Irish Elite Para Squad members Rena McCarron Rooney and Philip Quinlan are in international action this week in Slovenia in the ITTF Slovenian Para Open in Lasko. This is a top class international event, with the majority of the world’s top ranked players in attendance.
Going in to the event, McCarron Rooney and Quinlan had hopes to bring their domestic form to the international circuit. Both had tough group draws and Quinlan was really up against it, drawn against Paralympic Champion Holger Nikelis in the group. This was a straight sets win for the top ranked German, but Quinlan pushed him in each set, eventually losing -8,-8,-10. That left Quinlan in a shoot-out with Brazilian Bruno De Paula for a place in the Quarter Finals. De Paula is World Ranked 22(Quinlan is World Ranked 16), and Philip again pushed him all the way but will be disappointed to lose to a lower ranked opponent, this time 1-3(10,-9, -9, -9). Quinlan will hope for better luck in the Team event which begins tomorrow.
McCarron Rooney(WR:9) also had a tough draw and was bottom seed in her group, with Pouchpacheva of Russia (WR:2) and Clot of France(WR:6) blocking her path to the knock-out stages. First up was the Russian and despite delivering a really good performance with some very positive play in the early stages, McCarron Rooney felt she forced her game slightly, eventually losing 3-1.
She would overcome her disappointment in the result, if not the performance in style with a big win against France’s Clot, progressing to the Quarter Final and with a scalp in the bag. Another French opponent awaited in the Quarter Final, this time Gossiaux-Sireau(WR:5) . Rena now showed her confidence and produced her best performance of the year to move into the last 4 with a straight sets victory over the French woman(7,7,12).
In the semi-final played this morning, Rena faced the Polish and World Class 1 No.1 Dorota Buclaw(pictured with Rena and Irish Coach Tibor Pofok above). Despite her best efforts, Buclaw was a bit too strong for McCarron Rooney on this occasion and emerged with a 3-1 victory. Overall a fantastic tournament for the Irish National Para Champion, with two wins over higher ranked opponents setting her up nicely for the remainder of the international season, with of course the big focus being the World Championships later this year.