Brengle helps Washington earn first win at home
KASTLES 23, FREEDOMS 6
Armed with an improved serve, Madison Brengle marched through the first four months of the year with victories that propelled her up the Women’s Tennis Association rankings. But the same weapon that helped the 25-year-old reach the fourth round of the Australian Open betrayed her when she began having shoulder issues.
Brengle entered the World Team Tennis season having lost eight straight WTA matches, but has been feeling confident about her game after going through shoulder rehab.
“Just getting free points on your serve makes such a difference,” said Brengle, ranked No. 38 in the world. “[ The injury] took away something that I felt was helping me a lot.”
In her last Kastles match of the season Saturday night at George Washington’s Smith Center, Brengle breezed to a 5- 0 victory over Taylor Townsend as the Kastles ( 4-2) beat the Philadelphia Freedoms, 23- 6, to claim their first home win. It was the team’s second win over Philadelphia ( 1- 5) in two nights and matched the biggest margin of victory in franchise history.
“Not a lot went wrong today,” Brengle said. “We got off to a great start and everything just started clicking.”
Brengle, who will return briefly to her home town of Dover, Del., after her one-week stint with the Kastles, also teamed with Anastasia Rodionova earlier in the night to win women’s doubles, 5-1, over Townsend and Asia Muhammad. The victory gave Washington a lead it would not relinquish after Leander Paes and Rodionova dropped mixed doubles, 5-3, to Townsend and French Open men’s doubles champion Marcelo Melo, to start the match.
“Your focus has to be so laser sharp during [ World Team Tennis] because what are you doing to do when you have a bad start? The match is over,” said Brengle, who used her serve and barrage of backhand winners to beat Townsend. “Every point is so important.”
Denis Kudla, an Arlington native also playing in his last Kastles match, and 16-time Grand Slam doubles champion Paes blanked Robby Ginepri and Melo, 5- 0, in men’s doubles to give the team an 11-game lead.
The cushion would only grow as Kudla hit aces and blistering winners off both sides to beat the 2005 U.S. Open semifinalist Ginepri, 5- 0, in men’s singles to punctuate a dominating performance by the defending champion Kastles.
“It was almost a perfect set,” Kudla said. “We’ve had some tough home losses, but we redeemed ourselves in a big way tonight.”
Kastles note: WTT announced Saturday night that world No. 1 Serena Williams will be unable to play for the Kastles next week. Williams posted on Facebook earlier in the night that she is “forced to take the next week off ” to rehab her elbow.
Top: Madison Brengle stands out for the Kastles. Above: Freedoms Coach Josh Cohen talks to Taylor Townsend and AsiaMuhammad.