Breakers' skid not over

NEWPORT BEACH — Anne Keothavong doubled over and screamed in frustration.

Two points later, Marie-Eve Pelletier kicked a tennis ball into the club seats to her right.

It was only early in the second set of Saturday night's World Team Tennis match, but already the Newport Beach Breakers were way behind the Sacramento Capitals. If the tight WTT schedule hasn't made the team weary, a six-match losing streak might do the trick.

The sixth straight loss was the 22-11 overtime setback to the Capitals at The Tennis Club Newport Beach. It dealt a big blow to the playoff hopes of the Breakers, who need to finish in the top two in the five-team Western Conference to advance to the conference finals July 23 in Charleston, S.C.

With four matches left in the regular season, Newport Beach (3-7) fell to last place, three matches behind first-place Sacramento (6-4). Kansas City (5-4), St. Louis (5-5) and Springfield (4-6) are also ahead of the Breakers.

It was tough to explain how the Breakers could lose by so much, just a night after a very close 19-18 loss to the same Capitals. In that match they'd squandered a 3-1 lead in the match-deciding mixed doubles tiebreaker. Saturday night wasn't nearly as close.

"Wow," Breakers Coach Trevor Kronemann said after his team's third loss of the season to the Capitals. "Now I really think I can say I've seen it all. In over 20 years [in WTT as a player, commentator and coach], I've never felt quite that helpless in trying to accomplish things. I mean, I'm kind of at a loss for words. I'm shocked. We played great tennis [Friday]. Obviously, they're just better than we are."

The final margin Saturday would have been larger but Lester Cook beat Dusan Vemic in men's singles, 5-2, in the final set of the night. But that only brought the Breakers within 21-11, and Vemic held serve on the first game of overtime to end the match.

The Breakers were behind 10-1 after two sets. Vania King and Mark Knowles beat Travis Rettenmaier and Pelletier, 5-1, to open the match in mixed doubles. King and Schnack then blanked Keothavong and Pelletier, 5-0, in women's doubles, and the Capitals were cruising.

"Mark Knowles has played very, very good tennis all three times we've played them," Kronemann said of the three-time Grand Slam doubles champion. "Normally team tennis matches are decided by the ladies, and I think Mark Knowles played about as good as you can play."

Even after Cook and Rettenmaier won in a tiebreaker in men's doubles, the Breakers were still behind, 14-6, at halftime. Sacramento Coach Wayne Bryan, the father of No. 1-ranked doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan, came on court to introduce USC men's tennis Coach Peter Smith. The Trojans and Smith recently won their third straight NCAA championship.

But Bryan used up his allotted time of three minutes and kept going, so the Breakers decided to cut off his microphone. He went over to the announcer area to grab another one.

"That doesn't happen in Sacramento," Bryan said, not aware that his time was up.

It was one of his team's few missteps of the night. Soon the Breakers' time was up, as well.

Vania King blanked Keothavong 5-0 in the fourth set to give the Capitals a staggering 19-6 lead. Cook played well in men's singles, but the deficit was simply too large.

"Vania played well," Kronemann said of King, who won two Grand Slam doubles titles last year. "[Friday] night we won that [women's singles] set 5-1. I mean, go figure, right?

"It's just one of those things. We never really got going. We got down 10-1, and then we lost another set 5-0 after that. In three sets, you're down 15-1. That's just too much. We were flat, and they played really well in all their sets tonight."

Newport Beach hasn't won at home since its season opener July 5.

The Breakers play at Philadelphia on Monday and St. Louis on Tuesday before returning home for their last two matches of the regular season. They play host to Springfield on Wednesday and Boston on Thursday.

They'd likely have to win all four matches to make the playoffs.

"We're flying all day [Sunday] to Philly," Kronemann said. "Hopefully we can maybe make some changes and see if we can put together a four-match winning streak. We haven't given up yet … We've got to go after it and play the best we can."

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