National titles for Hunter-Spivey, Wilson and Stacey

National titles for Hunter-Spivey, Wilson and Stacey

Jack Hunter-Spivey and Ross Wilson took the honours in the Para classes at the Mark Bates Ltd Table Tennis England Senior National Championships in Nottingham, winning the Class 2-5 and Class 6-10 finals respectively, and at the Butterfly Welsh National Championships in Cardiff Joshua Stacey regained his Para Standing title.

Para class 2-5

In group 1 Jack Hunter-Spivey beat Romain Simon 3-1 but was then frustrated by some great play from Chris Ryan, which included a series of perfectly executed tetraloops as the former GB wheelchair rugby captain fought back from 2-0 down to claim a notable win 3-2. With Simon beating Ryan 3-1 the group was decided on countback with Hunter-Spivey going through to the final.

In group 2 after both Megan Shackleton and Simon Heaps had beaten Thomas Hepburn 3-0 it came down to the last match with Shackleton coming back from 10-6 down to take the fourth 12-10 and beat Heaps 3-1.

In the final Hunter-Spivey took the first 11-8 and although Shackleton fought hard and had chances at 10-8 a lucky net cord secured the set for Hunter-Spivey 12-10, and he went on to complete a 3-0 win 11-5.

Acknowledging the strength of the opposition this year in an event he has dominated in the past, Hunter-Spivey said: “I think Para table tennis not just in this country but around the world is growing at an incredible rate. For me personally to play different players in front of a crowd like this is credit to how the sport is progressing and a credit to the way we’re supported by UK Sport and Lottery funding and the work that British Para table tennis has done to get a strong squad and community around Para table tennis.”

Hunter-Spivey and Shackleton both now head to Poland for the final tournament of the Paralympic qualification period.

“If I do OK I’ve got a good chance of getting selected,” said Hunter-Spivey, “so we’ll have to wait and see. But I’m feeling good and feeling strong and well prepped off the back of this now. Winning a medal for your country at the Paralympic Games is the absolute pinnacle of what we do and if I can do it again it would be a great honour and a dream come true.”

Para class 6-10

Having played superbly to reach the last 16 in the men’s singles defending champion Ashley Facey withdrew injured after beating Theo Bishop 3-1 which meant that Ross Wilson received a walkover and progressed to the final after beating Bishop 3-0.

In group 2 Aaron McKibbin came through with 3-0 wins against Max Flint and Billy Shilton to face Wilson in the final. In a high-quality match Wilson took the first set 11-8 but McKibbin led 8-4 in the second before Wilson came back to take it 12-10 and was always in control in the third, taking it 11-7 on his third match point.

“We know each other so well so it is always a tricky game against Aaron but really enjoyable,” said Wilson, who was regaining the title he won in 2020. “I guess it is who can show up and perform on the day and today luckily that was me.”

Having taken gold in the USA and Italy this year McKibbin is assured of Paralympic qualification, but Wilson is also heading to Poland tomorrow hoping to secure his place in Paris.

“Qualification is still pretty tricky,” he said, “so hopefully all goes well in Poland and we’ll see what we can do in Paris.”

An entertaining Para 2-5 showcase doubles match was won by Chris Ryan and Romain Simon. European silver medallists Hunter-Spivey and Shackleton appeared to be in control at 2-1 but Ryan and Simon edged the fourth 12-10 with some smart tactical play and took the deciding set 11-7. In the Para 6-10 showcase doubles Billy Shilton and Max Flint combined to beat Ross Wilson and Theo Bishop 3-1.

In the Butterfly Welsh National Championships Joshua Stacey took gold in the Para class 6-10 with Grace Williams taking silver and Jacob Wicks bronze.