The Washington Kastles have a new home this season, but not much else has changed for the powerhouse World Team Tennis franchise.
The Kastles still have plenty of big-name stars and I have no doubt they will continue piling up the wins, and very possibly another championship.
They also now have a castle built for a king-sized team this season. They have moved from the Wharf to the Charles E. Smith Center, an indoor facility located in the Foggy Bottom area. It is close to one of the D.C. metro stops, making it even more convenient for fans. The Smith Center is where George Washington University plays its men's and women's basketball games. There will be more seating and air-conditioning, which is a very good thing.
The arena is where the Volvo Classic men's tournament was held from 1976-80, and also one of the places where the Virginia Slims of Washington tournament was held from the 1970s until 1990.
Ticket prices have also went down this year to as low as $8, making it a great and cheap place to take the family to see some really great tennis.
The Kastles are once again loaded with talent. Led by coach Murphy Jensen, the Kastles have Hall of Famer and five-time grand slam singles champion Martina Hingis for most of the season. They will also have seven-time slam champion and gold medalist Venus Williams for at least two matches, including next Wednesday against the Texas Wild.
Hingis and Williams are two of the best doubles players to play the game and it will be great to see the two play together (I wouldn't want to be the one on the other side of the net against them). They have won a combined 15 grand slam doubles titles.
The second-ranked American women's player, Sloane Stephens, will also be playing on July 22 for the Kastles.
Big-serving South African Kevin Anderson is playing in a few matches this week. The team also has American Bobby Reynolds and doubles specialist Leander Paes.
Reynolds is a gritty, solid player, and has had some big singles wins over the last few years for the Kastles.
Paes is playing for Kastles for the sixth straight year, and is really the heart and soul of the team. He has won 14 grand slam doubles titles, eight in men's and six in mixed. He also won the bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics.
Hingis and Paes are two of the best doubles players of all-time, and are fun to watch when they played mixed doubles together.
Anastasia Rodionova is once again on the team, and Australian Jarka Gajdosova is also playing for the Kastles this week.
The Kastles won 34 straight at one point, until the streak came to an end last season. They currently have a 13-match win streak going.
Washington has won four of the last five WTT championships, and I see no reason to think they won't do it again this season.
The Kastles always have an enthusiastic crowd behind them, and with the talent they have on their teams it's easy to understand why.
There are several new franchises this season, as a few of the other ones had to fold, but it should still be some great tennis.
In addition to Washington's talent, WTA star Daniela Hantuchova will be playing for the San Diego Aviators when they play in Washington on Monday.
Up-and-coming American Taylor Townsend (who may be the best of the young crop of female Americans) is a regular on the Philadelphia Freedoms, who will be playing at Washington on Sunday.
For anyone who loves tennis and hasn't experienced World Team Tennis, I highly recommend going and checking it out this season. It's always a fun, entertaining evening of tennis with lots of drama, and most importantly high-quality tennis.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd