Sunday marks the end of the 35th year of World Team Tennis as the New York Sportimes take on the Kansas City Explorers in Kansas City, Mo., Bud Collins, in his book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com) summarizes World Team Tennis in this exclusive book excerpt.

City team franchises, the foundation of major pro sports in the United States, came to tennis with the establishment of World Team Tennis in 1973. The original league lasted five years, folding because of large financial losses after the 1978 season. Founded by Dennis Murphy, Jordan Kaiser and Larry King (then husband of Billie Jean King), the WTT operated with 16 cities between Boston and Honolulu in 1974, a high point, and involved most of the game’s leading players during its lifespan. They were well paid to ignore the summer season and play team tennis, a new concept in which teams had both male and female players. It was single-set tennis, five sets (men’s and women’s singles and doubles plus mixed doubles) constituting a match, the score based on total games won. Fearing the summer competition, the International Tennis Federation railed against WTT, and the French Open barred players from the league in 1974, a move which deprived Jimmy Connors, who won the other three majors, a shot at a Grand Slam.

A feature of the first season was the unprecedented appearance of women coaching professional teams containing men—Billie Jean King led the Philadelphia Freedoms, Rosie Casals the Detroit Loves. Billie Jean King revived the concept modestly under the masthead of Team Tennis in 1981, with a shorter season, and few big-name players, although Connors and Martina Navratilova came aboard in 1991 with Los Angeles and Atlanta respectively.

In 1992, Team Tennis resumed using its old name, World Team Tennis. A number of big names have participated in WTT over the past few years including, Andre Agassi, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Andy Roddick, Martina Navratilova and the Williams sisters. The championship trophy is called the King Trophy in honor of founder Billie Jean King.

World Team Tennis Champions

Year WTT Championships Score

1974 Denver d. Philadelphia 27-21, 28-24

1975 Pittsburgh d. Oakland-San Francisco 25-26, 28-25, 21-14

1976 New York d. Oakland-San Francisco 31-23, 29-21, 31-13

1977 New York d. Phoenix 27-22, 28-17

1978 Los Angeles d. Boston 24-21, 30-20, 26-27, 28-25

1981 Los Angeles finished first

1982 Dallas finished first

1983 Chicago d. Los Angeles 26-30

1984 San Diego d. Long Beach 30-13

1985 San Diego d. St. Louis 25-24

1986 San Antonio d. Sacramento 25-23

1987 Charlotte d. San Antonio 25-20

1988 Charlotte d. New Jersey 27-22

1989 San Antonio d. Sacramento 27-25

1990 Los Angeles d. Raleigh 27-16

1991 Atlanta d. Los Angeles 27-16

1992 Atlanta d. Newport Beach 30-17

1993 Wichita d. Newport Beach 26-23

1994 New Jersey d. Idaho 28-25

1995 New Jersey d. Atlanta 28-20

1996 St. Louis d. Delaware 27-16

1997 Sacramento finished first

1998 Sacramento d. New York 30-13

1999 Sacramento d. Springfield 23-15

2000 Sacramento d. Delaware 21-20

2001 Philadelphia d. Springfield 20-18

2002 Sacramento d. New York 21-13

2003 Delaware Smash d. Sacramento Capitals 21-14

2004 Newport Beach Breakers d. Delaware Smash 23-17

2005 New York Sportimes d. Newport Beach Breakers 21-18

2006 Philadelphia Freedoms d. Newport Beach Breakers 21-14

2007 Sacramento Capitals d. New York Buzz 24-20

2008 New York Buzz d. Kansas City Explorers 21-18

2009 Washington Kastles d. Springfield Lasers 23-20

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