Recap of Kastles/Freedoms
The Washington Kastles clearly showed Tuesday night that they are back to defend their World TeamTennis Championship, fending off scorching temperatures and a ferocious rally to beat the Philadelphia Freedoms 21-15 before more than 2,000 spirited fans at Kastles Stadium.
After a tough supertiebreaker road loss to the New York Sportimes Monday night, the Kastles rebounded in their home opener, winning three of five sets and holding on to win after taking a commanding early lead.
Bobby Reynolds again showed why the Kastles selected him with the first overall pick in the WTT draft, as he opened the match with a 5-1 singles win over Ramon Delgado. Reynolds kept Delgado on his heels by never requiring a second serve, converting 12 of 15 first serve points and firing two aces. Reynolds also won both of the crucial 3-all points in the set.
It was great redemption for Reynolds, who nearly vaulted the Kastles to a comeback overtime win in the final set Monday.
"I felt like I let the team down [Monday] night," he said. "It was great to go out there first and get the team ahead."
Angie Haynes expanded the Kastles' lead with a great home debut, beating 18-year-old Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 5-2 in women's singles. The win gave the Kastles a 10-3 overall lead in the match, and for Haynes, it was a great rebound victory after a singles loss Monday night against the Sportimes. The win was particularly remarkable in that it came against Lertcheewakarn, the 2009 Wimbledon junior champion who is seen as one of the rising stars in tennis and who had clinched the Freedoms season opener the night before in a Supertiebreaker against Martina Hingis.
Reynolds and Leander Paes looked to extend the Kastles lead in doubles against Delgado and Prakash Amritraj, but lost a tight set, 5-4 in a tiebreak. But the set was not without other great moments for the Kastles.
During one scintillating point at 2-all, Reynolds lofted a desperation lob and appeared on the ropes, but he and Paes each made remarkable stabs at overhead smashes to continue the rally, and eventually induced Delgado to hit the ball into the net. The point helped give Kastles a 3-2 lead in games. But the Freedoms tied the set at 4-4 to set up five-point tiebreak, which they won to cut the Kastles overall match lead to 14-8.
Haynes and Rennae Stubbs
took over for the Kastles in the fourth set, facing Lertcheewakarn and Courtney Nagle. The Freedoms pair proved to be a fierce foe, taking a 4-1 lead in the set. But Stubbs
and Haynes, knowing that every game counts in World TeamTennis, fought to get one game back before falling 5-2 to leave the Kastles with a 16-13 lead heading into the final set.
It was then up to Paes and Stubbs
to show why they have 18 Grand Slam titles between them. Needing to win the final set in mixed doubles or win in Overtime to secure the match victory, they did not disappoint, beating Nagle and Amritraj 5-2 in a nailbiting set that was much closer than the score indicates.
At one crucial point in the set, Paes and Stubbs
may have played one the best and certainly most memorable points in Kastles history. Up 3-2, the Kastles found themselves two games from the winning the match but locked in a fierce battle. At 3-all in that game, Amritraj pushed Paes literally to the back corner of the stadium court with an overhead smash, but Paes responded with a high and deep defensive overhead to set up a furious rally, which Paes ended with an volley winner. The Kastles then won the next game behind Stubbs
' serve to clinch the match and even the team's season record at 1-1.
"What we saw here was some of the best doubles that's ever been played," an exhilarated Kastles head coach Murphy Jensen said after the match.
It was truly an electric atmosphere at Kastles Stadium, as enthusiastic Kastles fans returned to the site of the team's dramatic win in the 2009 WTT Championship match. The team invited more than a dozen captains of local championship teams on court during halftime to help celebrate, while a long line of young fans got autographs from players after the match.
The Kastles will be back at Kastles Stadium tonight as seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams makes her Kastles debut against the New York Buzz and former world number one Martina Hingis.