By Nick Curcuru
---- — MANCHESTER — With Wimbledon finishing up across the pond yesterday, it can only mean one thing locally: the Boston Lobsters pro tennis team is back in action at the Manchester Athletic Club’s Joan Norton Tennis Center.
The Lobsters, who opened up Mylan World Team Tennis play last night at home with a 23-14 overtime setback to the Texas Wild, have a new look with first-year head coach Robert Greene and three new players in Rik de Voest, Megan Moulton-Levy and Sharon Fichman. But the fan and family friendly atmosphere, along with the high level tennis on the court, was still very much intact.
Lobsters captain Eric Butorac, the senior member of the squad now in his sixth year, threw out autographed tennis balls to young fans while his teammates were quick to call on the youngsters in the crowd for support, asking them to ramp up the volume and cheer them to victory.
The player interactions are only the beginning, however. Emcee Steve Calechman is back for another go round as he is quick to get the fans into the match, or criticize them if their chants and cheers are not up to par, while at the same time poking fun at the opposing team.
During player introductions, Calechman threw a friendly jab at the Wild’s Aisam Qureshi, who recently made it to the semifinals in mixed doubles action at Wimbledon. “He flew all the way here from Wimbledon just to lose again,” Calechman joked.
On the court, the professionals on each side played like it as fans were treated to several long points and closely contested games.
Butorac and de Voest were on top of their game by winning at men’s doubles, 5-2, to send the match to overtime. Earlier, de Voest opened the match in singles action while Moulton-Levy and Fichman followed at women’s doubles.
De Voest showed off his power against the Wild’s Alex Bogomolov as he was able to eclipse the 100mph mark on his serves several times. Bogomolov, however, was able to match that power and was a little more efficient en route to a 5-2 win.
Moulton-Levy and Fichman were up next, and their athleticism and teamwork was on full display against a tough opponent in the Wild’s Anabel Medina Garrigues and Darija Jurak in a 5-4 setback. The visitors also prevailed in mixed doubles (5-2) and women’s singles (5-1) before Butorac and de Voest captured men’s doubles.
The Lobsters will be going at it in the grind that is the Mylan World Team Tennis season for the next two and a half weeks with six more matches at the Joan Norton Tennis Center, including an appearance by the No. 1 men’s player in the United States, John Isner, on July 20.