TEAMTENNIS : Dukes' Roll Continues, Wichita Falls

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's looking more and more as if the Newport Beach Dukes are destined to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

Saturday's 30-16 rout of the Wichita Advantage in front of 1,000 at the John Wayne Tennis Club was the Dukes' fifth consecutive victory and kept them in second place in the West Division of World TeamTennis.

The Dukes won all five sets and improved their record to 6-3. Wichita is 2-7.

So much for the simple facts, here's what Coach Greg Patton had to say: "Let's start with Amy (Frazier). She played flawless. She's playing so well right now she makes my heart go thump-a, thump-a.

"We're building a lot of confidence. I'm feeling really good about this team. Not only do we have bullet-proof vests on, but we have bullet-proof socks.

"What I'm thinking about, dreaming about, is that we want to be in first place. The apple pie is on the table and it smells good. Nobody's looking and we want to take it. Why not shoot for the top?"

Frazier and Lise Gregory started the Dukes' domination with an easy, 6-2, doubles victory over Cammy MacGregor and Stella Sampras, the four-time All-American from UCLA and older sister of 1990 U.S. Open champion Pete Sampras.

Frazier then overwhelmed MacGregor, 6-1, in singles.

Ronnie Bathman and Rikard Bergh followed with a convincing, 6-3, victory over Buff Farrow and Craig Johnson in men's doubles.

Then came the set of the match with Bergh and Farrow battling serve for serve, volley for volley. Into a tiebreaker they went with Bergh finally pulling out the victory with an ace on set point, 6-5 (5-4).

Bathman and Gregory defeated Johnson and Sampras, 6-5 (5-2), in mixed doubles and the Dukes had their fifth consecutive victory.

"This is fun," Patton said. "At the start of the season, I was thinking of crawling out of here.

"Did Atlanta happen?"

The Dukes suffered the worst loss in their two-year history, 30-13, to Atlanta July 16. But to Patton that seems like a long time ago.

The Dukes play Jimmy Connors and the Los Angeles Strings at 7 tonight at the Forum. The Strings, who lost in the TeamTennis championship match to Atlanta last season, have stumbled to a 3-6 record and were defeated by the Tampa Bay Action, 25-21, Friday.

Patton is not taking anything for granted tonight, however.

"We've played L.A. twice before at their place (in 1990 and '91)," he said, "and it's been the curse of the ninja warriors up there."

The Dukes return to the John Wayne Tennis Club for their final home matches of the regular season against division-leading Vail (7-2) Tuesday and the Strings Friday.

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