The Washington Kastles will try to retain their World TeamTennis championship this weekend at Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, S.C.
Venus Williams will lead the undefeated Kastles into the Eastern Conference championship match against John McEnroe and the New York Sportimes on Saturday. The Kastles are riding a 30-match winning streak, the second longest ever in U.S. professional team sports.
Friday night's Western Conference championship will feature the Orange County Breakers and the Sacramento Capitals.
The winners of the conference championships will meet in the finals Sunday, televised at 3:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.
WTT CEO and commissioner Ilana Kloss spoke recently about the league, the Kastles and what the future holds.
What do the Kastles mean to the league?
"The Kastles have set the bar very high. Their owner, Mark Ein, has a true passion for the WTT, and he has gone about building a franchise that we are all proud of and frankly we hope other owners will emulate. Kastles Stadium at the Wharf is a state of the art tennis facility, and the great tennis fans of Washington come out and consistently fill the place up. You have the Williams sisters as the team leaders along with head coach Murphy Jensen. Together they have built a fine team, and they are clearly the favorites to repeat as champions."
What about the future of WTT?
"We are very proud of what we have right now in our league, but we want to expand to at least 12 teams. We enjoy our television deal with NBC Sports Network, and we are looking at a partner that will take on the league for a full season. We are very proactive on our own with our broadband, WTT.com. ... We have a unique format that allows for coed teamwork and coaching. It really brings the crowds into the matches. We feel that in time a global WTT with teams in Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and the Middle East will allow us to one day crown a true world champion. Clearly we have great ambitions, but we also have a wonderful product."
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!, on washingtonexaminer.com.