It was a good day in the England camp as the squad saw three of their players make the finals at the Spanish Para Badminton International 2021.
The event is the final qualifying event before the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
World No. 1 Jack Shephard from England in the Short Stature (SH6) category put on a dominant performance over France’s Charles Noakes in the men’s singles winning 21-12 21-14 to seal his spot in tomorrow’s final.
“I’m just so happy to be in the final. It’s been a long time without tournaments so it’s a great achievement to come here. Noakes has improved a lot. I had to make sure my tactics were right within the game and reach the final,” Shephard said.
After compatriot Krysten Coombs (SH6) knocked out teammate Isaak Dalglish 21-12 21-8 in the semifinal on Saturday, he teed up a tantalising all-English final and revealed how much he’s looking forward to tomorrow.
“I’m really excited about it actually. It’s good to be back. During the lockdown I’ve been keeping myself mentally focused on what we’re here to do and perform well. Having had a few home tournaments already we’re lucky enough that there’s me, Jack and Isaak together in the same squad and that’s really helped me for this competition,” said Coombs.
Daniel Bethell cruised to the men’s singles Standing Lower (SL3) final with a 21-6 21-4 win over Ukrainian Oleksandr Chyrkov.
“I’m feeling really good on court. It’s so good to be back. Every game I feel I’m getting better. Every match has gotten harder. I’ve really had to up my game and be ‘on it’ today. I’m always making sure my preparation is in place. I’m going to make sure I eat well, sleep well, rest and recover for tomorrow now,” said Bethell.
Bethell, 24, will meet Thailand’s Mongkhon Bunsun in the final tomorrow of the SL3 category in what will be their fourth head-to-head, with the advantage with Bethell. Bunsun will need to ensure enough rest and preparation as his survived an all out battle over Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara, 21-18 16-21 21-15 in an hour and 53 minutes today.
Men’s doubles pair Ilia Antonenko from Russia and Denis Grzesiuk from Poland (SL3- SL4) were awarded a walkover to the final.
Ticket to Tokyo
In women’s doubles Wheelchair (WH1-WH2), Sujirat Pookkham and Amnouy Wetwithan from Thailand have already secured their places at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and looked relaxed on court as they crushed Russian duo Tatiana Gureeva and Irina Kuzmenko 21-3 21-8 in the semifinals on Saturday.
“I had confidence in myself and my partner,” said Pookkham.
“Yes I was relaxed, the pressure was off us. We didn’t have a plan going in today but we were sure we could win this. Tokyo 2020 is the dream and goal for us. We dream of making the finals.”
The win for the Thai women’s doubles pair today means Germany’s Valeska Knoblauch and Elke Rongen (WH1-WH2) can safely claim the sixth and final position to head to Tokyo.
In women’s singles Standing Upper (SU5), Cathrine Rosengren from Denmark also secured her shot at the Paralympics with an assured win over Megan Hollander. Rosengren goes through following Japan’s Kaede Kameyama’s knockout from the event.
“I’m feeling very good, I’m excited to be back on court. So far I’ve been playing okay, not my best. I tried to move the shuttle around the court. The goal is to try and do some things I’ve been doing in practice,” said Rosengren.