2 on 1 Tennis Games
We've watched a World Team Tennis game already as part of The ESPN3 Chronicles. It's a weird variant on a sport, with a lot of the rules of tennis but a lot of rules that are intentionally different than the tennis we're used to. But this takes the
cake kake for weirdness: a game of doubles with just three people:
Tonight was the Eastern Conference Championships of World Team Tennis, a sport you and I and everybody else have probably not heard of. It pitted the Washington Kastles - three-time defending champs, also a team whose name is "The Kastles" - against the Philadelphia Freedoms - a team whose name is "Freedoms."
The women's doubles portion of the evening pitted young star Taylor Townsend and Liezel Huber of the Freedoms against Martina Hingis and Anastasia Rodionova of the Kastles. In the middle of one of the games, Townsend dinged Huber in the back of the head with a forehand.
After a few minutes, everybody realized she couldn't resume play.
In a normal tennis match, this would be over. Huber and Townsend would retire, and the winning squad would advance to the next round.
But this isn't normal tennis: the winner of the game is the team that has won the most games after five sets of tennis - men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles. The set had to be played to completion. Except there was no substitution.
So when it came time to continue, Townsend took the court, all alone, against two players:
If Townsend were merely asked to play 2-on-1, that would've been unfair enough, on account of two people playing against one person. It'd be like a power play in hockey, or a game of soccer after a red card, except, you, know, harder, since 2-on-1 is a much bigger disadvantage than 6-on-5 or 11-on-10.
But the rules were even more stacked, because the quirky rules that make doubles tennis doubles tennis - for example, the ability to hit into the doubles alleys - were not waived. Townsend had to cover the whole impossibly large court.
In regular doubles, each player can only return on their side of the court, to prevent teams from always putting the stronger returner deep to play the serve. In 2-on-1 World Team Tennis, this remains true, except one of the people is a ghost.
Half of the serves were one team serving to a player who was literally not allowed to return the serve.
Townsend tried to create a distraction, but to no avail:
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