The Orlando Storm completed its debut World Team Tennis season on Wednesday with a 21-18 loss to the San Diego Aviators, ending an up-and-down season that brought out devoted fans to the USTA National Campus in the Lake Nona area of South Orlando.
Former junior world No. 1 and 17-year-old Whitney Osuigwe, making her WTT debut this season, won the women’s singles, defeating the Aviators’ Arina Rodionova 5-1 for the Storm’s lone match win. Her teammates kept the men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles matches close in a cumulative-score three-point losing effort decided by a final-match tiebreak.
The Aviators, one of the top teams this season, advanced to the four-team WTT semifinals on Friday. The semifinals will air live on the CBS Sports Network at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. PT.
In their debut season the Storm were hot out of the gate with victories over the fellow-expansion-team Vegas Rollers, and then the veteran Orange County Breakers.
“With two expansion teams playing their first match, you couldn’t have asked for a better contest,” said Orlando Storm Head Coach Scott Lipsky after the win over Vegas. “We had a couple players who hadn’t played in the format before, so it was the perfect match to get them used to it.”
A little pre-match bonding between the @orlandostormwtt and the @sdaviators watching the @nyempiretennis take on the @phillyfreedoms #worldteamtennis #everypointcounts #wttfamily
After the 2-0 start the Storm dropped six matches in a row before recovering to end the losing streak with a 21-18 win over the Washington Kastles, a team that won five straight league titles in 2011-15.
In its next match the Storm defeated the Springfield Lasers, last year’s league champion, who would go on to qualify for the WTT semifinals, 23-15. The Storm dropped its final four matches to end the season with a 4-10 record.
It was the first season featuring a Florida team in World TeamTennis since the Florida Twist played their last season in 1995.
Franchise players Madison Keys of the U.S. and Spain’s Feliciano Lopez headlined the Orlando Storm in 2019, along with team members Evan King and Whitney Osuigwe of the U.S., Croat Darija Jurak, Britain’s Ken Skupski, and coach Scott Lipsky of the U.S.
Keys, an Orlando resident, said World TeamTennis co-founder Billie Jean King has been an inspiration to her.
“Billie is obviously one of the massive reasons why I’m here,” Keys told the Orlando Sentinel. “She’s been a huge inspiration, and also, with equal pay, Billie’s been a trailblazer forever. A lot of what I have is because of Billie, and I don’t say that lightly. I know she’s been a massive part of every female tennis player’s life.”