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Tunbridge Wells’ Will Bayley eager to serve up more table tennis glory at Slovenia Open

Tunbridge Wells’ world champion Will Bayley heads a strong British para table tennis squad of 17 athletes for the Slovenia Open in Lasko, which gets under way today (Tuesday).

The 35-year-old, who regained his men’s class 7 world title in Spain last November, will be joined by Minster’s Ross Wilson along with world doubles champions Paul Karabardak, Billy Shilton, Fliss Pickard and Grace Williams.

Will Bayley in action during last year's Slovenia Open. Picture: Manca Meglic
Will Bayley in action during last year's Slovenia Open. Picture: Manca Meglic

Commonwealth champions Jack Hunter-Spivey and Joshua Stacey, are also included, as are four-time European champion and Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medallist Rob Davies, world medallists Aaron McKibbin and Martin Perry and Tokyo Paralympic medallists Tom Matthews and Megan Shackleton.

“Training has been going really well and I’ve been working very hard,” said Bayley, who won the class 7 title at the nationals last month.

“I’ve been playing lots of league matches for Brighton in British League Division 1 and the Premier League, so I’ve been getting a lot of good-quality matches which is always important before these big tournaments.”

Bayley, the world No.1, hasn’t lost a men’s class 7 singles match since the Paralympic final in Tokyo where he was beaten by Yan Shuo from China and is hoping to renew that rivalry in Slovenia.

“I’m massively looking forward to it,” he said. “You always want to test yourself against the best players in the world and Yan and Liao Keli are definitely two of the best in the world, so I’m really excited about playing against them if I get the opportunity.

“Every match now is a Final to me and is difficult and you have to be 100% focused to win so I’ll just take it one match at a time. Every style is challenging in its own way, so I need to be ready.”

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