Photo: Jan-Willem de LangeShota Kawano (JPN)
The opening day of play at the 2014 BNP Paribas World Team Cup brought upsets for both top seeded countries in the quad event, with Japan defeating defending champion and top seed USA in a fiercely competitive tie.
USA’s Nick Taylor appeared to have turned the first rubber after going down 6-4 in the first set, by taking the second 60. However, Japanese No. 2 Shota Kawano fought back in the third set to defeat Taylor 64 06 75, giving Japan the lead. Current World No. 1 David Wagner levelled the match with victory over Mitsuteru Moroishi and put team USA back into contention, winning the second rubber 63 64 to take the match into the decider
It appeared to be business as usual in the doubles as the Americans took early control. However, as displayed in the earlier rubbers, the Japanese fought back to take the second set on a tiebreak, resulting in a deciding match tiebreak.
Kawano and Moroishi continued to build on their new-found momentum to take an early 4-0 lead. The American three-time Paralympic champions brought the tiebreak back to 4-3, but Moroishi found the gaps between the experienced partnership of Taylor and Wagner to earn six match points at 9-3. The Japanese duo were unable to convert their first two chances, but on the third match point a wide serve, forcing a return into the net, gave the Japanese the victory 26 76 (10-5).
In Pool B second seed Great Britain faced former champion Israel, whose team also featured reigning Paralympic champion Noam Gershony. Gershony, who has not played a tournament since the 2013 World Team Cup, faced world No. 5 Jamie Burdekin, but won comfortably 63 61.
Following Andy Lapthorne’s 60 61 victory over Shraga Weinberg the tie once more went to the final rubber and after some lengthy rallies the Israeli team were leading by a set and 5-4 when Great Britain was forced to retire. Fourth seed Italy was the only team in the quad event not to go to a doubles decider on the first day of play, comfortably beating Austria 3-0.
Canada beat Sweden, with Sarah Hunter and Adrian Dieleman pairing up for the first time since a mid-match collision at the 2011 World Team Cup which left Hunter injured. Rubbers were split as Canada’s Gary Luker defeated Christopher Jansson, before Anders Hard overcame Hunter in a tightly fought contest 61 46 76(2). However, the Canadian pair held their nerve and managed to win 62 64.
“As a team we will approach our next tie with a lot more confidence. For the past few years we have split our singles and lost the doubles in almost every tie. It was a big hurdle to overcome,” said Hunter.
In the junior event host nation and top seed Netherlands opened its campaign by defeating last year’s winner Great Britain. The experience of defending Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters girls’ singles champion Diede de Groot showed in her 63 62 win over Luz Esperanza Merry, before boys’ singles world No. 2 Carlos Anker defeated Ian Payne.
“It was very good exposure of the Dutch team in the match today. It was a good win,” said Robin Ammerlaan, Netherlands’ captain.
The first day of play also saw the debut of the Malaysian juniors in the BNP Paribas World Team Cup. USA comfortably won all three rubbers to clinch the tie, but delighted USA captain Karin Korb said she “was surprised that the Malaysian team was quite formidable. They are going to have a wonderful future in wheelchair tennis”.
“Our boys are moving forward steadily, they know they have tough matches ahead, but I am really proud of them,” said Korb.
Chile has not had a junior team competing in the World Team Cup since 2006, but faced Russia in its opening tie this year.
Russia’s Ildus Shaikhislamov quickly defeated Chilean No. 2 Alexander Cataldo 61 63, while Russian No. 1 Artur Saitgareev also looked to be very comfortable, winning the first set against Brayan Tapia 6-1. Tapia found his hitting range in the second set, coming back at Saitgareev as he tried to take the tie to the deciding doubles. With Tapia 5-4 up, he was unable to convert the set and Saitgareev held his nerve for a 61 75 victory.
Also in Pool B along with Chile and Russia are Turkey and Spain. With Spain looking to improve on last year’s silver medal the second seed started well, comfortably beating sixth seed Turkey 3-0.
Martin de la Puente and Felix Garcia-Perez are both ranked in the boys’ singles top 10 and they were too strong for the Turkish team, whose players are all making BNP Paribas World Cup debuts.