Washington Kastles Win 33rd Straight; Continue March into Sports History
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 8, 2013) They used new players, a new strategy and then closed with longtime heroes, the same First Lady Michelle Obama cheering in the stands and the same result: the Mylan World TeamTennis’ champion Washington Kastles won their 33rd straight match today, earning the team a share of professional sports’ much vaunted unbeaten record and continuing their march into sports history.
Led by newly acquired Martina Hingis and Kevin Anderson, the Kastles opened their season at Kastles Stadium on the Wharf with a 23-15 victory over archrivals the New York Sportimes. Hingis was the 2012 Mylan WTT Female MVP last year as a member of the Sportimes.
The 33-match Kastles unbeaten streak ties the mark set by the NBA 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. On Tuesday, the Kastles face the Boston Lobsters as they move to set an unprecedented 34 win undefeated streak sports mark; the Lobsters are the last team to defeat the Kastles on July 22, 2010, in the final match of the 2010 regular season.
“This is one of the most fantastic moments I can ever imagine,” team owner Mark Ein said. “We have always promised Washington exciting tennis and Washington has joined with us in refusing to lose. I am thrilled for this fantastic group of tennis players, for those who have supported us and for our contribution to Washington’s great sports history.”
Kastles coach Murphy Jensen changed his lineup and his traditional order of matches for home contest, starting with Anderson in men’s singles. Backed by three aces, Anderson defeated the Sportimes Jesse Witten 5-2.
Hingis, in her Kastles’ debut, then defeated Anna-Lena Groenefeld 5-1.
“I was nervous and it was weird at the beginning playing my old team. I shook it off,” Hingis said. “It was my first match. I was nervous. You get out there and then get going.”
Mixed doubles was next and, for the first time in his coaching the Kastles, Jensen took advantage of WTT rules permitting substitution. He started Anderson – and his big serve – with Hingis, against Robert Kendrick and Kveta Peschke. He then substituted Kastles’s captain and double star Leander Paes after Anderson played the first game – the same strategy Sacramento used against the Kastles in last year’s 2012 championship match. Anderson played for Sacramento last season.
Washington won mixed doubles in a tiebreaker, 5-4.
Hingis and Anastasia Rodionova then lost to Groenefeld and Peschke 5-3 to put the Kastles at 18-12 going into men’s doubles to close the match. “They are the best doubles team in the world,” Hingis said. “We tried to have a big lead coming into that one.”
Paes and Kastles’ closer Bobby Reynolds spotted Kendrick and Witten a lead in the final set, then gutted out a 5-3 win to seal the 23-15 victory.
“If a team is going to beat us, they are going to have to work very hard,” Paes said. “We are putting in the hours of practice. when you look at our bench, it is a bench of champions. Everyone is doing what we do best.”
As for being asked to seal the win, Paes said: “Very happy to close. We are all hungry to take the ball.”
Reynolds, the 2012 Mylan WTT Male MVP, said “Ever since last season finished I’ve been looking forward to getting back and finishing this. Every night is a new match and that’s how you have to approach it.”
The Kastles are a strong favorite to win their third consecutive Mylan WTT title and their fourth King Trophy in five years. Only two other WTT teams have won three or more championships: the Sacramento Capitals, with six, and the Los Angeles Strings, with three. The Kastles are the only WTT team to post a perfect season and the only major sports team in history to have consecutive perfect seasons.
New York has been one of the Kastles’ toughest foes over the last two seasons and Monday’s match was typical of the bruising court battles that have thrilled fans repeatedly.
“I reminded them of what we do as a team – that is how we win,” Jensen said. “Each point, each game, each set we have a team focus. That remains our way of playing.”
After Tuesday’s match with Boston, the Kastles will again be at home on July 11, and July 17, against the Springfield Lasers, featuring former world No. 1 and U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick; July 20 against the Sportimes; July 22 against the Philadelphia Freedom, and July 24 against the Lobsters. WTT conference championships are July 25 with the WTT championship set for July 28 on the home court of the Eastern Conference winner.
Said Hingis: “It was my first match. I was nervous. You get out there and then get going.” And about Boston? “I’m warmed up now,” she said with a smile.