by Ian Marshall, Editor
Somewhat different to previous years, the host will not be the capital city; the destination in less than six months’ time will be the town of Guaynabo, about a 20 minute drive from Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport and the same from the centre of San Juan, the capital.
It will be the fifth venue in recent years for an international tournament in Puerto Rico.
In 2010, Mayaguez in the extreme east of the island was the home for the Central American and Caribbean Games; a tournament in which Mexico’s Marcos Madrid memorably won the Men’s Singles event and Adriana Diaz could not secure a place in the Puerto Rican line-up. She was only nine years old at the time and bored to tears she was allocated the task of sitting just outside the corner of the court flipping over the numbers on the scorer.
Later in January 2012, the Exhibition Centre in San Juan, a building in size quite sufficient to hold a World Championships or similar, was the home for the ITTF World Cadet Challenge and ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals, the last time the two events where held at the same time.
Relieved from scoring duty, now smiling from cheek to cheek, Adriana Diaz was present as a player, as was colleague Brian Afanador. They were in action alongside such names as Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and the United States duo of Kanak Jha and Lily Zhang. Will they be in Guaynabo next year?
Three years later attention turned again to the east of the island, not too far distant from Mayaguez, some two hours by car from San Juan, a journey of discovery; in Puerto Rico anything over 20 minutes is a long way. In 2015 Aguada was the home for the Latin American Junior and Cadet Championships, followed by the Puerto Rico Junior and Cadet Open. At the Latin American Junior and Cadet Championships, Brian Afanador won the Junior Boys’ Singles title, Brazil’s Bruna Takahashi was crowned Cadet Girls’ Singles champion. No doubt she will make the journey to Guaynabo.
A successful tournament and in January 2016 another; the city of San Juan hosted the Latin American Championships. Brazil dominated; Hugo Calderano secured the Men’s Singles title, colleague Gui Lin was crowned Women’s Singles champion. Is she a name we may see returning to the island next February?
One fact is certain the locals will be present in numbers to support, anticipating the presence of Brian Afanador and Adriana Diaz. The atmosphere will undoubtedly be a supercharged of that you can be assured; you might not be able to hear yourself think or the umpire call the score.
Puerto Ricans are proud and patriotic, they make their feelings known and they have one common trait, they cannot do anything quietly! Sounds a good formula for a successful 2019 ITTF Pan Am Cup.