Teenager Bly Twomey followed her European Championship bronze medal earlier this month by taking silver in the women’s class 7 singles at the Finland Para Open today, while Megan Shackleton took bronze in the women’s class 3-5 singles.
Theo Bishop and Chris Ryan continued to show their progress with wins against higher ranked opponents and teenagers Daniel Thomson and Jacob Wicks picked up wins on their international debuts.
Women’s class 7
Six months after making her international debut 13-year-old Bly Twomey is already ranked World number nine in the world and she made a confident start with a 3-0 win against Tiziana Oliv from Germany. She then beat 14-year-old Manuela Mazuera Londono, the Youth Parapan American Games bronze medallist from Colombia, 3-0, and secured top place in her group with a 3-0 win against Raushan Orynbayeva from Kazakhstan before progressing to the final with a 3-0 semi-final win against Pilar Gonzalez from Spain, bronze medallist in the Costa Brava Spanish Open earlier this year.
Twomey beat Smilla Sand in the European Championship, but this was her first final and the World number seven from Sweden, silver medallist in Italy and Czechia this year, raced into a 5-1 lead and although Twomey levelled at 6-6 Sand took the first set 11-7. To her credit Twomey was undeterred and having levelled at 1-1 she took the third set 11-9 and at 3-1 down in the fourth Sand took a time out. It worked in her favour as she took the set 11-8 to level at 2-2. From 7-4 down in the deciding set Twomey kept fighting and levelled at 7-7 but the greater experience of 21-year-old Sand proved decisive and she took the set 11-9 and the match 3-2.
Women’s class 3-5
In her first match Megan Shackleton came up against Sandra Mikolaschek in top form and the World number two from Germany was a 3-0 winner. The 24-year-old from Todmorden had to show all her fighting qualities and determination to overcome Flora Vautier from France in her final group match, fighting back from 2-1 down to take the match 3-2, 11-6 in the fifth. That took her through to a semi-final against World number seven Joyce De Oliveira and she made a great start, taking the first set 11-2, but the three-time PanAmerican champion from Brazil came back to take the match 3-1.
“I’m disappointed with my semi-final,” said Shackleton. “I made such a good start but then I think I lost a little bit of momentum and struggled with the flatter balls from Joyce. But I can take the positives from my last group match against Vautier to come through 3-2 and show good character to get through to the knockout stages from being 2-1 down.”
Men’s class 2
Chris Ryan took a set off Federico Crosara in the European Championships in Sheffield earlier this month and he again pushed the World number seven hard, taking the second set 11-9 to level at 1-1 before the Italian used all his experience to take the match 3-1. Ryan lost the first set against Miguel Angel Toledo but recovered to beat the experienced World and European doubles medallist from Spain 3-1 and with Toledo beating Crosara 3-1 group 3 was decided on countback and the former GB wheelchair rugby captain was unlucky to miss out on a place in the knockout stages by the narrowest of margins on points scored.
In group 1 Andrew Guy lost his first match to World number 10 Guilherme Marcio Da Costa from Brazil and went out after a 3-1 loss to Boris Stoiljkovic from Serbia.
Men’s class 6
On his international debut Jacob Wicks fought hard against Marco Bove from Italy, taking the third set 12-10 before losing the match 3-1. The Welsh teenager registered his first international win by beating the veteran Markku Manner from Finland 3-0 and then pushed the experienced Valentin Kneuss from Switzerland all the way despite a 3-0 loss (11-6/16-14/17-15) which left him third in the group and he did not progress to the knockout stages.
Men’s class 7
Theo Bishop lost a tight first set to Sweden’s World number 16 Jonas Hansson 13-11 but came back to beat the gold medallist in this year’s Polish Open 3-1 and then finished top of group 3 after a 3-0 win against Pablo Romero Parreno from Spain. He received a bye into the quarterfinals where he faced World number 21 Hiromoto Kita from Japan. The bronze medallist in the Japan Para Open twice levelled at 1-1 and 2-2 and then edged the deciding set 12-10 to take the match.
Daniel Thomson lost his first match in group 6 against Paulo Fonseca from Brazil 3-0 but secured his first international win on his debut by beating Patrick Vanvooren from Belgium 3-0. The 18-year-old from Brighton did not progress after a 3-0 loss to former European bronze medallist Daniel Horut from Czechia.
Men’s class 9
Self-funding Craig Allen had a tough first match against two-time World and Paralympic champion Laurens Devos and the Belgian, who won his fourth consecutive European title in Sheffield, was a 3-0 winner. Allen then beat Nuno Pontes Brandao from Portugal 3-1, taking the match 12-10 in the fourth, and edged a first close set against David Pulpan 14-12 but did not progress after the Czech player came back to take the match 3-1.
Men’s class 10 RR
Shae Thakker started well in his first match against Mio Wagner and led 2-0 but the 16-year-old German, gold medallist in the Al-Watani Para Championships last year, came back to take the match 3-2. The 20-year-old psychology student was beaten 3-0 by Mateo Boheas, the World number four from France, and made a good start against Alvaro Puerto Alvarez, taking the first set and then levelling at 2-2 after the Colombian had taken a 2-1 lead. Thakker led 7-4 in the fifth but Puerto Alvarez levelled at 7-7 and 9-9 and with the help of a net cord clinched the set 11-9 and the match 3-2. That effectively decided the bronze medal, but Thakker finished on a high and in fourth place with a hard-fought 3-2 win against Santiago Ramirez from Colombia, recovering from losing a tight fourth set 13-11 to take the deciding set 11-3.
Women’s class 1 RR
Beth Kyte could not have had a tougher introduction to international competition, and she was beaten 3-0 by World number two and World silver medallist Aino Tapola from Finland, 3-0 by the World number three and European silver medallist Jana Spegel from Germany and 3-0 by World number seven Janina Sommer from Germany, European silver medallist in 2019.
The tournament continues with the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles events that conclude tomorrow.