NY Empire Fall Back To .500 With Loss to Breakers

Eugenie Bouchard competing for the New York Empire on Thursday night.
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The New York Empire dropped to 5-5 on Thursday night, as the Orange County Breakers held on for a 22-16 win on Court 17 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The Breakers got on the board early as Teymuraz Gabashvili defeated Mardy Fish 5-3 in the Men’s Singles set to open up the scoring.

But New York Empire marquee player Eugenie Bouchard, who was playing one of her two matches with the Empire on Thursday, answered back, breaking Yanina Wickmayer to begin the Women’s Singles set, and went on to win 5-2 to put the Empire ahead 8-7.

“It’s so interesting to be on site at Flushing Meadows without it being the U.S. Open. It’s kind of like preparation in a weird way,” said Bouchard of playing at the National Tennis Center. “It’s obviously different with the colored courts but I thought it was really cool.”

After Gabashvili and Ken Skupski knocked off Fish and Neal Skupski in a tiebreaker in the Men’s Doubles set, the Breakers began to pull away in the match thanks to Women’s Doubles.

Andrea Klepac and Wickmayer paired up to open up a 4-0 lead over Bouchard and Kirsten Flipkens, before New York Empire coach Gigi Fernandez subbed in Maria Sanchez for Bouchard. A game later, Klepac and Wickmayer closed it out to open up a 17-12 lead heading into the final set.

In Mixed Doubles, Skupski and Flipkens tried to lead the Empire back, opening up a 3-1 advantage in hopes of forcing the match into extended play. But Skupski’s older brother, Ken, and Klepac got things back to 3-3, and the set would eventually head into a tiebreaker. The Breakers’ duo built a 4-0 lead in the breaker and went on to close it out to seal the victory for the Breakers.

“It’s a funny thing. I obviously want to win massively, and so does he, but also I feel a bit bad as well. I’m glad the team got a victory, that’s the main thing,” Ken Skupski said of facing his brother. “What helped us [as a team tonight] is we got to practice quite a bit here this morning, and they came from an indoor event yesterday. I think changing from indoors to outdoors is difficult, especially with the conditions here. It’s humid, hot, the ball bounces high. The indoor courts play a little quicker. I think that worked in our favor.”

The NY Empire return to action on Friday night when it hosts the San Diego Aviators at 7:00 p.m.