Panagyurishte Hearts Captured, Locals Rise to Efforts of Puerto Rican Teenager - Butterfly Table Tennis
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Adriana Diaz

Panagyurishte Hearts Captured, Locals Rise to Efforts of Puerto Rican Teenager

Panagyurishte Hearts Captured, Locals Rise to Efforts of Puerto Rican Teenager
GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Asarel Bulgaria Open

Two weeks of intense action in Central America, ITTF Junior Circuit tournaments in Guatemala and El Salvador followed by the Iberamericano Junior and Cadet Championships; Puerto Rico departed the region with 24 medals, ten gold, four silver and ten bronze, the leading name being that of Lineris Rivera who secured a quite remarkable eight titles.

Less than 48 hours after proceedings had concluded in the city of San Salvador, the name of Puerto Rico was once again at the forefront; this time at the other side of the World in Panagyurishte, the name to hit the headlines was that of Adriana Diaz.

Safely through the qualification stage, in the first round of the Women’s Singles event at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Asarel Bulgaria Open on Friday August 21st, she beat Britt Eerland of the Netherlands, the young lady crowned European Youth Champion in 2010 in Istanbul.

Listed at no.159 on the current Women’s World Rankings, 14-year-old Adriana Diaz emerged successful in six games (11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 13-11) against her 21-year-old opponent, named at no.91 in the global order.

Strong Top Spin Play
“She’s very strong, it was very hard especially at the start of the match to counter attack and control her topspin play”, said Adriana Diaz. “I tried to play the ball wide, create angles and force her back from the table.”

Adriana Diaz succeeded in her goal in a contest that was littered with top spin rallies that thoroughly entertained the crowd in the Asarel Arena; they warmed to the efforts of the Puerto Rican, adopting her as one of their very own.

“I think overall in the match I served well and as the match progressed I was able to block better”, added Adriana Diaz. “Also, I was able to succeed by playing down the parallel with my forehand.”

There may be no Bulgarians remaining in the Women’s Singles event in Panagyurishte but the locals have a Puerto Rican who they will support to the hilt.

Just a thought; has a Puerto Rican ever competed in any sporting gathering ever in Bulgaria? Certainly not in Panagyurishte!

Suthasini Sawettabut
An inspired performance by Adriana Diaz, her efforts rather overshadowed those of Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut who accounted for equally promising young player in the guise of Alina Nikitchanka from Belarus.

Suthasini Sawettabut eventually overcame the defensive skills of her 18-year-old adversary in six games.
“We have no defenders in Thailand, so I never have the chance to play against that style of play”, said Suthasini Sawettabut. “It was a question of being patient, playing one point at a time and being ready for her forehand attacks.”

Alina Nikitchanka is primarily a backspin player but she does possess the quality to top spin from the forehand; as that skill develops, she may well become a player who can be a standard bearer for Europe.

Top Eight Succeed
Performances of note; from the eight seeds it was the same in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event.

Kasumi Ishikawa, Ai Fukuhara, Mima Ito, Miu Hirano, Sayaka Hirano and Yuka Ishigaki flew the flag for Japan; for Korea Yang Haeun and Jeon Jihee emulated their Asian colleagues.

Top Half of Draw
In the top half of the draw, Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seed, beat Romania’s Andreia Dodean (11-4, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8), Yang Haeun, the no.4 seed, overcame Bulgaria’s Elitsa Zamirova (11-3, 11-5, 11-4, 11-4).

Likewise, Miu Hurano, the no.5 seed, defeated Turkey’s Sibel Remzi (11-5, 11-4, 11-5, 6-11, 11-1) and Sayaka Hirano, the no.7 seed, accounted for Alina Arlouskaya of Belarus (11-6, 11-3, 11-5, 11-5).

Top Half of Draw
Meanwhile, in the lower half of the Ai Fukuhara, the no.2 seed defeated Hungary’s Johanna Hepke (11-8, 11-2, 11-4, 11-2); Mima Ito, the no.3 seed, overcame the host nation’s Krasimira Yovkova (11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7).

Likewise Jeon Jihee, the no.6 seed, proved too strong for Russia’s Olga Kulikova (11-6, 11-4, 11-4, 11-7) as did the defensive skills of Yuka Ishigaki, the no.8 seed, when facing Turkey’s Merve Menge (10-12, 11-1, 11-2, 11-6, 11-8).

Follow the progress of Adriana Diaz (PUR), Prachi Jha (USA) and Kanak Jha (USA) in the Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles and U21 Men’s Singles, respectively, at the 2015 Bulgaria Open.

Visit ITTF for complete coverage of the 2015 Bulgaria Open.

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