2018 Pan Am Championships: Teams Update
(by Steve Hopkins / Photo by ITTF)
Santiago, Chile is host to the 2018 Pan America Championships. The tournament features Men & Women Team events, Men & Women Singles events, and Men & Women & Mixed Doubles events. The Team events concluded on Thursday. Singles and Doubles events will advance to the knock-out stages today and will conclude on Sunday.
The top men present by ranking are 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.
Team USA was placed in group 1 as the bottom seed behind Brazil (the tournament’s top seed) and the Dominican Republic. However, they put in a dominant performance in beating Brazil 3-1 (losing the doubles match and then winning three singles matches in a row), and then defeated DR 3-0. In the other groups, Puerto Rico finished first in their group as expected (Canada was seeded third and finished third in that group but did not advance). Mexico had a minor upset of Argentina to flip the first and second finisher in their group but both 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. Against Argentina, Tio and Kumar lost the opening doubles match, Kanak Jha and Nikhil Kumar won successive singles matches for Team USA, Jha fell to Argentina’s Alto Gaston, and then Nicholas Tio sealed the US victory with a win over Galvano. Against Chile, Tio and Kumar won the doubles match, Kanak Jha won the opening singles match, Chile tied the score with successive singles wings (Lamadrid over Kumar and Olivares over Tio), and then Kanak Jha sealed the match with a win over Gustavo Gomez.
Brazil, who had fallen to the US in the group round, 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 wins the title, but Team USA can celebrate wins over the top three seeds of the tournament for a well-earned silver medal.
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.
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. The bigger early stories were Canada and Cuba who each pulled off upsets. For Canada, they upset Colombia in the group stage to advance to the knock out stages and then they upset Puerto Rico before falling to top seeded Brazil in a tight 3-2 semifinal match. Cuba upset third-seeded Chile 3-2 before falling to the US in the semifinal.
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.
Singles and Doubles are all underway today. More updates will be provided as results are available.