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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The two-time defending World TeamTennis champion Springfield Lasers are heading back to the 2021 WTT Finals Presented by Guaranteed Rate on Sunday, clinching a spot with their Thanksgiving Day win over defending WTT champions, the New York Empire, 21-17.
The Lasers, currently the top-seed team in the league, face the No. 2 Orange County Breakers, Sunday at 5 p.m. CST. The match will be broadcast live on the Tennis Channel.
Coaching the team to the finals is Coach John-Laffnie “JL” de Jager, who Thursday became the third most-winning coach in the league. Find interview video here.
Thursday’s Lasers victory set the finals match for both Springfield and Orange County, even though the regular WTT season continues through Saturday. With a 7-3 record this season, the Lasers are currently at the top of the league, a spot they have enjoyed off and on for the two-week season. Orange County is in second place at 7-4.
With two days of regular play left, no other team in the league can qualify for the finals. But these last two days play do matter in determining which team gets home-court advantage and chooses the order of play for the final. If Springfield wins just one of their next two matches, they enter the final as the home team.
“We’re playing now to determine who picks the order of play Sunday, which is pretty crucial,” said Paul Nahon, Lasers General Manager.
Lasers face the San Diego Aviators tonight, Friday, Nov. 26, at 8 p.m. CST. On Saturday, oddly, the Lasers have a previously scheduled regular season match against Orange County, in what might be a preview for Sunday’s final match.
“We face Orange County Saturday and Sunday, and we’re already played them twice and beat them twice,” said Nahon.
All remaining matches, including Sunday’s final, are broadcast on the Tennis Channel. Mediacom also broadcasts Friday’s and Saturday’s matches on MC22: channels 22, 722, 83-1 and 85-5.
Coach JL de Jager, now in his 15th season with the Lasers, earned a place in history Thursday when his 111th win places him in 3rd place of WTT coach wins. De Jager has now surpassed coach Murphy Jenson, with the Washington Kastles, and Wayne Bryan, formerly with the Sacramento Capitols and father to WTT legends Bob and Mike Bryan. De Jager, 111-102, is now ranked just behind Craig Kardon, most recently with Philadelphia Freedoms, with a 154-84 record; and Frew McMillan, a player-coach for San Francisco Golden Gaters in the 1970s, with a 129-99 record.
This year’s Lasers roster includes Catherine McNally, returning for her second season with the Lasers; Mackenzie “Mackie” McDonald; Marcelo Arevalo, Denis Kudla, Asia Muhammad and Giuliana Olmos.
World TeamTennis was co-founded by tennis legend and visionary Billie Jean King and has continued to innovate the sport every year since its debut season in 1974. The fast-paced action and unique scoring format creates an energized and exciting atmosphere for WTT fans and players. The team event affords the opportunity for men’s and women’s champions to share the court in each and every match throughout the season, including in the championship, with the King Trophy on the line. More information may be found at WTT.com.
The Springfield Lasers were established in 1996 by the late Harry Cooper. The team is managed by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, and is now one of the oldest teams in the WTT league. The Lasers won back-to-back WTT Championships in 2018 and 2019, after five previous trips to the WTT finals.
For more information follow @SGFLasers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or visit SpringfieldLasers.com.
For local media inquiries, contact Jenny Fillmer Edwards, Public Information Administrator for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board and Public Relations for the Springfield Lasers, at 417-224-5510.
Photo credit: Ryan Loco, WTT. Additional photos may be found here, and downloadable video is here.