Second gold for Facey in US Open doubles

Second gold for Facey in US Open doubles

Ashley Facey won his second gold medal at the ITTF US Para Open in Corpus Christi, Texas, combining with Joshua Stacey to win the men’s class 18 doubles. On the final day of competition World champions Billy Shilton and Paul Karabardak bounced back from a disappointing European Championships to take silver in men’s class 14, Megan Shackleton won silver with Mexican Martha Verdin in women’s class 10 and combined with Jack Hunter-Spivey to take silver in mixed class 10. Hunter-Spivey also took bronze in men’s class 8 with Romain Simon and there were further bronze medals for Aaron McKibbin and Martin Perry in men’s class 14 and Chris Ryan with Slovakian partner Jan Riapos in men’s class 4.

Men’s class 18

After taking gold and silver in the men’s class 9 singles Ashley Facey and Joshua Stacey won 3-0 against Samuel Chang Huang from USA and Javier De Leon from Guatemala and 3-0 against Hu Ming-Fu and Lin Chung Ting from Chinese Taipei. As group winners and number one seeds they received a bye into the semi-finals where after a slow start they had to fight hard to come through a five set battle against the Asian Para Games bronze medallists Chalermpong Punpoo and Bunpot Sillapakong from Thailand, 11-9 in the deciding set.

In the final they faced Arufuahirokazu Tateishi from Japan and Su Jin Sian from Chinese Taipei and after dropping the first set they recovered well to win 3-1 and take the gold.

“I think the doubles wasn’t our best performance in comparison to previous events we’ve played,” said Stacey, “but I think sometimes it is good to not play your best and still be able to get the win. Obviously pleased to have won. The semi-final was difficult, so it was good to get over the line against them and in the final I think the first set we just leaked a couple of mistakes early on and they ran away with it but we switched it back on in the next three sets and won relatively comfortably.”

“It was good to play with Josh again,” said Facey. “We didn’t play so well, and the semi-final was tough but Thailand played really well.  We started slowly in the final but then we picked it back up and hopefully we can carry on as a team together for the future.”

Men’s class 14

In group 1 Aaron McKibbin and Martin Perry won 3-0 against the American pair of Yosef Lender and Tristan Myrick and took the first set against the Asian Para Games champions Rungroj Thainiyom and Phisit Wangphonphathanasiri before the pair from Thailand came back to win 3-1. McKibbin and Perry secured second place in the group with a 3-0 win against Matthew Britz from New Zealand and Mathew Weber from USA.

Billy Shilton and Paul Karabardak were 3-0 winners against GB teammate Theo Bishop and Takuro Chihara from Japan and then beat the experienced class 7 French pair of Kevin Dourbecker and Stephane Messi 3-1, 14-12 in the fourth. They won group 2 with a 3-0 win against Samuel Altshuler from USA and Enrique Preza from Mexico to set up an all-GB semi-final against McKibbin and Perry.

McKibbin and Perry took the first set and Shilton and Karabardak came back to level before taking a tight third set 12-10 and completing a 3-1 win, 11-6 in the fourth. In the final they faced Thainiyom and Wangphonphathanasiri in a replay of the 2022 World Championship final that the GB pair won in four sets. Shilton and Karabardak edged the first set 17-15 but Thainiyom and Wangphonphathanasiri took the second 12-10 to level and went on to take the next two sets 11-7 11-9 for a 3-1 win.

“I’m pleased to start the doubles season with a silver,” said Shilton. “I think this is the best Paul and me have felt as a pair since the World Championships. We seem to have a much better understanding of each other now and what we need to do to be successful. We played well in the final and the match could have gone either way but credit to them they are a great pair.”

“We have struggled since winning the Worlds,” acknowledged Karabardak, “so it was great to be playing well again. The final was really tight and I think we played some great stuff but just lacked a bit in the big moments. I think there were good signs for us moving forward and I’m really pleased with the way we played. Silver is a good result even though we wanted more.”

Bishop and Chihara did not progress after losing 3-0 to Dourbecker and Messi and 3-2 to Altshuler and Preza.

Men’s class 4

Chris Ryan teamed up with the class two World bronze medallist and former two-time Paralympic champion Jan Riapos and they made a good start in their first match taking the first set against class 1 World champion Nam Kiwon and class two World number three Park Jin Cheol 11-9 but the Korean pair came back to win 3-1. Ryan and Riapos secured their place in the semi-finals with a 3-0 win against the American/Canadian partnership of Michael Godfrey and Robert Cloutier but had to settle for bronze after a 3-0 loss to Para PanAmerican Games champions Guilherme Marcio Da Costa and Iranildo Conceicao Espindola from Brazil.

“Ultimately it’s been a tough week,” said Ryan, “but I’ve been able to play against more high-level players and have some new things I need to work on. It was great playing with Riapos. He gave me a few tips and it was a privilege to play with one of the legends of the game.”

Men’s class 8

Jack Hunter-Spivey and Pathway athlete Romain Simon lost their opening match to Yin Chien-ping and class 5 World number two Cheng Ming-Chih from Chinese Taipei 3-0 but kept themselves in contention with a 3-0 win against Muhammad Mudassar and Mohsin Ali Watto from Canada. A 3-0 win in their final group match against Tetsuya Tamatsu and Genki Saito from Japan took them into the semi-finals and they too had to settle for bronze after a 3-0 loss to Francois Geuljans from France and Ahad Bakshaei Sarand from USA.

“Overall, I’d say my tournament had some ups and downs,” said Simon, “with some good moments but also some areas where I felt I could have done better. It’s a good foundation to work from and try to believe more in my ability. Playing with Jack really helped me especially in the pressurised moments and I felt a lot more comfortable playing with him. He also helped me prepare for the mental aspects of the matches as well as the physical.”

Women’s class 10 RR

Megan Shackleton and Martha Verdin, the former PanAmerican champion from Mexico were 3-0 winners against Valerie Ann Rolph and Liu Wei from USA but then lost 3-0 to Panwas and Wassana Sringam from Thailand. They secured the silver medal with a 3-1 win against Patamawadee Intanon from Thailand and Pamela Fontaine from USA in their final round-robin match.

Mixed class 10 RR

Jack Hunter-Spivey and Megan Shackleton lost 3-1 to Kittinan Harnpichai and Panwas Sringam from Thailand and then beat Jose Antonio Rodriguez and Valerie Ann Rolph from USA 3-0. They took silver after a 3-0 win in their final round-robin match against Zachary Pickett and Liu Wei from USA.

“It’s been a good start to the year,” said Shackleton, “and plenty to build on going into Brazil at the end of the month. Hopefully I can get some good results there as well.”

“It’s always great to play with Meg,” said Hunter-Spivey. “I thought we played OK and had chances to take the gold but it’s good to build on the back of a good season last year and I’m looking forward to the next tournament.”