The New York Empire presented by Citi knocked off the visiting Springfield (MO) Lasers, 20-18 Monday night in a huge matchup with playoff implications on the line on Court 17 of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The win moved the NY Empire to 7-6 on the season with just one match remaining and kept New York’s hopes to play in the Mylan World TeamTennis Finals on August 5 alive.
The NY Empire used a lethal combination of tremendous serving and solid net play from Neal Skupski and Marcus Willis to jump out to a commanding 5-2 lead in the first set, men’s doubles. In the second set, New York’s pair of Kirsten Flipkens and Maria Sanchez extended the lead by grabbing four of the first five games, but Springfield’s duo of Sorana Cirstea and Anna-Lena Groenefeld fought back to force a tiebreak. In the set-deciding point, a Sanchez lob attempt fell just long and Springfield took the set 5-4 to close New York’s overall lead to 9-7. New York’s mixed doubles team of Flipkens and Skupski got back on the winning side by taking the set 5-2 over Becker and Groenefeld to go into halftime with a 14-9 lead.
Playing in her third consecutive set of the night and sixth straight set that she is eligible to play in, Kirsten Flipkens battled hard but ultimately fell to Springfield’s Sorana Cirstea 5-2 to narrow New York’s lead to 16-14. The match would come down to the final set between New York’s Marcus Willis and Springfield’s Benjamin Becker. Willis would do just enough, forcing a tiebreak with some inspired play before winning the all-decisive tiebreaker with several highlight reel shots.
The New York Empire travel to Missouri to face the Lasers in the team’s last match of the regular season tonight at Mediacom Stadium at Cooper Tennis Complex. The match begins at 8 p.m. ET.