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Empire lose in “Empower Her” Night

On Wednesday night, New York Empire was not the sole focus. The evening was dubbed “Empower Her” night, where a special spotlight was on empowering young ladies in sports. Young girls were treated to special clinics prior to the match and they got to witness influential women be honored during halftime.

Those iconic women included WTT creator Billie Jean King, Empire coach and International Hall of Famer Gigi Fernandez and former WNBA star of the New York Liberty Kym Hampton. During halftime, they were honored for their contributions to society and they shared some wise words with the audience. Billie Jean King encouraged fans to be “problems solvers” when faced with difficult challenges.

With all the off-court inspiration in the air, there was tennis on the court.  New York Empire took on the Philadelphia Freedom.  The evening started off with men’s doubles Empire’s Neal Skupski and Dennis Novikov battled against Freedom’s Kevin King and Fabrice Martin. It was a tightly contested match that saw both teams get through tough service holds. In the end, Freedom was rock solid in the tiebreaker, easily dominating to take the first set.

Next up was the women’s singles event. Taylor Townsend dominated Tatjana Maria, jumping to a 4-0 lead. Empire coach, Gigi Fernandez tried to shake things up, substituting Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez for Maria but it was too late. Townsend closed out the set, giving the Freedom a six-game lead.

The Empire made a roaring comeback in the mixed doubles event. It was a set that saw sensational volleys and exciting baseline rallies. In the end, Skupski and Martinez-Sanchez handily defeated Fabrice Martin and Taylor Townsend. They won 5-2.

Women’s doubles was a tightly contested set that went deep in the tiebreaker. Both teams got through tough pressure serving games. The tiebreaker went to a deciding point a 4-4. Townsend netted a backhand, giving Maria and Martinez Sanchez the set for Empire.

Men’s singles was the last event of the evening. It started out competitive with Empire’s Novikov and Freedom’s King trading holds. Then at 3-3, King put pressure on the Novikov serve, breaking to go up 4-3. King then came back and served out the set, sealing the matching for the Freedom. Freedom won the match 21-17.


***Empire’s next home game is this Friday against the San Diego Aviators.

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Ricardo is the lead Tennis Analyst here at
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