by Ian Marshall
However, for both to repeat the success enjoyed in 2019, the tournament not being held last year owing to the pandemic, both will need to be at their very best; in particular, Vitor Ishiy will need to exceed expectations.
He is the no.3 seed behind colleagues Hugo Calderano and Gustavo Tsuboi. Undoubtedly, Hugo Calderano, the winner in 2017 in the Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias and more recently earlier this year in September at the WTT Star Contender Doha tournament, starts the clear favourite.
Meanwhile, for Lily Zhang, she is the no.2 seed. The top seed is Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, the winner at the tournament’s first edition in Cartagena de Indias, before completing a successful defence one year later in Santiago, Chile.
Canada’s Zhang Mo and Brazil’s Bruna Takahashi complete the women’s singles top four names.
Notably, in Asuncion, Lily Zhang completed a clean sweep.
Additional to securing the women’s singles title; she joined forces with Wu Yue, Crystal Wang and Amy Wang to claim the women’s team top prize, before partnering Zhang Kai to mixed doubles success and Jennifer Wu to women’s doubles gold.
In Lima, Lily Zhang does not compete in the women’s doubles but is present in the mixed doubles, again with Zhang Kai and in the women’s team where Amy Wang retains her place, the new names being Sarah Jalli and Tiffany Ke.
Zhang Kai and Lily Zhang appear as the no.4 seeds, the leading pairs being previous winners.
Vitor Ishiy and Bruna Takahashi, the winners in 1998, head the list; Brian Afanador and Adriana Diaz, successful in 2018, appear in second spot. Argentina’s Horacio Cifuentes and Camila Arguelles reserve the no.3 seeded place.
Similar to Brazil, in the men’s team event where Hugo Calderano, Gustavo, Tsuboi, Vitor Ishiy and Eric Jouti complete the line-up, the United States reserves the top seeded spot in the women’s team competition.
Brazil has won all three previous editions, the one change from the Asuncion selection being that Hugo Calderano replaces Thiago Monteiro.
Impressive in Slovenia
Runners up at the recent WTT Contender Slovenia tournament; Adriana Diaz and elder sister Melanie Diaz occupy to top spot in the women’s doubles, ahead of Chile’s Daniela Ortega and Paulina Vega.
The women’s doubles title not defended, a new pairing set to be crowned, it is different in the men’s doubles.
Gold in Poland
Winners in Asuncion and at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Polish Open, Argentina’s Gaston Alto and Horacio Cifuentes head order; next in line is the pairing of Vitor Ishiy and Eric Jouti.
Intense competition awaits and there is an added spice; the top six outfits in each of the men’s team and women’s team events, qualify for the 2022 World Team Championships in Chengdu, China.