Venus Williams leads Washington Kastles to another title

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Venus Williams leads Washington Kastles to another title

CHARLESTON, S.C. Right from the start, the Sacramento Capitals let the Washington Kastles know that defending their World Team Tennis title would not come easy. In the end, aided by the clutch play of seven time Grand Slam Champion, Venus Williams, the Kastles edged the Capitals 20-19 giving the squad back-to-back WTT titles.It was deja vu all over again, as the Kastles found themselves tied with their opponents going into the final event, women's singles. After battling it out to reach 4 all, Venus Williams and CoCo Vandeweghe headed to a tiebreaker. Sacramento would get an early 2-0 off of Williams's unforced errors, but Venus 'refusing to lose' won the next five consecutive points.As a result of her thrilling performance, Venus Williams, earned the tournaments Most Valuable Player honors.I have been waiting for this title for 12 years. When I was down 2-0 (in the tiebreaker), I was inspired by what I saw in my team. I could not let up. I was going to win that last point for the team. Its everything I imagined.Accolades also went to the Kastles regular closer Bobby Reynolds, who was named the 2012 WTT Male Most Valuable Player. Kastles Coach Murphy Jensen was selected as 2012 Coach of the Year, marking the second straight season.To bring the King Trophy back to DC is the best feeling of my life, said Kastles coach Murphy Jensen. This season and these players has shown the power of teamwork. We have truly become a family.This victory puts the Kastles in an elite category as the only team in professional sports (and WTT) history to have two consecutive perfect seasons. The team is also one win away from tying the all-time unbeaten major professional sports streak of 33 wins, set by the NBAs 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers.

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4-star DeMatha OL Marcus Minor to commit on CSN Sunday evening

4-star DeMatha OL Marcus Minor to commit on CSN Sunday evening

Four-star DeMatha (Md.) offensive lineman Marcus Minor will announce his college decision during the 6 p.m. edition of SportsNet Central Sunday on CSN. 

Minor, rated by Rivals.com as the No. 38 overall prospect at his position in the nation by Rivals.com, will choose between Auburn, Florida, Maryland, Miami and Virginia Tech.

Watch his highlights below:

MORE TERPS: INSIDE MARYLAND'S OFFSEASON TRAINING PROGRAM

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2016-17 NHL Season Preview: New Jersey Devils

2016-17 NHL Season Preview: New Jersey Devils

It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.

Team: New Jersey Devils

How they did last season: 38-36-8 (84 points), 7th in the Metropolitan, 12th in the Eastern Conference. Did not make the playoffs.

Notable acquisitions: C Vernon Fiddler, D Ben Lovejoy, LW Taylor Hall, RW Beau Bennett, D Brandon Gormley

Notable departures: D David Schlemko, D Adam Larsson

When they will play the Caps: Dec. 29 in Washington; Dec. 31 in New Jersey; Jan. 26 in New Jersey; March 2 in Washington

Analysis: The New Jersey Devils have finished in the bottom four in terms of goals per game in each of the past four seasons and finally bottomed out in 2015-16, finishing dead last with only 2.22 goals per game. So the Devils’ priority this offseason was no secret, they needed to get better offensively.

To address that, the Devils pulled off one of the biggest heists of the offseason, acquiring Taylor Hall, a player who has registered 50 or more points in four of his six NHL seasons, for defenseman Adam Larsson.

That’s a steal. With all due respect to Larsson, the fact that general manager Ray Shero was able to get Hall without giving up more than just one player is stunning.

There’s also hope that prospect Pavel Zacha, the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft, will be able to make the jump to the NHL this year. Don’t expect the Devils to turn into the 2010 Caps, but there’s no reason to expect them to remain among the league’s worst offenses either.

As good as the trade for Hall was, the downside is that the defense in New Jersey will likely take a step back. Larsson was among the team’s top defensemen last season and was second on the Devils in ice time. Having a goalie like Corey Schneider, however, will certainly help. While a team never wants to rely on a goalie to carry a defense, it’s easier to mask a bad defense with a good goalie than it is to mask a bad offense with...well, a good goalie.

Season prediction: New Jersey had no scoring last season in John Hynes' first season as head coach, but that was a roster issue, not a coaching one. In fact, the Devils were much more competitive than I anticipated given the team’s roster and finished just 12 points out of the last playoff spot.

There’s no question the defense has taken a step back, but the offense has taken a major step forward. It’s up to Hynes now to show what he can do with it.

This roster is still not good enough to reach the playoffs, but the Devils look like they are headed in the right direction.

2016-2017 NHL TEAM PREVIEWS

Pacific Division
— Anaheim Ducks
— Arizona Coyotes
— Calgary Flames
— Edmonton Oilers
— Los Angeles Kings
— San Jose Sharks
— Vancouver Canucks

Central Division
— Chicago Blackhawks
— Colorado Avalanche
— Dallas Stars
— Minnesota Wild
— Nashville Predators
— St. Louis Blues
— Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
— Detroit Red Wings
— Florida Panthers
— Montreal Canadiens
— Ottawa Senators
— Tampa Bay Lightning
— Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division
Carolina Hurricanes
Columbus Blue Jackets
— New York Islanders (coming Aug. 26)
— New York Rangers (coming Aug. 27)
— Philadelphia Flyers (coming Aug. 28)
— Pittsburgh Penguins (coming Aug. 29)
— Washington Capitals (coming Aug. 30)

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LB Za'Darius Smith among those not playing Saturday

LB Za'Darius Smith among those not playing Saturday

OWINGS MILLS – Add outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith to the list of Ravens not expected to play Saturday night. Head coach John Harbaugh said Smith had an ankle issue that would keep him out against the Lions. Smith was not at practice Thursday.

Others not expected to play against the Lions include outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman, left guard John Urschel, tight ends Dennis Pitta and Maxx Williams, safety Kendrick Lewis, cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Jerraud Powers, and defensive tackle Brandon Williams. All of them are at various stages of dealing with injuries.

RELATED: FLACCO LOOKS FORWARD TO PLAYING, BUT NOT GETTING HIT

Perriman returned to practice this week, but head coach John Harbaugh did not commit to playing Perriman after Thursday’s walkthrough practice.

“We’ll see, it’s up to the doctors,” Harbaugh said of Perriman. “He hasn’t gone full speed in practice yet. Today was not a full speed practice for anybody.”

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is not expected to play either, because he just returned to practice this week after offseason foot surgery. With Suggs, Dumervil, and Smith out of the lineup, Saturday should present an opportunity for pass rushers like Matt Judon, Chris Carter, and Victor Ochi to get extra reps.

MORE RAVENS: PERRIMAN HOPES TO IMPRESS WITH SPEED AND HANDS