Reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens will compete in a 2020 World Team Tennis season played at a mountain resort with spectators starting July 12. The nine-team US circuit will stage its 45th campaign at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, from July 12-August 2, the league announced Tuesday.
With the WTA and ATP tours shut down into August due to the coronavirus pandemic, the move makes the WTT the first pro tennis circuit to resume play after the global outbreak of the deadly virus shut down the sport.
“All of us are extremely grateful to be able to play the 45th World TeamTennis season and present professional tennis to our sports-starved and tennis-starved audiences,” said WTT chief executive Carlos Silva.
“The overwhelming feedback from our players is that they want to play WTT and are comfortable in doing so in a safe environment, which is our number one priority. West Virginia has among the nation’s fewest cases of COVID-19.”
The WTT plans at least three matches a day at the resort’s 2,500-seat outdoor stadium with an indoor court to be installed as a backup option.
West Virginia health guidelines will allow up to 500 spectators, a 20% capacity, to attend the matches.
The WTT plans a 63-match regular season from July 19-30 with the semi-finals August 1 and the championship match the following day.
The WTT will follow local and state government rules and adhere to safety protocals from the Centers for Disease Control, including COVID-19 testing and screening and protective gear such as facemasks.
World number four Kenin, a 21-year-old American who captured her first Grand Slam title on February 1 at Melbourne, will play for the Philadelphia Freedoms while 37th-ranked Stephens, the 2018 French Open runner-up, will compete for the expansion Chicago Smash.
On the men’s side, Bulgaria’s 19th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov will play for the Orange County Breakers with doubles stars Bob and Mike Bryan on the Vegas Rollers.