Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Hearts Bleed for Berta Rodriguez in Santo Domingo
Hearts bled for Chile’s thirty-five year old Bertha Rodriguez, as play on the third morning of proceedings came to close at the Latin American Olympic Qualification Tournament in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.

On the opening day, she had lost to the host country’s Wu Xue in the final duel, the contest that determined a place in Beijing; on the second day in the same match she held match point against Brazil’s Mariany Nonaka before suffering defeat. It was excruciatingly painful for the Chilean on Monday 31st March, on Tuesday 1st April 2008 it was heartbreak.
Bertha Rodriguez suffering in Santo Domingo
Cuban Born
She lost in seven games to Mexico’s twenty-two year old Yadira Silva and thus must now look towards Hungary for the Final World Olympic Qualification tournament, if her dreams of August in Beijing are to be realised.

Yadira Silva originates from Cuba, she married and moved to live in Tabasco near Mexico City four years ago and now is eligible to represent her adopted country.

“It was very difficult playing Berta”, explained Yadira Silva. “She’s very good at blocking.”

Berta Rodriguez is Chile’s answer to Hong Kong’s Zhang Rui; both are right handed, both are penholders, both have more than acceptable forehands but for both the strength of their play is their ability to block from the backhand side of the table.

Good Shape
“Mentally I was in good shape today”, explained Yadira Silva. “Winning the fourth game was crucial, that made a big difference.” The reason for the comment is no doubt related to the fact that she trailed by two games to one at that stage.

Chilean Sadness
Defeat for the number one seed, Berta Rodriguez and there was more sadness for Chile.

Fourth seed, Maria Paulina Vega, having beaten Peru’s Mary Soto, lost to Argentina’s Hae Ja Kim whilst Melita Yanez suffered at the hands of Colombia’s Paula Medina who booked her quarter-final place with victory over El Salvador’s Wang De-Ying.

Reverses for Maria Paulina Vega but success for third seed, Venezuela’s Luisana Perez; she beat El Salvador’s Estefania Ramirios and the Dominican Republic’s Joenny Valdiz to secure her place in the quarter-finals.