The quest for the 2012 World Team Tennis Championship began on Valentine's Day with the official WTT Marquee Player Draft. The Philadelphia Freedoms drafted Mark Philippoussis and James Blake, two players who have been ranked inside the top ten to its roster, while adding world No. 1 doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan to its list of visiting players.
With the first overall pick, former world No. 8 Mark Philippoussis returns to the Freedoms after previously playing for the team in 2002. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, in 1995 Philippoussis became the youngest player to finish in the world top 50 at the age of 19. He went on to reach the 1998 U.S. Open final and was instrumental in capturing Australia’s only Hopman Cup. Philippoussis continues his tremendous career as an integral member of the 2012 Freedoms after playing with the St. Louis Aces during the 2011 WTT season.
"I'm thrilled to be back in World TeamTennis and a part of this League. I love the format and the vibe and I'm excited to play for Billie Jean's team in Philly," said Philippoussis Tuesday.
The Freedoms also drafted former world No. 4 James Blake. It is the first time Blake will play World TeamTennis for the Freedoms in what will be his seventh WTT season overall. Born in Yonkers, New York, Blake has represented the United States in the Hopman and Davis Cup, winning 10 career ATP titles along the way. He also reached the semifinals of the Beijing Olympics to compliment his success at the Majors. Blake brings his thundering forehand and signature one-handed backhand to the Freedoms this year. Will he bring his “J-block” fan section with him as well?
The visiting American doubles team of Mike and Bob Bryan add an extra element of excitement to this season. They’ve held the world No. 1 doubles ranking for longer than any other doubles team in history and won the 2007 Davis Cup with new Freedoms marquee player James Blake. The duo have completed a career Grand Slam and took the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Team roster players for the Freedoms will be completed on March 13 with the World TeamTennis Roster Draft. The 2012 World TeamTennis Pro League presented by Geico kicks off July 9.
Photo Credits: Camerawork USA