A strong field including a powerful team from China competing internationally for the first time since the Tokyo Paralympic Games provided tough competition for the largely inexperienced British squad at the Montenegro Para Championship in Podgorica.
Although they didn’t take any medals in the singles there were some promising performances and wins for Megan Shackleton and Pathway athletes Lee York (pictured above), Theo Bishop and Shae Thakker.
Women’s class 4
After a slow start Megan Shackleton put up a good performance against the world No 2 Sandra Mikolaschek, taking the third set 11-7 to put herself back in the match from 2-0 down before the world silver medallist from Germany secured the fourth 11-9 and a 3-1 win.
Shackleton beat Slobodanka Guresic from Montenegro 3-0 but did not progress after a 3-0 loss in her final group match against Paralympic bronze medallist Gu Xiaodan, the former world No 4 from China.
“It’s been great to play such a strong tournament here in Montenegro,” said Shackleton, who missed 12 months of competition after Tokyo due to injury and is still working her way back to her best form.
“It’s not often you get to play the world No 2 and the Paralympic bronze medallist in just your group matches, so it was great to be able to try and raise my level. I had a good match with Sandra and it felt good to start seeing some of the strongest aspects of my game come back into play.
“I’m looking forward to playing the doubles with her starting tomorrow and building again ready for Slovenia next week.”
Men’s class 3
Romain Simon lost his opening match 3-0 to Irishman Colin Judge, the world No 14 and former class 2 European champion but was only edged out 14-12 in the third. He took the first set against Yorick Adjal before the Frenchman, who has taken medals in Egypt, Brazil and Greece this year edged the second 13-11 and went on to take the match 3-1. Simon did not progress after a 3-0 loss to Thomas Bruechle, the world No 3 and former European champion from Germany.
Men’s class 4
Lee York was beaten 3-0 by Alexandre Delarque, the former European team gold medallist from France but was then a 3-0 winner against the promising teenager Andre Radulovic from Serbia, taking the match 13-10 in the third set on his fourth match point.
He had his chances in the second set against Guo Xingyuan but the former world champion and Tokyo team gold medallist from China edged it 12-10 and went on to take the match 3-0.
Men’s class 7
Theo Bishop lost his first match to Katsuyoshi Yagi, the world No 8 and Asian Championships silver medallist from Japan 3-0 and then fought back from 10-6 down to take the first set 12-10 against 20-year-old Roberto Martinelli from Italy on the way to a 3-0 win.
Bishop played well against the former world No 4 Liao Keli, taking the third set 11-3 but the Tokyo team gold medallist from China secured the match 11-5 in the fourth.
Men’s class 8
Ryan Henry was beaten 3-0 by the world No 7 from France Clement Berthier and did not progress after a 3-1 loss to Alejandro Diaz, the 20-year-old from Spain who took bronze in the Costa Brava Spanish Open earlier this year.
Men’s class 10
Shae Thakker lost 3-0 to the defending champion and world No 7 Luka Bakic from Montenegro and was then a comfortable 3-0 winner against the veteran Valentin Marinov from Bulgaria. He did not progress after a 3-0 loss in his final group match against the Brazilian Claudio Massad, the world No 16 and former PanAmerican champion.
The tournament continues with the doubles events starting tomorrow and concluding on Sunday.