09 Oct 2023

Experience counts as leading Argentine international secures top prize.

Competing in the inaugural edition of the Copa Tango in 2001, silver was the colour of the medal for Argentina’s Gabriel Copola; now over two decades later, at the tournament’s 20th edition, play concluding on Sunday 8th October in the city of Buenos Aires, the colour was gold.

A factor 20 tournament for World ranking points, the 39-year-old won men’s singles class 3.

The win was as predicted, he commenced play as the top seed.

Likewise in the men’s singles events, Korea Republic’s Kim Hakjin justified his top seeded position to win class 1, an outcome that also applied to Chile’s Luis Bustamente in class 2, Belgium’s Marc Ledoux in class 8 and Brazil’s Gabriel Antunes in class 10.

Success for the favourites but in the men’s singles there was no shortage of surprise winners, the biggest upsets being caused by Brazil’s Carlos Moraes and Chile’s David Letelier.

A proud moment for David Letelier (Photo: Nicolas Otermin)
A proud moment for David Letelier (Photo: Nicolas Otermin)

Neither player seeded, Carlos Moraes won class 5, in the later rounds accounting for the host nation’s top seeded Mauro Depergola (11-6, 11-3, 11-5), prior to overcoming Great Britain’s Simon Heaps (15-13, 11-7, 11-6) to reserve his place in the final.

Consistent form, that good form continued, he overcame Argentina’s Elias Romero, the no.2 seed (9-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7), to secure his first ever title at a Para open international tournament.

Groundbreaking for Elias Romero, it was the same for David Letelier.

He won class 9, accounting for Argentina’s Eithan Skliarsky in the final (11-9, 11-7, 11-7), a player very much in form, at the semi-final stage, he had ended the hopes of Brazil’s Flavio Seixas, the top seed (7-11, 11-6, 11-5, 7-11, 11-9).

Wins very much against the odds, for the Chilean trio comprising Maximiliano Rodriguez, Cristian Dettoni and Claudio Bahamondes, the success was less surprising.

Success somewhat against expectations for Maximiliano Rodriguez (Photo: Nicolas Otermin)
Success somewhat against expectations for Maximiliano Rodriguez (Photo: Nicolas Otermin)

Maximiliano Rodriguez, the no.4 seed, emerged the class 4 winner, in so doing thwarting Brazilian hopes.

In the penultimate round he beat Eziquel Babes, the no.2 seed (11-9, 11-7, 11-7), prior to clinching the title at the expense of Ecildo Oliveira, a contest that must rank as one of the closest ever finals in the history of the Copa Tango.

The Chilean prevailed in a full distance duel, the fifth game a marathon (9-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 19-17).

Notably, Chile’s Cristian Gonzalez, the top seed, had departed in the first stage, he finished in third place in his initial phase group and thus did not qualify for the main draw.

Gold for fourth seed, in class 6 it was gold for the no.2 seed and an air of revenge.

Cristian Dettoni turned the tables (Photo: Nicolas Otermin)
Cristian Dettoni turned the tables (Photo: Nicolas Otermin)

On the opening day, in the group stage Cristian Dettoni had lost to colleague Matias Pino (11-8, 11-9, 11-7), in the final, he turned the tables to win in straight games (11-6, 12-10, 11-7).

Impressive from Cristian Dettoni, it had been the same one round earlier; in the penultimate round he ousted Ignacio Torres, the top seed, also from Chile, in five games (8-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-9, 11-8).

Four men’s singles titles for Chile, Claudio Bahamondes made it five; he won class 7.

At the final hurdle he accounted for Argentina’s Aleksy Kaniuka, the no.2 seed (9-11, 11-9, 14-12, 11-8), having one round earlier beaten Colombia’s Miguel Castro (9-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-4), the quarter-final winner in opposition to the host natin’s Cristian Canteros, the top seed (9-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-4).

Unexpected outcomes in the men’s singles, in the counterpart women’s singles there was just one.

An unexpected gold for Florencia Perez (Photo: Nicolas Otermin)
An unexpected gold for Florencia Perez (Photo: Nicolas Otermin)

Adding more to the Chilean golden haul, Florencia Perez prevailed in class 7-8. The no.3 seed, at the semi-final stage she beat Brazil’s Sophia Kelmer, the top seed (8-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8), prior to securing the title at the expense of Japan’s Yuri Tomono, the no.2 seed (11-7, 9-11, 12-10, 11-5).

Otherwise, it was success for the favourites. Brazil’s Thais Severo won class 1-3, colleague Flora Vauthier secured the class 4-5 title; the one remaining event went the way Chile, Jessica Alzate succeeded in class 9-10.

Gold for Thais Severo and Flora Vauthier, on the concluding day of action it was the same.

They joined forces to win women’s doubles class 10, apart they enjoyed mixed doubles success.

Partnering colleagues, Thais Severo joined forces with Eziqueil Babes to win class 7, Flora Vauthier allied with Nicolas Savant-Aira to claim the class 10 top prize.

Three titles for Thais Severo (Photo: Nicolas Otermin)
Three titles for Thais Severo (Photo: Nicolas Otermin)

Success for Nicolas Savant-Aira meant he departed Buenos Aires with two titles, a situation that applied also to Sophia Kelmer.

Additional to the mixed doubles gold Nicolas Savant-Aira partnered colleague François Geulians to the men’s doubles class 8 top prize.

Meanwhile, competing in class 20, Sophia Kelmer secured the women’s doubles title alongside Yuri Tomono; the mixed doubles in harness with Gabriel Antunes.

Thus, Gabriel Antunes, the men’s singles class 10 winner, departed with two golds, a situation that applied to Florencia Perez, the women’s singles class 7-8 winner. She partnered Chilean colleague Ignacio Torres to mixed doubles class 14 gold.

Success for Ignacio Torres resulted in him joining the two-title brigade, additionally alongside Matias Pino he prevailed in men’s doubles class 14.

Matias Pino enjoyed success alongside Ignacio Torres (Photo: Nicolas Otermin)
Matias Pino enjoyed success alongside Ignacio Torres (Photo: Nicolas Otermin)

Rewards for Chile on the last day of play, there was also success for Cuba, Venezuela and the hosts.

The combination of Cuba’s Yunior Fernandez and Venezuela’s Roberto Quijada won men’s doubles class 4, Argentina’s Dario Neira and Alejandro Perez emerged successful in men’s doubles class 14.

Play concluded in Argentina, attention now turns to Nigeria, the three-day ITTF Fa20 Valuejet Lagos Para Open 2023 commences on Thursday 12th October.

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