Alex Echavarria, a placed reserved in the Men's Singles event at the Pan American Games
Photo By: Armando Sanchez
Colombia’s 26 year old Alex Echavarria sank to the floor; he lay prone in exultation and exhaustion.
In the intense heat of Guadalajara, early in the afternoon of Tuesday 31st May 2011, he had beaten a most worthy opponent in the guise of Puerto Rico’s 17 year old Daniel Gonzalez to book his place in the Men’s Singles event at the Pan American Games to be held in the same city later in the year in October.
He withstood a spirited fight back by the Puerto Rican to win 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7, 5-11, 6-11, 12-10.
“I am so tired”, said Alex Echavarria trying to summon the energy to raise a smile.
He has been on duty from the very first day of proceedings, Monday 23rd May, for Colombia; furthermore, he has been his country’s best player and is well deserving of a place in the Pan American Games.
“Against both Venezuela and Peru in the ITTF-Latin American Championships I won my two matches and we lost three-two”, reflected Alex Echavarria. “We have a new team here in Guadaljara; Juan Restrepo has stopped playing and Mauricio Rivera who used to be a regular member of our team is now only the ninth ranked player in Colombia.”
Very much the Julian Arango and Jaime Valenciano, the other two members of the Colombian Men’s Team in Guadalajara, look towards Alex Echavarria as the team leader. He is the most experienced player having spent time in England at the London Progress Club and in Germany in Leipzig.
“I know I must lead the team and I must fight, today is was so tough, I just had to keep going”, continued Alex Echavarria. “Against Daniel I went ahead three-one then I felt the pressure; he changed his tactics, he played well; it’s the first time I have ever played him, cedrtainly he is a good player.
It was a fine contest and if such matches exist, one where no-one deserved to lose; both gave total commitment.
“Now, I’m back home in Medellin”, concluded Alex Echavarria. “Medellin is similar in altitude to here so perhaps that’s helped and made the difference.”
On the previous day, Alex Echavarria, the no.4 seed in the event, had beaten Uruguay’s Jhon Hirata (11-8, 11-8, 11-4, 4-11, 11-5) before ousting Paraguay’s Alejandro Toranzos (11-6, 11-2, 11-8, 11-4); one day later he overcame Peru’s Bryan Blas (11-9, 11-7, 12-10, 11-9) before succeeding in his dramatic struggle against Daniel Gonzalez.
A Class Above
Success for Alex Echavarria and also there was success for Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre who was never seriously troubled at any stage of the event.
Seeded no.1 he overcame Panama’s Felipe Leon (11-4, 11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6) and Aaron Baker of Barbados (11-4, 11-1, 11-5, 11-7) on the first day of the competition before beating Puerto Rico’s Elvin Rivera (11-7, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7) and Trevor Farley, also of Barbados (14-12, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8).