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Soldan, Welch and Rydberg prevail on day two of the Parapan American Games

November 14, 2011 04:05 PM
Mackenzie Soldan has been on a tear in Guadalajara at the 2011 ParaPanAm Games, winning her first two matches.
Rydbergs power shines through on his second set serve
Welch thanks a ball kid after his victory on Monday
By Jeremiah Yolkut, Special to USTA.com
GUADALAJARA, Mexico - Mackenzie Soldan of Louisville, Ken. returned to international competitive tennis action for the first time in over a year, when she took the court at the Parapan American Games on Monday.
Soldan a long-time wheelchair tennis team member has been busy the past year focusing her efforts on her education and college basketball at the University of Alabama. While tennis is only part of her busy schedule these days, Soldan’s passion for the game is alive and well.
The sophomore was first up for Team USA on Center Court at the Telcel Tennis Center in the first round of the women’s competition. She came out strong taking the first game and showing her fiery nature against the hometown favorite. Her veteran opponent, Claudia Taobada of Mexico battled back and forth with her and wouldn’t give the young American any room to use her speed to overtake her veteran skills. Soldan and Taobada continued trading games and ultimately pushed the set to a tie-breaker. Soldan took the first game, but soon allowed Taobada to take control and lost the tie breaker and set 6-7(5).
Things were about to change for Soldan as the sun gripped the stadium and the temperature started to rise as the second set began. Soldan came out a little timid, dropping the first game and letting the first set disappointment carry-over. It was in the second game that Soldan turned it on, pushing to the ball and hitting through it. She took the next three out of four games and held of Taobada’s small rally, assuring the deciding third set with a 6-4 victory.
In the third, Soldan started with a bang, taking advantage of Taobada’s diminishing strength and many errors. The young American took the first three games in dominating fashion and cruised the rest of the set to a 6-2 victory.
It was Soldan’s first ever international win at a multi-sport event. She was thrilled as she rolled off the court and gave a small fist pump to the crowd after her long tiring match. As she ate lunch with her fellow teammates after the match she commented, "I definitely earned that one and it feels good."
The afternoon brought two second round matches for the US men at the Telcel Tennis Center. First up was Steve Welch in his Parapan American debut. Welch is a wheelchair tennis veteran, but he had never competed at these games until today. Four years ago in Rio he was taking a break from tennis and focusing on family.

The wily veteran came out a bit rusty against another hometown favorite, Rolando Avila. Welch struggled to find his rhythm in the first set, allowing Avila to gain momentum and make the higher ranked American look slow and inconsistent. They traded games throughout the set and at times Welch looked like the Paralympic Champion of yesteryear.  But it wasn’t until Avila threatened Welch at 5-5, that the competitive spirit came out and Welch finished the crafty Mexican, 7-5.

In the second set it was much of the same as Welch was not himself, giving Avila chances to stay in the match and hang around. In the end Welchs’ mistakes would not overshadow his pure strength and speed as he took the set and match, 6-3.

In the late afternoon, Jon Rydberg took to the outside courts at the Telcel Tennis Center for his second round match against Daniel Rodrigues of Brazil. Rydberg looked confident on day two of the competition, bringing his power game to the young Brazilian. He made quick work of Rodrigues dispatching him in the first set, 6-2. The second set was much of the same as Rodrigues hit some big balls, but was ultimately over-powered by Rydberg’s speed and accuracy. The American took the second set, 6-2.

Rydberg was dominant all match long, looking sharp and skilled in his solid performance. After the match Rydberg commented, "This was the type of match I needed, he hit big balls and allowed me to get into the power game and hit bigger returns." Rydberg will definitely need that "A" game tomorrow as #1 seed, Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina will come ready to play.


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