01 Feb 2019

A first appearance, it could not have been a better start for Nikhil Kumar of the United States; in his opening match at the Universal 2019 Pan America Cup he escaped from the jaws of defeat to record a sensational opening men’s singles win.

The no.15 seed, he beat Mexico’s Marcos Madrid, the no.5 seed and highest ranked player in the group stage of proceedings in a seven games contest (7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 14-12, 11-6) that tested the nerves, the nerves of coach Jörg Bitzigeo!

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Only 16 years, born on Wednesday 1st January 2003 and thus has three years left in the junior ranks, the talented left hander from San José in California, saved two match points in the sixth game of the contest against the more experienced Mexican before assuming control in the decider. The feature of his play, his control, as they say in the trade, good hands.

“Yes in the sixth game I was down 10-11 and 11-12; I felt today I was better in the short game. It was the first time I had played him. Marcos likes to play the rallies but his serves are good, it was difficult to read them. Also, it was important that I kept changing the speed of the play, changing the spin.” Nikhil Kumar

Defeat for Marcos Madrid, there was also a scare for Ecuador’s Alberto Miño, the no.6 seed; he had to recover from a two games to nil deficit to beat Guatemala’s Allan Guttierez (9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-8, 11-2).

“I just couldn’t find a rhythm to my play at all in the first two games, no feeling whatsoever; maybe because the balls were new. Also, for me it was the first time when using the multi-ball system. In the fifth game I took the “Time Out” when down 3-6 and refocused, I levelled at 6-all then things improved, better timing.” Alberto Miño

Testing times for the leading names in the opening matches in the group phase of the men’s event as play commenced in Guaynabo; it was very different for the ladies, the one common factor being more success for the United States.

Lily Zhang, the no.5 seed, beat Chile’s Judith Morales, the no.13 seed (11-3, 11-6, 11-3, 11-7); she was followed by Brazil’s Gui Lin, the no.6 seed, who accounted for Guatemala’s Lucia Cordero, the no.15 seed (11-4, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 11-4).

2019 Pan Am Cup Nikhil Kumar

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Day 3 - Universal 2019 ITTF-Pan American Cup