Friday, July 17, 2015

WTT: San Diego Aviators 22 Washington Kastles 18

Madison Brengle's deadly backhand

Martina Hingis... We miss you. The Washington Kastles lost a second straight match at home for the first time in forever, falling to the San Diego Aviators before another big crowd at Charles E. Smith Center last night. No offense to substitute Madison Brengle (after all, she's ranked #35 in the world) but the absence of Hingis, the reigning Women's Doubles and Mixed Doubles champion at Wimbledon is starting to take a toll on the Kastles' bottom line/record. San Diego won four of five sets, outscoring the Kastles 22-18 as they improved their record to 3-1. Washington slips to 2-2.

Last night was Military Night, and the first 1,000 fans received FREE Kastles' camouflage hats... just two nights removed from FREE Championship t-shirts on Tuesday (one more reason, Mark Ein is the best sports owner in town!) Hat in hand, it was time to play tennis: Washington's Denis Kudla opened against 17-year-old wunderkind Taylor Fritz, the current #1 junior men's player in the world. It was a thrilling back-and-forth affair, ultimately won by Fritz 5-3. San Diego's dynamic duo of Darija Jurak and Chanelle Scheepers pushed that lead to 10-7 with a 5-4 second set victory over Brengle and Anastasia Rodionova in Women's Doubles. The Kastles had their chances (all night, in fact) but couldn't close when they had to.

Military Night

Team captain Leander Paes teamed up with Kudla in Men's Doubles to tie the score at 12 after three sets (halftime.) Paes & Kudla literally had a ball, besting Fritz and Raven Klaasen 5-2 in relatively easy fashion. Unfortunately after the break, San Diego regained the edge, riding Scheepers' 5-3 victory over Brengle in Women's Singles to a 17-15 overall advantage.

Leander Paes won Men's Double with Denis Kudla

Heading into the fifth and decisive set, Washington trailed by two but still had their strongest configuration (Mixed Doubles) to play. Rodionova took Hingis' place alongside Paes; but despite breaking back to tie the set at 3-all, they lost the final two games (and match) to Jurak and Klaasen. A normally raucous Kastles Stadium turned quiet in an instant; and the home team was left to ponder a second straight loss at home. To put that into perspective, consider Washington lost a total of two home matches between 2011-2014. Ouch.

San Diego's Taylor Fritz tops Kudla in Men's Singles

Fear not however. Washington rebounded from Tuesday's upset loss to Austin, with a win over the Springfield Lasers on Wednesday. It stands to reason, they're due for a win tonight at conference rival Philadelphia (1-3.) Both teams trail Boston (3-2) for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Kastles return to Smith Center on Saturday, where they'll host the Freedom in the home-and-home series finale. Tickets start at just $12, and are available online (click here) or at the Smith Center box office. In honor of Joe Namath and other bold prognosticators, I'm guaranteeing the Kastles' first home win on Saturday. Action gets underway at 5 PM, so you'll have plenty of time to go out for dinner after. Go Kastles!

Denis Kudla takes a bow!

Click here for last night's box score.

Topspin struts his stuff

Aviators' Head Coach (and 3x Grand Slam winner) John Llyod

Chanelle Scheepers won Women's Singles

Head coach Murphy Jensen celebrates with Paes & Kudla