Staged in the traditional home of Buenos Aires from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th October, the ITTF Fa20 Copa Tango will celebrate its 20th edition and become the Para table tennis tournament with the longest history.
The event will reach new heights on this occasion, welcome its biggest ever entry, with a total of 141 players.
The tournament was initiated by the CEDIMA club as a test event for the first Para Pan American Championships held later in 2001; following the inaugural edition Vitaliano Brandoli took charge, a man who impressed Pablo Perez, the ITTF Para Table Tennis Events and Classification Manager, when they met.
“I was there in 2016 for the first time and I met Vitaliano Brandoli. I was able to witness the passion and care that he put in every edition considering the limited resources that they usually have. Unfortunately, Vitaliano passed away five years ago but Argentina can be proud today that his legacy still lives on.” Pablo Perez
The inaugural Copa Tango was staged in July 2001, when 62 players from three countries participated; including individual and team events Argentina and Brazil each won 10 titles, two finished in Chilean hands.
One of the titles was won by Ricardo Perdiguero, he secured gold in men’s team class 4-5 alongside Luis Ferreyra, the player against whom earlier he had experienced defeat in the men’s singles class 5 final. Nowadays he is the President of the Argentina Para Table Tennis Federation.
Vitaliano Brandoli at the helm, success for Ricardo Perdiguero, the man delegated to ensure a smooth operation by fulfilling the role of Competition Manager was Leandro Olvech, nowadays the Director of the ITTF Foundation. He is a major reason why the tournament is named Copa Tango, not Copa Buenos Aires or Copa Argentina!
“The Copa Tango was born out of needs and made with immense effort, love and passion. These three factors played a pivotal role in the development of Para table tennis in Argentina; as well as the region, I feel proud of being part of that history as the former Competition Director. Congratulations to those who have tirelessly organised the Copa Tango year after year, making it bigger and better, to the Argentina Table Tennis Federation, the CEDIMA club, where I started as a volunteer coach when I was 14 years old and opened my eyes to a new world. I will always remember them as I literally have their logo tattooed on my heart. Sometimes I think that probably I wouldn´t be working for the ITTF Group without that beginning on my early years.” Leandro Olvech
A link with the inaugural tournament, it is the same for this year’s Competition Manager; the role is fulfilled by Brazil’s Edimilson Pinheiro, Chair of the ITTF Para Table Tennis Committee. In 2001 at the Copa Tango, he won the men’s singles class 9 title as well as the men’s singles open standing category; in the final of class 9, the player he beat was João Nascimento, he competes this year.
Also, from Brazil Iranildo Espindola and Ercildo Oliveria compete. In 2001, Iranildo Espindola won men’s class 1-2, Ercildo Oliveira was the runner up in men’s singles class 4.
Likewise, Argentina’s Gabriel Copola and Giselle Muñoz ply their skills. At the inaugural tournament Gabriel Copola emerged the men’s singles class 4 runner up; Gizelle Muñoz won both women’s singles class 10 and women’s open standing.
All are major contenders for honours, as is one young player not even born when the first edition was held. Brazil’s 15-year-old Sophia Kelmer, bronze medallist in women’s singles class 8 at the Andalucia 2022 World Para Championships, defends her title.
She was born in 2007, the year in which Costa Rica’s Domingo Arguello won men’s singles class 6, he returns this year in search of repeat success.
Additionally, Thais Severo, also from Brazil, the women’s singles class 2-5 winner one year ago, will once again be on duty, as will six of her male counterparts all aiming to effect successful title defences.
Cuba’s Yunier Fernandez, the class 1 winner last year, competes as does Argentina’s Elias Romero in class 5 and Alejando Perez in class 8.
Meanwhile, from neighbouring Chile, Luis Bustamente will be seeking repeat success in class 2, a situation that applies to his compatriots Cristian Gonzalez in class 4 and Manuel Echaveguren in class 10.
Good form a year ago but it is recent good form that counts; no player fits that bill more than Ignacio Torres, also from Chile.
Competing in men’s singles class 6, earlier this year he won in Brazil, Montenegro and at the Youth Pan American Games in the Colombian capital city of Bogota; more recently in July, he was the runner up in the United States.
Ignacio Torres starts as a major title contender as in the women’s singles does Japan’s Yuri Tomono in class 8, in addition to Brazil’s Thais Severo in class 3 and Argentina’s Maria Garonne in class 2.
Notably, in June, Yuri Tomono won in Thailand; in Brazil in March Thais Severo and Maria Garrone were both silver medallists.
Play commences with the men’s and women’s singles events followed by men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles.