Freedoms fall in WTT action

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Andy Roddick , playing for the Springfield Lasers, returns the ball to the Freedoms' Samuel Groth during their World Team Tennis match at Villanova.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Andy Roddick , playing for the Springfield Lasers, returns the ball to the Freedoms' Samuel Groth during their World Team Tennis match at Villanova.
Posted: July 12, 2013

THE PAVILION at Villanova had some star power on the court for the first time since March. The hardwood was replaced by a tennis surface, and 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick took the court for the Springfield Lasers against the Philadelphia Freedoms in a World Team Tennis match.

The Lasers took an early lead, and built on it through three sets. The Freedoms mounted a vigorous comeback in the fourth and fifth sets to send the match to overtime, but eventually fell, 23-20.

The Freedoms dropped l to 0-3. The Lasers are 2-1.

"It was a tight match," Freedoms coach Josh Cohen said. "Roddick still has a heck of a game in singles, doubles. We all-around played well, though. It just wasn't enough. I think the key was they got off to a strong start in the men's singles.''

Roddick took the first set of the match, 5-3, over Samuel Groth, and the Lasers never looked back. Groth managed to put up a fight, but Roddick had an answer for Groth's big serve.

"I actually think I played pretty good all night," Groth said. "I mean, Andy hit a couple of unbelievable shots to break me. He's not playing much anymore, but he has been No. 1 in the world, so he knows how to play this sport, that's for sure.

"He's one of the greats of our sport. He's won grand slams. He is also one of the great personalities in our sport. It's great to be able to play against someone like that."

The Freedoms' comeback came alive when Roddick was off the court, in the third and fourth matches, which were mixed doubles and women's singles. The mixed doubles match featured Philadelphia's Liezel Huber and Jordan Kerr against Vania King and Alisa Kleybanova. Huber and Kerr hung with the Lasers, but fell in a 5-4 tiebreaker 5-4, pushing the match to 15-10 after three sets.

Alison Riske got the Freedoms on the board with a 5-3 win in the fourth set in women's singles over King, and the Freedoms pulled within 18-15 heading into the final set.

The match was not the only loss the Freedoms suffered this week. Sloane Stephens, a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon, withdrew from the WTT circuit, citing an abdominal injury she re-aggravated in London.

"Obviously, it's huge," Cohen said. "In sports, injuries happen. We just have to make the best of it, put together the best team and attitude possible going forward. Obviously, it hurts, her not being here, but that's life.''

"It's tough," Groth said. "We are sort of hustling a little bit right now, but hopefully we can find someone to steer the ship a little bit. That's the thing with team tennis, it has to be a whole team effort so hopefully we can find the girl to make it work for us."

The Freedoms return to action tomorrow against the New York Sportimes at the University at Albany.

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