The New York Empire presented by Citi held a 19-14 lead over the Orange County (CA) Breakers heading into the men’s singles and final set but a furious comeback by the Breakers forced tonight’s match into extended play before the Empire squeaked out a 23-21 win.
Holding a solid 14-10 lead, the NY Empire’s Mardy Fish and Neal Skupski took the court for the men’s doubles and fourth set against the Breakers Teymuraz Gabashvili and Ken Skupski, Neal’s older brother. While the elder Skupski made his presence known alongside Gabashvili by forcing a tiebreaker, the younger brother and Fish earned the set, 5-4, extending the Empire’s lead to 19-14.
Fish and Gabashvili looked like two heavyweight boxers exchanging blows during the men’s singles and final set, with long rallies covering nearly every inch of the court. Gabashvili earned the fifth-set win, 5-3, taking the match into extended play.
In the end, however, it was Fish reeling in one game during extended play, stopping the Breakers and earning the 23-21 win. The NY Empire improves to 3-2 while the Breakers move to 1-3.
The New York Empire begin a seven-day road trip with four matches visiting the Breakers, San Diego Aviators, Philadelphia Freedoms and the Washington Kastles before returning home to Court 17.
Genie Bouchard takes the court on Thursday and Friday, July 27 and 28, for the NY Empire and will face the Breakers and Aviators, respectively. The Kastles visit Court 17 on Sunday, July 30 before the NY Empire closes out its home schedule on Monday, July 31 with Fan Appreciation Night against the Springfield Lasers. All matches begin at 7 p.m.except for Sunday, July 30, which begins at 5 p.m.