Fans in attendance for Tuesday night’s World TeamTennis Smash Hits event in Pittsburgh knew they would see some good tennis, but what happened behind-the-scenes ended up being the talk of the night.
Before an evening of top-notch tennis between some of the world’s best-known players, World TeamTennis (WTT) and Mylan announced a three-year agreement whereby Mylan will serve as the title sponsor or WTT, which will be renamed Mylan World TeamTennis. Mylan, one of the world’s leading generics and specialty pharmaceutical companies, provides products to customers in approximately 150 countries and territories.
Just after the announcement, the evening’s live auction raised $375,000, bringing the night’s total to more than $1 million raised. Hosted annually by Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King, the event has now raised more the $11.5 million to support HIV and AIDS prevention and awareness programs since the first Smash Hits was held in Los Angeles in 1993. Each year, a percentage of the money stays in the host city for local charities.
After all of that, the tennis finally began.
On the court, the match featured players Martina Navratilova, Christina McHale, Stefanie Graf, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Mark Knowles, Jan-Michael Gambill and up-and-comers Taylor Townsend and Samantha Crawford. Roddick, making one of his first appearances since his retirement following the 2012 US Open, certainly didn’t disappoint, winning the final set of men’s singles over Andre Agassi, 5-3. Agassi won in overtime to give nudge Team Billie Jean King to the win and even the 20-year series between coaches Billie Jean King and Elton John.
The importance of the agreement between WTT and Mylan was stressed throughout the evening, as Mylan will serve as the title sponsor for more than 50 matches per season for the league. World TeamTennis aims at expanding to new markets outside the United States.
“Mylan chose to partner with WTT due to our organizations’ shared commitment to helping people around the world overcome barriers to access,” Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said. “For WTT, access means making sure everyone has the opportunity to participate on a team, preparing people — regardless of age, gender or race — to compete both in sports and in life. For Mylan, access is our purpose. We are working every day to set new standards in health care and provide the world’s 7 billion people access to high quality medicine — and breaking down barriers to access along the way. For instance, we are working to make drugs more affordable, reach underserved geographies, address unmet medical needs, overcome inadequate infrastructure and help shape policy.”
“Mylan and WTT share the same ideal of access and opportunity for everyone,” added Ilana Kloss, WTT CEO/Commissioner. “We are excited to partner with a global company like Mylan, and we will work together to elevate our respective brands and create greater opportunities for access both in the U.S. and international markets.”
Before the match began, Billie Jean King spoke about the city of Pittsburgh and the former World TeamTennis team that competed there, the Pittsburgh Triangles. She said that the potential is there, down the road, for Pittsburgh to once again field a team.
“I’d love to have a team back in Pittsburgh,” she said. “The fans were great; the people were always having fun. The fans are just great here.”
For specific match results and more info about Smash Hits, visit http://www.wtt.com
For photos of the event, visit the Middle States Facebook page.