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Kastles Playoff Chances Eliminated After Heartbreaking Loss to Las Vegas 19-16

July 30, 2020 - World TeamTennis (WTT) - Washington Kastles News Release

Venus Williams awaits a return for the Washington Kastles
Venus Williams awaits a return for the Washington Kastles
(Washington Kastles, Credit: World TeamTennis)

Washington brought the heat last night in West Virginia, where the 2020 WTT season is in the homestretch at The Greenbrier. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to secure the final spot in the playoffs this weekend, as the Vegas Rollers topped the six-time WTT champion Washington Kastles, 19-16, in a Mike Bryan-led mixed doubles comeback in the fifth set.

It was a heartbreaking loss for Washington, who fought so hard to remain in contention.

The Kastles were tied for 4th-place with the New York Empire going into the match, but needed to defeat Vegas to stay in the hunt for the last playoff spot, after New York defeated the 6th-place Orange County Breakers earlier in the day. The Philadelphia Freedoms, Orlando Storm, and Chicago Smash previously locked in their spots earlier this week.

Washington and New York both still have a match left to play to conclude the regular season. The Kastles (6-7) play the Storm (9-4) today at 4 p.m. on Tennis Channel and the Empire (7-6) face the Freedoms (11-2) at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

But even if the Kastles win and the Empire lose to even their records at 7-7, New York owns their tiebreak, which enabled them to clinch the 4th spot Wednesday night.

The six-time champions opened their match against Vegas strong.

World #60 Bernarda Pera breezed past defending Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig in the first set of women's singles. After trading holds in the first two games, Pera fended off an early break on a deciding point to keep on serve. The early threat turned out to be the toughest challenge Pera faced. The Kastle broke Puig in the next game and swiftly held to consolidate the lead, 4-1. Puig made one more stand, holding her serve in the sixth game, but Pera, who is a top-4 league leader in singles, closed out the Roller in the next game with little resistance to start Washington up, 5-2.

But with the momentum in their court, the Kastles suffered a letdown in the next set of men's singles between world #57 Tommy Paul and former world #11 and 10-time ATP singles champ Sam Querrey. The American stars traded routine service holds through most of the set and appeared to be heading to a tiebreak. But with Paul serving down 3-4, Querrey's return caught fire. The Roller riffled-off three points in a row to pressure Paul with four breakpoints. Then at 0-40, clearly rattled, Paul double-faulted to give Querrey the set, 5-3.

Now with just a single game lead at 8-7, Kastles duo Marcelo Arevalo and Nick Monroe stepped up to take on the legendary Bryan Brothers in men's doubles, but in a surprise twist, Querrey subbed for Bob, who sat out the match, due to a strained quad.

The last-minute switch seemed to throw the Kastles off. Querrey and Mike Bryan broke Monroe in the third game and held confidently to take a 3-1 advantage. Then later in the sixth game, Arevalo took a hard tumble, chasing a ball into the far corner of the court that required a medical timeout to attend to his ankle. When play resumed, Arevalo was not the same.

Querrey easily held for 4-2, which gave Vegas the lead for the first time in the match. The Rollers pair then scored a second break on the Monroe serve to take the set, 5-2, and push Vegas ahead, 12-10, going into half-time. But the Kastles snatched the lead back in the fourth set.

Pera, teaming again with 16-time Grand Slam doubles champion Venus Williams, broke Puig and Asia Muhammad in the first game to get the Kastles back on track in women's doubles. Venus then held on a deciding point to take a 2-0 lead and tie the match at 12-12.

The Kastles duo continued to pile on in the games that followed, scoring another break to go up 4-0. But the Rollers scored two, very valuable games at the tail end of the set, which could have swung the match.

Puig put Vegas on the board in the fifth game with a hold for 4-1, which shrunk the Kastles lead to a single game. Then in the next game, Puig and Muhammad capitalized on a rare loose service game from Williams, where the former #1 double-faulted twice, allowing Vegas to tie the overall score at 14-14.

The Kastles quickly regrouped and Pera served out the set, 5-2, but the late slip cost Washington a significant lead, 15-14, instead of 16-13 or 17-12, heading into the deciding set, which would have come in handy against Muhammad and 22-time Grand Slam doubles champion Mike Bryan, who ran away with the fifth and final set in mixed doubles.

The Vegas pair broke Venus and Arevalo at love in the first game and took back the overall lead, after Mike held for 2-0. Venus held a clutch game at 2-1 on a deciding point to even the score at 16-16. But Muhammad and Bryan roared ahead, winning the next three games in a row with sensational shotmaking. Mike served out the set, 5-1, recording the comeback for Vegas, 19-16.

The match may also have featured Bob and Mike Bryan's last professional match ever. With the Rollers season now complete and Bob's lingering injury, it remains to be seen if the Bryan Brothers will make their final appearance at the US Open later this summer. The world-famous tennis twins announced last November they would retire after the 2020 US Open.

Up next, the Kastles take on the Orlando Storm today in their last match of the season. The Storm won their first meeting, 23-17, capturing 3 of 5 sets.

In their second encounter, the Kastles, led by Venus Williams, Tommy Paul, Marcelo Arevalo, Bernarda Pera, Nick Monroe, and Arina Rodionova, are expected to face Ken Skupski, James Ward, Danielle Collins, Tennys Sandgren, Jessica Pegula, and Darija Jurak.




Images from this story

Venus Williams serving in mixed doubles action for the Washington Kastles
Venus Williams serving in mixed doubles action for the Washington Kastles

(World TeamTennis)
Bernarda Pera serving for the Washington Kastles
Bernarda Pera serving for the Washington Kastles

(World TeamTennis)
Venus Williams awaits a return for the Washington Kastles
Venus Williams awaits a return for the Washington Kastles

(World TeamTennis)

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