As you may have already read on Larry Hodges’ report posted earlier, USA Boys and Girls won three of the four golds, two of the four silvers, and a bronze at the 2022 ITTF Pan Am U11 & U13 Championships!
The USA U11 and U13 Girls Teams swept the gold and silver medals for both events. It appears that the Girls Teams dominated Pan American Table Tennis for these two age groups, but the journey getting there was quite challenging for 4 teams!
U11 Girls’ Teams
Both USA Team A and B entered the finals. Team B (Irene Yeoh & Abigail Yu) beat Peru A in quarter final and Ecuador A in semifinal without losing a single match. Team A (Sophia Chen & Tiana Piyadasa) defeated Chile A in quarter final. Their semi-final match versus Guatemala was a tough one. Tiana had some minor injury right before the match, which obviously affected her performance at the beginning. She lost her first singles match and then the doubles. Thanks to Sophia, who fought very hard and won both of her single matches. When the game was on the line, Tiana appeared to fully recover from her injury and won the last match easily.
Tiana during the 5th match versus Guatemala.
The U11 Girls Team final is between the two USA teams! Their games started at 3PM before the U13 finals. Team A and B split the first 2 singles: Irene lost to Tiana in a tight match (2:3) and Abigail won 3:1 over Sophia. Irene and Abigail showed why they were the champion during the last National Championships for the U11 Girls Double event and won the double at 3:1. After that, Irene finished the matches by a convincing win over Sophia (3:1). Because the matches were between USA teams, coaches can have a break time! The young players had to coach by themselves and they seem to enjoy doing it very much!
The young players coaching themselves during the match
USA Team B, Irene and Abigail, won the gold and USA Team B, Sophia and Tiana, won the Silver!
U11 Girls Irene and Abigail, won the gold and Sophia and Tiana, won the Silver with Coach Wu Yue and Wang Xinyue,
U13 Girls’ Teams
For the Mini-Cadet Girls Teams, the real challenge started at the knock-out stage. Both Team A (Aria Shi & Mandy Yu) and Team B (Amina Batkhuyag & Genelia William) had a bye at the round of 16 since they were the No. 1 in Group 2 and Group 1, respectively. They took a good rest in the morning, waiting for the results of other matches.
Team A was going to play the winner of Canada A and Venezuela A. The result was to everyone’s surprise – Venezuela A took down Canada A by 3:2! The key to their win was the doubles: they split the 4 single matches with Canada but won the doubles by 3:1. Until then the team started to pay close attention to the two players from Venezuela, Nathacha Dennys Mata Apponte and Dakota Ferrer and found out that they are actually the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds in the girls single event. It was going to be extremely challenging! Coach Wu Yue had a pre-match meeting with Aria and Mandy, providing guidance on how to play them (thanks to Ji-Ming Shi’s recording). Although they were ready for everything, the matches were still extremely close. Each team won two singles (Mandy defeated Nathacha 3:0 and Dakota 3:1; Aria lose to Nathacha 0:3 and Dakota 1:3). The USA team won the match by defeating them in doubles (3:2).
Aria Shi & Mandy Yu pre-match meeting with Coach Wu Yue
Team B’s quarter-final match versus Guatemala was equally challenging. One of the Guatemala players, Andrea Moscoso, played very well. She won one singles match versus Amina and the doubles along with her teammate. Genelia stood up and won the 5th match for the team.
The two semifinal matches were USA A versus Ecuador A, and USA B versus Dominican Republican A at 11AM Wednesday. The Ecuador A team has Karolayn Maldonado, who attended the World Hopes Challenge last year together with Mandy Yu and Tashiya Piyadasa. However, Aria and Mandy defeated them with three 3:0’s. Team B ran into some challenges with DOM A. The matches went to the 4th, but Amina and Genelia controlled the game at the end and defeated them 3:1.
The U13 Girls Team final was also between the two USA teams! The match started at 5:30PM and lasted 2.5 hours! The Award Ceremony was originally scheduled at 7PM and all the attendance had to wait for an hour. But it was totally worth the waiting, the two USA teams put up a terrific show, with so many back-and-forth jaw-dropping rallies. Team A lost the first 2 singles (Aria lost to Genelia 2:3; Mandy lost to Amina 1:3). However, Team A did not give up so easily. They won the double at ease, followed by a big win by Aria over Amina (3:1). The matches went to the 5th again! All eyes on Mandy and Genelia! Mandy appeared to control the games early on with fast serves to Genelia’s backhand and followed by strong backhand punches. She led by 10:8 at the 4th game and had two match points. While everybody expected her to win the match so that the Ceremony can start, Genelia returned with a couple of surprising shots and evened the games at 2:2. At the deciding game 5, Genelia took control of the game using strong and spinning forehand loops and won 11-5. When the matches were finally over, there was a standing ovation and applause!
USA Team B, Amina and Genelia, won the gold and USA Team A, Aria and Mandy, won the Silver! Let the celebration begin!
U13 Girls Amina, Genelia, Aria and Mandy with Coach Wu Yue and Wang Xinyue during the Award Ceremony together with the third place winners, Dominican Republican A and Ecuador.