Springfield, Mo. (OzarksSportsZone.com) -- As coach Jean-Laffnie de Jager said in a post-match speech to the crowd, World Team Tennis Female Rookie of the Year Alisa Kleybanova and Male MVP Jean-Julien Rojer “showed why they won their prizes.”
The two were nothing short of brilliant Thursday night, as they led Springfield to a stomping of the Texas Wild in the Western Conference Championship at Cooper Tennis Complex.
Springfield won all five sets and put a finishing touch on the night with dominating victories in men’s doubles, women’s singles and women’s doubles. The 25-9 victory sends Springfield to the Mylan WTT Finals, were the Lasers face the Washington Kastles on Sunday, July 28 in Washington, D.C.
“It’s amazing for me,” Kleybanvoa said. “The whole Mylan World Team Tennis, it’s been great. It’s been an amazing two and a half weeks with my first time playing. Every single match was just better and better for us. I’m so happy for me and the team. I’m very proud of us. It’s a great honor to get Rookie of the Year.”
Andy Roddick, who played a handful of WTT dates in the regular season including two in Springfield, is scheduled to return for the Lasers in the Finals contest.
Rojer seemingly made all the right decisions with his play around the net. Kleybanova’s power game overwhelmed the Wild.
Springfield led 10-6 after Rik De Voest topped Alex Bogomolov Jr. 5-3 in singles and Rojer/ Kleybanova won 5-3 in mixed doubles.
It was all Lasers from there. De Voest/Rojer beat Bogomolov Jr./Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 5-1 in men’s doubles, Kleybanova won 5-1 in women’s singles, and Kleybanova/Vania King cruised to a victory in women’s doubles by the same score.
Rojer said the team, which played Wednesday night at Orange County, didn’t arrive back to Springfield until 2 p.m. Thursday.
If fatigue was a factor, the Lasers didn’t show any symptoms.
“It wasn’t easy, but we talked about it before coming out – having good energy and supporting each other. I think we did that,” Rojer said. “I just tried to do my part and win as many games as I could.”
Springfield is the league finals for the first time since 2009, and fourth time overall.
King was on the Lasers in 2009, when she was named Female MVP, and hasn’t forgotten how close the Lasers came to winning that year.
“It would mean the world to me because last time, I was literally one point away from us (winning). I kind of screwed it up,” King said, grinning. “No matter what, I’ve had a great run with this team and I’m really happy I got to know them. I’m good friends with all of them now and I look forward to Sunday’s match and playing together with them in the future.”
Dorial Green-Beckham is now an Oklahoma Sooner.
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