Orange County Breakers Move Into First Place With Win Over Rival San Diego Aviators
By Parsa Nemati
(July 31, 2017) PALISADES TENNIS CLUB, Newport Beach, CA – The Orange County Breakers continued their magical run at home, improving to 5-0 this World TeamTennis season in front of their home crowd. The Breakers have not showed any signs of slowing down since losing stars Maria Sharapova and Steve Johnson, as the team won four of five sets Monday night to dispatch the defending champions.
Yanina Wickmayer kicked off the night with a 5-2 win over Naomi Broady in women’s singles, as all the Belgian needed was one break of serve to win the set and give her team the early lead. The former US Open semifinalist stayed on court to team up with Andrej Klepač, as the ladies defeated the Aviators duo of Broady and Darija Jurak 5-3, extending Orange County’s lead over San Diego to 10-5.
The Breakers continued their momentum in the third set of the night with an upset, as Ken Skupski and Teymuraz Gabashvili defeated Rajeev Ram and Raven Klaasen 5-3. The Aviators doubles team of Ram and Klaasen are currently regular partners on tour, and are ranked seventh in the Race to London rankings with titles in Delray Beach and Indian Wells this year together. The big win for Skupski and Gabashvili gave the Breakers a nice 15-8 lead at halftime heading into mixed doubles.
The lone win of the night for the Aviators came in mixed doubles, as Klaasen and Jurak won a tight mixed doubles set 5-4(0) over Klepač/Skupski without dropping a single point in the tiebreaker. As a result of the Aviators winning in a tiebreak, they had put only a minimal dent in the big lead the Breakers had, as Orange County led 19-13 heading into the final set of the night.
To wrap up the night, Teymuraz Gabashvili and Rajeev Ram faced off against each other once again, but this time just the two of them for men’s singles. Each player had two break point opportunities and both players faced a deciding point at 3 all in one their service games, however neither player was able to break serve in the set. The Russian took over with some aggressive tennis in the tiebreak, only losing a single point to defeat Ram 5-4(1) as he capped off a 24-17 victory for the Breakers.
With the win on Monday night, the Breakers moved up in the standings and are now tied with the San Diego Aviators for first place in the league, as both teams have seven wins and five losses. However, the first tiebreaker for teams that are tied is the amount of total games they have won on the season, and after tonight the Breakers have a slim three game advantage over the Aviators. With the Washington Kastles mathematically eliminated with their 4-8 record, five of the six teams in the league are still vying for the two spots in Saturday’s final. The Aviators and Breakers each have their final two matches at home, and if either team wins both of their matches on Tuesday and Wednesday, they would then be assured a spot in the final which will be held in San Diego regardless of the two teams in the final.
ORANGE COUNTY BREAKERS def. San Diego Aviators 24-17
Women’s Singles – Yanina Wickmayer (Breakers) def. Naomi Broady (Aviators) 5-2
Women’s Doubles – Yanina Wickmayer/Andrej Klepač (Breakers) def. Naomi Broady/Darija Jurak (Aviators) 5-3
Men’s Doubles – Teymuraz Gabashvili/Ken Skupski (Breakers) def. Rajeev Ram/Raven Klaasen (Aviators) 5-3
Mixed Doubles –Darija Jurak/Raven Klaasen (Aviators) def. Ken Skupski\Andrej Klepač (Breakers) 5-4(0)
Men’s Singles – Teymuraz Gabashvili (Breakers) def. Rajeev Ram (Aviators) 5-4(1)
Up next for the Orange County Breakers (7-5):
Home match vs the Washington Kastles on Tuesday, August 1st
Up next for the San Diego Aviators (7-5):
Home match vs the Philadelphia Freedoms on Tuesday, August 1st
Yanina Wickmayer’s on-court interview with the media following the match:
Q: So how big was this win for you guys?
Yanina: It was huge. It was a very important match tonight. We knew it. It was a bit tough getting into the matches tonight because we had a travel day yesterday, so a bit tired. But we fired up just in the right moments and I think we all did really well. We’re a great team. We’re all just happy to be here and to get this win.
Q: Safe to say you guys are confident at home. You guys were confident?
Yanina: Yeah we’re feeling good at home. We really get along really well, we’re all buddies so it’s actually really working out for us and we enjoy playing at home as well with the home crowd, and we’re just really having a good time and it helps.
Parsa Nemati: You won Washington last year around this time in both singles and doubles. What made you make the decision to come over here and play World Team Tennis for a couple weeks, rather than defending your titles?
Yanina: I wanted to try something new and it seemed really exciting. So I wanted to try it and anyway I couldn’t defend the title because the weeks are different so anyway I would lose my points. So I was like why not, let’s try it and see how it is. I actually really enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun, it’s different. It’s much more stressful because it’s really short, it’s fast. But it’s a lot of fun, we play a lot of tennis, a lot of matches, a lot of practices so it’s actually been really challenging, but it’s been a lot of fun.
On-court interview between Parsa Nemati and Naomi Broady following the match:
Parsa: How has it been to join the Aviators? They won the championship last year, so how has it been to join a championship squad?
Naomi: Yeah it’s been incredible. I was really upset when I didn’t get drafted in the first pick, I enjoyed it so much last year and I really wanted to play again. So when the Aviators asked me to come in and sub in for Shelby, I was just so happy. I lost my first match for them and I was really worried, I wanted to kind of prove myself and then I had a great last two matches and a really tough one tonight, Wickmayer played incredibly well, but it’s so great. They’re a really nice team, we’re having so much fun and it’s so nice.
Parsa: You’re ranked around 80 in doubles right now. You won a title earlier this year with Hev (Heather Watson), just reached a final in Kazakhstan, how has your doubles helped you with your singles?
Naomi: Yeah I think there’s a quite a few of the women’s singles player now, Vesnina, Mladenovic, who really pushed on their doubles before their singles rankings caught up. And I think both of them have said, as I feel as well, it helps our return so much, it helps you keep going on with extra matches when you lose early with your singles. Keeps you feeling good about your game. Tennis is so mental, and when you get low on confidence to have those extra doubles matches, and those extra wins under your belt, it really helps you a lot. I think mainly your serve, but also your volleys. And for someone like me who wants to come forward to the net and my volleys are obviously an important part of my game too.
Parsa: Whether you guys reach the final on Saturday, or you guys finish on Wednesday, the season will be over soon. What are goals heading into the rest of the hard court season and the US Open, as well as Asia?
Naomi: I just missed out on US Open main draw. I think I was like 5 out. So I’ll play the qualifiers there. But Darija (Jurak) and I are actually going to play doubles in the main draw together for US Open. But my goal for the year is to finish the year in the top-100 and be back up for the Australian Open main draw in January.
Parsa: Are you going to apply for mixed with Liam (her brother)?
Naomi: We won’t get in. We only get in Wimbledon with the wildcard. We need to get our rankings up a bit haha.