Silver Lining…

Paul Karabardak took silver in the men’s class 6 singles at the PTT Dutch Open in Stadskanaal today while Tom Matthews (men’s class 1), David Wetherill (men’s class 6) and World champion Ross Wilson (men’s class 8) all took bronze in their respective events after very close semi-final defeats.

Karabardak began with a 3-0 win against 15 year old Kristian Jelinek from Czech Republic but then had to fight hard to defeat Tim Laue, the European team bronze medallist from Germany, 3-2, taking the final set 11-4 after losing a tight fourth set 12-10. He secured top place in his group with a 3-0 win against 16 year old Asier Llave from Spain and was a 3-0 winner against Petr Hnizdo from Czech Republic in the quarter-final and a 3-0 winner against the Russian Mars Gabdullin in the semi-final.

Going into the final the 34 year old from Swansea trailed the World, Paralympic and European champion Peter Rosenmeier 8-2 in their head-to-head but had won their most recent meeting in the Slovenia Open earlier this year. Today it was Rosenmeier who proved the stronger in a 3-0 win although Karabardak had his chances in the second set which he lost 13-11.

“I’m very pleased with the way I played,” said Karabardak, “especially against Laue and Gabdullin. They were playing really well and I played tactically smart and managed to play the way I wanted; I was very positive and I’m pleased it paid off. The final was difficult as Peter was playing really well and I’m disappointed as I couldn’t pressure him more, which enabled him to be relaxed and play his game. The second set was big and I think I could have made him nervous if I had won it but he was excellent today and was a worthy winner. Overall I’m very pleased with my performance and hopefully this can be a big step towards qualification for Tokyo.”

Matthews was a 3-0 winner against Ibrahim Dardas from Jordan but lost his chance of a bye into the semi-finals with a 3-0 loss to Seeun Lim from Korea, who went on to top the group with Matthews in second place. The Welshman won his quarter-final against Timo Natunen from Finland 3-0 and looked to be in control of his semi-final against World team gold medallist Andrea Borgato leading 2-0 but the experienced Italian fought back to level at 2-2 and edged the deciding set 11-9.

“I feel overall that I played well,” said Matthews, “but still not the standard I want to be at. The semi-final was a good match; it’s a tough one to take after being 2-0 up but he showed his experience and came out on top. He played well and went on to win the tournament so congratulations to him. Now it’s back to the training hall to prepare for next year.”

Welsh teenager Grace Williams marked her international debut by taking a bronze medal in the women’s class 9-10 team event at the PTT Dutch Open in Stadskanaal today and Barnsley’s Sue Gilroy also took bronze in the women’s class 3-5 team event.

Williams, part of the British Para Table Tennis Team Pathway Squad, and her team partner Shella Dwi Radayana from India lost their opening match to the number one seeds and European champions from Turkey, Neslihan Kavas and Umran Ertis, but progressed from their group with a 2-0 win against World team bronze medallist Mirjana Lucic from Croatia and 15 year old Baby Sahana Ravi from India. They lost their semi-final against the Ukraine team of class 6 World number one Maryna Lytovchenko, Iryna Shynkarova and Marharyta Saltanovska 2-0.

“I came out here to have my first international tournament and to enjoy the experience,” said 16 year old Williams from Llanfyllin. “I never expected to get a medal and I’m happy with my performance as a whole and can’t wait to continue on this journey.”

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