July 13, 2013 - World TeamTennis (WTT) - Washington Kastles
The toughest stretch of Washington's 2013 schedule gets tougher in Sacramento tonight as the Kastles meet the 3-1 Capitals in a rematch of the 2012 WTT Finals.
When the two teams last met, they were so evenly matched that a fifth-set tiebreak was required to decide the WTT championship.
Venus Williams of the Kastles edged CoCo Vandeweghe of the Capitals to clinch Washington's third King Trophy in four seasons.
While Washington's 2012 team remains largely intact, the Capitals have retooled their roster around longtime Sacramento player and former World No. 1 doubles player Mark Knowles.
Joining him on Sacramento's roster tonight are former World No. 7 Mardy Fish, 2011 Houston champion Ryan Sweeting, 17-year-old American upstart Taylor Townsend and 54th-ranked doubles player Megan Moulton-Levy.
The Kastles come to California in the midst of a rare two-match losing streak. Returning to the win column will be a challenge as Coach Murphy Jensen sends a different lineup on court from the first four matches this season
Bobby Reynolds is returning to singles action and World No. 17 doubles player Raquel Kops-Jones will be substituting for Martina Hingis .
How Reynolds and Kops-Jones play tonight will make a big difference between Washington picking up its third win or its third loss of the season.
Stay up late with the Kastles tonight as we bring you live scoring on WashingtonKastles.com and exclusive match updates on Facebook and Twitter.
MS - B. Reynolds (WAS) vs. M. Fish (SAC)
Kevin Anderson 's four-match run as a wild card ended on Thursday, so it will be Reynolds against Fish tonight. That is, if Fish is healthy enough to play after leaving last night's Capitals match against Boston with an injury. The Americans met in March, with Reynolds opening up a 4-2 third-set lead before falling to Fish at Indian Wells. The first-to-five format of WTT has always lent itself to Reynolds' reputation as a fast starter, and tonight he hopes to finish what he started in Indian Wells.
WS - A. Rodionova (WAS) vs. T. Townsend (SAC)
Hingis is in Newport, R.I., where today she becomes the fourth-youngest inductee ever into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. That means one more singles set for Anastasia Rodionova, who lost to Eugenie Bouchard and Vania King. On paper, she is the favorite against Wimbledon junior finalist Taylor Townsend. But the American teenager has a tricky left-handed game and is 2-1 in WTT this season.
MD - L. Paes/B. Reynolds (WAS) vs. M. Fish/M. Knowles (SAC)
A pair of former World No. 1s will go head-to-head in men's doubles with Knowles and Leander Paes on opposite sides of the court. It also may be a match-up of the league's top two doubles teams; Knowles and Fish are 3-0, and Reynolds and Paes are 3-1. If Fish can't go, he will be replaced in singles and doubles by his 25-year-old countryman Sweeting. Called into action unexpectedly last night, Sweeting lost the last game of singles, then fell 5-2 in men's doubles alongside Knowles.
WD - R. Kops-Jones/A. Rodionova (WAS) vs. M. Moulton-Levy/T. Townsend (SAC)
Kops-Jones will be Rodionova's third women's doubles partner of the season. In a twist of fate, Kops-Jones actually replaced Rodionova in the Kastles lineup for the final four matches of the 2012 regular season while the Australian prepared for the Olympics. They have never played together, but have faced one another 17 times in doubles on tour. Coach Jensen hopes that familiarity will pay dividends tonight.
MXD - L. Paes/R. Kops-Jones (WAS) vs. M. Knowles/M. Moulton-Levy (SAC)
Perhaps the most interesting coaching decisions of the night will come in mixed doubles. Paes and Rodionova have lost their only two sets as a team this season, so a switch to Kops-Jones may be just the spark Washington needs. For the Capitals, expect Coach Wayne Bryan to start the set with Fish for one service game, hoping for an easy hold in the same way that Jensen used the Anderson earlier this week.
KEY FOR THE KASTLES - WIN IN WOMEN'S
In losses to the Wild and Lasers, Washington went a combined 0-6 in women's singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles.
That has to change if the Kastles are to knock off the Capitals on the road.
Rodionova faced higher-ranked opponents in her first two singles sets, but Townsend is a junior player still working her way up the pro tour. That should favor the Kastles in singles and doubles, but only if Rodionova remains composed on the court.
Hingis returns to the Washington lineup on Monday, but until then, Rodionova has to lead by example for the Kastles' substitute players. Tonight, that's Kops-Jones, whose time with Washington last season should also be a boost for the Kastles.
If the Kastles can win a women's set early in tonight's match, it should free the entire team up to play to its full potential.