by Brian Ash
Mo Zhang leads the team to four medals
At the 2017 Pan Am championships, Canada claimed just two medals – gold in Ladies Doubles and bronze in Mixed Doubles, enough for a 4th overall ranking in the wake of a dominant performance by Brazil. A year later they returned with four medals! But that total could have been even higher.
In Ladies Doubles, Mo Zhang and Alicia Côté reaffirmed their status as #1 seed losing just one game along the way, that to their perennial US rivals. Well done!
In Ladies Team play Zhang, Côté and Ivy Liao – seeded #11 in the team event – rebounded from an opening 3-1 loss to Chile with convincing wins against Columbia (#5 seed) and Puerto Rico (#4 seed), setting up a nail-biting semi-final against the #1 seed Brazil. This one went the distance with Liao forcing a fifth and deciding game 10-12 before bowing 3-2. It was a bittersweet bronze for Canada, but their top 6 finish assured them a spot at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.
Mo Zhang, the number one seed, powered her way to the final in Ladies Singles against rising star Adrianna Diaz of Puerto Rico. Mo had beaten Diaz in 3-1 in team play. But the 2018 Pan American Junior Champion raised her level with consistent topspin attacks into the body and on this day, Mo could not find an answer, claiming the silver for Canada.
Mo Zhang’s luck took another downturn in Mixed Doubles. She and Eugene Wang had crushed their opposition and seemed destined for hardware before falling 3-0 to the ultimate champions from Puerto Rico. An injury compromised Wang’s play in the semifinal, forcing him to withdraw from Men’s Singles and a much-anticipated third round encounter with Kanak Jha of USA.
In the Men’s Team event Wang, Jeremy Hazin and Marco Medjugorac were 2-2, after identical 3-2 losses to both Paraguay and Puerto Rico, and finished the tournament in 9th place.
For detailed results and videos, go to ITTF.com