Wagner, Taylor look to continue
Ashley Marshall | June 27, 2016
Two of the most highly decorated wheelchair tennis champions of all time will lead Team USA’s bid for glory at the 2016 Paralympic Games this summer.
The USTA named three-time doubles gold medalists David Wagner and Nick Taylor to the eight-player team set to represent the red, white and blue in Brazil, Sept. 9-16.
Wagner and Taylor are the only men to occupy the top spot on the podium in the three times the wheelchair quad doubles category has been contested at the Games. The duo won consecutive gold medals in the at the 2012 Games in London, the 2008 Games in Beijing and the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece.
Wagner, who is currently No. 2 in the world in singles and No. 1 in doubles, also has his sights set on an individual milestone. After winning silver in singles at the Paralympics in 2004 and 2012 and bronze in 2008, the Hillsboro, Ore., native is hoping that the fourth time will be the charm for him to capture the illustrious gold medal – one of the few items missing from his trophy cabinet.ADVERTISEMENT
Joining Wagner and Taylor (Wichita, Kan.), in the quad team are second-time Paralympian Bryan Barten (Tucson, Ariz.). The men’s team will be led by Jon Rydberg (Woodbury, Minn.) and Steve Baldwin (San Diego), while the women’s team will feature Emmy Kaiser (Ft. Mitchell, Ky.), Dana Mathewson (San Diego) and Kaitlyn Verfuerth (Flagstaff, Ariz.).
“The USTA is extremely proud of the group of wheelchair tennis athletes who will represent the United States at this year’s Paralympic Games,” said Katrina Adams, USTA Chairman, CEO and President. “These athletes never stop to amaze me in all they can do within their sport. They truly embody the honor of being named a Paralympian. I’m looking forward to watching them compete as they look to claim gold.”
The U.S. will be one of 29 countries, represented by the 100 wheelchair tennis competitors from around the world, vying for gold in the men’s, women’s and quad events. The competition will take place at the Barra Tennis Center, the same venue used for the Rio 2016 Olympic tennis event.
U.S. national wheelchair tennis team coach Dan James, of Seattle, will be assisted at this year’s Paralympics by assistant coach Jason Harnett, of Irvine, Calif., as well as team leader Emily Sandor, of New York.
This year’s Paralympic Games mark the seventh time wheelchair tennis will be part of the competition, and the fourth time the quad division will be included.