By Jeremiah Yolkut, USTA
Men’s Recap-USA vs. Sri Lanka
The men’s team was at it again as Day 4 took hold in Antalya, Turkey. Jon Rydberg started the day off with a dominating performance against Team Sri Lanka. His opponent from the Silver Fund nation tried to battle against the veteran American but Rydberg was too much, taking Dissanayake Gamini and handing him a fast 6-0, 6-2 defeat.
In the second singles, Paul Moran challenged Upali Rajakaruna for a chance to secure the tie before reaching the doubles. Rajakaruna came out strong putting balls in spots where Moran could not get to quickly enough. Moran slowed and showed his frustration, ultimately losing the first set 6-0. In the second set Moran showed some signs of hope, pushing to more balls and challenging the Sri Lankan to fight harder if he wanted the win. After trying to weave his way back into the match, Moran failed to do enough to push back on Rajakaruna and lost the second set 3-6.
In the doubles the U.S. had to take charge of the match early if it was to stay alive and avoid staying in World Group II for 2011. In the first set Sri Lanka and the U.S. went back and forth trading games and staying close the entire set. For every shot Sri Lanka made the U.S. followed with an equally amazing return. The first set moved on into the later games and the Sri Lankan team broke Moran’s serve to force a tie-break against the favored Americans. In the tie-break the Sri Lankan’s turned it on, taking an early 4-1 lead and keeping the mistakes to a minimum, while outplaying Team Rydberg-Moran. But the American duo was not about to quit.
As the Sri Lankans waivered, the U.S. found the holes and battled back knotting the set up at 6-6. From there the U.S. quickly took the opportunity to keep the Sri Lankans on the defensive taking the final three points and winning the first set 7-6(6)
The Americans tired out in the second set allowing the Sri Lankans a dominant set of tennis and a 6-2 victory to force a 10 point match tie-break. The crowd grew and the intensity was flowing in the air as the fate of the 2010 U.S. men’s team would come down to this final match tie-break.
The tie-break was a battle as points were traded and no team took more than two in a row until late in the breaker. Following the U.S. mini-run to 3-1 Team Sri Lanka fought back knotting up the match and keeping pace with the Americans at 6-6. The Americans had chances at 9-8 and 10-9 to finish off the Asian nation, but failed on both occasions and left a gaping opening for Sri Lanka to take advantage of. The Sri Lankans won the final three straight points and ended the day for the Americans and their hopes to move back into World Group I.
USA vs. Sri Lanka
Jon Rydberg vs. Dissanayake Gamini
Paul Moran vs. Upali Rajakaruna
Jon Rydberg and Paul Moran vs. Upali Rajakaruna and Dissanayake Gamini
7-6(6), 2-6, 10-12
The men will play Switzerland on Thursday.
Quad Recap-USA vs. Israel
Nick Taylor took on long-time foe Boaz Kramer as the Americans looked to stay undefeated in quad pool play. The match was never close as Taylor chose the pace, controlled the ball and kept Kramer guessing in his 6-1, 6-1 victory.
It was then David Wagner’s turn to take on Team Israel as he faced Shraga Weinberg in the #1 singles of the day. Wagner recovered from a shaky Tuesday taking Weinberg down in short order. Wagner started the match with a plan and stuck with it in his 6-2, 6-1 victory.
In the doubles Wagner and Taylor were deliberate, finishing off the Israelis 6-1, 6-0.
USA vs. Israel
Nick Taylor vs. Boaz Kramer
David Wagner vs. Shraga Weinberg
David Wagner and Nick Taylor vs.Boaz Kramer and Shraga Weinberg
The quad team will play Sweden on Thursday.
Junior Team-USA vs. Netherland
The U.S. junior team faced its toughest opponent of the tournament on Thursday as the No. 1 Dutch rolled onto the court.
Nelson was up first as he challenged Jeroen Staman in singles. Nelson played well, showing his potential for future World Team Cups and his dedication to the team. He never backed down as the higher ranked Staman took advantage of Nelson’s youth. Although the score (1-6, 2-6) wasn’t very close, the energy, enthusiasm and pure drive brought by Nelson showed there will be a bright future for American junior wheelchair tennis in the coming years.
Soldan ran into similar problems as she faced Tom Egberink, the men’s division player who still qualifies in juniors. Soldan showed that fighting spirit in her battle, firing back at the Dutch powerhouse and at times making him look more like a rookie than a veteran. She never wavered, using her tactical skills to find a hole or two in Egberink’s game. Egberink was too much in the end taking down Soldan 0-6, 1-6, but the scores show no relation to the fight she put up against the much more experienced Egberink
In the doubles the U.S. challenged the Dutch tandem of Rody de Bie and Jeroen Staman to finish off the tie. The first set was a challenge as the Dutch came out hitting bigger balls and controlling the opener from the start. In the second set the U.S. came out with a different swagger using more strategy to manage the Dutch attack. Soldan led Nelson into the battle matching the Dutch intensity and keeping the ball in play. The U.S. pushed the Dutch and forced a set tie-break with the heart and passion seen from these youngsters throughout the event. The Dutch took the tie-break 7-6 (4), but the U.S. team walked away with its heads held high and displayed character and strength unmatched by most any team at the IWTC.
USA vs. Netherlands
Ryan Nelson vs. Jeroen Staman
Mackenzie Soldan vs. Tom Egberink
Ryan Nelson and Mackenzie Soldan vs. Jeroen Staman and Rody de Bie
The juniors have the day off on Thursday with their final match of the World Team Cup TBD on Friday.