Mylan WTT Finals Preview: Lasers vs. Kastles

Sunday, July 27, 2014 /by
The Washington Kastles will be gunning for their fifth King Trophy, while the Springfield Lasers seek the first in franchise history. (Photo: Camerawork USA)
The Washington Kastles will be gunning for their fifth King Trophy, while the Springfield Lasers seek the first in franchise history. (Photo: Camerawork USA)

2014 MYLAN WTT FINALS
#2 Springfield Lasers (8-7) vs. #1 Washington Kastles (11-4)

July 27 – 4:00 p.m. CENTRAL – Mediacom Stadium at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield, Mo. 

HOW TO WATCH THE MYLAN WTT FINALS:
TICKETS:  417-837-5800 or onsite at Cooper Tennis Complex box office
BROADCAST: ESPN3 Live Stream:  July 27 – 5pm ET/ 4pm CT - www.WTT.com/LIVE
ESPN2 live coverage joins in progress at 6pmET/5pm CT
Check www.WTT.com/TV for other air times & re-airs on regional cable networks.

WASHINGTON KASTLES vs. SPRINGFIELD LASERS:  Tale of the Tape
In a rematch of the 2013 championship match, the Washington Kastles and Springfield Lasers will square off for the King Trophy once again. While they might be familiar opponents at this stage, much has changed from a season ago. This year's match will take place on the Lasers' home court, Mediacom Stadium at the Cooper Tennis Complex, after the Kastles' claimed a 25-12 championship in Washington, D.C. a year ago. While the Kastles field four of the same players from their 2013 championship team, the Lasers bring an entirely new squad to the final match this season.

The two teams split their regular season meetings, and the home team came out on top each time. The Lasers blitzed the Kastles, 24-10 on July 18 with victories in four disciplines, while the Kastles claimed a 23-15 victory in identical fashion on July 22. While their matches against each other have been fairly straightforward, both teams were forced to dig deep in their respective conference finals. The Kastles fought off a game Philadelphia Freedoms team, 21-16 in Overtime, to claim their fourth consecutive Eastern crown, while the Lasers rallied from a halftime deficit to upset the top-seeded San Diego Aviators, 22-17 in the West.
 
2014 TEAM RANKINGS (regular season):

Men’s Singles: Lasers – 1st, Kastles – 2nd
Women’s Singles: Lasers – 5th, Kastles – 1st
Men’s Doubles: Lasers – 5th, Kastles – 2nd
Women’s Doubles: Lasers – 3rd, Kastles – 1st
Mixed Doubles: Lasers – 3rd, Kastles – 2nd
 
MYLAN WTT CHAMPIONSHIPS WON BY FINALS TEAMS:
Springfield Lasers:  0 (runner-ups in 1999, 2001, 2009, 2013)
Washington Kastles:  4 - 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013
 
MYLAN WTT CHAMPIONSHIPS WON BY FINALS PARTICIPANTS:
Leander Paes (WAS): 4 - 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 (w/Washington)
Bobby Reynolds (WAS): 3 - 2011, 2012, 2013 (w/Washington)
Martina Hingis (WAS): 2 - 2005 (w/New York Sportimes), 2013 (w/Washington)
Anastasia Rodionova (WAS): 2 - 2012, 2013 (w/Washington)
Murphy Jensen (WAS coach): 4 - 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 (all w/Washington)
 
John-Laffnie de Jager (SPR coach): 1 - 1994 (w/New Jersey Stars as a player) 

Mylan WTT Finals - TEAM ROSTERS:

Springfield Lasers
Liga Dekmeijere-Thomas (LAT)
Olga Govortsova (BLR)
Ross Hutchins (GBR)
Michael Russell (USA)
Coach:  John-Laffnie "JL" de Jager (RSA)

Washington Kastles
Martina Hingis (SUI)
Leander Paes (IND)
Bobby Reynolds (USA)
Anastasia Rodionova (AUS)
Coach:  Murphy Jensen (USA)

2014 MYLAN WTT FINALS - SET-by-SET BREAKDOWN

(Note: Top-seeded team determines set order one hour before each match.  The Washington Kastles are the top-seeded team based on their regular season record.)
 
Men’s Singles – Michael Russell (Lasers) vs. Bobby Reynolds (Kastles)
Michael Russell, ranked No. 1 in Mylan WTT this season in men's singles, will face off against Bobby Reynolds in the latter's last professional tennis match. Reynolds, who's helped lead the Kastles to three of their King Trophies, announced his retirement from tennis following the Kastles' win in the Eastern Conference Championship. Both men own plenty of Mylan WTT hardware; Russell was named Male Rookie of the Year in 2009, while Reynolds was also named Finals MVP in 2013, Male MVP in 2012 and Male Rookie of the Year in 2010. Russell has claimed both sets against Reynolds this season; he triumphed 5-1 to clinch the Lasers' win on July 18, before winning 5-3 in Springfield's setback on July 22.

Women’s Singles – Olga Govortsova (Lasers) vs. Martina Hingis (Kastles)
Martina Hingis makes her debut in Springfield this season in the championship match. Hingis was not present for the Kastles' loss on July 18 and will face off against Olga Govortsova for the first time on the latter's home court. A replacement for the injured Alisa Kleybanova who withdrew before the season, Govortsova's had a solid first full season in the league, and ranked fifth in women's singles winning percentage during the regular season. Govortsova comes into the match on a high, having defeated 2014 Mylan WTT Female MVP Daniela Hantuchova 5-0 in the Western Conference Championship. While Hingis lost to youngster Taylor Townsend in the Eastern Conference Championship, she certainly has the guile and experience to counter the big-hitting Belarusian's offense.

Men’s Doubles – Michael Russell/Ross Hutchins (Lasers) vs. Bobby Reynolds/Leader Paes (Kastles)
In each of the regular season meetings between the two teams, the winning side has swept all three doubles events. Russell and Ross Hutchins, who stepped in for the injured Jean-Julien Rojer at the start of the season, come into the final match in good form. The duo are winners of five of their last six sets in men's doubles, including a 5-3 upset of Bob and Mike Bryan to clinch the Lasers' win over the San Diego Aviators in the Western Conference Championship. They're also undefeated against Reynolds and Kastles' captain Leander Paes as a pair, having beaten them 5-2 on July 18. Russell and substitute Fritz Wolmarans were edged by the Kastles' pair in a tiebreaker last time out.  Both sides will likely be feeling confident ahead of the Mylan WTT Finals; despite dropping the final set to Philadelphia’s Frank Dancevic and Marcelo Melo on Thursday, Reynolds and Paes emphatically claimed the Overtime game to secure the Kastles' fourth consecutive conference title.
 
Women’s Doubles – Olga Govortsova/Liga Dekmeijere-Thomas (Lasers) vs. Martina Hingis/Anastasia Rodionova (Kastles)
Both Hingis and Anastasia Rodionova boast a winning percentage of nearly .700 in women's doubles this season, and have helped the Kastles maintain the No. 1 spot in the discipline as a team for the majority of 2014. They'll face off against Govortsova and Liga Dekmeijere-Thomas, who've won all but one of the sets they've played together this season. The play of Dekmeijere-Thomas could prove to be the difference in this matchup; the Latvian has featured as one of the substitutes for the injured Anna-Lena Groenefeld this season, and has a .686 winning percentage in the 35 games she's played. She did not play in either of the regular season meetings between the two sides, while Hingis only featured in one. Govortsova and Raquel Kops-Jones beat Rodionova and Shelby Rogers 5-1 on July 18, while Hingis and Rodionova beat Govortsova and Abigail Spears 5-2 on July 22.

Mixed Doubles – Olga Govortsova/Ross Hutchins (Lasers) vs. Martina Hingis/Leander Paes (Kastles)
Neither Govortsova nor Hutchins were present for the last mixed doubles set between the Lasers and Kastles, but the duo were instrumental in securing the Lasers' regular-season win; the pair claimed a 5-1 win over Paes and Rodionova on July 18. The ladies could prove to be the difference-makers in this match, as they both rank among the league's leaders statistically; Hingis ranks third in the league as an individual in the discipline, while Govortsova sits just percentage points behind her to round out the top five. In what could be a crucial set for the balance of the match no matter when it is played, Hingis and Paes know what it takes to close out a match; the pair defeated the Lasers to clinch their July 22 match, and have been the closers for the Kastles in three other matches this season.

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