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Empire, Smash to clash in World TeamTennis championship

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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (WVVA) - It was semifinal Saturday from The Greenbrier, as the World TeamTennis season drew nearer to a close.

The first matchup of the day set the top-seeded Philadelphia Freedoms against the fourth seed New York Empire. But, when there's a spot in the title match up for grabs -- seeding goes out the window.

For the New York underdogs, it also helped to have the dynamic duo of Jack Sock and Coco Vandeweghe -- who score a 5-1 mixed doubles victory to turn the tide of the match.

"Yeah, Jack and I have played a couple times in the Hopman Cup -- we did two years of Hopman Cup and had good success there," she said. "We complement each other well and we're ready to battle. So as long as he's got my back, I've got his back."

In the fifth set, the match was still within reach for Philadelphia. But Sock, playing in his third set of the day toughed out a tiebreak victory -- sending his team to the championship with a 22-18 win.

"I was trying to hold serve as best as possible," Sock recalled. "If we got to a normal tiebreak it would be fine, because I'd have a chance to serve out the match in a normal game after."

"I just executed the gameplan well -- was able to get through the tiebreaker," he continued. "Just super happy to be off the court now -- it was a hot day -- played three sets."

Despite the scorching temperatures and the nearly three hours on court, the Empire's energy powered them across the finish line.

And it starts with their coach.

"To me I feel a great responsibility to empower them to make sure that we have fun all the time -- win or lose," Empire head coach Luke Jensen said. "We lost to Philadelphia at the end of the regular season just a couple days ago. I said, as long as we're having fun, we put pressure on them."

The Freedoms wrap up their WTT season with a record of 12-3.

In the second semifinal, the third-seeded Chicago Smash dominated the second-seeded Orlando Storm, 24-13.

The Storm's only set victory was in a women's singles tiebreak, 5-4.

The Empire and Smash will meet for the WTT championship at 12 p.m. on Sunday.

Nick Dugan

Sports Director

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