by Ian Marshall, Editor
Both were wins as anticipated; both outfits commenced play the top seeds.
At the final hurdle Yunier Fernandez and Luis Bustamente accounted for the second seeded Brazilian combination of Aloisio Lima and Ronaldo Pinheiro, a 2-0 margin of victory being the outcome; the result recorded in every fixture en route to the title.
Similarly, Gabriel Copola and Elias Romero maintained a perfect record; in a group organised event, they concluded their schedule of play by overcoming the Chilean combination of Maximiliano Rodriguez and Diego Oteiza.
“As a team we are very strong. Elias is a very young player, he has a lot more to give and room to improve. My role is to provide experience and coolness. Although numbers might say we won fairly easily, I think it’s very important to be decisive to make a difference from your side of the table and for that, you need concentration. We were able to do that and had a smooth ride on each match.
Players which usually play in Europe have come here. It’s great for Argentina to welcome so many players from all over the world; it’s a chance to show how much we have grown and share great moments with them. It’s also an opportunity to keep developing and prove there are good players on this side of the world.” Gabriel Copola
Top seeds succeed
Success for the top seeds, it was the same in the one women’s event staged, class 2-5; in a group administered event, the combination of Cuba’s Yanelis Silva and Venezuela’s Yoleidy Fernandez recorded a 2-0 against Brazil’s Thais Fraga Severo and Carla Maia, the no.2 seeds. Thus they mantained their unbeaten record and sealed the title. It was the only defeat for the Brazilians hence second place was their lot.
“We were very confident as a team and that was vital. We are two confident players in our own right, so it was a consequence of that; my best feature was to be more focused and calm when serving, not rushing. I also was able to stick to my game plan of attacking. I’d like to thank Cuba for the opportunity to compete here. It’s very important for any athlete to travel and face players from other countries. Now it’s time to prepare for Costa Rica, I’m eager to be there, working on my main goal, to be in Tokyo 2020.” Yanelis Silva
Likewise, in the men’s events, favourites for gold, the partnership formed by Venezuela’s Roberto Quijada and Uruguay’s Gonzalo Acosta repeated their success against the Brazil’s Jean Carlos de Oliveira and Fabio Silva. In the group stage they had posted a 2-0 win, in the final a 2-1 margin of victory was the outcome.
Notably at the semi-final stage the Brazilians had secured a 2-1 win against Japan’s Shinichi Yoshida and Naoki Hosoya, the surprise 2-0 winners against Chile’s Alfonso Diaz and Carlos Torres, the no.2 seeds, in the group phase.
Disappointment for Japan but there was success, the top seeded combination of Kazuya Kaneko, Kosuke Hemmi and Hiromoto Kita recorded a 2-1 win against Chile’s Ignacio Torres and Osvaldo Torres, the no.2 seeds, to secure the class 6-7 title.
Titles secured as anticipated, victory for the top seeds; however in men’s team class 8 and men’s team class 9-10 there were surprise outcomes.
In a group organised class 8 event Argentina’s Alejandro Perez and Pablo Kroztch, the no.2 seeds, secured a 2-0 win against the combination of the top seeded duo formed by Japan’s Arufuahirokazu Tateishi and Costa Rica’s Steven Roman to reserve the top place.
It was yet another imposing performance from the gold medallists; not one individual match was surrendered during the whole campaign. Arufuahirokazu Tateishi and Steven Roman finished in second place.
“Before a tournament you always have the desire to win; you always picture yourself at the top of the podium; this time, we did it because we know each other very well as a team and that helped us through. It wasn’t easy, but we made it. The doubles match in the final, we took advantage of the fact they weren’t very familiar with each other. Individually, they are two great players, we played as a team. Playing in home soil is like riding a bike downhill with the wind tailing you. It’s more than you can ask for; it’s fantastic to have people cheering for you in the stands and celebrating every point until you get the championship.” Pablo Kroztch
Responding to the occasion
Meanwhile in class 9-10, Chile’s Manuel Echaveguren and Cristian Casal very much rose to the occasion. The lowest rated team in their group, they finished in second place experiencing a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the top seeds, the combination formed by Japan’s Takuya Nakajima who partnered Malaysia’s Chee Chao Ming and Ting Ing Hock.
A place in the main draw secured, they recorded a 2-0 semi-final win against Brazil’s Claudio Massad and Alexandre Pereira, before posting the same margin of victory in opposition to the combination of Cuba’s Erich Manso and Argentina’s Dario Neira, the surprise 2-0 penultimate round winners in opposition to Takuya Nakajima, Chee Chao Ming and Ting Ing Hock.
“Manuel is more experienced than me so it was great to team up with him. Having him as a partner gave me confidence and made me feel safe at all time; when we played Brazil in the semi-finals we knew they were the favourites but we prepared to give our best and to compete. We made it past the doubles match and that was the key.
Something similar happened at the gold medal series, winning the doubles from 3-8 down in the fifth was an incredible comeback; that gave us an amazing boost and helped Manuel to close match. We were focused and were able to complement each other’s way of playing.
It was a rematch to me, because last year I was here and finished in the third place. I like to play in Argentina; they are very good at organising tournaments; players from many countries usually gather here. There are always many positive exchanges and we learned some very interesting things to apply in our country, where we have lots of work to do to make table tennis bigger.” Cristian Casal
Play in Buenos Aires concluded, attention now turns to another capital city, San Josė, the 2019 ITTF Copa Costa Rica commences on Thursday 12th December.