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Delgado steals show

TENNIS: The WTT veteran leads Breakers to 20-15 victory over Kournikova and the Capitals in newly built Breakers Stadium.

July 07, 2007|By Matt Szabo

NEWPORT BEACH — It was easy to get caught up in all the newness Friday night at the Newport Beach Breakers' season opener against the Sacramento Capitals.

There was a new venue and stadium at the Newport Beach Country Club. There was also a new coach in Trevor Kronemann, and an added curiosity because Anna Kournikova was in town with the Capitals.

"What a great atmosphere," Kronemann said. "It's just a really great place to play."

But amidst the change, a familiar face perhaps came up the biggest for the Breakers in their 20-15 win.

Ramon Delgado, in his fourth year with the Breakers, came into his men's singles set with Newport Beach down, 10-5. But he topped Sacramento's Sam Warburg, 5-0, to tie the match and give the Breakers (1-0) momentum that they fed off the rest of the night.

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"It was weird, because normally World Team Tennis is all about doubles," Kronemann said. "Three of the five sets are in doubles, but tonight it was about our singles. Ramon played unbelievably to get us right back into the match at 10-all. He's been the crowd pleaser and the closer for so many years, and he did his job and got it done."

From there, the women took over. Newport Beach's Michaela Pastikova and Lauren Albanese teamed for a 5-2 women's doubles win over Sacramento's Kournikova and Milagros Sequera.

Then, Albanese, the 17-year-old from Florida, had an impressive 5-3 women's singles win over Sequera to close out the Breakers' victory over the Capitals (0-2).

"Lauren's a talent," Kronemann said. "She's going to be very good. I've seen a lot of people come and start their careers here playing World Team Tennis … Lauren hits the ball very well, and she's got the opportunity to do the same type of thing. Fun to watch."

Albanese, in her first World Team Tennis match, was particularly effective with her blistering ground strokes, which often served to take control of the point.

"I thought I played well for my first time playing," Albanese said. "I thought I handled it pretty well. I was listening to the coaches, the coaches are great. I'm just enjoying it."

Kournikova wore a red outfit, but the color hardly mattered as she attracted the attention of the crowd at Breakers Stadium. But early on, the Breakers' fans weren't as thrilled with the two-time Grand Slam doubles champion's stellar play.

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