The phrase “Philadelphia Freedom” evokes a certain pride in Philadelphians. Acting as the crucible of the American Revolution, it was Philadelphia that acted as host to the Founding Fathers that drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Framers who formulated the Constitution. Philadelphia has always been a beacon of what is distinctly American, ever since helping to bring liberty from the British Empire.
In 2019, the United States and the United Kingdom do not share the animosity that existed hundreds of years ago. However, Philadelphia is preparing for another “British invasion” of sorts. Indeed, the Freedoms will face an invasion of British tennis players in the upcoming 2019 World TeamTennis season.
At the Freedom’s home opener on July 15th against the San Diego Aviators, rising Scottish doubles star Jonny O’Mara will step into Hagan Arena and face off against a familiar foe in the Freedoms’ own French Open Runner-up Fabrice Martin. In May, the two competed against each other in the doubles final of Portugal’s Estoril Open.
James Ward of the Orange County Breakers will be in town the next night in hopes of starting his WTT debut season off with a bang. Ward has enjoyed great success in team competitions in the past, serving as a key part of the British team’s Davis Cup title run in 2015. Ward upset the world #20 at the time, John Isner.
Luke Bambridge joins the Breakers this year for his first WTT season as well, already with a pair of tour titles to his name despite being only 24. Both wins came while partnered with the Aviators’ Jonny O’Mara. After reaching three additional tournament finals in 2019 so far, Bambridge has reached a career high ranking of #41 on the doubles circuit.
Harriet Dart, who will play for the Las Vegas Rollers, is yet another young British talent on the radar of many in the tennis cognoscenti. At a mere 22, Dart’s career accomplishments have already started to form a reputation that precedes her. Dart has proved her mettle on the ITF circuit by already securing a combined 14 titles between singles and doubles. Beyond her own individual accolades, Dart is also undefeated as a member of the UK Fed Cup team. Alongside her Fed Cup partner Katie Swan and the rest of the British squad, Dart handily dispatched the Slovenian and Greek teams.
The Skupski brothers, normally strong doubles companions, will be competing on separate teams this year. Both Skupskis are former holders of the WTT Male Rookie of the Year honor. Ken Skupski will be the first of the two to come to Philadelphia for the match between the Freedoms and the Storm on July 19th. Neal will arrive with the New York Empire for the final match of the year on July 31st. Both of the Skupski brothers have been steady performers on the tour since leaving LSU, where both were multiple-time All-Americans.
Noted Freedoms rivals and reigning WTT champions, the Springfield Lasers will bring with them British doubles superstar Joe Salisbury. He is a former Wimbledon semifinalist and has rocketed up the doubles rankings to a career high #19 in the world and is the #2 British doubles player behind only Jamie Murray.