Madison Brengle originally signed up to play for the Washington Kastles for just one week this season, her first playing World Team Tennis since 2011. But when Serena Williams suffered an elbow injury the week after winning Wimbledon — forcing her to miss the Kastles’ season — Washington asked the 25-year-old to come back.
When the playoffs rolled around, Washington dialed Brengle again. Owner Mark Ein saw the promise and wanted her on the roster if his team made it to another final, which it did.
“With World Team Tennis, you never know,” Brengle said after clinching Washington’s fifth straight championship in a 24-18 win Sunday over the Austin Aces. “So you gotta be ready for anything. I was happy when I got the call to come back, and I’ve cherished every minute of it since.”
In the final set of Sunday’s championship match, Brengle — ranked 44th in the world — found herself on the court against 20th-ranked Elina Svitolina.
Brengle fell to Svitolina, 5-3, snapping Washington’s 16-set winning streak in WTT final matches that dated from 2012. The loss also forced extended play. If Svitolina won five straight games, the match would go to a super-tiebreaker.
All Brengle needed to do is win one game. And she did, taking the only one, 4-1, with a two-handed backhand shot that sliced out of Svitolina’s reach.
“That was exciting,” Brengle said. “The second-to-last ball, I started to jump the gun a little bit, but it was so exciting when I put that last point away.
“I don’t think I could ask for anything better. It was so exciting and so much fun being out there. The team was so into it. The crowd was amazing. It was a really tough match. Elina played well, and I’m so happy I was able to pull it out for the team.”
With the victory, Washington became the first team in World Team Tennis history, which concluded its 40th season Sunday, to win the King Trophy five consecutive times. The Kastles have won six of the last seven titles.
“It feels awesome to be able to come in and do it week in and week out, day in and day out,” said Leander Paes, who was named the finals MVP for the first time even though he has been a part of all six titles. “To come in and take the match in my own hands and to try and set the tone for the team is a responsibility I enjoy.”
The Kastles took a 20-13 lead after winning the first four sets of Sunday’s match — mixed doubles, women’s doubles, men’s doubles and men’s singles —before Brengle took the Smith Center court.
“To come in and play on a big stage like this is not easy, especially against the opponent that she played today. I mean, that girl is in the top 20 in the world,” Paes said. “For Maddy to come in and defend a lead when the pressure’s on, the way she came out, I’m really proud of her.”
After Brengle fell to Svitolina, there was talk on Washington’s bench that Martina Hingis would come in to replace her.
Hingis said she was asked whether she was ready. “‘I’m like, I would be ready, but let her play.’ ”
Brengle went out for the first game while Hingis remained on the sideline.
“She started believing more and the last game: boom, boom, boom,” Hingis said. “The last four points were incredible.”