2008 PARALYMPIC GAMES: Medal Rounds Begin in Wheelchair Tennis-U.S. Takes Gold and BronzeBEIJING, China-In the semifinal match, No. 4 seed U.S. women's doubles pair Beth Arnoult (Paia, Hawaii) and Kaitlyn Verfuerth (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) met No. 1 seed Jiske Griffioen and Esther Vergeer (NED). Playing well against the powerful duo, Arnoult and Verfuerth lost both sets, 6-2 and 6-1. "They lost, but they were thrilled because they [Griffioen and Vergeer] are the best team in the world," said U.S. head coach Dan James. "It was a confidence builder for us going into tomorrow's match. It was a good loss."
Arnoult and Verfuerth will compete against Florence Gravellier and Arlette Racineux (FRA) on Sunday in the bronze medal match.
In Quad Singles, USA met USA. Both having lost in the semifinals on Friday, No. 3 seed Nick Taylor (Wichita, Kan.) and No. 1 seed David Wagner (Hillsboro, Ore.), the silver medalist in quad singles and the gold medal doubles partner with Taylor in Athens in 2004, faced each other in a bronze medal match.
Wagner quickly finished the first set 6-0 over Taylor. In the second set, Taylor pulled ahead 4-2 and ended the set beating Wagner 6-4. In the tiebreaker Wagner again dominated to take the match 6-1, securing a bronze for the United States.
The match was not the first time Wagner and Taylor have faced off. "It tends to happen a lot," said Wagner. "Nick is third in the world, and it's pretty apparent from the score that we know each other's game. He played really well. You want to win on the court, but you're still friends, and we'll do what we can to win the gold in doubles tonight."
And just hours later the two teamed up for the gold medal match in men's doubles. Taylor and Wagner performed predictably in the first set and overpowered Boaz Kramer and Shraga Weinberg (ISR) in the first set, 6-0. Taylor and Wagner lost the second set 6-4, but they came back strong in the third set and finished for the gold medal, 6-2, defending their gold from Athens four years ago. "I think they [Kramer and Weinberg] played better in the second set, but we were fortunate enough to get it back," said Wagner.
Taylor and Wagner's magic on the court can be attributed to their close bond. "We are such good friends and we're together all the time," said Taylor. "This win was more dramatic than Athens because it went three sets, but the feeling is the same."
As the press fired questions at Taylor and Wagner following the medal ceremony, one reporter asked Wagner, "Who is your hero?" Wagner looked over at his friend and said, "Nick Taylor."
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).