Netherlands Dominates 2011 ITF World Team Cup

02 May 2011

The Netherlands proved their dominance on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Wheelchair Tennis Circuit by capturing two titles at the2011 ITF World Team Cup. The Men’s Dutch team joined their women’s team in capturing the ITF World Team Cup wheelchair title in Tshwane on Sunday, 1 May. The last time Netherlands had won both the men’s and women’s titles was in 2006.

Netherlands, top seeds, beat second seeded France, 2-1, in front of a spirited crowd who despite the chilly winter weather came out in force to the University of Pretoria courts.

Dutch No. 1 and world number four, Ronald Vink needed only 62 minutes to beat Michel Jeremiasz 6-1, 6-3 to give the Netherlands a head start. Jeremiasz, a former world number one was a surprise nomination for the singles line up as he was only listed at number 4 in the French side coming into the tournament. However, the teams have the right to nominate any player in the team one hour prior to the start of play and nominated the experienced Jeremiasz to take up the French challenge. Jeremiasz admitted he was disappointed after the loss. “We thought playing me in the singles would give us a psychological advantage over the Dutch. I have been injured for the past few years but when I was at the top of my game I beat Ronald a few times but the tactic didn’t work and Ronald was the better player on the day.”

In the second singles, Stephane Houdet of France upset Maikel Scheepers ranked No. 3 in the world 6-4, 6-1 to level the tie.

It was all down to the doubles and in a nail bighting encounter that took two and a half hours and finished late under lights, the Dutch team of Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink overcame Stephane Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to lift the title.

“It’s our first double win since 2006 and I am real proud of my team. The hard work has paid off and gelling as a team and fighting hard together especially in the men’s final was key to our success” said Dutch coach, Mark Kalkman.

The Dutch women team beat second seeded Germany 2-0 to win their 24th World Team Cup title.

Dutch and world number 1, Esther Vergeer extended her record match winning streak to 415 when she outplayed German’s Katharina Kruger 6-2, 6-0 in exactly an hour to lift the title for her country. Earlier, Dutch number two, Sharon Walraven overcame a second set scare to beat Sabine Ellerbrock 6-2, 7-5 to give the favourites the early lead. After comfortably winning the first set, Walvaren raced to a 5:3 lead in the second set and held three match points. But a strong fight back from Ellerbrock saw the set go to 5-5. Walvaren then regained her composure, winning the next two games and closed out the set and match.

“We are delighted to have won again” said Vergeer who missed lasts year’s event. “I am glad to be back in the team and be part of the spirit and camaraderie that makes this team event so special and different from the individual competition we are so used to play. Having our coach on court is a bonus and yes as a team we are very happy champions today.”

One day before the men’s and women’s final, defending champion Team USA, won the coveted wheelchair tennis title when they beat a spirited Israeli team 2:1. This is the seventh time that the American’s have captured the Quads title.

In the opening rubber, Israeli No. 2, Noam Gershony upset the world No. 4, Nick Taylor, 6-3, 6-2 to give his side the early lead. USA then leveled matters when world No. 1, David Wagner needed just 63 minutes to beat Shraga Weinberg, 6-3, 6-3. In the deciding double the Americans regarded as the world’s top Quads doubles pairing were far too strong for the Israeli’s. Taylor and Wagner, Paralympics gold medal winners trounced Gershony and Boaz Kramer 6-2, 6-0 to lift the title for USA.

“We are ecstatic over our victory” said Taylor. “This is the biggest event of the year for me personally and being part of the winning team is a real honour” continued Taylor.

Great Britain captured third place in the Quads section when they beat Canada, 2-1.

Meanwhile Japan’s men’s team celebrated their promotion to World Group 1 when they convincingly beat USA, 2-0, on Saturday to capture the World Group 2 title.