Photo: Anthony JeremiahKarla Cordero (GUA)
Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Aruba maintained 100 per cent records in the round-robin stages as the group matches drew to a close at the North/Central America and Caribbean World Junior Tennis Pre-Qualifying event in Santo Domingo. The three nations topped Groups A, B and C respectively in the boy’s event after each securing 3-0 wins in their first two matches.
Top seeds Guatemala were the standout side and head into Thursday’s first knockout encounter against Dominican Republic with sky-high confidence. Incredibly, the team has dropped a mere five games so far in Santo Domingo, racing past Panama and Bermuda with minimal fuss. Their next match will be a mighty tough challenge for the hosts, who finished second in Group C after losing to third seeds Aruba on Tuesday.
Second-seeded nation Puerto Rico has been similarly dominant, extending its record in the event to 12-0 in sets won after surpassing El Salvador on Wednesday to book a knockout clash against Honduras. Aruba, meanwhile, will play Panama in the next round with a potential clash against second seeds Puerto Rico the reward for the winner. Fourth-seeded Costa Rica completes the line-up in the 1-8 play-offs with a tie against El Salvador.
In the 9th to 12th play-off Bonaire will face Bermuda, while Haiti takes on Bahamas after all four teams finished bottom of their groups. Bermuda proved the strongest of the four in the group stages, winning one of its six matches when Like Attride-Stirling defeated Omar Caceres in the second rubber during a 2-1 defeat to Panama.
In the girls’ event, top seeds Guatemala emulated its boys’ team by reaching the knockout stages without dropping a set. The team eased past Bermuda for the loss of just one game on Wednesday to top Group A, while Puerto Rico won Group B after recording its second 2-1 win of the competition with victory over Costa Rica. Julieanne Bou and Andrea Roque won the deciding doubles rubber after Annette Sachs had given Costa Rica the lead with a 61 76(2) triumph over Ana Leonard.
Both Guatemala and Puerto Rico received byes into the Play-off semifinals, with hosts and third seeds Dominican Republic playing Bahamas and Costa Rica taking on Jamaica in a bid to join them.
Aruba, meanwhile, plays Panama in the first match of the 7th-9th play-off round-robin on Thursday.
Wednesday’s action culminated in an educational forum, one of a handful organised by the ITF at events over the year that aims to fill juniors in on several key topics. Guanay Castillo, of Dominican Republic, spoke about controlling emotions, while Ismar Amaya, of Guatemala, and Juan Carlos Fuentes, of El Salvador, spoke about doping.