(by Steve Hopkins)
The 2022 ITTF Pan American Championships is being played this week in Santiago, Chile. The first events were Men’s and Women’s Teams. In the Men’s Teams event, Brazil (anchored by World No. 6 Hugo Calderano and World No. 68 Vitor Ishiy) was a strong favorite and they cruised pretty easily into the Final with a 3-1 win over Canada and a 3-0 win over Puerto Rico. *The one match loss in those early rounds was Canada’s Edward Ly who defeated Eric Jouti 3-1.
TeamUSA was seeded second (we also have a high ranked anchor – World No. 28 Kanak Jha). The Americans also breezed through the early rounds on their way to the Final – logging 3-0 wins against both Cuba and Argentina. The script for TeamUSA was the same in both of those matches with Sharon Alguetti and Jishan Liang winning the opening doubles match, Kanak winning the first singles match 3-1, and then Sharon Alguetti sealing the win with a tight 3-2 singles win.
The top two seeds advancing, set up an expected Finals match-up. Unfortunately, for TeamUSA – they were unable to win the Doubles so they needed to win 3 of 4 singles matches against a squad with a strong advantage in ranking and depth. The first singles match was an upset for TeamUSA with Kanak Jha defeating Hugo Calderano quickly – three close games that all went to Jha. The second singles match was a 3-0 win for Vitor Ishiy over Sharon Alguetti. The third singles match was a 3-1 win for Kanak Jha over Teodoro Guilherme. And despite winning the first game and being tied 10-10 in the second, Jishan Liang was ultimately outmatched by World No. 6 Calderano – falling 1-3. Brazil takes the Gold Medal and TeamUSA brings home Silver.
Mirroring the men, Brazil entered as a slight favorite in the Women’s Team competition and TeamUSA was seeded second. Both Brazil and the USA advanced easily to the Final. When USA faced Puerto Rico in the Semifinal, Puerto Rico’s top player, World No. 12 Adriana Diaz, did not play – and USA outmatched the Puerto Rican team for an easy 3-0 win. The Final was tight with Rachel Sung and Amy Wang winning opening doubles. Lily Zhang then fell 1-3 to Bruna Takahashi and Amy Wang fell to Carolina Kumahara. Lily then tied the match score with a 3-1 win over Giulia Takahashi before Rachel Sung fell to Bruna Takahashi. A 3-2 win for Brazil. Gold for Brazil and Silver for TeamUSA.
Lots of quality table tennis through the weekend as Singles and Doubles events begin – we’ll have more updates soon.
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