August 22, 2016 - World TeamTennis (WTT) - Orange County Breakers
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - In 2016, the Orange County Breakers returned to Mylan World TeamTennis presented by GEICO after a two year hiatus from the league. For fans, the wait was well worth it as the team locked up one of the two spots in the upcoming Mylan WTT Finals presented by Citi.
After splitting the opening four match rivalry series with the San Diego Aviators, the Southern California teams appeared to be dead in the water as the Washington Kastles and Philadephia Freedoms held onto the top two spots. That is when the tide turned for the Breakers as they went on a seven match winning streak to secure the first spot in the Mylan WTT Finals. The Aviators followed suit just one day later by grabbing the other finals spot to set up one last Southern California clash.
"I am so proud of this team and the way they responded to adversity early on in the season," said Breakers General Manager Allen Hardison. "I like our chances of bringing the King Trophy back to Orange County for the first time since 2004, but San Diego has a great squad and on paper this appears to be one of the closest finals matchups in years."
The Breakers went 6-0 at Breakers Stadium at the Newport Beach Tennis Club, which helped kick start the winning streak. During that span, the Breakers crushed the five-time defending champion Kastles in what ended up being the worst lost in Washington\'s franchise history.
Steve Johnson, who returned to the Breakers lineup for one match before heading off to the Olympics in Rio, ended up bringing home a bronze medal in the men\'s doubles event. However, Johnson\'s departure had little impact on the success of the Breakers results as Dennis Novikov stepped up big for the team in just his rookie season.
Nicole Gibbs and Alla Kudryavtseva took on the closer role for the Breakers in women\'s doubles, leading the league statistically in that category and proving to be rock solid in the final set for Orange County. Kudryavtseva teamed with Scott Lipsky in mixed doubles, a set the Breakers also found as a strong point during the season.
Lipsky and Novikov also had success in men\'s doubles but Gibbs, who was named the league\'s female MVP, was arguably the toughest out for opposing teams in women\'s singles. Gibbs, who was a fan favorite for Breakers supporters, anchored the squad on many occasions by winning several of her sets by three games or more.
The Breakers now head off to prepare for the 2016 Mylan WTT Finals, which will take place August 26th at 1:00pm PT in Forest Hills, NY. The match will be aired live with coverage beginning on ESPN3 and switching to ESPN2 at 2:00pm PT.