2012 Kastles Season Starts TonightJuly 9, 2012 - World TeamTennis (WTT) Washington Kastles
The 2012 Kastles' team is an unprecedented collection of tennis champions, Olympians and sports icons. Five of six players from the perfect team of 2011 and Coach Murphy Jensen are returning to the Kastles, who have won 65 Grand Slam titles in total.
Four Washington players will be representing their countries this summer at the 2012 London Olympic Games, including Leander Paes of India and Anastasia Rodionova of Australia, who will both be in action for the Kastles tonight.
After road matches at Orange County and Springfield, Washington comes home to Kastles Stadium at The Wharf on Thursday night at 7:00 pm for the latest chapter of its lengthy rivalry with the New York Sportimes. A capacity crowd is expected, so don't delay in purchasing tickets. All attendees get a commemorative Kastles' championship T-shirt courtesy of GEICO.
Lots of great players, rivalries and Wimbledon champions Venus and Serena Williams also highlight the home schedule, with Venus leading the team on July 16th and Serena on July 22nd. Tickets to all seven sensational summer nights on the Southwest Waterfront are going fast. Secure your seats by visiting Ticketmaster.com today.
The Kastles' 2012 campaign gets started tonight in California, but you don't have to travel cross-country to enjoy the match. Visit WashingtonKastles.com beginning at 10 p.m. for live streaming as the Kastles eye their 17th victory in a row.
Former World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport will lead the new-look Breakers, who revamped their roster from top to bottom during the off-season. She and the Kastles' Paes are on board the same last-minute flight to Orange County after competing in Wimbledon finals on Sunday.
Paes and Elena Vesnina fell in the mixed doubles championship match, while Davenport and Martina Hingis of the Sportimes captured the ladies' invitation doubles title. Which of the veterans copes best with jet-lag will be a key to tonight's intriguing match.
Tonight's match also marks the Kastles' debut of Anastasia Rodionova, older sister to Arina and current World No. 26 in the WTA doubles rankings. Rodionova previously played with the Breakers in 2005 and 2006.
Men's Singles: Bobby Reynolds (WAS) vs. John-Patrick Smith (OCB)
Women's Singles: Anastasia Rodionova (WAS) vs. Anna-Lena Groenefeld (OCB)
Men's Doubles: Reynolds/Leander Paes (WAS) vs. Smith/Travis Parrott (OCB)
Women's Doubles: An. Rodionova/Arina Rodionova (WAS) vs. Groenefeld/Lindsay Davenport (OCB)
Mixed Doubles: Paes/An. Rodionova (WAS) vs. Parrott/Davenport (OCB)
Leander Paes won the World TeamTennis Male MVP award in 2009 & 2011.
(Photo by Susan Mullane/Camerawork USA)
SET BY SET
Welcome to World TeamTennis, John-Patrick Smith. The University of Tennessee alum was a college sensation before graduating in 2011, beating out the likes of Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton to clinch SEC Male Athlete of the Year honors as a senior. Kastles' closer Bobby Reynolds is also a former All-American from a college in the Volunteer State, leaving Vanderbilt University in 2003 as the top-ranked player in the nation. He and Smith each arrive in Orange County after playing at the ATP Challenger Tour event last week in Winnetka, Ill., where Smith upset Reynolds in straight sets. Will the Kastle avenge himself?
The travels of Reynolds and Smith pale in comparison to how far Lindsay Davenport is going to get to the WTT season opener. From a Wimbledon final on Sunday to World TeamTennis on Monday, it's hard to envision Davenport having the legs for women's singles against Anastasia Rodionova. Expect to see Anna-Lena Groenefeld, take on the new Kastle. Once ranked No. 14 in the world in singles, Groenefeld has not played one singles match on the WTA Tour this season, concentrating exclusively on doubles. She defeated Rodionova 7-5, 6-2 in their only previous meeting, but that match came all the way back in qualifying of the 2003 US Open.
Reynolds and 13-time Grand Slam champion Leander Paes finished the 2011 WTT season as the league's top-ranked men's doubles team. Smith and Travis Parrott have never played a single point together before. But the Kastles should not underestimate their opponents, especially Parrott. As a member of the New York Sportimes, the former World No. 25 Parrott went 2-1 against Reynolds and Paes in 2011. The Kastles ultimately overcame those losses by defeating Parrott and John McEnroe, and then Parrott and Jesse Witten, in Supertiebreakers.
Like their male counterparts, Anastasia and Arina Rodionova enter tonight's match with plenty of experience. They are sisters -- after all -- and have reached six semifinals and one final in 19 WTA events as a team. Davenport and Groenefeld's only time on court together has been as opponents: the American winning in doubles and the German in singles. But individually, they are each talented 2-on-2 players. Davenport attained the No. 1 ranking in the world in both singles and doubles, capturing three Grand Slam titles in both disciplines. Groenefeld is currently ranked No. 28 in the world in doubles, having won 11 WTA titles.
While the mixed doubles match-up will almost certainly pit Paes against Parrott, it's hard to say which women Kastles' coach Murphy Jensen and Breakers' front-man Trevor Kronemann will choose to participate. Paes has never played with either Rodionova sister, having been accustomed to teaming with the retired Rennae Stubbs since joining the Kastles in 2009. Parrott will be equally unfamiliar with Davenport and Groenefeld, but he does share something in common with the German. Both Parrott (US Open) and Groenefeld (Wimbledon) defeated Paes in 2009 Grand Slam mixed doubles finals.
Lindsay Davenport won the World TeamTennis Female MVP award in 1997 & 2010.
KEY FOR THE KASTLES - BRING BACK THAT LOVING FEELING
The Kastles' team tonight features three of the four players who captured the King Trophy last July in Charleston, S.C. The Breakers field a foursome of newcomers to Orange County.
But Parrott, Davenport and Groenefeld have all played WTT before, and Smith was the ultimate team player in his four years as a Volunteer.
With the world watching on WashingtonKastles.com, expect the Breakers to play inspired tennis at their new stadium on the campus of UC Irvine.
Thousands of miles from home, the Kastles will hope to pick up where they left off last season. All the while, Paes will try to shake off any jet lag from playing five mixed doubles matches in five days at Wimbledon.
Paes, Reynolds, and Arina Rodionova all played better deeper into Washington's 16-0 run. They have the talent to continue their winning streak in 2012. But now that their record has been reset and every other team in World TeamTennis is aiming to stop their streak, the challenge only becomes greater.
Join the Kastles for live streaming at 10 pm on WashingtonKastles.com as we kick off what promises to be a thrilling 2012 title defense.
Serena, Venus, Paes Shine for Kastles at Wimbledon
Serena Williams holds her fifth Wimbledon trophy up high.
Wimbledon has been very good to the Washington Kastles over the years, and the 126th edition of the sport's premiere tournament was no different.
Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Leander Paes of the Kastles all competed in finals over the weekend at the All England Club, with Serena and Venus' win in women's doubles marking the 25th Wimbledon title captured by current Kastles.
That victory came nine hours after Serena took to Centre Court for the women's singles final, which she won 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 over first-time Grand Slam finalist Agnieszka Radwanska.
Seeking his fifth Wimbledon title overall, Paes fell just short in mixed doubles with Elena Vesnina on Sunday. U.S. Olympians Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond defeated the Indian/Russian duet 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in the last match of the tournament.
The Kastles' championship weekend began with Serena racing through the first five games against Radwanska, blasting aces off her serve and return winners off the No. 3 seed's second serve.
After clinching the first set, Serena appeared well on her way to the fifth Wimbledon singles championship of her illustrious career.
But down 1-6, 2-4, Radwanska held serve and then won the turning point of the set. The Pole prevailed in a 22-shot rally with a down-the-line backhand winner, preventing Serena from taking a 5-3 lead and helping her extend the match into a third set.
Any momentum Radwanska took into the final set was erased with Serena serving at 1-2. The fifth-year Kastle hit four of her Wimbledon-record 102 aces to even the score.
That love service hold sparked Serena to finish the match the way she started it: winning five consecutive games. She collapsed to the grass in victory following a perfectly-timed inside-out backhand winner on match point.
Serena (July 22) and Venus (July 16) are playing in DC for the Kastles this season.
After a jubilant display of emotion during the trophy ceremony, and a lengthy five-set men's doubles final, Serena returned to Centre Court with sister and fellow Kastle Venus.
Their task was the same that Serena faced in her singles final: to win a fifth Wimbledon title. Mission accomplished as the Williams sisters defeated 2011 French Open champions Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-5, 6-4.
With that victory, Serena and Venus improved to 38-2 at the All England Club, where they will again play women's doubles in less than a month during the Olympic Games.
Serena and Venus now hold the same number of women's singles and doubles titles at Wimbledon, but little sister has a slight edge overall. In 1998, Serena and Max Mirnyi won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon.
In Sunday's mixed doubles final, Paes was playing for his fifth overall title at Wimbledon with a fifth different partner. He and Vesnina arrived in the championship match after defeating Bob Bryan and Liezel Huber in a three-set semifinal on Saturday.
That gave Raymond and Mike Bryan an advantage in the final as the Americans undoubtedly consulted the losing semifinalists for strategy. Bob Bryan is Mike Bryan's record-setting men's doubles partner, while Huber and Raymond are the top-ranked women's doubles team.
Like his Kastles' teammates Serena and Venus, Paes will compete at Wimbledon again beginning July 28. His Olympic partners are Vishnu Vardhan in men's doubles and Sania Mirza in mixed.
In total, five different Kastles' players won 21 matches at Wimbledon, which meant that 19 I LOVE DC tennis ball T-shirts were awarded randomly to fans who retweeted the winning results on Twitter.
The Kastles' final two victories -- Serena's championship double -- were commemorated with the giveaway of two pairs of tickets to see the Kastles' home opener Thursday night against the New York Sportimes.
It's no wonder Washington's Facebook and Twitter pages are the most popular social media sites of any team in the league. If you haven't done so already, be sure to like and follow the Kastles today.
Elena Vesnina and Leander Paes were also runners-up at the Australian Open.
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