Orange County Breakers in thick of World Team Tennis playoff race

Gaby Dabrowski of the Orange County Breakers reaches for a volley.
Gaby Dabrowski of the Orange County Breakers reaches for a volley during a women’s doubles match against the Vegas Rollers on Tuesday night at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
(Courtesy of World Team Tennis )

The Orange County Breakers have rebounded from a tough start to the World Team Tennis season, putting themselves in the mix for one of four playoff spots.

The Breakers had won three of four matches prior to Tuesday night’s 21-19 loss to the Vegas Rollers at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Orange County (3-5) did not have a match Wednesday. Coming into the day, the Breakers were just a match back of a playoff spot, behind a three-way tie for third place that featured the New York Empire, Orlando Storm and the Rollers.

Fourteen matches make up the WTT regular season, which concludes July 30.

The Breakers led the Rollers 17-16 headed into the final set on Tuesday night, but that final set was men’s doubles and the Rollers had the star tandem of brothers Bob and Mike Bryan. The Bryan Brothers, who have combined to win 16 Grand Slam men’s doubles titles, won that final set 5-2 over Orange County’s Steve Johnson and Austin Krajicek.

“We finally get a chance to catch our breath here,” Breakers coach Rick Leach said in a phone interview. “I’m really happy with the team, because we’re fighting hard. On paper, we probably don’t have the best team, but we’re competing in every match. ... We lost a real tough match [Tuesday] to the Bryan brothers and Sam Querrey. They brought in Alja [Tomljanovic] and she played fabulous, she played three events.”

Johnson had beaten Querrey 5-4 in men’s singles for one of the Breakers’ two set wins on the night. In women’s doubles, Gaby Dabrowski and Andreja Klepac beat Vegas’ Monica Puig and Tomljanovic, 5-2.

Bob Bryan and Tomljanovic beat Krajicek and Dabrowski 5-3 in mixed doubles, while Tomljanovic edged Orange County’s Jennifer Brady 5-4 in women’s singles.

Krajicek is making his World Team Tennis debut.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said in a phone interview. “With everyone in the same place, everyone is eager to compete because we’re had such a long break, obviously with everything going around. Everyone has been staying at home and missing the competition aspect of it. The competition level here has been really high, no doubt about it.”

Gaby Dabrowski of the Orange County Breakers, left, encourages teammates Steve Johnson and Luke Bambridge.
Gaby Dabrowski of the Orange County Breakers, left, encourages teammates Steve Johnson and Luke Bambridge during the team’s match against the Vegas Rollers on Tuesday.
(Courtesy of World Team Tennis)

Brady’s strong play also has helped the Breakers stay competitive. The former UCLA star beat Sabine Lisicki of the New York Empire 5-0 in women’s singles on Monday night, as Orange County won the match 24-15.

Brady also beat Christina McHale of the San Diego Aviators 5-0 in women’s singles on Sunday night, though the Breakers lost the match, 20-14.

The Breakers beat the Empire in all three doubles sets on Monday night. Johnson and Krajicek edged Neal Skupski and Jack Sock 5-4 in men’s doubles, while Krajicek and Dabrowski beat Sock and Lisicki 5-3 in mixed doubles.

Klepac and Dabrowski were 5-3 winners over Lisicki and Kveta Peschke in the final set of the night.

“I feel like we’re playing well, and we need to in order to make the playoffs here,” Leach said. “We do get to play twice against Springfield, and they’re in last place, so that will help us. The level is just amazing here. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Greenbrier and watch the tennis, you’ve got a great entertainment ticket ... It’s pretty neat that someone can watch four matches in one day, in one spot.”

Orange County returns to action at the Greenbrier on Thursday, when it plays the Washington Kastles (3-4) at 4 p.m. PDT. The match will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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