The Philadelphia Freedoms announced Thursday they won’t be participating in the 2021 World TeamTennis season.
While most sports leagues are gradually opening up more, WTT is hosting its season in a bubble. Last year, the league played at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V. WTT is now relocating to California’s Indian Wells Tennis Garden, and the matches will be played from Nov. 13-28.
“It just doesn’t work for us if we were playing in an empty building,” Freedoms president Barbara Perry said. “There was just too much uncertainty.”
Playing in California makes it hard for the Freedoms to connect with their fans and sponsors. Even if the teams were able to host games, the Freedoms would be looking for a venue since the truncated November schedule conflicts with college basketball season, and Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center hosts both Drexel hoops and WTT matches.
“It’s great that World TeamTennis is playing this year, but it just doesn’t work for us as the Freedoms to play another year in a city that’s not Philly,” Perry said. “Hopefully everything gets back to where it was next year.”
The Freedoms are one of four teams from last season not participating in 2021. This season features five teams.
Technically, this will end the Freedoms’ streak of three straight No. 1 playoff seeds. All Freedoms players and members of the other teams not playing in 2021 can join a participating team if they are selected. However, that player’s original team will still own their rights after the season.
“If they do have an opportunity to play, then no one wants to deny them that,” Perry said. “We wouldn’t want to hold them back, so we think that’s a great solution, and hopefully our players will be able to play somewhere.”