By Keith Paradise
CSI Staff Writer
This month, Singapore’s Aloysius Yapp has had himself a pretty good year.
The 25-year-old began his September with a top 10 finish in the Diamond Las Vegas Open, then reached the semifinals of the Predator World 10-Ball Championships six days later. Following those performances, he traveled cross-country to Atlantic City where he reached the finals of the U.S. Open Pool Championships, jumping out to an 8-3 lead against Carlo Biado before the Filipino mounted a second-half comeback and secured the title, 13-8.
Saturday night at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Mich., Yapp broke through and won his first major championship, taking advantage of a handful errors by opponent Roberto Gomez Jr. to win the CSI Michigan Open in straight sets, 4-0, 4-2. With the victory, Yapp earned a $12,000 payday and automatic entry in the 2022 World 10-Ball Championships at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas next March.
Yapp struggled with his break throughout the final day of the event, failing to pocket a ball on his opening shot six times during the championship match. Instead, he used a misplayed safety by Gomez coupled with his lone-break-and-run to build a 2-0 advantage, then took advantage of a missed shot by his opponent in the next rack to increase the lead and climb onto the hill. After Yapp again broke dry in the fourth game, the Filipino appeared to be in position to win his first rack of the match but missed the 7 ball in the corner pocket, allowing Yapp back to the table where he closed out the set, 4-0.
The script was more of the same in the second set, with Yapp taking advantage of a missed 2 ball in the first game and two misplayed safeties by Gomez in the next two racks to grab another 3-0 lead. Gomez returned to the table in the fourth game after his opponent again failed to pocket a ball on the break and appeared positioned to run out the rack but missed the 3 ball. Yapp then seemed to have a clear path to close out the match but scratched in the side pocket while attempting to secure position on the 8 ball. Gomez cleared the table then took advantage of a misplayed safety from Yapp to cut the lead to 3-2.
Now at the table with a chance to tie the match at three games each, it was Gomez this time who broke and didn’t make a ball. Yapp slowly and methodically worked his way through the rack, sending the cue ball three rails after pocketing the 8 ball to secure position on the 9 ball, then slyly cracking a smile when he landed straight in position on the 10 ball for the win. After pocketing the game-winning ball, the young man from Singapore raised his cue in triumph with a large smile on his face.
The smile may have been out of relief as much as happiness, with Yapp surviving the final day as much as earned the win.
After gutting out straight set victories against Greece’s Alex Kazakis and Poland’s Konrad Juszczyszyn, Yapp faced Hungary’s Oliver Szolnoki in the semifinals. He took advantage of a pair of dry breaks and a safety exchange to build a 3-1 lead but left back-to-back opportunities in the next two games when he left an open shot after a safety and scratched in the corner pocket. With the score now tied 3-3, Yapp was able to clear the table and take the set after his opponent failed to pocket a ball on the break.
The Hungarian was able to jump out to an early 3-1 advantage in the second set thanks to Yapp scratching in the first and third games. Yapp took advantage of another Szolnoki dry break to cut the deficit to 3-2, then used a victorious safety exchange to tie the score. After Yapp broke dry in the deciding game, Szolnoki appeared to be closing out the set and sending the match to a sudden death shootout but missed the 2 ball, allowing Yapp to close out the rack and the match.
Meanwhile Gomez had a bit more of a struggle to reach the finals, needing the sudden death frame to take down Mario He of Austria.
Mario He pitched a shutout in the opening set, using a Gomez missed 6 ball and some stout safety play to win four consecutive games. Gomez responded by winning the first two games of the second set with a run out after a safety followed by a break-and-run. He cleared the table and climbed onto the scoreboard in the third rack after his opponent missed the 3 ball, then took advantage of another Gomez miss in the next game to cut the deficit to 3-2. He’s chance at tying the match fizzled when he failed to pocket a ball on the break in the sixth game, allowing Gomez to run the table and send the match to penalty shots.
Gomez was perfect in the sudden death shootout, pocketing all four spot shots while He could only manage to complete three of the four overtime shots.
The U.S. Pro Billiard Series is scheduled to return to action next month at the FargoRate Ohio Open, a 64-player, $25,000-added event which will take place at Roberts Centre in Wilmington, Ohio October 13-16.
The CSI Michigan Open was the third stop of the U.S. Pro Billiard Series, which features four open professional events between July and the end of the year. Created by Predator Group and amateur league operator CueSports International, these tournaments will run in tandem alongside of CSI league amateur events being held throughout the country. The winner of each competition receives a guaranteed spot in the $125,000-added 2022 Predator World 10-Ball Championship, which will be held March 28 through April 1 in Las Vegas at the Rio Hotel and Casino.
This competition was played on Predator Pro pool tables covered with Predator Arcadia performance cloth, with Predator Arcos II precision balls, and under the Predator Arena billiard lights.
For more information on the U.S. Pro Billiard Series or amateur leagues, visit www.playcsipool.com.
Photo credits: Matt Porinsky