When the California Dream opens the season Sunday, marking the return of World TeamTennis to Sacramento after the Capitals announced they were leaving for Las Vegas two years ago, there will be a familiar face on the sideline.
David Macpherson, who played for the Capitals between 1992 and 1995, is coaching the Dream. Macpherson, also the personal coach for twins Bob and Mike Bryan, was the WTT Coach of the Year with the San Diego Aviators last season.
“Sacramento has such a proud tradition of excellence of World TeamTennis,” Macpherson said. “I really feel like it’s good that the city of Sacramento has a great World TeamTennis team, and we’re excited to bring that to them.”
The Dream will feature the 37-year-old Bryan brothers, whom he has coached since 2005. The Bryans, the world’s top-ranked doubles team, have won 15 majors, 80 titles and an Olympic medal with Macpherson as their coach.
“They just bring so much excellence and energy to the equation,” Macpherson said. “Not only for the events that they’ll play, (but) just the confidence that they bring within the team.”
The Bryans, the Dream’s marquee players, are scheduled to play three matches: July 23 at home against San Diego, July 25 at Boston and July 26 at Philadelphia.
The Dream also will feature Jarmila Gajdosova, who could be the team’s “ace in the hole,” Macpherson said. Gajdosova, 28, the WTT Rookie of the Year in 2007 and Finals MVP on Kansas City’s WTT championship team in 2010, will play women’s singles.
The Dream also has two WTT rookies, Tennys Sandgren and Neal Skupski.
Sandgren, the youngest player on the roster at 23, will play men’s singles.
“(Sandgren) is winning a lot of matches in the (United States) this year at the Challenger level,” Macpherson said. “I think he’s going to come into the season with a lot of confidence.”
Skupski, 25, from Liverpool, England, was added to the roster this week as a replacement for doubles specialist Aisam Qureshi.Skupski won his seventh ATP Challenger doubles title with older brother Ken last month.
The other player on the roster, Anabel Medina Garrigues, 32, is one of Spain’s top doubles players. She was the WTT Rookie of the Year last season for the Texas Wild, which moved to Sacramento and became the Dream.
The team’s ownership group includes Jeff Launius, the longtime owner of the Kansas City Explorers who moved the team to Irving, Texas, in 2013 and to Sacramento this season. Other partners include Bob Kaliski, the owner of the Harbor Point Tennis Club in Mill Valley, and Michael Malone, an investment banker from Dallas. Launius said he decided to make the move after Kaliski gave him the idea of bringing a team back to Sacramento.
“I can tell you as a former (Explorers and Wild) owner, coming to Sacramento to play, it was always a nasty place,” Launius said. “The fans are so passionate of supporting their team here, it really made it a tough place to come and play.”
Kathilynn Carpenter of Sunrise MarketPlace, the Dream’s lead sponsor, said Sacramento’s passion for tennis comes from the city’s 28-year history in WTT.
“We have pretty hard-core fans who have been watching for a really long time and are invested – and we’ve had winning teams,” Carpenter said of the six-time WTT champion Capitals.
Launius said the Dream will need help from fans to continue Sacramento’s success in WTT.
“I want these fans to get behind their team and make it as miserable to the visiting team as they did for us when we were visiting,” Launius said. “Because I tell you what, they had a unique environment here; it was a dogfight when we came here. That’s what we want here again. We want that same passion; we want to make it a difficult place to play for a visiting team.”
California Dream 2015 schedule
All home matches at Dream Stadium at Sunrise Mall
- Sunday: at San Diego, 6 p.m..
- Monday: vs Springfield, 7:30 p.m.
- Tuesday: vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
- Thursday: at Austin, 5 p.m.
- Friday: vs. Austin, 7:30 p.m.
- July 18: vs. Boston, 7:30 p.m.
- July 19: at Austin, 5 p.m.
- July 21: vs. Springfield, 7:30 p.m.
- July 22: at San Diego, 7 p.m.
- July 23: vs. San Diego, 7:30 p.m.
- July 25: at Boston, 4 p.m.
- July 26: at Philadelphia, 5 p.m.
- July 27: at Washington, 4 p.m.
- July 29: vs. San Diego, 7:30 p.m.
- July 30: Conference championship
- Aug. 2: WTT championship
California Dream roster
Coach David Macpherson: It’s his second year as a World TeamTennis coach. Last year, he led San Diego to a 10-4 record and was named the Coach of the Year. Since becoming the coach of Mike and Bob Bryan in 2005, the twins have won 15 majors, the 2012 Olympic doubles gold medal and 80 of their 104 titles.
Bob and Mike Bryan: The Dream’s marquee players are scheduled to compete in three matches. The world’s top-ranked doubles team started playing in WTT in 1999 with the Idaho Sneakers and they helped Newport Beach win the WTT title in 2004. They have won 16 majors and 104 titles, including the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics.
Jarmila Gajdosova: Ranked 58th in the world, she has won two WTA singles titles in her career. She was the WTT Rookie of the Year in 2007 and was named the Finals MVP on Kansas City’s 2010 WTT championship team.
Anabel Medina Garrigues: She was the Rookie of the Year in 2014for the Texas Wild (now the California Dream). The Spaniard finished fourth in women’s singles with a .515 winning percentage and fifth in women’s doubles at .481.
Tennys Sandgren: He turned pro in 2011 and will play his first season in WTT. He is ranked No. 283 in the world in singles.
Neal Skupski: He also will make his WTT debut this season. A three-time NCAA All-American from LSU, he won his seventh ATP Challenger doubles title with his older brother Ken in June.