With a convincing 25-12 victory over the Boston Lobsters on Thursday night, the Washington Kastles are back in the World Team Tennis finals with their sights set on a third consecutive championship.
Standing in their way is the Springfield Lasers who will travel to play at Kastles Stadium on Sunday at 5 p.m., providing a rematch of the 2009 finals. (Tickets still available)
Washington now has a chance for a threepeat and look stronger than ever with 2013 MVP Martina Hingis leading the way.
Hingis was once again the star on Thursday, teaming with Leander Paes to take the first set in mixed doubles by the score of 5-2. The Kastles held serve through the doubles match and broke Eric Butorac at 3-2.
Hingis thanked the crowd for helping them get off to a hot start.
“We knew we had to come out here and lift our game,” she said. “I think we were all able to do that. It was a great atmosphere, our Kastles fans are just amazing. The atmosphere out here, the vibe, it just kind of lifts your game.”
Hingis then combined with Anastasia Rodionova to take the women’s doubles set 5-1. Jill Craybas and Katalin Marosi could only manage to win the latter’s first service game as Hingis and Rodionova dominated throughout with well-placed serves and quick returns.
Paes and Bobby Reynolds helped create further separation with a 5-2 win in men’s doubles in the third set. They broke Amir Weintraub’s serve at 2-1 to pull away, sealing the set on Reynolds’ serve and pushing the overall mark to 15-5.
In the fourth set Hingis dominated the 38-year-old Craybas from the start, taking the first four games. Craybas would break Hingis to take two after going down 4-0, but ended up falling 5-2 overall as the Lobsters fell to a 20-7 deficit.
It was then up to Reynolds – known as ‘The Closer’ – to finish them off. He found trouble in Weintraub, who he had beaten 5-1 just one night before. But Reynolds held on in the overtime game, winning 4-0 on a inside out forehand winner to seal the victory.
The Kastles have now won 11 consecutive matches dating back to their two straight losses earlier this season. They are one win away from winning three consecutive titles and declaring themselves a true dynasty.
Rebounding from what was an uncharacteristic start for the defending champs has head coach Murphy Jensen as proud as ever of his team.
“There is a special thing going on,” he said. “This organization has, in a short time, built a franchise that everyone wants to emulate and everyone wants to beat. That’s a privilege.”
Jensen said the road to the finals with Hingis, who joined the team this offseason, didn’t just start in early July when the regular season schedule began. Hingis formed a bond with her coach and teammates months before.
“She even came to stay at my house back in the spring to get the vibe and see the photographs and trophies from being a part of this team,” Jensen said. “So by the time she got here, she felt part of this team.”
Jensen said Hingis trained with him and other Kastles players at different times during the offseason, all with Sunday’s championship game in mind. Now they have their chance and Jensen knows they still have work ahead of them.
“The philosophy around here is ‘we are never satisfied.’ We are always playing to be perfect. We have a commitment to excellence here.”