by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interviews: Francesca Bullock)
Understandably Paul Karabardak was delighted to win his second career such title; his previous being in May 2015 when he beat Germany’s Thomas Rau in Slovenia to secure the top prize.
In the group stage in Lignano, the Welshman had been beaten by Croatia’s Vjekoslav Gregorovic in four games (6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5); in the final he turned the tables to win by a similar margin to that by which he had experienced defeat (12-10, 12-10, 6-11, 11-4).
“It’s a really good start to the season. It was difficult in the group games, I was feeling a bit under the weather and I was nervous which I always am in the first competition of the season but I managed to fight and get out of the group and then I started playing my best table tennis. I knew the final was going to be tough because I’d already lost to him but I managed to play my best and win the match. I think I played with a bit more energy and kept the momentum when I was in a winning position because he is a great player; if I had let him back in it would have made life hard for me and thankfully I won in the end. I’ve played well here but I also think I can play better so hopefully there’ll be better things to come this year”, Paul Karabardak
Positive, it was a similar response from 27 year old David Wetherill from Torpoint in the south west of England, who had been beaten by Paul Karabardak at the semi-final stage (6-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-4). He was in an optimistic mood at the end of the day
“I’m very satisfied with how it has gone. We’re all at different points in our training pre-season and in a way there wasn’t a lot of pressure this week. If I was going to lose to anyone it was a pleasure to lose to Paul because results between us don’t matter so much. It would have been great if Martin had won his semi and played Paul in the final but I’m really pleased for him because he’s played really well. For all three of us to medal was really good so it’s been a good tournament”, David Wetherill
A semi-final defeat for David Wetherill, it was the same for 22 year old Martin Perry who hails from Paisley in Scotland.
He was beaten at the semi-final stage by Croatia’s Vjekoslav Gregorovic (11-7, 11-5, 11-4); a quite outstanding effort when taken into consideration that he was the third highest rated player in his initial stage group. Notably he beat Croatia’s Pavao Jozic (3-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5, 11-8) and Switzerland’s Valentin Kness (12-14, 11-8, 11-5, 10-12, 11-6).
Presently on the Men’s Class 6 World Rankings, Martin Perry is at no.22, as opposed to Velentin who stands at no.18 and Pavao Jozic at no.9.
“It was a good test for the start of the season to see how everyone is playing. I think I played well and got some good wins and I’m quite happy with my level. I wasn’t seeded to get out of my group so to win it and beat two really good players was great. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t meet Paul in the final and secure a one, two, three for Great Britain but it’s been a very good experience and I’ve got the team event with Paul to look forward to now”, Martin Perry
Meanwhile, for Sue Gilroy, the end of the road came in the penultimate round when beaten by Germany’s Sandra Mikolaschek, the eventual winner (11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 11-7).
“For the first tournament of the season I was quite pleased because we haven’t been back in training long. I can go away now and I know what I need to work on in training and sharpen up for the rest of the season. Today was disappointing because I was playing well and I felt that I could have beaten her (Mikolaschek) but the umpire kept calling me on my serves and it put me off my game. But that is how it goes”, Sue Gilroy
Equally, it was a semi-final defeat at the hands of the champion elect for Tom Matthews, like Paul Karabardak from Wales, he is from Abderdare. The 24 year old was beaten by Hungary’s Endre Major.
“I could have played better but fair play to Major he bought his “A” game and played really well to win that match. After my win in Vegas last year I put a lot of expectation on myself and I did well to get to the semi-finals. Major is a great player and went on to win the gold so I have to congratulate him. We’re playing in the team event together and I’m looking forward to that”, Tom Matthews
Medals and there were other most worthy performances from the Great Britain squad in Lignano.
In the Men’s Singles events; in Class 8, Aaron McKibbin reached the quarter-finals, Billy Shilton and Ross Wilson all progressed to the main draw. Notably it was Aaron McKibbin who ended the progress of Billy Shilton in round one (7-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-8).
Likewise, 22 year old Ashley Facey Thompson advanced to the quarter-final stage in Class 9 where a back injury forced withdrawal.
Progress to the latter stages, for Lawrence John in Class 10 it was and in Women’s Singles Class 6 for Felicity Kendall there was no place in the main draw; however, Felicity Kendall could take pride in her efforts. Notably she beat Russia’s Raisa Chebanika, presently listed at no.2 on the Women’s Class 6 World Rankings; impressively, Felicity Pickard won in three straight games (11-9, 11-4, 11-9).
2017 Lignano Masters Para Open: Draws and Latest Results