JUNIORS THREE-PEAT, QUADS MEDAL
AT 2017 WORLD TEAM CUP
E.J. Crawford | May 7, 2017
The U.S. wrapped up its most successful World Team Cup in more than a decade Sunday in Sardinia, Italy, with the juniors achieving a historic three-peat and the quad team returning to the medal stand after an uncharacteristic year’s absence.
The celebratory final day came 24 hours after the U.S. women secured a bronze for their first World Team Cup medal since 2003. That was also the last year that at least three U.S. squads finished on the medal stand.
“Team USA exceeded my expectations this year," said national team coach Jason Harnett said. "I cannot be more proud of these men and women.”
Click here for more on the history of the U.S. at the World Team Cup.
Sunday’s star was Conner Stroud, the only member of the junior team that took the title in 2015, 2016 and 2017, with the U.S. now joining the Netherlands (2008-10) as the only nations to win three consecutive World Team Cup junior titles. ADVERTISEMENT
After teammate Nathan Melnyk lost the opening match of the final to Russia’s Lesha Shuklin, Stroud (pictured above) evened the tie by defeating Segei Lysov, 6-0, 6-1, to force the final into the decisive doubles match. There, Stroud teamed with Melnyk to defeat Shuklin and Lysov and claim the championship for the U.S.
In all, Stroud, the No. 4-ranked junior wheelchair player in the world, went 5-0 in singles and 3-1 in doubles during this year’s World Team Cup. Melnyk, meantime, went 4-1 in doubles, also teaming with the third member of the junior team, fellow newcomer Joanna Nieh, for a doubles victory over the Netherlands.
"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 Harnett. "Well, he answered that question with progressively amazing play in doubles throughout the week.”
Said Stroud: “It’s such an honor to compete for Team USA, and to now be a three-time World Champion is something that I could never have dreamed of. It just goes to show that all the training and hard work is paying off.”
The quad team, meantime, shook off a disappointing loss in the semifinals – they fell to eventual champion Great Britain, 2-1, losing the decisive doubles in a match tiebreak – by blitzing Japan to earn third place. Nick Taylor kicked things off with an easy win over Daisuke Ishito, 6-1, 6-1, and David Wagner clinched the victory by defeating Shota Kawano, 7-5, 6-2, shrugging off two set points in the opening frame.
With the win, the U.S. quad team finished in the Top 3 for the 12th time in 13 years. The lone exception was a year ago, when they came in fifth.
For complete results and daily reports from all three U.S. teams at the 2017 World Team Cup, click here.
Jason Allen contributed reporting to this story.