One on One with Ilana Kloss

Ilana Kloss

Can you tell me a little about World TeamTennis?

"World TeamTennis is starting its 36th season. We have nine cities playing in the league. I think the good thing about World TeamTennis is different sized markets can have teams. We have a mix of markets and that's the beauty of World TeamTennis. We don't have to be only in the big market."

What makes WTT special?

"I think it's terrific for tennis because it has men and women on teams together. You get to see men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles. I think it's great because the fans can come out and cheer for their teams versus just an individual. I also think team tennis can help grow the sport of tennis. I think we have to get more kids into the sport in order to grow American champions. And the way to do that is that kids 10-and-under have to keep tennis as their first sport."

How did you get into tennis?

"My parents both played tennis in South Africa. I learned from them. I was a ball kid at the South African Open. I had an opportunity to hit tennis balls with Billie Jean King when she was in South Africa when I was 11. She encouraged me to pursue my dream, and I did."

What is the typical crowd like?

"We want it to be intimate, in smaller venues, people close to the action, affordable for families. Coming here to Family Circle Tennis Center is absolutely perfect. You can have a Venus (Williams) or a Serena (Williams) or a (John) McEnroe. That's great, but they can't win it alone. For us, it's about teams and kids that are growing up in your community coming out to see these players."

Who came up with the court's color scheme?

"It was Larry King, Billie Jean's former husband, not Larry King (from TV). In the 70s they came up with the color scheme because they thought it would be easier for the linespeople to call the lines because of the different color surfaces. Everything in World TeamTennis is really done because it's practical. It's not hokey. It's not to try to get attention. it's practical. It's easier to call the lines with the colors."

Who devised the scoring format?

"I think there were a few people that came up with it, certainly Billie Jean and Larry King. We have tweaked it. We believe that you should make a change if things aren't working. Originally it was six sets, but the matches were taking too long so we went to five. But the main principal is no-ad scoring. It's three points all or deuce, next point is game. Everything is by one."