After an exciting 2013, the final, thrilling instalment of the IPA season reached a climax at the Adelphi Hotel in the fabulous city of Liverpool, the players eager to conclude what has been a memorable season in so many ways.
After some initial checking in confusion (greeted with a smile!), the players commenced battle at 3.30 Friday afternoon for their final assault on the top prizes plus those precious ranking points, with all three top spots up for grabs at this late stage.
The Open was the first event in the spotlight, and it didn’t take long before the big name casualties started to appear. Jason Twist was dumped by Welsh teenage sensation Shane Lewis, who comfortably reached the last 16 on his IPA Tour debut. With an amazing 16 of the top 32 seeds sent to the losers section by the third round, the incredible standard of play on the Tour this year was never more obvious with household names such as Adam Davis, Ronan McCarthy, Clint I ‘Anson, John Chambers, and Scott Higgins to name but a few all had to face the challenge of reaching the last 16 the hard way.
After the double elimination matches had finished, we were left with 16 players, all with realistic chances of victory, with familiar faces such as Lee Clough, Gareth Hibbott, Simon Ward, Christophe Lambert, Craig Marsh and Ben Davies, joined by newcomers Lewis and Gary Fredericks to do battle for the top prize.
Lewis maintained his red hot form to defeat IPA Pros Jimmy Croxton and Lee Clough to reach the semi-finals where he came up against player of the year Lambert in a 15 frame thriller. Lewis had a thin snick on the black for a famous victory but with the adrenalin pumping through his veins, he missed the ball completely, and the ultra-cool head of Lambert duly cleared up his remaining balls to advance to the final, where he would meet
the resurgent Ben Davies, who had rediscovered some of his best form after a quiet period by his own high standards. Victories over Pat Holtz and Simon Ward ensured he took his seat in the final, so no easy paths for either player!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pressure of the situation seemed to affect both players in the final, with some uncharacteristic mistakes intertwined with their customary brilliance. In the end, the popular Frenchman made the fewest mistakes, and went on to clinch an historic 8-5 win,thus securing his spot as the provisional tour number one for 2014 after a superb debut season on the World’s top pool tour.
The attention then quite rightly moved on to the Amateur Championship, where there is currently an unprecedented level of talent, makingany tour win a tremendous achievement.
After some fiercely contested matches, the number one ranked, dual tour winner Jon McAllister took his familiar place in the semi-finals against Scotland’s Scott Gillespie, whilst his fellow Countryman Pat Holtz faced Aaron Lowe.Unlike previous occasions, the run of McAllister was brought to an end by Gillespie, whilst Holtz overcame Lowe to make it an all Scottish affair in an intriguing final.
Sadly for Pat, the final turned out to be a one sided match, with Gillespie running out an impressive 6-1 winner and finally delivering on the potential he has shown on his first full season on the IPA Tour.
The final stages of the Professional event again threw up some mouth-watering clashes, and we had a semi-final line up of UK Open finalist Dan Davy versus the ever consistent Lee Clough, and the much improved Clint I’ Anson against the in form Craig Marsh.
Both matches were tight affairs with some superb pool on show from all the players, however our final match up was to be Davy v I’ Anson. Both players were looking to secure their first IPA Professional title so there was everything to play for, and it was Clint who was the more solid, winning by 2 sets to nil and taking the title of IPA Professional Players Champion and with it his maiden title. Well done Clint.
So, after the dust had settled, Jon McAllister headed up the Amateur rankings, and Gareth Hibbott ended Number 1 on the Tour rankings, fending off the challenges of Jordan Shepherd and Ronan McCarthy – well done to them.
The Pros are still to be decided, with the final event taking place during the World Championships at Lakeside so watch this space, as they say, now and in to the rest of 2014 as the IPA Tour gets bigger and better over he months ahead.
So, after a monumental season, the tour and it’s stars take a well-deserved rest until we start again back here in Liverpool in April 2014. With plenty of new faces already signed up to the toughest pool challenge bar none, we hope to see you all back here in Liverpool, but in the meantime, it’s onwards and upwards for the IPA, with the inaugural World Championships in January kicking the year off in style – it promises to be a memorable year.