Team USA earned medals in four events–including girls’ doubles silver, boys’ individual bronze and boys’ and girls’ team bronze–at the 2019 Pan American Junior Championships, June 16-22, in Toronto, Canada.
The tournament opened up with the individual and doubles competitions, June 16-19, which yielded a silver medal in girls’ doubles and bronze medal in boys’ individuals for the U.S. courtesy of Nina Mital & Molly Stoltz and Spencer Yager.
Mital & Stoltz ensured at least a bronze medal with a commanding 11-0, 11-3 first-round victory to reach the semifinals. In the semis, the Americans defeated El Salvador’s Katya Aceituno & Erika Parker-Schmidt 11-6, 11-9, to reach the final where they faced Colombia’s Lucia Bautista Sarmiento & Amalia Rios. A dramatic final saw the U.S. take the first game 11-6 and drop the second 11-6. In the third, Colombia held four match balls up 10-7, but Mital & Stoltz fought off all three to earn a simultaneous match ball at 10-all. Colombia then rebounded to win the decisive rally and gold medal 11-10. The boys’ doubles partnership, Maxwell Orr & Connor
“It was a really exciting finish to the doubles competition,” said Madeline Perry, Junior National Coach. “Nina and Molly narrowly lost after coming back from 10-7 down, but a great fight from the girls and a well-earned silver medal for the team.”
The individual competition yielded strong performances from the U.S. contingent. Nina Mital and Jacob Bulbulia both pushed higher-seeded players to five games in the round of thirty-two. Maxwell Orr, Conner Stoltz and Renee Chan all reached the round of sixteen before falling against higher-seeded opponents. Molly Stoltz and Binney Huffman both progressed to the quarterfinals. Stoltz lost out to eventual gold medalist Maria Paula Moya, while Huffman exited in a close four games against Canada’s Brianna Jefferson.
Yager put in the strongest U.S. individual performance. Yager improved with every match, winning a five-game comeback in the round of thirty-two, winning in four games in the round of sixteen, and a three-game quarterfinal to reach the semis.
Yager pushed eventual gold medalist Leonardo Daniel Vargas in a close four game loss, 5-11, 11-13, 11-8, 6-11, earning a bronze medal for the U.S.
The culminating team competition saw both U.S. teams earn a top four seeding based on pool play. The U.S. boys dropped a close 2-1 match against eventual silver medalists Argentina, but bounced back with two decisive 3-0 wins against El Salvador and the Cayman Islands to finish second in the group and earn the four seed in the knock out draw.
The U.S. girls put in a strong performance to top their group, edging Barbados 2-1 and defeating El Salvador 3-0 to earn the three seed in the knock out draw.
In the playoff rounds, the U.S. women matched their pool play result with a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Barbados. The U.S. narrowly missed out on a spot in the final after tough semifinal match against two seeds Canada. Molly Stoltz earned a win for the U.S., but Canada prevailed with a three-game win from Charlotte Orcutt and Brianna Jefferson edging American Renee Chan 11-6, 3-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9.
The U.S. boys opened the playoff stages with a 3-0 win over Peru in the quarterfinals. A close semifinal against top seeds Mexico ensued with Maxwell Orr upsetting individual gold medalist Leonardo Daniel Vargas in three games. Mexico took the match with wins in the No. 2 and 3 slots, however courtesy of Juan Carlos Vargas and Axel Maldonado.
The two team bronze medals completed the total of four earned by Team USA in Canada.
“We are delighted with everyone’s performances and are extremely proud of how our players represented Team USA,” said Madeline Perry, Junior National Coach. “The spirit of the team was particularly good and this championship proved to be a valuable first experience in an international team event for this group of players that will help their careers down the line.”