The New York Buzz roster will have a distinctly international feel to it this season.
The players are from Russia, Czech Republic, Serbia and Australia, and the new coach, Jay Udwadia, is from the Buffalo area.
“We have a few countries,” Buzz general manager Nitty Singh, a native of India, said with a laugh.
The only returnee on the roster, which Singh picked during the WTT draft on Tuesday, is Czech Gabriela Navratilova, a doubles specialist who helped the Buzz reach the WTT championship match last year.
Among the newcomers are the 6-foot-5 Vladimir Obradovic, a former University of Florida player from Serbia; Australian Nathan Healey; and 5-foot-11 Yaroslava Shvedova, a 20-year-old from Russia who last year defeated Ana Ivanovic, currently ranked No. 2 in the world.
Udwadia, the coach at Fresno State, is stepping in for Jolene Watanabe, who is recovering from a double hip replacement.
Shvedova, making her WTT debut, is the most intriguing addition to the Buzz team. She is ranked No. 91 in singles and 79 in doubles and has a 2007 tour win to her credit, upsetting top-seeded defending champion Mara Santangelo, 6-4, 6-4, at the Sony Ericsson International tournament in Bangalore, India.
“She’s absolutely gorgeous, everybody will be eating out of her hands,” Singh said. “She has a big smile, she’s very beautiful and she beat Ivanovic last year.”
At Bangalore last year, Shvedova upset hometown favorite and second-seeded Sania Mirza in the quarterfinals.
Her first WTA tour championship pushed her to her first top-100 ranking, at 78.
She came through qualifying at the
Miami Masters to reach the second round and record her first-ever win over a top-20 player, beating Ivanovic, 7-5, 6-4, before losing to Tathiana Garbin.
This season, she was upset by unseeded Akgul Amanmuradova in the first round at Bangalore on March 3, and she reached the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Tatjana Malek of Germany before losing to 18th-seeded Amelie Mauresmo, 6-4, 7-6 (5).
Healey’s highest singles ranking was 157 in 2007. He played WTT for the Philadelphia Freedoms in 2003.
Obradovic is No. 298 in doubles, his highest career ranking.
Navratilova has been ranked as high as 32 (2005) in doubles and is currently
The Buzz’s 14-match season will kick off with road matches against Delaware on July 3 and St. Louis on July 5 before the July 6 home opener in Central Park against Boston.
The Buzz will play host to two marquee players this season.
Serena Williams, the eight-time Grand Slam winner who played against the Buzz in Central Park eight years ago, will play for the Washington Kastles on Wednesday, July 9, and Anna Kournikova will play for the St. Louis Aces on Tuesday, July 22. Kournikova appeared in Central Park for the Aces in 2006.
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