- The Washington Times - Monday, July 18, 2011

The Kastles already have secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference for this weekend’s World Team Tennis playoff, but they have shown no signs of slowing down.

Washington continued its undefeated season with a 25-14 victory over the Sacramento Capitals on Monday night, winning all five sets as it improved to 11-0.

“It’s really a funny thing – we’re playing very well. How boring is that quote?” coach Murphy Jensen said. “The momentum is so key, but at the same time, we play it point by point, game by game, heartbeat by heartbeat. We really just try to play our best tennis. If we play our best, there’s a good chance we’ll be successful.”

There were just two breaks in the first half of the match, but both belonged to the Kastles, helping them to a 15-10 lead after the first three events. In mixed doubles, Rennae Stubbs and Leander Paes traded games with Vania King and Mark Knowles before winning the tiebreaker. Stubbs returned to the court with Arina “Hotrod” Rodionova for a 5-3 victory over King and Yasmin Schnack.

In the third event, WTT’s top-ranked men’s doubles team, Paes and Bobby Reynolds, faced stiff opposition from Knowles and Dusan Vemic, until they broke on the final set for a 5-3 win.

Rodionova dominated King in women’s singles, winning five straight games with three breaks to give the Kastles a 20-10 advantage. But even with the victory all but sealed, Reynolds played an intensely competitive match against Vemic in the final event of the evening.

Reynolds had the serve in the first game, which he won with four straight points. Vemic seemed bent on revenge in the second game, scoring an ace on his first serve, but Reynolds fought back to take a 3-2 lead and clinched the break on a double fault.

Vemic won his first game on a Reynolds forehand that didn’t clear the net. In the fourth game, Reynolds seemed poised for his second break when he took a 3-1 lead, but Vemic closed it out with three straight points to tie the match at two games apiece.

In the fifth game, Reynolds won four consecutive points again, but Vemic refused to go quietly. He evened the sixth game at 3, bringing Reynolds to the net with a short shot and lifting the winning volley over his head. After Reynolds swept his serve again, Vemic did likewise, tying the set at 4 and sending it into a tiebreaker.

The tiebreaker had none of the suspense of the rest of the set, however, as Reynolds breezed to a 5-1 win.

“Playing Dusan – he’s a tough guy. He serves the ball well and puts a lot of pressure on you,” Reynolds said. “It was nice that the team got a lead, and Arina obviously finished it off with a 5-0. That took all the pressure off me, so I was able to go out there and have some fun and go for my shots.”

Reynolds’ set was a microcosm for the rest of the Kastles’ season – they have fought their way to the top, but they will continue to fight to prove that they belong there. Washington continues its quest for a perfect season with two matches at New York before returning to face Philadelphia in its home finale Thursday.

“I don’t like to make goals. I sell myself short,” Jensen said. “[But] my goal for this team is to see how good we can get, and that could be pretty hot to watch.”

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