(by Steve Hopkins, photo USATT)
TeamUSA has a long history of success in major para events, so they entered the Andalucia 2022 World Para Table Tennis Championships with high expectations.
The big story of the tournament for TeamUSA was Jenson Van Emburgh in Men’s Singles Class 3. Jenson had a tight 3-2 win over Ireland’s Colin Judge. Jenson then topped Egypt’s Ramadan Ibraham 3-0 in the Quarters and Thailand’s Yuttajak Glinbanchuen 3-0 in the Semifinals. Waiting for Jenson in the Finals was Thomas Schmidberger of Germany, a multi-time World Champion. Schmidberger started fast winning the first game 11-3 and the second 11-5. But Jenson found his pace in the third game, and the last two games were dead even with Jenson winning the third Game 11-8, and then losing the final game 11-9.
In Men’s Singles Class 6, USA’s Ian Seidenfeld won a pair of matches before falling to Thailand’s Rungroj Thainiyom 1-3 in the Quarterfinals. Thainiyom went on to lose in the Final 3-2 to Matteo Parenzan of France. USA’s Tahl Leibovitz fell in the Round of 16 in Men’s Singles Class 9 – a 1-3 loss to Japan’s Koyo Iwabuchi. In Women’s Singles Class 4, Valerie Ann Rolph had a tough time in a 0-3 loss to France’s Flora Vautier. USA’s Pamela Fontaine won the first game over Italy’s Michela Brunelli before falling 1-3 in Women’s Singles Class 3.
Seidenfeld and Leibovitz won their opening round in Men’s Doubles Class MD18 and then fell in the Quarters to a French team. Fontaine and Rolph teamed up in Women’s Doubles Class WD10 but fell in the Round of 16 to an Indian team. Van Emburgh and Fontaine teamed up in Mixed Doubles XD7 but fell in the Round of 16 to a team from Thailand.
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