We are many presumed experts on European Table Tennis, who have been waiting for something good to come from the now seventeen year old Joaa GERALDO from Portugal.
I remember him well from the first time I saw him. It was in Prague 2009 – the last European Youth Championships that I attended and we were all talking in the stands. One of the biggest clubs in Europe, mighty LIEBHERR Ochsenhausen with General Manager Reiner IHLE on site, also sensed the promise of quick and rapid success for the young cadet boy from the city of Mirandela, located in Northern Portugal.
But, like many European players these days, it has been slow cooking for Geraldo who so far in his career has done very few good results on the international scene. One of the reasons is of course an international planning that only included, in 2012, three ITTF GJC events and ZERO ITTF Pro events. The Portuguese left-hander is currently ranked 526 in the world and his resume of wins and losses , does not exactly scare any opponents out there.
Here in Guatemala City however he is finally showing some progress. Fuelled by a good, aggressive start against the nr ¾ seed XIN Zhaoxu from Singapore , Geraldo went on to win his group and advance to the quarterfinals where he will face the Brazilian Eric JOUTI for a place on the podium.
From a pure playing / excellence point of view there are still many things missing in his game – much to correct if the ambition is to make a move in the last year as a junior. You can still see those boyish immature decisions coming time after time. When the necessary cool and collected tactical sense should prevail the lefthander from Mirandela often goes with risk and speed instead of placements in his attacks. Another area to work on is definitely the returning of service. Here the young talent would need to change a thing or two.
The scary part is of course that the Joaa GERALDO is the ONLY (with big letters) European player making this event a priority. Clearly the forecast calls for severe pain in the future should such a trend continue in European Table Tennis. After all we have, playing here in the finals a number of good – but not unbeatable Asian Juniors. In fact the perfect raw meet for many hungry and eager European players . Never underestimate the noble art of winning something at this stage of your career. It can very well be the confidence booster needed to reach the next level.
Another important thing not to underestimate with the GJC finals is the thrill of being the star for a day or two. – This event works perfectly in small markets – where the sport of Table Tennis still is spelled with small letters – no doubt about that one .