WORLD TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS: COACHLESS U.S.A. TRIUMPHS OVER ICELAND
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May 19, 1997 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Team U.S.A., reeling from the resignation
of national coach Steve Butler and beset by service fault calls, defeated
Iceland 4 matches to 1 in the team's opening Group 4A fixture at badminton's
world mixed team championships (Sudirman Cup) in Glasgow, Scotland this
Butler, a former top English international player with several Grand Prix
tournament win under his belt who was widely expected to coach the U.S.A.'s
elite players until after the 2000 Olympic games, had tendered his resignation
recently after several rumoured incidents of interference by members of the
American badminton association board of directors over training methods.
Butler, whose resignation has not been accepted, is not coaching Team U.S.A.
at this world championships. Tom Reidy, Butler's assistant, is handling the
team as well as playing in the men's doubles.
Reidy is also said to have resigned and is reportedly headed to Sweden to
play and coach.
In today's bets-of-five matches fixture against Iceland, Mike Edstrom and
Eileen Tang staged a stirring comeback against Arne Thor Hallgrimson and Drifa
Hardardottir in the mixed doubles match to stake Team U.S.A. to a one-match
Edstrom and Tang had dropped the first game 8-15 and were on the edge of
defeat in the second game as the Icelanders got to match point. Spirited
all-court play by Edstrom and steady defense and netplay from Tang got the
Americans back into the game at 14-all. Hallgrimson and Hardardottir again
got the advantage in the three-point tiebreak but Edstrom continued to cover
the open corners to defend against the mixture of drops and thundering smashes
from the aptly-named Thor Hallgrimson. Edstrom also scored with smashes to
Hardardottir. The Americans took the second in the tiebreak 17-16.
In the third game, the bulky Hallgrimson seemed to have lost some of his
power and mobility. Edstrom and Tang took the decider 15-8.
Kevin Han then took on Tryggvi Nielsen in a men's singles match. The
lefthanded and lanky Han easily won the first game 15-4 with better mobility
and a wider array of shots that included steeply-angled sliced straight and
Nielsen came back strong in the opening points of the second game as Han
struggled with his control. Nielsen got to a 7-2 lead before Han was able to
assert his game. A tight net shot brought Han close to Nielsen at 6-7. Then
a crosscourt halfsmash gained Han a tie at 7-all.
The two swapped leads until 9-all. At this point, Han's game really started
to click as he found and exploited Nielsen's defensive weaknesses. Straight
smashes to the Icelander's forehand mixed with crosscourt smashes,
surprise round-the-head smashes preceded by several preparatory clears and
drops brought Han to game point at 14-10 and a Nielsen net shot error gave
Han the victory at 15-10.
In the following women's singles match, Swedish-born Andrea Edstrom showed
her great potential with her court coverage and shotmaking. She raced to a
3-0 lead against Vigdis Asgeirsdottir before the Icelandic lady was able to
Asgeirsdottir pulled even and got a short-lived lead as Edstrom seemed to
tire, specially when Asgeirsdottir began to attack Edstrom's rear backhand
corner. Edstrom elected to reply with tiring round-the-head shots instead of
backhand clears and drops, and Asgeirsdottir capitalized with some points.
Edstrom though still was too quick and mobile for the robustly built
Asgeirsdottir. Edstrom cleared and dropped her way to an 11-7 first game
Edstrom was in complete control in the second, winning at 11-4.
Edstrom's victory clinched the fixture for Team U.S.A. with 3 matches won.
The men's doubles match provided some controversy as the American duo of
Tom Reidy and Ignatius Rusli were repeatedly called for service faults for
striking the shuttle on the serve with the racket head not completely
below the wrist.
The service faults got to the Americans as they kept losing their service
turn. Reidy was given a misconduct warning as he loudly complained about one
particular service fault call. Rusli for a while began to serve with a
forehand motion instead of his usual backhand serve.
Icelanders Broddi Kristiansson and Arni Thor Hallgrimsson took advantage of
the distracted Americans to take the first game 15-9.
Reidy and Rusli adjusted their serves somewhat in the second, although they
were both hesitant and slow to move after the serve, perhaps concentrating
too much on their service motion.
The service fault calls also got to the Icelanders. Although they were not
faulted, Kristiansson and Hallgrimsson's service motions were also hesitant
and their serves would often find the net or go short.
Reidy and Rusli got their attack game going in the second. The Americans
also worked as a team rotating in and out of the attacking position and
filling the empty spaces.
The Icelanders on the other hand got their signals mixed several times,
leaving open spots for the Americans to land the shuttle on the floor.
Reidy and Rusli took the second 15-5.
The Icelanders got their game going again in the third, racing to a 5-1 lead.
Reidy and Rusli then fought back to seize the lead at 6-5 and at 7-6.
However, another service fault call incensed a frustrated Reidy. As he was
asking the service judge whether he was expected to serve with the racket
head perpendicular to the floor, the umpire gave Reidy a second misconduct
warning and awarded a point to the Icelanders, putting Kristiansson and
Hallgrimsson even at 7-all.
The Icelanders then scored two more quick points as the Americans again lost
their focus due to the officiating.
Reidy though settled his side down momentarily and they got the two points
back to tie at 9-all.
In the end, though, the point deduction and service faults took their toll
on the Americans' concentration. Reidy and Rusli lost the third 12-15.
In the final match - the women's doubles, the service fault calls had their
effect. The American player Tang Yeping was called several times for serving
above the waist, while Andrea Edstrom was so overcareful of her serve that
she popped the shuttle over the net with enough height for the receiver to
The Icelandic pair of Vigdis Asgeirsdottir and Birna Peterson were not
immune to the service fault calls. They lost several service turns for serving
with the racket not completely below the wrist.
Despite the distractions of the service faults, Tang and Edstrom were too
fast for the Icelanders. Tang was very effective at net, scoring several times
with tricky crosscourt netshots that surprised her opposite number.
Tang and Edstrom won the women's doubles 15-6 and 15-7 to end the fixture and
to post one win in Group 4A of the world mixed team championships.
The Americans, being in Group 4A, are not playing for the title. They are
vying for promotion to Group 3. Only the countries in Group 1 - China,
Indonesia, Korea, Denmark, England and Sweden - are playing for the world
mixed team championships.
The teams in Group 1 and Group 2 see action starting tomorrow, Tuesday.
Results of fixtures today:
Pakistan beat Guatemala 3 matches to 2
Sri Lanka beat Slovenia 4-1
South Africa beat Mauritius 4-1
Israel beat Jamaica 3-2
Lithuania beat Chile 5-0
Armenia beat Greece 3-2
Poland beat Bulgaria 5-0
USA beat Iceland 4-1
Wales beat Czech Republic 4-1
Ukraine beat Switzerland 5-0
France beat Portugal 3-2
Belarus beat Belgium 5-0
Ireland beat Peru 4-1
Spain beat Kazakhstan 5-0
(results not yet available)
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