(by Steve Hopkins / Photo by ITTF)
Guaynabo, Puerto Rico is host to the Universal 2019 ITTF Pan America Cup. Sixteen participants were invited and seeded based upon World Ranking. Four players were seeded into the semifinals, and then the rest of the field are placed in 3-person round robins with the winner advancing to the knock-out rounds. The top four men are Hugo Calderano (BRA), Gustavo Tsuboi (BRA), Kanak Jha (USA), and Marcelo Aguirre (PAR) and the top four women are Mo Zhang (CAN), Adriana Diaz (PUR), Jennifer Wu (USA), and Bruna Takahashi (BRA). The qualifying round was held on Friday.
In the men’s groups two of the top seeds advanced as expected – host Puerto Rico’s top player, Brian Afanandor and Alberto Mino of Ecuador. The other two qualifiers were both less expected. USA’s Nikhil Kumar upset Mexico’s Marcos Madrid (4-3) and then followed up with a dominating upset win over Emil Santos of the Dominican Republic (4-0) to win the group. And Canada’s Jeremy Hazin swept his group with two 4-0 upset wins: over Gustavo Gomez of Chile and over Daniel Gonzalez of Puerto Rico. Kumar and Hazin were the bottom two seeds in the tournament (the 15th and 16th players invited), so each needed two upsets to advance. Saturday’s matches will include: Calderano v. Afanador, Kumar v. Aguirre, Jha v. Mino, and Hazin v. Tsuboi.
In the women’s groups, two of the top seeds advanced as expected – USA’s Lily Zhang and Brazil’s Gui Lin both advanced easily. In group 3, Mexico’s Yadira Silva had a slight upset of Chile’s Paulina Vega to secure the top position and advance. And in group 4, the tournament’s bottom seed, Canada’s Alicia Cote, pulled off two upsets to advance. She defeated Puerto Rico’s Melanie Diaz and the Dominican Republic’s Eva Brito. The knock-out round on Saturday will include: Mo Zhang v. Lily Zhang, Yadira Silva v. Bruna Takahashi , Jennifer Wu v. Gui Lin, and Alicia Cote v. Adriana Diaz.
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