McCreery Burns up the Competition in Barcelona

Irish table tennis sensation Paul McCreery produced the performance of his career to date at the ITTF World Junior Circuit event in Barcelona, culminating in a top 8 finish in this world standard event on Saturday. Breaking away from exam preparation to join up with Junior international team-mates Sam Logue and Declan O’Brien, McCreery was straight into his stride with some good wins in the Team event. It was in the Singles where his tournament really took off, with some incredible performances to make the quarter-finals.

McCreery was drawn in the Group Stage against Dorian Nicolle of France and Lewis Gray of England. McCreery caused a surprise by defeating Nicolle in straight sets, before claiming the group win with a 3-1 victory over England international Gray.

This put McCreery through to the last 64 against Otsuka of Japan. Otsuka has a similar World Ranking to McCreery, but it looked like the talented Dundoland youngster had too much class as he raced into a 3-0 lead. Otsuka pulled two games back, but McCreery showed good maturity to close out the match on a scroeline of 4-2.  In the last 32, he faced Tristan Flore, another French player. This was a classic ding-dong battle, with the players exchanging sets until the score reached 3-3 to set up a final set decider. Flore, ranked 52 in the World Junior Rankings and over 200 places above McCreery in the Senior rankings would have been expecting to progress here. However, McCreery again showed supreme battling qualities and some wonderful play to take the final set 11-8 and progress to the last 16.

This was very much unchartered waters for McCreery at this level of international competition. Facing Sweden’s Jesper Hedlund however, he looked comfortable and doled out a straight sets defeat – 13-11,11-9,13-11,11-7 to reach the Quarter-Final. Here he faced top seed and eventual runner-up Patrick Franziska of Germany. Franziska is ranked 175 in the World Senior rankings and he had too much for McCreery, winning 4-0. McCreery will be delighted to have reached the latter stages of a world-class international competition – many of the players in the Spanish Open were using the event as preparation for the Youth Olympic Games and are of World class standard. It also sets McCreery up for an assault on the European Youth Championships in Turkey later this Summer.

Speaking about McCreery’s performance, ITTA Technical Director John O’Donoghue was delighted:

“This was an outstanding result for Paul. He beat some top quality players on his way to the quarter finals and he is the first Irish player to reach this stage of an ITTF Junior Circuit event. He has certainly had a superb season. He fully deserves all the success he gets as he works really hard and his commitment and dedication is second to none”

Congratulations to Paul, to coach Marcus McDonnell and to Sam Logue and Declan O’Brien who also had some good results and will have benefitted greatly from playing against players of this calibre.