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Springfield Lasers draft No. 1 American John Isner for 2015 season

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John Isner, the No. 1 American male tennis player in the world, will join the Springfield Lasers for the 2015 season, according to the Springfield/Greene County Parks Board.

John Isner, the No. 1 American male tennis player in the world, will join the Springfield Lasers for the 2015 season, according to the Springfield/Greene County Parks Board.

Springfield, Mo. — The Mylan World TeamTennis (WTT) Pro League completed its 40th Season Roster Draft today in Indian Wells, Calif.

The Springfield Lasers, celebrating their 20th season in 2015, drafted John Isner, America’s No. 1 male tennis player since 2012. Isner will serve as the Lasers Marquee player, making special appearances in Springfield and elsewhere during the season.

“I’m really looking forward to joining the Springfield Lasers,” said Isner. “I know Springfield has first-class tennis fans and the Lasers have been extremely close to bringing home the King Trophy the past couple of seasons. I’m very hopeful to help put them over the top in 2015.”

Two players from the 2014 team were protected in the draft and return to Springfield this season: German doubles specialist Anna-Lena Groenefield, winner of 2014 French Open Mixed Doubles; and fan favorite Michael Russell, whose overtime singles wins helped the Lasers win numerous matches in 2014.

New to Springfield this year, the Lasers drafted another German doubles specialist, Andre Begemann, and American Alison Riske, who played WTT previously with the Philadelphia Freedoms.

Coach John-Laffnie (JL) de Jager returns for his ninth season with the Lasers.

Springfield Lasers General Manager Paul Nahon, owner John Cooper, owner representative Bob Belote and Coach JL de Jager made up the Lasers draft delegation.

“We have an outstanding team for our 20th season of Lasers tennis,” said Bob Belote. “We’re thrilled to bring the No. 1 American, John Isner, to Springfield. We’re very happy to bring back Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Michael Russell, and we think Andre Begemann and Alison Riske will be great additions to our team.”

Drafted to the team today:

Marquee Draft: John Isner – The No. 1 American male player since 2012, John Isner has finished in the (international) top 20 for the last five seasons. Isner, 29, is currently ranked No. 20. He is known for winning the longest match in tennis history, beating Nicholas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010 after 11 hours and 5 minutes of play, spread over three days. He also set a new record of 112 aces in one match. At 6’9”, with a size 15 shoe, Isner is considered one of the best servers on the ATP World Tour. He has nine singles titles and three doubles titles, and his career includes wins over Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, Nikolay Davydenko, Lleyton Hewitt, Novak Djokovic and Marat Safin. Isner turned pro in 2007, the same year he joined the US Davis Cup team. Isner has played four seasons of WTT, all with the Boston Lobsters. He is competing this week at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where he faced Roger Federer in the finals in 2012. Twitter @JohnIsner

1st Round Pick: Andre Begemann – Doubles Specialist Andre Begemann, 30, from Tiefenbach, Germany, makes his first WTT appearance this year with the Springfield Lasers. Nicknamed “Bege,” he has four doubles titles, including a 2014 win at the Halle Open with partner Julian Knowle, who, together, beat Roger Federer and Chiudinelli. Currently ranked No. 42 in doubles, with a career-high of 39 in 2013. He was a two-time All-American at Pepperdine University. He joined Germany’s Davis Cup team in 2014. Twitter @AndreBegemann

2nd Round Pick (Roster Draft): Alison Riske – Riske, 24, from Pittsburgh, Pa., brings an aggressive style of tennis to the court. This is her second season of WTT. She served as an alternate for one game with the Washington Kastles in 2013, then two days later, joined the Philadelphia Freedoms to replace injured player Sloan Stephens. She has one singles title, and is currently ranked No. 44 in singles and 103 in doubles. She joined the US Fed Cup team in 2014, the same year she broke into the Top 50. Twitter @Riske4rewards

3rd Round Pick (Roster Draft- protected): Anna-Lena Groenefeld – Now playing her fifth season of Mylan WTT, her second with the Lasers, although her last season was cut short by injury. Groenefeld, 29, from Nordhorn, Germany, was a mixed doubles champion at Wimbledon in 2009 and the French Open in 2014 (with former Laser Jean-Julien Rojer.) She has a 14 doubles titles and a singles title, with a career high ranking of No. 14 in singles and No. 7 in doubles, both in 2006. She has played doubles exclusively since 2012 and is currently ranked No. 34. She has been a member of the German Fed Cup team since 2004. Twitter @Annagroenefeld

4th Round Pick (Roster Draft- protected): Michael Russell – Returning to Springfield for a second season, his third with WTT. Russell led the WTT league in men’s singles 2014, ahead of Bobby Reynolds and Andy Roddick. His specialty is turning around a deficit score in the last game, often taking the match into an overtime win. He was named WTT Male Rookie of the Year while playing with former Lasers rivals, the Kansas City Explorers. Russell, 36, from Detroit, Mi., was the oldest American to finish in ATP Top 100 for five straight years. He is currently ranked No. 179 in singles, following a career high No. 60 in 2007. Twitter @MRussellTennis

The 2015 WTT season runs July 12-Aug. 2, with the Springfield Lasers playing home matches at Mediacom Tennis Stadium at Cooper Tennis Complex, 2331 E. Pythian, Springfield. A full schedule will be available in a few weeks.

The Springfield Lasers are the 2013 and 2014 defending Western Conference Champions, making it to the WTT finals two years in a row. The Lasers also won the western conference in 2009, 2001 and 1999.

Season tickets for the Springfield Lasers are available now at 417-837-5800, with individual tickets available in May.

For more information about the Springfield Lasers, visit springfieldlasers.com or look for Springfield Lasers on Facebook or @SGFLasers on Twitter.

For more information on today’s Mylan WTT player draft, visit wtt.com.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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