Omar Flores, the winner of the Men's Singles title in Costa Rica
Guatemala ended proceedings as the most successful nation in the XXV Central American Championships; staged in San José, Costa Rica from 22nd to 26th November 2006, their players captured seven of the nine titles on offer.
The two crowns to elude Guatemalan hands were the Women’s Team event and the Women’s Singles; both going the way of El Salvador. Morayle Alvarez clinched the individual title, having earlier in the tournament teamed with Wang De-Ying and Verónica Ramos to take team gold.
Otherwise it was Guatemala who ruled.
Omar Flores won the Men’s Singles, Héctor Gatica and Lester Sanjay were crowned Men’s Doubles champions, José Miguel Ramírez and Andrea Estrada took Mixed Doubles gold whilst in the Women’s Doubles, the latter prevailed with Maria José Gomes.
In the Men’s Team event the Guatemalan trio of José Miguel Ramírez, Omar Flores and Héctor Gatica proved totally dominant; only Panama in the opening fixture managed to extract one match from the champions elect, that being the victory of Oren Rouzenbaum over Héctor Gatica.
Panama with Rouzenbaum being supported by Jhomas Jimenez and Justo Altamiranda finished in second place with the host association’s team of Allan Calvo, Steve Herra and Cristian Fernandez, concluding matters in the bronze medal position.
Similarly, in the Women’s Team event, the winners dropped only one individual match and, like Guatemala in the counterpart men’s event, it was in their opening fixture.
The player to draw blood was Guatemala’s Maria José Solares against Veronica Ramos in a three-one success for El Salvador; that was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect record, with Morayle Alvarez and Wang De-Ying remaining unbeaten for the champions throughout the Women’s Team competition.
Meanwhile, the defeat at the hands of El Salvador was the only reverse for Guatemala. Maria José Solares, Andrea Estrada and Valerie de León finishing in silver medal ahead of the Costa Rica team of Melissa Nuñez, Angie Araya and Cindy Araya.
Success for Guatemala and El Salvador in the team events was reflected in the Men’s and Women’s Singles competitions.
Three of the four semi-finalists in the Men’s Singles were from Guatemala with Omar Flores capturing the title. In the final he beat José Miguel Ramírez having overcome Panama’s Justo Altamiranda in the semis whilst Ramírez had defeated Lester Sanjay at the penultimate stage.
It was a similar scenario in the latter stages of the Women’s Singles event with three of the four semi-finalists being from El Salvador. Morayle Alvarez captured gold beating Guatemala’s Andrea Estrada in the semis before accounting for Wang de-Ying who had overcome Veronica Ramos to book her place in the final.
Meanwhile in the three doubles events Guatemala ruled. Héctor Gatica and Lester Sanjay emerged as champions beating Costa Rica’s Allan Calvo and Steve Herra in the final whilst in the Women’s Doubles, Andrea Estrada and Maria José Solares captured gold overcoming the teenage Honduras pairing of Reina Solis and Andrea Herrera in the final.
Gold for Andrea Estrada in the Women’s Doubles and also success in the Mixed Doubles; partnering José Miguel Ramírez the duo beat colleagues Omar Flores and Maria José Solares to be crowned champions.
The success of the Guatemalan players meant they finished top of the rankings with El Salvador in second spot followed by Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama.
Medallists in the Women’s Team event in Costa Rica
Photo by Carlos Esnard