British team hoping to end season on a high in Vegas

The British Para table tennis team is sending three of its most promising young players to compete in the 2016 PTT US Open in Las Vegas this week (December 14-16). European team gold medalist Tom Matthews and 18 year old European bronze medalist Billy Shilton will be joined by fellow Pathway squad member Martin Perry and the three will be hoping to finish a successful season for the team on a high note.

MATTHEWS ThomasMatthews will be competing for the first time since the Italian Open in February after breaking his leg in the spring.

“Training has been going very well since returning from injury,” said the 24 year old Welshman. “I feel having the time off has matured me as a player mentally on and off the table. I feel I’m playing some of my best table tennis at the moment, getting good consistency and really enjoying being on the table. I’m looking forward to testing myself against the international players once again.”

Perry will be playing his first international competition for six months but has been preparing for the US Open by playing local league matches in Sheffield, where he is now based with the British Para table tennis squad.

Martin Perry France 2“Training has been good,” he said. “I feel that I’m playing quite well at the moment and this week will be a good opportunity to end the year on a high and try out some new things we’ve been working on that I hope are going to improve my game in the future.”

The ParalympicsGB table tennis team won two gold medals in Rio and Perry admits to being inspired by their achievements.

“Four years ago I watched these guys as strangers win medals in London,” he said, “and that made me realise I want to give this sport everything I’ve got. Now I’ve been training with the team for around two and a half years, and full time with them for a year, and these guys are friends and teammates – family almost – and to watch them win medals has been incredible. Training in the same environment and knowing I’m working towards the same goals in future has really spurred me on.”

Billy Shilton Vejle 2015 3Shilton just missed out on selection for the Paralympic Games but went to Rio as part of the Paralympic Inspiration Programme.

“I was really honoured to be selected for the programme and going to Rio was an amazing experience,” he said. “It’s really motivated me to go on now and get to Tokyo. That’s always been my long-term aim, to qualify for a Paralympics, so hopefully I can do that.”