The 2017 ITTF Pan American Cup will kick off tomorrow in San Jose, Costa Rica. Four players from the United States will take part among the total 32 players competing in the Top 16 event for World Cup Qualification. Recent US National title defenders Lily Zhang and Kanak Jha will be joined by Jennifer Wu and Adar Alguetti, taking on opposition from across North and South America.
Zhang sits in the second seed position behind Canada's Mo Zhang but also faces tough competition from Brazil's Lin Gui and Caroline Kumahara both of whom are also strongly ranked in the ITTF World Rankings. Coming in closely behind as the 5th seed is Jennifer Wu who is no stranger to the Pan American competition. In 2015 she upset the standings, coming in as an unranked player and sweeping the field to claim gold in the Women's Singles at the Pan American Games.
"I will just play the game, focus, without thinking too much about winning or losing. I'm familiar with a few of the players, but it's important for me to focus on my own game. I will try to get a good night's sleep and be fresh and ready to begin tomorrow" - Wu Yue, TeamUSA.
In the Men's field it's Brazil's Gustavo Tsuboi who leads the seedings along with a strong field of players, the likes of Gaston Alto and Marcos Madrid. USA's Kanak Jha is the 5th seed, but has shown his capacity to excel under pressure - reaching the last 32 of this year's World Championships in Germany with a win over 2012 Olympic Quarterfinalist Adrian Crisan.
"My main goal is to advance from the group and then we will see how things go after that, all depends on how I play" - Kanak Jha, TeamUSA.
Looking to upset the seedings will be Adar Alguetti, the winner of this year's US National Team Trials and one of the highlight performers of 2017 among the US Men's field. He starts as the 11th seed but has shown his capacity to upset higher players and will be looking to make a strong impression.
"Very excited to be start competing internationally in the men's category!" - Adar Alguetti, TeamUSA.
USA Table Tennis High Performance Director Jorg Bitzigeio commented on the scale of the event and the team outlook:
"The PanAm Cup will be an interesting event for our four athletes because it's important for all of them to have more often the opportunity to present USA on the international court, to gain more experience in playing against foreign opponents and to see where their actual level in the international comparison is.
If you look at Wu Yue, you can see that she is not a youngster on the paper regarding her age, but as an international player she is really "young", this means she needs to get more experience to be competitive with the top players and be able to show her best style and shape. Kanak und Lily, for example, are much younger, but already played many events, so they know a little bit more, what's going on.
For Adar this tournament is a gift, that he deserves because of his improvement in this year. He is working hard, investing a lot of energy and time, so for sure, he will really motivated to show his best shape."
Live streaming will start tomorrow and we will be following the action live with regular updates through our Facebook Page. Best of luck to our athletes, go for gold!