Thirteen British players including Tom Matthews (men’s class 1), Paul Karabardak men’s class 6) and Josh Stacey (men’s class 9) are through to today’s knockout stages at the PTT Slovenian Open in Lasko.
In his first match Welshman Matthews battled his way past the experienced Sylvio Keller from Switzerland in five sets, coming back from 9-3 down to win the first 14-12 and eventually taking the deciding set 11-7 after Keller had levelled at 2-2. The first two sets against Sung Joo Park could have gone either way but it was the Korean who took them both 12-10 and the German Open champion went on to take the match 3-0.
“Sylvio has improved massively since I played him in Italy,” said Matthews. “It went to the fifth there as well but I felt a bit more dominant in Italy – he played really well today so I was glad to get through that and get the win. Park was playing really well and I have to take my hat off to him and I’ve just got to come back stronger tomorrow now.”
Paul Karabardak had to use all his experience to beat Matteo Parenzan, the talented 14 year old European Para Youth Games bronze medallist from Italy, 3-1 and then produced some of his best play to beat Danny Bobrov, the 31 year old European team bronze medallist from Israel, 3-0. The 32 year old Welshman showed great character to withstand a fightback from Peter Molander from Sweden in his final match to win 3-1 and clinch top position in his group.
“I’m very happy,” said Karabardak, “because I had some tricky opponents who were playing well. The young Italian boy played really clever but I managed to play tactically well and beat him. I struggled against Bobrov in Italy so to beat him as comfortably as I did when he was playing quite well was probably the most pleasing performance of the day. Molander is a very difficult opponent because he is very aggressive with the pimples he plays with so it is hard to react to what he is doing. I managed to do what I needed to do and work hard and graft the ball back and I was fortunate to come out on top. To win that group is quite pleasing and hopefully I can go further tomorrow.”
Josh Stacey received a walkover in his first match against David Jose Torres Pinto when the Venezuelan team failed to arrive and found the 23 year old World number nine Koyo Iwabuchi too strong in his second match that the Japanese World team silver medallist took 3-0. However, the 18 year old Welshman bounced back with a 3-0 win against David Pulpan from the Czech Republic to secure his place in the last 16.
“Iwabuchi is one of the best players in the world so it would have been better to have had a match before playing him,” said Stacey, “but he was just the better player today and hopefully I can do better tomorrow. I approached the last match very positively because it is obviously very hard to win when you are negative and I was pleased to win 3-0.”
All the singles medals will be decided tomorrow.
The full squad for the PTT Slovenian Open in Lasko (May 9-12) is:
Will Bayley – class 7 (Sheffield/Tunbridge Wells)
Ashley Facey Thompson – class 9 (Sheffield/London)
Jack Hunter-Spivey – class 5 (Sheffield/Liverpool)
Sue Gilroy MBE – class 4 (Barnsley)
Paul Karabardak – class 6 (Swansea)
Tom Matthews – class 1 (Aberdare)
Aaron McKibbin – class 8 (Sheffield/London)
Martin Perry – class 6 (Sheffield/Paisley)
Fliss Pickard – class 6 (Burnley)
Megan Shackleton – class 4 (Todmorden)
Billy Shilton – class 8 (Sheffield/Stonehouse – Gloucester)
Josh Stacey – class 9 (St Mellons)
David Wetherill – class 6 (Torpoint)
Ross Wilson – class 8 (Sheffield/Minster)
For further information and/or photographs please contact the British Para Table Tennis Team press officer Francesca Bullock on 07768 515841 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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