Once Again on Duty, Cazuo Matsumoto
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Cazuo Matsumoto

Once Again on Duty, Cazuo Matsumoto Defends Latin American Cup Title

Once Again on Duty, Cazuo Matsumoto Defends Latin American Cup Title

Courtesy of ITTF

Winner of the Men’s Singles title at the GAC Group 2013 ITTF World Tour Spanish Open, the first Latin American player to achieve the feat, Cazuo Matsumoto defends his title at the forthcoming 2015 ITTF-Latin American Cup, which starts in Havana, Cuba on Friday May 29th.

He is one of only three players who has been ever present since the tournament was first staged in Rio de Janeiro in 2011, an event that has always been won by a Brazilian.

Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre and Argentina’s Gaston Alto are the two further players who will be making their fifth consecutive appearance with, in addition to Cazuo Matsumoto, Gustavo Tsuboi and Thiago Monteiro being the previous winners.

Gustavo Tsuboi emerged as the champion on the inaugural occasion with the next two seeing Thiago Monteiro mount the top step of the medal podium.

Hugo Hoyama
The one further Brazilian to have competed is Hugo Hoyama, now the National Coach for the Women’s Team, a player with more Latin American medals than the legs on an overgrown centipede.

He competed in the first two editions but with no great success; it must be the only continental that has proved elusive.

Just as Jan-Waldner never won the Men’s Singles title at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, arguably because he had few opportunities, the tournament being inaugurated late in his career, it is the same for Hugo Hoyama with regards to the ITTF-Latin American Cup.

In 2011 he was beaten by Gustavo Tsuboi at the quarterfinal stage, one year later by Gaston Alto in the same round.

Debutant
One wonders if his record number of titles in Latin American competitions will ever be equaled but if one man is going to complete the achievement, the prime candidate is 18 year old Hugo Calderano, the recent winner of the Men’s Singles title at the 2015 ITTF-Latin American Championships in Buenos Aires.

In Havana, he makes his debut in the ITTF-Latin American Cup and very much replaces Thiago Monteiro in the line-up; just as did Hugo Hoyama in 2011.

No doubt Thiago Monteiro would have welcomed the opportunity to challenge for a third title, especially having been in such good form at the recent GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Belarus Open, where in the second round of the Men’s Singles event, he ousted Korea’s Cho Eonrae.

The Selection
However, the fight for a place in the Brazilian team is ever more intense and with each national association limited to three players in the 2015 ITTF-Latin American Cup, the selection is Gustavo Tsuboi, Hugo Calderano and Cazuo Matsumoto.

They are respective top three seeds with Mexico’s Marcos Madrid, the host nation’s Andy Pereira, Ecuador’s Alberto Miño and Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre the next in line.

All are worthy adversaries with both Marcelo Aguirre and Marco Madrid having reached the final; in 2011 Marcelo Aguirre finished in runners up spot, losing to Gustavo Tsuboi, one year ago, Marcos Madrid was beaten by Cazuo Matsumoto in the title deciding contest.

Worthy Opponents
The same fortunes have not come the way of Andy Pereira and Alberto Miño but last November, Andy Pereira won the Men’s Singles title at the 2015 Central American Games, while Alberto Miño was a bronze medalist at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara.

Emulating Vitor Ishiy
All have eyes on reaching the latter stage but could the efforts of Brazil’s Vitor Ishiy one year ago in Asuncion be repeated in Havana?

A rank outsider, 18 years old at the time, he reached the semi-final stage, losing to Cazuo Matsumoto. Similarly, Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador, likewise 18 years old is the no.9 seed, one place behind Gasto Alto who excelled recently on the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour in Zagreb.

Daniel Gonzalez and Jorge Campos, both aspiring young players who could also emulate the efforts of Vitor Ishiy, are the next in the order of merit with the ever reliable and consistent José Miguel Ramirez of Guatemala completing the top 12 names.

Two Stages
Proceedings commence with players drawn into four groups, those finishing in first and second places in each group advance to the quarterfinals.

View Seeding List and visit ITTF.com for more information on the upcoming 2015 Latin American Cup.

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