March 21, 2017 - World TeamTennis (WTT) - Washington Kastles
The Kastles managed to secure another champion today. 19-year-old tennis prodigy and Washington-area native Frances Tiafoe will be wearing the red and blue for the team during the first week of the season, and he couldn't be more thrilled.
"Growing up in DC I always supported the Kastles and Mark," said Tiafoe. "It's an honor to play on the same team as some of the best players in the history of the game. I really can't wait to get out there and compete this summer."
Tiafoe is pumped to be playing for his hometown team. (Photo Credit: Harry How)
Those who are familiar with the tennis renaissance in Washington may already know Frances is a product of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md. His unlikely foray into professional tennis began when his father immigrated to the States from Sierra Leone. The senior Tiafoe helped construct the College Park Tennis Center in 1999 and eventually became the head of maintenance at the facility where he observed the positive values of tennis. When Frances was three, he put a racquet in his hand and the rest is history. His incredible story has been widely reported across the world and he has often been called the "future of American tennis."
Read more about the Improbable Tennis Prodigy here in The Washington Post.
In 2013, at the age of 15, Tiafoe became the youngest player in history to win the prestigious Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship at Key Biscayne, joining an exclusive list of champions that, among others, includes Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, and Roger Federer! And the win was no fluke. Four months later Frances backed up this historic record by winning the Easter Bowl, becoming the first man to capture both titles since John McEnroe in 1976.
Tiafoe wins his first grand slam match Down Under this January. (Photo Credit: Tennis Australia)
Tiafoe turned pro in 2015 and is now starting to break through the ranks. This January he became the youngest player ranked in the ATP World Tour Top-100 and is currently the 86th-ranked singles player in the world. He won his first grand slam match this year by defeating Mikhail Kukushkin at the Australian Open and then he took Juan Martin Del Potro to three sets (losing in a third set tiebreaker) two weeks ago in the round of 32 at Acapulco.
The Telegraph called his journey almost as remarkable as the Williams sisters.
In his young career, Tiafoe has won two challenger tournaments (Granby and Stockton) and made it to seven finals, in the process notching wins over many of his generation's most formidable stars, including Donald Young, Ryan Harrison, Tim Smyczek, Daniil Medvedev, and Taylor Fritz. At the 2016 Indian Wells tournament he very nearly took down world #13 David Goffin before falling just short 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(2). And at last year's US Open he nearly upset then American #1 John Isner on the greatest tennis stage in the world! In the fifth set Tiafoe served for the match at 5-3, forcing Isner to use all his firepower to pull off the win, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, 7-6(3), despite scoring one point less than the youngster in total for the match (148-149).
Tiafoe's performance prompted Isner to proclaim after the match: "I would certainly buy stock in him right now, for sure. He has a fantastic future."
Watch Frances fire a stunning hot shot at Tiburon Challenger. (ATPWorldTour)
"Young" appears to be a distinction the Orange Bowl champ will not shake anytime soon. In his WTT debut season, Tiafoe will also be the youngest player to compete in the league, which suits him just fine.
"Growing up, I watched the majority of these guys play on the pro tour and always wondered what it would be like to play against them," Tiafoe said. "World Team Tennis is the only platform that allows me to play against some of these great Americans."
"Frances Tiafoe, future tennis champion" on CNN
The homecoming is sure to be a boost for both Tiafoe and the Kastles. He'll have lots of friends and family in the crowd cheering loudly on his (and the team's) behalf.
"I can't wait to be part of the action," said Tiafoe. "I only get to play in DC once a year for the DC open, so I'm excited to be able to play in front of my family and friends. I'm looking forward to cheering on my teammates and helping the Kastles bring back the trophy to DC."
Tiafoe will be playing for the Kastles during the entire first week of the season.
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Kastles Shine at Indian Wells
Martina Hingis Wins BNP Paribas Open Doubles TItle
Chan and Hingis kiss the trophy at Indian Wells (Photo Credit: WTA Tennis)
It's been a great week for the Kastles at the BNP Paribas Open, especially in doubles.
In the women's tournament, Martina Hingis won the championship with her new partner Yung-Jan Chan. They defeated Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova in the final, 7-6(4), 6-2. The win was a testament to the Kastles' enduring adage "Refuse to Lose."
The champs got off to a rocky start. They trailed for most of the first set, until they broke Hradecka's serve at 6-5 to force the tiebreaker. This is when the momentum shifted. After winning the first point of the breaker on Chan's serve, Hingis took the first return, which set the tone for the conclusion of the set: domination! Saving their best tennis for the high-pressure moments, Hingis and Chan took the tiebreaker convincingly, 7-4.
After watching the first set slip away, Hradecka and Siniakova got off to a determined start in the second, going up 2-0 quickly. But the lead was short-lived and seemed to serve as a wakeup call. In the next game Hingis and Chan regained their strength, breaking Siniakova's serve, then holding Hingis's to knot the score 2-2. From this point on, the action was all one way. Hingis served for the match at 5-2 and won at love.
Martina Hingis celebrates as she and her partner, Yung-Jan Chan, win the Indian Wells women's doubles crown. (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open)
The win earned Hingis and Chan their first title together and Martina's 4th at Indian Wells, having previously won 1 singles and 2 doubles championships. At the trophy ceremony afterwards, Hingis was gracious in acknowledging her partner's contribution.
"A huge thanks to my partner Latisha [Chan's preferred English name]," said Hingis. "We're playing in our third tournament together and she helped me in the previous two to just believe in myself again. I won here a couple of years ago with Sania [Mirza], so to be back here on this court again and play the final is amazing."
Click the image above to read the match recap from the BNP Paribas Open. (Photo Credit: @YungJan_Chan)
Hingis and Chan's fledgling partnership began this February at the Qatar Open, where they lost to Olga Savchuk and Yaroslava Shvedova in the semifinals, 3-6 6-2 10-6. After that they entered Dubai and suffered a minor setback, losing to Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai in the quarters, 6-4 6-2. But now, after the BNP Paribas Open, they have firmly established themselves as one of the best doubles teams in the world.
"It's great," said Hingis. "I feel like we're getting better with each match. The confidence and trust between us is growing, and I think that's the most important thing to win matches today and in the future. We're going in the right direction."
On the way to the title they knocked off the #1 seeds Bethanie Mattek Sands and Lucie Safarova in a nail-biting semifinal, 7-6(7), 7-5, and the #4 seeds Sania Mirza (Martina's former doubles partner) and Barbora Strycova, 6-4, 6-4.
It was a sweet end, and beginning, for the hottest new doubles franchise on the tour!
Bruno Soares soared to the semis. (Photo Credit: BrunoSoares82 Instagram)
In men's doubles, the Kastle's newest addition, Bruno Soares and his partner Jamie Murray had a great run to the semifinals where they lost a close match to Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 3-6, 7-5, 10-5 . And in the opposite half of the draw, Sam Querrey followed up his stunning win in Acapulco over Rafael Nadal with an equally impressive march to the semis partnering with Gilles Muller, until the pair were blocked by Rajeev Ram and Raven Klaasen (the star doubles team for the Aviators) 6-2, 6-4. Way to go, guys! See you in Miami.
Venus Williams proved she's still at the top of the game.
(Photo Credit: Mullanes-CameraworkUSA)
In addition to these great results, a huge Kastles shoutout goes to Venus Williams, who continued her momentum from the Australian Open to the quarters of Indian Wells. Along the way she defeated Peng Shuai, Lucie Safarova, and former world #1 Jelena Jankovic, before ultimately losing to Elena Vesnina (who upset the #2 seed Angelique Kerber) in a tough three-setter, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. It's certainly been the strongest star t to a season from Williams in several years. Now Venus sets her sights on Miami, where she will seek to win her first title there since 2001.
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Get Your Kastles Season Tickets Today!
T he 2017 season is fast approaching and you can lock in the best seats now to cheer on your Kastles as the team look s to claim their 7th overall World Team Tennis Championship and celebrate their landmark 10th season!
Season tickets are currently on sale and the on sale date for single-match tickets will be announced later this spring. You won't want to miss a minute of the action as Venus Williams, Martina Hingis, the Bryan Brothers and recently added Sam Querrey, doubles ace Bruno Soares, and hometown phenom Frances Tiafoe join the rest of the Kastles to bring the King Trophy back to DC. With access to the best seats in each section, a discount to individual match pricing, and a wide range of exclusive perks, season tickets are the best way to join the Kastles for this historic 10th season running from July 16 - Aug. 2. A limited number of four-seat VIP tables and boxes are available, as well as individual seats with spectacular views in the Kastles Baseline Experience and Kastles Baseline Club. But hurry, the best seats are going fast! Season tickets start at $150 and can be purchased by calling 202-4-TENNIS (483-6647).
For more information on the Washington Kastles, please visit www.WashingtonKastles.com or email Jeff@Washingtonkastles.com.
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