13 Sep 2021

True swashbuckling style, pirates of the Caribbean struck on the opening day of action, Sunday 12th September, at the 2021 ITTF Pan American Youth Championships in the Dominican Republic’s capital city of Santo Domingo.

The host nation and neighbouring Puerto Rico stole the bounty.

by Ian Marshall

In the under 15 boys’ team event, Derek Valentin was the buccaneer; he guided Puerto Rico to a 3-2 success against Brazil, the top seeds.

Impressively in the second match of the fixture, he beat Abimael Araujo (11-7, 10-12, 11-9, 11-8), before in the contest that proved the most vital of all, the fourth on the schedule, he accounted for Leonardo Kenzo by the very narrowest of margins (11-8, 4-11, 13-11, 8-11, 12-10).

The win levelled matters and set the scene for José Neves to be the hero of the hour; in a tense contest, he duly obliged; he overcame Abimael Araujo in four games (11-8, 10-12, 12-10, 11-9).

Defeat for Brazil but title hopes remain. Teams finishing in first and second positions in each group advance to the main draw. Puerto Rico concluded matters in first place ahead of the United States and Colombia.

Impressively, in the remaining groups, the highest rated teams all reserved first places; it was a successful day for both Peru and the United States.

Focused under pressure, Derek Valentin excelled; it was the same from Shary Muñoz, in the under 15 girls’ team competition when facing Ecuador, the no.3 seeds. She remained unbeaten in a contest that secured the Dominican Republic a 3-1 win.

She prevailed against both Angelica Avrellano (11-6, 13-11, 11-5) and in opposition to Maria Borja (11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 11-7). The one further success for the Dominican Republic was secured by Dafna Soza, in the third match of the engagement, she beat Kimberly Barros (12-10, 10-12, 13-11, 11-5).

The win meant the Dominican Republic and Ecuador progressed to the main draw.

Earlier, in the opening fixture of the day, Ecuador had recorded a 3-1 success against Colombia who then promptly posted a 3-2 win in opposition to the Dominican Republic.

Games ratio decided the issue; the Dominican Republic (5:4) finished ahead of Ecuador (4:4) and Colombia (4:5).

A surprise outcome, not in the remaining groups, the United States and Puerto Rico duly secured first positions.

Meanwhile, in the initial stage of the under 19 boys’ team event, the leading outfits, made positive starts to their campaigns. The United States, Peru, Puerto Rico and Canada, the respective top four seeds all prevailed in their initial fixtures, as in the under 19 girls’ team competition did the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Canada.

Play in the team events continues on Monday 13th September.


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