The Empire Strikes Back!

Posted on March 13, 2018

John Isner, Genie Bouchard, Mardy Fish, Neal Skupski Return to New York for 2018 WTT Season

Empire Adds Tatjana Maria, Dennis Novikov and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez to Roster

Against the desert backdrop of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, the annual WTT Draft concluded this Tuesday, signaling a hot start to the 43rd season of World TeamTennis, presented by GEICO.

At the start of the Draft, the Empire announced it would be protecting franchise players Genie Bouchard, Mardy Fish and John Isner, as well as doubles specialist Neal Skupski. Then, over the course of three rounds of draft picks, New York signed Tatjana Maria, Dennis Novikov, and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez to fill the rest of the lineup for the 2018 WTT season, which will run from July 15 – August 2, with the top two teams advancing to the WTT Finals on Sunday, August 5.

“We feel like we had a great draft,” said Empire head coach Gigi Fernandez, who is returning for her second season with New York. “We have a diverse team now with an American, a German and a Spaniard joining our Franchise players John, Genie and Mardy, and Neal Skupski rounding out our full-time player roster. We can’t wait for the season to start and our team will bring an exciting brand of tennis to New York once again this summer.”

Returning Heroes

Eugenie “Genie” Bouchard returns for her second season of New York Empire tennis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Montreal, Quebec native made her Empire debut last July, defeating the Orange County Breakers’ Yanina Wickmayer in women’s singles action. Bouchard is an accomplished professional on the WTA tour, reaching the Wimbledon final, Australian Open semifinals and French Open semifinals in 2014.

Mardy Fish returns for his eighth WTT season after helping lead the franchise to within one spot of a WTT Finals appearance in 2017. The Los Angeles resident, who won six ATP World Tour singles titles during his career, will appear in home matches on July 23, July 25 and July 26.

The 6-foot-10 ace specialist John Isner will play his eighth consecutive season of WTT and will appear in the season-opening match against the Washington Kastles on July 15. The former University of Georgia All-American is currently the No. 18 ranked player in the world and is fourth all-time in aces served in the ATP.

Neal Skupski, who returns for his third consecutive season with the New York Empire, will serve as the team’s doubles specialist this season. In 2017, Skupski played 122 games of men’s doubles and 97 games of mixed doubles, serving up 25 aces along the way. Skupski is also the only remaining player from the Empire’s inaugural season in 2016.

Draft Picks

Tatjana Maria, selected with the Empire’s first pick in the draft, is a 30-year-old German currently ranked No. 56 in the world in singles on the WTA Tour. Maria has won two doubles titles on the WTA Tour and has played for Germany’s Fed Cup team. She has advanced to at least the second round in each of the four Grand Slam events, with her best result a third-round appearance at Wimbledon in 2015.

With the second pick, the Empire selected Dennis Novikov, a former UCLA All-American who spent the 2016 WTT season with the Orange County Breakers. Novikov, 24, was born in Moscow, Russia, and grew up in San Jose, Calif. In January, Novikov upset former world No. 5 Kei Nishikori at the $125,000 ATP Oracle Challenger in Newport Beach, Calif., and last month, he won his 11th ITF professional singles title by winning the Morelos Challenger in Mexico.

Filling out the roster, the Empire selected Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. The 35-year-old WTA Tour veteran has won 18 tour doubles titles and five in singles. She achieved a career-high doubles ranking of No. 4 in the world in 2010.

The Empire will kick off the 2018 season with a home-and-away series against the Washington Kastles on July 15 and July 16. Other highlights include a visit from the defending WTT champs Orange County Breakers on Thursday, July 26 and two home matches against Billie Jean King’s Philadelphia Freedoms.

Single match tickets go on-sale later this month and start as low as $10 for children age 16-and-under, and $25 for adults. But don’t wait! Season tickets are available now and are the best way to enjoy World TeamTennis in the Big Apple. The Empire offers a wide selection of reserved box seats and hospitality packages, which include food and beverage service and the opportunity to meet the team. A limited number of Play with the Pros spots are also available. Visit for more details.

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