That’s a Morra
Day two brought back 12 billiard players vying for the valuable tour ranking points along with the $10,000-added prize money that accompanies these points in each Canadian 9-Ball Tour event.
The first upset of Sunday came with Luc Salvas bowing to Jarrod Spence of Winnipeg by a score of 9-7. With two of the more easygoing players locking horns in early action on day two, smiles were abundant before and after this match concluded. The next surprise came when last year’s champion, Edwin Montal from Calgary, made a premature exit at the hands of Toronto’s Jeff White by the same 9-7 scoreline.
Some controversy had arisen in this match when a foul shot was deemed to have been played by Montal. There had not been an official on hand to dispute this decision, even though Montal maintained that he had played a good shot well after the match score had been posted. Adam Smith from Detroit had driven seven hours to compete in his first Canadian 9-Ball Tour event, and he was not to be denied as he cruised to a comfortable 9-4 win over Alain Lessard. The fourth member of the group to keep his run alive was the experienced John Jorgensen from Toronto. He ended the game effort of Mississauga’s Andrew Attard with a final tally of 9-6.
Next action saw the four unbeaten players take up their cues to join the four B-side winners from the earlier day’s action. John Morra found Sudbury’ Louis Fazekas in superb Sunday form as Fazekas vaulted out to an early 5-2 lead in the race to 9. Morra apparently had no reply for Fazekas’ shot-making and tactical display as he succumbed by a surprising 9-2 score.
Montreal’s left-handed national 8-ball champion, Francis Crevier, also looked well-prepared and sharp as he parked Shannon Ducharme in his chair for much of the early going in their match. The fighting qualities that Ducharme had displayed in his earlier wins started to come to the fore as he played his way back into contention from the early 6-0 deficit. In the end, though, the smooth-stroking Crevier was just too strong and the six-rack lead that he had built up helped him ease into the A-side finals, posting a 9-6 win over Ducharme. Crevier could now focus on his hot seat match against Fazekas and a chance to secure his first tour win in his first tour appearance.
The two matches from the left-hand side of the draw pitted Jeff White against Adam Smith and John Jorgensen against Jarrod Spence. Smith’s confidence was evident, as he had announced prior to this event that he was going to commit full time to playing pool as a career. His decision looked a well-thought-out one if his match against White was any indication as he quickly jumped into a fast 5-1 lead. The experience and natural ability of White has always been one of his trademarks, and before long the match started to swing into White’s favor. Once he caught Smith at 7-7, it appeared that Smith had lost the will and the way as 10 minutes later the match was finished and White would advance by a final score of 9-7.
In stark contradiction to the White versus Smith match, the Jorgensen versus Spence encounter was a one-sided affair with the younger Spence storming out to an early lead that Jorgensen could not overhaul. When the smoke cleared, Jorgensen could only applaud his opponent’s performance as he was sent packing by a score of 9-2. These results meant that John Morra would now face fellow Torontonian Jeff White, with the other match bringing about an all Winnipeg affair that saw Shannon Ducharme facing off against his pal, Jarrod Spence. Francis Crevier and Louis Fazekas could relax and have lunch while they prepared for the A-side finals.
On the face, the Morra/White match looked to be a terrific clash that was going to be a tough call either way. Unfortunately for White, this expectation did not materialize as young gun Morra blasted his way to an early lead that he never relinquished. A missed 2-9 combination from White meant all that was left was the handshake, as Morra moved on a convincing 9-3 winner. The other match followed the same vein with Jarrod Spence failing to get out of the starting blocks with any momentum as the hard-breaking Shannon Ducharme stamped his superiority on this match early. After suffering a defeat against Crevier in his previous match, Ducharme was in no mood for an instant replay as he dismissed his league teammate with a 9-2 drubbing.
Four now remained as Francis Crevier opposed Louis Fazekas for the hot seat and the inside track at the $5000 winner’s purse.
The John Morra versus Shannon Ducharme match captivated the crowd as both players adopted an aggressive style and attacked at every opportunity. A few unforced errors from Ducharme provided the initiative for Morra to seize early control and a 5-1 lead. At this point Ducharme found another gear and fired back at Morra to level the score at 7-7. An untimely scratch in rack 15 by Ducharme gave the 18-year-old Morra the opening that he needed to secure that rack and the next for a gritty 9-7 win. Shannon Ducharme had enjoyed his best finish to date and was a very worthy fourth place finisher in a star-studded field. In the hot seat match Louis Fazekas’ confident style of play seemed to be unnerving Francis Crevier as he established a quick 3-1 edge.
Crevier did not seem comfortable with the table in this match as he lost the cue ball on numerous occasions, and each one proved costly to the talented French Canadian. Even though Crevier came back at Fazekas, the flow that had seen him through to this stage had noticeably deserted him. To make matters worse, Fazekas was playing some of his best pool to date and, after competing in the first two tour events, was eager to make a statement in event number three. Holding his nerve and showing all the class of a seasoned campaigner, Fazekas seized the moment and ran out a 9-5 winner to sit back and wait for the John Morra and Francis Crevier winner to play for the title in Ottawa.
Coming into an event as a prohibitive favorite is never easy and accepting the pressure that accompanies that pedestal is what nurtures champions. The top-seeded John Morra knew he would face a daunting task against Francis Crevier in the one-loss bracket finals. The early going gave no indication as to a clear-cut winner, with the first six racks being split and Morra holding the break in rack seven. The back and forth volley continued with neither player gaining any momentum and able to put distance between them.
A poor positional shot from Crevier in rack number ten presented Morra with the first big chance to go clear, and it proved to be the chance that he had been waiting for. A break and run-out in rack eleven gave Morra a 7-4 lead and applied the pressure on Crevier to respond. The reply from Crevier came and went without much in the way of impact. He had a glorious chance to be breaking at 7-6 down and instead found himself on the wrong end of 8-5 with Morra breaking for the match. Crevier would not get out of his chair again in the match apart from the customary handshake to wish Morra the best in the finals against Louis Fazekas.
The finals was contested over a race to eleven racks. The chance had arrived for John Morra to avenge his loss to Louis Fazekas in the A-side semifinals, and it was a chance he was hoping to take full advantage of. Fazekas on the other hand, had other ideas and was in no mood to surrender his unbeaten crown this weekend. The start was tentative as one would expect, but Morra exuding the swagger of a former tour winner jumped out to a 4-2 advantage. Nothing spectacular from either player to this point, but one got the feeling that the fireworks could come at anytime.
Unfortunately for Fazekas it was Morra that found the trigger and started filling the pockets as he would do on a practice table. Fazekas was left to look on and await a mistake from Morra. The mistake finally arrived but not before Morra had built up a comfortable 10-3 lead. Fazekas knew he had no more room for errors as he desperately needed to claw his way back into the match. With a short stint as a snooker professional, Fazekas also knew that patience and taking small steps would be the key if he was to have any chance to play himself back into contention in the final.
Winning rack 14 was the only consolation Fazekas would enjoy as Morra simply proved too strong in the rematch. A second place finish for Fazekas at the hands of the top seed and a runner’s-up check for $3,000 made it a decent weekend’s work. If nothing else, it established that Fazekas had elevated his game to the next level, even though young Morra once again provided evidence that he may be the best player in the country at the tender age of 18.The final score read 11-4 to John Morra but the fans of pool in Ottawa may have received the big prize as they witnessed some of the best pool in many years.