04 Oct 2017

Eyes focused on gold, the top seeds prevailed as play progressed in the Men’s Team standing classes at the 2017 European Para Championships in Lasko, Sweden on Tuesday 3rd October.

Belgium booked a final place but pride of places went to Ukraine.

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

Impressively in Men’s Team Class 7, the combination of Maksym Nikolernko, Mykhaylo Popov and Bogdan Omelchuk recorded a two-nil penultimate round success against the second seeded Spanish outfit formed by Alvaro Valera, Jordi Morales and Alberto Seoane.

They now meet the in-form French selection of Stéphane Messi, Kevin Dourbecker and Barien Grundeler in the final. First place in the group ahead of the Spaniards, at the semi-final stage they maintained their good form to beat the Slovakian outfit comprising Miroslav Jambor, Alexander Nagy and Gabriel Cseny.

Likewise in Class 8, Ukraine was unrepentant. Spearheaded by Viktor Didukh and Ivan Mai, the two players who had contested the Men’s Singles Class 8 final earlier in the proceedings, the former the winner  and with Roman Vakarash completing the squad, there was no charity.

A two-nil win was recorded at the semi-final stage against Great Britain’s Aaron McKibbin and Billy Shilton who lined up alongside Ross Wilson, bronze medallist in Men’s Singles class earlier the tournament. A spirited team, earlier in the day they had recorded a two-one quarter-final victory when facing the French combination formed by Thomas Bouvais and Elias Debeyssac.

“It was a team effort, Billy’s support was amazing and Greg Baker our coach on the bench made the difference in the end. Ukraine won gold and silver in the singles here so they are obviously a really strong team but we know that there are things we can improve and the positive is that we are competing with them. I think this major has been one of the hardest for me as I’ve had a few niggling injuries coming in so it has been a bit of a mental battle but I’m really happy to come away with a medal.” Aaron

“The France match was really difficult; that is the first time we have played them so it was nice to play a new team. We had a great game in the doubles and I had a great game against Bouvais and then Aaron came through really well in the third singles, so there were a lot of positives this morning. It was great to get through. It is nice to know that I am competing with the top guys but I really do so badly want to start beating them and that is what I’ll be working towards next year. It is fantastic to get two medals and great to get a medal with the boys again. We have Billy in the team now and that is his first major medal with us and I am sure he will get plenty more in the future.” Ross Wilson

“It is massive for me to learn from Aaron and Ross. They are such a great team and have done it before in major competitions and have done it again here. I’m really pleased with another major medal.” Billy Shilton

In the final, Ukraine meets Sweden, the no.2 seeds; in the counterpart semi-final, the outfit formed by Emil Andersson, Linus Karlsson and Nicklaus Westerberg recorded a two-nil win in opposition to Poland’s Piotr Grudzien and Marcin Skrzynecki.

Impressive performances, in Class 9 it was the very same from Belgium’s Robin Devos and Ben Despineux, the top seeds.
They accounted for Sweden’s Daniel Gustafsson and Anders Andersson; a two-one victory margin being the outcome.

They now meet Italy’s Mohamed Amine Kalem and Samuel di Chara in the final. In the penultimate round, the Italians recorded a two-nil win against Finaland’s Esa Meittenen and Ismo Lallo.

In all events play concludes on Wednesday 4th October.

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