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Patrick Rafter signs on as a 2004 Philadelphia Freedom!

Philadelphia Freedoms Selects Tennis Legend Patrick Rafter and hometown hero Lisa Raymond in the WTT Player Draft

Andre Agassi and Martina Navratilova to visit Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (April 7, 2004) – The Philadelphia Freedoms are expecting another season of great tennis action with the addition of tennis legend Patrick Rafter to the team. The Freedoms selected Rafter as their first round draft pick in the WTT Marquee Draft held today via teleconference from the League’s New York City headquarters.

Rafter, a two time U.S. Open Champion, will make his WTT Pro League debut this July playing for the Freedoms. In 2000, Rafter defeated Agassi in a memorable five-set semifinal to reach his first final at the All England Club. He met Pete Sampras in the finals, where after winning the first set tie break, Rafter lost in five sets. Rafter retired from the game in 2002 to devote more time to his family. At the time of Rafter's exit from the Tour, he was ranked in the top 10. Rafter's only other professional tennis competition since his retirement was the 2004 Australian Open where he played doubles with Josh Eagle.

League Ambassador Andre Agassi and legend Martina Navratilova will visit Philadelphia this summer, on the opposite side of the net from the Freedoms. Agassi, who will play for the Sacramento Capitals, will make his first appearance playing against the Freedoms in Philadelphia. Navratilova, who played for the Freedoms last season, was the first round draft pick for the New York Buzz.

Agassi is one of the most recognizable names in tennis. He holds 58 ATP singles titles and finished in the Top 10 for the 14th time in his 18-year career. At the age of 33, he became the oldest player to finish in the Top 5 since Jimmy Connors (35) was #4 in 1987.

Navratilova’s successful resurgence into tennis following a six-year retirement has been a remarkable feat showcased by seven WTA doubles titles in 2003. She has a total of 167 WTA singles titles and 173 WTA doubles titles. She is considered by many as the greatest tennis player of all-time and is widely acknowledged as raising the level of women’s tennis with her athleticism.

“We are excited to bring another season of high-caliber tennis to the Philadelphia area and continue the city’s rich tennis tradition. Ultimately our goal is to bring the WTT Championship title to Philadelphia as we did in 2001,” said team General Manager Lisa Lauck.

The Philadelphia Freedoms selected hometown hero Lisa Raymond with their first pick in the WTT Roster Draft, which followed the Marquee Draft. Raymond is a local favorite from Wayne, Pa., who holds 4 WTA singles titles and 42 WTA doubles titles, 7 of which are Grand Slams. She is currently ranked #28 in singles and #9 in doubles in the world. Raymond teamed up with Navratilova in doubles last October and the two won their first doubles titles together at the Advanta Championships.

The Freedoms protected Elena Tatarkova from the Ukraine and drafted American John Paul Fruttero. Tatarkova has had a career high ranking of 45th in singles and 9th in doubles. She is a strong doubles player who holds 4 WTA doubles titles. Her strongest shot is her backhand. Tatarkova is currently coached by the mother of former Top 10 player, Andrei Medvedev.

Fruttero, a former University of California at Berkley standout, brings a big forehand and strong serve to the Freedoms. In 2002, he earned ITA All-American honors in singles and doubles. Currently, he is the hitting partner for the U.S. Fed Cup team. Prior to the draft, the Freedoms acquired the rights to Australian Josh Eagle from the Newport Beach Breakers. Eagle made his debut into the WTT Pro League last season playing for the Breakers. He partnered with Patrick Rafter for the 2004 Australian Open and is currently ranked #33 on the ATP doubles entry ranking.

The WTT schedule will be released by the end of April. For more information about the Philadelphia Freedoms or to purchase tickets for the 2004 season, call 866-WTT-TIXS or visit us at www.philadelphiafreedoms.com

League Background

Billie Jean King and Larry King originated World TeamTennis and its unique gender-equity team concept in the early 70’s. Since its inception, some of tennis’ greatest names have played in the League including Venus and Serena Williams, Monica Seles, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Lindsay Davenport, Andy Roddick and Chris Evert. The format features teams comprised of two men, two women and a coach. Each match consists of five sets, with one set each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. For more information on World TeamTennis, visit us at www.WTT.com

 

 
 
 
 
 
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