24 Nov 2018

Surprises earlier in the proceedings in the Mixed Doubles event at the Sparta ITTF 2018 Pan American Championships in Santiago, Chile but not on Saturday 24th November, the penultimate day of action; the top two seeded pairs both emerged successful at the semi-final stage.

Kanak Jha and Wu Yue, the top seeds, booked their place in the title decider, as did Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador and Adriana Diaz, the no.2 seeds.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Both pairs emerged successful in tense contests; Kanak Jha and Wu Yue accounted for Mexico’s Marcos Madrid and Yadira Silva, the no.8 seeds, emerging successful in four games (11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5). A fine performance but to some extent they were upstaged by Brian Afanador and Adriana Diaz.

They ended the progress of Canada’s Eugene Wang and Zhang Mo, the no.3 seeds, in straight games (16-14, 11-8, 11-7). The success recorded by the Puerto Ricans was a most worthy win, securing the nail-biting opening game being a massive boost.

However, despite the seeding, did the Canadians not start slight favourites?

Earlier in the proceedings in the group stage of the Men’s Team event, Brian Afanador had beaten Eugene Wang by the very narrowest of margins (8-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-8, 11-9). The following day in the opening round of the Women’s Team competition, Adriana Diaz had lost to Zhang Mo. She suffered in four games (8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-7).

Equally was not experience on the side of the Canadians? Eugene Wang is 33 years of age, Zhang Mo will cross the 30 years threshold next January; conversely the Puerto Ricans are from a much younger generation, Brian Afanador is 21 years old, Adriana Diaz, three years younger. Both are now experienced internationals but arguably to a lesser extent than their adversaries.

However, the Puerto Ricans had one advantage. They both hail from the small town of Utuado in the centre of the island. No doubt they have been doubles partners since they could walk!

The final will be played on Sunday 25th November.

2018 Pan American Championships Adriana Diaz Kanak Jha Brian Afanador Wu Yue

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Day 6 - 2018 Pan America Championships