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League pulls plug on Las Vegas tennis franchise

It was game, set and match for the Las Vegas Neon before the first serve was ever made.

The World Team Tennis franchise, which was scheduled to play at the Darling Tennis Center in July and had signed Sam Querrey as its marquee player, was folded Wednesday by the league after owner Deepal Wannakuwatte had the assets of his Sacramento-based medical supply company, International Manufacturing Group Inc., frozen by a federal judge.

Wannakuwatte was arrested Feb. 20 in Sacramento on federal fraud charges. His family had owned the franchise when it competed as the Sacramento Capitals since 2011. The team moved to Las Vegas early last month.

With its assets frozen, Capital Sports Management LLC, which was a subsidiary of Wannakuwatte’s parent company, was unable to meet its financial obligations to the league, thus the decision to terminate the franchise. WTT will go with seven teams instead of eight this season.

“We are disappointed that we won’t be able to bring the excitement and energy of Mylan WTT to Las Vegas this coming season,” commissioner Ilana Kloss said in a statement released by the league. “We are grateful to the Las Vegas tennis community, the Darling Tennis Center and city leadership for their support and understanding around this unexpected development involving the Neon team franchise ownership.

“We still believe that Las Vegas would be a terrific home for a Mylan WTT team and hope to revisit Las Vegas as a potential market in the future.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at 702-387-2913 or scarp@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @stevecarprj.

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