2018 Pan Am Championships: Recap
(by Steve Hopkins/ Photo by ITTF)
Santiago, Chile was host this week to the 2018 Pan America Championships. The tournament featured Men & Women Team events, Men & Women Singles events, and Men & Women & Mixed Doubles events. The Team events concluded on Thursday. The elimination stages of Singles and Doubles events were Friday through Sunday.
The top men present by ranking were Kanak Jha (USA), Marcelo Aguirre (PAR), Eric Jouti (BRA), Alberto Mino (ECU). In the Men’s Team event, the top four seeds were Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Puerto Rico. Despite having the highest ranked individual player, Team USA was seeded 9th as a group and Team Canada (whose highest ranked player is No. 22 in the tournament) was seeded 11th.
The top women by ranking are Mo Zhang (CAN), Adriana Diaz (PUR), Jennifer Wu (USA), and Bruna Takahashi (BRA). In the Women’s Team event, the top four seeds were Brazil, USA, Chile, and Puerto Rico. Team Canada was seeded 11th.
MEN’S TEAM EVENT
Team USA upset top-seeded Brazil in the group event – both teams advanced. In the knock-out stages, Team USA continued their great run by upsetting third-seeded Argentina 3-2 in the quarterfinals and then upsetting second-seeded Chile in the Semifinals 3-2. Brazil went through the other half of the draw easily. They defeated Cuba 3-0 and Paraguay 3-0 on their way to the final. This pitted Brazil against USA in the final for a rematch, and this time it was all Brazil. Tio and Kumar fell 3-2 in the doubles match, Kanak Jha fell to Eric Jouti 3-2, and Nikhil Kumar fell 3-1 to Thiago Monteiro. Top seeded Brazil won the title, but Team USA can celebrate wins over the top three seeds of the tournament for a well-earned silver medal.
WOMEN’S TEAM EVENT
The top two seeds progressed to the finals as expected. Brazil and the US each maneuvered through the field to find their way to the finals. In the final, Jennifer Wu and Lily Zhang won the doubles, Brazil then won the next two singles matches (Takahashi over Wang and Gui over Zhang), and then Xinyue Wang defeated Brazil’s Yamada before Brazil’s top player, Bruna Takahashi, won the final match with three close games over Jennifer Wu.
MEN’S SINGLES EVENT
USA’s Kanak Jha entered as the top seed and did not disappoint. He defeated Puerto Rico’s Afanador 4-1, and Brazil’s Monteiro 4-3 to reach the final. Second seeded Aguirre (Mexico) fell to Horacio Cifuentes (Argentina). Cifuentes had also defeated third seeded Eric Jouti of Brazil. Cifunetes run ended in the final however, losing to Kanak Jha 4-1 (10, 11, 4, -9, 8).
WOMEN’S SINGLES EVENT
In the quarterfinals, USA’s Jennifer Wu fell to Brazil’s Lin Gui 4-2, Paulina Vega (CHI) fell to Bruna Takahashi (BRA) 4-2, USA’s Lily Zhang fell to Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, and Canada’s Mo Zhang defeated Paula Medina of Colombia. Zhang then defeated Gui 4-0 and Diaz defeated Takahashi 4-1 to set up a final between the top-seeded Zhang and second-seeded Diaz. Diaz dominated the final jumping out to an early lead with 11-4, 11-8, and 11-7 wins in the first three games. Zhang and Diaz then split the last two games giving Diaz the title 4-1.
MEN’S DOUBLES EVENT
Men’s doubles pitted the top two ranked teams in the final. Brazil’s Ishiy and Jouti defeated Mexico’s Aguirre and Toranzos 3-0. Puerto Rico’s team of Afanador and Gonzales made it to the semifinal before losing to the Mexican team. Team USA (Jha/Liu) defeated the Canadian team before falling in the quarterfinals.
WOMEN’S DOUBLES EVENT
Women’s doubles also matched the top two ranked team in the final. Canada’s Alicia Cote and Mo Zhang defeated Team USA’s Jennifer Wu and Lily Zhang 3-1.
MIXED DOUBLES EVENT
In mixed doubles, Kanak Jha and Jennifer Wu defeated the Canadian Team of Medjugorac/Cote 3-1 and the Argentinian Team of Alto/Codina 3-1 and the Spanish Team of Madrid/Silva 3-1 on their way to the final. The Puerto Rican Team of Brian Afanador and Adriana Diaz defeated Brazillians Jouti/Gui and Canadians Wang/Zhang on their way to the final. In the final, Afanador/Diaz defeated Jha/Wu to give Puerto Rico the title.
The 2018 Pan Am medal count (Gold/Silver) was: Brazil (3 gold), Puerto Rico (2 gold), USA (1 gold, 4 silver), Canada (1 gold, 1 silver), Mexico (1 silver), Argentina (1 silver),