NEWPORT BEACH — The Newport Beach Breakers are in such a funk they desperately needed Maria Sharapova to help them get out of it on the court.
The three-time Grand Slam singles champion arrived at The Tennis Club in Newport Beach dressed in black Tuesday. The appropriate color because the Breakers said their goodbyes to the World Team Tennis playoff hopes.
With two matches left, Newport Beach has no chance to return to the postseason, despite beating the Kansas City Explorers, 19-18, in a super tiebreaker. The Breakers can only blame themselves after losing seven of their last 10 matches.
Sharapova played her part in her only appearance with the Breakers this season. She said she went into the match against the Explorers (7-5) following Newport Beach's season.
"I sometimes turn on the Tennis Channel when some of the matches are on, so I'll get to watch a little bit," Sharapova said. "I mean, [I] don't go every day and see everyone's score and everything."
The scores have not been in Newport Beach's favor since it began the season with two wins. The Breakers (5-7) hoped to change their losing ways. Having Sharapova was their best shot.
The 6-foot-2 Sharapova brought her boyfriend, Sasha Vujacic, as a good luck charm. Vujacic, a member of the Los Angeles Lakers' recent back-to-back championship teams, seemed too busy looking into the stands, wishing someone would notice he played for the Lakers.
The beanie over Vujacic's head did not help his cause. Sharapova looked like she wanted to pull it over hers after the night's opening set.
Sharapova played mixed doubles with David Martin, who tried to outshine the Russian beauty before the match. During player introductions, Martin tried to dance before attempting the "worm."
Martin and Sharapova moved likes worms against Samuel Groth and Jarmila Groth. The married couple fought back for a 5-3 victory.
In the sixth game, the 6-4 Samuel ripped a serve toward Sharapova. What Sharapova's racquet got a hold of was just wind. She whiffed, drawing a few "oohs and aahs" from the crowd.
Fans began to notice that Sharapova is not the same player who claimed Wimbledon in 2004, the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008. The 23-year-old thinks otherwise.
"If I didn't feel like I had it in me, I wouldn't be going out on the court every day and working to become a better player," Sharapova said. "I wouldn't be fighting to win my tennis matches."
Sharapova had a tough time winning one of the three sets she played in for the Breakers.
The victory came in women's doubles. Sharapova teamed with Marie-Eve Pelletier and the duo started and finished strong against Groth and Kveta Peschke. After the 5-3 win, Sharapova received a much-needed break.
Sharapova sat down, with Vujacic standing right behind the bench. The Breakers went ahead, 13-10, after Lester Cook defeated Ricardo Mello, 5-2.
The lead was short lived once Sharapova returned to action. Women's singles is what Sharapova used to thrive in before she suffered shoulder problems in 2008.
Against a lesser-known player like Groth, Sharapova made her look like Serena Williams. Sharapova performed better against Williams at Wimbledon last month, losing 7-6 (9), 6-4, in a match to reach the quarterfinals.
Sharapova failed to win a game against Groth, falling 5-0. Groth set the tempo, hammering a serve to Sharapova's left side that almost left the world's former No. 1 player scrambling on her knees.
It got worse for Sharapova. She capped the set with a double fault. Cameras snapped shots of her as she walked off with an unhappy face. The outing was the quickest of the night, lasting only 16 minutes.
At least Sharapova was closer to her man.