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Kastles Begin Historic New Chapter on Union Market

July 16, 2019 - World TeamTennis (WTT) - Washington Kastles News Release

Last night, DC sports fans and television viewers around the globe got the first look at the new Kastles Stadium on Union Market in the Washington Kastles' opening match of the season. In front of a sold-out crowd on the world's first rooftop stadium in pro sports history, the six-time WTT champions fought admirably against the Vegas Rollers, who were eager to score their first ever WTT victory over the league's most formidable dynasty.

The hype reached all corners of the DC-Metro area and beyond. The giant jumbotron outside Union Market aired the worldwide CBS Sports broadcast to non-ticketholders in the area. Celebrity entertainer and pop icon Redfoo presided over the event for the Rollers, as the team's assistant coach.

At the end of the night, the Kastles won over the city, but the Rollers walked away with the match in overtime, 22-18.

Rollers Matt Reid and Asia Muhammad set the tone early against Kastles duo Yoshi Nishioka and Shelby Rogers in mixed doubles in the opening set of the night. The Vegas pair broke Rogers's serve early to go up 2-1 and followed with sharp serving, volleying, and returning in the games that followed. The Rollers proved to be unbreakable in the set.

The Kastles' new assistant coach David Macpherson guided the pair as well as he could in his first match at the helm of the team. But despite a strong hold from Rogers in her second service game, Las Vegas was able to take the first set, 5-3.

The Rollers picked up steam in the next set, which featured a clash of rising stars between new Kastle Marta Kostyuk and Rollers rookie Harriet Dart in women's singles. Kostyuk is a clean-hitting, promising, 16-year-old, former US Open Junior champion from Ukraine. Dart is a 22-year-old British phenom, who just made a run to the third round of Wimbledon. Both have bright futures ahead of them, but in DC, it was Dart's night to shine.

Out of the gate, Kostyuk quickly showed why she has been called a future top star, moving gracefully and quickly across the court hitting deep, monster ground strokes. But perhaps due to opening night jitters in her league debut, Kostyuk missed on some key chances and a string of early errors allowed the Rollers star to leap off to a 4-0 lead. The Kastle rallied to hold serve and win a game, but Dart replied with a clean service game and ultimately prevailed, 5-1, to give Vegas a hefty 10-4 lead.

The Kastles rallied in the third set. DC's hometown hero Frances Tiafoe and Nishioka fired on all cylinders against Reid and 6-foot-11-inch tennis giant Reilly Opelka in men's doubles. Neither team dropped serve during the set, but in the tiebreak they exchanged mini-breaks on both the Tiafoe and Opelka serves to draw even at 2-all. Then after Nishioka won both his service points, the Rollers faced three set points on Reid's serve. The Rollers doubles star saved two of them, but at 4-all sparks flew.

Tiafoe cracked a solid cross-court return and followed it to net. A series of crisp volleys followed across both sides of the net, from all players, until finally Tiafoe got a good look at a put away and belted the winning shot to take the set, 5-4, but only shrinking the Rollers' lead by a game, 14-9, at half-time.

The Kastles had a big opportunity in the fourth set to get back in the match. Rogers and Kostyuk put Muhammad and Dart on the defensive early in women's doubles. After holding to start the set, the pair earned a deciding point on Dart's serve and would have taken a 2-0 lead, had Kostyuk not nicked a ball at net that would have sailed long, gifting Las Vegas the game. But the Kastles bounced back in the next game, holding Rogers's serve with ease to inch ahead, 2-1. The real turning point, however, occurred midway through the next game on Muhammad's serve.

Kostyuk landed a fearless poach at net, which set up a volley winner for Rogers at net that evened the score at 30-all. The point super-charged the Kastles to win another dazzling point and pick up a loose error to break serve. Reinvigorated by the score, Kostyuk served with more confidence in the next game and with Rogers at net the Kastles extended the lead to 4-1, but were stopped by Dart in the next game from taking the set.

Then with Rogers serving for the set, the Kastles suffered a letdown and allowed the Rollers to break and eventually even the set score to force a tiebreak. The Kastles then let an early lead in the breaker slip away when the umpire overruled the automated Hawk-Eye system on a key point that turned the momentum and cost them the set, 5-4 and halted the comeback.

Instead of a 15-14 match with the Kastles trailing by a single game, the score was 19-13 in Las Vegas's favor.

That left Tiafoe with a tough assignment against Opelka in the final set of the night. The Kastle couldn't simply beat him in a tiebreak, he needed to knock the giant out, which he did, to the delight of the crowd, which rose to their feet for the first time all evening. After holding to go up 3-2, Tiafoe seized on a double fault and a second serve to score the sole break in the set. He then held serve routinely to take the set 5-2 and send the match into overtime.

Trailing 18-21, Tiafoe had to win three games, including two breaks of the 140 mph Opelka serve, to keep the match in play for Washington. It would be a formidable task and serving to score his team's first WTT win ever, Opelka didn't falter. The Roller held at love to secure the victory for Vegas, 22-18.

Next up, the Kastles play the Aviators at Kastles Stadium tonight at 7 p.m.

Get the last remaining tickets at Ticketmaster now! Less than two dozen new seats were just released for certain matches for the sold out entire 2019 season! Can't make it to the stadium? Watch the action LIVE on ESPN+/WTT.tv

Kastles Play Aviators Tonight

Tonight, the Kastles take on the 2016 King Trophy-winning San Diego Aviators in their second match of the 2019 Season.

The Aviators have split their first two matches. After a blowout win in their opening match against the Empire in New York on Sunday, the San Diego squad lost in Philly to the Freedoms last night, 25-11.

Led by two-time WTT Coach of the Year John Lloyd, the Aviators will bring Louisiana slugger Ryan Harrison to Washington, who was instrumental in San Diego's victory in New York. The Shreveport native trounced top American John Isner, 5-2, in singles to seal the win, but lost to Tommy Paul in Philly the following night. In DC, Harrison will face Kastles all-star Frances Tiafoe, who will have home court advantage at the still-humming Kastles Stadium at Union Market.

The two have never played each other on the WTT stage. Harrison made his WTT debut with the Aviators in 2016 and memorably won league MVP for leading the team to claim their first championship title. Tiafoe played his first season of WTT in 2017, the year Harrison won the French Open Men's Doubles Championship and played less than a handful of matches for San Diego. Tiafoe and Ryan are tied, 1-1, in their ATP Tour head-to-head. Tiafoe, the higher ranked of the two at #38 in the world, won their most recent meeting in Geneva last year, but both matches have gone three sets.

Another match to keep an eye on pits Kastles teen sensation Marta Kostyuk against WTT veteran and former Kastle Christina McHale. Kostyuk had a tough debut against the Rollers, but will look to put it behind her tonight. McHale won both sets in New York in her season opener, but lost both sets in Philly. Both will be looking to reset the narrative while the season is still young.

The match will also feature highly-competitive matchups in mixed and women's doubles, as WTT star Anna-Lena Gronefeld returns for sixth season of WTT competition and second with the Aviators. The German Grand Slam champ won mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon and the French Open, and has captured 16 WTA doubles titles to earn a career-high doubles ranking of #7 in the world. She'll team up with McHale and Aviators rookie John O'Mara, an accomplished doubles player, who has been ranked as high as #48 in the world and has won two ATP Tour doubles titles, along with a combined 33 Challenger and Futures titles. The Aviators will attempt to disrupt the rhythm and moment up Kastles doubles stars Bruno Soares and Shelby Rogers.

VS.

SET-BY-SET PROJECTIONS:

MXD - B. Soares/S. Rogers (WAS) vs. J. O'Mara/A. Gronefeld (SAN)

WS - M. Kostyuk (WAS) vs. C. McHale (SAN)

WD - M. Kostyuk/S. Rogers (WAS) vs. A. Gronefeld/C. McHale (SAN)

MD - F. Tiafoe/B. Soares (WAS) vs. R. Harrison/J. O'Mara (SAN)

MS - F. Tiafoe (WAS) vs. R. Harrison (SAN)

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