The Pan Am Juniors international competition is an annual tournament that determines the best junior players in the North and South American continents. The 2008 Pan Am Juniors were held in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on July 15-20 with 11 countries participating in the team event and over 310 participants competing in the individual events.
The USA Badminton (USAB) team event members were Cheryl Chow (San Marino, CA), Zenas Lam (Mountain View, CA), Calvin Lin (Villa Park, CA), Brendan Lum (San Francisco, CA), Priscilla Lun (San Marino, CA), Beckie Neumann (Manhattan Beach, CA), Howard Shu (Anaheim Hills, CA) and Rena Wang (Arcadia, CA). The team event is played using the Badminton World Federation Sudirman Cup style competition with one point awarded to the winning team in each event (men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles). The five events are played in total for each tie and the team with the best of five points advances to the next round.
Team USA made it easily out the pool play competition with a 5-0 victory over both Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago.
In the quarter-finals of the championship round, team USA drew a tough draw as team Canada got off the first point when Michael Diamond/Surahbi Kadam barely edged out USA's Brendan Lum/Cheryl Chow 16-21, 29-27, 21-14 in mixed doubles. USA quickly countered with a women's singles win by Rena Wang over Jessica Leung 21-10, 21-9 and a men's singles win by Howard Shu over Henry Pan 21-5, 26-24. The 2-1 point edge gave confidence to the USA women's doubles team of Beckie Neumann/Priscilla Lun as they defeated Jessica Leung/Surahbi Kadam 21-12, 18-21, 21-14, to secure the team victory.
The semi-finals were harder as team USA faced last year's runner-up Peru. Peru struck first with a mixed doubles victory by Bruno Monteverde/Katherine Winder over Calvin Lin/Priscilla Lun 21-19, 19-21, 21-15. The close matches continued as Rena Wang again gave USA the point in women's singles with a victory over Claudia Zornoza 21-18, 20-22, 21-13. Peru's Mario Cuba gave his team a 2-1 edge over Howard Shu 15-21, 23-21, 23-21. The US evened the match at 2-2 with a women's doubles victory by Rena Wang/Priscilla Lun over Claudia Zornoza/Katherine Winder 21-11, 21-18. In the deciding final match, Peru's Mario Cuba/Bruno Monteverde stepped up to win the men's doubles over Howard Shu/Calvin Lin 23-21, 21-13. Team USA and their supporters were extremely disappointed at the 3-2 loss to Peru.
Hurt but not out of medal contention, Team USA faced Brazil in the bronze medal round. Brazil got the first point with a mixed doubles victory by Thomas Moretti/Marina Eliezar over Calvin Lin/Cheryl Chow 19-21, 21-14, 21-19. Team USA would not leave empty handed and captured the next three points with a women's singles victory by Beckie Neumann over Renata Carvalho 21-12, 21-11, a men's singles victory by Brendan Lum over Luis Cereda 21-19, 18-21, 21-19 and a women's doubles victory by Rena Wang/Priscilla Lun over Marina Eliezer/Thamie Fontes 21-13, 21-10. Congratulations to team USA on their 3-1 finish over Brazil to capture the 2008 Pan Am Juniors team bronze medal (see team 3rd place picture - team USA on right side).
With the conclusion of the team event, the individual competition began in five age groups (under-11, under-13, under-15, under-17 and under-19), with each having five events (boy's singles, girl's singles, boy's doubles, girl's doubles and mixed doubles). 25 sets of medals were at stake and the USAB team was determined to make up for the team USA bronze by getting individual gold.
In the Under-11 age category, Micaela Lum dominated her field with a triple crown gold medal performance by winning all three of her events (girl's singles, girl's doubles and mixed doubles). Vinson Chiu won two gold in boy's doubles and mixed doubles with Micaela. Crystal Pan partnered with Micaela to also earn a gold medal in girl's doubles.
In the Under-13 age category, Jerry Yang/Zandra Ho received silver medals in mixed doubles. They fought valiantly against Ygor Coelho/Lohaynn Caroline Oliveira of Brazil but fell short 18-21, 19-21. The Brazil team won four of the five gold medals in this age category.
In the Under-15 age category, the USA team dominated this age with five gold medals, three silver medals and four bronze medals. Phillip Chew followed up his US Junior National triple crown gold medal performance by winning Pan Am Junior gold in boy's singles, boy's doubles and mixed doubles events. Iris Wang followed up with two gold medals in girl's singles and with mixed doubles partner Phillip. Andrew Susanto won one gold in boy's doubles playing with Phillip. The USAB team also won all the medals in the girl's singles with a silver medal to Claudia Hardi, and bronze medals to Sharon Ng and Samantha Li.
In the Under-17 age category, Zenas Lam/Brendan Lum won the gold in boy's doubles. A strong team from both Canada and Peru, along with some of the top Under-17 USAB players electing to play the higher age group, made this a very competitive field. The USAB team also received silver medals in mixed doubles by Marvin Lin/Catherine Chiu.
In the Under-19 age category, Rena Wang led the way with two gold medals in women's singles and women's doubles with partner Priscilla Lun. Howard Shu/Cheryl Chow won mixed doubles gold medals to round out the field.
Here is a list of all the USAB participants (see team player picture) and their results (BS is boy's singles, GS is girl's singles, BD is boy's doubles, GD is girl's doubles and XD is mixed doubles) -
Daniel Berdichevsky (Wayland, MA)
Lee Chern (Wayland, MA) - bronze U15BD
Phillip Chew (Orange, CA) - triple crown gold U15BS, U15BD and U15XD
Ryan Chew (Orange, CA)
Brandon Chi (Pleasanton, CA) - bronze U17BS
Catherine Chiu (Newport Beach, CA) - silver U17XD, bronze U17GD
Vinson Chiu (Newport Beach, CA) - gold U11BD and U11XD, silver U11BS
Cheryl Chow (San Marino, CA) - gold U19XD
Claudia Hardi (Irvine, CA) - silver U15GS and U15XD, bronze U15GD
Zandra Ho (Belmont, MA) - silver U13XD, bronze U15GD
Randy Hsia (Arcadia, CA)
Kenneth Hui (Rosemead, CA)
Kevin Hui (Rosemead, CA)
Eric Kuo (Fountain Valley, CA)
Jeffrey Kuo (Saratoga, CA) - silver U15XD, bronze U15BD
Timothy Lam (Mountain View, CA)
Zenas Lam (Mountain View, CA) - gold U17BD
Samantha Li (Chino Hills, CA) - bronze U15GS
Calvin Lin (Villa Park, CA)
Marvin Lin (Villa Park, CA) - silver U17XD
Brendan Lum (San Francisco, CA) - gold U17BD, bronze U17BS
Micaela Lum (San Francisco, CA) - triple crown gold U11GS, U11GD and U11XD
Priscilla Lun (San Marino, CA) - gold U19GD
Beckie Neumann (Manhattan Beach, CA) - bronze U19GD
Sharon Chi-Yee Ng (Sunnyvale, CA) - silver U15GD, bronze U15GS
Crystal Pan (Fremont, CA) - gold U11GD, silver U11GS
Howard Shu (Anaheim Hills, CA) - gold U19XD, bronze U19BS
Andrew Susanto (Orange, CA) - gold U15BD
Iris Wang (Arcadia, CA) - gold U15GS and U15XD, silver U15GD
Rena Wang (Arcadia, CA) - gold U19GS and U19GD
Tiffany Wong (Arcadia, CA)
Darren Yang (Acton, MA)
Jerry Yang (Acton, MA) - silver U13XD
Isabel Zhong (Manhattan Beach, CA) - bronze U17GD
Susana Zhong (Manhattan Beach, CA) - bronze U19GD
At the end, the 35 USAB players earned 12 gold medal finishes, 7 silver medal finishes and 9 bronze medal finishes. Congratulations to the US players on their incredible performance. The successful results of these championships would not be possible without the guidance of the team coaches Joy Kitzmiller and Arnold Setiadi, and the tireless work of the team managers Wayne Lum and Widya Susanto. A special thank you should also go to the tournament organizing committee for an extremely well-run and professional event.
The USAB juniors will prepare to improve on their performance at the next Pan Am Junior international badminton championships in Puerto Rico, August 2009.