By Joshua Rey
When Bobby Reynolds kicked off Kastles Stadium at The Wharf with the first serve in the venue’s history, nobody could have envisioned the wild ride he and his teammates were about to take the Southwest Waterfront on.
But for three weeks last July, 800 Water St. SW transformed into a tennis setting unlike any other in the world. With sellout crowds on the edge of their seats, the Kastles completed the first perfect season in the 36-year history of World TeamTennis to capture their second league title in three years.
Washington’s newest sports sensation returns to the neighborhood July 12-24, seeking to pick up where it left off after 16 straight wins in 2011. Individual match tickets are available now at Ticketmaster.com, and members of the Southwest community can receive a 10-percent discount by entering the code SWDC10.
Five of the six Kastles who made history last season are back on board for 2012, including the incomparable Serena and Venus Williams.
Big sister Venus will represent the Kastles on July 16 against the Boston Lobsters. Washington is 5-0 with the five-time Wimbledon champion in its lineup after Venus signed with the Kastles in 2010.
Dominance must run in the family because Washington has won nine straight matches with Serena, who has been a Kastle since the team’s inaugural 2008 season. Serena’s last match before the Olympic Games will be July 22 on the Southwest Waterfront when she and the Kastles meet the Kansas City Explorers.
Joining Serena and Venus at the London Olympics will be their Kastles’ teammate, Leander Paes, who is entering his fourth season with the team. The living legend has won 13 Grand Slam doubles championships and two WTT Most Valuable Player awards, leading the Kastles to WTT titles in 2009 and 2011.
Paes and Bobby Reynolds finished 2011 as the top-ranked men’s doubles team of the league. They will resume their partnership this season as the fan-favorite Reynolds returns for his third Kastles’ season. Reynolds took on the role of the Kastles’ closer last July, clinching 11 of Washington’s record 16 wins in the fifth and final set.
A second pair of sisters round out the Kastles’ roster: WTT Rookie of the Year Arina ‘Hot Rod’ Rodionova and World No. 20 doubles player Anastasia Rodionova.
Paes, Reynolds and the Rodionova will face stiff competition throughout the season. Former World No. 1 Martina Hingis leads the New York Sportimes into town for the 2012 home opener on July 12, when all fans in attendance will receive a complimentary Kastles’ championship T-shirt courtesy of Geico.
The Sacramento Capitals bring big-serving American Sam Querrey with them to D.C. on July 18. Querrey once blasted a world-record 10 consecutive aces in a match.
Kids and adults alike will especially enjoy the Kastles vs. Philadelphia Freedoms match on July 15, when the Kastles celebrate USTA/Family Night. There will be face painting, balloon animals and a 10-and-under Tennis Tournament on the grounds, with festivities beginning at 5:15 p.m. when the stadium gates open.
Children 16 and under are invited to come onto the court and get autographs from each of the home and visiting players after all seven Kastles’ home matches. The Kastles’ popular racquet giveaway program will continue for a fifth straight season, providing children at all home matches with a free junior racquet, based on availability.
No seat inside the intimate Kastles Stadium is further than 15 rows from the court, and tickets start at $15. Enter code SWDC10 on Ticketmaster.com to receive a 10-percent discount.