In what may have been one of the most exciting matches of the Mylan World TeamTennis season in Forest Hills, the Orange County Breakers edged the New York Empire 19-17 on Thursday night.
With the victory, the Breakers clinch a spot in the Mylan WorldTeam Tennis Finals on August 26 at Forest Hills Stadium at West Side Tennis Club.
Former Bellmore JFK High School standout Scott Lipsky was on court first as he paired with Alla Kudryavtseva to take on the Empire’s Christina McHale and Neal Skupski in the Mixed Doubles set.
After six straight games of holds, Lipsky and Kudryavtseva broke McHale’s serve, and Kudryavtseva held her serve in the ensuing game to close out the set 5-3.
But McHale would respond in the Women’s Doubles set next, partnering with Maria Irigoyen to down Kudryavtseva and Nicole Gibbs 5-2, pushing the Empire ahead 8-7.
Marcus Willis then took to the court against Dennis Novikov in the Men’s Singles set and got the New York crowd fired up. He broke Novikov in the second game, using a mix of power and drop shots to energize the building, going on to beat Novikov 5-2 to extend the Empire lead to 13-9.
“I love the team atmosphere, it’s a lot fun and it’s competitive,” Willis said of the Mylan World TeamTennis format. “I think tennis should be fun. You don’t see a lot of smiles on tour these days, and we have a pretty nice life. So this is a great way to get on court and play some of the good players.”
Gibbs came out for the Women’s Singles set for the Breakers and played an extremely clean set. She took the first three games against McHale before Empire coach Patrick McEnroe subbed in Irigoyen, and Gibbs outstanding play continued, winning the final two games against Irigoyen to take the set 5-0.
With the Breakers leading 14-13 heading into the final set, the match would be decided by the Men’s Doubles set, as Willis and Skupski faced Lipsky and Novikov. Each player held in their respective service game to force the set into a deciding 10-point tiebreaker.
From 2-2 in the breaker, the Breakers won the final three points, punctuated by a blistering backhand from Lipsky, to seal the victory.
“It was a fun match out there. We were down but Nicole [Gibbs] played a great fourth set to give us a chance,” said Lipsky. “We knew going into our match that if we could force it into a tiebreaker, the worst that would happen would be a supertiebreaker. We were able to play a couple of good points in that breaker to get the win.”
With the victory, coupled with the Philadelphia Freedoms losing on Thursday, the Breakers clinch their spot in the World TeamTennis finals on August 26.
Orange County Breakers def. New York Empire 19-17
►Mixed Doubles - Alla Kudryavtseva\Scott Lipsky (Breakers) def. Christina McHale\Neal Skupski (Empire) 5-3
►Women's Doubles - Maria Irigoyen\Christina McHale (Empire) def. Nicole Gibbs\Alla Kudryavtseva (Breakers) 5-2
►Men's Singles - Marcus Willis (Empire) def. Dennis Novikov (Breakers) 5-2
►Women's Singles - Nicole Gibbs (Breakers) def. Maria Irigoyen (Empire) 5-0
►Men's Doubles - Scott Lipsky\Dennis Novikov (Breakers) def. Neal Skupski\Marcus Willis (Empire) 5-4