KC Defeats NY to Win First WTT Title

July 25, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO. — The Kansas City Explorers captured their first World TeamTennis title with a 21-18 win over the New York Sportimes at the WTT Finals presented by GEICO and the City of Kansas City on Sunday evening in Kansas City, Mo.

The Explorers’ Jarka Groth and Kveta Peschke set off a celebration with the capacity crowd at Explorers Stadium at Barney Allis Plaza with a 5-3 win over the Sportimes’ Ashley Harkleroad and Abi Spears in the final set to give Kansas City their first Championship win in the team’s 18-year history.

Jarka Groth credited the Kansas City crowd with helping the Explorers bring home their first title. “Our crowd was awesome tonight and they helped us a lot through the whole three week season,” said Groth. “It was a great atmosphere. They pushed us that extra step.”

Groth, who was named WTT Finals MVP, dominated throughout the evening as she won all three of her sets and even switched hands to hit a left-handed return during one exchange in women’s doubles.

“Jarka deserved the Finals MVP,” said Explorers Coach Brent Haygarth. “We rely on her to get us where we need to be and she got us there tonight.”

In the opening set, New York’s Jesse Witten won three of four 3-all points to edge Mello in men’s singles in the opening set of the 2010 WTT Finals. The husband and wife tandem of Jarka and Sam Groth pulled the Explorers even with the Sportimes after mixed doubles with a 5-3. Jarka Groth subbed in for Kveta Peschke with the Explorers trailing 1-2 and closed out her first game with an ace to even the score at 2-2. Kansas City broke Abi Spears serve in the 7th game to take a 4-3 lead then close out the set with a 5-3 win.

Kansas City took the overall match lead at 10-9 in the third game of men’s doubles but the Sportimes countered by winning the next game to bring it even at 2-2 in the set, 10-10 in the match. The Sportimes took the lead when Sam Groth double-faulted in the fifth game of the set to give the Sportimes the 3-2 lead. Robert Kendrick and Witten kept the pressure on the Explorers with a 5-3 win to give the New York team a 13-11 halftime advantage.

In a battle of two of the League’s best women’s singles players, Jarmila Groth broke Abi Spear’s serve three times to post a 5-2 victory and put the Explorers in the overall lead 16-15 going into the final set and set the stage for a dramatic finish.