Argentina and Puerto Rico were the big winners as five nations obtain single quotas at the Latin American Table Tennis Olympic Qualification Tournament. The event is currently being held in Rosario, Argentina from April 13th to April 17th, 2021.
Four male and three female quotas were awarded in the singles events. There were two stages. The first stage saw players drawn into two brackets each where the winners qualified to the Olympics. Unqualified players were then reseeded where two male brackets and one female bracket were created and the winners from those brackets also qualified.
In the men’s singles, the biggest upset happened in the first bracket where overall top seed Marcelo Aguirre of Paraguay lost to Cuba’s Jorge Campos 4-0. Campos reached the final where he proceeded to go to a seventh set against Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador, but it was Afanador whom won the last set 11-9 to grab an Olympic quota. The second bracket of the first stage saw the top seed, Horacio Cifuentes of Argentina face of Dominican Republic’s Jiaji Wu who scored a 4-2 upset over Ecuador’s Alberto Mino. Wu would not be able to repeat that performance as Cufuentes won the Olympic qualifying match 4-1.
The two losing finalists from the first stage were able to reach the finals in their respective second stage brackets. Unfortunately, they were unable to secure the Olympic quota. Campos was able to take a 3-1 lead over Mino but was unable to win a fourth set as Mino went on to win 4-3. Wu lost to a second Argentine player where Gaston Alto won 4-2.
On the women’s side, the overall top seed Melanie Diaz of Puerto Rico had a relatively easy path to the Olympic qualifying match as she dispatched her opponents 4-0. However, she would need to pull off a comeback as she was down 3-1 against Cuba’s Daniela Fonseca. Diaz would go on to win the next three sets to obtain the Olympic quota. The second bracket of the first stage came down to Mexico’s Yadira Silva and Chile’s Paulina Vega. Vega took a 3-0 lead before Silva attempted her comeback, but in the sixth set Vega took control to win it 11-6 and to with the match 4-2.
As with the men’s side, the two losing finalists in the first stage reached the finals of the second stage and faced off against each other for the final quota. The match between Silva and Fonseca went to a seventh set where Fonseca won 12-10 to secure the Olympic quota.
Unqualified athletes in Latin America can still qualify via the world rankings. The Latin American Qualification Tournament concludes tomorrow with the mixed doubles quota to be decided.