Top 10 Moments In Kastles History: #5July 12, 2017
TOP 10 MOMENTS IN KASTLES HISTORY
#5: 2015 Kastles Win Fifth-Straight WTT Title, Sixth Total
Madison Brengle Clinches Final Set
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, August 2, 2015, the Washington Kastles faced the Austin Aces in the Mylan World TeamTennis final. The winner of the match would be crowned the league champion, an impressive achievement for any team, but for the Kastles the win would mean a bit more. It would mean a record fifth-straight (and sixth total) WTT title. Never before in the league's 40 year history had a team captured the King Trophy five-straight times.
The atmosphere inside Kastles Stadium was turbocharged for the occasion. Washington went into the match with a 12-4 record for the season, one match behind the Austin Aces, who led the league with a 13-3 record. The league-best record meant that Aces Coach, and Mylan WTT Coach of the Year, Rick Leach had the privilege of choosing the order of play, which he didn't squander. Coach Leach hoped to repeat the same victory over the Kastles just five days earlier by back-end loading the men's and women's singles sets with the exact same player match-ups.
Same order, different result
At 11:30 am, in front of a packed crowd of enthusiastic tennis fans and a nationwide television audience, the Kastles got to work quickly. The strength of the Kastles was always its doubles bench, and this occasion was no different. Courtesy of captain Leander Paes and Martina Hingis in mixed doubles, Hingis and Anastasia Rodionova in women's doubles, and Paes and Sam Querrey in men's doubles, the Kastles swept the first three sets to take a 15-9 lead.
But while the Kastles were in a good position at halftime, the two remaining sets were trouble for Washington in their final regular-season match against the Aces. Five days earlier, Teymuraz Gabashvili, a.k.a. "the Teymurnator," beat Querrey 5-0 and Elina Svitolina defeated Brengle 5-1. The matchups were the same that Sunday. Had those scores repeated, Austin would have won the 2015 title. But that's not what happened.
In men's singles, Gabashvili played well enough to force a tiebreaker, but this time Querrey found another gear. Serving at 2-4, the Teymurnator faced three set points. He saved the first by firing off an unreturnable serve, but on the second, he missed a gorgeous forehand winner by inches, which pained him greatly. While the Austin Ace argued vehemently with the chair umpire, Querrey celebrated a 5-4(3) victory.
Now up 20-13, the Kastles turned their championship hopes to Brengle in women's singles. Madison was originally only scheduled to play five matches for the team during the first week of the season, but when an injured Serena Williams withdrew from two matches, the Dover, Delaware-native answered the call. When Washington needed a second women's player in Austin early that week, Brengle answered the call. And when Coach Jensen needed a closer in the Mylan WTT Final, Brengle answered the call one last time, at the most important moment of the season.
Svitolina won 12 of the first 13 points against Brengle the last time they met, so a seven-game comeback was not out of the question. But the 44th-ranked Brengle went toe-to-toe with the then #19 ranked (current world #5) Svitolina through the first six games of the set, claiming a pair of 3-all deciding points, the second of which tied the set at 3-3 and protected Washington's overall lead at 23-16. After Svitolina held for 4-3, Brengle faced another 3-all point on her serve, but this time she netted a backhand, snapping an incredible 16-set winning streak for Washington in the Mylan WTT Finals dating back to 2012.
Though Svitolina ultimately won the set 5-3, Washington held a 23-18 advantage entering extended play. All Brengle needed was one game to clinch the match. Svitolina needed five to force a super-tiebreaker, which she and her Austin teammates definitely thought was possible. The pressure on both players in the emotionally-charged stadium was palpable. The Austin Ace missed a pair of forehands on the first two points of extended play. Brengle hit a poor drop shot to lose the next point, but prevailed in an extended rally on the next point when she crushed a crosscourt forehand winner to give her a 3-1 lead in the game.
With three championship points at her disposal, Brengle only needed one. At the first opportunity, the Kastle attacked the net and put away a daring, swinging backhand volley that brought all of Kastles Stadium to its feet in jubilation.
Brengle's teammates fled their bench and mobbed the 25-year-old at mid-court, celebrating the continuation of one of the most impressive dynasties in all of professional sports. Rennae Stubbs, who played on Washington's 2009 and 2011 championship teams, fought away a smile while broadcasting for ESPN2.