Arena Billiards 1st Ever 9 Ball Open

February 17, 2016 10:43

I made the trip up to see my good friend Tony Weafer on Saturday as his club, Arena Billiards, hosted it's first 9-ball pool open. I even dusted off my cue and had a go myself. The report below was written by tournament director Keith Walkerdine.

Keith did an amazing job of keeping the tournament running smoothly with very little delay between matches.

The Tournament Report

Arena Billiards in Loughborough hosted its first 9 ball tournament this past Sunday 13th February. The club has been open just over a year now and it that time has added four American 9ft tables to bring them up to 8 in total. All the tables have been re-cushioned and all had been re-clothed is last few months/weeks with Simonis 860 cloth. The conditions were set for a good tournament and a good day of pool for all those in attendance and with added bonus of £150 added to main pot and £50 for the plate 1 rack shoot out by the club.

There were 27 entrants in attendance on the day we were just shy of the full field of 32. The format for the day was double elimination up to the quarter finals stages (four from the winners side and four form the losers side). It was a race to 9 on the main/winners side and a race to 7 on the losers side and winner breaks through out.

The draw was completed early in the morning and with 27 players this meant that 5 players would receive a bye in the first round and these were Dave Evans, Aslam Abubaker, Darren Hall, Tony Weafer and Mark Williams.

There was 11 games played in the first round with Tommy Donlon signalling his intentions for the day with the biggest winning margin in the first round with a 9-1 win over Graham Bonser. At the other end of the scale the two closest games were Blake Hartley who nearly surrendered an 8-3 lead to eventually beat Matthew Townsend 9-7 and Sam Lowry taking on Pete Williams. This game went hill hill but the final rack was won by Sam to sneak this tight contest 9-8. In other close games Dave Hine beat Dave Hopkin and Boppa beat Kellie Williamson in 9-6 score lines respectively. The rest of the results from round 1 were as follows, two 9-5 wins for Apostolos Spanelis over Keith Walkerdine and Mark Foster over Arnold Stefan. A 9-5 win for Martyn Taylor over Jonny Callaghan. The remaining games were all 9-4 with Benji Buckley over GJ Oyangoren, Adam Clarke over Apostolis Harmas and Lee Happs over Sam Warry completing the first round.

On to winners side round 2 with 8 fixtures and the biggest wins of the round came from Tommy Donlon with another 9-1 score line this time against Tony Weafer and Mark Foster also had a 9-1 victory over Mark Williams. Dave Hine had impressive 9-2 victory over Boppa and Benji Buckley took a comfortable 9-3 win against Adam Clarke. The closest game of the round came with Dave Evans edging out Apostolos Spanelis 9-6. Other results from the round were Aslam Abubaker over Blake Hartley and Martyn Taylor over Darren Hall both with 9-5 victories and Lee Happs beat Sam Lowry 9-4.

Losers side rounds 1 and 2 now and with 5 byes for Keith Walkerdine, Matthew Townsend, Jonny Callaghan, Graham Bonser and Arnold Stefan in the first round this left three games to be played. Dave Hopkin beat Kellie Williamson 7-2, Pete Williams beat Sam Warry 7-3 and Apostolis Harmas overcame GJ in a tight contest 7-5. In round 2 there were four very close games with 7-5 wins for Apostolis Harmas over Darren Hall, Sam Lowry over Keith Walkerdine, Pete Williams over Apostolos Spanelis and Arnold Stefan over Blake Hartley. In the remaining four games there were wins for Adam Clarke over Jonny Callaghan 7-4 and the same for Graham Bonser over Boppa. A 7-3 victory for Matthew Townsend over Mark Williams and Dave Hopkin hitting form with 7-1 win over Tony Weafer.

We now move on to the winners side qualifier and Benji Buckley raced in to the quarters with a big 9-0 win over Dave Evans. Aslam Abubaker was finding his form by taking 6-0 lead on his way to a 9-2 win over Dave Hine. Martyn Taylor carried on his impressive run so far with a 9-4 win over Lee Happs and in the last quarter final Mark Foster overcame the inform Tommy Donlon 9-5.

Back to the losers side and in round 3 there were two big score lines for Arnold Stefan over Graham Bonser 7-1 and Dave Hopkin over Matthew Townsend 7-1. In the next game Adam Clarke took a 3-0 lead over Pete Williams before Pete pulled it back to 3-3 and both shared the next two racks to be level at 4-4. Though the next three racks went the way of the winner in Adam Clarke with a 7-4 win. Last up and in a very tight affair Sam Lowry raced out to 4-0 lead over Apostolis Harmas but Apostolis dug deep and pulled back 3 racks before Sam took the next two get on the hill at 6-3. Apostolis then clawed his way back with the next two racks to trail 6-5 but it wasn't enough and Sam took the final rack and the game 7-5.

It was time for the losers side qualifier with the remaining four spaces in the quarter finals up for grabs. Dave Evans was the first to book his place with a 7-4 win over Sam Lowry. In a rematch from earlier in the day Dave Hopkin gained some revenge and this time came out on top with a 7-3 win over Dave Hine. Adam Clarke was next to book his place over coming Lee Happs 7-3 and finally Tommy Donlon took the final place beating Arnold Stefan 7-1.

We were now down to the knockout stages and the quarter finals were set.

The place to start would be with the tightest of the contests between Adam Clarke and Aslam Abubaker. Aslam took a 2-0 lead before Adam took the next four racks to lead 6-2. Aslam then hit back by taking 3 racks of his own to trail 6-5. The next four racks were shared putting Adam on the hill at 8-7. Though Aslam was down he wasn't out yet and tied it up at 8-8 to go hill hill. The match finished 9-8 with the final rack taken by Adam to book his place in the semi finals. In another close game Mark Foster took on Dave Evans. Mark took the first three racks but Dave quickly hit back with two of his own to trail 3-2. Dave then took three of the next five racks to tie the game at 5-5. Mark then took the next rack to edge the lead but Dave then took down the next three to go the hill at 8-6. Mark tried to rally by taking the next rack but Dave took the rack after and the match 9-7. Martyn Taylor and Dave Hopkin were up next in another close encounter with Martyn taking a 4-1 lead. Dave pulled two racks back to get within a rack at 4-3 down. Martyn then took two racks himself to extend his lead to 6-3. Dave then pulled it right back taking the next three racks to level the game at 6-6. The next three racks all went the way of the eventual winner at 9-6 for Martyn to move to the semi final. The remaining quarter final teed up a mouth watering contest between Benji Buckley and Tommy Donlon and the man in form from the winners side continued his winning ways with Benji winning 9-3 over Tommy.

Semi final time was now upon us and up first was Martyn Taylor taking on Dave Evans. The first two racks were shared but Martyn then hit another gear and took the next four racks down to lead 5-1. With things looking bleak Dave took the next three racks to trail 5-4. The next two racks were shared with Martyn leading 6-5. Martyn then took the next three racks and the match 9-5 to book his place in the final. The second semi final pitted the inform Benji Buckley against Adam Clarke. Benji took the first rack but Adam then took two himself to lead 2-1. Benji then took the next four before Adam hit back with two to tie the game 6-6. The next two racks were evenly contested and shared between the two leaving the score at 7-7. With the end in sight in this close fought game the next two racks were taken by Benji to get the win 9-7.

The final was set between Martyn and Benji. With these two players no stranger to each other as practice together now and then it promised to be a good final and they didn't disappoint. They shared the first two racks but Benji then took the next three to lead 4-1. Martyn pulled one back straight the way Benji added another to lead 5-2. The next 5 racks went to Martyn with him now taking a 7-5 lead. Benji then closed within one rack but Martyn took the next to go on the hill at 8-6. Benji then rallied by taking the next two racks to take this game all the way with levelled up at 8-8. Benji took the final and deciding rack to be the first Arena Billiards 9 ball tournament winner with a 9-8 over Martyn.

I would like to wish a big congratulations to Benji on his win and also to Martyn on making the final.

Also congratulations to Boppa for winning the 1 rack shoot.

Thank you to all the players who came along to what will no doubt be the first of many tournaments at this fantastic club.

I personally would like to thank Tony and all the Arena staff for their great hospitality and service that I and players received on the day and I am sure all the players will echo my sentiments as well.

Hope to see you all and more at the next one.

Footnote

I will echo Keith's sentiment at the end of his report, the club is fantastic and the staff are friendly, efficient and very hospitable.

We have seen the demise of many Rileys clubs over the past few years which has seen access to American Pool tables dwindle across the UK. It has to be mentioned that this club is a former Rileys site in a busy University town now under private ownership. It really shows you what can be done with a pool and snooker club when an owner takes care of the playing environment and really understands the needs of both casual and more experienced players.

I might go up to the next one. 

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