2023 World Team Cup: U.S. goes 3-0 on Day 1 with wins for junior, men's and quad teams
In just the fifth tournament of his professional wheelchair tennis career to date, Andrew Bogdanov helped the U.S. team score a big win on the opening day of the 2023 BNP Paribas World Team Cup. Bogdanov and David Wagner partnered for a 6-3, 6-3 win over Turkey's Ugur Altinel and Ahmet Kaplan to give the U.S. quad team a 2-1 overall victory in their first Group B tie of the competition, one of three wins the U.S. scored overall on Monday in Vilamoura, Portugal.
"It's almost like a combination of a burden being lifted off your shoulders and just being able to celebrate," Bogdanov said. "I didn't sleep much last night; some of it was jet lag, some of it was just the excitement of being here. It's a big deal. It's super cool to represent your country, and I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be able to do that.
"Playing with Wags, he's really, really good, and I expected to get a lot of balls during our match. I was happy to hold my own, and get the win."
Read more at usta.com: Just three years into tennis career, Andrew Bogdanov ready for World Team Cup debut
The U.S. and Turkey split the two singles matches to set the stage for Bogdanov and Wagner's clincher: Kaplan beat Bogdanov's fellow first-time selection Steven Baxter, 6-1, 6-0, but Wagner sent the tie to doubles by defeating Altinel, 6-1, 6-1.
"It was awesome to be a part of [the first U.S. team win]," Baxter said. "I struggled a little bit myself, but luckily the other guys stepped up and played really well. The first match jitters, coming to the first World Team Cup, I've seen a lot of these guys and I've known them for such a long time, but being out here and being asked to play was a bit nerve-wracking. I had to deal with that, but overall, it was a good experience. It was challenging, and hopefully, I'll get a little bit better throughout the week."
Baxter, a former Top 20 player in both singles and doubles as recently as last year, was named as a last-minute replacement for Bryan Barten just days before the team departed for Vilamoura. Though his first result didn't go his way, the 45-year-old from Boise, Idaho says he was nonetheless thrilled to get the call-up.
"Coming in at the last minute to fill in for Bryan, I'm just here to do whatever I can: whether that's cheering the rest of the guys on, going out and playing ... whatever I can do to help the team win, that's all that matters," he said.
In all, the U.S. team went 3-0 in round-robin play, and 8-1 in matches, on the first day of competition at the wheelchair counterpart to Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup, as the men's team and junior team scored sweeps. The U.S. men, fourth-place finishers last year for their best placing this decade, swept Sri Lanka on the back of Casey Ratzlaff and Conner Stroud, while the juniors dominated Brazil with the loss of just one game across their three matches.
Against Sri Lanka, Stroud was an 6-1, 6-1 winner over Gamini Dissanayake in the first singles match, before Ratzlaff rallied from a set down against Suresh Dharmasena to clinch the tie, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. The pair put a bow on the sweep with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Dharmasena and Dissanayake.
Day 2 will see the U.S. women make their debut, facing Chile, while the juniors and quads will play their second matches. The quad team has a tough test against defending champions the Netherlands, who boast the world's No. 1 and No. 2 players Niels Vink and Sam Schroder, while the junior team also faces the defending champions in Australia.