The team will begin its seven-match home schedule in July at a site to be determined. It will be nicknamed the Aviators “to be evocative of San Diego’s long storied history of military and commercial aviation,” said owner Russell Geyser, who did not disclosure the purchase price.
Team management is reviewing potential sites to play and will announce its choice in a few weeks, according to Rosie Crews, the league’s senior vice president of communications.
The Aviators will have the option of retaining the rights to the players who played for the Sportimes in 2013. The team will be stocked by players chosen in the league’s marquee draft, which will be conducted Feb. 11, and its roster player draft March 11.
The Sportimes had a league-worst 4-10 record in 2013, with 54-year-old International Tennis Hall of Fame member John McEnroe playing three matches.
Geyser is the founder and managing member of Geyser Holdings, an Encinitas-based early stage venture capital, deal syndication and real estate acquisition firm.
“Tennis has long been a passion of mine and the opportunity to continue to bring world-class professional tennis to San Diego was a remarkable one,” Geyser said. “It is our goal to field a championship team in an unparalleled venue and combine each event with music and charity.”
Jack McGrory, San Diego’s city manager from 1991-97 and chief operating officer of the San Diego Padres from 1999-2000, will be a minority partner.
Shelly Hall, the general manager of San Diego’s original World Team Tennis team, the Friars, will have the same position with the Aviators.
The Aviators have established a website, Sandiegoaviators.com, a Twitter account, @SDAviators, and a Facebook page.
World Team Tennis matches consist of one set each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles, with the team winning the most games winning the match.
The league began play in 1974, with International Tennis Hall of Fame member Billie Jean King among its co-founders. WTT suspended play following the 1978 season, then resumed play in 1981.
This is the third time San Diego has had a WTT team, following the Friars (1975-78) and the Friars and Buds (1981-85). The Buds won the championship in 1984 and 1985.