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World Team Tennis to hold 2020 season in West Virginia

The Orange County Breakers’ Steve Johnson, shown hitting a forehand during the 2016 World Team Tennis season, returns to the Breakers for the 2020 season in West Virginia.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The Orange County Breakers will be playing across the country this summer in their quest to take home the King Trophy, which is awarded to the World Team Tennis champion.

The league has announced that all 2020 matches will take place at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The season begins July 12 and concludes Aug. 2 with the World Team Tennis championship match.

“We’ve had a group message going around with all of our players, and they’ve been constantly wanting updates on everything that’s going on,” Breakers general manager Allen Hardison said. “They’re very, very excited to play, that we’ll get the 2020 season in. I think everybody was a little bit concerned for a little bit, if we’d be able to get it in or not.

Hardison said the team will miss playing in front of its home fans at Palisades Tennis Club in Newport Beach. World Team Tennis announced earlier this month that it would be holding all its matches at one venue, eliminating travel due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

“They’ll miss that home feel, that home-court advantage, but obviously we’re excited to play,” Hardison said. “I heard [The Greenbrier] is a beautiful resort. I know our team will put up a great fight to try to take the King Trophy back this year.”

On a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday, World Team Tennis CEO Carlos Silva said The Greenbrier was selected for several reasons. He said 500 fans will be able to attend matches at the venue, 20% of the stadium’s capacity of 2,500.

“We had so many great choices, from Florida to Austin, Texas, to Las Vegas to La Costa [Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, where the Breakers’ rival San Diego Aviators play],” Silva said. “That process was difficult ... but in the end, with both the governor’s support and the resort’s support and the guidelines they put in place, they allowed us to have 500 fans. We thought at that 20% level, it felt good. Being able to bring fans back and have a little bit of that energy for the players in the stadium, that eventually made that decision easy for us.”

The tennis amenities at The Greenbrier also include five outdoor courts and five indoor courts.

“West Virginia has had a low incidence of COVID-19, lower than most of the states in America,” Silva said. “Here at the resort, they have a great list of guidelines in place ... we felt comfortable.”

The Breakers are one of nine franchises in the league, which enters its 45th season. At least three matches per day are planned to be played at The Greenbrier stadium. The top four teams at the end of the regular season will advance to the playoffs.

Orange County’s 2020 roster includes former Orange High and USC standout Steve Johnson for the entire season, along with newcomer Kristyna Pliskova and returners Andreja Klepac and Luke Bambridge. Former world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov was signed for one match.

Orange County finished 6-8 last season and missed the playoffs for the second straight year. The Breakers have won the King Trophy twice in their history, in 2004 and 2017.

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