by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A first game that seemed endless summed up the contest, 38 points completed, the decision in favour of Kanak Jha.
Gustavo Tsuboi responded to level but Kanak Jha captured the third game and then led 7-4 in the fourth, before the Brazilian recovered and the American teenager had to save two game points. He never held a match point but one wondered had the 17 year old missed his chances.
In the deciding fifth game, Kanak Jha led 5-3 at the change of ends; then at 10-7, he held three match points. Gustavo Tsuboi, to his great credit remained focused, he remained calm; he levelled at 10-all.
It was at that stage Kanak Jha enjoyed a moment of outrageous fortune, returning service, the ball clipped the top of the net and trickled over, unreturnable; a fourth match point for Kanak Jha, the chance was seized. Gustavo Tsuboi, attempting to return short, returned too short, the ball finished in the base of the net, Kanak Jha rejoiced.
A sensational contest had been won in dramatic fashion (20-18, 10-12, 11-7, 13-15, 12-10).
“Winning the first game put him under pressure. I had chances in the fourth game, I became anxious; I became nervous returning his services. In the fifth game whether I was serving or receiving service I tried to focus on the first two strokes in the rally; also I knew how he would serve and if I could play my forehand down the parallel I felt I had a good chance.” Kanak Jha.
The contest overshadowed all others as the second series of matches in the group stage of the Men’s Singles event unfolded.
In the same group, Puerto Rico’s Hector Berrios beat Mexico’s Ricardo Villa (7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-9) to keep his hopes of a main draw place alive. Players finishing in first and second places in each of the four groups advance to the second phase.
Defeat for Brazil but there was success; Eric Jouti, the no.3 seed, overcame Argentina’s Gaston Alto (11-6, 11-9, 11-8) to maintain his unbeaten record. In the same group Canada’s Bryan Ho overcame Costa Rica’s Jeison Martinez (11-8, 12-10, 11-5).
Comfortable for Eric Jouti but for another leading name there was tension. Mexico’s Marcos Madrid, the no.2 seed, was extended to the very limit by Chile’s Felipe Olivares (11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9). In the corresponding contest Adar Alguetti of the United States defeated Guatemala’s Kevin Montufar (11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-2).
Meanwhile, in the one remaining group, matters advanced in a comparatively calm manner. Ecuador’s Alberto Miño, the no.4 seed, overcame Chile’s Gustavo Gomez (11-9, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5); the Dominican Republic’s Emil Santos beat Canada’s Edward Ly (11-3, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5).
After two series of matches, Kanak Jha, Marcos Madrid, Eric Jouti and Alberto Miño are the unbeaten players.
Four players within touching distance of main draw places; for eight players, with one apiece, matters are in the balance. The names in question are Gustavo Tsuboi, Hector Berrios, Felipe Olivares, Adar Alguetti, Gaston Alto, Bryan Ho, Gustavo Gomez and Emil Santos.
Photos: Carlos Borban