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A Calling From Above Helped Pull Terranova Out Of Retirement

By Richard Finn | Aug. 08, 2019, 10:35 a.m. (ET)

Terese Terranova table tennis




By Richard Finn


A calling from above helped pull USATT Hall of Famer (Class of 2013) Terese Terranova out of retirement for the Parapan American Games starting later this month in Peru nearly twenty years after her last competitive match.


“You asked that question of "WHY" come back now, after "19" years of not competing?” said Terranova, whose last competitive match was in the quarterfinals of the 2000 Para Olympics in Australia.   


 “Each year someone from the Para association would call and say, wouldn't you like to do it one more time? I always replied, ‘I fulfilled my dreams for myself, Marty and my country’, now its time to give back,” Terranova said of her coach and companion for 36 years Marty Prager.


“When they called this year and said the trials would be in Florida at the US Open so why don't you compete and then decide? Even though Marty passed in 2016, we talk all the time. So I asked him to send me a sign  (in his own way that is special to me) and HE said, "Go for it"...One more time!!! Not for me but for "YOU"...”she explained. 


Terranova has been a decorated and accomplished player wearing the USA colors through her career – a double gold medal in the in Seoul Korea 1988 Paralympics, a bronze medalist in the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta (Games) and former World Champion. So despite the long layoff Terranova has not lost her competitive drive.


“I will be playing singles and teams in Peru and the competitive animal will give it her best shot to show, It doesn't matter how young or old you are, it's the dedication, passion and love of what you do, and always believing in yourself!” Terranova said of the competition that runs from Aug 23-Sept 1 in Lima.  


“I don't know if anyone has competed at my 72 years old (and proud of it!!!). Or coaches 5 to 8 hours a day 7 days a week,” said Terranova who was paralyzed from the waist down in a November 1971 car crash.


Terranova has not been idle in her “retirement” from competition.


“That last match, I put my racket down on the table knowing that the next time I picked it up, it would be to dedicate my new life's beginning to teaching and giving back all that I had learned from not only my upbringing as a child, but from my coach, mentor and love of my life, Marty Prager. Plus all the experiences I had encountered in that incredible part of my life’s journey,” said Terranova, who runs the Broward Table Tennis Club near her hometown of Dania Beach, Florida.


“My time right now is so consumed with summer camps, our regular tournaments, everyday lessons and another huge event our club has taken on, which is the World Veterans Tour in October,” said Terranova, who is also a member of the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame.


“All eyes will be on us to give the world players a fabulous experience at the tournament and a wonderful time in the sunshine state of FLORIDA! We (the Broward Table Tennis Center) want you to also keep your eyes out for many new endeavors we are working on (for all ages and levels) to raise the level of table tennis in the US.”