02 Oct 2017

Hopes high but it was a mixed start to the team events for Great Britain at the 2017 European Para Championships in Lasko, Slovenia on Sunday 1st October.

Highlight of the day was the performance of Kim Daybell and Ashley Facey Thompson. The biggest disappointment was that experienced Rob Davies, Paul Davies and Tom Matthews; they have been denied the opportunity to defend their Men’s Class 1 title following the withdrawal of Hungary, a minimum of four teams is required to complete a category, only three remaining, the Class was cancelled.

by Francesca Bullock, British Para Table Tennis Team Press Officer

Conversely, in Men’s Class 10, Kim Daybell and Ashley Facey Thompson, the no.4 seeds, are through to the quarter-finals. They beat Latvia’s Aleksandrs Sinica and Vladislavs Kobka by two-matches to nil, before by the same margin accounting for the French pairing of Mateo Boheas and Benoît Grasset. The crucial contest being the win recorded by Kim Daybell over Mateo Boheas after the British pair had won the opening doubles.

“It is always close when I play against him and I just played a little bit better today so it was nice to do that after the singles yesterday. With the field being as strong as it is winning the group is massive to avoid some of the top seeds, so we’ll just see who we get and hopefully tomorrow we’ll be able to come out and do the same thing.” Kim Daybell

A fine effort from Kim Daybell, equally it was an outstanding effort from Ashley Facey Thompson, he is a Class 9 player competing against adversaries of a lesser disability.

“In the first match we did a professional job. The second match was harder and we started a bit slow but we got into the match and started doing the basic things right. We played really well and our level was a bit higher than the opposition’s today. We haven’t played doubles together since Rio but with me training full time now it has given me a lot of confidence and I feel that I can be with Kim as a partner and not just as the second player.” Ashley Facey-Thompson.

Success for Kim Daybell and Ashley Facey Thompson but in Class 10, for the bronze medallists at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Ross Wilson and Aaron McKibbin, who joined forces with Billy Shilton; in Men’s Team Class 9, it was one win and one defeat.

They recorded a two-nil win against the Norwegian combination of Fredrik Johansen, Steffen Salomonsen and Pablo Jacobsen but then suffered by the same margin when facing Poland’s Piotr Grudzien and Marcin Skrzynecki.

Ross Wilson and Aaron McKibbin was the selection against Norway; Billy Shilton was introduced into the line-up in opposition to Poland but suffered defeat against Rio 2016 Paralympic Games bronze medallist Pior Gridzien.

“I felt that I played well. It was just a few points at the end of each game that cost me. I think when I look back on it later I’ll be quite pleased with how I played. It is massive for me to be here in this environment when we’ve got two really strong players on the team, so I’m benefiting a lot from it.” Billy Shilton

“We went into the match against Poland with a tactic and we tried to play to it but to be fair they played really well. We definitely didn’t bring our best level but hopefully Poland will get the win tomorrow against Norway and we will get through to the quarter-final. We can definitely improve our performance. Ross and I are experienced and play really well together; it is not often we have bad matches so we can use that experience if we get through to the quarters.” Aaron McKibbin

“I’m still feeling positive. We beat Norway which was a good performance and it was unfortunate against Poland. Billy has joined our team for the first time at a major and he is a brilliant addition to the team. He lost the singles in three close games to a very good player but he will be a great talent for the future. We are just going to keep our heads up and keep going for the rest of the competition now.” Ross Wilson

Two fixtures completed for the trio comprising Aaron McKibbin, Billy Shilton and Ross Wilson; in Men’s Class 6 for the combination of Paul Karabardak, Martin Perry and David Wetherill, it was one engagement, one success. The top seeds, they beat the Russian combination of Alexander Esaulov and Timur Khisnullin by two matches to nil.

David Wetherill partnered Paul Karabardak to doubles success before overcoming Alexander Esaulov to seal the victory; both contests being resolved in three straight games.

“I think the team event will be less intense, not in terms of winning matches but in terms of the schedule. We’ve got a good team where we can rely on three players but it was good to get it over and done with relatively quickly. We could have played better, we played well, we did enough and that was perfect really; perfect three-nil, three-nil.” David Wetherill.

Good form maintained by David Wetherill who one day earlier had been the silver medallist in Class 6, for Paul Karabardak the win was a confidence boost, he had departed in the early stages of the singles event.

“It has given me a lot of motivation, because the team has been so successful and I don’t want to leave here without a medal, so I’m really up for the team event and looking forward to it. It was a good start today. I think we are getting better at doubles and today we played well. It was nice to get off to a good start because I think the doubles is going to be really important in order for us to do well. Dave then played really well in the singles and I’m really happy to get a two-nil win against a good team.” Paul Karabardak

Martin Perry looked on from the bench today but most certainly, he is an important part of the team and is gaining valuable experience from the three-time Paralympians Paul Karabardak and David Wetherill.

“I’m learning loads. I feel that I can improve a lot in the doubles when I get the opportunity, so watching these two guys and what they do, how they move and where they place the ball is key in terms to my own development in the game. So it is great to watch these guys; they’ve got a lot of experience and it is good that we can bring that to the team.” Martin Perry

In the concluding group fixture, the British trio faces the Greek outfit comprising Georgis Mouchthis, Marios Chatzikyriakos and Eleftherios Mavris.

Success for Paul Karabardak, Martin Perry and David Wetherill, alas for Sue Gilroy and Megan Shakleton in Women’s Class 4-5, it was defeat.

In a group organised event, they experienced a two-one reverse at the hands of Slovenia’s Andreja Dolinar and Barbara Meglic, followed by the same outcome when facing Russia’s Nadejda Pushpasheva and Aleksandra Vasilveva.

“I definitely felt a lot of pressure in that last match. I think for me it is just going to be a learning curve of how to manage that situation and even though it is a pressure situation to make sure that I am enjoying the match as well and not necessarily putting myself under so much pressure that I don’t allow myself to play to my full potential. Overall there were some positives in the match and hopefully tomorrow is another day and the performance will be a lot better.” Megan Shackleton

“We can both play a lot better. We normally never lose the singles against Slovenia and then obviously with the second match against the Russians, Pushpasheva has a lot more experience than Megan. We need to do a lot more work on our doubles; that is key. A disappointing day but we need to come back fighting.” Sue Gilroy.

In their concluding fixtures Sue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton face Germany’s Sandra Mikolaschek and Lisa Hentig, followed by the Serbian outfit comprising Borislava Peric-Rankovic, Nada Matic and Bijana Ubovic.

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