Nick Taylor, David Wagner start singles quest

By Emily Lewis | Sept. 02, 2012, 5:35 p.m. (ET)

David Wager
David Wagner, who has a silver and bronze from previous Paralympic Games, started his quest for gold with a 6-2, 7-5 win.

LONDON ―Team USA’s David Wagner (Hillsboro, Ore.), the No. 1 ranked quad men’s player in the world and the top seed at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, won his first round singles match in straight sets defeating South Africa’s Lucas Sithole 6-2, 7-5 on Sunday.

A silver medalist from the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games and the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games bronze medalist, Wagner hopes to improve his podium finish at this year’s Paralympic Games. Today he proved he is focused enough to do it.

Opening his match with an ace, Wagner controlled the rallies winning the first set in just 21 minutes.  The second set proved to be more of a challenge as Sithole served for the second set at 5-4. Wagner proved his focus however, by breaking and holding serve to go on to win the second set and the match 7-5.

“I told to myself just win the next two games,” he joked after the match.

Fueled by homemade granola bars made for him specially by his aunt Patty, Wagner followed his own advice hitting three unreturnable first serves to close out the match.

In other action today, the U.S. got another win in the men’s quad division when Nick Taylor (Wichita, Kansas) defeated Japan’s Shota Kawano 6-1, 7-5.

“It feels really good to get the first win under my belt,” said Taylor after the match. “It feels like we’ve been here for awhile so it’s nice to finally get started.”

If Wagner and Taylor win their next matches they will find themselves in familiar territory- in a match up against each other, where Wagner is leads head to head 60-7. The two played against each other for bronze in Beijing.

Three other players competed individually for Team USA today. 

Brian Barten (Tucson, Ariz.) beat Marco Innocenti of Italy 6-3, 6-4. Stephen Welch (Southlake, Texas) fell to 11th seed Joachim Gerard of Germany 6-7, 2-6, Jon Rydberg (Oakdale, Minn.) fell to Frenchman Michael Jeremiasz. 

Team USA lost all three men’s doubles matches with Welch and Rydberg  battling to three sets, before they were bested 6-1,3-6, 6-7. The team of Noah Yablong (Ocean Ridge, Fla.) and Steven Baldwin,(San Diego, Calif.) lost to Sweden’s Stefan Olsson and Peter Vikstrom 0-6, 1-6.

Tennis action continues Monday with the women’s singles featuring Emmy Kaiser (Ft. Mitchell, Ky.) and Mackenzie Soldan (Louisville, Ky.).