| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo credit: Kenneth B. Goldberg

The Eastern Conference Championship match was tied at 14 games all with one match to play. With the final match of the night being the Women’s Singles match that meant Venus Williams (Kastles) would face Ashley Harkelroad (Sportimes) to determine which team would face the Sacramento Capitals (Western Conference Champions) in the 2012 WTT Finals. Harkelroad managed to break Venus in the first game of the match but unfortunately for the Sportimes Harkelroad was not able to handle Venus from that point forward and William's took the next five games to earn a 5-1 victory that kept the Eastern Conference champion Kastles' win streak intact. The Kastles, 15-0 on the season and winners of 31 straight WTT matches, now will face the Sacramento Capitals on Sunday in the championship. The Capitals beat the Orange County Breakers 25-15 on Friday in the Western Conference Final.

"I have never played in a final after playing World Team Tennis for the past 12 years. This was huge for me," said Williams, the U.S. Open winner last Sunday.

Williams, also the Wimbledon champion this year, said she liked being on the court with the match on the line.

"I like the lineup like that. I like the pressure. There was a lot of pressure. She really played well and brought every ball back," she said. "To get those games as a cushion at the end helped me relax." Harkelroad said, "She was being very, very consistent and I thought to myself I really need to start going for more. I started making more errors but, you know, what could I do?" she said. "I never really believed I would pull it out and that's probably the main problem."

Earlier in the matchup Leander Paes & Bobby Reynolds put the Kastles up 5-2 in the first match, beating the Sportimes' John McEnroe & Robert Kendrick in men's doubles. But the Sportimes won the mixed doubles by the same 5-2 score to level the match at 7-7 overall when their team of Kendrick, who substituted midway for McEnroe, & Kveta Peschke edging Williams & Paes.

The Kastles' Bobby Reynolds defeated Jesse Witten in men's singles, again 5-2, to put Washington back on top. In the fourth matchup the Sportimes again evened the score as Harkleroad and Peschke defeated Williams and Anastasia Rodinova 5-2.

Harkleroad said winning the women's doubles and tying the match for her team was a lift.

"I was sure proud of myself for winning the doubles. I played fantastic and my partner did," she said.