Kastles Close out Historic 27th Consecutive WinJuly 25, 2012 - World TeamTennis (WTT) Washington Kastles
With Rodionova tweeting and Paes texting their well wishes, the 11-0 Kastles rallied from 13-11 down through three sets to defeat the 4-7 Philadelphia Freedoms 21-16.
Kastles' closer Bobby Reynolds entered Tuesday's match against the Freedoms in a familiar position, playing to preserve Washington's historic winning streak. And for the 17th time over the span of 27 straight Kastles' victories, he converted when match point was on his racquet.
Playing her first women's singles set for Washington, Rodionova's substitute Edina Gallovits-Hall rallied the Kastles with a 5-3 win over Kristyna Pliskova in the fourth set, evening the score at 16-16 with only men's singles remaining.
That's when Reynolds took over the match, blasting passing shots to break Luka Gregorc on two occasions before capping the match with a flat service winner out wide.
The Kastles' 27-match winning streak now stands alone as the second-longest unbeaten run in major U.S. pro sports history. Only the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers enjoyed a longer streak, winning 33 straight games.
As the match progressed, Paes incessantly sent text messages to team owner Mark Ein for updates, even though it was well past 2 a.m. in London.
After closing out the win, Reynolds told Coach Murphy Jensen : "This one's for Leander."
Paes' fellow Olympian Rodionova tweeted beforehand: "Good luck to my @WashKastles team tonight! I'm off to bed... I would love to wake up and see one more W! #RefuseToLose !"
Rise and shine, Anastasia. The Kastles' dream run continues.
MXD - Huey/Kops-Jones (WAS) def. Kerr/Kr. Pliskova (PHL) 5-3
Coach Jensen elected to start the evening with mixed doubles, which meant that new Washington players Treat Huey and Raquel Kops-Jones would make their Kastles' debuts in the very first set.
It was a wise move as the crowd instantly took to the newcomers, cheering wildly as Huey retrieved a lob with an over-the-shoulder forehand before hitting a lob over Kristyna Pliskova's head for a winner of his own.
Each Kastle and Freedom held serve to make the set score 2-2. Huey gave the Kastles a 3-2 lead with three unreturnable serves against Pliskova, who went 0-for-5 returning his lethal lefty serve in the set. Kerr countered with an easy hold of his own for 3-3.
As Pliskova struggled with her movement, Kerr won all three of his return points against Kops-Jones' serve to give the Freedoms two break points. The new Kastle Kops-Jones saved the first with a service winner before a spectacular rally on the deciding 3-all point.
Huey and Kops-Jones each needed to hit two overheads as Kerr and Pliskova scurried along the back of the court retrieving. The Freedoms' fourth lob of the rally finally landed long, giving the Kastles a 4-3 lead.
It was a crucial, early momentum swing because the Kastles capitalized to break Pliskova's serve in the very next game. Huey gave Washington set point thanks to a rapid exchange at the net against Kerr that the Kastle won with a reflex half-volley winner.
On set point, Kerr made a rare unforced error at the net, missing a high volley to give the two new Kastles a win in their first WTT set together.
Washington leads 5-3.
WD - Ka. Pliskova/Kr. Pliskova (PHL) def. Gallovits-Hall/Kops-Jones (WAS) 5-2
Women's doubles was always going to be a tall task for new Kastles Kops-Jones and Gallovits-Hall. They were up against 6-foot Kristyna and 6-foot-1 Karolina Pliskova, the No. 1-ranked team in the league.
Following a lackluster performance in mixed, the left-handed Pliskova twin Kristyna took control in the early stages of her second set, smash flat serves and crushing crosscourt forehands to help the Freedoms open up a 3-0 lead.
Pliskova's energy dipped over the next two games. After Gallovits-Hall held on a 3-all deciding point, Kristyna double-faulted to bring the Kastles within 3-2 in the set.
When she didn't move her feet for a volley in the following game, Pliskova cracked her racquet on the court.
But the Kastles failed to take advantage with a 3-2 lead in the game when Kops-Jones double-faulted on two straight points to give Philadelphia a 4-2 advantage in the set. Karolina Pliskova served out the set immediately thereafter, putting Philadelphia in the lead.
Philadelphia leads 8-7.
MD - Gregorc/Kerr (PHL) def. Huey/Reynolds (WAS) 5-4(4)
For the first time in his 41 matches with the Kastles, Reynolds was playing men's doubles with a partner not named Paes.
But he and Huey entered with the confidence that they won a Challenger Tournament title together in their only previous experience as a team.
Following holds by Reynolds and Gregorc, the Freedoms appeared poised to break Huey. But the DC-born, Alexandria-bred Huey saved three straight break points, including one when he ended an amazing exchange of volleys with a punishing forehand put-away.
With Washington leading 2-1, it was the Kastles turn to earn three break points on Kerr's serve. But the 2008 Olympian from Australia saved them all, the last with a deep volley that set Gregorc up for an overhead winner.
Neither team reached break point from that moment on, meaning a tiebreaker would be required to decide whether Philadelphia maintained its lead or Washington tied the score going into halftime.
The quick-handed Huey blocked back a volley that bounced on the tape and dribbled over for a winner to give Washington a 2-0 lead. But the Freedoms kept fighting, and after a strong return by Kerr they earned the right to serve for the match at 3-3.
With three serves due to Kerr, the Kastles and Freedoms each needed to win two points to clinch the set. A low Huey return set Reynolds up for a forehand volley winner to secure two set points for the Kastles.
But Gregorc responded with a perfectly-placed backhand volley behind Reynolds for 4-4, and then Kerr took the sudden-death point of the tiebreaker with a service winner.
Philadelphia leads 13-11.
WS - Gallovits-Hall (WAS) def. Kr. Pliskova (PHL) 5-3
Talk about pressure in your first singles set as a Kastle. Gallovits-Hall entered her set against Kristyna Pliskova knowing that a loss would make life extremely difficult for Reynolds, and a win would set the Kastles' closer up for what he does best: clinching matches.
The Romanian stepped up by being the more consistent player of the two, weathering a storm of winners from the powerful Pliskova to break for a 3-2 lead when the up-and-down Czech double-faulted.
With the Kastles' bench showing her support on every point, Gallovits-Hall held at love for 4-2, tying match score at 15-15. Pliskova responded with a love hold of her own to reclaim the match lead for the Freedoms.
Serving to tie the match and make men's singles a winner-take-all affair, Gallovits-Hall showed no nerves, even in front of a capacity crowd that hung on her every shot.
Fist-pumping and "Come on"-ing between points, Gallovits-Hall gained the upper hand in the game with a risky, yet rewarding, crosscourt backhand drop shot that stopped in its tracks for a winner.
She took the set three points later when Pliskova sprayed a return long,
Washington is tied with Philadelphia 16-16.
MS - Reynolds (WAS) def. Gregorc (PHL) 5-0
Gallovits-Hall's victory gave Reynolds the chance to send a sold-out crowd of Kastles fans home happy.
It's a job he's ground accustomed to accomplishing.
With more than 2,700 fans on their feet and screaming his name, Reynolds held at love before breaking Gregorc with an on-the-run crosscourt backhand that clipped the net cord and tripped up the Slovenian, who netted a reflex volley.
Gregorc was back at the net in the next game when another Reynolds passing shot -- this time a heavily-spun forehand -- whizzed by his head and dropped inside the baseline for a winner.
That scorching stroke gave Reynolds a 3-0 lead.
The Kastles' closer continued to burn Gregorc at the net in the Freedom's next service game, timing a down-the-line backhand just right to force a volley error and break for 4-0.
As Gregorc hurled his Babolat racquet to the court, Reynolds jumped all the way to the Kastles' bench, soaking in the roars of the fans in the final set of tennis this season on the Southwest Waterfront.
When Reynolds reached his first match point at 4-0 in the set and 3-2 in the game, Freedoms coach Josh Cohen called a timeout. But there was no slowing Reynolds down, and the Kastle clinched his team's 27th straight victory with a booming service winner out wide.
Through two seasons at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf, Washington has yet to lose a match at its intimate waterfront stadium (14-0). Then again, the Kastles aren't losing anywhere these days.
With three new teammates, Reynolds took a big step in proving that he has what it takes to lead the Kastles through their final three matches of the season -- all on the road.
Washington wins 21-16.
World TeamTennis Stories from July 25, 2012
- Washington Remains Unbeaten, Downs Sportimes in World TeamTennis - New York Sportimes
- Washington Kastles Extend Win Streak to 28 with 21-16 Win over New York Sportimes - WTT
- Kastles Close out Historic 27th Consecutive Win - Washington Kastles
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