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Szabo: Breakers clinic is tons of fun

Tennis

July 23, 2013|By Matt Szabo
(SCOTT SMELTZER…)

I reacted quickly last month when Meg Broccolo, the Orange County Breakers' director of community relations and communications, asked me to participate in the Breakers' tennis clinic for season-ticket holders. I immediately said yes.

But when Tuesday afternoon came at the UC Irvine tennis courts, I became a bit nervous. After all, I didn't want to embarrass myself. Watching a lot of tennis for my job and playing the sport are two totally different things.

I do have a background in tennis. I follow the sport, and I played for three years at Monrovia High. My junior year, I was part of the No. 1 doubles team. My senior year, I played at No. 3 singles.

That was about 15 years ago now. I've played here and there since then, but mostly you could say I traded my synthetic gut strings for a real gut. I've joined tennis meet-up groups from time to time, but my participation in those groups ended when I stopped, well, meeting up.

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Yet myself and about 20 Breakers season-ticket holders had lots of fun. Everyone from the Breakers was there, from General Manager Kerry Schneider and Coach Trevor Kronemann to players Steve Johnson, Treat Huey, Maria Elena Camerin and Liga Dekmeijere.

For a few minutes there, Dekmeijere and I formed quite a team in doubles. She just turned 30 in May, so maybe it was a 30-plus club thing. I'm not exaggerating when I say that she high-fived me three times (yes, I counted).

If I ever stop this sportswriting gig, I would like to play doubles with Dekmeijere.

The players could have been in a bad mood. The Breakers (6-7) have lost four straight matches headed into Wednesday's home finale against Springfield, and fallen out of playoff contention. But no, they were all smiles during both their team practice in the Bren Events Center and the ensuing clinic on the outside courts.

Kronemann, the UC Irvine men's tennis coach who is nicknamed "Tank," impressed with his doubles play during the practice. Someone told him they heard he was playing in Wednesday's season finale.

"I heard that, too," Johnson said to Kronemann, who started waving his finger "no" like shot-blocker Dikembe Mutombo did back in the day.

After the practice was the clinic. Kronemann spoke, thanking the season ticket-holders for their support.

Huey piped up, saying next year would be the Breakers' year. Johnson, as usual, had a quip.

"Kerry's not drafting you next year," he told Huey.

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