01 Jul 2019

Talent, wherever you look, whatever the country, there are young players who show the attributes to progress further and establish themselves later in their careers at high international level.

The 2019 ITTF Pan American Junior Championships which came to a close prematurely on Saturday 29th June in Cancun, Mexico, is no exception.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Furthermore, for all players present, preparation was detailed, the tournament being qualification for the 2019 World Junior Championships to be staged later in the year in Bangkok, Thailand. Both the United States and Canada travelled to the Korea Republic; for the Latin American countries it was Cancun under the direction of Massimo Costantini, the ITTF High Performance Manager.

“We had 12 countries present, the general knowledge was good, the main factor to consider for the players is how to apply those skills in match situations. They make unforced errors, a lack of self-discipline, employing the necessary tactics at the appropriated time; these are the main areas to address.” Massimo Costantini

Basically, it is very much a case of experience.

“Nowadays you need multiple skills to play at a high level; for an attacking player you need to be aggressive on the second ball, return short, use the “banana” return; at the moment the young players here in Cancun lack the experience of which skill to apply. It is the discipline of tactics.” Massimo Costantini

My mind wandered back to the early 1990s when Elena Timina, the Russian international who later represented the Netherlands and is renowned for defensive skills, explained that a player needs to have something on which they can rely in critical situations; perhaps there is a lesson for the young players in Cancun?

“Players need to take responsibility when it is close; some become passive, they rely on their opponents for errors. It is important to identify the skills of a player, identify the best way to play for that player. Players here in the 15 years to 18 years age group are very much all round players. They need a clearer idea of what to do in vital situations.” Massimo Costantini.

Adapting to situations, quite simply one player who has shown the ability to adapt and has impressed Massimo Costantini is Panama’s Jacobo Vahnish.

“Jacobo is very much the modern day player, today you need a good backhand, in that respect he excels. Also, he plays with good control, he plays assured and then takes the opportunity to play stronger; he is prepared to serve long and fast.” Massimo Costantini

Can we compare Jacobo Vahnish with Fan Zhendong? Very much Fan Zhendong plays a first safe attack and then follows as the situation demands; Jacobo Vahnish is not dissimilar.

Also Massimo Costantini was impressed with the United States girls’ team.

“They are consistent, they put the ball on the table, they are safe and they appear to have a good understanding of table tennis.” Massimo Costantini.

There are many factors that are must be completed to form the athlete in whatever sport; in Cancun those factors are in evidence but is there a player who can put them all together, we wait with anticipation.

Note: unfortunately owing to the unavailability of the venue on the concluding day of play, it was not possible to complete the tournament in full.

2019 Pan American Junior Championships Jacobo Vahnish Massimiliano Costantini

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