U.S. Into the Finals at Santiago 2023 Pan American Games
At the end of semifinals day on October 24, 2023 at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, the U.S. has five badminton athletes heading into the finals to represent Team USA.
In women’s singles, Jennie Gai faced Cuba’s Taymara Oropesa Pupo. Gai and Oropesa played a heavily contested first game, with Gai narrowly pulling away for a 22-20 win in the end. In the second game, Gai put together a strong performance to finish with a 21-7 win, earning her way into the finals.
“It’s quite unexpected since I came here focused on mixed,” Jennie said on her singles semifinal win. “I’m happy first to be able to earn a medal for the U.S. and also now to be in contention for the gold.”
In women’s doubles, Annie Xu and Kerry Xu faced Brazil’s Juliana Viana Vieira and Sania Valeria Passos Lima. The twins pulled off a strong 21-7 win in the first game. In the second game, the Xu sisters found themselves behind entering the 11-point interval before storming back for a 21-18 comeback win and earning their spot in the finals.
“This is special because it’s our first Pan Am Games and to reach the finals is a very special moment for us,” the twins said.
In women’s singles, Beiwen Zhang faced Canada’s Rachel Jun Ling Chan. Zhang and Chan battled hard for the lead in the first game, with Zhang eventually pulling through 21-16 near the end. Zhang carried that momentum into the second game with a 21-11 win and will join her fellow American, Jennie Gai, in the women’s singles finals.
“I’ve never played a Pan Am Games before. I really wanted to represent the U.S. and play for them and get a gold,” Zhang said. “Also, I went to the Olympics so actually it’s a similar experience.” On facing a fellow American, Zhang said, “Jennie is a really good player. She plays really smart…yeah, she’s not easy to play so I have to fully prepare.”
In mixed doubles, Jennie Gai and Vinson Chiu faced tough opponents in Brazil’s Davi Carvalho Marinho Da Silva and Sania Valeria Passos Lima. The U.S. pair narrowly lost the first game 20-22 as the Brazil pair pulled off a comeback to end the game. Gai and Chiu gave their all in the second game, with a 21-16 victory to bring the match to the deciding third game. In the third game, the U.S. pair prevailed with a 21-16 win to move on to the finals.
“We felt really good because we played them last time at Pan Am Individual Championships and we did not perform as we wanted to, so we really came back and proved that we’re actually at that level to beat them,” Chiu said.
“I think coming in I knew semis would be hard because played them and lost. I just came in mentally prepared to fight for each point at a time and win or lose, I just wanted to give my all,” Gai added.
The finals will take place on October 25, 2023.
At 5:00 AM Pacific time, Annie Xu and Kerry Xu start off the finals against Canada’s Catherine Choi and Josephine Yuenling Wu in women’s doubles.
In the third match of the day, Americans Beiwen Zhang and Jennie Gai will face each other in women’s singles.
In the final match of the day, Vinson Chiu and Jennie Gai will face Canada’s Ty Alexander Lindeman and Josephine Yuenling Wu.
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