All THREE U.S. SQUADS MEDAL AT
2017 WORLD TEAM CUP
Jason Allen | May 7, 2017
Sunday, May 7
USA def. Russia, 2-1 (U.S. WINS GOLD MEDAL FOR THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR)
Lesha Shuklin (RUS) def. Nathan Melnyk (USA), 6-1, 6-2
Conner Stroud (USA) def. Sergei Lysov (RUS), 6-0, 6-1
Nathan Melnyk/Conner Stroud (USA) def. Sergei Lysov/Lesha Shuklin (RUS), 6-2, 4-2 ret.
USA def. Japan, 2-0 (U.S. WINS BRONZE MEDAL)
Nick Taylor (USA) def. Daisuke Ishito (JPN), 6-1, 6-1
David Wagner (USA) def. Shota Kawano (JPN), 7-5, 6-2
Day 7 recap: Juniors take title, quad team wins bronze
On Saturday, the U.S. women claimed third place with a standout showing. On Sunday, the quad and junior teams rode that momentum to claim close victories.
The junior team completed an unexpected three-peat and were crowned world champions once again. Nathan Melnyk, the USA No. 2 player said, “I thought our chances were not very good at the start of the tournament, but in the finals, I knew we had it.”
With the USA junior team losing its top two players from last year’s championship squad due to age restrictions, expectations were not high entering the week.
"We knew that with Conner Stroud we would be very strong, but were not too sure how Nathan would respond to the stiff competition at this level," said junior team coach and national head coach Jason Harnett. "Well, he answered that question with progressively amazing play in doubles throughout the week.”
The junior team lost in the round-robin stage to Team Canada, which fell to Russia in the semifinals. Both teams were evenly matched, but in the end, Russia squeaked out a 12-10 tiebreaker win for the third set and set up the final with the U.S.
In the final, Melnyk started the team off with a match against Lesha Shuklin. The Russian was a little too tough, winning 6-2, 6-1. Stroud was next against Sergei Lysov and the game plan was simple: put the pedal to the medal and do not let off the gas. Harnett felt that if Stroud could show how strong he is, it would give the USA team a mental edge for the deciding doubles rubber.
With many years of coaching and 20 years of wheelchair tennis under his belt, Harnett’s advice came through in the end. In the doubles, Melnyk and Stroud dominated in the first set. Early in the second set, the two Russian players collided with each other and Lysov injured his left elbow. He tried to carry on, but at 4-2 down in the second set, the Russian team retired due to injury, giving Team USA its third consecutive title. Emotions were high and the word “unbelievable” was heard repeated over and over again.
The quad Team finished strong as well, with a 2-0 singles sweep of the Japanese team in the playoff for the bronze medal. Nick Taylor competed in the No. 2 slot for the U.S. against Daisuke Ishito. Taylor dispatched him quickly by a score of 6-1, 6-1. David Wagner played a much tougher opponent from Japan named Shota Kawano. At 5-4 down with two set points against him, Wagner came back to take the first set, 7-5, and kept the momentum in the second set with a score of 6-2.
The quad team’s win ensured that all three teams at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup ended up on the podium in the end.
Saturday, May 6
USA def. Switzerland, 2-0 (U.S. WINS BRONZE MEDAL)
Mackenzie Soldan (USA) def. Karin Suter-Erath (SUI), 7-5, 3-6, 6-2
Dana Mathewson (USA) def. Gabriela Buhler (SUI), 6-0, 6-1
USA def. Brazil, 2-1 (U.S. ADVANCES TO GOLD-MEDAL MATCH)
Fabio Bernardes (BRA) def. Nathan Melnyk (USA), 6-1, 6-1
Conner Stroud (USA) def. Jucelio Torquato (BRA), 6-1, 6-0
Nathan Melnyk/Conner Stroud (USA) def. Fabio Bernardes/Jucelio Torquato (BRA), 6-4, 7-6.
Great Britain def. USA, 2-1 (U.S. INTO BRONZE-MEDAL MATCH)
Bryan Barten (USA) def. Antony Cotterill (GBR), 4-6, 6-2, 6-1
Andy Lapthorne (GBR) def. David Wagner (USA), 6-4, 7-5
Antony Cotterill/Andy Lapthorne (GBR) def. Bryan Barten/David Wagner, 6-4, 6-7, [10-7]
Day 6 Recap: Women earn surprise bronze
The U.S. women's team won its first World Team Cup medal in 14 years Saturday with victory over Switzerland in the bronze medal match. The team had failed to finish better than sixth in each of the past four years, but a fantastic week in Sardinia saw the American women top Pool C before sweeping past the Swiss in the third-place match.
Mackenzie Soldan defeated Karin Suter-Erath, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, and Dana Mathewson, USA’s No. 1 player, easily took out Switzerland’s top-ranked player Gabriela Buhler, 6-0, 6-1., to secure the bronze.
For more on the women's third-place match, click here.
But Saturday in Sardinia was “agrodolce” for Team USA, as they say in Italian. It was bittersweet because although the women won bronze and the juniors advanced to the gold-medal match, the quad team lost a very tough semifinal match that was decided by a match tiebreak in the decisive doubles against Great Britain.
In the junior division, the two-time defending World Team Cup champions took the court Saturday in their semifinal with a daunting task ahead of them. They faced a very good Brazilian team, and although the pressure was high, it did not faze them. Nathan Melnyk lost the first match against Fabio Bernardes, 6-1, 6-1, but Conner Stroud stepped up his game to topple Jucelio Torquato, 6-1, 6-0, in a battle of each team's top players.
Both teams in the doubles match experienced a great deal of ups and downs, but Melnyk stayed constant in his desire to fight and keep the ball in play, which set up his partner Conner Stroud to put on a hitting display. The U.S. team clinched the victory, 6-4, 7-6, and will now face off against Russia in Sunday's final.
The quad team will compete for third place on Sunday after falling to Great Britain in a hard-fought semifinal.
In the first singles match, Bryan Barten rallied from a set down to beat Antony Cotterill, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. David Wagner then took the court against longtime rival Andy Lapthorne, who was supported by a raucous British crowd equipped with flags and horns.
Although Wagner fought hard, he lost, 6-4, 7-5. After a needed lunch and rest, Barten and Wagner took on Lapthorne and Cotterill in an epic battle that attracted a crowd of at least 150 fans. After losing the opening set and falling behind the in the second, the Americans forced a second-set tiebreak, which they won 7-5. The third-set match tiebreak was up and down, but the Brits eventually previaled, 10-7.
Although deflated from their loss, the American quad players came over to cheer on the juniors and seemed upbeat about their shot to take third place Sunday against Japan.
National head coach Jason Harnett said he was pleased with the way all three teams competed.
"I could not be more proud of how hard and how passionate all three of our teams have played this week," Harnett said. "The women placing third after more than 10 years off the medal stand is absolutely phenomenal.
"The junior team back in the finals for the third straight year as two-time defending champions is something that I only dreamed of. The quads lost in a heartbreaker today having fought valiantly to the very end. We are all proud of their effort this week. They still have a chance to be on the podium tomorrow playing for third place. Truly a great World Team Cup for Team USA.”
Friday, May 5
China def. USA, 2-0 (U.S. TO PLAY IN BRONZE-MEDAL MATCH)
Huimin Huang (CHN) def. Mackenzie Soldan (USA), 6-1 6-1
Zhenzhen Zhu (CHN) def. Dana Mathewson (USA), 6-1 6-2
Day 5 Recap: Women in search of medal in Italy
The U.S. women's team remains on track for its best World Team Cup finish in almost a decade despite a loss to China on Day 5 of competition in Sardinia, Italy.
A pair of straight-sets losses meant Team USA was unable to advance to Saturday's gold-medal match, but it can still secure its first podium finish since 2003 when it fell to the Netherlands in the final. The last time America's women competed for a medal was in 2008 when it ultimately finished in fourth place.
Thursday, May 4
USA def. Italy, 3-0 (U.S. ADVANCES TO SEMIFINALS )
Bryan Barten (USA) def. Alfredo Di Cosmo (ITA), 6-1, 6-0
David Wagner (USA) def. Alberto Corradi (ITA), 6-0, 6-1
Nick Taylor/David Wagner (USA) def. Alfredo Di Cosmo/Marco Innocenti (ITA), 6-0, 6-2
Day 4 Recap: Quad team advances to final four
The U.S. quad team, perennial World Team Cup contenders, are returning to the semifinals following a resounding win Thursday over host Italy.
With the women's and juniors teams already assured of a spot in the final four, the quads made it a perfect three-for-three in the knockout stage for Team USA. The U.S. quad team has played in the medal round for 11 of the past 12 years, winning gold seven times since 2005. In 2016, the team placed fifth.
Bryan Barten started off with a win over Alfredo Di Cosmo, 6-1, 6-0. Next, David Wagner, the USA’s No. 1 player, beat local hometown favorite Alberto Corradi, 6-0, 6-1. Wagner and Nick Taylor then completed the sweep by dispatching Marco Innocenti and Di Cosmo, 6-0, 6-2. The win moves the U.S., which finished second in Pool 1, into the semifinals against Great Britain, which won Pool 2.
On Friday, Team USA's women will face off against China at 9:30 a.m. local time (3:30 a.m. ET) in the semifinals. The junior team will face Brazil in its semifinal Saturday.
All center court matches for the remainder of the tournament will be televised on channel 879 Sky and Catalan TV Alghero.
Wednesday, May 3
Canada def. USA, 2-1 (U.S. ADVANCES TO SEMIFINALS)
Thomas Bourassa (CAN) def. Nathan Melnyk (USA), 6-0, 6-3
Conner Stroud (USA) def. Thomas Venos (CAN), 6-1, 6-2
Tomas Bourassa/Thomas Venos (CAN) def. Nathan Melnyk/Conner Stroud (USA), 6-0, 6-2
USA def. Netherlands, 3-0
Bryan Barten (USA) def. Dorrie Timmermans - Van Hall (NED), 6-2, 6-0
David Wagner (USA) def. Sam Schröder (NED), 6-1, 6-4
Bryan Barten/David Wagner (USA) def. Sam Schröder/Niels Vink (NED), 6-1, 6-2
USA def. France, 2-1 (ADVANCES TO SEMIFINALS)
Mackenzie Soldan (USA) def. Emmanuelle Morch (FRA), 6-0, 6-3
Dana Mathewson (USA) def. Charlotte Famin (FRA), 6-3, 7-6
Charlotte Famin/Emmanuelle Morch (FRA) def. Dana Mathewson/Mackenzie Soldan (USA) def. , 1-6, 7-5, [10-8]
Day 3 Recap: U.S. women, juniors advance to the semis
It was a successful Day 3 for the American squads at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Sardinia, Italy, with the U.S. women and juniors advancing to the semifinal round. This marks a return trip for the two-time defending junior squad, while the women are into the final four at the World Team Cup for the first time since 2008.
The women advanced with a huge win over a tough team from France, 2-1, to win Pool 3. They will take on Pool 2 winner China in the semifinals.
Mackenzie Soldan started the team off with a decisive win over Emanuelle Morch, 6-0, 6-3.
"Throughout the course of the tournament, Mackenzie’s ball has improved immensely," coach Paul Walker said. "She is really striking the ball well.”
Dana Mathewson followed with a straight-sets win over Charlotte Famin in the second singles. Matthewson had never previously defeated Famin, but she did so Wednesday with grace and poise. The victory came down to a second-set tiebreak, but the American, under immense pressure, stayed mentally strong and finished 6-3, 7-6 (3).
"This is the best showing the women have had at World Team Cup in quite a few years," Matthewson said after the victory.
Although the match had already been decided, the doubles was played between the four rivals. It was a hard-fought match, but the USA team fell, 1-6, 7-5, [10-8]. The women have Thursday off and look forward to getting some rest as they prepare for the final match of the pool.
The quad team recovered quickly from its Tuesday loss to Israel by defeating the Netherlands, 3-0. A victory Thursday over host Italy would also send the quad team into the World Team Cup semifinals.
Bryan Barten secured the first win over Van Hall, 6-2, 6-0. Barten, who is currently at a career-high No. 6 in the world, is playing his best tennis. David Wagner followed his teammate with a win over Sam Schroder, 6-1, 6-4. Barten and Wagner then played doubles together against Schroder and Niels Vink. They, too, had a tough battle but pulled it out, 6-3, 6-3. The quads play against the host country Italy Thursday, which will also be a tough test for the team.
The junior team experienced its first loss of the tournament to its border rivals from Canada but still advanced to the semifinals, finishing second to the Canadians in Pool 2. Team USA will take on Pool 1 winner Brazil in the semifinals.
The four juniors that competed Wednesday have played each other many times, but the stakes were high here at World Team Cup. Nathan Melnyk lost to Thomas Bourassa, 6-0, 6-3, to open the matchup. Conner Stroud then avenged that loss with a quick dispatching of Thomas Venos, 6-1, 6-2. Canada's Bourassa and Venos came to play in the doubles match, however, and proved too much for the American team, which went down, 6-0, 6-2, to drop to 2-1 in pool play. The juniors also have the day off Thursday and look forward to resting in the beautiful Mediterranean beach area of Baia di Conte.
Tuesday, May 2
Israel def. USA, 2-1
Noam Gershony (ISR) def. Bryan Barten (USA), 6-3, 6-3
David Wagner (USA) def. Patrick Ben Ouriel (ISR), 6-2, 6-0
Noam Gershony/Shraga Weinberg (ISR) def. Nick Taylor/David Wagner (USA), 6-3, 6-3
USA def. Chile, 3-0
Nathan Melnyk (USA) def. Eric Ignacio Fritz Fuentes (CHI), 6-1, 6-0
Conner Stroud (USA) def. Ezequel Jeremías Riveros Trecaman (CHI), 6-0, 6-1
Nathan Melnyk/Conner Stroud (USA) def. Eric Ignacio Fritz Fuentes/Ezequel Jeremías Riveros Trecaman (CHI), 6-1, 6-1
Day 2 Recap: Juniors improve to 2-0
Team USA had a second strong day of competition, with a win in the junior competition offsetting a loss on the quad side. After the start of Day 1 and the opening ceremony, there was indeed a buzz coming from the courts at Tennis Club Alghero and Hotel Baia di Conte.
The World Team Cup tournament is being conducted on two different sites this year. The juniors are playing at the Tennis Club Alghero and the women and quad divisions are competing at the Hotel Baia di Conte. Eventually, the semifinals and finals will be held at the prestigious Tennis Club Alghero, which has hosted many events in the past such as the Sardinia Open and Davis Cup.
The reigning two-time junior champion team is off to a blazing start, with wins over the Netherlands on Monday and Chile on Tuesday. The U.S. juniors have not dropped a match or even a set in their 6-0 show of domination. So far in the tournament, Team USA is 72-9 in games won and lost are leads the entire pool of teams in every category. On Day 3 it will face a tougher Canadian team, which is also undefeated to this point. Against Chile, Conner Stroud defeated Ezequiel Riveros, 6-0, 6-1, and Nathan Melnyk defeated Eric Fuentes, 6-1, 6-0. In the doubles, Stroud and Melnyk toppled Riveros and Fuentes, 6-0, 6-1.
The quad team is seeded No. 1 overall in the tournament but fell to a very tough team from Israel on the first day of play. Although he has rarely played during the last two years, 2012 Paralympics quad singles gold medalist Noam Gershony showed up to World Team Cup making Israel a force to reckon with. In the first match, the USA's Bryan Barten faced off against Gershony and fell, 6-3, 6-3. World No. 2 David Wagner easily dispatched Patrick Ben Ouriel, 6-0, 6-1, in the other singles match, making it a 1-1 tie going into doubles. The team of Gershony and Shraga Weinberg was too tough again Wagner and Nick Taylor, winning 6-3, 6-3 to give the Israelis a 2-1 match victory.
The quad team is very optimistic of its chances, as it still has the opportunity to get out of Pool A and advance in the tournament.
On Wednesday, the women's team will face off against France, the juniors will play Canada and the quads will face the Netherlands.
Monday, May 1
USA def. Netherlands, 3-0
Nathan Melnyk (USA) def. Fleur Gobes (NLD), 6-1, 6-1
Conner Stroud (USA) def. Coen Van Werkhoven (NLD), 6-0, 6-0
Joanna Nieh/Nathan Melnyk (USA) def. Fleur Gobes/Roos Schroder (NLD), 6-2, 6-1
USA def. Italy, 2-1
Marianna Lauro (ITA) def. Mackenzie Soldan (USA), 6-4, 6-0
Dana Mathewson (USA) def. Giulia Capocci (ITA), 6-2, 6-1
Dana Mathewson/Mackenzie Soldan (USA) def. Giulia Capocci/Marianna Lauro (ITA), 4-6, 6-2, [10-7]
Day 1 Recap: Strong start for Team USA
Team USA's wheelchair tennis players had a tremendous first day at the World Team Cup tournament in Sardinia, Italy. The junior team handled the Netherlands easily with a 3-0 win. The women's team had a tough tie but pulled it out with a 2-1 win over the host country team of Italy.
The quad team will have its first tie on Tuesday against a tough team from Israel. The juniors will play against Chile, and the women have the day off.
Also, all teams participated in the opening ceremony which consisted of a parade in downtown Alghero. It finished with presentations and speeches from Italian Tennis representatives and a concert. At least 5,000 local citizens were in attendance for the parade, and each country's delegation felt honored and proud to carry their respective flags.
Team play will continue throughout the week and will culminate with a final on Sunday. To closely follow the event and get up to the minute updates, click here to like our Facebook page: USTA Wheelchair Tennis.