First staged in September 2007 when some two hundred players competed; following an enforced three-year absence owing to the pandemic, the entry for the Lignano Masters Para Open 2023, the 13th edition, is as strong as ever.
Factor 20 for world ranking purposes, the three-day tournament, starting on Wednesday 15th March, presents a truly global line up.
Overall, the names of almost 300 players from 34 member associations appear on the entry list.
Taking advantage from playing the previous week in the not too far distant Costa Brava, players from Australia in the southern hemisphere, to Iceland in north compete, as do those from the Korea Republic in the east to the United States in the west; not to be omitted in a veritable worldwide gathering, Nigeria flies the flag for Africa.
Local eyes will very much focus on Matteo Parenzan and Giada Rossi; at the Andalucia 2022 World Para Championships, both struck gold, Matteo Parenzan in men’s singles class 6, Giada Rossi in women’s singles class 2.
Only 19 years old, Matteo Parenzan is a name for the future, in every tournament gaining experience. At the recent ITTF Costa Brava Para Open, silver was the reward. He was beaten by the voice of experience, Denmark’s 38-year-old Peter Rosenmeier, the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games champion and Lasko 2018 World champion.
Successful in Andalucia and present in Lignano, also the names of Poland’s Dorota Buclaw (class 1) and Hungary’s Alexa Svitacs (class 9) appear on the women’s entry list as does that of Alexandra Saint-Pierre (class 5) and French colleague Lea Ferney (class 11). Notably Lea Ferney won on the Costa Brava.
Major contenders for honours, similarly in the men’s singles there are elite participants, Frenchmen, Fabien Lamirault (class 2) and Belgium’s Laurens Devos (class 9) compete, both are reigning Paralympic Games and World Para champions.
Last week on the Costa Brava, Fabien Lamirault struck gold as did five further players who appear on the Lignano men’s singles entry list. Korea Republic’s Kim Hakjin (class 1), alongside Japan’s Kazuki Shichino (class 4) all enjoyed success as did Brazil’s Israel Stroh (class 7), Frenchman Mateo Boheas (class 10) and Belgium’s Florian Van Acker (class 11).
The names underline the esteem in which the Lignano Para Open is held but if there is one name that underlines that fact, it is that of Serbia’s Borislava Peric-Rankovic (class 4). She was present in the inaugural gathering in 2007, including women’s singles and women’s team she is the proud owner of no less than 13 Lignano titles.
Similarly for the men, Frenchman Emeric Martin endorses the Lignano status. He has been competing internationally for 25 years, was present in 2007; now again he appears 16 years later.
Talent abundant, the list is seemingly endless; Great Britain’s Rob Davies and Korea Republic’s Joo Youngdae, respective men’s singles class 1 gold medallists at the most recent Paralympic Games compete, as does Hungary’s Peter Palos, the class 11 winner in both 2012 and 2020.
Meanwhile Poland’s Natalia Partyka, arguably the most successful Para player of all time, commencing in 2004 in Beijing, the women’s singles class 10 gold medallist on four consecutive occasions, plies her skills.
Play commences with the men’s singles and women’s singles events.