The Newport Beach Breakers franchise is moving its home matches to UC Irvine this summer and changing its name, World Team Tennis announced Wednesday.
The franchise is now known as the Orange County Breakers. Home matches will be played on a specially-designed court at the Bren Events Center, on the campus of UCI.
Breakers Coach Trevor Kronemann, also the men's tennis coach at UCI, said he has been working hard behind the scenes to move the Breakers' home matches to the campus of his alma mater. The Bren is an indoor facility with a capacity of nearly 5,000 for basketball games.
The past two years, the Breakers had played at The Tennis Club Newport Beach. The temporary stadium there had a capacity of 1,800.
"It's just a perfect fit," Kronemann said of playing matches at UCI, noting that the Bren has a large parking structure right next to it. "I think it's a great opportunity to showcase Southern California tennis. There can't be a better spot to have it."
The Orange County Breakers will also be run by a new general manager, Kerry Schneider, who replaces Jeff Purser. The Breakers are now managed solely by WTT and no longer by Hoag Hospital, which had managed the franchise since 2007. World Team Tennis continues to own the franchise.
Schneider has been the World Team Tennis director of marketing and sponsorship services, and recently moved to the West Coast to take on her GM duties with the Breakers.
"Our rebranding as the Orange County Breakers and the move to the Bren Center in centrally located Irvine better aligns the team with the entire Orange County community," Schneider said in a release. "The Bren Center has hosted a number of high profile events, including several World TeamTennis matches, so we know they will be a great home for the Breakers and our fans."
The Breakers have played in Newport Beach since their inception in 2003, first at the Palisades Tennis Club and later at a stadium in the parking lot of the Newport Beach Country Club. From 1990-94, Newport Beach also had a WTT franchise, the Dukes.
Previously, Orange County had franchises in the Anaheim Oranges and California Oranges.
The Bren has already played host to Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King's annual WTT Smash Hits charity event in 2004 and 2006. When the Breakers were set to debut in 2003, there were already talks of eventually moving the franchise to the Bren Center.
"Part of this, if it grows like it can, is to move it out," Palisades Tennis Club owner Ken Stuart said in a Daily Pilot article from Jan. 21, 2003. "And I want to support a move out ... if it moves to the Bren Center, how wonderful would that be? If they've got to sell 4,000 or 5,000 tickets, they can accommodate it. But I can't speak to that yet, because we've chosen to crawl before we can walk. We are trying to make this a community event as much as we can."
Kronemann, who will be entering his sixth year as Breakers coach, believes the franchise may be ready to walk. Indoor matches are nothing new to Kronemann, entering his 21st World Team Tennis Year as a player or coach. He remembers that there were matches at the Anaheim Convention Center, and also at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim — now the Honda Center — when it was a new venue.
"I think the atmosphere can be a lot rowdier and a lot louder," Kronemann said.
The Breakers will begin building their 2012 lineup Tuesday, when the league holds its marquee player draft beginning at 9 a.m.