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Team Tennis Anyone?

By Bill Jones | CBS 11 Sports |
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Having grown up in Irving, Bill Jones has deep roots in Dallas-Fort...
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - The first time I ever picked up a tennis racquet was when I was about ten years old. My mother had bought me a Spalding “Pancho Gonzales Signature Model” wooden tennis racquet and signed me up for a summer tennis camp at Lively Park, across the street from Irving High School.

I enjoyed the camp, but tennis wasn’t exactly the sport of choice in our North Irving neighborhood. If you’re the only kid on the block who owns a Spalding “Pancho Gonzales Signature Model” wooden tennis racquet, what good is it anyway? After all, you can only hit a tennis ball up against the side of the house for so long. So, front yard pick up football games it was.

It’s months like this one when I realize Mother knew what she was doing when she signed me up for that Lively Park tennis camp four decades ago.

There’s a new game in town. It’s called team tennis. There’s a new team in town. It’s called the Texas Wild. And I get to put my Spalding “Pancho Gonzales Signature Model” wooden tennis racquet knowledge to the test this month when I’m part of the TXA 21 broadcast team for live coverage of Mylan World Team Tennis action from the Four Seasons Resort in Las Colinas.

Our first televised match on TXA 21 is at 7:30 Wednesday night. That’s the Texas Wild’s home opener against the Washington Kastles.

TXA 21 will also broadcast live the match against the Sacramento Capitals at 7:30 on Wednesday, July 24. Sacramento has the #1 ranked American on the ATP World Tour in big 6-6 Sam Querrey, who has a powerful serve that has reached 141 miles per hour.

Other home matches for the Texas Wild will feature appearances by the best doubles team in the world. The Bryan Brothers (Bob and Mike), fresh off their 15th Grand Slam men’s doubles title at Wimbledon on Saturday, will play for our local team when the Wild host the Orange County Breakers on Saturday, July 20.

But the Texas Wild player I’m most looking forward to watching is 19-year old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who is one of the up and coming stars on the women’s tour. Bouchard, who won the Junior Wimbledon singles and doubles titles last year, knocked off 12th seeded Ana Ivanovic last week, advancing to the 3rd round in her first foray into the main draw at Wimbledon. Martina Navratilova says Bouchard can be a “potential Grand Slam champion” some day.

World Team Tennis should be a great way to spend a summer evening and it’s long overdue for our area. Rising stars like 20-year old Sloane Stephens (Philadelphia Freedoms) and 17-year old Taylor Townsend (Sacramento Capitals), and fan favorites like John McEnroe (New York Sportimes), Andy Roddick (Springfield Lasers), and Jim Courier (Texas Wild) are all part of a league that was the brainchild of the great Billie Jean King 39 years ago.

Come to think of it, that was about the same time I picked up my Spalding “Pancho Gonzales Signature Model” wooden tennis racquet for the first time.

Note: For more on the Texas Wild, check out special World Team Tennis coverage in the Irving Rambler and other Rambler Newspapers.

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