(By Vlad Farcas, Photo courtesy of Antonio Alvarez)
Between March 24th and 26th, US players competed at the 2022 ITTF Para Spanish Open in Platja d’Oro, Girona, Spain. The 7 players that competed where: Jenson Van Emburgh, Zachary Wentz (Men’s Class 3), Zachary Pickett, Ahad Sarand (Men’s Class 5) Samuel Altshuler (Men’s Class 6) Marko Makkar (Men’s Class 8) and Raymond Sacco (Men’s Class 11) alongside coach Vlad Farcas.
Jenson Van Emburgh was the top seed of the Men’s Class 3 Singles event. Jenson had a stellar performance and won the event without dropping a single game throughout the entire Singles Tournament. He had few noticeable wins against: Petr Svatos (Czech Republic) -group stage; Collin Judge (Irleand)- semifinals and Nalepka (Poland) – final.
Ahad Sarand, started the Men’s Singles class 5 as the #6 seed and met in the group stage seed #1 and World Ranked #9 Kim (Korea). Ahad, had one of the best performances of his career and upset the odds by beating the Korean player in 4 sets to take the #1 seed spot on the main draw. Furthermore, he met in Semifinals, the Belgian player World Ranked #13, Brands (Belgium). Sarand beat the odds again and won 3 games to 1 after a very close match. In the Final, Ahad fell to Swedish player Olssen score 3 to 1.
Pickett, Wentz, and Altshuler, all part of the US Para Developmental Team made their debut on international stage all falling in the group stage but showing great potential to improve. Their participation to such a big event helped them understand different parts of the game that they must work on to improve. Their goal is to follow the footsteps of the more experienced American Para players.
For Makkar and Sacco, the draws weren’t as friendly as they met top world players, but they represented US Table Tennis very well and we are so proud of them.
GOLD IN DOUBLES
The 2022 Spanish Open was the first event that replaced the traditional Teams Event with Doubles and Mixed Doubles event, this format being the new Paralympic Format that will be introduced in all major events including Paris 2024 Paralympics.
Ahad Sarand and Jenson Van Emburgh, made a great team to win gold in Men’s Wheelchair Class 8. They’ve won the semifinal match score 3-1 against Polish team and 3-0 in the Finals against the mixed association team composed by France and Croatia.
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