NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., July 11, 2009 – A titanic clash between two Advanta World TeamTennis Pro League Western Conference playoff contenders reached the ultimate climax at the midpoint of the season when reigning WTT Male MVP Ramon Delgado and 1989 French Open champion and International Tennis Hall of Famer Michael Chang took the court with second-place in the conference on the line.
For the second consecutive night, Delgado beat Chang in men’s singles, and for the third time this season, the Newport Beach Breakers stymied the Sacramento Capitals and strengthened their hold on second place in the West with a 22-16 victory at Breakers Stadium at Newport Beach Country Club.
At the season’s midpoint, the Breakers (5-2) lead the Capitals (3-3) by 1½ games for second in the West and remain 1½ games behind the Springfield Lasers (6-0), WTT’s only unbeaten team. A night after Delgado beat Chang 5-4 in Sacramento, Delgado closed out tonight’s match with a 5-1 set over Chang.
The Breakers holding a slim 17-15 lead heading into the final set, the intensity and shot-making Delgado and Chang exhibited over the final set of men’s singles was a notch above anything seen at Breakers Stadium this season. Chang may have retired from the ATP Tour in 2003, but the grunting and fist-pumping returned Saturday night.
Each player dug deeper and raised their game. Serves and baseline winners were crisper than anything each had hit earlier in their doubles set. All groundstrokes were fiercely chased down, whether or not they were returned. In the end, it was Delgado who reigned supreme as his groundstrokes moved Chang side to side and were hit too well and too deep. The two shook hands at the match’s end after a hard-fought set.
“There’s definitely respect there,” Breakers coach Trevor Kronemann said. “Kaes (Van’t Hof), on the bench, said it to me perfectly when he said this is as close to a WTT rivalry as it gets. Ramon continues to be the World TeamTennis stud that he has been and will be.”
Added Delgado, who was 1-1 vs. Chang on the ATP Tour: “It was very intense. To me, it’s an honor to play against him. I practiced with him last week and it was great. He’s a legend and a great champion. I was happy with the score. Against him, I wanted a bigger lead (going into the final set). I have some tough matches coming up; I’ve got Robert Kendrick. I’ve got Andre Agassi. But I’m feeling good. If I feel like this, I think I can compete against anybody.”
BREAKERS DEFEAT SACRAMENTO FOR THE THIRD TIME THIS SEASON, 22-16
The Breakers hosted their first marquee player of the season Saturday with Chang, an Orange County resident and former World No. 2. Chang partnered with Mark Knowles in men’s doubles to win the third set, 5-4, and pull the Capitals within 14-10 after three sets. Chang, 37, made his WTT debut Friday in a defeat to the Breakers and has enjoyed his WTT experience these past two nights.
“It’s great. I had a fun time last night, although we got munched pretty bad,” Chang said. “It’s nice to be back playing close to home. This is really my backyard. I’m not from the home team, but I feel like I’m a hometown player here. It’s been a fun format. Takes a little bit of getting used to. But it’s nice to play in a team format, which is something, obviously, we don’t get a chance to see that much out on tour, other than playing Davis Cup or maybe a couple other events. Obviously, now being retired, I have a little more flexibility on my time schedule. Billie Jean has been asking me for a long time to be able to come out and play World TeamTennis.”
The Breakers, which won eight of the ten sets played in the teams’ first two meetings, got off to a first-set victory for the first time at home this season through its new mixed doubles combination of Newport Beach native Kaes Van’t Hof and Breakers first-year player Julie Ditty, who entered the mixed doubles lineup for the first time Friday night at Sacramento. The Breakers tandem triumphed 5-3 in the set against Irvine’s Angela Haynes and Knowles, who won the mixed doubles championship at Wimbledon last week.
As Ditty has taken over mixed doubles duties, teammate Marie-Eve Pelletier has assumed the women’s singles role for the Breakers and improved to 2-0 in her singles sets this season after downing 17-year-old Coco Vandeweghe, niece of former UCLA basketball and NBA standout Kiki Vandeweghe, 5-2. On Friday, Pelletier took a singles set from Sacramento’s other female player, Haynes.
“You’ve got to make decisions and we’re lucky it’s kind of worked,” Kronemann said. “We’re just looking for that positive energy, that fire. It’s a confidence issue and Marie-Eve has played very good singles the last two nights. We’ve got a team, and it’s cohesive and it’s working.”
Haynes and Vandeweghe followed up the Chang-Knowles doubles win in the third set with a rally of their own, winning the last four games to take the fourth set, 5-3, trim the Breakers’ lead to 17-15, and set the stage for a Delgado-Chang, fifth-set showdown.
Mixed Doubles – Kaes Van’t Hof/Julie Ditty (NB) def. Mark Knowles-Angela Haynes (S), 5-3
Women’s Singles – Marie-Eve Pelletier (NB) def. Coco Vandeweghe (S), 5-2
Men’s Doubles – Michael Chang/Knowles (S) def. Ramon Delgado/Van’t Hof (NB), 5-4 (5-2 tiebreak)
Women’s Doubles – Haynes/Vandeweghe (S) def. Ditty/Pelletier (NB), 5-3
Men’s Singles – Delgado (NB) def. Chang (S), 5-1
Final: Newport Beach Breakers 22, Sacramento Capitals 16
The Breakers’ next home match is at 7:05 p.m. Friday, July 17 against Andre Agassi and the Philadelphia Freedoms. The July 17 match is sold out, but a limited amount of tickets for the Breakers’ final three home matches of the season – July 19 vs. Sacramento, July 21 vs. New York Sportimes, and July 22 vs. Kansas City – and team information can be obtained at www.NewportBeachBreakers.com or by calling the ticket sales office at 714-352-6301.
Meanwhile, the Breakers hit the road for three matches in three days, beginning with a Monday meeting in New York against John McEnroe and the Sportimes. On Tuesday, July 14, the Breakers play against Serena Williams, last week’s Wimbledon women’s singles champion, and the Washington Kastles in Washington D.C. On Wednesday, July 15, the Breakers play at the St. Louis Aces.
The Breakers are in their third year of operation under the auspices of Hoag Hospital Foundation, which has been granted the rights to manage the Breakers through 2009 by WTT with profits from the team’s season operations benefiting Hoag Hospital. Breakers Stadium (capacity 2,000) is located at Newport Beach Country Club along Pacific Coast Highway, with views overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
BREAKERS DEFEAT SACRAMENTO FOR THE THIRD TIME THIS SEASON, 22-16
Breakers supporters can congregate online and expand the team’s fan base through the team’s official fan pages on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Newport-Beach-CA/Newport-Beach-Breakers/73887254402?ref=ts), MySpace (www.myspace.com/newportbeachbreakers)
and Twitter (www.twitter.com/nbbreakers). Register to become a fan or follower of the Breakers at each fan page and use them to meet and chat with new friends and tennis fans and stay up to date on all team and player information related to the Breakers.
About Newport Beach Breakers
The Newport Beach Breakers are one of 10 nationwide teams that make up the World TeamTennis (WTT) Pro League and are co-owned by WTT founder Billie Jean King. In July 2009, the Breakers will play seven home matches at Breakers Stadium at Newport Beach Country Club, and will be managed by Newport Beach-based Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian through the 2009 WTT season. Profits from the team’s operations for the season will go towards Hoag Hospital Foundation, the Breakers’ primary beneficiary. Hoag Hospital’s expert involvement with professional sports also extends to its organization of the PGA Champions Tour’s Toshiba Classic held annually in March. For tickets, sponsorship and more information, visit www.NewportBeachBreakers.com or call 714/352-6301.
About Advanta WTT Pro League
The 34th season of the Advanta WTT Pro League runs July 2-26, concluding with the Advanta WTT Finals on July 26 in Washington, D.C., where teams battle for the coveted King Trophy.
WTT is well known for introducing innovative elements to tennis including instant replay, co-ed format, multi-colored courts, cumulative and no-ad scoring, on-court coaching, Supertiebreakers and names on the back of players’ shirts.
Team matches consist of five events, with one set each of men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles. The first team to reach five games wins each set. A nine-point tiebreaker is played if a set reaches four-all. One point is awarded for each game won. If necessary, Overtime and a Supertiebreaker are played to determine the winner of the match.
Advanta is the title sponsor of the Advanta WTT Pro League. Official Advanta WTT Pro League sponsors for the 2009 season include DecoTurf, FirmGreen Energy, GEICO, Turfer Athletic and Wilson Racquet Sports. The United States Tennis Association is a minority owner and promotional partner of World TeamTennis. WTT and the USTA are teaming up on number of initiatives, including development of the youth market through junior team tennis programs.
For more information on the Advanta WTT Pro League, visit www.wtt.com.