Table Tennis WALES
From RYAN JENKINS OCTOBER 12, 2019
Finland Para Open 2019 (updated)
Josh Stacey has won a Silver medal at the Finland Para Open today.
Josh fought back from 2-1 down to beat Kusnanto from Indonesia 3-2 and then beat the World silver medallist Iurii Nozdrunov from Russia 3-1.
He secured top place in his group and a bye into the semi-finals with a 3-0 win against Bart Van Der Zanden from Netherlands then beat his British team mate Facey Thompson 3-0 to go through to the final where he was beaten 3-1 by the European silver medallist Lev Kats from Ukraine.
“The final was a difficult match to play as I’ve struggled with the conditions here,” said Stacey. “I think I played well in parts but I broke down in the rally too early to bring the best out of myself and the game then ran away from me. Playing Nozdrunov was a first for me so I had to build points slowly to work out weaknesses and I ended up serving very aggressively and attacking first to give myself the best chance of putting him under pressure.
It worked really well towards the end of the match and that is what got me the win. Playing a team mate is always difficult and it was even harder as we are sharing a room here. I think I played positively and I was very aware of the tactics I had to use and thankfully I managed to win. Now I’m looking forward to competing with Ash in the team rather than against him.”
The British Para table tennis team ended the PTT Finland Open in Lahti on a high today with team gold medals for Ashley Facey Thompson and Joshua Stacey in men’s class 9, Martin Perry in men’s class 6 and Lucie Bouron in women’s class 4-5, silver for Fliss Pickard in women’s class 6-7 and Billy Shilton in men’s class 8 and bronze for Kim Daybell in men’s class 10.
Facey Thompson and Stacey beat the combination of Bart Van Der Zanden from Netherlands, Raimondo Alecci from Italy and Sean Geoghegan from Ireland 2-0 and topped their group with a 2-1 win against the Japanese team of Koyo Iwabuchi and Takumi Shukunobe. After a 2-0 semi-final win against Esa Miettinen from Finland and Aviv Gordon from Israel they faced Japan again in the final and after combining with Facey Thompson to win the doubles 19 year old Welshman Stacey secured the gold with a hard-fought 3-2 win against World number three Iwabuchi.
“It was a weird feeling playing a team we had already played in the final,” said Stacey, “but me and Ash had a really good focus in the doubles and dictated throughout. In the first set against Iwabuchi I was down heavily and managed to win it 12-10 before losing the next two sets. I struggled a lot with his serves but in the fourth set I decided to commit to my receive a lot more and it presented me with an opportunity to attack strongly into either corner. I took the fourth set comfortably and in the fifth it was very close throughout but I felt I was dictating what pace the game was being played at and I managed to win it in the end.”
“Josh and I played well in the team event,” said Facey Thompson. “Our doubles was strong overall and our morale and team work was at its highest level. Now on to China in a couple of weeks’ time.”
(words by Francesca Bullock)