14 Mar 2024

Declaration of intent in Platja d’Aro

Silver medallist at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, at the 2024 ITTF Costa Brava Spanish Para Open, play concluding on Thursday 14th March, Poland’s Rafal Czuper underlined the fact he intends to progress one step higher later this year in Paris.

The top seed, he won men’s singles class 2 and thus claimed back-to-back titles; some five days earlier he had won in Lignano.

Good form maintained but if there is one player who is in consistently good form, it is Chinese Taipei’s Chen Ming-Chih; this year on the international scene, he is unbeaten.

He emerged the men’s singles class 5 winner; four appearances, four titles, in January he won in the United States, in February in Brazil, last week in Lignano.

Cheng Ming-Chih won his fourth men's singles class 5 title of the year (Photo: Álvaro Díaz Moreno)
Cheng Ming-Chih won his fourth men’s singles class 5 title of the year (Photo: Álvaro Díaz Moreno)

Notably in the final, Cheng Ming-Chih beat Norway’s Tommy Urhaug, the London 2012 gold medallist (9-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9) and a man in form. At the semi-final stage he had accounted for China’s Cao Ningning (11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-7), the winner in Rio de Janeiro, runner up in Tokyo.Just one step below, in the women’s singles events, Japan’s Yuri Tomono and Kanami Furukawa added their third titles of the year.

Additional to the previous week in Lignano, competing in class 8, Yuri Tomono had won in Brazil; in class 11, Kanami Furukawa in Egypt.

Wins predominantly as expected; the only minor upset being that caused by Yuri Tomono; the no.2 seed, at the final hurdle she beat Norway’s Aida Dahlen, the top seed (12-10, 9-11, 11-2, 11-9).

Gold for Billy Shilton in men's singles class 8
The top prize for Billy Shilton in men’s singles class 8 (Photo: Álvaro Díaz Moreno)

Gold for the no.2 seed; it was the same for Great Britain’s Billy Shilton in men’s singles class 8 and for Australia’s Lei Li Na in women’s singles class 9.

Billy Shilton seized the opportunity presented, at the final hurdle, he overcame Croatia’s Borna Zohl (11-5, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6), the semi-final winner against Frenchman Thomas Bouvais, the top seed, one round earlier (11-4, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7).

Totally focused on reversing previous decisions, Lei Li Na turned the tables; at the final hurdle she accounted for Hungary’s top seeded, Alexa Szvitacs (11-3, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8), the player against whom she had experienced defeat in the final at the Andalucia 2022 World Championships and the previous week in Lignano.

Lei Li Na avenged previous week's defeat to win women's singles class 9
Lei Li Na avenged previous week’s defeat to win women’s singles class 9 (Photo: Álvaro Díaz Moreno)

Outcomes that were not major upsets; the wins gained by Italy’s Federico Falco, Sweden’s Jonas Hanson and Hong Kong’s Wong Yue Ching were greater surprises.

None appeared amongst the top two names on duty.

Federico Falco won men’s singles class 1; at the semi-final stage he beat Korea Republic’s Nan Kiwon, the top seed (9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-8), before securing the title when opposing Finland’s Timo Natunen (9-11, 16-14, 11-7, 13-11).

In equally good form, Jonas Hansson secured the men’s singles class 7 top prize by overcoming Poland’s Michal Deigsler (11-8, 12-10, 11-7), the penultimate round winner in opposition to Spain’s Jordi Morales, the top seed (11-8, 7-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-5).

Wong Yue Ching, the women's singles class 7 winner
Wong Yue Ching, the women’s singles class 7 winner (Photo: Álvaro Díaz Moreno)

Rather differently, Wong Yue Ching won women’s singles class 7; in a group organised event, she remained unbeaten, securing top spot ahead of the respective top two names, colleague Chiu Kan Shan and Norway’s Nora Korneliussen.

Upsetting the odds, in the men’s singles, for Jenson van Emburgh of the United States it was the reverse scenario, success as the top seeded position in class 3 advised.

The situation applied also to Korea Republic’s Kim Youngun in class 4, Spain’s Alvaro Valera in class 6 and Belgium’s Robin Devos in class 9.

Following suit Frenchman Matteo Boheas prevailed in class 10, Florian van Acker, like Laurens Devos from Belgium, in class 11.

Yoon Jiyu, the women's singles class winner
Yoon Jiyu, the women’s singles class 3 winner (Photo: Álvaro Díaz Moreno)

Similarly, in the women’s singles, Korea Republic’s Yoon Jiyu won class 3, India’s Bhavina Patel class 4-5.

In a similar vein, it was gold for Germany’s Stephanie Grebe in class 6 and Chinese Taipei’s Tian Shiau-Wen in class 10.

Gold for Tian Shiau-Wen, in harness with colleagues it was the same later in proceedings; in class 20 she secured the women’s doubles title partnering Lin Tzu-Yu, the mixed doubles in harness with Su Jin-Sian.

Impressive results from Tian Shiau-Wen, she departed Platja d’Aro as the only player with a full house of three titles, her success overshadowing the efforts of Yoo Jiyu; later she joined forces with Kim Junggil to win mixed doubles class 7.

A full house for Tian
A full house for Tian Shiau-Wen (Photo: Álvaro Díaz Moreno)

Success for Kim Junggil meant that alongside Kim Younggun and Laurens Devos, he claimed two titles. Kim Junggil and Kim Younggun won men’s doubles class 8, Laurens Devos and Japan’s Koyo Iwabuchi prevailed in men’s doubles class 18.

More gold for Laurens Devos, there was more gold for Belgium; colleague Ben Despineux partnered Norway’s Krizander Magnussen to the top prize in men’s doubles class 14.

Similarly, there was more success for Korea Republic, Am Mihyeon and Moon Sunghye won women’s doubles class 5-10.

Meanwhile, France enjoyed success in men’s doubles class 4, Fabien Lamirault and Julien Michaud emerging the winners; in women’s doubles class 14, it was gold for Norway, Aida Dahlen and Merve Tveiten prevailed.

Gold for the host nation, the
Gold for the host nation, the mixed doubles class 4 title partnering Aino Tapola (Photo: Álvaro Díaz Moreno)

Silverware for Europe there was more, the host nation’s Miguel Angel Toledo partnered Finland’s Aino Tapola to mixed doubles class 4 gold, Ukraine’s Valerii Vlasenko and Natalya Kosmina emerged the mixed doubles class 22 winners.

Imposing European performances, the Americas was not to be overlooked. Brazil flew the flag; in the mixed doubles Lucas Arabian and Joyce Oliveira won class 10, Paulo Salmin and Bruna Alexandra claimed the class 14-17 top prize.

Play concluded in Platja d’Aro, attention now turns to Wladyslawowo; a factor 20 tournament for World ranking, the three-day tournament commences on Tuesday 26th March.

General News

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