Team Europe won the Inaugural Atlantic Challenge Cup after a dramatic last day of singles matches here in Rankweil Austria. Leading 9-6 after day three, team Europe only needed to win two from the six singles matches to claim victory but team USA did their best to spoil the party.
Europe’s Kristina Tkach, who had played solid throughout the previous three days seem to suffer a bout of nerves in the first match of the day, losing 6-3 to USA’s Taylor Hansen which brought the overall score to 9-7.
USA had obviously loaded their front line up with their best players and it was the General’s turn “Nick Evans” who came up against the inform Daniel Tangudd from Europe. Nick was off to a flyer and it seemed that the USA selection was working, they were in control and looking good until Daniel found his feet. He pegged back rack after rack in a thriller that was to produce the fifth hill-hill match of the tournament and for the fifth time, Europe came out on top.
Europe, now leading 10-7 and needing just one more match to claim the title looked odds on to finish this event quickly but the USA team would not lay down and surrender. The next match saw Europe’s Patryk Statkiewicz up against USA’s Drake Niepoetter.
In this match, Patryk created the running jump shot, having already used his time extension and forgetting that he had, sprinted back to grab his jump stick. While running back to the table, he just aimed and shot in a single motion making the ball in the pocket and the whole crowd went crazy. This however was not enough to stop the USA winning this match to bring the score closer at 10-8 in Europe’s favor, ironically it was another hill-hill and the first USA had won.
The nerves seemed to be creeping in to the European team, they could see the finish line but were trying to force themselves over it and this was clearly seen in the next match. Marharyta Fefilava who had played a very good tournament until this match was feeling the pressure the most and could not get going at all. Team USA capitalized on the mistakes from Marharyta and April Larson picked off rack after rack coming out on top 6-3.
Only two matches remained with Europe leading 10-9 and still needing that one point to clinch the crown. USA had the momentum and Europe were on the ropes until the cool headed Maxim Dudanets came to the arena. With the pressure mounting, could the youngest member of the European team deliver? It started evenly and after the score was 1-1, Maxim showed such maturity that you could easily forget that he was still only 16 years old. Running racks and playing some brilliant safety shots, he never let his opponent “Joshua Franklin” have any joy when he did get to the table. As the racks piled up, Europe were on the march again, singing as every 9-ball went down. Maxim delivered the point required, playing beautify pool in the process as this match finished 6-1 and 11-9 overall.
A relived European team were now celebrating the victory that seemed to be slipping away as USA pressed them all the way to the wire. April Larson picked up the MVP award for team USA and Daniel Tangudd the same award for team Europe. This event was an amazing display of pool at the highest level and shows the talent that is going to grace the world stages in years to come.
It is now over to the BCA & BEF in America to organize this event in 2016 and an announcement will be forthcoming on the date & location, meanwhile the European’s have a complete year to bask in the glory of a well earned victory.
All results and pictures can be found here at http://www.x-patspoolleagues.
The Atlantic Challenge Cup was organized by the EPBF/IBPF in cooperation with the BCA/BEF.