July 11, 2014

News Release

For Immediate Release

Springfield Lasers welcomes marquee player James Blake Saturday; Blake faces friend and rival Andy Roddick Sunday

SPRINGFIELD, MO. — The Springfield Lasers welcome American tennis star James Blake to the team for back-to-back Mylan World TeamTennis home matches this weekend.

Blake, the Lasers’ marquee player, first appears with the Lasers Saturday, July 12, 7 p.m. at Mediacom Tennis Stadium, in Cooper Tennis Complex, 2231 E. Pythian. The Lasers face the Texas Wild.

Blake also plays with the Lasers Sunday, July 13, 7 p.m., facing his longtime friend and rival, Andy Roddick, appearing with the Austin Aces.

Blake and Roddick are available for a brief news conference Sunday, July 13, 5-5:15 p.m. at Cooper Tennis Complex VIP Lounge. (Special note to the media: Space will be reserved for credentialed media during the news conference in the VIP Lounge. Enter through the Cooper Tennis Complex main entrance, to the left of the Lasers main gate. Members of the media who do not have credentials may pick them up Saturday, July 12, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Lasers main gate.)

Blake, 34, was the No. 1 American and No. 4 world player in 2006, placing him just behind Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Nikolay Davydenko. Blake is known for his powerful forehand, his speed on the court and his incredible comeback after breaking his neck in May 2004. His career includes wins against Andre Agassi (ATP Tour, 2003), Rafael Nadal (US Open, 2005), Roger Federer (US Open, 2006) and Andy Roddick (RCA Championships, Stella Artois Championships and International Series, 2006). He was named the 2000 Mylan WTT Male Rookie of the Year and is now returning for his eighth season of Mylan WTT, his first with the Springfield Lasers.

Blake said he’s excited to return to Mylan WTT and to hear Springfield Lasers fans cheer the team on.

“I love the fan interaction,” Blake told Lasers staff this week. “I’ve always loved that about TeamTennis. To me that’s a ton of fun. I don’t get too many chances to play mixed doubles, to play with the girls, or get on a team with the girls. It’s really just a great time.”

Blake was described in 2005 by the New York Times magazine as having an “…unusual combination of H’s — Harvard, Harlem (...), handsome and humble.” He is co-author of “Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life,” which reached No. 15 on New York Times Best Seller list. He is the founder of the James Blake Foundation, which has raised more than $1 million for cancer research since 2008. He was also named People magazine’s Sexiest Athlete in 2002, as well as listed among the magazine’s Single & Sexy Men of 2008.

Blake replaces former Lasers marquee player Andy Roddick, who left the Lasers in November to join the new Austin Aces Mylan WTT team in his hometown of Austin, Texas.

Blake’s and Roddick’s careers have been intertwined since the early 2000’s, and they were the top two American tennis players for most of the decade. Both were members of the Davis Cup USA team, including 2007, USA’s most recent Davis Cup championship, when Blake, Roddick and Bob and Mike Bryan (San Diego Aviators) beat Russia in the World Group finals. Blake and Roddick partnered in doubles for several tournaments on the ATP tour. They remain friends and golfing buddies, playing together at AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February.

“I think the only way I wasn’t going to return to (play for) Springfield was if there was a franchise in my hometown of Austin, Texas,” Roddick said in a June 25 interview with the USTA Missouri Valley.  “I hope the people (of Springfield) can understand and appreciate that… I can’t wait to get there and see some familiar faces and I know the fans will gravitate to James (Blake) and cheer for their team.”

Tickets are available to both matches. Grandstand tickets are $15 July 12 and $20 July 13. Box Seat tickets, season tickets and VIP packages are also available. To purchase tickets, call Cooper Tennis Complex at 417-837-5800.

For more information, visit springfieldlasers.com or look for Springfield Lasers on Facebook or @SGFLasers on Twitter. For more information on Mylan WTT, visit wtt.com.

Call Jenny Fillmer Edwards, Public Information Administrator for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, at 417-837-5724 or 417-224-5510, for media inquiries only.

Complete USTA Missouri Valley Interview available at: http://www.missourivalley.usta.com/blogs/blog/?BlogPostAlias=andy_roddick_excited_for_return_to_springfield