The Orange County Breakers got back on track after a loss on Sunday and earned their third win in their last four matches by defeating the New York Empire 24-15 on Monday in an East Coast-West Coast battle at The Greenbrier.
There was no feeling out process required in men’s singles, as Steve Johnson and Jack Sock have competed almost a dozen times as professionals with Johnson holding a 6-5 head-to-head advantage over Sock at the challenger and tour level. The duo also teamed up to earn a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in men’s doubles.
Both players faced just one break point in the set, with the server in both situations able to hold serve and win the two deciding points. The former world No. 8 Sock won the battle of kick serves and heavy forehands to earn a 5-1 win in the tiebreaker.
Former UCLA standout Jennifer Brady was coming off a dominant win in her last match over Christina McHale and looked to carry the momentum. Former world No. 1 Kim Clijsters was sidelined and the Empire turned to 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki in women’s singles.
Brady took advantage of Lisicki’s tentativeness and remained aggressive throughout the set, winning all eight points on her first serve to earn a second consecutive 5-0 win in singles.
“I was playing each game as a fresh start, playing every point the same and committing to my shots and playing my game,” Brady said. “When you’re able to get a 5-0 or 5-1 win, it puts a little more pressure on the other team.”
Men’s doubles featured four highly skilled doubles players and the strategies of each team mirrored each other. Johnson and Sock looked for opportunities to dictate from the baseline, while Austin Krajicek and Neal Skupski looked to make an impact in transition and at net.
With neither team earning a break of serve, the turning point came at 2-1 in the tiebreaker where Johnson struck a two-handed backhand return winner up the line off Sock’s second serve to grab the crucial mini-break en route to him and Krajicek capturing the tiebreaker 5-1.
Entering halftime with the lead for only the second time this season, Orange County turned to mid-season signees Gaby Dabrowski and Krajicek to extend the lead. The accomplished doubles players did just that, saving three break points on Krajicek’s serve at 0-1 before earning the only break in the set the following game via a deciding point.
A double substitution was then made by Empire coach Luke Jensen, with Kveta Peschke and Skupski replaced by Sock and Lisicki in attempt to salvage the set. The duo did erase a 0-40 deficit in one of their service games, however Krajicek and Dabrowski utilized the break they earned to win 5-3.
2017 WTT Female MVP Andreja Klepac and Dabrowski then rebounded from their loss the previous day to defeat Peschke and Liscki in women’s doubles, earning another 5-3 win for the Breakers.
While the Empire smashed 10 aces across the five sets, they also double faulted 10 times. The Breakers meanwhile hit three aces and had just two double faults.
New York plays the Springfield Lasers on Tuesday, July 21 at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT on Facebook Watch and the CBS Sports Digital app. Later tomorrow night, the Breakers take on the Vegas Rollers at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on CBS Sports Network
ORANGE COUNTY BREAKERS defeat New York Empire, 24-15
Men’s Singles – Jack Sock (Empire) def. Steve Johnson (Breakers), 5-4
Women’s Singles – Jenn Brady (Breakers) def. Sabine Lisicki (Empire), 5-0
Men’s Doubles – Johnson/Austin Krajicek (Breakers) def. Neal Skupski/Sock (Empire), 5-4
Mixed Doubles – Krajicek/Gaby Dabrowski (Breakers) def. *Sock/Lisicki (Empire), 5-3
Women’s Doubles – Andreja Klepac/Dabrowski (Breakers) def. Lisicki/Peschke (Empire), 5-3
*Sabine Lisicki was substituted for Kveta Peschke and Jack Sock for Neal Skupski at 1-2 in the Mixed Doubles set
Orange County native Parsa Nemati is in his third season as a beat writer for the Breakers. Follow him on Twitter at @Parsa_Nemati for his coverage of junior, college, and pro tennis.