World Team Cup in Korea

Shelby arrives in Korea for the 2012 BNP Paribas World Team Cup

The last week of May was exciting as the US Juniors fought to reach the finals of the 2012 BNP Paribas World Team Cup held in Seoul, Korea. Shelby joined up with teammates Chris Herman from Florida and Kate Stuteville from Texas to beat the top seed Great Britain, and claim second place in the junior division.

The tournament started on Sunday, May 20th with the Opening Ceremony at the Seoul Olympic Park Tennis Center, which hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Korea. Shelby had arrived a couple days before to warm-up and adjust to the weather and altitude changes. Play began the next day and the US Juniors had a great start by defeating Russia 3-0 in the round robin format. The next day would be tougher as they faced the Netherlands, seeded second in the draw.

First up, Shelby played Jeroen Staman, and struggled to win a game in the first set. But, she never gave up, and won four games in a row in the second set to lead 4-3. Unfortunately, her opponent kept his composure and finished the match 6-0, 6-4. Chris Herman had a more exciting match by taking the deciding match to three sets. However, he, too, lost in the third set tie-breaker: 7-6 (9), 4-6, 6-7 (4). Chris and Shelby quickly recovered and played the final doubles match against Diede De Groot and Thomas Zomerdijk. Their final score was 6-4, 3-6, 10-8.

Shelby and Kate celebrate a point against Mexico in the doubles ©Jeremiah Yolkut

The third day decided whether or not the US Juniors would advance to the semi-finals. Shelby played Lizbeth Alondra Soto Rivera of Mexico, and dropped only one game in the second set to win 6-0, 6-1. Chris was up next, and also finished easily 6-1, 6-1. Shelby played the doubles with Kate and they won to guarantee a spot in the semis against Great Britain–the top seed in the tournament.

Shelby had beat her opponent five months before in the Junior Masters in France, but she didn’t let it unsettle her. Winning against Great Britain would give them another chance to play the Dutch in the finals; Shelby and her teammates were focused on winning the match. She took care of business and won against Lauren Jones 6-1, 6-0. Next, Chris played the top ranked Junior in the tournament, Alfie Hewett. Although Chris played well, he was unable to clinch the victory and lost 4-6, 2-6. It was up to the doubles match.

Going in as the underdogs, Shelby and Chris had nothing to lose. They fought hard to win the first set 6-4. But, as they started to relax, the match slipped away for a little while, and they quickly lost the second 3-6. As teammates from both the US and Great Britain started filling up the audience, Chris and Shelby started to get nervous.

Shelby stretches out for a backhand against Great Britain ©Jeremiah Yolkut

But they remained calm and listened to their Coach, John Devorss, who told them to “Believe”. The third set 10 point tie-breaker had a quick start, and the Americans found themselves at a disadvantage of 2-4. They needed to believe they could win the match, and they did. Their final score was 6-4, 3-6, 10-7.

The day of the finals Shelby went in for a rematch against Jeroen, and played well during the first set. Unfortunately, her opponent also played better that day and she lost 3-6, 0-6. Chris felt a heavy burden on his shoulders as he had to face Carlos Anker again in the deciding match. Even though both sets were extremely close, he lost in two tie-break sets: 6-7(5), 6-7(3).

Shelby shows her silver medal after the closing ceremony for the Junior Division

The Americans lost in the finals, but they found reasons to celebrate their progress throughout the week. They had placed second overall, which was the US Juniors’ best finish since 2003. And, they had the best results out of all the Americans; the Quads finished third, the women finished sixth, and the men finished seventh.

The Saturday after Shelby returned from Korea, she graduated with Honors from Punahou School. She’ll start up at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the fall. In the meantime, she’s hitting the courts and going to the weight room to train for her next tournament.