World Team Tennis, which gave us co-ed locker rooms, husband-wife teams, and a court with multi-colored panels instead of lines, is reportedly ready to serve up something new: the first "Soviet franchise" in American professional sports.
A team made up of the top three Soviet men and women players - Alex Metreveli, Temuraz Kakulia, Vadim Borisov, Olga Morozova, Natasha Chmyreva, and Marina Kroschina - is expected to compete this year in the 10-team league under the banner, "Soviet Union."
"The Soviet tennis federation has agreed. All we need is formal approval from the Minister of Sport, and that's expected Friday," said former WTT president Larry King, husband of Billie Jean, the league's Director of Properties.
The Soviets would play all of their 44 matches on the road. King brushed off suggestions that the team be nicknamed "The Real Big Red Machine."
The WTT format - one set each od men's and women's singles and doubles and mixed doubles, with matches determined by the commulative game score - was introduced to the Soviet Union last year with a five-match Team U.S. vs. Team U.S.S.R. series arranged by King.
The U.S. represented by Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Marty Riessen, Mona Guerrant and Alex Mayer, won by an overall margin of 135 games to 96, and the two matches in Moscow drew a total of 2,8000 spectators - "the only sellouts in WTT history," according to King. The series will be renewed this year with four matches in the U.S. and three in the Soviet Union.