Vecko happy with performance of young squad at World Team Championships

Aaron & Billy v SWE World Champs 2The British team ended the inaugural PTT World Team Championships in Slovakia on a winning note today as Aaron McKibbin and Billy Shilton won their final play-off match against Slovakia to secure 7th place in men’s class 8. After the British pair fought back from 2-1 down to win the doubles, 18 year old Shilton pushed former World champion Richard Csejtey in three close sets despite a 3-0 loss before McKibbin won the match with a 3-0 victory over Josef Krsiak.

GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko was happy with the performance of his young squad at these championships.

“To bring four teams here and take three bronze medals is a good result,” he said, “especially as it is still early in the season and our priority this year is the European Championships so we are preparing our players to produce their highest level in September. We didn’t bring our two best players Rob Davies and Will Bayley – our gold medallists from Rio – and we wanted to give experience to our younger players as whatever we do over the next four years is all preparation for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

“For our men’s class 6 team to beat the European champions Denmark and for David Wetherill to beat the Paralympic champion from Rio, Peter Rosenmeier, was an incredible performance by the whole team and I was really happy to see three players from England, Wales and Scotland all working really well together.

“For Megan Shackleton to play the Paralympic champion in a major championship was very valuable experience and to get her first World medal shows great promise for the future – she and Sue Gilroy proved that they can compete against the best teams in the world in women’s class 4.

“In men’s class 1 we lost out on the gold on countback although we beat Italy who took the gold. We were without our best class 1 player Rob Davies so that was a good result and Tom Matthews showed that he is also a great prospect.

“Ross Wilson was unable to play due to a back injury so we also have to be happy with men’s class 8 as we were able to give more experience to Billy Shilton who was playing in his first World championship. He and Aaron McKibbin were disappointed not to go through to the knockout stages but they came back and won their two play-off matches, which was a really good performance.

“I was very proud of the whole squad as they all showed great fighting spirit in all their matches. We came here wanting to give experience to our young players so we need to be happy with three medals at our first World Team Championships.”

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Three bronze medals for British team at World Team Championships

The British team took three bronze medals at the PTT World Team Championships in Slovakia today in men’s class 1, men’s class 6 and women’s class 4-5.

Paul Davies and Tom Matthews were denied the gold medal in men’s class 1 on countback at the end of the round-robin event. They won their first doubles match of the tournament against Hungary but Endre Major levelled the tie with a 3-1 win against Davies. Matthews has had to win the deciding singles in their previous two matches here and he did so again, beating Janos Kaiser 3-0 to win the tie for Britain 2-1.

MATTHEWS Thomas DAVIES Paul World TeamsThat left the Welsh pair needing to win their final match against top seeds Korea to take the gold after KiWon Nam and Jae-kwan Cho were surprisingly beaten by Italy. But they lost the doubles 3-0 and the match 2-0 when Matthews was beaten 3-1 by the Paralympic bronze medallist Nam. With three teams tied on points the medals were decided on countback and Italy took the gold, Korea the silver and Britain the bronze.

“Against Hungary this morning our doubles was absolutely brilliant,” said Davies, 50, who now has a World medal to add to his Paralympic and European ones. “We put Tom in as number one against Korea because he has more experience against Nam but unfortunately Nam came out on top today and we lost in the doubles as well. Italy won the gold even though we beat them yesterday so it is one of those unfortunate things. But we’ve got a World team bronze which is good in my eyes. Fair play to Tom – it is a massive achievement for him to get his first World medal and it gives me the box set as I’ve now got one of each so I’m happy as well.”

“Our doubles got better through the tournament,” said 24 year old Matthews. “Slovenia last week was the first time we had played together and going to a World championships was always going to be difficult but we did cause some problems to the other teams and we managed to up our game. It has been really good experience – there was a lot of pressure and I think I handled it well and I’m really happy with my performance.”

After their great win against European champions Denmark yesterday Paul Karabardak, David Wetherill and Martin Perry ensured their progress to the men’s class 6 semi-final as group winners with a 2-0 win against Chile. Karabardak and Wetherill combined well to win the doubles 3-0 and Karabardak won the tie with a 3-1 victory over Matias Pino Lorca. They made a great start to their semi-final against Croatia, winning the doubles 3-0, and from 2-0 down Wetherill was just edged out in a thrilling match against Pavao Jozic, 12-10 in the fifth. That left Karabardak to play the deciding singles and he was beaten for the first time in the tournament by Vjekoslav Gregorovic, 13-11 in the fourth.

Martin Perry and Paul Karabardak World Team champs“I think I’ve played well over the last three days,” said Swansea’s Karabardak, who has only been back in training for two weeks after injuring his foot in Italy in March. “I was pleased with my performance and pleased to get a bronze medal. We had a good start to the semi – winning the doubles when I think Dave and I played the best we’ve ever played together – and we have to give credit to Croatia because they played well in the singles. World championship medals are not easy to win so I’m pleased to have two now.”

Wetherill also had to overcome a knee injury incurred in Slovenia last week and was delighted with his win yesterday against the Paralympic champion Peter Rosenmeier.

David Wetherill World Team Champs“Against Rosenmeier I was really pumped for it and I felt comfortable,” said the 27 year old from Torpoint. “Mentally, tactically and technically I played really strong so that is positive to know that when I get things right I can beat anyone. We are disappointed that we’ve lost but we have to be proud because Paul and I are not 100% fit and it is down to fine margins. Sometimes you just need a little bit of luck – Paul had a few edges against him and a deuce set at the end and it is those fine margins but we are not far off. We are class 6 so probably we are never going to be 100% but given the circumstances we have played incredibly well.”

Martin Perry World Team ChampsFor Martin Perry it was a medal at his first major championship.

“I feel that is definitely the strongest performance we’ve had as a team,” said the 23 year old from Paisley. “We are such a tight knit unit and that is going to stand us in good stead for the future. It’s been such an eye-opening experience – my first major championships – and to do it alongside Dave and Paul who have done multiple Paralympic Games and major championships – I can only thrive off that.”

The key match for Sue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton in the round-robin women’s class 4-5 proved to be against Germany in the morning. The British pair fought back from 2-1 down in the doubles to level at 2-2 but Sandra Mikolaschek and Lisa Hentig took the deciding fifth set 11-8 to take a 1-0 lead. Gilroy and Mikolaschek have had some tight matches over the last three years including at the Paralympic Games in Rio last year when Gilroy won 13-11 in the fifth. This time it was the 19 year old German who came out on top – taking the match 11-6 in the fifth and securing a 2-0 win for Germany.

GILROY Susan SHACKLETON Megan World Team ChampsGilroy and Shackleton were still in with a chance of gold going in to their final match against the top seeds Serbia but Paralympic champion Borislava Peric-Rankovic and Rio bronze medallist Nada Matic were in top form today and after combining with Matic to win the doubles 3-0, Peric Rankovic made sure of the gold with a 3-0 win against 18 year old Shackleton.

“We had so many chances against Germany,” said Gilroy. “We played really well but we just made a few too many errors. We needed to win the doubles and hopefully in future we can spend more time practising together. We can take a lot of positives from our first World team medal together. We’re a relatively new partnership and hadn’t played together for a year before Slovenia last week so it is a fantastic achievement to get a bronze medal and I’m really pleased.”

“I feel that we have had a really good tournament,” said Shackleton. “To improve on the results we had in Slovenia last week just shows we are working well as a partnership and hopefully we have a good future ahead of us. I feel that I’ve learnt a lot from this tournament especially playing the last match against the Paralympic champion under that sort of pressure and learning to deal with it. It will take time but I feel like it is coming together now.”

Aaron McKibbin and Billy Shilton beat Germany 2-1 in the men’s class 8 play-offs and play a final match tomorrow against Slovakia to decide their finishing position in the tournament.

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British team still in the medal hunt on Day 2 of World Team Championships

It was another successful day for the British team on day two of the PTT World Team Championships in Slovakia.

Megan Shackleton Slovenia 2017Sue Gilroy World Champs v SVK 2It began with a win for Sue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton in their second match in the round-robin women’s class 4-5 event against the World Championship silver medallists Chinese Taipei. The pair combined to beat Lu Pi-chun and Lee Ya-Chu 3-1 in the doubles and Gilroy then won a close first set against Lu 12-10 before going on to beat the Chinese Taipei number one 3-0.

“Megan and I played much better in the doubles and there is definitely more flow in our partnership today,” said Gilroy. “Last week was our first time playing together after a year gap but I think we are starting to understand each other as the tournament goes on.”

Gilroy and Shackleton play their final two matches tomorrow against Germany and top seeds Serbia which will decide the medals.

Paul Davies World Team Champs 2MATTHEWS ThomasPaul Davies and Tom Matthews are a new partnership for Britain in men’s class 1 and the Welsh pair lost the opening doubles today in their second round-robin match against Italy, as they did when the two teams met in the Slovenia Open last week. Once again Davies kept them in the tie with a 3-1 win against Andrea Borgato and Matthews fought off a spirited challenge by Federico Falco – taking the deciding singles 12-10 in the fifth after the Italian had come back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2.

“I feel that our doubles is improving with every game,” said Matthews, “and we were unlucky not to pinch the first set. Paul had a great singles against Borgato to level the score and after going 2-0 up against Falco I think I relaxed a bit too much – I was playing a bit too safe and he changed his game to suit him. Being down in the fifth set was difficult but I kept my nerve and managed to come out on top. It’s a great win as Italy are one of the favourites.”

“I played much better against Borgato,” said Davies. “Our doubles is getting better so we need a good start tomorrow.”

Medals in men’s class 1 will be decided tomorrow and Davies and Matthews play their final two matches against Hungary and top seeds Korea.

Martin Perry and Paul Karabardak World Team champsBritain’s second group match in men’s class 6 was a repeat of the European Championship final in 2015 which they lost to Denmark. Paul Karabardak and Martin Perry lost the doubles 3-1 today but David Wetherill played superbly to beat the Paralympic champion Peter Rosenmeier 3-1 to level the tie and Karabardak then fought back bravely from 2-0 down against Michael Jensen to take the deciding singles 11-3 in the fifth and win the match for his team.

With two wins from two the British team is in pole position but need to beat Chile in their final group match tomorrow to be sure of progressing to the semi-finals.

Billy Shilton and Aaron McKibbin World Team ChampsWith Ross Wilson still hampered by a back injury Aaron McKibbin and Billy Shilton continued to fly the flag for Britain in men’s class 8 and they narrowly lost their final group match to Chinese Taipei. McKibbin and 18 year old Shilton fought back from 2-0 down in the doubles to level at 2-2 but Hu Ming-Fu and Hou Ting-sung took the final set 11-6 to take a 1-0 lead. McKibbin was then edged out by former World number one Hu in the first singles, 12-10 in the fifth.

The result means that Britain do not go through to the knockout stages but will instead play-off for their finishing position in the event starting against Germany tomorrow afternoon.

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Good start for British team on Day 1 of World Team Championships

The British team made a good start to the PTT World Team Championships in Slovakia today with wins in women’s class 4-5, men’s class 1, men’s class 6 and men’s class 8.

Aaron & Billy v SWE World Champs 2With double Paralympic medallist Ross Wilson unable to play due to a back problem, Aaron McKibbin was partnered in men’s class 8 by 18 year old Billy Shilton and they made the perfect start with a 2-0 win against Australia. The pair combined to win the doubles 3-1 and McKibbin secured the tie with a 3-0 win against Nathan Pellissier.

In their second match they faced Sweden and although McKibbin and Shilton started well by taking the first set in the doubles the Paralympic silver medallists Linus Karlsson and Emil Andersson came back to take the next three and establish a 1-0 lead. Shilton played well against Andersson – saving three match points before clinching a tense third set 16-14 – but the former World number one used all his experience to take the match 3-1 and win the tie for Sweden 2-0.

The British team can still progress to the knockout stages if they beat Chinese Taipei in their final group match tomorrow morning.

Sue Gilroy World Champs v SVKSue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton started their challenge in the round-robin women’s class 4-5 with a match against Slovakia and they won the doubles 3-0 before Gilroy recovered from 10-8 down to win the third set 12-10 and complete a 3-0 win over Katarina Dobrovodska. Gilroy and Shackleton play their next match against Chinese Taipei tomorrow.

Paul Karabardak, Martin Perry and David Wetherill also began with a tie against the host nation and were involved in a tough battle. Alexander Nagy and Gabriel Csemy took the doubles 11-9 in the fifth after Karabardak and Wetherill had levelled at 2-2. That left Britain needing to win both of the singles matches and when Karabardak recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory over Nagy it was down to Wetherill to win the deciding match. The 27 year old looked to be in trouble at 2-0 down but fought back tenaciously to beat Csemy 12-10 in the fifth and secure a 2-1 win for his team.

The next group match for the British team will be against European champions Denmark tomorrow afternoon.

It was Britain against Slovakia again in men’s class 1 which is also being played in a round-robin format. Paul Davies and Tom Matthews played together for the first time in Slovenia last week and they lost the doubles today 3-1. Davies kept them in the tie with a 3-0 win against Martin Barbierik and Matthews then won the deciding singles against Marian Kamien 3-1 to give Britain a 2-1 win.

Davies and Matthews play their next match against Italy tomorrow.

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Draw made for World Team Championships

The draw has been made for the inaugural World Team Championships taking place in Slovakia from May 17-20.

World Team Champs logoThe British Para Table Tennis Team is competing in four events – men’s class 1, men’s class 6, men’s class 8 and women’s class 4-5.

Men’s class 1 and women’s class 4-5 are both round-robin events with five teams in each. Paul Davies and Tom Matthews begin at 16:00 tomorrow with a match against the hosts Slovakia while Sue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton also take on Slovakia at 14:15.

In men’s class 6, Paul Karabardak, Martin Perry and David Wetherill have been drawn in a group with European champions Denmark, Chile and Slovakia and play their first match at 14:15 tomorrow against the host nation.

In men’s class 8, Aaron McKibbin, Billy Shilton and Ross Wilson are in a group with Paralympic silver medallists Sweden, Chinese Taipei and Australia. They start with a match against Australia at 09:00 tomorrow.

All times are local – one hour ahead of the UK.

For full details of the draw go to:
http://www.so-tabletennis.com/images/data_Team_16_5_2017.pdf

British squad for World Team Championships

The British Para Table Tennis Team will compete in four events in the inaugural World Team Championships in Slovakia from May 17-20, the first major championship since the Paralympic Games in Rio last September.

Tom Matthews Slovenia Open 2017 doubles with Paul DaviesThe full squad is Paul Davies and Tom Matthews (men’s class 1), Paul Karabardak, Martin Perry and David Wetherill (men’s class 6), Aaron McKibbin, Billy Shilton and Ross Wilson (men’s class 8), Sue Gilroy MBE and Megan Shackleton (women’s class 4).

The team won medals in men’s class 1, men’s class 8 and women’s class 4 in the Slovenia Open last week but had to withdraw from men’s class 6 following a knee injury to Wetherill in the singles event. Karabardak is due to return to competition after injuring his foot in the team event in Italy in March having won gold in the men’s class 6 singles.

“The competition in Slovakia will be tough,” said BPTT Performance Director Gorazd Vecko, “and we have a mix of youth and experience in our squad. This is an important tournament but we are also looking to the future and for our younger players this will be valuable experience in preparation for the European Championships later this year.”

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Team silver for Davies and Matthews in Slovenia

Paul Davies and Tom Matthews took silver in the men’s class 1 team event on the last day of competition at the PTT Slovenia Open today and there were bronze medals for Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson (men’s class 8), Will Bayley and Billy Shilton (men’s class 8), Sue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton (women’s class 4-5) and Jack Hunter-Spivey with his Norwegian partner Tommy Urhaug (men’s class 5).

With the World Team Championships taking place next week in Slovakia the team competition here has taken on additional significance and there were promising signs for the British team against some of the top teams in the world.

With two wins from three matches in the round-robin men’s class 1 event Davies and his fellow Welshman Matthews needed to win their final match against Italy to be sure of a medal. Playing together for the first time at this tournament they lost the doubles 3-0 to the experienced Italian pair of Andrea Borgato and Federico Falco but Davies levelled the tie with a great win against Borgato – edging a tense first set 14-12 and going on to beat the Italian, who had won gold in the singles here, 3-1.

Tom Matthews v Falco Slovenia Open TeamThat left Matthews needing to beat Falco in the deciding singles and the 24 year old from Aberdare showed his improvement by taking a 2-0 lead and holding his nerve superbly to take the match 11-7 in the fourth after Falco had threatened to take the match into a decider.

With both Britain and Hungary/France finishing with three wins from four the gold was decided on the result between the two teams and it was the Hungarian/French partnership of Endre Major and Alan Papirer who took the gold, having beaten Davies and Matthews 2-0 yesterday.

Paul Davies action 3 2014“At the end of the day it was our first tournament together so our doubles can only improve,” said Davies, who had revived memories of his bronze medal in London 2012 with a gutsy 3-2 win against the Russian Dmitry Lavrov yesterday. “I could have done better with the shorter balls but we’ve had the result we really wanted against Italy to take on to the World Championships. For me it is a cracking result and the young lad did the business to get the final win. This has given me a lot of confidence because I’ve only lost one singles match here and to beat Borgato in the singles and to take him again here in the team is great – I’m buzzing now.”

“I’m proud that I kept my composure,” said Matthews. “I didn’t get angry with myself and went with the flow when he was winning points and just composed myself for the next point. Paul played really well beating Borgato, which was a massive win, and it is great to beat the Italians. I’m looking forward to the World Teams now and this is going to give us a lot of confidence. This is the first time we have played together so we’ll work on our doubles – it has got better throughout the tournament and there is better to come.”

Bayley and Shilton took on the Paralympic silver medallists Sweden and competed well in the doubles despite a 3-0 loss. Bayley fought as hard as ever against Emil Andersson, but the class 8 former World number one and European champion had just too much power and won in three close sets to take Sweden into the final.

Billy Shilton and Will Bayley Slovenia Open“It didn’t go our way today,” reflected Bayley, “but we can learn a lot and we have to take the positives out of it. I think I’m better than some of the performances I’ve put it in here. I was playing against high quality players who have won medals at major championships and I was playing out of my class in the team event but I know on my day I can play better than that. But I have to give respect to my opponent today who played really well. I always want to peak for the majors so I want to win these matches I really do but I’m in a transitional phase in my training and just trying to adapt my game so I’m ready for the European Championships in September.”

“Playing with someone like Will is always great experience,” said 18 year old Shilton, who will join McKibbin and Wilson in the class 8 event at the World Team Championships. “He is Paralympic champion and lives for the big matches so I’m disappointed to lose but we played a good match and on to the next one now. Being in this whole environment and experiencing the team spirit is really good for me. I’m happy to get a medal and looking forward to the World Teams now.”

MC KIBBIN Aaron WILSON Ross William (2)McKibbin and Wilson had an even tougher semi-final against Ukraine, the Paralympic champions who had beaten them in the semi-final in Rio. The young British pair showed improved form in the doubles and at 2-1 down were right in the match before Ukraine pulled away in the fourth for a 3-1 win. Wilson had pushed Didukh to five sets in the quarter-finals of the singles but could not quite find that form today and the Ukrainian World champion and World number one was at his best to take the first singles 3-0 and win the tie for Ukraine.

“We had a really good start,” said McKibbin. “I think that is the first time we have taken a set against them and felt really in the match so we can take great confidence from that going into the Worlds. The fourth set got away from us a little bit, they grew in confidence and we found it hard from there. If we could have nicked the third set it could have been a different story. Personally I feel really confident going into the World Team Championships now – taking medals in the singles and team is a big boost for me so hopefully I can go on from here.”

“I think we let it go from 2-2 in the fourth,” agreed Wilson. “But we did our best and I think we have shown ourselves that we can compete with them so going into competitions like the World Teams and the Europeans later this year it is a positive thing for us. It hasn’t been a bad tournament for me but I want more and I’m hungry for more and I’ll be looking for better at the next tournament.”

Paralympic champion and World number one Borislava Peric-Rankovic and Paralympic bronze medallist and World five Nada Matic from Serbia are a formidable team and they had too much combined experience for Gilroy and 18 year old Shackleton in their semi-final. After a 3-0 win in the doubles Peric-Rankovic took on Gilroy in the first singles. The two have had some great battles in the past but the Serbian was too strong for Gilroy today in a 3-0 win.

Megan Shackleton & Sue Gilroy doubles Vejle 2015 2“We are a work in progress in the doubles,” said Gilroy, “but we haven’t played together for a year so from the start of this tournament we have started to be better at communicating and rallying a lot more than we were. We were trying to win the points too soon yesterday but it is coming together a lot better so hopefully in future we can do really well as a team. My training has been going OK but I’m disappointed with my singles game here because things I can do in training I don’t do in a match so I need to improve.”

“We are consistently getting better and better as a team,” said Shackleton. “We are competing against these players now and we can look to improve on our performance here in the World Teams and I am sure we can do that. I’m really happy with how I’ve played in this tournament and I can see huge improvement from last year. I feel a more confident player and that I can really push these top players now. I’ve had a top 10 win and for me that shows the improvement overall.”

Hunter-Spivey and Urhaug took on Serbia, the Paralympic bronze medallists in their semi-final and lost a competitive doubles in four sets. Hunter-Spivey had lost his last two matches against Mitar Palikuca in three sets and although he put up a great fight today the World championship bronze medallist just had the edge in a 3-2 win.

Jack H-S BPTT Nationals high res“I think I played well overall,” said Hunter-Spivey. “He changed his tactics the last few times I’ve played him and I’ve lost 3-0. But I feel my weight loss over the winter has helped my movement around the table and I’m thinking really positively in my matches so there are a lot of positives to take. It’s always frustrating to lose in the fifth but I love being in a battle – this time I didn’t win but next time hopefully I will. Overall I think I have played great in this tournament; I’ve worked a lot with the team psychologist and that is going well so I can only improve from here.”

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British team assured of five team medals in Slovenia Open

The British Para Table Tennis Team is assured of five team medals at the PTT Slovenia Open tomorrow.

Paralympic champion Will Bayley and 18 year old Billy Shilton (men’s class 8), Paralympic team medallists Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson (men’s class 8), Sue Gilroy and 18 year old Megan Shackleton (women’s class 4-5) and Jack Hunter-Spivey with his Norwegian team partner Tommy Urhaug (men’s class 5) are all through to the semi-finals while London 2012 medallist Paul Davies and new team partner Tom Matthews are still in with a chance of taking gold in the round-robin men’s class 1 team event.

After their great win against Belgium yesterday evening, Bayley and Shilton secured their progress to the knockout stages with a 2-0 win against Netherlands2. After combining with Bayley to win the doubles Shilton had to work hard to beat Devin Wassink in the first singles match but as he showed when beating the Belgian World number 10 Marc Ledoux yesterday the 18 year old has a great future and he recovered from a second set dip to beat the Dutchman 3-1.

Will Bayley & Billy Shilton BPTT NationalsBayley and Shilton are National doubles champions and they played superbly in the quarter-final against European silver medallists Hungary – fighting back from 2-0 down, saving five match points to edge the fourth set 17-15 and clinching a famous victory 11-6 in the fifth. Class 8 World number three and Rio silver medallist Andras Csonka beat Bayley in three close sets in the first singles and Shilton was leading Gyula Zborai, the World and European team medallist 2-0 and 5-1 when the Hungarian retired injured.

“It is always hard to win a match like I did against Ledoux yesterday and come back and do the same,” said a delighted Shilton. “We had a great doubles match again today – we were 2-0 down and we managed to get through so I’m really happy. It is great to play in a tournament like this with so many top players – it is so beneficial to my game.”

Class 7 World number one Bayley is relishing the challenge of playing in class 8 and facing the Paralympic silver medallists Sweden tomorrow.

“It is fun to be a part of a match like that with lots of good rallies,” he said. “It was just a crazy match and we had to save a few match points. It could have gone either way but Billy played some great shots on the big points and kept us in there. We are looking forward to tomorrow – we haven’t got anything to lose as we are the underdogs so we can go for it and enjoy ourselves. If we play as well as we can we have a good chance against anyone.”

McKibbin and Wilson had qualified for the quarter-finals as group winners yesterday with two wins from two against Australia and Netherlands1. Against Australia they combined to win the doubles and Wilson then defeated Nathan Pellissier 3-0 in the first singles match for a 2-0 win. After a 3-1 win in the doubles against Netherlands1 Wilson came through a great battle against the class 7 European champion Jean-paul Montanus 11-8 in the fifth to secure a 2-0 win.

Aaron McKibbin & Ross Wilson doubles Vejle 2015In today’s quarter-final they lost the first set of their doubles against the Slovakian pair of former World champion and World number one Richard Csejtey and Jozef Krsiak but came back to win the next three 9, 10 and 8. Wilson was a comfortable 3-0 winner against Krsiak in the first singles to earn the chance to take on Paralympic champions Ukraine in the semi-final tomorrow.

The match will be a repeat of their semi-final in Rio in which the doubles proved to be crucial.

“With the new system the doubles is always very important,” said McKibbin, “and Ukraine are probably a bit stronger than they were in Rio as they have Mai in the team. Ross and I are playing well and we have both had a good tournament so far but this is obviously preparation for the World Team Championships next week so we can try a few a things out tomorrow and see what works and what doesn’t and go from there.”

Wilson pushed Ukraine’s World number one Viktor Didukh to five sets in the singles competition here but knows that it will be a tough challenge tomorrow.

“We are playing OK in doubles,” he said. “We are not fully ready yet for the highest level I don’t think but we are building up to it and that is all we can do. We’ve been working well together and hopefully we can carry that on.”

Paul Davies and Matthews will represent Britain in the World Team Championships later this month and with that in mind men’s class 1 Paralympic champion Rob Davies was left on the bench today. Davies and Matthews did not get off to the best start and lost their doubles to the Swiss/Croatian partnership of Sylvio Keller and Daniel Lazov 3-1 but Davies showed all his old skill in beating Keller 3-0 and Matthews put the disappointment of losing a long first set 17-19 behind him to beat Lazov 3-1 and win the tie 2-1.

In their second match against the combination of Endre Major from Hungary and the Frenchman Alan Papirer they led the doubles 2-0 but Major and Papirer came back to win it 11-8 in the fifth. Matthews fought hard against Major but the Rio semi-finalist used all his experience to beat his younger rival 11-7 in the fifth and win the tie 2-0.

Paul Davies action 7 2014Playing together for the first time today the two Welshmen improved match by match and took the doubles against the Argentinian/Russian partnership of Fernando Eberhardt and Dmitry Lavrov 3-0. Davies went 2-1 down to Lavrov and looked to be on the way to defeat but rallied bravely to edge the fourth set 12-10 and then, cheered on by the watching GB team, he clinched the match 11-8 in the fifth.

“That was like a flashback of London,” said Davies. “All the team were there supporting when I really needed it – it was amazing and a lovely feeling. If we can beat the Italians we have a chance of gold which would be nice to take on to the World Champs next week. To be fair Tom has developed well throughout the day – – he has listened to the older fella and it is showing in the results in the doubles. Fantastic results today and another day tomorrow.”

“Our partnership has developed throughout the day,” said Matthews. “It is great to play alongside Paul – he is keeping me calm and controlled and saying ‘calm down, take your time and be composed’. We are doing quite well together considering it is our first time so bring on the Italians tomorrow.”

Megan Shackleton & Sue Gilroy doubles Vejle 2015 2Gilroy and Shackleton started slowly against the Slovakia/Hong Kong partnership of

Alena Kanova and Pui Yi Wong, losing the doubles 3-0. Gilroy won her singles against Wong 3-0 but Shackleton could not find an answer to the experience of former class 3 World and Paralympic champion Kanova, who won the deciding singles 3-0 and the tie 2-1.

That left them needing to beat Turkey in their second match to progress. They edged a tight doubles match 11-9 in the fifth and Gilroy then clinched their quarter-final place with a 3-0 win against Irem Oluk. Drawn against Mexico in the quarter-finals the GB pair showed improved form in the doubles for a 3-0 win and Gilroy took her team through to a semi-final against Serbia by defeating Edith Sigala Lopez 3-1.

“We haven’t played together for a while now,” said Shackleton, “but throughout the day we just remembered that we do have good experience together and we carried on battling through and won even if it was ugly.”

“Doubles is such a vital part of team now,” said Gilroy, “and obviously we need to start improving that in the future but as the day has gone on we have tried a few things out. Coming closer together seems to have worked a lot better for us today – there was a big gap down the middle this morning. Overall I’m really pleased with how we played.”

Jack Hunter-Spivey & Tommy Urhaug Slovenia 2014Hunter-Spivey and his Norwegian team partner Tommy Urhaug began with 2-0 win against Argentina yesterday, winning the doubles 3-0 before Hunter-Spivey defeated Elias Romero 3-0 in the first singles. In their second group match against Turkey they came through a great battle in the doubles 3-2 and Hunter-Spivey repeated his win against Hamza Caliskan in the singles competition yesterday 3-1 to take the British/Norwegian team through to the semi-finals.

“I learnt a lot from the quarter-final yesterday,” said Hunter-Spivey, “and we played a great doubles today against a good team. To beat Caliskan a bit more comfortably today and learn from that was a good thing for me to do.”

Fliss Pickard and her fellow class 6 Polish team partner Katarzyna Marszal lost their opening match in the women’s class 6-7 team competition yesterday against a combined team of class 7 players from Turkey, Netherlands and Canada including the World, Paralympic and European champion Kelly Van Zon. In their second match against Romania today they combined well to win the doubles 3-1 and although Pickard lost her singles to the experienced Gabriela Constantin, Marszal beat Camelia Ciripan in the deciding singles to secure a 2-1 win for her team.

They needed to win their final group match against the class 7 Argentinian/Russian partnership of former Pan-American champion Giselle Munoz and the 23 year old class 7 World number 11 Diana Gilmanova and played well in the doubles despite a 3-1 loss. Marszal then lost a very close match to Munoz 3-2 which meant that Argentina/Russia progressed to the semi-finals.

Felicity Pickard action 5 2014“It’s all about experience and I feel that I’ve grown as this tournament has gone on,” said Pickard. “I feel that I’ve implemented some of the things I’ve been trying to work on in the doubles. It is all coming together and obviously I’ve a lot to work on back at home. It has been good experience playing with a more experienced class 6 player – seeing how she can deal with certain points and maybe plays with a bit more confidence whereas I back off a little. I’m really looking forward to my next tournament. I‘ll go back home now, work really hard and come back stronger.”

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Great start to team competition for British team in Slovenia

With the singles event complete the team competition at the PTT Slovenia Open got underway this afternoon and Britain made a good start in men’s class 8 with a win for GBR2 over a combined team from Argentina and Canada. Will Bayley and Billy Shilton won the doubles 3-0 and Shilton then completed a 2-0 win with a 3-0 win in the singles against Curtis Caron from Canada. In their second match against Belgium Bayley and Shilton came back from 2-0 down to win the doubles 12-10 in the fifth and 18 year old Shilton then played a superb match against Marc Ledoux to beat the World number ten 11-8 in the fifth and give his team a 2-0 win.

GBR1 also made a winning start in men’s class 8 against Australia. Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson combined to win the doubles and Wilson then defeated Nathan Pellissier 3-0 in the first singles match for a 2-0 win. In their second match they faced Netherlands1 and after a 3-1 win in the doubles Wilson came through a great battle against the class 7 European champion Jean-paul Montanus 11-8 in the fifth to secure a 2-0 win.

In men’s class 5 Jack Hunter-Spivey and team partner Tommy Urhaug began with 2-0 win against Argentina. Hunter-Spivey and Urhaug won the doubles and Hunter-Spivey defeated Elias Romero 3-0 in the first singles.

Fliss Pickard and her fellow class 6 Polish team partner Katarzyna Marszal began their women’s class 6-7 team campaign against a combined team of class 7 players from Turkey, The Netherlands and Canada. Pickard and Marszal lost the doubles to Kubra Korkut from Turkey and Kelly Van Zon of The Netherlands and when Marszal beat the Canadian Stephanie Chan 3-2 to level at 1-1 Pickard had to take on Van Zon in the deciding singles. She played really well and pushed the class 7 World, Paralympic and European champion all the way despite a 3-1 loss.

Six singles medals for British team in Slovenia

The British Para Table Tennis Team picked up six medals in the singles events at the PTT Slovenia Open today. Paralympic champion Rob Davies (men’s class 1), Paralympic team bronze medallist Aaron McKibbin (men’s class 8) and Ashley Facey Thompson (men’s class 9) all took silver in their respective classes and there were bronze medals for Will Bayley (men’s class 7), Jack Hunter-Spivey (men’s class 5) and David Wetherill (men’s class 6).

Rob Davies Vejle 2015 4Davies came through his semi-final against the young Italian Federico Falco 3-0 but could not find his game against the more experienced Italian Andrea Borgato who has been in great form at this tournament. The world number nine took the first two sets comfortably and although Davies fought back in the third the Italian edged it 12-10 to take the gold.

“He (Borgato) played really well to be fair,” said Davies. “He had really good touch and I wasn’t really at the races and that was the difference at the end of the day. I wasn’t that confident coming in here so I’m more than happy with getting to the final. Disappointed with the final match but I know I am going to come back stronger ready for my next competition in Germany and my main target is the Europeans in September so that is what I am heading for and that is where I want to be winning the tournament.”

Aaron McKibbin action 7 2014McKibbin showed all his character to battle his way to the final, first against the talented 18 year old Russian Artem Iakovlev in the quarter-final, coming from 2-1 down to win the match 11-8 in the fifth and again in the semi-final when he fought back from 2-0 down against Mathieu Loicq from Belgium to beat the former World and Paralympic champion 11-9 in the fifth. Although he lost the final to the World champion and World number one Viktor Didukh 3-0 he had his chances in the first two sets and can be proud of his efforts here.

“I came in with more of a game plan this time,” said McKibbin. “I played him (Didukh) in Italy and played really well and got destroyed. This time I didn’t play as well but tactically I was a lot better and I could feel that he was a bit nervous because I’ve shown some good form in the singles here. I can’t be disappointed – I’ve reached the final and it is something to build on. Loicq has had good wins here and beat Csonka who was the silver medallist in Rio so he is in good form. I’ve had a few five set matches at this tournament and felt in control the whole way through so even when I was 2-0 down I believed in myself that I could do it so I was happy to get the result.”

Ashley Facey Thompson action 2014 (2)In his quarter-final Facey Thompson took on Pawel Konstantyn from Poland, who had surprisingly beaten the number one seed and World number four Juan Perez Gonzalez in yesterday’s men’s class 9 group matches. The London South Bank University student looked to be heading for defeat at 2-1 and 4-6 down but he rallied superbly to win the set 11-8 and went on to take the match 11-8 in the fifth. He reached the final with a 3-0 win over the 16 year old Ukrainian Lev Kats before finding the experienced Iurii Nozdrunov in top form in the final, the Russian former World number two taking the match 12-10 in the third.

“I gave him too much respect,” said Facey Thompson. “He’s got big shots but by the third set I knew what to do against him but it was too late. It was a good match but I’ve got room for improvement. To get to the final gives me a lot of confidence in my game and there are things to improve when I am training full time. I’ve had to fight a lot this week – as I’m not playing that much at the moment I had to fight against myself as much as anyone else because I feel I can be better ability-wise but I haven’t been training as much so it has been hard. I’m looking forward to my next competition in Germany and finishing Uni so I can just focus on table tennis and see what happens.”

Will Bayley Slovenia 2014 2After winning his quarter-final against Daniel Horut from the Czech Republic 3-1 Bayley came up against the former European champion Mykhaylo Popov. The two have had some great battles in the past and it was the Ukrainian who proved just the stronger today in a 3-2 win, 11-9 in the fifth.

“He played really well and it is difficult for me,” said Bayley, “because he really attacks hard and strong. Today he probably deserved to win but it was a good battle and I’ll be back stronger next time. I’ve been working on my fitness because this is my first tournament after Rio and I just wanted to get some match practice in as I haven’t played many matches. I knew that my level wasn’t what it is at major championships so I’ve just got to keep going now – I’ll play the German Open and get some more match practice under my belt and by the Europeans I’ll be ready to do as well as I can.”

Hunter-Spivey saved three match points in the fourth set of his quarter-final against Hamza Caliskan and finally beat the Turkish player 11-8 in the fifth to set up a semi-final against his team partner Tommy Urhaug. The Norwegian former Paralympic champion was always in control in a 3-0 win and the 21 year old from Liverpool had to be content with the bronze medal.

Jack Hunter-Spivey 1“We’ve trained a lot together,” said Hunter-Spivey, “and we are good friends so it is always sporting when we play and today he was just too good. I feel that I am at a level now where I can compete with him. I’ve not played much table tennis in the off-season as I’ve been working on my fitness so now I’m getting into a more technical period and I feel that I am definitely improving and I’m quite positive after the singles. I kept my mentality and my composure when I was in an under pressure situation and I managed to come out on top so I feel that I have played a good level today because he was playing well. There are some top players here – to get a medal in any factor 40 competition is very good so I’m looking forward to the team competition now to see where my level is at.”

David Wetherill Vejle 2015 4Wetherill dropped the first set in his quarter-final against Pavao Jozic but came back to beat the Croatian 3-1. He was forced to retire with a knee injury when 2-1 down to the World champion Alvaro Valera in their semi-final but is hoping to recover in time for the World Team Championships in Slovakia later this month.

“It’s never nice having to pull out with an injury,” said Wetherill, “and it is frustrating but I’ve been pleased with how I’ve ground out results here. Under the circumstances I feel that I have played really well so I can take positives from that.”

Ross Wilson Vejle 2015 9Paralympic team bronze medallist Ross Wilson pushed Didukh all the way in their quarter-final and led 2-1 before the Ukrainian used all his guile and experience to take the last two sets. The 21 year old from Minster is a great talent and still a work in progress and he can take confidence from the way he played against the player who has dominated men’s class 8 for the past four years.

“I think matches like that can go either way,” said Wilson. “At 2-1 up and 7-7 in the fourth that was obviously a great chance but he is a clever player and that is what the best do – they figure out a way to win. Hopefully I can think about how he has done that and match him next time. Obviously he is a great player and it is good to know that I am competing with him but I want to get those wins now and I’m looking forward to starting to beat him.”

Kim Daybell Vejle 2015 3Kim Daybell also came agonisingly close to winning his quarter-final against the former World and Paralympic champion from the Czech Republic Ivan Karabec. The two have had some great battles in the past and although Daybell fought back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2 it was the Czech player who edged the deciding set 11-9.

“It was one of those games,” said the 24 year old who has resumed his medical studies at Leeds University since the Paralympic Games in Rio. “It is always close when we play but he played well. I made four or five mistakes that I wouldn’t normally make and that was the difference today.”

Bayreuth Open 2015 Internationales Tischtennis WeltranglistentuMegan Shackleton’s reward for her first win against a top 10 player yesterday was a quarter-final against the World number one and Paralympic champion Borislava Peric-Rankovic and she was not outplayed despite a 3-0 loss.

“I feel that considering the score I did play well,” said the 18 year old, “and from this tournament I’ve shown that I can compete with the top level players. Peric is Paralympic champion and for me to be edging so close to winning sets and putting her under pressure it shows the improvement I’ve made since last season. The thing for me is managing my nerves. In the past I’ve built these players up to be unbeatable but I’m training full time now and getting experience and from my win yesterday I feel that I am ready to compete with these players.”

Sue Gilroy lost her bronze medal match in Rio to Nada Matic and the Serbian was too strong again today in their women’s class 4-5 quarter-final taking the match 3-0 as Gilroy struggled to find her game.

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