Netherlands sent a trio of ladies to the Philippines in Tamara Peeters, her sister Melissa Rademakers, and Kynthia Orfandis. And to help them along, none other than the Captain of Team Europe for the Mosconi Cup, Mr.Johan Ruijsink. He was overseeing his ladies daily through practice and preparation and could be seen at all their matches. A tough job in a round robin format.
“Europe’s chances in general are very unlikely to win the World Championship”, said Johan in the midst of the event. “The consistency of the Asians is high. To win this event, for example, you will have to beat 3-4 Chinese.” The 10 year head coach of Holland adds, “Our goal here is to qualify through the group stages and reach the final 32. It really should be to win, but I’m realistic. “An interesting note is that Ruijsink is officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee in their Top Coach 5 program. It gives coaches in various sports a rating starting at Top Coach 1. With 5 being the highest rating which allows a coach to qualify coaching any other sport. Ruijsink has coached many champions such as Niels Feijen, Hudji See, Nick Van Den Berg, and even UK players Darren Appleton and Daryl Peach. Johan is rated a Top Coach 5 level.
When asked what would he do to change women’s pool in Europe, he quickly responded, “If I had the means, I would like to see a organized circuit of women’s events in Europe. Then players would be able to develop the mental side further and faster. That is where the Asian women really have an advantage.”
Johan will be at the 2011 Mosconi Cup in a few weeks coaching the men this time on Team Europe.
Another first at the event was the appearance of Iran. Elham Shakori became the first middle eastern woman’s player to attend the World Championship. Playing cuesports for only 4 years, she has trained in snooker and pocket billiards. Ranked #1 in Iran, she is a professor of physical education at a university. Another interesting fact, she rides horses and is a professional equestrian jumper.
“I learned so much here at the World Championship. I got beat 6-0 my first two matches, but then I started seeing the players play defense, and I tried it. My results improved and then I lost 6-1, and later 6-2. Now I will go home and work on my cueball control as I see the ladies here are so adept at it. But overall being here, it has been a fantastic feeling!” said Elham.
There were a few heartbreaks at the World 10-Ball Championship. 13-year old Gillian Go of Philippines tried her luck at the qualifier. She had some incredible wins defeating China’s strong Gao Meng, who in turn has defeated top ranking names like Jasmin Ouschan and Yu Ram Cha. Go almost qualified, and in a 6-6 tied match, she missed the winning 10-Ball against Japan’s champion Akimi Kajitani. “Oh well, she was disappointed but there is always next year” , her father said.
USA’s Mary Rakin had a 3 wins and 2 loss record, which normally would qualify you through the round robin stage, but she was tied with another player, with exactly same record and also same amount of games won. But fans and friends around her cheered that she had won the tie breaker with least amount of games allowed. Unfortunately, the official rules of the event that were published and sent out prior to the event stated the winner of a head to head would decide as the third tie breaker. Mary had earlier lost to the player from Taiwan. “It’s okay. I had a good experience. I will be back!” said Rakin.Belgium sent a new, unknown gem in Kamila Khodjaeva. As she fired in balls mercilessly, and took down huge names such as Yu Ram Cha and USA’s Angel Paglia, people were murmuring about her. “How old is she?” “I think she is 20”. “Nooo,maybe 21 or 23?”. Well, the answer is 15 years old! With 3 wins and 2 losses, she needed only 3 games off of World #1 Siming Chen to qualify. Unfortunately, she lost 6-1. In a short interview with her we were curious about her pool background. “I have been playing pool since I was five years old.” Do you have a coach? ” Yes. My father.” We are sure she will be one to watch in the years to come.
And even though some players failed to succeed in the event, just coming to try was an honor. Like Japan’s Noriko Nollie Onoda who came to try her luck at the qualifier. She didn’t make it through, but stayed the entire week watching her fellow pros from Japan play. “It was such a wonderful tournament… Thank you Dragon Promotions for organizing and everything!! I sure wanna come back next year ”
USA’s Jennifer Barretta made her first appearance in Philippines. Also with a 3 win and 2 loss record, she barely didn’t make the cut. But she still gathered many eyes and fans. “It’s so different here to be a pro pool player. The people really love the sport. And so much talent here. I went to the poolroom Star Billiards, and they didn’t charge pool time or for food or drinks to any players. I couldn’t believe it was for real’, she said in awe. Barretta adds,”Then I played a local kid a set for 500 pesos. To get some practice in for myself. He drilled me and never missed a ball. He was awesome, and I still don’t even know who he is!”, she laughs.
Angel Paglia of the USA made her second appearance here at the World Championship. Her goal was not only to win the event, but to bring awareness to her charities www.SaveJapanDolphins.org and www.SeaShepherd.com. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit organization with the mission to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans. Save Japan Dolphins is a campaign conducted by the International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute formed to put an end to the Japanese drive fishery slaughter of dolphins and stop the capture and live trade of dolphins. Angel encourages people to watch the movie The Cove. Angel could be seen wearing shirts and logo messages of the organizations during all her matches. Paglia said, “I had to play a Japanese player, and I was thinking I hope she doesn’t think it’s odd I have more Japan items on me than her”.
Another special guest was World Champion and now Hall of Famer from Germany, Ralf Souquet. Souquet was in town to play a challenge match, and decided to drop in to watch the ladies. He even stuck around to commentate some TV matches, including the finals.
China had a bumpy ride at the World 10-Ball, despite being the favorites and having the largest contingent of players in the event, and with 1/3 of the field Chinese in the final cut. While the final four were all Chinese at the China edition of the World Championship, only 1 player, Han Yu, made it to the semi-finals. They suffered losses to Europe, Korea, Japan, and even USA. China sent media to Philippines and gave tremendous coverage of the event through some of its top reporting staff including Karis Ren of www.my147.com and Li Xiaolong of www.top147.com. Here’s what the two journalists had to say. “We had alot of matches where Chinese had to play each other in the final stage, so that was unlucky.” said Li. “Well, of course that is expected to happen because we had so many Chinese in final 24 cut. But to be honest, players like Fu Xiaofang did not play well. She should have at least made the top 16”, said Karis, Li’s female counterpart at My147.com. Fu was defeated 8-4 by Japan’s Kajitani. Note: Players were seeded on bracket based on round robin performances, and many of the Chinese barely made the round robin, thus giving them low seeding.
Both reporters agreed that their favorite player was Ga Young Kim of Korea. Kim speaks Chinese fluently, even well enough to make jokes and humor her Chinese friends. Kim adds, ” The Chinese didn’t win here because it’s not China. Out of their home country, they are not as comfortable.” Karis and Li both picked Han Yu to win the event by the time of the semi-finals. Yu would eventually fall to Fisher 9-4.
Finally Rubilen Amit, the inaugural winner of the World 10-Ball , was recognized by her peers as this year’s Sportsmanship Award. Amit is known as a player who always has a smile on her face and nothing but good words to say about her opponents. Forever humble, she has been candid with the media on her feelings. “I feel alot of pressure playing here in Philippines. It’s hard, and I’m even surprised at my good results here. But I been training hard, even going to meditation.” she said in interviews.
Players,sponsors, and organizers were polled to choose one player that had the best attitude and would be the ideal role model for other professionals. Amit won by a landslide margin.
“She’s really lovely”, commented Allison Fisher.
“When Pei Chen Tsai beat her in the quarter-finals, and Amit came over with a big smile and hug…that was truly genuine. You can see it on her face. That’s Rubilen”, said Bob Guerroro, TV sports analyst.
When it was announced on TV the Sportsmanship Award was going to her, Amit jumped up in the air and , in humorous action, raised both her hands as if she won the tournament. The audience laughed as she made her way to accept her award. “Thank you to all the players for nominating me. It’s a huge honor. It feels like I’ve won the World Championship”.
The event ended with the annual Dragon Promotions After Party. A night club was privately rented out, and the players proceeded to drink, sing, and dance the night away. The Japanese squad, Chinese Champions like Bi Zu Qing, India, Iran, USA, Koreans, Filipinos…pretty much everyone came. The party started at 930pm and a crowd of players including Allison Fisher, Ralf Souquet, Brittany Bryant, Kelly Fisher and many others stayed all the way till 2am.“It was definitely the best party we’ve had yet. The players had so much fun, and have to admit, at times it was pretty outrageous. We had to delete some pics off Facebook! ” said Charlie Williams, who was the MC of the party along with Andre Felix, host of the ABS-CBN Morning Show.
“This tournament is so much fun!” said Siming Chen, World #1 from China.
and Let the After Party begin…….
Dragon Promotions press release.