29 Jun 2019

Nikhil Kumar and Amy Wang of the United States emerged the mixed doubles winners, the first title in the individual events to be decided at the 2019 Pan American Junior Championships in Cancun, Mexico but on the penultimate day of play, Friday 28th June, the day belonged to Panama’s Jacobo Vahnish and Chile’s Valentina Rios.

Both required to qualify, not listed amongst the top eight names in the respective boys’ singles and girls’ singles events, both booked semi-final places and thus are guaranteed a podium finish.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

After accounting for Brazil’s Rafael Torino, likewise a qualifier (4-11, 8-11, 2-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-6), Jacobo Vahnish overcame Puerto Rico’s Angel Naranjo, the no.7 seed (11-7, 11-1, 11-4, 11-3), prior to ousting Sharon Alguetti of the United States, the no.4 seed (11-9, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-13, 11-6) and silver medallist last year in Santo Domingo.

“In the sixth game against Sharon I was winning 9-5, he recovered, he did not lose concentration. In the seventh I continued to play my game, follow my strategies and thankfully the result went my way. I’m very happy to play another day, now prepare for tomorrow.” Jacobo Vahnish

Jacobo Vanish remained calm under pressure (Photo: Paloma Mutti)


Disappointment for Sharon Alguetti, for colleague Victor Liu it was the opposite emotion; like Jacobo Vahnish, required to qualify, he caused a major second round upset. He overpowered Brazil’s Guilherme Teodoro, the no.2 seed, in straight games (11-9, 11-4, 11-7, 11-8).

“Serve and receive was the key, I tried to make sure I played a strong first attack. In the opening game I had problems receiving his flat backspin services but from the second game onwards I was able to return using my backhand, the banana. Playing to the middle and then to his forehand was successful; I felt confident playing forehand top spin rallies.” Victor Liu

Victor Liu powered his way to the semi-finals of the boys’ singles event (Photo: Carlos A. Duarte)


Imposing in round two, Victor Liu was equally imposing in the quarter-finals. He beat Chile’s Andres Martinez, the no.8 seed, in five games (11-8, 11-1, 11-6, 11-13, 11-3).

Adding spice to the occasion Victor Liu now meets Jacobo Vahnish at the semi-final stage; in the opposite half of the draw the names are as predicted, Chile’s Nicolas Burgos, the top seed, opposes Nikhil Kumar, the no.3 seed and like Victor Liu from the United States.

Nicholas Burgos beat Santiago Lorenzo to reserve his semi-final place (Photo: Carlos A. Diaz)


At the quarter-final stage Nicolas Burgos overcame Argentina’s Santiago Lorenzo, the no.5 seed (7-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-4, 11-3), Nikhil Kumar accounted for Peruvian qualifier, Jhon Loli (7-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-4, 11-3), the surprise second round winner in opposition to Canada’s Edward Ly, the no.6 seed (11-6, 11-8, 11-9, 12-10).

Upsetting the odds, in the girls’ singles event, the honour belonged to Valentina Rios.

Valentina Rios flying the flag for Latin America (Photo: Carlos A. Duarte)


Required to qualify, after accounting for Guatemala’s Lucia Cordero (10-12, 7-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-2, 12-10), she caused the biggest upset of the day. She ousted Canada’s Ivy Liao, the no.4 seed (11-9, 11-13, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9), prior to reserving her place in the semi-finals courtesy of success in opposition to Puerto Rico’s Fabiola Diaz (11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 11-5, 11-4), a player in form. Also a qualifier, one round earlier she had beaten Brazil’s Livia Lima, the no.7 seed (9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-4, 11-4).

“It was difficult to stay calm, I’m very proud to be in the semi-finals, now to continue fighting to achieve the main goal.” Valentina Rios

Fabiola Diaz excelled expectations to reach the girls’ singles quarter-finals (Photo: Carlos A. Duarte)


A semi-final place contrary to expectations for Valentina Rios, the other three names to progress were as expected; most significantly all members of the United States team who on the third day of play had secured girls’ team gold. At the quarter-final stage Amy Wang, the top seed, beat Ecuador’s Nathaly Paredes, the no.6 seed (11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-5, 11-7), Rachel Sung, the no.2 seed, overcame colleague and doubles partner, Rachel Yang, the no.5 seed (11-8, 11-4, 11-4, 11-5).

“We are doubles partners; we play against each other very often, so everything was as expected, especially since she’s a defender, strategies are always the same. I wasn’t that nervous going into the match.” Rachel Sung

Rachel Sung beat colleague and doubles partner Rachel Yang to reach the semi-final round (Photo: Carlos A. Duarte)


Impressive performances, it was the same from Crystal Wang, the no.3 seed, she reserved her last four place courtesy of success in opposition to Canada’s Benita Zhou, the no.8 seed (11-4, 11-5, 11-1, 11-7). At the semi-final stage Amy Wang meets Crystal Wang, Rachel Sung opposes Valentina Rios.

Success for Amy Wang, it was success as the day closed; partnering Nikhil Kumar, the top seeds, after accounting for Brazil’s Rafael Torino and Giulia Takahashi, the no.10 seeds (12-10, 11-2, 11-7), the duo overcame colleagues and defending champions, the no.2 seeds, Sharon Alguetti and Crystal Wang (12-10, 11-3, 9-11, 11-8) to claim the top step of the podium. In the adjacent semi-final, Sharon Alguetti and Crystal Wang had also caused Brazil heartaches. They ended the hopes of Guilherme Teodoro and Livia Lima, the no.3 seeds (11-3, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5).

The mixed doubles finalists (left to right) Crystal Wang, Sharon Alguetti, Nikhil Kumar and Amy Wang (Photo: Paloma Mutti)


The top four seeded pairs in both the boys’ doubles and girls’ doubles events commence their quest for honours on the concluding day of play, Saturday 29th June.

2019 Pan American Junior Championships Amy Wang Nikhil Kumar Jacobo Vahnish Valentina Rios

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