Cook steps up to challenge for win

NEWPORT BEACH — "¿Dónde está Ramón?" a Newport Beach resident called the Daily Pilot office to ask Tuesday night, upset that the Newport Beach Breakers didn't retain their six-year veteran, Ramon Delgado.

Cyndie Borcoman's question in English is "Where is Ramon?," and he is playing with Philadelphia this summer. But she didn't go to their home opener against the Sacramento Capitals.

If she did, she might have taken a liking to his replacement.

Lester Cook made quite a splash in his home opener with the team. He topped Sacramento's Dusan Vemic, 5-2, in the final set to help the Breakers secure a 20-18 victory over the Capitals before a near-capacity crowd at The Tennis Club Newport Beach.

Newport Beach, which also topped Sacramento, 24-16, on the road in its season opener on Monday, improved to 2-0 and is alone in first place in the Western Conference.

Men's singles was again the last match of the night for the Breakers, and this time Cook did his best Delgado impression.

"[Cook's] nice and relaxed out there; he's got a very fluid game," Coach Trevor Kronemann said. "It seems like the role that he might be able to step right in and take, like Ramon did such a great job with. These things don't bother him … He's been hearing it probably for the last six months, 'Oh, you've got to fill in for Ramon Delgado.' He'll want to prove his spot and do a great job, and he's already off to a great start."

There were no marquee players in Tuesday's match, but winning a women's doubles title at Wimbledon brings some notoriety. Sacramento's Vania King, last year's World Team Tennis Female MVP with the Springfield Lasers, played her first match since winning her first Grand Slam title on Tuesday. The Tennis Club is a different venue than the All England Club, but the Long Beach resident King still appeared ready to attack in her white tennis shoes with the alligator on the side.

The Breakers were ahead, 12-11, before the fourth set, when King beat Newport Beach's Julie Ditty, 5-3. But Ditty battled against King, who is ranked No. 80 in the world in singles and beat Ditty, 9-1 (including overtime and a super-tiebreaker) and 5-2, in the Breakers' two regular-season matchups with the Lasers last year. The first match was part of the second-biggest comeback in WTT history.

This time around the margin was razor-thin, as Ditty had a point at 3-4 to draw the set even. Her forehand was errant, and King won the set to give the Capitals (1-1) a 16-15 advantage. But just the fact that Ditty could keep the match close was a bonus for Newport Beach.

"I think this year's a revenge year for Julie," Kronemann said. "She's just got to trust her game a little bit more and go after her shots a little bit sooner."

Ditty and David Martin lost in mixed doubles to King and Vemic , 5-4 (5-1 in the super-tiebreaker) to open the night.

But Ditty and Marie Eve-Pelletier responded with a 5-1 women's doubles victory over King and Riza Zalameda.

It was the second 5-1 doubles victory in as many nights for Ditty and Pelletier.

"We've played really well the first two nights," Kronemann said. "If you asked me who the star would be for the first two nights, you're probably looking at Marie-Eve. She's playing great tennis. We figured out just now that she's plus-10 [games] in her events, so she's put a lot of points up on the board for us."

Vemic and Brett Joelson topped Martin and Cook in men's doubles, 5-3, before King won that fourth set.

The Breakers, who have beaten Sacramento seven straight times, return to action at home against Kansas City on Friday. Kronemann again expects men's singles to be the last set.

"I like the team," Cook said. "The girls are fun and I like it a lot. I like being an entertaining player."

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