American Pamela Fontaine opened group play today against South Korean Mi-Gyu Lee in the women’s class 3 singles event, going down 3 games to 1.
The pair kept the first match very close, with Lee just squeaking out a 12 – 10 victory in the first game. The second game was much the same with the score tied early on at 2 – 2. The South Korean pulled ahead 4 – 3 only for the American to answer back. Both players were positioned at the center part of their half of the table and had very little movement outside this, though the South Korean demonstrated great reach in returning balls on the far corner of her side. While Lee could grab a one point lead in the second set, Fontaine was generally able to answer back and then managed to pull ahead 7 – 9. Lee answered back but the American kept fending her off with a score of 10 – 8 and then finishing the second match 11 – 9. This brought the pair level to 1 game each in a best of 5.
The third set was again very evenly matched with neither player able to build up a lead until after Lee had scored 5 points. She then rallied to score several points and go ahead 7 – 4 and then 8 – 4. Fontaine was not able to mount a good come back, with the scoring going 10 – 6 in the South Korean’s favor before finishing at 11 – 6.
The fourth set was again very evenly matched with both players answering whatever the other one batted back at them, with an early score of 2 – 2, then 3 – 3 and then 4 – 4. Lee was able to build a small lead at 6 – 4, but Fontaine struggled back and made it 6 – 6. The score then went 7 – 7. With a few well placed shots on the corner of the table, Lee managed to build a 9 – 7 lead. Lee managed to hold on to her lead and the match finished 11 – 8.
Fontaine comes to Rio looking to improve on her pair of ninth place finishes at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. The Texas native he made her national team début in 1998 at competition in Fort Worth, Texas. Fontaine came to the sport with a depth of international experience, having previously been a member of the United States women’s national wheelchair basketball team from 1986 to 1998.
Lee is making her Paralympic Games début, on the back of great performances in 2014 where she claimed gold in the women’s class 3 singles event at the 2014 Asian Para Games and bronze at the women’s classes 1 – 3 team event at the 2014 World Championships, and fifth in the women’s class 3 singles event. This follows making her international début in 2013 at a tournament in Incheon.
The American next plays Austrian Doris Mader on Saturday. Lee is back in group action later today when she also takes on Mader.