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John McEnroe Loses Temper at Kastles Match (UPDATED)

McEnroe and Paes. (All photos courtesy Kevin Koski.)

The thing is, whenever the Washington Kastles face the New York Sportimes, you know tensions will flare. I mean, they're the best two teams in World Team Tennis's Eastern Conference, and they just flat out don't like each other. Plus John McEnroe was playing for the Sportimes last night, and he's, how do you say, excitable?

So I wasn't there, but here's a rough summary of how things went down, according to the Kastles. During the men's doubles, Kastles star Leander Paes tagged Robert Kendrick with a volley at the net. A furious, or at least animated, McEnroe crossed the net and got in Paes's face (although there's some dispute about this--the Sportimes owner said McEnroe was "an oasis of calm in the chaos"), while New York Coach Chuck Adams started yelling at Paes's partner, Scott Oudsema. Kastles Coach Murphy Jensen also came out and started yelling. Fans got into it, too.

Kastles Coach Murphy Jensen.

Everyone calmed down, and no penalties were issued, but Kendrick then served a ball into Paes, who was at the net and wasn't receiving the serve.

"All hell breaks loose again," someone with the Kastles told me.

So players on both benches got up and start yelling at each other and at the chair umpire; the Kastles allege that a member of the Sportimes cursed at Olga Puchkova, and her teammate Rennae Stubbs then lost it and was assessed a one-point penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Kastles went on to lose the match in a super tiebreaker.

UPDATED: I talked to Stubbs this afternoon, and she said that she remained calm and subdued throughout. She said she stood up and began a discussion after the Sportimes coach had cursed at Puchkova, at which point she was issued a warning. Then she went to the chair umpire and tried to explain what had been said, was told to sit down, and was assessed the point penalty for, essentially, not sitting down. She said another official later came to her and said that had been the most unjust point penalty he had ever seen.

UPDATED: "Basically, it was a great match, probably one of the greatest World Team Tennis match ever played, maybe the greatest," Sportimes owner Claude Okin told me. "All in all, I thought it was a great night. But the incident? Paes went at Kendrick, intentionally hit him with the ball pretty much as hard as he could, and that's scary. You can hurt somebody that way. Our coach and players defended their teammate verbally, and then Kendrick went back at Leander with his response, and it's what it is, but it started with Leander going at Robert. We have no idea why he did. Leander said he was gonna do that, he said 'Somebody's gonna get hurt out there,' and then he hit him.

"So we went a little crazy, because we just don't see that as being a necessary part of the game. But otherwise, by the end of the match, John spoke to Leander, Robert and Leander shook hands at the net, embraced each other, and everybody involved in both teams, from coaches to players to owners, had hugs and handshakes....Really what you saw was the intensity of the rivalry, and that's what makes World Team Tennis great. Basically I was proud to be part of it."

UPDATED: I talked to Kastles owner Mark Ein and he agreed that it was a great match, but he had concerns with how it ended.

"It definitely was a great match," he said. "We see eye to eye that it was one of the best matches you could ever have, so we agree on that. I think it's extremely unfortunate and was grossly unfair that we got a point penalty when our player was tagged with a serve, which in the more than 60 combined years that our team has played professional tennis, no one's ever seen that, ever. One of the cardinal rules of tennis you learn when you're a little kid is you never cross the net. In every other match that's an automatic default. For that to happen, and then for us to get a point penalty, which changed the momentum dramatically to start a tiebreaker, that was really unfair and really unfortunate and was a huge mistake by the umpire and everybody else who was part of that decision. It definitely was a great tennis match, and it was a great experience for the fans, but it was unfortunate that the outcome may have been impacted by really bad decision-making."

The Kastles have said that they will protest the result, and owner Mark Ein has asked the WTT for a full investigation. Okin said he expects the result will stand.

UPDATED: The WTT announced that it has fined and suspended Sportimes Coach Chuck Adams, according to the AP. Further punishments are still possible. The WTT is saying that the point penalty was for abuse of officials, a charge that Stubbs vehemently denies.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you can't ever skip a meeting between the Kastles and the Sportimes. You just don't know what will happen.

(Read more at the Kastles official site and at We Love DC; and here's a photo of Jason Campbell, his girlfriend and Serena Williams, just because.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 17, 2009; 11:52 AM ET
Categories:  Tennis  
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Next: DaJuan Summers on the Pistons and the Hoyas


Kastles Rule, Sportimes Drool!

Posted by: popopo | July 17, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Does this mean that Gilbert Arenas and Co. will be taking shots in the media at the Knicks this fall?

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | July 17, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Please let this match have been one of the ones that CSN will televise later in the year.

Posted by: amorris525 | July 17, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Well there is video highlights on the CSN website, but the video is extremely small and I see no button to enlarge it.

Posted by: amorris525 | July 17, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Good thing we got Justin Gimelstob off the team. He being the bad influence and all...

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | July 17, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Jason: cute girl. Just keep her away from handguns and purse straps.

Posted by: gbooksdc | July 17, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Paes tagged Kendrick at the net.
Kendrick takes umbrage at Paes b/c he did not apologize, which is SOP in tennis, it being a gentleman's sport. Rennae Stubbs tagged one of the Sportimes in women's doubles earlier in the night and apologized profusely and no one thought any more of it.
McEnroe is aggravated at Paes lack of apology and walks over the other side of the net and tells Paes to his face. He shouted an obscenity or two on his way over. Then everything cools down.
Then Kendrick nails Paes with his serve while serving to Oudesma (something I have never ever seen at a tennis match), which is basically a sucker punch.
Paes is understandably upset, all four men end up at the net arguing, McEnroe eventually calms everyone down and defuses the situation. Paes and Kendrick shake hands.
At some point during that Puchkova and Kendrick exchanged words and somehow the Kastles got a point penalty.
Another 10 minutes of discussion between the Kastles and the ref. Eventually play resumes, Johnny Mac and Kendrick win the doubles and then a 50 y.o. mac totally outclasses the 23 y.o. Oudesma in men's singles.
Also worth noting that Paes and McEnroe were joking around with each other before the men's doubles. They are obviously friends. I thought it was all an act until Kendrick pegged Paes with his serve.

Posted by: leafblower | July 17, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I was at the match and saw very clearly how the whole thing unfolded. It all started a point before Paes nailed Kendrick with a return. The Kastles won the previous point and as Paes and Oudsema walked towards the baseline, with their back to the net, Kendrick, standing at the net, picked up a ball and hit a fairly firm shot at their feet. Paes looked over at Kendrick, obviously wondering why Kendrick would hit a ball directly at them, after a point was over. I'm sure that is what provoked Paes, on the very next point, to go after Kendrick with the return. I saw Kendrick hit that ball at Paes and Oudsema, and it was no mistake. He hit it with a purpose and it showed a complete lack of class.

I have no idea why McEnroe went across the court to the Kastle's side. I don't know what he said but he had no business being over there. The Umpire completely screwed the whole thing up and no control over the situation.

But it was an amazing match.

Posted by: SW-Joe | July 17, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

I worked late, got stuck in traffic, and decided to go home.

Posted by: sitruc | July 17, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

It's nice that the Post covers tennis and other women's sports.

(HAH!!!!! Take that, I-270!)

Posted by: bs2004 | July 18, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

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