by Ian Marshall, Editor
Success in Guaynabo was a milestone, Adriana Diaz became the first player from Latin America ever to win the title; an achievement but as it was only the third staging of event it was not a feat to send statisticians into delirium.
However, her performance at the recent Liebherr 2019 World Championships was one that enticed the gurus; since the inaugural edition in 1926, she became the first Latin American to reach the third round of the women’s singles event.
Now to become the first Latin American to win an ITTF Challenge Series women’s singles title is not possible; Brazil’s Caroline Kumahara succeded in 2017 in Santiago but to become the first from the Caribbean to achieve the feat is within the realms of possibility.
If she is to achieve the feat, she will need to climb two steps further than her cousin; last week in Serbia, Brian Afanador reached the men’s singles semi-final round. The first player, male or female, from the Caribbean to progress to such a stage at either an ITTF Challenge Series or ITTF World Tour tournament. In Otocec Brian Afanador is on duty, he is the no.23 seed in the men’s singles event.
Most certainly, it was a fine effort in Budapest from Adriana Diaz, as it was from two further players on duty in Otocec. Runner up two days ago in Belgrade, Hong Kong’s Minnie Soo Wai Yam progressed to the fourth round; like Adriana Diaz, Wu Yue of the United States advanced to round three.
In Slovenia, Minnie Soo Wai Yam is the no.4 seed, Wu Yue, one place below and a player with a debt to settle; she finished in third place at the Universal 2019 Pan American Cup, losing to Adriana Diaz in the semi-finals.
Sandwiched in between, Hungary’s Georgina Pota is the no.2 seed, followed by Japan’s Miyu Nagasaki; in Budapest it was a first round exit for Georgina Pota, who earlier in the year had been a quarter-finalist at the Seamaster Challenge Series tournament in Lisbon. Only 16 years old Miyu Nagasaki was not included in the Japanese team in Budapest, pertinently last year she was a semi-finalist at the Challenge Series tournament in Belgium.
However, the next in line, the players who complete the top eight names, were all present at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships and all departed in round two. Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska, the runner up at the Liebherr 2018 European Championships, is the no.6 seed, followed by Hong Kong’s Ng Wing Nam and Russia’s Yana Noskova, both players with surely an extra degree of motivation.
Last week in Serbia, Ng Wing Nam, occupying the no.3 seeded position, suffered a quarter-final defeat at the hands of Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, the no.5 seed; Yana Noskova, the no.6 seed, was beaten in the opening round by colleague Anna Bikbaeva.
Intriguing competition awaits in what is a full house; in the men’s singles event 122 players will compete to join the 32 seeds in a first round of 64 players. Meanwhile, the qualification tournament in the women’s singles competition involves 88 players vying for the 32 available main draw positions.
I would suggest the international tournament scene has never been healthier.