03 Feb 2019

Packed to the rafters, they were present in numbers to support their favourites, their idols, as play in the Coliseo Mario "Quijote" Morales at the Universal 2019 Pan America Cup came to a conclusion on the evening of Saturday 2nd February.

A place in the semi-finals of the men’s event for Brian Afanador proved a step too far; for Adriana Diaz in the women's competition, it was one step higher.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Brian Afanador, the no.7 seed, was beaten by Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the top seed, a player on whom the Puerto Rican must sets his sights. He proved competitive; only one game was not determined by the minimal two point margin. Quite simply at the vital times the 22 year old from Rio de Janeiro held the aces.

The outcome was a straight games outcome (11-9, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9).

“I was down 5-7 in the first game and came back to win. It was difficult but of course your first game in a tournament is never easy. Brian is strong, he’s good in the rallies and he serves well; once I became used to his play I felt comfortable and was able to control the match. It’s not easy to play when the crowd is not on your side but for me it was a great privilege to play in front of such a big crowd, really very good.” Hugo Calderano

Defeat for Brian Afanador but the young man had given his best.

“I’m a little sad I could not win the match but happy for the support of all these people. I will keep training every day and continue to do my best.” Brian Afanador

However, the faithful all left in high spirits; most importantly, Adriana Diaz won. In her quarter-final women’s singles contest, the no.2 seed, she beat Canada’s Alicia Cote, the no.14 seed in straight games (11-9, 11-8, 11-2, 12-10). Equally, like Brian Afanador in defeat, she could leave with pride, her seeding suggested she should not win a single match, let alone reach the last eight.

“It’s an honour to be here; I want to give my best for Puerto Rico. I am very happy, very glad to have the Puerto Rican people supporting me, tomorrow I will give everything. Thank you all, it’s a dream to play in your own country, I can’t believe that all these people came to see me play.” Adriana Diaz

At the semi-final stage Hugo Calderano meets Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre, the no.7 seed; Adriana Diaz, opposes Wu Yue of the United States, the no.3 seed.

2019 Pan Am Cup Hugo Calderano Adriana Diaz Brian Afanador Alicia Cote

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Day 3 - Universal 2019 ITTF-Pan American Cup