This morning Team USA had designated morning practice in the gym from 9-10:30 to get used to the atmosphere: the courts, ceiling, lighting, speed of the birds, etc. After stretching in a big circle and jogging in a group around the stadium, the players took turns rotating on and off the courts, whether playing with their partners or just their friends. There were lots of smiles and team spirit from the players on the courts, and even more approving nods and encouraging advice from the USA coaches off the courts. In the midst of all the fun and bonding, there was suddenly what seemed like loud applause by a crowd of fans, but a few seconds later, everyone realized that it was actually rain thundering down onto the roof of the stadium!
Finally, when the designated time was up, Team USA gathered behind the courts and underneath the Pan American Games banner to take a group picture, posing with 2 large American flags in the front row. Soon after, some people boarded the buses to go back to the hotel, and spent the afternoon basking in the sun at the private beach and pool outside the hotel. As they always say, time flies when you're having fun, so before long, it was time to shower and get ready for the Opening Ceremony at the gym.
The ceremony consisted of the 18 teams lining up by country and proudly walking in with the sign of their respective countries as the host of the tournament announced their names. Followed by an Olympic-like procession were the national anthems, several dances by a group of girls, and a nice song sung by a choir. After the introduction of the countries, it was time for competition!!
The finals matches were played between the USA team and the Peru team. The fans from both countries showed much spirit, not only with booming chants and deafening clapping, but also with horns from the USA and tambourines from Peru. Peru's Katherine Winder and Mario Cuba overtook Iris Wang and Marvin Lin in the first match of the series, which was Mixed Doubles in an intense 3-game match. But USA came back with a win in the second game, when Terrence Pang won the Boys Singles match against Bruno Monteverde. The series was tied at 1-1. The next match was Girls Singles, won by USA's Rena Wang while playing against Peru's Lorena Duany. The score was now 2-1 with USA in the lead.
Boys Doubles was again an intense match with much spirit from all four players on both sides: Peru's Mario Cuba and Bruno Monteverde defeated Marvin Lin and Terrence Pang, tying the series at 2-2.
The deciding match of the night was Girls Doubles, in which USA sisters Iris and Rena Wang won against Lorena Duany and Katherine Winder Cochella, thus allowing Team USA to win 3-2 in the series. It was not easy, but in the end, in a series filled with dramatic matches, Team USA took first place in the Pan American Team Tournament. Individual events start tomorrow; best of luck to all!
Thanks to Way Lum for the pictures taken.