CoCo Vandeweghe to step in for Aviators’ second matchup against Orange County tonight
The Aviators wrapped up a four-game road trip last night with a fierce battle against Southern California rivals the Orange County Breakers. Though the match lasted only an hour and seven minutes, it was tight up until the final set, with lead changes and ties to keep it competitive throughout.
The Aviators took an early lead in mixed doubles, winning the set 5-3, but Orange County bounced back when Yanina Wickmayer overpowered Naomi Broady in women’s singles 5-1 to shift the score in the Breakers’ favor. The Aviators men tied the match score at 11-11 but after a loss in women’s doubles, it was up to the Aviators’ Marcus Willis to close out the match for the team in men’s singles. And close out he did, holding the Breakers’ Marcelo Demoliner to just one game to win the set at 5-1. The Aviators emerged victorious with a final score of 19-17.
This was the first matchup of the season between the Aviators and the Breakers, whose rivalry has culminated in a meeting at the WTT Finals in the past two consecutive seasons. Each walked away with the title once; the Aviators took the King Trophy in 2016 and the Breakers prevailed in 2017. The win was a sweet victory for the Aviators, who may feel they have a score to settle after losing the championship to the Breakers at their last meeting.
Last night’s match was a highlight for a successful trip, though the team got off to a slightly bumpy start with a loss in their first road game versus the Springfield Lasers last Wednesday in Springfield. The Aviators, featuring local hero and World No. 65 Taylor Fritz, trounced the visiting Missouri team in their home opener at La Costa Resort & Spa, but a repeat performance wasn’t to be when the Aviators showed up on Lasers’ home turf. Thought it wasn’t a runaway — the match was pushed to extended play to decide the winner — the Lasers bested the Aviators by two points to take the match.
The Aviators fired back in their second road match against a stacked Kastles team the following night. The Kastles’ star-studded lineup included Mike and Bob Bryan, 2018 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles champ Nicole Melichar, and World No. 42 Frances Tiafoe a meeting that appeared to be stacked in their favor. However, the Aviators were not intimidated, and won every set of the match to log a stunning 25-13 victory over their opponents.
In their third straight road match last Friday night, the Aviators visited the famed Court 17 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York to face the New York Empire. The struggling New York team was seeking its first win of the season, but it wasn’t to be. The match was a close 18-14 with the Aviators leading as they entered the final set, mixed doubles. When the set score pushed to 4-4, it appeared that the Empire might be able to force the match into extended play, but the Aviators bested their opponents in the deciding game to win the set and the match before the Empire had the opportunity to turn their luck around.
Tonight, the Aviators return home, where they’ll welcome the Orange County Breakers and try to take both games from their rival. Orange County has their work cut out for them, though, as the Aviators lineup will feature Rancho Santa Fe resident and World No. 19 CoCo Vandeweghe in the lineup. Vandeweghe returns to the Aviators squad for a second consecutive year. In her 2017 appearance, she teamed up with Fed Cup teammate Shelby Rogers in women’s doubles, fan favorite Raven Klaasen in mixed doubles, and she also played singles, winning all three sets and pushing the Aviators to a win. The opponent? The Orange County Breakers.
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