by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A gap of 15 years separates the two South Americans; Hugo Calderano is 21 years old, Thiago Monteiro, 36 years of age.
It is a major difference but when current world ranking is considered, the gap is even more pronounced; Hugo Calderano is listed at no.26, Thiago Monteiro at no.157. Next in line is Mexico’s Marcos Madrid, named at no.161, followed by Eric Jouti, also from Brazil who stands at no.190 in the global order.
Notably Hugo Calderano is seeking three continental championship titles in succession, having been crowned Latin American Champion in 2014 in the Dominican Republic, followed by success in Argentina in 2015 and then in Puerto Rico in 2016.
Meanwhile, for Thiago Monteiro, he is in search of a third; he won the Men’s Singles title at the Latin American Championships in 2004 in Chile and in 2008 in the Dominican Republic. They are the only players on duty at the 2017 ITTF Pan American Championships who have won such titles.
Furthermore, for the vast majority of those competing in the Colombian city, it will be their first visit to Cartagena de Indias.
Geographically enjoying a splendid location, the resort is no stranger to international competition. In 2006, the city was the home for the Central American Games, before in 2008 hosting the Latin and American Junior and Cadet Championships followed immediately by the Colombia Junior and Cadet Open. One year later, a highly successful Volkswagen World Junior Championships was staged.
Notably on duty, Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre and Chile’s Felipe Olivares competed in the Volkswagen 2009 World Junior Championships; both are prominent names at the 2017 ITTF Pan American Championships. Behind Cuba’s Andy Pereira and Ecuador’s Alberto Miño, they are respective seventh and eighth highest rated male players listed.
Memories and especially happy memories of Cartagena de Indias for Marcelo Aguirre and Eric Jouti; at the 2008 Colombia Junior and Cadet Open, Marcelo Aguirre won the Junior Boys’ Singles title, whilst a fresh faced Eric Jouti announced his arrival. At the same tournament, he won the Cadet Boys’ Singles event; having earlier in the proceedings completed exactly the same feat at the Latin American Junior and Cadet Championships.
Now nine years later could he prove the biggest threat to Hugo Calderano? Earlier this year, in late July, he finished in runners up position at the inaugural ITTF Pan American Cup in Costa Rica and he came mighty to close to gaining the decision; Gustavo Tsuboi needed to full seven games to secure victory.
Once again could Cartagena de Indias be a happy hunting ground for Eric Jouti?