Photo: Mathilde DusolBNP Paribas World Team Cup quad champion USA
USA claimed its eight quad title on Saturday’s sixth and penultimate day of the 2013 BNP Paribas World Team Cup, ending Israel’s hopes of back-to-back titles.
Both singles ties were a repeat of the bronze and gold medal matches at the London 2012 Paralympics, respectively, with Nick Taylor opening the final against Shraga Weinberg.
The first game set the tone of the first set, with a long battle between the players, neither being able to do quite enough to take it, but finally Taylor managed to string some impressive play together to give him the edge.
This gave the world No. 3 the confidence that he required and he continued to build on this momentum as both players produced some impressive play from both players.
Weinberg was unable to do enough to finish the long baseline exchanges with Taylor, the American increasingly becoming the dominant force as he completed a 63 60 victory.
“I went into the lead and did not let him back into the match,” said Taylor, who had approached the contest all too aware of the dangerous player on the other side of the net.
“The last time I played him was for the bronze in London and that was a very tough three set match, but the conditions were very different today and I’m definitely a happier person on the clay than I am on the type of courts that we had in London. I started off strong and just kept getting better.”
It was former world No.1 Noam Gershony’s first tournament since winning the gold medal at London 2012 and it was left to him to face current world No.1 David Wagner in the second singles rubber. Wagner looked to dominate from the start of the match and there were no nerves present as he raced into a lead in the first set.
This only served to increase his confidence as Wagner continued to hit towards the lines, opening up spaces to put the ball past Israel’s current world No. 4. Gershony attempted to place Wagner under pressure, but the American proved too strong and stormed to a 62 62 win.
“We stuck to our game plan and really supported each other. We were the best team out there,” said Wagner. “It is always good to get out and battle the best. I think this is my sixth World Team Cup title and I’d like to dedicate it to my mum Cathy Carson and my grandma Dorothy Carson.”
With the USA team consisting of four players in the world’s top eleven in the quad singles rankings, world No. 10 Greg Hasterok also noted the unity among the quartet. “It is an amazing feeling, being a group and being united,” said Hasterok, for whom this was a first World Team Cup title.
Meanwhile, Bryan Barten added to his tally of titles at the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event, having joined Taylor and Wagner in the squad that also beat Israel in the final on the same centre court in Antalya in 2010.
“That was one of my favourite ones (World Team Cup titles) right there ,” said Barten. “We’ve all grown up together in this sport and the camaraderie this week has been amazing. We’ve had four players this time and the dynamic has been excellent.”
USA quad team captain Johnn Devorss was also quick to acknowledge the team spirit in the USA squad.
“I just want to thanks Dan James, Jason Harnett and Paul Walker for this opportunity. It’s been great to be able to work with all these guys. Jason was the quad coach when Nick, David and Bryan won here in Antalya in 2010 and so I’ve had some pretty big shoes to step into and it’s been an honour to work with the players and my fellow coaches this week.”
Italy and Japan met to decide the bronze medal and exchanged singles rubbers, with the same score of 63 64 in both matches, as Marco Innocenti beat Shinichi Hirata and Mitsuteru Moroishi beat Antonio Raffaele.. Therefore, the bronze medal came down to the outcome of the deciding doubles as Hirata and Moroishi went up against the experienced pair of Innocenti and Giuseppe Polidori.
The Italians easily took the first set, but the Japanese duo showed their determination, coming back strongly in the second set and kept with their opponents up to 5-5, with opportunities to break. However Innocenti and Polidori held their nerve to move 6-5 ahead. With the pressure now on Japan to serve to stay in the match, Italy played some impressive tennis and sealed the doubles 61 75 for a 2-1 win.