17 Nov 2021

Ever present in her nation’s line-up, on duty at the recent Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Paulina Vega emerged the player to orchestrate the major upset on Tuesday 16th November at the 2021 ITTF Pan American Championships in Lima.

She was the backbone of a 3-1 success, recorded in the group stage of the women’s team event by Chile, the no.5 seeds, in opposition to Puerto Rico, the no.2 seeds.

by Ian Marshall

Paulina Vega beat both Fabiola Diaz (7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5) and Melanie Diaz (11-4, 11-6, 11-13, 11-7); notably Adriana Diaz, the winner of the women’s singles title the previous day, was rested.

The one further success for Chile was recorded by Daniela Ortega, she accounted for Melanie Diaz (11-7, 11-8, 11-7); the one win for Puerto Rico came from Daniely Rios. In the third match of the fixture, she overcame Judith Morales (7-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-9).

Chile now meets Colombia to determine the final order; the trio comprising Marta Casas, Manuela Echeverry and Juliana Lozada having experienced a 3-0 defeat in their opening fixture when facing the Puerto Ricans.

Daniela Ortega added a vital win for Chile (Photo: Santiago Regaira)


Unbeaten performances

Testing times for Puerto Rico but not for the remaining leading outfits.

Selecting Sarah Jalli, Amy Wang and Lily Zhang; the United States, the top seeds, completed their group stage fixtures unbeaten.

Similarly, Brazil, with Caroline Kumahara, Bruna Takahashi and Jessica Yamada on duty, enjoyed a trouble free day. They now meet Costa Rica’s Sharon Diaz, Nicole Granados and Lucia Zavaleta; very much a team finding their feet in international waters having suffered defeats in their initial fixtures.

A learning experience for Lucia Zavaleta (Photo: Santiago Regaira)


Same situation

Three groups in the first stage of the women’s team event, first and second qualifying for the main draw and thus gaining places in the 2022 World Team Championships in Chengdu; it is exactly the same in the men’s competition.

Brazil, the top seeds, fielding Vitor Ishiy, Eric Jouti and Gustavo Tsuboi remained unbeaten to reserve first place in their group.

Likewise, the United States, the no.2 seeds and Argentina, the no.3 seeds, each with one fixture remaining, ended the day without defeat.

A successful day for Eric Jouti (Photo: Santiag Regaria)


United States tested

However, the day was not without trials and tribulations for the United States; they were stretched the full five match distance by Canada, the player to cause the problems being Eugene Wang.

He accounted for both Zhang Kai (11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 13-11) and Nikhil Kumar (11-9, 12-10, 11-5).

Each team has one fixture remaining; the United States faces Barbados, Canada confronts Guatemala.

Eugene Wang, the thorn in the United States side (Photo: Santiago Regaira)


Defeat avenged

Progress for the United States, it was the same from Argentina, the no.3 seeds; mainstay of their success being Horacio Cifuentes.

A 3-1 result was the outcome again Puerto Rico, the no.4 seeds, Horacio Cifuentes avenging his men’s singles defeat by beating Daniel Gonzalez (11-5, 11-9, 11-9), prior to overcoming Brian Afanador (7-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-9).

Horacio Cifuentes keeping his eye on the ball (Santiago Regaira)


Same again

Impressive against Puerto Rico, it was the same from Horacio Cifuentes as a further 3-1 win was posted in opposition to Ecuador.

He overcame both Emiliano Riofrio (11-7, 11-5, 11-6) and Alberto Miño (11-9, 12-10, 12-10).

Puerto Rico and Ecuador now meet in the contest that effectively decides second place and a passport to Chengdu.

The concluding fixtures in the group stage will be played on Wednesday 17th November.

Emiliano Riofrio found Horacio Cifuentes a player in form (Photo: Santiago Regaira)


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