Young GB players head to Belgium

A squad of 13 players will be representing GB in the Belgium Open in Sint Niklaas this weekend (October 31-November 2). Performance Squad athletes Will Bayley and Ashley Facey Thompson will be joined by six members of the Pathway Squad, including 17 year old Billy Shilton, and three members of the Development Squad.

Ashley Facey Thompson

Ashley Facey Thompson

The full list of athletes is:

Performance Squad:
Will Bayley - class 7, from Tunbridge Wells/Sheffield
Ashley Facey Thompson - class 9, from Stratford (London)

Pathway Squad:
Daniel Bullen - class 5, from St Neots
Felicity Pickard - class 6, from Burnley
Martin Perry - class 6, from Paisley
Conor McAdam - class 6, from Ayr
Billy Shilton - class 7, from Stonehouse/Sheffield
Lawrence John - class 10, from Swansea (funded by Disability Sport Wales)

Development Squad:
Craig Allen - class 9, from Birmingham (self-funded)
Josh Morgan - class 10, from Cardiff (funded by Disability Sport Wales)
Shae Thakker - class 10, from Slough

Funded by Disability Sport Wales:
Tamlan Eastwood - class 7, from Swansea

Self-funded:
Abisoye Jemiyo - class 2, from West Yorkshire

Posted in GB

Vecko looks to Rio after most successful European Championships for GB

GB Para Table Tennis Team Performance Director Gorazd Vecko has praised his young team’s achievement of taking 11 medals at the ITTF PTT European Championships in Denmark and is confident that the Paralympic Games in Rio next year can provide even greater success than London 2012.

Billy Shilton with Gorazd Vecko Vejle 2015“I think we need to be really happy with the performance,” said Vecko, who took over as Performance Director for GB in 2009, “because we took 11 medals and we were without Paul Davies in men’s class 1 so we might have had even more. We also had some tough draws in the quarter finals and women’s class 4 was combined with women’s class 5 otherwise Sue Gilroy could have taken a medal in the singles as well as the team.

“There were some big surprises with the young Pathway players Billy Shilton and Tom Matthews taking medals in the singles as well as the team and Megan Shackleton taking a team medal. For these young players to be competing in their first major championship and taking medals is a great result for our programme and all these athletes will be medal chances, if not in Rio, then in Tokyo for sure.

“In 2011 we took six medals at the European Championships and we went on to take four medals in London, which was a huge success because in Beijing we didn’t take any. Now with the best performance at a European Championships in history for GB with 11 medals I think we are looking good and we can hope to reach our targets in Rio. I don’t like to talk a lot about medals because there will be tough competition from other countries that are also focused on winning medals but we will be disappointed if we don’t achieve our target in Rio.”

With the qualification period for Rio ending on December 31 this year Vecko and head coach Greg Baker are looking to send players currently on the borderline of qualification to tournaments in Belgium, China and Costa Rica in a bid to achieve a high enough world ranking to secure their qualification for Brazil next year.

“Costa Rica in December will be the last tournament in the calendar,” said Vecko, “and after this we will know how many players are qualified but I expect us to have between 10-12 players qualified for selection to compete for ParalympicsGB in Rio.”

Posted in GB

Davies wins second gold as GB take four medals on last day of European Championships

Rob Davies and Tom Matthews took gold in the men’s class 1 team event on the final day of the ITTF PTT European Championships in Vejle, Denmark today after Germany withdrew from their final match due to injury. There were silver medals for Will Bayley and Billy Shilton (men’s class 7) and Paul Karabardak and David Wetherill (men’s class 6) and Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson took bronze in men’s class 8 to bring the total number of medals won by GB at these championships to 11.

Davies, 31, was delighted to successfully defend the European team title as well as his singles crown and for Matthews it was a first major title in his first major championship.

Rob Davies Vejle 2015“I’m really happy to retain both titles and this team one with Tom is a brilliant experience for him,” said Davies. “I know we didn’t get to play the last match against Germany because they are injured but you can only play who is in front of you. I’m very happy with the way I’m playing. I feel more at ease with myself and a bit more confident at the moment and going into next year that can only be good. I’ve just got to take it to the other continents now and try and beat the Koreans and whoever else comes our way as well as the Europeans.”

Tom Matthews Vejle 2015 4“I’m over the moon,” said Matthews, “it’s been a great experience playing with Rob again. If someone had told me before I came out here that I would take two medals I would have bitten their hand off. I’m really happy at the moment. I’ve been in control of my nerves and just enjoyed playing my table tennis instead of getting all worked up about points. I’ve just been playing the way I can play and obviously it works.”

Although unable to defend the team title with Paul Davies, who is recovering from injury, Davies was pleased to win a second European team gold with another fellow Welshman.

“It is obviously good for the guys back home in Wales,” he said, “and good for the development of table tennis in Wales so the future is bright.”

Having beaten the World champions Spain earlier in the championships Bayley and Shilton were hoping to take out the double European champions Ukraine in today’s final. But World number two Maksym Nikolenko and World number three Mykhaylo Popov are a formidable team with years of experience playing together while Bayley and his 17 year old partner Shilton were playing together here for only the third time.

With the new team format the doubles is even more crucial and although the GB pair levelled the match at 1-1 Ukraine took the next two sets to win the match 3-1 and take a 1-0 lead. Bayley then played a superb match to beat the former European champion Popov 3-0 which left Shilton with the huge task of beating World silver medalist Nikolenko to take the gold.

Understandably the importance of the match proved too much for the Gloucestershire teenager at this stage of his young career and Nikolenko used all his experience to win 3-0 and secure the gold for Ukraine. It was nevertheless a great performance by Bayley and Shilton to take silver in their first major championship together.

Will Bayley Vejle 2015 3“The doubles was massive,” said Bayley, “and we were always behind. I didn’t play so well in the doubles and it was a shame because if we had taken that we would have won the match but - next time! I thought I produced my top play against Popov - I was using the table so well and playing really clever so I’m pleased with that. I’m really proud of what Billy has done. We’re disappointed to walk away with the silver medal and that shows you what a good team we are - we’re disappointed with coming second in the European Championships - that’s not bad is it for a few months playing together? It’s been a real pleasure to play with him.”

Billy Shilton Vejle 2015 3“I think it was a good final,” said Shilton, “but I was a bit nervous especially in the last match against Nikolenko. I felt like I was really under pressure but I think we did really well to beat Spain and Germany on the way so I’m really happy with silver. I’m really enjoying playing team with Will as he is the best player in the world and to get experience with someone like that is really good - the pressure in the big matches and how he copes with it is something I need to bring into my game.
My motivation is really high now after losing that match and the semi-final in the singles. Playing in a major final is not something I am used to so to get the experience at such a young age is really good for me.”

Karabardak and Wetherill had to battle the home crowd as well as the might of former World, Paralympic and European champion Peter Rosenmeier and his team partner Michael Jensen. The Danish pair is an experienced doubles partnership and although Karabardak and Wetherill started well the Danes took the doubles 3-1.

In the first singles 30-year-old Karabardak from Swansea took on Rosenmeier in a repeat of their singles semi-final which the Danish world number two won in five sets. Rosenmeier, who was beaten in the final of the men’s class 6 singles by Alvaro Valera of Spain, was determined to give his home crowd something to cheer about and winning a tense second set 14-12 gave him a 2-0 advantage. Although Karabardak fought back to win the third 11-6 some inspired play from Rosenmeier took the fourth set 11-5 and clinched the gold for Denmark to the delight of the crowd.

Paul Karabardak Vejle 2015 6“I need to stop giving him the initiative and 2-0 leads,” said Karabardak. “At 2-0 down it is always hard. But it was a good match and he played really well so credit to him. He is a great player and he seems to play his best at the tight situations when it is most important. But I can take confidence because I think I have gone toe-to-toe with him and I was matching him so I’ll take confidence from that ready for next year if I play him in Rio.

“I’ve had some good wins here and I’ve been playing quite well so it is nice to know that I am one of the top players and if I play well I can beat anyone really so that will give me the confidence to try and take a medal in Rio.”

David Wetherill Vejle 2015 4“We got off to a pretty good start,” said Wetherill, “but they won two or three points and the crowd got behind them and you could feel the momentum building and to be fair to Peter, in particular, when it was close he played some unbelievable shots. We had some great support from our teammates and the people back home so we can’t complain in terms of our support. We did our best and although it is obviously disappointing to lose it is really encouraging because we haven’t really played together before and we can only get stronger. I’ve been carrying a bit of an injury and I’ve still come away with a bronze and silver so it’s quite pleasing really.”

Despite his obvious ability 25 year old Wetherill has struggled in the past to show his best form at major championships but with Rio less than a year away he has proved with two medals here that he can compete with the best on the biggest stage.

“It hasn’t been a mental problem really,” he explained, “it’s been more of a technical thing. My game has probably been a little too risky in the past and now I feel I’m getting more and more solid and when you’ve got that much confidence in your game you don’t feel as tight in the big situations no matter what stage it is. I’m pretty comfortable with my game and I know I’ve done the training and I know I can compete with these guys no matter what stage it is and I’m looking forward to it.”

In their semi-final McKibbin and Wilson faced the number one seeds Ukraine and the GB pair never really recovered from a slow start in the opening doubles match that they lost 3-0. Wilson, 20, then needed to beat the World and European champion Viktor Didukh in the first singles and although he competed well and had chances to win all three sets the Ukrainian World number one, who was a good able bodied player before losing a leg to cancer, just had the edge in a 3-0 win.

Aaron McKibbin Lignano 2014Although disappointed both McKibbin and Wilson can take plenty of positives away from these championships as well as a first European team medal.

“We knew the doubles was obviously going to be quite vital with Didukh playing,” said 24 year old Londoner McKibbin, “and we were quite confident we could do it but I feel like we just forced it a bit much knowing they are a good side and to be fair even when we got the balls into play they played very well. But it is our first major together since London and with Ross being injured we haven’t practiced any doubles and we can only go up from here.”

Ross Wilson Vejle 2015 8“Obviously playing against the World number one is always going to be difficult,” said Wilson, “but I think I am on quite a similar level to him and that is the biggest positive I can take from it. It is always nice to get a major medal and we have had some good results to get it. I would definitely have liked to have challenged them (Ukraine) a bit more. In doubles we could maybe have done a bit better and I just don’t like giving away a match that is not going to make the other person fight for their life for it as well so I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t play as well as I hoped I could. But it is still good to get a medal in the end. Rio has always been the main aim and hopefully the lead up to Rio can be good. I’m putting a lot of work in off the table to make sure that happens and I’ll work my hardest for Rio.”

Jane Campbell & Sara Head doubles Vejle 2015 2London 2012 bronze medalists Jane Campbell and Sara Head were bitterly disappointed to lose out on a medal in the women’s class 1-3 team event after losing their final match in the round-robin event to Croatia. They played well in the doubles despite losing in four close sets and Head put up a battling performance against Andela Muzinic, taking the second set against the World number four and pushing her all the way in a 3-1 loss.

The result meant that Croatia took the gold and with Italy beating France GB were one of three teams with two wins and lost out on a medal on countback.

“We came out fighting,” said Head. “We knew it was going to be on countback or we were going for gold. We fought as hard as we could it just wasn’t our day today.”

Campbell was able to take some positives from her performance here.

“I think I have been consistent under pressure when it mattered in the singles, particularly in the team event, and I can get a little bit of confidence from that. We need to put ourselves in a stronger position in the doubles and we know what we need to work on.”

Posted in GB

GB hoping for golden finish to European Championships

Rob Davies and Thomas Matthews (men’s class 1), Will Bayley and Billy Shilton (men’s class 7) and Paul Karabardak and David Wetherill (men’s class 6) are all one match away from winning team gold medals in the European PTT Championships in Vejle, Denmark tomorrow. The GB team could also reach the final of the men’s class 8 team event if Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson can win their semi-final in the morning and Sue Gilroy and 16 year old Megan Shackleton secured a bronze medal today in women’s class 4-5.

Rob Davies & Tom Matthews doubles Vejle 2015In the round robin men’s class 1 team Davies and Matthews had to fight hard for a 3-0 win in the doubles against Hungary. In the first singles Endre Major as always proved a tough opponent but having retained his European singles title Davies is playing with great confidence again and after losing the second set he took the next two for a 3-1 win.

“It was another tough match against him,” admitted Davies. “He is an awkward player and to beat him again in the singles - I’m really pleased. In the doubles Tom and I are just getting better and better through the tournament. We lost to them in Germany earlier in the year so to beat them 3-0 in the doubles shows just how far we have come on. So I’m really chuffed with the way things are going.”

Davies and Matthews will retain the European team title for GB if they beat Germany in their final match tomorrow.

“I’m staying more composed and just playing my table tennis,” said Matthews. “Germany tomorrow will be a really tough match so we’ve got to prepare for that in the same way as we’ve prepared for our other matches and just carry on doing what we’re doing.”

Bayley and Shilton had earlier assured themselves of a medal with a 2-0 win over Denmark in their final group match, winning the doubles 3-0 before Bayley beat Patrick Otte 3-0 to secure top position in their group and a semi-final against Germany. They made a good start in the doubles taking the first set before the experienced German pair of Jochen Wollmert and Thorsten Schwinn came back to take the second. Bayley and Shilton then pulled away and took the next two to secure a 3-1 win.

Bayley against Wollmert is always box office and the three time World and Paralympic champion is still a formidable opponent but 27 year old Bayley was in command today and a 3-1 win clinched the tie 2-0 and took GB into tomorrow’s final against Ukraine.

Will Bayley Vejle 2015“I’m very pleased,” said Bayley. “We have had some tough matches particularly against Spain and Germany so I’m pleased to come through. It wasn’t our best - I still think we have more to give in terms of ability but we’ll see what happens in the final. I can’t wait to play Ukraine - we are going to be really up for it. We haven’t beaten them for a long time so I’ll be giving it everything I’ve got to win that first European team title.”

Billy Shilton Vejle 2015 2“We played a really good doubles against Germany,” said Shilton, “and Will finished it off with a good singles performance so I’m really looking forward to the final tomorrow. In the first set against Germany we didn’t know what to expect as I haven’t played them before with Will and it was a good win in the end. Hopefully me and Will can get revenge for Germany earlier this year when we lost in the final to Ukraine so I’m looking forward to it.”

Paul Karabardak and David Wetherill are playing in a team event together for the first time in 10 years but they have formed a good partnership already and came through a tough semi-final against Sweden 2-0, combining to win the doubles in four close sets before Karabardak clinched their place in tomorrow’s final with a 3-0 win over Michael Azulay.

They will play Denmark in tomorrow’s final after the home team overcame Russia 2-1 in their semi-final to the delight of the crowd.

Paul Karabardak & David Wetherill doubles Vejle 2015“Sweden are quite a good side and are in good form as they had beaten Germany so I knew it would be tough,” said Karabardak. “We struggled a bit in the doubles but we came through and then I had a bit of confidence from that which meant I went into the singles and played well. It was tough in the third set but I knew that if I just kept to my game plan I’d eventually sneak it.”

“I think we’ve played well considering we haven’t played together for so long,” said Wetherill. “It’s quite encouraging really as we’re in the final and we can only get better. We’ve got to take massive confidence from that and hopefully we can get the job done tomorrow.”

After their superb win against Poland yesterday Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson needed to beat Denmark to win their group. They got off to a slow start in the doubles but after losing the first set 11-4 they came back to win the next two. The fourth was point by point from 4-4 but Denmark finally took it 17-15 and when they reduced a 5-9 deficit in the final set to 9-9 the match was in the balance. But McKibbin and Wilson held their nerve to take the next two points and win the match 3-2. Wilson then completed a 2-0 win for GB with a 3-0 win over Kenneth Bech that put them through to the quarter-finals and they received a walkover when their intended opponents Hungary withdrew.

Aaron McKibbin & Ross Wilson doubles Vejle 2015“I think we always felt we were going to come through in the doubles but they played a really good game,” said McKibbin. “We didn’t get going straight away and managed to pull ourselves into the game slowly. They are up and coming young players and they also had the home crowd behind them so the pressure was on us. We were happy that we could hold our nerve and pull through.”

“It was quite difficult in the doubles,” agreed Wilson, “but we are just getting back to how we used to be in doubles and really trying to work on that. The singles was an expected win for me but against the home nation is always difficult as they have a lot of support here. I’d loved to have played Hungary as I was looking to try and get revenge on Csonka from the singles so I’m quite disappointed not to play. You want to earn your medal but I think because of the results we’ve had to top our group we maybe deserve to be in the semi-final.”

The GB pair play the number one seeds Ukraine tomorrow for a place in the final.

“We played them in Italy earlier this year and lost to them in the final,” said McKibbin, “but we’re feeling confident so we’ll go out there and see what we can do.”

Gilroy and Shackleton took on Germany in their final group match with a place in the semi-finals awaiting the winners. In the doubles the GB pair combined well to win the first two sets 11-9, 12-10 and then recovered from losing the third to take the fourth 11-6 and the match 3-1. Gilroy made a good start against Sandra Mikolaschek winning the first set 11-5 but the 18 year old World number five from Germany levelled at 1-1 and again at 2-2 after Gilroy had taken the third 11-9. With all to play for Gilroy used all her experience and determination to race into an 8-0 lead in the final set and a great forehand winner followed by a cry of ‘Come On!’ took her to 10-2. She only needed one of her eight match points to clinch the match 3-2 and take GB into a semi-final against Sweden.

Megan Shackleton & Sue Gilroy doubles Vejle 2015 2The combined talent of class 3 World number one and Paralympic champion Anna-carin Ahlquist and three time class 5 European champion Ingela Lundback proved too strong in the semi-final, although Gilroy and Shackleton competed well in the doubles in a 3-1 loss before Ahlquist showed all her class in a 3-0 win over Gilroy to win the tie for Sweden 2-0.

However, it was a good performance from the GB pair and they can be proud of their bronze medal.

“I lost to Mikolaschek twice in Germany earlier this year so to beat her here is a really good win,” said Gilroy. “To be honest once we knew we were playing Sweden we were so happy to beat Germany and Israel and get through to the semi-final we just wanted to relax and enjoy it. They are two such high class players and we are a very new team. She (Ahlquist) was too strong for me today but it’s great to have a team partner again and hopefully we’ll go onwards and upwards now and get stronger as we go on.”

“I’m so happy to come away with a medal at my first major championships,” said Shackleton. “It means a lot to me - I always come out to tournaments hoping to win things. I’ve gained a lot of experience through the pressure of the situations I’m in and I think I’ve handled it quite well.”

Daybell and Facey Thompson reached the quarter-finals with a thrilling 2-0 win against the Czech Republic in their final group match. At 2-0 and 9-5 down in the opening doubles match it did not look good for the GB pair but they came storming back to win the third set 11-9 and took the next two 11-4 and 11-7 to win the match 3-2.

Daybell was bitterly disappointed to lose in the quarter-final of the singles to the Czech Republic’s Ivan Karabec and he faced the former World and European champion again in the first singles match. After winning the first set Daybell was 10-6 up in the second only for Karabec to come back and win it 14-12 and take the next 11-9 for a 2-1 lead. But the 23 year old, who has taken a year out from his medical studies at Leeds University to prepare for Rio, responded with some great play to win the fourth set 11-4 and held his nerve superbly to win the fifth 11-7 for a memorable victory over the World number six.

Ashley Facey Thompson and Kim Daybell doubles Vejle 2015In the quarter-finals they came agonisingly close to beating France in the doubles - twice fighting back to level the scores but eventually losing 3-2. Facey Thompson, a class 9 player, made a great start against the class 10 World number 10 Mateo Boheas taking the first set 11-6 but the young Frenchman came back strongly to take the next three and win the match 3-1 and take France into the semi-finals.

“We’ve pushed all the best teams in doubles,” said Daybell, “and we’ve proved we can compete with the best teams in the world. I think the match against Karabec was a great match to watch - we both played really well and I was pleased that I was able to pick myself up after not having the best singles competition here. I was really pleased to win because he is still one of the top players and I proved to myself that I am still up there with him. I definitely feel that I’m up there and competing - I just need to bring it to the tournaments and I feel confident that I’ll be able to do that.”

“We are improving step by step,” said Facey Thompson. “Me and Kim are working well together and we are getting there. My backhand let me down a bit against Boheas and I think after the first set he was more on top of games and I was always trying to get myself back into it. To be fair he played well.”

The women’s class 1-3 team event is being played in a round robin format and Jane Campbell and Sara Head kept their medal hopes alive with a gutsy 2-1 win over Italy. After the GB pair lost the doubles 3-0 Head produced her best singles form of the tournament to beat World number six Michela Brunelli 3-1 and Campbell then won the deciding singles against Giada Rossi 3-1.

Jane Campbell & Sara Head doubles Vejle 2015“I think the fact that we lost the doubles inspired me on,” said Head. “We had nothing to lose at that point. She was getting nervous and I was getting more confident and that is what I’ve lacked in this competition so far. At least I’ve managed to bring some confidence back in to my game.”

“It was a must win match for us,” said Campbell, “and I was nervous but once Sara has done something so amazing I can’t not do it can I? We are in a countback position for a medal so we just have to go out tomorrow and try our best.”

The GB pair are still in with a chance of a medal and play their final match against the number one seeds Croatia tomorrow.

Posted in GB

McKibbin and Wilson avenge London 2012 defeat by Paralympic champions

Paralympic team bronze medalists Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson laid to rest the memory of GB’s narrow semi-final defeat by Poland in London 2012 by beating the men’s class 6-8 Paralympic champions in their first match of the men’s class 8 team event today at the European PTT Championships in Vejle, Denmark.

It was a good start to the team event for the GB team with Will Bayley and Billy Shilton beating World champions Spain in men’s class 7 and Paul Karabardak and David Wetherill assuring GB of at least a bronze medal in men’s class 6 by topping their group to reach the semi-finals.

The team event here is being played in the new format that will be used at the Paralympic Games next year with best of three matches instead of the previous best of five. Each tie begins with a doubles and is then decided by two singles matches.

Aaron McKibbin Lignano 2014McKibbin and Wilson are playing together for the first time in a major since London and only the second time in three years owing to Wilson’s injury problems. They could have hoped for an easier first match than Poland but they got off to a great start by winning the doubles 3-0 and Wilson then secured the win with an impressive 3-0 defeat of the World number four Piotr Grudzien.

“Obviously losing 3-2 to them in London was the hardest result we’ve ever had as a team,” said McKibbin, “so it was really nice to beat them. In the doubles we were really solid and Ross played a perfect game in the singles.”

Ross Wilson Vejle 2015“It was a great win,” agreed Wilson. “It was really hard that day in London and I think all of us have been thinking about getting some revenge since then. I played Grudzien in Italy in March and lost comfortably 3-0 but since then I’ve been working hard on my game and I think I brought that into the match today and I’m really happy to get the win against him because he is a good opponent.”

McKibbin and Wilson play Denmark at 09:00 tomorrow and a win will take them into the afternoon’s quarter-finals as group winners.

Bayley and Shilton defeated Spain to win gold in Slovenia earlier this year but they lost the first set of the doubles to the World champions before recovering to win the match 11-7 in the fourth. Bayley, the class 7 World number one, faced Alvaro Valera, the class 6 World number one, in the first singles and the Spaniard showed all his class to take a 2-1 lead. But Bayley dug deep and came back to level at 2-2 and then clinched the match 11-6 in the fifth to win the tie 2-0.

“It was difficult to pick myself up after yesterday,” admitted Bayley, “and playing Valera in my first singles match wasn’t ideal because you have to think so much against him and play so clever, so it was a really tough match. We expect so much from ourselves and sometimes we have to be happy with that sort of win - we know we can play better but they are the World champions so they are a very good team.”

“I think we were a bit nervy in the first set,” said Shilton, “because we tried to play them the way we played in Slovenia but it wasn’t really working that well. We knew we had to change things and we did so I think we did quite well to win that match in the end.”

Bayley and Shilton also play Denmark tomorrow in their final group match and a win will take them into the semi-finals.

Rob Davies is defending his European team title in men’s class 1 and with Paul Davies still recovering from injury he has a new partner in Tom Matthews. The pair made a slow start in their first round robin match against Italy losing the first set of the doubles before recovering to win 3-1 and Davies then secured the tie with a 3-0 win against Andrea Borgato.

“I haven’t had much time to think about my win yesterday,” said Davies, “I knew I had to come here today and do the job with Tom - he’s chasing after his gold medal now. I’m really chuffed with the doubles - it’s our first major together so it was good to win the doubles because Italy practise together a lot and are always a tough team to beat in the doubles.”

“I think in the first set we just sat back a bit too much,” said Matthews. “We needed to focus and get back in the game and in the end it came quite naturally to us. It was a great win for us. We’ll take it one match at a time but hopefully we can defend the title.”

Davies and Matthews play Hungary tomorrow and Germany on Saturday.

Paul Karabardak & David Wetherill doubles Vejle 2015In men’s class 6 Paul Karabardak and David Wetherill began with a comfortable 2-0 win against Russia, Karabardak beating Dinar Safiullin 3-0 after combining with Wetherill to win the doubles. Their second group match against Croatia was much tougher for the GB pair. A hard fought 3-2 win in the doubles was followed by defeat for Karabardak against Vjekoslav Gregorovic which meant that Wetherill needed to beat Pavao Jozic in the deciding singles. After losing the first set the 25 year old fought back well to win the match 12-10 in the fourth and take his team into tomorrow’s semi-finals.

Sue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton also began with a 2-0 win against Israel, taking the doubles in three close sets before Gilroy defeated Chagit Brill 3-0. They then faced the number one seeds in their group from Serbia and after losing the doubles 3-0 the first singles featured another battle between Gilroy and Borislava Peric-Rankovic . The World number two won the first two sets and although Gilroy came back to take the third and had points to take the fourth it was the Serbian who took the match 3-1 and the tie for Serbia 2-0.

Gilroy and Shackleton must now beat Germany tomorrow to progress to the semi-finals.

Ashley Facey Thompson and Kim Daybell doubles Vejle 2015In men’s class 10 Kim Daybell and Ashley Facey Thompson had a tough first match against Spain but played a great match in the doubles coming back twice to level the match and again from 5-2 down to 9-9 in the final set before the experience of the Spaniards proved decisive in taking the set 11-9 and the match 3-2.

Daybell started well against Jose Ruiz but the World number three was on his best form and took the match 3-0 and the tie for Spain 2-0.

“It was a very good doubles match,” said Facey Thompson. “We were unlucky not to beat them but we did our best. Just a few points either way and we could have beaten them.”

Daybell and Facey Thompson can still progress to the quarter- finals if they beat the Czech Republic in their final group match tomorrow.

“I’ll just try and keep fighting,” said Daybell. “We’ve got a good chance against them tomorrow - they are not such a strong team so we’ll see what we can do.”

In the round robin women’s class 1-3 event Jane Campbell and Sara Head started well in their tie against France by taking the doubles 3-0 and Head was 2-1 up against Fanny Bertrand before the tenacious Frenchwoman responded by winning the next two for a 3-2 win. That left Campbell needing to beat the former Paralympic, World and European class 2 champion Isabelle Lafaye and she survived a spirited come back from the World number four to win 12-10 in the third and secure the tie for GB.

Their second match against Turkey also went the distance with Turkey winning the doubles 3-0 and Campbell levelling the tie with a 3-1 win over Hatice Duman. In the deciding singles against Nergiz Altintas Head had her chances but was edged out 15-13, 16-14, 11-9 with Turkey taking the tie 2-1.

“It was a mixed bag for us on day one,” said Head. “We had some excellent games, winning against France this morning and then a very close loss against Turkey. Tomorrow we are going to come back fighting for our next match.”

Campbell and Head can still challenge for a medal if they win one of their final two matches against Italy tomorrow and Croatia on Saturday.

Six medals for GB as Davies retains his European crown

Singles medalists European Champs 2015Rob Davies overcame a heavy cold and the World number one Jean-Francois Ducay from France to retain his men’s class one title at the ITTF PTT European Championships in Vejle, Denmark today. Will Bayley was thwarted in his attempt to regain the European title by an inspired display from Jean-paul Montanus of the Netherlands, who took the men’s class 7 final 3-1, but Bayley took silver and there were bronze medals for Tom Matthews (men’s class 1), Paul Karabardak, David Wetherill (both men’s class 6) and Billy Shilton (men’s class 7).

Davies had reached the final after overcoming stern resistance in the semi-final from his Russian opponent Dmitry Lavrov before taking the match 11-4 in the fifth.

Ducay ended Davies’s London 2012 medal dreams with a 3-2 win in the group stages but since then the Welshman had won eight of their nine meetings although the Frenchman led their overall head-to-head 16-8. A close first set was won by Davies 11-9 and he took the second 11-4 to establish a 2-0 lead. But Ducay is a tough competitor and came back strongly to level at 2-2 and looked to have the momentum going into the fifth and final set. However, Davies was not to be denied and he dug deep to take the final set 11-6 and win the gold.

Rob Davies 2“I didn’t know how it was going to go at the start of the fifth,” admitted Davies. “I just knew I had to start playing more positive again and luckily I managed to dig deep and keep going, playing positively and it worked. It was a good call by Greg (Baker - GB head coach) to call time out at 7-6. I knew what he was going to say - keep positive - it is just putting it into place when you are on the table. It’s harder than it looks sometimes.

“I didn’t really think about retaining my tile but I’m over the moon. I’ve really struggled over the past two years trying to keep on top of injuries and I came here with a massive cold and felt like rubbish this morning so I can’t be happier to be honest. There are so many people to thank - Neil Robinson especially as he is doing the hard work down with us in Cardiff every day. I’m just really happy that I could do it for all the coaches and my fellow athletes in the squad. It’s been a hard time with a few ups and downs through this tournament so I’m just happy to have won the gold again.”

Davies will now bid to retain his European team title with Tom Matthews and admitted that his win today was partly for his team mate and great friend Paul Davies, who partnered him to the European team title in 2013 and is still recovering from injury.

“I’ve got full confidence in Tom,” said Davies, “he is playing really well and I just need to keep going, dig deep again and get myself playing well for the team event now.”

In the men’s class 7 semi-final Bayley knew that he needed a good start against 17 year old Shilton, who had played superbly yesterday to defeat the reigning European champion and World number three Mykhaylo Popov. The 27 year old from Tunbridge Wells edged a tight first set 11-8 and did not allow his young opponent to get back into the match, taking the next two sets for a 3-0 win to reach his third consecutive European final and his fifth consecutive major final.

His opponent in the final was the very talented Montanus, the European bronze medalist in 2013 and World bronze medalist last year who had put out the World number two Maksym Nikolenko in the quarter-finals. The 22 year old’s World ranking of 11 owes more to his inconsistency than his ability and he produced his best form today - hitting the ball with great power and accuracy.

As always Bayley kept fighting and at 2-0 down fought back from 5-3 down to take the third 11-9. But Montanus was using his power effectively and raced into a 10-3 lead in the fourth. Although Bayley saved four match points he could not save the fifth and Montanus took the match 3-1 and the gold medal.

Bayreuth Open 2015 Internationales Tischtennis Weltranglistentu“He started really well and got on top of me a bit,” admitted Bayley. “He deserved to win today for sure. He played better than me. I think I could have mixed it up a little bit more. I had a really slow start and I thought it was pretty close after the first two sets but he deserved to win.

“I’ve got to be pleased with getting to another major final. If someone had told me that I would reach five consecutive major finals I would have said it was impossible five years ago so I’m really proud of that achievement. I just want to push on now for Rio and I look forward to that.”

Bayley can also look forward to the team event with Shilton.

“It was tough playing Billy today,” he said. “It’s always tough playing your team mate, especially Billy as he’s such a good boy and such a good player, but hopefully we can stick together in the team event and I think we can do really well.”

Shilton admitted that he had not found it easy to focus on his first major semi-final less than 24 hours after the best win of his short career.

Billy Shilton Vejle 2015“To beat someone like Popov who was European champion and then to come into a match against the best in the world was quite difficult,” he said. “I think I did quite well but Will played really well. I’ve obviously never played him in a competition before so it was a bit strange but he beat me fair and square. At 8-8 in the first set I thought Will was quite nervous but after that he controlled me quite well and played to my weaknesses. I’ve learnt so much here and I’m really looking forward to the team event with Will and playing some more matches - it should be a great experience.”

Matthews made a great start in his men’s class 1 semi-final taking the first set against Ducay but the Frenchman’s greater experience was decisive in the end and he recovered to take the match 3-1. However, Matthews, 23, has matured as a player here and to take a medal in his first major championship was a great performance.

Tom Matthews Vejle 2015 2“I had a great start,” said the former mountain bike rider from Aberdare. “I went in there with confidence and I’m pretty gutted at the moment. He’s the World number one and very experienced and I’m still new on the scene. But I think I scared him a bit so I’m happy with that really. There are a few little mistakes that I know I have to work on but I handled my nerves well so overall I’m happy. I’m really looking forward to the team competition with Rob now.”

There were hopes of an all GB final in men’s class 6 as both Karabardak and Wetherill have been in good form here. Karabardak found himself taking on the reigning European and former World and Paralympic champion Peter Rosenmeier from Denmark supported by an enthusiastic home crowd and after losing the first two sets he fought back bravely to level the match at 2-2. The final set was nip and tuck all the way to 9-9 when the Danish World number two, to the delight of the crowd, clinched the set 11-9 and the match 3-2.

An understandably disappointed Karabardak was nevertheless proud of his performance.

Paul Karabardak Vejle 2015“I played about as good as I could play and credit to him he also played very well,” said the 30 year old from Swansea. “I don’t think there deserved to be a winner or a loser - it is easy to say that when I’ve just lost but he had his home support which maybe made the difference at the end. I’m disappointed at the moment because it was a match I could have won. But I can take a lot of positives out of the match. My aim was a medal which I’ve got so although I’m disappointed at the moment I’m sure when I’ve reflected I’ll be happy with my performance and my efforts.”

Wetherill also faced a formidable opponent in Alvaro Valera, the reigning World champion and World number one from Spain. The 25 year old from Torpoint lost the first two sets and although he battled his way back into the third set Valera used all his experience to close out the set 11-9 and the match 3-0.

Wetherill has the consolation of a first medal at a major championship and can also take plenty of positives from his performance in the singles here.

David Wetherill Vejle 2015“I got everything right in terms of preparation,” he said. “I felt really good and went into the game quite confident as I was playing quite well. But Valera is a player I haven’t played that much and he is quite an awkward style and I think there is a certain way to play him. He is very experienced and he is the kind of player who makes you think that you are not playing so well even though I am obviously playing quite well at the moment. I didn’t really do myself justice and although I’m still happy with a medal I didn’t want to fall into the trap of being satisfied with that so I’m a bit disappointed to be honest.”

Karabardak and Wetherill also have great prospects of a medal in the team event.

“We’ve got a good chance to win the team as we’re number one seeds,” said Karabardak, “but it’s going to be tough and we’ll have to play well.”

Posted in GB

Teenager Shilton beats defending champion to set up semi-final clash with Bayley

World champion Will Bayley is still on course to regain his European title but he will have to beat his GB team mate Billy Shilton in the semi-final tomorrow after the 17 year old produced the performance of the championships so far to defeat the reigning European champion Mykhaylo Popov 3-1 in the quarter-final and assure himself of a medal at his first major championship.

On another good day for the GB Para Table Tennis Team in Vejle, Denmark Rob Davies, Tom Matthews, Paul Karabardak and David Wetherill also made it through to the semi-finals and 12 out of 15 athletes qualified for the knockout stages.

Billy Shilton action 6 2014Shilton needed to beat Michal Deigsler in his last group match to go through and the 17 year old put up a great performance to defeat the experienced Polish player who had beaten him last month in the Czech Open. Despite losing the third set after having two match points he recovered to win the fourth 11-8 and the match 3-1.

“I was really nervous at the end of the third set,” admitted Shilton afterwards, “but I got my focus at the end and did enough to get through so I’m really happy.”

In the last 16 Shilton faced Stephane Messi, the world number 10 from France and produced another great performance to come back from 2-1 down to win the match 11-7 in the fifth. That put him through to a quarter-final against the reigning European champion Popov and after winning a close first set 15-13 Shilton took the second 11-9 to take a 2-0 lead. Although the World number three from the Ukraine came back to take the third the GB teenager - playing with a maturity beyond his years - held his nerve to win the fourth 11-8 and take the match 3-1.

“I set myself the target of getting to the quarter finals,” said Shilton, “so anything beyond that was a bonus really so I’m very happy. I was definitely nervous but I’ve been speaking a lot with Tim (GB team psychologist) to keep my head and focus on myself and not give up and I think that is the reason I’ve done so well at this competition - never giving up and keep fighting for every point. I can’t quite believe it to be honest - it’s like a dream come true.”

Will Bayley World Champs 2014 3Bayley received a bye into the quarter-finals and was drawn against his old rival Jochen Wollmert, the double Paralympic champion. The World champion was in top form and after taking the first two sets 11-5 he withstood a rally from the German to clinch the match 11-8 in the third.

“I think that is probably the best I’ve ever played against him,” admitted Bayley. “I’ve got such respect for him - he’s such a legend. I’ve always wanted to win as many majors as he has so it’s nice to beat him because it’s difficult. It was really important to make a good start because he is a confidence player and when he’s playing well he’s hard to stop. I’m really happy with the way I’m playing - I just want to keep going and an all GB semi-final will be nice!”

Davies ensured that he topped his group with a comfortable 3-0 win over Federico Falco from Italy and the defending champion looks to be finding his form at the right time.

“I’m feeling a lot better today,” said the Welshman, who plays Dmitry Lavrov in the semi-finals. “More focused and more like myself. A lot more positive. It’s always good to play matches but nice to get a bye into the semi-finals.”

Tom Matthews actionIn his final group match Tom Matthews had match points against Endre Major but was eventually beaten 3-2 by the experienced Hungarian who topped the group, with Matthews in second place but through to the quarter finals to face Falco.

To his credit Matthews recovered from the disappointing loss and was always in control against Falco, overcoming a fightback in the third set by the Italian to win 3-0 and assure himself of at least a bronze medal in his first major championship.

“I was disappointed to lose this morning,” said Matthews. “I was 10-8 up in the fourth and lost it so it was hard to get back into it but me and Rob (Davies) had a good chat. We support each other and he helped me to prepare for the match. My emotional control has been brilliant here so I’m happy. I’m taking my time instead of rushing things.”

The 23 year old from Aberdare plays World number one Jean-Francois Ducay in tomorrow’s semi-finals.

“He’s a good player,” said Matthews. “Rob and I will have a chat in the morning and hopefully I can beat him and Rob can win his semi and we can make it an all-Welsh final.”

Paul Karabardak action 4 2014It was a good day for Wales as Swansea’s Karabardak reached the semi-finals in men’s class 6 with a 3-0 win over the Russian Alexander Esaulov.

“Once I pulled away in the first set I knew that if I kept playing well I could make things more comfortable for myself,” he said, “because I don’t think he had the belief that he could beat me and I didn’t want to give him any chance to get into the game. So I think I did well to shut him out and dominate the game really.”

David Wetherill topped his group with a 3-0 win in his final match against the Russian Dinar Safiullin and defeated the experienced Italian Raimondo Alecci 3-1 in the last 16 to set up a quarter-final against World number six Thomas Rau from Germany. A 3-0 win put Wetherill through to the semi-finals and assure him of his first ever medal in a major championship.

Ross Wilson action 6 2014Ross Wilson ensured that he would go through to the knockout stages of men’s class 8 as group winner with a 3-0 win over the Italian Francesco Lorenzini and he then overcame the Belgian former Paralympic silver medalist Marc Ledoux 3-0 in the last 16.

Playing in his first major championship since London 2012 and only his fourth competition in three years the 20 year old started his quarter-final against Andras Csonka in great style and led 2-1 but the Hungarian World number five just had the edge in a tense final set to win the match 11-8 in the fifth.

“I think on a good day I can take those matches,” said Wilson. “I think what I missed in the build-up to this was match practice and I’m not 100% sharp yet so with sharpness and better preparation with dealing with my injuries then definitely I can compete with the best in the world.”

Wilson’s class 8 team partner Aaron McKibbin booked his place in the last 16 with a 3-1 win over Max Van Amerongen from the Netherlands, recovering well from losing the first set. His reward was a last 16 match against the World number two Thomas Bouvais and the Frenchman was in top form in a 3-0 win.

“I don’t feel that I played badly,” said McKibbin, “I thought I played a really good game. To be fair to him he was on top form and I tried to do three or four different things and he was there for every ball.”

Ashley Facey Thompson reached the last 16 in men’s class 9 with a battling 3-1 win over the higher ranked Dutchman Tonnie Heijnen despite dropping the first set.

“I’ve played him a lot and lost to him in the past,” said the 20 year old London South Bank University student. “After the first set I was thinking don’t be afraid - don’t think about losing think about winning and be more positive around the table. I knew my game was stronger than his today so I was able to overcome him and I was pleased with my performance.”

That put Facey Thompson through to face Frederic Bellais and the Frenchman looked to be on his way to an easy win after taking the first two sets. But Facey Thompson showed great character to battle his way back into the match, levelling at 2-2 and then saving three match points at 10-7 down to win the match 12-10 in the fifth.

“When I was 2-0 down I was thinking ‘how can I get back in this match?’” said Facey Thompson. “I wanted to win but I also didn’t want to let myself down. At 10-7 down in the final set I was just thinking play each point - it doesn’t matter what the score is. He’s a good strong player so I was very happy with my performance.”

In the quarter-final against the World number three Juan Perez Gonzalez the Spaniard’s experience was decisive in a 3-0 win but it has nevertheless been a promising performance by Facey Thompson.

Sue Gilroy secured top place in her group in the combined women’s class 4-5 with a comfortable 3-0 win over Helke Koller from Austria but found the class 5 three time former European champion Ingela Lundback just too strong in a 3-1 quarter final defeat.

“I’m bitterly disappointed,” said Gilroy. “To come back from 10-6 down in the fourth and then lose 15-13 and getting two nets at deuce. I played really well in the third and fourth but just let her dominate in the second and third games and I was really hoping I could come back in the fourth and take it to a fifth but it wasn’t to be. Hopefully I can turn it around in the team competition.”

Gilroy’s team partner Megan Shackleton needed to beat Nada Matic in her final group match and put up a determined performance against the women’s class 4 World championship bronze medalist, fighting back from 2-0 down to win the third but eventually losing 11-9 in the fourth.

“I’m really proud I fought back,” said the 16 year old from Todmorden. “I’ll never give up - even if I’m not going to win I want it to be the closest score and I want them to know I’m a potential threat in the future and not walk away from the match thinking it was easy.”

Jack Hunter-Spivey reached the quarter-finals of men’s class 5 with a 3-1 win over Hamza Caliskan from Turkey but was disappointed to lose 3-0 to the World number six from Serbia Mitar Palikuca.

“I’ve beaten him the last few times we’ve played,” said the 20 year old from Liverpool, “but he changed tactics and opened up a bit more. There were some big rallies at key points in the match and I couldn’t quite get the ball on the table. But I feel that I’ve given a good account of myself and tried my hardest and that’s all I can do. I haven’t got that winning edge yet in those sort of matches but it takes experience to do that.”

In men’s class 10 Kim Daybell reached the quarter-finals with a hard fought 3-2 win over Igor Misztal from Poland and despite playing much better against Ivan Karabec from the Czech Republic he was bitterly disappointed to lose in four close sets to the World number six.

“It’s always difficult when you are 2-0 down against a good player,” said Daybell. “At 8-4 up in the second I didn’t quite take my chances but that’s the way it went today.”

In women’s class 3 Jane Campbell and Sara Head both failed to progress to the knockout stages after losing their final group matches but will now focus on the team competition that starts on Thursday.

Posted in GB

Good first day for GB at European Championships

World champion Will Bayley made smooth progress into the knockout stages of the men’s class 7 singles on a busy first day at the ITTF PTT European Championships in Vejle, Denmark and there was plenty more for the GB team to cheer about with 10 athletes all recording at least one win.

Will Bayley action 7 2014Bayley was given a tough first match by Samuel Shur from Israel and was pleased to come through in three close sets. He then beat Ben Despineux from Belgium 3-0 to finish top of his group and ensure his progression to the knockout stages.

“I actually think I was playing really well,” said the 27 year old World champion. “My coach said the first match wasn’t quite as good as I can play but he was really pleased with the second match because I stayed focused throughout and was quite clinical. There are so many good players now and you don’t want anyone to pick your pocket so you have to be on top of your game from the start. I try not to think too far ahead in majors - I just take every match as a final. That’s what I’ve done over the years and I’ll stick with that.”

Rob Davies 2European champion Rob Davies was presented with a walkover in his first match after the withdrawal of the German Marcus Sieger and then had to handle a long delay before his second match but the Welshman finally began the defence of his title with a 3-0 win over Matti Launonen from Finland.

“It was quite frustrating hanging around and then having my second match delayed,” admitted Davies, who plays his final group match tomorrow against Federico Falco of Italy. “My first match was a bit shaky - it just took a bit of time to get the feeling for the ball so I’m pleased to have won it really and to win 3-0 was even better. I can definitely improve from the match although in practice I’ve been playing well and feeling really good. So reasonably happy with the way things are at the moment.”

Tom Matthews France 1Davies’s class 1 team partner Tom Matthews made a great start to his first major championship by beating the world number 11 Andrea Borgato 3-0. Afterwards the 23 year old Welshman admitted that winning a close first set 13-11 against the experienced Italian was the key to his impressive performance.

“Taking that first set was very important,” he said. “It settled my nerves and from there I kept my composure and kept it simple. It was a really tough match he is so awkward to play. I’ll just think about my next match now - hopefully I can win that and top the group.”

Matthews plays his final group match tomorrow against another very experienced player in Endre Major from Hungary.

Ross Wilson action 6 2014Ross Wilson, playing in his first major championship since winning a team bronze in London 2012, overcame the very talented young Danish player Louis Tybirk in three close sets and then showed great character to beat the former men’s class 8 World champion and Paralympic silver medalist Richard Csejtey from Slovakia 3-2.

“It’s great to be back in this environment,” said 20 year old Wilson, who has endured a frustrating series of injuries over the past three years. “My first match was against a talented young player from the home country so that was tough to deal with and then I wasn’t expected to win against Csejtey as he was the higher ranked player so I’m really pleased. “

Wilson’s class 8 team partner Aaron McKibbin got the GB team off to a great start with a 3-0 win over Marius Olczak from Poland and then put up a fighting performance against Andras Csonka from Hungary, taking the World number five to five sets before eventually losing 3-2.

Aaron McKibbin Lignano 2014“I’m obviously disappointed to lose as I had a good opportunity,” said McKibbin, “but there was a stage where I was out of the game and I feel like I did quite well to come back into it. I feel that I am getting closer to him - he is a player I do really struggle against and I think I put up a much better performance here than I did last time I played him in Germany so I can take the positives from that.”

Both Wilson and McKibbin play their final group matches tomorrow and while Wilson is in pole position to qualify from his group McKibbin can still go through if he beats Max Van Amerongen from the Netherlands.

Paul KarabardakIn men’s class 6 Paul Karabardak also topped his group with two 3-0 wins against Valentin Kneuss from Switzerland and then the Croatian Pavao Jozic.

“I think I played as well as I could play today,” said the 30 year old from Swansea. “I played a tricky opponent in the first game so to beat him comfortably and play well was good. Then against a good player who has had some good wins this year I knew it would be a hard game but I played better than I expected and although he played well I had a bit too much which was pleasing for me.”

Karabardak’s team partner David Wetherill also won both his matches today including a battling 3-1 win against the talented Spaniard Alberto Seoane in which he showed great character to come back from 6-1 down and win a tense fourth set 15-13.

“I was really pleased to win both my matches,” said Wetherill, who plays his final group match tomorrow against the Russian Dinar Safiullin.

Billy Shilton Germany 2015Billy Shilton could not have had a tougher introduction to his first major championship taking on men’s class 7 World number two Maksym Nikolenko in his first match. But the Gloucestershire teenager, who turned 17 last Friday, is an exciting talent and pushed the Ukrainian all the way in a 3-1 loss.

“I was quite nervous with it being my first major,” said Shilton, “but to take someone as good as Nikolenko quite close I’m happy with the way I played today. To be around so many good players and playing against top players is really good experience for me. I play my second match tomorrow and hopefully I can keep my form from today and win that.”

Shilton can go through to the knockout stages with a win against Michal Deigsler from Poland tomorrow.

In the combined women’s class 4-5 singles World championship silver medalist Sue Gilroy had to use all her experience to beat Aleksandra Vasileva from Russia in five sets and then recovered from losing the first set to beat Zorica Popadic from Serbia 3-1.

“I played probably about 50% today of how I can do,” said Gilroy, who will play her final group match against the Austrian Helke Koller tomorrow. “The wins are the important thing but I’m really disappointed that I haven’t kicked into the gear I need to and play as well as I know I can. Sometimes I put myself under too much pressure and I don’t know how to change that but I will try and start playing my game tomorrow.”

Megan Shackleton France 2014Making her major championship debut 16 year old Megan Shackleton had a tough first match against the three time class 5 European champion Ingela Lundback from Sweden and had chances to win the second set in a 3-0 loss. In her second match she beat Barbara Meglic from Slovenia 3-0 and can progress to the knockout stages if she beats Nada Matic from Serbia tomorrow.

“I think today I played really positively and brought out my best talents,” said Shackleton. “I’ve just played with confidence - I’ve got nothing to lose and I’m really excited to take on everyone. I’m really enjoying it because I’ve never experienced anything like this before and it is on a similar level to a Paralympics which is what I aim to do in the future. Hopefully if I play like I can tomorrow then there is no reason why I can’t get out of my group.”

Although Ashley Facey Thompson started well against Cedric Cabestany from France he found himself 2-0 down to the men’s class 9 World number five. He fought back to take the third set and competed well in the fourth but the Frenchman took the set 11-9 and the match 3-1. Nevertheless Facey Thompson can take plenty of positives from the match and can still progress to the knockout stages if he wins his final group match tomorrow against Tonnie Heijnen of the Netherlands.

“I was playing well and I don’t know what happened,” said the 20 year old Londoner. “He had a couple of net cords and that put me off a bit. I tried but I couldn’t get back in the game so I’m disappointed. I’ll keep on fighting in my next match - I thought I could have beaten Cedric today but he’s a good player and very experienced.”

Jack Hunter-Spivey also had a difficult start to his European Championships campaign in men’s class 5 against Nicolas Savant-Aira and the Frenchman was too strong in a 3-0 win. The 20 year old from Liverpool now has to beat Hamza Caliskan from Turkey tomorrow to keep his singles hopes alive.

“Difficult first match for me and disappointed with the result,” said Hunter-Spivey. “He played well but I didn’t play my best - I wasn’t brave enough on my shots and a bit passive. Tomorrow will be a good match and I hope I can win. I feel like I’m playing quite well - not quite clicking just yet - so I’ll refocus and tomorrow I should be ready to go.”

In women’s class 3 both Sara Head and Jane Campbell had tough first matches - Head losing 3-1 to World number five Alena Kanova from Slovakia and Campbell losing in three close sets to the Croatian World number four Andela Muzinic.

Jane Campbell action 8 2014Campbell then kept her hopes alive with a determined 3-1 win over Kezban Cakir from Turkey and a win tomorrow against the Austrian Doris Mader would take her through to the quarter-finals.

“I feel I’m playing well and that is all you can do,” said Campbell. “Disappointed with the one I lost but I know that I played quite well. I struggled a bit with returning her serves and a few other things that I know I can work on and hopefully do better next time. I have beaten Doris before so I have a good chance - I’ve just got to play my best.”

Head fought back from 2-0 down against another Turkish player Hatice Duman to level at 2-2 but lost the deciding fifth set 9-11. She plays her final group match tomorrow against Michela Brunelli of Italy.

In men’s class 10 Kim Daybell came up against an in-form Denislav Kodjabashev and the Bulgarian World number five was too strong in a 3-0 win. Daybell plays Igor Misztal of Poland tomorrow for a place in the quarter-finals.

“He played a good game and never gave me a chance to get into it,” admitted Daybell. “I didn’t play as well as I can play and I’ll just have to come back tomorrow and try again.”

Posted in GB

British Table Tennis Association for People with Disabilities (BTTAD) – Director

 

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BRITISH TABLE TENNIS ASSOCIATION FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES  LTD ( BTTAD)

DIRECTOR

BTTAD is the National Governing Body for elite Disability Table Tennis as recognised by UK Sport.     4 medals were achieved at the London 2012 Paralympics and similar expectations are anticipated for Rio. In addition, BTTAD runs a domestic competitions programme and participates successfully in international events; it works  with Home Country Associations and Disability Organisations to influence and develop disability table tennis domestically and internationally.

BTTAD is a charitable company limited by guarantee and following a casual vacancy, wishes to appoint a Director either from its membership or as an Independent member. There are currently 4 Directors – 2 from the membership and 2 Independent  ; the Chairman is Karen Tonge MBE.  The Board meets up to 4 times a year normally in either Sheffield or Milton Keynes. This is a voluntary role but reasonable expenses will be paid for travel and other out of pocket expenses

We are looking for individuals who will contribute to the strategic development of the sport and provide appropriate leadership, monitoring and guidance to the executive team. The appointment would be for an initial period of 4 years, but directors are eligible for reappointment at the end of their first term to a maximum of 8 years. Previous experience of working on a Board  is not essential ; however all directors are required to understand and demonstrate their commitment to the vital role the Board plays in developing the sport and help the company to meet its legal and regulatory requirements

If you would welcome the opportunity to work with us and in disability sport, please forward   a brief CV and a one page supporting statement which outlines your relevant skills and experience to the Company Secretary , Mike Smith at [email protected]    by   November 2nd    2015    with interviews to be held in November and appointment  starting  in January 2016

Bayley and Davies lead GB challenge at European Championships

World champion Will Bayley and European champion Rob Davies head a team of 15 athletes that will represent GB in the ITTF PTT European Championships, which are taking place in Vejle, Denmark from October 12-17. This will be the final major championship before the 2016 Paralympic Games and will provide an opportunity for athletes to qualify directly for Rio.

Bayreuth Open 2015 Internationales Tischtennis WeltranglistentuBayley, the men’s class 7 world number one, will be looking to regain the title he won in 2011 having taken silver in 2013. He faces strong opposition from among others Mykhaylo Popov, who beat Bayley in the European final in 2013, fellow Ukrainian Maksym Nikolenko, who Bayley beat to win the World title in China last year, and double Paralympic champion Jochem Wollmert from Germany.

“Preparations are going great,” he said. “I’m training hard and feel ready. I’ve been very successful in the last few major competitions which gives me great confidence. I just need to make sure I’m taking it point by point and game by game. It would be very special to regain the European title - it’s always a massive one to win.”

Davies has been plagued by an on-going back injury since winning two gold medals at the last European Championships in 2013 but is confident that with the help of his coaches and strength and conditioning team he can now put that behind him.

Rob Davies action 3 2014“It’s about managing my body and how much I train at the moment,” said the 31 year old former rugby player, “and I think we have it under control now so I’m happy. The last few weeks have been really positive and I’m playing some good table tennis.”

The world number three and World championship silver medallist admits that defending a title is always hard but says: “I’m not really feeling the pressure at the moment - I’m excited to be playing and looking forward to the challenge. I always want to win every competition and as I’ve won it before I believe I can do it again.”

Davies is also defending his European team title but with fellow Welshman Paul Davies still recovering from injury he will have a new team partner in another Welshman Tom Matthews, 23, who will be competing in his first major championship.

“Tom has less experience than Paul,” said Davies, “but he’s a good young player coming through and we can have some good results if it all goes to plan so we’ll just take one match at a time. I’m looking forward to playing with him and seeing what we can do.”

The GB team also includes World championship silver medalist Sue Gilroy, London 2012 Paralympic bronze medalists Jane Campbell, Sara Head, Ross Wilson and Aaron McKibbin and talented teenagers Megan Shackleton and Billy Shilton, who will also be making their major championship debuts.

Billy Shilton action 5 2014Shilton, 16, will play with Bayley in the men’s class 7 team event in Denmark. The partnership has already proved successful - beating World champions Spain to win gold in Slovenia earlier this year and defeating China on the way to a silver medal in Germany.

“Playing team with Will in a major will be an amazing experience for me,” said Shilton, “as he always performs his best at major competitions. The way he fights for every point and never gives up on what he needs to do is something that I could bring into my game. He always does everything he can to support me in matches so it’s a really good confidence booster when you have a player like Will in your corner.”

Megan Shackleton April 2014 1Sixteen year old Shackleton will also have an experienced team partner in Denmark in Gilroy and acknowledges that playing with the veteran of four Paralympic Games is giving her invaluable experience.

“Playing team event with Sue has been a great learning curve for me so far,” she said. “I feel we get on well as a team, as we are both perfectionists and will fight hard until the very end of our matches. From the beginning she always told me that composure is key during high pressure situations, and that for me has been the most useful advice she has given by far.”

GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko has ensured that his team is well prepared for the challenge ahead with training camps in Slovenia and Slovakia.

“The European Championships is the last major test for our athletes before the 2016 Paralympic Games,” he said, “and with many of the world’s best players coming from Europe it will be a very tough competition. This is also our qualification year for Rio and good results in Denmark will be important for all the athletes, particularly those on the borderline of qualification. Rio is inevitably in the back of all the athletes’ minds but the European Championships are a major competition and that is all we are focusing on at the moment.”

The full GB squad for Denmark is:
Will Bayley - Tunbridge Wells/Sheffield (class 7)
Jane Campbell - London (class 3)
Rob Davies - Brecon (class 1)
Kim Daybell - Sheffield/Leeds (class 10)
Ashey Facey Thompson - London (class 9)
Sue Gilroy - Barnsley (class 4)
Sara Head - Beddau (class 3)
Jack Hunter-Spivey - Liverpool/Sheffield (class 5)
Paul Karabardak - Swansea (class 6)
Tom Matthews - Aberdare (class 1)
Aaron McKibbin - London/Sheffield (class 8)
Megan Shackleton - Todmorden (class 4)
Billy Shilton - Stonehouse/Sheffield (class 7)
David Wetherill - Torpoint (class 6)
Ross Wilson - Minster/Sheffield (class 8)

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