- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Following an undefeated season, the Washington Kastles are hungry for more in 2012.

Led by Bobby Reynolds and Wimbledon mixed doubles runner-up Leander Paes, the Kastles take on five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis and the New York Sportimes on Thursday night in their World Team Tennis home opener.

The Kastles were unbeaten in 17 straight matches dating to July 22, 2010, entering Wednesday night’s match at Springfield. Included in that run is Monday’s season-opening victory against Orange County.

Before the match Thursday, Washington will hoist the 2011 WTT championship banner at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf.

Reynolds and the team can’t wait to get back and play in front of the home crowd after opening the season with two road matches.

“It’ll be nice to have a full crowd cheering us on,” Reynolds said. “There’s nothing like playing at home, and I know the whole team is looking forward to getting back.”

Reynolds has made a name for himself as the Kastles‘ closer after sealing 11 of the 16 victories last season in the fifth set, and the team hopes he continues his form.

Even with star players opposing him throughout the season, Reynolds is unfazed.

“Every match that we play there are some great players on all of the teams,” said Reynolds. “[Monday] we played against [Lindsay] Davenport and obviously Hingis will be there Thursday.

“One person helps out the team but doesn’t make the team.”

The Kastles are well-aware they will face tough opposition in the Sportimes.

“New York always has a strong team … last year it came down to match point,” Reynolds said. “Every year it’s tough and it will probably be another tough match on Thursday.”

Paes, who will captain the Kastles this season, is excited the WTT season has started.

“Coming into the World Team Tennis season is a real highlight of my year,” Paes said. “The last three years I have played WTT, I’ve had a great time.”

Paes‘ busy schedule can only get busier later this month as he prepares to make his sixth appearance in the Olympics.

This amount of tennis could take a toll on the body and leave a person drained, but Paes enjoys the constant play and feels like it keeps him in top shape.

“I personally feel what works for me is to stay match-sharp,” Paes said. “Coming in to play the World Team Tennis format induces pressure. Playing every night will only make me sharper when I go back on tour and to the Olympics.”

The Kastles will look to repeat as WTT champions and can get one step closer by defeating the Sportimes.

“We’re going to win some matches, and we’re going to lose some matches,” said Paes, “but at the end of the day, we all get together and put our best forward; because when we do, it’s going to be really hard to beat us.”