by Simon Daish
Success and a dream come true for Ecuador’s Alberto Miño, the fourth seed made sure of his ticket in dramatic fashion.
A tense affair which went right down to the wire, Miño made an encouraging start to the match with a dominant display in game one, but before long it was his Cuban counterpart who looked the more likely with Jorge Campos stringing together three game wins in a row. Just one game separating Campos and the golden prize on offer, however, Miño showed incredible fighting spirit to mount a magnificent comeback (11-2, 5-11, 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 13-11, 12-10), saving three match points along the way!
The other qualification tie in the men’s singles event saw host nation interest as Argentina’s Gaston Alto met face-to-face with Dominican Republic’s Wu Jiaji.
Form on his side and seeded three positions above Alto, second seed Wu entered the play-off with an air of confidence but was mindful of the fact his previous encounter with Argentine opposition ended in defeat, having lost to Horacio Cifuentes in the knock-out 1 tournament (11-7, 11-5, 13-11, 7-11, 11-6). A closer contest this time around, but Wu fell short again with Alto prevailing over six games (14-12, 6-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6) to secure his flight to the Japanese capital.
Just the one ticket remained up for grabs in the women’s singles event with Mexico’s Yadira Silva and Cuba’s Daniela Fonseca Carrazana battling it out for the honour.
Both players reached the final off the back of full distance contests in the last four: top seed Silva accounted for another Cuban in Idalys Lovet but only after lodging a successful recovery bid from 1-3 down on her way to a 4-3 victory (6-11, 11-3, 10-12, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9), while second seed Fonseca Carrazana edged her meeting with Guatemala’s Mabelyn Enriquez (7-11, 11-4, 12-10, 4-11, 8-11, 11-2, 11-7).
The final itself also required all seven games to find a winner with tension filling all corners of the Salón Metropolitano. Three games played, Silva held a slender lead and was well positioned to extend her advantage, racing 8-3 ahead in game four but Fonseca Carrazana formed the perfect response as she fought her way back to steal the game.
Level at two games apiece, the Cuban then saved three game point opportunities to move in front for the first time in the match, only for Silva to force a decider with a successful outing in game six. Trailing 10-7, Silva managed to save three match points in the seventh game but could not save a fourth as Fonseca Carrazana finished the job (7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 12-10). Emotional scenes followed as the 18-year-old embraced her camp in celebration – she is heading to Tokyo!
One final item remains on the agenda in Rosario with mixed doubles action taking centre stage on Saturday 17th April. Overall, 13 partnerships enter the playing field, only one successful pair can ensure their passage to the Olympic Games.