Music, We Love Music

We Love Music: Tennis & White Rabbits @ Black Cat — 3/7/12 (or “With Great Expectations Come Great Responsibility”)

Photo courtesy of musicisentropy
courtesy of musicisentropy

A very sold-out show at the Black Cat Wednesday night offered two remarkably different flavors. I went into it with expectations that one band would be mediocre and the other band would be pretty good, but my expectations were reversed!

First, Denver-based pop band Tennis charmed the audience with its sweet sunny pop songs, evoking images of a journey through Americana. The sound of Tennis, made up at its core by husband and wife Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, completely recalls earlier times of simple lovesongs albeit set to Moore’s pleasing synths and Riley’s surf guitar.

I knew them as a band that tours a lot but I had low expectations. Boy, did they surprise me. The very look of the duo, even augmented by their band, evoked happy, retro feelings. Moore has a look about her straight out of an 80s high school yearbook and she sings with a lovely sophisti-pop air. To me, her voice contained elements of Kristy MacColl and Tracey Thorn, although she remained so chirpy that she would be completely at home on a twee pop mixtape with Heavenly.
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Featured Photo

Featured Photo

Photo courtesy of
‘Washington Kastles vs Kansas City Explorers | Christina McHale’
courtesy of ‘Paul Frederiksen’

A good sport shot is a hard thing to get. First, you need a good angle on the action, which is very hard to come by; the best angles tend to be reserved for the pros. Then you need patience to see the sequence that will get you the shot you want. You’ll also need a good knowledge of the sport you’re shooting; that way you can anticipate when the shot is coming up and not waste time and energy. Oh, and you have to get it quick, because the right moment in sports is measured in milliseconds.

Paul’s picture of Kansas City Explorer’s star Christina McHale is an excellent example of sports photography. The shot is right at the moment of the backhand, perfectly capturing the power of the swing. In fact, when I look at the shot, I think of this more as a wildlife photo of a lion or horse in motion, with all of the tense muscles and the look of concentration on her face. Truly, a great shot!

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Kastles relocate to Waterfront for 2011-12 Seasons

Photo courtesy of
‘Kastles Tennis’
courtesy of ‘tbridge’

For each of the last three years, the Washington Kastles (The District’s World Team Tennis franchise) has played on a bespoke temporary court at the corner of 11th and H Street NW across from the Grand Hyatt.  This season, with construction slated to begin at the city center site in April, the team has had to put together other plans.

The Kastles will play in a temporary stadium on the new site at 800 Water St SW on the Waterfront, between Zanzibar and Phillips, for the next two years.  The temporary stadium will closely resemble the temporary stadium built at 11th & H, but will remain up year-round and be programmed by the Kastles and their partner PN Hoffman.

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Sports Fix

117th Ranked Nalbandian Wins Title

David Nalbandian by Max Cook

AUGUST 8, by Paula Schumann

Even before the two finalists walked onto the court, chants of “Ole Ole David” could be heard from the highest seats in the Stadium Court, and the Argentine flags were waving.  It appeared that we had a crowd favorite. 28 year old David Nalbandian (ARG), who is ranked 117th and came into the Legg Mason Tennis Classic on a wild card, was about to face Marcos Baghdatis (CYP), age 25 with a ranking of 25, in the singles final.  Nalbandian’s ranking had dropped after not playing for nine months due to hip surgery, and being out again for two month
this summer with a hamstring injury.

After the obligatory photo ops and hand shaking, the coin was tossed and Baghdatis was the first to serve.  It was broken and Nalbandian went on to serve and held for an early lead at 2-0.  Both players continued to dazzle the crowd, Nalbandian with his whip-like forehands and Baghdatis with his adeptness at the net.  Despite some double faults at key points, Nalbandian began to dictate play and finished off the set at 6-2 in 53 min.  As people got up from their seats you could tell what everyone was thinking….this won’t last long.

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Upsets Continue at Legg Mason

Xavier Malisse by Max Cook

AUGUST 6, by Paula Schumann

There were more upsets at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic on Friday in the quarter final round played during the day session.  After Thursday night’s ousting of Andy Roddick, it seemed like anything could happen, and so it went. First up was Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs Xavier Malisse (BEL), winner of Thursday night’s match against John Isner.  They split sets, Malisse taking the first 6-4, and Berdych taking the second 3-6.

In the third set, Berdych showed some signs of coming unglued when he
challenged an in call on a shot by Malisse, which was confirmed in by shot spot.
He continued to argue that the shot spot was clearly wrong.  I heard others from
the crowd voicing the same opinion.  But shot spot rules, so play continued.  He
then regained his composure to serve a 129 mph ace.  Malisse seemed the
calmer of the two despite the occasional double fault and unforced error.  He
wasn’t letting it get under his skin or at least he wasn’t showing it.  He went on
to get an early break and then held his serve.  At 4-1, Berdych held his serve
when the game ended by Malisse mishitting a ball that flew into the upper stands.
Malisse still remained stoic, head down and onto the next game.  Berdych lost
another challenge on his serve, which just seemed to further unravel him.  On
match point he came to the net but his volley went long and Malisse took the set,
6-2, and the match.

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Storm Takes Out US Players

Xavier Malisse by Max Cook

AUGUST 5, by Paula Schumann

The skies broke open and the rain came lashing down just as the third round
matches were about to get under way on Thursday afternoon at the Legg Mason
Tennis Classic
.  Despite the severe storm, play was able to proceed with the use of
large blowers to dry off the courts.  By around 8 pm, the action got started on
the Stadium Court with John Isner (USA) facing Xavier Mallise (BEL).  Shortly
after, the side courts were dry and it was a night that made choosing where to
be quite difficult.  I took the opportunity to spend some time on the side courts.
Because the rain had thinned out the crowds a bit, it was easy to get up close
and personal.  If you’ve always thought that the only way to see a match is on a
center stadium court, I highly recommend the smaller side courts for witnessing
the intensity and level of exertion of the pros.  I ran into a fellow tennis enthusiast
at one point who said she only likes to sit in the aptly named “sweaty seats”.

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What will McEnroe do this time?

Photo courtesy of
‘The Serve’
courtesy of ‘maxedaperture’

Tonight, the Kastles play host to the New York Sportimes in World Team Tennis at the Kastles tennis court over at 11th and H Street. Last time John McEnroe came down to DC, there was a huge kerfuffle between McEnroe and Kastles’ star Leander Paes, focused around an errant tennis ball’s final resting place. The ensuing bench-clearing incident included McEnroe’s teammate Robert Kendrick calling Kastles’ player Olga Puchkova a bitch. Yeah, it’s an intense time at World Team Tennis.

Anyhow, tonight brings the controversial McEnroe back to DC to face the Kastles. The Kastles need every point they can get at this crucial moment in the season. The team is second in the East, just half a match ahead of the third place Boston Lobsters in a fight for the second playoff spot in the division. A victory tonight would put them within a half match of the Sportimes with just two matches to go, nearly assuring them of post-season action. Tickets are available at the door for tonight’s match, which starts at 7pm. Your guess is as good as ours as to what will happen when McEnroe takes the court tonight. What’s the craziest that could happen?

The Daily Feed

Kastles Fill Roster on WTT Draft Day

WTT King Trophy by Max Cook

Today the Washington Kastles filled out their roster for the 2010 season on World TeamTennis Draft Day.  With an impressive team headlined by the Williams sisters, repeating as WTT champions looks entirely possible.  The Kastles traded for the first overall pick in today’s draft, welcoming doubles masters Leander Paes and Rennae Stubbs back to the team.  The roster is rounded out by Bobby Reynolds and Angela Haynes (we’ll miss you “Boom Boom” and “Puchy”).  And last but certainly not least, coach Murphy Jensen will be back for a second year to fire up the players and entertain the crowd.

This season’s schedule is now online and packed with incredible matches featuring Martina Hingis, John McEnroe, and of course, Anna Kournikova.

Life in the Capital, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Kastles To Receive Key to the City

2009 WTT Champions by Max Cook

To honor the 2009 World TeamTennis Champion Washington Kastles, Mayor Fenty will be presenting the team with the Key to the City next Thursday, August 27th at 11am.  The ceremony will be held on the steps of the Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW.  The first 300 fans will receive a free Kastles WTT Championship t-shirt so be sure to get there early if you’re in the market for free stuff.  The entire Kastles team will be there including Murphy Jensen, Leander Paes, Rennae Stubbs, Scott Oudsema, and Olga Puchkova.  After the ceremony there will be a fan appreciation event across the street at Freedom Plaza with food and drinks, giving you a chance to catch up with the players and to give them high fives and such.  Can I get a “whooooaaaa Kastles”?!

The Daily Feed

Legg Mason Final Report

Tennis Fans by Max Cook

Contributed by Paula Schumann

In Friday’s quarterfinals we saw Gonzales beat Hass, and then came the news that the Soldering vs Del Potro match was canceled because Soderling withdrew, due to a sore elbow.  I had seen him playing earlier in the week and he looked to be in good form.  I noticed that his choice of outfit was trimmed in gold, as if to anoint himself the new prince of the tour.  When asked about his withdrawal, he said he woke up with the sore arm and his plan was to get an MRI and then to get healthy for the US Open.

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Sports Fix

Friday’s Action at The Legg Mason

Fernando Gonzalez by Max Cook

Contributed by Veronica Jackson

While walking from the grassy parking lot, where they line up cars very tightly in neat rows at the Legg Mason Tennis Tournament on Friday, I met a fine young gentleman parked next to me who said, “I have no idea about this sport.” He was attending the daytime matches because a work colleague had given him tickets and the day was “too beautiful to pass up.” I gave him my brief rundown of why I love this game. It’s such a mental sport. One can be incredibly physically fit and have great technique, but if you don’t believe in your abilities and that you can beat your opponent, one can lose matches. I also assured him that it was an easy game to follow and he would enjoy himself. Besides, sitting anywhere in the Stadium at 1 PM on a sunny afternoon is a beautiful way to get a tan. We continued to walk towards the entrance. He went to Will Call as I bade him good luck and I continued through the entrance gates.

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Legg Mason Heating Up

Scott Oudsema by Max Cook

Contributed by Paula Schumann

Qualifying rounds at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic whet my appetite for what promises to be an exciting tournament.  Lots of big names are attending this year, among them Lleyton Hewitt, John Isner, Tommy Robredo, Tommy Haas, Robin Solderling, and of course, Andy Roddick, a Legg Mason favorite.  Andy is having an exceptional summer, coming off the astonishing final match with Roger Federer at Wimbledon.

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The Daily Feed

Kastles Make Playoffs

Kastles Cheerleaders by Max Cook

The Washington Kastles lived up to their motto “Refuse to Lose” last night by destroying the Springfield Lasers, 21-14.  With playoff hopes on the line, the Kastles (7-7) needed to bring their A game to beat the Lasers (12-2) who have already clinched the top seed in the Western Conference championship.

The first three sets looked like child’s play for the Kastles.  In men’s doubles, Scott Oudsema and Leander Paes easily beat Martin Damm and Raven Klaasen 5-2 thanks to some powerful serves and amazing net work by Paes.  The doubles duo has really found their rhythm and become a force to reckon with.

Next up in women’s singles, newly acquired Nadia Petrova showed the Lasers’ Vania King why she’s the #10 ranked women’s singles player in the world, not in World TeamTennis.  King showed finesse and put up a good fight by tying Petrova at three games each, but the Russian put the smack down by serving three aces, winning some amazing vollies, and winning the set 5-3.

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The Daily Feed

Kastles Are Buzzkillers

Nadia Petrova by Max Cook

Last night the Washington Kastles (6-7), with the help of their new teammate Nadia Petrova, made easy work of the New York Buzz (4-9).  The relatively effortless 23-12 win put them one game closer to the Eastern Conference Finals which will be held here in DC on Friday if the Kastles make the cut.  In order to make it to the conference finals they have to win their match tonight against the Springfield Lasers (12-1) or the Boston Lobsters have to lose their match against the New York Buzz.  In other words, we’re in a tight spot.

Petrova, listed at 5’10”, must have grown a few inches since being measured.  Currently ranked #10 in the world, the powerful Russian is easily six feet tall and posted an impressive 15-3 record during her three sets last night.  Her addition to the Kastles roster may be just what they need in order to beat the one loss Lasers tonight.  Win or lose, it should be another incredible night of DC tennis.  Tickets to tonight’s match are still available.

The Daily Feed

Kastles Hit Homestretch

DC Tennis by Max Cook

The Washington Kastles, now 5-6, head into the end of their season this week.  Currently in second place in the Eastern Conference, they have their work cut out for them to maintain their position.  They’ve got three tough matches coming up, two of which are against the undefeated Springfield Lasers.  To help their playoff chances the Kastles have signed Nadia Petrova, currently ranked #10 in the world.  It remains to be seen who she will replace or if she will have doubles chemistry with either Rennae Stubbs or Olga Puchkova.

Securing wins in two of the final three matches will earn them a spot in the Eastern Conference Final against the 9-3 Sportimes who they played last week.  Should they lose two matches they will need the help from the Boston Lobsters and the Philadelphia Freedoms.  If the Kastles advance to the finals it will be played here in DC, a rematch you surely won’t want to miss.

While Washington clearly has the best fans in World TeamTennis, seats are still available for this week’s matches so buy your tickets now.

Sports Fix

McEnroe Brings Controversy and Defeat

photography by Max Cook

In the press conference prior to last night’s World TeamTennis match between the Washington Kastles and the New York Sportimes, John McEnroe was calm, cool, and collected.  Some might say he even seemed bored.  The fifty year old retired tennis legend, once ranked number one in the world and known for his fiery temper, sat emotionless as he answered questions he’s no doubt heard countless times before.  When asked whether he now considers himself an entertainer or an athlete he said, “A little bit of both.  I think people come here expecting me to get angry and yell at someone.”  You think?  The Kastles banked on it and played a video compilation of vintage McEnroe outbursts (“You have GOT to be kidding me!”) on the big screen no less than ten times throughout the evening.  Would McEnroe remain emotionless or would the crowd see the explosion they were hoping for?  With the Sportimes leading the Kastles by two games in the Eastern Conference, there was a lot riding on the line for the night’s match. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Kastles Host McEnroe Tonight

John McEnroe by Max Cook

Tuesday night was a special night for Kastles fans, or more accurately, for Serena Williams fans.  In front of a record sold out crowd, Williams and the Kastles made the Newport Beach Breakers look like a high school JV team.  While Scott Oudsema and Leander Paes lost the opening men’s doubles set, the Kastles quickly recovered, winning 22-12.

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The Daily Feed

Kastles Remain Winless

Olga Puchkova by Max Cook

Despite a strong start in mixed doubles and a big women’s singles win by Olga Puchkova, the Washington Kastles were defeated last night by the St Louis Aces.  The Aces may have actually benefited from the loss of their marquee player, Anna Kournikova, who is out for the season with a wrist injury.  While she was once ranked eighth in the world in singles and first in doubles, her tennis career has been seriously curtailed in recent years due to injuries.  She still draws quite a crowd and finds time to do charity work including yesterday’s Bloomberg Kids Tennis Clinic.

While the Kastles remain winless at 0-4, there is still hope.  If Puchkova works on her doubles game with Rennae Stubbs and the team reduces their double faults and improves their break point conversions, they stand a good chance of winning.  The players need to get fired up and start living up their motto, “refuse to lose”.

The Kastles play again at home on Sunday against the New York Buzz, so buy a ticket and hope for a win!

The Daily Feed

Kastles Lose Home Opener

Venus Williams by Max Cook

It was a beautiful night for tennis at Kastles Stadium, but despite a valiant effort in overtime, the Washington Kastles were handed a loss in front of a sold out crowd by Venus Williams and the Philadelphia Freedoms.  The match started out strong for Washington when Scott “Boom Boom” Oudsema took on Nathan Healey in men’s singles, but the final point went to Healey whose serve was too much for Oudsema to handle.  The Kastles struggled with basics like double faults and return serves throughout the rest of the match, ending with a 23-16 loss.

Those who went to the match to see Venus play weren’t disappointed as she showed off her powerful serve in women’s singles, mixed doubles, and women’s doubles.  It was amazing that Williams, along with Washington’s Rennae Stubbs and Leander Paes, could play at such a high level after competing in the Wimbledon Finals last weekend.

The Kastles get a chance to secure their first win tonight against the St Louis Aces and Anna Kournikova.  I’ll say that again in case you missed it.  Anna Kournikova.  Buy your tickets now!

The Daily Feed

Kastles Broker Blockbuster Deal

Rennae Stubbs by sufw

They might as well give the Washington Kastles the WTT title right now.  In what appears to be an incredible trade with the Sacramento Capitals, the Kastles are sending Angela Haynes and CoCo Vandeweghe in exchange for Rennae Stubbs and Olga Puchkova.

Stubbs is ranked in the top ten in world doubles, is a former number one ranked doubles player, has won 59 career WTA titles, and was last year’s World TeamTennis MVP.

Puchkova was ranked #32 in the world in singles in 2007, and oh, she’s also a professional model represented by Elite Management.  That’s a real bummer, right guys?

So what does this mean?  The Kastles now have 36 Grand Slam titles among their five players and head coach.  This is one lean, mean, tennis machine.  I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they win this year’s WTT title, hosted right here in DC.  If you haven’t bought your tickets, now is the time!  The home opener is next Tuesday, July 7th vs Venus Williams and the Philadelphia Freedoms.