July 16, 2008 - World TeamTennis (WTT) - Orange County Breakers
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., July 16, 2008 - The Newport Beach Breakers seem to have truly found their form in the second half of this World TeamTennis season. After beating defending WTT champion Sacramento, 23-16 Monday - then their biggest victory margin of the season - the Breakers validated that win with a 23-14 victory over the visiting St. Louis Aces and Anna Kournikova at Breakers Stadium at Newport Beach Country Club Wednesday.
"We\'ve gotten off to a quick start in the second half of the season," Breakers coach Trevor Kronemann said. "I think we got off to a slow start. It seems to have calmed won. The team is gelling a little more, and everyone is coming together and doing their job."
Delgado set the stage with a 5-3 win in men\'s singles, followed by a decisive 5-1 victory by Michaela Pastikova and Lilia Osterloh over Kournikova and Jasmin Woehr in the second set. Delgado and Kaes Van\'t Hof continued to cement their doubles chemistry with five unanswered games to take the third set, 5-2 and go up to what would prove to be an insurmountable lead. In the fifth set, following a 5-3 Osterloh loss in women\'s singles, Van\'t Hof and Osterloh put away Kournikova and Travis Rettenmaier, 5-3 to ice the match. Kournikova went 0-2 in women\'s and mixed doubles Wednesday.
"It was, of course, sad because of the loss, but it was great to be back here," said Kournikova, now in her sixth year on the WTT, of her 2008 debut. "It\'s just very hard. There was no real rhythm; this was the first time I had met my teammates. For a first match, I didn\'t think it was bad, for me."
The 23-14 trouncing allowed the Breakers (4-5) to avenge their tiebreak loss to the Aces (1-8) earlier in the season. They\'re now tied for third in the Western Conference.
Kournikova needed to bang off a little rust in her 2008 debut. She and Woehr fell down 4-0 in the second set against the Breakers\' Pastikova and Osterloh; the two breaks included a love game against Woehr\'s serve. However, Kournikova/Woehr found form enough to break Pastikova back and stay alive, 4-1. But the Breakers\' duo slammed the door, breaking Woehr right back to win 5-1 and earn their team a 10-4 lead after two sets.
The lead inherited by Pastikova/Osterloh was authored by Breakers ace Delgado. Up 2-1 in the first set of the night, Delgado broke Uladzimir Ignatik to go up 3-1, then held serve to go to 4-1. It appeared that the WTT\'s leader in games won percentage in men\'s singles (43 of 72 for 59.7 percent) was going to cruise to yet another set victory until Ignatik held serve to get to 4-2, then broke Delgado to get to 4-3. Attempting to avoid what appeared to be an impending first-set tiebreaker, Delgado forced Ignatik into break point, and Ignatik, who turned 18 two days ago, double faulted to hand the set to the Breakers\' veteran.
Delgado and Van\'t Hof immediately went down a break in the third set. However, what has proven to be a formidable duo in the veteran and up-and-coming local favorite - Van\'t Hof was 2008 national doubles champion at USC and is a Newport Beach native - then rattled off five straight games to win 5-2 and take a 15-6 lead.
In the fourth set, Osterloh, visibly frustrated by multiple errors, fell 5-3 to Jelena Pandzic to keep the Breakers ahead, 18-11. However, in an example of why it\'s called World TeamTennis, Osterloh rebounded with Van\'t Hof and waltzed to a 5-3 win over Kournikova and Rettenmaier in mixed doubles and closed out the match.
Men\'s Singles - Ramon Delgado (NB) def. Uladzimir Ignatik (SL), 5-3.
Women\'s Doubles - Michaela Pastikova/Lilia Osterloh (NB) def. Anna Kournikova/Jasmin Woehr (SL), 5-1.
Men\'s Doubles - Delgado/Kaes Van\'t Hof (NB) def. Ignatik/Travis Rettenmaier (SL), 5-2. Women\'s Singles - Jelena Pandzic (SL) def. Osterloh (NB), 5-3.
Mixed Doubles - Osterloh/Van\'t Hof (NB) def. Kournikova/Rettenmaier (SL), 5-3
Final: Newport Beach Breakers 23, St. Louis Aces 14
After tonight, the Breakers leave Newport Beach for two away matches July 18 and 19 against the Eastern Conference-leading New York Sportimes and Boston Lobsters, then return to Breakers Stadium at Newport Beach Country Club July 21 to host the Lobsters and tennis legend Martina Navratilova. Fifty-nine-time Grand Slam-winner Navratilova is the fourth marquee player to grace Breakers Stadium this season, following Breakers marquee player Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams and Kournikova. General admission tickets for the July 21 match are available for $35. Tickets, sponsorship and more information on the Newport Beach Breakers are readily available by calling 714-352-6301 or visiting www.NewportBeachBreakers.com, where fans can purchase tickets and choose their own seats from an online seating chart that takes real-time inventory. Also available is the Lefty Legends Package, for matches July 21 vs. Boston and July 22 vs. New York, for $70.
The Breakers are owned by WTT founder Billie Jean King. Hoag Hospital Foundation has been granted the rights to manage the Breakers through 2009 by WTT with profits from the team\'s operations for the season benefiting Hoag Hospital.