Before Thursday night’s Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Lobsters, the Washington Kastles presented Coach Murphy Jensen and Martina Hingis with their World Team Tennis awards as coach of the year and female MVP, respectively. Both lived up to the billing in the home team’s 25-12 win at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf.
Hingis won all three sets she was involved in and Jensen provided a few crucial pep talks as the two-time defending league champions advanced to Sunday’s championship match at home against the Springfield Lasers.
“I define success not measured on the scoreboard but on their effort and their attitude,” Jensen said. “Every bloody night they come out here and give a thousand percent, and they give these fans amazing tennis.”
After a slow start in the mixed doubles match, Hingis (nine Grand Slam doubles titles) and Kastles captain Leander Paes (the world’s ninth-ranked doubles player) reminded those fans just who they were watching.
With quick hands at the net, well-placed groundstrokes and constant awareness of the other’s position on the court, the duo dominated the last three games. Hingis closed out a 5-2 victory with an ace.
She and Anastasia Rodionova dropped the first game in women’s doubles to Katalin Marosi and Jill Craybas, and after a miscommunication between the pair early in the second, Jensen called timeout.
Whatever he said was clearly coach-of-the-year caliber. Hingis and Rodionova didn’t drop another game on their way to a 5-1 win. Hingis added an exclamation point with an emphatic slam at the net to end the set.
In men’s doubles, Boston’s Eric Butorac and Amir Weintraub played Paes and Bobby Reynolds even for two games. Then Paes took over.
The one-time world No. 1 wowed the crowd with agility and explosiveness at the net. He and Reynolds cruised, 5-2.
Not to be outdone, Hingis broke Craybas in a strange first game of women’s singles.
Craybas “started out with two double faults and then three winners. I was like. ‘Whoa, wait a minute,’ ” Hingis said. “We had no timing, we tried to just get the rhythm and get the ball in during the game.”
Hingis dominated to a four-games-to-none lead. While she let Craybas back into the match late, Hingis didn’t wobble for long. Her stroke returned in time to break Craybas for a 5-2 win.
“Playing against the wind I had my opportunities, especially with my serve, and I didn’t close it out,” Hingis said. “But I was happy to close it out, 5-2.”
Her win sent Reynolds to the court for men’s singles with the Kastles well on their way to the title match. But Reynolds struggled with his groundstrokes, falling to Weintraub in a 5-4 tiebreak set loss.
Under WTT rules, the winning team must win the final game. Reynolds swept the first four points of overtime to close the night.
“The philosophy around here is we’re absolutely never satisfied, we’re always playing to be perfect,” Jensen said. “We’re going to have to be our best and leave nothing on the table to be successful on Sunday.”