Top 10 Moments In Kastles History: #3July 14, 2017
#3: 2012 Kastles Clinch Third WTT Title &
Second Straight Perfect Season
Venus Williams Defeats CoCo Vandeweghe
in winner-take-all tiebreaker
To commemorate the Kastles 10th-anniversary season, we've reviewed the team's most memorable events, episodes, incidents, and milestones over the years, and selected the 10 Greatest Moments in Kastles History! We hope this vibrant look back inspires you to look forward to another historic season.
On Sunday, September 16, 2012, the Washington Kastles completed a historic, second-consecutive, undefeated season by edging the Sacramento Capitals 20-19 in a dramatic, back-and-forth WTT Final in Charleston, S.C.
No team in 40 years of World TeamTennis competition had ever completed a perfect season, until the Kastles improbable 2011 season, when they swept the league 16-0. Certainly, no one, not even those on the Washington bench, ever imagined that a second perfect season was possible the following year! But with every point, and every game, and every set that followed that afternoon, the inconceivable tenuously became conceivable.
Sacramento put up a spirited fight!
Sacramento stole the lead early, when world #35 Kevin Anderson, who was brought in late in the season to win a title for the Capitals, defeated WTT's reigning Male MVP Bobby Reynolds, 5-3, in men's singles. The big serving South African was too much for the Kastle to handle that afternoon. Throughout the entire match Anderson never faced a break point! But the Kastles rebounded in women's doubles, after Venus Williams and Anastasia Rodionova put a beat down on Asia Muhammad and Yasmin Schnack, 5-1, to take the match lead: 8-6. But as resounding as Williams and Rodionova's win may have been, the Capitals yanked the momentum back quickly.
In the very next set, Anderson returned to the court with former world #1 doubles champ Mark Knowles and, unfortunately for Reynolds and Kastles captain Leander Paes, they were hot. Paes and Reynolds had a few chances to break serve in the fifth game of the set. The Kastles took a 3-1 lead on Knowles's serve. But the Knowles fought off all three break points, and on the 3-all decider, Paes faked a poach at net, which froze up Reynolds, and allowed Knowles to hit a game-saving forehand volley winner down the center of the court. The Capitals then went on to win the set, 5-2, and narrowly reclaim the lead: 11-10.
Down a game going into the fourth set, Paes quickly regrouped with Venus to take on Knowles and rising star Coco Vandeweghe in mixed doubles. This was the tightest set of the match, up until that point, culminating with a deciding tiebreak, in which the Kastles shined. After Paes hit a pair of winners to give Washington a 4-1 lead in the breaker, Venus consolidated the set with a passing shot that bounced off the net and past a startled Knowles.
By winning the mixed doubles set 5-4, Washington drew even with Sacramento, 15-15, meaning that the WTT Championship would be decided by one final set: Williams vs. Vandeweghe.
It was a match for the ages!
Vandeweghe took the upper hand early, breaking Williams to claim a 3-2 lead. But Williams broke right back for 3-3. After service holds by both players to even the set at 4-4, the match, the season, the championship, and the Kastles' 31 match unbeaten streak would all come down to a tiebreaker to five points.
Williams faced an immediate 0-2 deficit, after losing the first two points on her serve. But when Vandeweghe barely missed on a backhand down the line on the third point, Williams began a run of five consecutive points to win the tiebreaker, 5-2, and cement history for the Kastles. As Vandeweghe's final forehand flew long, Williams's teammates stormed the court to celebrate with team captain Paes and Reynolds lifting the 6-foot-1 Williams on their shoulders, as hundreds of Kastles fans who made the trip to Charleston cheered from the stands.
"It's my first WTT title in twelve years," said Williams afterward. "It's amazing! This whole year has been a fight, but incredibly successful, because of what I've been up against," she added, in reference to her struggle with Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease that kept her out of competitive tennis from September 2011 through March 2012. "I really felt like I came out on fire in all my matches."
Earlier that summer, Williams won the Wimbledon and Olympic gold doubles titles with her sister, Serena, but still maintains today, this 2012 WTT win was one of the most memorable of her long and very accomplished career.