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Kastles Lose Heartbreaker to Lasers, 20-18, on Last Point of Match

July 17, 2020 - World TeamTennis (WTT) - Washington Kastles News Release

Tommy Paul of the Washington Kastles
Tommy Paul of the Washington Kastles
(Washington Kastles)

The streak may have come to an end, but the Kastles are still the team to beat in 2020!

After a rain delay forced play indoors at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia on Thursday, the six-time WTT champion Washington Kastles fell to the two-time reigning WTT champion Springfield Lasers in a nail-biting, fifth-set tiebreak on the very last point, 20-18. The loss snapped a two game winning streak that propelled the Kastles to first place in the league standings in the first week of the 2020 season.

Despite the loss, the Kastles are still in first place, tied with the Philadelphia Freedoms, New York Empire, and WTT's newest expansion team, the Chicago Smash, who all have a 2-1 record.

Unlike their first two matches, which featured thrilling comebacks, the Kastles got off to a strong start against the defending champions. Washington's Bernarda Pera won the first four games of the match against 2019 Citi Open singles semifinalist and doubles champion Caty McNally in women's singles.

Though McNally found her form at the end of the set, Pera, who turned around the Kastles' fortune against the Aviators on Wednesday, doubled-down after a break and held to seal the first set of the night on a deciding point to give Washington a 5-2 lead to open the match.

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World #60 Bernarda Pera scored the first set of the match for the Kastles. (World TeamTennis)

The Lasers struck back in the second set. McNally appeared to steady herself, partnering with WTT veteran Olga Govortsova, in women's doubles. After a series of solid holds from both teams, Springfield scored the first break against Pera and two-time WTT champion and former Kastles MVP Arina Rodinova in the sixth game to take a 4-2 advantage. Govortsova then stepped up in the following game, notching the set, 5-2, on a deciding point to even the match at 7-7.

But once again, Rodionova and rising Kastles star Marcelo Arevalo pulled through for Washington. The duo closed out the Aviators on Wednesday in a blowout fifth set and brought the same focus and energy against the Lasers in a tense third set of mixed doubles against McNally and former Kastle and 2019 WTT Finals MVP for the Lasers Robert Lindstedt.

Rodionova and Arevalo saved a crucial breakpoint in the third game to stay on serve, and down 15-40 in the eighth game, the duo averted a tiebreak by scoring three, gutsy points in a row to break the McNally serve. Rodionova notched the set, 5-3, with a blistering down-the-line, forehand winner, boosting Washington's lead to 12-10 at half-time. But the Lasers regrouped in the fourth set.

Rodionova and Arevalo deliver again for the Kastles in mixed doubles. (World TeamTennis)

Motivated to score the first win of the season for Springfield, Lindstedt and Dutch doubles star and three-time Grand Slam champion Jean-Julien Rojer upped their level against Arevalo and Kastles doubles specialist Nick Monroe. The Lasers broke Monroe in the fourth game to go up 3-1 and tie the overall score. Lindstedt then held his nerve in the next game, denying a breakpoint on his own serve with a sensational volley to secure the Lasers' lead at 14-13.

A critical hold from Arevalo kept the Kastles alive at 2-4, but immediately after, rain suspended play and forced the match indoors, upending any momentum Washington may have gained. When play resumed, Rojer served out the set to give Springfield a narrow, 15-14, lead heading into the final set, assigning new Kastle Tommy Paul with the task of keeping Washington's streak alive in men's singles.

Currently ranked #57 in the world in singles, Paul was the odds-on favorite, but he encountered an inspired rising star, former Texas A&M standout Mitchell Krueger, who was determined to make a name for himself by upsetting the winningest franchise in WTT history.

Paul comes up short against Krueger in a tense fifth-set tiebreak. (World TeamTennis)

The pair traded holds throughout the final set, setting up a 9-point tiebreaker. With the advantage of serving first, Paul went up 4-2, earning three set points -- which would have forced a match-deciding Super Tiebreaker -- forcing Krueger to win three points to emerge victorious. To the surprise of everyone in attendance, and Paul on the other side of the net, Krueger saved all three set points and delivered the Lasers' first win of the season, 5-4(4), and 19-18 overall.

Up next, the Kastles face Billie Jean King's Philadelphia Freedoms today. Reigning Australian Open singles champion Sofia Kenin will headline for Philly in women's singles. On the men's side, Paul will take on compatriot and current world #24 Taylor Fritz.

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In accordance with state health guidelines, WTT will allow up to 500 fans (20% capacity) to attend its matches at Center Court at Creekside. An indoor court, with a fan capacity of 250, will be used in case of rain with priority given to fans with Lower Bowl tickets. An Upper Bowl ticket does not guarantee access to the indoor facility should matches be moved indoors. In the event of an outdoor stadium rainout, an Upper Bowl ticket will be refunded or fans will have the option to attend on a different day.

Images from this story

World #60 Bernarda Pera with the Washington Kastles
World #60 Bernarda Pera with the Washington Kastles

(World TeamTennis)
Tommy Paul of the Washington Kastles
Tommy Paul of the Washington Kastles


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