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Las Vegas has ushered in a number of professional sports leagues the past few years, including the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, the approval of the NFL’s Raiders, who will relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas in 2020 and the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.

The Entertainment Capital of the World already played host to Triple-A baseball, the NBA Summer League along with boxing and UFC events throughout the year.

You can now add tennis to the mix.

World Team Tennis has grown to a league of eight teams for its upcoming 44th season, after expanding to Las Vegas, which will be known as the Rollers, and Orlando. The league runs from July 14-31, with the playoffs being held at Orleans Arena, beginning with the semifinals on Aug. 2 and culminating with the WTT Finals on Aug. 3.

“Vegas is turning into the sports and entertainment capital of the world,” WTT CEO Carlos Silva said. “I really learned this in the fight business with PFL and the UFC, and obviously with all the major boxing matches.

“Add in the success of the NHL’s Golden Knights and WNBA’s Aces, plus the impending move by the Raiders and we saw a great opportunity with a market and community embracing professional sports with open arms. The Vegas Rollers will be the next pro team for the city and with great Tennis in Vegas and top players spending a good amount of time practicing there we think it is a perfect fit.”

Silva said he would like to see the league expand by adding two teams a year with an eventual goal of 12 teams, and then look to international expansion in 2020 or 2021.

The league entered into a partnership with CBS Sports, and includes names such as Venus Williams, who will play for the Washington Kastles, Mike and Bob Bryan, who will play for Vegas, and musical group LMFAO frontman and tennis fanatic RedFoo as an assistant coach with the Rollers.

“We have Grand Slam Champs in Singles and Doubles, Olympic Gold medalists, top 10 players, top 20 players and some of the most exciting young men and women in the world representing the next generation of tennis stars,” Silva said. “We have made significant strides this year, evident by our players going deep in the Australian Open, French Open and now in Wimbledon.”

Other CBS personalities involved include Shawn T, LZ Granderson, Holly Saunders, Katrina Adams and Nick Gismondi, who Golden Knights fans will recognize from the game day broadcast team.

“It’s another exciting opportunity to do more from Las Vegas and across the country,” said Gismondi, who recently traveled to London to promote the event. “Anytime I get the chance to do something in Vegas, with as ravenous as those fans are for sports, it’s exciting and a great opportunity.”

As an added attraction, there will be betting on WTT matches. William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said his operation will book action on the league, including future wagers on who will win the title.

“We’re definitely going to do something,” Bogdanovich said. “We’re going to figure out how to book it in some form or fashion.

The longtime bookmaker, who has seen plenty of professional sports franchises come and go in Southern Nevada, said he believes the fact the league is held within a short time frame will help captivate Las Vegas’ tennis audience and could be popular draw.

“They’ve thought it out best with their little time frame,” Bogdanovich said. 

Bogdanovich said he doesn’t expect as much action he sees on Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, but with Vegas involved, there may be decent futures action.

“They have star power behind them,” he said. “Can they pull it off? Yes. Do I expect to write a lot of business? No. We’ll do it more from a publicity standpoint.”

While Bogdanovich said William Hill takes “anything” on the Grand Slam events he books, the World Team Tennis will likely handle a $2,000 limit.

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About the Author

W.G. Ramirez

W.G. Ramirez is a 32-year veteran covering sports in Southern Nevada, and resident of 46 years. He is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press.

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