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2022 Para ITTF Costa Rica Open: Team USA Wins 5 Medals In The Last International Event Of The Year

(by: Vlad Farcas)

Over the last few days, US Para Athletes competed in the Para ITTF Costa Rica Open, this being the last international contest of 2022. The event was held in San Jose, and saw more than 80 athletes from 16 countries competing in 15 events including singles, doubles and mixed doubles. The US delegation was formed by 7 athletes and 1 coach: Zachary Wentz (Class 3), Zachary Pickett (Class 4), Samuel Altshuler (Class 6), Matt Weber (Class 7), Logan Watson and Muhammad Pirzada (Class 9), Valerie Rolph (Class 4) and Coach Vlad Farcas

In Men’s Singles Class 2-3 Zachary Wentz placed 3rd in his round robin. Coming in the event as the bottom seed he lost his first match against Luis Valencia (8,8,6) in a competitive encounter. In his following match he faced Steve Dunn of Canada, match which he won in straight sets (7,4,8). In the qualification match he saw Geovanni Rodriguez a much more experienced player, which he lost to 3 games to 0.

In Men’s Singles Class 4-5, Zachary Pickett placed 2nd in his round robin after straight games wins against WATTO (Canada) and Chaves (Costa Rica) and a great losing performance against WR#16 Martin of France. In the semi-final event Zach met Simon Heaps of Great Britain, a class 5 player (higher class than Zach so a less severe disability class) where he lost 3 games to 0, but nonetheless a great performance and a Bronze Medal for Zach Pickett.

In Men’s Singles Class 6-7, Matt Weber (class 7) placed second in his round robin after having a 1-1 record in the group stage. In the quarter-final match, Matt faced Miguel Castro of Columbia, match which Matt lost in 3 competitive sets. Samuel Altshuler (class 6) had a 4-player round robin, all class 7 players, he went 1-2 and didn’t make it our of the group stage, but the 14-year old showed great potential by being competitive with players that are in higher class.

In Men’s Singles Class 9, Muahamad Pirzada went 1-1 and the groups stage, while Logan Watson topped his group, which meant that the two US Players met in the quarterfinals. It was Watson that won the all-American encounter and went on to clinch GOLD in Men’s singles Class 9 over very impressive wins against WR#42 Letelier David of Chile in semifinals and Shaquille Rivera of Puerto Rico.

In Women’s Singles Class 4-5, three players competed in a round robin. US Player Valerie Rolph went 1-1 winning against Padilla of Costa Rica (2,4,8) and losing against Guapi Guzman of Columbia (6,1,0).

American players also won medals in Doubles Events: Zachary Pickett and Zachary Wentz started the MD8 Event as the bottom seeds and had 3 impressive upset victories to top their group. They went on to win semifinals against Canadian team, and ended up falling short in the final to clinch SILVER medal. In MD18 Prizada and Watson topped their group, won semifinal match and lost a very close final against pair from Czech Republic. In Mixed Doubles XD14-20, Logan Watson paired with Romania’s Camelia Ciripan. Together they won their group and went on to win semifinal but lost again Costa Rican pair in final stage.

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