World Team Tennis (1985-1991)
Born: 1985 – TeamTennis expansion franchise.
Died: 1991 – The Breakers cease operations.
- 1985-1987: Abel Holtz Stadium (5,100)
- 1986: Boca Grove Plantation
- 1988: Deer Creek Country Club (as South Florida Breakers)
- 1989: Wellington Club West (as Wellington Aces)
- 1990: Abel Holtz Stadium
- 1991: Turnberry Country Club
Team Colors: Light Blue & Pink
The Breakers originally came to Miami Beach in 1985 as an expansion club in Billie Jean King’s TeamTennis under the patronage of Abel Holtz and his family. Holtz was a Cuban exile banker and philanthropist who built a 5,000-seat tennis stadium for the City of Miami Beach in 1983 which bore his name. Holtz’s son Javier ran the club and originally clad the team in light blue and pink, “Miami Vice colors” as the younger Holtz explained to The Sun Sentinel shortly after the team’s formation.
TeamTennis wasn’t a particularly desirable destination for pro tour players at the time. The low budget league offered no base pay, with the league’s 32 players (two men and two women per team for eight member clubs) competing for a $400,000 bonus pool. The Breakers landed the league’s biggest name by drafting the 15-year old Argentinean sensation Gabriella Sabatini and hiring Sabatini’s coach, Patricio Apey as the team’s coach. The Breakers’ other female player would be Mercedes Paz, another Argentinean coached by Apey. But with Sabatini’s star rising by the month, Apey announced that her young protégé would only appear in select TeamTennis matches during the season while continuing to compete in more lucrative and prestigious tour events. Billie Jean King said the commitment to TeamTennis was all or nothing and kicked Sabatini off the Miami Beach roster, which also cost the Breakers’ the services of Apey and Paz two days before the team’s first season began.
The Breakers returned in 1986 with a few big names for the first and only time in their history. Romanian legend Ilie Nastase hired on as player-coach and Rosie Casals and Tim Gullikson offered some name appeal for South Florida tennis aficionados.
The Breakers averaged fewer than 1,000 fans per match in Miami Beach in both 1985 and 1986. The Holtz family sold the team after the 1987 season, which coincided with a complicated series of moves, name changes and franchise shifts under new owner Carl Foster. Foster first moved the team to Deerfield Beach in 1988, renaming the team the “South Florida Breakers“. In 1989, Foster moved north again, this time to Wellington and the team became known as the Wellington Aces. TeamTennis returned to Miami Beach and Abel Holtz Stadium in 1990 with a new team known as the Breakers, even as the Wellington Aces continued to exist.
As I write this, I can’t imagine anyone would remotely care about these distinctions. Anyway, it ceased to matter at the end of the 1991 season when both the Aces and Breakers franchises went out of business.
- Rosie Casals (1986)
- Tim Gullikson (1986)
- Ilie Nastase (1986)
World Team Tennis Media Guides
World Team Tennis Programs
“Breakers May Leave Miami Beach”, Alain Poupart, The Miami News, August 4, 1986