Slovenia Open silver for Facey Thompson
PUBLISHED: 11:30 08 May 2017
Newham youngster among medals for GB Para Table Tennis team
Newham’s Ashley Facey Thompson won silver for the Great Britain Para Table Tennis team at the Slovenia Open.
Facey Thompson’s class nine success was one of six medals won in singles events by British players, with Paralympic champion Rob Davies (class one) and Paralympic team bronze medalist Aaron McKibbin (class eight) also winning silvers.
There were bronze medals for Paralympic champion Will Bayley (class seven), Jack Hunter-Spivey (class five) and David Wetherill (class six).
Facey Thompson rallied superbly to beat Pawel Konstantyn from Poland from 2-1 down in their quarter-final.
The 22-year-old London South Bank University student then reached the final with a 3-0 win over the 16-year-old Ukrainian Lev Kats before finding the experienced Iurii Nozdrunov in top form, with the Russian former world number two taking the match 12-10 in the third.
“I gave him too much respect,” said Facey Thompson. “To get to the final gives me a lot of confidence in my game and there are things to improve when I am training full time.
“I’ve had to fight a lot this week and I feel I can be better ability-wise but I haven’t been training as much so it has been hard. I’m looking forward to Germany and finishing Uni so I can just focus on table tennis and see what happens.”
Davies came through his semi-final against the young Italian Federico Falco 3-0 but could not find his game against the more experienced Italian Andrea Borgato, who has been in great form at this tournament.
The world number nine took the first two sets comfortably and although Davies fought back in the third the Italian edged it 12-10 to take the gold.
“He (Borgato) played really well to be fair,” said Davies. “He had really good touch and I wasn’t really at the races and that was the difference at the end of the day. I wasn’t that confident coming in here so I’m more than happy with getting to the final.
“I’m disappointed with the final match but I know I am going to come back stronger ready for my next competition in Germany and my main target is the Europeans in September so that is what I am heading for and that is where I want to be winning the tournament.”
McKibbin showed all his character to battle his way to the final, first against the talented 18 year old Russian Artem Iakovlev in the quarter-final, coming from 2-1 down to win the match 11-8 in the fifth.
And in the semi-final he fought back from 2-0 down against Mathieu Loicq from Belgium to beat the former World and Paralympic champion 11-9 in the fifth, before losing the final to the world champion and world number one Viktor Didukh 3-0.
“I can’t be disappointed,” said the 25-year-lod Sheffield-based Londoner.
“I’ve reached the final and it is something to build on. Loicq has had good wins here and beat Csonka who was the silver medallist in Rio so he is in good form.
I’ve had a few five set matches at this tournament and felt in control the whole way through so even when I was 2-0 down I believed in myself that I could do it, so I was happy to get the result.”
After winning his quarter-final against Daniel Horut from the Czech Republic 3-1, Bayley came up against the former European champion Mykhaylo Popov.
The two have had some great battles in the past and it was the Ukrainian who proved just the stronger in a 3-2 win, taking it 11-9 in the fifth.
“He played really well and it is difficult for me, because he really attacks hard and strong,” said Bayley.
“He probably deserved to win but it was a good battle and I’ll be back stronger next time. I’ve been working on my fitness because this is my first tournament after Rio and I just wanted to get some match practice in as I haven’t played many matches.
“I knew that my level wasn’t what it is at major championships so I’ve just got to keep going now. I’ll play the German Open and get some more match practice under my belt and by the Europeans I’ll be ready to do as well as I can.”
Hunter-Spivey saved three match points in the fourth set of his quarter-final against Hamza Caliskan and finally beat the Turkish player 11-8 in the fifth to set up a semi-final against his team partner Tommy Urhaug.
The Norwegian former Paralympic champion was always in control in a 3-0 win and the 21-year-old from Liverpool had to be content with the bronze medal.
“He was just too good,” said Hunter-Spivey. “I feel that I am at a level now where I can compete with him. I’ve not played much table tennis in the off-season as I’ve been working on my fitness so now I’m getting into a more technical period and I feel that I am definitely improving.”
Wetherill dropped the first set in his quarter-final against Pavao Jozic but came back to beat the Croatian 3-1.
However, he was forced to retire with a knee injury when 2-1 down to the world champion Alvaro Valera in their semi-final but is hoping to recover in time for the World Team Championships in Slovakia later this month.
“It’s never nice having to pull out with an injury,” said Wetherill. “It is frustrating but I’ve been pleased with how I’ve ground out results here. Under the circumstances I feel that I have played really well so I can take positives from that.”
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