By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com
Greg Hasterok was eager to cap a decade in tennis with a victory in his first BNP Paribas World Team Cup match – not just for a personal thrill and a great story, but to help his Team USA Quad mates regain a bit of swagger.
Rallying from a set down, Hasterok and partner Bryan Barten clinched a 3-0 victory over Italy by defeating the duo of Marco Innocenti and Giuseppe Polidori, 4-6, 6-2, [10-4].
"He’ll be a talented addition to our group here," said Team USA Head Coach Dan James of the 36-year-old WTC rookie out of San Diego. "I know he was excited about joining this team, hopefully being a part of a great win."
Hasterok and Barten are part of a top-seeded Quad foursome that includes defending US Open champions and Paralympic gold medalists David Wagner and Nick Taylor, both of whom won their singles matches against the Italians on Day 1. Winners of the Quad competition in 2011 and 2010, the U.S. team stumbled to a surprise third-place finish last year in Seoul. Prior to that, the U.S. Quads had finished either first or second in each WTC event since 2005.
Netherlands is defending its women’s and junior titles, while France is the defending men’s champion and Israel the defending quad champion.
In other Day 1 action, Kaitlyn Verfuerth’s straight-sets victory over Thailand’s Chusri Inthanin gave the U.S. women’s team a strong start, but that was not enough to avoid overall team defeat, as Verfuerth and longtime partner Emmy Kaiser dropped the deciding doubles match.
The U.S. Junior team also fell to Spain in the deciding doubles contest as the team of Chris Herman and Krystal Kelley, making her WTC debut, fell to Martin de la Puente and Felix Garcia, 6-1, 6-1. The lone victory came off Herman’s racquet in singles; he dispatched Garcia in three sets.
Tuesday will see all four U.S. teams in action as the Men’s World Group I competition begins. For the Americans, a pair of Steves – Baldwin and Welch – will look for the upset of Argentina, led by world No. 4 Gustavo Fernandez.
"It’s an intriguing matchup because of the contrast in age – Fernandez is 19, where a player like Steve Welch who’s 40 brings a ton of international experience," said James. "We’ve got a veteran’s edge here; our guys have seen it all. It should be very close."
Monday’s Full Results
Quad Event - Pool A: USA (1) defeated Italy 3-0
Nick Taylor (USA) d. Marco Innocenti (ITA) 6-1, 6-1
David Wagner (USA) d. Antonio Raffaele (ITA) 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-2
Bryan Barten & Greg Hasterok (USA) d. Marco Innocenti & Giuseppe Polidori (ITA) 4-6, 6-2, [10-4]
Junior Event - Pool A: Spain (4) defeated USA 2-1
Martin De La Puente (ESP) d. Krystal Kelley (USA) 6-2, 6-0
Christopher Herman (USA) d. Felix Garcia (ESP) 4-6, 7-6(9), 6-2
Martin de la Puente & Felix Garcia (ESP) d. Christopher Herman & Krystal Kelley (USA) 6-1, 6-1
Women’s World Group - Pool A: Thailand defeated USA 2-1
Kaitlyn Verfuerth (USA) d. Chusri Inthanin (THA) 6-2, 6-2
Sakhorn Khanthasit (THA) d. Emmy Kaiser (USA) 6-1, 6-2
Chusri Inthanin & Sakhorn Khanthasit (THA) d. Emmy Kaiser & Kaitlyn Verfuerth (USA) 7-6(3), 6-0