WASHINGTON, July 22, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
All nine World TeamTennis teams came together in one location, The Greenbrier Resort, a luxury setting nestled among the Allegheny Mountains in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, to play the 2020 season. The WTT created a three-week bubble for the teams, which by all media accounts had gone quite well. Until Monday.
That’s because on Monday evening, World No. 51 Danielle Collins of the U.S., a member of the Orlando Storm, was dismissed for the remainder of the season for breaking WTT Covid-19 protocols and leaving both The Greenbrier Resort as well as the state of West Virginia. Collins played collegiately at the University of Virginia, about a two-hour drive from The Greenbrier, where she twice won the NCAA singles titles in 2016 and 2018.
In a statement issued by WTT CEO Carlos Silva, “We have dismissed Danielle Collins (Orlando Storm) for the remainder of the 2020 World TeamTennis season after breaking COVID-19. Protocols and leaving The Greenbrier Resort and the state of West Virginia. The protocols have been put in place and communicated numerous times to protect the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff which are of utmost importance to WTT.”
World TeamTennis brings down the hammer on Danielle Collins for violating its protocols. pic.twitter.com/b1LjpHH7yZ
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 21, 2020
According to Tennis.com’s Nina Pantic, “Silva and the Orlando Storm team was made aware of the breach on Monday afternoon, when Collins couldn’t make the team’s COVID-19 test (the third one this season, and done via blood prick).”
“She didn’t tell anybody she was going anywhere,” Orlando’s Tennys Sandgren told Pantic. “We were having a blood test yesterday. In the group chat it’s 3 p.m. and we’re leaving at 3:30 p.m. and she’s like ‘I’m in Charlottesville [Virginia].’”
From Pantic’s reporting, she noted that Orlando coach Jay Gooding said Collins had returned to Charlottesville “for nutritional purposes to get some food and supplements.”
Sandgren said of Collins’ dismissal: “I think they did the right thing. It’s a team event and everybody has to be responsible with a pandemic going on and follow the protocols. It just shows you need to be on the same page with everybody else.”
Collins, 26, who was playing in her second WTT season, had appeared in four of Orlando’s seven matches, playing both singles and doubles. She compiled a 1-3 singles record with a 5-0 win over Sloane Stephens to go with losses to Monica Puig (5-3), Kim Clijsters (5-4) and Eugenie Bouchard (5-4). She teamed with Jenny Pegula to go 1-1 in doubles.
USTA statement on cancellation of Citi Open
The United States Tennis Association, which is the governing body for the US Open, issued a statement following Tuesday’s cancellation of the Citi Open, which was scheduled to begin August 14 in Washington, D.C.:
USTA statement on the cancellation of the Citi Open: pic.twitter.com/EWHCAQCTja
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) July 21, 2020
UTS2 to include men’s and women’s competition
The Ultimate Tennis Showdown, the brainchild of tennis coach, broadcaster and Mouratoglou Tennis Academy founder Patrick Mouratoglou announced Tuesday its second men’s event, scheduled for July 25-26 and August 1-2 at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy near Nice, France.
The UTS2 will feature six players from UTS1 – Richard Gasquet, Benoit Paire, and Corentin Moutet, all from France; Feliciano Lopez of Spain, Dustin Brown of Germany and Alexei Popyrin from Australia – plus newcomers Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and Fernando Verdasco of Spain. Two other Top 20 players will be announced soon to fill out the draw.
Also, the Ultimate Tennis Showdown has added a debut women’s event, to be held Aug. 1-2, featuring World No. 30 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, No. 39 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, No. 59 Alizé Cornet of France and 13-year-old rising star Brenda Fruhvirtova from the Czech Republic, who is currently ranked No. 24 in the world under-14.
UTS2 will also include a men’s event that will feature six players from UTS1 along with four fresh new faces:
📆 July 25-26, August 1-2 pic.twitter.com/NsuJFOmVgf
— UTS | Ultimate Tennis Showdown (@UTShowdown) July 21, 2020
Top Seed Open adds Venus, Vika and Coco
The WTA Top Seed Open has added Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Coco Gauff to its growing lineup of stars. The 67th-ranked Williams and No. 58 Azarenka, who have combined to win nine Grand Slam singles titles, will join 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams and 2017 US Open titlist Sloane Stephens. Gauff’s addition was announced Tuesday afternoon and she’s a huge box office draw wherever she plays. The Top Seed Open, which is replacing the Citi Open this year, is a hard court lead-up to the US Open and begins on August 10.
— Top Seed Tennis Club (@TopSeedTennisKY) July 21, 2020
And the winner is …
At the Eastern European Championships in Belgrade, it took two and one-half hours and three sets, but No. 91 Danka Kovinic of Montenegro prevailed over No. 170 Olga Danilovic of Serbia in three sets, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. On the men’s side, winners included: No. 32 Filip Krajinovic and No. 80 Laslo Djere.
And we have a winner. 👏
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) July 21, 2020
What they’re saying
• Mark Ein, Citi Open chairman, in a telephone interview with New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey, on the cancelation of the ATP 500 event in Washington, D.C.: “When we committed to host the event all the trends were going in our favor, and halfway through the process they all reversed. Then, we ran out of time. With a little more time we may have been able to overcome the obstacles that were in front of us, but it’s better to make a decision for all the stakeholders before it eats to the last minute.”
• Steve Simon, WTA CEO, in a video interview with The National columnist Reem Abulleil on the restart of the WTA season: “These are not normal times and what you’re trying to do is operate in a world that is imperfect right now and try to find whatever levels of fairness and opportunity you can in a very imperfect situation.”
What they’re writing
Reem Abulleil, columnist for The National (Abu Dhabi), from “Simona Halep leads the return of women’s tennis amid a cloud of risk and uncertainty”:
While several sports leagues and competitions have managed to restart across the globe, tennis faces a unique set of challenges due to the fact that it does not take place in just one location or within one country, but it requires players to travel around the world on a weekly basis.
Tennis during coronavirus times doesn’t just need a sports bubble, it needs a traveling sports bubble.
Different governments have set different travel restrictions that may prevent players from making it to specific tournaments, while some players do not feel comfortable getting a plane and going abroad during such turbulent times.
Others are eager to get back on court and want to make use of the earning opportunities made available e to them, instead of going through the rest of the season without making any money.
In light of the Citi Open cancellation, the WTA returning on European clay seems to be a good decision. Seems unlikely that they will be cancelled beforehand and European players at least have an easier choice between staying in Europe and going to the US. https://t.co/cM8SRR6VIo
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) July 21, 2020
What they’re sharing on social media
Lucas Pouille / The operation went well …
The operation went well and we will start the rehabilitation as soon as possible. Thank you all for your support and I hope to see you on the courts very soon. pic.twitter.com/lTQN0nMTPc
— Lucas Pouille (@la_pouille) July 21, 2020
Venus Williams / My new BOLD collection …
Coco Gauff / Back on court – all business.
— Fed Cup (@FedCup) July 21, 2020