Kastles at Kansas City Explorers Preview
Washington Kastles (12-0) at Kansas City Explorers (4-8)
Friday, July 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm
Live Scoring: WashingtonKastles.com
Real-Time Analysis: Facebook, Twitter
All-Time: Explorers lead Kastles 3-2
Last Meeting: Kastles def. Explorers 25-8 on July 22, 2012 (Home)
Only two matches separate the Washington Kastles from a second consecutive perfect regular season: tonight's road encounter against the 4-8 Kansas City Explorers and tomorrow's versus the 4-8 Springfield Lasers.
In spite of their sub-.500 records, the Explorers and Lasers still have plenty to play for in the competitive Western Conference. Both teams trail first-place Orange County by two matches and second-place Sacramento by one, meaning a playoff spot is still a real possibility for Kansas City and Springfield.
The Explorers will also be keen to put on a better performance in front of their home fans than they did in DC on Sunday. The Kastles crushed Kansas City 25-8 five days ago for the most lopsided victory in Washington franchise history.
Leander Paes, Anastasia Rodionova and Venus Williams each won two sets in that match, but are now in London for The Olympic Games.
Their replacements -- Treat Huey, Edina Gallovits-Hall and Raquel Kops-Jones -- made major contributions in the Kastles' 21-16 victories over Philadelphia on Tuesday and New York on Wednesday.
Follow live scoring of tonight's match at 8:35 pm DC time on WashingtonKastles.com
as the Kastles play for their 29th consecutive victory.
MS: Bobby Reynolds (WAS) vs. Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (KCE)
WS: Edina Gallovits-Hall (WAS) vs. Chanel Simmonds (KCE)
MD: Reynolds/Treat Huey (WAS) vs. Qureshi/Nick Monroe (KCE)
WD: Gallovits-Hall/Raquel Kops-Jones (WAS) vs. Simmonds/Tetiana Luzhanska (KCE)
MXD: Huey/Kops-Jones (WAS) vs. Qureshi/Luzhanska (KCE)
Bobby Reynolds has won three straight sets and 15 of his last 18 games in singles.
(Photo by Fred Mullane/Camerawork USA)
After being blitzed by Bobby Reynolds 5-0 on Sunday, Nick Monroe of the Explorers may not get the opportunity for a rematch. World No. 12 doubles player Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi has emerged as a steadier singles player for the Explorers. But the Kastles' closer's powerful passing shots could counteract Qureshi's serve-and-volley style. No matter whom he plays tonight, Reynolds is a heavy favorite to win his fourth straight singles set.
On Sunday, the Explorers started women's singles with 19-year-old Chanel Simmonds before substituting in Tetiana Luzhanska. Neither made a mark on Williams, who won the set for Washington 5-1. Simmonds is three one-thousandths of a point ahead of New York's Marina Hingis atop the WTT women's singles rankings. Washington's Gallovits-Hall has never met Simmonds before, but the Kastle did defeat another southpaw, Philadelphia's Kristyna Pliskova, 5-3 on Tuesday.
Far-and-away the most entertaining set in Sunday's Kastles' rout of Kansas City was men's doubles. Monroe's instincts and speed around the net were a strong complement to Qureshi's doubles prowess, but Reynolds and Paes still prevailed with a late service break 5-3. The strong-serving Huey's insertion into the Washington lineup hasn't slowed the Kastles down a bit. He's 3-1 in four sets played overall this season.
After a shaky debut together at home on Tuesday, Gallovits-Hall and Kops-Jones won a pivotal women's doubles set against New York on Wednesday 5-2. That's trouble for the Explorers' duo of Simmonds and Luzhanska. Though she's ranked at the top of the league in singles, Simmonds is dead-last in doubles with Luzhanska. The Kastles' newcomers should be able to maintain the momentum they found in New York.
Did you know? Through two sets in mixed doubles, Kops-Jones and Huey have won a higher percentage of games than Paes did this season (0.625 to 0.623). Their experience playing together at Wimbledon has served them well in World TeamTennis. As was the case Sunday, Luzhanska will be the weak link on the court when she teams with Qureshi.
|Kansas City's Nick Monroe is dynamic in doubles but struggling in singles.
(Photo by Fred Mullane/Camerawork USA)
KEY FOR THE KASTLES - PLAY AT YOUR LEVEL
Without a doubt tonight's match will be closer than Sunday's meeting between these same two teams in DC. Kansas City will feel more inspired competing at home, while Washington brings three new players to the mix.
But by no means should the result be any different. Washington will be favored in four of five sets, with only the Simmonds vs. Gallovits-Hall singles set presenting problems on paper.
One of the underlying themes of the Kastles' historic 28-match unbeaten run is that the team consistently plays at its level, and not that of its opponent. If that trend continues tonight, so shall the streak.