The NY Sportimes had three chances to dethrone the Washington Kastles as the only unbeaten team in the WTT. Twice the Sportimes, led by legends John McEnroe and Martina Hingis, took the Kastles to Super Tiebreak’s only to fall in the extra sessions. On the third attempt they were not even close, falling 23-15 on their home court on the second night of a back-to-back home series. The Sportimes simply cannot beat the Kastles this season, but then again no one else can either.
As the home team the Sportimes chose to play the sets in the following order:
Mixed Doubles – Women’s Singles – Men’s Doubles – Women’s Doubles – Men’s Singles
This strategy allowed them to finish with what has been their strongest set pairing. Previously, this season, Jesse Witten has had a relatively easy time facing Bobby Reynolds of the Kastles, winning the previous 2 head-to-head matches. This night the strategy did not work as Witten could not pull out the victory, falling 4-5 in the fifth set.
In fact that strategy put NY in an early hole as they went down 1-5 in the Mixed Doubles set which featured Serena Williams and Leander Paes facing off against Hingis and Travis Parrott. The set ended quickly, in 18 minutes, as the Kastles pairing didn’t allow their opponent to mount any real offense.
Even though they are 13-0 for the season the Kastles have often times shown a lack of killer instinct when they do not capitalize on early set victories by putting their opponents away. On Wednesday night that appeared again to be the case when Hingis was able to defeat Williams in Women’s Singles 5-3. However appearances proved to be deceiving.
The next two sets put the Kastles ahead enough that the fifth set was just a formality. In Men’s Doubles Paes and Reynolds defeated Parrott and Witten by a score of 5-2 leaving no doubt that the Kastles were serious about maintaining their perfect record. In Women’s Doubles Williams and Rennae Stubbs only dropped 3 games en-route to their convincing win over Hingis and Katie O’brien.
It is often said that it is hard to beat another team 3 times in one season but the stats showed that the Kastles out hustled the Sportimes. The Kastles won on aces 9 to 4, winning 69% of their first serves, 65% of break point conversions and on total points won 117 to 105. (Stats courtesy of http://wtt.ids-sports.com/stats/391.html)
One more match victory left to go for the Kastles to join the 1994 Newport Beach Dukes as the only team undefeated team in WTT history. Will fatigue be a factor as they are coming off of their third back-to-back games and the temperature is expected to be 100 degrees at game time with 90% humidity? The Washington Kastles have shown guts and strength throughout this 2011 season; no reason to think that will end tonight.