Mylan World TeamTennis celebrates its 40th birthday this year. For more on WTT, including this season's schedule,
2014 Record: 10-4 (1st in the East)
Owner: Mark Ein
Key Additions: Serena Williams
Key Losses: Bobby Reynolds
Returners: Martina Hingis, Venus Williams, Leander Paes, Anastasia Rodionova
Coach: Murphy Jensen
It is a team that needs no introduction: the Washington Kastles have been the team to beat during the 2010s, winning five of the last six Mylan World TeamTennis championships and are looking for five consecutive King Trophies by the end of the 2015 season.
The Kastles showed some cracks in their typically unbeatable aura. Having previously claimed back-to-back perfect seasons (2011-2012), the defending champions lost a stretch of three of four matches in the middle of last season, along with their final regular season match to the Philadelphia Freedoms. But the team with the #RefuseToLose mantra rebounded well in the play-offs, avenging the loss to the Freedoms and taking out the Springfield Lasers for the second straight year.
Glaringly absent from the roster this season is Bobby Reynolds, who retired after winning the Mylan WTT Championships last summer. The 2010 Mylan WTT Rookie of the Year, 2012 Male MVP and 2013 Finals MVP is already sorely missed by his teammates.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think we really have a true replacement for Bobby,” says returning roster player Anastasia Rodionova. “He’s the nicest guy I’ve ever met; he found a way to get along with every single person on the team. He was really helpful in difficult situations when some of us were really tired and cranky, he’s always positive and trying to find the way to help people. I think he was definitely one of the most important members on the team.”
Rodionova joined the Kastles in 2012 after playing for Mylan WTT in three previous seasons for the Sacramento Capitals and Newport Beach Breakers, but has had her greatest successes with Washington -- particularly with doubles partner and former No. 1, Martina Hingis.
“Martina is a great player, doesn’t matter what she’s playing -- singles, doubles, or mixed. So once we knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we could figure out our best game plan when we go on the court, and I think we did pretty good last year, and hopefully we will continue again this season.”
Hingis has had an amazing season on the WTA Tour, winning Indian Wells, Miami, and Charleston, and is currently in the women’s and mixed doubles finals at Wimbledon, the latter with Kastles teammate, Leander Paes. Paes is a two-time Male MVP, and having been on hand for each of the Kastles’ five victories, can lend substantial experience to Kastles debutantes, Sam Querrey and Madison Brengle.
Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams returns to the Kastles for a fifth straight season, this time bringing along younger sister Serena, who returns to Mylan WTT after a four-year absence. Venus and Serena played a thrilling fourth round encounter, and will take turns supporting the Kastles on select dates this season.
The Kastles play their first match against the Boston Lobsters on Sunday, July 12. Can they earn the elusive five-peat, breaking the record set by the Sacramento Capitals at the end of the 1990s? Stay tuned to find out!