Weary Buzz lack energy, lose, 22-19

Playing their third match in three nights, The New York Buzz fell to the Philadelphia Freedoms, 22-1
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In World TeamTennis, you are never completely out of a match, but that’s only one of several twists this brand of pro tennis has over its individual counterparts on the men’s and women’s tours.

Aside from its unusual format, which includes several tie-breakers that enable the losing team to catch up in the final set, rosters are often fluid, with several “stars” appearing only occasionally to boost the attendance figures. And the travel demands are almost impossible. Some teams travel to a different city three nights in a row. Even pro baseball and basketball teams don’t do that.

The New York Buzz found themselves in such a situation Sunday night, as they played their third match in three nights. After losing at Washington and then winning at Boston, both in “super tiebreakers,” they fell to the Philadelphia Freedoms, 22-18, before a sparse crowd at the Washington Avenue Armory.

Down, 19-13, going into the

final set of men’s doubles, the Buzz didn’t give up. Left-hander Patrick Briaud and 28-year-old Australian Nathan Healey rallied to defeat Alex Bogomolov and Travis Parrot, 5-2.

But Bogomolov and Parrot quickly won the extra game, 4-0, to prevent a Buzz comeback.

“Anything can happen in the WTT,” said Healey, who has three ATP doubles titles and two

doubles Futures titles under his belt. “In Washington, we were up four games in the final set, and we ended up losing in a super tiebreaker. Then, last night in Boston, I was way up in the singles, but we had to hang on to win in another super tiebreaker.

“The format can be frustrating when you’re ahead, but when you’re behind, you love it. We know the format, and we know you can never give up. That last set, Patrick and I gave it everything we had, even though we knew we were way behind. We still figured we had a chance.”

Healey said a small crowd like Sunday night’s affects the players’ energy levels.

“The key is to keep your consistency, and to try to stay sharp mentally,” he said. “For example, Yar­oslava [Shvedova] has been playing so well lately, but tonight, she was exhausted. I was trying to explain to her that it’s all part of playing in the WTT. Sometimes you have it, and sometimes you don’t, but you have to keep on trying.

“The crowds do help. They give us energy that we can feed on,

especially when they get behind us. This crowd was a little on the quiet side, but they were still better than the crowd we had in Washington. They had no etiquette at all. They were all talking while we were playing.”

On Sunday, it was the 4-4 Freedoms that dominated most of the action. Paced by eight-year WTT veteran Lisa Raymond, a two-time WTT MVP who has appeared on two WTT championship teams, the Freedoms won the mixed doubles, 5-3.

Healey used four aces and a pair of drop shots to stop Bogomolov, 5-4, in the men’s singles, but Raymond and Audra Cohen stopped Shvedova and Gabriela Nav­ratilova, 5-3, in the women’s doubles to take control of the match.

When Cohen, a WTT rookie who played for the University of Miami, cruised past Shvedova,

5-2, in women’s singles, the match was all but over, but Healey and Briaud put on a brilliant display in the men’s doubles to give the Buzz (5-3) a small chance at a comeback bid.

Freedoms coach Craig Kardon, who has won five WTT championships, including 2006 with his current franchise, said there are a

couple of key components to winning in this unusual tennis format.

“For one thing, we all know that you are never out of it in any match,” he said. “The other thing is that you’ve got to get your players to think like as a team. Sometimes you play well, and sometimes you don’t, but you have to pull together as a team, and that’s what we did tonight. Once the players understand the team format, they usually have fun with it. That’s why we’re so successful,” he said.

Kardon was asked how he’s been able to win even without his “star”, Venus Williams, who only plays an occasional match.

“There are a lot of talented players on this tour. You don’t need the stars to win,” he said. “You still saw a lot of great tennis out there

tonight.”

Philadelphia Freedoms 22,

New York Buzz 18

Mixed doubles: Lisa Raymond-Travis Parrot (P) def. Nathan Healey-Yaroslava Shvedova, 5-3. Men’s singles: Healey (NY) def. Alex Bogomolov, 5-4. Women’s doubles: Raymond-Audra Cohen (P) def. Shvedova-Gabriela Navratilova, 5-3. Women’s singles: Cohen (P) def. Shvedova, 5-2. Men’s doubles: Healey-Briaud (NY) def. Bogomolov-Parrot, 5-2. OT: Bogomolov-Parrot (P) def. Healey-Briaud, 4-0.

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