WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.V. (July 17, 2020) – Chicago’s 18-year-old Brandon Nakashima proved to be the hero of the match, stealing a victory for the Smash with a dramatic final set victory over the Empire’s Jack Sock. Nakashima, determined to make up for an early-match misfire, forced Extended Play after serving two aces and a winning volley on three straight match points against Sock.
Entering the final set down 17-15, Nakashima sent the match into the first Supertiebreaker of the young World TeamTennis season. After a coin flip won by the Empire to determine who served first, Sock and Nakashima traded powerful serves and volleys, but neither could break the other’s serve. Serving for match point, Nakashima completed the comeback to earn the Smash’s third win of the season, 22-21, putting them into a tie for first place with the Philadelphia Freedoms. Sock, who saw the match slip away, would smash and break his racquet following the final shot.
A spirited third set featured Men’s Doubles as the Empire and Smash went point-for-point with shot making that seemed as if each were a top-10 highlight. New York’s Neal Skupski and Sock won the tiebreaker earning the set, 5-4, as Nakashima’s misfire on his volley appeared to loom large at the time. New York narrowed its overall deficit to 13-12, with Women’s and Men’s Singles set to decide the match’s outcome.
Tennis Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters kept the Empire’s momentum going in the right direction as her shot placement over Sloane Stephens allowed New York to take the set, 5-2, and the match lead over the Smash, 17-15 heading into the final set.
Brandon Nakashima on winning the Supertiebreaker and match: “Going into the fifth set I definitely didn’t try to look at the score too much, (I) just tried to win as many games as possible. At the end there, got lucky on a couple points and just grinded out that victory for us.”
Chicago Smash defeat NEW YORK EMPIRE, 22-21
Mixed Doubles – Neal Skupski/Kim Clijsters (Empire) def. Rajeev Ram/ Bethanie Mattek-Sands (Smash), 5-4
Women’s Doubles – Genie Bouchard/Mattek-Sands (Smash) def. Sabine Lisicki/Kveta Peschke (Empire), 5-2
Men’s Doubles – Skupski/Jack Sock (Empire) def. Brandon Nakashima/Ram (Smash), 5-4
Women’s Singles – Kim Clijsters (Empire) def. Sloane Stephens (Smash), 5-2
Men’s Singles – Nakashima (Smash) def. Sock (Empire), 5-4
Extended Play – Men’s Singles – Nakashima (Smash) def. Sock (Empire), 1-0
Supertiebreaker – Men’s Singles – Nakashima (Smash) def. Sock (Empire), 1-0 (7-5)