By Jeremiah Yolkut, special to USTA.com
SEOUL, Korea -- All four U.S. teams were in action Saturday at the Olympic Tennis Centre in Seoul to close out their 2012 BNP Paribas World Team Cup playoffs, with the Juniors team of Shelby Baron, Chris Herman and Kate Stuteville vying for the first U.S. Juniors title since 2000. To do so, the No. 6 Americans would have to upset a second-seeded Dutch squad who handed the U.S. their only loss in Seoul, 2-1, on Tuesday.
The action began with a special opening ceremony to welcome both teams and get the special day started with a party-like atmosphere. As has been the case all week, Baron started things off for the U.S. against Jeroen Staman, who beat the Honolulu native in straight sets in the aforementioned Tuesday tie. Akin to Tuesday’s script, Staman controlled the match from the onset and never let Baron into the match, winning decisively 6-3, 6-0.
As was the case earlier in the week, it would be on the shoulders of the 14-year-old Herman to send the U.S. into a deciding doubles, matched once more with Carlos Anker for the second time in three days after pushing Anker to the limit in a three-set loss, 6-7(9), 6-2, 7-6(4). Herman once more played Anker extremely tough, putting forth a match beyond his years. Herman would fall behind and then battle back in both sets to force two separate tiebreaks, but Anker used his resilience to outlast his younger opponent to avoid the doubles rubber match and claim the World Team Cup for the Dutch, 7-6(5), 7-6(3).
The U.S. Juniors finished second in the event, their best showing in eight years. Staman and Anker, meanwhile, went a combined 13-0 in 2012 WTC play for a very deserving Dutch championship team.
The U.S. quads were up next, facing Japan in the 3/4 playoff for the quad division. Bryan Barten started the day off for Team USA in singles and battled through some tough games, losing the match to Moroishi Mitsuteru 5-7, 3-6. The U.S. would need Nick Taylor at No. 1 singles to force a deciding doubles with a solid performance and the Paralympic Gold Medalist did just that, dispatching Kawano Shota 6-1, 6-2, and sending the tie to the doubles.
The deciding doubles would unite Taylor and partner David Wagner for the last time at this World Team Cup with a spot on the medal stand on the line. As usual, the two great American wheelchair tennis players didn't disappoint, dominating the Japanese team of Mitsuteru and Shota 6-1, 6-0 to capture third place.
The U.S. Men’s team finished in 7th place of Men's World Group I, after Jon Rydberg and Steve Welch defeated the Austrian men in both singles of the afternoon session to take the tie 2-0. Most importantly, the team avoided relegation and remains in World Group I into 2013.
The U.S. Women’s team, meanwhile, will arrive back in the States with a 6th place performance at the WTC, as Emmy Kaiser pulled the team from an early 1-0 tie deficit to Thailand with a win in singles, followed by the duo of Mackenzie Soldan and Kaitlyn Verfuerth victorious in doubles.
The Nertherlands (2) d. USA (6) 2-0
Jeroen Staman (NED) d. Shelby Baron (USA) 6-3, 6-0
Carlos Anker (NED) d. Chris Herman (USA) 7-6(5), 7-6(3)
Doubles Not Played
USA (1) d. Japan (4) 2-1
Moroishi Mitsuteru (JPN) d. Bryan Barten (USA) 7-5, 6-3
Nick Taylor (USA) d. Kawano Shota (JPN) 6-1, 6-2
Nick Taylor/David Wagner (USA) d. Moroishi Mitsuteru/Kawano Shota (JPN) 6-1, 6-0.
USA (8) d. Austria (7) 2-0
Jon Rydberg (USA) d. Thomas Mossier (AUT) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2
Steve Welch (USA) d. Martin Legner (AUT) 6-1, 6-2
Doubles Not Played
USA (9) d. Thailand (12) 2-1
Sakhorn Khanthasit (THA) d. Kaitlyn Verfuerth (USA) 6-1, 6-1
Emmy Kaiser (USA) d. Chusri Inthanin (THA) 6-0, 6-2
Mackenzie Soldan/Kaitlyn Verfuerth (USA) d. Sakhorn Khanthasit/Ratana Techamaneewat (THA) 6-4, 6-2.
Final Order of Finish:
Juniors: 2nd Place
Quads: 3rd Place
Women’s Team: 6th Place
Men’s Team: 7th Place