Upon conclusion of the traditional stretch of the Tennis calendar at Wimbledon, the theme shifts across the pond from Quiet Please, Play to the Summer Carnival of World Team Tennis. WTT is the dream child of Tennis Legend Billie Jean King and it started in 1973. But the tournament’s popularity really boomed in the last decade thanks to a few brilliant tennis minds and dynamic management groups, World Team Tennis is now bigger and better than it has ever been . As a Washington Kastles Fan, I am chuffed to bits that my team has played a huge role in this success.
The Kastles started to make an impact immediately winning thrice in their five years career. Owner Mark Ein brought together an excellent mix of youth and experience and it is admirable the way Coach Murphy Jensen, a former Pro and a Grand slam doubles champion brings high energy and positive attitude every single night. Many greats of the game have graced D.C’s Waterfront in Kastles uniform, including Williams sisters Serena and Venus. Led by Indian Leander Paes who is a true team man, has the quickest hands in Tennis and a Lion Heart, one is assured of blockbuster entertainment. Don’t believe me? Well, ask the First Lady Michelle Obama and the First daughters who are huge Kastles fans and have seen a few games at the Wharf. Kastles Tennis has become Washington D.C’s favorite Summer Pastime!
For the true tennis fans, the best thing about WTT is the spectator involvement in the game. With Mr. Johnnie Walker shaking a stilt or two to the tunes in between points and a chance to have a close interaction with the players, it is a treat one can’t afford to miss. Who doesn’t want to see the newest Tennis Hall of Fame inductee and the newest Kastle Martina Hingis in action from a few yards? And if you are in the sweet sixteens’ you get lucky with player autographs and snaps at the end of every game from the likes of Andy Roddick and Lindsey Davenport. These days Kastles stadium is louder with clamorous uproar and an odd conch whistle with @LeanderArmy joining the house. The Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Oi,Oi,Oi cheer can also be heard when Kastles utility player A-Rod (Anastasia Rodionova) in action. Washington Kastles always had the Aussie flavor with earlier contribution from doubles great Rennae Stubbs. Let’s Go Bobby is the most popular cheer, for the Kastles closure Booby Reynolds who is stacking up many a save these days.
The beauty of World Team Tennis is its commitment not only to better the game of Tennis but also the community. Washington Kastles and all the other teams support various charities which are the difference makers in the communities. Kastles for one have a Military appreciation night, to salute all the men and women in uniform who serve for world peace.
Contrary to the general view in the sporting world, the Washington Kastles record-breaking run of 34 straight wins is convincingly better than the LA Lakers 1971-72 run. Firstly, the WTT team format is a comprehensive skill test with five different formats and is largely alien to tennis pros except the rare Davis/Fed cup tie opportunities that top players unfortunately opt out more often than not. Mostly importantly, the fact that this feat is a collaborated effort in a three-year span with multiple roster changes is jolly commendable. On Sunday, Kastles take to the court in trying to achieve a Championship three-peat and the Leander Army believe say Cometh the Hour, Cometh the man and believe their Lion will roar loudly in the final. Tip of the hat to the team that always Refuse to Lose and this is just the beginning of the Washington Kastles Dynasty in pro sports!
By Vikas Vemuri