Para Pan Am Games - Team Event Day 1

Nov. 16, 2011, 9 a.m. (ET)

Today was the first day of the team event.

Our class 9-10 team with Tahl Leibovitz and Wayne Lo had 2 team matches. They won both team matches against Venezuela 3-1 and Puerto Rico 3-0 team, and advanced directly to the semifinal that will be played tomorrow at 4 pm. Wayne had a very interesting match that made the win against the Venezuela team possible. Wayne played the first match against the Venezuela team number one player that was a good player maybe around 2350 equivalent in USATT rating, and he played with a shake hands grip and he did not really have a chance. Against the number 2 player he changed everything and started to play penhold and won by playing very good and totally confused the opponent by 11-4, 11-0, 11-3. Tahl played him first and that was a pretty tough match 11-2, 11-7, 11-9.

In women wheelchair team class 1-3 where Tara Profitt and Pam Fontaine are defending Para Pan Am Table Tennis team Gold medalist from 2009. They played against Brazil which in general is the strongest PTT nation in Pan America where all their national team member are full-time professionals. USA won in a very tough match with 3-2. It went down to the 5th and final match, which in the new system is the doubles. They won in a very close doubles match with 10-12, 11-8, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7. To add to the drama in the final 5th game Pam accidentally hit the table  with her playing hand and started to bleed, and had to take an injury time out and bring in our medical staff on the field of play to tape her up, but they still won after that difficulty. 

In men's wheelchair team class 4-5 Emmanuel Shiu and Andre Scott were lined up to play the singles matches against Argentina, with Stu Caplin lined up to play doubles with Andre if the team match went to the final doubles match. Argentina has 2 very strong class 5 players that were both world ranked higher than Andre before the tournament started, and they also played with the class 3 Gold medalist from the day before. Andre won over both Argentina's class 5 players in the singles so therefore Argentina tried something new and played their class 3 gold medalist instead of one of their class 5 players. In class 3 the style is a little different they have less body movement than a class 5 players but the good class 3 players many times are able to compensates with a better defensive style or very good serves.

Argentinas strategy worked and their class 3 player took 2 wins both over Andre and Emmanuel. Andre won his first match in 5 games after being ahead 2-0 against the strongest class 5 player, but lost 3-1 against the Argentina class 3 player. Emmanuel is playing his first Para Pan Am Games and only his second international tournament. He has a lot of potential for the future and has only trained hard for 1.5 years, and has reached very far in a very short time with the help of many local coaches in the Bay area and his long distance coach Sean O'Neill that has a lot of experience with PTT athletes. It has been a tremendous learning experience for him to be part of the training camp in Colorado Springs (which is the first PTT national team training camp ever) and being part of the team at the games,and we will see more from Emmanuel in the future. 

The last of the teams is men's standing class 6-8 with Daryl Sterling and Chris Puls. They played a strong Brazil team, and lost 3-0. both Daryl and Chris are classified at 7 so for them to play against less disabled class 8 players is a tough competition. brazil played with 2 class 8 medalist from the day before in the singles. USA lost 3-0. Daryl lost both his matches 3-1 and put some pressure on the Brazilian players but was not able to pull through. 

The team event will continue tomorrow and our men class 4-5 team should have a good chance to win tomorrow and if so will continue to the semifinal that will also be played at 4 pm. The women's wheelchair team will play their second team match tomorrow at noon.

Keep cheering for USA from home,and please feel free to share this to anyone you think is interested in how USA is playing at the Games.