Maple Leaf Flies High, Canadians Stave off Brave Guatemalan Fightback
Courtesy of ITTF
They stood to a man, woman and child in the packed Atos Markham Arena in Toronto. No medals were won, no titles decided, quite simply in the opening fixture in the group phase of Women’s Team event at the 2015 Pan American Games, in the decisive fifth and concluding match against Guatemala on the early afternoon of Sunday July 19th, Canada had emerged successful.
Zhang Mo, after accounting for Andrea Estrada in the opening match of the contest (11-5, 11-7, 11-5), sealed the victory with success against Andrea Montufar (11-5, 11-3, 13-11).
“I was so excited after the last match, the reaction from the crowd was incredible”, smiled Zhang Mo. “Before the last match I felt confident; throughout I was able to win points with my service.”
Success for Canada but great credit must go to Guatemala for a spirited recovery. After Zhang Mo had given the host nation a splendid start, Anqi Luo doubled the advantage by beating Mabelyn Enriquez (11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 11-4).
It was at that stage the recovery began. Mabelyn Enriquez and Andrea Montufar combined to beat Alicia Cote and Anqi Luo in a tense doubles encounter (5-11, 11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 13-11), before Andrea Estrada overcame Alicia Cote to level matters (11-4, 11-8, 7-11, 4-11, 11-6).
“I must admit it was much closer than I expected”, said Chunya Chen, the Canadian Women’s Team coach. “Losing the doubles changed the contest; however, overall it was a good experience, especially for our younger players.”
Yadira Silva’s Efforts in Vain
A call for Canada, the no.3 seeds, against Guatemala, the no.11 seeds; it was the same for Puerto Rico, the no.4 seeds, in opposition to Mexico, the no.12 seeds.
Yadira Silva was the thorn in the side of the Caribbean outfit. She beat both Adriana Diaz (9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-3) and Carelyn Cordero (11-6, 11-8, 11-6).
Melanie Diaz the Guiding Hand
Alas for the Mexicans, those were the only two successes with Melanie Diaz being the Puerto Rican guiding hand.
She beat Mercedes Madrid in the opening match of the fixture (11-9, 11-9, 11-5), before teaming with Carelyn Cordero to win the vital doubles against Mercedes Madrid and Monica Serrano (11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6).
“We connected well in the doubles, we had a very good understanding”, said Melanie Diaz. “We knew it was vital to win that match; we focused on being the first to attack.”
Younger Sister Secures Success
A fine effort from Melanie Diaz enabled younger sister Adriana to complete matters.
In the vital concluding match of the fixture, she beat Monica Serrano (11-6, 11-9, 11-8).
“I’ve played Monica before and won, so I was confident before the match”, said Adriana Diaz. “Against Yadira I won the first game but then she played really well from the backhand; she kept changing direction and maybe I should have played stronger.”
Full distance wins for Canada and Puerto Rico; for Brazil, the top two seeds, Brazil and the United States, life was less dramatic.
Brazil with Gui Lin, Caroline Kumahara and Ligia Silva on duty overcame the Peruvian trio of Angela Mori, Gabriela Soto and Janina Nieto by three matches to nil; whilst the United States combination of Lily Zhang, Zheng Jiaqi and Yasiris Ortiz recorded the same margin of victory in opposition to the Dominican Republic line-up of Johenny Valdez, Eva Brito and Yasiris Ortiz.
Comprehensive wins, with Hugo Hoyama, the Brazilian Women’s Team coach, pleased the first hurdle had been negotiated,
“Caroline lost the first game against Gabriela Soto but after she won the second, she was fine”, he said Hugo Hoyama; Caroline Kumahara won in four games (2-11, 11-4, 11-5, 12-10).
“We come here as favorites but it is very close”, continued Hugo Hoyama. “I’ve told the girls that it is one match at a time and always be one hundred per cent focused whoever you are playing”.
Tokyo a Confidence Boost
Wise words and they come from the voice of experience, the man who has won more medals in the table tennis events at the Pan American Games than any other.
“Certainly the fact that we won in Tokyo has helped our confidence”, added Hugo Hoyama. “It is important that we adopt the same approach here in Toronto.”
At the ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Championships in Tokyo, the same trio as on duty in Toronto won Division Two of the Women’s event and thus gained promotion to the Championship Division.
Peru started proceedings as the no.10 seeds, the Dominican Republic, the no.9 seeds.
- Teams Seeding List (PDF)
- Singles Seeding List (PDF)
- ITTF Flickr – more photos
- Men’s Teams Groups
- Women’s Teams Groups