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Pittsburgh to host World TeamTennis charity event

| Tuesday, June 26, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Pittsburgh may not be known as a tennis destination, but it will become one for a night Oct. 16 when Mylan World TeamTennis Smash Hits comes to the city.

The annual charity event, held at Petersen Events Center, is a night of celebrity tennis matches designed to raise money in support of the fight against HIV and AIDS. Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Andy Roddick have signed on for this year's event.

“It's another opportunity for us to showcase our great city, specifically around a sports event,” Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said at a news conference Monday. “This is clearly a sports town, and to have the 20th anniversary here in Pittsburgh is wonderful.”

Pittsburgh served as home to one of World TeamTennis' first Pro League teams, the Pittsburgh Triangles, for three years, beginning in 1974.

“You're going to see the very best players in the world coming to Pittsburgh,” World TeamTennis CEO Ilana Kloss said.

Hosts Elton John and Billie Jean King, longtime friends, will captain two teams that will play five sets — one set each of men's and women's singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. The singer will participate in a celebrity doubles match at the start of the night.

“I always joke with him and say it's a good thing he's got a music career,” Kloss said.

The event will raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force. Since 1993, Smash Hits has raised more than $10.5 million in support of AIDS research.

“As you think about places like sub-Saharan Africa and rural villages in developing countries, not to mention the needs here locally and domestically, there could not be a better cause to be fighting for and raising awareness to,” Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said.

Because of World TeamTennis' unique format (no-advantage, first team to four points), the sport is easier to follow for people who aren't regular tennis fans.

Kloss said the event is a good way to test the tennis market.

“If it's successful, we potentially could have a World TeamTennis team back in the market again,” she said.

Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. July 16. Seven thousand tickets will be available for the event, and are priced between $40 and $125. VIP ticket packages, which offer courtside seating and admission to a VIP Reception and Auction, will be available for $500. For tickets, interested parties can visit www.wttsmashhits.com or www.ticketmaster.com, or call 412-924-8270.

Meredith Qualls is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at mqualls@tribweb.com or 412-380-5637.

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