Young Ruben Castellanos struck a winning note for Pan America today, rebounding from a game down to win his opening Men’s Singles match versus Korea’s Kang Min Hyuk.
The Guatemalan who finished with some style, outfoxing his opponent in a net duel, received spontaneous applause and cheers from spectators inside the High Performance Center – Videna in Lima where the first day of the YONEX BWF World Junior Championships 2015 individual competition was taking place.
Having lost a close tussle in the first game, the spirited athlete did not give up but rather raised his tempo in the second game and, from 10-10, sped ahead and never relinquished the lead. His speedy tactics remained much the same in the deciding game as he drew repeated errors from his rival, surging ahead 17-9. Kang notched a few late winners but they were not enough to dent Castellanos’ advantage. The final result, 19-21 21-14 21-16, to the underdog; an outcome which delighted many Pan Am nations with players and coaches from the region seeking out the 18-year-old to congratulate him and his entourage.
“I know it’s a very good result for Guatemala and Pan Am and I’m happy to show that we can play badminton. In the team event I lost some matches in three games so I felt that if I could play a bit better I had a chance to win,” explained a beaming Castellanos (featured image).
“I was nervous but I was hitting the shuttle powerfully. I was tired at the end of the first game but I came out with a positive mind in the second. I decided to keep the shuttle flat because I realised he was making mistakes and I had control. In the third game, I mixed my speeds the whole game.”
The victory was Castellanos’ first in individual battle at World Juniors, having lost in the first round two years ago in Bangkok, Thailand.
“It’s a good step for me and I want to go further and play more. My dream is to play in the Olympic Games,” said the shuttler who was introduced to badminton at age 11 by a friend who no longer plays.
Other Pan American players in winners’ row today included El Salvador’s Mixed Doubles duo, Uriel Canjura/Fatima Centeno, who prevailed in their first-round encounter versus South Africans, Brandon Nel and Laika Maharaj, 21-15 21-18 as well as Cuba’s Angel Rodriguez and Melissa Perez who beat Italy’s Lukas Osele and Silvia Garino, 21-11 21-13. Canada also enjoyed some victories in Mixed Doubles, Women’s Singles and Men’s Singles.
Meanwhile, having dispensed with the team tournament last Sunday, some of the world’s top young players begin their quest for individual glory tomorrow. A number of top seeds in various categories had first-round byes and will therefore enter the tournament in the second round.
Tournament link: Yonex BWF World Junior Championships 2015 – EYE LEVEL Cups