Aviators begin third World TeamTennis season

Posted at 10:10 AM, Jul 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-31 13:10:27-04

The San Diego Aviators will open their third World TeamTennis season Sunday night at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa with a lineup including James Blake, the world's No. 4-ranked men's player in 2006.

Blake is the Aviators' marquee player, a top name who plays less than a full season.

He also played in the Aviators opener last season, losing in men's singles but teaming with Raven Klaasen for a win in men's doubles in a 24-19 victory over the now-defunct California Dream.

The 36-year-old Blake last played on the Association of Tennis Professionals Tour in the 2013 U.S. Open.

Klaasen and Darija Jurak are the full-season Aviators players who returned from last year's team that was 5-9, finishing third in the four-team Western Conference. The newcomers are Shelby Rogers and Ryan Harrison, who are expected to be the team's usual women's and men's singles players.

Rogers reached the quarterfinals of the French Open, losing to eventual champion Garbine Muguruza, 7-5, 6-3, on June 1. Harrison has main draw singles victories in all four Grand Slam tournaments.

The Aviators will face the Orange County Breakers in each of their first four matches. The teams will play again Monday at Breakers Stadium at the Newport Beach Tennis Club, return to the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa Tuesday and play at Breakers Stadium Wednesday.

The Breakers played as the Austin Aces in 2015, were the Western Conference regular-season champions with a league-best 14-4 record, defeated the Dream, 25-14, in the Western Conference final, but lost to the Washington Kastles, 24-18, in the WTT Finals.

Both of the Aces female players, Nicole Gibbs and Alla Kudryavtseva, remain with the Breakers. Kudryavtseva was the league's female rookie of the year in 2015. Gibbs won two NCAA women's singles championships while playing for Stanford.

The Breakers male players are Dennis Novikov and Scott Lipsky.

Adult ticket prices range from $38-$90, with a $28 youth ticket available in the upper sideline section.

World TeamTennis matches consist of one set each of men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles, with the team winning the most games winning the match.

The league is beginning its 41st season. It began play in 1974, suspended operations following the 1978 season, then returned to action in 1981.