Latin American Players Reserve Tokyo 2020 Positions In Rosario

Horacio Cifuentes secures his Olympic ticket in Rosario (Photo: ITTF)

Seven competitors from Latin America have booked their slots in the men’s and women’s singles categories at the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games following successful outings at the 2021 Latin American Singles and Mixed Doubles Qualification tournament in Rosario, Argentina.

Marcelo Aguirre (Paraguay), the No.1 seed in the men’s singles event, failed to claim his place in Tokyo after being upset not once, but twice; in the 1st Stage, Aguirre fell short to Cuba’s Jorge Campos in the Round of 16 (11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7), and at the second attempt, Aguirre’s fate was sealed after succumbing to Dominican Republic’s Wu Jiaji (12-10, 11-7, 11-6, 17-15).

Brian Afanador (Puerto Rico) and Gaston Alto (Argentina) ultimately benefitted from Aguirre’s disappointing campaign. With Afanador and Alto having sealed their place in the Games, there were just two tickets left to fight for in the men’s singles category. Producing a dominant display against Wu Jiaji (11-7, 11-5, 13-11, 7-11, 11-6), it was Argentina’s Horacio Cifuentes who took the 1st Stage position, while Ecuador’s Alberto Mino narrowly escaped the determination of underdog Jorge Campos, winning 4:3 in a pulsating contest (11-2, 5-11, 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 13-11, 12-10).

In the women’s singles, top seed Melanie Diaz (Puerto Rico) and Paulina Vega (Chile) shone bright as they marched their way through Stage 1’s qualification matches largely undisturbed. It was Diaz who experienced the toughest goings in her final contest, battling with Cuba’s Daniela Carrazana Fonseca down to the wire. Diaz finally secured victory in the seventh and final game (7-11, 13-11, 9-11, 9-11, 14-12, 11-3, 11-6), advancing to Tokyo alongside Vega, who beat Yadira Silva of Mexico 4:2 (13-11, 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 12-14, 11-6).

Melanie Diaz squeezes over the finish line (Photo: ITTF)

The final place on offer would go to the winner of Fonseca versus Silva in Stage 2’s sole qualification match. Silva looked to be in full stride as she took the first two games from Fonseca, however, the Mexican turned the tides by winning three consecutive games. While Silva would manage to tie the score at three games apiece, she narrowly missed out on joining Diaz and Vega in Tokyo, losing out to Fonseca in dramatic fashion (7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 12-10).

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