Crowned world champion in 2006 in Montreux, listed in top spot on the world rankings in 2009 – fast forward 12 years to Friday 4th June 2021 the Czech Republic’s Richard Csejtey, now 41 years old, rolled back the years at the Paralympic World Qualification Tournament in the Slovenian city of Lasko,

On a day when in each category semi-finalists were decided, in class 8 he caused a major upset; the no.5 seed, Csejtey reserved his penultimate place by ousting Thailand’s Phisit Wangphonphathanasiri, the top seed (12-10, 10-12, 12-10, 2-11, 11-6).

Defeat for the 34-year-old, who in 2020 struck gold at the Egypt Para Open, means he is one of four top seeded players not to reach the men’s semi-final round.

Argentina’s Fernando Eberhardt (class 1) and Chile’s Cristian Dettoni (class 6), both disappeared from view on the opening day. On the second day of play, in class 7, Slovakia’s Miroslav Jambor, after finishing in second place in his group behind Russia’s Alexei Samsonov, experienced an opening round defeat at the hands of Sweden’s Jonas Hansson (11-6, 11-4, 11-7).

Alas for the Swede, the progress was short-lived; in the next round he was beaten by Germany’s vastly experienced Jochen Wollmert (9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-6).

Otherwise, the leading names progressed, in class 2, Kang Changyoung reserved his semi-final place but only just; first in his group but decided by games ratio, Kang finished ahead of Spain’s Miguel Angel Toledo and the Czech Republic’s Martin Zvolanek.

Rather more comfortably in class 3, Poland’s Maciej Nalepka secured his last four place, as in class 4 did Spain’s Francisco Lopez, however, there were nervous moments for Great Britain’s Jack Hunter-Spivey in class 5. Similar to Kang Changyoung it was a close call with games ratio proving crucial in seeing the Brit finish ahead of Russia’s Grigorii Isakov and Argentina’s Elias Romero.

Impressively, in class 9, Ukraine’s Ivan Mai duly reserved his semi-final place, as did the next in line, Russia’s Iurii Nozdrunov and Great Britain’s Ashley Facey Thompson. Meanwhile, in class 10, Poland’s Igor Misztal and Frenchman Gilles de la Bourdonnaye, the respective top two seeds, advanced to the last four, a situation that applied also to Japan’s Koya Kato and Korea Republic’s Kim Changi, their counterparts, in class 11.

Proceedings in Lasko conclude on Saturday 5th June, only the winner of each class gain Tokyo places.

by Ian Marshall, www.ittf.com