But House members from both sides of the aisle were able to compromise Tuesday as doubles partners during the third Washington Kastles Charity Classic.
“We always say that every sport in town has a congressional match,a political match. We decided to do something different and prove that on the tennis court,we can all get along,” said Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein,who played in the event.
Representatives were joined by media personalities and professional athletes as they competed in the closest match in the three-year history of the classic,which was held at the Smith Center on the George Washington University campus.
The participants were divided into the Stars and Stripes teams. They played a series of double tiebreakers that came to a tense 46-46 tie in the eighth and final set.
Stripes player Rep. Charlie Dent,R-Pa.,roared and pumped his fist after making a forehand winner to tie the match. As his partner,Rep. Tulsi Gabbard,D-Hawaii,served for the match,Dent wiped his brow,moved forward for the return and struck a backhand volley for the Stripes 47-46 victory. Dent would later be named MVP.
Fierce competition is nothing new to the professional tennis franchise. The Washington Kastles,founded in 2008,competes in the Mylan World TeamTennis. The team has won four WTT titles in the last five years.
Ein said the franchise has raised more than $1 million for local and national charities.
All ticket sales from Tuesday’s event were donated to Best Buddies,which works with people with disabilities; military-support organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors,the D.C. Public Education Fund and Food & Friends,which prepares and delivers meals to people in Washington with life-threatening illnesses.
Even though the match was for charity,the competitive nature of the event included occasional smack talk. Kastles coach Murphy Jensen,asked Ed Henry of Fox News,who struggled to get his ball over the net on most shots,if his shoes were new.
Other players tried to get the crowd behind them. Rep. Mike McIntyre,D-N.C.,had a few staffers in the crowd who held up a sign that read “Game. Set. McIntyre.” Another sign read “Peter Cook Up an Ace,” for Peter Cook,Bloomberg TV’s chief Washington correspondent.
Professional Kastles player Anastasia Rodionova,who was on the Stripes team,said she was surprised by the level of play.
“There were a lot of good tennis players today,” she said. “It’s great to see that tennis is played at every level and at every age.”
Some participants had more trouble than others.
Atlanta Falcons cornerback Josh Wilson said football and tennis are nothing alike. The NFL player struggled to grip his racquet and lobbed balls out of bounds.
But Wilson knew how to celebrate his shots. After a volley winner against Cook and former Washington cornerback Darrell Green,Wilson chest bumped his doubles partner Rocky McIntosh,a former NFL linebacker.
Gene Sperling,former director of the National Economic Council,traveled from Santa Monica,Calif.,to play in his third Charity Classic. Sperling said he will keep coming back as long as he is invited.
“Leander Paes,he is one of the greatest men’s doubles players in the last 20 years,” Sperling said. “For us to be able to not only play but be on the sidelines with them,joking,talking … that’s quite a privilege.”
Reach reporter Megan Card at [email protected] or 202-326-9868. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.