by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Notably, they met in the group stage of the 2015 Latin American Cup in Havana, Hugo Calderano won in five games.
Venue for Pan American Games
Undoubtedly both will have considerable home support; history supports that fact. The same complex, the Riocentro in Barra de Tijuca was the home for the table tennis events at the 2007 Pan American Games.
Hugo Calderano was only 11 years old at the time and far too young to be considered for the Brazilian Men’s Team; however, from that team Gustavo Tsuboi is the only remaining member who will be in action nine years later.
In 2007 he lined up alongside the now retired Hugo Hoyama and Thiago Monteiro who was preferred to Cazuo Matsumoto. Now in 2016 it is role reversal, Cazuo Matsumoto is preferred to Thiago Monteiro.
At the Rio 2007 Pan American Games, the Brazil won the Men’s Team title; Hugo Hoyama and Thiago Monteiro were Men’s Singles bronze medallists in an event that saw the Dominican Republic’s Lin Ju beat Argentina’s Liu Song to win the Men’s Singles title.
Prove Global Status
Nine years ago the Brazilians, as they have done time and again, proved themselves a major force in Pan America; now in 2016, once again on home ground, the task is to prove themselves a global force.
“Table tennis is improving a lot in Brazil; it is a different situation now, these days we have better players”, said Gustavo Tsuboi. “We are not favourites but we have a chance to do something special; we give our best and just think one match at a time.”
Times have most certainly changed in Brazil; a special player in the guise of Hugo Calderano has appeared on the scene but there is much more than the emergence of one talented young man.
Based in Germany
“We have made definite steps forward; we have a French coach, Jean-René Mounié, he has changed our thinking”, added Gustavo Tsuboi. “We are now based in Germany at Ochsenhausen, we play in the German League, it may not be as strong as the China Super League but it is very high level.”
Perhaps not quite as strong as the China Super League but take that competition out of the equation and I doubt you can find stronger.
“Now we have two player in the top 100 of the World rankings”, added Gustavo Tsuboi.
Perhaps he was being generous and not including himself; the number is three. Hugo Calderano is named at no.54, Gustavo Tsuboi at no.68, Cazuo Matsumoto at no.79.
Long Way to Go
“We know we still have a long way to go”, concluded Gustavo Tsuboi. “However, we are improving.”
Success on the opening day of play and most certainly interesting contests beckon in round two; contests that will be a measure of current improvement.
Sweden awaits; the potential opponent for Gustavo Tsuboi is Kristian Karlsson; for Hugo Calderano, it is Pär Gerell.