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Kastles Welcome Back Venus Williams, Local Sensation Frances Tiafoe & Bob & Mike Bryan for 2018 Season

March 14, 2018 - World TeamTennis (WTT) - Washington Kastles News Release

WASHINGTON - The Washington Kastles' 2018 season will include some of tennis' biggest names after the team selected Venus Williams (who will play Thursday, July 26), Bob and Mike Bryan (playing Thursday, July 19), Australian Open quarterfinalist Tennys Sandgren, Kastles veteran and star of the 2015 WTT Finals Madison Brengle, and former Wimbledon finalist Robert Lindstedt in the 2018 World TeamTennis Draft this morning. Next generation ATP star and Washington hometown favorite Frances Tiafoe - fresh off his first ATP World Tour singles title two weeks ago - will join the Kastles for the first four home matches as a wildcard selection.

Three former World No. 1 players - Venus Williams, Bob and Mike Bryan - will join a Kastles team that is looking to rewrite league history with a record seventh championship title. Three-time WTT Coach of the Year Murphy Jensen returns for his ninth season at the helm.

The 43rd season of World TeamTennis presented by GEICO runs July 15 through August 2, with the top two teams slated to face off in the WTT Finals on Sunday, August 5. The Kastles will play 14 regular season matches, including seven on their home court at The Smith Center at George Washington University, beginning on July 16.

"We are pleased to once again bring some of the best tennis players in the world to the Kastles and into our Washington community," said Kastles Owner Mark Ein. "We owe a lot of it to the Kastles fans who make playing here in Washington such an inspiring and rewarding experience. Together, we create such a fantastic environment that the best players in the world - like Venus Williams, the Bryan Brothers, Frances Tiafoe - look forward to coming back as one of their highlights each and every year."

Williams, a long-time WTT veteran, has found a supportive home with the Kastles since joining the team in 2010. She led the Kastles to their 2012 title with a final set victory, a highlight she has often called one of her favorite on-court moments. Venus also contributed to the Kastles securing the King Trophy in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Coming off her best season in years, Venus avenged her loss in the 2017 Australian Open to her sister Serena by returning the favor in Indian Wells Monday night, on the eve of the draft.

Last year, College Park, MD native Frances Tiafoe fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing for his hometown team, the Washington Kastles. It was the talk of the tennis world. In his WTT debut, Frances finished the season with a number of memorable performances and nearly blew the lid off Kastles Stadium with his inspired play. Those who are familiar with the tennis renaissance in Washington likely know his improbable rise from a toddler shadowing his father (an immigrant from Sierra Leone, who was a maintenance worker the Junior Tennis Champions Center) to the youngest Orange Bowl champion in history at the age of 15. Now at 20 years of age and ranked #64 in the world, Tiafoe has scored wins over some of the best players in the game, including 2009 US Open champ Juan Martin Del Potro, Hyeon Chung, Denis Shapovalov, and Alexander Zverev. And just this February, he claimed his first ATP World Tour singles title at the Delray Beach Open.

"Playing for the Kastles last season was such a special experience," said Tiafoe. "The support from my local crowd is something that I will always value and I can't wait to get back to Washington. I'm going to do everything I can to bring the King Trophy home where it belongs."

Bob and Mike Bryan are the most successful team in ATP World Tour history with 112 titles and finishing with the year-end #1 ranking a record ten times. They captured their 1,000th career victory in 2016 and were named the ATP Fan Favorites Men's Doubles Team of the year for the 12th time. The duo also won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games. This marks the third straight season the Bryans will be appearing for the Kastles.

"We're honored to be picked by the Kastles," said Mike Bryan. "They're a tennis dynasty. There's no other house that compares to Kastles Stadium. The crowd really brings out our best tennis."

"We're definitely pumped to return to DC," added Bob Bryan. "We'd love nothing more than to help the Kastles break the all-time record on our watch."

The first overall pick in the 2018 WTT draft, Tennys Sandgren will make his debut for the Kastles. Sandgren is one of the hottest players on the ATP World Tour. Currently ranked #59 in the world in singles, the Tennessee native had a major breakthrough earlier this year. In his Australian Open main draw debut, Sandgren won his opening match against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, before defeating 2014 champion and #9 seed Stan Wawrinka to score his first win over a top-10 player. Sandgren went on to down the world #5 Dominic Thiem, before ultimately losing to Next-Gen star Hyeon Chung. On the Futures and Challenger circuits, Sandgren has won a combined 30 singles and doubles titles.

Rounding out the Kastles roster are Kastles veteran Madison Brengle, doubles specialists Robert Lindstedt and Nicole Melichar. In 2016, Brengle had a breakout season for the Kastles, ending the year as the top women's singles player in the league, winning nine of her 12 sets. She will always be remembered by Washington, DC sports fans for closing out the 2015 WTT Championship match at Kastles Stadium against current #10 ranked Elina Svitolina in a thrilling last set that brought the entire stadium to its feet.

Lindstedt, meanwhile, captured his first Grand Slam title at the 2014 Australian Open. Prior to that, Lindstedt reached the Wimbledon men's doubles finals on three occasions and the quarterfinals of the French Open. He reached a career high of #3 in the world in men's doubles in 2013 and has amassed 21 ATP World Tour titles.

Making her Kastles debut, Florida native Nicole Melichar is currently ranked #34 in the world in doubles She's won one WTA Tour and one WTA 125K series doubles titles, along with two singles and six doubles titles on the ITF circuit. In women's doubles, she reached the round of 16 with partner Kveta Peschke at the Australian Open earlier this year, and in mixed doubles made the quarters at Wimbledon last summer with Andre Begemann. At the age of 24, Nicole has a bright tennis future ahead of her. She is a frequent doubles partner and also works as a part-time coach for Brengle. Watch these two Kastles team up for another thrilling season of World TeamTennis in DC.

"We are thrilled to present the 2018 roster," added Ein. "It is a fantastic blend of fan-favorite veterans and exciting newcomers. It will be a real treat for fans who will be able to cheer for the players they've come to know as part of the Kastles family and welcome a new crop of players that I think can form a strong nucleus of the team for many years to come."

Elsewhere in the league, teams drafted star-studded competition for the Kastles, highlighted by the selection of US Open finalist and world No. 9 Kevin Anderson by the Philadelphia Freedoms. Other top names announced include Jack Sock, John Isner, 2017 US Open singles champion Sloane Stephens, Mardy Fish and Eugenie Bouchard.

The WTT will also be home to one of the world's most exciting up-and-coming talents, as the Freedoms selected 16-year-old WTA player Amanda Anisimova with the second overall pick. Anisimova and the Freedoms will visit Kastles Stadium on July 28. Other visiting player highlights include defending WTT female MVP Andreja Klepac who will lead the Orange County Breakers in Washington on July 18 and Daniel Nestor, one of the greatest men's doubles players of all time, who comes to town July 26 with the Springfield Lasers.

Season tickets are currently on sale with single-match tickets on sale later this spring. Fans are encouraged to secure season tickets now to see Williams, Tiafoe, the Bryan Brothers and the rest of the Kastles battle for their seventh title. A limited number of four-seat VIP tables and boxes are available, as well as individual seats with spectacular views in the Kastles Baseline Experience and Kastles Baseline Club. Season tickets start at $150 and can be purchased by calling 202-4-TENNIS (483-6647).

For more information on the Washington Kastles, please visit www.WashingtonKastles.com.

Date Opponent

7/15 At New York

7/16 New York (Tiafoe)

7/17

7/18 Orange County (Tiafoe)

7/19 San Diego (Bryan Bros. & Tiafoe)

7/20 At Philadelphia

7/21 New York (Tiafoe)

7/22

7/23 At New York

7/24 Charity Classic

7/25 San Diego

7/26 Springfield (V. Williams)

7/27 At Philadelphia

7/28 Philadelphia

7/29

7/30 At Springfield

7/31

8/1 At San Diego

8/2 At Orange County

8/3

8/4

8/5 WTT Finals

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