IT proved to be a disappointing week for Megan Shackleton and Fliss Pickard at the European Para Table Tennis Championships - but both players have vowed to learn from the experiences as they move forward.

The East Lancashire pair travelled to Slovenia with high hopes but ultimately came up short in the last major event of the season.

While Shackleton can take some satisfaction in reaching her first quarter finals in the singles, hopes of another major medal in the doubles never materialised while Pickard failed to progress through the group stages in her category.

Pickard, 23, from Burnley was competing in her first major championship since making her major debut in the European Championships in 2013.

But despite losing all three of her group matches in the Class Six category, she said can take plenty of positives out of the competition.

“I thought I played well in parts,” said Pickard, whose hopes of progressing to the quarter finals ended after losing 3-1 to the experienced Gabriela Constantin from Romania.

“It has given me a lot of confidence going forward. I’ve just got to build from this.

“I’ve got to work hard now and I know what I need to work on and I’m not far off - it’s just about those little margins and then I think I’ll be up there.”

The previous day, Pickard impressed in defeat against Rio Paralympics bronze medal winner Maryna Lytovchenko, before eventually losing 3-1 to the Ukrainian World number two

“I’m really pleased with the way I played,” added Pickard. “I had big chances and the biggest thing was I could see the improvements I’ve made over the summer and I was just trying to put them in place.

“Obviously there is frustration that I couldn’t consistently do it to win the game but looking back to the last time I played her it is an unbelievable difference so I’ve just got to keep going.”

Shackleton’s hopes of a medal in the Class Four singles were thwarted by Paralympic champion Peric-Rankovic.

“It was obviously going to be a tough draw in the quarter finals against the Paralympic champion but I am showing I can compete and that gives me great confidence going into future matches,” said the 18-year-old from Todmorden.

“I’m gaining more experience every time but one thing that is going to be crucial for me is sticking to the same mind-set throughout a match – so that whether I’m up or down in sets I can keep the same approach in the games - and that will be the big change for me. “

Shacklton lost her first group game to Nada Matic from Serbia but booked her place in the last eight thanks to a 3-1 win over Helke Koller from Austria to reach her first major championship quarter-final.

“Getting to the quarter-finals is quite an improvement on my last Europeans,” she added. “I think I am starting to manage that pressure and even in difficult matches like that I’m finding a way to battle my way through.”

With her doubles partner Sue Gilroy winning a bronze medal in the singles, the pair - who won bronze at the World Team Championships - had high hopes of more silverware.

But it wasn’t to be in what proved to be their worst showing as a pair.

“It has been a disappointing team event,” said Shackleton, whose fate were sealed after losing to the world champions Serbia in their final round robin match.

But the Todmorden teenager is hoping it was no more than a blip.

“Sue and me know the potential we have as a good strong team partnership and in the future, as long as we can make sure our preparation is as ideal as possible, I think that this situation won’t happen again,” she said. “I feel that I have had a good singles competition and moving on to the World Championships next year that shows good promise.”

Shackleton and Gilroy won a team bronze in the 2015 European Championships but after losing their opening match 2-1 to Slovenia they never really recovered.

They were beaten 2-1 by Russia in game two - Shackleton again losing the deciding match - before hopes of progressing were ended by Germany who won 2-0 although the Todmorden player showed signs of her potential in a battling performance against Sandra Mikolaschek.

While Gilroy described the competition as ‘a nightmare’ for the pair, Shackleton was focusing on the positives.

She said: “It is disappointing, but I think, with experience, eventually these things will hopefully turn round for me and in the last set I do think I showed promise of what I can bring out in the future.”