Extreme Emotions Delight and Despair, Finalists Decided
Courtesy of ITTF
Two days earlier it had been despair for Brian Afanador, losing the vital contest to Rodrigo Tapia, as the hosts experienced an agonizing Men’s Team quarter-final defeat at the 2016 ITTF-Latin American Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
They suffered at the hands of Ecuador; two days later on the evening of Thursday February 4th it was the opposite emotion.
The player to suffer the same low feeling of desolation was Brazil’s Vitor Ishiy.
At the semi-final stage of the Under 21 Men’s Singles event, Brian Afanador beat Argentina’s Horacio Cifuentes (11-7, 13-11, 12-14, 11-3); whilst Vitor Ishiy experienced defeat at the hands of Paraguay’s Alejandro Toranzos (11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 6-11, 11-9). The sense of despondency for Vitory Ishiy was that in the deciding fifth game he was 7-2 ahead and playing like an express train.
“I was playing under no pressure at all, I just played my game; I felt very confident at the start of the match”, said Alejandro Toranzos. “After the second game, he changed his services and I couldn’t return short, he served short but with no spin, it really caused me problems.”
It appeared that the contest had swayed in favor of Vitor Ishiy, arguably the more experienced player on the international scene but of course Alejandro Toranzos was no rookie, he had played on the biggest stage of all, the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.”
The momentum was surely in favor of Brazil; that momentum accelerated when Vitor Ishiy held a five point lead in the deciding fifth game.
“I tried to focus on just putting the ball on the table but at that stage I just relaxed”, continued Alejandro Toranzos. “However, overall today I really felt good, physically I felt strong and in the end I won because I was able to use my power.”
Responding to Occasion
Alejandro Toranzos responded to the occasion, so did Brian Afanador who felt the pressure in the third game when the spirited Argentine saved match points.
“Horacio, as with the other Argentine players, likes to play in big tournaments, they like to compete”, said Brian Afanador. “You must always be ready to play against them, I think my level is a bit higher but anything can happen in this stage.”
Success for Brian Afanador but after losing the third game one wondered if there had been a momentum swing; to the Puerto Rican’s credit, he maintained his focus and nerve to emerge successful.
“I just stayed focused, I think I was a bit unlucky to lose the third game; I don’t think I’ve had a lot of luck this tournament”, added Brian Afanador. “Increasingly I am able to understand these situations; I think such matches are making me stronger.”
Path to Penultimate Round
Earlier in the proceedings Brian Afanador had accounted for Uruguay’s Bruno Moleda (11-6, 10-12, 11-6, 11-5) and El Salvador’s Julio Calderon (11-7, 13-11, 12-14, 11-3); at the same stages Alejandro Toranzos had overcome Puerto Rico’s Yomar Gonzalez (11-9, 11-7, 11-8) and Peru’s Diego Rodriguez (11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 11-1).
It was the fourth time in a world ranking event that Brian Afanador had played Horacio Cifuentes; it was the fourth time that he had won.
Meanwhile, for Alejandro Toranzos and Vitor Ishiy it was their first such meeting.
The final of both the Under 21 Men’s Singles and Under 21 Women’s Singles will be played on Friday February 5th.