03 Oct 2017

Represented by Stéphane Messi, Kevin Dourbecker and Bastien Grundeler; France emerged as the outfit to upset the order of merit as the first stage fixtures in the Men’s Team standing categories at the 2017 European Para Championships in Lasko, Slovenia came to a conclusion on Monday 2nd October.

Competing in Class 7, they beat the second seeded Spanish combination of Alvaro Valera, Jordi Morales and Alberto Seone by two matches to one, thus maintaining their unbeaten record and securing a semi-final place. Second place in the group and thus progress to the main draw was to be the lot of the Spaniards.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interviews by Francesca Bullock)

Defeat for the second seeds in Class 7, there were no such problems for the top seeded Ukraine combination of Maksym Nikolenko, Mykhaylo Popov and Bogdan Omelchuk; in the corresponding group they finished in first position ahead of the Slovakian outfit formed by Miroslav Jambor, Alexander Nagy and Gabriel Csemy.

Top spot for the top seeds, it was the same in Class 6 for the Great Britain combination of David Wetherill, Paul Karabardak and Martin Perry. They concluded their first stage fixtures by recording a two-nil win against the Greek outfit represented by Georgios Mouchthis, Marios Chatzikyriakos and Eleftherios Mavris.

“It was one of those matches where we just needed to get the job done and we managed to do that. I think we will be a lot fresher tomorrow. Paul and me analysed how much risk we needed to take to make sure we got the win. If we get put under a bit more pressure we know we can up it several levels so we have that confidence in each other. I think today we played really clever and we did nothing apart from place the ball in the right places so I am very pleased with that.” David Wetherill

“I think we can improve a bit more but I was really pleased with the doubles again because we are playing some of our best doubles and the doubles is really important in the team events. I think we can get better but we will have to because there will be tougher tests in the semi-finals. We’re guaranteed a medal but I’d like to get the gold and I think we are more than capable of getting the gold.” Paul Karabardak

Notably, Martin Perry looked on from the bench and was always confident that his team partners would secure the win.

“These two guys have got a lot of experience and really drew on that today and I always thought they were going to win. They both put in really good performances, especially in the doubles and then Dave had to work hard in his singles but he got the win so I was in more than capable hands on the bench.” Martin Perry

First place for Great Britain, in the corresponding group, it was top spot for Croatia’s Pavao Jozic and Vjekoslav Gregorovic; like David Wetherill and Paul Karabardak, not one individual match was surrendered.

Similarly in Class 9, Belgium’s Laurens Devos and Ben Despineux, the top seeds, finished in first place in their group; a feat that was also achieved by the Italian duo of Mohamed Amine Kalem and Samuel di Chiara, the no.2 seeds.

Meanwhile, in Class 8 the Polish combination of Piotr Grudzien and Marcin Skrzynecki emerged as the surprise group winners. Having the previous day recorded a two-nil win in opposition to third seeded British combination of Aaron McKibbin, Billy Shilton and Ross Wilson; they concluded their initial itinerary by recording the same margin of success when facing the Norwegian formation of Fredrik Johansen, Steffen Salomonsen and Pablo Jacobsen.

A surprise in Class 8, not in Class 11 where in their one fixture to date, the top seeded French pairing of Lucas Creange and Antoine Zhao recorded a two-one win against Poland’s Marek Chybinski and Damian Fira.

Proceedings conclude on Wednesday 4th October.

In Class 4, Turkey’s Abdullah Ozturk and Nesim Turan finished in first position in their group as in the counterpart group did the French combination of Maxime Thomas, Florian Merrien and Alan René Papirer.

Play in the Men’s Team events continues on Tuesday 3rd October.

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Paralympics Para Table Tennis 2017 European Para Championships Stéphane Messi Kevin Dourbecker. Bastien Grundeler

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