Shackleton wins second consecutive singles title in Brazil

Shackleton wins second consecutive singles title in Brazil

Megan Shackleton followed up her gold medal winning performance at last month’s US Para Open by taking gold in the women’s class 4-5 singles at the ITTF Brazilian Para Open in Sao Paulo today. Former GB wheelchair rugby captain Chris Ryan reached his first final only 10 months after making his international debut, taking silver in men’s class 2 and Ashley Facey took bronze in men’s class 9.

Women’s class 4-5

Megan Shackleton was a 3-0 winner against Nayla Soledad Kuell, the class 5 Para PanAmerican Games silver medallist from Argentina, and after edging a tight first set against Tamara Isabell Leonelli Leonelli 15-13 she completed a 3-0 win against the class 5 World number 13 and three-time Para PanAmerican champion from Chile.

In the semi-final she faced Caroline Tabib, the class 5 World number eight and 2018 World bronze medallist from Israel. The pair met in the final of the US Open last month when Shackleton won 11-9 in the fifth and she edged it again today, fighting back from 2-1 down to win 11-7 in the fifth.

That took her through to the final against Flora Vautier, the class 4 World number 10 and European doubles bronze medallist. Shackleton and Vautier combined to win doubles gold in the Finland Para Open last year and Shackleton had won their two previous meetings, most recently in Finland last year in five sets. After dropping the first set she took the next two but the 19-year-old Frenchwoman forced a decider that Shackleton took 11-7 for a 3-2 win.

“Winning here in Brazil feels so nice,” said Shackleton, “especially after a great tournament in the US Open a couple of weeks ago. I’ve managed to pull through some tricky situations and kept building on my form and finding more fighting spirit with each match, which in the end I think really helps with confidence in those tight moments.

“My match with Caroline felt difficult but I found a way to win even when I didn’t feel I was playing so well, which was a great experience and I think that helped me dig deep in the tough moments against Flora.”

Men’s class 2

Chris Ryan lost his opening match 3-0 to the World number five Luis Rodrigo Bustamante Flores from Chile, the Para PanAmerican Games champion, but secured second place in the group by fighting back from 2-1 down to win 3-2 against Iranildo Conceicao Espindola, the former five-time Para PanAmerican champion and Rio 2016 Paralympic team bronze medallist from Brazil.

In the semi-final he faced another Brazilian in Guilherme Marcio Da Costa, the World number 10 and Para PanAmerican Games silver medallist. On Ryan’s international debut in the Costa Brava Spanish Open last March, he lost 3-0 to Marcio Da Costa and the Englishman’s significant progress over the past 10 months was underlined in a battling 3-2 win, 11-8 in the fifth.

That win earned him a place in his first final and a rematch against Bustamante Flores and he pushed the Chilean harder on this occasion, levelling at 1-1 before the greater experience of the World number five proved decisive in a 3-1 win.

“It’s been an amazing week,” said Ryan, “and I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved even though it was a step too far in the final. I feel that this is the first time I’ve played like I can in training for a consistent period. There are a couple of things I can work on to take it to the next level and I can’t wait to build on this performance.”

Men’s class 9

Ashley Facey, gold medallist in the US Open last month, edged a tight first set against David Letelier Poblete 16-14 and went on to complete a 3-0 win against the ITTF Copa Tango 2023 gold medallist from Chile. Facey had won his most recent meeting with World number six Ander Cepas in five sets in the French Open last November and it was close again here with Facey leading 2-1 before the European doubles bronze medallist from Spain, gold medallist in Spain, Poland, Korea and Thailand last year, came back to take the match 11-8 in the fifth. The Londoner, who turned 29 on the eve of this tournament, secured his place in the knockout stages with a 3-0 win against Mario Luis Costa Ribeiro from Brazil, bronze medallist in last year’s Brazilian Open.

A 3-0 win against another Brazilian Lucas Dos Santos Carvalho, the Para PanAmerican Games silver medallist, set up a semi-final against World number 11 Jorge Cardona and the former World and Paralympic team medallist from Spain was a 3-0 winner.

“I’m not really happy with how the tournament has gone,” said Facey. “The match against Cepas was very close and could have gone either way and I did well in the quarterfinal, but I really struggled with the humid conditions in the hall and I couldn’t play my game in the semi-final. I tried to change things but it wasn’t great so I’m not happy, but I’ve got to focus on the doubles now.”

Men’s class 7

Theo Bishop was beaten 3-1 by the Brazilian World number six Israel Pereira Stroh, the Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medallist and defending champion but a 3-0 win against last year’s Czech Para Open silver medallist Sam Gustafsson from Sweden, secured 15-13 in the third, left him top of the group with Gustafsson beating Pereira Stroh 3-1. Bishop was unlucky to be drawn against the hugely experienced Jordi Morales in the quarterfinals and although he was just edged out in the first set and levelled the match at 1-1 the former World champion and current World number 10 from Spain was too strong in a 3-1 win.

Women’s class 8

Grace Williams lost her opening match to the World number six Sophia Kelmer, the Youth Parapan American Games gold medallist and Para PanAmerican silver medallist from Brazil 3-0 but secured her place in the quarterfinals with a 3-0 win against another Brazilian Raquel Alves Santos. She went out in the quarterfinals after a 3-0 loss to Lethicia Lacerda, the 21-year-old Para PanAmerican bronze medallist from Brazil.

The tournament continues with the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles events which conclude on Sunday.