Star-studded night

World Team Tennis

The Breakers' big night features greats Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis. Sportimes edge Newport Beach, 19-17.

July 09, 2011|By Matt Szabo,
(Scott Smeltzer…)

NEWPORT BEACH — Twenty-four years had passed since tennis legend Pete Sampras won a big tournament at The Tennis Club Newport Beach.

The club was called the Balboa Bay Club Racquet Club in 1987, when Sampras, a 15-year-old kid, captured the CIF Individuals singles title as a student at Palos Verdes High.

Sampras returned Saturday night for the Newport Beach Breakers as one of the greatest players in tennis history.

"Someone said I won some event here," Sampras, the 14-time Grand Slam champion, said in a pre-match press conference. "Is that true? I don't [remember] … There's still courts here? They didn't burn it down? Which court [did I win CIF on], do you know?"

Nobody at the press conference knew which court. On the center court during the match Sampras, who turns 40 next month, looked rusty at first in his return. The marquee player recovered to win in men's singles but the Breakers were unable to do the same, falling to former world No. 1 Martina Hingis and the New York Sportimes, 19-17, in overtime.


Newport Beach (3-2) fell to second place in the World Team Tennis Western Conference, a half-game behind St. Louis.

Sampras said before the match that it becomes tougher to serve-and-volley at his age. The serve is still there, the volleys maybe not so much. It's why Breakers Coach Trevor Kronemann said Sampras told him he didn't know what to expect in Saturday's match.

Sampras said he only briefly hit the week leading up to the match.

"Serve-and-volley tennis is not something that's easy to do as you get older," Sampras said. "It's actually much more difficult. To play that explosive tennis is tough on the body … Even when I played on the real tour, it's a tough way to play tennis."

Sampras, who played for Newport Beach in 2006 and '07, was making his only appearance of the season for the Breakers. When he first got on the court a fan told him he was double the player that Roger Federer, who broke Sampras' Grand Slam record, will ever be. The remark brought a smile out of Sampras, who blasted a winner on his first serve.

But he and teammate Travis Rettenmaier were blanked in the set by Jesse Witten and Travis Parrott of New York, 5-0.

"You can see the strokes are there," Kronemann said. "It's an unfortunate thing. Age catches everybody, and the first thing that goes is your feet. That's just the way it is. He's still one of the smoothest strikers of the ball I've ever seen."

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