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Orange County Breakers beat Chicago Smash to keep World Team Tennis playoff hopes alive

Jennifer Brady of the Orange County Breakers eyes a forehand during the team's 23-16 win over Chicago on Monday.
(Courtesy of World Team Tennis)

The Orange County Breakers earned a crucial World Team Tennis win Monday, beating the Chicago Smash 23-16 in extended play at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

With their second straight win, the Breakers moved to 5-7 with two regular-season matches remaining. They are in sixth place in the league; the top four teams advance to the playoffs.

Orange County is one and a half matches behind the fourth-place New York Empire (6-5), but the Breakers currently own the head-to-head tiebreaker after a 24-14 win on July 20.

The Breakers play the Empire in their next match, Wednesday at noon Pacific Standard Time. The match will be televised on the Tennis Channel.

Orange County earned a pair of strong 5-1 wins in men’s and women’s singles in Monday’s win over Chicago (9-3). In men’s singles, the Breakers’ Steve Johnson beat Brandon Nakashima, while Jennifer Brady beat the Chicago combination of Eugenie Bouchard and Sloane Stephens. Chicago substituted in Bouchard with Stephens trailing, 3-1.

The Breakers also picked up a 5-3 win in mixed doubles. Johnson and Brady, former USC and UCLA stars respectively, beat Stephens and Rajeev Ram.

Steve Johnson hits a backhand during the Orange County Breakers' win Monday.
Steve Johnson hits a backhand during the Orange County Breakers’ win Monday.
(Courtesy of World Team Tennis)

“You either apply the pressure or you receive it,” Johnson said in a release. “Today we applied it. Jenny really put us over the top today.”

Chicago’s Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Bouchard beat Orange County’s Brady and Gaby Dabrowski 5-3 in women’s doubles, and the Smash also won 5-4 in men’s doubles as Ram and Evan King topped Johnson and Krajicek.

After playing New York on Wednesday, the Breakers close out their regular season against the Springfield Lasers (4-8) on Thursday.

Orange County is trying to make the playoffs for the first time since winning its second King Trophy in 2017.

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