Kastles Coach Guarantees a Win Tonight
"We're gonna start winning tomorrow, and I guarantee it," Washington Kastles Coach Murphy Jensen said over the PA system last night, after D.C.'s World Team Tennis franchise made like the Nats in losing to Philly at home and dropping to 0-3 on the season. "We may be 0-3, but we're gonna win the championship. I guarantee it," he continued.
I guess there's some dispute on exactly what he said in that last bit. Some people say Jensen only guaranteed the Kastles would be in the championship. Others missed the line entirely. But I heard what I heard, and I wrote what I wrote in my notebook. It was, I believe, the first guarantee I've covered in my career, and it came from WTT's only winless team. I won't ever forget it.
"I guarantee a lot of stuff," said the impossibly charismatic Jensen when I grabbed him post-guarantee. "I guaranteed that I could break dance, and I never learned. You know what, we've got a team that's winning team. We're 0-3 and we've got our work cut out for us. We've got to win the East. And by winning the East, all the pieces come together, and they will. We'll be vying for a position to win the championship. Am I guaranteeing it? Well, we've got our work cut out for us."
Before I try to parse that one, let me note that the Kastles turn out the celebrities like no other franchise in this town, at least on a per-capita attendance basis. Here's a partial list: Steve Case, Jim Kimsey, Larry Summers, John Breaux, Darrell Green, Russ Thaler, the Blonde Charity Mafia, Mark Plotkin, Kojo Nnamdi, Adrian Fenty, Caron Butler, Oleksiy Pecherov, JaVale McGee, Javaris Crittenton, and Brian Davis, the D.C. United part-owner, who really ought to have been watching the U.S. Open Cup.
Anyhow, the team's motto for '09 is "Refuse to Lose," so you might as well guarantee stuff, right?
"I'm glad one of us has some confidence," doubles whiz Leander Paes said with a laugh. "You know, the one thing I always guarantee is putting my best foot forward. And God [dang], you're gonna have that, that's for sure. And if that guarantees a win [tonight], we're gonna win."
But a championship?
"You know what? I'm a Jensen brother," Coach Murphy said. "I grew up on a Christmas tree farm with 200 people. Nobody wins the French Open from there, yet we won the French Open. My brother said we're gonna win, and we won. We may not win [a title], but the bottom line is we're playing to win, and Kastles fans deserve a team that fights their butt off every night. This wasn't our best night. Stick around. We've got seven home matches. Find a night when we do have our best night and you'll be blown away."
Fine, that strikes me as a bit of back-pedaling, but I'll grant him the excitement factor, addressing the home crowd on a live mic. Anyhow, he definitely did guarantee a win for tonight's match in downtown D.C. against the St. Louis Aces, yes? That one still counts?
"I did guarantee a win," Jensen agreed.
So if they lose?
"You know what? Send me packing," Jensen said. "I hope they don't, though."
I asked the owner, Mark Ein, about this guarantee.
"I guarantee a win, too!" he said.
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