Martina Hingis got her preview of the Washington Kastles’ new World Team Tennis venue Tuesday night as storms descended on the District. The tennis Hall of Famer stopped by Smith Center after dinner.
By Wednesday night, Hingis felt right at home at George Washington’s basketball arena as the Kastles rolled to a 25-8 win over the Boston Lobsters, tying a franchise record for largest margin of victory.
“I grew up playing indoors,” Hingis said before the match, referring to her career as a youth in Czechoslovakia and Switzerland. “I always say that I’m a much better indoor player than I was outdoors. I grew up playing on carpet and fast surfaces. There’s no rain and no sun, so it’s a very fair game for everyone.”
Hingis won all five games of her set to give the Kastles (3-0) an early 10-1 lead. Fans held up “Refuse to Lose” signs, and the Kastles opened their new, air-conditioned home by winning all five matches.
“You still sweat like crazy,” the Kastles’ Leander Paes said.
Hingis and Paes, who paired with Radek Stepanek to win the 2013 U.S. Open doubles title, got the Kastles off to a 5-1 start with a convincing win in mixed doubles. The pair is 9-0 since the beginning of last season. After Hingis’s win in women’s singles, Kevin Anderson extended the lead to 15-2 at the halfway point of the match.
Mention Anderson, No. 17 on the ATP World Tour, and players will rave about his 130-mph serve. With new court-level seats behind the baseline, mere netting separated fans from a rocketing tennis ball on Anderson’s serves.
Hingis said having a gallery at eye-level wasn’t distracting.
“When Kevin serves, the ball is coming at you,” Hingis said. “That might be quite freaky, but I think it’s a great view.”
Despite a paid attendance of 2,254, it wasn’t a total home-court advantage for the Kastles. In the men’s doubles set, Bobby Reynolds sent a wayward ball into the stands, yelling “Sorry” to a section of the crowd.
Later in the set, Paes ran back to save a ball, and his high lob hit the scoreboard, giving the point to Boston.
“I’ve got to practice my aim a little bit,” Paes said.
“It’s one of my favorite shots — the hook lob — and I think I need to practice it to get it down.”