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Hall-of-Famer Hingis Leads Kastles Over Lobsters, 23-18

July 16, 2013 - World TeamTennis (WTT) Washington Kastles

The Washington Kastles solidified their hold on first place of the Eastern Conference Monday night with a 23-18 road victory over the Boston Lobsters.

Washington improved to 4-2 on the season by winning four of the five sets, including tiebreakers in men's singles to start the evening and mixed doubles to finish it.

The Kastles never trailed in the match, though they led by only one game at halftime.

Bobby Reynolds knocked off big-serving Mark Philippoussis, a former Wimbledon and US Open finalist, 5-4 in the first set before Martina Hingis won a back-and-forth women's singles set 5-3.

But Boston bounced back to take men's doubles 5-3, cutting the Kastles' advantage to 13-12 after three sets. It was already a marked improvement for the Lobsters, who six days earlier lost 25-12 to the Kastles in DC.

Any Lobster hopes of an outright upset were dashed in the fourth set when Hingis and Anastasia Rodionova earned a 5-2 victory. Two days after being inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Hingis swept her third set of the evening to clinch the match, teaming with Leander Paes for a 5-4 win in mixed doubles.

Washington started just 1-of-7 on deciding 3-all points, which so often dictate the outcome of Mylan WTT matches. The Kastles finished 4-of-13, good enough to come away with a win, but something for Coach Murphy Jensen to keep his eye on moving forward.

The Lobsters fell to 3-5 in 2013, two matches behind the Kastles and one behind the 3-3 New York Sportimes. At 1-5, the Philadelphia Freedoms remain just three matches out of first place.

The Kastles' three-match road trip concludes Tuesday night in Philadelphia, with Washington returning home to the Southwest Waterfront against Springfield on Wednesday.

Tickets to the final four Kastles home matches -- all featuring the Hall-of-Famer Hingis -- are going fast. Very few remain, with seats starting at $15 on Ticketmaster.com.

MS - B. Reynolds (WAS) def. M. Philippoussis (BOS) 5-4

From the start, it was clear that Philippoussis would be aggressive at all opportunities, hitting an ace on the very first point and serving-and-volleying throughout the opening game.

But he was not on the mark with his volleys early, jammed by Reynolds on a 3-all point to concede the early break to the Kastles.

For his part, Reynolds lost just three points in his first three service games. But leading 4-3, he fell behind 1-3 after Philippoussis landed a lob just inside the baseline. Reynolds saved two break points on backhand errors from the Lobster, but on the third it was his own backhand that found the net, sending the set into a tiebreaker.

Even though he was playing the first set, and not the fifth, Reynolds found a way to close things out. He hit a down-the-line backhand winner to start the tiebreaker, an ace midway through, and a forehand volley winner to finish it 5-3.

SCORE: Washington 5, Boston 4

WS - M. Hingis (WAS) def. J. Craybas (BOS) 5-3

Coming off her Hall-of-Fame induction on Saturday, Hingis took a little time to find her feet, allowing Jill Craybas to break in each of the Swiss' first two service games.

But even when she wasn't at her best, Hingis still had enough to break Craybas back twice for 2-2 -- the second time by following a return on the line with a drop volley and then a down-the-line backhand winner.

It was a classic, crafty combination from Hingis, who capitalized on her momentum with a routine hold for 3-2. She earned a 3-all point in Craybas' next service game with a half-volley winner.

What ensued was the best point of the season: a 37-shot rally in which Hingis and Craybas exchanged blows from the baseline, probing one another for an error. In the end, it was the Lobster who took a page out of the Hingis playbook, charging the net off of a down-the-line backhand and winning the point with an unreachable drop shot to even the set at 3-3.

Understandably, both women were breathing heavily as the Boston crowd saluted them for their efforts. When play resumed, it was Hingis who recovered faster, shrugging off the loss of the marathon point to quickly hold for 4-3, then breaking on her first set point when Craybas missed a backhand long.

SCORE: Washington 10, Boston 7

MD - E. Butorac/M. Philippoussis (BOS) def. L. Paes/B. Reynolds (WAS) 5-3

Fourth-year Lobster Eric Butorac entered on a six-set losing streak to Reynolds and Paes, though he sure didn't play like it.

Butorac and Philippoussis opened up a 3-0 lead to tie the overall score at 10-10 by twice holding serve on deciding 3-all points, and breaking Reynolds when Butorac mistimed a backhand return that somehow snuck inside the baseline for a winner.

The Lobsters' luck appeared to run out after that as Paes made it 1-3, the Kastles broke Philippoussis on a double fault for 2-3, and then Reynolds held at love for 3-3.

Following a Butorac hold, Paes appeared poised to force a tiebreaker when he led 3-0 in his service game. But Philippoussis caught fire with two consecutive return winners, and on the deciding 3-all point, he dipped a return low to set Butorac up for a volley that bounced off the net cord and over the Kastles for a winner.

In the set, Boston converted 3-of-4 deciding 3-all points with a little let-cord luck: two serves and one volley that went for winners off of the net. That left the Kastles clinging to a 13-12 halftime advantage.

SCORE: Washington 13, Boston 12

WD - M. Hingis/A. Rodionova (WAS) def. J. Craybas/K. Marosi (BOS) 5-2

After losing six straight matches to the Kastles, the Lobsters had given themselves a great chance to defeat Washington for the first time since 2010.

In the opening service game of women's doubles, Hingis faced a 3-all point that could have tied the overall score at 13-13.

Instead, the Swiss hit a down-the-line backhand winner past a poaching Katalin Marosi.

Hingis' shot-making magic continued when she hit back-to-back backhand winners to break Marosi and give Washington a 3-1 advantage in the set.

Though the Lobsters broke right back, the Kastles kept their composure, especially Rodionova.

At 3-2, the second-year Kastle hit a strong return and two volley winners to set up break point. Craybas double-faulted that away, allowing Washington to take a 4-2 lead and putting the set on Rodionova's racquet.

The Aussie served it out in style, following a perfectly placed Hingis put-away with three service winners.

A set that started so close ended with Washington comfortably ahead by four games going into mixed doubles.

SCORE: Washington 18, Boston 14

MXD - L. Paes/M. Hingis (WAS) def. E. Butorac/K. Marosi (BOS) 5-4

As occurred in women's doubles, the Kastles led mixed 3-1 before Boston broke back, this time behind inspired play from the 42nd-ranked doubles specialist Marosi.

Facing a break point at 3-2, Paes directed a volley hard at Marosi's body, but the Hungarian stood tall to the task and reflexed it into the corner of the court for a winner.

After Marosi held for 4-3, the Lobsters were suddenly only trailing 21-18 overall. If they could break Hingis to win the set 5-3, they would need just need one more break in overtime to send the match to a Supertiebreaker.

But the Hall-of-Famer Hingis had none of it, holding with ease to force a tiebreaker. The Kastles stole one point off Butorac's serve when Hingis hit a topspin lob winner, and another on Paes' serve when Hingis made a pair of reflex volleys before putting away an overhead.

An unreturnable serve from Paes put Washington ahead 3-1 in the tiebreaker, and when the Indian hit a forehand winner moments later, he had given the Kastles four match points. They only needed one, with Paes' low volley drawing a forehand error from Marosi.

In three matches with the Kastles this season, Hingis is 3-0 in mixed doubles and women's singles, and 2-1 in women's doubles.

SCORE: Washington 23, Boston 18

Washington Kastles at Philadelphia Freedoms Preview

First Meeting of 2013 Season Between Eastern Conference Rivals

Washington Kastles (4-2) at Philadelphia Freedoms (1-5) Tuesday, July 16 at 7:00 pm

All-Time: Kastles lead Freedoms 8-3 Last Meeting: Kastles def. Freedoms 21-16 on July 24, 2012 (Washington, DC) Live Scoring: WashingtonKastles.com Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (#RefuseToLose)

The Washington Kastles wrap up their three-match road trip in Philadelphia tonight with their first meeting of the season against the Freedoms.

It's been over two years since Washington paid a visit to the City of Brotherly Love. Back on July 6, 2011, the Kastles rallied from six games down at halftime to stun Philadelphia 19-18.

The 1-5 Freedoms have not qualified for the WTT Playoffs since 2007, making tonight's match-up against first-place Washington all the more important for Coach Josh Cohen and his team. Cohen will be without World No. 16 Sloane Stephens, who was originally scheduled to play tonight but withdrew with an abdominal tear.

The Kastles, meanwhile, have found their mojo again with victories of 23-14 in Sacramento and 23-18 in Boston. A win over Philadelphia would round out a 3-0 road trip and be the perfect preparation for Washington's rematch with Springfield at home tomorrow night.

Live scoring for tonight's match will be available at WashingtonKastles.com, and be sure to join the conversation throughout the match on Facebook and Twitter.

SET-BY-SET PROJECTIONS

MS - B. Reynolds (WAS) vs. S. Groth (PHL) Kastles fans have seen some big servers already this season -- Kevin Anderson, Andy Roddick and Mark Philippoussis to name a few. But they don't come any bigger than Sam Groth of the Freedoms, who hit a world-record 163 mile-per-hour ace at a Challenger event last season. That won't catch Kastles closer Bobby Reynolds by surprise. He has defeated Groth in both of their prior meetings on tour.

WS - M. Hingis (WAS) vs. V. Duval (PHL) There's little doubt that 17-year-old Victoria Duval will become a great player. Already this year, she's earned the first two wins of her career on the WTA Tour, rising inside the Top 300 of the world rankings. At Duval's age, however, Hingis had already won seven Grand Slam titles and been ranked No. 1 in the world for 59 weeks. Expect that experience to shine through when Hingis meets Duval for the first time tonight.

MD - L. Paes/B. Reynolds (WAS) vs. S. Groth/J. Kerr (PHL) Despite both being Australian, Groth and Kerr had never partnered one another prior to the Mylan WTT season. The potential is certainly there for the Aussies, with the former Olympian Kerr having won nine ATP doubles titles. But there's no substitute for chemistry, which Paes and Reynolds have certainly shown over the last four years. They are the favorites tonight, though with Groth's gargantuan serve, anything can happen.

WD - M. Hingis/A. Rodionova (WAS) vs. V. Duval/L. Huber (PHL) Duval comes to the Freedoms as a last-second substitute for the injured Jessica Pegula, leaving Philadelphia with a make-shift women's doubles team. The American teen has not played doubles on tour since 2011, while her partner Liezel Huber has fallen from No. 1 in the world last September to No. 20 currently. Hingis and Rodionova should be poised to capitalize on their opponents from the very first ball.

MXD - L. Paes/M. Hingis (WAS) vs. S. Groth/L. Huber (PHL) Kerr began the season as the Freedoms' male player in mixed doubles, but Coach Cohen made a switch late last week. The results have been tremendous. Groth has used his potent serve to full effect, rising to No. 1 in the league's mixed doubles rankings. Paes and Hingis are 3-0 together, so something's got to give tonight. With Huber on court as well, three former World No. 1 doubles players will play at one time.

KEY FOR THE KASTLES - DOMINATE THE WOMEN'S SETS

Groth, Huber and Kerr are all Mylan WTT veterans, so the 17-year-old rookie Duval sticks out like a sore thumb in Philadelphia's lineup.

With Groth's record-breaking serve, fans shouldn't anticipate many breaks in his three sets tonight.

But when it comes to women's singles and women's doubles, Hingis and Rodionova need to ignore everything they've been taught about bullying and expose Duval's inexperience for what it is.

If the Kastles can win those two sets by large margins, the final score should fall in their favor regardless of how many aces Groth unleashes.

2013 RESULTS WASHINGTON KASTLES

(4-2)

Date Match Result 7/08 v NYS Win 23-15

7/09 v BOS Win 25-12 7/10 @ TEX Loss 23-18 7/11 v SPR Loss 22-15 7/13 @ SAC Win 23-14 7/15 @ BOS Win 23-18 7/16 @ PHL 7/17 v SPR 7/19 @ TEX 7/20 v NYS 7/21 @ BOS 7/22 v PHL 7/23 @ NYS 7/24 v BOS

MYLAN WTT STANDINGS EASTERN CONFERENCE

Team W-L MB WAS 4-2 -

NYS 3-3 1 BOS 3-5 2 PHL 1-5 2

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Team W-L MB

SPR 5-2 - TEX 4-3 1 OCB 4-3 1 SAC 3-4 2

MYLAN WTT RANKINGS

KEVIN ANDERSON

Men's Singles: 2

MARTINA HINGIS Women's Singles: 1 Women's Doubles: 5 Mixed Doubles: 2

LEANDER PAES Men's Doubles: T-3 Mixed Doubles: 7

BOBBY REYNOLDS Men's Doubles: T-3

ANASTASIA RODIONOVA

Women's Singles: 7

Women's Doubles: T-11 KASTLES ON FACEBOOK

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