By Jeremiah Yolkut
The fifth day of WTC brought sunshine and a much quieter atmosphere to the event as the draws began to thin out. The USA quad team has the day off as they prepare for the final on Saturday and the women also have a day to relax before their battle with Poland.
Mackenzie Soldan (USA) vs. Natalia Mayara (Brazil)
After resting her arm overnight Soldan was ready for her fourth singles of the tournament. Soldan clearly had little interest in extending today’s match as she roared to a 3-1 lead, hitting the ball well and showing no signs of fatigue after many matches over the past two weeks. She took the first set 6-4 battling through a late drive by her opponent. In the second set she had no time to waste before hitting winners down the line dispatching Mayara 6-2 and taking the match with ease.
Dylan Levine (USA) vs. Pedro Rocha (Brazil)
Levine brought his “A” game to his # 1 singles match against Rocha, the crafty Brazilian. Levine came out with confident strokes and hit a big ball confusing Rocha and not giving him a chance to find a pace he felt comfortable with. Levine crushed the ball in the first set winning 6-1. In the second set it was more of the same as Levine finished off Rocha 6-2 assuring the tie and 5th place for the junior team.
Levine and Ryan Nelson(USA) vs. Natalie Mayara and Pedro Rocha (Brazil)
With a 2-0 lead heading into the doubles, Team USA brought their doubles specialist, Ryan Nelson into the tie sparking cheers from the crowd. Nelson, a strong new junior addition to Team USA and the international stage, was spectacular in his British Open debut last week and showed some of that magic in today’s doubles. In the first set Levine seemed sluggish coming off his singles victory and five straight days of matches without much rest. Team USA dropped the set 4-6 and looked towards a come back in the vital second set. It was a tough start and Nelson and Levine were having trouble communicating and making sure they were on the court with a plan. It wasn’t until Team USA was faced with a final chance at 4-5 to wake-up or lose the match. Nelson came alive firing balls at the opponent’s chairs and motivating his veteran teammate with his favorite “come on” chant. The crowd went crazy as the boys turned the tide winning the next three games and taking the set 7-5 forcing a 10 point match tie-break. Nelson and Levine were a bit cold in the first few points, giving the Brazilians a 5-2 lead in the breaker. At that point Nelson again started pumping fists and drilling positive energy into his teammate and the sidelines. After trading a few unforced errors both teams were knotted at 8-8. Rocha hit a quicker winner past Nelson to go up 8-9 and force a match point. It was Levine who stayed calm volleying a winner back to the Brazilians and tying it up at 9-9. After missing a match point at 10-9, Levine and Nelson dropped the next two points and were on the verge of losing when the US cheering squad gave one last yell. With Nelson serving after two straight US points, Rocha dinked a ball back into the net sending the large crowd into loud cheers for Team USA. The spectators rushed the court and celebrated the juniors 5th place finish.
Zach Beaulieu (USA) vs. Marco Verzeroli (Italy)
Being a rookie to the World Team Cup scene Beaulieu was open-minded and knew he wouldn’t see much playing time during the 2009 WTC. As the US men prepared to close out their 2009 edition of the event that all changed. Captain James decided to use his budding new star in the final match for the men’s team. Beaulieu came ready to play as he took on the veteran Italian. The first set presented some challenges for the young American as Verzeroli took the opener handily 2-6. In the second set Beaulieu struggled with his serve and experienced a similar fate to his first WTC set, dropping the set 2-6 and the match. Beailieu was positive after the match, “ It was good to get a taste so I am more prepared for next year.”
Paul Moran (USA) vs. Fabian Mazzei (Italy)
Moran closed out the Men’s WTC fight with a battle against operatic tennis maestro, Fabian Mazzei. The veteran American was the last hope for Team USA in avoiding a last place finish in 2009. Moran followed his teammate’s lead with a struggling first set defeat 2-6. In the second set Moran pushed hard, coming up on the ball and hitting winners down the line for a 6-4 victory. Mazzei started to fold as the match wore on, but in the third set he sealed the fate of Team USA dropping the Americans to their fifth consecutive tournament tie loss, 2-6.
Team USA finished last in World Group 1 and will look to 2010 as the year to emerge in World Group 2 and rebound from a difficult 2009 World Team Cup.
The 2009 Invacare World Team Cup is never complete without the annual banquet held on the last weekend of the competition. Thanks to some heavy rain throughout the day most ties were cancelled and all teams made it to the beautiful Graypaul Ferrari Showroom for the closing festivities. Dining among a dozen Ferrari’s and Masarati’s Team USA consumed elegant delights, enjoying the evening of fun and friendly camaraderie. After a delicious dinner the delegation was honored with several awards for various team members. Most notably was the 2009 International Wheelchair Tennis Associations Coach of the Year honor bestowed on Jason Harnett, Assistant National Coach and Head Coach of the Quad team. Harnett was presented with the very impressive honor after 14 years in wheelchair tennis. After a rousing ovation from the 300 people in the room, Harnett graciously accepted the honor. In addition, world #1 ranked quad, David Wagner received a trophy for being the #1 doubles player in the world in 2008.
It was a great evening and special for all involved. It was the capstone of the 2009 Invacare World Team Cup.
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2009 Invacare World Team Cup Day 2
2009 Invacare World Team Cup Day 1
25th Anniversary of Invacare World Team Cup kicks off