Paralympic and World champion Will Bayley heads the list of athletes who will compete in the Para classes at the English National Championships in Nottingham tomorrow. The 29 year old men’s class 7 World number one will take on his British team mates Aaron McKibbin (class 8), Billy Shilton (class 8) and David Wetherill (class 6) in the men’s 6-8 event and has already been in winning form this season, completing a clean sweep in the class 7 singles, open standing singles and open standing doubles in the Draycott Para Open earlier this month.
“It was really good to get some match practice in as I’ve been doing a lot of training but haven’t played many matches,” said Bayley. “I’ve been working on trying to change my game a little bit and I was pleased with the way I played. I’m working really hard on my weaknesses so it is going in the right direction.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd at the Nationals and it will be good to play well and try and impress them so I’m looking to win if I can. It is hard to compete against my team mates - we all know each other’s styles of play inside out which makes the games closer so you have to play as well as you can but you know it can go either way – you just have to try and do what you can to win the match.”
This is the second year that Table Tennis England has included events for Para athletes in the National Championships, which will also feature classes 3-5 and 9-10 with some of England’s most promising young Pathway athletes taking on the more experienced Performance squad.
McKibbin, Shilton and Wetherill will fly back from the Italian Open to compete in Nottingham.
“I’m really looking forward to the Nationals,” said Wetherill. “People in the UK hear what we are doing but they don’t get the opportunity to see us play too often. I really want to go there in good shape and try and play my best because I think that is important. I’m looking to try and win because I know on my day I can compete but it is going to be difficult so we’ll see what happens. First and foremost it will be nice to put on a good show for the public.”
The PG Mutual National Championships are taking place at the David Ross Sports Village in Nottingham from March 3-5. Further information is available here: https://tabletennisengland.co.uk/play/tournaments/national-championships/