ITTF Pan Am Junior Championships: Junior Teams
(by Steve Hopkins)
The ITTF Pan American Junior Championships is underway bringing just over 100 of the most talented junior players in this hemisphere to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The tournament began on July 10 and will run through July 15 with two team events (Boys’ and Girls’ Teams), two singles events (Boys and Girls Singles), and three doubles events (Boys and Girls Doubles, and Mixed Doubles). The team events were scheduled first with finals on July 12. Doubles events will conclude on the 14th and 15, and the singles finals will be the featured event on the final day.
JUNIOR BOYS’ TEAM EVENT
Team USA includes Kanak Jha, Sharon Alguetti, Nikhil Kumar, and Tio Nicholas. Team USA is seeded first in the event as Kanak Jha and Sharon Alguetti are the top two seeds in the tournament.
Team USA completed the group phase with wins over Chile and Peru (both 3-1). The second group went in order with Argentina finishing first, Puerto Rico second, Costa Rica third, and Trinidad and Tobago fourth. The third group included an upset with the Canadian team of Alexander Bu, Jeremy Hazin, Edward Ly, and Terence Yeung entering as the second seed but then logging wins over Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Aruba (3-1, 3-1, and 3-0).
In the elimination round USA and Argentina had byes, Brazil defeated Puerto Rico 3-0 and Chile defeated Canada 3-2. Team USA then defeated Brazil 3-1 and Argentina defeated Chile 3-0. In the final, Argentina’s Bentancor came back from down 0-2 to pull out a 3-2 win over USA’s Nichola Tio. However, Team USA was dominant from that point forward with Jha winning twice and Alguetti winning once to seal a 3-1 win for the Americans. Team USA are the 2018 Pan Am Junior Boys Champions.
JUNIOR GIRLS’ TEAM EVENT
The USA is represented by Rachel Sung, Amy Wang, Crystal Wang, and Rachel Yang. Team USA is seeded first in the event – Amy Wang is the highest seeded female player in the tournament overall and Rachel Sung seeded sixth.
Team USA took care of business in the group phase with 3-0 wins over Ecuador and Mexico. The other top seeds won as well: Puerto Rico won Group 2, Brazil won Group 3, and Canada won group 4. The only group where the seeds were not exactly as expected was Group 4 where the host Dominican Republic team was seeded fourth but finished a surprising second.
Team Puerto Rico features the highly rated Adrian Diaz (No.2 overall) along with Fabiola Diaz, Kassandra Maldonado, and Mileysha Sanchez. The Canadian team features three players in the top 10 in this event: Isabelle Xiong (No.8), Ivy Liao (No.10), and Benita Zhou (No. 11), and Joyce Xu (No.23).
The group winners each won their opening round in the elimination phase and advanced to the semifinals (USA over Paraguay, Brazil over Dominican Republic, Canada over Guatemala, and Puerto Rico over Ecuador). Team USA then beat Brazil in a very tight 3-2 match with American Crystal Wang, Rachel Sung, and Amy Wang each winning one match. The same pattern followed for the Canadians in their win over Puerto Rico with Ivy Liao, Joyce Xu and Isabelle Xiong each winning one match to secure the 3-2 win for Team Canada. Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz won both of her matches but found little help from her teammates in their losing effort.
The final result was Team USA over Team Canada 3-1. Canada’s Ivy Liao logged the first match for Canada with a 3-2 win over Amy Wang. The next three matches, however, went to the Americans. Team USA are the 2018 Pan Am Junior Girls Champions.
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