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WTT champions Lasers draft 2019 team roster

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After winning the World TeamTennis championship for the first time in the team’s 23-year history last year, the Springfield Lasers will return franchise player and resigning league MVP Miomir “Misha” Kecmanovic.

The team is scheduled to begin play in July with a slate of new and returning players after yesterday’s draft, according to a news release.

The Lasers, owned by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, also returns doubles player Abigail Spears. The team drafted new players Joe Salisbury in the first round and Enrique “Kiki” Lopez Perez and Anna Blinkova in the third round, according to a news release.

“I’m looking forward to being back,” said John-Laffnie “JL” de Jager, who’s returning for his 13th season as Lasers coach, in the release. “Springfield is a great place, and last year was a big year for us, so hopefully we’ll get more people to come out and support us.”

Kecmanovic, a 19-year old player from Serbia, was named MVP of the WTT finals after winning his men’s singles bout in the final set to secure the victory for the Lasers against the Philadelphia Freedoms in August 2018.

He’s scheduled to play the first four home matches in Springfield on July 14, 16, 17 and 18. Kecmanovic won’t play the entire season with the Lasers because of international tour commitments, according to the release.

“It’s good to keep him in the league,” de Jager said in the release. “He’s going to be top 100. He was a major player in helping us win. Hopefully, next year he can play more matches.”

According to the release, Spears is currently ranked No. 31 in doubles by the Women's Tennis Association; Salisbury is considered the top pick in men’s doubles for the WTT; Perez is ranked No. 138 in doubles through the Association of Tennis Professionals; and Blinkova is ranked No. 84 in doubles and No. 104 in singles.

“I’ve been part of this league for 20 years, and over the years, the teams that win have had strong doubles.” de Jager said in the release. “We picked up the top men’s doubles player, and with Abi and Anna, we’ll be very strong on the women’s side. The women play a massive role in WTT, and we’re very happy with the team we’ve selected.”

Established in 1996 by the late Harry Cooper, the Lasers play home matches at the Cooper Tennis Complex. They’ll play Philadelphia at the July 14 season opener in Springfield. The WTT semifinals are scheduled for Aug. 2, followed by the championship match the next day. Locations have not yet been announced.

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