World Veterans Tour Event Shines in Sunny Florida
By Michael Reff
From October 17-20, seasoned table tennis players aged 40 and older, from countries such as USA, China Japan, Israel, Canada, and more, battled it out for glory, and, even more importantly, friendship in the World Veterans Championship hosted by the Broward TTC in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
This tournament was the third event this year in the ITTF World Veterans Tour, the previous tournaments being held in Shenzhen, China; Austria; and Townsville, Australia. The final two championships in the 6-event tour will occur in Doha, Qatar; and Cardiff, Wales, respectively.
Over the span of four days, more than 30 events were played out, in accordance with different age groups, men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, as well as mixed doubles events. A plethora of notable USATT fixtures secured gold medals in numerous events.
For example, 2 time US Olympian, US National Coach, and USATT Hall of Fame Inductee Lily Yip won top honors in the 50-59 Women’s, 40-59 Women’s, the Women’s Champion of Champions event, Women’s Doubles 40-59 with partner Hui Huang of Canada, as well as semi-finalist in the mixed doubles 50-59 event with partner Gary Osmanoff.
In addition to Yip, the “Ping Pong Man” himself, Scott Preiss, likewise a prominent US National Coach and USATT Hall of Famer, “won the Gold medal with a Longtime friend Santos Shih in the 60-64 Mens Doubles, although this was the first time playing doubles with Santos.” Preiss also said he “was impressed with the playing conditions and venue for the tournament.” Although he acknowledged that the tournament didn’t reach the amount of entries they had wanted to obtain, he “would certainly consider attending this tournament again.”
Jorge Vanegas has a more behind the scenes observation of how the tournament went (The following quotations are translations from Spanish to English by the writer of this article with the interviewee’s permission). Vanegas is a wearer of many hats, acting as an official and umpire once the tournaments are under way, but he also “participated in all tournament assembly from unloading the trucks with the equipment to installing the flooring, carrying barriers, taking out tables, carrying towel boxes, etc.”
He goes on to say that he,
“had many favorite moments… more than anything the friendship and camaraderie that was made present among the players to support each other in the time of the decisive matches. It was customary upon finishing each match, to take a photo as a memento among the two participants and pairs, followed by hugs and big smiles. I believe that this has been what has given this event a different and unique touch in comparison with other events I have been a participant”
A hearty congratulations to all the participants, crew, and spectators that made this great event a success! Lasting memories were surely made on and off the table.