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Team USA Falls to Spain
All content © 2002 Squashtalk

By Rob Dinerman October 18

also Bronstein's on-the-scene report.

With their demoralizing 2-1 loss this afternoon to a Spain team they were favored to defeat, the members of the American team entry in the 2002 Women's World Team Championships in Odense, Denmark, seem to be in free-fall as a week that began with promise and optimism is ending on a very down note.

This was the third time that the U. S. lost an important team meet by a
2-1 margin, and, like a baseball team whose pitchers are yielding too many
runs when their hitters are scoring and whose hitters are collectively
slumping when its pitchers are performing, the Americans have not been able
to have all its members play well at the same time. Julia Beaver's win over
her Hong Kong opponent at No. 3 in the early-week Pools preliminary was not
enough to make up for the losses by the Khan sisters, Latasha and Shabana, in
the top two slots.

Shabana's hard-fought dead rubber win over Canadian star Margo Green in
the quarter-final battle between these two North American countries in the
9-16 tourney came too late to undo the damage Green's teammates Lauren Wagner and Melani Jans had already inflicted respectively on Beaver and Latasha, who has never defeated Jans in a rivalry that extends back to their junior days more than a decade ago, and whose five-game loss yesterday was her second in six weeks (preceded by their Pan Am Fed gold-medal match, also a route-goer, in Ecuador, though Jans led two games to love in that earlier match before having to rally from 1-2 down this time after dropping a 10-9 third-game tiebreaker.

Finally, Latasha played beautifully today, rebounding from a first-game
tiebreaker loss to sweep through her last three games against her Spanish
opponent, Elisabet Sado, only to have this effort more than nullified when
Beaver suffered a 9-0 opening-game thrashing from which she never recovered
in her 3-0 defeat at the hands of Laia Sans and Shabana couldn't seal the deal after taking a two games to one lead over Olga Puigdemont Sola, who rallied through the decisive final pair of games, 9-7 and 9-3. Shabana has been off her best form all week, and when her bid for the close fourth game came up barely short, she had neither the energy nor the confidence to contest the fifth game against the recent (2002) Cornell alumna and all-American.

The victorious Spaniards will now oppose France tomorrow for 13th place overall, while the deflated Americans, who were seeded 12th and have now lost
to lower seeds Hong Kong (# 13) and Spain (#17), as well as Scotland, Canada
and Egypt, will vie for the Nos. 15/16 slots with the host Danes, who lost 2-1 to France earlier today.

The championship match will feature the same two powerhouses, top-seeded Australia and defending champion England, who had landed in every edition of this biennial competition since 1992. The Aussies, led by world No. 1 Sara Fitz-Gerald, maintained extended to five their run of 3-0 team victories by subduing Egypt in one semi-final, while the British overcame the 3-0 loss suffered by Linda Charman to Carol Owens at No. 1 by gaining wins at the remaining two spots by British Open finalist Tania Bailey over Shelley Kitchen at No. 2 and Stephanie Brind over Lara Petera at No. 3.

England's superior depth was the difference, which causes one to wonder what
would have happened if two-time British Open champion Leilani Joyce, who had
been expected to play behind Owens in the Kiwi line-up, hadn't announced her
retirement just weeks before the tournament began.


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