They may be known as the New York Buzz, but the World TeamTennis squad that will be playing at the University at Albany’s SEFCU Arena summer will truly be America’s Team.
In a history-making move, the Buzz will be fielding an all-junior team, handpicked by Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of USTA Player Development, when the season begins on July 3.
The Buzz lineup will be made up of Alex Domijan, 17; Evan King, 17; Christina McHale, 16; and Sloane Stephens, 16.
“The Buzz are the first to have an all-junior USTA amateur team, but then, we always have been innovative and creative,” said Buzz general manager Nitty Singh in a release. “Last year, our Capital Region junior Buzz team won the USTA nationals, and I’m sure our new U.S. all-star team will be an inspiration, and will serve as great role models for all the junior tennis players in the area.”
The Buzz will be coached by USTA national coach Roger Smith, who played for the Buzz in their first season in 1995.
Early this year, the USTA became a minority owner of World TeamTennis, and the two organizations are teaming up to promote the growth and development of youth team tennis in the U.S.
“An integral part of our new player development philosophy is to foster a team concept among our rising junior talent, while providing the best opportunities to face tough conditions,” said McEnroe in a release. “The New York Buzz will provide the perfect opportunity to fulfill these goals.”
Domijan, of Wesley Chapel, Fla., is ranked No. 1 in USTA boys’ 18s, and was used as a practice partner for the Davis Cup team during their match against Switzerland in March.
“I’m really excited about Domijan’s potential,” said McEnroe in his captain’s blog during the Davis Cup. “He seems very professional, and I think he’s very driven.”
Domijan, who stands 6-foot-7, reached his first professional final on the UTSA Pro Circuit in Rochester last June.
King, of Chicago, is ranked No. 2 in USTA boys’ 18s, and will be playing at the University of Michigan in the fall. Last month, he played in his first tour-level match at the Delray Beach International Championships via a wild card.
McHale, of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., is the highest ranked of the quartet, at No. 381. In January, she won a USTA wild-card tournament and earned entry into the main draw of the Australian Open, where she pushed her first-round opponent, Jessica Moore of Australia, to three sets before losing, 9-7, in the third.
On the junior circuit, she won the Australian Open doubles title with Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia in their debut as doubles partners.
Stephens, of Lauderhill, Fla., is ranked No. 561. In December, she reached the semifinals of the Dunlop Orange Bowl, where she lost to McHale. Despite making limited appearances on the USTA Pro circuit, she did reach the semifinals in Sumter, S.C., last year.
Both McHale and Stephens competed in the Sony Ericsson Open, which is going on in Key Biscayne, Fla. McHale lost to Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus, 6-4, 5-7, 6-0, in the first round, while Stephens lost to Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan, 6-3, 6-2.
“We are extremely excited to showcase America’s finest juniors on our New York Buzz this season,” said Singh. “This keeps with our tradition of presenting the game’s future stars, such as Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Lindsay Davenport, who also played tournaments in the Capital Region during the early part of their careers.”
The Buzz begin defense of their WTT championship on July 3 against the Philadelphia Freedoms. Marquee players coming to SEFCU Arena this year are Venus Williams (July 9) and Martina Navratilova (July 14).