by Ian Marshall, Editor
Star of the day was Brian Afanador, who earlier in the month had celebrated his 22nd birthday; in Georgetown, alongside Puerto Rican colleagues Daniel Gonzalez and Ricardo Jimenez with Eladio Afanador the coach, he had further reason to celebrate.
First place in the initial stage group secured the previous day, a 3-0 win penultimate round win was posted against the Barbadian trio comprising Mark Dowell, Kevin Farley and Tyrese Knight.
Imposingly, a place in the final booked, the Dominican Republic awaited, the trio comprising Samuel Galvez, the ever faithful Emil Santos and most notably Wu Jiaji, when a member of the Chinese national junior team some nine years ago he had been the selection for the Volkswagen Cup.
A right handed pen-holder, Brian Afanador found the answers against the young man once tipped to follow in the likes of Ma Lin and Wang Hao. After partnering Daniel Gonzalez to doubles success against Samuel Galvez and Emil Santos by the very narrowest of margins (14-12, 4-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-9), in the fourth match of the contest Brian Afanador returned to the fray to overcome Wu Jiaji (11-6, 11-5, 6-11, 11-7) and sealed the victory.
Great credit to Brian Afanador, he won the vital match but the efforts of Daniel Gonzalez and Ricardo Jimenez must not be overlooked. Daniel Gonzalez remained unbeaten throughout; Ricardo Jimenez lost just one match; it was a team effort. In the final after securing the doubles, Ricardo Jimenez lost to Wu Jiaji (11-4, 11-8, 11-6), before vitally Daniel Gonzalez swung the pendulum in favour of Puerto Rico by overcoming Samuel Galvez (10-12, 13-11, 11-4, 11-7).
“Yes we did it. During the trip from Puerto Rico to Guyana, I thought about how well we were going to do it and how we could qualify and then prepare for the Games! We made a stop in Panama, when we got to boarding gate I saw the Dominican Republic team. I saw Wu Jiaji in the group! At that time I did not know what to think, whether he would play in the Caribbean Championship or play the qualifier or just accompany them! During the flight I was just thinking how the Chinese team won the 2011 World Junior Championships boys’ team event in Bahrain with Wu Jiaji. He had beaten Koki Niwa. It was without doubt the longest flight of my life. The day began with psychological preparation, it ended with happiness and emotion.” Eladio Afanador
Runners up spot for the Dominican Republic in the men’s team event, in the women’s team event there were no such problems; first place was secured and without too many alarm bells ringing.
In a group organized event, Guyana represented Natalie Cummings, Chelsea Edghill and Trenace Lowe provided the greatest test for the Dominican Republic trio formed by Eva Brito, Esmerlyn Castro and Yasiris Ortiz. A 3-1 win was the order of the day in favour of the visitors.
Chelsea Edghill and Trenace Lowe gave Guyana the perfect start by beating Esmerlyn Castro and Yasiris Ortiz 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 7-11, 11-8) but then the tide turned. Eva Brito overcame Natalie Cummings (11-6, 11-4, 11-9), before Yasiris Ortiz accounted for Trenace Lowe (11-5, 10-12, 11-3, 12-10) and Esmerlyn Castro overcame Natalie Cummings (11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 2-11, 11-6) to bring matters to a conclusion.
The Lima 2019 Pan American Games Caribbean Qualification Tournament concluded; attention in Georgetown now turns the Caribbean Championships; play commences on Tuesday 26th March and concludes on Sunday 31st March.
Qualified Teams for Pan American Games (as on Monday 25th March)
2018 Pan American Championships
Men: Brazil, the United States, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina and Cuba
Women: Brazil, United States, Canada, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Argentina
2019 Caribbean Qualification
Men: Puerto Rico
Women: Dominican Republic
To follow: qualification events for Central America, North America, South America. Once completed there is one more position available in each of the men’s team and women’s team events. The leading team among the first 20 Pan American listed teams on the world ranking, gains the final place.