29 Jul 2017

First places not theoretically assured but as play concluded on the evening of the first day of play, Friday 28th July, in the Women’s Singles event at the 2017 ITTF Pan American Cup in San José, the focus of attention was who would gain the all-important runners up spot.

Four groups, first and second positons, reserved a last eight place.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

The first player to achieve the feat was Wu Yue of the United States; having earlier in the day experienced defeat at the hands of Canada’s Zhang Mo, the top seed (11-5, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8), she recovered to beat Colombia’s Angie Umbacia in straight games (11-6, 11-3, 11-4).

Zhang Mo duly accounted for Guatemala’s Andrea Estrada to reserve top spot (11-3, 11-7, 11-1).

“Overall I’m pleased with today, I have no complaints, everything was normal for me; I lost to Zhang Mo but she’s a good player. I’m ready for tomorrow.” Wu Yue

Places in the main draw secured by Zhang Mo and Wu Yue; soon after the Dominican Republic’s Eva Brito and Brazil’s Gui Lin followed suit. Gui Lin, the no.3 seed, who earlier in the day had lost to Eva Brito (11-8, 5-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-1), beat Costa Rica’s Angie Araya (11-8, 11-3, 11-7) to reserve second place; Eva Brito maintained her unbeaten record, accounting for Puerto Rico’s Melanie Diaz (11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9) to secure first place.

“I felt I could win the rallies, I focused on keeping the ball on the table but the main factor is mental, fight, fight, fight. It is the main area in which I have improved the most  in recent months; I used to lose concentration but now I’m much better.” Eva Brito

Runners up spot and a place in the main draw for Gui Lin; it was the same for Colombia’s Paula Medina. In a hard fought contest, she beat El Salvador’s Estefania Ramirios (11-7, 9-11, 12-10, 15-1) to finish in second place behind Lily Zhang of the United States, the no.2 seed. Impressively, Lily Zhang  concluded her initial phase matches unbeaten by accounting for Peru’s Angela Mori (11-3, 11-7, 11-5).

Success for Gui Lin and Paula Medina as was anticipated; however, there was an upset as matters concluded.

Canada’s Alicia Cote, without a win to her name, beat Chile’s Paulina Vega after saving one match point in a nail-biting fifth and deciding game. It was a game in which she led 7-3, Paulina Vega elected for “Time Out” and reduced the difference in favour of the Canadian to one point at 7-6.

At that stage Alicia Cote called “Time Out” but at 10-9 it advantage Paulina Vega; the match point was saved, the next two points went in favour of Alicia Cote. It was success for a very calm 17 year old (11-3, 6-11, 11-6, 9-11, 12-10). The win was too late to secure a main draw place but it was a most satisfactory way for the young Canadian to finish her exploits.

“The main reason I won was that I was able to attack first, serve short to the middle with backspin and sometimes no spin; then attack the middle. If I kept playing towards her elbow she had problems; also when I played to her forehand she always returned across the diagonal to my backhand, so I was ready to block.” Alicia Cote

Defeat but first place in the group was the eventual outcome for Paulina Vega. Earlier she had caused a major upset by beating Brazil’s Caroline Kumahara, the no.4 seed (11-3, 12-10, 12-10). In her concluding group phase engagement, Caroline Kumahara overcame the Dominican Republic’s Esmeryln Castro (11-3, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7) and thus like Paulina Vega finished the day with two wins.

In such instances where two players are level, the match between the two decides; thus it was first place for Paulina Vega with Caroline Kumahara in second spot.

Day One: ITTF-Pan American Cup

Photos: Carlos Borban

World Cup 2017 Pan American Cup Lily Zhang Zhang Mo Paulina Vega Eva Brito

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