Washington Kastles go for fourth straight World Team Tennis championship

Before the day’s matches start at Wimbledon, Rufus the Hawk is dispatched by his trainer to patrol the skies over the courts and chase away any problematic birds. (Liz Clarke/The Washington Post)

Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein knows the Kastles won’t go on winning World Team Tennis championships forever, but a guy can dream.

The Kastles have won four of the past five WTT championships, including the past three. A championship this season would tie the 1997-2000 Sacramento Capitals for the longest title run in the league’s history.

“It’s surprising how much pressure there is when you’ve had so much success,” Ein said. “We never take anything for granted. The players don’t, and our coach doesn’t. The reason they’ve had success is they do everything it takes to be ready. Obviously, it can’t go on forever, but obviously while it’s happening, we’re all enjoying it.”

The season starts Monday at Boston, and the Kastles’ home debut is Wednesday at George Washington’s Smith Center.

International Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Hingis will play all home Kastles matches. Joining her are 2013 U.S. Open men’s doubles champion Leander Paes, Bobby Reynolds and Anastasia Rodionova.

Former world No. 1 Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Kevin Anderson will also play for the Kastles this season. Williams and Hingis will play doubles together on July 16 when the Kastles host the Texas Wild. Williams didn’t play with the Kastles last season because of her back injury.

Ein said he hopes the team’s success in recent years will attract general sports fans who just want to see a Washington team do well.

“I still go around and there’s still a lot of people who haven’t been,” Ein said. “My day job is helping companies get started and grow — this was like the same thing. This was a start-up business that you need to get people to understand and deliver a great experience so they come back and tell their friends, and that’s what happened. At this point, seven years in, I feel like we’re very well established, but I still feel like there’s a lot more people who can come experience it.”

Isabelle Khurshudyan covers local college sports for The Washington Post. You can email her at Isabelle.Khurshudyan@washpost.com and follow her on Twitter @ikhurshudyan.



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