Sunday evening, Brazil claimed both the men’s and women’s titles in the Latin American Table Tennis Cup in San José’s National Stadium.
In the men’s finals, Thiago Monteiro dominated Argentina’s Liu Song with a wicked right-handed serve and return. The crowd gasped with every miss and applauded with every slam between the two champions. Monteiro was ahead in the third set when a timeout was called for the athletes to seek council from their coaches, wiping sweat from their faces and bouncing on their toes.
When the two returned to the table, Song appeared to have regained his control in the first few volleys. Still, three hard smashes from Monteiro closed the deal. The final score was 4-1 (11-9, 12-10, 11-9 and 11-8).
“I’ve always wanted to come to Costa Rica,” Montiero said. “Though we don’t always get to see much of the country, we see the people here cheering us on.” Montiero was icing his shoulder, but not because of injury he said, just to keep the swelling down after numerous difficult matches. He said the competition was tough but still very enjoyable.
In the women’s match, Caroline Kumahara overcame Puerto Rico’s Carelyn Cordero. For the first few matches, the women went point for point with each other, but by the third set, 16-year-old Kumahara’s triumphant shout came more frequently. During a timeout, Cordero didn’t speak with a coach, gathering her concentration instead. In the end it was not enough, and the Kumahara’s speed overcame Cordero with a final score of 4-2.
“This has been a difficult competition,” Kumahara said. “It a much higher altitude here and I definitely have felt that. But as a whole it was a great competition and a great win.” After a few more matches in Brazil, Kumahara will travel to Europe to begin training for the London Summer Olympics.
The Latin American Table Tennis Cup drew 12 men and 12 women from across the Latin America. Neither of Costa Rica’s competitors – Angie Araya and Allan Calvo – made it to the final matches on Sunday.