Nearly all of the world’s top players were in Lasko for the International Table Tennis Federation Para-Table Tennis (ITTF PTT) Slovenia Open held 3-7 May, and there was a mix of upsets and expected wins over the week.
Germany’s Thomas Schmidberger, Turkey’s Nesim Turan and Belgium’s Laurens Devos all upset the top-seeds in their respective classes to secure titles in the men’s singles events.
Schmidberger defeated China’s reigning Paralympic, World and Asian champion Panfeng Feng 3-1 to win gold in the class 3. Belgium’s 15-year-old Devos overcame China’s No. 1 Ma Lin in the early rounds of the class 9 tournament, and went on to defeat Russia’s No. 2 ranked Iurii Nozdrunov 3-2 in the finals.
It was an all-Turkish final in the men’s singles class 4, with Turan taking down No. 1 Abdullah Ozturk 3-1 for the gold medal.
Spain’s top-ranked Alvaro Valera continued his dominance in the men’s single class 6. In what was a repeat of the finals at the 2015 European Championships in Vejle, Denmark, Valera beat Danish rival and No. 2 ranked Peter Rosenmeier in a close 3-2 match.
Great Britain’s two world No. 1s Will Bayley (men’s class 7) and Rob Davies (men’s class 1) both took gold in the singles.
Bayley played superbly to beat Ukraine’s world No. 1 Maksym Nikolenko in the final 3-1, and Davies defeated compatriot Paul Davies 3-1 for the win.
“I’m massively thrilled because it has been a lot of hard work,” said Bayley. “There were definitely times that maybe people doubted me but I stuck to what I know best and have worked as hard as I can and it’s starting to pay off. But it’s not done yet. I still need to push on now and improve even more but it’s a good marker at the moment to where I am.
“I had a game plan against Nikolenko - he’s so strong and hits the ball so hard. I had to find a way to stop him doing that and I found it today and I felt pretty much on top of him throughout the match so it was one of my best performances against him for sure.”
Sweden’s Paralympic and European champion Anna-Carin Ahlquist triumphed in the women’s singles class 3, topping China’s No. 2-ranked Qian Li 3-1. Reigning World and European champion Sandra Paovic continued to look in strong form as she attempts to make her Paralympic debut in Rio 2016.
The Croatian was victorious in the women’s singles class 6, besting Ukraine’s Maryna Lytovchenko 3-1.
The upset in the women’s singles came from the class 2, as Italy’s Giada Rossi beat China’s top-seed Jing Liu 3-2 in the finals.
Complete results from the 2016 Slovenia Open can be found on the ITTF’s website.
Next up for para-table tennis players is the Slovakia Open, which begins Wednesday (11 May) in Bratislava.