Kastles Elevate Their Game

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The Kastles play atop Union Market this season. Courtesy Washington Kastles.

The Washington Kastles would be hard pressed to raise their game even more, having won five titles over its decade of existence. Yet owner Mark Ein managed to do just that: D.C.’s World TeamTennis team, play on high on the rooftop of Union Market on 5th Street NE.

To mark the Kastles 2019 season, Ein partnered with Union Market and its developer, Edens, to build a specially constructed, 700-seat stadium more than three stories up that represents the team’s even loftier ambitions.

“As a Washingtonian who loves this city, I am dedicated to bringing our community together and showcasing D.C. as a world-class destination through the power of sports,” said Ein, who is also managing the upcoming Citi Open at Rock Creek Park. “Union Market [is] the perfect home court for our franchise… to provide fans with an unmatched sports and entertainment experience.”

Over the course of more than two weeks, the Kastles will have hosted eight home matches against various other World TeamTennis teams. Grand Slam champion Venus Williams and Maryland native Frances Tiafoe, among other top-tier players, are on the roster.

While Wimbledon may have its strawberries and cream, the Kastles’ Union Market location offers unparalleled culinary and entertainment opportunities, as well as a curated series of events, pop-ups and watch parties that put tennisgoers first. DC Fray will host ping-pong tournaments in the patio, and more than a dozen Union Market vendors are offering discounts and specials for fans.

Atop the market’s roof, the Kastles treat fans to an intimate viewing experience. Given the small size of the stadium (previous venues offered room for more than 2,000 persons), each seat is an ace – especially the VIP section behind one of the baselines that includes a three-course meal. For everyone else, downstairs offers a cornucopia of to-go eating options to bring to the seats, but a rotating Union Market vendor sells food right on the roof itself. Of course, this being Washington, D.C., there’s a rooftop bar as well.

Fans would be forgiven for getting distracted from the tennis itself at times. From the rooftop vantage point, sweeping 360-degree views – at sunset no less – are captivating. On a recent evening, the famed Apollo 11 projections on the Washington Monument were visible.

The on-court environment is more akin to a basketball game than dressed-up Wimbledon. There’s a DJ, an emcee, and a roving tennis-ball mascot to pump up fans. Pop music blares between points and during changeovers, when the emcee isn’t exhorting fans to shout the Kastles’ slogan “refuse to lose,” and appropriately, “raise the roof.”

The team plays five games: men’s and women’s singles and doubles, as well as mixed doubles; the entire match lasts less than three hours.

Given the all-courtside seats, skyline panoramas and lively atmosphere, it’s definitely an elevated tennis experience.

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