Team Excellence Continues for USA in El Salvador as Deb and Ahire Claim Junior Gold

By Matt Hetherington | Aug. 19, 2017, 10:48 a.m. (ET)

teamusa El Salvador Junior Girls Team Gold

The US team of Ishana Deb and Sarika Ahire along with coach Maggie Tian have successfully claimed the Junior Girls Team gold at the 2017 ITTF El Salvador Junior and Cadet Open. The superb effort wasn't without it's challenges however, even from day one. It would be second place in the groups for the girls as they emerged with 2 wins and one loss. A comfortable 3-0 win over Guatemala was a good starting point and confidence builder but they would soon meet their match and face a 5 match contest.

Ishana Deb would prove too strong for her opponents from El Salvador A but they teamed together to take the doubles and when the final match came down at 2-2 it was quite an unusual showdown. Ahire did well to deal with the pressure after losing game 1 by a large margin, she fought her way to level the match at 1-1 and again at 2-2. Unfortunately in the final game her local opponent caught the momentum wave and powered home to the finish line to win 3-2 and give El Salvador A the win.

Against El Salvador B it was only the doubles that went in the favor of the home team with both Ishana and Sarika winning their singles. The US pair would qualify for the main draw, coming through the groups in second. 

Into the semifinals and a 3-1 win over Guatemala A would send USA into the final to face El Salvador A again. Guatemala's Lucia Cordero proved too strong for Ahire in the second match but after closing the doubles and taking a 2-1 lead Ishana Deb would see the opportunity and lead a straight games win over Cordero to seal victory for USA and move onward to their opportunity for revenge.

It seemed that with the help of coach Maggie Tian the US duo were more than adequately prepared for their rematch. Despite an identical lineup they were able to force a completely different result. Sarika would strike first against Constanza, the same player who had beaten her 3-1 in the group stage. This time the young US talent would win in straight games to create a change in the outlook for team USA and put the pressure on El Salvador. 

Pushed to 5 games in their first encounter by Cecilia Orantes, it would be a 3-0 win for Ishana Deb on the second and more important occasion. She lifted her game to take game one in deuce before closing out the next two games 11-8.

A tight back and forth doubles match proved to be another result reversed for the US pair as they capitalized on their 2-0 lead and sealed the victory in three matches. 

A stunning result and a great effort by the team and coach to work so quickly to prepare and learn from their group stage loss in order to change the final result and win gold, showing great maturity and no doubt a valuable experience. Congratulations to Ishana, Sarika and Maggie Tian! 

Be sure to follow the progress of Ishana as she contests the singles main draw below!

2017 ITTF El Salvador Junior and Cadet Open Homepage