by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Korea’s Lee Jungwoo proved his nemesis. A powerful left handed pen-holder, who uses just one side of the racket only, alongside Brazil’s Cazuo Matsumoto, very much the last remaining players on the international scene to employ that style, he has enjoyed ITTF World Tour success.
In 2005 he won the Men’s Singles title at the Chinese Taipei Open beating Austria’s Chen Weixing in the final.
Now 33 years old, he displayed that form once again to beat 25 year old Felipe Olivares (11-8, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7); the Chilean being currently based in Europe in Ellenburg, Germany.
“Playing in Europe offers one a great opportunity to improve as a player, being able to play in a professional league against high level opponents. We have a different system in Latin America that´s why many players are playing abroad. I chose to play in Slovenia and next in Croatia as part of my preparation for the World Championships.” Felipe Olivares
Defeat for Felipe Olivares but for other prominent names from Latin America there was opening match success. Mexico’s Marcos Madrid, Ecuador’s Alberto Miño and Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre all enjoyed victories as did Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador and Daniel Gonzalez.
“I hope that by participating in Slovenia I can improve my World ranking and get a better qualification draw at the World Championships. My aim in Otocec is to progress beyond round two, something I have never achieved in the past.” Marcos Madrid
Impressively, Marcos Madrid beat Serbia’s Ilija Majstorovic (11-7, 11-3, 11-6, 11-8) whilst Alberto Miño accounted for Ukraine’s Volodymyr Lushnikov (11-6, 11-4, 11-4, 11-8); the Ecuadorian having clearly adapted to the new plastic ball.
“I find the new ball a lot better than the previous one and hopefully that will help me improve my performance.” Alberto Miño
Similarly, Marcelo Aguirre was in unrelenting form. He accounted for Slovenia’s Erik Paulin (6-11, 11-6, 11-1, 11-5, 11-4);
“This season I am trying to play all the tournaments organized in Europe so I can finally improve on my performance achieved at the last World Championships; back in Latin America we don´t get the financial support so mostly we need to make private investments in order to prepare for events.” Marcelo Aguirre
Likewise, Brian Afanador overcame Ukraine’s Bohdan Sinkevych (11-4, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7); whilst colleague Daniel Gonzalez accounted for San Marino’s Lorenzo Ragni (11-7, 11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 11-8).
Success for Puerto Rico’s leading male players; for colleagues 19 year old Yomar Gonzalez and 16 years of age Francisco Mattias, both very much finding their feet at senior international level, it was defeat.
Yomar Gonzalez was beaten by Belgium’s Florian Cnudde (12-10, 5-11, 11-2, 11-4, 11-6) and Hungary’s Adam Szudi (11-9, 11-3, 11-3, 14-12); Francisco Mattias suffered at the hands of Bulgaria’s Pety Kraster (4-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9) and Germany’s Kilian Ort (11-9, 7-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-5).