28 Jun 2019

Amidst the tension and drama surrounding the win recorded by Peru on the third day of play at the 2019 ITTF Pan American Junior Championships in the Mexican resort of Cancun, when they had sensationally recovered from the depths of despair to secure a thrilling victory against Brazil, one member of their team had remained cool, calm and collected throughout.

One would not have thought that Felipe Duffoo had proved pivotal to his country gaining their first ever reservation at a World Junior Championships, as everyone else when wild in excitement, he just smiled apologetically. The following day, Thursday 17th June, his demeanour was just the same as he secured first place in his initial phase boys’ singles group.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Never in danger; Felipe Duffoo finished ahead of Mexico’s Mauricio Cayetano, Guatemala’s Kevin Ruano and Argentina’s Lautaro Sato.

“After Carlos Fernandez won yesterday I was motivated; his win after we were 2-0 down really raised by my self-esteem. Today in the group, nothing was really complicated, I played freely; I didn’t feel any pressure. I knew my rivals were determined and didn’t want to lose, I just gave 100 per cent as in any match against any player.” Felipe Duffoo.

Win or lose, Felipe Duffoo reacts with the utmost good manners, in Cancun and beyond he sets the standard, he sets the example; the expressions following a match are those of Vladimir Samsonov, a player who has the respect of all.

Dario Arce in outstanding form on home soil Alongside Giulia Takahashi a place in the semi-finals of the mixed doubles event assured (Photo: Carlos A. Duarte)


First place in the group as status predicted for Felipe Duffoo. However, in a competition where the top eight players gain a direct entry to the main draw, first and second in each of the 12 groups advancing to form a first round of 32 players, there were surprise names who ended the day at the top of the list.

Notably, the host nation’s Dario Arce topped his group, he remained unbeaten accounting for the Costa Rican defender Daniel Araya (11-7, 11-4, 4-11, 11-3), the highest rated player in the group, in his concluding contest. However, I would suggest the success was no surprise whatsoever; Dario Arce completed the boys’ team event unbeaten!

“I’m not that used to playing against defensive players; things got a bit complicated at the beginning but I ended up fine. I feel comfortable for the main draw, in the teams I did very well against Santiago Lorenzo and Matias Velarde from Argentina; also against Terence Yeung and Edward Ly from Canada, that has given me confidence.” Dario Arce

First place for Dario Arce contrary to status, it was the same for Victor Liu of the United States, Brazil’s Lauro Sebold, Argentina’s Matias Velarde and Chile’s Jorge Paredes. Most notably Victor Liu accounted for Canada’s Terence Yeung (11-6, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5) the highest rated player on initial phase duty.

Powerful, Victor Liu reserved first place in his group (Photo: Carlos A. Duarte)


Testing times for Terence Yeung, who finished in second place and thus advanced to the main draw; conversely for other leading names in the guise of Brazil’s Rafael Torino and Eduardo Tomoike, alongside Peru’s Adolfo Cucho and Jhon Loli, it was a day without defeat, as it was for Panama’s Jacobo Vahnish, a young man in a somewhat different situation. Panama did not qualify for the boys’ team event; impressively, the 16 year old adjusted quickly to the environment, securing first place in his group as status advised.

“It was a bit difficult for me because normally playing in the team event helps you find a rhythm to your play; in my case I had to start today from the very beginning. Now in the main draw the idea is to go match by match, step by step, doing everything the best way possible.” Jacobo Vahnish.

Surprise first places in the boys’ singles, it was the same in the group phase of the girls’ singles competition where there were 11 groups in the initial phase, the top eight names gaining main draw entries.

First place for Adolfo Cucho (Photo: Carlos A. Duarte)


The player in particular to attract the attention was the host nation’s Clio Barcenos, the lowest listed in her group, the long pimpled rubber on the backhand, causing her adversaries problems time and again. She remained unbeaten accounting for the top name, El Salvador’s Monica Mendoza (11-8, 11-7, 11-4) to reserve first place.

“Monica and I have played each other since I was 10 years; my game is usually too complicated for her. It was a good for me that I played against her in groups. Now in the main draw the idea is to prepare physically and mentally, it’s a Pan-American Championship so you have to give everything, I will fight to be among in the quarter finals.” Clio Barcenos

A somewhat unexpected first place for Clio Barcenas (Photo: Carlos A. Duarte)


First place for Clio Barcenos, somewhat against expectations; it was the same for her colleagues Anais de Leon Chapa and Monica Muñoz, as it was for Brazil’s Giulia Takahashi and Ecuador’s Mylena Plaza. Surprise first places, for the top two names on initial phase girls’ singles duty it was success; both Guatemala’s Lucia Cordero and Paraguay’s Leyla Gomez ended the day unbeaten and thus safely through to the main draw.

Unexpected outcomes, as the mixed doubles progressed to the semi-final stage, there was one upset; Chile’s Nicolas Burgos and Valentina Rios, the no.4 seeds, experienced a second round defeat at the hands of Brazil’s Rafael Torino and Giulia Takahashi (11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6), the duo maintaining form in the quarter-final round. They beat the United States pairing of Michael Minh Tran and Rachel Sung (11-6, 11-7, 12-10) to be assured of a place on the podium.

At the semi-final stage, Rafael Torino and Giulia Takahashi meet the United States top seeded combination of Nikhil Kumar and Amy Wang; in the opposite half of the draw the same nations meet. Representing the Stars and Stripes, Sharon Alguetti and Crystal Wang, the no.2 seeds, oppose Guilherme Teodoro and Livia Lima, the no.3 seeds.

Alongside Giulia Takahashi a place in the semi-finals of the mixed doubles event assured (Photo: Carlos A. Duarte)


Play continues on Friday 28th June when the first title in the individual events, the mixed doubles, will be decided.

2019 Pan American Junior Championships Felipe Duffoo

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