Steve Baldwin, U.S. Men's Team member, blogs from the 2012 Paralympics in London.
© Jeremiah Yolkut
By Steve Baldwin, 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.
U.S. Men's team member Steve Baldwin, currently 2-0 in 2012 WTC competiton, blogs from Seoul. The 40-year-old San Diego native has been a Top 10 singles player in the world with 90 career victories to his name. Baldwin is part of a foursome with 2011 WTC veterans Jon Rydberg and Steve Welch and 23-year-old rising star Noah Yablong.
Here are his thoughts on the outset of the tournament:
Holy cow, am I tired. It has been long day at the World Team Cup, but a very good one - a day that I am proud to have been a part.
First, our juniors lost a very difficult tie against the top-seeded Dutch team. Yet this is one of those situations in which the simple score does not tell the whole story: Chris Herman, who is all of 14 years old and is participating in his first World Team Cup, played a fabulous match in losing to the no. 2 Dutch player, Carlos Anker, in a third-set tiebreaker, then gathered himself to help win the doubles match a mere 45 minutes later with fellow Junior Shelby Baron.
For me, it was a joy to watch Chris take a huge step forward in his growth as a tennis player and I think that this will simply be the first step in a long and fruitful tennis career. As for myself, I was happy and proud to help beat a very good Spanish team 3-0, winning both singles as well as the doubles.
I last played a World Team Cup in 2001 - and while I was happy to pursue other interests in the last 10 years, the thrill of representing your country in the highest form of international competition is impossible to replicate. Even when we play at other tennis events, there is nothing like the camaraderie of being part of a team. Our Quads, Juniors, Women and Men’s teams all pull for each other. Simply put, you are never merely playing for yourself. That communal support, that strength in numbers, makes the joy of success greater because it is multiplied - it belongs to everyone. Likewise, when a team has a rough day, like our U.S. Women losing a fierce contest against England, the group is there to help recover and soothe the wounds.
At this level, we all take our tennis very seriously - all of us, from the most callow junior player to the grayest of the coaches, lives and breathes this game. The World Team Cup is one place where our passions merge, deepen and help each other to grow.