Capitals open season with two home losses

Sacramento’s first victory comes on road
By: Tom Kellar Gold Country News Service
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Blame it on the wind, or possibly opening-night jitters, but the season-opening World Team Tennis match between the Sacramento Capitals and the Newport Beach Breakers – at Allstate Stadium in Roseville – will not go down as one of the great nights in tennis history. The Breakers prevailed 21-16 in a contest that featured no fewer than 26 double faults July 3 with 2,342 in attendance. Sacramento fell behind early when the mixed-doubles team of Eric Butorac and Elena Likhovtseva went down two games to none, eventually losing their match 5-1. The Caps’ Olga Puchova won her singles match against Angelika Bachmann 5-3, but the pair combined for 13 double-faults, not exactly a recipe for riveting tennis. Puchkova – who was subbing for 15-year-old Tammy Hendler – did exhibit some powerful passing shots during her victory over Bachmann, however. “I had a problem getting used to it because I came from Wimbledon where it is grass and here it is hard surface,” Puchkova said. “But it’s fun, a new experience for me and I’m happy to have won the match.” Even with Puchkova’s win, the Caps still trailed by two games when the Breakers’ Ramon Delgado took on Sacramento’s Sam Warburg in men’s singles. Delgado was able to widen the breakers’ lead with a 5-3 win over Warburg, but both players did an excellent job of getting to each others’ ground strokes, making for some long rallies and spectator-friendly tennis. It was a long night for Likhovtseva, who seemed to struggle with her game the most, on numerous occasions committing unforced errors. She and Puchkova lost their women’s doubles match 5-2. Down 18-11, Caps fans finally had reason to cheer when Warburg and Butorac steamrolled Delgado and Kaes Vant Hoff 5-2, sending the match into overtime. One of the quirks of World Team Tennis is that the winning team must win the last set of a match before the contest is over. In OT, Delgado held serve, putting the match into the win column for Newport Beach. “We knew we had a chance to bring the match back and we gave it everything we could,” Warburg said. “It’s the first time that we’ve played together, but I’ve seen Buty (Butorac) play a lot, he has a lot of energy and I really fed off that.” Breakers coach Trevor Kronemann was happy to see his team start the season on the right foot. “Tonight we played really well,” Kronemann said. “Obviously, Sacramento is a place where you want to pick up a win. They are the class of the league just about every year and it’s always important to pick up a win on the road against Sacramento and get off to a good start.” Sacramento followed up this season-opening loss with a home loss, 22-21, to the Kansas City Explorers Friday. The Capitals (1-2) picked up their first win of the season Monday, 22-21, against the host St. Louis Aces. Sacramento’s Butorac and Warburg teamed up to win the final set of the night. The Capitals visited the Springfield (Mo.) Lasers Tuesday and got a rematch with the Explorers Wednesday.