By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com, and Rosie Crews, special to USTA.com
The Washington Kastles became just the second team in history to three-peat at the Mylan World TeamTennis Finals presented by GEICO, defeating the Springfield Lasers on Sunday, 25-12, in front of a sold-out home crowd at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf in Washington, D.C.
With the win, the Kastles joined the elite company of the Sacramento Capitals, who won a record four straight titles from 1997 to 2000. Washington is the first franchise to take all five sets in the Mylan WTT Finals since the league switched to a first-to-five games format in 1999.
The Kastles lifted their fourth King Trophy in five years and added to their triumph over the Lasers in 2009, which also came in Washington. Leander Paes, Mylan WTT Coach of the Year Murphy Jensen and owner Mark Ein have been involved with every championship team. Bobby Reynolds has been a part of three winning squads, while Anastasia Rodionova celebrated her second title and Mylan WTT Female MVP Martina Hingis captured her second overall (the other instance was in 2005, when she played as a member of the New York Sportimes) and first with the Kastles.
Earlier in the month, the Kastles made national headlines when they eclipsed the NBA’s 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers by winning their 34th consecutive match during a streak that began back in 2011. They actually lost two matches in a row this season, the second defeat a 22-15 loss at the hands of Springfield back on July 11, after which they would not lose again.
Reynolds was named Mylan WTT Finals MVP after winning 10 games from the 13 he played in his two sets.
"To come out and play in front of [the fans] here is amazing," Reynolds said in his acceptance speech. "I want to also thank my great team. We have so much support on the bench. This is a team effort."
With the start of play delayed two hours by rain, the Kastles flipped the switch by having their usual closer Reynolds get things started in men’s singles against Rik de Voest. Reynolds applied consistent pressure in de Voest’s service games and, after missing out on four break points in the second game, broke the South African twice to defeat de Voest, 5-1, for the second time this season.
The second set saw Hingis take the court for the first time, alongside Rodionova against Vania King and Mylan WTT Female Rookie of the Year Alisa Kleybanova in women’s doubles. Up 3-2, the Lasers missed out on two break point chances, and Hingis and Rodionova went on to claim the final three games to extend the Kastles’ lead.
"I am a first-time Kastle. It's a great team," Hingis said. "I love everyone and I hope I can play here again next year!"
Washington maintained the momentum, as Reynolds and Paes won another three-all (deuce) point to hold in the opening men’s doubles game versus de Voest and 2013 men’s MVP Jean-Julien Rojer. The Kastles broke Rojer’s serve to move ahead, 4-2, and while the Lasers substituted in Andy Roddick for de Voest, the Kastles closed out the set to open up a 15-6 advantage at halftime.
Hingis and Kleybanova squared off in women’s singles. Hingis showed why she topped the league leaders in the event during the regular season by showcasing her variety and creative angles to thwart the Russian’s powerful ground game for a 5-2 set win.
The final set of mixed doubles was the most competitive of the evening. Hingis and Paes took a 4-2 lead over Kleybanova and Roddick, but the Lasers fought back to force a tie-break. Paes clinched the title for the Kastles with a forehand return winner.