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U.S. table tennis players moved to Las Vegas on December 16-20, 1998, to struggle for top honors and spots on the international competing team. Squad selection for future championships started here, so the team selected may represent the U.S. in the Paralympic Games in Sydney (2000). Although the event had only two newcomers, veterans were as extreme as always.
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Play began on Wednesday morning with all the singles events. Few surprises came from the day, but a number of the new players made strong feelings. The Class 1 winner continued to function as Sebastian DeFrancesco, who had a win against Joe Quigg. Previous Class 2 victor Ken Brooks was sidelined early with an injury. This enabled others to close in on the title. Brett Weymouth overcame Raul Pernites, while Stef Florescu was strong against his younger competition. James Hall took the Class 3 triumph, beating veteran Martin Young. With Courses 4 and 5 combined, two rivals, Andre Scott and Mike Dempsey, butted heads for its trophy; Scott came out victorious. Charles Focht and newcomer John Violante played strongly against the two former Paralympians.
The Women's Doubles competition crowned Jennifer Johnson and Debby Quigg over Terese Terranova and Terry Tierney. Back in Tetraplegic Doubles, DeFrancesco and Joe Quigg beat out tough Class 2 players Pernites and Weymouth. Tierney and Florescu were a close third. Men's Doubles winners were Scott and Dempsey, with Hall and DeFrancesco second.
The Tetraplegic Open was filled with temptations and surprises, with round-robin wins ascertaining the results of this hotly contested event. After the smoke cleared, Pernites won the coveted name, DeFrancesco was second, and Joe Quigg third.
From the Women's Wheelchair Open, Johnson took top honors, Debby Quigg was instant, and Tierney ended third. The Men's Wheelchair Open matched up--for the second time in this tournament--the best United States gamers: Dempsey and Scott, with the latter carrying the win.
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Although this marked the fifth year of running events for players with disabilities in USA Table Tennis (USATT) National Championships, it's the first time the games were fully included in all management aspects--time scheduling, attracts, and umpiring. While many problems remain to be worked out, all these efforts are paying off. Thanks to the USATT staff and officials for their assistance and support.
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