Nick Taylor wins first Paralympic individual medal
LONDON - Nick Taylor (Wichita, Kan.) will leave the London 2012 Paralympic Games with two medals, his best Paralympic Games performance since his debut at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.
Taylor won the bronze medal in the men’s quad singles on Friday, earning his first singles medal after finishing just off the podiums in fourth at the Paralympic Games in Athens and Beijing. He conquered Israeli Shraga Weinberg 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 solidifying himself as one of the world’s most accomplished wheelchair tennis athletes.
Earlier this week, Taylor and his doubles partner David Wagner won the doubles title. It is the third consecutive gold for the pair from the Paralympic Games but individual success has eluded Taylor.
Taylor admitted he was nervous at the start of the match evidenced when he quickly dropped the first set in just 26 minutes.
“I was a little nervous going in,” said Taylor, who lost to Wagner in the Beijing bronze medal match. “I’ve come so close two other times and to finally get it here is huge for me, I really wanted this one.”
When asked what went wrong in the first set, Taylor gave his opponent the credit. “He just played unbelievable in the first set he couldn’t miss,” he said.
The combination of Weinberg’s shots painting the lines and signs of nerves from Taylor were not the way he wanted to start the match. When the first set evaporated, Taylor regained his composure in the second, where he hit his only ace of the match, gaining some much needed confidence. He remained true to form hitting deep forehand crosscourt winners and 36 minutes later captured the second 6-3.
The momentum was on Taylor’s side much of the third set, when he quickly won three straight games in what looked like a potential steamroll. However, with no time clock, anything is possible in a tennis match. Taylor did not get over confident, even asking U.S. coach Dan James to switch out the battery to his powerchair at 3-0.
Taylor added to his lead, breaking Weinberg to go up 4-0. But Weinberg proved he was not ready to quit, reeling off three straight games and eventually evening the score to four apiece.
It looked like the match could have teetered in either direction, yet it was Taylor who stepped up on big points earning him a chance to serve for the match at 5-4.
With the nerves far out of sight, Taylor served out the match and showed that what Taylor wants he gets, even if it takes him an hour and 44 minutes.
“I’m just ecstatic right now, if someone told me I would be leaving here [London] with a medal in singles, I wouldn't have believed it.” Taylor admitted following the victory.
So will he be back to better his bronze in Rio?
“I don’t know yet,” smiled Taylor. “We’ll see.”