Capitals open season tonight at home

By: Staff report
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Fresh off a stunning, if not slightly unexpected, sixth WorldTeamTennis title, the Sacramento Capitals will begin defense of its crown tonight at Allstate Stadium at the Galleria in Roseville. The Capitals closed last season with a rousing run through the postseason capturing the league crown in front of its home fans after barely edging into the playoffs. “We kind of snuck in last season,” said seventh-year head coach Wayne Bryan. “But what a run we had once we got going. I feel that this year’s team is even better so there’s no reason we shouldn’t be in contention again.” Joining fourth-year player Sam Warburg and nine-year veteran Elena Likhovtseva will be 15-year old Tammy Hendler and the 6-foot-3 Minnesota native doubles specialist Eric Butorac, who will replace 2007 league MVP Mark Knowles, who will miss the one month season to be with his newborn son, Brody. According to Capitals co-owners Knowles, 37, is interested in returning next season. Warburg, 25, has his sights set high entering tonight’s season opener against the visiting Newport Beach Breakers (7:30 p.m.). “Last year, to end the way we did was awesome,” said Warburg, a Sacramento native who attended high school at Jesuit. “Now we want to do it again and get off to a fast start right away.” Along with Warburg, Likhovtseva will provide a veteran presence for the Capitals’ newcomers Butorac and Hendler. “She’s been around and makes all the right moves,” Warburg said. “She plays smart and hits all the right shots. Eric is a very skilled, dynamic doubles player (currently ranked 54th in the world) and Tammy brings a flashy style that will bring a lot of excitement to the court.” A native of South Africa, Hendler, who is based in Florida and plays for Belgium, will most likely miss both tonight’s and Friday’s match against the Kansas City Explorers because she is currently playing in the Wimbledon girls tournament. She was scheduled to play Wednesday in the third round of the girls singles and the first round of the girls doubles, which could keep her from joining the Capitals until next week. Her temporary replacement will be Olga Puchkova, currently ranked 130th in singles.