The 2016 BWPPA season got underway on the 5/6th March with the G.N.O Southern 9-ball Open at the Wheelchair Cuesports Academy based at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury. I missed this event last year due to illness, but having won the final event of last season when I won the Challenge Event at the British 9-ball Championship I was keen to get back into competitive pool. Especially as I hadn’t played much since that win last November. It’s been a busy time for me off the table, so I was unable to practise as much as I would have liked, but when I did practise I think I went about it the right way. I remember Darren Appleton saying it’s not how much you practise, but the quality of the practise.
Roy Kimberley was my first opponent in the Main Event, I went 2-0 down but I won the next 2 quickly. Roy showed his class, and won the next 5 racks to beat me 7-2. Although I was playing well, it wasn’t what I planned for my first match of the season. In the losers bracket I drew a BWPPA debutant Stu Vincent. I was playing great, and went 5-1 up, I was doing to him what Roy did to me in the last match. All of a sudden my confidence was back and I was in stroke.
My 5-1 lead, soon turned into a 6-5 lead. I think it was sir Alex Ferguson who coined the phrase “squeaky bum time” well this was definitely it. In the 12th rack Stu potted a great long 9-ball which would have taken the match to hill-hill, only for the cueball to find the side pocket. I made the 9 with ball in hand to crawl over the line. I honestly don’t know what would have happened if the match had gone to 6-6, he found a gear from somewhere and with momentum he would have been favourite, thankfully for me I didn’t have to find out, but however relieved I was at the time what a cruel way to lose a match at anytime, but especially on your debut. I hope Stu stays on the tour, hopefully we’ll see him in Barnsley at the Simonis Northern 9-ball Open in May.
Tony Southern was my next opponent for a place in the Main Event semi-final, I went 4-0 down, but I dug in and managed to win the next 2 racks to trail 4-2. I had a great chance to go 4-3 but I under hit a shot from the 8-ball to 9-ball. He won the next 2 racks to beat me 7-2 and send me into the Challenge Event. If I had won that 7th rack, it could have been a different story as my confidence was on the rise and I fancied the comeback, but Tony’s class came through.
Despite a 5am alarm call with the help of a fire alarm I managed to make it to a second successive Challenge Event final where I was to face a good friend Nick Oliver. Me and Nick both use cueing aids, me more so than him but we share tips and help each other out, in fact after he saw me using the Cannon Aid I let him practise with it and now he’s got one also.
Nick won the first rack, with a mixture of solid pool and a fair amount of luck I won the next 5 racks to lead 5-1. The pool Gods were on my side and I admit I did begin to think “that trophies got my name on it” I was getting all the flicks and touches when I missed and was getting safe. If the shoe was on the other foot I would have been thinking “what have I got to do to buy a bit of luck.” I went for a break at 5-1, and I told myself just to take it one rack at a time, be patient and your chances will come. Nick won the next to make it 5-2, then I won the next to lead 6-2. Nick won the next 3 to trail 6-5 with some great pool. Here we go again then….
The players who were watching were all shouting “the comebacks on, and I heard Tony Southern say “if it goes to hill-hill we’ll film the last rack”. That’s the last thing I wanted, I’d played great all weekend and the thought of me going to pieces if the last rack was filmed wasn’t what I wanted. It was a scrappy 12th rack, I was feeling nervous but in a positive energy kind of way, but I just wanted one chance at a pot and I knew it’d be over. I made a great long 8-ball, which I don’t think would have dropped on a lot of tables but I came nice on the 9-ball. I spent ages looking at the contact point on the 9-ball and chalking my cue, I made it and to be honest the first feeling I had was relief that I had won it and I didn’t have to play another rack. Of course it was quickly replaced with joy that I had won another trophy.
I would like to thank my sponsors Escape Pool Bar in Barnsley, and Snooker Legends for all their support. I’d especially like to thank George Vetters and Amanda Burnip who look after me at Escape. Everything they do really means a lot to me. And of course my mum who has travelled all over the world with me. I’m sure being in a cold Aylesbury wasn’t her preferred way to spend Mothers Day, but hopefully the trophy makes up for some of that.