// Making presence known, qualifiers respond - International Table Tennis Federation


17 Sep 2021

Qualification complete, on Thursday 16th September, play in the opening round of the boys’ singles and girls’ singles events in the under 15 age group was very much the focus of attention at the 2021 ITTF Pan American Youth Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico’s José Nieves alongside Canada’s Cai Demi, Colombia’s Mariana Ruiz and the host nation’s Dafne Sosa were very much the players to shine; all beat seeded opposition, players who had received direct entries to the main draw.

by Ian Marshall

Impressively, in the boys’ singles event, José Nieves accounted for Canada’s David Mandelstam, the no.5 seed (9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6) to reserve his second round place.

Similarly, in the counterpart girls’ singles competition, Cai Demi beat Brazil’s Karina Shiray, the no.4 seed (8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-6), Mariana Ruiz recovered from a two games to nil deficit to overcome Peru’s Cecilia Zea Huacan, the no.6 seed (8-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8, 13-11).

Success by the narrowest of margins, arguably for Dafne Sosa, it was even narrower. She ended the hopes of Ecuador’s Keimy Anchundia (12-10, 8-11, 2-11, 11-5, 16-14).

Upsets, of the remaining eight seeded players in the boys’ event, the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Cabrera, Peru’s Julio Villar and Mexico’s Jorge Buenrostro successfully negotiated the opening hurdle.

The top four names, Brazil’s Leonardo Kenzo, Nandan Naresh of the United States and Peru’s Renzo Zeballos, alongside Puerto Rico’s Derek Valentin were not required to raise their rackets in anger, all received direct entries to the second round.

Likewise, in the girls’ singles, Emily Tan and Faith Hu, the respective top two seeds and both from the United States, commence their schedule in round two.

Hopes high for the United States, it is the same for Puerto Rico. Kristal Melendez, the no.3 seed and Edmarie Leon, the no.7 seed, both reserved second round places as did Ecuador’s Maria Borja, the no.5 seed.

Surprise outcomes but not when compared with the under 15 girls’ doubles; an event where matters progressed to the penultimate round, leading pairs notable by their absence.

At the semi-final stage Canada’s Cai Demi and Fu Ching Nam, the no.15 seeds, meet Ecuador’s Kimberly Barros and Keimy Anchundia, the no.7 seeds, Guatemala’s Daniela Linares and Katerine Ruiz oppose the United States partnership of Sara Jalli and Sally Moyland, the no.9 seeds.

José Nieves very much in evidence (Photo: Martín Avila Maria)


Meanwhile, in the under 15 boys’ doubles, there were surprises but to a lesser extent, José Nieves, as in the boys’ singles, making his name known.

Partnering Derek Valentin, the no.6 seeds, at the semi-final stage, they face the United States pairing of Darius Fahimi and Jensen Feng, the no.9 seeds; in the adjacent half of the draw Brazil’s Leonardo Kenzo and Abimael Araujo, the top seeds, also confront United States opposition. They meet Abimael Araujo oppose Nandan Naresh and Daniel Tran, the no.3 seeds.

Play continues on Friday 17th September when at the close of the day, in the under 15 age group, the boys’ doubles and girls’ doubles finalists will be known, as well as the semi-finalist in the boys’ singles, girls’ singles and mixed doubles.




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