek-Sands (Smash) def. Sandgren/Pegula (Storm), 5-3
Women’s Doubles: Mattek-Sands/Genie Bouchard (Smash) def. Darija Jurak/Pegula (Storm), 5-3
Men’s Singles: Nakashima (Smash) def. Sandgren (Storm), 5-1

Check out some of the highlights below:

The Chicago Smash advanced to the finals to face the New York Empire on Sunday. The 2020 World TeamTennis season came down to a 13-point supertiebreaker, where the Empire outlasted the Smash to claim a 21-20 victory and the King Trophy for the first time.

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

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