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Stars bring the crowds to the Capitals

Chang, Knowles can’t deliver win on the Allstate Stadium court
By: Brett Ransford, Special to The Press Tribune
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The return of Mark Knowles and the arrival of Michael Chang attracted a crowd of 2,211 to Allstate Stadium at Westfield Galleria on a beautiful night Friday. The atmosphere was great despite the Sacramento Capitals 25-17 loss to the Newport Beach Breakers. Mark Knowles rejoined the Capitols after his successful trip to Wimbledon where he and German teammate Anna-Lena Groenfeld were crowned the mixed doubles champions. 2008 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Michael Chang also made his only Sacramento appearance, but lost in singles 5-4 to reigning WTT MVP Ramon Delgado. He also lost in men’s doubles 5-3 along with Knowles. Chang said the WTT is a complete transition to shorter sets and quicker style of play. “It’s tough to counter Ramon’s serve,” said Chang. “I’m not going to bomb a 140 mile-per-hour serve, but I think I moved pretty well on the court.” Fans were privileged to see Capitals player Angela Haynes fresh off her recent women’s singles victory over Venus Williams in Philadelphia. It was a tough loss for Haynes, 5-3 to Marie-Eve Pelletier. Haynes had her opponent beat on serves and tied at 3-3, and it looked hopeful for the first win of the night for the Caps. Pelletier was able, however, to take advantage of Haynes close on the net with well placed passing shots. In women’s doubles, Haynes and teammate Coco Vanderweghe lost the nine-point tiebreak and the set 5-4. Vanderweghe was all over the court with volley after volley stretching out for returns across court. The set ended rather anticlimactically on her only double fault. Mixed doubles was the last set of the match. Knowles and Vanderweghe were unsuccessful by a narrow 5-4 loss on another tiebreak. The frustration for Knowles set up 4-2 when they couldn’t handle Julie Ditty and Kaes Vant Hoff’s aggressive serves. Overall the Caps match drew an excited and supportive crowd. A couple of fans wearing body and face paint remained uniquely vocal. Young fans lined up to meet Chang before the match at his press conference. “I have enjoyed tennis over the last 3 or 4 months more so than I have in quite a while,” Chang said prior to the match. “It’s exciting to be back out on the courts again. I haven’t always been successful but I’ve always given my best. Hopefully in 15 or 16 years I inspired people to go out on the court, to accept challenges and just try.” This loss dropped to Capitals to 3-2 and into third place in the Western Conference. Subsequent losses have left the team with a record of 3-4, still good for third position heading into Tuesday night’s match at last-place Kansas City.