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Top 10 Moments In Kastles History: #6

TOP 10 MOMENTS IN KASTLES HISTORY

#6: Kastles Play Last Match At The Wharf

Win Third Straight Title To Cap Historic 2013

The last hurrah at The Wharf (Photo Credit: Vithaya Phongsavan)


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, July 28, 2013, the Washington Kastles won their third consecutive championship (and fourth total), sweeping all five sets of the Mylan WTT Finals to defeat the Springfield Lasers 25-12 in front of an overflow capacity crowd of 2,670 fans at Kastles Stadium. The championship capped a historic season for the franchise, in which they recorded a 34-match win streak that surpassed the all-time record, previously held by the LA Lakers, and a season-ending W-L record of 14-2 and a combined record of 46-2, since 2011.

"It's been an unforgettable season for our franchise," said Kastles owner Mark Ein after the match. "We broke a 41-year-old winning streak record to start it off, then captured our fourth King Trophy to finish it. Our results on and off the court continue to amaze me and inspire our players, and we are all already looking forward to 2014."

The trophy also served as a sentimental parting gift in memory of Kastles Stadium on the Southwest Waterfront, a.k.a. "The Wharf." The 2013 WTT final was the last match at The Wharf, where from 2011-2013 the Kastles set many of their most memorable records.

Intrigue over former world #1 Andy Roddick surrounded the final from the start. (Photo Credit: Vithaya Phongsavan)


Those in attendance had plenty of time to contemplate the Wharf's passing, beneath their umbrellas. A rain storm delayed the opening of the Championship two-hours, but did not dampen the spirit of the sold-out crowd who came to see world-class tennis. When at last the final commenced, fans were generously rewarded for their patience.

Intrigue surrounded the final from the start. The Lasers brought the biggest server in the game with them - US Open champ and former world #1 Andy Roddick - to try and blow away the Kastles. But in a surprise tactical twist, Springfield Coach John-Laffnie de Jager chose to start Rik de Voest, instead of Roddick, in both men's singles and doubles. While the move may have made sense on paper, it left many in Kastles Stadium scratching their heads. The lead-off men's singles player for Washington was none other than Kastles closer Bobby Reynolds, who earned this distinction by performing exceedingly well in high-pressure moments for the Kastles throughout his WTT career.

While Roddick and Reynolds had never met, de Voest entered with a 5-0 record against Reynolds on the ATP World Tour and a 1-1 mark in WTT play. But the one Reynolds win came less than two weeks before, and was a total blowout: 5-1. The decision to play de Voest again against Reynolds proved to be a costly mistake. Returning the 3-all deciding point, up 4-1 - with nearly 2,700 fans cheering him on, the Kastles closer punched back de Voest's first serve and the Laser buckled, spraying his first forehand wide to concede the set to the Kastles by the same score the second time around: 5-1.

Kastles closer Bobby Reynolds foils the Lasers' plans in the very first set. (Photo Credit: Willis Bretz)

Next up, a determined Martina Hingis and Anastasia Rodionova took the court against Vania King and WTT Female Rookie of the Year Alisa Kleybanova in women's doubles. The pair had lost both sets in their previous two regular season matches against Springfield, but after winning six of their last seven sets heading into the WTT Final, Hingis and Rodionova saved their best for last. Rodionova, in particular, was spectacular from the outset, but was tested serving, down 2-3, on a crucial 3-all deciding point. She hit a solid first serve, but the Lasers protested it was long. When the official disagreed, the Kastles won the point and game, which leveled the set at 3-all. From that point on, Hingis and Rodionova rolled. They shut out the Lasers without losing another game, 5-3, and advanced the Kastles lead to 10-4.

In men's doubles, Kastles Captain Leander Paes and Bobby Reynolds teamed up against de Voest and Jean-Julien Rojer, and everything proceeded routinely, until Paes and Reynolds broke Rojer's serve to go up 4-2 in the set. At that point, down a break, the Lasers substituted Roddick in for de Voest, but it was too little, too late. After a quick few points, Paes held with an ace out wide to give Washington a 9-game halftime lead, 15-6. And Hingis didn't squander it. Returning to the court for singles, she decimated Kleybanova, 5-2, to extend the Kastles lead to 12-points at 20-8 and set the stage for the final set of the match.

Paes and Hingis take it to the Lasers' biggest gun. (Photo Credit: Willis Bretz)


The mixed doubles finale was the highlight of the Championship. It pitted Hingis and Paes opposite Roddick and Kleybanova. For sure, the odds were stacked against the Lasers, who were down 8-20. But if anyone could get Springfield back in the match, it was Andy Roddick.

Roddick poured everything he had into the 34-minute final set. When facing quadruple break point in the second game of the set, he channeled the service speed that took him to No. 1 in the world in 2003 and hit an ace past Hingis, followed by another service winner directed at Paes, and then another first serve coupled with a vintage inside-out forehand that Hingis couldn't return. At 3-all, however, he swung too hard at a forehand volley and missed well long, giving the Kastles a 4-2 lead in the set, affording Hingis the chance to serve for the championship.

No seats were occupied as fans stood tall in hopes of seeing history made. But they would have to wait two more games, as Hingis was broken at love and then Kleybanova held to force a tiebreaker.

The final set at The Wharf (Photo Credit: Rich Kessler)

With Springfield leading 2-1 in the tiebreaker, Hingis and Paes worked the magic that would eventually win them the mixed doubles Grand Slam. The Lasers failed to win another point. Returning Kleybanova's serve, up 4-2, with three championship points to spare, Paes's stepped inside the baseline on the deuce court and blasted a forehand return past Roddick at the net for a clean down-the-line winner, clinching the Kastle's third-straight championship, and another unforgettable season of tennis.

The Kastles jump for joy at the ultimate moment. (Photo Credit: Kevin Koski)