by Ian Marshall
Two players per team contested two singles matches followed by doubles and two further singles if required, the knock-out formula was the order of proceedings with the finals not being played.
Four teams on duty, in the women’s event, neither Mexico nor Guatemala experienced great problems.
Represented by Clio Barcenas and Arantxa Cossio Aceves, a 3-0 win was posted against El Salvador’s Cristina Machado and Gabriela Suarez, the no.3 seeds; similarly, the identical margin of victory was recorded by Guatemala’s Lucia Cordero and Hidalynn Zapata, the no.2 seeds, in opposition to Costa Rica’s Sharon Diaz and Nicole Granados, the no.4 seeds.
Comfortable progress, but for the men, life was very different as both Mexico and Costa Rica required the full five matches to book their Cali places.
A direct entry to the semi-finals, Mexico raced into a two matches to nil lead against El Salvador, the no.4 seeds, thanks to wins from Juan Jesus Gomez against Enzo Leiva (11-6, 11-7, 7-11, 11-1) and Dario Arce in opposition to Diego Orantes (7-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-6).
It was at that stage the recovery began, the Mexicans won the doubles (11-4, 10-12, 11-9, 12-10), before Diego Orantes accounted for Juan Jesus Gomes (11-4, 10-12, 11-9, 12-10). Matters in the balance, a resolute Dario Arce returned to the scene; he overcame Enzo Leiva (11-8, 11-1, 11-3) to thwart the El Salvadorian recovery.
Dario Arce very much the man of the moment for Mexico, for Costa Rica it was Alfredo Sanchez. The no.3 seeds, after posting a 3-0 win against the no.5 seeded Honduran combination of David Sanchez and Luis Yoel Tejada Rodriguez, they upset the order of merit. Alfredo Sanchez proved the backbone of success as a somewhat surprise win was recorded against Guatemala, the no.2 seeds.
In the second match of the fixture, he beat Sergio Carrillo (11-2, 2-11, 15-13, 11-7), before in the crucial fifth and deciding encounter, overcoming Kevin Ruano (9-11, 11-6, 11-2, 14-12).
The one further win for Costa Rica was recorded by Daniel Araya in the fourth match of the engagement against Sergio Carrillo (7-11, 11-1, 12-10, 11-5). For Guatemala, Kevin Ruano beat Daniel Araya (11-6, 9-11, 12-10, 11-7), prior to teaming with Sergio Carrillo to win the doubles.
Team places booked, it also means positions reserved in the men’s singles and women’s singles events.
One place remains in each of the men’s team and women’s team events. In addition, there is in one spot in each of the men’s singles and women’s singles competitions for players who have not qualified via the team route.
In the second knock-out event, for the men, Guatemala meets Panama in the semi-finals, while Honduras opposes El Salvador; for the women, in the decisive contest El Salvador confronts Costa Rica.
Play concludes on Tuesday 11th May.