Billy Shilton took gold in the men’s doubles (MD14) with Martin Perry and gold in the mixed doubles (XD14) with Fliss Pickard on the final day of the Greek Para Open in Argostoli.
Pickard also took silver with Grace Williams in the women’s doubles (WD14) and Sue Bailey took silver with Megan Shackleton in the women’s doubles (WD5-10) and silver with Jack Hunter-Spivey in the mixed doubles (XD10).
Men’s doubles MD14
Martin Perry and Billy Shilton won their group by beating Mario Bastardo and Joao Cardoso from Portugal 3-0 and Zbynek Lambert and Daniel Horut from Czech Republic 3-0. They received a bye into the semi-finals where they were impressive in beating class 6 world No 5 Matteo Parenzan from Italy and class 7 European bronze medallist and former Paralympic bronze medallist Miroslav Jambor from Slovakia 3-0.
That took them into the final where they faced the French pair of class 8 world No 5 Clement Berthier and class 6 world No 11 Esteban Herrault. After taking the first set 11-9 Perry and Shilton edged a tense second set 15-13 and secured the gold 11-9 in the third.
“I’m obviously really happy to win two golds,” said Shilton (pictured above). “It’s been a busy three days with a lot of matches and it gives me a lot of confidence going into the World Championships. I think the way Martin and I performed in not dropping a set during the tournament was unbelievable to be honest and the confidence we had in each other was really good.”
“I’m over the moon to win gold,” said Perry, “but to also do it in style without dropping a set is absolutely fantastic as we played some really tough teams. In the final when it got tight we kept the belief in each other and had really good communication and that paid off. It was great playing together again because it’s been a few years since we’ve done so but it was good to get back to winning ways and hopefully we get more opportunities to play together again in the future and we can do some great things.”
Mixed doubles XD14
Billy Shilton and Fliss Pickard won 3-0 against Chen Silu from Hong Kong China and Vaishnavi Sutar from India and were then beaten 3-1 by the Italian/French partnership of Matteo Parenzan and Lucie Hautiere. A 3-0 win against Eleftherios Mavris and Maria Kaipi from Greece secured them a place in the semi-finals where they produced a great performance to beat the top seeds Clement Berthier and Morgen Caillaud from France 3-1.
The final was a rematch against Parenzan and Hautiere and Shilton and Pickard started well and led 2-0 before the Italian/French pair edged the third 12-10 and the fourth 13-11 to force a decider. The British pair were not to be denied and took the set 11-8 and the gold.
“I don’t think we communicated too well in the first match against Parenzan and Hautiere,” said Shilton, “but I think we communicated better in the final and I stepped up my level. I was disappointed with how I performed in the first match so I was really happy that I could turn that around. This was our first tournament together and we won a gold medal so I’m really happy and hopefully we can take that forward into the World Championships.”
“It’s obviously great to get gold,” said Pickard, “especially getting the win over France as they will be a partnership at the Worlds. We have a lot to work on, particularly my movement and our communication but it’s a good start.”
Women’s doubles WD5-10
Playing together for the first time since winning Paralympic team bronze in Tokyo Sue Bailey and Megan Shackleton began the round-robin event with a 3-0 win against Allegra Magenta from Italy and Evanthia Bournia from Greece and then recovered from winning only two points in the first set to beat Tarsilem Tarsilem and Osrita Muslim from Indonesia 3-1. They dropped the first set again against Zorica Popadic from Serbia and Spomenka Habetinkova Tomic from Czech Republic before coming back to win 3-1 but had to settle for silver after a 3-0 loss to class 5 world No 2 Alexandra Saint Pierre and Flora Vautier from France.
“It’s great to be back competing in doubles,” said Shackleton, “especially as Sue and I have a pretty solid past. Silver is a good starting point for us going forwards and we’ll be looking to make more progress and hopefully finals next season.”
Women’s doubles WD14
Fliss Pickard and Grace Williams lost their first match 3-0 to Camelia Ciripan from Romania and Zsofia Arloy from Hungary but then beat Vaishnavi Sutar from India and Eirini Drakonaki from Greece 3-0 and secured the silver medal in the round-robin event by fighting back from 2-1 down to beat the French pair of class 8 World number nine Lucie Hautiere and class 6 world No 6 Morgen Caillaud from France 3-2.
“It was great to see Grace playing really well and with confidence,” said Pickard, “especially against France which was a really good result for us.”
Mixed doubles XD10
Jack Hunter-Spivey and Sue Bailey began with a 3-0 win against Nebojsa Ilic and Zorica Popadic from Serbia and were then beaten 3-1 by Sylvain Noel and Alexandra Saint Pierre from France. They took second place in the round-robin event and the silver medal with a 3-0 win against Lee York and Megan Shackleton, who finished in third place after a 3-0 loss to Noel and Saint Pierre and a 3-0 win against Ilic and Popadic.
Mixed doubles XD17
Joshua Stacey and Grace Williams lost 3-1 to the strong Hungarian pair of class 8 World number 10 Andras Csonka and class 9 world No 2 Alexa Szvitacs but kept their hopes of a place in the knockout stages alive with a 3-1 win against the Brazilian pair of Paulo Fonseca and Allana Maschio. Their final group match turned into a great battle as they fought back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2 but Ben Despineux from Belgium and Ioana-Monica Tepelea from Romania just edged the final set 12-10 to take the semi-final place.
“Playing in doubles with both Fliss and Josh is an experience that helps me to develop my overall game,” said Williams, “as they are both amazing players. I’m very pleased with the silver that Fliss and I won; Josh and I both played well in the last group match coming back from 2-0 down and bringing it back to 2-2 and I’m excited to play with both Fliss and Josh in the World Championships in a few weeks’ time.”
Men’s doubles MD8
In group 1 Simon Heaps and his French partner Yorick Adjal lost 3-1 to Adyos Astan and Yayang Gunaya from Indonesia and 3-0 to Carlos Freire de Moraes from Brazil and Nuno Duarte Almeida from Portugal before beating fellow self-funding British athlete Scott Robertson and Sahib Babayev from Azerbaijan 3-0.
Robertson and Babayev had earlier handed a 3-0 walkover to the Indonesian pair and were then narrowly beaten by Freire de Moraes and Duarte Almeida 12-10 in the fifth after fighting back from 2-0 down.
In group 3 Pathway athlete Lee York and his Japanese partner Genki Saito started with a 3-0 win against Nebojsa Ilic from Serbia and Mustafa Yuseinov from Bulgaria but did not progress after losing 3-0 to Bart Brands from Belgium and Petr Svatos from Czech Republic and 3-0 to Toru Nakamoto and Yuichiro Kitagawa from Japan
Men’s doubles MD18
In group 2 Ryan Henry and Jack Stockdale lost 3-1 to Komet Akbar and Banyu Mulyo from Indonesia and 3-0 to Bart Ven der Zanden and Roy Van der Burg from the Netherlands.
Fellow Pathway athletes Theo Bishop and Maximillian Flint also went out at the group stage after losing 3-1 to Wong Chi Yin and Lam Ka Wai from Hong Kong China, 3-0 to Jan Michal from Czech Republic and Abdul Abdullah from Indonesia and 3-0 to Andras Csonka from Hungary and Alexandros Diakoumakos from Greece.