While watching Wimbledon we saw ads for Kastles Tennis and World Team Tennis, neither of which we'd ever heard of before. From what we can tell, it's a laid back tennis league for pro players between times of serious tennis, like between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. This year there are 11 teams that compete between July 5-25 and the franchises include Boston Lobsters, Delaware Smash, Kansas City Explorers, New York Buzz, New York Sportimes, Newport Beach Breakers, Philadelphia Freedoms, Sacramento Capitals, St. Louis Aces, Springfield Lasers and Washington Kastles. The rules are different and each match includes a set of men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles (in whatever order the coaches agree). Each game earns single points and there's a total tally at the end which works towards overall winner in the league season (Kastles won last year) in order to win this lovely prize:
Can you guess who a major sponsor of the tournament is?
"Top Spin" hung out with Ian for a bit before the Kastles team came out to the court.
And then the tennis started. Up close and personal.
The coach challenges (a stuffed gecko attached to little parachutes tossed onto the court) and replays were cool to watch:
I don't have photos of the women's doubles or women's singles, because quite honestly, they just weren't that interested to watch, and the Kastles got blown out of the water. Kastles lost 5-0 in doubles, and 5-1 in singles.
We had good seats, it's hard not to in such a small venue and the tickets were only $15/each. They kill on food and drinks which I thought was really uncool in the crazy hot sticky temps. At $3-$4 per drink and seven people to keep hydrated with no outside drinks allowed.... yeah, add that up. Just for drinks and ices. Next time though, we'd like to be the people in these seats:
Between sets the cheerleaders came out, tshirts were tossed into the stands, burritos were tossed into the stands, a guy on stilts encouraged people to yell and cheer, music played. It was a lot like a minor league baseball game. After the match was done kids under 16 were encouraged to line up to get autographs and just as the tables were set up and the players sat down to start signing the clouds opened up in huge heavy drops. We were drenched within minutes but persevered and still got Leader Paes' autograph on tennis balls. I told him we'd seen him in Chennai in 2009. Ian got a fist pump. He is an awesome doubles player and enjoyable to watch and at events like these the players sort of linger among the crowd, chat fans up and are normal people. It's kind of cool.
Sopping wet we made it to the car and within minutes the rain had stopped. It was a late night, we didn't get home until 11 p.m., but it was so worth it. Hopefully next time we'll recognize a few more names.