While the 10th edition of the U.S. Open Series was getting underway this week in Atlanta, the 39th season of Mylan World TeamTennis was barreling toward its conclusion. The summertime league's conference finals were held Thursday; here's what you may have missed (including an explanation of the image above) if you didn't tune in:
1. The Washington Kastles won their fourth consecutive Eastern Conference title.
The definition of the word "dynasty" is debated on an almost annual basis in sports. The Kastles, at the very least, qualify as one such answer. They will attempt to win their fourth consecutive WTT title on Sunday after defeating the Philadelphia Freedoms, 21-16 in overtime.
For details, head to the match report from the WTT website, but suffice it to say that the Kastles' stalwarts—namely Bobby Reynolds, Leander Paes, and Anastasia Rodionova—came through yet again. Paes contributed to two doubles wins (including one with Martina Hingis, who lost her singles match), and Reynolds bookended the triumph with victories in singles and doubles. Murphy Jensen, as always, commandeered on the sidelines.
Paes and Reynolds didn't go unbeaten—they lost the men's doubles portion of the match to Frank Dancevic and Marcelo Melo, which forced overtime—but they atoned for their slip-up with the clinching points. One more victory for Washington and you can rename the league "Washington Takes Title."
2. Taylor Townsend was forced to play one against two in doubles, and it went about as well as you expected.
When an errant Townsend forehand struck her doubles partner, Liezel Huber, in the head, the 37-year-old American couldn't continue playing...
After a long delay, Huber elected to sit out and Townsend had to play Canadian Doubles on her own. What a trip. pic.twitter.com/66oTIy3lVG— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) July 25, 2014
...leaving the 18-year-old American to fend for herself in her—and I do mean her—match against Rodionova and Hingis. Under WTT rules, Townsend could not return serves that were meant to be served to Huber, and she couldn't serve in games that Huber was supposed to have served. It all led to some incredible imagery and video that SBNation's Rodger Sherman did a fine job of capturing (for more, click here):
Suffice it to say, Townsend and the player formerly known as Liezel Huber lost that portion of the match.
3. The West was won by the Springfield Lasers, on the road.
While the Kastles' win over the Freedoms went according to form, it got wild in the Western Conference, with Springfield taking a road match against the San Diego Avaitors, 22-17. Here's the full match report, but the lede says it all: A season that started with three straight losses and season-ending injuries to three of their four roster players...
Who was left standing? Michael Russell won singles and doubles points—the latter with the help of Ross Hutchins, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, over the Bryan brothers—but Olga Govortsova's 1-2 record should not be overlooked. After losing matches in women's doubles and mixed doubles, Govortsova promptly went out and beat the accomplished Daniela Hantuchova 5-0. Those five points turned out to be the difference in deciding the championship, as San Diego's marquee players were dimmed when it mattered most.
The result pits the Lasers against the Kastles in the Mylan WTT Finals, a rematch of last year's title bout. Unfortunately/fortunately for the road-warrior Lasers, they'll be the hosts.
4. Reynolds announces he'll retire.
Once called "The Roger Federer of World TeamTennis" by a colleague of mine, Bobby Reynolds will put away his racquets after Washington concludes their season in Sunday's final. The 32-year-old American has endeared himself to the supportive Kastles crowds and treats each match like a Wimbledon final. (Did you know: Reynolds was the MVP of the 2003 NCAA final, when he played for Vanderbilt?)
“I’ve always heard about Centre Court at Wimbledon or in Australia or the U.S. Open,” Reynolds said on court last night, as reported by the Washington Post. “But this is my center court.”
Fans of the Boston Lobsters, who struggled to a 1-13 mark in 2014, can only rue at the fact that the Cape Cod-born Reynolds arguably became the king of the Kastles.
For more Mylan WTT coverage, including a link to a live stream of Sunday's final, head to our World TeamTennis page.