The GB9 Ball Tour is constantly receiving plaudits from it’s players for the outstandingly professional manner in which it is run, and it’s clear to see the unflagging effort that the organisers take to make sure that the events run as smoothly as a well oiled machine.
It could be expected that these tributes would be a rare thing when dealing with 128 discerning player’s who pay between £500 and £700 ($700 – $1,000 USD) a year membership fees for the privilege of playing on the tour, 96 of whom are attempting to qualify for promotion to the elite Pro Division of 32 players – and the proof that they are doing something very right and very well is that applications to join the tour have always been over-subscribed.
So it’s heartening to see that they have decided to start the 2009 season with a hark-back to the previous one, by rewarding last year’s stand out player with a truly beautiful trophy.
Imran Majid‘s domination of the tour in 2008, winning no less than four of the six main events put him at the top of the rankings with an unassailable points lead, and because of the rolling six event system utilised by the tour, each new event now means that he has to try to defend his maximum points at each of the events he won, knowing that even the slightest slip will see the rest of the pack closing the gap.
Mark Gray beats Daryl Peach in final of GB9 Midlands Classic
The final of the GB9 Midlands Classic, the main event of this three day tournament, saw an out of sorts World 9 Ball Champion Daryl Peach convincingly beaten by a slick Mosconi Cup potting machine named Mark Gray with a one-sided 11-6 margin.
Both Peach and Gray hail from the same region of the country and are good friends off the table, and even teamed up as partners in Matchroom Sports “World Cup of Pool” event, and the match was played with good humour thoughout, despite Peach being on the receiving end of some particularly frustating rules, dutifully enforced by the GB9 Ball Tour referee Mel Harley.
The tour has adopted a 3 point rule for all breaks to force players to use skill and power on their break, and despite Peach sinking two balls on his well aimed thunderclap break, he was penalised with loss of turn after failing to gain a third point by getting another ball to pass the “head string”.
Despite this, the rule is the same for both players and Gray, who also finished top of the European rankings last year, was a graceful and worthy winner as always, and even more pleased to take the title as his parent’s had come to support him and had front row seats for the final.
Scotland’s Valentine triumphs over reigning Ten Ball Champion Appleton
Saturday evening saw the first two events played to completion – in the Pro Cup semi-finals Darren Appleton beat Imran Majid and Michael Valentine beat James Kay creating a mouth-watering Appleton vs Valentine final.
Appleton had only just returned from the Philippines where he had been getting plenty of match practice and went into the final as the strong favourite. However Valentine knew he had a tough match ahead, and as he has frequently shown before, he rises to the tougher challenges and often plays his best pool under those conditions – and this was the case today as he eventually beat Appleton 9:6.
Freshman beats veteran to take Challenge Division title
Forty new faces appeared on the Challenge Tour and at the end of the season the top ranked player will earn promotion into the Pro Cup. One of these new players has made his mark by winning the Solihull Challenge Cup and is now well on his way to the top of the rankings.
The Challenge Division semi-finals saw Steven Petty beat Matt Ford and Anthony Ginn triumph over Gareth Steele setting up a Petty versus Ginn final.
Once again there appeared to be a strong favourite, and once again the tables were turned as experienced veteran Ginn was edged at the finish line with an 11:9 scoreline from fellow Londoner and GB9 newcomer Steven Petty.