|Kastles Take Streak, Sports History into Playoffs|
The Washington Kastles became the first major U.S. pro sports team to complete back-to-back undefeated regular seasons on Saturday, defeating the Springfield Lasers 25-14 for their 30th consecutive victory.
The Kastles are now only three matches away from equaling the longest winning streak in major U.S. pro sports history, set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. Since losing to the Boston Lobsters on July 22, 2010, Washington has finished consecutive regular seasons 14-0 and won a pair of matches during the 2011 WTT Finals Weekend to capture the WTT Championship for the second time in three years. The team also won the title in 2009.
"It gives me goosebumps and brings me to tears to think of the experience that we've had," said fourth-year Kastles' coach Murphy Jensen.
The Kastles' undefeated run has been as sublime as it's been surreal, with dominating performances and nail-biting finishes all along the way. Since starting the streak with the 2011 season opener, Washington has won six matches by at least 10 games and six others by just one game.
No team has come closer to ending the Kastles' historic run than their Eastern Conference rivals, the New York Sportimes. On three different occasions against Washington, New York has held match points -- 10 in total -- before the cardiac Kastles rallied to win those matches in a Supertiebreaker.
Venus Williams sparked the largest Kastles' comeback in the five-year history of the franchise against the Sportimes on July 21 in Troy, N.Y. (watch higlights on the left). With Washington trailing by six games entering the final set, Williams defeated fellow former World No. 1 Martina Hingis 5-1 in the set, 2-0 in overtime and 7-0 in a Supertiebreaker, saving four match points by sweeping the final 11 points of the match.
The key to the Kastles' consistency has been its depth, a passionate fan base that sells out Kastles Stadium with over 2,600 screaming fans almost every night and a culture which gets the most out of every player every single night. Team slogans such as “preparation, mindset, and teamwork” and “you get out what you put in,” combined with the deep support in the community, inspire the players to give 100% every single night says Jensen.
“The combination of the dedication of our players, leadership of our coach and strong commitment of our fan base has created an environment in which something this extraordinary and historic can happen.” said Kastles owner Mark Ein. “This streak and the success of the franchise is all about the whole being bigger than the sum of the parts,” “
Washington has won nine of the 30 of the matches during the streak with either Venus or Serena Williams in its lineup but the Kastles have succeeded with a wide array of players over the same time.
Unheralded Arina Rodionova played the best tennis of her career and earned WTT Female Rookie of the Year and Finals MVP honors as part of Washington's perfect 2011 season. Her sister, Anastasia, joined the team in 2012 and finished this season with the second-highest winning percentage of all women's singles players.
In 26 appearances for the Kastles during the streak, two-time WTT Male MVP Leander Paes won 20 mixed doubles sets and 21 men's doubles sets.
When Paes missed the team's final four matches of 2012 to prepare for the Olympic Games, his Kastles' doubles partner Bobby Reynolds took leadership of the team. Reynolds won five straight men's singles sets to end the season, outscoring opponents 25-6 during that stretch.
While Paes, Anastasia Rodionova and Venus Williams were practicing on the grass courts of Wimbledon for the Olympics, a trio of Kastles' substitutes finished what their predecessors had started.
Treat Huey and Raquel Kops-Jones went 4-0 in mixed doubles and Edina Gallovits-Hall won three of four singles sets to help the Kastles improve from 10-0 to 14-0 after their Olympians had left for London.
"We just fight for each other," said Reynolds. "We're a family out there and we leave it all out on the court. It's unbelievable to do it two years in a row and hopefully we finish it off and win the trophy at the end."
The 2012 Kastles joined the 2011 Kastles and 1994 Newport Beach Dukes as the only three teams in World TeamTennis history to finish a regular season 14-0. The 2011 Washington squad is the lone team in 37 years of WTT play to capture the King Trophy with a perfect 16-0 mark.
This year's Kastles can repeat that feat at the WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO, Sept.14-16 at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, S.C. The Orange County Breakers and the Sacramento Capitals face off for the Western Conference title on Friday, Sept. 14 at 6:30 p.m. EDT. Washington meets New York for the Eastern Conference Championship on September 15 at 6:30 p.m. EDT. The Conference Champions will battle for the WTT title on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
For tickets or more information visit WTT.com or FamilyCircleTennisCenter.com/WTT.