Nine British players fighting for singles medals in Czech Open

At the end of the first day of competition in the PTT Czech Open in Ostrava nine British players are still in the hunt for medals in their respective singles events, including Paralympic champion Rob Davies, who won his three group matches, and fellow Welshman and Commonwealth medallist Josh Stacey who was impressive in winning his three group matches without dropping a set.

Men’s class 1: Rob Davies was a comfortable 3-0 winner against Sylvio Keller from Switzerland but had to battle hard in his next match against the talented young Italian Federico Falco before coming through 11-8 in the fifth. He secured top place in his group and a bye into the semi-finals with a 3-0 win against Kristof Oszlanczi from Hungary.

Tom Matthews started with a 3-0 win against the Hungarian Janos Kaiser and then lost in three close sets to Young Dae Joo, the World number one and World and Paralympic silver medallist from Korea. He plays World champion Hyeon Uk Kim from Korea in the quarter-finals after winning his final group match against Marian Kamien from Slovakia 3-0.

Paul Davies brought back memories of his bronze medal winning match in London 2012 by coming back from 2-1 down to beat Kim 3-2 in his first group match but he lost out on a place in the knockout stages on countback after a 3-1 loss to defending champion Endre Major from Hungary.

Men’s class 5: Jack Hunter-Spivey was a 3-1 winner in his first match against 15 year old Isak Anders Nyholm from Sweden but was then beaten 3-1 by Nicolas Savant-Aira, the former European champion from France. He reached the quarter-finals with a 3-0 win against the Russian Alexander Abolmasov and plays the Serbian Mitar Palikuca tomorrow.

Men’s class 6: Martin Perry recovered from losing the first set to beat Junki Itai from Japan 3-1 and then fought back from 2-0 down against Raimondo Alecci to beat the experienced Italian 11-6 in the fifth. He finished top of his group with a 3-0 win against Conor O’Callaghan from Ireland and received a bye into the quarter-finals.

Men’s class 8: Billy Shilton beat Yordan Mitev from Bulgaria 3-0 and was then given a tough match by Banyu Tri Mulyo from Indonesia, eventually winning 14-12 in the fourth after dropping the first set. He secured top place in his group with a 3-0 win against the Romanian Alyn Nicolae and then reached the quarter-finals with a 3-0 win against Leonardo Aritonang from Indonesia in the last 16.

Men’s class 9: Josh Stacey topped his group and earned a bye into the semi-finals with 3-0 wins against Kusnanto from Indonesia, David Pulpan from Czech Republic and the German Laurenz Fehling. He was joined in the knockout stages by Ashley Facey Thompson who won his first match against Sukij Samee from Thailand 3-0 but, after starting well against the experienced former World number four from Hungary Dezso Bereczki, lost the match 3-1. Facey Thompson secured his place in the quarter-finals with a 3-0 win in his final group match against Elias Monden from Germany.

Women’s class 4: Megan Shackleton was a 3-0 winner against Kristina Arancic from Serbia and then had another great battle against her old rival Aleksandra Vasileva which the Russian edged 3-2 after Shackleton had twice fought back to level. The 20 year old from Todmorden was a 3-0 winner in her final group match against Jelena Sisic from Croatia and then put up a good performance to beat Lu Pi-chun, the World Championships team silver medallist and World number 11 from Chinese Taipei, 3-1 in the quarter-finals.

Women’s class 6: Fliss Pickard began the round-robin event with a 3-0 win against the German Celine Pistora before coming through in five sets against Svetlana Nesterenko after the Russian had fought back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2. She went on to beat another Russian Fatma Fattakhova 3-1 and will take gold if she can beat the former World champion Katarzyna Marszal from Poland in her final match tomorrow.

Also competing in Ostrava are four members of the British Pathway and Development squads.

In men’s class 8 Ryan Henry lost nothing in a 3-0 defeat to Marcin Skrzynecki from Poland, the former World and Paralympic team gold medallist, but was then beaten 3-1 by 15 year old Anton Grankvist from Sweden. A 3-1 win against Samuel De Chiara from Italy in his final match left Henry level on points with his Swedish and Italian opponents but it was De Chiara who joined Skrzynecki in the knockout stages on countback.

Alex Bland lost 3-0 to Chalermpong Punpoo, the Asian championships bronze medallist from Thailand, but a hard-fought 3-1 win against the Austrian Christian Scheiber took him through to the last 16 of men’s class 7 where he lost 3-1 to the Polish Open silver medallist Maksym Chudzicki.

Lucie Bouron had a tough first match against Jiyu Yoon from Korea and the World number three took the match 3-0. The 24 year old from Bracknell went out of women’s class 3 after a 3-1 loss to Sanja Mijatovic from Serbia.

In men’s class 2 Noel Thomas was beaten 3-0 by the two-time Paralympic champion and former World number one Jan Riapos from Slovakia and 3-0 by Martin Zvolanek from Czech Republic.

The full British squad for the PTT Czech Open is:

Alex Bland, 20, Rotherham (men’s class 7)
Lucie Bouron, 24, Bracknell (women’s class 3)
Paul Davies, 52, North Cornelly (men’s class 1)
Rob Davies, 35, Brecon (men’s class 1)
Ashley Facey Thompson, 24, London/Sheffield (men’s class 9)
Ryan Henry, 19, Ardrossan (men’s class 8)
Jack Hunter-Spivey, 24, Liverpool/Sheffield (men’s class 5)
Tom Matthews, 27, Aberdare (men’s class 1)
Martin Perry, 25, Paisley/Sheffield (men’s class 6)
Fliss Pickard, 25, Burnley/Sheffield (women’s class 6)
Megan Shackleton, 20, Todmorden/Sheffield (women’s class 4)
Billy Shilton, 20, Stonehouse/Sheffield (men’s class 8)
Joshua Stacey, 19, Cardiff/Sheffield (men’s class 9)
Noel Thomas, 39, Redcar (men’s class 2)

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