Notable names secure Santiago podium places

Augusto Morales won men’s singles 50 to 54 years (Photo: Cristian Larrain)

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Concluding on Saturday 10th November, six days of intense action came to an end at the 2018 Latin American Masters Championships in Santiago, Chile; a tournament in which several most notable names from the host nation competed.

Augusto Morales and Juan Papic were in action as were their female counterparts Berta Rodriguez and Sofia Tepez, a significant feature of the tournament being the high number of pen-hold grip players; once the popular grip in the continent, nowadays ever more in the minority.

Impressively Augusto Morales continued to employ the pen-hold grip to good effect; winner of the Men’s Singles title at the Latin American Championships in 2001 in Guatemala, he secured gold in the Men’s Singles 50 to 54 Years event in Santiago.

Likewise, Juan Papic, men’s singles bronze medallist at the 1996 and 1998 Latin American Championships, on both occasions staged in Mexico City, emerged a silver medallist in men’s singles 45 to 49 Years. He was beaten at the final hurdle by colleague Mauricio Acevedo, a contest in which having won the opening two games; he appeared on course to secure the title (8-11, 5-11, 11-7, 15-14, 11-6).

Medals for pen-holders Augusto Morales and for Juan Papic; it was the same for Berta Rodriguez, a player of the same ilk and for Sofija Tepes; they met in the Women’s Singles 40 to 49 Years final, the verdict going the way of Berta Rodriguez in three straight games (11-5, 13-11, 11-6). Silver for Sofija Tepes but there was gold; earlier in the tournament when partnering colleague Jacqueline Diaz, the duo had secured the top prize in the women’s doubles 45 to 49 Years event.

Notably, Berta Rodriguez has one of the best records of all at the Latin American Championships; in 2001 in Guatemala and the following year in Santo Domingo she won the Women’s Singles event, in 2004 in Valdiva she was the runner up. Furthermore, in 1996 in Mexico City as well as in 2003 in San Salvador and in 2005 in Punta del Este, she claimed bronze.

It is a record that Sofia Tepes cannot match but most creditably in 2000 in Coquimbo and the following year in Guatemala, she reached the Women’s Singles semi-final round.

Overall, 39 events were held during the six-day period. Eight Men’s Team plus four women’s team events were staged; two mixed doubles competitions were organised in addition to eight men’s doubles and three women’s doubles events. Nine men’s singles and five women’s singles events completed the itinerary.

In total there were 215 competitors, 87 men and 28 women; again the phrase rings true, table tennis for all, for life but let’s add more, for a long life, an enjoyable life.