Bren­gle helps Washington earn first win at home

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY KE­LYN SOONG ke­lyn.soong@wash­post.com

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.

PHOTOS BY LUIS M. ALVAREZ/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Top: Madi­son Bren­gle stands out for the Kas­tles. Above: Free­doms Coach Josh Co­hen talks to Tay­lor Townsend and Asi­a­Muham­mad.

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