Ashley Facey Thompson in action in the para class 7-10 final (picture by Alan Man)

Happy Face as Ash wins title!

Author:
Paul Stimpson and Toby Oliver

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Ashley Facey Thompson took gold in the para class 7-10 on day two of the PG Mutual National Championships in Nottingham, while Tin-Tin Ho remains on course for four titles.

Facey Thompson saw off fellow Rio Paralympian Aaron McKibbin in a deciding game on the showcourt, shown live by the BBC Sport website.

Meanwhile, Ho is into the Women’s Singles semi-finals and, alongside Maria Tsaptsinos, the Women’s Doubles final as she looks to add both titles to the Under-21s and Mixed Doubles crowns she won yesterday.

The four members of England men’s Commonwealth Games team are into the semi-finals of the Men’s Singles and will also between them contest the Men’s Doubles final tomorrow.

Click here to visit the event website, for full details of the schedule and all the results.

Click here to find out how to watch tomorrow’s matches live, plus schedule details.

Click here to view more of Alan Man’s photos on our Flickr page

Para class 7-10

Ashley Facey Thompson took his first para table tennis title in the class 7-10 final. Facey Thompson, who also competed in the men’s singles yesterday, took a tight match 3-2 over Aaron McKibbin.

McKibbin took the first game with the aid of a lucky netcord but Facey Thompson came storming back in the second set, eventually taking it 14-12. McKibbin lead 10-7 in that set with Facey Thompson saving a total of four set points before taking it on his second.

The third set saw McKibbin save three set points before Facey Thompson took it 11-9. However, McKibbin levelled it by taking the fourth set by the same score.

The fifth set saw Facey Thompson keep his cool to close out the match, the final score 3-2 (8-11, 14-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7) in the left-hander’s favour.

After the match, Facey Thompson said: “It was a tough match, we train together all the time so we know each other’s game inside-out, so it was really hard to find the tactics and know what to do.”

McKibbin commended the quality of table tennis played: “It was a good game, we put on a good spectacle to show how para table tennis is improving.

“Year on year, we’re improving, unfortunately Kim (Daybell) couldn’t be here today, Ross (Wilson) was injured, but the matches were good across the board which shows our level is improving in England and hopefully we can keep pushing for our international events this year.”

Facey Thompson had come past Paralympic champion Will Bayley in the semi-finals in a match that went all the way to 12-10 in the decider, Bayley having come from 2-0 down to level. The final reckoning was 3-2 (11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 8-11, 12-10) in Facey Thompson’s favour.

The second semi-final was a more routine 3-0 scoreline for McKibbin on paper, though the individual game scores show that his opponent Shae Thakker had his moments before gong out 11-6, 11-6, 12-10.

World champion Ross Wilson’s withdrawal with a back injury had opened the door for Thakker and Craig Allen to follow Group 2 winner Facey Thompson into the semi-finals. And the pair fought out a classic encounter in which Thakker came out on top by a whisker – fighting back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 (10-12, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 11-5).

In the other group, Billy Shilton extended both McKibbin and Bayley, missing out on a semi-final place by virtue of losing 3-2 to both. The match against Bayley was especially close as Shilton had a match point in the fifth before Bayley took his chance to settle the group runners-up spot 3-2 (15-13, 11-5, 5-11, 11-13, 13-11).

Men’s Singles

The top four seeds duly took the four berths in tomorrow’s semi-finals, though Sam Walker was given a match by fellow England international and under-21 champion Tom Jarvis.

With an appreciative crowd behind them, the players traded the first four sets, Jarvis twice pegging back Walker, before the higher-ranked man came through 11-8 in both the fifth and sixth games to seal an end scoreline of 4-2 I11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8).

David McBeath needed five to get past Helshan Weerasinghe, who levelled at 1-1 but saw the Commonwealth Games medallist remain just out of reach in the subsequent three games – McBeath setting up a semi-final against Liam Pitchford with a 4-1 (11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9) victory.

Pitchford and Drinkhall had no problems with Luke Savill and Mike O’Driscoll respectively, winning in four straight. Pitchford’s margin was 6, 3, 1, 9 and Drinkhall’s 6, 8, 8, 3. Drinkhall and Walker meet in the semi-final in the bottom half of the draw.

In the last 16, O’Driscoll had to stave off a fightback by Jack Bennett before taking his place in the quarters, the veteran powering away to lead 3-0 but ultimately crossing the line at 4-2 (11-9, 11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 12-14, 11-9).

Savill also needed six to overcome Gaurav Aravind to set up his tie with Pitchford, coming through 4-2 (8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5).

The only other tie to be decided in more than four games was Walker’s tie against Sam Mabey – who won the third set 12-10 but was defeated 4-1 (11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9, 11-6).

Women’s Singles

Hannah Hicks (picture by Alan Man)

Hannah Hicks broke up the top four seeds by defeating Emily Bolton to take her place in tomorrow’s semi-finals.

The former England international looked in good touch today, overcoming Evie Collier in the round of 16 with an eye-catching margin of 4-0 (8, 3, 4, 6) before defeating Bolton in five (11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 12-10, 11-6).

She will play Tin-Tin Ho, who also needed five in her quarter-final against Lois Peake, though she was largely in control of a 11-4, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6 scoreline.

In the bottom half, Commonwealth Games team-mates Denise Payet and Maria Tsaptsinos will meet in tomorrow’s last four having also come through in five games against their opponents.

In Payet’s case, she avenged a defeat to Charlotte Bardsley in last year’s championships, recovering from losing the first to progress 4-1 (6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7), while Tsaptsinos got past Mollie Patterson, winning a pivotal third game and pulling away to 11-6, 8-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-5.

The closest match in the last 16 saw Jasmin Wong push fourth seed Bolton to deuce in the sixth before her resistance was finally ended at 4-2 (9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, 5-11, 12-10).

Patterson advanced in a close match against Megan Gidney 4-1 (11-9, 16-14, 11-8, 11-13, 11-9), while Bardsley also took five to get the better of Darcie Proud (11-6, 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-1).

Payet beat Emma Vickers (7, 6, 8, 9), while Peake got through against Rachel Baker (11, 8, 4, 7).

Men’s Doubles

David McBeath & Sam Walker will look to derail the Liam Pitchford & Paul Drinkhall doubles juggernaut in tomorrow’s final.

The top seeds have won five of the last six events – their run halted last year when Drinkhall teamed up with McBeath to take the title as new combinations were tried ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

But they were back into the old routine today to reach yet another final, turning on the power in their semi-final to end the challenge of Jack and Josh Bennett. The Eastbourne brothers took the first game and ran the second close, but were blown away after that as the top seeds claimed a 3-1 (10-12, 12-10, 11-4, 11-4) victory.

Pitchford & Drinkhall earlier defeated Graeme Barella & Peter Smallcombe in three (7, 4, 7).

McBeath & Walker did not drop a game in their matches, following up a 3-0 (11-6, 11-6, 11-8) victory over Naphat Boonyaprapa & James Smith in the quarter-finals with a symmetrical 5, 5, 5 win against Alim Hirji & Luke Savill in the semis.

In the other quarter-finals, the Bennetts squeezed past Adam Nutland & Ethan Walsh 3-2 (11-7, 11-13, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10), while Hirji & Savill beat Gaurav Aravind & George Hazell in four.

There were a couple of topsy-turvy matches in the first round, none more so than the one which saw Gaurav Aravind & George Hazell defeat the higher-ranked Joe Cope & Shayan Siraj 3-2 (11-8, 4-11, 11-8, 1-11, 11-7).

Adam Nutland & Ethan Walsh twice had to come from behind to see off Zak Cantor & Israel Awolaja 3-2 (12-14, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5, 11-6).

The other three ties were decided in straight sets, including Smallcombe & Barella who set up their tie with Pitchford & Drinkhall by defeating Adam Jepson & Joe Killoran.

In the all-brother clash, Jack and Josh Bennett saw off Joseph and Jacob Goss, while Smith & Boonyaprapa overcame David Gofton & Josh Weatherby.

Women’s Doubles

Women’s doubles semi-final action between Denise Payet & Emily Bolton and Mollie Patterson & Megan Gidney (picture by Alan Man)

Tin-Tin Ho & Maria Tsaptsinos remained on course for a fourth title together – and Tsaptsinos for a fifth in a row – as they advanced to tomorrow’s final.

Having beaten Evie Collier & Kate Hughes by a margin of 9, 2, 7 in the quarter-finals, the top seeds accounted for Emma Vickers & Lois Peake in the semis, also 3-0 (11-7, 12-10, 11-7).

Their opponents in the final will be Denise Payet & Emily Bolton, who were pushed hard by the left-hand, right-hand combination of Megan Gidney & Mollie Patterson in their semi – partocularaly in the first game – before coming through 3-1 (17-15, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5).

Three of the four quarter-finals were decided in three straight, the exception seeing Patterson & Gidney recover from losing the first to Gauri Duhan & Letitia McMullan to win 3-1 (5-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7).

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