Written by Phil Cerroni
23-18, Texas Wild
The Texas Wild kicked off their inaugural home game against the Washington Kastles at the Four Seasons Resort & Club on July 10 in the Technicolor arena Jeff Launius has temporarily erected on top of the club’s marquee tennis stadium.
1,516 North Texans who signed the adoption papers for their new team welcomed the Wild with screams and cheers. One problem with a smaller league like World TeamTennis is every franchise does not live in cities across the nation. Practically speaking, this meant that the only Kastles fans were sitting on the players’ bench. There are unconfirmed reports, however, that a journalist lost five dollars to Mayor Beth Van Duyne by betting on his home team.
The Kastles entered the match on the back end of a 34 game winning streak, a record in the sports franchise’s history. To get them off balance, Wild coach Brent Haygarth opted for the unorthodox play of closing the match with Women’s Singles.
“We wanted to play the event where we felt we had the best chance to come back if we were behind. They like to end with their men. We figured – it was a little bit of a lottery because no team ends with a woman a lot – but we took a little bit of a gamble and it paid off big time. Genie’s just stepped up to the plate and was a great closer,” Haygarth said.
The match began with Men’s Doubles where the Kastles’ Bobby Reynolds and Leander Paes faced off against Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi.
The Kastles’ power and placement were equal to the Wild’s, but Reynolds struggled to keep the ball above the net, and both Reynolds and Paes were sometimes slow getting to the net.
Qureshi took advantage of this multiple times, notably when he returned two high lobs, dropping the second one near the net. But the Kastles held out and won their only set of the night 5-3.