Day One of the World 8-Ball Championships
The first day of the group stages has now completed and about two-thirds of the field has played their first match. Some of the highlights:
Earl Strickland of the USA, who with VIncent Facquet of France put on an excellent trick shot show for the opening ceremony, led Sumit Talwar 6-1 and was in command to easily take the 7-game match when Talwar began a comeback and brought the score back to 6-5 before he missed a shot that would have gotten them to hill-hill. With that miss as strength Strickland finished out the set for a narrow 7-5 victory. Shane Van Boening had taken a nap in the afternoon and was sleeping soundly only a few minutes before his match when his roommate happened to return to the room and awaken him. Still in a cloud of slumber, Shane trailed Basem Mohammed Aboud 3-2 before his senses kicked in and he rallied to take the match 7-3.
Raymond Faron was up 6-2 in his match when he missed a fairly elementary 8 ball to take the win and Hani Al Howry came back to a 6-5 score line before Al Howry suffered a dry break that allowed Faron to run the table and take the match. Defending Champion Karl Boyes had an easy time with Fahad Khalaf Aljassas. Boyes completely controlled the table throughout and won 7-0 to progress to the second round on the winners side. Boyes commented "I am here to win the tournament, not just to qualify for the finals."
In the final round Vilmos Foldes was comfortably ahead of Takhti Zarekani 4-0 when Zarekani caught a higher gear and began commanding the table. From then on Foldes could not find an opportunity and Zarekani won the match 7-5. Jeff De Luna, one of the most feared players in the tournament was leading his match against Khaled Al Mutari 5-0 when Mutari rallied strongly and, coupled with some uncharacteristic errors from De Luna, dominated the rest of the match to upset the Filipino 7-5. One key error from De Luna was a miscue that found his cuetip scooping underneath the cue ball. The tip hit the ball, then the ferrule struck it as it traveled under the ball and a double-hit foul was called that brought Mutari to the table for the final clean-up.
The rest of the opening round will take place on Monday and then the one-loss side will be contested to see which players are the first to take to the exits. The WPA would like to extend their thanks and appreciation to Ahmed Abloshi and his entire tournament staff, especially to head referee Mr. Arafat, for their diligence and all of the work they have undertaken to make this tournament a success. None of this could happen without the sponsors who care to put up the funds required and we also wish to extend our gratitude to them. They include the title sponsor, Etisalat Telecommunications, Fujairah International Airport, Arjaan by Rotana, Le Meridien Beach Resort, Knight Shot Billiards, Dubai Sport, Al Diar Siji Hotel, Pepsi-Cola, and the Emirate of Fujairah.