The Costa Brava Spanish Para Open did not produce any medals for the British Para Table Tennis squad but there was plenty to be positive about with the largely young and inexperienced athletes from the Pathway and Development programmes gaining valuable experience of top-class competition.
In Paralympic qualification year every tournament is fiercely contested and the opposition in Spain included some of the best players in the world.
Picture: Bly Twomey & Theo Bishop in action (photo by Alba Pacheco)
In the singles events only Theo Bishop (men’s class 7) progressed from his group to the knockout stages, going out in the last 16 to Paulo Fonseca from Brazil, gold medallist in the Copa Tango last year.
However, there were also wins for Andrew Guy (men’s class 2), Ryan Henry (men’s class 8) and 19-year-old Max Flint (men’s class 10) in only his second international tournament.
The doubles provided the first wins for 12-year-old Bly Twomey on her debut in a GB shirt and she narrowly missed out on a medal with Grace Williams in women’s class 20, the pair fighting back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2 before losing 3-2 to the German pair of class 8 world No 3 Julianne Wolf and Nina Reck in the last match of the tournament.
“This week has been a massive learning curve for all the Pathway guys,” said BPTT Pathway Manager Shaun Marples. “There is a lot of good that everyone is doing in the training hall, but it is transferring that to match points in table tennis and the one thing that all the players have learnt this week especially is they need to pay attention to the basics.
“Make sure the basics are covered so they know what they are doing with the ball, keeping the ball on the table, making sure they are getting into the rallies and cutting out the silly mistakes. Romain and Theo, who are going on to Italy next week, will have a good opportunity to put that right in the next competition.
“Special mention for the ‘newbies’ Chris and Bly. Chris (former GB wheelchair rugby captain Chris Ryan) demonstrated some fantastic learning while in the match – especially in his first match when he lost the first two sets but managed to win the third which showed resilience and that you can still learn while playing a match.
“Young Bly was brilliant, and her fighting qualities really came out. She was a bit disappointed to start with to be classified in class 8 but she still took a set off the world No 8 and the world No 9. Now she has been classified as a class 7 after a review so she has had a really positive tournament and her future prospects are great.
“Our last match sums up the tournament in terms of almost. It could have been a lot better but we finished the tournament on a positive note – showing some good team spirit, good team cohesion with everyone coming together to support for the last match.
“Definitely a lot to work on so Matjaz (Pathway coach Matjaz Sercer) and I need to get our heads together and make sure we are doing the right things for the athletes but also challenging them in the right way to make sure they are performing and doing the basics well.”
A more detailed report can be found on the BPTT website by clicking here.