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Capitals set to defend tennis title

By: Tom Kellar Gold Country News Service
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With his team’s season debut fast approaching, Sacramento Capitals coach Wayne Bryan is excited about the upcoming World Team Tennis season and the Caps’ chances of repeating as league champions after winning a WTT title in 2007. The season begins July 3 at home and will mark Bryan’s seventh year at the helm. Last year’s championship was the second during Bryan’s tenure with Sacramento and he’s been named WTT coach of the year three times. “I love coaching the Caps,” Bryan said. “I think it’s the best franchise in World Team Tennis, without question. We have great staff, great ownership and great volunteers. I love our team and our fan base is amazing. We draw close to 4,000 people each and every match and they really root for us.” The team, which opens its season against the Newport Beach Breakers, plays all home matches at the Westfield Galleria in Roseville. This year’s squad consists of two veterans and two players new to the Sacramento region. The vets are Elena Likhovtseva and Sam Warburg. Likhovtseva has been a Caps mainstay for seven seasons, three times winning league MVP honors, while Warburg, a former Jesuit High School and Stanford University star, will be entering his fourth season for the home team. Warburg seems to be playing some of the best tennis of his career, having recently defeated three Top 100 players at the Sony Ericsson Open. “Sam grew up in Sacramento, and used to sneak into Caps matches when he was a little guy,” a smiling Bryan said. “Now he plays for our team after being an All-American at Stanford. He was one of the top singles and doubles players in the league last season and I’m predicting that he’ll be the league MVP this year.” Likhovtseva, from Moscow, Russia, has been a consistent performer for the Caps and is a crowd favorite. “Elena’s been ranked as high as four in the world in doubles and 16 in singles,” Bryan said. “All the little girls in town love her and she’s a pleasure to have on the team.” The newcomers are Tammy Hendler, from Belgium, and Eric Butorac. Butorac turned pro in 2003 and has three career ATP titles. Hendler is currently the fifth-ranked junior player in the world. “Tammy is just 15 years old and one of the hottest prospects in the world,” Bryan said. “We think she’s going to play great.” The Caps season is nearly a month long, giving Bryan a small window to work with in terms of helping polish the skills of his players, but it’s a role he relishes. “I’m not going to try and reinvent the wheel with these players,” Bryan said. “But I’m looking for two or three little pieces of gold bullion (advice) that I can give them that will make a great difference in their game.” In typical Bryan fashion, the coach exudes confidence. “You can never guarantee a championship,” Bryan said. “But we think we’re going to be in the mix and our team will give everything it’s got.” Notes: Granite Bay’s Dmitry Tursunov, currently the No. 31 ranked player in the world, joins the Caps on July 11, when the team takes on the Springfield Lasers. Lindsay Davenport comes this way with the Newport Beach Breakers when they return to Roseville July 12. For tickets and information go online to www.gocaps.net.