My Season With the Washington Kastles – Part 1

Last summer, as many of you may know, I was fortunate enough to work with the World Team Tennis Champions, Washington Kastles, as a team photographer.  Back in 2010,  I had sent an email to them asking about a photography position.  A year later I received the invitation from Abby to join the team for the 2011 season.  It had been a while since my last sporting event, a Nascar race in 2009, so I was really looking forward to joining the team.  With my buddy, Willis Bretz, coming to shoot as well, I knew it was going to be a fun three weeks.

My home away from home for seven days in July

Kastles owner Mark Ein (R) and GM Kevin Wynne (L)

WTT is a ridiculously short season packed with 14 intense matches in a three week span.  The players don’t get much of a break between matches, often traveling to the next opponent in the wee hours of the night and getting right back at it in the morning for practice.  What I do certainly does not compare to them but I got a hard lesson in having the proper gear to support you (and your back!) in situations like this.

I was going to post a picture of my gear from the stadium, but Willis' massive 300mm lens got in the way and made my stuff look pathetic.

The first thing I did was cash in my credit with and secure a Nikon 70-200/2.8 VRII for the season.  Throwing that over one shoulder with the 17-55/2.8 as my backup over the other quickly taught me that A: I need to stop carrying two cameras or B: I really need better straps.  Unfortunately I didn’t have time to get the strap I wanted ( so I made do with a DIY belt pouch and went with the one camera approach.  My back and shoulders were very thankful that everything now had its own pouch and all I had to worry about was swapping lenses on the fly.  This also gave me the chance to bring my Tokina 11-16/1.8 for some fun wide angle shots of the stadium

I look official, don't I? Taken by Willis

As I said, the season is short and intense with all matches played at night.  And, thanks to construction on 66, this meant long hours for me as well.  One thing I learned quickly in this process is streamlining my editing/culling and how to use Lightroom 3 in place of Photoshop Camera Raw Reader.

Who doesn't love cheerleaders?

I found in my many attempts to do a Kastles 2011 season blog that picking the best shots for one post was pretty much impossible.  In reading Willis’ blog I enjoyed the multi-part approach and will do that here, though slightly different from his.  In the coming days/weeks I will focus on each Kastles player (Bobby, Rennae, Leander and Arina), and of course Coach Murphy, ending with an amazing Championship weekend in South Carolina.