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Orange County Breakers not expected to play in Newport Beach this summer

The center court at Palisades Tennis Club during a 2017 match
The center court at Palisades Tennis Club during a 2017 match between the Orange County Breakers and the Springfield Lasers.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The Orange County Breakers will again compete for the World Team Tennis title this summer.

But for the second straight year, the Breakers won’t do it with a handful of home matches at Palisades Tennis Club in Newport Beach.

World Team Tennis announced Friday the league will again hold all of its 2021 matches at one site, due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

Breakers general manager Allen Hardison said he expects the site to be announced by early May. Last summer, the mixed-gender professional tennis league played all of its matches at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia.

“The initial reaction is obviously that we’re extremely disappointed that we can’t play in front of our home fans,” Hardison said. “I truly feel that we have one of the best, if not the best, fan bases in WTT. I’m bummed for our fans, for sure, but there’s no question that this is the right decision. I think sticking these players on airplanes and going through eight or nine different cities in a two-to-three week period this July, it probably still is just a little bit too early.”

Hardison said that California “is still in play” as the league researches potential venues for this summer. He added that World Team Tennis wants to play at a bigger venue than Palisades or Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, which the rival San Diego Aviators call home, in case capacity restrictions are still in place in July.

“We want to make sure that as many people as possible can come out and experience WTT,” Hardison said. “I’m certainly keeping my fingers crossed for California, obviously. It would be great for our fans.”

The Breakers are owned by Laguna Beach businessman Eric Davidson, who recently became the World Team Tennis chairman after Carlos Silva stepped down as CEO last month. The team has played at Palisades since 2017, and also played there from the franchise’s inception in 2003 through 2006.

Orange County finished 5-9 during the 2020 WTT season in West Virginia and failed to make the playoffs. The Breakers are searching for their first postseason appearance since winning the franchise’s second King Trophy as league champions in 2017.

“I’m not going to lie, the last couple of years have been significantly below my expectation, Eric’s expectation and [coach Rick Leach’s] expectation,” Hardison said. “We need to get the team back to where it was in 2017 and 2016, when we were playing for WTT championships. There’s definitely a ton of optimism as we go into 2021, and high expectations.”

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