by Jenny L.
Since 2008, the Washington Kastles have been playing professional tennis with the WTT league, attracting big name tennis icons like Venus and Serena Williams, Rennae Stubbs and Martina Hingis. I recently had a chance to attend a press conference and match with my tennis loving, 8 year old daughter.
Getting to the Venue:
The Kastles play at the Smith Center at GWU, which is metro accessible by the Foggy Bottom/GWU metro stop, but driving there was a breeze, and there are many affordable parking garages. From Fairfax, VA it was about a 40 minute drive during rush hour and most of that traffic cleared up by the time I got past Alexandria on 395N. The Smith Center was very easy to find, and since it's right in the Foggy Bottom/GWU area, I felt perfectly safe and comfortable, even at night. For directions and parking garages, see this information on the official Washington Kastles website.
The stadium isn't very big so the view is pretty good in terms of the size of the players and viewing the action (we were in the far, top corner of the bleachers.) I'd recommend sitting on the long side of the court or if those tickets are not available, sitting on the short side of the court but not as far up along the bleachers. We couldn't really see the side of the court near us, we could only see the side facing us. However, with tickets starting at just $10 for many matches, it is a great affordable professional sports outing for the whole family.
Concessions and Restrooms: (What every parents wants to know!)
There are a lot of options for concessions. The popcorn is a HUGE box, very popular! I would recommend buying concessions before any of the matches start; between matches, the two concession stand lines get very long. There is also a mini gelato stand, but the concession stands were the main food attraction. The concessions are on the bottom floor of the stadium along with the restrooms, so that entire area gets pretty crowded between matches. They have two standing bar tables with bar stools, otherwise it's standing room only.
The hallway where the concessions are is the same hallway that the main restrooms are, so that only adds to the crowd. As far as I could tell, there were one set of restrooms (about 10 stalls) and then a few unisex bathrooms at the end of each hall.
The Washington Kastles matches are very lively with a fun party atmosphere! With the upbeat music, MC, and audience participation, the atmosphere was not what you would expect from other tennis championships (e.g., Wimbledon). The entire event and the venue is geared toward families, including the way the tennis match is scored (scoring 1-4 rather than the traditional scoring system.) The MC did a great job of getting the audience pumped up in between each serve, and unlike many other tennis championships, no one seemed to expect absolute silence during game play--even during serves, there was a low-lying din of concession wrappers and snacking. They had cheerleaders and giant tennis ball-mascots between matches and during time outs. It is a lot of fun for kids! We highly recommend the Washington Kastles for a great family outing in Washington, D.C.
Kastles Stadium at the Smith Center
600 22nd Street NW
Washington, DC 20052
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