Mark Philipp Oussis Joins Philadelphia Freedoms
by marni prichard manko
Mark “The Scud” Philippoussis, who will be firing cross-court missiles at this summer’s World TeamTennis Tour.
To tennis fans the world over, the name Mark Philippoussis conjures various images. Most know him as “The Scud,” a former top-ranked tennis player with a ferocious serve and an in-your-face approach to the game. Others may remember the Aussie more for his chiseled good looks and various modeling stints. Some may even recall that he starred as the age-torn bachelor looking for love, having to choose between “kittens” and “cougars,” on 2007’s reality show The Age of Love. But to him, he’s just a chill guy who now wakes up at 6 AM and meditates by catching some waves, walking his dog, and working on his new line of men’s T-shirts, Phlip. And, of course, playing tennis.
Philippoussis has certainly slowed down, but the 35-year-old is firing up on the court once again this summer as part of World TeamTennis (WTT), after being selected by tennis legend Billie Jean King to join her Philadelphia Freedoms. And the two-time Davis Cup winner—who played for the Freedoms back in 2002 and the St. Louis Aces last season—couldn’t be happier. “It feels great,” he says of being hand-selected by the tennis icon. “I have a lot of respect and admiration for Billie Jean, and it will be an absolute pleasure to be playing on her team.” Plus, he adds, “Philadelphia’s a great city, and I’m looking forward to getting back there.”
WTT has become a staple of Philly’s summer sports scene. Cofounded by the boundary-breaking King in 1974, each of WTT’s eight coed teams of elite athletes plays throughout July—the Freedoms play seven home matches at Villanova University’s Pavilion. Each match consists of five sets, and each set features a different gender combination: women’s singles, women’s doubles, men’s singles, men’s doubles, and mixed doubles. With Philippoussis and fellow draft pick James Blake headlining the Freedoms lineup, this summer will feature some serious athleticism and excitement on the Main Line.
Although it may seem like Philippoussis has left much of his noteworthy intensity in the past, replacing it with his passion for surfing and design, he is still first and foremost a world-class tennis player. “As an athlete, every time you’re out there, you naturally want to play well and win,” he says emphatically. “It’s always more fun when that happens.” Watch Philippoussis and the Freedoms throughout July at The Pavilion at Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Ave., Villanova, 215-667-8132