Arina Rodionova returned for her second season with the Washington Kastles with her sister Anastasia by her side.
"[The Kastles] were talking to me about it and I said that I would be happy to have her here," said Arina. "My team is my family, but it's also nice to have a part of my real family here too."
In Thursday's 20-18 victory against the New York Sportimes at Kastles Stadium, though, the sisters didn't have the best of luck, losing 5-3 to Martina Hingis and Ashley Harkleroad in the women's doubles portion of the match.
Despite the loss, Arina and Anastasia enjoy being teammates.
"We play together quite often, and we have a good time," Arina said. "Since we're sisters, it's easier for us."
Arina was named the World TeamTennis rookie of the year in 2011, and she was also deemed WTT finals Most Valuable Player to cap off the Kastles' undefeated season. But past success is not something she'll dwell on.
"We don't really talk about [last season] too much. We have memories from it," said Arina. "It's a new team and we just focus on every match."
Thursday's match was special for Arina as she faced Hingis, someone she's looked up to her whole career.
"Playing singles against her last year was strange and unusual and I was scared to death," said Arina. "This year was different because I got to know her and it was just easier than last year."
Arina was born in Russia, and she represents her country in every tournament, except for grand slams. After residing with her 30-year-old sister for a while in Australia, Arina was granted citizenship and competes for Australia in those events.
"I'm working on [getting a passport]," said Arina. "When I get it, I'll be able to represent Australia in every tournament."
Arina chose Australia as her host nation because she lives there and enjoys it more.
"It's better weather," said Arina. "And it's been five years since I've been there, so it's my second home."
The Kastles' unbeaten streak reached 19 matches with the win, and Arina believes another championship is possible.
"I think we have a good chance and we'll definitely work on it," said Arina.
She realizes how tough it will be this season with some members leaving to compete in the Olympics at the end of July.
"It's not going to be easy with Leander [Paes] and my sister leaving for the Olympics," said Arina. "We'll have other players coming to replace them, but it's going to be difficult. Our team wins all the time because we're a team and we're always together.
"I'm pretty sure we'll make them feel like it's their home [too], so it will be fine."
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