Jack Hunter-Spivey added to his growing collection of gold medals by winning the para class 2-5 at the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships.
In the para class 6-10, Ashley Facey fought back from two games down to beat Billy Shilton in a decider.
Hunter-Spivey, who won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year, showed his quality in a close three-game match with Simon Heaps.
Heaps, 67, transitioned to the para sport after losing both his legs to diabetes and is 40 years older than his opponent, but had plenty of good moments in a pulsating match.
The first game saw Hunter-Spivey win 11-6, using what is becoming a trademark shot to win it. He hits the ball high, loaded with backspin, so that it lands on the opponent’s side and then spins back over the net, giving no chance of making a return.
The second game was closer, with Heaps leading at one stage, but the left-handed Hunter-Spivey played the big points very well, winning it 11-9. The third game was even closer with Heaps fighting back from 10-6 to 10-10, playing an outstanding block. However, Hunter-Spivey went to his best shot to take it 12-10.
After the game, Hunter-Spivey said: “It’s great playing in front of a home crowd. Winning the Commonwealth gold was a dream come true. It has given me a platform to build my career on.
“As a country we are massively strong at the moment. There are a lot of talented players coming through.”
Heaps was full of praise for the champion. He said: “This guy is unbelievable. He’s got years of experience and I’m proud to share the table with him. He can do things to the ball others only dream of.
“Being in a wheelchair is a completely different ball game. Tactically, it’s so important. I’m still getting better, but physically I still need to improve. I don’t feel my age at all, it spurs me on. I love the sport.”
Facey, who recently returned to para table tennis after a spell in para cycling, won 9-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7.
Shilton started strongly in the battle of the left-handers, with Facey unable to get going. However, after the match the 28-year-old said he changed his tactics which clearly worked as he was able to come back into it with several thunderous forehands.
After taking the decider, Facey said: “I changed tactics, we know our games well, but I was able to come through in the end.”
On returning to the sport, he joked: “Cycling was boring, I missed the sport and my team-mates. I feel grateful to be back in table tennis. The Paris Paralympics next year is the next goal.”
Shilton said: “I got off to a good start but he changed tactics to win. It’s good to play in front of a crowd.”