Streaking Kastles seeking to take second straight title
With the surprise addition of four-time Olympic gold-medal winner Venus Williams, the Washington Kastles will be at full strength for the World TeamTennis Finals Weekend next month in Charleston, S.C.
Williams, who teamed with sister Serena Williams to win the doubles this month in London, will try to help the Kastles extend their league-record 30-match winning streak and capture the King Trophy for the second straight year.
"We are thrilled to have Venus join the Kastles," owner Mark Ein said in a statement. "In addition to being one of the great all-time players, she is also one of the greatest teammates."
Also expected back for the Kastles on Sept. 15-16 at Family Circle Tennis Center will be Olympian and doubles standout Leander Paes and Olympian Anastasia Rodionova. They join this year's WTT male MVP Bobby Reynolds and women's doubles player Arina Rodionova.
The Kastles (14-0) will play the New York Sportimes (9-5) for the Eastern Conference championship. New York is expected to bring John McEnroe, Jesse Witten, Robert Kendrick, Ashley Harkleroad and a female player to be named. The winner will face the Western Conference champion, either the Orange County Breakers (8-6) or the Sacramento Capitals (7-7).
Williams played three matches for the Kastles this year, providing the team's most memorable comeback at New York. With the Kastles down by six games entering the final set, Williams defeated former No. 1 Martina Hingis 5-1, captured both games of overtime and then won all seven points of the super tiebreaker for a 21-20 Washington victory.
Last year, Washington became the first team in WTT history to complete a season undefeated, capturing the 2011 title in Charleston in July. This year, Washington continued the streak despite losing three players to the Olympics.
Former University of Virginia All-American Treat Huey and WTA veterans Edina Gallovits-Hall and Raquel Kops-Jones filled in over the final week of the season, helping Washington keep its streak alive.
The Kastles' 30 wins make up the second-longest streak in U.S. professional sports history, three shy of the 33-game streak of the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.