After the completion of the group stages in the doubles events at the Slovenia Para Open in Lasko five British pairs are through to the knockout stages. World champions Paul Karabardak and Billy Shilton are through in men’s class 14 together with Will Bayley and Martin Perry; Joshua Stacey and Ashley Facey and Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson both topped their groups in men’s class 18 and Jack Hunter-Spivey and Megan Shackleton are through in mixed class 10.
MD14 – Group 4
Playing in their first tournament together since winning the World title in Spain last November Billy Shilton and Paul Karabardak made a good start by winning 3-1 against Jiaxin Huang and Chao Chen from China. They secured top place in their group with a 3-0 win against Aleksej Radukic from Serbia and Haris Eminovic from Bosnia Herzegovina.
“Our first match was a really awkward game,” said Shilton. “Obviously we haven’t seen China in a couple of years now and the style was quite awkward for me and for Paul, so I think we did well to come through that. There is a little bit of pressure, but I don’t think it would be any different if we weren’t World champions - me and Paul want to win so much, and I think we are actually playing better now than we were at the Worlds so I’m looking forward to the next matches.”
MD14 – Group 7
Will Bayley and Martin Perry received a walkover in their first match against Alen Becirevic from Slovenia and Domingo Arguello Garcia from Costa Rica and then had to fight hard to come through in five sets against Sam Gustafsson and Jonas Hansson 14-12/5-11/16-14/9-11/11-5.
“We haven’t played together much at all and we worked really well together,” said Bayley. “We are both positive players and we fed off each other. I was worried about playing Sweden as they’ve had good results against us in the past, but Martin was brilliant. Doubles is a different sport and you’ve got to think so much and help your team mate out so much. When I make an attacking shot it might not always be the right shot, so I have to play sometimes slow sometimes fast to help him out and he has to do the same for me and I like that part of it – it’s quite cool.”
“I’m super happy to get through that because Sweden are a good team with an awkward style of play,” said Perry. “It’s been a long time since we played doubles together and it was a good fight from both of us - communication was really strong which is obviously key in doubles, and I think we complement each other really well. I feel that we have another gear to go, and we were only just getting into it as it got to the climax of the match so hopefully we can start better tomorrow and go from there.”
MD18 – Group 5
Joshua Stacey and Ashley Facey started well against Zeev Glikman and Aviv Gordon from Israel but then had to battle back from 2-1 down to win 11-4 in the deciding set. They secured their place in the knockout stages with a 3-1 win against the Swedish pair of Niklas Westerberg and Daniel Gustafsson.
“It was a very awkward game against Israel,” admitted Stacey. “They both had unique rubbers and these tables suit their game as they are a little more ‘skiddy’ and there is not as much bounce so the ball doesn’t sit up for you to hit as much. I definitely think after the third set we turned it back on and took a bit of a foothold in the game and I don’t think they were really able to cope with us after that.”
“The second match was better,” said Facey, “we were on it from the start. We dropped our heads a little bit in the set that we lost but overall, it was pretty good. I never thought that we were going to mess up with our mental side, so it was very good from both of us.”
MD18 – Group 8
Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson won three Paralympic team medals together and were reunited for the first time since Tokyo today. They won 3-0 against Pablo Jacobsen and Steffen Salomonsen from Norway and topped their group with a 3-1 win against Komet Akbar and Banyu Tri Mulyo from Indonesia.
“It is nice to be back with Ross,” said McKibbin. “We haven’t played together recently but our connection was straight back. It is a bit strange because we’ve both improved quite a bit since we last played together so I feel that on the court we are doing things a bit differently than we used to and making less silly errors. Indonesia was a tight game – they have an awkward style and I think we are both physically struggling a bit off the back of the singles. It felt like we needed a bit more energy to pump us up as we both played a lot of matches in the singles so we said, ‘let’s just do the basics and get into a good rhythm’ and I’m looking forward to the knockout stages now.”
XD10 – Group 2
Jack Hunter-Spivey and Megan Shackleton lost their opening match to Cao Ningning and class 5 Paralympic champion Zhang Bian from China 3-0 but then fought back superbly from 2-0 down to beat Jeon Tae-byeong and Moon Sunghye from Korea 3-2, 11-4 in the fifth.
“We just had to dig deep,” said Shackleton. “We know we are both top quality players and there is no reason why we can’t get through those matches, and we fought our way back into it.”
“Me and Meg know each other inside out,” said Hunter-Spivey. “Our styles complement each other’s really well so it’s been quite a good process. We’ve only played two tournaments together, but it seems to be going really well.”
MD4 – Group 3
Tom Matthews and class 3 Yorick Adjal from France started well against class 2 World number two Rafal Czuper and Tomasz Jakimczuk from Poland, taking the first set 11-5 before the World bronze medallists came back to win 3-1. They also took the first set against Uno Masonori and Mitsuhiro Matsuo from Japan but lost the match 3-1.
MD4 – Group 4
Romain Simon and Rob Davies made a promising start to their partnership against Martin Ludrovsky and Jan Riapos from Slovakia, competing well in a 3-1 loss to the World bronze medallists. They won the first set against Guilherme Marcio Da Costa from Brazil and Luis Bustamante Flores from Chile and were just edged out 12-10 in a tight third before the South American pair went on to win 3-1.
“It was really enjoyable playing with Romain and it was really good experience for me as well,” said Davies. “I haven’t played doubles for three or four years so to play with Romain - he is going to be a star of the future for sure - and I just enjoyed myself. I think we were definitely in it especially that last match and it’s looking promising.”
“I’ve learnt a lot from playing with Rob,” said Simon. “He keeps talking to me during the points and helping me in terms of what to do and focus on the balls I’m putting in and the placement especially when it comes to serving so it has been a big help. Obviously, that was our first time playing together and we played against two people who are very experienced and play doubles all the time and we pushed them so it is a good sign and we can take the positives and come back stronger.”
MD8 – Group 6
Jack Hunter-Spivey and Vasyl Petruniv from Ukraine lost their first match to class 5 Tokyo silver medallist Cao Ningning and class 3 World number one Feng Panfeng from China 3-0. They led 2-1 against Aleksandar Jevremovic from Serbia and Tomislav Spalj from Croatia but did not progress after a 3-2 loss.
MD8 – Group 10
Lee York and class 3 Gonzalo Acosta from Uruguay started well against class 4 World number eight Krszysztof Zylka and class 4 World number 10 Rafal Lis, taking the first set before the experienced Polish pair came back to win 3-1. York and Acosta did not progress after a 3-0 loss to Guo Xingyuan and Shi Yanping from China.
MD14 – Group 3
Theo Bishop and class 7 World number six Bjoern Schnake from Germany lost 3-1 to Paulo Salmin Filho and Israel Pereira Stroh from Brazil and went out after a 3-1 loss to Alejandro Diaz and Alberto Seoane Alcaraz from Spain.
WD10 – Group 1
Megan Shackleton and class 3 World number six Carlotta Ragazzini from Italy came very close to a famous win in their first match against Nada Matic and Borislava Peric-Rankovic, leading 2-1 before the World champions from Serbia came back to take the deciding set 11-9. They went out after a 3-1 loss to Tokyo Paralympic team bronze medallists Helena Dretar Karic and Andela Muzinic Vincetic from Croatia.
WD14 – Group 4
World champions Fliss Pickard and Grace Williams lost a tough first match against Jin Yucheng and Mao Jingdian from China 3-0. They started well against class 8 Lethicia Lacerda from Brazil and class 6 World number one Maryna Lytovchenko from Ukraine, taking the first set 11-6 and led 2-1 but it came down to a deciding set. Pickard and Williams fought back from 8-4 down to level at 9-9 but the Brazilian/Ukrainian pair just had the edge and took it 11-9 and the match 3-2.
XD4 – Group 5
Romain Simon and Mao Lin from China played well against Federico Falco and Carlotta Ragazzini taking the second set 11-9 to level at 1-1 before the experienced Italian pair went on to win the match 3-1. They won their second match against Hiroaki Shimanari from Japan and Chagit Brill from Israel 3-0 but went out after a 3-0 loss to Thirayu Chueawong and Chilchitraryak Bootswansirina from Thailand.
XD10 – Group 4
Lee York and class 4 World number five Bhavina Patel from India lost 3-0 to former World champion Ali Ozturk and class 4 World bronze medallist Irem Oluk from Turkey and then lost a close match to Tatok Hardiyanto and Leli Marlina from Indonesia 3-2, having fought back well to level at 2-2. They did not progress after a 3-0 loss to class 3 World number 10 Jang Yeongjin and class 5 World number one Jung Young A from Korea.
In their first match Ross Wilson and Fliss Pickard led 1-0 but Theo Bishop and his Swedish partner class 6 World number 10 Cajsa Stadler from Sweden came back to take the match 3-1. Wilson and Pickard lost a tight first set to Maksym Chudzicki from Poland and Stephanie Grebe from Germany 13-11 and although they took the third set 11-6 they lost 11-7 in the fourth. Although they did not progress they finished on a high with a 3-2 win against Liao Keli and Jin Yucheng from China.
Bishop and Stadler also went out after a 3-1 loss to Liao and Jin and a 3-0 loss to Chudzicki and Grebe.