Washington, D.C. (July 26, 2009) – Olga Puchkova of the Washington Kastles held off three match points to defeat Vania King of the Springfield Lasers in the final set of the Advanta World TeamTennis Finals, leading Washington to a 23-20 win over Springfield and their first WTT Championship.
Trailing by two games heading into the final set, the Lasers were still exactly where they wanted to be – with their fate on the racquet of King, the League’s 2009 Female MVP. King had the opportunity to continue her season-long heroics but it was the Kastles’ Puchkova who sent the fans into a victory celebration with the upset 5-4 win over King.
The Kastles led from start to finish. Scott Oudsema of the Washington Kastles served three aces en route to a 5-3 win over Springfield’s Raven Klaasen in the opening set of men’s singles.
The League’s top two mixed doubles teams faced off in the second event. The Lasers went up a break early when 2009 Male MVP Leander Paes double-faulted in the opening game of the mixed doubles. The Kastles immediately broke Martin Damm’s serve to even the set at 1-1. Damm held serve the next time around to bring it back to 3-3. After evening up the match at 4-4, the Kastles rolled through the tiebreaker 5-1 for a 5-4 set win and an overall 10-7 lead.
Midway through the Advanta WTT Championship Finals on Sunday afternoon between the Washington Kastles and the Springfield Lasers, Kastles Coach Murphy Jensen implored his team to “play with a sense of urgency.” They did.
The Kastles built their lead to four games at halftime when Paes and Oudsema edged Damm and Klaasen 5-4 in men’s doubles to take a 15-11 lead into halftime.
King teamed with Liezel Huber to close the gap to two games with a 5-3 win over Olga Puchkova and Stubbs in women’s doubles.
Puchkova and King traded nervous service breaks in the first two games of the final set. King rallied to a 4-2 lead and three championship points before Puchkova staged her comeback to win the final and the championship. Puchkova credited her team and the Kastles crowd with pushing her to the victory. “It was amazing, it was awesome,” said Puchkova of the crowd chanting her name after she closed out King for the win. “The win boosted my confidence a lot. Hopefully this year I can build on this experience.”
“The team just never gave up,” said Coach Jensen. “That’s what makes WTT so exciting.”
Kastles team owner Mark Ein called it the most exciting match he had ever seen. “It’s a dream come true to win this in front of our fans,” Ein said.
Springfield’s coach John-Laffnie de Jager said the difference in the match was Washington’s success with 3-all points but said the atmosphere and competition was vintage World TeamTennis. “This match is what WTT is all about,” said de Jager. “It was exciting.”
The Advanta WTT Finals MVP was the Kastles’ Scott Oudsema who had the highest winning percentage of any player in the Finals.
Advanta World TeamTennis - Results for Sunday, 7/26
(Home teams in capital letters)
Advanta WTT Finals
Washington Kastles def. SPRINGFIELD LASERS 23-20
Men's Singles - Scott Oudsema (Kastles) def. Raven Klaasen (Lasers) 5-3
Mixed Doubles - Rennae Stubbs\Leander Paes (Kastles) def. Liezel Huber\Martin Damm (Lasers) 5-4
Men's Doubles - Scott Oudsema\Leander Paes (Kastles) def. Martin Damm\Raven Klaasen (Lasers) 5-4
Women's Doubles - Liezel Huber\Vania King (Lasers) def. Rennae Stubbs\Olga Puchkova (Kastles) 5-3
Women's Singles - Olga Puchkova (Kastles) def. Vania King (Lasers) 5-4