Mark Ein and champion Washington Kastles’ Season for the Ages.
By John Arundel
For the owner of DC’s first professional tennis team, 2011 could not have been any sweeter.
“It was truly a season for the ages,” said Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein, who established the team four years ago, and watched his beloved team complete the first perfect undefeated season in the 36-year history of World Team Tennis by going 16-0. It was their second league championship in four years.
With their 23-19 win over the St. Louis Aces in the finals, the Kastles won their second WTT Championship in three years and their second in only four years.
In July, tennis great Serena Williams led the Kastles to a 25-10 victory over the Boston Lobsters in her first professional match since the 2010 Wimbledon Championships and her first match in the United States since the 2009 US Open.
This summer Kastles Stadium at The Wharf was built on the Potomac River’s edge along the Southwest Waterfront, opening to wide acclaim and more than a few bold-faced names up in the stands.
“The new stadium sold out virtually every one of our seven home matches,” said Ein, who entertained such luminaries as First Lady Michelle Obama, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, NBA champs Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Caron Butler, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Revolution’s Steve Case and Washington Wizards principal owner Ted Leonsis.
“We were especially thrilled by the individual honors we took home for DC,” said Ein, including Leander Paes (Male MVP), Murphy Jensen (Coach of the Year) and Arina Rodionova (Finals MVP and Female Rookie of the Year).
Other members of the 2011 winning team included Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Bobby Reynolds and Rennae Stubbs.
Paes finished #1 in Men’s and Mixed Doubles, Reynolds #1 in Men’s Doubles (tied with Paes) and #2 in Men’s Singles.
And then there were the post-season honors which commemorated the Kastles’ historic undefeated season.
The team received an honorary proclamation of “Washington Kastles Day” on the steps of City Hall from D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, preceded by a trophy presentation in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the US Open. The DC Chamber of Commerce awarded the Kastles its Business Leader of the Year in October, and three weeks ago, the team notched a Section Organization of the Year award from the United States Tennis Association.
The Kastles took the honor for outstanding service to the community and to the game of tennis. During 2011 the team worked with 30 different charitable organizations to give away $150,000 of cash grants and goods, including 1,000 match tickets and 800 free tennis rackets to expose the game of tennis to the city’s under-served youth. Over the past four years, the Kastles total charitable and community contributions exceeded $600,000.
“We’ve had some incredibly memorable moments at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf, including winning every match this year, home and away, on the way to an undefeated season and our second championship,” Ein said. “But the most indelible memories of 2011 come from looking into the stands and seeing capacity crowds of fans, representing every part of our community, cheering for our players, our city and our team’s success.”
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