- The Washington Times - Friday, July 3, 2009

D.C. nets stars

While the drama of Wimbledon unfolds across the pond, Washingtonians will have an opportunity to see world-class tennis in their own backyard. The Washington Kastles, the District’s professional tennis squad, will take to the court for their first game on Tuesday at CityCenter, at the corner of 11th and H Streets Northwest.

The first match promises to be an exciting one, as the Kastles take on the Philadelphia Freedoms and Venus Williams, who plays sister Serena Williams in Saturday’s all-American Fourth of July Wimbledon women’s final. The Kastles face the St. Louis Aces and Anna Kournikova on Wednesday. Serena Williams will join the Kastles on July 14 as they battle the Newport Beach Breakers, and July 16 brings aging enfant terrible John McEnroe and the New York Sportimes to town.

“It’s a sport I love, the sport of a lifetime,”

Kastles owner Mark Ein tells G2 via phone. “It teaches discipline and self-reliance.”

We asked the venture capitalist, who has played tennis for many years, how he got involved with the team. “A friend of mine played in the league and told me how much fun he had. I thought people in Washington would enjoy it,” he recalled. “Several of last year’s matches sold out. For every person who came up to me and said they had fun, four others said they were sorry they missed it and wanted to come.”

The Kastles experience is family-friendly, Mr. Ein stressed, saying, “The whole experience is designed to be great for kids.” With that, our interview concluded because Wimbledon was on television, and it was getting down to Serena Williams’ third set.

“We’re really good friends,” he said. “I should probably watch this.”

Becky ball

Friday night’s Nationals game against the Atlanta Braves won’t be quite like any other. The opening pitch will be tossed out by Becky Lee, former reality-television contestant on “Survivor” and founder of Becky’s Fund, an organization devoted to raising awareness about domestic violence. It will be the first Domestic Violence Awareness Day at Nationals Park.

Taking a break from practicing her pitch, Ms. Lee recounted that she has been involved in the issue of domestic violence for 11 years, first as a law student the University of Michigan, then as a lawyer. Her life was then touched by reality television. She was selected to participate in the CBS hit “Survivor: Race War” and was placed on the Asian team. The team placed third, and Ms. Lee used the cash prize to start the nonprofit Becky’s Fund in 2006.

Calling the opportunity to be in the stadium “a really big deal because typically no one talks about this openly,” Ms. Lee said, “One in three women are affected by domestic violence.”

Play ball, Becky!

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail undercover@washingtontimes.com.

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