(CBS Local)- The first sporting event in the United States with fans in attendance happened this past weekend when World TeamTennis took to the courts at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia to serve up the 2020 season. With three days of action already behind us, the biggest takeaway for immediate past President, Chairperson and CEO of USTA Katrina Adams has been seeing the players back out on the court again in high level competition.
“It’s just been so exciting to see tennis live and have the players out, playing well and having a great time in a safe environment right now,” said Adams in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “More importantly, it’s been great to see a lot of the top players that have gone out to participate. We saw Venus Williams on the sideline the other day, but some of the young players like Coco Vandeweghe and Taylor Fritz and Asia Muhammad, her performance, I watched her play with Mike Bryan for the Vegas Rollers, and they’re really standing out. Unfortunately, Francis Tiafoe wasn’t able to play as he contracted COVID-19 the week before the start.”
Adams is part of the WTT coverage for CBS Sports Network, set to serve as an analyst for the semi-finals and finals weekend coming up on August 1 and 2. Not only has she been impressed by the play of some of the younger stars, but she says it’s been really good to see the multiple generations of athletes competing, particularly in a year in which the tennis season has been far from normal.
“The beauty of World TeamTennis is you practically have three generations of players. I’ll go to the oldest right now with Mike and Bob Bryan who have played many years in World TeamTennis. They love this environment. It’s fast, it’s interactive, it’s great,” said Adams. “Then you have Venus and Serena who have played over the years and Sam Querrey, who is a part of this. Then you bring it down to that next generation and the younger generation with Taylor Fritz getting involved. Everyone gets to play together, against one another and learn from each other. And they have amazing coaches on their benches that can help them pretty much every point.”
Through the first three matchdays, things look a little bit different than fans may be used to with the Philadelphia Freedoms atop the group at 2-0 while last year’s champions, the Springfield Lasers, are 0-2. Still, it’s early, and as Adams points out, the intensity of the competition has been the main thing to watch. Especially given the long layoff that these athletes had prior to returning to play. She believes it will set them up well for the upcoming end of summer tournaments, the Western and Southern Open and U.S. Open, set to be played in New York at the end of August.
“I think for the first month, everybody was probably wondering, what’s going on? You thought you’d be away for two, three weeks and here we are two, three months, four months getting back. There have been some competitions this last month kind of easing the players back in to it but not everyone participated,” said Adams. “To get this many players in one location right now being able to practice, train and compete and getting back into the flow of intense competition. Because, World TeamTennis is very intense. It comes down to one point on any given match. And I think that’s the exciting part about it for many of the players that are trying to get back to the top of their game before they take it into the Western and Southern Open and the U.S. Open at the end of the summer.”
In addition to her role with WTT, Adams serves as a panelist on the all-women sports talk show We Need To Talk airing on CBS Sports Network.
“Working alongside some of the most talented women in the sports business has been inspiring for me. It’s been an opportunity for me to learn from them. A lot of the athletes, we come from different backgrounds, different sports and we’re able to bring our experiences to the show and together and learn from one another,” said Adams. “When you sit next to the Tracy Wolfsons or Andrea Kremers of the world and listen from a reporters standpoint and from the ones that are doing the research, it’s been phenomenal. I think we have been able to bring all of our talents together to produce a fantastic and dynamic show.”
You can catch We Need To Talk on CBS Sports Network and World TeamTennis continues its schedule of matches on the network over the next two weeks, full TV listings can be found here.