The blink-and-you-might-miss-it regular season of the Washington Kastles is already in its final week. On Sunday night, Venus Williams made her last appearance with the team before leaving for the Olympics in the middle of a 25-8 victory over the Kansas City Explorers.
Williams played just three Kastles matches this season, subbing Sunday for her sister Serena, who is resting her sore back in preparation for the Olympics. Venus Williams' work will not be forgotten, especially after winning eight of nine games from Martina Hingis on Saturday in Albany, N.Y., to propel Washington to its biggest comeback in franchise history in a 21-20 victory over the New York Sportimes. Washington trailed 19-13 entering women's singles.
"Last night was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen," Kastles owner Mark Ein said. "Venus came out with this look in her like, 'I'm gonna do this.'?"
Less than 24 hours later, Williams was at Kastles Stadium at the Wharf, helping defending champion Washington (10-0) capture its World TeamTennis-record 26th straight match.
After Williams won sets in women's doubles and singles, she addressed the crowd and was off to the airport. She will participate Monday in the torch relay through London.
"I've been so excited for the Olympics for so long. I've just gone all out -- hair, nails, attitude, everything," Williams said, also noting that her red, white and blue accessories matched the colors of the Kastles.
Williams' work on Sunday was nothing like what she accomplished Saturday night, when the pressure was on against former No. 1 Hingis.
"I'm hoping that yesterday will prepare me for high pressure situations," Williams said of what she expects to face in London. "It's great to be in a hairy situation like that. It builds confidence."
On Sunday, Williams double-faulted twice in the opening game of the women's doubles, but she and Anastasia Rodionova overpowered Tetiana Luzhanska and Chanel Simmonds 5-1. In Williams' singles match against Luzhanska, she dropped the first game but reeled off the final five, withstanding three break points in the final game.
After Williams waved to the crowd on her way out of the stadium, Bobby Reynolds and Leander Paes survived a challenge from Nick Monroe and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, winning 5-3 to raise their season mark to 9-1 in men's doubles.
In mixed doubles, Paes and Rodionova bested Qureshi and Luzhanska 5-3. In men's singles, Reynolds, the Kastles' "closer" as he has been dubbed by Paes, rolled to a 5-0 victory over Monroe that wrapped up the match.
It will be up to Reynolds and Arina Rodionova to carry a heavy load for the Kastles the rest of the way as the team also loses mainstays Paes and Anastasia Rodionova to the Olympics. Former University of Virginia and St. Stephen's & St. Agnes standout Treat Huey will fill in for Paes. Romanian veteran Edina Gallovits-Hall will take the place of Rodionova.
The Kastles' depth will be tested as they face four matches in five grueling days starting with their home finale Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Freedoms.