Thursday, July 17, 2014

WTT: Washington Kastles 23 Texas Wild 18

All smiles for Martina Hingis & Venus Williams (r)

Venus, if you will... Venus Williams returned to the Washington Kastles after a two-year absence, and helped lead the home team to a 23-18 victory over the Texas Wild before a sold-out crowd of 3,275 at Kastle Stadium/Charles E. Smith Center. Williams teamed up with Martina Hingis to win Women's Doubles, then cheered on Leander Paes and Bobby Reynolds as they won Men's Doubles 5-2 to cinch the victory.

Last night's sold-out crowd set an all-time Kastles home record for attendance. The Kastles improved to 7-1, and can practically taste home-court advantage for next week's Eastern Conference Championship. Unfortunately the WTT championship will take place on the home court of the Western Conference champion (it's their turn) so that mean's you only have two (three, counting the playoffs) more chances to catch the Kastles live at Smith Center.

Bobby Reynolds smashes his way past Tim Smyczek

Is it any wonder everyone showed up last night to see Venus Williams' long-awaited return? The 22-time Grand Slam champion didn't disappoint, teaming with Hingis to capture the second set 5-2, and giving the Kastles some much needed breathing room (10-6 after two sets.) Reynolds proved to be the ultimate hero however, rallying to upend Tim Smyczek (who replaced Alex Bogomolov Jr., out with a groin injury.) His 5-4 first set victory turned Kastles Stadium upside down, setting the stage for a "grand" night of tennis.

Texas didn't give up however; edging the home team in sets three and four. That meant an end to Hingis and Paes' Mixed Doubles winning streak. Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Anabel Medina Garrigues won a close one 5-4, reducing the Kastles lead to 14-11 with two sets to go. Garrigues stayed on the court, and surprised Williams 5-4 in Women's Singles. Thankfully, Reynolds & Paes slammed the door on the Wild's rally, easily dispatching of Qureshi and Smyczek, and sending the record crowd home happy.

Bench reaction to Bobby Reynolds' Men's Singles win

The Kastles take to the road, for a rematch with the Philadelphia Freedom tonight at 7; before doing battle with the Springfield Lasers and Boston Lobsters on Friday and Saturday nights. Washington returns home to host the Lobsters on Monday night, and the Lasers on Tuesday. Tuesday night's contest will wrap up the home regular season, and features Sloane Stephens in her Kastles debut (better late than never!) The Kastles return to Philadelphia next Wednesday for the regular season finale.

Leander Paes and Hingis share a laugh

Click here for last night's box score.

Martina Hingis

Ready for action: Venus Williams

Leander Paes returns in Mixed Doubles

Anabel Medina Garrigues upset Williams in Women's Singles

Tim Smyczek

Darija Jurak

Pre-game entertainment on 22nd street

Kastles cheerleader celebrates