The New Jersey Convention Center was swarmed with pool players and fans alike this past week as it played host to the Super Billiard Expo. I have been lucky enough to attend this event twice in the past four years, it really is paradise for pool junkies. There is Amateur, Senior and Pro events to play in or watch as well as tons of late night action matches to play in or to soak in. When you have had your fill of playing, there are vendors from seemingly every major cue and accessory manufacturer to stroll around and to do some shopping.
Shane Van Boening or “Mr. 10 Ball” as he has become known, is a threat to win any tournament he enters but at 10 ball, he seems unstoppable at times. He has proven this with defending his Open 10 ball Professional Championship the past two years and he appeared to be the favorite for the three peat. SVB beat some notable names such as Denis Hatch, Shawn Wilkie and Warren Kiamco on his way to meet Tommy Kennedy in the winners side final. Kennedy won matches against Johnny Archer, Mika Immonen, Ralf Souquet on his journey to the winner side final and played with confidence and earned him self a lead in the hot seat match. SVB came back from being 3 games down to tie it 8-8. This is when Kennedy kicked back into gear has he put it in a post match interview and clamped down to seal the 10-8 win. SVB then met a very game Earl Strickland who was on a tear after an early lost to Immonen. The Iceman went to his Facebook wall after the match and shared what the Pearl said to him after his win, “you don’t have half the talent I do”. Controversial as always that seemed to pump the 5 time U.S open Champion up as he blanked last years World 9 Ball Champion Thorsten Hohmann 10-0 in second match on the losers side. He continued his war path knocking Rodney Morris, Darren Appleton and Warren Kiamco out of the tournament. However SVB found that gear he seems to have above everyone else right now beating Strickland 10-5 then winning his rematch with fan favorite Tommy Kennedy for the prestigious three-peat.
Canadian Jason Klatt added another title to his resume winning the 32 max pro-am event. This is a great tournament for an amateur who believes they are on the verge of reaching Pro status to test themselves. As it doubles as a second chance tournament for the Pro’s who were eliminated from the stacked pro event. “Klatticus,” did not have an easy draw in this 2/3 races to 6 single elimination tournament wining matches over Mike Dechaine and Shawn Wilkie before beating Ryan McCreesh in the final and claiming the $4000 top Prize.Also Canada’s top Women Professional Brittany Bryant had a solid 4th place finish place finish and $1000 for her troubles.
Rack-M-Up Billiards was also well represented at the Expo this year as Jody “Dirt” Roy, Justin “Killer” Miller and Jason Hall all played in the Amateur event. Which by Canadian standards is nothing like an amateur event as I could pick out many players I consider Professional but that is the case every year. Danny Normandin who placed 3rd at the most recent Turning Stone Classic was eligible to play and he didn’t even make the final bracket of this event, which is a testament to the talent they consider amateur. This is a single elimination tournament that had 800 plus players in it. Roy did the best out of the bunch winning 3 matches and making a deal for the money round which he lost but still took home $150. Miller won two matches and Hall lost his first.
For those of us who were not as fortunate to make the trip to Edison instead drove to Gatineau Quebec to take part in the final ABO tournament of the season before the Grande Finale next month. With most players already qualified by playing in the 4 tournaments necessary, it was not a big showing in either the the Open or A/B division. In the Open class Randy Mitchel and Norm Pomainville, both regulars at Rack-M-Up Billiards faced off in the bubble match for the money rounds and with Pomainville taking the 9-7 win. In his next match Pomainville lost to the eventual tournament winner Sebestain Cousineau who was in great form armed with a sledge hammer break and spotting the cue ball with consistency.
In the A/B I placed 2nd place losing 7-5 to Gilbert Carrier who wins his second consecutive ABO. I was playing solid for most of the day excluding the two match I played with Carrier who seems to have my number. It’s a case where two conflicting styles clash and I usually get the worst end of it because of a lack of patience, which I will admit left me in this final. This is a credit to my opponent Carrier who has steadily improved over the past few years and is now reaping the rewards. I have always had trouble with a slow pace of play and that goes back to a previous blog where I outlined how I need to focus less on my opponent and more on the table. Next up for the ABO is the Winning Stroke Cup on April 5th followed by the Grande Finale April 12-13.