European Pool Championships, Slovenia 2013

For the first time in many years the journey to this prestigious event was an easy one as I was travelling from my hometown of Birmingham.  The flight was only 2 hours long and the transfer journey was only 1 hour.

I arrived at the venue around 4pm and once checked in and unpacked I took a look around the venue.  This years championships was spread out over 3 hotels and the push from my hotel to the playing arena was quite along way.  The journey consisted of the outdoors, a car park, 2 corridors and 2 lifts.  At first this seemed a real pain but once you made the journey a few time it wasn’t as bad as first seemed.

The first 2 days was the 10ball event and my first match was against fellow brit Craig Welsh.  I started my campaign with a solid performance winning my match 6-0.  My second match was against Ireland’s former European Champion Fred Dinsmore.  This match didn’t live up to the standard promised however I went on to win the match 6-4.  This put me through to a quarterfinal match against German Tai Volkmer.  I really struggled in this match and at one point found myself 4-1 down.  I showed a lot of fighting spirit in this match and came back to win the match 6-5.  This put me into a semi-final match against homeboy Matej Brojkovic.  This match was nip and tuck most of the way with neither player really stamping their authority on the match at 5-4 up Matej hooked himself on the 8 ball with the 7 ball.  He made the hit but left me an easy run out and I won the match 6-4

The final was against Belgium’s Kurt Deklerk and once again neither of us took control of the match.  I did feel in this match that I played the better pool but just fell short on a few key balls, which in 10 or 9ball can be the difference.   Kurt is a great match player and won the match 6-4 showing the right temperament when required.  Obviously I was pleased to have medalled in this event but once I made the final I only had one medal in mind, next up was the 8Ball.

This proved to be the most disappointing of the week as I got put out of the event on a rule change.  My first match was against several time European Pool Champion, Henrik Larsson.  This is probably Larsson’s strongest discipline of the 3 and he demonstrated this by playing some great 8 ball taking out any open rack offered to him.  He beat me 5-0 and but for a few mistakes I had no complaints the better player won.

My next match on the losers-side was against Poland’s Michal Elusakiewicz, I won the match 5-0 playing some good pool.  I don’t practice 8Ball at home so my theory is the longer I stay in the event the more I will begin to understand the tactical side of the game.

Next up was Kurt Deklerk and time to put right the disappointing loss to him in the 10Ball final.  Kurt is a great 8Ball player and the match was a real tough draw for me.  I eventually ran out at 5-4 winner.  I felt I was really getting to grips with the tactical side of the game and my confidence was growing.

Next up was homeboy Matej Brajkovic.  Matej had a lot of support so it was important I didn’t let this distract me.  The match was close all the way through, but at 3 each Matej had a few bad rolls, which seemed to sway the match in my favor.  I went on to win 5-3.

My next match would secure me a place in the medals again and surprisingly it was against Henrik Larsson, who lost a match on the winner’s side.  The match was close until at 3-3 when my cellphone rang, I thought I’d turned it off I quickly cancelled the call and continued my shot.  Henrik went on to win that rack, then the ref came over to me and said that I will be losing the next rack as a penalty for my phone ringing which put me out of the competition.  I did challenge the decision as I felt if I was going to be deducted a rack then it should be the one that my phone rang in, but unfortunately for me the rule stood.  So we will never know how I would have done in the 8Ball event as I feel my game was getting stronger and stronger, terrible way to lose, but I didn’t get beat.

9Ball started today and my first match was against Croatia’s Eduard Karamatic.  I appeared to put yesterday’s disappointment out of my head as I won the match 7-0 playing some great pool.  Sadly, for me this is where the journey ended as I lost my next match 7-5 to Slovenia’s Matej Brajkovic and then my first losers match to Kurt Deklerk 7-6.

All in all disappointing championships for me, yes pleased with a silver medal but as always I only have one medal in mind for 9 and 10 ball.

I’ll take a week off and then back to the practice table.

BWPPA Tour Stop 1 Birmingham

IMG_1879This was the first event of the BWPPA calendar and the committee decided to move the   first event to Birmingham and start the season a month later to avoid severe weather conditions.  This turned out to be a bad decision as the weather was as severe as usual for the opening event with record snow falls in 50 years.

I started the event very strong winning both my matches against Fred Dinsmore (7-2) and Aslam Abubaker (7-5).  The numbers were down to 13 entries due to the weather so this put me into the last 4.  The following day I played Fred Dinsmore, but unfortunately I couldn’t reproduce the same form I showed previously against him losing the match 7-2.  The score line wasn’t a true reflection of the match, however Fred was worthy of his win.

Generally I feel my game is strong at the moment and I am looking forward to the European Championships in Slovenia on 11th – 21st April.

World Wheelchair 9Ball Championships, Germany

This event was originally scheduled for August in the UAE but due to organizer issues the event was rescheduled to December and held in Willingen, Germany.  You would think being only an hours flight away compared to a 7 hour flight to Dubai the journey would be a breeze, not the case lol

See travel itinerary below.

4.15am…….I left my house heading to Digbeth coach station, Birmingham.

5.00am……Left Digbeth heading for Heathrow.

11.10am……Left Heathrow heading for Frankfurt

1.30pm…….Left Frankfurt heading for Willingen (3 hours drive)

4.30pm…….Arrival.

As you can see the journey took me 12 hour’s from when I left my house to arriving at the venue.  When we arrived we were greeted with a foot of snow and the disappointment of Dubai being cancelled was at the forefront of my mind.

EPBF were staging the event so although the travel and weather wasn’t great I knew the playing conditions were going to be first class and we weren’t disappointed.

My first match was against fellow Brit Tony Southern sadly I didn’t get off to a great start and lost the match 7-5 moving me over to the losers round.  Thankfully I didn’t have to play again until the following day so I had time to regroup and try and get my game back on track.

Day 2 saw me drawn against another fellow Brit Matt Duffy.  I definitely felt better after taking advantaged of some practice time as well as another night’s sleep.  I won this match 7-3 and was pleased with the way I played.

My next match was against Joachim Schuler of Germany; I played well again in this match beating him 7-3.  Next up was Matej Brajkovic from Slovina and I won this match 7-1.  I started to feel like my game was getting stronger and stronger after each match and my confidence was growing. 
 
Next up was Tony Southern again and a chance to put the disappointment of losing to him in the first round.  This match was a very good standard and I broke and ran 3 of my racks.  The match was nip and tuck and I finally pulled away winning 7-5.

This put me into the semi-finals against current World Champion J Tathi of Finland.  Again I had a good sleep and prepared well for what would be the biggest match of my seaIMG_1784son.

It’s hard to sum up the match as I felt I played well throughout but found myself 6-1 down.  I had a few bad roles and obviously Jouni played some great pool, but from 6-1 down I broke and ran 2 of my racks and Jouni began to miss pots he normally wouldn’t and I sensed he was feeling the pressure.  I got the match back to 6-6 and it was me to break.  I broke the rack and ran the balls through to the 7 then this is where things started to go wrong.  I potted the 7 ball trying to leave shape on the 8 so I only had to drop it in to be nicely on the 9, but unfortunately the cueball overran. It was decision time do I play the 8 ball going around 3 rails for shape on the 9 ball or do I drop the 8 ball in leaving a tougher 9 ball.  I chose the latter and on reflection I probably played the wrong shot, as I missed the 9 leaving a shot for J Tahti.

I still felt I had a chance as the 9 I left wasn’t easy but sadly for me he made it and won the match, gutted.

As I type this blog reflecting on my performance I have to be pleased with a bronze medal as generally over the season I don’t feel like I’ve played well.   So the quest continues into 2013 for the moment I can’t say I’m World Champion.

That’s me done now for this year so I am going to take some time off with the family and start again in the New Year.  2013 I intend to practice more, get fitter  and develop my own coaching school, watch this space.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me this year and I look forward to working with you in 2013.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

BWPPA Handicapped Knockout

This event was the end of season handicapped knockout unfortunately the field was low in numbers due to no ranking points being on offer.  This tournament was an open knockout with players drawing seeds and guess who pick the no.1 seed card, yours truly lol.

This gave me a bye straight into the semi-finals.  My semi-final match was against Matt Lester who had a great 9-8 win over Andy Johnson in his previous match.  I had to give Matt a 5 start so there wasn’t a great deal of room for error and thankfully I quickly got back my 5-0 deficit.  I went 8-5 up then Matt came back at me in the next 2 racks making it 8-7.  I ended up winning 9-7 but Matt should feel very proud of his performance as he put up a great fight and made his first semi-final appearance.

This concludes the 2012 BWPPA tour and I’d like to thank all the players, committee, tournament director and sponsors for making this another great year for wheelchair pool.

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BWPPA Tour Stop 5 Liverpool

My second win in a row and things are looking good as I build up towards the World Championships in Germany.   I’m over the moon to win my second event and more importantly gaining back my UK number one spot.IMG_1733

In summary I started well, had an indifferent middle and finished really strong.  Below are my match stats:-

1st Match was a 7-0 win over Graham McClounnan

2nd Match was a 7-5 win over Craig Welsh

3rd Match was a 7-2 lose against Phil Hendrickson

4th Match (Losers side) was a 7-5 win over Matt Duffy

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5th Match (Semi-Final) was a 7-3 win over Fred Dinsmore

6th Match (Final) Was a 7-3 win over Phil Hendrickson

I performed really well in my first match against Graham making a two break and runs.  I was behind in most of my next match against Craig but fortunately I was able to find another gear when required.  My next match against Phil was a little strange as coming into the match I felt confident, but didn’t really play with any confidence. 

Phil was worthy of his 7-2 win so it’s the loser’s side I go.  Next up was old foe Matt Duffy this was probably my best performance of the event as both players played to a high level.  I finally seen the match out 7-5 and progressed to the Semi-Final against Dubliner Fred Dinsmore.

Again I played really well in this match displaying some solid pool.  In the end I ran out a convincing winner and secured my second final in a row, against Welshman Phil Hendrickson.  This was to be my biggest match of the season so far as If I won I would regain my number spot winning an £800 cue provided by our great sponsors at Predator.  

This has given me a lot of confidence going into the World Championships in Germany and my goal is to return back with a gold medal. Phil didn’t repeat the form he shown against me in the earlier round and I went on to win 7-3.

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