Will Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz make table tennis ‘a thing’ in North America?
Table tennis, or tenis de mesa, brings celebration, camaraderie and competition to the Diaz family. The sport is a familia affair.
Four-year-old Adriana Diaz took to the blade on a table her father, Bladimir — a full-time table tennis coach — set up in their home. She was following in the footsteps of her dad and mother — Marangely, an attorney — who both played competitively. Adriana’s three sisters — Melanie, Gabriela and Fabiola — play the sport as well.
Adriana excelled right away, owning game after game, year after year. By the time Adriana was 16 in 2016, she had become the first Puerto Rican female table tennis player to qualify for the Olympic Games. In Rio, she defeated Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike 4-2 in the preliminary round before losing to France’s Li Xue 0-4 in the second round.
“I tried to play with dolls — but, I’ve always been a sporty girl,” Adriana says in a phone interview. “I knew that table tennis was for me. It was fun, and I was very good at it.”
With her Zhang Jike Super ZLC blade in hand, Adriana, who is now 18, rose to 33rd in the International Table Tennis Federation (ITFF) women’s world rankings. She is the game’s rising star and her parents’ dream deferred.
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