Five British players through to singles semi-finals in Spain
Five players including men’s class 8 World and Commonwealth champion Ross Wilson are through to the semi-finals of their respective singles events in the Costa Brava Spanish Para Open in Platja d’Aro. Wilson is joined by Billy Shilton (men’s class 8), Joshua Stacey (men’s class 9), Sue Bailey (women’s class 4-5) and Fliss Pickard (women’s class 6) while Martin Perry (men’s class 6), Aaron McKibbin (men’s class 8) and Grace Williams (women’s class 7-8) all progressed from their groups but lost in the quarterfinals.
Men’s class 8
Top seed Wilson began with a comfortable 3-0 win against 23-year-old Spaniard Ricard Sabio Ruiz and secured top place in group 1 with a 3-0 win against the Tokyo Paralympic team silver medallist Nathan Pellissier from Australia, although he had to fight back from 8-1 down in the third set before taking it 13-11. He made a good start to his quarterfinal against the Frenchman Thomas Bouvais winning the first set 11-4 but was pushed all the way in the second by the former World number two before edging it 14-12. He secured a 3-0 win by taking the third set 11-5 and will play another Frenchman Clement Berthier in the semi-finals tomorrow.
McKibbin also got off to a good start with a 3-0 win against Marco Makkar, the PanAmerican Championships team silver medallist, and took top place in group 2 with a 3-0 win against Gyula Zborai, the World and European team medallist from Hungary. His quarterfinal opponent was Piotr Grudzien the former World and Paralympic team gold medallist who had won their last meeting in Tokyo 3-0. It was much closer today and McKibbin led 2-1 but the Polish former World number one came back strongly to win the match 3-2.
Shilton lost a close opening set to the unranked Spaniard Alejandro Diaz, the 19-year-old who took bronze on his debut at the Costa Brava Spanish Open in 2021, but fought back well to edge a close second set 11-9 and went on to take the match 3-1. He then put up a great performance to beat the Rio Paralympic silver medallist Andras Csonka from Hungary 3-0, clinching the match 12-10 in the third. In his final match he faced Borna Zohil and after some great play the 15-year-old from Croatia led 2-0 but Shilton fought his way back into the match to level at 2-2 and took the deciding set 11-8 to book his place in the quarterfinals where he took on Andrianus Van Amerongen. He lost the first set to the Dutchman 11-9 but came back to win the next three 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 to progress to the semi-finals where he will play Grudzien.
Men’s class 9
Stacey faced a set point in the third set against Lucas Dos Santos Carvalho from Brazil but came through 13-11 to secure a 3-0 win against the 22-year-old PanAmerican bronze medallist. In his second match he faced Lucas Didier, the 18-year-old Frenchman who won gold in the French Open last November, and the Welshman dropped the third set but went on to take the match 3-1. Stacey looked sharp in winning the first set against the unranked Ho Ka Sing 11-5 but the 54-year-old from Hong Kong came back from 8-4 down to win the second before his young opponent took control of the match to take the next two sets 11-6, 11-4 and secure his place in the semi-finals as the winner of group 2. He plays the Chinese former World number one Ma Lin who now represents Australia.
Women’s class 4-5
Bailey started with a 3-0 win against Cristina Rubio from Spain, the 32-year-old bronze medallist in last year’s Costa Brava Spanish Open. She then put up a brave fight against the class 5 World champion Kang Oejeong, coming back from 2-0 down to take a titanic third set 17-15 on her eighth set point and then level at 2-2. Bailey had match point at 10-9 in the fifth but the Korean took the set 12-10 and the match 3-2. The 49-year-old schoolteacher from Barnsley recovered from the disappointment of losing such a close match to beat the Oceania champion Lisa Di Toro 3-1 in her final group match and clinch her place in the semi-finals tomorrow where she will play Moon Sung-hae from Korea.
Women’s class 6
Pickard, who is defending her singles title here, began with a comfortable 3-0 win against the unranked 15-year-old from Spain Ariadna Ardevol. She had to fight much harder against Morgen Caillaud, the 20-year-old World number 8 from France who levelled the match at 1-1 before Pickard took the next two sets 11-8, 11-9 to move into the semi-finals tomorrow. She plays Park Nam-mi from Korea.
Men’s class 6
Perry was a 3-0 winner against Mario Bastardo, the 19-year-old from Portugal who was making his international debut, before facing old rival Kazuki Shichino from Japan. The 23-year-old had defeated Perry - and ended his dreams of competing in Tokyo - on his way to taking silver in the World Qualification Tournament last summer but the Scotsman had avenged that defeat in the French Open last November. Today it was Shichino who had the edge in a 3-1 win although Perry took second place in the group and went through to the quarterfinals against another familiar opponent Esteban Herrault, who beat Perry on his way to winning gold here and in France last year. Perry had chances to win the first set before the Frenchman edged it 14-12 and came back to take the second 11-7 but Herrault proved just too strong in a 3-1 win.
Women’s class 7-8
Grace Williams had a tough start against one of the legends of Para table tennis Kelly Van Zon from Netherlands but the teenager from Wrexham put up a good fight despite losing 3-1 to the women’s class 7 Paralympic, World and European champion. She secured second place in group 1 with a 3-1 win against 23-year-old Pilar Gonzalez from Spain but was beaten 3-0 in the quarterfinals by the very experienced class 8 world number seven Zsofia Arloy from Hungary, the three-time European bronze medallist who won the women’s class 8 singles at the World Qualification Tournament last June.