30 Jun 2018

Present at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year in April, Canada’s Ian Kent alongside Japan’s Masachika Inoue and the host nation’s Jerry Vasquez upset the order of merit to secure titles in the standing categories on Friday 29th June at the 2018 United States Para Open in Las Vegas.

Notably for Jerry Vasquez it was title regained, he had won in 2016 when the tournament was also staged in Las Vegas; for Ian Kent and Masachika Inoue it was their first such titles at the now well established event.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

Arguably, the biggest upset was that caused by Jerry Vasquez. Competing in Men’s Singles Class 10, he started proceedings as the lowest rated player in the group organised event; against the odds he finished in top spot remaining unbeaten throughout. Top seed, Chile’s Manuel Echaveguren concluded play in runners up spot.

However, pride of place goes to Ian Kent, a player whose surname reflects the part of the world in which he was born. He hails from Welling, a suburb of Greater London and for sporting events allies to the county of Kent. The county is divided by the River Medway; if you are born east of the river, you are a “Kentish Man”, if to the west you are a “Man of Kent”; Welling is to the west.

In Las Vegas, the “Man of Kent”, the no.2 seed beat Colombia’s Diego Henao in the final (10-12, 10-12, 13-11, 13-11, 11-6), having in the penultimate round ousted Australia’s Nathan Pellissier, the top seed (11-9, 11-6, 15-13).

Success to some extent against the odds for Jerry Vasquez and Ian Kent; for Masachika Inoue, the no.2 seed, it was somewhat as anticipated, the previous day, colleague Kazuya Kaneko, the top seed, had withdrawn from proceedings. In hard fought final, Masachika Inoue beat Colombia’s José Vargas (11-9, 10-12, 11-4, 11-8) to reserve the top step of the podium.

“I am very happy to win. The organisation is great, I won gold, so it could not be better. I need to keep my game on high level and I will try to play as many tournaments as possible in order to increase my rating and qualify for Tokyo 2020. Unfortunately I have not qualified for World Championship in Slovenia but I will give my best to qualify for Paralympics. I will have a huge advantage playing at home, in front of my audience, so I really want to make it!” Masachika Inoue

Otherwise in the standing categories it was success for the top seeds.

Tal Leibovitz of the United States won Men’s Singles Class 10 beating Japan’s Koyo Iwabuchi in the final (11-9, 12-10, 11-13, 11-5); also from the host nation, Raymond Sacco emerged in first place in a group organised Class 11 event. Thailand’s Narongsak Paengjal finished in second position.

Meanwhile, in Women’s Singles Class 8, likewise a group administered competition, the host nation also claimed gold. Zu Mingyu finished in first place; the silver medal was won by Japan’s Megumi Hirokane.

The individual events complete; attention now turns to the team competitions; play concludes on Saturday 30th June.

2018 United States Para Open: Results and Draws

Paralympics Para Table Tennis Masachika Inoue Jerry Vasquez Ian Kent