by Ian Marshall, Editor
At the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, in the women’s team final, Brazil had suffered an agonising 3-2 defeat at the hands of Puerto Rico; a contest in which in the vital deciding fifth match, Bruna Takahashi had held a two games to nil lead and match points in the third against Melanie Diaz before eventually losing.
Approaching three months later, it was a different scenario; a major difference came in the very first match. In August the Brazilian duo of Caroline Kumahara and Jessica Yamada had lost narrowly to Melanie Diaz and Daniely Rios (10-12, 12-10, 8-11, 12-10, 12-10), in October they prevailed in a nervous four games contest (12-10, 8-11, 12-10, 11-9).
Momentum with Brazil
In the next match at the Pan American Games, Bruna Takahashi had beaten Adriana Diaz (14-12, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8), she did the same again (11-8, 11-8, 12-10), only this time it meant Brazil held a commanding 2-0 lead as opposed to parity. The momentum with Brazil, Caroline Kumahara concluded matters by overcoming a spirited Melanie Diaz (7-11, 12-10, 11-1, 11-9) to seal the victory.
“I think our team effort throughout was very good; Tokyo was at stake, before the match against Puerto Rico we were all very nervous but we managed to keep calm and positive.” Bruna Takahashi.
Undoubtedly, the success recorded by Bruna Takahashi against Adriana Diaz sealed Puerto Rico’s fate; they had a mountain to climb, it proved too high.
“I was totally focused on the match, I was not going to let anything outside affect me; I was determined to play my game. Adriana was tired, she had just come back from the Women’s World Cup in China, she was jet-lagged; she had not really had time to adjust to the time difference. The situation was very much in my favour, I tried to play a safe first attack with top spin, keep her under pressure; today she had some problems returning my service, I was able to take advantage of that situation.” Bruna Takahashi.
A splendid effort from all three Brazilians, the performance was clearly appreciated by Hugo Hoyama, the coach sitting courtside.
“Before the match we thought the doubles would be the key. Caroline and Jessica played very safely, they were patient. They gave us the one-nil lead. It meant there was much pressure on Adriana. Bruna played really well, I think it’s the best she’s played this year! Caroline was nervous, she had problems early in the match returning Melanie’s services and when returning from the pimpled rubber on Melanie’s forehand.” Hugo Hoyama
Started in Barcelona
Success for Hugo Hoyama and it is another milestone achieved in his illustrious career.
“Tokyo will be my eighth Olympic Games!” Hugo Hoyama
A first appearance in 1992 in Barcelona, Hugo Hoyama qualified for every Olympic Games until bidding farewell in 2012 London; in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro he was the coach for the women’s team, now in Tokyo it same again, eight in a row.