Cook serves main dish

Davenport shows she still has game, but Breakers' men's singles player comes up huge as Newport Beach earns a key win.

July 15, 2010|By Matt Szabo
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — It was Ladies Night, and Billie Jean King and Lindsay Davenport were in the house.

But the Newport Beach Breakers' lead man was still in charge.

Lester Cook came up huge in the final set, beating St. Louis' Andrei Pavel, 5-0, in the final set as the Breakers came back for a huge 16-14 World Team Tennis win Thursday at The Tennis Club Newport Beach.

Cook came into the set ranked third in the league in men's singles, while Pavel was last – 11th out of 11 regular players in the league. The Breakers came into that final set with a 14-11 deficit, but Cook has brought them out of similar deficits before this season.

Cook had the goods Thursday night against an opponent he said he'd never faced before. He swept the set against Pavel in the match that featured former world No. 1 Davenport as a marquee player for the visiting Aces.


"I just absolutely love it," Cook said. "The team puts a lot of faith in me by putting me last like that. You know, I talk to my doubles partner Dave [Martin] and it's like every time we go out, this is why we play. This is it."

Newport Beach is now 4-4 and just a match behind first-place Sacramento and Kansas City in the Western Conference. St. Louis and Springfield join the Breakers at 4-4 as just past the halfway point of the season, all five teams are separated by a single match.

Davenport, who played for the Breakers in 2003 and '08, had mixed results. She called it a little bittersweet that she couldn't play for the Breakers this year, as she was born, raised and still lives in Orange County.

In the second set of the night, Davenport and partner Liga Dekmeijere fell to the Breakers' Marie-Eve Pelletier and Julie Ditty, 5-2. That came on the heels of a Breakers win in men's doubles, as Martin and Cook took out Pavel and Tripp Phillips.

Newport Beach was up 10-4 and appeared to be cruising. But, in a match where no set was close, the next two would go against the Breakers. A nemesis this season has been mixed doubles, and that continued to be the case Thursday.

The Breakers fell to 2-6 this year in mixed doubles sets as Pavel and Davenport beat Martin and Pelletier, 5-1. And, after Davenport blanked Pelletier in singles, 5-0, the Aces, coached by former Breaker Rick Leach (Davenport's brother-in-law) had actually grabbed a 14-11 lead.

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