Coach John DeVorss writes about the maturity and determination of his U.S. Juniors squad.
© Jeremiah Yolkut
By John DeVorss, special to USTA.com
USTA.com is following the action from this week's BNP Paribas World Team Cup competition from Seoul, Korea. The World Team Cup annually matches the very best athletes of Wheelchair Tennis in a unique international team competition. From the United States, four teams - Men's, Women's, Quads and Juniors - are representing Old Glory in the Asian metropolis, which has also hosted the Olympic & Paralympic Games in 1988 and the FIFA World Cup in 2002.
Coach John DeVorss is participating in his first World Team Cup, manning the helm of the U.S. Junior team of Kate Stuteville, Shelby Baron and fellow newcomer Chris Herman. The Juniors last won a World Team Cup in 2000 and remain in the hunt to break the title drought after some strong early play.
Here are his thoughts on the tournament thus far:
My coaching debut in Seoul for the World Team Cup has gotten off to a great start!
The first day of competition we played a good team from Russia and beat them by a score of 3-0. Each of our three players were very excited and played with a lot of energy and passion throughout the match, and it was definitely a great way to start the competition and get my team going in the right direction.
On Day 2 we played against the top seed in our round-robin group a team from the Netherlands and lost 2-1. Shelby Baron had a tough match at against a very strong player in Jeroen Staman. She played great and unfortunately came up a little short in the end, 6-0, 6-4. Still, I’m so proud of the strong effort she gave. Our youngest player at 14 years of age, Chris Herman, next played against Carlos Anker, another one of the top juniors we’ll see here in Seoul, and held his own in a tremendously even three-setter, 6-7(9), 6-2, 7-6(4). Chris left it all out on the court on that match against a more experienced opponent - it was a great learning experience for him and hopefully will build his confidence for future matches.
Thus I was confident in playing Shelby and Chris once more that day in doubles, and sure enough, they won a hard fought match 6-4 3-6 10-8 in a match tie break for the third set. What is apparent is that we will always have to fight hard if we are to win this competition – the determination our team has already showed in our brief time here is a great sign that we can achieve that result.
Our third day found us playing Mexico. If we won this match, we would qualify for a chance to play for one of the top four spots. Shelby started us off with a convincing win over Lisbeth Soto Rivera, 6-0, 6-1. She played really composed and hit with a ton of authority against her opponent. With Shelby pointing us in the right direction, Chris followed up his strong play from the day before, beating Carlos Chavarria 6-0, 6-1 to put us up 2-0 in the tie. Lastly for doubles, I paired Shelby play with our ace-in-the-hole, Kate Stuteville, as they cemented the overall team victory for us against Mexico. Kate and Shelby played hard throughout the match dictating the match from the start.
The semifinals are tomorrow against top-seeded England, who has yet to lose a match, yet we can’t wait to take on the challenge! It's been a great experience so far with an amazing group of kids - let's go U.S.A.!!!