Will Bayley in action at last year's championships (picture by Michael Loveder)

World champion Will Bayley will be among six members of the GB Performance Squad competing in the Butterfly Michael Hawkesworth Championships (BTTAD National Championships) in Bristol at the weekend.

Bayley, who will be defending his men’s class 7 title, will be joined by women’s class 4 world silver medallist Sue Gilroy, defending men’s class 10 and Open singles champion Kim Daybell, Paralympic bronze medallists Jane Campbell and Sara Head (class 3) and defending men’s class 5 champion Jack Hunter-Spivey.

“I love going to the Nationals to play against lots of up-and-coming young players,” said Sheffield based Bayley. “It is very important to see these players coming through and it is important for me to perform well there because I want to be in the best shape I can be for the Italian Open the following week.”

As well as defending his class 7 singles title, Bayley will bid for a first men’s class 6-10 Open singles title but faces a tough task against GB team-mate Daybell, who is unbeaten in the National championships and ranked No 7 in the world in class 10.

“I’ve never won the Open in the Nationals,” said 27-year-old Bayley, “and it’s something I’d like to win but it is tough for me to play in the Open class. But I’ll do my best.”

Daybell also won the men’s class 6-10 doubles title last year but will need a new partner this year as Ashley Facey Thompson will be competing in the Hungarian Open. The 22-year-old Leeds University medical student is also looking forward to competing in Bristol.

Kim Daybell in action at the recent Table Tennis England Senior Nationals (picture by Alan Man)

“The Nationals are important to show the rest of the country and the younger players the level they need to be to compete on a world stage,” he said. “The GB Paralympic squad rarely plays domestic tournaments and it gives other players inspiration and opportunity to challenge those playing internationally.”

Paralympic bronze medallists Jane Campbell and Sara Head combined to win bronze in the women’s class 1-3 team event in London 2012 but could be at opposite ends of the table in the singles.

“It’s always difficult to play Sara,” acknowledged Campbell, “but we’ve got the doubles to look forward to, which is always great fun.”

The event will be live-streamed for the first time, with the stream running from 10.30am to approximately 6pm on Saturday and 9.30am to 1.30pm on Sunday.

Click here to watch the action

Dave Cochrane
March 13, 2015