This year marked the 10 year anniversary of the South Pacific Open Snooker after it was initiated by the NSW Billiards and Snooker Association in 2006. For the first 3 years the event was known by many as ‘Chilli’ due to a sponsorship deal at the time. Club Marconi has been the host venue and a sponsor every year the event has been played. The support for Snooker and Club Marconi was strong this year with a record 82 entries competing over three days of play with local hero Joe Minici taking out the title for the first time as well as winning the Omin cue package worth $1,000. What a greedy man!
To celebrate the 10 years we trialled a lead up tournament on the Friday which saw 16 players back themselves by paying a $250 entry fee and competing for $5,000 in prize money. Each player was supplied a sponsored polo shirt which featured Raine and Horne, Diamond Hill Jewellers, JT Painting and Décor, CueWorld and Club Marconi. The format of play was a straight knockout random draw in each round and matches were best of 5 frames. For those that did not win their first match they were eligible to play in a 147 format plate event.
Congratulations to Adrian Ridley who took out the first prize of $2,000 after defeating Richard Peric in the final 4-0. Shannon Dixon and Justin Sajich made it to the semi-finals with Shannon making an awesome 133 high break. After two consecutive 147 format events, Aaron Mahoney took out that event with Shaun Dalitz taking out the second spot. It was a long day but all 16 players got a lot of frames up their sleeves.
With 82 players entering the first National Ranking snooker tournament of the season, we knew we were going to be up for a very long weekend. We initiated some preliminary matches for Friday night however that still left 60 matches to get through on the Saturday. The last match to finish on the Saturday night at about 1:45am was between Marc Bullen (VIC) and Paul Thomerson (VIC).
There were a number of upsets in the earlier rounds and of note was Adrian Ridley (VIC) being defeated by eventual runner up Justin Sajich. Also worth a mention was 11 year old Denzel Nicholson from Bathurst who was sponsored through our junior development program. Denzel drew a decent crowd at 9am on Saturday and it was even better to see a great performance with Denzel winning his match 3-1. It was great to see a few more juniors competing in the competition as well as female player Theresa Whitten getting some match experience prior to competing in the IBSF Championships later this year.
We played down to the last 16 for the Sunday which saw some great matches right through to the final. A great effort by the quarter finalists in a very completive field. Glen Wilkinson, Richard Peric, Steve Woods and Hassan Kerde all played well to get there.
In the first semi-final Justin Sajich was too strong for Ryan Thomerson (VIC) winning 3-0. Ryan was playing great attacking snooker all weekend but perhaps that was not the right style of play against an in form Justin.
In the other semi-final Daniel Haenga (QLD) went 2-0 down quickly to Joe Minici but then found some great form and resemblant of his natural ability under pressure. He took the match to 2-2 and started with a good lead in the final frame. Joe then showed some true nerve power by making a frame winning break and securing a spot in the final.
The final between Justin Sajich and Joe Minici was played on table 2 and we had a reasonable crowd watching the best of 7 frame match. Neville Moore from Sydney was the official for the match. Both players showed some nerves in the final as well as not having played a match on that table earlier in the day. Joe went to a 3-1 lead but Justin started to play well and clawed the match back to 3-3 for a decider. The last frame was very close but not to be for Justin with Joe Minici taking out the title of South Pacific Open Snooker champion. The highest break of the event went to Ryan Thomerson with a 106 break. For full match results and high breaks, please go to www.absc.com.au
There is always a long list of people to thank. I would like to start with all those individuals behind the scenes that do a little bit here and there like organise the trophies, coordinate referees, help with the draw and assist with the financials. Thanks Grant Meadley, Frank Galanos, Dave Waller, Mal Winter, Adam Wyard, Ross Wyard and Shannon Dixon.
A big thank you to all of the sponsors and Club Marconi for their support and partnership with NSW Billiards and Snooker. Without these clubs on our side and hardworking members like Jim Ruisi, our Sport would be even more challenging than it already is.
Thanks to all the officials and volunteer referees who gave up their time to referee on all three days. More so to those who travelled from out of Sydney and the likes of Treston Irwin from QLD who did an awesome job and must have refereed close to ten matches.
It was great to have so many entries this year so to all the players who gave up their weekend and Friday to play, thank you very much. It is always nice to get a small thanks here and there from players and you all know who you are. Unfortunately for a few you may need to google the word ‘respect’. But I still love you!
Lastly a big thanks to the Tournament Assistant Director Stuart Tait who was there by my side all three days. You did a superb job as always and I am sure you are close to running the show on your own soon.
See you all next month at the Australian Open Snooker at Mounties.