USSA National Snooker Tour / Mountain View, CA
by Inside POOL Staff
The United States Snooker Association (USSA) is pro-actively rejuvenating snooker in the United States in 2009 with its inaugural USSA National Snooker Tour, and the first stop on the Tour—the California Billiard Club Classic Snooker Tournament directed by USSA Treasurer Bob Jewett – in Mountain View, CA, January 3-4—met all expectations in turn-out and drama. A full field of 16 players attacked the tables, with 4 round robin preliminary flights determining the 8 players for the final rounds. The preliminary flights featured two-frame matches among each opponent within a flight for a total of six frames played per player. The preliminary favorites of Tony Annigoni, USSA President Ajeya Prabhakar, and Jeff Szafransky fulfilled their expectations by posting 5-1 records, qualifying them for the final playoffs. Prabhakar claimed high run honors in the prelims with a break of 45.
In the final rounds, the quarterfinals featured no upsets, as Group A winner Annigoni dispatched Eric Ng 2-1, Group B winner Prabhakar eliminated Patrick Tsang 2-0 (producing the tournament-high run of 59 in the process), Group C winner Fan Ru Zeng dominated Alan Kam 2-0, and Szafransky ended Amit Karki’s run by a 2-1 margin.
The semifinals produced the two 2008 representatives from the USA to the IBSF World Snooker Championships in Austria, as Prabhakar and Szafransky each recorded 3-1 wins over Annigoni and Fan Ru Zeng, respectively, to qualify them for the finals, Prabhakar again recording the high run for the round at 49. Szafransky is a steady, controlled player with a pool background whose snooker game has improved substantially in recent years, while Prabhakar is a former junior national champion of India and the 2000 USSA Nationals Champion. The similar experience and seasoning on green felt for both resulted in an even match that went down to the final black in the deciding frame, favoring Szafransky on this day for a 3-2 score to award him the first title of the 2009 USSA National Snooker Tour.
1st Jeff Szafransky $315
2nd Ajeya Prabhakar $175
3rd Tony Annigoni $70
Fan Ru Zeng $70