U.S. juniors win gold
at World Team wheelchair event
Ashley Marshall | May 27, 2016
If last year’s triumph came as somewhat of a surprise, Team USA’s junior wheelchair team showed this week that it is a legitimate force on the world stage.
The U.S. squad of Chris Herman (Gulfport, Fla.), Casey Ratzlaff (Wichita, Kan.) and Conner Stroud (Rutherfordton, N.C.) defeated Chile, 2-1, on Friday to successfully defending its title at the BNP World Team Cup, prevailing at the ITF’s flagship tournament at Ariake Tennis Forest Park in Tokyo.
Team USA, coached by Seattle native Dan James, went undefeated in Japan, winning Group A with a perfect 3-0 record in pool play. The juniors defeated Russia, 3-0, on the first day of competition and followed that up with a pair of 2-1 victories over Chile and South Africa to book its place in the semifinals.
In the semifinals, Stroud won his third consecutive singles match in straight sets to give the U.S. ADVERTISEMENT an early lead over Great Britain, and Casey Ratzlaff sealed the victory in the second singles match. Stroud then partnered with Herman (pictured above) in the doubles to complete the sweep and send the U.S. into the final.
In Friday’s championship match, Stroud defeated Chile’s Bryan Tapia, 6-0, 7-6(3) before Ratzlaff fell to Alexander Cataldo, 6-4, 7-5. With the title resting on the outcome of the doubles, Herman and Stroud made quick work of Cataldo and Tapia, 6-2, 6-1, to see top-seeded America repeat as winners.
Last year in Turkey, the U.S. juniors squad won its first world championship in 15 years, defeating longtime wheelchair tennis powerhouse the Netherlands, 2-0, in the final.