by Neha Aggarwal
16-year old Adriana Díaz of Puerto Rico has been smashing headlines not only across Puerto Rico but the entire continent of Latin America with her incredible performance in 2016. Her recent success at the 2016 US Open closed the year for her on a bright note and paved way for a successful future, making her the most popular table tennis player in Latin America.
When you think of sport in Latin America, you think of soccer, American football and volleyball. Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig changed the way tennis is perceived across Latin America after she brought home the first ever gold medal for her country at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Along with her in 2016, a new sensation was born. This teenager from Puerto Rico is determined to challenge the norms. She is young, talented and hard working, her delightful smile and charming personality makes her a complete sporting star.
“Success is defined by the dedication and discipline towards your sport, and I believe that the desire to want it and to reach it can make you achieve your goal.” said Adriana Díaz, the most famous female Latin American table tennis player in the world told elnuevodia.com.
This December, Adriana Díaz is ranked 95 in the world in the women’s singles category, 28 in Under-21 and 14 in Under-18. Her blazing performances this year: winner of ITTF World Junior Circuit titles in Slovak Republic and Poland, girl’s singles title at Pan American Junior Championships, Under-21 title at the ITTF-Latin American Championships.
She was also one of the youngest players at the Rio Olympics and she successfully wrapped up the year winning the women’s singles title at the 2016 US Open in Las Vegas in December.
In a poll conducted by the Latin American Table Tennis Union on their Facebook page, Díaz was voted as Latin America female player of the year receiving 3,528 likes and 1,432 shares in her photo. The second place went to Colombia’s Lady Ruano receiving only 379 likes and 125 shares.
She broke into world’s top 100 in March 2016 and has been on a winning spree since then. According to elnuevodia.com, Adriana Díaz credited her success to her father, Bladimir Díaz, who is also her coach.
“My dad is my everything”- Adriana Díaz.
There have been talks of her training abroad in China or Austria. Hopefully the decision will be made soon and 2017 will bring in new success for Díaz.
At 16 years of age, she already has fans surprising her. Recently, some of the Puerto Rican artists, including Luis Sánchez/Juan Figueroa painted beautiful posters and comics of her.
At the US Open in Las Vegas, the buzz in the crowd was to watch “the girl from Puerto Rico” play. She has a deadly counter attacking game close to the table and a brilliant defense, especially her lobs when steps away from the table.
Watch her hit the backhand smash down the line from her backhand side and it looks like the perfectly executed one ever by anyone. The commentators at the US Open called it as the signature Díaz shot.
Apart from her achievements on the table tennis court, Díaz has been involved in social events off the table as well. Earlier this year, she was involved in a promotional event organized by Pantene, where a lock of her hair was cut to be donated to women who are suffering from cancer. Last month she gave a TEDx talk in Puerto Rico where she spoke about the importance of family.
The teenager from Utuado, Puerto Rico is captivating attention over the world with her performances on and off the boundaries of the table. She aims to win a medal for her country someday at the Olympic Games. Her performance graph has a steep upward curve and she is giving her all in to achieve a goal that not many even dare to dream!