Judgment Day Looms!
by Mike Panozzo Jul 15, 2002, 9:53 PM EST
Emotional swells are certain to fill the massive Cardiff International Arena on Tuesday as "Judgment Day" descends on the 128 competitors at the Hasseroder World Pool Championship in the Welsh capital. With one day of matches left in the Group Stage, the top four finishers in each of the 16 initial groups will advance to the 64-player knock-out stage. As 64 advance, an equal number will see their chances at the $65,000 top prize evaporate.
Some players have already assured themselves safe passage into the final 64 - among them 1999 champion Efren Reyes, Chinese Taipei's Kun-Fang Lee, Americans Johnny Archer and Earl Strickland, Germany's Oliver Ortmann, Dutch treat Neils Feijen and Philippine upstart Lee Van Corteza.
But numerous hopefuls will need strong performances Tuesday to keep their hopes alive, including 2000 champion Fong-Pang Chao of Chinese Taipei and 2001 runnerup Ralf Souquet of Germany. The Group of Death will be Group 3, in which all eight players have a shot at advancing. Chao, Christian Reimering of Germany, Italian Fabio Petroni, Indonesia's Robby Suarly and Canadian Paul Potier are deadlocked at six points each. Chao will have the added pressure of playing only one match on Tuesday, as he has already played six times. Even the group's trailing three players - Radoslaw Babica of Poland, Welshman Lee Walker and Spain's David Lopez are in the hunt with four points apiece. All three will have two opportunities to play on Tuesday.
Other notable "Bubble Boys" are 2001 semifinalist Alain Martel of Canada, English 9-baller Steve Knight, former world snooker champion Mark Williams and newly annointed American Hall of Famer Jim Rempe.
For complete Group standings, and Final 64 pairings, http://www.worldpoolchampionship.com/results.asp">click here:
Tournament NotesCardiff Insider
by Gary Baker
* ENGLISHMAN Kevin Smith certainly deserves a medal from this year's Championships for bravery. Smith was within three hours of dying a year last February when he contracted the terrible illness Meningitis Scepticimia. He lost a kidney and has had to go through three operations to try and piece his body back together. Smith, from London, has now put off a fourth operation, which he was due to have, to take part in this Cardiff tournament and will now go under the knife again in August. If that was not bad enough, Smith suffered an ankle injury which also threatened his participation this month. His joint blew up like a balloon but he has had it strapped with bandages and is on strong painkillers so that he can compete. And a big receiption was being prepared for him when he appears on the main TV table on Monday to take on Sweden's Tom Storm in his group six match.
* NICK VARNER is out to make up for lost time. The 1999 world champion has missed two out of the four global tournaments held in Cardiff because it has clashed with other pool commitments. However, the 54-year-old from Orlando, Florida, is quietly going about his business this year after, at last, having the chance to fly across the Atlantic. Varner said: "I'm doing pretty good. I have four wins and two losses. I'm 75 per cent in and I have one more match tomorrow. I've missed one or two balls in my matches but I've got the breaks working real good which, like the serve in tennis, is what puts you in the winner's circle."
* ONE of the great features about the World Pool Championships which is surely unique to any major tournament is the Pool Village at Cardiff International Arena. This is where everyone - fans, officials and players - mix together throughout the week and is a really nice addition to the otherwise serious side of the competition. A part of this are the public tables. There are 8-ball and 9-ball tables in use, and one excellent initative, which has been going ever since the tournament moved to Wales is the daily sessions where regular men, women and children get their chance to have a rack against the pro players. I remember last year having a rack against former world champion Ralf Souquet, of Germany - and only gettiing one shot after my break against him. This year, players like Souquet's countryman, 1995 world champion Oliver Ortmann, have had 30-minute sessions on the 9-ball table. The idea is not just for the public to have a go against the stars, but because of the limited practice tables in the Village, it offers the players some practice before their matches. But, occasionally, someone guests on the table who is not actually in the tournament. This happened on Sunday when longtime American star Grady Matthews entertained the public. Mathews, who lives in Columbia, South Carolina, had been in Britain trying to qualify for the event, but didn't win through. Still he was asked to play the public - and produced one of the most entertaining half-hours of the past three days, which included some amazing trickshots as well as some outstanding potting.