Sweden won their first ever Men's World Group 1 title at the Invacare World Team Cup in Cremona, Italy on Sunday, upsetting second seeds France in the final.
Meanwhile, on a busy and exciting day that featured three finals, following Saturday's rain, there was no surprise end to the Women's event, when the Netherlands won a 21st title, again after beating France in the final.
However, a good day for the Dutch saw the Netherlands upset defending champions and top seeds the United States to clinch the Quad title for the very first time.
World No 14 Peter Wikstrom (SWE) had won only the first of his previous seven meetings with Michael Jeremiasz (FRA) before Sunday's first singles rubber in the Men's World Group 1 final. However, with currrent world No 8 and former world No 1 Jeremiasz returning to competition this week after some time out with injury, Wikstrom edged the first set and then recovered well from failing to win a game in the second set to give Sweden the lead after a 64 06 64 victory.
"I think we both started a bit nervous. At 4-4 in the first set we got a rain break. After we got back to the court, I really focused and won the next two games," said Wikstrom. "The first few games of the second set were very tough and close, but I missed very important points just by centimetres and it made me very frustrated, and at the same time gave more confidence to Jeremiasz.
"I lost my energy and I got lost in my game and he took nine games in a row from me very easily. Just before the third set I pumped myself up and and got back on track and started winning again. Being down 0-3 in the third set I won six of seven games in a row and finally won the match," added the delighted former world No 8.
Current Swedish No 1 Stefan Olsson went in to the secong singles rubber against world No 3 Stephane Houdet with an similar record to Wikstrom's against Jeremiasz, having won only one of their previous eight meetings. Houdet looked to be course to extend his head-to-head record over Olsson and level the tie for France after taking the first set, but world No 11 Olsson refused to let France get back on level terms and eventually secured the historic first ever Men's title for his country after a 36 63 61 victory.
"In the first set Houdet was playing great," said Olsson. "I was playing all right, but I couldn’t get him. In the second set I changed my tactics, changed my serve, started going more around with my forehand and pushing the chair really hard. I just stayed focused to win every point. Houdet is one of the most difficult opponents to me. His style doesn't suit me at all. At 3-1 in the third set I felt he kind of gave up and after a few amazing points that I won, I pumped myself up and kept on fire until the very end and I won!"
A delighthed Swedish coach Toni Gustavsson coach applauded the efforts of his players.
“I cant talk right now. I'm endlessy happy" said Gustavsson. "I knew we were going for a medal but really didn’t expect a gold one! We are a typical Swedish team. We have got a great team spirit and we work very well together. I am so proud of my team. And I would be just as proud even if they would have lost this match. A silver medal would be a great achievement, anyway. I am very happy for Niclas Larsson, who has been working very hard and waiting for this moment for 18 years!”
Unsurprisingly, top seeds the Netherlands won both singles rubbers of the Women's final to secure their 21st title with 2-0 win over fifth seeds France. Korie Homan got the Dutch off to the perfect start as she swept past Arlette Racineux (FRA) without dropping a game.
"I think I played a good match," said Homan. "I didn’t make many mistakes and I served good to the angles, giving Arlette trouble to get to my balls and return them."
The second singles rubber saw world No 1 Esther Vergeer (NED) take on former world No 2 and current world No 5 Florence Gravellier, Vergeer maintaining her unbeaten record with a 61 63 victory to extend the Netherlands's unprecedented success in the event.
"Playing the No 1 from any country is always exciting and challenging. It is not easy to play Flo, who is currently ranked No 5 in the world," said Vergeer. "Flo played well, especially in the second set, making me play hard. For me, it was very helpful to have my coach Aad Zwaan on site. During every single change over he pointed out to me my mistakes and errors, which he had noticed watching the match. Thanks to this I could try different tactics, which I wouldn’t normally have done as I would have considered them too risky.
"I think there is still so much I can improve and I am working hard on it, especially now before the Paralympics," she added.
After world No 1 quad player David Wagner (USA) lost his singles rubbers in both of the United States' Quad quarterfinal and semifinal ties, his fortunes changed in Sunday's final against second seeds the Netherlands. It was the turn of Wagner's team mate Nick Taylor (USA) to lose his first singles rubber of the week, world No 3 ranked Taylor going down to Dorrie Timmermans-Van Hall.
However, after losses earlier in the week to Shraga Weinberg (ISR) and Peter Norfolk (GBR), Wagner beat Bas Van Erp (NED) in the second singles rubber of the final to keep the United States' title defence alive. But, with the tie hingeing on the doubles rubber, Timmermans-Van Hall and Van Erp upset Taylor and Wagner, inflicting just the American pairings' third doubles loss since the 2004 Invacare World Team Cup. After being runners-up twice in the last four years, the Netherlands now have their first Quad title and join the United States as the only two nations to have won the Men's, Women's Quad and Junior titles during the 24-year-history of the Invacare World Team Cup.
Sunday's two promotion and relegation play-offs in the Men's event resulted in victories for China and Germany.
After being promoted from World Group 2 last year, China retained their place in World Group 1 following their 2-0 win on Sunday over Canada.
Meanwhile, after finishing third in World Group 2 this year, Germany earned theor promotion back to World Group 1 after a 2-0 win over Argentina. The result means that Argentina are relegated back to World Group 2 twop years after being promoted.
IWTC 08 Cremona Website
2008 Invacare World Team Cup Draws & Order of Play
World Group 2 seeds start to tumble
Weinberg beats world No 1 Wagner in Cremona
Semifinalists decided at Invacare World Team Cup
Quad, Junior and World Group 2 finalists settled
The Netherlands clinch Junior title in Cremona
Sweden reach first World Team Cup Men's final