Dominating the late sets of the match, the San Antonio Racquets defeated the Newport Beach Dukes, 27-20, in a Team Tennis match Thursday in front of about 300 at the John Wayne Tennis Club.
The loss put the Dukes (7-5) into fourth place in the four-team West division and in danger of missing the playoffs. Three teams from the division qualify for the playoffs. The Los Angeles Strings (11-1) have clinched first place and a playoff spot. The Racquets (8-4) are tied with the Sacramento Capitals.
Each team has two matches remaining. The Dukes play host to the Strings at 7 tonight and then meet the Capitals in Sacramento Saturday.
The Dukes had beaten the Racquets, 24-22, in San Antonio last month, but in that match the Dukes’ men opened the match with 6-2 victories in men’s doubles and men’s singles.
Thursday, the Racquets’ Sammy Giammalva turned around the singles score, defeating Roger Smith, 6-2, and giving the Racquets a 21-16 lead going into the final set.
Despite brief moments of decent doubles play, Smith and Marty Davis couldn’t make up the deficit. Davis and Smith each lost their first serve in the set and although they broke the Racquets’ team of Giammalva and Dacio Campos twice to tie the score, 3-3, the Dukes lost, 6-4.
Amy Frazier, who entered the match with the best women’s singles record in Team Tennis, kept the Dukes in the match. She defeated Elna Reinach in singles, 6-4. But because of an injury Sophie Amiach suffered in the Dukes’ 6-2 women’s doubles loss in the first set of the match, Frazier played in Amiach’s mixed doubles spot.
“She’s a saint,” Dukes Coach Greg Patton said. “Whatever the call is, she’ll go out and do it.”
Frazier’s mixed doubles play was solid. Even so, Frazier and her partner Marty Davis were taken to a tiebreaker by Giammalva and Elna Reinach before winning the set, 6-5 (5-2 in the tiebreaker). After the mixed doubles victory, the Dukes trailed 15-14.
In women’s singles, it was a battle on the baselines as Frazier and Reinach matched groundstrokes. Neither player ever went to the net in the set. More often than not Frazier prevailed, using her two-hand backhand down the line at crucial moments.