Friday, October 22, 2010

U.S. Open: Immonen looks for 3-peat

Van Boening remains in hunt
Video from
Mika Immonen made it Thursday to the final 8 of undefeated players in this year's U.S. Open, having grinded out a late 11-10 victory over former champ Gabe Owen.  The dwindling group of undefeated players after the fifth day in Chesapeake looked like a United Nations contingent: they included American Corey Deuel, England's Darren Appleton, young Canadian Jason Klatt , Spaniard David Alcaide, Lo Li-Wen of Taiwan and Germany's Ralf Souquet (the second place finisher in last year's open) and Germany's Thorsten Hohmann.

U.S. favorite Shane Van Boening also remained in the hunt, but from the one-loss side. On Thursday he ran over two very capable opponents, including road player Chris Bartram. Bartram was the only person to have beaten Mika Immonen during the U.S. Open in 2009. Unimpressed, the "Dakota Kid" eliminated Bartram in an 11-0 shut-out. Peruvian Manny Chau didn't fare much better. Chau fell to SVB by a lopsided 11-1. 

A Van Boening victory against Gabe Owen today could set up an interesting matchup with player of the decade Johnny Archer. Archer was sent Thursday to the one-loss side by Lo Li-Wen of China. But he remains very much in contention.  Other players still alive on the one-loss side include former U.S. Open champs  Owen,  Rodney "The Rocket" Morris and Nick Varner. Also alive on the one-loss side are "Korean Dragon" Charlie Williams, newest Hall of Fame inductee Francisco Bustamante,  Filipino Ronnie Alcano, crowd favorite Efren "Bata" Reyes, and Jesse Engel, a relative unknown from Minneapolis.

In fact, it was this last player that helped legends Mike Sigel and Earl Strickland to the exit door. Engel is just 18 years old. According to a short article on the NYC Grind website, the Minneapolis teen-ager now plays on the Seminole Pro Tour and was runner-up in the 19-and-under division at the  BEF Junior National Championships in 2009 and 2010. You can read the article here. 

Besides Sigel, Strickland and Bartram, other notable eliminations Thursday included Mike Dechaine, Stevie Moore and Filipino Lee Van Corteza. The last woman standing was Gerda Hofstatter, who ended up with 65 game wins to 96 losses. She was eventually eliminated by Adam Smith in a close match. "I got the $1,000 bonus for highest woman (finisher), and I also got into the money in the main field," said Hofstatter. "I (also) earned a few hundred bucks and a priceless experience."

Meanwhile, two of the more interesting television matches Thursday included Reyes 11-7 defeat of Spaniard Marc Vidal and Sigel's last stand against a player from the Czech Republic.

Reyes versus Vidal
Crowd favorite Reyes started out slow in his match, fell behind early, and for the first five games or so appeared extremely uncomfortable. After grinding out a particularly tough victory in the 10th game, the Magician asked for a time out. He returned girded for battle, and eventually pulled away from Vidal in about the 15th game. Vidal had proven adept at escaping from many of Reyes' traps, often by spinning the cue ball around obstructing balls. But victory nonetheless slipped away. Reyes beat Vidal by a four-game margin.

Sigel versus Hybler
The legendary Captain Hook met Roman Hybler of the Czech Republic during a late game on the one-loss side. Sigel trailed for much of the match, but key errors by the Czech player allowed Sigel to stay in it. Sigel won the fourth game with a spectacular combination on the two. After that it was a dog fight. Late in the set Hybler stepped away to take a break. Sigel, citing the rules, continued to play and sank the nine-ball in Hybler's absence. "The guy left and I just shot," Sigel said to a tournament director. The game was counted in Sigel's favor, but he nonetheless fell to Hybler after both got to the hill.

Follow the action
I've posted AZbilliard's excellent video round-up of Wednesday's action above. (Still waiting on the Thursday's update.) You also can keep up with the tournament at Accu-Stats, which is webcasting several matches each day. You can find the link here. I'll also be occasionally updating the Pool History Facebook page with news from Chesapeake. You can check out the page here

No comments: