The Washington Kastles defeated the Springfield Lasers 25-13 at the Mylan World Team Tennis (WTT) Finals in Springfield on Sunday afternoon to become only the second team in the league’s 39-year history to win four consecutive titles. The Kastles were led by Hall of Famer Martina Hingis who posted a pivotal 5-2 singles win over Olga Govortsova and was named WTT Finals MVP. The Kastles tie the mark of four consecutive titles set by Sacramento between 1997-2000.
This is also Washington’s fifth title in the past six years. For the second year in a row, the Kastles became the first franchise to win all five sets in the WTT Finals since the league switched to a first to five games format in 1999. In their win over Springfield, the Kastles claimed the majority of the critical 3-all points, winning seven of 10.
It was the Lasers’ fifth trip to the Finals and probably the most unexpected after a season that started with three consecutive losses and season-ending injuries to three of their four starters. The Kastles were in charge from the opening set when Bobby Reynolds, in his last professional singles match, edged Springfield’s Michael Russell 5-4. Reynolds and Russell traded service breaks early on but held serve through the rest of the set to take it to a 9-point tiebreaker.
Reynolds closed out the tiebreaker 5-3 for the 5-4 set win and an important early lead. “We knew Springfield was solid. I had some trouble with Mike the first two times we played. I knew I needed to get to five. That was my goal today. I got down a break but I was able to fight back. One thing about Mylan WTT is that you have to win those 3-all points and if you do, it’s in your favor in the end,” said Reynolds. Two of WTT’s best faced off for the first time in women’s singles.
Springfield’s Olga Govortsova jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after breaking serve on a Hingis double fault. Surprisingly, Govortsova returned the favour in the next game with a double fault to give Hingis a service break. Hingis got back on track serving an ace to even up the set at 2-2.
She reeled off five straight games and converted four 3-all game points for a 5-2 victory that set the course for the afternoon. “It was a great day here in Springfield for me, obviously with getting the Finals MVP. I don’t know if I have been as nervous before in my career with playing in the Finals for my team, because you have no time to miss anything. Everything is quick. You have to keep it sweet!” Hingis said. Reynolds final time on court was a fitting end to a shining WTT career as he teamed with Leander Paes to shut down Russell and Ross Hutchins 5-2.
Washington broke Springfield’s service game twice and wrapped up the set with a Reynolds volley winner to give the Kastles a commanding 15-8 halftime lead. Hingis and Anastasia Rodionova added to the Kastles lead in women’s doubles, running past Govortsova and Liga Dekmeijere-Thomas 5-1. Hingis then paired up with Paes to bring home the victory and the Kastles fifth King Trophy with a 5-4 win in mixed doubles over Govortsova and Hutchins.
MEN’S SINGLES: Bobby Reynolds (Washington Kastles) def. Michael Russell (Springfield Lasers) 5-4
WOMEN’S SINGLES: Martina Hingis (Washington Kastles) def. Olga Govortsova (Springfield Lasers) 5-2
MEN’S DOUBLES: Bobby Reynolds/Leander Paes (Washington Kastles) def. Michael Russell / Ross Hutchins (Springfield Lasers) 5-2
WOMEN’S DOUBLES: Martina Hingis / Anastasia Rodionova (Washington Kastles) def. Olga Govortsova/ Liga Dekmeijere-Thomas (Springfield Lasers) 5-1
MIXED DOUBLES: Martina Hingis / Leander Paes (Washington Kastles) def. Ross Hutchins / Olga Govortsova (Springfield Lasers) 5-4
MYLAN WTT FINALS MVP: Martina Hingis (Washington Kastles)
Photo: (front row – Anastasia Rodionova, Martina Hingis, Leander Paes, Bobby Reynolds; back row – Mylan WTT CEO/Commissioner Ilana Kloss, Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein, Kastles coach Murphy Jensen and Mylan WTT co-founder Billie Jean King).
Photo credit: Camerawork USA.