By Dan Harrison
---- — For the fifth time this summer, the Boston Lobsters fell at the hands of the Washington Kastles last night.
Washington defeated Boston 25-12 in overtime in the Mylan World TeamTennis Eastern Conference finals after the Kastles (13-2) won four of five sets to end the Lobsters’ season.
“They are better than us obviously with losing five matches to them,” said Boston head coach Bud Schultz. “Nothing went wrong (tonight) per say. We have to play on our high end and they have to come in a little flat and neither one happened.”
Arguably Boston’s (5-10) biggest strength this summer was the mixed doubles team of Eric Butorac and Katalin Marosi. So when the duo lost 5-2 to Martina Hingis and Leander Paes to start the night, the Lobsters knew they were in trouble.
“I think anytime you’re playing an away match you it’s much harder to come back. You need to jump out to an early lead to quiet the crowd and energize your own team,” explained Schultz. “We’re playing against a Hall Of Famer (in Hingis) and a future Hall of Famer (in Paes). It’s not an easy task but I was proud the way we prepared today and the way we came out and gave it our best shot.”
Marosi and Jill Craybas won the first game in women’s doubles but Hingis and Anastasia Rodionova battled back to win the set 5-1. Butorac and Weintraub lost 5-2 to Paes and Bobby Reynolds before Craybas fell 5-2 to Hingis.
Weintraub had the best set for the Lobsters in men’s singles, where he won in the tiebreak to down Reynolds 5-4 and force overtime. However, with Boston trailing 24-12, Weintraub needed to win 12 straight games to force the super-tiebreaker. Reynolds won the first game in overtime to end the match.
“Amir was down a break and came back to win in the tiebreak. The one thing that I’m very proud of with this team is that everyone came and competed every night,” noted Schultz. “Some nights we played better than others, but not once did we ever show up and not compete which is the one thing asked. And we did again tonight.”
Each of Boston’s four, every day players had their moments this summer. Marosi for example was picked up just days before the beginning of the season after Paola Suarez came down with an injury and she gelled on short notice with both Butorac and Craybas in double action.
Craybas meanwhile was a fan-favorite at home with the section of the Joan Norton Stadium known as “Craybas Corner” packed with her most adoring fans. On the court she struggled at times but came through in a big way with her strong singles win and doubles play in the victory over Philly that helped push Boston into the playoffs.
Weintraub meanwhile brought excitement into every men’s singles match he played this summer and helped Boston finish fourth in Mylan WTT in men’s singles. His highlights include twice beating last year’s Mylan WTT male MVP in Reynolds. He and Butorac performed well in doubles considering the unfamiliarity between the two heading into the summer.
“She (Marosi) was a bit of a surprise. She was a little better than I anticipated,” said Schultz. “Amir plays an exciting brand of tennis because he doesn’t blow anyone away with his serve so every point is a battle. He returns well, moves well and his backhand is one of those ‘wow’ shots.”
And Butorac was a big reason why the Lobsters boasted the fourth best mixed doubles team in Mylan WTT this summer. His best moment came in the regular season at home against Washington where he dazzled fans with a mixed doubles performance for the ages.
Last night certainly wasn’t the outcome Crustacean Nation was looking for but the Lobsters were one of four teams to make the playoffs — doing so for the first time since 2011.
Schultz believes this Lobsters team may not have been the most talented but what the group lacked in dominating skill it more than made up for the quality of its character.
“We look at that (character) long and hard when we draft our players and I’m very proud to have spent the three and a half weeks helping them to be able to go out and compete because of the quality of character they bring to the table,” said Schultz. “Lobsters fans in Boston should be proud of the people they have to cheer for.”