Kastles Play Springfield at 11am on Tennis Channel in Last Push for the Playoffs
At this point in the season, every match is critical. Today at 11 a.m., the six-time WTT champion Washington Kastles will look to advance their playoff chances when they face the two-time defending WTT champion Springfield Lasers.
With only three matches left of the regular season, Washington is locked in a three-way fight with New York and Orlando for the final two spots in the 2020 Playoffs!
Washington fell to Springfield in a nail-biting, fifth-set tiebreak, 20-18, in their sole prior meeting this season, but since then, the Lasers have fallen to last place. A Kastles win in their second encounter could enable Washington to secure a spot in the Final-4.
The Kastles currently own a 5-6 record, behind the New York Empire (6-5) and Orlando Storm (8-4). But two out of three of Washington's last opponents of the regular season are ranked outside the top-4, and well below the Kastles, and their final opponent is Orlando, which could potentially be the deciding match for the final playoff spot.
New York still has to face the 1st-place Philadelphia Freedoms, 3rd-place Orlando (assuring a loss between one of Washington's rivals), and 6th-place Orange County Breakers. Orlando has just two matches remaining against New York and Washington.
The Kastles squad, featuring Venus Williams, Tommy Paul, Marcelo Arevalo, Bernarda Pera, Nick Monroe, and Arina Rodionova, is expected to face a strong Springfield lineup, led by Robert Lindstedt, Mitchell Krueger, Catherine McNally, Hayley Carter, Olga Govortsova, and Jean-Julien Rojer.
Watch LIVE on Tennis Channel TODAY at 11 a.m. EST!
Kastles Fall to New York, 25-15
The Kastles suffered a setback on Sunday.
In a critical match for sole possession of 4th-place in the WTT standings, the six-time WTT champion Washington Kastles ceded to the 2019 finalist New York Empire, 25-15. Despite the loss, the Kastles are still in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs on Aug. 1.
The Philadelphia Freedoms and Chicago Smash have clinched the top-two spots, but with a 5-6 record, the Kastles could still make the cut, if they perform well in their final three matches of the regular season, and either the Empire or 3rd-place Orlando Storm falter.
New York has run hot and cold this season. The Kastles defeated them, 21-20, in a thrilling season opener. But on Sunday, the Empire flipped the script, sweeping all five sets in their second meeting.
Coach Robby Ginepri tapped Marcelo Arevalo and Bernarda Pera to lead off for the Kastles against Neal Skupski and Kveta Peschke in a contest between the top-two mixed doubles teams in the league. But it was the 1st-place Empire who stole the early momentum.
Skupski and Peschke scored two valuable breaks on the Arevalo serve. And despite a loose game from Peschke in the fourth game, which allowed the Kastles to break and even the set at 2-2, the Empire notched their third break of the set in Pera's second service game to take the opening set, 5-2.
WATCH: Washington Kastles vs. New York Empire | WTT 2020 Match Highlights
New York continued to roll in the second set. An early break and a pair of holds propelled Sabine Lisicki to a 3-1 lead over Kastles superstar and former world #1 Venus Williams. Then in the fifth game, Lisicki threatened to break again, but facing three breakpoints, Williams raised the pace of her groundstrokes to deny the assault and hold the Empire's lead to a single game, 3-2.
From there, successive holds from both players kept the set close, but Lisicki held her nerve, and in the eighth game, served out the Kastles legend, 5-3, to give New York a 10-5 lead.
Quick holds from Skupski and Jack Sock, and an early break against Arevalo and Nick Monroe in men's doubles, gave New York a further boost. Arevalo slowed the Empire's momentum in the fifth game, holding on a crucial deciding point, but Skupski and Sock broke Monroe for the second time to seal the third set, 5-2, earning New York a hefty, 15-7, lead at half-time.
Williams did her best to get Washington back into the match, teaming with Arina Rodionova in women's doubles. The duo held off New York's Peschke and Lisicki in the early stages of the fourth set. In the third game, the Kastles pair saved three pivotal breakpoints on Rodionova's serve to keep on track. New York put Washington on the defense again in Rodionova's second service game, breaking the Kastle to serve for the set. But just when it looked like the Kastles were down and out, Williams and Rodionova broke back on Peschke's serve to force a tiebreak.
Unfortunately for Kastles fans, the Empire regrouped in the decider. After dropping the first two points on Williams's serve, Peschke and Lisicki scored five of the next six points to take the set, 5-4(3), and give the Empire a nine-game lead with just a set to go.
Trailing 11-20, Tommy Paul steadied the score against Sock in the fifth set of men's singles. Neither player flinched in the first eight games, as both men comfortably held serve to force a deciding tiebreak. The set came down to a single mini-break, scored by Sock in the middle of the breaker. Then with the final three serves in hand, at 3-3, Sock only needed two to close out Paul, 5-4(3), and the match for New York, 25-15.
Next up, the Kastles face Springfield today in a push for the 2020 playoffs on Saturday.
Watch LIVE on Tennis Channel at 11 a.m. EST!
Images from this story
The Washington Kastles battles in mixed doubles
Venus Williams in action for the Washington Kastles
Venus Williams and Arina Rodionova in women's doubles for the Washington Kastles
Tommy Paul of the Washington Kastles
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World TeamTennis Stories from July 28, 2020
- Orlando Locks up Playoff Berth, Defeats New York in EP - Orlando Storm
- Orlando Storm Clinch Playoff Berth with Thrilling Win over New York Empire - New York Empire
- Sofia Kenin Brings Winning Intensity and Youthful Energy to Freedoms - Philadelphia Freedoms
- Philadelphia Gets Closer to No. 1 Overall Seed, Rolls San Diego 24-19 - Philadelphia Freedoms
- Washington Stays Alive in Playoff Chase, Eliminates Springfield - Washington Kastles
- Kastles Play Springfield at 11am on Tennis Channel in Last Push for the Playoffs - Washington Kastles
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