Thursday, March 6, 2014 | 11 a.m.
Las Vegas won’t have a professional tennis team after all.
World TeamTennis terminated its franchise agreement today with the Las Vegas Neon before they could play a match, citing a failure to meet franchise obligations. The Neon replaced the Sacramento Capitals in the league and was scheduled to begin play in July at the Darling Tennis Center.
But owner Deepal Wannakuwatte was arrested two weeks ago in Sacramento in a federal fraud case, according to the Sacramento Bee. His arrest warrant says investigators were looking into Wannakuwatte’s alleged role in a scheme involving his medical supply company’s dealings with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Bee reported.
Calls to the league weren’t immediately returned.
“We are disappointed that we won’t be able to bring the excitement and energy of Mylan WTT to Las Vegas this coming season,” Mylan WTT CEO/Commissioner Ilana Kloss said in a statement. “We are grateful to the Las Vegas tennis community, 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.”
The franchise left Sacramento last month after 28 years because it couldn’t find a permanent home. The Darling Tennis Center is part of the 110-acre Kellogg-Zaher Sports Complex, which has previously hosted the ATP Tennis Channel Open in 2008 and 2009, and various minor-league circuit events. It seemed to be a perfect fit. Matches would have been July 6-27.
“I am disappointed, and I know that the local tennis community is disappointed, that Mylan World Team Tennis will not be playing at the fabulous Amanda and Stacy Darling Tennis Center in 2014,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said in a statement. “I appreciate Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss supporting Las Vegas as a host city for a franchise and for recognizing what a great market this is for professional sports. I look forward to the league considering Las Vegas for a future franchise, not only because we are one of the most exciting cities in the world, but also because we have a top-flight public tennis center that is the perfect home for a professional tennis team.”