America Draws Even
by Mike Panozzo Dec 21, 2002, 1:16 PM EST
In a match played as if the entire tournament hanged in the balance, the American team of Nick Varner and Johnny Archer squeaked past the European duo of Steve Davis and Nick Van den Berg Saturday afternoon to tie the 2003 Ladbrokes.com Mosconi Cup 6-6 at York Hall in London. The Europeans have squandered their early 5-1 advantage, as play now moves to singles matches for the duration of the race-to-12 Ryder Cup-style tournament.
After cutting the Euro lead to 5-4 Friday night with a trio of singles wins, Team USA saw the Euros regain a two-match lead when Mika Immonen and Marcus Chamat whitewashed mistake-prone Charlie Williams and Cory Deuel, 5-0, in the first doubles match Saturday. But Earl Strickland and Jeremy Jones stemmed the European tide with a 5-1 win, setting up the dramatic final doubles match. Two critical unforced misses by Varner on European breaks (the format features alternate breaks) prevented the Americans from controlling the match. At 4-4, Dutch youngster Van den Berg broke, but a poor safety attempt on the 1 gave Archer the table. Realizing the importance of moving into the singles action even, Archer moved carefully through the rack, but missed a thin cut on the 7. Snooker legend Davis made a difficult shot on the 7, but was left with an even more difficult shot on the 9. With the cue ball pinned to one tip of the side pocket and the 9 just off the bottom rail, the normally reliable Davis overcut the shot. Varner, left with the cue ball on the top rail and the 9 a half-foot out from the corner, was forced to slow-roll the cue ball. Under enormous pressure, Varner executed the shot perfectly and leaped into Archers arms.
"I had to roll it the full 9 feet," said Varner. "But I told Johnny that I would get that ball in somehow."
Saturday night will feature three singles matches, with the tournament running to its conclusion on Sunday.
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