Thursday, June 21, 2007
It is a beautiful July evening – the perfect summer night to take the family out to the ball game. With the Prudential Center striking a majestic pose amid the Boston skyline in the near distance, the crowd is electric, the food delicious, the parking close by. And the entire evening is budget-friendly.
The Red Sox [team stats]? No, it’s the Boston Lobsters, New England’s World TeamTennis squad. The Lobsters provide all of the aforementioned amenities, as well as world-class tennis. After matches, players on both teams mingle with the fans, talking tennis and signing autographs.
“We are in the business of family fun,” said Lobsters owner Bahar Uttam. “Of course, our ultimate goal is to put a competitive team on the court and bring another championship home to Boston. But along that route, our mission is to provide a thrilling and affordable time for mothers and fathers and kids who love sports, who want to look up to and interact with true athletic role models, and who want to simply have a wonderful summer evening with the entire family.”
The Lobsters will play this season at Harvard’s Beren Tennis Center, right next to Harvard Stadium. It is recognized as the top outdoor tennis venue in New England.
The Lobsters, entering their third year back in WTT (after initially playing in the league from 1974-78), begin the season on July 6 at home against the St. Louis Aces. Two days later, they host reigning Eastern Conference regular-season champions, the New York Sportimes.
“Boston and New York have a rivalry in almost every sport, and it is no different here,” Uttam said. “The Sportimes had a great year last year, and lost early in the playoffs, just like the Yankees.”
The Lobsters are ready to make a run to the playoffs this year. Their top two players from 2006 – Nicole Pratt, the quick-footed Aussie, and Israeli doubles star Amir Hadad – return to the court. This year they’re joined by Julie Ditty, a seven-time ITF champion and former All-American at Vanderbilt University, and Nikita Kryvonos, a 20-year-old, up-and-coming force on the Futures tour.
The Lobsters’ third-year coach is Anne Smith, a member of the original Lobsters and a 10-time Grand Slam champion. Smith is also a licensed psychologist and the author of two tennis-themed mental training books.
“All of our success starts with Anne,” Uttam said. “She knows the game better than almost anyone.”
All-time great Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, the former world’s No. 1 from Spain, will join the Lobsters for their July 12 match against the Sportimes. Two days later, Sanchez-Vicario will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.
“It is a great honor for us to have Arantxa put on a Lobsters uniform and play with us right before she enters the Hall of Fame,” Uttam said. “That will be a special night.”
Another all-time great, Venus Williams, will be playing with the defending champion Philadelphia Freedoms when they visit the Lobsters at the Beren Center on July 18.
The Lobsters season runs through July 24, when they face the New York Buzz. The playoffs are scheduled for the following week.
“It is going to be a great season both on and off the court,” Uttam said. “We’re focused on getting to the playoffs and winning the WTT title. But we’re also focused on giving families a fun and inexpensive night out, where they can meet the players, get some autographs, and see some fantastic tennis.”
To order tickets, go to www.bostonlobsters.net or call 800-514-ETIX