28 Jan 2019

A sense of great pride and unity prevailed in Puerto Rico one year ago; there was a determination to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria which had hit earlier in the year in mid-September.

Now one year later, that feeling of togetherness, one that whatever the odds we can succeed is present but in a rather different manner. There is a sense of great pride that the city of Guaynabo, a drive of some 20 minutes from the capital, San Juan, will from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd February host the ITTF Pan America Cup.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

It was the overwhelming feeling at a Press Conference organized in the studios of Telemundo, the host broadcaster, on the morning of Monday 17th December.

Local sports’ commentator, Jaime Rullan fulfilling the role of Master of Ceremonies, the host’s Adriana Diaz, Melanie Diaz and Brian Afanador, all scheduled to compete in Guaynabo, were present alongside a host of local dignitaries.

An inquiring Adriana Diaz (left) alongside (right) Brian Afanador (Photo: GFR Media)


Some 30 members of the local media in attendance, Ivan Santos, the President of the Puerto Rico Table Tennis Federation, the man very much at the helm of proceedings and by adopting a calm and thoughtful approach, unifies the table tennis community in the island, was most certainly delighted that a high quality tournament will be presented.

“It is an historical event, a high level event; recently Adriana won the Women’s Singles title at the recent Pan American Championships and with Brian, the Mixed Doubles. Also Brazil’s Hugo Calderano will play; two days ago he beat China’s Fan Zhendong, the world number one!” Ivan Santos

Ivan Santos addresses the Press Conference (Photo: GFR Media)


Of course, as they say, behind every good man there is a good woman; in that respect Ivan Santos has two! Always, his wife Leticia is there supporting, the role of secretary, everything conducted with the utmost quiet efficiency; in addition doing the same but in a different manner, there is Sarah Rosario, the President of the National Olympic Committee, she realizes that table tennis has raised the island’s sporting image.

“Congratulations for staging this event, my congratulations to Ivan Santos and the Puerto Rico Table Tennis Federation; also to the players for their achievements and the tremendous efforts they have made.” Sarah Rosario

Equally, Angel Perez, the Mayor of Guaynabo is well aware of the significance of the event and the effort that had been made by all to make such a prestigious competition possible. He is looking forward to the New Year with a sense of great anticipation.

“We promise high level playing conditions, high level presentation in Guaynabo; my congratulations to the National Olympic Committee and the Puerto Rico Table Tennis Federation for making this tournament possible.” Angel Perez

The mandatory selfie (left to right) Melanie Diaz, Adriana Diaz, Brian Afanador (Photo: GFR Media)


Positive words from local personalities, it was the same from Argentina’s Gonzalo Barak, the ITTF Pan America Marketing Manager; he had made the journey south to attend the Press Conference.

“It is a unique opportunity for Puerto Rico, in recent years Puerto Rico has done exceptionally well; also the level of play in the Americas is rising. We can look forward to a great tournament.” Gonzalo Barak.

In addition to Telemundo, the 2019 Pan America Cup is supported by Universal Insurance, Dish Television and Toyota.

The principal personalities present at the Press Conference (left to right) Bladimir Diaz, Gil Urbana, Melanie Diaz, Angel Perez, Adriana Diaz, Gonzalo Barak, Ivan Santos, Brian Afanador, Sarah Rosario (Photo: Leticia Castaldo)
2019 Pan Am Cup Adriana Diaz Brian Afanador Melanie Diaz Ivan Santos Angel Perez Sarah Rosario Gonzalo Barak

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Day 3 - Universal 2019 ITTF-Pan American Cup