2008 PARALYMPIC GAMES: “Best Day Ever” for Wheelchair Tennis
BEIJING, China -The U.S. Wheelchair Tennis team exceeded all expectations today, playing against heavy odds and turning in outstanding performances.
Nick Taylor (Wichita, Kan.) faced Bas van Erp (NED) in Centre Court in Quad Singles. Taylor lost to van Erp earlier this year, and most notably lost to him in the bronze medal round in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. Today Taylor lost the first set 6-1 and was down in the second set 5-3, but came back strong, regaining control and winning the set 7-5. Taylor's tiebreaking performance was a major upset, going 7-6(1). "It was huge mentally for Nick to come back," said head coach Dan James. "This win shows how ready Nick is to be here and ready to bring home medals for the U.S."
"It was one of the toughest matches of my career," said Taylor. "I had to weather the storm. In the second set I went up 3-1 and got inside his [van Erp's] head. In the third set he didn't roll over and neither did I. We were breaking each other back and forth. When you get a match that close for that long, when you get to a third-set tiebreaker, it's just who can hold their nerves together."
Meanwhile, on court 7 David Wagner (Hillsboro, Ore.) played quarterfinals in Men's Singles against Shraga Weinberg (ISR) and soundly defeated him 6-2, 6-2. "To get through a couple of tough rounds early helps prepare you for what's to come in the semi-finals," said Wagner.
The Men's Singles match for Jon Rydberg (Oakdale, Minn.) resumed Tuesday's suspension due to rain. He started his second set at 3-3 and won the next three games against Jozef Felix (SVK) to finish 6-4, 6-3, and he will face Japan's No. 1 ranked Shingo Kunieda on Thursday. Steve Welch (Bedford, Texas) also completed his match, resuming from Tuesday and defeating Lahcen Majdi (FRA) 6-1, 6-0. "I was hoping for a tougher match, because my next match is with the No. 2 in the world and the gold medalist from Athens," said Welch, referring to his upcoming match with Robin Ammerlaan (NED).
Kaitlyn Verfuerth (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) faced No. 3 ranked Sharon Walraven (NED) in the second round of Women's Singles, and played hard and well against Walraven's powerful returns, but was eliminated with a final score of 6-1, 7-5.
Beth Arnoult (Paia, Hawaii) played Centre Court against Marie-Annick Sevenans (BEL), who is ranked No. 6 in the world. She came back from a loss in the first set 1-6 to dominant the second at 6-3, and remained focused and determined in the third set to finish 6-4 for a huge victory. "That's a career win," said head coach Dan James. "I didn't think I would make it this far," said an exultant Arnoult. "Who do I play tomorrow?"
In Men's Doubles, Lee Hinson (Wallan, Australia/Jacksonville, Fla.) and Paul Moran (Chicago, Ill.) came on strong against Lee Carter and Yann Mathieu (CAN) in the first set for a tough 7-6 win, then struggled in the second set with a 3-6 loss, but pulled ahead and took the match with a third set win of 6-4. "I've played them [Carter and Mathieu] a lot," said Moran, "and we didn't want to come away without a win today."
In the final match of the night, Jon Rydberg (Oakdale, Minn.) and Steve Welch (Bedford, Texas) faced formidable competitors Baiqing Li and Yanping Shi (CHN) in Men's Doubles on Centre Court, finishing 6-4, 6-7, and 6-1.
"As a team, it's the best we've ever done," said head coach Dan James, referring to the day's final outcome.
For more information or to arrange an athlete interview, please contact Dave Somers at 13910634060 (if calling from the U.S., dial 011 86 plus the local number).