Bayley, Hunter-Spivey and Wilson take singles gold in US Open

Bayley, Hunter-Spivey and Wilson take singles gold in US Open

A sixth consecutive men’s class 7 singles title for Will Bayley was one of the highlights for the British Para table tennis team at the US Open in Fort Worth, Texas today. Ross Wilson followed his gold in Slovenia last month with gold in men’s class 8, Jack Hunter-Spivey took gold in men’s class 5 and there silver medals for Max Flint (men’s class 10), Ryan Henry (men’s class 8) and Simon Heaps (men’s class 5) while Grace Williams (women’s class 6-8), Chris Ryan (men’s class 1-2), Lee York (men’s class 4) and Shae Thakker (men’s class 10) all took bronze.

Men’s class 1-2

Chris Ryan came through a great battle 3-2 against Vicente Leiva from Chile, the 2021 Copa Costa Rica gold medallist, 12-10 in the fifth, and then beat James Segrest from USA 3-0. He lost 3-0 to Victor Eduardo Reyes Turcio from Mexico but progressed to the knockout stages as group runner-up. A 3-1 win against Chen Baruch from Israel took him into the semi-finals where he lost 3-0 to the World number six and former Paralympic champion Jan Riapos from Slovakia.

Men’s class 4

Lee York was a 3-1 winner against Maximiliano Rodriguez Avila from Chile and progressed despite a 3-0 loss to Emmanuel Nick from Nigeria. He won his quarterfinal against Zachary Pickett from the USA 3-0 and was beaten 3-1 by Cristian Gonzalez Astete from Chile in the semi-final.

Men’s class 5 RR

Jack Hunter-Spivey won 3-0 against Simon Heaps and 3-0 against Hakon Bjarkason from Iceland. He dropped the first set to Ahad Sarand from USA but came back to win 3-1 and clinched the gold with a 3-0 win against Mohan Vallabhapurapu from USA.

“I feel that I’ve played some good stuff overall,” said Hunter-Spivey, “and I’ve really enjoyed the experience. It’s nice to be US Open champion again - it’s an honour winning tournaments and I never take it for granted. I had a really good week training with Jenson and feel my level really improved so I’m really happy with my performance and it’s onwards and upwards to Paris now.”

Heaps secured the silver with wins against Sarand (3-1), Villabhapurapu (3-0) and Bjarkason (3-1).

“Really pleased to have won silver,” said Heaps, “and with my win over the number two seed and World number 22 from USA. I know I can play better, and I will take these results to Saudi Arabia next month with confidence to get that elusive gold in singles.  A big thank you to BPTT for allowing me to play as a self-funded athlete.”

Men’s class 7

Will Bayley topped his group with 3-0 wins against Matthew Britz from New Zealand and Masoud Mojtahed from USA and came through his quarterfinal against Claudio Bahamondes Vega from Chile 3-0. A 3-0 win against former World and European team medallist Kevin Dourbecker from France took him through to the final and he was impressive in beating Rio Paralympic silver medallist Israel Pereira Stroh from Brazil 3-0 to secure the gold.

“I’m really happy and very proud,” said Bayley. “To have won six tournaments in a row at this high level is something I never thought I’d do in my career, and it is an amazing achievement to be unbeaten since Tokyo. To win a strong tournament against two players in the top 10 and other players just outside gives me a lot of confidence going to the Europeans. To beat Israel 3-0 is a great win so overall an amazing tournament for me.”

Theo Bishop took a tight first set against Pereira Stroh 12-10 before the Brazilian came back to win 3-1. He progressed from his group after a 3-0 win against Mathew Weber from USA but lost his quarterfinal to Dourbecker 3-0.

Men’s class 8

Ross Wilson won 3-0 against both Yosef Lender from USA and Edwin Rojas from Puerto Rico and as top seed and group winner he received a bye into the semi-finals. A 3-0 win against Marco Makkar from USA took him into the final where he beat Pathway athlete Ryan Henry 3-0.

“I’m really happy with how I’ve played out here,” said Wilson. “Two consecutive tournament wins is a proud moment for me and hopefully I can build on it for the rest of the season leading up to the European Championships. It was good to play Ryan in the final - he has played well in this competition, and it is nice to see our Pathway and Development players progressing. I’m happy with my performances out here and looking forward to the Europeans now.”

Henry beat Enrique Preza from Mexico 3-0, Renato Saletti from Brazil 3-0 and George Ristollari from USA 3-0 and also received a bye into the semi-finals where he beat Matheus Dutra Barsotti De Freitas from Brazil 3-1 to set up an all-British final against Wilson.

Men’s class 10

Max Flint won 3-1 against Jerry Vasquez from USA and then lost a very close match to Kevin Rivera Rios from Puerto Rica 3-2 after fighting back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2. He progressed to the knockout stages after a walkover against Karim Boumedouha from Algeria and received a bye into the semi-finals where he beat Randall Medcalf from USA 3-0 before losing in the final to Manuel Echaveguren Farias from Chile 3-0.

Shae Thakker topped his group with 3-0 wins against Matthias Yeh from Canada, Randall Medcalf from USA and Ilya Rozenblat from USA. He beat Rivera Rios 3-1 before losing his semi-final to Echaveguren Farias 3-0.

“I’m really pleased to come away with a bronze medal,” said Thakker, “after having a difficult year so far with injuries and the lack of consistent training that comes with that. I don’t think I have shown my best level here, but I gave it my all and I’m proud to compete with this team. The singles tournament has shown me how much I must improve in order to compete with the best players in my class and I am determined to focus on getting back to the level I know I can play and improving further.”

Women’s class 6-8 RR

Grace Williams showed great determination to fight back from 2-0 down to beat Claudia Perez Villalba from Mexico 3-2 and was then beaten 3-0 by former US Open champion Mingyu Zu from USA. She beat Stephanie Chan from Canada 3-0 and had to settle for bronze after a 3-1 loss to Florencia Perez from Chile.

“It’s been a great learning experience for me,” said Williams, “playing against different styles and learning how to play against awkward players. I’m glad to have had this experience going into the European Championships in September.”

Men’s class 3

Romain Simon lost 3-0 to Adjal Yorick from France, gold medallist in the Al-Watani Para Championships, but a 3-0 win against Zachary Wentz from USA took him through to the quarterfinals where he lost a tight match to Ahmed Owolabi Koleosho from Nigeria 3-2.

Men’s class 9

Joe Crouse lost his opening match to World number 12 and former Paralympic champion Tahl Leibovitz from USA 3-0 and did not progress after a 3-0 loss to Lucas Pavez from Chile.

The full list of British athletes competing in the US Open is:

Will Bayley, 35, Tunbridge Wells/Brighton (class 7)

Theo Bishop, 20, Rossendale/Sheffield (class 7)

Joe Crouse, 20, Falmouth (class 9)

Max Flint, 19, Guildford (class 10)

Simon Heaps, 67, Milford-on-Sea (class 5)

Ryan Henry, 23, Ardrossan/Sheffield (class 8)

Jack Hunter-Spivey, 28, Liverpool/Sheffield (class 5)

Chris Ryan, 31, Welwyn Garden City (class 2)

Romain Simon, 34, South Woodford (class 3)

Shae Thakker, 19, High Wycombe/Sheffield (class 10)

Grace Williams, 20, Llanfyllin/Sheffield (class 8)

Ross Wilson, 28, Minster/Sheffield (class 8)

Lee York, 34 – Wakefield (class 4)