Bud & Burgers at Nationals Park was an epic battle of the decades with live music from White Ford Bronco, Lloyd Dobler Effect, The Reflex, and As If! DJ Chris Styles and DJ Pat Premier also played the best of the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s. Sponsored by Budweiser.
If you’re a fan of fast-paced, top-tier professional tennis, the Citi Open tennis tournament at Rock Creek Park is probably already on your summer calendar.
But even casual fans – or just those who are simply looking for something new and fun to do – should consider catching a match or two this month. The marquee tennis event, scheduled for July 16-24, marks the 48th consecutive summer that the tournament will be played in Washington.
The Citi Open is the only elite Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour 500-level event held in the United States, and has featured a Women’s Tennis Association international tournament since 2011, making it one of only four tournaments in the country that include both men’s and women’s fields. Champions over the tournament’s history have included some of the most historic names in tennis, including Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and many more.
This year’s schedule boasts some of the most exciting talent in years, including Grigor Dimitrov. The 37th ranked player in the world, Dimitrov is looking to boost his ranking back into the Top 10 where he was in 2014, when he advanced to the semi-finals at Wimbledon. The player is making his third appearance at the Citi Open this summer.
“It is a really great event,” Dimitrov tells On Tap. “For me, it is always my first event [of the season] back on the hard courts, and it is always nice to change things up. I have been very fortunate to get a lot of support at the DC event. They have great volunteers and great fans that make the week very special for me.”
The 25-year-old Dimitrov, who counts tennis legends Pete Sampras and Roger Federer among his role models in the sport, says he’s been working hard to improve his serve.
“I keep my specific tennis goals to myself, but obviously [my overall goal] is to compete with the top players in the game on a weekly basis,” he says. “I want to win the big events and help get my ranking back up to where it was two years ago.”
If Dimitrov performs well at the Citi Open, he can take a significant step toward achieving that goal. Citi Open Tournament Manager Keely O’Brien says the quality of the field is impressive. Among the returning players are top pros John Isner and Caroline Wozniacki, as well as Bob and Mike Bryan, the most accomplished doubles team in the history of tennis.
“We have a great field,” O’Brien says. “Having our tournament moved two weeks ahead so we weren’t back-to-back with the Olympics certainly has helped our player field.”
She says the tournament offers something for everyone – from the tennis aficionado to those who are simply curious.
“This year, we’ve come up with different activities and options for families, young professionals, tennis fans [and even]
non-tennis fans. The nice thing about tennis is if you are not enjoying the game in the center court, you have the ability to go [to] five other outer courts and see another match.”
O’Brien also notes that the tournament is a great place to enjoy the summer weather, as well as the hospitality aspect of the sporting event.
“If you want to get up from your seat, you can come into the tailgate and do that for the entire session.”
Head to Rock Creek Park from July 16-24 for the 2016 Citi Open.
Rock Creek Park Tennis Center: 5220 16th St. NW, DC; 202-722-5949; www.citiopentennis.com
Photo: Courtesy of Citi Open Tennis Tournament
Madison Brengle hopes her second season with the Washington Kastles can live up to her first.
New to the squad last year, Brengle is now an integral part of a potent team that seeks to claim its sixth straight World Team Tennis (WTT) championship.
Kastles Coach Murphy Jensen used Brengle extensively in both singles and doubles matches during the 2015 season. She went 6-4 in singles sets and 5-3 in doubles, where she was paired with Anastasia Rodionova. Brengle also clinched the final point in the 2015 Mylan WTT Finals, helping the Kastles net their fifth straight title.
“Being a part of the DC team last year and winning the last championship point was just so exciting, and so much fun to be a part of,” Brengle says.
The athlete, who previously played for the Delaware Smash in 2008 and the Kansas City Explorers in 2011, says she has taken to the District quickly.
“I absolutely love DC,” she tells On Tap. “The crowd is fantastic. They get so into it, and it’s so much fun playing in this atmosphere. And there is always so much to do in DC, but I’m pretty partial to the Smithsonian museums.”
Brengle was born in April 1990 and raised in Dover, Del. in a family with strong tennis roots. Her mother comes from a tennis background and started her playing by the age of two.
“I enjoyed watching so many different players growing up,” she says. “In the 90s, there was this great variety of game styles starting to mix, so it was always fun watching and learning from everyone.”
At 17, Brengle decided to bypass playing tennis in college and went straight for the pros.
“I decided to give it my best shot, and will go to college when I finish playing professionally,” she says.
That decision seems to be working out very well for Brengle. She began 2015 by reaching her first Women’s Tennis Association final in Hobart (the capital of Tasmania, Australia) and followed it up with a fourth-round showing at the Australian Open, her best major result. She recorded her first Top 10 win by ousting world No. 4 Petra Kvitova en route to the semifinals in Stuttgart, Germany in April 2015. Her career high singles ranking to date is No. 35, as of May 2015.
Lately, she’s been preparing for the rigors of the 2016 WTT season, which kicks off for the Kastles on the road against the New York Empire on July 31. The team then comes right back to DC to play their home opener on August 1 against the Springfield Lasers.
A coed professional league that was founded in 1973, the WTT today features six teams, including the Kastles, Empire, Lasers, Orange County Breakers, Philadelphia Freedoms and San Diego Aviators. Matches between the teams consists of five sets, including men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.
The 2016 regular season is scheduled to run July 31 to August 13. The top two teams advance to the Mylan WTT Finals on August 27, which will be held at a site (TBD) in the New York City area.
The Kastles’ roster this year includes newcomers Mardy Fish and twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan. Brengle, Rodionova, Leander Paes, Sam Querrey and Martina Hingis return from last year. Players not returning include Rajeev Ram, Venus Williams and Denis Kudla.
The WTT includes several household names, such as Andy Roddick, Caroline Wozniacki and Hingis, who is returning for her fourth straight season with the Kastles. Hingis has won five Grand Slam singles and 12 doubles titles. She is one of only six players in WTA history to be ranked No. 1 in singles and doubles simultaneously.
“It was awesome getting to be on the team with her,” Brengle says of Hingis. “She has an incredible way of looking at the game, and her advice is so valuable.”
With a full season under her belt, Brengle hopes she can once again get the Kastles a season-clinching point and a sixth straight title.
Catch Brengle and the rest of the Kastles in action at their first home match on August 1.
Kastles Stadium at The Smith Center: 600 22nd St. NW, DC; www.washingtonkastles.com
Photos: Courtesy of The Washington Kastles
June 12 marks the third annual Burgundy & Gold Flag Football Game hosted by the Redskins and played by the women making a name for themselves in DC area football. In 2013, the Redskins Cheerleaders launched the event to raise money for charities ranging from the Redskins Charitable Foundation to the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.
“It’s an opportunity for us to show our involvement in the community and our football skills,” says Jamilla Keene, Assistant Director of Programs & Marketing for the Redskins Cheerleaders.
This year, the Redskins Cheerleaders are joining forces with the Women of Washington Redskins (WOW) and the DC Divas, the DMV’s top-ranked Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) full-contact team. Glendalyn Junio, the Redskins’ Marketing Manager, says the cheerleaders are looking to change up the flag football experience and involve the women’s platform for the team.
“In the past, the cheerleaders made up both teams,” she says. “This year, we’ve partnered up to really empower more of the women that have played a role in the growth of women in the sport of football.”
Junio says the Redskins are excited to have a variety of women involved who have all been exposed to different levels of the game.
“The fact that we’re involving a women’s professional full-contact football team [the DC Divas] just adds to that excitement. Don’t worry – they are completely aware that it is flag football.”
Redskins alumni Doug Williams and Gary Clark will join the game as celebrity coaches, and current linebacker Houston Bates will serve as assistant coach. The guys selected names at random for the burgundy and gold teams at the Kickoff to the Draft party this spring from a list of WOW, DC Diva, and Redskins Cheerleader and Ambassador draftees.
“It’s a unique opportunity where we’ve partnered up with three groups who are extremely passionate about football and the Redskins,” Junio says. “Not only will we make it feel like a game with giveaways, cheerleaders and hype people, we know these ladies will play their hearts out!”
Burgundy & Gold Flag Football Game at Woodrow Wilson High School: 3950 Chesapeake St. NW, DC
Photo: Courtesy of the Redskins Cheerleaders
Where to Catch Euro Games
The Copa America Centenario
Where to Catch Copa America Games
The tournament will not feature any games in DC, but fans hoping to catch the action live can see Uruguay vs. Venezuela on June 9 and U.S. vs. Paraguay on June 11 in Philadelphia, or the quarterfinals and finals at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. For those staying local, check out Lucky Bar in Dupont, Johnny Pistolas on 18th Street or Blaguard in Adams Morgan.
Bar photos: Courtesy of respective bars
Bill Hamid photos: Tony Quinn, D.C. United
The popularity of Major League Soccer has risen rapidly in recent years with the addition of international superstars like Andrea Pirlo and David Villa. In the nation’s capital, however, it is the return of local legend Bill Hamid that has D.C. United fans excited for the 2016 season.
The talented 25-year-old shot-stopper has missed the last four months, and D.C.’s first 13 games, due to a follow-up procedure on the knee he injured last July.
“It’s been all about patience, and getting my body as strong as possible,” Hamid explained during an interview with On Tap. “I’ve been working hard [in] rehab, and I’m ready.”
Beloved by fans for his roots in nearby Annandale, Va., Hamid grew up playing travel soccer for his father, a native of Sierra Leone, who is still the first person to hyperanalyze his game films and tell him where he can improve. He credits his family, and his hometown, for his success.
“It impacted me tremendously,” Hamid explained. “When you look at the different cultures and ethnicities coming out of Annandale, you get to see the way different styles of soccer are played, and learn about different cultures. That helped me a lot in my growth process.”
During his rehabilitation, Hamid has occupied his mind by taking French classes at the Alliance Francaise.
“I’ve been enjoying it,” Hamid said of his latest intellectual endeavor. “It keeps me busy, and my mind working. I’ll have to back off now that I am back on the field.”
Hamid’s return will come at a great time for the Black-and-Red. With 23 games remaining, the team sits just three points from the top, but also only two points from missing the playoffs, in a wide-open Eastern Conference race.
“It’s still early in the season, teams are building and no one in the Eastern Conference has found their groove yet,” he observed. “If we can develop chemistry and consistency in our performance level, we will put ourselves in a great position by the end of the year.”
Hamid was the model of consistency in 2014, saving 75 percent of his shots, accumulating 10 clean sheets, winning goalkeeper of the year, and helping D.C. United claim the Eastern Conference regular season title.
“No fear,” Hamid declared. “I got here by putting my body on the line to make the saves my team needs, and no injury is going to change the way I play the game.”
Although the time off will force Hamid to miss this year’s Copa America, the USMNT’s number three keeper has every intention of getting back to the squad as soon as he can.
“Like anyone who has been around the national team, I know the training sessions and what they expect. It will be important for me to watch those games very closely, and work hard with my trainer to come back and prove myself to my team and country.”
Hamid will also have his eye on the UEFA Euro 2016, where he has a rooting interest in England, due to time he spent with coach Roy Hodgson on a visit to West Bromwich Albion in 2011.
“Roy’s a great coach” Hamid applauded. “I saw the way he manages his team and has them play out of the back, and if they can implement that properly, they’re overdue for a big tournament win.”
While he occasionally gathers with friends to catch a game at a local pub, Hamid prefers staying in to study the games with the same analytical approach he learned from his father, and uses now to continually improve his game.
“I’ve got to get the DVR ready,” he said with a smile. “There’s going to be a lot of great soccer on this summer.”
Photo: Tony Quinn, D.C. United03
1. As of 2015, only 12 horses had won the Triple Crown: Sir Barton in 1919, Gallant Fox in 1930, Omaha in 1935, War Admiral in 1937, Whirlaway in 1941, Count Fleet in 1943, Assault in 1946, Citation in 1948, Secretariat in 1973, Seattle Slew in 1977, Affirmed in 1978 and American Pharoah in 2015.
2. While 13 horses tried and failed to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont since Affirmed in 1978, American Pharoah ended the 37-year drought in 2015 to become thoroughbred racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner.
3. On Kentucky Derby race day, visitors at Churchill Downs consume over 120,000 mint juleps, 40,000 Oaks Lilies and upwards of 425,000 cans of beer.
4. At the Kentucky Derby, over 400 roses are used for the winner’s garland, 60 long-stemmed red roses comprise the winning jockey’s bouquet, 2,100 roses dress the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle and there are 250 rose bushes around the facility.
5. The Preakness-inspired black-eyed Susan cocktail dates back to 1973, when the special drink was concocted to fill commemorative Preakness glasses. The original recipe involved orange juice, vodka, rum and triple sec, served over ice and garnished with a wedge of lime.
6. The Woodlawn Vase (currently valued at over a million dollars) used to be awarded to the winning Preakness owner. Due to the immense responsibility of safeguarding such a valuable trophy, the winning owner now receives a $30,000 sterling replica on a permanent basis while the original is on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
7. Considered the “Test of the Champion” and “Run for the Carnations,” the Belmont Stakes has a reputation for being the toughest test in the Triple Crown because it is the longest and last race of the series.
8. White carnations are the traditional flower of the Belmont Stakes. The blanket of carnations awarded to the winner consists of about 400 carnations and takes about 10 hours to put together.
9. The Virginia Gold Cup emerged when eight sportsmen met at the Fauquier Club in Warrenton and organized a four-mile race alongside the natural walls and fences of the nearby countryside on April 3, 1922. Thirty-four days later, the Virginia Gold Cup race was born.
10. Today, over 45,000 spectators attend the Virginia Gold Cup. This famed steeplechase race is one of the largest and most popular sporting events in the greater Washington area.
Fun facts courtesy of the following articles:
#1, 2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_Crown_of_Thoroughbred_Racing_(United_States)
#9, 10: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Gold_Cup
It’s springtime in the city, and bike enthusiasts and newbies alike can reap the benefits of DC’s warmer months. Rated one of the best cities for biking, the District is chock-full of trails. Two local favorites include the Metropolitan Branch Trail, an 8-mile trail from Union Station to Silver Spring, and the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which runs along both sides of the Anacostia River. Both are wide, paved and go in both directions – perfect for beginners.
Need an event to kick off the season? Check out DC’s Tour de Fat on May 21 in Yards Park, an annual event hosted by New Belgium Brewing Company. It’s nothing short of a crazy bike party, and it’s all free. New Belgium will also have their highly-rated beers available for purchase. Learn more here: www.newbelgium.com/Events/tour-de-fat/Washington.
If crazy parties aren’t your thing, consider the DC Bike Ride (DCBR) on May 22, a 17-mile bike ride offering a car-free tour of DC. You’ll pass many DC icons on the ride, and participants are invited to stay after for a festival with yoga and music performances. Tickets can be purchased at www.dcbikeride.com.
Another option is the 16th annual Bike to Work Day on May 20, a free event offering raffle prizes to those who register. There will be pit stops throughout DC with refreshments and entertainment. Register at www.biketoworkmetrodc.org.
For a delicious ride, look no further than the Tree House Tour de Cookie in Rockville, Md. on May 7, where you can bounce between cookie stands. Choose from 12-, 26- and 42-mile options. Stick around post-ride for entertainment and activities. Tickets can be purchased at www.treehousetourdecookie.com.
If you want to join a local bike organization, check out the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), an association focused on creating a healthy, more livable region. Visit their website at www.waba.org. In Virginia, there’s the NOVA-CBG (CBG stands for Casual Bike Group), a great option for beginners and intermediate bikers. Check out their events at www.novacbg.org.
If you’re looking to purchase an electric bike, check out Riide (1933 9th St. NW, DC), offering free three-day demos. For a reliable bike and repair shop in the city, visit District Hardware (1108 24th St. NW, DC). It’s the oldest family-owned bike shop in DC, open since the late ‘60s.
For options in Virginia, visit Papillon Cycles in Arlington (2805 Columbia Pike), offering “the latest biking equipment, expert servicing and a gathering place for local bikers.” Or, try Arlington’s The Old Bike Shop (2647 N Pershing Dr.), which specializes in recycling old bikes. All used bikes include a 30-day warranty, and they even have some antiques.
1. Approximately 21 million hotdogs are purchased annually at baseball games. If placed end-to-end, they’d round the bases 29,691 times.
2. Have no fear, the chances are only 300,000 to one that you’ll get hit by a baseball and injured at an MLB game.
3. If a curveball was thrown on Mars, it’d become a screwball, giving hitters the advantage since balls would travel almost three times as far on the Red Planet.
4. There are up to nine ways that a batter can reach first base safely in MLB.
5. The average lifespan of a baseball is five to seven pitches, with up to 72 baseballs used during a regular nine-inning game.
6. In the event of an enemy bombing, whichever team is leading after five innings is declared the winner. The MLB established this rule during WWII.
7. During a typical MLB season, up to 160,000 baseballs are used.
8. Straw hats were part of the very first baseball uniform, worn by the Knickerbockers in 1849.
9. If popped straight up, the longest home run ever hit (in Rogers Centre, formerly Skydome, in Toronto) would not have hit the ceiling.
10. MLB baseballs are rubbed in a very fine, one-of-a-kind mud (Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud) found in a secret location near Palmyra, N.J.
Fun facts courtesy of the following articles:
#s 2, 6: www.kickassfacts.com/30-kickass-interesting-facts-about-baseball/
#s 4, 7, 9, 10: www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/35-odd-baseball-facts-that-are-too-strange-to-be-made-up
#s 5, 8: www.lastwordonsports.com/2013/03/31/30-completely-random-yet-amazing-baseball-facts/
Photo: Courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club