The Washington Kastles made a major move during the Mylan World Team Tennis Draft, signing the reigning WTT Female MVP and former World No. 1 Martina Hingis for the 2013 season.
“I am really excited about joining the Washington Kastles,” said Hingis. “Washington is a great city and the Kastles have a fantastic fan base. I can’t wait to get started in July.”
Joining Hingis at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf will be Venus Williams, Leander Paes, Bobby Reynolds, Anastasia Rodionova and Coach Murphy Jensen – all returning from the 2012 Kastles team that completed a second consecutive perfect season and captured a third WTT championship.
The Kastles have won 32 straight matches entering their 2013 season, which kicks off with a match against the New York Sportimes on July 8th at Kastles Stadium. With victories at home on July 8th and 9th, Washington would set the all-time record for the longest winning streak by a major U.S. pro sports team.
It promises to be a momentous week for Hingis personally as well. At just 32 years old, the Swiss superstar will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 13th before representing Washington in its final nine matches of the regular season July 15-24. She is also available for the playoffs, which will be held at Kastles Stadium between July 25-28 if Washington finishes the regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
As a member of the Sportimes, Hingis ended each of the last two seasons as WTT’s highest-ranked women’s singles player, posting a combined singles record of 20-4. She has defeated 12 current Top 200 players since 2011, most notably shocking World No. 1 Serena Williams 5-3 two summers ago.
Hingis becomes the sixth Kastle in the franchise’s six-year history who has been ranked No. 1 in the world, following in the footsteps of the Williams sisters, Paes, Rennae Stubbs and Victoria Azarenka. Hingis’ 15 Grand Slam titles bring the 2013 Kastles total to 51, led by 22 major championships from Venus Williams.
With the Kastles’ winning streak in jeopardy, Venus has twice rallied Washington from six games down, most recently saving four match points in an unforgettable comeback against Hingis and the Sportimes. Venus returns to the Kastles lineup this season for matches on July 9th and 10th.
She will reform her mixed doubles partnership with the 2009 and 2011 WTT Male MVP Leander Paes, who is back for his fifth campaign with the Kastles after a superb season in 2012. The Indian star went 10-2 in men’s doubles and 9-3 in mixed doubles for Washington, highlighted by a crucial win with Venus during the WTT Finals.
“Some of the things that we’ve done at The Wharf have been the greatest memories that I’ve ever had,” said Paes. “I’m really looking forward to coming back, not only to win our fourth championship, but to defend our home court.”
Despite Paes’ impressive numbers, it was his Washington teammate Bobby Reynolds who earned 2012 WTT Male MVP honors. Reynolds returns to DC July 8-24 after going 12-4 in both singles and doubles last season, leading the Kastles to four victories while Paes prepared for The Olympic Games in London.
“The support from the fans in DC and the buzz that surrounds the Kastles are amazing to be a part of,” said Reynolds. “I look forward to those three weeks all year long.”
Rejoining Reynolds and Paes is Anastasia Rodionova, who finished 2012 as WTT’s highest-ranked mixed doubles player with a 7-1 record. The second-year Kastle should relish the opportunity to share the same side of the court with Hingis in women’s doubles.
“She was the smartest player on tour,” Rodionova said in a recent interview. “She never had huge power and couldn’t hit the ball as hard as some of the players do, but she knew how to play the game and she had amazing results.”
Among the players lining up to end Washington’s unbeaten run is former US Open and Davis Cup champion Andy Roddick, who will lead the Springfield Lasers into DC on July 11.
With an all-star roster, historic streak, and back-to-back championships on the line, the 2013 Kastles season is one you won’t want to miss!
Visit WashingtonKastles.com for more information and call the Kastles at 202-4-TENNIS (483-6647) if you have any questions about the upcoming season.
By Joshua Ray