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Rafter Returns!
Patrick RafterThe Philadelphia Freedoms are expecting another great season of tennis action, with all five players from last year’s team returning to the 2005 squad. The Freedoms selected tennis legend Patrick Rafter and Wayne, Pa., resident, Lisa Raymond to lead the team during today’s WTT Player draft in Miami.

Rafter, who won the U.S. Open in 1997 and 1998, made his World TeamTennis debut last year for the Freedoms. In 2000, Rafter defeated Andre Agassi in a memorable five-set semi-final 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.

Lisa Raymond, who was a part of the inaugural and champion 2001 Freedoms team, returns having represented the United States at the Olympics in Athens last summer. Raymond won the doubles title at the Advanta Championships this past November, and had singles quarterfinal appearances in the 2004 Australian Open and 2000 Wimbledon.

Joining Rafter and Raymond will be Freedoms returning players John Paul Fruttero of San Marino, Calif.; Josh Eagle of Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia; Elena Tatarkova of Kiev, Ukraine. and newcomer, Carly Gullikson. Eagle, who teamed with Rafter in doubles in the 2004 Australian Open, achieved a high ranking of 11 on the ATP Tour in April 2001. Tatarkova climbed as high as #9 in doubles in July 1999 and will play in her third season for the Freedoms this July. Fruttero joined the Freedoms last year, and prior to turning pro, was an All-American player at University of California at Berkeley in 2001 and 2002.

“It’s great to have practically everybody back from last year’s team. We’re excited that Patrick will be our marquee player and I know that the faithful Freedoms fans will be happy to hear that Lisa Raymond and most of our team will be back in the area,” said Freedoms General Manager Lisa Lauck.

The Freedoms also secured marquee player visits from John McEnroe and Martina Hingis. McEnroe, known for his on-court brashness and candor, won three Wimbledon singles titles in the early 1980’s and five U.S. Open titles. In total, McEnroe secured 76 singles titles and 69 doubles titles throughout his lengthy career.

Hingis, a former number one player on the WTA Tour was a three-time Australian Open champion from 1997 through 1999, as well as winning both the US Open and Wimbledon in 1997. She retired in 2002 and is making her WTT debut this season.

The season schedule will be released in late April. For more information about the Freedoms or to purchase tickets for the 2005 season, (866) WTT-TIXS or visit us at www.philadelphiafeedoms.com.