Murphy Jensen is entering his fourth season as the coach of the Washington Kastles. Last season, he was named World TeamTennis coach of the year after leading the Kastles to their second championship and first undefeated season. The Kastles start the season Monday against the Orange County Breakers at Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif.
How is World TeamTennis different from the matches we are used to seeing?
"World TeamTennis matches are different from tour event matches because of the team aspect, the atmosphere and the scoring system. We are successful because of our philosophy of team first. The Kastles team plays for each other first, then the fans and the city of D.C. The atmosphere is intense -- every point and every game counts, unlike pro tour events where you win the match and move on. In the back of every player's mind is the fact that one game could be the difference between winning the match, making playoffs and winning the championship."
Is there pressure to go undefeated again?
"There is pressure to be successful. Kastles fans have grown accustomed to excellence and great wins resulting in championship titles. This year is no different. I base our success on how well we perform, not on winning the championship. If our team plays and performs to their full potential, we will be successful. Does that mean we are going to win the championship? Who knows? That's why they call it sports and competition."
How has the roster changed?
Jensen » "This year's roster is a little different. ... I don't necessarily think it's better, and I don't think it's worse -- just different. With Anastasia Rodionova replacing Rennae Stubbs, we have upgraded from a great doubles champion to a great singles and doubles champion. At the end of the day, if this team works hard, plays as a team and executes they will be awesome."
How do you motivate and help prepare the players?
Jensen » "Coaching this team has been the greatest experience and has produced some of the biggest thrills in my career. Coaching Serena and Venus Williams, Leander Paes, Rennae Stubbs and every other Kastle great isn't hard. My biggest concern isn't the 'X's' and 'O's' of tennis but more about motivation and preparing the team in a way that gives us the best chance to be successful. At the beginning of every match following a win, I tell the team that "you can't stay clean on yesterday's shower," meaning we can't rest on our laurels and expect to win on yesterday's performance."