Juniors Make Splash for New York Buzz
by Joshua Rey, 28 July 2009
BOSTON - In a league that serves as a "Who's Who" of tennis each July, the New York Buzz could have been overlooked for what they weren't. No Hall of Famers or former No. 1s strengthened their roster. No journeymen or comeback kids were on their team.
Playing against some of the most decorated professionals to ever play the game, New York had no pros. But look no further for the future of American tennis than the Albany-based Buzz.
Florida juniors Sloane Stephens
and Alex Domijan
wrapped up three of the most hectic weeks of their young tennis careers Wednesday when their Buzz fell to the Boston Lobsters
, 20-16, in the World TeamTennis season finale. Of the 10 WTT teams, the Buzz were the only squad this season without a Grand Slam champion. They finished with a 4-10 team record.
"It was really intimidating at the beginning," said Stephens. "But then you realize that it's only for experience and you relax a little bit. We have nothing to lose because we're juniors playing against people who have actually won Grand Slams. For us, it's not that bad."
To make matters more difficult for the young Buzz, Christina McHale caught an illness at Wimbledon and Evan King suffered an eye injury after returning from England. Both were drafted by the Buzz in March, but missed the entire WTT season. With little time for the league to find permanent replacements, Stephens and Domijan played doubles all season with a merry-go-round of substitutes - all of whom were also juniors.
After pairing with Allie Will and Beatrice Capra, Stephens settled in with future Stanford Cardinal player Mallory Burdette. Domijan juggled four partners before teaming with Vanderbilt-bound Ryan Lipman for the final seven matches of the season.
On the singles court, Domijan and Stephens held their own against experienced opponents. At 6'7", the 17-year-old Domijan already possesses a powerful game, which helped him defeat American veterans Robert Kendrick, Michael Russell and Scott Oudsema. Stephens, the sixth-ranked junior girl in the world, finished the season with an 8-4 record in women's singles. Among her victims were WTA No. 107 Vania King, No. 134 Stephanie Foretz and No. 188 Abigail Spears.
When the Buzz hosted the Philadelphia Freedoms on July 9th, seven-time Slam winner Venus Williams was pitted against Stephens in women's singles. The Buzz trailed 13-11 when the 16-year-old Stephens took to the court to play a childhood hero.