(by Steve Hopkins)
Through Saturday evening, we were all following the results of the 2019 ITTF Pan American Junior Championships closely. But then, with little warning, the flow of information ceased. With the venue unavailable on Sunday and tensions from a dispute between the facility and the event organizers reaching the highest levels, power was shut off at the venue and play was terminated. No matches were played after 8:30 pm, which left the singles events unfinished.
ITTF issues the following statement:
“Due to circumstances out of the ITTF’s control, and despite efforts from ITTF Officials and staff on site, it’s a regret to inform the final day of the PANAM Junior Championships is not able to be completed. The ITTF will be doing a full investigation into the matter. More information to come.”
For many of the individual participants who have worked so hard to perform at peak levels at just the right time, this is extremely disappointing. However, there are some real positives for Team USA as a whole. The teams had already taken gold in both Boys and Girls team events. And a USA pair had also won gold in Mixed Doubles. The other events ended at the Semifinal level, with two pairs from the US in the Girls Doubles semifinals, with two pairs from the US in the Boys Doubles semifinals, with one USA player in both semifinals of the Boy’s Singles, and with three USA players in the final four of the Girls Singles. At the point where play stopped, the USA had won every completed event, and had a player or pair in each of the remaining scheduled matches (ensuring that the USA had the most chances to win in each of the remaining events).
Team USA will not be able to play the final few moves of this particular game. But the effort and preparation that was invested is evident to all – and the results as a group were about as good as anyone could have hoped. Unfortunately, the event scores an incomplete for this course – but the boys and girls from Team USA get an A for all of the coursework.
A review from the event through Saturday Evening:
The 2019 ITTF Pan American Junior Championships are nearing their conclusion in Cancun, Mexico. The team events concluded Wednesday with the weekend reserved for the singles and doubles events. Both the US Boys Team and the US Girls Team secured the Gold Medal on Wednesday.
The US Boys Team entered as the top seed and won their opener easily – a 3-0 win over Costa Rica. Their semifinal match against Argentina was tight with Argentina’s top player Santiago Lorenzo logging two wins in a losing effort. In the end, the firepower of the US team was too much and each of the US players (Kumar, Alguetti, and Liu) won one match to seal the win 3-2. The final was US over Chile 3-0.
The US Girls Team lived up to their top seed by defeated both of their main draw opponents 3-0. Their win over Mexico was 3-0, 3-1, 3-1 with Crystal Wang, Amy Wang, and Rachel Sung each winning one match. The win over Canada in the final was by nearly identical scores logging 3-1, 3-1, and 3-0 wins by the same three players. The Canadian team of Ivy Liao, Joyce Xu, and Benita Zhou fell short in the final, but finished as runner up in the event.
There were US pairs in each of the doubles Semifinals (two US pairs in Boys Doubles, Girls Doubles, and Mixed Doubles). In Boy’s Doubles, Nikhil Kumar and Michael Tran will play the top seeded Chilean pair of Nicolas Burgos and Andres Martinez. And in the other Boy’s Doubles semifinal, it will be USA’s Sharon Alguetti and Victor Liu against Peru’s Felipe Dufoo and Jhon Loli. In Girls Doubles, Amy Wang and Crystal Wang will face the Cordero/Zapata pair from Guatamala and Rachel Sung and Rachel Yang will face off against the Canadian pair of Ivy Liao and Benita Zhou. In Mixed Doubles, the US pair of Nikhil Kumar and Amy Wang advanced to the final to face the US pair of Sharon Alguetti and Crystal Wang. Kumar/Wang claimed the Gold with a 3-1 win.
The singles knock-out phase will begin Friday. The US has a strong advantage in the Girls’ seeding list as Amy Wang, Rachel Sung, and Crystal Wang are the top three seeds. If judged by the seeding, the American boys will have a more difficult draw as only Nikhil Kumar and Sharon Alguetti (and No. 3 and No. 4) are in the top 18 seeds. Puerto Rico’s Angel Naranjo is seeded 7, and Canada’s Edward Ly is seeded 6.
In Boys’ Singles, top seeded Nicolas Burgos of Chile will face off against USA’s Nikhil Kumar in one semifinal. This is the first and fourth seed – both having advanced as expected. The second semifinal will be between USA’s Victor Liu and Panama’s Jacobo Vahnish – both of whom pulled off upsets in order to advance this far.
The USA has been dominant in the Girls’ Singles event with three team members advancing to the semifinals. Amy Wang will face Crystal Wang in the all-US semi. In the other half of the draw, its USA’s Rachel Sung who will face Valentina Rios of Chile.
Check in with ButterflyOnline.com for updates throughout major events.