Good start to team competition for Bayley and Shilton

Will Bayley and Billy Shilton made a good start to their men’s class 7 team campaign at the Bayreuth Open in Germany today with a 3-0 win over a combined team from Germany and South Africa. After Shilton had won the first singles against Johan Du Plooy from South Africa 3-1, Bayley beat the German Jorg Schneider 3-0 and then combined with Shilton to win the doubles 3-0.

Sue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton also won their first match in the women’s class 4 team event against South Africa. Sue Gilroy beat Aletta Moll 3-0 and Megan Shackleton had a hard fought 3-2 win over Alisha Lea Almeida and the GB pair then won the doubles 3-0 to secure a 3-0 win.

In men’s class 10 Lawrence John and his team partners Chun Tin Lin from Chinese Taipei and Fattoh Etche from the Ivory Coast, lost their first group match to the strong Indonesian team of David Jacobs and Komet Akbar 3-0.

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Three medals for GB in Germany

20150528_125452The GB Para Table Tennis Team picked up three medals in the singles events at the Bayreuth Open in Germany today with Rob Davies taking silver in men’s class 1 and Tom Matthews (men’s class 1) and Sue Gilroy (women’s class 4) both taking bronze.

Davies defeated his Welsh teammate Matthews 3-1 in the semi-final which put him through to the final against Ki-Won Nam. The Korean had narrowly beaten him in Slovakia earlier this month and it was another close contest with Nam proving just the stronger and taking the match 12-10 in the fourth.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Davies. “I was looking forward to playing him and I just wanted to go out and perform the way I can and I didn’t to be honest. I’ve just spoken to Greg my coach and we’ll go back and work on a few things, get some confidence and come back and have another go at him. I’ve just got to come back stronger and this will really motivate me now to push myself even further and really work on some things in the training hall.”

Matthews had earlier recovered from losing the first set to beat Marian Kamien from Slovakia 3-1 in the quarter-finals to set up the all-Welsh semi-final against Davies.

“It was a new experience for me to play a teammate and not have a coach in the corner,” said the 22 year old from Aberdare. “I was surprisingly relaxed and concentrated well through the match so I’m happy with that. We had a bit of a laugh on the table and said sorry when things went wrong so it was a nice team atmosphere on the table. I’m much more pleased with the way I played today and I’m over the moon to get a singles medal in a factor 40 tournament for the first time.”

The two Welshmen will now combine forces for the team competition and have strong hopes for another medal.

“I’m looking forward to playing with Tom,” said Davies. “It’s our third tournament playing together and he’s playing really well so I’ve got to get my head up now and help him along and hopefully we’ll both play well.”

Sue Gilroy 1Gilroy beat Pi-Chun Lu, the World team silver medalist from Chinese Taipei 3-0 in their quarter-final to earn her place in the semi-final against World champion Miao Zhang in a repeat of their World Championship final last September. The Chinese player took the first two sets and although Gilroy fought back to take the third the World number two took the fourth 11-6 and the match 3-1.

“I played a lot better than yesterday and I can take lots of positives,” said Gilroy. “There are areas I’ve got to work on but I know exactly what I should be doing now. We play the Chinese so rarely and it is learning their game and how to master it – they are very strong attackers on the forehand – but I really enjoyed that game and feel very positive. It’s a very strong tournament so good to get a medal and we’ll have another go in the team event.”

Gilroy will be partnered in the team event by 16 year old Megan Shackleton and said: “It’s really good to have a team partner after so long without one and Megan is coming on so well that we could be a really good team.”

In women’s class 3 Jane Campbell and Sara Head both went out at the quarter-final stage, Campbell beaten 3-0 by Juan Xue, the World number three from China, and Head losing a close battle with Andela Muzinic, the World number four from Croatia in five sets.

“She’s a very good player to be fair,” said Campbell, who could never really get in a blow against the World silver medalist. “She is just a lot stronger and more positive in her game which is on another level for me to get to. I think overall I’m playing well – I just need to be more consistent and start faster. It just seems to be taking me a while to get going and I don’t know why as that’s not normally the case but here it seems to be going that way.”

Sara Head Nat Champs 2015Head was 1-2 down to Muzinic and battled back to level at 2-2 but the Croatian always had the edge in the final set to secure a 3-2 win.

“For me it is all about the fight,” said Head. “I try to go out and fight as hard as I can. Some days it works and some days it just doesn’t happen. I’m thrilled with the way I’m playing and I can keep building on it. We’re quite early on in the season and to lose to someone who is ranked four in the world and to be so close – I just need to keep focused and work hard in training.”

The pair can now focus on the team competition starting tomorrow and Campbell said: “Sara and I are both playing well so let’s hope we keep going that way.”

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Mixed day for GB Team in Germany

Eight of the 12 GB players competing in the singles events at the Bayreuth Open in Germany progressed to the knockout stages today but there was disappointment for men’s class 7 World champion Will Bayley who went out in the last 16 to European champion Mykhaylo Popov.

Will Bayley action 4 2014Bayley started with a 3-0 win against Viktor Karp from Ukraine and in his second group match faced the unknown Shuo Yan from China. He made a good start winning the first set but Yan is clearly a new talent in the very strong Chinese squad and came back to win the match 13-11 in the fourth. That left Bayley needing to beat Thomas Rosenast from Switzerland in his final group match which he did 3-0 to set up a last 16 match against Popov. The 27 year old from Tunbridge Wells struggled to find his form today and although he fought back to take the third set and had two points to take it into a fifth he could not convert them and the World number three from Ukraine took the fourth set 12-10 to complete a 3-1 win.

“It is difficult to lose these sort of matches,” admitted Bayley, “and very disappointing but hopefully I can bounce back in the team event and keep fighting and trying to win matches. I was struggling to get a backhand on the table today and although I still felt I had chances to win the matches I didn’t really play the way I can. But sometimes it can happen in table tennis and you can lose a bit of form but I’ll keep working hard and try to get it back for the team event.”

Rob Davies 2World number one Rob Davies (men’s class 1) beat the German Marcus Sieger 3-0 and followed that with a 3-1 win over Endre Major from Hungary. A 3-0 win over Martin Barbierik from Slovakia secured top position in his group and he has a bye into the semi-finals tomorrow.

“I’m really happy,” said the Welshman, “I started where I finished off in Slovakia so I’m chuffed with how I played today. I’ve had some close matches with Major so I really wanted to show what I can do – I beat him in Slovakia and wanted to do the same again. I’m enjoying it, feeling good and hopefully I can come back tomorrow and do the same.”

Tom Matthews France 1Also through in men’s class 1 is fellow Welshman Tom Matthews. He started with a 3-0 win against Janos Kaiser from Hungary and then took the second set against world number 10 Ki-Won Nam but the Korean came back to win the next two and take the match 3-1. A 3-0 win over Martin Polkorab from Slovakia ensured his progression to the knockout stages and he will play Slovakia’s Marian Kamien in the quarter-finals tomorrow.

“I was a bit up and down today,” admitted Matthews, “l couldn’t really get switched on and luckily I came through. I think I was too relaxed but I started to pick up in some sets and was winning the points so I need to try and keep that concentration. I need to make sure I’m fully in the zone tomorrow and get pumped up and ready for it. I’m happy to be through so on to tomorrow now.”

In women’s class 4 World championship silver medalist Sue Gilroy beat Sabine Solveig Femtehjel from Norway 3-1 and then lost a great battle to home favourite Sandra Mikolaschek 3-2. A 3-0 win against Alisha Lea Almeida from South Africa put her safely through to a quarter-final tomorrow against Pi-chun Lu from Chinese Taipei.

Jane Campbell action 8 2014London 2012 medalist Jane Campbell beat Aletta Moll from South Africa 3-0 and then showed all her character and determination to come back from 0-2 to beat World number seven Nergiz Altintas from Turkey 14-12 in the fifth. She had another great tussle against Sonalben Manubhai Patel from India but could not quite close out the match on this occasion and a 3-2 loss put her through to a last 16 match against Frenchwoman Fanny Bertrand. Once again she had to fight back from 0-2 down but did so superbly to take the match 11-6 in the fifth and go through to a quarter-final against Juan Xue, the World number three from China.

Campbell’s class 3 teammate Sara Head played a great match against World champion Qian Li from China – taking the first set and competing well in a 3-1 loss – and she went through to a quarter-final tomorrow against Andela Muzinic from Croatia after a 3-0 win against Marie-Christine Fillou from France.

Ashley Facey Thompson France 1Ashley Facey Thompson (men’s class 9) had a tough first match against Lin Ma from China and the World and Paralympic champion was always in control in a 3-0 win but the 20 year old Londoner came back to beat Mohamed Amine Kalem 3-1 and avenge his defeat by the Italian in Slovakia earlier this month. His reward was a last 16 match against Yi Qing Zhao and the Chinese World number eight looked to be heading for a 3-0 win before Facey Thompson fought back bravely to level the match at 2-2 but could not quite close out the match and lost 11-6 in the fifth.

“I’ve learnt that is the next level I want to get to,” said Facey Thompson, “and that’s the level I need to get to to beat these players. I had chances to win that last match and next time hopefully I can take it.”

Aaron McKibbin Lignano 2014In men’s class 8 Aaron McKibbin enjoyed the perfect start with a 3-0 win against Stig Mortensen from Norway and had chances to win three of the four sets he played against Piotr Grudzien in a 3-1 loss to the Polish World number five. A comfortable 3-0 win over Leonardo Aritonang from Indonesia put him through to the last 16 where he competed well against Andreas Csonka but the Hungarian World number eight was just too strong in a 3-1 win.

Gloucestershire teenager Billy Shilton played a great match against Keli Liao – fighting back from 0-2 down against the Chinese world number 6 to level at 2-2 and then saved five match points before eventually going down 11-9 in the fifth. He then beat Bogdan Omelchuk from Ukraine 3-1 but the experience of Thorsten Schwinn was the deciding factor in a 3-1 win for the German World number 10 which put Shilton out of the men’s class 7 singles competition.

“I’m so close to the good players now it is just that extra push,” said Shilton, “that extra discipline to get the ball on the table and not make too many mistakes because I’ve got the shots it is just the consistency – that’s the main thing. I’m gaining experience from every top player I play – they’ve played for a long time and have been in so many difficult situations it is good to play against them.”

Jack Hunter-Spivey beat Iong Fok Chao from Macau 3-0 and had chances to win the first two sets against Nicolas Savant-Aira from France but lost the match 3-0. He also had opportunities in his final match against Nasiru Sule but the talented Nigerian made the most of his chances in a 3-0 win which put the 20 year old from Liverpool out.

“I’m missing the ability to close out sets when it gets tight,” said Hunter-Spivey. “I’m playing OK – I’ve struggled with form this season and the pressure of qualification (for Rio) might be getting to me a little bit. I’ve played well against good players but I haven’t got the variation of shot at the moment. It’s a work in progress but I’m getting there.”

Megan Shackleton (women’s class 4) also had a tough start against the World champion Miao Zhang and the World number two from China was understandably too strong in a 3-0 win. She needed to beat Bhavina Hasmukh Bhai Patel from India in her second match to progress but a 3-1 loss put her out of the singles.

Pathway player Lawrence John (men’s class 10) lost his three group matches to Karim Boumedouha from France, World number three Yang Ge from China and Komet Akbar from Indonesia but the 16 year old from Swansea is still inexperienced at this level and is progressing all the time.

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Bayley and Davies head GB team in Germany

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World champion Will Bayley and world number one Rob Davies head a squad of 12 members of the GB Para Table Tennis Team taking part in the Bayreuth Open in Germany this week (May 27-30).

The factor 40 tournament will see the first appearance in Europe this year of the powerful Chinese team, which includes eight current World champions.

Bayley will once again face strong competition from Maksym Nikolenko, the World number one who beat Bayley in a five set final in Slovenia earlier this month, as well as his Ukrainian team mate and current European champion Mykhaylo Popov and China’s Keli Liao, while Davies’s opposition includes reigning Paralympic champion Holger Nikelis from Germany and Ki-won Nam, the Korean who narrowly beat Davies in Slovakia two weeks ago.

The GB team also includes World silver medalist Sue Gilroy, London 2012 Paralympic medalists Jane Campbell, Sara Head and Aaron McKibbin, as well as 16 year old Billy Shilton, who will once again partner Bayley in the men’s class 7 team event following their gold medal in Slovenia when they beat World champions Spain in the final.

The full list of players representing GB in Germany is:

GB Performance Squad:
Will Bayley (Tunbridge Wells/Sheffield) – Class 7
Jane Campbell (London) – Class 3
Rob Davies (Brecon) – Class 1
Ashley Facey Thompson (London/Sheffield) – Class 9
Sue Gilroy (Barnsley) – Class 4
Sara Head (Bedwyn) – Class 3
Jack Hunter-Spivey (Liverpool/Sheffield) – Class 5
Aaron McKibbin (London/Sheffield) – Class 8
Megan Shackleton (Todmorden) – Class 4

GB Pathway Squad
Lawrence John (Swansea) – Class 10
Tom Matthews (Aberdare) – Class 1
Billy Shilton (Stonehouse) – Class 7

Follow the GB Para Table Tennis Team on Twitter @gbparatt

Hunter-Spivey takes team gold in Slovakia

Jack Hunter-Spivey and his Norwegian team partner Tommy Urhaug took the gold medal in the men’s class 5 team event on the final day of the Slovakia Open today and the GB Para Table Tennis Team also picked up two bronze medals with Rob Davies and Tom Matthews in men’s class 1 and Aaron McKibbin and Ashley Facey Thompson in men’s class 9.

Jack & Tommy with Matt Slovakia 2015Hunter-Spivey and Urhaug had beaten Spain in the quarter-finals 3-2, with Hunter-Spivey clinching the tie with a 3-2 win against Francisco Javier Lopez Sayago, and then enjoyed a more comfortable 3-0 win against Korea to take them through to the final against a team of Nicolas Savant-Aira, the world number five from France, and the Brazilian Claudiomiro Segatto.

Hunter-Spivey gave his team the perfect start by beating world number 11 Segatto 3-0 and after Savant-Aira levelled the tie by winning a close match against Urhaug 12-10 in the fifth the 20 year old from Liverpool combined with the Norwegian to win the doubles. Urhaug, the Paralympic champion and world number one then clinched the gold with a 3-0 win over Segatto.

The Welsh combination of Davies and Matthews beat Slovakia 3-0 in the quarter-finals to set up a semi-final against the Korea 1 team of world champion Chang-ho Lee and world number nine Jae-kwan Cho. With Davies winning both his singles and Cho defeating Matthews and then combining with Lee to win the doubles it came down to the deciding singles between Matthews and Lee. The 22 year old from Aberdare played a great match but the Korean’s experience just edged the final set 11-9 to win the match and the tie 3-2.

Londoners McKibbin and Facey Thompson beat The Netherlands in their quarter-final, with Facey Thompson coming back from 1-2 down to beat Jean-Paul Montanus 3-2 and win the tie for GB 3-1. In their semi-final against Japan with both GB players beating Koyo Iwabuchi and losing to Noboyuki Suzuki the doubles proved crucial and a 3-1 win for Japan ultimately decided the tie 3-2.

In the men’s class 6 team event Paul Karabardak and Martin Perry played well to beat Germany 3-0 in the last 16 and went through to meet Denmark in the quarter-finals. Once again the doubles proved to be key to the result of the tie, with both GB players beating Michael Jensen and losing to world number two Peter Rosenmeier, and it was the Danish duo who came out on top in a 3-1 win and they went on to take the tie 3-2.

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Bronze for McKibbin in Slovakia

Aaron McKibbin took bronze in the men’s class 8 singles on an otherwise disappointing day for the GB Para Table Tennis Team at the Slovakia Open in Bratislava. World number one Rob Davies (men’s class 1) lost narrowly in the quarter finals to world number 10 Ki-Won Nam from Korea, Paul Karabardak (men’s class 6) was beaten at the same stage by the World champion and World number one Alvaro Valera and Jack Hunter-Spivey also lost in the quarter finals to World number one and Paralympic champion Tommy Urhaug from Norway.

Aaron McKibbin 1Londoner McKibbin topped his group with three wins from three and received a bye into the quarter-finals where he beat Josef Krsiak from Slovakia 3-2. In the semi-finals he faced the World champion and World number one Viktor Didukh and the Ukrainian was too strong in a 3-0 win.

Davies also topped his group and received a bye into the quarter finals. He led Nam 2-0 and had match points in the fifth set but could not convert them and the Korean edged the set 12-10 to win the match 3-2.

Fellow Welshman Karabardak, gold medalist in Slovenia last week, won his group and played a great match to beat the World number six Bastien Grundeler from France 3-0 in the last 16. He was then unlucky to come up against Valera in the quarter-finals and the Spaniard showed all his class in a 3-0 win.

Hunter-Spivey progressed to the knockout stages with two wins from his three group matches and beat Agus Sutanto from Indonesia 3-1 in the last 16 to set up a quarter final against Urhaug but the experienced Norwegian was always in control and beat the 20 year old 3-0.

Ashley Facey Thompson (men’s class 9) also progressed from his group with two wins but found the Japanese player Nobuyuki Suzuki too good in their last 16 match in a 3-0 loss.

Thomas Matthews (men’s class 1) had a tough group with the world number two Jean-Francois Ducay from France and Nam and although he lost to both players he came very close to beating Nam, fighting back from 0-2 to level at 2-2 and losing a tight fifth set 11-9.

Martin Perry (men’s class 6) was also knocked out at the group stages but played well in 3-1 defeats to Grundeler and the world number 10 Alberto Seoane Alcazar from Spain and recorded a 3-0 win over Jaun Carlos Sepulveda Pardo from Chile.

The competition continues with the team event that concludes on Saturday.

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Davies and Karabardak head GB team for Slovakia Open

World number one Rob Davies and fellow Welshman Paul Karabardak, gold medalist in last week’s Slovenia Open, head a team of seven members of the GB Para Table Tennis Team competing in the Slovakia Open in Bratislava starting tomorrow (May 13-16).

Davies, silver medalist in the men’s class 1 singles in Slovenia, once again faces tough competition including world champion Chang-Ho Lee and Slovenia gold medalist Young Dae Joo from Korea, while the opposition for Karabardak, currently ranked world number five in men’s class 6, includes the top four players in the world.

The list of players representing GB in Slovakia is:

GB Performance Squad:
Rob Davies (Brecon) – Class 1
Ashley Facey Thompson (London/Sheffield) – Class 9
Jack Hunter-Spivey (Liverpool/Sheffield) – Class 5
Paul Karabardak (Swansea) – Class 6
Aaron McKibbin (London/Sheffield) – Class 8

GB Pathway Squad:
Tom Matthews (Aberdare) – Class 1
Martin Perry (Paisley) – Class 6

 

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Bayley and Shilton beat World champions to take team gold in Slovenia

Will Bayley and Billy Shilton produced a great performance in the final of the men’s class 7 team event at the Slovenia Open today to beat the World champions from Spain 3-1 and take the gold.

On a good final day for the GB team 16 year old Megan Shackleton took silver in the women’s class 4 team event with her Slovakian partner Alena Kanova and London 2012 medallists Jane Campbell and Sara Head took bronze in the women’s class 3 event.

After 16 year old Shilton had played well in a 3-1 defeat to the world number four Jordi Morales, Bayley, the class 7 World champion, levelled the tie with a 3-1 win over the men’s class 6 World champion Alvaro Valera. The doubles is always key in team events and the GB pair dominated throughout for a 3-0 win to move 2-1 ahead.

In the first of the reverse singles Bayley started well against Morales but the Spaniard is a tough competitor and in the end it came down to a fifth and deciding set. Although it was close Bayley always had a slight advantage and held his nerve to win the set 11-7, the match 3-2 and the tie for GB 3-1.

Will Bayley action 7 2014“I just thought I’ve got to fight for every single ball,” said Bayley, “because he (Morales) is going to play a lot of balls on the table and I just thought I’ve got to try and get one more ball back than he does. That is pretty much my tactic against him because he is hard to hit through; it seemed to pay off in the end but it was tough. I think we had to win the doubles but I felt pretty relaxed all the way through because Billy played so well and we dominated from the start. It means a lot to beat the World champions and shows we’ve got a really world class team – hopefully we’ll get to play Ukraine soon and compete for major medals – that is what I want to do.”

Shilton was understandably delighted to win team gold here for the second time.

Billy Shilton action 6 2014“It means a lot,” he said. “Last year we won with three of us but this time it was just me and Will and and I’m really happy we won the gold. Everyone here is a top player and to play against top players all the time you have to believe you can win. I think I’ve done that quite well and because of that I’ve played my best table tennis. Even when I was two sets down I felt relaxed and just loosened up a bit and played my table tennis and I think that is how I won sets from 0-2 down. This will help my singles as well and give me even more motivation. It is great to play with someone like Will – the way he fights for every single point is something I need to bring into my game more.”

Bayley was full of praise for his young partner.

“I think he has impressed me most by the way he stayed calm,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure this morning and he was feeling a bit nervous but he didn’t show any of that in the match. He was very calm and collected and that is all you can ask for really in a team partner and he did a great job.”

Shackleton and Kanova reached the final with a 3-1 win over Thailand. Although Shackleton lost a close singles match against Chilchitraryak Bootwansirina she combined well with Kanova to win the doubles and the Slovakian’s two singles wins took them through to meet World champions Serbia.

In the final Kanova made a great start to the first singles and led Nada Matic 2-1 but the world number five came back strongly to take the next two sets and give Serbia a 1-0 lead. Shackleton also made a good start against Borislava Peric-Rankovic and led 6-5 in the first set but the experience of the world number one understandably proved too much for the young GB player and she lost in three sets.

That left Kanova and Shackleton needing to win the doubles and such is the strength in depth of Serbia in women’s class 4 that Peric-Rankovic was able to watch from the side lines as Matic was partnered by world number 12 Zorica Popadic. However, it was the Slovakian/British combination that came out on top – fighting back from 1-2 down to win the fourth set 12-10 and then take the deciding fifth 11-7.

Kanova is class 3 but a former Paralympic, World and European champion and she showed all her class and experience against Peric-Rankovic – taking a 2-1 lead and recovering from the loss of match points in the fourth set to take the fifth 11-5 and the match 3-2.

Megan Shackleton April 2014 3Shackleton then had to play Matic in the deciding singles and to her credit she started well and kept fighting but the experience of the Serbian was decisive in a 3-0 win to clinch the tie 3-2 and the gold.

“There was a lot of pressure going into that match,” admitted Shackleton, “but I felt quite positive as I’d had a close match with her in Italy. I’ve never been in a pressure situation like that before so it was really hard but I’m proud that I played a good match and did the best I could do. It’s a really good experience and hopefully if I’m in that situation again I’ll deal with it better.”

Jane Campbell and Sara Head put up a good fight against Turkey in the semi-final and were level at 1-1 after the first singles matches with Head losing in four close sets to Hatice Duman and Campbell coming back from 1-2 down against Nergiz Altintas to beat the world number seven 11-3 in the fifth.

Jane Campbell and Sara Head doublesA 3-0 loss in the doubles left them needing to win both reverse singles but although Head rallied from 0-2 down against Altintas to win the third set the Turk just edged the fourth 11-9 to take the match 3-1 and the tie 3-1.

Nevertheless after the disappointment of last year’s World Championships it was a promising performance by the GB pair and a second bronze medal of the tournament for Campbell.

“I was very pleased to beat Altintas,” she said, “and this will definitely give me confidence for the rest of the season. I think I’ve played as well as I could – my forehand has been working really well and that is what is making the difference. I lost confidence in it a bit in Italy and now I’ve got no reason not to be confident and that is a good feeling.”

Head can also look forward to her next competition in Germany later this month after a winter disrupted by illness.

“Both my singles could have gone either way but it wasn’t my day today,” she said. “I’m happy with my performance at this tournament considering my lack of winter training and hopefully now with some good training things can keep improving.”

GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko said: “I think it has been a really good tournament for us. Paul Karabardak winning a gold medal in class 6 when only two of the world’s top ten players were missing was a brilliant result. Will Bayley and Billy Shilton – a great result to take a gold medal in the team event and to beat the world champions in the final. We are also very happy with the young players – Megan Shackleton taking silver in the team and coming very close to beating the world number six in the singles. Overall the performance of the team was great and now we go on to Slovakia and try and maintain the results there and then later this month in Germany.”

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Bayley and Shilton into team final in Slovenia

World champion Will Bayley and his 16 year old team partner Billy Shilton reached the final of the men’s class 7 team event at the Slovenia Open today after beating France in the semi-final 3-1.

The Welsh combination of Rob Davies and Tom Matthews will take bronze in the men’s class 1 team event after losing their semi-final to Korea-2 and GB are assured of two more medals as London 2012 medalists Jane Campbell and Sara Head are through to the semi-finals of the women’s class 3 team and 16 year old Megan Shackleton reached the semi-finals of the women’s class 4 event with her Slovakian partner Alena Kanova.

The French team of Kevin Dourbecker and Stephane Messi had beaten the number one seeds from Ukraine in the last 16 but Shilton almost caused an upset in the first singles, fighting back from 0-2 against Dourbecker to level at 2-2 but the world number eight used all his experience to take the final set 11-7 and the match 3-2. Bayley also had to fight back from 1-2 down against 2004 Paralympic champion Messi before closing out the match 11-4 in the fifth and the GB pair then combined brilliantly to win the crucial doubles 3-1. When Bayley took the first set against Dourbecker 11-0 he looked to be on course for a comfortable win but the Frenchman came back strongly and in the end Bayley had to find his best form to win the match 11-8 in the fifth and take GB into the final.

Will Bayley Slovenia 2014 2“The French guys are both top players,” said Bayley, “but what we did well was we stayed together as a team because there were lots of highs and lows in that match and we got through it. Billy kept really calm and cool and he was superb in the doubles which was a key match. It is going to be a great test for us to play Spain – they are World champions and have won so many major medals but we have got nothing to lose so we’ll go out and enjoy it.”

Billy Shilton France 2Bayley and Shilton had earlier beaten a combined team from Sweden and USA 3-0 with Shilton fighting back from 0-2 down against Nicklas Thomas Westerberg to beat the Swedish player 11-7 in the fifth.

“I’m really pleased with the way I played today,” he said. “To play the top players is really good experience for me and there are loads of different styles so it’s really good and it is great to play with someone as experienced as Will. Spain will be a tough match – they are two very good players so we’ll see what happens.”

Davies and Matthews are playing together here for the first time and made a great start by beating a team from Germany and Brazil 3-0 in the quarter-final. Davies was given a fight by the German Marcus Sieger and recovered from losing the first set to win 3-1 before Matthews also dropped the first set in a 3-1 win against Bruno De Paulo. The GB pair then combined to win the doubles 3-0.

In the semi-final against the Korea-2 team Matthews lost in three close sets to Young Dae Joo before Davies beat Jae Kwan Cho 3-0. The GB pair were no match for the Koreans in the doubles and Davies could never find his form against Joo in a repeat of their singles final yesterday and the Korean took the match 3-0 to win the tie 3-1.

“In that last game I struggled basically,” said Davies. “I’m not really sure why – I just need to pick myself up now for Slovakia. It is a tough game table tennis – it is all about fine margins and you can lose to anyone if you don’t play well. He was a better guy on the day today so I need to pick my game up and come back another day and try and beat him.”

Tom Matthews France 1“I’m learning all the time,” said Matthews, “so it is really good for me. I had my chances but I didn’t take them. I had no nerves this time – I was relaxed and it was just my shot selection so if I can get that right and improve my consistency it is going to come together.”

Campbell and Head were involved in a titanic battle against a combined team from France and Turkey and when they lost the doubles 9-11 in the fifth they had to win both reverse singles. With Head beating Marie-Christine Fillou 3-1 it was all down to Campbell and she responded with a determined 3-1 win over Kezban Cakir to clinch the tie and take them into tomorrow’s semi-finals.

“After losing the doubles there was a lot of pressure,” admitted Head, “and I was really pleased with how I handled it.”

The London 2012 bronze medalists have a great partnership and Campbell said of her win over Cakir: “It always inspires me that Sara has just done it. What she did was hard so I couldn’t let her down – I had to do it.”

Megan Shackleton April 2014 3In their quarter final Shackleton and Kanova beat a team of Helke Koller from Austria and the Slovenian Barbara Meglic. After Kanova had won the first singles against Meglic, Shackleton beat Koller 3-1 and then combined with Kanova to win the doubles 3-0.

“I’m really pleased because I played Koller in the final in Hungary,” said Shackleton, “and we had a fifth set match and it was really close so to have a 3-1 win is quite promising and it shows my training is paying off. Alena is very supportive and gives me lots of advice on how I can improve and she helps me stay focused so she’s a really great team partner to have.”

In men’s class 10 Kim Daybell was partnered by Aaron McKibbin against a very strong Russian team in their quarter final. Daybell had his chances against Vladimir Glasov but could not find a way past the imposing Russian who took the first singles 3-1. McKibbin, a class 8 player, played well against the class 10 Pavel Lukyanov and came close to repeating his win over the Russian here last year but at 2-2 the world number nine took the deciding set 11-4 and the match 3-2

Daybell and McKibbin then needed to win the doubles but the Russian combination of Glasov and Iurii Nozdrunov were always in control in a 3-0 win to secure the tie 3-0.

“Glasov is very different to a lot of players in class 10 in the way he plays,” said Daybell. “He has definitely improved his level over the past year and I find it really hard to play him as have a lot of other players. I’m disappointed not to win today but next time I will have to find a way around him.”

McKibbin said of his match against Lukyanov: “In the 4th set at 4-1 I felt in quite a good position but he is a top player and quite experienced so I knew the fourth set was key. Even though I didn’t get the win I can definitely use the performance as a positive to take into Slovakia next week.”

After seven matches yesterday Paul Karabardak was entitled to feel tired but the Welshman is a fighter and he gave everything to beat Raimondo Alecci 12-10 in the fifth set of their opening singles in the men’s class 6 quarter final against a combined team from Thailand and Italy. Martin Perry, who celebrated his 21st birthday today, understandably found the experience of Paralympic champion Rungroj Thainiyom too much in a 3-0 loss but then combined well with Karabardak to win an exciting doubles match 11-5 in the fifth.

Paul KarabardakIt was a great effort and although Karabardak then rallied to level his singles match against Thainiyom at 1-1 the world number four took the next two sets for a 3-1 win and with Perry losing 3-0 to the wily Italian Alecci the GB pair went out 2-3.

“I was tired because I’ve played a lot of matches,” admitted Karabardak, “but I’ve got to give him (Thainiyom) credit because he is an excellent player and he deserved to beat me. Hopefully I can play him next time when I’m fresh and we’ll see what happens then -maybe I can beat him.”

The partnership of Karabardak and Perry is new for GB this year and their win in the doubles showed that it has great promise.

“I think we are improving all the time,” agreed Karabardak. “To beat two top players is a great result and I think we can take confidence from that because doubles is very important in team matches.”

In men’s class 5 Jack Hunter-Spivey and his French partner Emeric Martin lost 3-2 to a strong Korean team but Hunter-Spivey had a good win in his singles over the world number eight Ki-Young Kim.

“That was a good win for me,” said Hunter-Spivey, “and revenge for my loss to him in the Worlds which I had in the back of my head a little bit. So I can end the tournament on a bit of a positive for me and kick on to Slovakia.”

Good start to team competition for GB

The GB team made a good start to the team competition at the Slovenia Open today with Paul Karabardak and Martin Perry (men’s class 6), Will Bayley and Billy Shilton (men’s class 7) and Kim Daybell, Ashley Facey Thompson and Aaron McKibbin (men’s class 10) all progressing to the quarter finals.

Bayley and Shilton beat Japan 3-1, Daybell, Facey Thompson and McKibbin beat Mexico 3-1 and Karabardak and Perry beat a combined team from Korea and Japan 3-1 after Karabardak had given them the perfect start by fighting back from 0-2 down to beat world number three Hong Kyu Park 3-2.