By Herman R Gibbs, special to USTA.com
The all-conquering wheelchair quad triumvirate of David Wagner, Nick Taylor and Bryan Barten kept the U.S. flag flying on a day when illness depleted America's ranks at the 27th ITF World Team Cup in Pretoria, South Africa, on Wednesday.
Sweden became their latest victim as the U.S. quads pushed out another 3-0 tie. An upset stomach restricted Taylor to spectator's role on Wednesday, but Bryan Barten took his place with a stellar showing and the U.S. quads, after three rubbers, have yet to surrender one set.
Barten posted a 6-3 6-2 win over Christer Jansson after a tentative start which saw him drop service in the third game and trailed 1-2. He showed composure to wage a patient comeback as the set wore on. The ploy worked well as he broke back in the fourth and later again in the eighth ahead of a 6-3 first set win. Jansson started off well enough by holding serve and then breaking in the next game. However, he was rendered helpless as his 2-0 lead disappeared into the Pretoria skies after Barton bounced back in spectacular fashion to win the next six games on the trot for a 6-3 6-2 victory.
Wagner came down hard on Anders Hard and then switched to cruise-control mode en route to a 6-4, 6-1 win.
Sweden brought in fresh legs, or wheels rather, when Marcus Jonsson teamed up with Hard for the doubles tie. The Barten/Wagner pairing still proved far too strong as they cantered to 6-4, 6-1 win. The quad team now moves on to the cross-over round against Canada for a trip to the quad final on Saturday.
The sheer weight of the U.S. men’s duo of Jon Rydberg and Steve Welch proved overwhelming as Israel suffered a 3-0 tie loss.
Rydberg was absolute against Israeli Haim Lev and won comfortably 6-1, 6-3, and Steve Welch brushed aside a late show of resistance from Asaaf Stokol before he posted a 6-3, 7-6 (8) win.
Rydberg and Welch seemed to enjoy the Israeli challenge in the doubles clash, yet there were times when their accuracy went awry. Even as Israel pushed the Americans to hold serve frequently, they emerged unscathed from their 6-3, 6-2 triumph. The men now move on to the World Group 2 semifinal against Chile for a trip to the final on Saturday.
The U.S. women came to grief in their match against Great Britain, the eventual 3-0 tie winners.
The problems struck long before the team reached the courts when Kaitlyn Verfuerth was laid low with an undisclosed illness.
Dana Mathewson made it on to the court but was overcome by illness and retired in the first set against Louise Hunt, who led 5-4 at the time.
Emmy Kaiser was up for the fight against Jordanne Whiley, but she also ran out of gas in the third set with the Brit winning 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.
Sadly, America had run out troops as the doubles clash came up and the Brits enjoyed a walk-over for a 3-0 tie win.
The U.S. juniors were poised for a good start in their Group A clash against The Netherlands, as Ryan Nelson made all the early pushes against Florian de Boer, the eventual 7-6(3), 6-1 winner.
At one stage Nelson seemed to have the first set well in his grasp with a 5-2 lead, but he allowed the Dutchman back into the match. Losing the set seemed to drain Nelson's resolve and it was reflected in the second-set 6-1 scoreline.
Next up rookie Shelby Baron challenged her Dutch opponent the same way she has done all tournament long to her world class competition, but her passion and drive were not enough as the more veteran Dutchmen Rody de Bie took the set and secured the tie 0-6, 4-6.
Kate Stuteville in her WTC debut teamed up with Nelson for the doubles against De Boer and the young Diede de Groot. After two back and forth sets each side had lifted a set, which brought the dreaded tie-break into play. This time there was no stopping the Dutch who emerged 2-1 tie victors courtesy of their 6-4, 4-6, (10-6) doubles conquest.
Thursday’s World Team Cup Schedule-Team USA
Men-USA vs. Chile
Women-USA vs. Spain
Quad-USA vs. Canada
Juniors-USA vs. Argentina