The New York Empire of World Team Tennis will have a season this summer.
WTT announced on Tuesday that its usually post-Wimbledon, summer season will kickoff on Sunday, July 12, playing all of its 66 matches through Sunday, August 2 at The Greenbrier mountain resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
Unlike other professional sports that plan to return to action over the next few months, this WTT season will allow fans to attend — at a twenty percent capacity in accordance with state health guidelines.
That one fifth allowance of spectators is expected to be about 500 people, the league anticipates.
“We’re relying on the state to not open if it’s not safe,” WTT CEO Carlos Silva told amNewYork Metro last week about a criteria to have a tennis season this summer, adding that the league has been in talks with White House task forces on executing these live matches properly.
The league, which is known for its variety of play style ranging from mixed doubles to single matches all in one outing additionally announced that “WTT will engage with its teams and league and venue personnel in conducting all necessary testing and screening for COVID-19, as well as outfitting all parties with the personal protective equipment necessary to conduct its 2020 season matches.”
While currently navigating ways to bring international players who are currently out of the United States to White Sulphur Springs, Silva also noted that roster spots for WTT have been in high demand over the past few weeks.
“Almost every player in the world has called and said can I jump in and get on a team in World Team Tennis,” the CEO said.
If WTT does a ‘last minute’ increase to its talent pool, those athletes would join the ranks of 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens playing for the league’s newly incepted Chicago Smash and the Empire’s doubles specialist Neal Skupski, who took home the title of male MVP last summer, along with other top calibur players.
Last season also featured Venus Williams playing for the Washington Kastles and John Isner for New York, whom had both told the Bronx Times how WTT helps players adjust from grass at Wimbledon to a hardcourt surface for the US Open last year.
As for this summer’s format, the WTT schedule will hold a minimum of three matches per day on the 2,500 seat outdoor court with a plan to install a backup, indoor option as well, the league announced.
The championship prize money will also be bumped to a record $5 million with an added $1 million awarded in WTT playoffs compensation.
That includes a $500,000 bonus for the team to hoist the King Trophy in early August.
The New York Empire, who call the Bronx’s Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning home enter this season after pulling off an improbable finals run, consecutively twice upsetting the top ranked Philadelphia Freedoms to clinch a playoff spot in the final match of the regular season — doing the same days in the semi-final round for the King Trophy.
It was a run that Silva and 2019 Empire head coach Luke Jensen still talk about to date.
Matches for the 2020 WTT season will be broadcast on CBS, CBS Sports Network, Tennis Channel, ESPN+ and WTT.com.