(Colorado Springs, Colo.) - In 2007, then-16-year-old Jeanette Rodriguez (Davie, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) was one of two U.S. players to climb the podium of the prestigious Junior Belgian Ladies' Open for the first time in the event's history.
Two years later, the former Pan American Games bronze medalist has moved up in weight from 48kg to 52kg, but was still considered to be one to watch for the gold medal in Arlon on Saturday.
In a unique format, players must compete in round robin pools with the top two players advancing into the main draw. Once in the draw, a player who loses early may only fight through for bronze if her opponent advances to the final.
Rodriguez appeared to have little difficulty, winning her first match in the pool and pinning Emily Hickman (GBR) in the second. Hickman, like Rodriguez was a former 48kg player who also has moved up in weight, but had World Cup success in 2008 when she won a silver medal at the Birmingham event.
After a first-round bye in the main draw, Rodriguez's momentum was stopped by former 57kg player Carla Grol (NED) who defeated Rodriguez by a penalty that was awarded with three seconds left on the clock.
Grol advanced to the finals, carrying Rodriguez through to the repechage where she threw 2007 European U17 bronze medalist Kathrin Prill (GER) with a sode (sleeve throw) for a yuko (quarter-point score).
The win moved Rodriguez into the evening finals against Laure Paquet, one of Belgium's top senior players, who Rodriguez threw for ippon (instant win) in the first 30 seconds of the match with an outer leg throw.
Mindy Chow (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) also competed in the 52kg division, winning her first two matches in the pool to advance to the main draw. Fourteen-year-old Chow, who placed second at the 2008 Senior U.S. Open, threw 2008 Swiss Senior National silver medalist Evelyne Tschopp early in their first match with a left uchimata (inner thigh throw). Chow threw Anthea Reich (GER) in the next round with a harai goshi (hip throw) to win by a yuko and advance to the main draw. Chow and Paquet fought through both the regulation and Golden Score periods of their match for a full 10 minutes before the referees awarded the match to Paquet on a split decision.
Chow's Hawaii Tenri teammate Taylor Ibera (Honolulu, Hawaii) came out of the 48kg pool with two wins, defeating Anne-Sophie Jura (BEL) on penalties and choking Amelia Cook (GBR). In the main draw, Ibera threw Katharina Menz (GER) for ippon in overtime. In the next round, Ibera lost by ippon to eventual bronze medalist Mandy Tjokroatmo (NED) and did not get carried through to the repechage.
Veronica Prado (Coral Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) advanced out of the 48kg pools with a 1-1 record. Prado was thrown for ippon with a sumi gaeshi (sacrifice throw) by 2008 European U20 medalist Kay Kraus (GER) in the first match. Prado then beat Daisy Van Loo (NED) on penalties to advance to the main draw where she lost to eventual silver medalist Verena Thumm (NED) in the first round and Melissa Munoz (FRA) in the repechage.
Prado's North Miami teammate Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla.) won both matches in her 57kg pool, throwing Heather Fangnoul (BEL) with a sleeve throw for ippon and defeating 2008 German Junior National Champion Katja Stefan (GER) on penalties. In the main draw, Delgado defeated Wiebke Kaiser (GER) in the first round by yuko (quarter-point) and waza-ari (half-point) scores. In the second round, Delgado threw 2008 U.S. Open medalist Stefanie Tremblay (CAN) for ippon with an outer leg throw for ippon, but lost in the quarter-finals to Shushana Hevondian (UKR). Hevondian would go on to win the bronze medal, but her semifinal loss eliminated Delgado.
In her first appearance in a major European event, Lydia Au (Chicago, Ill. / Midwest Judo & Jujitsu) split her pool play matches in the 57kg division, leading in her match against Meghann Diez (BEL) by a yuko before ending the match with an armbar, but losing by ippon to Anett Specht (GER). In the main draw, Au lost to Sina Felske (GER) early in their first-round match.
Former Pan American Infantile Champion Carly Patton (Zephyrhills, Fla. / Del. Diaz Mambi Training Center) also was making her European debut in the 57kg division. The 14-year-old lost both of her pool play matches, first to Sarah Ghysels (BEL) by ippon and then to Sonja Strohle (GER) by a waza-ari.
Competition continues on Sunday with the senior divisions.
Complete results are as follows:
1. Charline Van Snick (BEL)
2. Verena Thumm (NED)
3. Kay Kraus (GER)
3. Mandy Tjokroatmo (NED)
5. Sonja Wirth (GER)
5. Melissa Munoz (FRA)
Also Competed: Taylor Ibera (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri), 3-1
Veronica Prado (Coral Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami), 1-3
1. Laura Holtzinger (FRA)
2. Carla Grol (NED)
3. Zaylin Lantaron (CUB)
3. Jeanette Rodriguez (Davie, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami)
5. Kathrine Frey (SUI)
5. Laure Paquet (BEL)
Also Competed: Mindy Chow (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri), 2-1
1. Juul Franssen (NED)
2. Morgane Brunet (FRA)
3. Shushana Hevondian (UKR)
3. Maricet Espinosa (CUB)
5. Helene Receveaux (FRA)
5. Nolwenn LeTroadec (FRA)
Also Competed: Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami), 4-1
Lydia Au (Chicago, Ill. / Midwest Judo & Jujitsu), 1-2
Carly Patton (Zephyrhills, Fla. / Del. Diaz Mambi Training Center), 0-2
1. Alexandra Sebald (GER)
2. Heloise Lacouchie (FRA)
3. Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA)
3. Edwige Gwend (ITA)
5. Laura Vargas Koch (GER)
5. Lisa Elm (GER)
1. Anita Honingh (NED)
2. Paula Van Dommelen (NED)
3. Frauke Kucznierz (GER)
3. Katrin Reiberg (GER)
5. Kelly Peereboom (NED)
5. Guusje Steenhuis (NED)
1. Martine Demkes (NED)
2. Ivanna Makukha (UKR)
3. Jasmin Delorme (GER)
3. Tessie Savelkouls (NED)
5. Frederique Maertens (FRA)
5. Madeleine Vogelzang (NED)
1. Idalys Ortiz (CUB)
2. Zita Notter (GER)
3. Jasmin Kulbs (GER)
3. Ashley Fleming (GER)
5. Maria Schunke (GER)
5. Kristin Bussow (GER)