The World Team Cup by BNP Paribas was held this week in Alghero, Sardinia. Canada was represented by a formidable trio, including paralympian Rob Shaw (Kelowna, BC), Mitch McIntyre (Vancouver, BC), and Gary Luker (Stoney Creek, ON) in the quad event. The World Team Cup is the wheelchair tennis equivalent of the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup. The event was held for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Canadian squad was led by captain Kai Schrameyer, who was presented with the 2020 Brad Parks Award, an honour given to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the development of wheelchair tennis on the international scene. A total of 8 countries participated in the competition and were divided into two pools in a round robin format. Canada (7th seed) found itself in a challenging group which featured the United States (2nd), Japan (3rd), and Brazil (5th). It was a big challenge for our Canadians who wanted to improve on their 2019 ranking of 6th place.
Unfortunately, Canada did not fare well in their first matchups of the tournament. In the opener, the team lost 3-0 to the powerful Americans, who only lost one set in three matches. However, the battle was tighter against Japan. Although Canada suffered another 3-0 loss, two of the three matches were decided in the third set and provided some great play for the fans on the Italian island. Despite the loss, the momentum clearly shifted to the Canadian side and that renewed energy translated into a 2-1 win over Brazil in the final encounter of the qualifying round.
Shaw, ranked no. 22 in the world, performed really well by winning his singles match 6-2, 6-2 against world no. 8 Ymanitu Silva. He then went on to win the doubles match with Luker in three sets of 6-3, 6-7(1), 10-8.
With a 1-2 record in round robin play, Canada found itself in a three-way tie with Japan and Brazil. However, due to the tiebreak rules that determine which teams are eligible for the playoffs, Canada finished fourth in their group and were eliminated from contention for the top prize. After another 2-0 loss to Great Britain, the Shaw-McIntyre-Luker trio ended the competition on a positive note with a 2-0 victory over Turkey.
Canada finished seventh overall and missed the chance to earn direct qualification for the 2022 World Team Cup (only the top six nations get this privilege). However, nothing is lost for Team Canada as it will have the chance to regain its place among the world’s elite in the next qualification tournament.
Who will win the final?
It will be a close battle until the end and it’s difficult to predict who the next world champion will be. Having each triumphed over every opponent so far, the Netherlands (11-0) and the United States (10-1) will meet in the final over the next few hours in a clash of the titans. The top-seeded Netherlands will rely on a powerful duo that upset Japan, the 2019 winning nation, in Sam Schröder (world no. 2) and Niels Vink (world no. 3). For their part, the second-seeded Americans, featuring David Wagner (world no. 4), Bryan Barten (world no. 9), and Nick Taylor (world no. 14), should not be underestimated despite their underdog status in this matchup.
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