- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 19, 2008

By Noah Gleason, age 6

Ashburton Elementary School, Bethesda

I went to the July 8 opening night match of Washington Kastles World Team Tennis (WTT), featuring Serena Williams! The Washington, D.C., Kastles played the Boston Lobsters in the heart of downtown D.C. I hoped the Kastles would win - they didn’t - but it was a great night anyway.

This was not your ordinary tennis match. In WTT tennis, fan participation is encouraged. Shouting, cheering, being noisy and having fun are all encouraged. The Kastles have a team mascot - a tennis ball with a red cape and blue hat - and they have cheerleaders.

When the District’s newest professional sports team came out, the crowd went wild! Miss Williams, fresh from her finals match in Wimbledon, got great cheers from the crowd. Then, the owner of the Washington Kastles, Mark Ein, welcomed the fans and introduced special guests, including D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and Billie Jean King, world-famous tennis player and co-founder of WTT.

The match started with a men’s doubles set featuring Justin Gimelstob and Scott Oudsema of the Kastles battling Amir Hadad and Jan-Michael Gambill of the Lobsters. The Lobsters jumped out to an early 4-games-to-none lead on the Kastles. I started thinking, the Kastles should get someone else in the game - these guys are sleepy. Then the Kastles won a game and the crowd went wild - I was psyched! Boston went on to win the set by a score of 5 games to 1.

Next, it was mixed doubles with Justin Gimelstob and Serena Williams of the Kastles taking on the Lobsters’ Raquel Kops-Jones and Amir Hadad. The Lobsters won the set 5 games to 2.

In the men’s singles set, Justin Gimelstob took on Jan-Michael Gambill. Justin played well - the crowd was chanting “Let’s go, Justin, let’s go!” - but he lost the set 5 games to 4.

In the women´s doubles set, Serena Williams and Mashona Washington played Marie-Eve Pelletier and Raquel Kops-Jones. This set had some great volleys and turned the energy of the crowd around as the Kastles won the set, 5-4.

Then, Serena took on Marie-Eve Pelletier in the final set of the night. Both of them played really well and they had some very exciting volleys. Serena won the set 5 games to 2, but the Boston Lobsters won the match by a score of 22 games to 19.

I would give this event a three-star rating. If the Kastles had won, I would have given it four stars. (I hate it when the home team loses!) I had a great time and even got to meet all of the players after the match and got their autographs. I also interviewed Sacha Jones of the Washington Kastles. She was very nice and told me about her exciting career as a tennis player.

RATING: 3 stars

WHAT: Washington D.C. Kastles Tennis

WHERE: Washington D.C. Kastles Stadium, 11th and H Streets Northwest

WHEN: Days vary, 7 p.m.

PRICE: $40-$60

INFORMATION: www.washingtonkastles.com

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