by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Most impressively, Paulina Vega secured victory in three straight games (11-3, 12-10, 12-10), staving off a possible Brazilian recovery. In the third game Caroline Kumahara led 9-7, Paulina Vega levelled at 9-all; Hugo Hoyama, the Brazilian coach sitting courtside called “Time Out“. It was an understandable decision but Paulina Vega was to prove the beneficiary.
“I’ve played Caroline several times before but I’ve always lost. Today my forehand topspin was strong, I received service well; most importantly I was relaxed and focused. In March and April this year I played in Spain, in the Super Division for Covisca Santa Eularia; that’s helped because I’ve had more systematic training. Today I’m so pleased; life’s good!” Paulina Vega.
Success for Paulina Vega, in the same group there was success for the Dominican Republic’s Esmerlyn Castro; she beat Canada’s Alicia Cote (3-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7).
Most pertinently for Gui Lin it was a return to winning ways, for Eva Brito, a continuation of winning ways. Gui Lin overcame Puerto Rico’s Melanie Diaz (11-6, 12-10, 11-8); Eva Brito beat the host nation’s Angie Araya (11-7, 11-6, 11-5).
Meanwhile, for Canada’s Zhang Mo, the top seed; in her second match of the day, there could hardly have been a more daunting opponent; she faced Wu Yue of the United States, the 2015 Pan American Games champion. Focused, Zhang Mo emerged successful in four games (11-5, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8) to maintain her unbeaten record.
“She is good in rallies and it’s hard to read her services; I made several mistakes. The fact that I play with short pimpled rubber on the forehand really helped, playing backhand to backhand she is very good but I don’t think she is used to my style of play. The more I could attack with my forehand, the better I did.” Zhang Mo.
Success for Zhang Mo, in the same group there was also success for Guatemala’s Andrea Estrada; she overcame Colombia’s Andrea Estrada in straight games (11-9, 11-5, 16-14)
Nervous moments for Zhang Mo but no-one suffered more than Portugal’s Alexandre Gomez, the coach sitting courtside advising Peru’s Angela Mori. Against El Salvador’s Estefania Ramirios, she led 9-4 in the deciding fifth game, before losing the next six points to trail 10-11 and then winning the next three to seal victory (11-7, 5-11, 10-12, 11-9, 12-10).
“At 9-4 I became passive, she plays with short pimples on the backhand and that made me uncomfortable. Losing 9-10, I said to myself, I cannot lose after having had such a good lead, I tried to be positive and really spin the first ball as much as possible. She is very good playing fast from the forehand.” Angela Mori.
Victory for Angela Mori; in the counterpart contest, there was also success for Lily Zhang of the United States, the top seed. She beat Colombia’s Paula Medina (11-7, 11-6, 11-6) to maintain her unbeaten record.
After two series of matches in the first stage of the Women’s Singles event, Zhang Mo, Lily Zhang, Eva Brito and Paulina Vega remain the only unbeaten players.
Players finishing in first and second places in each of the two groups advance to the main draw.