by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
However, there was to be no clean sweep of titles; the host nation’s Jorge Campos and Andy Pereira combined to win Men’s Doubles gold, Chile’s Judith Morales and Paulina Vega reserved the top step of the Women’s Doubles podium.
Success for Eric Jouti and Bruna Takahashi but they were hard earned.
After recording a straight games quarter-final win over the host nation’s Livan Martinez (11-3, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7), Eric Jouti needed the full seven games to beat colleague, Vitor Ishiy, the no.7 seed (6-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8), prior to securing the title at the expense of Andy Pereira, the no.8 seed (11-6, 11-4, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7). In the opposite half of the draw, in the round of the last eight Andy Pereira had beaten Chile’s Gustavo Gomez, the no.2 seed (6-11, 13-11, 8-11, 11-3, 11-5, 6-11, 11-4), prior to recording a penultimate round success in opposition to Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro, the no.4 seed (11-9, 6-11, 14-12, 10-12, 12-10, 11-6).
Testing times for Eric Jouti, the examination was even more exacting for Bruna Takahashi. At the final hurdle she recovered from a three games to nil deficit to beat compatriot Jessica Yamada by the very narrowest of five games margins (9-11, 9-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9), having at the semi-final stage emerged successful in an almost equally demanding duel when facing Chile’s Daniela Ortega, the no.6 seed (11-8, 7-11, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6). One round earlier, life had been less fraught, at the quarter-final stage, Bruna Takahashi had beaten Argentina’s Ana Codina, the no.5 seed, in four straight games (11-7, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9).
Defeat at the final hurdle for Jessica Yamada but overall she can reflect on a most successful tournament. The winner in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 but not seeded in Havana, she had beaten Chile’s Paulina Vega, the top seed, in the group phase (11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 17-15) prior to later in proceedings accounting for Mexico’s Yadira Silva, the no.7 seed and also a former champion, in thrilling quarter-final duel (11-8, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 5-11, 9-11, 13-11). She reserved her place in the final courtesy of success in opposition to Gui Lin, the no.4 seed (11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 14-12, 11-6).
Disappointment for Paulina Vega in the Women’s Singles event but in the Women’s Doubles competition it was far better news. Partnering colleague, Judith Morales and occupying the no.2 seeded position in the event, the title was seized.
On the concluding day of play they accounted for Argentina’s Camila Arguelles and Ana Codina, the no.3 seeds (11-8, 7-11, 12-10, 11-3, 11-9), having one round earlier caused an upset of note by overcoming Gui Lin and Bruna Takahashi, the top seeds (14-12, 10-12, 11-5, 11-9). In the counterpart semi-final, Judith Morales and Paulina Vega had ousted Mexico’s Alejandrina Mendez and Yadira Silva (11-2, 13-11, 11-6).
Success for visitors to the Caribbean island and there was success for Cuba, Jorge Campos and Jorge Pereira being somewhat surprise Men’s Doubles winners.
At the final hurdle they beat Chile’s Gustavo Gomez and Juan Lamadrid (11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9), having in the penultimate round accounted for Eric Jouti and Vitor Ishiy, the top seeds (11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9). In the opposite half of the draw, in the semi-final round, Gustavo Gomez and Juan Lamadrid had accounted for Cuba’s Livan Martinez and Juan Rondon (11-7, 13-11, 12-10).
Overall 41 men and 41 women, gender equality, competed in Havana; they represented the national associations of Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guyana, Mexico and Panama in addition to St Kitts and Nevis.
2018 Latin American Championships: Full Results (Friday 9th March)