On the first day of the National Football League’s free agency period, one pro team in Philadelphia made quite the splash. And it wasn’t involving football.
One month after securing Victoria Azarenka as a marquis player, the Philadelphia Freedoms used the 2014 World TeamTennis Roster Draft to compile the rest of its squad. In the end, the Freedoms made good use of each round to field what looks to be one of their most dynamic and competitive teams in recent history.
With their first two picks, the Freedoms protected 2013 rookie standout Vicky Duval, along with seven-time Grand Slam winner Liezel Huber. The team also picked world No. 5 doubles player Marcelo Melo and Canadian Davis Cup star Frank Dancevic in the third and fourth rounds.
WTT is the only professional tennis scheduled for the Philadelphia area this year.
“Today’s WTT Roster draft rounds out the 2014 Freedoms with some very strong team players,” Freedoms owner Billie Jean King said in a statement released by the team. “Both Liezel and Marcelo have exceptional doubles credentials and they will be a threat in any doubles set. Vicky is just coming into her own and we look for her to be even better in her second WTT season and Frank has proven himself to be a strong team player in Davis Cup for Canada. So when you add these four with the star power Victoria Azarenka brings to our team, you have a winning combination. It is definitely going to be a competitive season for the Freedoms.”
Duval used her experience during the 2013 WTT season to set the tone for the rest of her tournament season, where she upset 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur in the US Open. Duval’s performance brought her into the national spotlight, and even led to an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in September.
Huber, meanwhile, was the 2011 Mylan WTT female MVP and has spent 199 weeks as the world’s No. 1-ranked doubles player. Huber has played an intricate role in WTT, helping the Delaware Smash to the title in 2003 and the St. Louis Aces to the title in 2011.
Melo enters his first season with Mylan WTT. He’s earned 13 doubles titles on the ATP World Tour and has prior experience with Freedoms’ teammate Liezel Huber, having played mixed doubles with her in the last four Grand Slam tournaments. Melo and Huber together reached the Round of 16 at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2013 and the 2014 Australian Open. In 2013, he reached the Wimbledon final and the U.S. Open semifinals in men’s doubles.
Dancevic, also a WTT rookie, is a member of the Canadian Davis Cup team and helped Canada reach the semifinals in 2013. He is a three-time finalist on the ATP Tour and expects to contribute in both singles and doubles.
The Freedoms will play seven home matches in July at The Pavilion at Villanova University. The schedule will include one home appearance for Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open singles champion, and also be highlighted by a marquee visit from 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick (Austin Aces). Match dates will be announced later this month.