Kanak Jha Rises to Challenge Proves No Achilles Heel for United States
2015 Pan American Games
Courtesy of ITTF
July 20, 2015 – Only 15 years old, remaining cool, calm and collected, Kanak Jha emerged as the guiding hand that steered the United States to the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Team event at the 2015 Pan American Games in Markham, Toronto on the afternoon of Monday July 20th .
He accounted for Alberto Miño in the opening match of the fixture (9-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-2), before in the crucial fifth and deciding engagement overcoming Geovanny Coello (11-5, 11-7, 11-6), after Jimmy Butler had been forced to concede his contest against Alberto Miño.
“Against Brazil last night I landed strangely on my foot, which strained my Achilles”, explained Jimmy Butler. “I battled through the doubles but I felt I could not play the singles so I withdrew; I hope to recover in time to play in the quarter final tonight.”
Jimmy Butler and Timothy Wang suffered defeat in the doubles contest against Geovanny Coello and Rodrigo Tapia (7-11, 11-3, 11-9, 4-11, 11-7), to give the Ecuadorians a ray of hope, after Timothy Wang had beaten Rodrigo Tapia in the second match of the fixture to double the American advantage (11-3, 12-10, 11-9).
A good start for the United States but the enforced withdrawal of Jimmy Butler had put a very different light on proceeding; a two matches to nil lead established, suddenly it was parity and pressure was on teenage shoulders.
“Going into the deciding match, I tried not to think about the pressure on me to win”, said Kanak Jha. “I just stayed relaxed and treated it as any other match; my game plan was to serve long to the forehand and just to play my normal aggressive game.”
Two wins from Kanak Jha steered the United States to victory over Ecuador; in a similar manner two wins from Marcos Madrid proved pivotal in Mexico’s three matches to two success against the Dominican Republic.
He beat both Emil Santos (11-4, 11-7, 11-9) and Samuel Galvez (8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-2) with the one further Mexican win being secured Ricardo Villa in the second match of the fixture. He accounted for Isaac Vila (14-12, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4).
The wins for the Dominican Republic were recorded in the doubles when Samuel Galvez and Isaac Vila accounted for Miguel Lara and Ricardo Villa (11-3, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8) and in the very next match of the fixture when Emil Santos accounted for Miguel Lara (11-5, 11-7, 13-11).
Second position in the group behind Brazil, the top seeds, was the eventual outcome for the United States; for Mexico it was runners up spot behind Argentina, the no.3 seeds.
First Place for Puerto Rico
Meanwhile, as matters came to a conclusion in the initial phase of the Men’s Team event on the early afternoon of the second day of action, Puerto Rico, the no.6 seeds, with Brian Afanador, Daniel Gonzalez and Hector Berrios on duty accounted for the Guatemalan outfit comprising José Miguel Ramirez, Heber Moscoso and Hector Gatica.
They recorded a three-nil win which meant Puerto Rico secured first place in the group with Canada, the no.4 seeds, who they had beaten the previous evening in a full distance five match duel, in second spot.
At the quarterfinal stage in the top half of the draw it is Brazil versus Chile and Canada against Argentina; in the lower half Puerto Rico confronts the United States, Mexico opposes Paraguay.
Day Two: First stage of proceedings in Men’s Team and Women’s Team events concludes, medalists decided – Photos by Thorsten Gohl