U.S. quads brace for world wheelchair glory

April 29, 2011 03:15 PM
David Wagner.
Nick Taylor.
Paul Moran.
By Herman R Gibbs, special to USTA.com
Men's World Group Quad Final-USA vs. Israel
World wheelchair glory beckons for top seed USA in the quad final against upstarts and third-seeded Israel, who tossed the highly-fancied second seed Great Britain - Peter Norfolk and all - on to the also-rans ITF World Team Cup scrapheap, in Pretoria, South Africa.
World No. 4 Nicholas Taylor, David Wagner's teammate, has been right on-time all week and he usually, on a daily basis, gets the rubber off on a winning note.
He already led the charge against Israel in the round-robin fixture, but he feels the Israelis will pose a stronger threat after their giant-killing act against Britain.
"The Israelis have a strong team and didn't think that they would be easy meat for Britain because I always felt they had a chance," said Taylor. "We've played against Israel, but we still don't know too much about their finals line-up so we won't take anything for granted."
The triple graduate Taylor, a motivational speaker and a part time tennis coach back in the U.S., has won his fair share of admirers for his dashing display in his power chair, apart from his amazing toss with the foot at serve time.
Wagner, the world No. 1, suspects Israel will make adjustments to both its lineup and game plan in the final.
"Since we've played each other in the round-robin stage, they will know our lineup because ours is pretty straight forward," said Wagner. "We don't know how their lineup will run and we could find ourselves at a disadvantage."They're sure to make adjustments to their game and it could be tough for us. But we're ready with an A gameplan or a B for that matter. If neither works for us we'll have to adjust but we'll work with what is best for us."
Men's World Group II Final: USA vs. Japan
There's been nothing else but baby talk in the men's group after Jon Rydberg took flight from the South African Highveld when he was told he was about to become a father.
As soon as Rydberg made his dash, U.S. No. 1 Steve Welch took Paul Moran under his wing and they were last seen in the wheelchair repair shed secretly plotting the downfall of Japan in Saturday's Men's World Group II final.
Welch is a former world No 1 and he's coached in Japan, so he knows what the Japanese will bring to the final.
"Jon is a big loss and blow to our chances of promotion to the World Group but I have faith in Paul (Moran) although he hasn't much time on court this week," said Welch. "We're in for a big challenge but we'll be fuelled by the underdog spirit.
"The mission is get to World Group I and this is our big chance, so we're up for the fight."
Moran has a good idea of what he needs to do in the final.
"I want to remain focused and not try to out play myself," said Moran. "It's important to cut down the error margin and play a steady game."
Moran, is fairly fast around the court, has traded heavily on his serve in the past and on Saturday he'll be looking to send them down flat and hard, with a touch of 'Welch' flair.
"I want to work from behind a solid serve and then take my chances," said Moran. "I'm up for the scrap and I'll determined to give it my best shot and be mentally tough."
Juniors in on the act
There will be no shortage of court side support as the U.S. juniors have completed their assignments with a final fifth position after defeating South American rivals Argentina in their play-off.
Some of the juniors, armed with South Africa's famous 2010 World Cup relic, the vuvuzela, will be blowing up a storm as they spur the U.S. finalists on to victory.
The U.S. women contingent made an early exit after they took ill earlier in the week.
Saturday at the 2011 WTC
Quad-USA vs. Israel: 3:00 am EDT
Men-USA vs. Japan: 6:00 am EDT