Breakers' new home: Tennis Club

The move for the Newport Beach Breakers is short.

It's just a stone's throw – or maybe a tennis ball's hit – from the parking lot of the Newport Beach Country Club to the courts at The Tennis Club Newport Beach. Sure, it's a bit more off Pacific Coast Highway, but it's hardly a big change of locale.

Yet, for the first time since 2006, the Breakers won't be playing in that parking lot when their World Team Tennis home schedule gets underway July 6 against the Sacramento Capitals.

Why? It's a combination of things, said Breakers executive director Jeff Purser. He began exploring the idea after meeting The Tennis Club President/CEO Charlie Sharp as well as Paul Ramsey, the president of the Ramsey Tennis Group, which now owns the club.

Ramsey changed the name of the former Balboa Bay Club Racquet Club to The Tennis Club Newport Beach after acquiring it last summer. He also is the principal owner and president of the Newport Beach Yacht Club.

"I got the opportunity to meet Charlie Sharp and Paul Ramsey," Purser said. "They invited me to explore hosting it there. At the same time, Newport Beach Country Club has a big summer of member golf events. The way the schedule is working out, [the Breakers] are going to be right in the middle of that."

The capacity will be a bit smaller at The Tennis Club, down from about 1,940 to 1,800. But Purser said that will help create a more intimate setting. No seat at the new facility is more than about 18-20 feet beghind the baseline, he said.

"The seats start right off the court," Purser said. "In the past, you just didn't feel as close to the court. It's just a better seating configuration."

The stadium itself is being constructed at the first three courts bordering the parking lot at the club, said Tim Mang, director of marketing and public relations at the club.

"It'll be the first three courts as you go in," Mang said. "The first court will be the box seats and club tickets, the second the stadium court and the third court will be the grandstands."

The first row of the parking lot, closest to the club, will be transformed into the familiar kiosks and tents.

This will be the Breakers' second change of venue since the franchise was awarded to Newport Beach in 2003. Palisades Tennis Club played host to the Breakers from 2003-06, after the facility – then called the John Wayne Tennis Club – featured the now-defunct Newport Beach Dukes from 1990-94.

Sharp of The Tennis Club said it's an honor to host World Team Tennis.

"We think it's a fantastic opportunity," Sharp said. "It's a huge event for us to have. We were hoping to host the World Team Tennis so we could help our club and help the community. It's a great thing for Hoag Hospital and the kids."

As before, there will be skyboxes. Mang, who coached high school tennis for 37 years, has been working with local high schools to make The Tennis Club's skybox available to local high school tennis players.

Mang said the home opener will be Corona del Mar High night, with the skybox available to players and boosters from the school where he coached from 1993 until his coaching retirement in 2008. July 12 will be Newport Harbor night, and July 15 will be shared by Mater Dei and Sage Hill School.

"Exposure," Mang said was one bonus for the club hosting the Breakers. "They'll be passing out literature, of course. We're picking up a little bit of membership every month. If you join the Tennis Club, you also get to use the Newport Beach Yacht Club, so it's a good deal."

The Breakers, who made the WTT semifinals last year under Coach Trevor Kronemann, have seven home dates this year. The July 21 date against Springfield was scheduled to be played at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Long Beach, named after the WTT co-founder and Breakers' part-owner.

Logistical problems have scrapped that idea, however. Purser said a major reason is that the date against Springfield is in between two of the Breakers' three marquee player nights. Maria Sharapova is playing for Newport Beach on July 20 and John McEnroe visits in the regular-season finale on July 22.

Like the other six home matches, the Springfield match will be held at The Tennis Club. Mang is one person who definitely approves.

"It's nicer than a parking lot," Mang said. "That's for sure."

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