Pan American Championships 2019
Aruba bolstered its reputation as a beach tennis powerhouse as its capital Oranjestad once again played host to the ITF Beach Tennis Pan American Championships where 10 nations battled for regional supremacy.
For the fourth year in succession, the Caribbean island provided the stunning backdrop for the competition and welcomed teams from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Curacao, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, USA, Uruguay and Venezuela to its shores.
The tournament also provided the perfect segue to this week’s Aruba $50,000, where the world’s top players are competing for much-coveted ranking points and, for the second consecutive edition of the event, enhanced prize money.
If the Pan American Championships are anything to go by, the action is likely to be gripping. The championships proved something of a Brazilian masterclass, which included Joana Cortez continuing her stunning and unrivalled record at the tournament.
Crowned a champion in each instalment of the competition since its inception in 2013, world No. 9 Cortez once again proved an irresistible force in the women’s doubles alongside fellow Brazilian Rafaella Miiller.
Cortez and Miiller’s triumph proved only part of Brazil’s dominance as Andre Ricardo Baran and Vinicius Font prevailed in the men’s doubles – both pairings claimed silver at the ANOC World Beach Games in October. Miiller and Baran, who won mixed doubles gold in Doha, then teamed up to again claim mixed doubles glory.
In each case, the top seeds in the draw justified their status and lifted silverware, with defending champions Cortez and Miiller dispatching second seeds and fellow Brazilians Flavia Muniz and Marcela Vita 6-2 6-1 in the final.
Indeed, Cortez and Miiller’s victory march was brutal. The pair navigated the entire tournament without dropping a set, while they only conceded 11 games, four of which came in their quarter-final tussle against Argentina’s Jesica Orselli and Wirth Ailin.
While there was a familiarity about the winners of the women’s doubles, there was a changing of the guard in the men’s division as Baran and Font overpowered 2018 victors and second seeds Marcus Ferreira and Thales Oliveira Santos.
It proved a thrilling finale as Ferreira and Santos – another Brazilian duo – battled back to level matters at one-set all, before Baran and Font settled matters in the third, posting a 7-5 5-7 6-4 victory.
This was by far the toughest assignment for Baran and Font, who are ranked No. 6 and No. 8 in the Men’s ITF Beach Tennis Rankings respectively, as they proceeded through the field of 20 teams with relative ease.
Brazil were almost omnipotent, with Miiller – the top-ranked women’s player on the planet – and Baran making it a clean sweep of trophies as they defended their mixed doubles title. Cortez and Font were overpowered 6-0 6-4 in the final.
There was, however, respite for the other competing nations in the invitational junior events as Ecuadorian and Venezuelan, as well as Brazilian, pairs were successful in the 12&Under, 14&Under and 16&Under age categories.
Attention, however, is now fully honed on Aruba $50,000 and a tournament which could go some considerable distance to determining the year-end world No. 1 spots.
With 400 ranking points on offer, and for the second year a hike in prize money from $35,000 to $50,000, the cream of the beach tennis world is fighting for honours.
The Top 10 in the men’s and women’s rankings, including defending champions Nikita Burmakin, Tommaso Giovannini, Miiller and Maraike Biglmaier, are all in action and eyeing silverware.
For a full breakdown of results from the 2019 ITF Beach Tennis Pan American Championships, click here.