Three former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s tennis student-athletes are taking part in international competition this week. Katie Hangstefer Mancebo (1999-02) is the head coach for Team USA at the Deaflympics in Sofia, Bulgaria, and leads a group that includes her sister and former Lady Moc Emily Hangstefer (2009-12). Jenna Nurik is competing for the U.S. team at the Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem.
"We are proud that Emily, Jenna and Katie are representing the United States in such prestigious international competitions,” stated UTC women’s tennis head coach Jeff Clark. “Their experience as student-athletes has prepared them for these occasions athletically - as well as socially - as they will interact with people from all over the world."
Hangstefer was picked by the USA Deaf Sports Federation and will compete in the event from July 26-August 4. Her brother, Daniel, is also on the team.
The Deaflympics are recognized by the International Olympic Committee and modeled after the Olympic Games. Unlike the Paralympics and Special Olympics, there are no rule modifications or special classifications in the Deaflympics. Visual cues, such as flashing lights, are the only adaptations made.
Athletes with a hearing loss of 55 decibels or greater in their better ear are eligible to participate in international competition for the deaf. Selected Team USA male and female tennis players will participate in single elimination events of singles, doubles and mixed doubles against the world’s best players.
Nurik made the Maccabi USA Women’s Open Team and is currently competing in the event that runs from July 17-30. The Maccabiah Games are touted as the world’s largest sporting event in 2013, hosting nearly 6,000 competitors in a variety of sporting events.
The Maccabiah Games take place every four years in Israel - "the Jewish Olympics" as they are often called - are Maccabi World Union's largest and most famous enterprise. In addition to being competitive, the sports competitions are also dedicated to the values of fair play, mutual respect, victory of body, intellect, and the pursuit of excellence.