Secrets of tennis team's success

The Washington Kastles don’t just win. They rule. In only four seasons of playing World TeamTennis, they’ve been champions twice. Last year, they won all 16 of their matches, something no team had ever done in the 36-year history of the league. That means the team’s serving up some high expectations for its upcoming season, which starts July 12.

No one has his eye more on the ball than the king of the Kastles, Coach Murphy Jensen. The former Tennis Channel star, who won the men’s doubles title at the ’93 French Open (with his brother Luke), acknowledges that it helps to have a stellar roster that includes both Venus and Serena Williams. But they still wouldn’t win, he says, if they didn’t work so hard.

I got Jensen to share some Kastles pointers, which could come in handy when you’re holding court.

• Play with a resistance band: Before getting their rackets swinging, Kastles players warm up by doing the same movements using resistance bands. “Put one end under your foot and pull it around with your arm. Just have fun with it,” says Jensen, who recommends repeating this process after you play to help with recovery.

• Stretch and strike a pose: Flexibility is critical: If you can’t reach the ball, you’re not hitting it, either. That’s why Kastles players benefit from keeping up a yoga practice. Jensen says downward-facing dog, pigeon and other poses that open up the hips and lower body have become part of their pregame stretch routine. “It’s a way to center mentally and physically before matches,” Jensen says.

• Don’t forget your feet: The brain is an important body part, but you also need to think on your feet — and about your feet. “I don’t care if it’s a pedicure or a massage, but you need to do something,” he says.

— Vicky Hallett, The Washington Post

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