16 Oct 2020

The pride and passion of Puerto Rico, Adriana Diaz continues to capture the hearts of table tennis fans all over the world with her incredible rise to sporting fame.

After months away from the arena, the ace from Utuado won’t be alone, carrying her fellow islanders with her as she clashes with the giants of the sport at the upcoming 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup (Sunday 8th to Tuesday 10th November) and 2020 ITTF Finals (Thursday 19th to Sunday 22nd November).

by Simon Daish

“I need the adrenaline, the pressure, and the feeling of competition”

The enforced lockdown restrictions brought into effect across the globe earlier in the year provided some players a unique opportunity to catch up on some well-deserved rest. For others, the time spent away from the table proved difficult.

Just like any other passionate and ambitious sports star, Adriana Diaz needs the drama and excitement that comes with the professional game. So, rather understandably, the Puerto Rican icon can’t wait to lock horns with the world elite at the high-stake #RESTART events this November:

“I am very excited! I have missed the competition. I have been competing constantly since I was six years old, and I need the adrenaline, the pressure, and the feeling of competition. I have been practising here in Puerto Rico with my sister Melanie, teammates and my dad/coach. We used the quarantine lockdown to analyse matches and understand my dynamics as a player… I’m feeling prepared for the three upcoming events in China.”

In addition to missing the action, Adriana is also relieved to be granted the chance to see friendly faces from the international scene again after months apart:

“You get used to having this extended family, and in a blink of an eye we have missed all of that. It’s like being allowed to go back home! I anticipate that I may feel overwhelmed with emotions, but I’m prepared to use all of those feelings to power my game.”

Road to Weihai

Adriana booked her involvement at the upcoming Women’s World Cup following an outstanding display at the Universal 2020 ITTF Pan America Cup in February, sending the fans wild with excitement in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. The local star saw off two United States stalwarts in Wu Yue and Lily Zhang, both of whom are set to be present in #RESTART proceedings, to secure her ticket in style.

It will be her second appearance at the World Cup, Adriana’s immediate aim is to improve upon last year’s endeavours which saw her exit at the group phase. However, regardless of what pans out in Weihai, Adriana is simply happy just to be amongst the action:

“Playing at the 2019 World Cup helped me in countless ways. I need to keep working hard to keep being a top player. No competition for more than half a year can add some challenges to the equation of a really tough tournament. I understand my game and other players’ games more… We know this is a process, but we are going to measure the progress considering all the facts. I’m going to enjoy the tournament; I love what I do and I’m going to use all in my power to give my very best on every single point.”

One of Adriana’s first aims will be to improve upon her 2019 ITTF Women’s World Cup efforts (Photo: Rémy Gros)
Grasping the opportunity with both hands

Adriana will also explore uncharted territory in November, making the prestigious ITTF Finals player entry list for the first time! No stranger to the big stage, a fearless Adriana is ready to mix it with the best:

“It’s my first ITTF Finals and I couldn’t be more excited! I know how tough it is but, we have set our expectations and I’m going for it.”

The ITTF Finals in Zhengzhou provides all participants an opportunity to round off the year on a positive note, something Adriana believes is vital this time out considering everything that has panned out in 2020. She feels the need to lift the spirits of her passionate fan base back home is important more now than ever and will give it her all to put a smile back on the faces of her fellow Puerto Ricans:

“I am so blessed to have the opportunity to represent my island. They support me, and I know they enjoy my success a lot. I’m looking forward to giving them joy, satisfaction, and hope. We need hope, we need to see that we are improving, moving forward and, step by step, returning to a new normal.”

Features Adriana Diaz