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No hat-trick, but Guzman gets bronze

By Shammi Kowlessar

GOING after a hat-trick of singles titles in the Venezuela International Badminton Tournament, Solangel Guzman was forced to settle for a bronze medal on Saturday night.
After two straight-set victories, the unseeded Trinidad and Tobago representative came up against the top seed and was beaten 21-10, 21-15 by Brazilian Lohaynny Vicente in the semi-finals.
Guzman, who had won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles crown in the inaugural edition of this tournament two years ago and retained her singles title last year, had beaten Peruvian Luc Maria Zornozo 21-17, 21-17 in the quarterfinals to be assured of a medal.
The Cuba-born Guzman, was expected to be sent packing in her first match, but she upset third-seeded Peruvian Daniela Macias 21-17, 21-17 after a first-round bye.
Three other T&T players were involved in the tournament, but they were all eliminated in the first round.
Nekeisha Blake, a five-time national champion who recently returned after being out for two years with injury, went under gallantly 21-7, 20-22, 21-12 against eventual semifinalist Danica Nishimura of Peru.
Kerwyn Pantin, crowned national champ for a record eighth time a couple months ago, narrowly won the first set before going out 21-23, 21-6, 21-15 against Mexican Luis Ramon Garrido.
And Venezuelan qualifier Kevin Rivas was a 21-13, 21-18 winner over Nicholas Bonkowsky, a Canadian of local roots.
Pantin and Bonkowsky were beaten 21-12, 21-2 in the first round of doubles by Hugo Arthuso and Daniel Paiola and the Brazilians went all the way to the gold medal.
Blake and Guzman lost in the first round 21-9, 21-12 against eventual semifinalists Zornoza and fellow Peruvian Katherine Winder.
And in the opening round of mixed doubles, an Argentine pair beat Blake and Pantin 24-22, 21-16 and Brazilians accounted for Bonkowsky and Guzman.
Guzman, who won a triple crown for the third straight time in the National Championships this year, had also picked up bronze medals in the Santo Domingo Open and the prestigious Pan American Championships in Dominican Republic last year.
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