The Washington Kastles have put up some pretty impressive numbers during their short tenure in Mylan World Team Tennis, and for the last three-plus years, I’ve had the chance to be front-and-nearly-center for all the home matches as the team’s DJ. And when I say front-and-near-center, I’m on the court, behind a table, right behind
The Washington Kastles have put up some pretty impressive numbers during their short tenure in Mylan World Team Tennis, and for the last three-plus years, I’ve had the chance to be front-and-nearly-center for all the home matches as the team’s DJ.
And when I say front-and-near-center, I’m on the court, behind a table, right behind the umpire. This can make for some interesting moments. Like the time Venus Williams served a ball into the back of Anastasia Rodionova, or the massive forehand slams by such Kastles as Bobby Reynolds, Kevin Anderson and Leander Paes.
You can also hear the hiss of the ball as it flies by you, and when you have some players serving at over 120mph, it’s kind of scary too.
Two big moments in sports have literally happened right in front of me, the first was in 2013 when the Kastles broke the professional sports record of 33 consecutive wins with their 34th in a row, then later that season, the Kastles won their third Mylan World Team Tennis championship in a row and fourth in five seasons.
During a Kastles match, my job is to play music and crowd prompts between points. I’m also responsible for coordinating scoreboard data, keeping the game director and P. A. announcer up-to-date on match progress, and to assist the game director when necessary.
Choosing the music comes with a general directive, “songs of the summer” which means current pop music. Over the last couple of years, this genre has morphed into one sound which makes all the songs sound the same. Figuring out songs that can be used for aces, slams, and other tennis-related events has allowed me to expand the library a little. This season, we’ve been given more room to work with when it comes to music so we’re able to bring back some songs we’ve used in the past, along with general arena-rock music.
During warm-ups, the players often choose what they want to hear. During the 2013 season, it was rare any music was played because of the amount of media that were in attendance, it was rare any pre-match music was played because of all the interviews going on. That was the last season the team played on The Wharf in Washington, D. C., and moved indoors to the Charles E. Smith Center prior to the 2014 season. The first year indoors, players asked for dance/house music with a constant beat. To try to appeal to the fans while also accommodating the players, a lot of remixes of songs from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s was played until the visiting team would take the court, then it would be more mainstream songs.
The players also have requests for songs played during matches. When Wimbledon doubles champion Martina Hingis first came to the squad, she asked for Rihanna and Adele. Her request now includes Sia. Wimbledon women’s champion, Serena Williams enjoys Green Day while her sister Venus enjoys 311. Former Kastle Bobby Reynolds had Styx “Renegade” and Journey for his songs while he was playing. Leander Paes loves to hear Michael Jackson and Journey while he’s on the court. The song requests even come from Head Coach Murphy Jensen who really gets in to Ace Hood’s “Bugatti” but also likes to hear “Machinehead” by Bush. Current Kastle Sam Querrey asks for modern pop music including Justin Timberlake, The Weeknd and The Neighbourhood. The latter was chosen because Querrey grew up with the guys in the band. Madison Brengle and Denis Kudla, who started the 2015 season for Washington, both enjoyed listening to Taylor Swift, so much so, one fan even mentioned it on Twitter (note Metro DC DJs is a sister company to SportsAnnouncing.com)
— dogunderwater (@dogunderwater) July 22, 2015
Sometimes you’ll even see players react on the court, which Hingis and Paes have done in the past, while Brengle did earlier this season. These are the interactions that I love about being on the court. You get to talk to a lot of people, meet a lot of people, and really feel like you’re part of something special every night.
The fans also fuel the fire. When the team was playing outdoors, it got loud but the sound would sometimes fall away to the sound of boats on the waterway behind the stadium, or simply lost to the open sky above. Now, as the Kastles play indoors, not only is the threat of rain something we don’t need to worry about–most of the matches at Smith Center have been played while it rained before or during the match–the fans come out and are ready to make plenty of noise right from the start.
It is an entertaining evening, and you really get into the matches. It’s not all quiet, all the time, and the players interact with the fans with in-match games and promotions.