Kastles stand on the brink of history
By John McMullen, Contributing Tennis Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Two years ago the Washington Kastles of World Team Tennis topped the Kansas City Explorers in overtime.
The Kastles haven't lost since and are now approaching quite a milestone.
When you hear people talk about the "Big Three" in basketball, your mind might wander to South Beach and the Miami Heat's terrific triumvirate of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
The two-time reigning champs' stars have nothing on the trio of Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich and the logo himself, Jerry West, however. Those were the headliners of one of the most famous professional sports teams of all-time, the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
Wilt's "Lake Show" won a then-record 69 games and the NBA championship but perhaps the biggest accomplishment was the No. 33 -- as in 33 consecutive victories, a number which has held up for 41 years as the longest run in American professional sports history.
WTT might not possess the same kind of cachet as the NBA but it's the Kastles that stand on the precipice of finally matching and perhaps surpassing that legendary group of Lakers.
"It's a huge deal not only for World Team Tennis but to Washington D.C. and everyone who fought to get us to this point," Kastles star Bobby Reynolds told The Sports Network. "I never thought (the Lakers' record) was attainable and now that we are staring at 33, I'm looking forward it."
Led by Venus Williams, the Kastles have posted back-to-back perfect seasons to drive their current winning streak to 32 and counting as Monday's 2013 season opener against the New York Sportimes looms.
In the 37-year history of WTT, no team had ever finished a season with a perfect record until the Kastles completed their undefeated run in 2011 before duplicating that with an unblemished campaign in 2012.
In addition to Venus, the main contributors during Washington's run have been Reynolds, international doubles sensation Leander Paes and Anastasia Rodionova, who competed for Australia in the 2012 Olympic Games.
The 2013 Kastles, who are in search of their third consecutive WTT crown, boast 51 Grand Slam titles and 206 ATP and WTA tournament championships. Things haven't been all peaches and cream for the Kastles during the streak, though.
Washington has won seven matches by just one game, earned eight overtime victories, and saved 10 match points throughout the course of their historic run. They've been tested.
"I think we have faced 10 or 11 match points over the past 32 matches, Reynolds said. "We played New York when Venus was down by five games to (Martina) Hingis and as much as you have confidence in Venus, I had come to accept it (the streak) was over. (Venus) just turned it on."
One more triumph against the Sportimes would match the 71-72 Lakers' all-time mark and make the following night's clash against the Boston Lobsters the possible record-breaker.
Both of those matchups are set for Kastles Stadium at The Wharf, the intimate waterfront venue which has become the beltway's house of horrors for the opposition.
"Our crowd is unbelievable," Reynolds said. "They scream, yell and dance. Waive their placards. It's all about getting the fans into matches and we have been able to get them excited."
Washington is 14-0 all-time at Kastles Stadium, where the streak began on July 5, 2011 with that triumph over the Explorers.
Fast forward 733 days and history, along with one of sports' most enduring records, awaits.
"It's tough to describe," Reynolds said when thinking about the accomplishment. "As a professional athlete you know at different times there will be different types of pressure. Ever since last season finished I've been looking forward to getting back and finishing this. Every night is a new match and that's how you have to approach it."
07/05 14:03:12 ET